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 In the course of this sad autumn of 1845, a new interest came up; faint, indeed, and often lost sight of in the vivid pain and constant pressure of anxiety respecting their brother.  In the biographical notice of her sisters, which Charlotte prefixed to the edition of “Wuthering Heights” and “Agnes Grey,” published in 1850—a piece of writing unique, as far as I know, in its pathos2 and its power—she says:—  
“One day in the autumn of 1845, I accidentally lighted on a MS. volume of verse, in my sister Emily’s handwriting.  Of course, I was not surprised, knowing that she could and did write verse: I looked it over, and something more than surprise seized me—a deep conviction that these were not common effusions, nor at all like the poetry women generally write.  I thought them condensed and terse3, vigorous and genuine.  To my ear they had also a peculiar4 music, wild, melancholy5, and elevating.  My sister Emily was not a person of demonstrative character, nor one on the recesses6 of whose mind and feelings even those nearest and dearest to her could, with impunity7, intrude9 unlicensed: it took hours to reconcile her to the discovery I had made, and days to persuade her that such poems merited publication . . . Meantime, my younger sister quietly produced some of her own compositions, intimating that since Emily’s had given me pleasure, I might like to look at hers.  I could not but be a partial judge, yet I thought that these verses too had a sweet sincere pathos of their own.  We had very early cherished the dream of one day being authors.  We agreed to arrange a small selection of our poems, and, if possible, get them printed.  Averse10 to personal publicity11, we veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell; the ambiguous choice being dictated12 by a sort of conscientious13 scruple14 at assuming Christian15 names, positively16 masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because—without at the time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called ‘feminine,’ we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice; we noticed how critics sometimes use for their chastisement17 the weapon of personality, and for their reward, a flattery, which is not true praise.  The bringing out of our little book was hard work.  As was to be expected, neither we nor our poems were at all wanted; but for this we had been prepared at the outset; though inexperienced ourselves, we had read the experience of others.  The great puzzle lay in the difficulty of getting answers of any kind from the publishers to whom we applied18.  Being greatly harassed19 by this obstacle, I ventured to apply to the Messrs. Chambers20, of Edinburgh, for a word of advice; they may have forgotten the circumstance, but I have not, for from them I received a brief and business-like, but civil and sensible reply, on which we acted, and at last made way.”
I inquired from Mr. Robert Chambers, and found, as Miss Brontë conjectured21, that he had entirely22 forgotten the application which had been made to him and his brother for advice; nor had they any copy or memorandum23 of the correspondence.
There is an intelligent man living in Haworth, who has given me some interesting particulars relating to the sisters about this period.  He says:—
“I have known Miss Brontë, as Miss Brontë, a long time; indeed, ever since they came to Haworth in 1819.  But I had not much acquaintance with the family till about 1843, when I began to do a little in the stationery25 line.  Nothing of that kind could be had nearer than Keighley before I began.  They used to buy a great deal of writing paper, and I used to wonder whatever they did with so much.  I sometimes thought they contributed to the Magazines.  When I was out of stock, I was always afraid of their coming; they seemed so distressed26 about it, if I had none.  I have walked to Halifax (a distance of ten miles) many a time, for half a ream of paper, for fear of being without it when they came.  I could not buy more at a time for want of capital.  I was always short of that.  I did so like them to come when I had anything for them; they were so much different to anybody else; so gentle and kind, and so very quiet.  They never talked much.  Charlotte sometimes would sit and inquire about our circumstances so kindly27 and feelingly! . . . Though I am a poor working man (which I have never felt to be any degradation), I could talk with her with the greatest freedom.  I always felt quite at home with her.  Though I never had any school education, I never felt the want of it in her company.”
The publishers to whom she finally made a successful application for the production of “Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell’s poems,” were Messrs. Aylott and Jones, Paternoster Row.  Mr. Aylott has kindly placed the letters which she wrote to them on the subject at my disposal.  The first is dated January 28th, 1846, and in it she inquires if they will publish one volume octavo of poems; if not at their own risk, on the author’s account.  It is signed “C. Brontë.”  They must have replied pretty speedily, for on January 31st she writes again:—
“Since you agree to undertake the publication of the work respecting which I applied to you, I should wish now to know, as soon as possible, the cost of paper and printing.  I will then send the necessary remittance28, together with the manuscript.  I should like it to be printed in one octavo volume, of the same quality of paper and size of type as Moxon’s last edition of Wordsworth.  The poems will occupy, I should think, from 200 to 250 pages.  They are not the production of a clergyman, nor are they exclusively of a religious character; but I presume these circumstances will be immaterial.  It will, perhaps, be necessary that you should see the manuscript, in order to calculate accurately30 the expense of publication; in that case I will send it immediately.  I should like, however, previously31, to have some idea of the probable cost; and if, from what I have said, you can make a rough calculation on the subject, I should be greatly obliged to you.”
In her next letter, February 6th, she says:—
“You will perceive that the poems are the work of three persons, relatives—their separate pieces are distinguished32 by their respective signatures.”
She writes again on February 15th; and on the 16th she says:—
“The MS. will certainly form a thinner volume than I had anticipated.  I cannot name another model which I should like it precisely33 to resemble, yet, I think, a duodecimo form, and a somewhat reduced, though still clear type, would be preferable.  I only stipulate34 for clear type, not too small, and good paper.”
