Anne Brontë

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I did not know the nights of gloom,
The days of misery;
The long, long years of dark despair,
That crushed and tortured thee.

Anne Brontë (17 January 182028 May 1849) was a British novelist and poet, the youngest sibling of Charlotte and Emily Brontë. After initially publishing works under the pseudonyms Currer Bell, Ellis Bell, and Acton Bell they became famous as the Brontë sisters.


I long to do some good in the world before I leave it.
My God! O let me call Thee mine!
Weak, wretched sinner though I be!
  • I have no horror of death: if I thought it inevitable I think I could quietly resign myself to the prospect ... But I wish it would please God to spare me not only for Papa's and Charlotte's sakes, but because I long to do some good in the world before I leave it. I have many schemes in my head for future practice – humble and limited indeed – but still I should not like them all to come to nothing, and myself to have lived to so little purpose. But God's will be done.
    • Letter to Ellen Hussey (5 April 1849), published in The Letters of Charlotte Brontë : With a Selection of Letters by Family and Friends (1995), edited by Margaret Smith, Vol. II: 1848–1851, p. 195

Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846)

Quotes from poems published in Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (presented in chronological order)

To Cowper (1842)

Written 10 November 1842
  • Yet, should thy darkest fears be true,
    If Heaven be so severe,
    That such a soul as thine is lost,
    Oh! how shall I appear?

Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day (1842)

Written 30 December 1842 Full text at Wikisource
  • My soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring
    And carried aloft on the wings of the breeze;
    For above and around me the wild wind is roaring,
    Arousing to rapture the earth and the seas.
  • I wish I could see how the ocean is lashing
    The foam of its billows to whirlwinds of spray;
    I wish I could see how its proud waves are dashing,
    And hear the wild roar of their thunder today!

A Word to the Calvinists (1843)

Written 28 May 1843 - Full text at Wikisource
  • You may rejoice to think yourselves secure,
    You may be grateful for the gift divine,
    That grace unsought which made your black hearts pure
    And fits your earthborn souls in Heaven to shine.
    But is it sweet to look around and view
    Thousands excluded from that happiness,
    Which they deserve at least as much as you,
    Their faults not greater nor their virtues less?
  • Say does your heart expand to all mankind
    And would you ever to your neighbour do,
    — The weak, the strong, the enlightened and the blind —
    As you would have your neighbour do to you?

    And, when you, looking on your fellow men
    Behold them doomed to endless misery,
    How can you talk of joy and rapture then?
    May God withhold such cruel joy from me!

  • That none deserve eternal bliss I know:
    Unmerited the grace in mercy given,
    But none shall sink to everlasting woe
    That have not well deserved the wrath of Heaven.
  • And, O! there lives within my heart
    A hope long nursed by me,
    (And should its cheering ray depart
    How dark my soul would be)

    That as in Adam all have died
    In Christ shall all men live
    And ever round his throne abide
    Eternal praise to give;

    That even the wicked shall at last
    Be fitted for the skies
    And when their dreadful doom is past
    To life and light arise.

  • I ask not how remote the day
    Nor what the sinner's woe
    Before their dross is purged away,
    Enough for me to know

    That when the cup of wrath is drained,
    The metal purified,
    They'll cling to what they once disdained,
    And live by Him that died.

A Prayer (1844)

Written 13 October 1844; also known as "My God! O let me call Thee mine!" - Full text at Wikisource
  • My God! O let me call Thee mine!
    Weak, wretched sinner though I be,
    My trembling soul would fain be Thine,
    My feeble faith still clings to Thee.
  • I know I owe my all to Thee,
    O, take this heart I cannot give.
    Do Thou my Strength my Saviour be;
    And make me to Thy glory live!

Dreams (1845)

Written in the spring of 1845 - Full text at Wikisource
  • While on my lonely couch I lie,
    I seldom feel myself alone,
    For fancy fills my dreaming eye
    With scenes and pleasures of its own.

    Then I may cherish at my breast
    An infant's form beloved and fair,
    May smile and soothe it into rest
    With all a Mother's fondest care.
  • How sweet to feel its helpless form
    Depending thus on me alone!
    And while I hold it safe and warm
    What bliss to think it is my own!
    To feel my hand so kindly prest,
    To know myself beloved at last,
    To think my heart has found a rest,
    My life of solitude is past!
  • But then to wake and find it flown,
    The dream of happiness destroyed,
    To find myself unloved, alone,
    What tongue can speak the dreary void?
    A heart whence warm affections flow,
    Creator, thou hast given to me,
    And am I only thus to know
    How sweet the joys of love would be?

Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas (1845)

Written 4 September 1845 - Full text at Wikisource
  • Enjoy the blessings Heaven bestows,
    Assist his friends, forgive his foes;
    Trust God, and keep his statutes still,
    Upright and firm, through good and ill;

    Thankful for all that God has given,
    Fixing his firmest hopes on heaven;
    Knowing that earthly joys decay,
    But hoping through the darkest day.

Music on Christmas Morning


Written between 1841 and 1845 - Full text at Wikisource

  • A sinless God, for sinful men,
    Descends to suffer and to bleed;
    Hell must renounce its empire then;
    The price is paid, the world is freed,
    And Satan's self must now confess,
    That Christ has earned a Right to bless
Full text at Wikisource
All true histories contain instruction...
  • All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut. Whether this be the case with my history or not, I am hardly competent to judge. I sometimes think it might prove useful to some, and entertaining to others; but the world may judge for itself. Shielded by my own obscurity, and by the lapse of years, and a few fictitious names, I do not fear to venture; and will candidly lay before the public what I would not disclose to the most intimate friend.
    • Ch. I : The Parsonage
  • "Oh, Richard!" exclaimed she, on one occasion, "if you would but dismiss such gloomy subjects from your mind, you would live as long as any of us; at least you would live to see the girls married, and yourself a happy grandfather, with a canty old dame for your companion."
    • Ch. VI : The Parsonage Again
  • "As an animal, Matilda was all right, full of life, vigour, and activity; as an intelligent being, she was barbarously ignorant, indocile, careless, and irrational; and consequently, very distressing to one who had the task of cultivating her understanding, reforming her manners, and aiding her to acquire those ornamental attainments which, unlike her sister, she despised as much as the rest..."
    • Ch. VII : Horton Lodge
  • "I've done you a piece of good service, Nancy," he began: then seeing me, he acknowledged my presence by a slight bow. I should have been invisible to Hatfield, or any other gentleman of those parts. "I've delivered your cat," he continued, "from the hands, or rather the gun, of Mr. Murray's gamekeeper."
    • Ch. XII : The Shower
  • "If you mean Mr. Weston to be one of your victims," said I, with affected indifference, "you will have to make such overtures yourself that you will find it difficult to draw back when he asks you to fulfil the expectations you have raised."
    • Ch. XVI : The Substitution
  • "Why," said I — "why should you suppose that I dislike the place?"
    "You told me so yourself," was the decisive reply. "You said, at least, that you could not live contentedly, without a friend; and that you had no friend here, and no possibility of making one — and, besides, I know you must dislike it."
    • Ch. XX : The Farewell
  • "But I can't devote myself entirely to a child," said she; "it may die — which is not at all improbable."
    "But, with care, many a delicate infant has become a strong man or woman."
    "But it may grow so intolerably like its father that I shall hate it."
    "That is not likely; it is a little girl, and strongly resembles its mother."
    • Ch. XXIII : The Park
  • "I settled everything with Mrs. Grey, while you were putting on your bonnet," replied he. "She said I might have her consent, if I could obtain yours; and I asked her, in case I should be so happy, to come and live with us — for I was sure you would like it better. But she refused, saying she could now afford to employ an assistant, and would continue the school till she could purchase an annuity sufficient to maintain her in comfortable lodgings; and, meantime, she would spend her vacations alternately with us and your sister, and should be quite contented if you were happy. And so now I have overruled your objections on her account. Have you any other?"
    "No — none."
    "You love me then?" said he, fervently pressing my hand.
    • Ch. XXV : Conclusion
Full text at Wikisource
I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be.
  • But as the priceless treasure too frequently hides at the bottom of well, it needs some courage to dive for it, especially as he that does so will be likely to incur more scorn and obloquy for the mud and water into which he has ventured to plunge, than thanks for the jewel he procures; as like in manner, she who undertakes the cleansing of a careless bachelor's apartment will be liable to more abuse for the dust she raises than commendation for the clearance she effects.
    • Preface, 2nd edition (22 July 1848)
