Chateaubriand's memoirs, XLII, Conclusion

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Mémoires d'Outre-tombe

Book XLII- Conclusion

25th of September 1841.

I began these Memoirs at the Vallée-aux-Loups on the 4th of October 1811; I have finished re-reading and correcting them in Paris this 25th of September 1841: for twenty-nine years, eleven months, and twenty-one days therefore, I have been exercising my pen secretly while composing my published books, in the midst of all the revolutions and vicissitudes of my existence. My hand is tired: may it not have weighed down my ideas which have never weakened and which I conceive as vividly now as at the start of my career! I intended to add a general conclusion to my thirty years’ labour; I planned, as I have often remarked, to comment on the state of the world when I entered it, and how it appears as I leave it. But the hour-glass is before me, I can see the hand sailors one believed they saw emerging from the waves at the moment of shipwreck: that hand bids me be brief; I will therefore reduce the scale of the picture without omitting anything essential.