The Clear, Cheering Gleam

“I sought her eye, desirous to read there the intelligence which I could not discern in her face or hear in her conversation; it was merry, rather small; by turns I saw vivacity, vanity, coquetry, look out through its irid, but I watched in vain for a glimpse of soul. I am no Oriental; white necks, carmine lips and cheeks, clusters of bright curls, do not suffice for me without that Promethean spark which will live after the roses and lilies are faded, the burnished hair grown grey. In sunshine, in prosperity, the flowers are very well; but how many wet days are there in life—November seasons of disaster, when a man’s hearth and home would be cold indeed, without the clear, cheering gleam of intellect.”

 –Charlotte Bronte

The Brontes Truth

“The truth which the Brontes came to tell us is the truth that many waters cannot quench love, and that the suburban respectability cannot touch or damp a secret enthusiasm. Clapham, like every other earthly city, is built upon a volcano. Thousands of people go to and fro in the wilderness of bricks and mortar, earning mean (poor) wages, professing a mean religion, wearing a mean attire, thousands of women who have never found any expression for their exaltation or their tragedy but to go on working harder at dull and automatic employments, at scolding children or stitching shirts. But out of all these silent ones one suddenly came articulate, and spoke a resonant testimony, and her name was Charlotte Bronte. Spreading around us upon every side today like a huge and radiating geometrical figure are the endless branches of the great city.There are times when we are almost stricken crazy, as well we may be, by the multiplicity of those appalling perspectives, the frantic arithmetic of this unthinkable population. But this thought of ours is in truth nothing but a fancy. there are no chains of houses; there are no crowds of men. The colossal diagram of streets and houses is an illusion, the opium dream of a speculative builder. Each of these men is supremely solitary and supremely important to himself. each of these houses stands in the center of the world. There is no single house of all those millions which has not seemed to someone at some time the heart of all things and the end of travel.” -G. K. Chesterton