« ПредишнаНапред »
opinion. I pursue mine till I have met with better reasons than I have hitherto heard, against the mingling of didactic digression with amusing narrative.
The discussions indeed here presented are, from the inexperience of the youthful De Clifford, absolutely called for as a part of his first initiation into life. I only wish that I were as sure of the merit of their execution as I am of the propriety of their introduction.
PREFACE TO THE MEMOIR.
What has prompted me, in my old age, to conceive the notable design of writing any part of my history, much more to publish it, will, I have no doubt, be indifferent to the world. But that world is gone by me, and I have nothing left but reminiscences of the past for my mind to rest upon; and perhaps it is better to indulge them than to go to sleep before
time. This, however, only concerns myself. What is it to others ?
Why, something ; for it will shew a good deal of what is of consequence to a human creature—the knowledge of his own heart, and something of that of others. Upon this subject I will translate some passages of a French letter now before me, which will perhaps explain what I would say, as to the scope and end of the following pages, better than I could myself.
DE CLIFFORD'S PREFACE.
“ You put me at ease, Sir, in dispensing with the necessity of telling you the news of the day, which you rightly call a second edition of the days that have gone before; the only difference being in the names of the actors who
appear on the scene. There are the same intrigues, the same changes. Nothing resembles current news more than the news which is past. But when our study is the heart, we need not go out of ourselves (if we chose to think so) to get at an endless diversity. And yet what a spectacle is our soul, when we leave the contemplation of it for the frivolities which engage us ! For we then seem to abandon the study of our own hearts and understandings, to be the confidants of all the rest of the world. Thus we know everybody's mind but our own. Don't talk to me of a man whose soul preserves an incognito to himself. Yet, when plunged in luxury and pleasure, how can it be otherwise ? Mallebranche got out of fashion because people preferred a search for pleasure to a search after truth. But recal a man to an inquiry after his duty, or the nature of his being as it appears in his life, and the · Recherche de la Vérité' will again be the mode."*
To all this I agree, and if in relating what I have felt myself, and witnessed in others, “ I wind me into the easy-hearted man,” and set him before himself, shall it be said that the attempt is useless? I
* Lettres Recreatives.
DE CLIFFORD'S PREFACE.
trust not, and therefore hasten to begin, though far from certain whether, after beginning, I shall proceed far with my notable undertaking.
Let me add, that I have no wish to disguise the many weaknesses that will appear in this memoir. Who, that is human, is without them ? Besides, as one of my chief objects is, if possible, to be a beacon to others who may be pursuing the same path, I should ill perform my task if I did not set myself down exactly as I was.
What I attempt is a history of heart; and I hope I shall not fail.