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The Cynosure

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I want to retrace my steps in memory for a while. I have given the physical facts of my story. The deeper, truer story is not in the outward circumstances of a man's life, but in his inner growth, in mind and soul, and universal consciousness.

I went to school from the age of six to the age of thirteen. I loved study with a real passion. During the three years passed in Cavour I had the good luck to be near a certain learned person. With his help I read all the publication that came in my hands. My superior was a subscriber to a Catholic periodical in Genoa. I thought that lucky, because I was then a fervent Catholic.

In Turin I had no companions except fellow workers, young store clerks and laborers. My fellow workers declared themselves socialists and made fun of my religious streak, calling me a hypocrite and bigot. One day it led to a fist fight with one of them.

Now that I am more or less familiar with all the schools of socialism, I realize that they did not know even the meaning of the word. They called themselves socialists out of sympathy for DeAmicis (then in the flush of his career as a writer) and for the spirit of the place and the time. So real was the effect of the environment that I, too, soon commenced to love socialism without knowing it, or believing myself a socialist.

All things considered, the stage of evolution of those people was beneficent for me and improved me greatly. The principles of humanism and equality of rights began to make a breach in my heart. I read the Cuore of DeAmicis, and later his Voyages and Friends.

In the house there was a book of St. Augustine, From that, this sentence remains indelibly in my mind: "The blood of martyrs is the seed of liberty." I also found the Promessi Sposi and read it twice. Finally I laid my hands on a dusty Divine Comedy. Ah, me! my teeth were not made for such a bone; nevertheless I proceeded to gnaw it desperately, and believe not uselessly.


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