Being the other day at Armaignac, on the estate of a kinsman of mine, I there saw a country fellow who was by every one nicknamed the thief. He thus related the story of his life; that being born a beggar, and finding that he should not be able, so as to be clear of indigence, to get his living by the sweat of his brow, he resolved to turn thief, and by means of his strength of body, had exercised this trade all the time of his youth in great security; for he ever made his harvest and vintage in other men’s grounds, but a great way off, and in so great quantities, that it was not to be imagined one man could have carried away so much in one night upon his shoulders; and, moreover, was careful equally to divide and distribute the mischief he did, that the loss was of less importance to every particular man. He is now grown old, and rich for a man of his condition, thanks to his trade, which he openly confesses to every one. And to make his peace with God, he says, that he is daily ready by good offices to make satisfaction to the successors of those he has robbed, and if he do not finish (for to do it all at once he is not able) he will then leave it in charge to his heirs to perform the rest, proportionably to the wrong he himself only knows he has done to each. By this description, true or false, this man looks upon theft as a dishonest action, and hates it, but less than poverty, and simply repents; but to the extent he has thus recompensed, he repents not. This is not that habit which incorporates us into vice, and conforms even our understanding itself to it; nor is it that impetuous whirlwind that by gusts troubles and blinds our souls and for the time precipitates us, judgment and all, into the power of vice.
In the Meiji era ( 1868 - 1912 ) unification of the written and spoken language was advocated, and Futabatei Shimei 's Ukigumo (Drifting Clouds) [ 1887 ] won acclaim as a new form of novel. In poetry circles the influence of translated foreign poems led to a "new style" poetry movement, and the scope of literary forms continued to widen. Novelists Mori Ogai and Natsume Soseki studied in Germany and Britain, respectively, and their works reflect the influence of the literature of those countries. Soseki nurtured many talented literary figures. One of them, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, wrote many superb novelettes based on his detailed knowledge of the Japanese classics. His suicide in 1927 was seen as a symbol of the agony Japan was experiencing in the process of rapid modernization, a major theme of modern Japanese literature.