I should like to explain in detail and show how the paradoxical resolve to hold fast to the clerical virtues, without the faith upon which they are based, and in a world for which they are not designed, produced so far as I was concerned, the most amusing encounters. I should like to relate all the adventures which my Sulpician habits brought about, and the singular tricks which they played me. After leading a serious life for sixty years, mirth is no offence, and what source of merriment can be more abundant, more harmless, and more ready to hand than oneself? If a comedy writer should ever be inclined to amuse the public by depicting my foibles I would readily give my assent if he agreed to let me join him in the work, as I could relate things far more amusing than any which he could invent. But I find that I am transgressing the first rule which my excellent masters laid down, viz., never to speak of oneself. I will therefore treat this latter part of my subject very briefly.
The moral teaching inculcated by the pious masters who watched over me so tenderly up to the age of three-and-twenty may be summed up in the four virtues of disinterestedness or poverty, modesty, politeness, and strict morality. I propose to analyse my conduct under these four heads, not in any way with the intention of advertising my own merits, but in order to give those who profess the philosophy of good-natured scepticism an opportunity of exercising their powers of observation at my expense.
I. Poverty is of all the clerical virtues the one which I have practised the most faithfully. M. Olier had painted for his church a picture in which St. Sulpice was represented as laying down the fundamental rule of life for his clerks: Habentes alimenta et quibus tegamur, his contenti sumus. This was just my idea, and I could desire nothing better than to be provided with lodging, board, lights, and firing, without any intervention of my own, by some one who would charge me a fixed sum and leave me entirely my own master. The arrangement which dated from my settlement in the little pension of the Faubourg St. Jacques was destined to become the economic