It seems that the first words of Ovid's "Metamorphoses," _In nova fert
animus_, are the motto of the human race. Nobody is touched by the
admirable spectacle of the sun which rises, or rather seems to rise,
every day; everybody runs to see the smallest little meteor which
appears for an instant in that accumulation of vapours, called the sky,
that surround the earth.
An itinerant bookseller does not burden himself with a Virgil, with a
Horace, but with a new book, even though it be detestable. He draws you
aside and says to you: "Sir, do you want some books from Holland?"
From the beginning of the world women have complained of the fickleness
that is imputed to them in favour of the first new object which presents
itself, and whose novelty is often its only merit. Many ladies (it must
be confessed, despite the infinite respect we have for them) have
treated men as they complain they have themselves been treated; and the
story of Gioconda is much older than Ariosto.
Perhaps this universal taste for novelty is one of nature's favours.
People cry to us: "Be content with what you have, desire nothing that is
beyond your estate, restrain your curiosity, tame your intellectual
disquiet." These are very good maxims; but if we had always followed
them, we should still be eating acorns, we should be sleeping in the
open air, and we should not have had Corneille, Racine, Moliere,
Poussin, Lebrun, Lemoine or Pigalle.