An adult sympathizes with himself in childhood because he is the same, and because (being the same) yet he is not the same. He acknowledges the deep, mysterious identity between himself, as adult and as infant, for the ground of his sympathy; and yet, with this general agreement, and necessity of agreement, he feels the differences between his two selves as the main quickeners of his sympathy. He pities the infirmities, as they arise to light in his young forerunner, which now perhaps he does not share; he looks indulgently upon errors of the understanding, or limitations of view which now he has long survived; and sometimes, also, he honors in the infant tha trectitude of will which, under some temptations, he may since have felt it so difficult to maintain.
Thomas De Quincey, ‘Suspiria de profundis: Being a Sequel to the Confessions of an English Opium-Eater’, Blackwood’s Magazine, vol. 57, no. 353 (March, 1845), p. 272