[it] was only to express an impetuous wish

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Senior Member
The quotation comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 23

Quotation: “Jane, do you hear that nightingale singing in the wood? Listen!”

In listening, I sobbed convulsively; for I could repress what I endured no longer; I was obliged to yield, and I was shaken from head to foot with acute distress. When I did speak, it was only to express an impetuous wish that I had never been born, or never come to Thornfield.

Context: Jane was overcome by her emotions.
Hi everyone! I don't know what the word "it" refers to. I think the "it" here is similar with the "it" in my thread he and Miss Georgiana [made it up] to run away
The verbal phrase (made it up) requires an object. "It" in English is the universal stand-in for any generic subject, object, or direct object. It doesn't refer to anything preceding it. The phrase just means, as Paul indicates, "devised a plan".
So I guess the sentence mean "it (=what I would say) was only to express ...". Is it correct?
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Yes, you're right. "It" refers to her speaking.

    When I did speak, I spoke only to express an impetuous wish...
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