  • Such humble talents as God had given me I will endeavour to put to their greatest use; if I am able to amuse I will try to benefit too; and when I feel it my duty to speak an unpalatable truth, with the help of God, I will speak it, though it be to the prejudice of my name and to the detriment of my readers immediate pleasure as well as my own.
    • Preface, 2nd edition (22 July 1848)
  • I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be. All novels are, or should be, written for both men and women to read, and I am at loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.
    • Preface, 2nd edition (22 July 1848)
  • Dear Halford,
    When we were together last, you gave me a very particular and interesting account of the most remarkable occurrences of your early life...
    • Prologue; Gilbert Markham, in the opening line of the novel
  • If she were more perfect, she would be less interesting.
    • Ch. I : A Discovery; Gilbert to Rose
  • It is natural for our unamiable sex to dislike the creatures, for you ladies lavish so many caresses upon them.
    • Ch. II : An Interview; Gilbert to Eliza
  • If you would have your son to walk honourably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them — not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone.
    • Ch. III : A Controversy; Gilbert to Helen
  • It is better to arm and strengthen your hero, than to disarm and enfeeble your foe.
    • Ch. III : A Controversy; Gilbert to Helen
  • I would not send a poor girl into the world, ignorant of the snares that beset her path; nor would I watch and guard her, till, deprived of self-respect and self-reliance, she lost the power or the will to watch and guard herself.
    • Ch. III : A Controversy; Helen to Gilbert
  • If you would have a boy to despise his mother, let her keep him at home, and spend her life in petting him up, and slaving to indulge his follies and caprices.
    • Ch. III : A Controversy; Mrs. Markham to Helen
  • You may have as many words as you please, – only I can’t stay to hear them.
    • Ch. III : A Controversy; Helen to Gilbert
  • When a lady does consent to listen to an argument against her own opinions, she is always predetermined to withstand it — to listen only with her bodily ears, keeping the mental organs resolutely closed against the strongest reasoning.
    • Ch. III : A Controversy; Gilbert to Helen
  • His heart was like a sensitive plant, that opens for a moment in the sunshine, but curls up and shrinks into itself at the slightest touch of the finger, or the lightest breath of wind.
    • Ch. IV : The Party; Gilbert Markham about Frederick Lawrence
  • I have heard that, with some persons, temperance – that is, moderation – is almost impossible; and if abstinence be an evil (which some have doubted), no one will deny that excess is a greater. Some parents have entirely prohibited their children from tasting intoxicating liquors; but a parent’s authority cannot last for ever; children are naturally prone to hanker after forbidden things; and a child, in such a case, would be likely to have a strong curiosity to taste, and try the effect of what has been so lauded and enjoyed by others, so strictly forbidden to himself – which curiosity would generally be gratified on the first convenient opportunity; and the restraint once broken, serious consequences might ensue.
    • Ch. IV : The Party; Frederick to Reverend Millward
  • When a lady condescends to apologize, there is no keeping one’s anger.
    • Ch. V : The Studio; Gilbert Markham
  • If you would really study my pleasure, mother, you must consider your own comfort and convenience a little more than you do.
    • Ch. VI : Progression; Gilbert to Mrs. Markham
  • No one can be happy in eternal solitude.
    • Ch. VII : The Excursion; Helen to Fergus
  • "I have often wished in vain," said she, "for another's judgment to appeal to when I could scarcely trust the direction of my own eye and head, they having been so long occupied with the contemplation of a single object as to become almost incapable of forming a proper idea respecting it."
    "That," replied I, "is only one of many evils to which a solitary life exposes us."
    • Ch. VII : The Excursion; Helen and Gilbert
  • She, however, attentively watched my looks, and her artist's pride was gratified, no doubt, to read my heartfelt admiration in my eyes.
    • Ch. VIII : The Present; Gilbert Markham
  • It’s well to have such a comfortable assurance regarding the worth of those we love. I only wish you may not find your confidence misplaced.
    • Ch. IX : A Snake in the Grass; Eliza to Gilbert
  • If we can only speak to slander our betters, let us hold our tongues.
    • Ch. IX : A Snake in the Grass; Gilbert to Eliza
  • I thought Mr. Millward never would cease telling us that he was no tea-drinker, and that it was highly injurious to keep loading the stomach with slops to the exclusion of more wholesome sustenance, and so give himself time to finish his fourth cup.
