29 SEPTEMBER 1906, Page 23



Charlotte Brontii and her Sisters. By Clement K. Shorter. (Hodder and Stoughton. 3s. 6d.)—Mr. Shorter has by assiduous -work and painstaking investigation made the lives of Charlotte Bronte and her sisters so decidedly his own property that it was practically inevitable he should write upon them for the "Literary Lives" Series published by Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton and edited by Dr. Robertson Nicoll. He has, of course, mastered the considerable Bronte literature, mainly controversial, which has of late years been devoted to the sisters,—mastered it so completely that he is able to write of every incident in their lives in a catholic and non-controversial spirit. Withal, as in dealing with the painful story of Branwell and the fascinating subject of the "glamour" of the sisters, he is entirely sensible. He gives much prominence to the story of Emily, whose " Wutheriug Heights" he evidently regards as the supreme flight of the Bronte brain. "Emily died young, but she left behind her some imperishable poems and an equally imperishable novel, of which Mr. Swinburne has written: 'It may be true that not many will ever take it to their hearts ; it is certain that thosa who do like it will like nothing very much better in the whole world of poetry or prose.' " Charlotte, of course, has full justice done to her. It is pleasant to read Mr. Shorter's impression of her husband. "The genial man who shook hands with me at Banagher Station, carried me off in his jaunting-ear to his pleasant home, and intro- duced me to his kindly family circle was an entirely benign and liberal-minded man. There were no remnants in his nature of that intolerance and pedantry that may or may not have been in his nature half a century earlier." Altogether, Mr. Shorter has produced such an excellently concise handbook of "Bronteism" that it is hardly possible to conceive of a better taking its place in popular favour.