Jane Eyre HTML version
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
My thanks are due in three quarters.
To the Public, for the indulgent ear it has inclined to a plain tale with few
To the Press, for the fair field its honest suffrage has opened to an obscure
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