On February 21st she selects the “long primer type” for the poems, and will remit29 31l. 10s. in a few days.
Minute as the details conveyed in these notes are, they are not trivial, because they afford such strong indications of character.  If the volume was to be published at their own risk, it was necessary that the sister conducting the negotiation35 should make herself acquainted with the different kinds of type, and the various sizes of books.  Accordingly she bought a small volume, from which to learn all she could on the subject of preparation for the press.  No half-knowledge—no trusting to other people for decisions which she could make for herself; and yet a generous and full confidence, not misplaced, in the thorough probity36 of Messrs. Aylott and Jones.  The caution in ascertaining37 the risk before embarking38 in the enterprise, and the prompt payment of the money required, even before it could be said to have assumed the shape of a debt, were both parts of a self-reliant and independent character.  Self-contained also was she.  During the whole time that the volume of poems was in the course of preparation and publication, no word was written telling anyone, out of the household circle, what was in progress.
I have had some of the letters placed in my hands, which she addressed to her old schoolmistress, Miss W-.  They begin a little before this time.  Acting39 on the conviction, which I have all along entertained, that where Charlotte Brontë’s own words could be used, no others ought to take their place, I shall make extracts from this series, according to their dates.
“Jan. 30th, 1846.
“I have not yet paid my visit to ---; it is, indeed, more than a year since I was there, but I frequently hear from E., and she did not fail to tell me that you were gone into Worcestershire; she was unable, however, to give me your exact address.  Had I known it, I should have written to you long since.  I thought you would wonder how we were getting on, when you heard of the railway panic; and you may be sure that I am very glad to be able to answer your kind inquiries40 by the assurance that our small capital is as yet undiminished.  The York and Midland is, as you say, a very good line, yet, I confess to you, I should wish, for my own part, to be wise in time.  I cannot think that even the very best lines will continue for many years at their present premiums41; and I have been most anxious for us to sell our shares ere it be too late, and to secure the proceeds in some safer, if, for the present, less profitable investment.  I cannot, however, persuade my sisters to regard the affair precisely from my point of view; and I feel as if I would rather run the risk of loss than hurt Emily’s feelings by acting in direct opposition42 to her opinion.  She managed in a most handsome and able manner for me, when I was in Brussels, and prevented by distance from looking after my own interests; therefore, I will let her manage still, and take the consequences.  Disinterested44 and energetic she certainly is; and if she be not quite so tractable45 or open to conviction as I could wish, I must remember perfection is not the lot of humanity; and as long as we can regard those we love, and to whom we are closely allied46, with profound and never-shaken esteem47, it is a small thing that they should vex48 us occasionally by what appear to us unreasonable49 and headstrong notions.
“You, my dear Miss W---, know, full as well as I do, the value of sisters’ affection to each other; there is nothing like it in this world, I believe, when they are nearly equal in age, and similar in education, tastes, and sentiments.  You ask about Branwell; he never thinks of seeking employment, and I begin to fear that he has rendered himself incapable50 of filling any respectable station in life; besides, if money were at his disposal, he would use it only to his own injury; the faculty51 of self-government is, I fear, almost destroyed in him.  You ask me if I do not think that men are strange beings?  I do, indeed.  I have often thought so; and I think, too, that the mode of bringing them up is strange: they are not sufficiently52 guarded from temptation.  Girls are protected as if they were something very frail53 or silly indeed, while boys are turned loose on the world, as if they, of all beings in existence, were the wisest and least liable to be led astray.  I am glad you like Broomsgrove, though, I dare say, there are few places you would not like, with Mrs. M. for a companion.  I always feel a peculiar satisfaction when I hear of your enjoying yourself, because it proves that there really is such a thing as retributive justice even in this world.  You worked hard; you denied yourself all pleasure, almost all relaxation54, in your youth, and in the prime of life; now you are free, and that while you have still, I hope, many years of vigour55 and health in which you can enjoy freedom.  Besides, I have another and very egotistical motive56 for being pleased; it seems that even ‘a lone57 woman’ can be happy, as well as cherished wives and proud mothers.  I am glad of that.  I speculate much on the existence of unmarried and never-to-be-married women now-a-days; and I have already got to the point of considering that there is no more respectable character on this earth than an unmarried woman, who makes her own way through life quietly, perseveringly58, without support of husband or brother; and who, having attained59 the age of forty-five or upwards60, retains in her possession a well-regulated mind, a disposition61 to enjoy simple pleasures, and fortitude62 to support inevitably63 pains, sympathy with the sufferings of others, and willingness to relieve want as far as her means extend.”
During the time that the negotiation with Messrs. Aylott and Co. was going on, Charlotte went to visit her old school-friend, with whom she was in such habits of confidential64 intimacy65; but neither then nor afterwards, did she ever speak to her of the publication of the poems; nevertheless, this young lady suspected that the sisters wrote for Magazines; and in this idea she was confirmed when, on one of her visits to Haworth, she saw Anne with a number of “Chambers’s Journal,” and a gentle smile of pleasure stealing over her placid66 face as she read.
“What is the matter?” asked the friend.  “Why do you smile?”
“Only because I see they have inserted one of my poems,” was the quiet reply; and not a word more was said on the subject.
To this friend Charlotte addressed the following letters:—
“March 3............
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