From my very earliest youth it has been my pride to converse familiarly, more Socratio, with all human beings

From Thomas de Quincey’s Confesions of an English Opium-Eater:

….but another person there was at that time whom I have since sought to trace with far deeper earnestness, and with far deeper sorrow at my failure.  This person was a young woman, and one of that unhappy class who subsist upon the wages of prostitution.  I feel no shame, nor have any reason to feel it, in avowing that I was then on familiar and friendly terms with many women in that unfortunate condition.  The reader needs neither smile at this avowal nor frown; for, not to remind my classical readers of the old Latin proverb, “Sine cerere,” &c., it may well be supposed that in the existing state of my purse my connection with such women could not have been an impure one.  But the truth is, that at no time of my life have I been a person to hold myself polluted by the touch or approach of any creature that wore a human shape; on the contrary, from my very earliest youth it has been my pride to converse familiarly, more Socratio, with all human beings, man, woman, and child, that chance might fling in my way; a practice which is friendly to the knowledge of human nature, to good feelings, and to that frankness of address which becomes a man who would be thought a philosopher.  For a philosopher should not see with the eyes of the poor limitary creature calling himself a man of the world, and filled with narrow and self-regarding prejudices of birth and education, but should look upon himself as a catholic creature, and as standing in equal relation to high and low, to educated and uneducated, to the guilty and the innocent.  Being myself at that time of necessity a peripatetic, or a walker of the streets, I naturally fell in more frequently with those female peripatetics who are technically called street-walkers.

 

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