Note 22, Chapter 4 of the author's Christina Rossetti in Context which the University of North Carolina Press published in 1988. It appears in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.
That mentality surfaces repeatedly in her family letters. For instance, to William Michael in italy she wrote (5 February 1887): "It sounds earthly-paradise-like, your sketch of San Remo: but even there it would behove me to feel, Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest" (FL, 159). just over a year later (10 December 1888) she wrote to her brother, "Beautiful, delightful, noble, memorable, as is the world you and yours frequent, — I yet am well content in my shady crevice: which crevice enjoys the unique advantage of being to my certain knowledge the place assigned me" (FL, 168).
We must, of course, balance our sense of Rossetti's apparently profound selflessness with the knowledge that she did expect heavenly rewards for her self-denial on earth. In this context, Janet Camp Troxell cites a passage from Rossetti's Letter and Spirit in which "we get an idea of the compensation she expected to receive for [her various] renunciations: 'For the books we now forbear to read, we shall one day be endued of wisdom and knowledge, for the music we will not listen to, we shall join in the song of the redeemed. For the pictures from which we turn, we shall gaze unabashed on the Beatific Vision. For the companionship we shun, we shall be welcomed into angelic society, and the communion of triumphant saints. For the amusements we avoid, we shall keep the Supreme jubilee. For the pleasures we miss, we shall abide, and forever abide, in the rapture of heaven'" (Three Rossettis, 148).
Last modified 24 June 2007