Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, Penguin Classics, London, 1996.

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter had brought with it clouds so somber, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question. (opening, 13; constriction by propriety)

…until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner,—something lighter, franker, more natural as it were—she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children.’ /
‘What does Bessie say I have done?’ I asked.
‘Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners: besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.’ (13)

Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast. (14)

‘If you had such, would you like to go to them?’
I reflected. Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to children: they have not much idea of industrious, working, respectable poverty; they think of the word only as connected with ragged clothes, scanty food, fireless grates, rude manners, and debasing vices: poverty for me was synonymous with degradation.
‘No; I should not like to belong to poor people,’ was my reply.
‘Not even if they were kind to you?’
I shook my head: I could not see how poor people had the means of being kind; and then to learn to speak like them, to adopt the manners, to be uneducated, to grow up like one of the poor women I saw sometimes nursing their children or washing their clothes at the cottage doors of the village of Gateshead: no, I was not heroic enough to purchase liberty at the price of caste. (32)

Bessie, when she heard this narrative, sighed and said, ‘Poor Miss Jane is to be pitied, too, Abbot.’
‘Yes,’ responded Abbot, ‘if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that.’
‘Not a great deal, to be sure,’ agreed Bessie: ‘at any rate a beauty like Miss Georgiana would be more moving in the same condition.’ (34)

From my discourse with Mr Lloyd, and from the above reported conference between Bessie and Abbot, I gathered enough of hope to suffice as a motive for wishing to get well: a change seemed near—I desired and waited it in silence. It tarried, however: (35)

To this crib I always took my doll; human beings must love something, and in the dearth of worthier objects of affectation, I contrived to find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, … (37)

When thus gentle, Bessie seemed to me the best, prettiest, kindest being in the world; and I wished most intensely that she would always be so pleasant and amiable, and never push me about, or scold, or task me unreasonably, … (37)

Mrs Reed occupied her usual seat by the fireside: she made a signal to me to approach: I did so, and she introduced me to the stony stranger with the words: ‘This is the little girl respecting whom I applied to you.’ /
He, for it was a man, turned his head slowly towards where I stood, and having examined me with the two inquisitive-looking grey eyes which twinkled under a pair of bushy brows, said solemnly, and in a bass voice: ‘Her size is small: what is her age?’ (40) [funny]

Do you know where the wicked go after death?’
‘They go to hell,’ was my ready and orthodox answer.
‘And what is hell? Can you tell me that?’
‘A pit full of fire.’
‘And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?’
‘No, sir.’
‘What must you do to avoid it?’
I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable: ‘I must keep in good health, and not die.’ (41)

‘Do you read your bible?’
‘With pleasure? Are you fond of it?’
‘I like Revelations, and the book of Daniel, and Genesis and Samuel, and a little bit of Exodus, and some parts of Kings and Chronicles, and Job and Jonah.’
‘And the Psalms? I hope you like them.’
‘No, sir.’
‘No? oh, shocking! I have a little boy, younger than you, who knows six Psalms by heart: and when you ask him which he would rather have, a gingerbread nut to eat, or a verse of a Psalm to learn, he says: “Oh! the verse of a Psalm! angels sing Psalm;” says he, “I wish to be a little angel here below;” he then gets two nuts in recompense for him infant piety.’
‘Psalms are not interesting,’ I remarked. (42)

…and I trust she will shew herself grateful for the inestimable privilege of her election.’ (44)

With these words Mr Brocklehurst put into my hand a thin pamphlet sewn in a cover; and having rung for his carriage, he departed. / Mrs Reed and I were left alone: some minutes passed in silence; she was sewing, I was watching her. … Mrs Reed looked up from her work; her eye settled on mine, her fingers at the same time suspended their nimble movements. / ‘Go out of the room; return to the nursery,’ was her mandate. My look or something else must have struck her as offensive, for she spoke with extreme, though suppressed irritation. I got up, I went to the door; I came back again; I walked to the window, across the room, then close up to her. … ‘I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the world except John Reed; and this book about the liar, you may give to your girl, Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not I.’ (44-5)

As we passed Mrs Reed’s bedroom, she said, ‘Will you go in and bid Missis good-bye?’ / ‘No, Bessie: she came to my crib last night when you were gone down to supper, and said I need not disturb her in the morning, or my cousins either; and she told me to remember that she had always been my best friend, and to speak of her and be grateful to her accordingly.’ / ‘What did you say, Miss?’ / ‘Nothing: I covered my face with bed-clothes, and turned from her to the wall.’ / ‘That was wrong, Miss Jane.’ / ‘It was quite right, Bessie: your Missis has not been my friend; she has been my foe.’ (50)

