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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Close of the Introduction to the Treatise on the ‘Influence of the Passions’
By Madame de Staël (1766–1817)
WHATEVER may be thought of my plan, it is certain that my only object has been to combat unhappiness in all its forms; to study the thoughts, the sentiments, the institutions, that cause suffering to men; to seek what form of reflection, action, combination, can somewhat diminish the intensity of the troubles of the soul. The image of misfortune, under whatever aspect it presents itself, pursues and overwhelms me. Alas! I have so fully experienced what it is to suffer, that an inexpressible emotion, a sad uneasiness, takes possession of me at the thought of the sorrows of all men, and of every man: the thought of their inevitable misfortunes, and of the torments of the imagination; of the reverses of the good man, and even of the remorse of the guilty; of the wounds of the heart,—the most grievous of all,—and of the regrets that are felt none the less because they are felt with shame: in short, of all which is the source of tears; tears that the ancients preserved in a consecrated vase, so august in their eyes was human grief. Ah! it is not enough to have vowed that in the precincts of one’s own existence,—whatever injustice, whatever wrong, we may be the object of,—we will never voluntarily cause a moment’s pain, we will never voluntarily relinquish the possibility of comforting a sorrow: the further effort must be made to strive by some ray of talent, by some power of meditation, to find the touching language that gently opens the heart, and to help in discovering the philosophic height where the weapons that wound cannot reach us.  1

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