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Full text of "The Brontë sisters"

THE  BRONTE  SISTERS                          21
for Angrian ones for the purpose of publication, the falsity
of the feeling still strikes uneasily through. Yet in these
Anglian compositions—for example, Zamornds Exile, a
long narrative poem in the Byronic stanza (a b a b a b c c)
and the last half of Retrospection—Charlotte's technical
facility is at its best. In the other category, poems of real
life, when writing of personal experiences—in Life, The
Teacher's Monogolue, Parting, the tragic Hegerian He Saw
my Heart's Woe, and so on—Charlotte sometimes achieves
a grave poignancy of feeling and dignity of phrase. Especially
is this the case in the first part of'Retrospection, beginning We
Wove a Web in Childhood, where she describes in symbolic
terms the creation of their dream-worlds by the Bronte
children. But in general, her verse is novelist's verse, tending
to narrative and incident rather than to lyrical intensity,
and when she found her real metier in fiction she dropped the
writing of peotry.
For Charlotte is essentially a novelist. Her childhood
Angrian stories already show an admirable skill in construc-
tion, characterization, and narration, an enviable fertility in
incident. In The Professor for the first time she intended to
transfer these abilities to a fiction of real life, and it is
interesting to mark her efforts to effect the transition from
day-dream to daylight. She tells us in a preface prepared for
a suggested issue of the book during her lifetime:
... in many a crude effort ... I had got over any such taste
as I might once have had for ornamented and redundant composition,
and come to prefer what was plain and homely. At the same time
I had adopted a set of principles on the subject of incident etc. . . .
I said to myself that my hero should work his way through life as
I had seen real living men work theirs—that he should never get
a shilling he had not earned—that no sudden turns should lift
him in a moment to wealth and high station ... he should not even
marry a beautiful girl or a lady of rank. As Adam's son he should
share Adam's doom, and drain throughout life a mixed and moderate
cup of enjoyment.
The Professor: Preface