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THE   BRONTES                     31
strange as was the disclosure you once made to
me." Our curiosity as to the " strange disclo-
sure " must remain unsatisfied, for Mr. Bronte
merely replied, more than a year and a half
afterwards : " I confessed to you that I had done
some things which I was sorry for which originated
chiefly in very difficult circumstances which sur-
rounded me and which were produced chiefly
by myself." Miss Burder became Mrs. Peter
Sibree of Wethersfield and the correspondence was
not renewed.
It is said that Miss Elizabeth Firth of Thornton
was also sought by Mr. Bronte in marriage, with-
out success. She was not more than twenty-five
when Mrs. Bronte died, and as a girl of eighteen
onwards had taken the liveliest interest in the
Bronte family when they lived at Thornton where
the Firths also lived. A diary which she kept from
1816-1820 was published by her grandson, Pro-
fessor Moore Smith of Sheffield, in the Bookman
for October 1904, and it reveals how very often
the Firths and Brontes called on one another and
" took tea." It reveals too that Miss Branwell
stayed with her sister and brother-in-law for over
a year at Thornton, and partook of the tea drink-
ing and other social pleasures there, which ex-
plains why Miss Branwell afterwards found
Haworth (where there were no tea-parties) ex-
tremely dull. The Firths were generous friends
to the Brontes and though Miss Firth's schoolgirl
interest in her former pastor and his family did
not go so far as to enable her to become the
second Mrs. Bronte (" her heart," says Professor