14 April 2012

Misplaced Sorrow

Toward the end of Anne Bronte's (sister of Charlotte) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Gilbert laments that one day his romantic relationship with Helen will come to an end when one of them dies and goes off to heaven. He is also dismayed that she seems unbothered by this. "But how can you, Helen, contemplate with delight this prospect of losing me in a sea of glory?"

Helen responds:
"I own I cannot; but we know not that it will be so; and I do know that to regret the exchange of earthly pleasures for the joys of Heaven, is as if the groveling caterpillar should lament that it must one day quit the nibbled lead 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. If there little creatures knew how great a change awaited them, no doubt they would regret it; but would not all such sorrow be misplaced?"
--Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, in The Life and Works of the Sisters Bronte (7 vols; New York: Harper, 1900), 6:412

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