Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Amiel's Journal by Mrs. Humphrey Ward

Part 3 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

is an _equilibrium_ of forces; every life is a _struggle_ between
opposing forces working within the limits of a certain equilibrium.

These two principles have been often clear to me, but I have never
applied them widely or rigorously enough.

July 1, 1856.--A man and still more a woman, always betrays something of
his or her nationality. The women of Russia, for instance, like the
lakes and rivers of their native country, seem to be subject to sudden
and prolonged fits of torpor. In their movement, undulating and
caressing like that of water, there is always a threat of unforeseen
frost. The high latitude, the difficulty of life, the inflexibility of
their autocratic _regime_, the heavy and mournful sky, the inexorable
climate, all these harsh fatalities have left their mark upon the
Muscovite race. A certain somber obstinacy, a kind of primitive
ferocity, a foundation of savage harshness which, under the influence of
circumstances, might become implacable and pitiless; a cold strength, an
indomitable power of resolution which would rather wreck the whole world
than yield, the indestructible instinct of the barbarian tribe,
perceptible in the half-civilized nation, all these traits are visible
to an attentive eye, even in the harmless extravagances and caprices of
a young woman of this powerful race. Even in their _badinage_ they
betray something of that fierce and rigid nationality which burns its
own towns and [as Napoleon said] keeps battalions of dead soldiers on
their feet.

What terrible rulers the Russians would be if ever they should spread
the night of their rule over the countries of the south! They would
bring us a polar despotism, tyranny such as the world has never known,
silent as darkness, rigid as ice, insensible as bronze, decked with an
outer amiability and glittering with the cold brilliancy of snow, a
slavery without compensation or relief. Probably, however, they will
gradually lose both the virtues and the defects of their semi-barbarism.
The centuries as they pass will ripen these sons of the north, and they
will enter into the concert of peoples in some other capacity than as a
menace or a dissonance. They have only to transform their hardiness into
strength, their cunning into grace, their Muscovitism into humanity, to
win love instead of inspiring aversion or fear.

July 3, 1856.--The German admires form, but he has no genius for it. He
is the opposite of the Greek; he has critical instinct, aspiration, and
desire, but no serene command of beauty. The south, more artistic, more
self-satisfied, more capable of execution, rests idly in the sense of
its own power to achieve. On one side you have ideas, on the other side,
talent. The realm of Germany is beyond the clouds; that of the southern
peoples is on this earth. The Germanic race thinks and feels; the
southerners feel and express; the Anglo-Saxons will and do. To know, to
feel, to act, there you have the trio of Germany, Italy, England. France
formulates, speaks, decides, and laughs. Thought, talent, will, speech;
or, in other words science, art, action, proselytism. So the parts of
the quartet are assigned.

July 21, 1856.--_Mit sack und pack_ here I am back again in my town
rooms. I have said good-bye to my friends and my country joys, to
verdure, flowers, and happiness. Why did I leave them after all? The
reason I gave myself was that I was anxious about my poor uncle, who is
ill. But at bottom are there not other reasons? Yes, several. There is
the fear of making myself a burden upon the two or three families of
friends who show me incessant kindness, for which I can make no return.
There are my books, which call me back. There is the wish to keep faith
with myself. But all that would be nothing, I think, without another
instinct, the instinct of the wandering Jew, which snatches from me the
cup I have but just raised to my lips, which forbids me any prolonged
enjoyment, and cries "go forward! Let there be no falling asleep, no
stopping, no attaching yourself to this or that!" This restless feeling
is not the need of change. It is rather the fear of what I love, the
mistrust of what charms me, the unrest of happiness. What a _bizarre_
tendency, and what a strange nature! not to be able to enjoy anything
simply, naively, without scruple, to feel a force upon one impelling one
to leave the table, for fear the meal should come to an end.
Contradiction and mystery! not to use, for fear of abusing; to think
one's self obliged to go, not because one has had enough, but because
one has stayed awhile. I am indeed always the same; the being who
wanders when he need not, the voluntary exile, the eternal traveler, the
man incapable of repose, who, driven on by an inward voice, builds
nowhere, buys and labors nowhere, but passes, looks, camps, and goes.
And is there not another reason for all this restlessness, in a certain
sense of void? of incessant pursuit of something wanting? of longing for
a truer peace and a more entire satisfaction? Neighbors, friends,
relations, I love them all; and so long as these affections are active,
they leave in me no room for a sense of want. But yet they do not _fill_
my heart; and that is why they have no power to fix it. I am always
waiting for the woman and the work which shall be capable of taking
entire possession of my soul, and of becoming my end and aim.

"Promenant par tout sejour
Le deuil que tu celes,
Psyche-papillon, un jour
Puisses-tu trouver l'amour
Et perdre tes ailes!"

I have not given away my heart: hence this restlessness of spirit. I
will not let it be taken captive by that which cannot fill and satisfy
it; hence this instinct of pitiless detachment from all that charms me
without permanently binding me; so that it seems as if my love of
movement, which looks so like inconstancy, was at bottom only a
perpetual search, a hope, a desire, and a care, the malady of the ideal.

... Life indeed must always be a compromise between common sense and the
ideal, the one abating nothing of its demands, the other accommodating
itself to what is practicable and real. But marriage by common sense!
arrived at by a bargain! Can it be anything but a profanation? On the
other, hand, is that not a vicious ideal which hinders life from
completing itself, and destroys the family in germ? Is there not too
much of pride in my ideal, pride which will not accept the common

Noon.--I have been dreaming--my head in my hand. About what? About
happiness. I have as it were, been asleep on the fatherly breast of God.
His will be done!

August 3, 1856.--A delightful Sunday afternoon at Pressy. Returned late,
under a great sky magnificently starred, with summer lightning playing
from a point behind the Jura. Drunk with poetry, and overwhelmed by
sensation after sensation, I came back slowly, blessing the God of life,
and plunged in the joy of the infinite. One thing only I lacked, a soul
with whom to share it all--for emotion and enthusiasm overflowed like
water from a full cup. The Milky Way, the great black poplars, the
ripple of the waves, the shooting stars, distant songs, the lamp-lit
town, all spoke to me in the language of poetry. I felt myself almost a
poet. The wrinkles of science disappeared under the magic breath of
admiration; the old elasticity of soul, trustful, free, and living was
mine once more. I was once more young, capable of self-abandonment and
of love. All my barrenness had disappeared; the heavenly dew had
fertilized the dead and gnarled stick; it began to be green and flower
again. My God, how wretched should we be without beauty! But with it,
everything is born afresh in us; the senses, the heart, imagination,
reason, will, come together like the dead bones of the prophet, and
become one single and self-same energy. What is happiness if it is not
this plentitude of existence, this close union with the universal and
divine life? I have been happy a whole half day, and I have been
brooding over my joy, steeping myself in it to the very depths of

October 22, 1856.--We must learn to look upon life as an apprenticeship
to a progressive renunciation, a perpetual diminution in our
pretensions, our hopes, our powers, and our liberty. The circle grows
narrower and narrower; we began with being eager to learn everything, to
see everything, to tame and conquer everything, and in all directions we
reach our limit--_non plus ultra_. Fortune, glory, love, power, health,
happiness, long life, all these blessings which have been possessed by
other men seem at first promised and accessible to us, and then we have
to put the dream away from us, to withdraw one personal claim after
another to make ourselves small and humble, to submit to feel ourselves
limited, feeble, dependent, ignorant and poor, and to throw ourselves
upon God for all, recognizing our own worthlessness, and that we have no
right to anything. It is in this nothingness that we recover something
of life--the divine spark is there at the bottom of it. Resignation
comes to us, and, in believing love, we reconquer the true greatness.

October 27, 1856.--In all the chief matters of life we are alone, and
our true history is scarcely ever deciphered by others. The chief part
of the drama is a monologue, rather an intimate debate between God, our
conscience, and ourselves. Tears, griefs, depressions, disappointments,
irritations, good and evil thoughts, decisions, uncertainties,
deliberations, all these belong to our secret, and are almost all
incommunicable and intransmissible, even when we try to speak of them,
and even when we write them down. What is most precious in us never
shows itself, never finds an issue even in the closest intimacy. Only a
part of it reaches our consciousness, it scarcely enters into action
except in prayer, and is perhaps only perceived by God, for our past
rapidly becomes strange to us. Our monad may be influenced by other
monads, but none the less does it remain impenetrable to them in its
essence; and we ourselves, when all is said, remain outside our own
mystery. The center of our consciousness is unconscious, as the kernel
of the sun is dark. All that we are, desire, do, and know, is more or
less superficial, and below the rays and lightnings of our periphery
there remains the darkness of unfathomable substance.

I was then well-advised when, in my theory of the inner man, I placed at
the foundation of the self, after the seven spheres which the self
contains had been successively disengaged, a lowest depth of darkness,
the abyss of the un-revealed, the virtual pledge of an infinite future,
the obscure self, the pure subjectivity which is incapable of realizing
itself in mind, conscience, or reason, in the soul, the heart, the
imagination, or the life of the senses, and which makes for itself
attributes and conditions out of all these forms of its own life.

But the obscure only exists that it may cease to exist. In it lies the
opportunity of all victory and all progress. Whether it call itself
fatality, death, night, or matter, it is the pedestal of life, of light,
of liberty, and the spirit. For it represents _resistance_--that is to
say, the fulcrum of all activity, the occasion for its development and
its triumph.

December 17, 1856.--This evening was the second quartet concert. It
stirred me much more than the first; the music chosen was loftier and
stronger. It was the quartet in D minor of Mozart, and the quartet in C
major of Beethoven, separated by a Spohr concerto. This last, vivid, and
brilliant as a whole, has fire in the allegro, feeling in the adagio,
and elegance in the _finale_, but it is the product of one fine gift in
a mediocre personality. With the two others you are at once in contact
with genius; you are admitted to the secrets of two great souls. Mozart
stands for inward liberty, Beethoven for the power of enthusiasm. The
one sets us free, the other ravishes us out of ourselves. I do not think
I ever felt more distinctly than to-day, or with more intensity, the
difference between these two masters. Their two personalities became
transparent to me, and I seemed to read them to their depths.

The work of Mozart, penetrated as it is with mind and thought,
represents a solved problem, a balance struck between aspiration and
executive capacity, the sovereignty of a grace which is always mistress
of itself, marvelous harmony and perfect unity. His quartet describes a
day in one of those Attic souls who pre-figure on earth the serenity of
Elysium. The first scene is a pleasant conversation, like that of
Socrates on the banks of the Ilissus; its chief mark is an exquisite
urbanity. The second scene is deeply pathetic. A cloud has risen in the
blue of this Greek heaven. A storm, such as life inevitably brings with
it, even in the case of great souls who love and esteem each other, has
come to trouble the original harmony. What is the cause of it--a
misunderstanding, apiece of neglect? Impossible to say, but it breaks
out notwithstanding. The andante is a scene of reproach and complaint,
but as between immortals. What loftiness in complaint, what dignity,
what feeling, what noble sweetness in reproach! The voice trembles and
grows graver, but remains affectionate and dignified. Then, the storm
has passed, the sun has come back, the explanation has taken place,
peace is re-established. The third scene paints the brightness of
reconciliation. Love, in its restored confidence, and as though in sly
self-testing, permits itself even gentle mocking and friendly
_badinage_. And the _finale_ brings us back to that tempered gaiety and
happy serenity, that supreme freedom, flower of the inner life, which is
the leading motive of the whole composition.

In Beethoven's on the other hand, a spirit of tragic irony paints for
you the mad tumult of existence as it dances forever above the
threatening abyss of the infinite. No more unity, no more satisfaction,
no more serenity! We are spectators of the eternal duel between the
great forces, that of the abyss which absorbs all finite things, and
that of life which defends and asserts itself, expands, and enjoys. The
first bars break the seals and open the caverns of the great deep. The
struggle begins. It is long. Life is born, and disports itself gay and
careless as the butterfly which flutters above a precipice. Then it
expands the realm of its conquests, and chants its successes. It founds
a kingdom, it constructs a system of nature. But the typhon rises from
the yawning gulf, and the Titans beat upon the gates of the new empire.
A battle of giants begins. You hear the tumultuous efforts of the powers
of chaos. Life triumphs at last, but the victory is not final, and
through all the intoxication of it there is a certain note of terror and
bewilderment. The soul of Beethoven was a tormented soul. The passion
and the awe of the infinite seemed to toss it to and fro from heaven to
hell, Hence its vastness. Which is the greater, Mozart or Beethoven?
Idle question! The one is more perfect, the other more colossal. The
first gives you the peace of perfect art, beauty, at first sight. The
second gives you sublimity, terror, pity, a beauty of second impression.
The one gives that for which the other rouses a desire. Mozart has the
classic purity of light and the blue ocean; Beethoven the romantic
grandeur which belongs to the storms of air and sea, and while the soul
of Mozart seems to dwell on the ethereal peaks of Olympus, that of
Beethoven climbs shuddering the storm-beaten sides of a Sinai. Blessed
be they both! Each represents a moment of the ideal life, each does us
good. Our love is due to both.

* * * * *

To judge is to see clearly, to care for what is just and therefore to be
impartial, more exactly, to be disinterested, more exactly still, to be

* * * * *

To do easily what is difficult for others is the mark of talent. To do
what is impossible for talent is the mark of genius.

* * * * *

Our duty is to be useful, not according to our desires but according to
our powers.

* * * * *

If nationality is consent, the state is compulsion.

* * * * *

Self-interest is but the survival of the animal in us. Humanity only
begins for man with self-surrender.

* * * * *

The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he
decides, never decides. Accept life, and you must accept regret.

* * * * *

Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the
flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its

February 3, 1857.--The phantasmagoria of the soul cradles and soothes me
as though I were an Indian yoghi, and everything, even my own life,
becomes to me smoke, shadow, vapor, and illusion. I hold so lightly to
all phenomena that they end by passing over me like gleams over a
landscape, and are gone without leaving any impression. Thought is a
kind of opium; it can intoxicate us, while still broad awake; it can
make transparent the mountains and everything that exists. It is by love
only that one keeps hold upon reality, that one recovers one's proper
self, that one becomes again will, force, and individuality. Love could
do everything with me; by myself and for myself I prefer to be

I have the imagination of regret and not that of hope. My
clear-sightedness is retrospective, and the result with me of
disinterestedness and prudence is that I attach myself to what I have no
chance of obtaining....

May 27, 1857. (Vandoeuvres. [Footnote: Also a village in the
neighborhood of Geneva.])--We are going down to Geneva to hear the
"Tannhaeuser" of Richard Wagner performed at the theater by the German
troup now passing through. Wagner's is a powerful mind endowed with
strong poetical sensitiveness. His work is even more poetical than
musical. The suppression of the lyrical element, and therefore of
melody, is with him a systematic _parti pris_. No more duos or trios;
monologue and the _aria_ are alike done away with. There remains only
declamation, the recitative, and the choruses. In order to avoid the
conventional in singing, Wagner falls into another convention--that of
not singing at all. He subordinates the voice to articulate speech, and
for fear lest the muse should take flight he clips her wings. So that
his works are rather symphonic dramas than operas. The voice is brought
down to the rank of an instrument, put on a level with the violins, the
hautboys, and the drums, and treated instrumentally. Man is deposed from
his superior position, and the center of gravity of the work passes into
the baton of the conductor. It is music depersonalized, neo-Hegelian
music--music multiple instead of individual. If this is so, it is indeed
the music of the future, the music of the socialist democracy replacing
the art which is aristocratic, heroic, or subjective.

The overture pleased me even less than at the first hearing: it is like
nature before man appeared. Everything in it is enormous, savage,
elementary, like the murmur of forests and the roar of animals. It is
forbidding and obscure, because man, that is to say, mind, the key of
the enigma, personality, the spectator, is wanting to it.

The idea of the piece is grand. It is nothing less than the struggle of
passion and pure love, of flesh and spirit, of the animal and the angel
in man. The music is always expressive, the choruses very beautiful, the
orchestration skillful, but the whole is fatiguing and excessive, too
full, too laborious. When all is said, it lacks gayety, ease,
naturalness and vivacity--it has no smile, no wings. Poetically one is
fascinated, but one's musical enjoyment is hesitating, often doubtful,
and one recalls nothing but the general impression--Wagner's music
represents the abdication of the self, and the emancipation of all the
forces once under its rule. It is a falling back into Spinozism--the
triumph of fatality. This music has its root and its fulcrum in two
tendencies of the epoch, materialism and socialism--each of them
ignoring the true value of the human personality, and drowning it in the
totality of nature or of society.

June 17, 1857. (Vandoeuvres).--I have just followed Maine de Biran from
his twenty-eighth to his forty-eighth year by means of his journal, and
a crowd of thoughts have besieged me. Let me disengage those which
concern myself. In this eternal self-chronicler and observer I seem to
see myself reflected with all my faults, indecision, discouragement,
over-dependence on sympathy, difficulty of finishing, with my habit of
watching myself feel and live, with my growing incapacity for practical
action, with my aptitude for psychological study. But I have also
discovered some differences which cheer and console me. This nature is,
as it were, only one of the men which exist in me. It is one of my
departments. It is not the whole of my territory, the whole of my inner
kingdom. Intellectually, I am more objective and more constructive; my
horizon is vaster; I have seen much more of men, things, countries,
peoples and books; I have a greater mass of experiences--in a word, I
feel that I have more culture, greater wealth, range, and freedom of
mind, in spite of my wants, my limits, and my weaknesses. Why does Maine
de Biran make _will_ the whole of man? Perhaps because he had too little
will. A man esteems most highly what he himself lacks, and exaggerates
what he longs to possess. Another incapable of thought, and meditation,
would have made self-consciousness the supreme thing. Only the totality
of things has an objective value. As soon as one isolates a part from
the whole, as soon as one chooses, the choice is involuntarily and
instinctively dictated by subjective inclinations which obey one or
other of the two opposing laws, the attraction of similars or the
affinity of contraries.

Five o'clock.--The morning has passed like a dream. I went on with the
journal of Maine de Biran down to the end of 1817. After dinner I passed
my time with the birds in the open air, wandering in the shady walks
which wind along under Pressy. The sun was brilliant and the air clear.
The midday orchestra of nature was at its best. Against the humming
background made by a thousand invisible insects there rose the delicate
caprices and improvisations of the nightingale singing from the
ash-trees, or of the hedge-sparrows and the chaffinches in their nests.
The hedges are hung with wild roses, the scent of the acacia still
perfumes the paths; the light down of the poplar seeds floated in the
air like a kind of warm, fair-weather snow. I felt myself as gay as a
butterfly. On coming in I read the three first books of that poem
"Corinne," which I have not seen since I was a youth. Now as I read it
again, I look at it across interposing memories; the romantic interest
of it seems to me to have vanished, but not the poetical, pathetic, or
moral interest.

June 18th.--I have just been spending three hours in the orchard under
the shade of the hedge, combining the spectacle of a beautiful morning
with reading and taking a turn between each chapter. Now the sky is
again covered with its white veil of cloud, and I have come up with
Biran, whose "Pensee" I have just finished, and Corinne, whom I have
followed with Oswald in their excursions among the monuments of the
eternal city. Nothing is so melancholy and wearisome as this journal of
Maine de Biran. This unchanging monotony of perpetual reflection has an
enervating and depressing effect upon one. Here, then, is the life of a
distinguished man seen in its most intimate aspects! It is one long
repetition, in which the only change is an almost imperceptible
displacement of center in the writer's manner of viewing himself. This
thinker takes thirty years to move from the Epicurean quietude to the
quietism of Fenelon, and this only speculatively, for his practical life
remains the same, and all his anthropological discovery consists in
returning to the theory of the three lives, lower, human, and higher,
which is in Pascal and in Aristotle. And this is what they call a
philosopher in France! Beside the great philosophers, how poor and
narrow seems such an intellectual life! It is the journey of an ant,
bounded by the limits of a field; of a mole, who spends his days in the
construction of a mole-hill. How narrow and stifling the swallow who
flies across the whole Old World, and whose sphere of life embraces
Africa and Europe, would find the circle with which the mole and the ant
are content! This volume of Biran produces in me a sort of asphyxia; as
I assimilate it, it seems to paralyze me; I am chained to it by some
spell of secret sympathy. I pity, and I am afraid of my pity, for I feel
how near I am to the same evils and the same faults....

Ernest Naville's introductory essay is full of interest, written in a
serious and noble style; but it is almost as sad as it is ripe and
mature. What displeases me in it a little is its exaggeration of the
merits of Biran. For the rest, the small critical impatience which the
volume has stirred in me will be gone by to-morrow. Maine de Biran is an
important link in the French literary tradition. It is from him that our
Swiss critics descend, Naville father and son, Secretan. He is the
source of our best contemporary psychology, for Stapfer, Royer-Collard,
and Cousin called him their master, and Ampere, his junior by nine
years, was his friend.

July 25, 1857. (Vandoeuvres).--At ten o'clock this evening, under a
starlit sky, a group of rustics under the windows of the salon employed
themselves in shouting disagreeable songs. Why is it that this tuneless
shrieking of false notes and scoffing words delights these people? Why
is it that this ostentatious parade of ugliness, this jarring vulgarity
and grimacing is their way of finding expression and expansion in the
great solitary and tranquil night?

Why? Because of a sad and secret instinct. Because of the need they have
of realizing themselves as individuals, of asserting themselves
exclusively, egotistically, idolatrously--opposing the self in them to
everything else, placing it in harsh contrast with the nature which
enwraps us, with the poetry which raises us above ourselves, with the
harmony which binds us to others, with the adoration which carries us
toward God. No, no, no! Myself only, and that is enough! Myself by
negation, by ugliness, by grimace and irony! Myself, in my caprice, in
my independence, in my irresponsible sovereignty; myself, set free by
laughter, free as the demons are, and exulting in my freedom; I, master
of myself, invincible and self-sufficient, living for this one time yet
by and for myself! This is what seems to me at the bottom of this
merry-making. One hears in it an echo of Satan, the temptation to make
self the center of all things, to be like an Elohim, the worst and last
revolt of man. It means also, perhaps, some rapid perception of what is
absolute in personality, some rough exaltation of the subject, the
individual, who thus claims, by abasing them, the rights of subjective
existence. If so, it is the caricature of our most precious privilege,
the parody of our apotheosis, a vulgarizing of our highest greatness.
Shout away, then, drunkards! Your ignoble concert, with all its
repulsive vulgarity, still reveals to us, without knowing it, something
of the majesty of life and the sovereign power of the soul.

September 15, 1857.--I have just finished Sismondi's journal and
correspondence. Sismondi is essentially the honest man, conscientious,
upright, respectable, the friend of the public good and the devoted
upholder of a great cause, the amelioration of the common lot of men.
Character and heart are the dominant elements in his individuality, and
cordiality is the salient feature of his nature. Sismondi's is a most
encouraging example. With average faculties, very little imagination,
not much taste, not much talent, without subtlety of feeling, without
great elevation or width or profundity of mind, he yet succeeded in
achieving a career which was almost illustrious, and he has left behind
him some sixty volumes, well-known and well spoken of. How was this? His
love for men on the one side, and his passion for work on the other, are
the two factors in his fame. In political economy, in literary or
political history, in personal action, Sismondi showed no
genius--scarcely talent; but in all he did there was solidity, loyalty,
good sense and integrity. The poetical, artistic and philosophic sense
is deficient in him, but he attracts and interests us by his moral
sense. We see in him the sincere writer, a man of excellent heart, a
good citizen and warm friend, worthy and honest in the widest sense of
terms, not brilliant, but inspiring trust and confidence by his
character, his principles and his virtues. More than this, he is the
best type of good Genevese liberalism, republican but not democratic,
Protestant but not Calvinist, human but not socialist, progressive but
without any sympathy with violence. He was a conservative without either
egotism or hypocrisy, a patriot without narrowness. In his theories he
was governed by experience and observation, and in his practice by
general ideas. A laborious philanthropist, the past and the present were
to him but fields of study, from which useful lessons might be gleaned.
Positive and reasonable in temper, his mind was set upon a high average
well-being for human society, and his efforts were directed toward
founding such a social science as might most readily promote it.

September 24, 1857.--In the course of much thought yesterday about
"Atala" and "Rene," Chateaubriand became clear to me. I saw in him a
great artist but not a great man, immense talent but a still vaster
pride--a nature at once devoured with ambition and unable to find
anything to love or admire in the world except itself--indefatigable in
labor and capable of everything except of true devotion, self-sacrifice
and faith. Jealous of all success, he was always on the opposition side,
that he might be the better able to disavow all services received, and
to hold aloof from any other glory but his own. Legitimist under the
empire, a parliamentarian tinder the legitimist _regime_, republican
under the constitutional monarchy, defending Christianity when France
was philosophical, and taking a distaste for religion as soon as it
became once more a serious power, the secret of these endless
contradictions in him was simply the desire to reign alone like the
sun--a devouring thirst for applause, an incurable and insatiable
vanity, which, with the true, fierce instinct of tyranny, would endure
no brother near the throne. A man of magnificent imagination but of poor
character, of indisputable power, but cursed with a cold egotism and an
incurable barrenness of feeling, which made it impossible for him to
tolerate about him anybody but slaves or adorers. A tormented soul and
miserable life, when all is said, under its aureole of glory and its
crown of laurels!

