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THE  BRONTES                      35'
which they would dip into on their way home.
But, in childhood, this could not have happened
often - the walk to Keighley and back was eight
miles - and the children, like Caroline Helstone,
had to make do with the oddments of literature
at home which seem, anyway, to have included
Sir Walter Scott's works, Wordsworth's and
Southey's poems, Pilgrim*$ Progress, the Arabian
Nights, and JEsop^s Fables. A copy of Scott's
Tales of a Grandfather in three volumes exists with
an inscription in Miss Branwell's handwriting :
" A New Year's Gift by Miss E. B. to her dear
little nephew and nieces, Patrick, Charlotte,
Emily and Anne Bronte, 1828." Miss Branwell
saw to it that no time should be spent in reading
until the allotted tasks of house-work and sewing
were duly performed, but Mr. Bronte approved
of reading and ever since the children could
remember they had shared his keen interest in
politics. He was, of course, a strong Tory and
his views on Reform, as to which all England was
then agitated, can be imagined, as also on Cath-
olic Emancipation, until the great Duke saw fit
to concede a measure to this end himself. Char-
lotte, aged thirteen or so, has drawn a vivid pic-
ture of Parsonage excitement during this period
in one of her early writings : " I remember the
day when the Intelligence Extraordinary came
with Mr. Peel's speech in it, containing the terms
on which the Catholics were to be let in. With what
eagerness papa tore off the cover, and how we all
gathered round him, and with what breathless
anxiety we listened, as one by one they were