Saturday, September 19, 2009
Quote from Charlotte Bronte's novel 'Jane Eyre'.
The English author Charlotte Bronte wrote a novel in the early eighteen hundreds called 'Jane Eyre', which I started reading yesterday, and I was so impressed by a passage that I thought I'd share it.
It is well known in the circles of Christian Universalism that her sister, Anne Bronte (one of her poems was posted by myself a month or so previously), was, what we'd call today, a Christian Universalist. When I read this passage from Jane Eyre I was left wondering if her sister, Charlotte, was, even though she didn't declare it openly, of the same belief.
In the story, Jane is sent to a school provided for by charity in which the children lived in very harsh conditions, especially by today's standards, and Jane's one and only friend by the name of Helen Burns was continually emotionally and mentally abused by one of the teachers. Helen suffered her pain with such a Christlike attitude that it always left Jane amazed. Helen taught Jane many valuable spiritual lessons in her short life (she died of typhoid soon afterwards). Here is the passage I wish to share, spoken by Helen:
"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs. We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world; but the time will soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies; when debasement and sin will fall from us with this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain, -the impalpable principle of life and thought, pure as when it left the Creator to inspire the creature: whence it came it will return; perhaps again to be communicated to some being higher than man -perhaps to pass through gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to brighten to the seraph! Surely it will never, on the contrary, be suffered to degenerate from man to fiend? No; I cannot believe that: I hold another creed; which no-one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention; but in which I delight, and to which I cling; for it extends hope to all: it makes Eternity a rest -a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last: with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: I live in calm, looking to the end."
In writing this passage it seems to me that Charlotte also held to the Great Hope.