Page:The complete poems of Emily Bronte.djvu/48

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POEMS OF EMILY BRONTË

Eyre or Wuthering Heights.' It is not easy to state the contrast without doing injustice to Charlotte and Anne Brontë, but it is a very real difference. Emily Brontë's mind was as virginal as that of Di Vernon. 'Os virginis habitumque gerens et virginis arma.' To quote Mr. Swinburne again, the unique quality of Wuthering Heights is the special and distinctive character of its passion. 'The love which devours life itself, which devastates the present and desolates the future with unquenchable and raging fire, has nothing less pure in it than flame or sunlight. And this passionate and ardent chastity is utterly and unmistakably spontaneous and unconscious. Not till the story is ended, not till the effect of it has been thoroughly absorbed and digested, does the reader even perceive the simple and natural absence of any grosser element, any hint or suggestion of a baser alloy in the ingredients of its human emotion than in the splendour of lightning or the roll of a gathered wave. Then, as on issuing sometimes from the tumult of charging waters, he finds, with something of wonder, how absolutely pure and sweet was the element of living storm with which his own nature has been for a while made one; not a grain in it of soiling sand, not a waif of clogging weed.'