Perhaps recognizing the effects such reaction might render, Maistre was reluctant to take up the pen:
Joseph de Maistre himself was quite aware of the distinctive character of his prose style. In November 1797, at a time when his literary reputation was growing and he was becoming known as the author (though anonymous) of his first important work, Considérations sur la France , and he was asked by a representative of the future King Louis XVIII to write something about the situation in France following the coup d’état of Fructidor, he declined, explaining that ‘my style is so well known in this country that if the piece appeared they would recognize my pen, and I would be buried alive.’4 And again in 1804, by which time he was posted to St Petersburg as the Sardinian ambassador to the court of the tsar, when he was asked a second time to lend his pen to the French royalist cause, Maistre cautioned against the proposal on the grounds of his style: ‘[...] there is a kind of danger that I will never allow myself to confront: it is that of my style which is too well known. Certainly, I do not mean to brag, for there is nothing in common between better and different.'The humility; the grandeur.
Motivation is a funny thing. Inspiration may come from any number of sources. Maistre on matters of intelligence, ignorance, and action:
The essence of all intelligence is to know and to love. The limits of knowledge are those of its nature. The immortal being learns nothing: he knows by nature everything he should know. On the other side, no intelligent being can love the bad naturally or by virtue of his nature; for this to be so, it would be necessary for God to have created man evil, which is impossible. If then man is subject to ignorance or evil, this can be only by virtue of some accidental degradation, which can be only the consequence of a crime. The need, the hunger for knowledge, which stirs man, is nothing but the natural tendency of his being that carries him toward his primitive state and shows him what he is.
If I can so express myself, he gravitates toward the areas of light. No beaver, swallow, or bee wishes to know more than its predecessors. All these creatures are happy in the place they occupy. All are degraded, but are ignorant of it; man alone senses it, and this feeling is the proof at once of his grandeur and his misery, of his sublime prerogatives, and his incredible degradation. In the state to which he is reduced, he has not even the sad satisfaction of being unaware of himself: he must continually contemplate himself, and this he cannot do without shame; even his grandeur humiliates him, since the understanding that raises him to the angels serves only to show him the abominable tendencies in himself that degrade him to the brutes. He seeks in the depths of his being some healthy part without being able to find it: evil has stained everything and man in his entirety is nothing but a malady.[Hippocrates, Letter to Demagetus.] An incredible combination of two different and incompatible powers, a monstrous centaur, he feels that he is the result of some unknown crime, some detestable mixture that has corrupted him even in his deepest nature.
Every intellect is by its very nature the result, single yet in three parts, of a perception that apprehends, a reason that affirms, and a will that acts. The first two powers are only weakened in man, but the third is broken, and like Tasso's serpent it drags itself along,[Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, xv, 48.] completely ashamed of its sad powerlessness. It is in this third power that man feels himself fatally injured. He does not know what he wants; he wants what he does not want; he does not want what he wants; he would want to want. He sees in himself something which is not he and is stronger than he. The wise resist and call out, Who shall deliver me?[Romans 7:24.] The foolish surrender and call their cowardice happiness, but they cannot rid themselves of this other will incorruptible of its nature although it has lost its dominance; and remorse, piercing them to the heart, constantly cries out to them, By doing what you do not want, you consent to the law.[Ibid., 7:16.]By doing what you do not want, you consent to the law.
When speaking of divine law (as if any other could exist) is knowledge not consent? Are wings for flying?
What does man want? Nothing and everything. Our problems are general, while our solutions are particular.
I happen to think I'm capable of achieving pretty serious shit. Yet I lack motivation. Although I'm a mere man, I think I know that nothing ultimately matters in general. Or I want to believe so?
But still ... I care.
Doing what I do not wish may fool my family, friends, neighbors, but false pretensions persuade not the conscience. I know what I'm capable of and I will hold myself accountable. The small voice whispers, reminding that cowardice is only happiness to the ignorant; I'm not ignorant. I know that each moment is best used to do the least disorderly thing. Plus a bit more stuff, endowing this quip with a bit more, shall we say, meaning.
There is no escape. So what to do? Well, in a word, everything - not in general but in particular. The Duke:
Hard pounding this, gentlemen; let's see who will pound longest.