Essentially jealous and choleric, Chateaubriand from the beginning was
inspired by mistrust, by the passion for contradicting, for crushing and
conquering. This motive may always be traced in him. Rousseau seems to
me his point of departure, the man who suggested to him by contrast and
opposition all his replies and attacks, Rousseau is revolutionary:
Chateaubriand therefore writes his "Essay on Revolutions." Rousseau is
republican and Protestant; Chateaubriand will be royalist and Catholic.
Rousseau is _bourgeois_; Chateaubriand will glorify nothing but noble
birth, honor, chivalry and deeds of arms. Rousseau conquered nature for
French letters, above all the nature of the mountains and of the Swiss
and Savoy, and lakes. He pleaded for her against civilization.
Chateaubriand will take possession of a new and colossal nature, of the
ocean, of America; but he will make his savages speak the language of
Louis XIV., he will bow Atala before a Catholic missionary, and sanctify
passions born on the banks of the Mississippi by the solemnities of
Catholic ceremonial. Rousseau was the apologist of reverie;
Chateaubriand will build the monument of it in order to break it in
Rene. Rousseau preaches Deism with all his eloquence in the "Vicaire
Savoyard;" Chateaubriand surrounds the Roman creed with all the garlands
of his poetry in the "Genie du Christianisme." Rousseau appeals to
natural law and pleads for the future of nations; Chateaubriand will
only sing the glories of the past, the ashes of history and the noble
ruins of empires. Always a role to be filled, cleverness to be
displayed, a _parti-pris_ to be upheld and fame to be won--his theme,
one of imagination, his faith one to order, but sincerity, loyalty,
candor, seldom or never! Always a real indifference simulating a passion
for truth; always an imperious thirst for glory instead of devotion to
the good; always the ambitious artist, never the citizen, the believer,
the man. Chateaubriand posed all his life as the wearied Colossus,
smiling pitifully upon a pygmy world, and contemptuously affecting to
desire nothing from it, though at the same time wishing it to be
believed that he could if he pleased possess himself of everything by
mere force of genius. He is the type of an untoward race, and the father
of a disagreeable lineage.

But to return to the two episodes. "Rene" seems to me very superior to
"Atala.'" Both the stories show a talent of the first rank, but of the
two the beauty of "Atala" is of the more transitory kind. The attempt to
render in the style of Versailles the loves of a Natchez and a Seminole,
and to describe the manners of the adorers of the Manitous in the tone
of Catholic sentiment, was an attempt too violent to succeed. But the
work is a _tour de force_ of style, and it was only by the polished
classicism of the form, that the romantic matter of the sentiments and
the descriptions could have been imported into the colorless literature
of the empire. "Atala" is already old-fashioned and theatrical in all
the parts which are not descriptive or European--that is to say,
throughout all the sentimental savagery.

"Rene" is infinitely more durable. Its theme, which is the malady of a
whole generation--distaste for life brought about by idle reverie and
the ravages of a vague and unmeasured ambition--is true to reality.
Without knowing or wishing it, Chateaubriand has been sincere, for Rene
is himself. This little sketch is in every respect a masterpiece. It is
not, like "Atala," spoilt artistically by intentions alien to the
subject, by being made the means of expression of a particular tendency.
Instead of taking a passion for Rene, indeed, future generations will
scorn and wonder at him; instead of a hero they will see in him a
pathological case; but the work itself, like the Sphinx, will endure. A
work of art will bear all kinds of interpretations; each in turn finds a
basis in it, while the work itself, because it represents an idea, and
therefore partakes of the richness and complexity which belong to ideas,
suffices for all and survives all. A portrait proves whatever one asks
of it. Even in its forms of style, in the disdainful generality of the
terms in which the story is told, in the terseness of the sentences, in
the sequence of the images and of the pictures, traced with classic
purity and marvelous vigor, "Rene" maintains its monumental character.
Carved, as it were, in material of the present century, with the tools
of classical art, "Rene" is the immortal cameo of Chateaubriand.

We are never more discontented with others than when we are discontented
with ourselves. The consciousness of wrong-doing makes us irritable, and
our heart in its cunning quarrels with what is outside it, in order that
it may deafen the clamor within.

* * * * *

The faculty of intellectual metamorphosis is the first and indispensable
faculty of the critic; without it he is not apt at understanding other
minds, and ought, therefore, if he love truth, to hold his peace. The
conscientious critic must first criticise himself; what we do not
understand we have not the right to judge.

* * * * *

June 14, 1858.--Sadness and anxiety seem to be increasing upon me. Like
cattle in a burning stable, I cling to what consumes me, to the solitary
life which does me so much harm. I let myself be devoured by inward

Yesterday, however, I struggled against this fatal tendency. I went out
into the country, and the children's caresses restored to me something
of serenity and calm. After we had dined out of doors all three sang
some songs and school hymns, which were delightful to listen to. The
spring fairy had been scattering flowers over the fields with lavish
hands; it was a little glimpse of paradise. It is true, indeed, that the
serpent too was not far off. Yesterday there was a robbery close by the
house, and death had visited another neighbor. Sin and death lurk around
every Eden, and sometimes within it. Hence the tragic beauty, the
melancholy poetry of human destiny. Flowers, shade, a fine view, a
sunset sky, joy, grace, feeling, abundance and serenity, tenderness and
song--here you have the element of beauty: the dangers of the present
and the treacheries of the future, here is the element of pathos. The
fashion of this world passeth away. Unless we have laid hold upon
eternity, unless we take the religious view of life, these bright,
fleeting days can only be a subject for terror. Happiness should be a
prayer--and grief also. Faith in the moral order, in the protecting
fatherhood of God, appeared to me in all its serious sweetness.

"Pense, aime, agis et souffre en Dieu
C'est la grande science."

July 18, 1858.--To-day I have been deeply moved by the _nostalgia_ of
happiness and by the appeals of memory. My old self, the dreams which
used to haunt me in Germany, passionate impulses, high aspirations, all
revived in me at once with unexpected force. The dread lest I should
have missed my destiny and stifled my true nature, lest I should have
buried myself alive, passed through me like a shudder. Thirst for the
unknown, passionate love of life, the yearning for the blue vaults of
the infinite and the strange worlds of the ineffable, and that sad
ecstasy which the ideal wakens in its beholders--all these carried me
away in a whirlwind of feeling that I cannot describe. Was it a warning,
a punishment, a temptation? Was it a secret protest, or a violent act of
rebellion on the part of a nature which is unsatisfied?--the last agony
of happiness and of a hope that will not die?

What raised all this storm? Nothing but a book--the first number of the
"_Revue Germanique_." The articles of Dollfus, Renan, Littre, Montegut,
Taillandier, by recalling to me some old and favorite subjects, made me
forget ten wasted years, and carried me back to my university life. I
was tempted to throw off my Genevese garb and to set off, stick in hand,
for any country that might offer--stripped and poor, but still young,
enthusiastic, and alive, full of ardor and of faith.

... I have been dreaming alone since ten o'clock at the window, while
the stars twinkled among the clouds, and the lights of the neighbors
disappeared one by one in the houses round. Dreaming of what? Of the
meaning of this tragic comedy which we call life. Alas! alas! I was as
melancholy as the preacher. A hundred years seemed to me a dream, life a
breath, and everything a nothing. What tortures of mind and soul, and
all that we may die in a few minutes! What should interest us, and why?

"Le temps n'est rien pour l'ame, enfant, ta vie est pleine,
Et ce jour vaut cent ans, s'il te fait trouver Dieu."

To make an object for myself, to hope, to struggle, seems to me more and
more impossible and amazing. At twenty I was the embodiment of
curiosity, elasticity and spiritual ubiquity; at thirty-seven I have not
a will, a desire, or a talent left; the fireworks of my youth have left
nothing but a handful of ashes behind them.

December 13, 1858.--Consider yourself a refractory pupil for whom you
are responsible as mentor and tutor. To sanctify sinful nature, by
bringing it gradually under the control of the angel within us, by the
help of a holy God, is really the whole of Christian pedagogy and of
religious morals. Our work--my work--consists in taming, subduing,
evangelizing and _angelizing_ the evil self; and in restoring harmony
with the good self. Salvation lies in abandoning the evil self in
principle and in taking refuge with the other, the divine self, in
accepting with courage and prayer the task of living with one's own
demon, and making it into a less and less rebellious instrument of good.
The Abel in us must labor for the salvation of the Cain. To undertake it
is to be converted, and this conversion must be repeated day by day.
Abel only redeems and touches Cain by exercising him constantly in good
works. To do right is in one sense an act of violence; it is suffering,
expiation, a cross, for it means the conquest and enslavement of self.
In another sense it is the apprenticeship to heavenly things, sweet and
secret joy, contentment and peace. Sanctification implies perpetual
martyrdom, but it is a martyrdom which glorifies. A crown of thorns is
the sad eternal symbol of the life of the saints. The best measure of
the profundity of any religious doctrine is given by its conception of
sin and the cure of sin.

A duty is no sooner divined than from that very moment it becomes
binding upon us.

* * * * *

Latent genius is but a presumption. Everything that can be, is bound to
come into being, and what never comes into being is nothing.

July 14, 1859.--I have just read "Faust" again. Alas, every year I am
fascinated afresh by this somber figure, this restless life. It is the
type of suffering toward which I myself gravitate, and I am always
finding in the poem words which strike straight to my heart. Immortal,
malign, accursed type! Specter of my own conscience, ghost of my own
torment, image of the ceaseless struggle of the soul which has not yet
found its true aliment, its peace, its faith--art thou not the typical
example of a life which feeds upon itself, because it has not found its
God, and which, in its wandering flight across the worlds, carries
within it, like a comet, an inextinguishable flame of desire, and an
agony of incurable disillusion? I also am reduced to nothingness, and I
shiver on the brink of the great empty abysses of my inner being,
stifled by longing for the unknown, consumed with the thirst for the
infinite, prostrate before the ineffable. I also am torn sometimes by
this blind passion for life, these desperate struggles for happiness,
though more often I am a prey to complete exhaustion and taciturn
despair. What is the reason of it all? Doubt--doubt of one's self, of
thought, of men, and of life--doubt which enervates the will and weakens
all our powers, which makes us forget God and neglect prayer and
duty--that restless and corrosive doubt which makes existence impossible
and meets all hope with satire.

July 17, 1859.--Always and everywhere salvation is torture, deliverance
means death, and peace lies in sacrifice. If we would win our pardon, we
must kiss the fiery crucifix. Life is a series of agonies, a Calvary,
which we can only climb on bruised and aching knees. We seek
distractions; we wander away; we deafen and stupefy ourselves that we
may escape the test; we turn away oar eyes from the _via dolorosa_; and
yet there is no help for it--we must come back to it in the end. What we
have to recognize is that each of us carries within himself his own
executioner--his demon, his hell, in his sin; that his sin is his idol,
and that this idol, which seduces the desire of his heart, is his curse.

_Die unto sin!_ This great saying of Christianity remains still the
highest theoretical solution of the inner life. Only in it is there any
peace of conscience; and without this peace there is no peace....

I have just read seven chapters of the gospel. Nothing calms me so much.
To do one's duty in love and obedience, to do what is right--these are
the ideas which remain with one. To live in God and to do his work--this
is religion, salvation, life eternal; this is both the effect and the
sign of love and of the Holy Spirit; this is the new man announced by
Jesus, and the new life into which we enter by the second birth. To be
born again is to renounce the old life, sin, and the natural man, and to
take to one's self another principle of life. It is to exist for God
with another self, another will, another love.

August 9, 1859.--Nature is forgetful: the world is almost more so.
However little the individual may lend himself to it, oblivion soon
covers him like a shroud. This rapid and inexorable expansion of the
universal life, which covers, overflows, and swallows up all individual
being, which effaces our existence and annuls all memory of us, fills me
with unbearable melancholy. To be born, to struggle, to disappear--there
is the whole ephemeral drama of human life. Except in a few hearts, and
not even always in one, our memory passes like a ripple on the water, or
a breeze in the air. If nothing in us is immortal, what a small thing is
life. Like a dream which trembles and dies at the first glimmer of dawn,
all my past, all my present, dissolve in me, and fall away from my
consciousness at the moment when it returns upon itself. I feel myself
then stripped and empty, like a convalescent who remembers nothing. My
travels, my reading, my studies, my projects, my hopes, have faded from
my mind. It is a singular state. All my faculties drop away from me like
a cloak that one takes off, like the chrysalis case of a larva. I feel
myself returning into a more elementary form. I behold my own
unclothing; I forget, still more than I am forgotten; I pass gently into
the grave while still living, and I feel, as it were, the indescribable
peace of annihilation, and the dim quiet of the Nirvana. I am conscious
of the river of time passing before and in me, of the impalpable shadows
of life gliding past me, but nothing breaks the cateleptic tranquillity
which enwraps me.

