Dom Casmurro

by Machado de Assis

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LXVIII - Let's Put Off Virtue

Few would have had the courage to confess that I thought of the street of Matacavallos. I will confess everything that matters to my story. Montaigne wrote of himself: ce ne sont pas mes gestes que j'ecris; c'est moi, c'est mon essence. Now, there is only one way of writing one's own essence, it is contal-all, good and evil. I do so, as I remember it, by commending myself to the construction or reconstruction of myself. For example, now that I have counted a peccadillo, I would say with great pleasure some beautiful contemporary action, if I remembered it, but it does not remind me; the best opportunity is transferred.

You will not lose hope, my friend; On the contrary, I now recall that ... Not only are beautiful actions beautiful at any time, but they are also possible and probable, because of the theory I have of sin and virtue, no less simple than clear. It is reduced to this that each person is born with a certain number of them, allied by marriage to compensate in life. When one of these marriages is stronger than the other, he alone guides the individual, without this, because he has not practiced such virtue or commited such peccadillo, can be said exempt of one or the other; but the rule is to give themselves the simultaneous practice of the two, to the advantage of the bearer of both, and sometimes with greater brilliance of the earth and the sky. It is unfortunate that I can not substantiate this with one or more strange cases; I lack time.

As far as I'm concerned, it's true that I was born with some of those houses, and of course I still have them. It has already happened to me, here in Engenho Novo, to be a night with a lot of headache, to wish that the Central train burst out of my ears and interrupt the line for many hours, even if someone died; and the next day I missed the train on the same road, because I went to give my cane to a blind man who did not carry a staff. Voilà mes gestes, voilà mon essence.


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