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wondering how a man who wished to do right could act so
unjustly and unwisely as Charles the First sometimes did; and I
thought what a pity it was that, with his integrity and
conscientiousness, he could see no farther than the prerogatives of
the crown. If he had but been able to look to a distance, and see
how what they call the spirit of the age was tending! Still, I like
Charles-I respect him-I pity him, poor murdered king! Yes, his
enemies were the worst: they shed blood they had no right to shed.
How dared they kill him!’ Helen was talking to herself now: she
had forgotten I could not very well understand her-that I was
ignorant, or nearly so, of the subject she discussed. I recalled her to
my level.

‘And when Miss Temple teaches you, do your thoughts wander
then?’ ‘No, certainly, not often: because Miss Temple has generally
something to say which is newer than my own reflections; her
language is singularly agreeable to me, and the information she
communicates is often just what I wished to gain.’ ‘Well, then, with
Miss Temple you are good?’ ‘Yes, in a passive way: I make no
effort; I follow as inclination guides me.

There is no merit in such goodness.’ ‘A great deal: you are good to
those who are good to you. It is all I ever desire to be. If people
were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust,
the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would
never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow
worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we
should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should-so hard
as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.’ ‘You will
change your mind, I hope, when you grow older: as yet you are
but a little untaught girl.’ ‘But I feel this, Helen; I must dislike those
who, whatever I do to please them, persist in disliking me; I must
resist those who punish me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should
love those who show me affection, or submit to punishment when I
feel it is deserved.’ ‘Heathens and savage tribes hold that doctrine,
but Christians and civilised nations disown it.’ ‘How? I don’t

‘It is not violence that best overcomes hate-nor vengeance that
most certainly heals injury.’ ‘What then?’ ‘Read the New
Testament, and observe what Christ says, and how He acts; make
His word your rule, and His conduct your example.’ ‘What does
He say?’ ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to
them that hate you and despitefully use you.’ ‘Then I should love
Mrs. Reed, which I cannot do; I should bless her son John, which is
impossible.’ In her turn, Helen Burns asked me to explain, and I
proceeded forthwith to pour out, in my own way, the tale of my
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