I followed him to his home, went up to his room and confronted him with the whole story,—myself more agitated than he was. I remember his passionate state:—“Haviland, do not wonder at me. Mankind are the key to the universe; and I am sick of a world of turkey-cocks. To speak frankly is to be proscribed; to be kind to the unfortunate is to lose standing; to think deeply brings the reputation of a fool. No one understands me. They do not understand me, the imbeciles!—Coglioni!” cried he fiercely, grinding the Corsican cry in his teeth and rising to walk about. “As Napoleon the Great despised them so do I, Quinet. They never but made one wretched who had genius in him. And I have it, and dare to say that in their faces. The weapon for neglect is contempt! If the wretched shallow world can make me miserable, they can never at least take away the delight of my superiority. I, who would have sympathized with and helped them and given my talents for them, shall look down with but scorn. Yes, I delight in these proud expressions, I am not ashamed of testifying, and one day I shall assert myself and make them bow to me, and shall hate them, and persecute them, and anatomize them for the derision of each other!”
His conduct might have seemed completely lunatical to an Englishman. It was strange in any case. But to me it was his physique that was wrong, and I should see that all was put right. “Stick to me, Quinet,” said I to him as soothingly as possible, “and I will always stick to you. Soyons amis, bon marin, ‘Be we friends, good sailor;’ and sail over every sea fearlessly. Neither of us is understood, perhaps because our critics do not understand themselves.”
“Be it so,” he said, dejectedly resigning himself.
His odd colour and eyes gave a kind of unearthly tone to the interview. I met him a few days later in almost as great a depression again.
“It’s these English. I hate them. It is necessary that I should kill one.”
“My dearest misanthrope,” I replied, “what you need is some horse-riding.”
Maintenant que la belle saison etale les splendeurs de sa robe.
Listen! A note is struck which, with an old magic, transforms the world! In the dying beauty of an autumntide, Love Divine, last and most potent of the goddesses, came walking through the woods and diffused the mystery of heaven over the forest paths, the trees, the streets of the town; and she melted into a sweet and noble human face—a face I caught but for a moment clearly on one of our galloping rides, Quinet’s and mine; yet it remained and still looks upon me in the holy of holies of my heart’s inner chapel.
“What a rare autumn! What perfect foliage! What cool weather!” Quinet had wakened up beyond my expectations, and soon we were racing along, laughing and shouting repartees at each other. We reined in at last to a walk.