A Mingled Chime, an Autobiography

A Mingled Chime, an Autobiography

A Mingled Chime, an Autobiography

A Mingled Chime, an Autobiography

Excerpt

In planning this book I made the proper resolution to set down nothing that I had not seen or heard for myself. I therefore left the opening chapter until the end, hoping that the shadowy impressions of my earliest days might by that time have taken a more tangible shape. But, to my dismay, that far-off period continued to be as vague as ever, and it was clear that if I were to give any account of it all, I should have to seek the aid of others who were then on the scene. There was the alternative of leaving it out entirely and beginning my tale at a point of date where my remembrance of the past was less uncertain. But if we are to believe with Wordsworth that the child is father to the man, it would be only natural that even "in the silken sail of infancy" I gave forth some sign, no matter how insignificant, of the way I was later to go, which ought to be faithfully recorded here.

Among my distinguished contemporaries there is hardly one who cannot trace back the origin of his talent to an unbelievably early age; and although I knew well that such phenomenal accomplishment had never been mine, I must surely have shown some bent for, or anyway taken some interest in the art which was to be the main preoccupation of my life. But the trouble about gathering knowledge from other persons is the comparative unreliability of their testimony. This anyone will endorse who has observed the distracted efforts of half a dozen different witnesses in a law action to describe the same event; and certainly no magistrate of experience would dissent from the opinion of Pilate in the first, and Pirandello in the twentieth century, that final truth is beyond human discovery. Yet in rare cases the elusive . . .

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