the opening of Embarcation for Cythera:
You should certainly not read this and indeed I don’t think I should write it. I cannot see any point at all in recording such a vile episode, so obviously damaging to human minds, beginning with mine.
Not, of course, that I mean it to damage anyone’s else’s mind. This telling will do nothing worse than waste paper. It will be folded into a packet as soon as it’s done, sealing it with the signet-ring which is one of my few remaining fopperies (I was a great dandy when young), and that will be that, until the end of the age.
Yes; but what if it’s not? What if this has been stolen, and you are reading it with no right to read? What if you are, damn you, a spy, journalist, policeman or, likeliest of all, psychiatrist dabbling in dirt? Then what I write will seem to you sensationalist, unnecessarily disturbing if credited, all too likely to seem incredible, pornographic in either case.
Smut: precisely! Romantic smut! That’s what I’ve always abominated, and what I have come to. Whatever little professional credit I leave behind me will be submerged, by my reputation as a seamy fantasist, deviant – no; I cannot think this report a good idea.
But as usual what I think is of no great importance, even to myself. MacGregor says I must leave some record,
to “protect our interests now and of course, you understand, later” by which I understand the booby to mean
after I’m dead. MacGregor, I should say, is the firm’s solicitor and our local oracle, art historians being a sort of folk easily flustered by lawmongers. I am obliged to listen to what he says and as it happens I am just as devoted to the firm as I appear to be.
So here I am doing as I told, this quiet Friday evening, in my room at the top of our premises, with the door closed, and a view over the streetlamps of Bond Street.