‘She had better be put to bed soon; she looks tired: are you tired?’ she asked, placing her hand on my shoulder. / ‘A little, ma’am.’ / ‘And hungry too, no doubt: let her have some supper before she goes to bed, Miss Miller. Is this the first time you have left your parents to come to school, my little girl?’ / I explained to her that I had no parents. She inquired how long they had been dead; then how old I was, what was my name, whether I could read, write, and sew a little: then she touched my cheek gently with her forefinger, and saying, ‘She hoped I should be a good child,’ dismissed me along with Miss Miller. (53)

On the evening of the day on which I had seen Miss Scatcherd flog her pupil, Burns, I wandered as usual among the forms and tables and laughing groups without a companion, yet not feeling lonely: when I passed the windows, I now and then lifted a blind and looked out; it snowed fast, a drift was already forming against the lower panes; putting my ear close to the window, I could distinguish form the gleeful tumult within, the disconsolate moan of the wind outside. / Probably, if I had lately left a good home and kind parents, this would have been the hour when I should most keenly have regretted the separation: that wind would then have saddened my heart; this obscure chaos would have disturbed my peace: as it was I derived form both a strange excitement, and reckless and feverish, I wished the wind to howl more wildly, the gloom to deepen to darkness, and the confusion to rise to clamour. (65)

‘Do you come a long way from here?’
‘I come from a place further north; quite on the borders of Scotland.’
‘Will you ever go back?’
‘I hope so; but nobody can be sure of the future.’
‘You must wish to leave Lowood?’
‘No: why should I? I was sent to Lowood to get an education; and it would be of no use going away until I have attained that object.’
‘But that teacher, Miss Scatcherd, is so cruel to you?’
‘Cruel? Not at all! She is severe: she dislikes my faults.’
‘And if I were in your place I should dislike her: I should resist her; if she struck me with that rod, I should get it from her hand; I should break it under her nose.’
‘Probably you would do nothing of the sort: but if you did, Mr Brocklehurst would expel you from the school; that would be a great grief to your relations. It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you—and, besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.’ …
‘You say you have faults, Helen: what are they? To me you seem very good.’
‘Then learn from me, not to judge by appearances: I am, as Miss Scatcherd said, slatternly; I seldom put, and never keep, things in order; I am careless; I forget rules; I read when I should learn my lessons; I have no method; and sometimes I say, like you, I cannot bear to be subjected to systematic arrangements. This is all very provoking to Miss Scatcherd, who is naturally neat, punctual, and particular.’
‘And cross and cruel,’ I added; but Helen Burns would not admit my addition: she kept silence. (66-7) [How for Jane to separate the right from wrong in Burns?]

‘But I feel this, Helen: I must dislike those who, whatever I do to please them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should love those who show me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved.’
‘Heathens and savage tribes hold that doctrine; but Christians and civilized nations disown it.’ …
‘Well,’ I asked impatiently, ‘is not Mrs Reed a hard-hearted, bad woman?’
‘She has been unkind to you, no doubt; because, you see, she dislikes your cast of character, as Miss Scatcherd does mine: but how minutely you remember all she ahs done and said to you! (69)

‘Miss Temple, Miss Temple, what—what is that girl with curled hair? Red hair, ma’am, curled—curled all over? And extending his cane he pointed to the awful object, his hand shaking as he did so.
‘It is Julia Severn,’ replied Miss Temple, very quietly.
‘Julia Severn, ma’am! And why has she, or any other, curled hair? Why, in defiance of every precept and principle of his house, does she conform to the world so openly—here in an evangelical, charitable establishment—as to wear her hair one mass of curls?’
‘Julia’s hair curls naturally,’ returned Miss Temple, still more quietly.
‘Naturally! Yes, but we are not to conform to nature: I wish these girls to be the children of Grace: and why that abundance? I have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly. Miss Temple, that girl’s hair must be cut off… (75)

I discovered, too, that a great pleasure, an enjoyment which the horizon only bounded, lay all outside the high and spike-guarded walls of our garden: this pleasure consisted in a prospect of noble summits girdling a great hill-hollow, rich in verdure and shadow; in a bright beck, full of dark stones and sparkling eddies. How different had this scene looked when I viewed it laid out beneath the iron sky of winter, stiffened in frost, shrouded with snow! (88)

