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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...

ESTHER HAPPY; OR, HOW A COURTESAN CAN LOVE In 1824, at the last opera ball of the season, several masks were struck by the beauty of a youth who was wandering about the passages and greenroom with the air of a man in search of a woman kept at home by unexpected circumstances. The secret of this behavior, now dilatory and again hurried, is known only to old women and to certain experienced loungers. In this immense assembly the crowd does not... more...

INTRODUCTION The highest living authority on French Literature—Professor George Saintsbury—has said: "The Cent Nouvelles is undoubtedly the first work of literary prose in French, and the first, moreover, of a long and most remarkable series of literary works in which French writers may challenge all comers with the certainty of victory. The short prose tale of a comic character is the one French literary product the pre-eminence... more...

LOUIS LAMBERT Louis Lambert was born at Montoire, a little town in the Vendomois, where his father owned a tannery of no great magnitude, and intended that his son should succeed him; but his precocious bent for study modified the paternal decision. For, indeed, the tanner and his wife adored Louis, their only child, and never contradicted him in anything. At the age of five Louis had begun by reading the Old and New Testaments; and these two... more...

CHAPTER I—M. MYRIEL In 1815, M. Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of D—— He was an old man of about seventy-five years of age; he had occupied the see of D—— since 1806. Although this detail has no connection whatever with the real substance of what we are about to relate, it will not be superfluous, if merely for the sake of exactness in all points, to mention here the various rumors and remarks which... more...