The reader of these Memoirs will discover that I never had any fixed aim before my eyes, and that my system, if it can be called a system, has been to glide away unconcernedly on the stream of life, trusting to the wind wherever it led.
I will begin with this confession: whatever I have done in the course of my life, whether it be good or evil, has been done freely; I am a free agent. My success and my misfortunes, the bright and the dark days I have gone through, everything has proved to me that in this world, either physical or moral, good comes out of evil just as well as evil comes out of good.
I am bound to add that the excess in too little has ever proved in me more dangerous than the excess in too much; the last may cause indigestion, but the first causes death. I know that I have lived because I have felt, and, feeling giving me the knowledge of my existence, I know likewise that I shall exist no more when I shall have ceased to feel.
My errors will point to thinking men the various roads, and will teach them the great art of treading on the brink of the precipice without falling into it.
Worthy or not, my life is my subject, and my subject is my life.
by Giacomo Casanova