Veins Running Fire

jane-eyre-charlotte-bronteThe awful struggle between spirit and flesh is best known by those who believe that the difference between them is of very great importance. Mr. Rochester’s agonized plea to Jane Eyre expresses that terrible conflict exactly.

"One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible life when you are gone. All happiness will be torn away with you. What then is left? For a wife I have but the maniac upstairs: as well might you refer me to some corpse in yonder churchyard. What shall I do, Jane…?"

"Do as I do: trust in God and yourself. Believe in heaven…"

"Is it better to drive a fellow-creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law…?"

This was true: and while he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as Feeling: and that clamoured wildly. "Oh, comply!" it said. "Think of his misery; think of his danger — look at his state when left alone; remember his headlong nature; consider the recklessness following on despair — soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?"

Still indomitable was the reply — "I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad — as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth — so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane — quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot."

Lines must be drawn — in advance. “Foregone determinations” she called them. Principles. These established guards in advance, destined to prevent us from faltering when our steadfastness may be put on trial.

Quoted by Elisabeth Elliot in Chapter 7 of her book, Quest for Love