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nent of God,—then will Art enter upon its great ideal work, as the universal language of Religion—to give the portraiture of inward beauty,—to enable us to look more nearly upon the face of Christ, -to paint the features of a soul that is in the likeness of the Deity.



Balzac en Pantoufles. By Léon Gozlan. 1 vol. Paris: Michel

Levy. 1856. The works of some men stand alone, apart, and are in themselves self-sufficient. With those who wrote them you need have nothing to do; they are not necessarily referred to their creator, and the breath they breathe comes not immediately from him, nor does his life-blood seem to flow through them. Not so with Balzac. You are compelled to know him, or you can but dimly appreciate his works. Critically speaking, it is not our present purpose to touch upon these works, but upon their author only; we do not mean to point out how far they possessed or were wanting in merit, but why they were, and why, being as they were, they could derive their existence from no one else save him alone.

Take any hero or heroine of Madame Sand (except Indiana), --let it be Valentine, or Jacques, or Consuelo, or Mauprat, or any other,--and there is no reason why they should not spring from some other brain than hers. There would be nothing revolting to our sense in the supposition of their being conceived by Alfred de Musset, for instance, or any other like-minded writer. So, again, we might easily admit the notion that Alexandre Dumas had written Marie Tudor or Angelo, instead of Victor Hugo; or accept the proof, were it afforded us, that Monte Cristo was the work of Eugène Sue, or Arthur that of Charles de Bernard. A fact, however, of which we feel instinctively and absolutely sure is, that not one of these creations could be the work of Balzac, nor could one of his emanate from any of the celebrated writers we have named. Let us again repeat, that it is no question of talent with us just now, but merely a question of individuality, and of the double impossibility in the case of Balzac-that he should not write his works, and that any other but he should write them.

His entire sincerity, his absence of all scepticism (not in a


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religious, but in a moral and intellectual point of view), and his total want of affectation, render Balzac one of the most interesting studies that human nature, fashioned and complicated by the hyper-civilisation of modern France, has to offer us. Out of all those who in France have achieved glory within the last thirty years by works of fiction, Balzac only is himself, always himself, and nothing but himself. Soy quien soy, he may say with the Spanish proverb; and neither can the public nor even posterity disturb his imagination in the smallest degree. “He took no pains to dress up his own ghost,” as M. Gozlan truly says; Il ne faisait pas la toilette à son ombre. No, he lived his own works, if the expression may be allowed; and the public merely succeeded to them after they had been enjoyed by their creator. Balzac resembles the Maria Wuz of Jean Paul, who, being too poor to purchase the works he hears of, imagines and writes for himself a whole library full of books corresponding to the titles that take his fancy most. He showers his riches upon himself first, and then calls in the world to partake of what remains. The author is simply a consequence of the man; but the man, what was he? Two passages in M. Gozlan's little volume will tell us; for in those two passages is contained all Balzac.

It was on the 15th of March 1840, a Sunday, at about noon. The night before had taken place that extraordinary representation of Vautrin, at the Porte Saint-Martin, at which half Paris was present, and which was barely allowed by the audience to come to a close. Careless of the results, whether to others or to himself, possessed by the idea of representing the forms which surrounded him on all sides, and which he regarded as con. stituting "society," the author of Le Père Goriot had thrust pellmell upon the stage peers, princes, forçats, fraudulent bankrupts, grandes dames, footmen, dandies, thieves, and saints; all “rubbing clothes” together, and more or less attached to those same wires, which, according to him, moved directly or indirectly all the puppets of the comédie humaine. “Society” was scared; and when Frederick Lemaître, who played the hero of the piece which he expected to revive the fame of Robert Macaire—when Frederick in the last act appeared so inimitably like Louis Philippe in dress, attitude, countenance, and manner, that no possibility existed of ignoring the resemblance, the Duc d'Orleans, then prince royal, who had sat through the whole, had the satisfaction of seeing the Paris bourgeoisie rise indignantly and loudly protest against what was felt to be an insult cast upon itself in the person of its incarnation-supreme. The blow was, it might be thought, a severe one for Balzac; for -jumping at once and immediately, as he always did, from a plan to its perfect completion - he had, during the time that

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Vautrin was being rehearsed, believed himself actually in possession of the autocracy of the theatrical world, and in the receipt of hundreds of thousands of francs ! The scene described by M. Gozlan opens, then, as we have said, upon the very morrow of the day on which such high-flown golden-pinioned illusions were dashed to earth; and we sympathise with the feelings of a friend who is resolved to be the first to console, yet who is not without a secret desire that “the visit were well over,” and the task of condolence with ill-luck ended. But if the visitor is painfully embarrassed, not so he who occasions his embarrassment. Balzac is perfectly calm; and with what his chronicler so justly calls“ his solar eyes” fixed on space, is absorbed in the contemplation of another idea, that, in the lapse of twelve hours, has already taken root in his brain, grown up, and been born, for him, into the world of quite tangible realities. He shakes hands with Léon Gozlan, and without leaving him time to open his mouth, he exclaims

