I also liked – and this is harder to say – I liked to give alms. A very Christian friend of mine admitted that one’s initial feeling on seeing a beggar approach one’s house is unpleasant. Well, with me it was worse: I used to exult. But let’s not dwell on this (2.5).
Yet I must admit that I ceased to walk along the Paris quays. When I would ride along them in a car or bus, a sort of silence would descend on me. I was waiting, I believe. But I would cross the Seine, nothing would happen, and I would breathe again (3.2).
I learned at least that I was on the side of the guilty, the accused, only in exactly so far as their crime caused me no harm. Their guilt made me eloquent because I was not its victim. When I was threatened, I became not only a judge in turn but even more: an irascible master who wanted, regardless of all laws, to strike down the offender and get him on his knees. After that, mon cher compatriote, it is very hard to continue seriously believing one has a vocation for justice and is the predestined defender of the widow and orphan (3.18).