We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us

bedroom

Bedroom at Green Gables Farm

Anne flushed.

“I shall never forgive myself for whipping Anthony.”

“Nonsense, dear, he deserved it. And it agreed with him. You have had no trouble with him since and he has come to think there’s nobody like you. Your kindness won his love after the idea that a ‘girl was no good’ was rooted out of his stubborn mind.”

“He may have deserved it, but that is not the point. If I had calmly and deliberately decided to whip him because I thought it a just punishment for him I would not feel over it as I do. But the truth is, Mrs. Allan, that I just flew into a temper and whipped him because of that. I wasn’t thinking whether it was just or unjust… even if he hadn’t deserved it I’d have done it just the same. That is what humiliates me.”

“Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us. There goes Gilbert Blythe on his wheel… home for his vacation too, I suppose. How are you and he getting on with your studies?”

“Pretty well. We plan to finish the Virgil to-night… there are only twenty lines to do. Then we are not going to study any more until September.”

by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Nov. 30, 1874 – Apr. 24, 1942)
from Anne of Avonlea (1909)
Chapter XV: The Beginning of Vacation
image – cphoffman42

A not-quite Victorian Childhood

Lucy Maud Montgomery isn’t strictly a Victorian author, because she was first published after Queen Victoria’s birth in 1901. Still, like Agatha Christie (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976,) her formative years were Victorian.

Montgomery’s “Anne” character has the innocent determination of a Victorian Oliver Twist, without the mysterious darkness of a Gothic tale like Dracula. Anne has a freshness. She may be studying Virgil, classical Roman Poet, but don’t you get the feeling she’s going to challenge what it means to be a “good girl,” not in a vulgar way, but as a grownup lady suffragette? She doesn’t… but that’s what I wanted for Anne when first reading Lucy Maud Montgomery. I imagined her growing up to march for the vote, becoming a scientist or a doctor along the way.

Maybe it was that when I was grow up, I romanticized the social and civil causes of my century, which made the suffrage movement and a high powered education seem like romantic inevitabilities for a vibrant, intelligent young lady.

With all the talk about “whipping,” you can guess that Anne’s generation’s social causes are different than ours! Victorians started with child labor laws: on that score we took what they started and never looked back. It’s said that the Victorians invented childhood; does Anne’s life, so full of children’s lives, demonstrate a romanticization of childhood?

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