I come to understand the Buddhist trance of the Soufis, the kief of the
Turk, the "ecstasy" of the orientals, and yet I am conscious all the
time that the pleasure of it is deadly, that, like the use of opium or
of hasheesh, it is a kind of slow suicide, inferior in all respects to
the joys of action, to the sweetness of love, to the beauty of
enthusiasm, to the sacred savor of accomplished duty. November 28,
1859.--This evening I heard the first lecture of Ernest Naville
[Footnote: The well-known Genevese preacher and writer, Ernest Naville,
the son of a Genevese pastor, was born in 1816, became professor at the
Academy of Geneva in 1844, lost his post after the revolution of 1846,
and, except for a short interval in 1860, has since then held no
official position. His courses of theological lectures, delivered at
intervals from 1859 onward, were an extraordinary success. They were at
first confined to men only, and an audience of two thousand persons
sometimes assembled to hear them. To literature he is mainly known as
the editor of Maine de Biran's Journal.] on "The Eternal Life." It was
admirably sure in touch, true, clear, and noble throughout. He proved
that, whether we would or no, we were bound to face the question of
another life. Beauty of character, force of expression, depth of
thought, were all equally visible in this extemporized address, which
was as closely reasoned as a book, and can scarcely be disentangled from
the quotations of which it was full. The great room of the Casino was
full to the doors, and one saw a fairly large number of white heads.

December 13, 1859.--Fifth lecture on "The Eternal Life" ("The Proof of
the Gospel by the Supernatural.") The same talent and great eloquence;
but the orator does not understand that the supernatural must either be
historically proved, or, supposing it cannot be proved, that it must
renounce all pretensions to overstep the domain of faith and to encroach
upon that of history and science. He quotes Strauss, Renan, Scherer, but
he touches only the letter of them, not the spirit. Everywhere one sees
the Cartesian dualism and a striking want of the genetic, historical,
and critical sense. The idea of a living evolution has not penetrated
into the consciousness of the orator. With every intention of dealing
with things as they are, he remains, in spite of himself, subjective and
oratorical. There is the inconvenience of handling a matter polemically
instead of in the spirit of the student. Naville's moral sense is too
strong for his discernment and prevents him from seeing what he does not
wish to see. In his metaphysic, will is placed above intelligence, and
in his personality the character is superior to the understanding, as
one might logically expect. And the consequence is, that he may prop up
what is tottering, but he makes no conquests; he may help to preserve
existing truths and beliefs, but he is destitute of initiative or
vivifying power. He is a moralizing but not a suggestive or stimulating
influence. A popularizer, apologist and orator of the greatest merit, he
is a schoolman at bottom; his arguments are of the same type as those of
the twelfth century, and he defends Protestantism in the same way in
which Catholicism has been commonly defended. The best way of
demonstrating the insufficiency of this point of view is to show by
history how incompletely it has been superseded. The chimera of a simple
and absolute truth is wholly Catholic and anti-historic. The mind of
Naville is mathematical and his objects moral. His strength lies in
_mathematicizing_ morals. As soon as it becomes a question of
development, metamorphosis, organization--as soon as he is brought into
contact with the mobile world of actual life, especially of the
spiritual life, he has no longer anything serviceable to say. Language
is for him a system of fixed signs; a man, a people, a book, are so many
geometrical figures of which we have only to discover the properties.

December 15th.--Naville's sixth lecture, an admirable one, because it
did nothing more than expound the Christian doctrine of eternal life. As
an extempore performance--marvelously exact, finished, clear and noble,
marked by a strong and disciplined eloquence. There was not a single
reservation to make in the name of criticism, history or philosophy. It
was all beautiful, noble, true and pure. It seems to me that Naville has
improved in the art of speech during these latter years. He has always
had a kind of dignified and didactic beauty, but he has now added to it
the contagious cordiality and warmth of feeling which complete the
orator; he moves the whole man, beginning with the intellect but
finishing with the heart. He is now very near to the true virile
eloquence, and possesses one species of it indeed very nearly in
perfection. He has arrived at the complete command of the resources of
his own nature, at an adequate and masterly expression of himself. Such
expression is the joy and glory of the oratorical artist as of every
other. Naville is rapidly becoming a model in the art of premeditated
and self-controlled eloquence.

There is another kind of eloquence--that which seems inspired, which
finds, discovers, and illuminates by bounds and flashes, which is born
in the sight of the audience and transports it. Such is not Naville's
kind. Is it better worth having? I do not know.

* * * * *

Every real need is stilled, and every vice is stimulated by

* * * * *

Obstinacy is will asserting itself without being able to justify itself.
It is persistence without a plausible motive. It is the tenacity of
self-love substituted for the tenacity of reason or conscience.

It is not what he has, nor even what he does, which directly expresses
the worth of a man, but what he is.

* * * * *

What comfort, what strength, what economy there is in _order_--material
order, intellectual order, moral order. To know where one is going and
what one wishes--this is order; to keep one's word and one's
engagements--again order; to have everything ready under one's hand, to
be able to dispose of all one's forces, and to have all one's means of
whatever kind under command--still order; to discipline one's habits,
one's effort, one's wishes; to organize one's life, to distribute one's
time, to take the measure of one's duties and make one's rights
respected; to employ one's capital and resources, one's talent and one's
chances profitably--all this belongs to and is included in the word
_order_. Order means light and peace, inward liberty and free command
over one's self; order is power. Aesthetic and moral beauty consist, the
first in a true perception of order, and the second in submission to it,
and in the realization of it, by, in, and around one's self. Order is
man's greatest need and his true well-being.

April 17, 1860.--The cloud has lifted; I am better. I have been able to
take my usual walk on the Treille; all the buds were opening and the
young shoots were green on all the branches. The rippling of clear
water, the merriment of birds, the young freshness of plants, and the
noisy play of children, produce a strange effect upon an invalid. Or
rather it was strange to me to be looking at such things with the eyes
of a sick and dying man; it was my first introduction to a new phase of
experience. There is a deep sadness in it. One feels one's self cut off
from nature--outside her communion as it were. She is strength and joy
and eternal health. "Room for the living," she cries to us; "do not come
to darken my blue sky with your miseries; each has his turn: begone!"
But to strengthen our own courage, we must say to ourselves, No; it is
good for the world to see suffering and weakness; the sight adds zest to
the joy of the happy and the careless, and is rich in warning for all
who think. Life has been lent to us, and we owe it to our traveling
companions to let them see what use we make of it to the end. We must
show our brethren both how to live and how to die. These first summonses
of illness have besides a divine value; they give us glimpses behind the
scenes of life; they teach us something of its awful reality and its
inevitable end. They teach us sympathy. They warn us to redeem the time
while it is yet day. They awaken in us gratitude for the blessings which
are still ours, and humility for the gifts which are in us. So that,
evils though they seem, they are really an appeal to us from on high, a
touch of God's fatherly scourge.

How frail a thing is health, and what a thin envelope protects our life
against being swallowed up from without, or disorganized from within! A
breath, and the boat springs a leak or founders; a nothing, and all is
endangered; a passing cloud, and all is darkness! Life is indeed a
flower which a morning withers and the beat of a passing wing breaks
down; it is the widow's lamp, which the slightest blast of air
extinguishes. In order to realize the poetry which clings to morning
roses, one needs to have just escaped from the claws of that vulture
which we call illness. The foundation and the heightening of all things
is the graveyard. The only certainty in this world of vain agitations
and endless anxieties, is the certainty of death, and that which is the
foretaste and small change of death--pain.

As long as we turn our eyes away from this implacable reality, the
tragedy of life remains hidden from us. As soon as we look at it face to
face, the true proportions of everything reappear, and existence becomes
solemn again. It is made clear to us that we have been frivolous and
petulant, intractable and forgetful, and that we have been wrong.

We must die and give an account of our life: here in all its simplicity
is the teaching of sickness! "Do with all diligence what you have to do;
reconcile yourself with the law of the universe; think of your duty;
prepare yourself for departure:" such is the cry of conscience and of

May 3, 1860.--Edgar Quinet has attempted everything: he has aimed at
nothing but the greatest things; he is rich in ideas, a master of
splendid imagery, serious, enthusiastic, courageous, a noble writer. How
is it, then, that he has not more reputation? Because he is too pure;
because he is too uniformly ecstatic, fantastic, inspired--a mood which
soon palls on Frenchmen. Because he is too single-minded, candid,
theoretical, and speculative, too ready to believe in the power of words
and of ideas, too expansive and confiding; while at the same time he is
lacking in the qualities which amuse clever people--in sarcasm, irony,
cunning and _finesse_. He is an idealist reveling in color: a Platonist
brandishing the _thyrsus_ of the Menads. At bottom his is a mind of no
particular country. It is in vain that he satirizes Germany and abuses
England; he does not make himself any more of a Frenchman by doing so.
It is a northern intellect wedded to a southern imagination, but the
marriage has not been a happy one. He has the disease of chronic
magniloquence, of inveterate sublimity; abstractions for him become
personified and colossal beings, which act or speak in colossal fashion;
he is intoxicated with the infinite. But one feels all the time that his
creations are only individual monologues; he cannot escape from the
bounds of a subjective lyrism. Ideas, passions, anger, hopes,
complaints--he himself is present in them all. We never have the delight
of escaping from his magic circle, of seeing truth as it is, of entering
into relation with the phenomena and the beings of whom he speaks, with
the reality of things. This imprisonment of the author within his
personality looks like conceit. But on the contrary, it is because the
heart is generous that the mind is egotistical. It is because Quinet
thinks himself so much of a Frenchman that he is it so little. These
ironical compensations of destiny are very familiar to me: I have often
observed them. Man is nothing but contradiction: the less he knows it
the more dupe he is. In consequence of his small capacity for seeing
things as they are, Quinet has neither much accuracy nor much balance of
mind. He recalls Victor Hugo, with much less artistic power but more
historical sense. His principal gift is a great command of imagery and
symbolism. He seems to me a Goerres [Footnote: Joseph Goerres, a German
mystic and disciple of Schelling. He published, among other works,
"Mythengeschichte der Asiatischen Welt," and "Christliche Mystik."]
transplanted to Franche Comte, a sort of supernumerary prophet, with
whom his nation hardly knows what to do, seeing that she loves neither
enigmas nor ecstasy nor inflation of language, and that the intoxication
of the tripod bores her.

The real excellence of Quinet seems to me to lie in his historical works
("Marnix," "L'Italie," "Les Roumains"), and especially in his studies of
nationalities. He was born, to understand these souls, at once more vast
and more sublime than individual souls.

(_Later_).--I have been translating into verse that page of Goethe's
"Faust" in which is contained his pantheistic confession of faith. The
translation is not bad, I think. But what a difference between the two
languages in the matter of precision! It is like the difference between
stump and graving-tool--the one showing the effort, the other noting the
result of the act; the one making you feel all that is merely dreamed or
vague, formless or vacant, the other determining, fixing, giving shape
even to the indefinite; the one representing the cause, the force, the
limbo whence things issue, the other the things themselves. German has
the obscure depth of the infinite, French the clear brightness of the

May 5, 1860.--To grow old is more difficult than to die, because to
renounce a good once and for all, costs less than to renew the sacrifice
day by day and in detail. To bear with one's own decay, to accept one's
own lessening capacity, is a harder and rarer virtue than to face death.

* * * * *

There is a halo round tragic and premature death; there is but a long
sadness in declining strength. But look closer: so studied, a resigned
and religious old age will often move us more than the heroic ardor of
young years. The maturity of the soul is worth more than the first
brilliance of its faculties, or the plentitude of its strength, and the
eternal in us can but profit from all the ravages made by time. There is
comfort in this thought.

May 22, 1860.--There is in me a secret incapacity for expressing my true
feeling, for saying what pleases others, for bearing witness to the
present--a reserve which I have often noticed in myself with vexation.
My heart never dares to speak seriously, either because it is ashamed of
being thought to flatter, or afraid lest it should not find exactly the
right expression. I am always trifling with the present moment. Feeling
in me is retrospective. My refractory nature is slow to recognize the
solemnity of the hour in which I actually stand. An ironical instinct,
born of timidity, makes me pass lightly over what I have on pretence of
waiting for some other thing at some other time. Fear of being carried
away, and distrust of myself pursue me even in moments of emotion; by a
sort of invincible pride, I can never persuade myself to say to any
particular instant: "Stay! decide for me; be a supreme moment! stand out
from the monotonous depths of eternity and mark a unique experience in
my life!" I trifle, even with happiness, out of distrust of the future.