    • Ch. IX : A Snake in the Grass; Gilbert Markham
  • I possess the faculty of enjoying the company of those I — of my friends as well in silence as in conversation.
    • Ch. IX : A Snake in the Grass; Gilbert to Helen
  • "I almost wish I were not a painter," observed my companion.
    "Why so? one would think at such a time you would most exult in your privilege of being able to imitate the various brilliant and delightful touches of nature."
    "No; for instead of delivering myself up to the full enjoyment of them as others do, I am always troubling my head about how I could produce the same effect upon canvas; and as that can never be done, it is more vanity and vexation of spirit."
    • Ch. IX : A Snake in the Grass; Helen to Gilbert
  • In love affairs, there is no mediator like a merry, simple-hearted child — ever ready to cement divided hearts, to span the unfriendly gulf of custom, to melt the ice of cold reserve, and overthrow the separating walls of dread formality and pride.
    • Ch. X : A Contract and a Quarrel; Gilbert Markham
  • There is such a thing as looking through a person's eyes into the heart, and learning more of the height, and breadth, and depth of another's soul in one hour than it might take you a lifetime to discover, if he or she were not disposed to reveal it, or if you had not the sense to understand it.
    • Ch. XI : The Vicar Again; Gilbert to Rose
  • What are their thoughts to you or me, so long as we are satisfied with ourselves — and each other.
    • Ch. XII : A Tête-à-tête and a Discovery; Gilbert to Helen
  • "However little you may esteem them as individuals, it is not pleasant to be looked upon as a liar and a hypocrite, to be thought to practice what you abhor, and to encourage the vices you would discountenance, to find your good intentions frustrated, and your hands crippled by your supposed unworthiness, and to bring disgrace on the principles you profess."
    • Ch. XII : A Tête-à-tête and a Discovery; Gilbert and Helen
  • "Are you hero enough to unite yourself to one whom you know to be suspected and despised by all around you, and identify your interests and your honour with hers? Think! it is a serious thing."
    • Ch. XII : A Tête-à-tête and a Discovery; Gilbert and Helen
  • You couldn't have given me less encouragement, or treated me with greater severity than you did! And if you think you have wronged me by giving me your friendship, and occasionally admitting to me to the enjoyment of your company and conversation, when all hopes of close intimacy were vain — as indeed you always gave me to understand — if you think you have wronged me by this, you are mistaken; for such favours, in themselves alone, are not only delightful to my heart, but purifying, exalting, ennobling to my soul; and I would rather have your friendship than the love of any other woman in the world!
    • Ch. XII : A Tête-à-tête and a Discovery; Gilbert to Helen
  • Bad news fly fast.
    • Ch. XIV : An Assault; Gilbert Markham
  • A light wind swept over the corn; and all nature laughed in the sunshine.
    • Ch. XV : An Encounter and its Consequences; Gilbert Markham
  • Smiles and tears are so alike with me, they are neither of them confined to any particular feelings: I often cry when I am happy, and smile when I am sad.
    • Ch. XV : An Encounter and its Consequences; Gilbert Markham
  • I imagine, there must be only a very, very few men in the world that I should like to marry; and of those few, it is ten to one I may never be acquainted with one; or if I should, it is twenty to one he may not happen to be single, or to take a fancy to me.
    • Ch. XVI : The Warning of Experience; Helen to Mrs. Maxwell
  • A girl's affections should never be won unsought.
    • Ch. XVI : The Warning of Experience; Mrs. Maxwell to Helen
  • Beauty is that quality which, next to money, is generally the most attractive to the worst kinds of men; and, therefore, it is likely to entail a great deal of trouble on the possessor.
    • Ch. XVI : The Warning of Experience; Mrs. Maxwell to Helen
  • The brightest attractions to the lover too often prove the husband's greatest torments
    • Ch. XVI : The Warning of Experience; Mr. Boarham to Helen
  • If I hate the sins, I love the sinner, and would do much for his salvation.
    • Ch. XVII : Further Warnings; Helen to Mrs. Maxwell
  • This paper will serve instead of a confidential friend into whose ear I might pour forth the overflowings of my heart. It will not sympathise with my distresses, but then it will not laugh at them, and, if I keep it close, it cannot tell again; so it is, perhaps, the best friend I could have for the purpose.
    • Ch. XVIII : The Miniature; Helen Graham
