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INTRODUCTION "Marriage is not an institution of nature. The family in the east is entirely different from the family in the west. Man is the servant of nature, and the institutions of society are grafts, not spontaneous growths of nature. Laws are made to suit manners, and manners vary. "Marriage must therefore undergo the gradual development towards perfection to which all human affairs submit." These words, pronounced in the presence of the... more...

THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL. Is it a petty or a profound trouble? I knew not; it is profound for your sons-in-law or daughters-in-law, but exceedingly petty for you. "Petty! You must be joking; why, a child costs terribly dear!" exclaims a ten-times-too-happy husband, at the baptism of his eleventh, called the little last newcomer,—a phrase with which women beguile their families. "What trouble is this?" you ask me. Well! this is, like many... more...

INTRODUCTION The Histoire des Treize consists—or rather is built up—of three stories: Ferragus or the Rue Soly, La Duchesse de Langeais or Ne touchez-paz a la hache, and La Fille aux Yeux d'Or. To tell the truth, there is more power than taste throughout the Histoire des Treize, and perhaps not very much less unreality than power. Balzac is very much better than Eugene Sue, though Eugene Sue also is better than it is the fashion to... more...

A TREATISE ON MARITAL POLICY. When a man reaches the position in which the first part of this book sets him, we suppose that the idea of his wife being possessed by another makes his heart beat, and rekindles his passion, either by an appeal to his amour propre, his egotism, or his self-interest, for unless he is still on his wife's side, he must be one of the lowest of men and deserves his fate. In this trying moment it is very difficult for a... more...

CHAPTER I. TWO CHILDHOODS To what genius fed on tears shall we some day owe that most touching of all elegies,—the tale of tortures borne silently by souls whose tender roots find stony ground in the domestic soil, whose earliest buds are torn apart by rancorous hands, whose flowers are touched by frost at the moment of their blossoming? What poet will sing the sorrows of the child whose lips must suck a bitter breast, whose smiles are... more...


CHAPTER I. DEPARTING PARIS The tourniquet Saint-Jean, the narrow passage entered through a turnstile, a description of which was said to be so wearisome in the study entitled "A Double Life" (Scenes from Private Life), that naive relic of old Paris, has at the present moment no existence except in our said typography. The building of the Hotel-de-Ville, such as we now see it, swept away a whole section of the city. In 1830, passers along the... more...

THE DUCHESSE OF LANGEAIS In a Spanish city on an island in the Mediterranean, there stands a convent of the Order of Barefoot Carmelites, where the rule instituted by St. Theresa is still preserved with all the first rigor of the reformation brought about by that illustrious woman. Extraordinary as this may seem, it is none the less true. Almost every religious house in the Peninsula, or in Europe for that matter, was either destroyed or... more...

INTRODUCTION In hardly any of his books, with the possible exception of Eugenie Grandet, does Balzac seem to have taken a greater interest than in Le Medecin de Campagne; and the fact of this interest, together with the merit and intensity of the book in each case, is, let it be repeated, a valid argument against those who would have it that there was something essentially sinister both in his genius and his character. Le Medecin de Campagne... more...

THE ATHEIST'S MASS Bianchon, a physician to whom science owes a fine system of theoretical physiology, and who, while still young, made himself a celebrity in the medical school of Paris, that central luminary to which European doctors do homage, practised surgery for a long time before he took up medicine. His earliest studies were guided by one of the greatest of French surgeons, the illustrious Desplein, who flashed across science like a... more...

CHAPTER I. THE CHATEAU Les Aigues, August 6, 1823. To Monsieur Nathan, My dear Nathan,—You, who provide the public with such delightful dreams through the magic of your imagination, are now to follow me while I make you dream a dream of truth. You shall then tell me whether the present century is likely to bequeath such dreams to the Nathans and the Blondets of the year 1923; you shall estimate the distance at which we now are from the... more...