May 27, 1860. (Sunday).--I heard this morning a sermon on the Holy
Spirit--good but insufficient. Why was I not edified? Because there was
no unction. Why was there no unction? Because Christianity from this
rationalistic point of view is a Christianity of _dignity_, not of
humility. Penitence, the struggles of weakness, austerity, find no place
in it. The law is effaced, holiness and mysticism evaporate; the
specifically Christian accent is wanting. My impression is always the
same--faith is made a dull poor thing by these attempts to reduce it to
simple moral psychology. I am oppressed by a feeling of
inappropriateness and _malaise_ at the sight of philosophy in the
pulpit. "They have taken away my Saviour, and I know not where they have
laid him;" so the simple folk have a right to say, and I repeat it with
them. Thus, while some shock me by their sacerdotal dogmatism, others
repel me by their rationalizing laicism. It seems to me that good
preaching ought to combine, as Schleiermacher did, perfect moral
humility with energetic independence of thought, a profound sense of sin
with respect for criticism and a passion for truth.

* * * * *

The free being who abandons the conduct of himself, yields himself to
Satan; in the moral world there is no ground without a master, and the
waste lands belong to the Evil One.

The poetry of childhood consists in simulating and forestalling the
future, just as the poetry of mature life consists often in going
backward to some golden age. Poetry is always in the distance. The whole
art of moral government lies in gaining a directing and shaping hold
over the poetical ideals of an age.

January 9, 1861.--I have just come from the inaugural lecture of Victor
Cherbuliez in a state of bewildered admiration. As a lecture it was
exquisite: if it was a recitation of prepared matter, it was admirable;
if an extempore performance, it was amazing. In the face of superiority
and perfection, says Schiller, we have but one resource--to love them,
which is what I have done. I had the pleasure, mingled with a little
surprise, of feeling in myself no sort of jealousy toward this young

March 15th.--This last lecture in Victor Cherbuliez's course on
"Chivalry," which is just over, showed the same magical power over his
subject as that with which he began the series two months ago. It was a
triumph and a harvest of laurels. Cervantes, Ignatius Loyola, and the
heritage of chivalry--that is to say, individualism, honor, the poetry
of the present and the poetry of contrasts, modern liberty and
progress--have been the subjects of this lecture.

The general impression left upon me all along has been one of admiration
for the union in him of extraordinary skill in execution with admirable
cultivation of mind. With what freedom of spirit he uses and wields his
vast erudition, and what capacity for close attention he must have to be
able to carry the weight of a whole improvised speech with the same ease
as though it were a single sentence! I do not know if I am partial, but
I find no occasion for anything but praise in this young wizard and his
lectures. The fact is, that in my opinion we have now one more first
rate mind, one more master of language among us. This course, with the
"Causeries Atheniennes," seems to me to establish Victor Cherbuliez's
position at Geneva.

March 17, 1861.--This afternoon a homicidal languor seized hold upon
me--disgust, weariness of life, mortal sadness. I wandered out into the
churchyard, hoping to find quiet and peace there, and so to reconcile
myself with duty. Vain dream! The place of rest itself had become
inhospitable. Workmen were stripping and carrying away the turf, the
trees were dry, the wind cold, the sky gray--something arid,
irreverent, and prosaic dishonored the resting-place of the dead. I was
struck with something wanting in our national feeling--respect for the
dead, the poetry of the tomb, the piety of memory. Our churches are too
little open; our churchyards too much. The result in both cases is the
same. The tortured and trembling heart which seeks, outside the scene of
its daily miseries, to find some place where it may pray in peace, or
pour out its grief before God, or meditate in the presence of eternal
things, with us has nowhere to go. Our church ignores these wants of the
soul instead of divining and meeting them. She shows very little
compassionate care for her children, very little wise consideration for
the more delicate griefs, and no intuition of the deeper mysteries of
tenderness, no religious suavity. Under a pretext of spirituality we are
always checking legitimate aspirations. We have lost the mystical sense;
and what is religion without mysticism? A rose without perfume.

The words _repentance_ and _sanctification_ are always on our lips. But
_adoration_ and _consolation_ are also two essential elements in
religion, and we ought perhaps to make more room for them than we do.

April 28, 1861.--In the same way as a dream transforms according to its
nature, the incidents of sleep, so the soul converts into psychical
phenomena the ill-defined impressions of the organism. An uncomfortable
attitude becomes nightmare; an atmosphere charged with storm becomes
moral torment. Not mechanically and by direct causality; but imagination
and conscience engender, according to their own nature, analogous
effects; they translate into their own language, and cast into their own
mold, whatever reaches them from outside. Thus dreams may be helpful to
medicine and to divination, and states of weather may stir up and set
free within the soul vague and hidden evils. The suggestions and
solicitations which act upon life come from outside, but life produces
nothing but itself after all. Originality consists in rapid and clear
reaction against these outside influences, in giving to them our
individual stamp. To think is to withdraw, as it were, into one's
impression--to make it clear to one's self, and then to put it forth in
the shape of a personal judgment. In this also consists
self-deliverance, self-enfranchisement, self-conquest. All that comes
from outside is a question to which we owe an answer--a pressure to be
met by counter-pressure, if we are to remain free and living agents. The
development of our unconscious nature follows the astronomical laws of
Ptolemy; everything in it is change--cycle, epi-cycle, and

Every man then possesses in himself the analogies and rudiments of all
things, of all beings, and of all forms of life. He who knows how to
divine the small beginnings, the germs and symptoms of things, can
retrace in himself the universal mechanism, and divine by intuition the
series which he himself will not finish, such as vegetable and animal
existences, human passions and crises, the diseases of the soul and
those of the body. The mind which is subtle and powerful may penetrate
all these potentialities, and make every point flash out the world which
it contains. This is to be conscious of and to possess the general life,
this is to enter into the divine sanctuary of contemplation.

September 12, 1861.--In me an intellect which would fain forget itself
in things, is contradicted by a heart which yearns to live in human
beings. The uniting link of the two contradictions is the tendency
toward self-abandonment, toward ceasing to will and exist for one's
self, toward laying down one's own personality, and losing
--dissolving--one's self in love and contemplation. What I lack
above all things is character, will, individuality. But, as always
happens, the appearance is exactly the contrary of the reality, and my
outward life the reverse of my true and deepest aspiration. I whose
whole being--heart and intellect--thirsts to absorb itself in reality,
in its neighbor man, in nature and in God, I, whom solitude devours and
destroys, I shut myself up in solitude and seem to delight only in
myself and to be sufficient for myself. Pride and delicacy of soul,
timidity of heart, have made me thus do violence to all my instincts and
invert the natural order of my life. It is not astonishing that I should
be unintelligible to others. In fact I have always avoided what
attracted me, and turned my back upon the point where secretly I desired
to be.

"Deux instincts sont en moi: vertige et deraison;
J'ai l'effroi du bonheur et la soif du poison."

It is the Nemesis which dogs the steps of life, the secret instinct and
power of death in us, which labors continually for the destruction of
all that seeks to be, to take form, to exist; it is the passion for
destruction, the tendency toward suicide, identifying itself with the
instinct of self-preservation. This antipathy toward all that does one
good, all that nourishes and heals, is it not a mere variation of the
antipathy to moral light and regenerative truth? Does not sin also
create a thirst for death, a growing passion for what does harm?
Discouragement has been my sin. Discouragement is an act of unbelief.
Growing weakness has been the consequence of it; the principle of death
in me and the influence of the Prince of Darkness have waxed stronger
together. My will in abdicating has yielded up the scepter to instinct;
and as the corruption of the best results in what is worst, love of the
ideal, tenderness, unworldliness, have led me to a state in which I
shrink from hope and crave for annihilation. Action is my cross.

October 11, 1861. (_Heidelberg_).--After eleven days journey, here I am
under the roof of my friends, in their hospitable house on the banks of
the Neckar, with its garden climbing up the side of the Heiligenberg....
Blazing sun; my room is flooded with light and warmth. Sitting opposite
the Geisberg, I write to the murmur of the Neckar, which rolls its green
waves, flecked with silver, exactly beneath the balcony on which my room
opens. A great barge coming from Heilbron passes silently under my eyes,
while the wheels of a cart which I cannot see are dimly heard on the
road which skirts the river. Distant voices of children, of cocks, of
chirping sparrows, the clock of the Church of the Holy Spirit, which
chimes the hour, serve to gauge, without troubling, the general
tranquility of the scene. One feels the hours gently slipping by, and
time, instead of flying, seems to hover. A peace beyond words steals
into my heart, an impression of morning grace, of fresh country poetry
which brings back the sense of youth, and has the true German savor....
Two decked barges carrying red flags, each with a train of flat boats
filled with coal, are going up the river and making their way under the
arch of the great stone bridge. I stand at the window and see a whole
perspective of boats sailing in both directions; the Neckar is as
animated as the street of some great capital; and already on the slope
of the wooded mountain, streaked by the smoke-wreaths of the town, the
castle throws its shadow like a vast drapery, and traces the outlines of
its battlements and turrets. Higher up, in front of me, rises the dark
profile of the Molkenkur; higher still, in relief against the dazzling
east, I can distinguish the misty forms of the two towers of the
Kaiserstuhl and the Trutzheinrich.

But enough of landscape. My host, Dr. George Weber, tells me that his
manual of history is translated into Polish, Dutch, Spanish, Italian,
and French, and that of his great "Universal History"--three volumes are
already published. What astonishing power of work, what prodigious
tenacity, what solidity! _O deutscher Fleiss_!

November 25, 1861.--To understand a drama requires the same mental
operation as to understand an existence, a biography, a man. It is a
putting back of the bird into the egg, of the plant into its seed, a
reconstitution of the whole genesis of the being in question. Art is
simply the bringing into relief of the obscure thought of nature; a
simplification of the lines, a falling into place of groups otherwise
invisible. The fire of inspiration brings out, as it were, designs
traced beforehand in sympathetic ink. The mysterious grows clear, the
confused plain; what is complicated becomes simple--what is accidental,

In short, art reveals nature by interpreting its intentions and
formulating its desires. Every ideal is the key of a long enigma. The
great artist is the simplifier.

Every man is a tamer of wild beasts, and these wild beasts are his
passions. To draw their teeth and claws, to muzzle and tame them, to
turn them into servants and domestic animals, fuming, perhaps, but
submissive--in this consists personal education.

February 3, 1862.--Self-criticism is the corrosive of all oratorical or
literary spontaneity. The thirst to know turned upon the self is
punished, like the curiosity of Psyche, by the flight of the thing
desired. Force should remain a mystery to itself; as soon as it tries to
penetrate its own secret it vanishes away. The hen with the golden eggs
becomes unfruitful as soon as she tries to find out why her eggs are
golden. The consciousness of consciousness is the term and end of
analysis. True, but analysis pushed to extremity devours itself, like
the Egyptian serpent. We must give it some external matter to crush and
dissolve if we wish to prevent its destruction by its action upon
itself. "We are, and ought to be, obscure to ourselves," said Goethe,
"turned outward, and working upon the world which surrounds us." Outward
radiation constitutes health; a too continuous concentration upon what
is within brings us back to vacuity and blank. It is better that life
should dilate and extend itself in ever-widening circles, than that it
should be perpetually diminished and compressed by solitary contraction.
Warmth tends to make a globe out of an atom; cold, to reduce a globe to
the dimensions of an atom. Analysis has been to me self-annulling,

April 23, 1862. (_Mornex sur Saleve_).--I was awakened by the twittering
of the birds at a quarter to five, and saw, as I threw open my windows,
the yellowing crescent of the moon looking in upon me, while the east
was just faintly whitening. An hour later it was delicious out of doors.
The anemones were still closed, the apple-trees in full flower:

"Ces beaux pommiers, coverts de leurs fleurs etoileens,
Neige odorante du printemps."

The view was exquisite, and nature, in full festival, spread freshness
and joy around her. I breakfasted, read the paper, and here I am. The
ladies of the _pension_ are still under the horizon. I pity them for the
loss of two or three delightful hours.

