Charlotte Bronte: Rather Soothed Than Irritated By Misconstruction

My bedtime reading at the moment is Villetteby Charlotte Brontë. In the early hours of the morning I was struggling to reach the end of chapter 10 but when I made it it made a startling impression on me because I discovered my own secret conceit, dulce est inter alios mei opinio falsa, had never been mine alone:

There is a perverse mood of the mind which is rather soothed than irritated by misconstruction; and in quarters where we can never be rightly known, we take pleasure, I think, in being consummately ignored. What honest man on being casually taken for a housebreaker does not feel rather tickled than vexed at the mistake? (FS pp 95-96)

The topography of Lucy Snowe‘s conceit is quite gentle and feminine; though the chief attraction of the sentiment is the delight one takes in being taken as worse than one may be, who has not admired Iago for being so adept at being taken for a better, more honest man?

Yet, hark ye, Iago is jealous, and jealousy cuts open the heart of a conceit such as this and destroys it; the truer masculine adept of this conceit will act freely, without anger, serene and invisible behind the smoke of calumny.