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22                      THE   BRONTES
from boyhood's days a collection of fearful tales
and legends which,  when in  social  mood, he
would   retail,   to   Emily's   especial  relish,   Miss
Nussey remembered.    Emily was supposed to be
like her father.   That fierce determination of hers
is more likely, certainly, to have come from him
than from the mother.   Mr. Bronte's violence was
screened by a dignified manner which a sense of
the position which he had reached had imposed
on his early ambition and impetuous blood.   He
had   no   mental   flexibility;     no   sympathetic
imagination ;   his  thought was  purely platitu-
dinous,   characteristics   which   a   certain   inde-
pendence  of judgment  in   practical,   parochial
matters and his so-called eccentricities of conduct
could easily, on slight acquaintance, hide.    As
suggested, his eccentricities, such as keeping a
loaded pistol by him and discharging it daily,
snipping out the sleeves of c ie of his wife's dresses
because he disliked the shape, and his horror of
fire, to the extent of forbidding curtains to the
windows,   were   only   odd,  judged   by  genteel
standards ;   they may have been quite common
traits in County Down.   His was a patchy gen-
tility, acquired under difficulties and never en-
larged into the full-dress respectabilities of his pro-
fessional brethren.   Peasant habits, strong as the
brogue of his speech, often came uppermost above
the choker and broadcloth.
The newly married couple took up their abode
at Hartshead, where the two eldest children,
Maria and Elizabeth, were born. In 1815, Mr.
Bronte exchanged livings with the curate of