Eleven o'clock.--Preludes, scales, piano-exercises going on under my
feet. In the garden children's voices. I have just finished Rosenkrantz
on "Hegel's Logic," and have run through a few articles in the
Reviews.... The limitation of the French mind consists in the
insufficiency of its spiritual alphabet, which does not allow it to
translate the Greek, German, or Spanish mind without changing the
accent. The hospitality of French manners is not completed by a real
hospitality of thought.... My nature is just the opposite. I am
individual in the presence of men, objective in the presence of things.
I attach myself to the object, and absorb myself in it; I detach myself
from subjects [_i.e._. persons], and hold myself on my guard against
them. I feel myself different from the mass of men, and akin to the
great whole of nature. My way of asserting myself is in cherishing this
sense of sympathetic unity with life, which I yearn to understand, and
in repudiating the tyranny of commonplace. All that is imitative and
artificial inspires me with a secret repulsion, while the smallest true
and spontaneous existence (plant, animal, child) draws and attracts me.
I feel myself in community of spirit with the Goethes, the Hegels, the
Schleiermachers, the Leibnitzes, opposed as they are among themselves;
while the French mathematicians, philosophers, or rhetoricians, in spite
of their high qualities, leave me cold, because there is in them no
sense of the whole, the sum of things [Footnote: The following passage
from Sainte-Beuve may be taken as a kind of answer by anticipation to
this accusation, which Amiel brings more than once in the course of the

"Toute nation livree a elle-meme et a son propre genie se fait une
critique litteraire qui y est conforme. La France en son beau temps a eu
la sienne, qui ne ressemble ni a celle de l'Allemagne ni a celle de ses
autres voisins--un peu plus superficielle, dira-t-on--je ne le crois
pas: mais plus vive, moins chargee d'erudition, moins theorique et
systematique, plus confiante au sentiment immediat du gout. _Un peu de
chaque chose et rien de l'ensemble, a la Francaise_: telle etait la
devise de Montaigne et telle est aussi la devise de la critique
francaise. Nous ne sommes pas _synthetiques_, comme diraient les
Allemands; le mot meme n'est pas francaise. L'imagination de detail nous
suffit. Montaigne, La Fontaine Madame de Sevigne, sont volontiers nos
livres de chevet."

The French critic then goes on to give a rapid sketch of the authors and
the books, "qui ont peu a peu forme comme notre rhetorique." French
criticism of the old characteristic kind rests ultimately upon the
minute and delicate knowledge of a few Greek and Latin classics.
Arnauld, Boileau, Fenelon, Rollin, Racine _fils_, Voltaire, La Harpe,
Marmontel, Delille, Fontanes, and Chateaubriand in one aspect, are the
typical names of this tradition, the creators and maintainers of this
common literary _fonds_, this "sorte de circulation courante a l'usage
des gens instruits. J'avoue ma faiblesse: nous sommes devenus bien plus
forts dans la dissertation erudite, mais j'aurais un eternel regret pour
cette moyenne et plus libre habitude litteraire qui laissait a
l'imagination tout son espace et a l'esprit tout son jeu; qui formait
une atmosphere saine et facile ou le talent respirait et se mouvait a
son gre: cette atmosphere-la, je ne la trouve plus, et je la
regrette."--(_Chateaubriand et son Groupe Litteraire_, vol. i. p. 311.)

The following _pensee_ of La Bruyere applies to the second half of
Amiel's criticism of the French mind: "If you wish to travel in the
Inferno or the Paradiso you must take other guides," etc.

"Un homme ne Chretien et Francois se trouve contraint dans la satyre;
les grands sujets lui sont defendus, il les entame quelquefois, et se
detourne ensuite sur de petites choses qu'il releve par la beaute de son
genie et de son style."--_Les Caracteres_, etc., "_Des Ouvrages
del'Esprit_."]--because they have no _grasp_ of reality in its
fullness, and therefore either cramp and limit me or awaken my distrust.
The French lack that intuitive faculty to which the living unity of
things is revealed, they have very little sense of what is sacred, very
little penetration into the mysteries of being. What they excel in is
the construction of special sciences; the art of writing a book, style,
courtesy, grace, literary models, perfection and urbanity; the spirit of
order, the art of teaching, discipline, elegance, truth of detail, power
of arrangement; the desire and the gift for proselytism, the vigor
necessary for practical conclusions. But if you wish to travel in the
"Inferno" or the "Paradiso" you must take other guides. Their home is on
the earth, in the region of the finite, the changing, the historical,
and the diverse. Their logic never goes beyond the category of mechanism
nor their metaphysic beyond dualism. When they undertake anything else
they are doing violence to themselves.

April 24th. (_Noon_).--All around me profound peace, the silence of the
mountains in spite of a full house and a neighboring village. No sound
is to be heard but the murmur of the flies. There is something very
striking in this calm. The middle of the day is like the middle of the
night. Life seems suspended just when it is most intense. These are the
moments in which one hears the infinite and perceives the ineffable.
Victor Hugo, in his "Contemplations," has been carrying me from world to
world, and since then his contradictions have reminded me of the
convinced Christian with whom I was talking yesterday in a house near
by.... The same sunlight floods both the book and nature, the doubting
poet and the believing preacher, as well as the mobile dreamer, who, in
the midst of all these various existences, allows himself to be swayed
by every passing breath, and delights, stretched along the car of his
balloon, in floating aimlessly through all the sounds and shallows of
the ether, and in realizing within himself all the harmonies and
dissonances of the soul, of feeling, and of thought. Idleness and
contemplation! Slumber of the will, lapses of the vital force, indolence
of the whole being--how well I know you! To love, to dream, to feel, to
learn, to understand--all these are possible to me if only I may be
relieved from willing. It is my tendency, my instinct, my fault, my sin.
I have a sort of primitive horror of ambition, of struggle, of hatred,
of all which dissipates the soul and makes it dependent upon external
things and aims. The joy of becoming once more conscious of myself, of
listening to the passage of time and the flow of the universal life, is
sometimes enough to make me forget every desire, and to quench in me
both the wish to produce and the power to execute. Intellectual
Epicureanism is always threatening to overpower me. I can only combat it
by the idea of duty; it is as the poet has said:

"Ceux qui vivent, ce sont ceux qui luttent; ce sont
Ceux dont un dessein ferme emplit l'ame et le front,
Ceux qui d'un haut destin gravissent l'apre cime,
Ceux qui marchent pensifs, epris d'un but sublime,
Ayant devant les yeux sans cesse, nuit et jour,
Ou quelque saint labeur ou quelque grand amour!"

[Footnote: Victor Hugo, "Les Chatiments."]

_Five o'clock._--In the afternoon our little society met in general talk
upon the terrace. Some amount of familiarity and friendliness begins to
show itself in our relations to each other. I read over again with
emotion some passages of "Jocelyn." How admirable it is!

"Il se fit de sa vie une plus male idee:
Sa douleur d'un seul trait ne l'avait pas videe;
Mais, adorant de Dieu le severe dessein,
Il sut la porter pleine et pure dans son sein,
Et ne se hatant pas de la repandre toute,
Sa resignation l'epancha goutte a goutte,
Selon la circonstance et le besoin d'autrui,
Pour tout vivifier sur terre autour de lui."

[Footnote: Epilogue of "Jocelyn."]

The true poetry is that which raises you, as this does, toward heaven,
and fills you with divine emotion; which sings of love and death, of
hope and sacrifice, and awakens the sense of the infinite. "Jocelyn"
always stirs in me impulses of tenderness which it would be hateful to
me to see profaned by satire. As a tragedy of feeling, it has no
parallel in French, for purity, except "Paul et Virginie," and I think
that I prefer "Jocelyn." To be just, one ought to read them side by

_Six o'clock._--One more day is drawing to its close. With the exception
of Mont Blanc, all the mountains have already lost their color. The
evening chill succeeds the heat of the afternoon. The sense of the
implacable flight of things, of the resistless passage of the hours,
seizes upon me afresh and oppresses me.

"Nature au front serein, comme vous oubliez!"

In vain we cry with the poet, "O time, suspend thy flight!"... And what
days, after all, would we keep and hold? Not only the happy days, but
the lost days! The first have left at least a memory behind them, the
others nothing but a regret which is almost a remorse....

_Eleven o'clock._--A gust of wind. A few clouds in the sky. The
nightingale is silent. On the other hand, the cricket and the river are
still singing.

August 9, 1862.--Life, which seeks its own continuance, tends to repair
itself without our help. It mends its spider's webs when they have been
torn; it re-establishes in us the conditions of health, and itself heals
the injuries inflicted upon it; it binds the bandage again upon our
eyes, brings back hope into our hearts, breathes health once more into
our organs, and regilds the dream of our imagination. But for this,
experience would have hopelessly withered and faded us long before the
time, and the youth would be older than the centenarian. The wise part
of us, then, is that which is unconscious of itself; and what is most
reasonable in man are those elements in him which do not reason.
Instinct, nature, a divine, an impersonal activity, heal in us the
wounds made by our own follies; the invisible _genius_ of our life is
never tired of providing material for the prodigalities of the self. The
essential, maternal basis of our conscious life, is therefore that
unconscious life which we perceive no more than the outer hemisphere of
the moon perceives the earth, while all the time indissolubly and
eternally bound to it. It is our [Greek: antichoon], to speak with

November 7, 1862.--How malign, infectious, and unwholesome is the
eternal smile of that indifferent criticism, that attitude of ironical
contemplation, which corrodes and demolishes everything, that mocking
pitiless temper, which holds itself aloof from every personal duty and
every vulnerable affection, and cares only to understand without
committing itself to action! Criticism become a habit, a fashion, and a
system, means the destruction of moral energy, of faith, and of all
spiritual force. One of my tendencies leads me in this direction, but I
recoil before its results when I come across more emphatic types of it
than myself. And at least I cannot reproach myself with having ever
attempted to destroy the moral force of others; my reverence for life
forbade it, and my self-distrust has taken from me even the temptation
to it.

This kind of temper is very dangerous among us, for it flatters all the
worst instincts of men--indiscipline, irreverence, selfish
individualism--and it ends in social atomism. Minds inclined to mere
negation are only harmless in great political organisms, which go
without them and in spite of them. The multiplication of them among
ourselves will bring about the ruin of our little countries, for small
states only live by faith and will. Woe to the society where negation
rules, for life is an affirmation; and a society, a country, a nation,
is a living whole capable of death. No nationality is possible without
prejudices, for public spirit and national tradition are but webs woven
out of innumerable beliefs which have been acquired, admitted, and
continued without formal proof and without discussion. To act, we must
believe; to believe, we must make up our minds, affirm, decide, and in
reality prejudge the question. He who will only act upon a full
scientific certitude is unfit for practical life. But we are made for
action, and we cannot escape from duty. Let us not, then, condemn
prejudice so long as we have nothing but doubt to put in its place, or
laugh at those whom we should be incapable of consoling! This, at least,
is my point of view.

* * * * *

Beyond the element which is common to all men there is an element which
separates them. This element may be religion, country, language,
education. But all these being supposed common, there still remains
something which serves as a line of demarcation--namely, the ideal. To
have an ideal or to have none, to have this ideal or that--this is what
digs gulfs between men, even between those who live in the same family
circle, under the same roof or in the same room. You must love with the
same love, think with the same thought as some one else, if you are to
escape solitude.

Mutual respect implies discretion and reserve even in love itself; it
means preserving as much liberty as possible to those whose life we
share. We must distrust our instinct of intervention, for the desire to
make one's own will prevail is often disguised under the mask of

How many times we become hypocrites simply by remaining the same
outwardly and toward others, when we know that inwardly and to ourselves
we are different. It is not hypocrisy in the strict sense, for we borrow
no other personality than our own; still, it is a kind of deception. The
deception humiliates us, and the humiliation is a chastisement which the
mask inflicts upon the face, which our past inflicts upon our present.
Such humiliation is good for us; for it produces shame, and shame gives
birth to repentance. Thus in an upright soul good springs out of evil,
and it falls only to rise again.