But I, and the rest who continued well, enjoyed fully the beauties of the scene and season: they let us ramble in the wood, like gypsies, from morning till night; we did what we liked, went where we liked: we lived better too. Mr Brocklehurst and his family never came near Lowood now: household matters were not scrutinized into; the cross housekeeper was gone, driven away by the fear of infection; her successor, who had been matron at the Lowton Dispensary, unused to the way of her new abode, provided with comparative liberality. Besides, there were fewer to feed: the sick could eat little; our breakfast-basins were better filled: when there was no time to prepare a regular dinner, which often happened, she would give us a large piece of cold pie, or a thick slice of bread and cheese, and this we carried away with us to the wood, where we each chose the spot we liked best, and dined sumptuously. (90)

…I was invested with the office of teacher; which I discharged with zeal for two years: … (98)

Miss Temple, through all changes, had thus far continued superintendent of the seminary: to her instruction I owed the best part of my acquirements; her friendship and society had been my continual solace; she had stood me in the stead of mother, governess, and latterly, companion. At this period she married, removed with her husband (a clergyman, an excellent man, almost worthy of such a wife) to a distant county, and consequently was lost to me. … I had imbibed from her something of her nature and much of her habits: more harmonious thoughts: what seemed better regulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind. I had given in allegiance to duty and order; I was quiet; I believed I was content: … I watched the chaise mount the hill and disappear beyond its brow; and then retired to my own room; and there spent in solitude the greatest part of the half-holiday granted in honour of the occasion. / I walked about the chamber most of the time. I imagined myself only to be regretting my loss, and thinking how to repair it; but when my reflections were concluded, and I looked up and found that the afternoon was gone, and evening far advanced, another discovery dawned on me: namely, that in the interval I had undergone a transforming process; that my mind had put off all it had borrowed of Miss Temple—or rather that she had taken with her the serene atmosphere I had been breathing in her vicinity—and that now I was left in my natural element; and beginning to feel the stirring of old emotions. (98-9) [moving passage…]

‘You’re not grown so very tall, Miss Jane, nor so very stout,’ continued Mrs Leaven. ‘I dare say they’ve not kept you too well at school: Miss Reed is the head and shoulders taller than you are; and Miss Georgiana would make two of you in breadth.’ … I have long wanted to see you, and when I heard that there had been a letter from you, and that you were going to another part of the country, I thought I’d just set off, and get a look at you before you were quite out of my reach.’ / ‘I am afraid you are disappointed in me, Bessie.’ I said this laughing: I perceived that Bessie’s glance, though it expressed regard, did in no shape denote admiration. / ‘No, Miss Jane, not exactly: you are genteel enough; you look like a lady, and it is as much as ever I expected of you: you were no beauty as a child.’ … ‘I dare say you are clever, though,’ continued Bessie, by way of solace. ‘What can you do? Can you play on the piano?’ … can you draw? … have you learnt French? (105-6)

A new chapter in a novel is something like a new scene in a play; and when I draw up the curtain this time, reader, you must fancy you see a room in the George Inn … (108)

‘Is there a place in this neighbourhood called Thornfield?’ I asked of the waiter who answered the summons. / ‘Thornfield? I don’t know, ma’am; I’ll inquire at the bar.’ He vanished, but reappeared instantly:— / ‘Is your name Eyre, Miss?’ / ‘Yes.’ / ‘Person here waiting for you.’ [waiter talk: lack of ‘there is a’] (109)

Again I looked out: we were passing a church: I saw its low broad tower against the sky, and its bell was tolling a quarter; I saw a narrow galaxy of lights too, on a hill-side, marking a village or hamlet. (110)

I’m sure law winter (it was a very severe one, if you recollect, and when it did not snow, it rained and blew), not a creature but the butcher and postman came to the house, from November till February; and I really got quite melancholy with sitting night after night alone; … In spring and summer one got on better: … (112)

When Mrs Fairfax had bidden me a kind good-night, and I had fastened my door, gazed leisurely round, … I remembered that after a day of bodily fatigue and mental anxiety, I was now at last in safe haven. The impulse of gratitude swelled my heart, and I knelt down at the bed-side, and offered up thanks, … My couch had no thorns in it that night; my solitary room no fears. At once weary and content, I slept soon and soundly: when I awoke it was broad day. / The chamber looked such a bright little place to me as the sun shone in… (113)

… I descended the slippery steps of oak; … (114)

