Emily Bronte (Robinson 1883)/Finis
"She died in a time of promise."
So writes Charlotte, in the first flush of her grief. "She died in a time of promise;" having done much, indeed, having done enough to bring her powers to ripe perfection. And the fruit of that perfection is denied us. She died, between the finishing of labour and the award of praise. Before the least hint of the immortality that has been awarded her could reach her in her obscure and distant home. Without one success in all her life, with her school never kept, her verses never read, her novel never praised, her brother dead in ruin. All her ambitions had flagged and died of the blight But she was still young, ready to live, eager to try again.
"She died in a time of promise. We saw her taken from life in its prime."
Truly a prime of sorrow, the dark mid-hour of the storm, dark with the grief gone by and the blackness of the on-coming grief. With Branwell dead, with her dearest sister dying, Emily died. Had she lived, what profit could she have made of her life? For us, indeed, it would have been well; but for her? Fame in solitude is bitter food; and Anne will die in May; and Charlotte six years after; and Emily never could make new friends. Better far for her, that loving, faithful spirit, to die while still her life was dear, while still there was hope in the world, than to linger on a few years longer, in loneliness and weakness, to quit in fame and misery a disillusioned life.
"She died in a time of promise. We saw her taken from life in its prime. But it is God's will, and the place where she is gone is better than that she has left."
Truly better, to leave her soul to speak in the world for aye, for the wind to be stronger for her breath, and the heather more purple from her heart; better far to be lost in the all-embracing, all-transmuting process of life, than to live in cramped and individual pain. So at least, wrong or right, thought this woman who loved the earth so well. She was not afraid to die. The thought of death filled her with no perplexities; but with assured and happy calm. She held it more glorious than fame, and sweeter than love, to give her soul to God and her body to the earth. And which of us shall carp at the belief which made a very painful life contented?
"The thing that irks me most is this shattered prison, after all. I'm tired of being enclosed here. I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there; not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart; but really with it and in it. You think you are better and more fortunate than I, in full health and strength; you are sorry for me—very soon that will be altered. I shall be sorry for you. I shall be incomparably above and beyond you all."
Ah, yes; incomparably above and beyond. Not only because of the keen vision with which she has revealed the glorious world in which her memory is fresher wind, and brighter sunshine, not only for that; but because the remembrance of her living self is a most high and noble precept. Never before were hands so inspired alike for daily drudgery and for golden writing never to fade. Never was any heart more honourable and strong, nor any more pitiful to shameful weakness. Seldom, indeed, has any man, more seldom still any woman, owned the inestimable gift of genius and never once made it an excuse for a weakness, a violence, a failing, which in other mortals we condemn. No deed of hers requires such apology. Therefore, being dead she persuades us to honour; and not only her works but the memory of her life shall rise up and praise her, who lived without praise so well.
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- 'Wuthering Heights.'