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Full text of "The Brontes"

24                       THE   BRONTES
as regards social intercourse, much as it was at the
start.
Mrs. Bronte fell ill in January 1821 ;  she died
in   September   1821,   after   " seven   months  of
agonising illness."    This we know from a letter,
recently discovered to have been written by Mr.
Bronte, which was published in the Cottage Maga-
zine of 1822.   The letter was entitled : " A Letter
from  a   Clergyman - In  answer  to   a letter of
sympathy on the loss of his   wife.5*     Only  the
initial letters of names were originally printed,
but Mr. C. W. Hatfield, the authority on Bronte
MSS., has no doubt of its authorship and it was
reprinted in the Transactions of the Bronte Society,
1931.   From this letter, several hitherto unknown
facts emerge as to Mrs. Bronte's illness and death,
and life, during that sad time, at the Parsonage.
It was not previously known that Miss Elizabeth
Branwell came from Penzance to look after her
sister's family some months before the death of
Mrs. Bronte.    Mrs. Gaskell stated, as she had
been told, that Miss Branwell  arrived to take
charge of the household a year or so after her
sister's death, and all writers on the Brontes have
naturally repeated what Mrs. Gaskell said.   Miss
Branwell may not, of course^   have  arrived  to
take up her permanent abode at Haworth until
later, but we now know that she came earlier
rto look after the family, while her sister  was
dying.
" For the first three months " (of his wife's ill-
ness), Mr. Bronte writes, " I was left nearly quite
alone, unless you suppose my six little children,