BOOK I, CHAPTER IX
are in danger, who retain remembrance of past things and have lost remembrance of their twice-told stories. I have known some really amusing tales to become very tiresome in the mouth of a man of the world, every one present having heard them poured out a hundred times.
(b) In the second place [I am consoled] because I remember less the affronts I have received, as said an ancient writer. (c) I should have to keep a register of them; as Darius, in order not to forget the affront he had received from the Athenians, arranged that a page, every time he sat down to table, should come and repeat thrice in his ear: “Sire, remember the Athenians”; also, [I am consoled] (b) because the places and books that I see for a second time always charm me with the freshness of novelty.
(a) Not without reason is it said that he who does not know himself to be of sane memory should not meddle with lying. I am well aware that the grammarians make a distinction between saying what is false and lying; and they state that to say what is false is to say something which is untrue, but which one believes to be true, and that the definition in Latin of the word mentiri, from which our French word is derived, is equivalent to going against one’s knowledge, and that, consequently, the word applies only to those who speak contrary to what they know; and it is to these that I refer. Now, they either invent the whole thing, or disguise and alter an actual fact. When they disguise and alter it, if they often recur to this same tale, they are likely to be embarrassed; because, the thing as it really is having been the first to become fixed in the memory, and having stamped itself there by force of outward and inward knowledge, it is very difficult not to let it present itself to the imagination, supplanting the false version, which cannot have so firm and assured a footing there; and the circumstances that one
- Referring back to “I thus somewhat console myself: in the first place” (page 42).
- See Cicero, Oratio pro Ligurio, XII: Odlivisci nihil soles, nisi injurias.
- See Herodotus, V, 105.
- See Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, IV, 2; Nigidius, in Aulus Gellius, XI, 11, and in Nonius, V, 80.
- Entre dire mensonge et mentir.