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THEBRONTfS                    49
significance. Of course all the Brontes needed a
wide, generous education, and would have been
the happier for it; they were fine spirits shut up
in a small world - but, their circumstances being
what they were, that wide, generous education was
not to be had, and Charlotte's little struggle to
pick up what schooling she could, and even to
hand it on afterwards to her brother and sisters,
is not really to be scorned, nor is it pitiable. Going
to Roe Head took her outside Haworth, which
was a great thing ; it made her friends, Miss
Wooler, Mary Taylor and Ellen Nussey, which
was even greater - and from the point of view of
Bronte lovers, most important, for without the
long correspondence which started in school days,
amounting to about five hundred letters in all
from Charlotte, between Charlotte and Ellen
Nussey, very little indeed would be known about
the Brontes' home lives.
The first glimpse of Charlotte from the outside
comes through her schoolfellow, Mary Taylor,
who described to Mrs. Gaskell her arrival at Roe
Head School in January 1831 : " I first saw her
coming out of a covered cart in very old-fashioned
clothes and looking very cold and miserable. She
was coming to school at Miss Woolens. When she
appeared in the schoolroom her dress was changed
but just as old. She looked a little, old woman, so
short-sighted that she always appeared to be
seeking something and moving her head from
side to side to catch a sight of it. She was very
shy and nervous and spoke with a strong Irish
accent. When a book was given her, she dropped