As a matter of fact, to give completely true and exhaustive reply to this subtly philosophical question thus propounded impromptu, one must first reach a just verdict on my personal guilt in failing to fulfil exactly the obligation I had taken upon myself—to drink down all the remaining bottles of the said old calvados.

The point is that during this time appointed for my rest, despite all my automatic desire, I could not limit myself to the fifteen remaining bottles of old calvados which I mentioned in the last chapter of the first series, but had to combine the sublime contents of these bottles with the contents of two hundred other bottles enchanting even to look upon of the no less sublime liquid called old armagnac, so that this totality of cosmic substances might suffice for me personally, as well as for the whole tribe of those who have become in recent years my inevitable assistants, chiefly in these ‘sacred ceremonies’ of mine.

Before pronouncing this verdict on my personal guilt, one must finally take into account that from the very first day I changed my custom of drinking armagnac from what are called liqueur glasses and began drinking it from what are called tumblers. And I began to do so instinctively, it seems to me—obviously so that, in the present case also, justice might triumph. I do not know about you, brave reader, but the rhythm of my thinking is now established, and I can begin again, without forcing myself, to wiseacre in full blast.

In this second series I intend, among other things, to introduce and elucidate seven sayings which have come down to our day from very ancient times by means of inscriptions on various monuments, which I happened to come across and deciphered during my travels—sayings in which our remote ancestors formulated certain aspects of objective truth, clearly perceptible even to contemporary human reason. I shall therefore begin with just that one saying which, besides serving as a good starting-point for the expositions which follow, will be a link with the last chapter of the first series.