Text - "Jane Eyre: An Autobiography" Charlotte Brontë

close and start typing
My pupil was a lively child, who had been
spoilt and indulged, and therefore was sometimes wayward; but as she was
committed entirely to my care, and no injudicious interference from any
quarter ever thwarted my plans for her improvement, she soon forgot her
little freaks, and became obedient and teachable. She had no great
talents, no marked traits of character, no peculiar development of
feeling or taste which raised her one inch above the ordinary level of
childhood; but neither had she any deficiency or vice which sunk her
below it. She made reasonable progress, entertained for me a vivacious,
though perhaps not very profound, affection; and by her simplicity, gay
prattle, and efforts to please, inspired me, in return, with a degree of
attachment sufficient to make us both content in each other's society.

This, par parenthese, will be thought cool language by persons who
entertain solemn doctrines about the angelic nature of children, and the
duty of those charged with their education to conceive for them an
idolatrous devotion: but I am not writing to flatter parental egotism, to
echo cant, or prop up humbug; I am merely telling the truth. I felt a
conscientious solicitude for Adele's welfare and progress, and a quiet
liking for her little self: just as I cherished towards Mrs. Fairfax a
thankfulness for her kindness, and a pleasure in her society
proportionate to the tranquil regard she had for me, and the moderation
of her mind and character.

Anybody may blame me who likes, when I add further, that, now and then,
when I took a walk by myself in the grounds; when I went down to the
gates and looked through them along the road; or when, while Adele played
with her nurse, and Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the storeroom, I climbed
the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and having
reached the leads, looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and
along dim sky-line that then I longed for a power of vision which might
overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions
full of life I had heard of but never seen that then I desired more of
practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind,
of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach.
I valued what was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adele; but I
believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness, and
what I believed in I wished to behold.

Who blames me? Many, no doubt; and I shall be called discontented. I
could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to
pain sometimes. Then my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of
the third storey, backwards and forwards, safe in the silence and
solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright
visions rose before it and, certainly, they were many and glowing; to
let my heart be heaved by the exultant movement, which, while it swelled
it in trouble, expanded it with life; and, best of all, to open my inward
ear to a tale that was never ended a tale my imagination created, and
narrated continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire,
feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence.

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with
tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot
find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and
millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many
rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life
which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but
women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and
a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from
too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would
suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures
to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and
knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is
thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or
learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

When thus alone, I not unfrequently heard Grace Poole's laugh: the same
peal, the same low, slow ha! ha! which, when first heard, had thrilled
me: I heard, too, her eccentric murmurs; stranger than her laugh. There
were days when she was quite silent; but there were others when I could
not account for the sounds she made. Sometimes I saw her: she would come
out of her room with a basin, or a plate, or a tray in her hand, go down
to the kitchen and shortly return, generally (oh, romantic reader,
forgive me for telling the plain truth!) bearing a pot of porter. Her
appearance always acted as a damper to the curiosity raised by her oral
oddities: hard-featured and staid, she had no point to which interest
could attach. I made some attempts to draw her into conversation, but
she seemed a person of few words: a monosyllabic reply usually cut short
every effort of that sort.

The other members of the household, viz., John and his wife, Leah the
housemaid, and Sophie the French nurse, were decent people; but in no
respect remarkable; 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.

October, November, December passed away. One afternoon in January, Mrs.
Fairfax had begged a holiday for Adele, because she had a cold; and, as
Adele seconded the request with an ardour that reminded me how precious
occasional holidays had been to me in my own childhood, I accorded it,
deeming that I did well in showing 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. Having seen Adele comfortably seated in
her little chair by Mrs. Fairfax's parlour fireside, and given her her
best wax doll (which I usually kept enveloped in silver paper in a
drawer) to play with, and a story-book for change of amusement; and
having replied to her "Revenez bientot, ma bonne amie, ma chere Mdlle.
Jeannette," with a kiss I set out.

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 analyse the
species of pleasure brooding for me in the hour and situation. It was
three 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.

This lane inclined up-hill all the way to Hay; having reached the middle,
I sat down on a stile which led thence into a field. Gathering my mantle
about me, and sheltering my hands in my muff, I did not feel the cold,
though it froze keenly; as was attested by a sheet of ice covering the
causeway, where a little brooklet, now congealed, had overflowed after a
rapid thaw some days since. From my seat I could look down on
Thornfield: the grey and battlemented hall was the principal object in
the vale below me; its woods and dark rookery rose against the west. I
lingered till the sun went down amongst the trees, and sank crimson and
clear behind them. I then turned eastward.

On the hill-top above me sat the rising moon; pale yet as a cloud, but
brightening momentarily, she looked over Hay, which, half lost in trees,
sent up a blue smoke from its few chimneys: it was yet a mile distant,
but in the absolute hush I could hear plainly its thin murmurs of life.
My ear, too, felt the flow of currents; in what dales and depths I could
not tell: but there were many hills beyond Hay, and doubtless many becks
threading their passes. That evening calm betrayed alike the tinkle of
the nearest streams, the sough of the most remote.