  • I perceive the backs of young ladies' drawings, like the postscripts of their letters, are the most important and interesting part of the concern.
    • Ch. XVIII : The Miniature; Arthur Huntingdon
  • He despises me, because he knows I love him.
    • Ch. XVIII : The Miniature; Helen Graham
  • I am truly miserable — more so than I like to acknowledge to myself. Pride refuses to aid me. It has brought me into the scrape, and will not help me out of it.
    • Ch. XVIII : The Miniature; Helen Graham
  • You will form a very inadequate estimate of a man's character, if you judge by what a fond sister says of him. The worst of them generally know how to hide their misdeeds from their sisters' eyes, and their mother's, too.
    • Ch. XX : Persistence; Mrs. Maxwell to Helen
  • At your time of life, it's love that rules the roast: at mine, it's solid, serviceable gold.
    • Ch. XX : Persistence; Mr. Maxwell to Helen
  • What can't be cured must be endured.
    • Ch. XXII : Traits of Friendship; Arthur to Lord Lowborough
  • The demon of drink was as black as the demon of play, and nearly as hard to get rid of — especially as his kind friends did all they could to second the promptings of his own insatiable cravings.
    • Ch. XXII : Traits of Friendship; Arthur to Helen
  • I see that a man cannot give himself up to drinking without being miserable one half his days and mad the other; besides, I like to enjoy my life at all sides and ends, which cannot be done by one that suffers himself to be the slave of a single propensity.
    • Ch. XXII : Traits of Friendship; Arthur to Helen
  • I do believe a young lady can't be too careful who she marries.
    • Ch. XXII : Traits of Friendship; Rachel to Helen
  • There is always a 'but' in this imperfect world.
    • Ch. XXII : Traits of Friendship; Helen Graham
  • Since I love him so much, I can easily forgive him for loving himself.
    • Ch. XXIII : First weeks of Matrimony; Helen to Arthur
  • I think your piety one of your greatest charms; but then, like all other good things, it may be carried too far. To my thinking, a woman's religion ought not to lessen her devotion to her earthly lord. She should have enough to purify and etherealise her soul, but not enough to refine away her heart, and raise her above all human sympathies.
    • Ch. XXIII : First weeks of Matrimony; Arthur to Helen
  • The more you loved your God the more deep and pure and true would be your love to me.
    • Ch. XXIII : First weeks of Matrimony; Helen to Arthur
  • Of him to whom less is given, less will be required, but our utmost exertions are required of us all.
    • Ch. XXIII : First weeks of Matrimony; Helen to Arthur
  • All our talents increase in the using, and every faculty, both good and bad, strengthens by exercise: therefore, if you choose to use the bad, or those which tend to evil, till they become your masters, and neglect the good till they dwindle away, you have only yourself to blame.
    • Ch. XXIII : First weeks of Matrimony; Helen to Arthur
  • It is quite possible to be a good Christian without ceasing to be a happy, merry-hearted man.
    • Ch. XXIII : First weeks of Matrimony; Helen to Arthur
  • If your wife gives you her heart, you must take it, thankfully, and use it well, and not pull it in pieces, and laugh in her face, because she cannot snatch it away.
    • Ch. XXIV : First Quarrel; Helen to Arthur
  • The greater the happiness that nature sets before me, the more I lament that he is not here to taste it: the greater the bliss we might enjoy together, the more I feel our present wretchedness apart.
    • Ch. XXV : First Absence; Helen Graham
  • To wheedle and coax is safer than to command.
    • Ch. XXVI : The Guests; Helen Graham
  • He knows he is my sun, but when he chooses to withhold his light, he would have my sky to be all darkness; he cannot bear that I should have a moon to mitigate the deprivation.
    • Ch. XXVI : The Guests; Helen Graham
  • I ever give a thought to another, you may well spare it, for those fancies are here and gone like a flash of lightning, while my love for you burns on steadily, and for ever, like the sun.
    • Ch. XXVII : Misdemeanour; Arthur to Helen
  • You may think it all very fine, Mr. Huntingdon, to amuse yourself with rousing my jealousy; but take care you don't rouse my hate instead. And when you have once extinguished my love, you will find it no easy matter to kindle it again.
    • Ch. XXVII : Misdemeanour; Helen to Arthur
  • It is a woman's nature to be constant — to love one and one only, blindly, tenderly, and for ever.
    • Ch. XXVII : Misdemeanour; Arthur to Helen
  • Where hope rises fear must lurk behind.
    • Ch. XXVIII : Parental Feelings; Helen Graham