* * * * *

January 8, 1863.--This evening I read through the "Cid" and "Rodogune."
My impression is still a mixed and confused one. There is much
disenchantment in my admiration, and a good deal of reserve in my
enthusiasm. What displeases me in this dramatic art, is the mechanical
abstraction of the characters, and the scolding, shrewish tone of the
interlocutors. I had a vague impression of listening to gigantic
marionettes, perorating through a trumpet, with the emphasis of
Spaniards. There is power in it, but we have before us heroic idols
rather than human beings. The element of artificiality, of strained
pomposity and affectation, which is the plague of classical tragedy, is
everywhere apparent, and one hears, as it were, the cords and pulleys of
these majestic _colossi_ creaking and groaning. I much prefer Racine and
Shakespeare; the one from the point of view of aesthetic sensation, the
other from that of psychological sensation. The southern theater can
never free itself from masks. Comic masks are bearable, but in the case
of tragic heroes, the abstract type, the mask, make one impatient. I can
laugh with personages of tin and pasteboard: I can only weep with the
living, or what resembles them. Abstraction turns easily to caricature;
it is apt to engender mere shadows on the wall, mere ghosts and puppets.
It is psychology of the first degree--elementary psychology--just as the
colored pictures of Germany are elementary painting. And yet with all
this, you have a double-distilled and often sophistical refinement: just
as savages are by no means simple. The fine side of it all is the manly
vigor, the bold frankness of ideas, words, and sentiments. Why is it
that we find so large an element of factitious grandeur, mingled with
true grandeur, in this drama of 1640, from which the whole dramatic
development of monarchical France was to spring? Genius is there, but it
is hemmed round by a conventional civilization, and, strive as he may,
no man wears a wig with impunity.

January 13, 1863.--To-day it has been the turn of "Polyeucte" and "La
Morte de Pompee." Whatever one's objections may be, there is something
grandiose in the style of Corneille which reconciles you at last even to
his stiff, emphatic manner, and his over-ingenious rhetoric. But it is
the dramatic _genre_ which is false. His heroes are roles rather than
men. They pose as magnanimity, virtue, glory, instead of realizing them
before us. They are always _en scene_, studied by others, or by
themselves. With them glory--that is to say, the life of ceremony and of
affairs, and the opinion of the public--replaces nature--becomes nature.
They never speak except _ore rotundo_, in _cothurnus_, or sometimes on
stilts. And what consummate advocates they all are! The French drama is
an oratorical tournament, a long suit between opposing parties, on a day
which is to end with the death of somebody, and where all the personages
represented are in haste to speak before the hour of silence strikes.
Elsewhere, speech serves to make action intelligible; in French tragedy
action is but a decent motive for speech. It is the procedure calculated
to extract the finest possible speeches from the persons who are engaged
in the action, and who represent different perceptions of it at
different moments and from different points of view. Love and nature,
duty and desire, and a dozen other moral antitheses, are the limbs moved
by the wire of the dramatist, who makes them fall into all the tragic
attitudes. What is really curious and amusing is that the people of all
others the most vivacious, gay, and intelligent, should have always
understood the grand style in this pompous, pedantic fashion. But it was

April 8, 1863.--I have been turning over the 3,500 pages of "Les
Miserables," trying to understand the guiding idea of this vast
composition. The fundamental idea of "Les Miserables" seems to be this.
Society engenders certain frightful evils--prostitution, vagabondage,
rogues, thieves, convicts, war, revolutionary clubs and barricades. She
ought to impress this fact on her mind, and not treat all those who come
in contact with her law as mere monsters. The task before us is to
humanize law and opinion, to raise the fallen as well as the vanquished,
to create a social redemption. How is this to be done? By enlightening
vice and lawlessness, and so diminishing the sum of them, and by
bringing to bear upon the guilty the healing influence of pardon. At
bottom is it not a Christianization of society, this extension of
charity from the sinner to the condemned criminal, this application to
our present life of what the church applies more readily to the other?
Struggle to restore a human soul to order and to righteousness by
patience and by love, instead of crushing it by your inflexible
vindictiveness, your savage justice! Such is the cry of the book. It is
great and noble, but it is a little optimistic and Rousseau-like.
According to it the individual is always innocent and society always
responsible, and the ideal before us for the twentieth century is a sort
of democratic age of gold, a universal republic from which war, capital
punishment, and pauperism will have disappeared. It is the religion and
the city of progress; in a word, the Utopia of the eighteenth century
revived on a great scale. There is a great deal of generosity in it,
mixed with not a little fanciful extravagance. The fancifulness consists
chiefly in a superficial notion of evil. The author ignores or pretends
to forget the instinct of perversity, the love of evil for evil's sake,
which is contained in the human heart.

The great and salutary idea of the book, is that honesty before the law
is a cruel hypocrisy, in so far as it arrogates to itself the right of
dividing society according to its own standard into elect and
reprobates, and thus confounds the relative with the absolute. The
leading passage is that in which Javert, thrown off the rails, upsets
the whole moral system of the strict Javert, half spy, half priest--of
the irreproachable police-officer. In this chapter the writer shows us
social charity illuminating and transforming a harsh and unrighteous
justice. Suppression of the social hell, that is to say, of all
irreparable stains, of all social outlawries for which there is neither
end nor hope--it is an essentially religious idea.

The erudition, the talent, the brilliancy of execution, shown in the
book are astonishing, bewildering almost. Its faults are to be found in
the enormous length allowed to digressions and episodical dissertations,
in the exaggeration of all the combinations and all the theses, and,
finally, in something strained, spasmodic, and violent in the style,
which is very different from the style of natural eloquence or of
essential truth. Effect is the misfortune of Victor Hugo, because he
makes it the center of his aesthetic system; and hence exaggeration,
monotony of emphasis, theatricality of manner, a tendency to force and
over-drive. A powerful artist, but one with whom you never forget the
artist; and a dangerous model, for the master himself is already grazing
the rock of burlesque, and passes from the sublime to the repulsive,
from lack of power to produce one harmonious impression of beauty. It is
natural enough that he should detest Racine.

But what astonishing philological and literary power has Victor Hugo! He
is master of all the dialects contained in our language, dialects of the
courts of law, of the stock-exchange, of war, and of the sea, of
philosophy and the convict-gang, the dialects of trade and of
archaeology, of the antiquarian and the scavenger. All the bric-a-brac
of history and of manners, so to speak, all the curiosities of soil, and
subsoil, are known and familiar to him. He seems to have turned his
Paris over and over, and to know it body and soul as one knows the
contents of one's pocket. What a prodigious memory and what a lurid
imagination! He is at once a visionary and yet master of his dreams; he
summons up and handles at will the hallucinations of opium or of
hasheesh, without ever becoming their dupe; he makes of madness one of
his tame animals, and bestrides, with equal coolness, Pegasus or
Nightmare, the Hippogriff or the Chimera. As a psychological phenomenon
he is of the deepest interest. Victor Hugo draws in sulphuric acid, he
lights his pictures with electric light. He deafens, blinds, and
bewilders his reader rather than he charms or persuades him. Strength
carried to such a point as this is a fascination; without seeming to
take you captive, it makes you its prisoner; it does not enchant you,
but it holds you spellbound. His ideal is the extraordinary, the
gigantic, the overwhelming, the incommensurable. His most characteristic
words are _immense, colossal, enormous, huge, monstrous_. He finds a way
of making even child-nature extravagant and bizarre. The only thing
which seems impossible to him is to be natural. In short, his passion is
grandeur, his fault is excess; his distinguishing mark is a kind of
Titanic power with strange dissonances of puerility in its magnificence.
Where he is weakest is, in measure, taste, and sense of humor: he fails
in _esprit_, in the subtlest sense of the word. Victor Hugo is a
gallicized Spaniard, or rather he unites all the extremes of south and
north, the Scandinavian and the African. Gaul has less part in him than
any other country. And yet, by a caprice of destiny, he is one of the
literary geniuses of France in the nineteenth century! His resources are
inexhaustible, and age seems to have no power over him. What an infinite
store of words, forms, and ideas he carries about with him, and what a
pile of works he has left behind him to mark his passage! His eruptions
are like those of a volcano; and, fabulous workman that he is, he goes
on forever raising, destroying, crushing, and rebuilding a world of his
own creation, and a world rather Hindoo than Hellenic.

He amazes me: and yet I prefer those men of genius who awaken in me the
sense of truth, and who increase the sum of one's inner liberty. In Hugo
one feels the effort of the laboring Cyclops; give me rather the
sonorous bow of Apollo, and the tranquil brow of the Olympian Jove. His
type is that of the Satyr in the "Legende des Siecles," who crushes
Olympus, a type midway between the ugliness of the faun and the
overpowering sublimity of the great Pan.

May 23, 1863.--Dull, cloudy, misty weather; it rained in the night and
yet the air is heavy. This somber reverie of earth and sky has a
sacredness of its own, but it fills the spectator with a vague and
stupefying _ennui_. Light brings life: darkness may bring thought, but a
dull daylight, the uncertain glimmer of a leaden sky, merely make one
restless and weary. These indecisive and chaotic states of nature are
ugly, like all amorphous things, like smeared colors, or bats, or the
viscous polyps of the sea. The source of all attractiveness is to be
found in character, in sharpness of outline, in individualization. All
that is confused and indistinct, without form, or sex, or accent, is
antagonistic to beauty; for the mind's first need is light; light means
order, and order means, in the first place, the distinction of the
parts, in the second, their regular action. Beauty is based on reason.

August 7, 1863.--A walk after supper, a sky sparkling with stars, the
Milky Way magnificent. Alas! all the same my heart is heavy. At bottom I
am always brought up against an incurable distrust of myself and of
life, which toward my neighbor has become indulgence, but for myself has
led to a _regime_ of absolute abstention. All or nothing! This is my
inborn disposition, my primitive stuff, my "old man." And yet if some
one will but give me a little love, will but penetrate a little into my
inner feeling, I am happy and ask for scarcely anything else. A child's
caresses, a friend's talk, are enough to make me gay and expansive. So
then I aspire to the infinite, and yet a very little contents me;
everything disturbs me and the least thing calms me. I have often
surprised in my self the wish for death, and yet my ambitions for
happiness scarcely go beyond those of the bird: wings! sun! a nest! I
persist in solitude because of a taste for it, so people think. No, it
is from distaste, disgust, from shame at my own need of others, shame at
confessing it, a fear of passing into bondage if I do confess it.

September 2, 1863.--How shall I find a name for that subtle feeling
which seized hold upon me this morning in the twilight of waking? It was
a reminiscence, charming indeed, but nameless, vague, and featureless,
like the figure of a woman seen for an instant by a sick man in the
uncertainty of delirium, and across the shadows of his darkened room. I
had a distinct sense of a form which I had seen somewhere, and which had
moved and charmed me once, and then had fallen back with time into the
catacombs of oblivion. But all the rest was confused: place, occasion,
and the figure itself, for I saw neither the face nor its expression.
The whole was like a fluttering veil under which the enigma--the secret
of happiness--might have been hidden. And I was awake enough to be sure
that it was not a dream.

In impressions like these we recognize the last trace of things which
are sinking out of sight and call within us, of memories which are
perishing. It is like a shimmering marsh-light falling upon some vague
outline of which one scarcely knows whether it represents a pain or a
pleasure--a gleam upon a grave. How strange! One might almost call such
things the ghosts of the soul, reflections of past happiness, the
_manes_ of our dead emotions. If, as the Talmud, I think, says, every
feeling of love gives birth involuntarily to an invisible genius or
spirit which yearns to complete its existence, and these glimmering
phantoms, which have never taken to themselves form and reality, are
still wandering in the limbo of the soul, what is there to astonish us
in the strange apparitions which sometimes come to visit our pillow? At
any rate, the fact remains that I was not able to force the phantom to
tell me its name, nor to give any shape or distinctness to my

What a melancholy aspect life may wear to us when we are floating down
the current of such dreamy thoughts as these! It seems like some vast
nocturnal shipwreck in which a hundred loving voices are clamoring for
help, while the pitiless mounting wave is silencing all the cries one by
one, before we have been able, in this darkness of death, to press a
hand or give the farewell kiss. Prom such a point of view destiny looks
harsh, savage, and cruel, and the tragedy of life rises like a rock in
the midst of the dull waters of daily triviality. It is impossible not
to be serious under the weight of indefinable anxiety produced in us by
such a spectacle. The surface of things may be smiling or commonplace,
but the depths below are austere and terrible. As soon as we touch upon
eternal things, upon the destiny of the soul, upon truth or duty, upon
the secrets of life and death, we become grave whether we will or no.

Love at its highest point--love sublime, unique, invincible--leads us
straight to the brink of the great abyss, for it speaks to us directly
of the infinite and of eternity. It is eminently religious; it may even
become religion. When all around a man is wavering and changing, when
everything is growing dark and featureless to him in the far distance of
an unknown future, when the world seems but a fiction or a fairy tale,
and the universe a chimera, when the whole edifice of ideas vanishes in
smoke, and all realities are penetrated with doubt, what is the fixed
point which may still be his? The faithful heart of a woman! There he
may rest his head; there he will find strength to live, strength to
believe, and, if need be, strength to die in peace with a benediction on
his lips. Who knows if love and its beatitude, clear manifestation as it
is of the universal harmony of things, is not the best demonstration of
a fatherly and understanding God, just as it is the shortest road by
which to reach him? Love is a faith, and one faith leads to another. And
this faith is happiness, light and force. Only by it does a man enter
into the series of the living, the awakened, the happy, the redeemed--of
those true men who know the value of existence and who labor for the
glory of God and of the truth. Till then we are but babblers and
chatterers, spendthrifts of our time, our faculties and our gifts,
without aim, without real joy--weak, infirm, and useless beings, of no
account in the scheme of things. Perhaps it is through love that I shall
find my way back to faith, to religion, to energy, to concentration. It
seems to me, at least, that if I could but find my work-fellow and my
destined companion, all the rest would be added unto me, as though to
confound my unbelief and make me blush for my despair. Believe, then, in
a fatherly Providence, and dare to love!

