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Full text of "The Brontes"

128                     THE   BRONTES
Heights and Agnes Grey were to be republished. If
only Emily and Anne could have known that!
If only she could have seen Emily's half scornful
smile again and Anne's quiet, amazed look !
But they were dead, Emily buried close by in the
church, Anne at Scarborough. Charlotte alone
was left with her old father in the Parsonage, " to
wipe the dust off their gravestones and leave their
dear names free from soil.'3
Violent grief was over perhaps ; she could not
otherwise have written so calmly. She was writ-
ing, not to relieve her feelings of personal loss, nor
to make her sisters known to the public in any
graphic sense. She was writing to protect their
reputations : she had her arms stretched, as it
were, defensively, between them and any im-
pertinent curiosity. " In externals, they were two
unobtrusive women," she wrote, hitting out at
those who had thought them ferocious males. " I
may sum up all by saying,55 she concluded, rigidly,
" that for strangers they were nothing, for super-
ficial observers less than nothing. . . ." Herein
we have merely the measure of the Victorian
worship of privacy, with its reverse, the horror of
publicity, and no real impression of Emily or
Anne. For strangers, or even superficial obser-
vers, Emily, in particular, can never have been
nothing ; her fierce unsociability must have drawn
attention. She was aloof, and never merged, as
unnoticeable people merge, into any company.
There was probably nothing really unobtrusive,
either in appearance or manner, about any of the
Brontes, except perhaps Anne, who was the