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Full text of "The Brontë sisters"

THE  BRONTE  SISTERS                          19
to all three sisters, who were too noble-minded to allow
themselves to dwell on the release it brought. Emily caught
cold at his funeral; her illness was no doubt increased by
psychological causes; she tried to dominate the consumption
which supervened by her stern will, failed, and died in
December of the same year. Scarcely was she buried when
Anne, her close companion always, showed signs of the
same mortal disease. She died at the Yorkshire seaside
resort of Scarborough in May 1849.
Poor Charlotte's life was thenceforward lived, so to speak,
in two distinct and scarcely communicating compartments.
At home she dwelt in silence, solitude, an ever-deepening
loneliness. She finished Shirley, wHch was received with
acclaim, with fair rapidity, but needed three years of des-
perate struggle to write Villette. In London, on the other
hand, which she visited once yearly, she was lionized under
the skilful management of the agreeable young George
Smith. A tendresse arose between Smith and herself, which
however, dissimilarity in family connexions, social position
and age prevented from any consummation. A subordinate
member of the firm, James Taylor, loved Charlotte and
came to Haworth Parsonage intending probably to offer
for her hand; but when she saw him in home surroundings
her Veins ran ice' and she was unable to encourage him to
make the proposal. He went out to India to represent the
Smith, Elder firm and did not return for many years.
Luckily for posterity, one of the literary friendships
Charlotte made during this period was with the novelist Mrs.
Gaskell, who afterwards wrote the admirable Life of Charlotte
Bronte, one of the finest biographies in the English language.
Meanwhile another suitor arose for Charlotte near at
hand: her father's curate, the northern Irishman Arthur
Bell Nicholls. Earnest, conscientious, kind but narrow, not
gifted with Tine talents, congenial tastes and thoughts',
Nicholls won Charlotte's consent at last by loving her, not
as a writerhe detested the Brontes' literary famebut as
a woman. Mr. Bronte ill-advisedly objected to his suit on