Recollections of My Youth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Recollections of My Youth.

“After his death his daughter was totally unprovided for, and arrangements were made for placing her in the hospital where you saw her.  No doubt she, too, is dead ere this, and another sleeps in her bed at the hospital.”


It was not until I was well advanced in life that I began to have any souvenirs.  The imperious necessity which compelled me during my early years to solve for myself, not with the leisurely deliberation of the thinker, but with the feverish ardour of one who has to struggle for life, the loftiest problems of philosophy and religion never left me a quarter of an hour’s leisure to look behind me.  Afterwards dragged into the current of the century in which I lived, and concerning which I was in complete ignorance, there was suddenly disclosed to my gaze a spectacle as novel to me as the society of Saturn or Venus would be to any one landed in those planets.  It struck me as being paltry and morally inferior to what I had seen at Issy and St. Sulpice; though the great scientific and critical attainments of men like Eugene Burnouf, the brilliant conversation of M. Cousin, and the revival brought about by Germany in nearly all the historical sciences, coupled with my travels and the fever of production, carried me away and prevented me from meditating on the years which were already relegated to what seemed like a distant past.  My residence in Syria tended still further to obliterate my early recollections.  The new sensations which I experienced there, the glimpses which I caught of a divine world, so different from our frigid and sombre countries, absorbed my whole being.  My dreams were haunted for a time by the burnt-up mountain-chain of Galaad and the peak of Safed, where the Messiah was to appear, by Carmel and its beds of anemone sown by God, by the Gulf of Aphaca whence issues the river Adonis.  Strangely enough, it was at Athens, in 1865, that I first felt a strong backward impulse, the effect being that of a fresh and bracing breeze coming from afar.

The impression which Athens made upon me was the strongest which I have ever felt.  There is one and only one place in which perfection exists, and that is Athens, which outdid anything I had ever imagined.  I had before my eyes the ideal of beauty crystallised in the marble of Pentelicus.  I had hitherto thought that perfection was not to be found in this world; one thing alone seemed to come anywhere near to perfection.  For some time past I had ceased to believe in miracles strictly so called, though the singular destiny of the Jewish people, leading up to Jesus and Christianity, appeared to me to stand alone.  And now suddenly there arose by the side of the Jewish miracle the Greek miracle, a thing which has only existed once, which had never been seen before, which will never be seen again, but the effect of which will last for ever, an eternal type of beauty, without a single

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Recollections of My Youth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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