My earliest pleasure was therefore in being alone; and to be alone in Paris, knowing nobody, was an intoxication; it was like being on the dizzy brink of knowing everybody. I felt I was drinking the lights of the city and the words I heard spoken by passers-by... I walked to the Place de la Concorde and there by the bridge in the shade of the warm trees looked over the stone wall into the river. I was instantly under a spell. The water looked still yet it rustled like a dress. I had never seen water and stone in such pleasant conversation, the stone moonish, shading to saffron like the cheese of Brie, the water womanish and velvet. My solemn young eyes were seeing order and feeling united. I was so moved that I could feel myself grow into a new being. I repeated to myself my vow — for I was at the vowing age — never to leave France and I was so entranced that tears came to my eyes.
10 May 2016
The Vowing Age
V. S. Pritchett, Midnight Oil (London: Chatto & Windus, 1971), p. 14: