'The curtains were found ablaze, and Branwell lying... insensible...'

After the death of his wife in 1821 Patrick Brontë left the room they had shared and moved into the bedroom across the landing, which remained his for the rest of his life. Patrick had lived through periods of Luddite and Chartist violence, to which clergymen often fell victim, and as a result would place a loaded pistol beside his bed at night, discharging the bullet by firing it from his bedroom window across the graveyard every morning.

 

In later years Branwell's addiction to alcohol and opium made him a danger both to himself and his family. Mary Robinson, an early biographer, was told that on one occasion Branwell, stupefied with alcohol, set his bed on fire and was rescued by Emily. Whether true or not, it was the fear of such incidents which led Mr Brontë to share his room with Branwell, in order to watch over him. Elizabeth Gaskell, writing of this period in the Brontës' lives, said of Branwell: 'For some time before his death he had attacks of delirium tremens of the most frightful character; he slept in his father's room, and he would sometimes declare that either he or his father should be dead before morning... In  the mornings young Brontë would saunter out, saying, with a drunkard's incontinence of speech, "The poor old man and I have had a terrible night of it; he does his best - the poor old man! but it's all over with me."' It was in this room that Branwell died at the age of thirty-one on Sunday 24 September 1848, repenting the fact that in all his life he had 'done nothing either great or good'.

In 1860 Elizabeth Gaskell, accompanied by her daughter Meta, paid her last visit to see Mr Brontë, who was by this time confined to bed: 'we were taken into his bedroom; where everything was delicately clean and white, and there he was sitting propped up in bed in a clean nightgown, with a clean towel laid just for his hands to play upon...' Mr Brontë, having outlived his wife and children, died here on 7 June 1861, at the age of eighty-four.

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