Recollections of My Youth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Recollections of My Youth.
that to further the chances of one competitor is very often equivalent to an injury upon another.  Thus the image of the unknown person whom I am about to injure brings my zeal to a sudden check.  I have obliged hardly any one; I have never learnt how people succeed in obtaining the management of a tobacco shop for those in whom they are interested.  This has caused me to be devoid of influence in the world, but from a literary point of view it has been a good thing for me.  Merimee would have been a man of the very highest mark if he had not had so many friends.  But his friends took complete possession of him.  How can a man write private letters when it is in his power to address himself to all the world.  The person to whom you write reduces your talent; you are obliged to write down to his level.  The public has a broader intelligence than any one person.  There are a great many fools, it is true, among the “all,” but the “all” comprises as well the few thousand clever men and women for whom alone the world may be said to exist.  It is in view of them that one should write.

[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

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Recollections of My Youth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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