Uit: Les Miserables (Vertaald door Isabel F. Hapgood)
“When Jean Valjean left the Bishop’s house, he was, as we have seen, quite thrown out of everything that had been his thought hitherto. He could not yield to the evidence of what was going on within him. He hardened himself against the angelic action and the gentle words of the old man. “You have promised me to become an honest man. I buy your soul. I take it away from the spirit of perversity; I give it to the good God.”
This recurred to his mind unceasingly. To this celestial kindness he opposed pride, which is the fortress of evil within us. He was indistinctly conscious that the pardon of this priest was the greatest assault and the most formidable attack which had moved him yet; that his obduracy was finally settled if he resisted this clemency; that if he yielded, he should be obliged to renounce that hatred with which the actions of other men had filled his soul through so many years, and which pleased him; that this time it was necessary to conquer or to be conquered; and that a struggle, a colossal and final struggle, had been begun between his viciousness and the goodness of that man.
In the presence of these lights, he proceeded like a man who is intoxicated. As he walked thus with haggard eyes, did he have a distinct perception of what might result to him from his adventure at D—-? Did he understand all those mysterious murmurs which warn or importune the spirit at certain moments of life? Did a voice whisper in his ear that he had just passed the solemn hour of his destiny; that there no longer remained a middle course for him; that if he were not henceforth the best of men, he would be the worst; that it behoved him now, so to speak, to mount higher than the Bishop, or fall lower than the convict; that if he wished to become good he must become an angel; that if he wished to remain evil, he must become a monster?
Here, again, some questions must be put, which we have already put to ourselves elsewhere: did he catch some shadow of all this in his thought, in a confused way? Misfortune certainly, as we have said, does form the education of the intelligence; nevertheless, it is doubtful whether Jean Valjean was in a condition to disentangle all that we have here indicated. If these ideas occurred to him, he but caught glimpses of, rather than saw them, and they only succeeded in throwing him into an unutterable and almost painful state of emotion. On emerging from that black and deformed thing which is called the galleys, the Bishop had hurt his soul, as too vivid a light would have hurt his eyes on emerging from the dark. The future life, the possible life which offered itself to him henceforth, all pure and radiant, filled him with tremors and anxiety. He no longer knew where he really was. Like an owl, who should suddenly see the sun rise, the convict had been dazzled and blinded, as it were, by virtue.”
Paarse aders en ouderdomsvlekken op de slapen,
Plus schoenen met gebarsten lak.
Bedienden eleganter dan hun gebieders.
Bedienden zijn er niet meer, alleen
Een werkend stel dat hier gratis mag wonen,
Omdat de vrouw poetst en kookt,
Maar toch loon krijgt. Voor
Het helpen op feestjes.
De gastheer proost op “onze helpers”,
En alles lijkt alsof het nog is zoals het vroeger was:
Met de gevel, ondersteund door pilaren,
De tuin die een gepensioneerde nog steeds verzorgt.
Dames en heren,
Die worden uitgenodigd voor het diner, praten over de tijd,
Toen de villa werd gebouwd:
“De gevel en pilaren bij de ingang
Zouden nu weg moeten,
Dan zou het een modern huis zijn. “
Vertaald door Frans Roumen