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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/219

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187
MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS.

was the opinion of John Kepler, who was born the year before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and who was mathematician to the emperor.—The sun is a chimney which sometimes smokes; so does my stove; hence my stove is as good as the sun. Yes, I should have made my fortune; my career would have been a very different one. I should not be the insignificant fellow I am. I should not degrade science in the highways; for the crowd is not worthy of the doctrine, the crowd being nothing better than a confused mixture of all ages, sexes, humours, and conditions that wise men of all periods have not hesitated to despise, and whose absurdities and passions are detested even by the most charitable. Oh, I am weary of existence! After all, one does not live long; this human life is soon over. But no,—it is long. At intervals, in order that we may not become too discouraged, and that we may have the stupidity to consent to endure existence, and not profit. by the magnificent opportunities to hang ourselves which ropes and nails afford. Nature pretends to take a little care of man—not to-night, though! The rogue causes the wheat to spring up, ripens the grape, gives song to the nightingale. From time to time we get a ray of sunshine or a glass of gin,—and that is what we call happiness! It is a narrow border of good round a huge winding-sheet of evil. We have a destiny of which the devil has woven the stuff, and God has sewn the hem. In the mean time, you have eaten all my supper up, you thief!"

The infant, whom he was holding tenderly in his arms all the while he was vituperating it, shut its eyes languidly,—a sign of repletion.

Ursus examined the phial, and grumbled: "She has drunk it all up, the impudent creature!"

He arose, and holding the infant in his left arm,