THE BRONTfiS 105 He sank into being, not the wildly dissipated maniac that some writers have portrayed, and that Charlotte's sweeping references or avoidance of the subject of him suggest, but that sorriest of figures, a pathetic failure, prematurely old, chroni- cally bronchitical, drinking at times, but not con- tinuously, yet still maintaining for some of his friends the old fascination of talk, the old charm of manner that seemed to them to give the lie to the lurid stories of him that were afterwards spread. He read, and wrote, spasmodically, dreary verses ; he was constantly in ihe village, and according to one account, basked occasionally in the sunshine of being known to be a brother of the author of Jane Eyre. Charlotte's statement that Branwell was never aware that his sisters had written a line cannot, in view of other evidence, be accepted. She may have meant by it that she, personally, had never discussed her books with him, but even this is open to doubt. That Bran- well wrote Wuthering Heights, or even had a hand in writing it, seems quite untenable. Apart from all external evidence, it is clear from the spirit, style and construction, both of the novel and the poems, that Emily wrote the book.