Filial Love by Emily J. Brontë

August 5th 1842

"Honor thy father and thy mother if thou wouldst live." It is by such a commandment that God gives us knowledge of the baseness of our race, of how it appears in His sight. To fulfill the gentlest, the holiest of all duties man must be threatened; it is through fear that the maniac must be forced to sanctify himself. In this commandment is hidden a more bitter reproach than any open accusation could contain, a charge against us of absolute blindness or of infernal ingratitude.

Parents love their children; this is a principle of nature. The doe does not fear the dogs when her little one is in danger; the bird dies on its nest. This instinct is a particle of the divine spirit we share with every animal that exists. Has God not put a similar feeling into the heart of the child? Truly there is something of the kind, yet still the voice of thunder cries out, "Honor your parents or you will die!" Now, that commandment is not given, that threat is not added, for nothing. There may be men who scorn their happiness, their duty, and their God to such a point that the spark of heavenly fire dies out in their breast, leaving them a moral chaos without light and without order, a hideous transfiguration of the image in which they were created.

These monsters, the virtuous soul does well to shun with horror. It is a just instinct; we must shun them, but do not curse them. Why add our malediction to God’s? Rather pity, rather lament their condition. For they have never given a thought to what their parents have done for them. For the memory of their youth has never recalled to them the hopes and affection of the father they disobey; and the long hours of patient suffering, the cares, the tears, the untiring devotion of the mother whom they kill by the cruelest of deaths, turning to poison the limitless love that should be the sustenance of her unhappy old age.

The hour will come when conscience will awake; then there will be a terrible retribution. What mediator will plead then for the criminal? It is God who accuses him. What power will save the wretch? It is God who condemns him. He has rejected happiness in mortal life to assure himself of torment in eternal life.

Let angels and men weep for his fate — he was their brother.