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘it is a pretty place; but I fear it will be getting out of order, unless Mr Rochester should take it into his head to come and reside here permanently; or, at least, visit it rather oftener: … (115)

…with Sophie I used to talk French, and sometimes I asked her questions about her native country; but she was not of a descriptive or narrative turn, and generally gave such vapid and confused answers as were calculated rather to check than encourage inquiry. (126)

One afternoon in January, Mrs Fairfax had begged a holiday for Adele, because she had a cold; … I accorded it; deeming that I did well in shewing pliability on the point. It was a fine, calm day, though very cold; I was tired of sitting still in the library through a whole long morning: Mrs Fairfax had just written a letter which was waiting to be posted, so I put on my bonnet and cloak and volunteered to carry it to Hay;—the distance, two miles, would be a pleasant winter afternoon walk. … The ground was hard, the air was still, my road was lonely; I walked fast till I got warm, and then I walked slowly to enjoy and analyze the species of pleasure brooding for me in the hour and situation. It was thee o’clock; the church bell tolled as I passed under the belfry: the charm of the hour lay in its approaching dimness, in the low-gliding and pale-beaming sun. I was a mile from Thornfield, in a lane noted for wild roses in summer, for nuts and blackberries in autumn, and even now possessing a few coral treasures in hips and haws; but whose best winter delight lay in its utter solitude and leafless repose. If a breath of air stirred, it made no sound here; for there was not a holly, not an evergreen to rustle, and the stripped hawthorn and hazel bushes were as still as the white, worn stones which causewayed the middle of the path. Far and wide, on each side, there were only fields, where no cattle now browsed; and the little brown birds which stirred occasionally in the hedge, looked like single russet leaves that had forgotten to drop. (126-7)

‘Oh, don’t fall back on over-modesty! I have examined Adele, and fin you to have taken great pains with her: she is not bright, she has no talents; yet in a short time she has made much improvement.’ (138)

Who are your parents?’ / ‘I have none.’ / ‘Nor ever had, I suppose: do you remember them?’ (139)

The old gentleman was fond of money, and anxious to keep the family estate together. He did not like to diminish the property by division, and yet he was anxious that Mr Edward should have wealth, too, to keep up the consequence of the name; … (145)

There was a smile on his lips, and his eyes sparkled, whether with wine or not, I am not sure; but I think it very probable. ( 149)

‘You examine me, Miss Eyre,’ said he: ‘do you think me handsome?’ / I should, if I had deliberated, have replied to this question by something conventionally vague and polite; but the answer somehow slipped from my tongue before I was aware:—‘No, sir.’ [liberating: women are talked of this way.] (149)

‘You look very much puzzled, Miss Eyre; and though you are not pretty any more than I am handsome, yet a puzzled air becomes you; (151)

‘Speak,’ he urged. / ‘What about, sir?’ / ‘Whatever you like. I leave both the choice of subject and the manner of treating it, entirely to yourself.’ / Accordingly I sat and said nothing: [funny. Not accordingly] ‘If he expects me to talk for the mere sake of talking and showing off, he will find he has addressed himself to the wrong person,’ I thought. (152)

…I claim only such superiority as must result from twenty years’ difference in age and a century’s advance in experience. … ‘I don’t think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have—your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience. (152-3)

‘And will you consent to dispense with a great many conventional forms and phrases, without thinking that the omission arises from insolence?’ / ‘I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for insolence: one I rather like, the other nothing free-born would submit to, even for a salary.’ / ‘Humbug! Most things free-born will submit to anything for a salary; therefore, keep to yourself, and don’t venture on generalities of which you are intensely ignorant. (153)

‘How do you know?—you never tried it. How very serious—how very solemn you look; and you are as ignorant of the matter as this cameo head’ (taking one from the mantle-piece). (155)

My Spring is gone, however: but it has left me that French floweret on my hands; which, in some moods, I would fain be rid of. (159)

‘And, Miss Eyre, so much was I flattered by this preference of the Gallic sylph for her British gnome, that I installed her in an hotel; gave her a complete establishment of servants, a carriage, cashmeres, diamonds, dentelles, &c. In short, I began the process of ruining myself in the received style; like any other spoonie. I had not, it seems, the originality to chalk out a new road to shame and destruction, but trode the old track with stupid exactness… (160)

I, indeed, talked comparatively little; but I heard him talk with relish. It was his nature to be communicative; he liked to open to a mind unacquainted with the world, glimpses of its scenes and ways (I do not mean its corrupt scenes and wicked ways, but such as derived their interest form the great scale on which they were acted, (166)

‘You think too much of your “toilette”, Adele: but you may have a flower.’ And I took a rose from a vase and fastened it in her sash. She sighed a sigh of ineffable satisfaction, as if her cup of happiness were now full. I turned my face away to conceal a smile I could not suppress: there was something ludicrous as well as painful in the little Parisienne’s earnest and innate devotion to matters of dress. (19)

…there was an expression of almost insupportable haughtiness in her bearing and countenance. She had Roman features and a double chin, disappearing into a throat like a pillar: these features appeared to me not only inflated and darkened, but even furrowed pride; and the chin was sustain by the same principle, in a position of almost preternatural erectness. (195)

…she was so good-natured, she would give us anything we asked for.’ / ‘I suppose, now,’ said Miss Ingram, curling her lip sarcastically, ‘we shall have an abstract of the memoirs of all the governesses extant: in order to avert such a visitation, I … (202)

Miss Ingram, who had now seated herself with proud grace at the piano, spreading out her snowy robes in queenly amplitude, commenced a brilliant prelude; talking meantime. She appeared to be on her high horse to-night; (202-3)

appanage: a source of revenue, such as land, given by the sovereign to a member of the royal family; something extra offered or claimed, a perk; a rightful or customary adjunct. (APP-in-ij)

but as to the gentlemen, let them be solicitous to possess only strength and valour: (203)

Mr Rochester, now sing, and I will play for you.’ … ‘Take care, then: if you don’t please me, I will shame you by showing how such things should be done.’ / ‘That is offering a premium on incapacity: I shall now endeavour to fail.’ (203)

Charades: … the stranger fastened the bracelets on her arms, and the rings in her ears. It was Eliezer and Rebecca: the camels only were wanted. (208)

‘A servant has had the nightware; that is all. She’s an excitable, nervous person: she construed her dream into an apparition, or something of that sort, no doubt; and has taken a fit with fright. Now, then, I must see you all back into your rooms; for, till the house is settled, she cannot be looked after. Gentlemen, have the goodness to set the ladies the example. Miss Ingram, I am sure you will not fail in evincing superiority to idle terrors. (233)

‘Well then, Jane, call to aid your fancy:—suppose… (245)

‘I tell you I could not forget it; and I took my revenge: for you to be adopted by your uncle, and placed in a state of ease and comfort was what I could not endure. I wrote him; I said I was sorry for his disappointment, but Jane Eyre was dead: she had died of typhus fever at Lowood. Now act as you please: write and contradict my assertion—expose my falsehood as soon as you like. You were born, I think, to be my torment: my last hour is racked by the recollection of a deed, which, but for you, I should never have been tempted to commit.’ (268)

A strange and solemn object was that corpse to me. I gazed on it with gloom and pain: nothing soft, nothing sweet, nothing pitying, or hopeful, or subduing, did it inspire; only a grating anguish for her woes—not my loss—and a somber tearless dismay at the fearfulness of death in such a form. (269)

‘You are in the right,’ said she: and with these words we each went our separate ways. As I shall not have occasion to refer either to her or her sister again, I may as well mention here, that Georgiana made an advantageous match with a wealthy worn-out man of fashion; and that Eliza actually took the veil, and is at this day superior of the convent where she passed the period of her novitiate: and which she endowed with her fortune. (272)

‘Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty,’ said he: ‘truly pretty this morning. Is this my pale, little elf? Is this my mustard-seed? This little sunny-faced girl with the dimpled cheek and rosy lips; the satin-smooth hazel hair, and the radiant hazel eyes?’ (I had green eyes, reader; but you must excuse the mistake: for him they were new-dyed, I suppose.) (290)

But wide as pathless was the space /
That lay, our lives, between, (304)

I like you more than I can say; but I’ll not sink into a bathos of sentiment: and with this needle of repartee I’ll keep you from the edge of the gulph too; … He was kept, to be sure, rather cross and crusty: but on the whole I could see he was excellently entertained; and that a lamb-like submission and turtle-dove sensibility, while fostering his despotism more, would have pleased his judgment, satisfied his common-sense, and even suited his taste, less. (306)

My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for his creature: of whom I had made an idol. (307)

I had at heart a strange and anxious thought. Something had happened which I could not comprehend; no one knew of or had seen the event but myself: it had taken place the preceding night. Mr Rochester that night was absent from home; … Stay till he comes, reader; and, when I disclose my secret to him, you shall share the confidence. (309)

