When conducting intelligence work, this is always a very fine line. One often cannot truly trust whomever one is speaking to, but if I had believed nothing such people told me, I would have accomplished very little. However, skepticism can only lead to a missed opportunity. I remember an incident in Gibralter in which what I thought was an idiotically obvious trap was in fact Sir Joseph's genuine efforts to get into contact with me, which he urgently needed to do. However, in that case he sought me out himself. If something absolutely must be accomplished, a small bit of misplaced skepticism will not stop it. Misplaced trust, however, can have far more fatal results. It will result into the walking into traps, in assasinations, and it was not suspecting the wrong person which resulted in my being captured and tortured. Better to be afraid of being too gullible.
I believe I stated the answer to this question earlier, but I will reiterate it.
One of my more joyful moments was when I learned of the birth of my daughter, a joy which would have surprised me in earlier years, but by that moment I had resigned myself to being vulnerable to. However, when I first met Brigid, the only thing I could feel was disappointment. She appeared to most eyes to be an idiot, and at the very least in some manner was detached from me and from all other living creatures, to the point that her mother had fled from her. But she was not an idiot, but a very special kind of child, to whom Padeen could and did break through and draw out into the world. When I spoke Irish in front of her, she acknowledged me for the first time, a moment to remember, to be sure, but not the one that answers this question.
That happened later, when we sailed together on the Ringle, and she had completely transformed. She fell in love with the sea the moment she saw it, and on the ship she wanted to explore, and did to the point that I found myself feeling far too many protective urges. However, watching her ascend towards the tops, perfectly at home in this new environment, I experienced a moment when my pride brought me joy, which it very rarely does, and indeed, has not otherwise done to that extent.
Most of my unfulfilled desires are from a certain period of my life, and for things much greater than myself. I have discussed on more than one occasion my romantic youthful ideals, and my support for the Revolution in France, and for Irish independence, and even later for Catalan independence.
The last would not have made much difference in my life proper besides giving me a stronger sense of accomplishment, as by the time I was fighting for it in earnest I had made a life for myself which existed completely apart from it. Nor do I think I would have stayed in France even if things had gone better there than they did, though I would have much more optimism about the world than I do. But had we suceeded in Ireland, and I had a very strong and more personal desire been fulfilled, that being my wish to marry Mona, the girl I loved, my life would be very different indeed. She would have tied me to Ireland, defined it as my home at the very time when instead I abandoned hope of calling it home. I might never have gone back to England, and from there I find it unlikely I would ever have found my way to Minorca, or to Jack Aubrey and the Royal Navy. Even if somehow these events did happen, I would never have stayed on the Sophie past Gibralter. Jack would not be to me what he is, certainly Diana could not have been. Instead of a wandering life, I would live a largely sedentary one, but perhaps knowing nothing more thrilling, I would have been content nonetheless.
I have been alone in my life, more often than not. However, the time when I was most alone is fairly obvious: the three years between the Irish uprising and when I met Jack. That was the last time in my life when I literally had no one, as everyone in my life I had called a friend was either deceased, and most of those very recently, or completely out of contact with me. I am uncertain why I did not make a stronger attempt to write to my old Catalan friends, but I suspect the distrust of people I held from my being vulnerable to informers as a member of the United Irishmen extended a bit too much even to those who could know nothing about my activities. Or perhaps I was simply too proud. Once I met Jack, I was never alone quite so thoroughly again. Even during my longest seperation from Jack roughly a decade later, I made it a point to see him and Sophie once or twice per year.
Sophia Williams: I see you as a brilliant green color. It makes me think of nature, and when I think of nature, I think of you
Stephen: I admit, I never expected to be thought of as that! But I thank you.
Sophie:(smiles) You are welcome, dear! (blushes a pink color)
FannyFae: I cannot know entirely what you must have gone through, but I do understand some of it. I too am a bastard, and I am a Scot - which to some is worse than being Irish, and a Wytch. None of which are good things to find oneself being in most parts of the British Empire.
Do you think that we bastard children on the wrong side of the philosphical debate can also band together and value each other as friends? I do not suggest that because either of us would wish to commiserate or complain, but simply, that there is little those outside of our own experiences can understand.
Stephen: I would believe bastards would not be prejudiced against each other, making it easier for them to associate with each other.
FannyFae: I am uncertain that you are correct on that, Stephen. I have met plenty of bastards who were more than a little prejudiced those of their own kind. I also have met more than a few that were even crueller than those who were 'higher born' than ourselves might have been.
Sophie: Poor Doctor, you have been through so much, it hurts me to hear it!
Single white male, middle-aged, seeks woman of any age or race for purposes of marriage. Must be able to accept that I will be away for extended lengths of time, and presence of relatively-young but unusually elegant and well-behaved daughter, and also of our both being Catholics. Prefer a woman of independent spirit; I am not interested in ownership of my wife. Interest in natural philosophy would be very far from going amiss.
Caroline Elizabeth de Rochefort:(Caroline looks at the ad and looks up at him.) Why would anyone such as you need to place an ad for a suitable romantic partner, Doctor? I have always found you to be the kind of man most worthy of admiration.
Stephen: Assuming I am a man worthy of admiration for the moment, which I would debate, I must point out that being worthy of admiration does not always neccessarily mean being suitable as a romantic partner.
Caroline: Pray what qualities would you deem to be suitable in a romantic partner; for yourself, I mean?
I too, am a Catholic, so I do not understand why that is an issue.
You are a strange man for not wanting to own your wife - so many men do think of their wife as chattel; although my Papa does not with regard to my Mother.
Perhaps that is what I found most worthy of admiration.
Isabella la Belle: I am curious, monsieur, as to why you list your being Catholic as a potentially detrimental factor.
Stephen: I see two people have been confused by my worrying about objections to my religion. The reason is that I currently spend my time in company where Catholicism is often considered objectionable. You are fortunate, I assume, to be in society where that is not the case.
Caroline: Yes, I live in the Arizona Territory, which is very close to the border with Mexico. There are both Catholic and Protestant churches here, and for the most part, there are few objections.
I cannot imagine how you could live in a place where holding the faith that you do would be objectionable. Of course, when I visit my sister in England soon, perhaps that will be something I will have to become accustomed to.