THE BRONTE SISTERS 1J such unhappy fantasies he received as he thought encourage- ment, attempted to bring Northangerland into Yorkshire, and was dismissed with contumely by Mr. Robinson in the summer of 1845. The poor foolish lad now decayed rapidly in morals and health; he took to opium and brandy, ran so gravely into debt that the Sheriff's officer pursued him to the Parsonage, raved luridly through the nights and dozed in stupor by day. His sisters' school project (which in any case had shown no signs of prospering) had perforce to be abandoned, and they now all remained at home together, to sustain their father and each other through this trial. It was during this period, and thus as a direct consequence of poor BranwelTs tragedy, that Charlotte 'accidentally lighted on' a manuscript volume of verse in Emily's handwriting. Of recent years the sisters had not shown each other what they wrote, and accordingly Charlotte was intensely struck by the power, the originality, and the wild melancholy music of Emily's poems, and thought at once of publication. The reserved Emily was furious at her sister's intrusion into her private life, but the gentle Anne produced some of her own verses, and eventually Charlotte secured Emily's consent to the pub- lication of a volume of poems by all three sisters. * Averse to personal publicity', says Charlotte, 'we veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell'. She explains that these 'ambiguous' names, which might indeed belong to persons of either sex, were chosen because the girls had a 'scruple at assuming Christian names positively mascu- line', yet wished to avoid the condescension or derision with which reviewers then often treated women writers. Part of their little legacies from Aunt Branwell paid for the volume, which was published in the summer of 1846. Except for one review, which spoke of Ellis Bell's 'evident power of wing', it was little noticed, and only two copies were sold. Before transferring the remainder of the edition £to the trunk- makers' for lining, Charlotte later sent copies to Words- worth, Lockhart, De Quincey, and Tennyson.