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Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë

Update: 2020-04-22

PREFACE

  • A preface to the first edition of “Jane Eyre” being unnecessary, I gave none:
  • this second edition demands a few words both of acknowledgment and
  • miscellaneous remark.
  • My thanks are due in three quarters.
  • To the Public, for the indulgent ear it has inclined to a plain tale with few
  • pretensions.
  • To the Press, for the fair field its honest suffrage has opened to an obscure
  • aspirant.
  • To my Publishers, for the aid their tact, their energy, their practical sense
  • and frank liberality have afforded an unknown and unrecommended Author.
  • The Press and the Public are but vague personifications for me, and I must
  • thank them in vague terms; but my Publishers are definite: so are certain
  • generous critics who have encouraged me as only large-hearted and high-minded
  • men know how to encourage a struggling stranger; to them, _i.e._ , to my
  • Publishers and the select Reviewers, I say cordially, Gentlemen, I thank you
  • from my heart.
  • Having thus acknowledged what I owe those who have aided and approved me, I
  • turn to another class; a small one, so far as I know, but not, therefore, to
  • be overlooked.  I mean the timorous or carping few who doubt the tendency of
  • such books as “Jane Eyre:” in whose eyes whatever is unusual is wrong; whose
  • ears detect in each protest against bigotry—that parent of crime—an insult to
  • piety, that regent of God on earth.  I would suggest to such doubters certain
  • obvious distinctions; I would remind them of certain simple truths.
  • Conventionality is not morality.  Self-righteousness is not religion.  To
  • attack the first is not to assail the last.  To pluck the mask from the face
  • of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
  • These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is
  • vice from virtue.  Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded:
  • appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only
  • tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-
  • redeeming creed of Christ.  There is—I repeat it—a difference; and it is a
  • good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation
  • between them.
  • The world may not like to see these ideas dissevered, for it has been
  • accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make external show pass for
  • sterling worth—to let white-washed walls vouch for clean shrines.  It may hate
  • him who dares to scrutinise and expose—to rase the gilding, and show base
  • metal under it—to penetrate the sepulchre, and reveal charnel relics: but hate
  • as it will, it is indebted to him.
  • Ahab did not like Micaiah, because he never prophesied good concerning him,
  • but evil; probably he liked the sycophant son of Chenaannah better; yet might
  • Ahab have escaped a bloody death, had he but stopped his ears to flattery, and
  • opened them to faithful counsel.
  • There is a man in our own days whose words are not framed to tickle delicate
  • ears: who, to my thinking, comes before the great ones of society, much as the
  • son of Imlah came before the throned Kings of Judah and Israel; and who speaks
  • truth as deep, with a power as prophet-like and as vital—a mien as dauntless
  • and as daring.  Is the satirist of “Vanity Fair” admired in high places?  I
  • cannot tell; but I think if some of those amongst whom he hurls the Greek fire
  • of his sarcasm, and over whom he flashes the levin-brand of his denunciation,
  • were to take his warnings in time—they or their seed might yet escape a fatal
  • Rimoth-Gilead.
  • Why have I alluded to this man?  I have alluded to him, Reader, because I
  • think I see in him an intellect profounder and more unique than his
  • contemporaries have yet recognised; because I regard him as the first social
  • regenerator of the day—as the very master of that working corps who would
  • restore to rectitude the warped system of things; because I think no
  • commentator on his writings has yet found the comparison that suits him, the
  • terms which rightly characterise his talent.  They say he is like Fielding:
  • they talk of his wit, humour, comic powers.  He resembles Fielding as an eagle
  • does a vulture: Fielding could stoop on carrion, but Thackeray never does.
  • His wit is bright, his humour attractive, but both bear the same relation to
  • his serious genius that the mere lambent sheet-lightning playing under the
  • edge of the summer-cloud does to the electric death-spark hid in its womb.
  • Finally, I have alluded to Mr. Thackeray, because to him—if he will accept the
  • tribute of a total stranger—I have dedicated this second edition of “Jane
  • Eyre.”
  • CURRER BELL.
  • _December_ 21 _st_ , 1847.