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him on before. “I shall no longer,” he added, “be in ignorance of the fact that the 50,000 
francs of my fortune consecrated to play will pass into other hands. I am resigned to it perfectly; 
but I shall no longer be, in the eyes of the world, the dupe of an absurd delusion. I shall continue 
to play, because the superfluous 50,000 francs expended in any other way would be unable to excite 
in my feeble frame, undermined by suffering, the lively sensations alone aroused by the various 
combinations, fortunate and adverse, displayed every night on the green carpet!” 
A little reflection will prove that these words are not a mere paraphrase of the well-known 
witticism of a celebrated statesman: “After the pleasure of winning, I know none so great as that 
of losing.” 
It would be doing injustice to mathematical science if I attempted to defend its formulas against 
the reproach of not having foreseen that the passionate storms, resulting from play, which sweep the 
bosom, would not always prevail over the soft and touching gratification men of means might daily 
enjoy in applying their wealth to the alleviation of human misery. The passions, although of divine 
institution, as a woman of the world once said, are so protean that it would be a vain effort on the 
part of mathematics to entwine them in their regular and methodical meshes. But, again, if science 
has failed in such a task, the misfortune is shared by the dialectics of the moralist, the eloquence 
of the pulpit, and even by the sweet persuasions of the poet. I have read somewhere that Colbert on 
one occasion wished to dissuade the monarch whom he had never failed to serve with devotion and 
ability from undertaking a certain war. Boileau, promising to aid him in his effort, addressed to 
Louis XIV that beautiful letter containing a seductive picture of the delights of peace, and, among 
other remarkable passages, the lines on the Emperor Titus, that live in the memory of every one: 

Qui rendit de son joug l’univers amoureux;
Qu’on n’alla jamais voir sans revenir heureux;
Qui soupirait, le soir, si sa main fortunée
N’avait par ses bienfaits signalé sa journée.

Who led the world captive, yet charmed with its chain, 
From whom no one could part without joy in his breast, 
Whose evenings were saddened and shadowed with pain, 
When closing a day that his hand had not blest.

These lines touched the heart of the king. He caused them to be read aloud to him three times, then 
ordered his horse to be saddled, and straightway joined the army. 


Ampère composed, in his early youth a tragedy on the death of Hannibal, in which are to be found 
some excellent poetry and the noblest sentiments. I must add here, that during his sojourn in the 
principal town of the department of Ain, his mind was not so completely absorbed in science, that he 
could give no time to the study of literature 
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