What a difference in the behaviour of the two lovers! Emile, impetuous, eager, excited, almost beside himself, cries aloud and sheds torrents of tears upon the hands of father, mother, and daughter; with sobs he embraces every one in the house and repeats the same thing over and over again in a way that would be ludicrous at any other time. Sophy, pale, sorrowful, doleful, and heavy-eyed, remains quiet without a word or a tear, she sees no one, not even Emile. In vain he takes her hand, and clasps her in his arms; she remains motionless, unheeding his tears, his caresses, and everything he does; so far as she is concerned, he is gone already. A sight more moving than the prolonged lamentations and noisy regrets of her lover! He sees, he feels, he is heartbroken. I drag him reluctantly away; if I left him another minute, he would never go. I am delighted that he should carry this touching picture with him. If he should ever be tempted to forget what is due to Sophy, his heart must have strayed very far indeed if I cannot bring it back to her by recalling her as he saw her last.
Is it good for young people to travel? The question is often asked and as often hotly disputed. If it were stated otherwise—Are men the better for having travelled?—perhaps there would be less difference of opinion.
The misuse of books is the death of sound learning. People think they know what they have read, and take no pains to learn. Too much reading only produces a pretentious ignoramus. There was never so much reading in any age as the present, and never was there less learning; in no country of Europe are so many histories and books of travel printed as in France, and nowhere is there less knowledge of the mind and manners of other nations. So many books lead us to neglect the book of the world; if we read it at all, we keep each to our own page. If the phrase, “Can one become a Persian,” were unknown to me, I should suspect on hearing it that it came from the country where national prejudice is most prevalent and from the sex which does most to increase it.
A Parisian thinks he has a knowledge of men and he knows only Frenchmen; his town is always full of foreigners, but he considers every foreigner as a strange phenomenon which has no equal in the universe. You must have a close acquaintance with the middle classes of that great city, you must have lived among them, before you can believe that people could be at once so witty and so stupid. The strangest thing about it is that probably every one of them has read a dozen times a description of the country whose inhabitants inspire him with such wonder.