Chateaubriand's memoirs, XXXV, 22

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XXXV, 21 << Chateaubriand's memoirs >> XXXV, 23


Mémoires d'Outre-tombe


Book XXXV, chapter 22
A walk



This very evening, on the day following my devotions to the dead at Coppet, weary of the lake shore, I went, with Madame de Récamier as ever, to seek the less frequented walks. We discovered a narrow gorge, downstream along the Rhône, where the river seethed beneath a series of water-mills, between rocky cliffs bordering meadows. One of those meadows extends to the foot of a hill on which a house is situated, among a grove of trees.

While talking, we several times ascended and descended that narrow verge of grass, separating the noisy river from the silent bank: how many people are there one can weary with what one has been, and lead back along the track of one’s days? We spoke of those times, always painful and always regretted, when passion is the joy and martyrdom of youth. Now I write this page at midnight, while all is at rest around me, and through my window I can see a scattering of stars shining above the Alps.

Madame Récamier is to leave us, she will return in the spring, and I will spend the winter evoking my vanished hours forcing them to appear before the tribunal of my reason. I do not know whether I am sufficiently impartial or whether the judge will show too much indulgence to the guilty. I will spend the summer in Jean-Jacques’ country. God does not wish me to conquer my dreamer’s malady! And then, when autumn returns, we will go to Italy: Italiam! It is my eternal refrain.