142 THE BRONTES to write, through a period of intense depression and physical weakness, her greatest work, Vilktte. She visited London many times ; she met celebri- ties ; she made new friends. But timidity and self-consciousness of a morbid kind and an old- maidish primness never left her nor did Romance ever come her way. She refused at least another offer of marriage and eventually, in fear and tremb- ling, but determined, engaged herself to her father's curate, Mr. Nicholls. In that marriage, she found, if not a twin soul, at least a husband who was in love with her and whose misery at her first rejec- tion of him had aroused a " Now or never " com- motion in her heart. She was settling down into a comfortable, if uninspiring, domesticity at the Parsonage, when she died, in pregnancy, after three weeks of sickness, on March 30th, 1855. There have been few essentially sadder lives than Charlotte Bronte's and perhaps the most pathetic aspect of it lies in the fact that she was probably happier during her nine months of marriage to a good but dull husband than she had ever been before. Her life was one of " short commons " : she was physically weak, her liver was always get- ting out of order, her " animal spirits " were in- variably low. She saw her brother and sisters die in tragic succession : she was bereft of all family companionship and though she lived to be famous, her life, until she married, was pitiful. The picture of Mr. Bronte as a violent eccentric is now known to have been exaggerated and there is plenty of evidence of his quite ordinary behaviour and of the respect in which he was held in Haworth.