THE BRONTES 143 Nevertheless, we must still pity that solitary daughter who was conscientious to a point reached only by Victorian spinsters. Had the old man been really terrible, Charlotte might have left him ; she took herself off once for several days when he overstepped the bounds in abuse of Mr. Nicholls. But Victorian parents rarely gave their children the opportunity of leaving them with a good conscience, and, in all ages, the trials of domestic life come from living, not with those who are obviously " impossible/' for these can be deserted without compunction, but with those who are merely " trying " and whom, therefore, it is difficult to abandon. Mr. Bronte and his son-in-law lived together, an odd couple linked by bereavement, for another six years after Charlotte's death. The old man died in 1861, in his eighty-fifth year. Mr. Nicholls then retired to Ireland and remarried* He died in 1906. If Charlotte had lived longer, and if, as might have happened, circumstances had diverted her attention as a novelist from passionate love to other human relationships, she might have given the world as truthful an analysis of the conflict between filial feeling and a woman's longing for independence, or between wifely feeling and literary ambitions, as that she gave in Jam Eyre of the conflict between passion and duty. She took up her pen in childhood and in womanhood as an anodyne, and when the glamour of being Char- lotte Bell Nicholls had worn off, she might, to some telling purpose, have taken it up again.