Recollections of My Youth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Recollections of My Youth.
the human mind can, in the present stage of its development, discern.  I should be very grieved to have to go through one of those periods of enfeeblement during which the man once endowed with strength and virtue is but the shadow and ruin of his former self; and often, to the delight of the ignorant, sets himself to demolish the life which he had so laboriously constructed.  Such an old age is the worst gift which the gods can give to man.  If such a fate be in store for me, I hasten to protest beforehand against the weaknesses which a softened brain might lead me to say or sign.  It is the Renan, sane in body and in mind, as I am now—­not the Renan half destroyed by death and no longer himself, as I shall be if my decomposition is gradual—­whom I wish to be believed and listened to.  I disavow the blasphemies to which in my last hour I might give way against the Almighty.  The existence which was given me without my having asked for it has been a beneficent one for me.  Were it offered to me, I would gladly accept it over again.  The age in which I have lived will not probably count as the greatest, but it will doubtless be regarded as the most amusing.  Unless my closing years have some very cruel trials in store, I shall have, in bidding farewell to life, to thank the cause of all good for the delightful excursion through reality which I have been enabled to make.


This volume was already in the press, when Abbe Cognat published in the Correspondant (January 25th, 1883) the letters which I wrote to him in 1845 and 1846.[1] As several of my friends told me that they had found them very interesting, I reproduce them here just as they were published.

Treguier, August 14th, 1845.

My dear friend,

Few events of importance have occurred, but many thoughts and feelings have crowded in upon me since the day we parted.  I am all the more glad to impart them to you because there is no one else to whom I can confide them.  I am not alone, it is true, when I am with my mother; but there are many things that my tender regard for her compels me to keep back, and which, for the matter of that, she would not understand.

Nothing has occurred to advance the solution of the important problem of which, as is only natural, my mind is full.  I have learnt nothing more, unless it be the immensity of the sacrifice which God required of me.  A thousand painful details which I had never thought of have cropped up, with the effect of complicating the situation, and of showing me that the course dictated me by my conscience opened up a future of endless trouble.  I should have to enter into long and painful details to make you understand exactly what I mean; and it must suffice if I tell you that the obstacles of which we have on various occasions spoken are as nothing by comparison with those which have suddenly started up before me. 

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Recollections of My Youth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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