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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Extracts from Amiel’s Journal: Joubert

By Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821–1881)

Translation of Mary Augusta Ward

FEBRUARY 20TH, 1851.—I have almost finished these two volumes of [Joubert’s] ‘Pensées’ and the greater part of the ‘Correspondance.’ This last has especially charmed me; it is remarkable for grace, delicacy, atticism, and precision. The chapters on metaphysics and philosophy are the most insignificant. All that has to do with large views, with the whole of things, is very little at Joubert’s command: he has no philosophy of history, no speculative intuition. He is the thinker of detail, and his proper field is psychology and matters of taste. In this sphere of the subtleties and delicacies of imagination and feeling, within the circle of personal affections and preoccupations, of social and educational interests, he abounds in ingenuity and sagacity, in fine criticisms, in exquisite touches. It is like a bee going from flower to flower, a teasing, plundering, wayward zephyr, an æolian harp, a ray of furtive light stealing through the leaves. Taken as a whole, there is something impalpable and immaterial about him, which I will not venture to call effeminate, but which is scarcely manly. He wants bone and body: timid, dreamy, and clairvoyant, he hovers far above reality. He is rather a soul, a breath, than a man. It is the mind of a woman in the character of a child, so that we feel for him less admiration than tenderness and gratitude.