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A Belated Guest (from Literary Friends and…
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A Belated Guest (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance)

by William Dean Howells

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It is doubtful whether the survivor of any order of things finds compensation in the privilege, however undisputed by his contemporaries, of recording his memories of it. This is, in the first two or three instances, a pleasure. It is sweet to sit down, in the shade or by the fire, and recall names, looks, and tones from the past; and if the Absences thus entreated to become Presences are those of famous people, they lend to the fond historian a little of their lustre, in which he basks for the time with an agreeable sense of celebrity. But another time comes, and comes very soon, when the pensive pleasure changes to the pain of duty, and the precious privilege converts itself into a grievous obligation. You are unable to choose your company among those immortal shades; if one, why not another, where all seem to have a right to such gleams of this 'dolce lome' as your reminiscences can shed upon them? Then they gather so rapidly, as the years pass, in these pale realms, that one, if one continues to survive, is in danger of wearing out such welcome, great or small, as met ones recollections in the first two or three instances, if one does one's duty by each… (more)

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