Skip to main content

Full text of "The Brontes"

See other formats

THE   BRONTES                       73
what Emily was brooding over,, she was not likely
to have told. But, probably, she did not know
and homesickness for the moors was as near as
she could get towards explaining what was the
matter with Emily.
" My sister Emily loved the moors/5 wrote
Charlotte. True as that was, of course it was
not the whole truth. We do not, nowadays, make
Mrs. Gaskell's mistake of supposing that Emily
cared only for nature and animals. The attrac-
tion which has been felt towards her of late years
is as much an understanding of the passionate
nature that was behind that seeming coldness of
hers as it is due to appreciation of her as a writer
and poet. The Victorian predilection for lives of
valiant souls " made perfect by suffering," to
quote from a letter Charles Kingsley wrote to
Mrs. Gaskell, has yielded to a sympathetic interest
in the psychology of human beings regardless of
whether suffering makes them perfect or not.
When Mrs. Gaskell was writing her life of Char-
lotte, she asked Ellen Nussey what Emily's re-
ligious opinions were. Miss Nussey, a devout
Churchwoman, was not at all certain and to
Mrs. Gaskell, Unitarian and wide-minded as she
was, this uncertainty evidently constituted a
serious obstacle to knowledge of Emily, of whom,
from talks with various people, she had already
formed no very pleasant impression.
Mrs.   Gaskell's   impression   was,   no   doubt,
dreary night? . . . Her removal, if it has taken place, must have
been to Northangerland like the quenching of the last spark that;
averted utter darkness."