"I Should Not Dare To Call My Soul My Own"
Context: Aurora Leigh recounts her life story. Left an orphan and reared by her aunt, she is often in the company of her cousin, Romney Leigh, a priggish, dogmatic fellow. When Aurora "stood upon the brink of twenty years" Romney condescendingly proposes marriage. But Aurora firmly rejects his proposal, saying, "What you love/ Is not a woman, Romney but a cause;/ You want a helpmate, not a mistress, sir,/ A wife to help your ends." She insists that she too has her vocation–"work to do." Freed temporarily from his advances, Aurora comments on Romney's idea of love:
He had a right to be dogmatical,This poor, good Romney. Love, to him, was madeA simple law-clause. If I married himI should not dare to call my soul my ownWhich so he had bought and paid for: every thoughtAnd every heart-beat down there in the bill. . . .