  • I can't love it — what is there to love? It can't love me — or you either; it can't understand a single word you say to it, or feel one spark of gratitude for all your kindness. Wait till it can show some little affection for me, and then I'll see about loving it. At present it is nothing more than a little selfish, senseless sensualist, and if you see anything adorable in it, it's all very well — I only wonder how you can.
    • Ch. XXVIII : Parental Feelings; Arthur to Helen
  • His idea of a wife is a thing to love one devotedly, and to stay at home — to wait upon her husband, and amuse him and minister to his comfort in every possible way, while he chooses to stay with her; and, when he is absent, to attend to his interests, domestic or otherwise, and patiently wait his return; no matter how he may be occupied in the meantime.
    • Ch. XXIX : The Neighbour; Helen Graham
  • Those, whose time is fully occupied, seldom complain of solitude.
    • Ch. XXIX : The Neighbour; Helen to Walter
  • Whatever my husband's faults may be, it can only aggravate the evil for me to hear them from a stranger's lips.
    • Ch. XXIX : The Neighbour; Helen to Walter
  • Intimate acquaintance must precede real friendship.
    • Ch. XXIX : The Neighbour; Helen to Walter
  • Instead of combating my slight prejudice against you as uncharitable, I mean to cherish it, until I am convinced that I have no reason to distrust this kind, insinuating friendship you are so anxious to push upon me.
    • Ch. XXIX : The Neighbour; Helen to Walter
  • You're at that game of threatening me with the loss of your affection again, are you? I think it couldn't have been very genuine stuff to begin with, if it's so easily demolished.
    • Ch. XXX : Domestic Scenes; Arthur to Helen
  • Friends as we are, we would willingly keep your failings to ourselves — even from ourselves if we could, unless by knowing them we could deliver you from them.
    • Ch. XXX : Domestic Scenes; Helen to Arthur
  • A burst of passion is a fine rousing thing upon occasion, Helen, and a flood of tears is marvellously affecting, but, when indulged too often, they are both deuced plaguy things for spoiling one's beauty and tiring out one's friends.
    • Ch. XXX : Domestic Scenes; Arthur to Helen
  • I know not whether, at the time, it was not for him rather than myself that I blushed; for, since he and I are one, I so identify myself with him, that I feel his degradation, his failings, and transgressions as my own; I blush for him, I fear for him; I repent for him, weep, pray, and feel for him as for myself; but I cannot act for him; and hence, I must be and I am, debased, contaminated by the union, both in my own eyes, and in the actual truth.
    • Ch. XXX : Domestic Scenes; Helen Graham
  • What the world stigmatizes as romantic, is often more nearly allied to the truth than is commonly supposed; for, if the generous ideas of youth are too often over-clouded by the sordid views of after-life, that scarcely proves them to be false.
    • Ch. XXXII : Comparisons: Information Rejected; Helen to Milicent
  • Life and hope must cease together.
    • Ch. XXXII : Comparisons: Information Rejected; Helen to Milicent
  • How odd it is that we so often weep for each other’s distresses, when we shed not a tear for our own!
    • Ch. XXXII : Comparisons: Information Rejected; Helen
  • Adoration isn’t love. I adore Annabella, but I don’t love her; and I love thee, Milicent, but I don’t adore thee.
    • Ch. XXXII : Comparisons: Information Rejected; Ralph to Milicent
  • A man must have something to grumble about; and if he can’t complain that his wife harries him to death with her perversity and ill-humour, he must complain that she wears him out with her kindness and gentleness.
    • Ch. XXXII : Comparisons: Information Rejected; Ralph to Milicent
  • No generous mind delights to oppress the weak, but rather to cherish and protect.
    • Ch. XXXII : Comparisons: Information Rejected; Helen to Ralph
  • I sometimes think she has no feeling at all; and then I go on till she cries — and that satisfies me.
    • Ch. XXXII : Comparisons: Information Rejected; Ralph to Helen
  • If you had no higher motive than the approval of your fellow mortal, it would do you little good.
    • Ch. XXXII : Comparisons: Information Rejected; Helen to Ralph
  • Chess-players are so unsociable, they are no company for any but themselves.
    • Ch. XXXIII : Two Evenings; Helen to Walter
  • God have mercy on his miserable soul! and make him see and feel his guilt — I ask no other vengeance! If he could but fully know and truly feel my wrongs I should be well avenged, and I could freely pardon all.
    • Ch. XXXIV : Concealment; Helen Graham
  • Forgetfulness is not to be purchased with a wish; and I cannot bestow my esteem on all who desire it, unless they deserve it too.
    • Ch. XXXV : Provocations; Helen to Walter
  • Revenge! No — what good would that do? — it would make him no better, and me no happier.
