Hearts of Controversy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 77 pages of information about Hearts of Controversy.

Finally, of Emily Bronte’s face the world holds only an obviously unskilled reflection, and of her aspect no record worth having.  Wild fugitive, she vanished, she escaped, she broke away, exiled by the neglect of her contemporaries, banished by their disrespect outlawed by their contempt, dismissed by their indifference.  And such an one was she as might rather have pronounced upon these the sentence passed by Coriolanus under sentence of expulsion; she might have driven the world from before her face and cast it out from her presence as he condemned his Romans:  “I banish you.”


“She is not Cleopatra, but she is at least Charmian,” wrote Keats, conscious that his damsel was not in the vanward of the pageant of ladies.  One may divine that he counted the ways wherein she was not Cleopatra, the touches whereby she fell short of and differed from, nay, in which she mimicked, the Queen.

In like manner many of us have for some years past boasted of our appreciation of the inferior beauty, the substitute, the waiting gentlewoman of corrupt or corruptible heart; Keats confessed, but did not boast.  It is a vaunt now, an emulation, who shall discover her beauty, who shall discern her.

She is most conspicuous in the atmosphere in smoke “effects,” in the “lurid,” the “mystery”; such are the perfervid words.  But let us take the natural and authentic light as our symbol of Cleopatra, her sprightly port, her infinite jest, her bluest vein, her variety, her laugh.  “O Eastern star!”

Men in cities look upward not much more than animals, and these—­except the dog when he bays the moon—­look skyward not at all.  The events of the sky do not come and go for the citizens, do not visibly approach and withdraw, threaten and pardon; they merely happen.  And even when the sun so condescends as to face them at the level of their own horizon (say from the western end of the Bayswater Road), when he searches out the eyes that have neglected him all day, finds a way between their narrowing lids, looks straight into their unwelcoming pupils, explores the careful wrinkles, singles and numbers the dull hairs, even, I say, to sudden sunset in our dim climate, the Londoner makes no reply; he would rather look into puddles than into the pools of light among clouds.

Yet the light is as characteristic of a country as is its landscape.  So that I would travel for the sake of a character of early morning, for a quality of noonday, or a tone of afternoon, or an accident of moonrise, or a colour of dusk, at least as far as for a mountain, a cathedral, rivers, or men.  The light is more important than what it illuminates.  When Mr. Tomkins—­a person of Dickens’s earliest invention—­calls his fellow-boarders from the breakfast-table to the window, and with emotion shows them the effect of sunshine upon the left side of a neighbouring chimney-pot, he is far from cutting

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Hearts of Controversy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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