Monday, January 20, 2003

The Intimate Journal of Henri Amiel: April 26, 1868

April 26, 1868

You are as weak at heart as a woman; you should do something rash to preserve your self-respect, and yet you an afraid of any elation became you fear the anti-heroic reactions in yourself. You have impulses but no confidence in your impulses. You cannot en- dure the idea of causing unhappiness to one who loves you, nor yet the thought of a humiliation, nor the prospect of regret, remorse, repentance. You lack the courage to will, for your conscience, you reason and your heart do not wish to yield either way, and you spurn any arbitrary determination. The divided men draws down upon himself thunderbolts, and woes, and, as he foresees this, he shuns adventures and is loath to quit the port.

... Unhappy soul, you have no energy left, no will, no heroism. You seek for nothing but that which pampers your over-feminine instincts of sympathy and affection. The malaria of indifference has sterilized your intelligence and whatever talent you have. And for this then is no remedy, for you cherish your infirmity, and you do not believe them is any cure. All manly ambition is extinguished in you. The enjoyment of struggle, the illusion of success, the passion for victory, the craving for power and influence, the thirst for riches, the desire for reputation, the curiosity of the mind are reagents that have ceased to be capable of biting into your indolence. Inner peace is your one and only longing. To make those who are around you happy and reduce your existence as much as possible is your sole instinctive aspiration. You no longer have the stuff in you for any- thing but a poor little paterfamilias, and, even there, the life of a husband and father seems to you too complicated and difficult at your age and with your habits of mind. To avoid destitution or humiliation you would renounce everything in advance and with a good grace. Incredulity, timidity, sloth, discouragement.--This is all wrong. We must give pleasure to those who love us, those who re- spect us and have faith in us. This is reason enough, and this stimu- lant has not lost its efficacy.

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