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In those days Balthasar, whom the Greeks called Saracin, reigned in Ethiopia. He was black, but comely of countenance. He had a simple soul and a generous heart The third year of his reign, which was the twenty-second of his age, he left his dominions on a visit to Balkis, Queen of Sheba. The mage Sembobitis and the eunuch Menkera accompanied him. He had in his train seventy-five camels bearing... more...

CHAPTER I. ONE OF MANY CHEVALIERS DE VALOIS Most persons have encountered, in certain provinces in France, a number of Chevaliers de Valois. One lived in Normandy, another at Bourges, a third (with whom we have here to do) flourished in Alencon, and doubtless the South possesses others. The number of the Valesian tribe is, however, of no consequence to the present tale. All these chevaliers, among whom... more...

A SECOND HOME The Rue du Tourniquet-Saint-Jean, formerly one of the darkest and most tortuous of the streets about the Hotel de Ville, zigzagged round the little gardens of the Paris Prefecture, and ended at the Rue Martroi, exactly at the angle of an old wall now pulled down. Here stood the turnstile to which the street owed its name; it was not removed till 1823, when the Municipality built a... more...

Z. MARCAS I never saw anybody, not even among the most remarkable men of the day, whose appearance was so striking as this man's; the study of his countenance at first gave me a feeling of great melancholy, and at last produced an almost painful impression. There was a certain harmony between the man and his name. The Z. preceding Marcas, which was seen on the addresses of his letters, and which... more...

ALFRED DE MUSSET A poet has no right to play fast and loose with his genius. It does not belong to him, it belongs to the Almighty; it belongs to the world and to a coming generation. At thirty De Musset was already an old man, seeking in artificial stimuli the youth that would not spring again. Coming from a literary family the zeal of his house had eaten him up; his passion had burned itself out and... more...

THE COLLECTION OF ANTIQUITIES There stands a house at a corner of a street, in the middle of a town, in one of the least important prefectures in France, but the name of the street and the name of the town must be suppressed here. Every one will appreciate the motives of this sage reticence demanded by convention; for if a writer takes upon himself the office of annalist of his own time, he is bound to... more...

MASSIMILLA DONI As all who are learned in such matters know, the Venetian aristocracy is the first in Europe. Its Libro d'Oro dates from before the Crusades, from a time when Venice, a survivor of Imperial and Christian Rome which had flung itself into the waters to escape the Barbarians, was already powerful and illustrious, and the head of the political and commercial world. With a few rare... more...

FRENCH LITERATURE. Of French literature, taken as a whole, it may boldly be said that it is, not the wisest, not the weightiest, not certainly the purest and loftiest, but by odds the most brilliant and the most interesting, literature in the world. Strong at many points, at some points triumphantly strong, it is conspicuously weak at only one point,—the important point of poetry. In eloquence, in... 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... 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... more...