[Footnote 1: I will add towards animals as well. I could not possibly behave unkindly to a dog, or treat him roughly, and with an air of authority.]
I now bring to a conclusion these Recollections by asking the reader to forgive the irritating fault into which writing of this kind leads one in every sentence. Vanity is so deep in its secret calculations that even when frankly criticising himself the writer is liable to the suspicion of not being quite open and above board. The danger in such a case is that he will, with unconscious artfulness, humbly confess, as he can do without much merit, to trifling and external defects so as indirectly to ascribe to himself very high qualities. The demon of vanity is, assuredly, a very subtle one, and I ask myself whether perchance I have fallen a victim to it. If men of taste reproach me with having shown myself to be a true representative of the age while pretending not to be so, I beg them to rest well assured that this will not happen to me again.
Claudite jam rivos, pueri; sat prata biberunt
I have too much work before me to amuse myself in a way which many people will stigmatise as frivolous. My mother’s family at Lannion, from which I have inherited my disposition, has supplied several cases of longevity; but certain recurrent symptoms lead me to believe that so far as I am concerned I shall not furnish another. I shall thank God that it is so, if I am thus spared years of decadence and loss of power, which are the only things I dread. At all events, the remainder of my life will be devoted to a research of the pure objective truth. Should these be the last lines in which I am given an opportunity of addressing myself to the public, I may be allowed