A Celebration of Women Writers

A Word to the "Elect." by Anne Brontë (1820-1849)

First Publication: Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell London: Aylott and Jones, 8, Paternoster Row, 1846. pp. 104-106.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


YOU may rejoice to think yourselves secure;
You may be grateful for the gift divine
That grace unsought, which made your black hearts pure,
And fits your earth-born souls in Heaven to shine.

[Page 105]

But, is it sweet to look around, and view
Thousands excluded from that happiness
Which they deserved, at least, as much as you,
Their faults not greater, nor their virtues less?

And, wherefore should you love your God the more,
Because to you alone his smiles are given;
Because he chose to pass the many o'er,
And only bring the favoured few to Heaven?

And, wherefore should your hearts more grateful prove,
Because for ALL the Saviour did not die?
Is yours the God of justice and of love?
And are your bosoms warm with charity?

Say, does your heart expand to all mankind?
And, would you ever to your neighbor do
The weak, the strong, the enlightened, and the blind
As you would have your neighbor do to you?

And, when you, looking on your fellow-men,
Behold them doomed to endless misery,
How can you talk of joy and rapture then?
May God withhold such cruel joy from me!

That none deserve eternal bliss I know;
Unmerited the grace in mercy given:

[Page 106]

But, none shall sink to everlasting woe,
That have not well deserved the wrath of Heaven.

    And, oh! there lives within my heart
      A hope, long nursed by me;
    (And, should its cheering ray depart,
      How dark my soul would be!)

    That as in Adam all have died,
      In Christ shall all men live;
    And ever round his throne abide,
      Eternal praise to give.

    That even the wicked shall at last
      Be fitted for the skies;
    And, when their dreadful doom is past,
      To life and light arise.

    I ask not, how remote the day,
      Nor what the sinners' woe,
    Before their dross is purged away;
      Enough for me, to know

    That when the cup of wrath is drained,
      The metal purified,
    They'll cling to what they once disdained,
      And live by Him that died.


[Page 107]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


The original manuscript, dated May 28, 1843, is titled "A Word to the Calvinists". There are variations in spelling and punctuation. The character of Helen Huntingdon, in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall expresses some of the same views that Anne expresses here.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom