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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Monday, 26 May 2014

Real generosity

Tuesday, May 26th., Villa des Nefliers, Fontainebleau.

It must be very difficult, I think, to be really generous, ie. to give something which you need. I doubt whether in this strict sense I have ever been really generous in all my life. I felt it this afternoon, in talking with E., when it was a question of giving £20 before I had heard definitely from my architect that the landlord at Paris had undertaken to refund my deposit. I might really want that £20, and though I decided at once to give it, not from a spontaneous instinct of generosity, but unwillingly (within myself) and in obedience to my ideas of rightness and propriety. Something forced me to give it. This is not generosity. On the other hand, are those persons (few and far between as they may be) who give away what they need for themselves as selfless as they appear? What is their motivation? Surely they must have the idea, more or less consciously, that they are gaining merit by their actions either in the sight of others, or in terms of their own self-respect, or, if they are of a religious persuasion, in the sight of their god. That being the case, is it correct to say that they are really being generous? 

I have now added to my daily affairs a little systematic study of French, a little miscellaneous reading, and a little odd writing work, which for the moment is to take the shape of translating Verlaine. So, after being here over a month, I have at last got into my desired routine, completely. Routines are of course, generally speaking, a good thing. Naturally they do not suit every nature, but for someone of a naturally lazy disposition such as myself they are indispensable.

This morning I read through Part One of my novel, and thought it was devilishly good. Tomorrow I begin Part Three.

Additionally for May 26th., see 'Falling foul of the censor'

The French Censor turned it down entirely, and Davray in a letter to me this week gives the Censor's actual words. He says the figures were not official (which they were) and might give rise to polemics. Moreover that conscription was now accomplished and no more to be said. But he had kept the article since before the final conscription bill was brought into parliament. The Censor's reason for refusing the article was, of course, purely political. This article gave the arguments on both sides; it stated that conscription - certain to come - would not greatly increase the army - and spoke of the necessity of trade, munitions etc. The Censor didn't like that.

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