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Everybody felt his superiority, but nobody felt oppressed by it. Though he had no illusions about people and human affairs, he was full of kindness toward everybody and everything. Never did he give the impression of domineering, always of serving and helping. He was extremely conscientious, without allowing anything to assume undue importance; a subtle humor guarded him, which was reflected in his eyes and in his smile.
Eh, gentlemen, let us reckon upon accidents! Life is a chaplet of little miseries which the philosopher counts with a smile. Be philosophers, as I am, gentlemen; sit down at the table and let us drink. Nothing makes the future look so bright as surveying it through a glass of chambertin.
There is a mortifying experience in particular, which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history; I mean "the foolish face of praise," the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease, in answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not spontaneously moved but moved, by a low usurping wilfulness, grow tight about the outline of the face, with the most disagreeable sensation.
A moment, and its glory was no more. The sun went down beneath the long dark lines of hill and cloud which piled up in the west an airy city, wall heaped on wall, and battlement on battlement; the light was all withdrawn; the shining church turned cold and dark; the stream forgot to smile; the birds were silent; and the gloom of winter dwelt on everything.