I did not believe him capable of love. That is an emotion in which tenderness is an essential part, but…; there is in love a sense of weakness, a desire to protect, an eagerness to do good and to give pleasure if not unselfishness, at all events a selfishness which marvelously conceals itself; it has in it a certain diffidence… Love is absorbing; it takes the lover out of himself; the most clear-sighted, though he may know, cannot realise that his love will cease; it gives body to what he knows is illusion, and knowing it is nothing else, he loves it better than reality. It makes a man a little more than himself, and at the same time a little less. He ceased to be himself. He is no longer an individual, but a thing, an instrument to some purpose foreign to his ego. Love is never quite devoid of sentimentality, or I could not believe that he would ever suffer that possession of himself which love is;… I suppose that everyone’s conception of the passion is formed on his own idiosyncrasies, and it is different with every different person.
I like the picture of him, starting at the age of forty-seven, when most men have already settled comfortably in a groove, for a new world. I saw him, the sea gray under the mistral and foam-flecked, watching the vanishing coast of France, which he was destined never to see again; and I thought there was something gallant in his bearing and dauntless in his soul. I wish so to end on a note of hope.. It seemed to emphasize the unconquerable spirit of man. But I could not manage it.
I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are stranger in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage… Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to island which is ancestors left in the dim beginning of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though, they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest.