Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/221

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215
A CHAMBERMAID'S DIARY.

infinite wit, a writer of infinite talent; unhappily, success and wealth have come to him too quickly. His beginnings aroused the greatest hopes. Everybody was struck with his great faculty of observation, with his powerful gift of satire, with his implacable and just irony that penetrated so deeply humanity's ridiculous side. A well-informed and free mind, to which social conventions were nothing but falsehood and servility, a generous and clear-sighted soul, which, instead of bending under the humiliating level of prejudice, bravely directed its impulses toward a pure and elevated social ideal. At least so Victor Charrigaud was described to me by one of his friends, a painter, who was stuck on me, and whom I used sometimes to go to see, and from whom I got the opinions just expressed and the details that are to follow regarding the literature and the life of this illustrious man.

Among the ridiculous things that Charrigaud had lashed so severely, there was none that he had treated so harshly as snobbishness. In his lively conversation, well supported by facts, even more than in his books, he branded its moral cowardice and its intellectual barrenness with a bitter precision in the picturesque, a comprehensive and merciless philosophy, and sharp, profound, terrible words, which, taken up by some and passed on by others, were repeated at the four corners