‘I wish he would come! I wish he would come!’ I exclaimed, seized with hypochondriac foreboding. I had expected his arrival before tea; now it was dark: what could keep him? Had an accident happened? The event of last night again recurred to me. I interpreted it as a warning of disaster. I feared my hopes were too bright to be realized; and I had enjoyed so much bliss lately that I imagined my fortune had passed its meridian, and must now decline. [waiting to be married] (311)

‘Jane, are you ready?’ / I rose. There were no groomsmen, no bridesmaids, no relatives to wait for or marshal: none but Mr Rochester and I. … I know not whether the day was fair or foul; in descending the drive, I gazed neither on sky nor earth: my heart was with my eyes; and both seemed migrated into Mr Rochester’s frame. (322)

I heard him go as I stood at the half open door of my own room, to which I had now withdrawn. … Jane Eyre, who had been an ardent, expectant woman—almost a bride—was a cold, solitary girl again: … My eyes were covered and closed: eddying darkness seemed to swim round me, and reflection came in as black and confused a flow. Self-abandoned, relaxed, and effortless, I seemed to have laid me down in the dried-up bed of a great river; I heard a flood loosened in remote mountains, and felt the torrent come: to rise I had no will, to flee I had no strength. I lay faint; longing to be dead. One idea only still throbbed life-like within me—a remembrance of God: it begot an unuttered prayer: these words went wandering up and down in my rayless mind, as something that should be whispered; but no energy was found to express them:— /
‘Be not far from me, for trouble is near: there is none to help.’ /
It was near: and as I had lifted no petition to Heaven to avert it—as I had neither joined my hands, nor bent my knees, nor moved my lips—it came: in full, heavy swing the torrent poured over me. The whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love lost, my hope quenched, my faith death-struck, swayed full and mighty above me in one sullen mass. That bitter hour cannot be described: in truth, ‘the waters came into my soul; I sank in deep mire: I felt no standing; I came into deep waters; the floods overflowed me’. (329-330) [‘the waters…overflowed me’: Cf. Psalms lxix:2 (the second of two quotations, in a time of agony, form the book of the Bible which Jane did not like as a young girl)]

‘Jane, I am not a gentle-tempered man—you forget that: I am not long-enduring; I am not cool and dispassionate. Out of pity to me and yourself, put your finger on my pulse, feel how it throbs, and—beware!’ [funny, obvious] (342)

‘No, sir, finish it now: I pity you—I do earnestly pity you.’ / ‘Pity, Jane, from some people is a noxious and insulting sort of tribute, which one is justified in hurling back in the teeth of those who offer it; but that is the sort of pity native to callous, selfish hearts: it is a hybrid, egotistical pain at hearing of woes, crossed with ignorant contempt for those who have endured them. But that is not your pity, Jane: (345)

‘One night I had been awakened by her yells—since the medical men had pronounced her mad, she had of course been shut up—it was a fiery West-Indian night; one of the description that frequently precede the hurricanes of those climates; being unable to sleep in bed, I got up and opened the window. The air was like sulphur-steams—I could find no refreshment anywhere. Mosquitoes came buzzing in and hummed sullenly round the room; the sea, which I could hear from thence, rumbled dull like an earthquake—back clouds were casting up over it; the moon was setting in the waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball—she threw her last bloody glance over a world quivering with the ferment of tempest. I was physically influenced by the atmosphere and scene, and my ears were filled with the curses the maniac still shrieked out; wherein she momentarily mingled my name with such a tone of demon-hate, with such language!—no professed harlot ever had a fouler vocabulary than she: though two rooms off, I heard every word—the thin partitions of the West-India house opposing but slight obstruction to her wolfish cries. /
‘ “This life,” said I at last, “is hell! this is the air—those are the sounds of the bottomless pit! I have a right to deliver myself from it if I can. The sufferings of this mortal state will leave me with the heavy flesh that now cumbers my soul. Of the fanatic’s burning eternity I have no fear: there is not a future state worse than this present one—let me break away, and go home to God!” /
‘I said this whilst I knelt down at, and unlocked a trunk which contained a brace of loaded pistols: I meant to shoot myself. I only entertained the intention for a moment; for, not being insane, the [346] crisis of exquisite and unalloyed despair which had originated the wish and design of self-destruction, was past in a second. /
‘A wind fresh from Europe blew over the ocean and rushed through the open casement: the storm broke, streamed, thundered, blazed, and the air grew pure. I then framed and fixed a resolution. (346-7)


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