THE BRONT&S 89 the tremendous experience of which that story tells. The experience is the advent of love (the word advent suits Charlotte's religious view of this emotion), much longed for but almost des- paired of, into an emotionally starved life. Only a pent-up soul, such as Charlotte's was, under the lock and key. of principles as strong as the ardent nature they imprisoned, could have poured that one, sincere, lofty, all-pervasive spirit into the facts, on the face of them as dull as ditch-water, of a priggish, unlovable and unloving governess's career in a foreign town. The artless, straight- forward course of the narrative, the clear-cut distinctness of the sketches and portraits, the prompt, unhesitating judgments contained in them, not unjust, certainly, but lacking in kindli- ness,1 show the almost wilful aloofness of the narrator from the world she is confronting, reveal, too, the real, though unacknowledged, raison d'etre of her being there, namely an intense, hungry quest for personal happiness which, consciously, of course, she has dismissed as a vain hope. Char- lotte's observation is remarkable, but it is an observation nearly always of deficiencies from her own very narrow, rigidly held standards of con- duct, dictated by personal soreness and the be- haviour she had subconsciously assumed to cover that soreness up. She cannot even look at a 1 Charlotte was extremely suspicious of kindly feelings in her- self. The reader of Villette comes across the following sentence with surprise and amusement. Lucy is talking of Paulina and says: " I liked her. It is not a declaration I have often made concerning my acquaintance in the course of this book; the reader will bear with it for once." The reader is indeed happy to bear with it.