    • Ch. XXXVII : The Neighbour Again; Helen to Walter
  • I will not allow myself to be worse than my fellows.
    • Ch. XXXVII : The Neighbour Again; Walter to Helen
  • Though I hate him from my heart, and should rejoice at any calamity that could befall him, I'll leave him to God; and though I abhor my own life, I'll leave that, too, to Him that gave it.
    • Ch. XXXVIII : The Injured Man; Lord Lowborough to Ralph
  • A hardness such as this is taught by rough experience and despair alone.
    • Ch. XXXVIV : A Scheme of Escape; Helen Graham
  • God will judge us by our own thoughts and deeds, not by what others say about us.
    • Ch. XXXVIV : A Scheme of Escape; Helen to Little Arthur
  • And you thought to rob me of my son too, and bring him up to be a dirty Yankee tradesman, or a low, beggarly painter?"
    "Yes, to obviate his becoming such a gentleman as his father.
    • Ch. XL : A Misadventure; Helen and Arthur
  • You might as well sell yourself to slavery at once, as marry man you dislike.
    • Ch. XLI : Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast; Helen to Esther
  • Keep both heart and hand in your own possession, till you see good reason to part with them; and if such an occasion should never present itself, comfort your mind with this reflection, that though in single life your joys may not be very many, your sorrows, at least, will not be more than you can bear. Marriage may change your circumstances for the better, but, in my private opinion, it is far more likely to produce a contrary result.
    • Ch. XLI : Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast; Helen to Esther
  • "I shall expect my husband to have no pleasures but what he shares with me; and if his greatest pleasure of all is not the enjoyment of my company — why — it will be the worse for him — that's all."
    "If such are your expectations of matrimony, Esther, you must, indeed, be careful whom you marry — or rather, you must avoid it altogether."
    • Ch. XLI : Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast; Helen and Esther
  • I'd rather be like myself, bad as I am.
    • Ch. XLII : A Reformation; Ralph to Helen
  • It is never too late to reform, as long as you have the sense to desire it, and the strength to execute your purpose.
    • Ch. XLII : A Reformation; Helen to Ralph
  • He cannot endure Rachel, because he knows she has a proper appreciation of him.
    • Ch. XLIV : The Boundary Post; Helen Graham
  • Don't you know that every time we meet the thoughts of the final parting will become more painful? Don't you feel that every interview makes us dearer to each other than the last?
    • Ch. XLV : Reconciliation; Helen to Gilbert
  • Never mind our kind friends: if they can part our bodies, it is enough; in God's name, let them not sunder our souls!
    • Ch. XLV : Reconciliation; Gilbert to Helen
  • There is perfect love in heaven!
    • Ch. XLV : Reconciliation; Helen to Gilbert
  • Increase of love brings increase of happiness, when it is mutual, and pure as that will be.
    • Ch. XLV : Reconciliation; Helen to Gilbert
  • To regret the exchange of earthly pleasures for the joys of heaven, is as if the grovelling caterpillar should lament that it must one day quit the nibbled leaf to soar aloft and flutter through the air, roving at will from flower to flower, sipping sweet honey from their cups, or basking in their sunny petals.
    • Ch. XLV : Reconciliation; Helen to Gilbert
  • There's nothing like active employment to console the afflicted.
    • Ch. XLVII : Startling Intelligence; Eliza to Gilbert
  • It is deeds not words which must purchase my affection and esteem.
    • Ch. XLVIII : Further Intelligence; Helen to Arthur
God is Infinite Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness — and Love.
  • God is Infinite Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness — and Love; but if this idea is too vast for your human faculties — if your mind loses itself in its overwhelming infinitude, fix it on Him who condescended to take our nature upon Him, who was raised to heaven even in His glorified human body, in whom the fullness of the Godhead shines.
    • Ch. XLIX : "The Rain Descended..."; Helen to Arthur
  • It is a troublesome thing this susceptibility to affronts where none are intended.
    • Ch. L : Doubts and Disappointments; Gilbert to Jack Halford
  • If you loved as I do, she earnestly replied, you would not have so nearly lost me — these scruples of false delicacy and pride would never thus have troubled you — you would have seen that the greatest worldly distinctions and discrepancies of rank, birth, and fortune are as dust in the balance compared with the unity of accordant thoughts and feelings, and truly loving, sympathising hearts and souls.
    • Ch. LIII : Conclusion; Helen to Gilbert

