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Full text of "The Brontes"

THE   BRONTfeS                       59
course, must have been, to some extent, deliberate.
Charlotte was determined not to be parted from
Anglian splendours and palaces : she resented the
intrusion of the commonplace, the dolt, for in-
stance, who came up for a lesson and broke into
her day-dreams. There is a note of self-conscious
pride in her remark : " How few would believe
that from sources purely imaginary such happiness
can be derived " ; and even a little swagger in her
reference to that " mighty phantasm . . . strange
as some religious creed." The company at Roe
Head were not, in fact, any more than was the
society at Haworth, drawn from the class with
whom Charlotte, in her fancies, had been ac-
customed to mix. Her attitude was not unlike that
of Aunt Branwell who sat upstairs in her bedroom,
bemoaning the cold of the downstairs regions, and
harping on the charms of far-away Penzance. It
seems an unkind thing to say of timid, shrinking
little Charlotte Bronte that at bottom she had too
exalted an opinion of herself, and of course it can-
not be said without explaining that by exalted
opinion is meant, in the main, an exaggerated
sense of self-importance due to repression in
childish days and lack of normal contacts. This
was largely the matter with all the Brontes
(though possibly there is something also to be said
for the contention that consciously they thought
themselves a bit above their neighbours) ; their
wretched shyness arose from it, as most shyness
does, and, open expression of self-importance being
denied them by circumstance and precept, in-
direct " symbolic " expression was an inevitable