November 25, 1863.--Prayer is the essential weapon of all religions. He
who can no longer pray because he doubts whether there is a being to
whom prayer ascends and from whom blessing descends, he indeed is
cruelly solitary and prodigiously impoverished. And you, what do you
believe about it? At this moment I should find it very difficult to say.
All my positive beliefs are in the crucible ready for any kind of
metamorphosis. Truth above all, even when it upsets and overwhelms us!
But what I believe is that the highest idea we can conceive of the
principle of things will be the truest, and that the truest truth is
that which makes man the most wholly good, wisest, greatest, and

My creed is in transition. Yet I still believe in God, and the
immortality of the soul. I believe in holiness, truth, beauty; I believe
in the redemption of the soul by faith in forgiveness. I believe in
love, devotion, honor. I believe in duty and the moral conscience. I
believe even in prayer. I believe in the fundamental intuitions of the
human race, and in the great affirmations of the inspired of all ages. I
believe that our higher nature is our truer nature.

Can one get a theology and a theodicy out of this? Probably, but just
now I do not see it distinctly. It is so long since I have ceased to
think about my own metaphysic, and since I have lived in the thoughts of
others, that I am ready even to ask myself whether the crystallization
of my beliefs is necessary. Yes, for preaching and acting; less for
studying, contemplating and learning.

December 4, 1863.--The whole secret of remaining young in spite of
years, and even of gray hairs, is to cherish enthusiasm in one's self by
poetry, by contemplation, by charity--that is, in fewer words, by the
maintenance of harmony in the soul. When everything is in its right
place within us, we ourselves are in equilibrium with the whole work of
God. Deep and grave enthusiasm for the eternal beauty and the eternal
order, reason touched with emotion and a serene tenderness of
heart--these surely are the foundations of wisdom.

Wisdom! how inexhaustible a theme! A sort of peaceful aureole surrounds
and illumines this thought, in which are summed up all the treasures of
moral experience, and which is the ripest fruit of a well-spent life.
Wisdom never grows old, for she is the expression of order itself--that
is, of the Eternal. Only the wise man draws from life, and from every
stage of it, its true savor, because only he feels the beauty, the
dignity, and the value of life. The flowers of youth may fade, but the
summer, the autumn, and even the winter of human existence, have their
majestic grandeur, which the wise man recognizes and glorifies. To see
all things in God; to make of one's own life a journey toward the ideal;
to live with gratitude, with devoutness, with gentleness and courage;
this was the splendid aim of Marcus Aurelius. And if you add to it the
humility which kneels, and the charity which gives, you have the whole
wisdom of the children of God, the immortal joy which is the heritage of
the true Christian. But what a false Christianity is that which slanders
wisdom and seeks to do without it! In such a case I am on the side of
wisdom, which is, as it were, justice done to God, even in this life.
The relegation of life to some distant future, and the separation of the
holy man from the virtuous man, are the signs of a false religious
conception. This error is, in some degree, that of the whole Middle
Age, and belongs, perhaps, to the essence of Catholicism. But the true
Christianity must purge itself from so disastrous a mistake. The eternal
life is not the future life; it is life in harmony with the true order
of things--life in God. We must learn to look upon time as a movement of
eternity, as an undulation in the ocean of being. To live, so as to keep
this consciousness of ours in perpetual relation with the eternal, is to
be wise; to live, so as to personify and embody the eternal, is to be

The modern leveler, after having done away with conventional
inequalities, with arbitrary privilege and historical injustice, goes
still farther, and rebels against the inequalities of merit, capacity,
and virtue. Beginning with a just principle, he develops it into an
unjust one. Inequality may be as true and as just as equality: it
depends upon what you mean by it. But this is precisely what nobody
cares to find out. All passions dread the light, and the modern zeal for
equality is a disguised hatred which tries to pass itself off as love.

Liberty, equality--bad principles! The only true principle for humanity
is justice, and justice toward the feeble becomes necessarily protection
or kindness.

April 2, 1864.--To-day April has been displaying her showery caprices.
We have had floods of sunshine followed by deluges of rain, alternate
tears and smiles from the petulant sky, gusts of wind and storms. The
weather is like a spoiled child whose wishes and expression change
twenty times in an hour. It is a blessing for the plants, and means an
influx of life through all the veins of the spring. The circle of
mountains which bounds the valley is covered with white from top to toe,
but two hours of sunshine would melt the snow away. The snow itself is
but a new caprice, a simple stage decoration ready to disappear at the
signal of the scene-shifter.

How sensible I am to the restless change which rules the world. To
appear, and to vanish--there is the biography of all individuals,
whatever may be the length of the cycle of existence which they
describe, and the drama of the universe is nothing more. All life is the
shadow of a smoke-wreath, a gesture in the empty air, a hieroglyph
traced for an instant in the sand, and effaced a moment afterward by a
breath of wind, an air-bubble expanding and vanishing on the surface of
the great river of being--an appearance, a vanity, a nothing. But this
nothing is, however, the symbol of the universal being, and this passing
bubble is the epitome of the history of the world.

The man who has, however imperceptibly, helped in the work of the
universe, has lived; the man who has been conscious, in however small a
degree, of the cosmical movement, has lived also. The plain man serves
the world by his action and as a wheel in the machine; the thinker
serves it by his intellect, and as a light upon its path. The man of
meditative soul, who raises and comforts and sustains his traveling
companions, mortal and fugitive like himself, plays a nobler part still,
for he unites the other two utilities. Action, thought, speech, are the
three modes of human life. The artisan, the savant, and the orator, are
all three God's workmen. To do, to discover, to teach--these three things
are all labor, all good, all necessary. Will-o'-the-wisps that we are,
we may yet leave a trace behind us; meteors that we are, we may yet
prolong our perishable being in the memory of men, or at least in the
contexture of after events. Everything disappears, but nothing is lost,
and the civilization or city of man is but an immense spiritual pyramid,
built up out of the work of all that has ever lived under the forms of
moral being, just as our calcareous mountains are made of the debris of
myriads of nameless creatures who have lived under the forms of
microscopic animal life.

April 5, 1864.--I have been reading "Prince Vitale" for the second time,
and have been lost in admiration of it. What wealth of color, facts,
ideas--what learning, what fine-edged satire, what _esprit_, science, and
talent, and what an irreproachable finish of style--so limpid, and yet
so profound! It is not heartfelt and it is not spontaneous, but all
other kinds of merit, culture, and cleverness the author possesses. It
would be impossible to be more penetrating, more subtle, and less
fettered in mind, than this wizard of language, with his irony and his
chameleon-like variety. Victor Cherbuliez, like the sphinx, is able to
play all lyres, and takes his profit from them all, with a Goethe-like
serenity. It seems as if passion, grief, and error had no hold on this
impassive soul. The key of his thought is to be looked for in Hegel's
"Phenomenology of Mind," remolded by Greek and French influences.

His faith, if he has one, is that of Strauss-Humanism. But he is
perfectly master of himself and of his utterances, and will take good
care never to preach anything prematurely.

What is there quite at the bottom of this deep spring?

In any case a mind as free as any can possibly be from stupidity and
prejudice. One might almost say that Cherbuliez knows all that he wishes
to know, without the trouble of learning it. He is a calm
Mephistopheles, with perfect manners, grace, variety, and an exquisite
urbanity; and Mephisto is a clever jeweler; and this jeweler is a subtle
musician; and this fine singer and storyteller, with his amber-like
delicacy and brilliancy, is making mock of us all the while. He takes a
malicious pleasure in withdrawing his own personality from scrutiny and
divination, while he himself divines everything, and he likes to make us
feel that although he holds in his hand the secret of the universe, he
will only unfold his prize at his own time, and if it pleases him.
Victor Cherbuliez is a little like Proudhon and plays with paradoxes, to
shock the _bourgeois_. Thus he amuses himself with running down Luther
and the Reformation in favor of the Renaissance. Of the troubles of
conscience he seems to know nothing. His supreme tribunal is reason. At
bottom he is Hegelian and intellectualist. But it is a splendid
organization. Only sometimes he must be antipathetic to those men of
duty who make renunciation, sacrifice, and humility the measure of
individual worth.

July, 1864.--Among the Alps I become a child again, with all the follies
and _naivete_ of childhood. Shaking off the weight of years, the
trappings of office, and all the tiresome and ridiculous caution with
which one lives, I plunge into the full tide of pleasure, and amuse
myself sans facon, as it comes. In this careless light-hearted mood, my
ordinary formulas and habits fall away from me so completely that I feel
myself no longer either townsman, or professor, or savant, or bachelor,
and I remember no more of my past than if it were a dream. It is like a
bath in Lethe.

It makes me really believe that the smallest illness would destroy my
memory, and wipe out all my previous existence, when I see with what
ease I become a stranger to myself, and fall back once more into the
condition of a blank sheet, a _tabula rasa_. Life wears such a
dream-aspect to me that I can throw myself without any difficulty into
the situation of the dying, before whose eyes all this tumult of images
and forms fades into nothingness. I have the inconsistency of a fluid, a
vapor, a cloud, and all is easily unmade or transformed in me;
everything passes and is effaced like the waves which follow each other
on the sea. When I say all, I mean all that is arbitrary, indifferent,
partial, or intellectual in the combinations of one's life. For I feel
that the things of the soul, our immortal aspirations, our deepest
affections, are not drawn into this chaotic whirlwind of impressions. It
is the finite things which are mortal and fugitive. Every man feels it
OH his deathbed. I feel it during the whole of life; that is the only
difference between me and others. Excepting only love, thought, and
liberty, almost everything is now a matter of indifference to me, and
those objects which excite the desires of most men, rouse in me little
more than curiosity. What does it mean--detachment of soul,
disinterestedness, weakness, or wisdom?

September 19, 1864.--I have been living for two hours with a noble
soul--with Eugenie de Guerin, the pious heroine of fraternal love. How
many thoughts, feelings, griefs, in this journal of six years! How it
makes one dream, think and live! It produces a certain homesick
impression on me, a little like that of certain forgotten melodies
whereof the accent touches the heart, one knows not why. It is as though
far-off paths came back to me, glimpses of youth, a confused murmur of
voices, echoes from my past. Purity, melancholy, piety, a thousand
memories of a past existence, forms fantastic and intangible, like the
fleeting shadows of a dream at waking, began to circle round the
astonished reader.

September 20, 1864.--Read Eugenie de Guerin's volume again right and
left with a growing sense of attraction. Everything is heart, force,
impulse, in these pages which have the power of sincerity and a
brilliance of suffused poetry. A great and strong soul, a clear mind,
distinction, elevation, the freedom of unconscious talent, reserve and
depth--nothing is wanting for this Sevigne of the fields, who has to
hold herself in with both hands lest she should write verse, so strong
in her is the artistic impulse.

October 16, 1864.--I have just read a part of Eugenie de Guerin's
journal over again. It charmed me a little less than the first time. The
nature seemed to me as beautiful, but the life of Eugenie was too empty,
and the circle of ideas which occupied her, too narrow.

It is touching and wonderful to see how little space is enough for
thought to spread its wings in, but this perpetual motion within the
four walls of a cell ends none the less by becoming wearisome to minds
which are accustomed to embrace more objects in their field of vision.
Instead of a garden, the world; instead of a library, the whole of
literature; instead of three or four faces, a whole people and all
history--this is what the virile, the philosophic temper demands. Men
must have more air, more room, mere horizon, more positive knowledge,
and they end by suffocating in this little cage where Eugenie lives and
moves, though the breath of heaven blows into it and the radiance of the
stars shines down upon it.

October 27, 1864. (_Promenade de la Treille_).--The air this morning was
so perfectly clear and lucid that one might have distinguished a figure
on the Vouache. [Footnote: The Vouache is the hill which bounds the
horizon of Geneva to the south-west.] This level and brilliant sun had
set fire to the whole range of autumn colors; amber, saffron, gold,
sulphur, yellow ochre, orange, red, copper-color, aquamarine, amaranth,

Book of the day: