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he loved me tenderly: I am sure he would have deeply regretted me, had Providence called me away before him. But, whilst he remained in the world with me, would he have been sensible of the reputation which I have gained during my life! Literary renown would have been repugnant to his feelings as a gentleman ; the talents and success of his son would have been, in his eyes, degeneracy ; even the embassy to Berlin, the conquests of the pen, not of the sword, would have given him but little satisfaction. His Breton blood, besides, made him an oppositionist in politics, a strong opponent of taxes, and a violent enemy of the Court. He was accustomed to read the Gazette de Leyde, the Journal de Francfort, the Mercure de France, and the Histoire Philosophique des drur Indes ; the declamations of which charmed him. He called the Abbé Raynal a master man (maître homme).
In diplomacy, he was Anti-Mussulman, and used to say that forty thousand Russian blackguards would pass over the bodies of the Janissaries, and take Constantinople. Although he was a great Turk-hater, my father had great bitterness of heart towards those Russian blackguards, in consequence of coming into contact with them at Dantzic.
I share in the feeling of M. de Chateaubriand with respect to literary or other reputation, but for reasons very different from his. I do not know of any species of renown in history which has any temptations for me : were it necessary to stoop, in order to collect at my feet, and for my advantage, the greatest glory in the world, I would not take the trouble to do it. If I had kneaded my own clay, perhaps I should have been made a woman, out of fondness for them ; or if I had been a man, I should, first of all, have endowed myself with beauty; then, as a precaution against ennui, my persevering enemy, it might have been suitable to me to become a superior artist, but one unknown, and only availing myself of my talents for my recreation in solitude.
In life, weighed at its light weight, measured at its short measure, and free from all cheating, there are only two true things-religion with understanding, and love with youth
for me life ;
that is, the future and the present ; the rest is not worth the trouble. With my
father's death closed the first act of my the paternal hearth became deserted; I mourned for them, as if they had been capable of feeling their abandonment and loneliness. Henceforth I was without a master, and in possession of my fortune. That liberty frightened me.
What was I going to do with it? To whom should I give it? I distrusted my own power ; I recoiled from myself.
Berlin, March 1821.
RETURN TO BRETAGNE-SOJOURN
AT MY ELDEST SISTER'S HOUSEMY BROTHER SUMMONS ME TO PARIS.
I obtained leave of absence. M. d'Andrezel
, just appointed lieutenant-colonel of the regiment of Picardy, was quitting Cambray ; I acted as his courier. I passed through Paris, where I had no wish to remain a quarter of an hour. I revisited the woody plains of my beloved Bretagne with more delight than a Neapolitan, banished to our climate, would revisit the shores of Portici and the fields of Sorrento.
My family assembled at Combourg; the inheritance was divided; that done, we dispersed, as birds fly from the paternal roof. My brother, who came from Paris, returned thither; my mother fixed herself at St. Malo; Lucile followed Julia'; I passed a great part of my time at the houses of Mesdames de Marigny, de Chateaubourg, and de Farcy. Marigny, the castle of my eldest sister, three leagues from Fougères, was pleasantly situated between two lakes, amongst woods, rocks and meadows. I remained there some months in tranquillity. A letter from Paris disturbed my repose.
At the time of entering the service, and marrying Mademoiselle de Rosambo, my brother had not yet quitted the robe ; for that reason he could not get into carriages. His
eager ambition suggested to him the idea of introducing me to the honours of the court, with a view the better to prepare the way
for his own elevation. Proofs of the nobility of the family had been given for Lucile, when she was received into the chapter of L'Argentière ; so that all was ready. Marshal de Duras was to be my patron. My brother announced to me that I was entering on the path of fortune ; that I had already obtained the rank of a captain of cavalry,-a rank entitling me to honour and courtesy ; that it would afterwards be easy to attach myself to the Maltese Order, by means of which I might enjoy large benefices.
This letter struck me like a thunderbolt: to return to Paris, to be presented at court! I, who felt almost ill when I met three or four strangers in a drawing-room! How was I to be made to comprehend ambition ? I, who only dreamt of living forgotten!
My first feeling was to reply to my brother, that, being the eldest, it was for him to support his name; that as to myself, an obscure cadet from Bretagne, I would not withdraw from the service, because there were chances of a war ; but that if the King had need of a soldier in his
he had no need of a poor gentleman at his court.
I hastened eagerly to read this romantic reply to Madame de Marigny, who uttered loud exclamations ! Madame de Farcy was sent for, who jeered at me. Lucile would have willingly sustained me, but she dared not enter the list with her two sisters. My letter was snatched from my hands ; and, being always feeble in matters affecting myself, I sent to inform
brother that I was about to set out. I did set out in reality; and set out to be presented at the first court in Europe, in order to make my début in the most brilliant career in life; and I had the air of a man who was going to the galleys, or of one on whom sentence of death was just about to be pronounced.
Berlin, March, 1821.
MY SOLITARY LIFE IN PARIS.
I entered Paris by the same road which I followed the first time; I gave orders to be set down at the same hotel, Rue de Mall: I knew no other. I was lodged near the door of
my old chamber, but in a room somewhat larger, and looking upon the street.
My brother, whether it was that he was embarrassed by my manners, or that he took compassion on my timidity, did not take me into the world, or introduce me to any one. He lived in the Rue des Fossés-Montmartre. I went to dine with him every day at three o'clock ; we then separated, and did not meet again till the next day. My stout cousin, Moreau, was no longer in Paris. I passed two or three times in front of the hotel of Madame de Chastenay, without venturing to ask the porter what had become of her.
Autumn was commencing. I rose at six o'clock in the morning and went to the riding-house. I breakfasted. Happily, I was at that time under the influence of a passion for Greek. I translated the Odyssy and the Cyropedia till two o'clock, mingling my labour with historical studies. At two o'clock, I dressed, and went to my brother's; he used to ask me, what I had done, what I had seen? I replied, “Nothing." He would shrug his shoulders, and turn his back upon me.
One day, a noise was heard without ; my brother ran to the window and called me. I had no inclination to leave the arm-chair in which I was stretched at the bottom of my room. My poor brother predicted that I should die unknown-useless to myself and my family. At four o'clock I returned home, and sat down behind
my window. Two young persons, fifteen or sixteen years old, usually came at that hour to draw at the window of a hotel built just opposite, on the other side of the street. They had observed my regularity, as I had theirs. From time to time, they would raise their heads to look at their neighbour ; I owed them an infinite good-will for that mark of attention. They constituted my only society in Paris.
When night approached, I went to one of the theatres ; the solitude of a crowd pleased me, although it always cost me an effort to get my ticket at the door, and to mingle with men.
I corrected the idea which I had formed of a theatre at St. Malo. I saw Madame Saint Huberti in the character of Armida; I felt that something was wanting to the magician of my creation. When I did not imprison myself in the boxes of the Opera, or the Français, I walked from street to street, or along the quays, till ten or eleven o'clock at night. I cannot even now look upon the row of reflectors from the Place Louis XV. to the barrier of Bons Hommes, without calling to mind the anguish I experienced, when I passed along that way to Versailles, in order to be presented.
Having returned home, I used to spend a part of the night with
my head bent over my fire, which said nothing to me. My imagination was not rich enough, like that of the Persians, to figure to myself that the flame resembled the anemony, and the glow the pomegranate. I heard carriages going, coming, crossing ; their distant roll resembled the murmur of the sea on the sands of my native province, or the wind in the woods of Combourg. These noises of the world, which recalled to my mind those of solitude, served only to awaken my regret. I invoked my old disease, or rather my imagination invented the history of the persons whom these carriages conveyed; I saw splendid drawing-rooms, balls, scenes of love and conquest. Soon recalled to reality, I found myself deserted in a lodging, looking at the world through the window, and listening to the noise of my fire.
Rousseau considered himself bound, not only by sincerity, but by his wish, to enlighten mankind, to detail the less respectable actions of his life; he even supposes the case of being gravely interrogated about them, and obliged to render a faithful account. Had I been in a similar position, I should certainly not have deemed such a course the best as regarded