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nature. This division of things is common in Italy too. It is the natural effect of political religions: the priest becomes separated from the layman, the believer from the man, worship from sincerity.
18th July 1877. - I have just come across a character in a novel with a
ssion for synonyms, and I said to myself: Take care
that is your weakness too. search for close and delicate expression, you run through the whole gamut of synonyms, and your pen works too often in series of three. Beware! Avoid mannerisms and tricks; they are signs of weakness. Subject and occasion only must govern the use of words. Procedure by single epithet gives strength ; the doubling of a word gives clearness, because it supplies the two extremities of the series; the trebling of it gives completeness by suggesting at once the beginning, middle, and end of the idea ; while a quadruple phrase may enrich by force of enumeration.
Indecision being my principal defect, I am fond of a plurality of phrases which are but so many successive approximations and corrections. I am especially fond of them in this journal, where I write as it comes. In serious composition two is, on the whole, my category. But it would be well to practise oneself in the use of the single word — of the shaft delivered promptly and once for all. I should have indeed to cure myself of hesitation first. I see too many ways of saying things; a more decided mind hits on the right way at once. Singleness of phrase implies courage, self-confidence, clear-sightedness. To attain it there must be no doubting, and I am always doubting. And yet —
'Quiconque est loup agisse en loup;
C'est le plus certain de beaucoup.' I wonder whether I should gain anything by the attempt to assume a character which is not mine. My wavering manner, born of doubt and scruple, has at least the advantage of rendering all the different shades of my thought, and of being sincere. If it were to become terse, affirmative, resolute, would it not be a mere imitation ?
A private journal, which is but a vehicle for meditation and reverie, beats about the bush as it pleases without being bound to make for any definite end. Conversation with self is a gradual process of thoughtclearing. Hence all these synonyms, these
waverings, these repetitions and returns upon oneself. Affirmation may be brief; inquiry takes time; and the line which thought follows is necessarily an irregular one.
I am conscious indeed that at bottom there is but one right expression ; 18 but in order to find it I wish to make my choice among all that are like it; and my mind instinctively goes through a series of verbal modulations in search of that shade which may most accurately render the idea. Or sometimes it is the idea itself which has to be turned over and over, that I may know it and apprehend it better. I think, pen in hand ; it is like the disentanglement, the winding-off of a skein. Evidently the corresponding form of style cannot have the qualities which belong to thought which is already sure of itself, and only seeks to communicate itself to others. The function of the private journal is one of observation, experiment, analysis, contemplation; that of the essay or article is to provoke reflection; that of the book is to demonstrate.
21st July 1877. — A superb night, — a starry sky, — Jupiter and Phæbe holding converse before my windows. Grandiose
effects of light and shade over the courtyard. A sonata rose from the black gulf of shadow like a repentant prayer wafted from purgatory. The picturesque was lost in poetry, and admiration in feeling.
30th July 1877.-... makes a very true remark about Renan, à propos of the volume of Les Évangiles. He brings out the contradiction between the literary taste of the artist, which is delicate, individual, and true, and the opinions of the critic, which are borrowed, old-fashioned, and wavering. – This hesitancy of choice between the beautiful and the true, between poetry and prose, between art and learning, is, in fact, characteristic. Renan has a keen love for science, but he has a still keener love for good writing, and, if necessary, he will sacrifice the exact phrase to the beautiful phrase. Science is his material rather than his object ; his object is style. A fine passage is ten times more precious in his eyes than the discovery of a fact or the rectification of a date. And on this point I am very much with him, for a beautiful piece of writing is beautiful by virtue of a kind of truth which is truer than any mere record of authentic facts. Rousseau also
thought the same. A chronicler may be able to correct Tacitus, but Tacitus survives all the chroniclers. I know well that the æsthetic temptation is the French temptation ; I have often bewailed it, and yet, if I desired anything, it would be to be a writer, a great writer. To leave a monument behind, aere perennius, an imperishable work which might stir the thoughts, the feelings, the dreams of men, generation after generation, — this is the only glory which I could wish for, if I were not weaned even from this wish also. A book would be my ambition, if ambition were not vanity and vanity of vanities.
11th August 1877.— The growing triumph of Darwinism - that is to say of materialism, or of force — threatens the conception of justice. But justice will have its turn. The higher human law cannot be the offspring of animality. Justice is the right to the maximum of individual independence compatible with the same liberty for others;
in other words, it is respect for man, for the immature, the small, the feeble; it is the guarantee of those human collectivities, associations, states, nationalities those voluntary or involuntary unions — the ob