The Narrow Way (1848)

Written 24 April 1848, first published in the December edition of Fraser's Magazine. - Full text at Wikisource
  • On all her breezes borne
    Earth yields no scents like those;
    But he, that dares not grasp the thorn
    Should never crave the rose.

Quotes about Brontë

  • The English writers who had a big influence on me during my adolescence were Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf.
  • Poor child! she left us last Monday; no one went with her; it was her own wish that she might be allowed to go alone, as she thought she could manage better and summon more courage if thrown entirely upon her own resources.
    • Charlotte Brontë about Anne's leaving home to work as governess, in a letter to her friend Ellen Nussey (15 April 1839)
  • We have all had severe colds and coughs in consequence of the severe weather. Poor Anne has suffered greatly from asthma, but is now, I am glad to say, rather better - she had two nights last week when her cough and difficulty of breathing were painful indeed to hear and witness and must have been most distressing to suffer - she bore it, as she does all affliction, without one complaint – only sighing now and then when nearly worn out – she has an extraordinary heroism of endurance. I admire, but certainly could not imitate her.
  • I would fain hope that [Anne’s] health is a little stronger than it was – and her spirits a little better, but she leads much too sedentary a life, and is continually sitting stooping either over a book or over her desk – it is with difficulty one can prevail on her to take a walk or induce her to converse.
    • Charlotte Brontë, in a letter to Ellen Nussey (7 October 1847)
  • I wish my sister felt the unfavourable [reviews on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall] less keenly. She does not say much, for she is of a remarkably taciturn, still, thoughtful nature, reserved even with her nearest of kin, but I cannot avoid seeing that her spirits are depressed sometimes...
    • Charlotte Brontë, in a letter to her publisher William Smith Williams (31 July 1848)
  • The distant prospects were Anne's delight and when I look round she is in the blue tints, the pale mists, the waves and shadows of the horizon.
    • Charlotte Brontë, in a letter to an unidentified person, quoted in The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857)
  • What is said of Charlotte may, with almost equal truth, be said of Emily and Anne; though they differed greatly in many points of character and disposition, they were each and all on common ground if a principle had to be maintained or a sham to be detected. They were all jealous of anything hollow or unreal. All were resolutely single-minded, eminently courageous, eminently simple in their habits, and eminently tender-hearted.
  • If Anne Brontë had lived ten years longer she would have taken a place beside Jane Austen, perhaps even a higher place.
    • George Moore, in Conversations In Ebury Street (1924), p. 239
  • Anne, from childhood on, was the most obviously delicate of the Brontë children. She suffered from asthma and was an easy prey to colds and influenza. This weakness caused Charlotte to recall later in life that Anne, since 'early childhood... seemed preparing for an early death'. Judgements of Anne's physical infirmity seem to have led Charlotte unconsciously to corollary judgements of relative weakness of character and intellect. But Anne was, of the sisters, perhaps the most rigorously logical, the most quietly observant, the most realistic, and, in certain spheres, the most tenacious, the most determined, and the most courageous. All of these qualities were to emerge as her life unfolded.
    • Elizabeth Langland, in Anne Brontë: The Other One (1989), p. 4
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