Bronte, Charlotte - from Shirley
Type of Spiritual Experience
You write of what you know
A description of the experience
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. From Shirley (1847; Everyman edn., 1950 ch .xxii)
At last, however, a pale light falls on the page from the window. She looks, the moon is up; she closes the volume, rises, and walks through the room. Her book has perhaps been a good one; it has refreshed, refilled, rewarmed her heart; it has set her brain astir, furnished her mind with pictures. The still parlour, the clean hearth, the window opening on the twilight sky, and showing its "sweet regent," new throned and glorious, suffice to make earth an Eden, life a poem, for Shirley.
A still, deep, inborn delight glows in her young veins; unmingled-untroubled, not to be reached or ravished by human agency, because by no human agency bestowed: the pure gift of God to His creature, the free dower of Nature to her child. This joy gives her experience of a genii-life.
Buoyant, by green steps, by glad hills, all verdure and light, she reaches a station scarcely lower than that whence angels looked down on the dreamer of Bethel, and her eye seeks, and her soul possesses, the vision of life as she wishes it. No-not as she wishes it; she has not time to wish: the swift glory spreads out, sweeping and kindling, and multiplies its splendour faster than Thought can effect his combinations, faster than Aspiration can utter her longings.
Shirley says nothing while the trance is upon her-she is quite mute…
If Shirley were not an indolent, a reckless, an ignorant being, she would take a pen at such moments; or at least while the recollection of such moments was yet fresh on her spirit: she would seize, she would fix the apparition, tell the vision revealed. Had she a little more of the organ of acquisitiveness in her head-a little more of the love of property in her nature, she would take a good-sized sheet of paper and write plainly out, in her own queer but clear and legible hand, the story that has been narrated, the song that has been sung to her, and thus possess what she was enabled to create.
But indolent she is, reckless she is, and most ignorant, for she does not know her dreams are rare-her feelings peculiar: she does not know, has never known, and will die without-knowing, the full value of that spring whose bright fresh bubbling in her heart keeps it green.