Artwork of Branwell Brontë’s letters: 'Patrick Reid "turned off"' and 'The Rescue of the Punchbowl'
Written over a year after Letter 14, Letter 21 dated January 1848 (BC MS 19c Brontë/02/01/21), exhibits similar preoccupations.
The first sketch is of a man with a noose tied around his neck. The caption names him as Patrick Reid, found guilty of the Mirfield Murders less than 20 miles away from Haworth, in 1847. Despite the title, this drawing was identified as a self-portrait of Branwell by Christine Alexander in her book The Art of the Brontës, an idea perhaps suggested to Branwell by the Christian name he shared with the murderer.
The drawing on the bottom half of the sheet accompanying the letter depicts men drunkenly collapsing around a table and is titled 'The rescue of the punchbowl. A scene in the Talbot.' The drawing depicts Branwell the previous week at the Talbot pub in Halifax, surrounded by his friends, including John Brown, Dan Sugden, and Leyland himself.
The tone of the letter seems related more to the mood of the first than the second sketch. Branwell repeats his regrets and apologies for what he describes as a 'temporary illness': 'I was not intoxicated when I saw you last, Dear Sir, but I was so much broken down and embittered in heart that it did not need much extra stimulus to make me experience the fainting fit I had […].'