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Full text of "The Brontes"

IQ6                     THE   BRONTES
Bronte said she had no recollection of pleasure or
gladness about Jane Eyre : every such feeling was
lost in seeing Emily's resolute endurance, yet
knowing what she felt," And the desolation
which encompassed Charlotte when, in 1850, she
sat down to write that moving biographical sketch
of her sisters was largely the desolation of feeling
that the identities of Ellis and Acton Bell had been
smothered by the mystery which, she said, she was
writing to clear up:
The mystery, however, had existed mainly only
in the minds of the Bronte sisters. The public
were curious but not mystified, no more curious,
however, than they would have been if the three
sisters had written under their own names instead
of under the neutral ones they chose, so conscien-
tious were they at assuming Christian names not
positively masculine. Certainly their own names
would have divulged that they were women, but
would have conveyed no more than that to the
public, who would have said, " Who are the
Brontes ? " just as they did say,  Who are the
Bells?3' The " mystery" had amused Char-
lotte and her sisters at first but as expectations
(which, with budding authors, however modest,
are always great) faded and the three names were
confused and even the existence of two out of the
three doubted, the disguise lost its savour and the
inapposite remarks in the reviews which had at
first been laughable became galling to read. No
wonder that Charlotte, the only one of the three
who had scored success and upon whom the mys-
tery had not recoiled, felt, in 1850, that it was time