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“My dear fellow, just look at that strip of ground at the bottom of the garden. Do you see ?" “Yes; well, and what then ?” “Why, in a few days hence, I shall have established there a dairy which will entirely furnish all the surrounding population with the best milk in the world; a thing they cannot have at this present moment, because they are just between Paris and Versailles-two sponges that absorb every drop of milk;" and flying from detail to detail, the illustrious romancier proves to his visitor how he has secured for himself an annual revenue of 3,000 frs. by milk! But this is not all. Before M. Gozlan can venture upon a remark—“A little further on," continues Balzac, "you perceive a splendid piece of ground"...."Where nothing at all is growing," the listener this time cannot refrain from interrupting. “For the moment, nothing !" echoes Balzac; but then comes pouring down the full tide of description of all that is to be! That barren piece of earth,“where nothing at all is growing,” is quite incontestably to yield more than the mud-manured banks of the Nile ! and here is the reason thereof: La Quintinie, the head-gardener of Louis XIV., used to grow the vegetables destined for the king's table alone, in a reserved spot of the gardens of Versailles; and since the middle of the 17th century these royal plants have continued generation after generation (in spite even of the Revolution), as surely as the occupants of the throne themselves; artichokes and asparagus, cabbages and French beans, have succeeded each other in all their pride and privilege of race, even as Louis XVI. succeeded Louis XV., and Louis Philippe took the place of Charles X. and Louis XVIII. La Quintinie's vegetables are still the glory of the royal table of France; but of the royal table only. “Now,” cries Balzac exultingly, "I possess the seeds of every vegetable in La Quintinie's kitchen-garden; and I will extend the benefit of the possession to all such as are rich enough to pay for it. I will sow them all in that piece of ground yonder; and there again (to make a



ridiculously moderate estimate of the profits) I have secured to myself another 3,000 francs a-year!" " Which, with the dairy, makes 6,000," observes Gozlan gravely, and by this time quite entering into the spirit of his part. “Precisely," repeats Balzac;“but that is nothing. Look there to the left, at that hard hot dry ferruginous soil. Malaga will be to be had there, mon cher; and I can have the vines whenever I choose. This is a considerable undertaking, and” (with a kind of compassionate smile) “I presume I shall not be accused of overvaluing such wine if I put its price at 3,000 francs the pipe, which at four pipes a-year (the yield will not go much beyond that) brings me in a clear income of 12,000 francs.” Gozlan counts quite seriously upon his fingers, murmuring, “ Twelve for vin de Valaga, and six between vegetables and milk; in all eighteen.” “Without counting the walnut-tree!" shouts the author of the Peau de Chagrin, turning round and pointing to a fine old tree of the species just named, which he had bought very dear of the adjoining commune of Sèvres. “The what?" ejaculated Gozlan, entirely thrown off his guard. “ The walnut-tree,” rejoined his host, quite calmly. “But that is a long story, I will tell you all about it later; suffice to say that it is worth 2,000 francs a-year, which, added to the other 18,000, makes a net rental of 20,000 francs. Eh, mon Dieu, oui !" he then resumed with the air of a man who has put his “house in order," and looked the pros and cons of his position in the face in a business-like way,—Eh, mon Dieu, oui ! 20,000 francs a-year, that is what they have reduced me to by suppressing Vautrin .!"

Suppressing Vautrin ?” exclaims Gozlan all aghast; for he merely supposed the piece to have been a failure, nothing more. “Do you mean to say they have suppressed Vautrin ?" "Bless my soul !" says his friend,

? "you did not know that ?" (How should he ?) “Well, look here, read this paper;" and he gives him the official letter he has that morning received, and in which M. de Rémusat, then Minister of the Interior, by the intervention of M. Cavé, Chargé des Beaux Arts, brings to the knowledge of M. de Balzac, that (without any further explanation) the “representations of the play entitled Vautrin are and remain suspended.”

But, occupied as he had been with matters of " serious” interest respecting the “administration of his fortune," Balzac had forgotten all about Vautrin and the mishap of the night before. He was engrossed by“ business ;” the minister's letter was thousands of miles away; and he had the comfortable sensations of a man who has done his duty, and resolutely devoted himself to the “practical realities” of life.

At this let no reader cavil or be surprised; these were, for Balzac, the “practical realities” of existence. For him, the dairy he had not built, the cows he had not bought, the land he had not purchased, the seeds he had not sown, the milk and vegetables that could not feed the surrounding populations, the vin de Malaga, to produce which not a stone of the soil belonged to him, the vines then peaceably growing on the coast of Spain,

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the wonderful walnut-tree,-all these things were realities, and Balzac was busied in noting down the investment of the 20,000 francs a-year he had thus secured to himself with as perfect and intense conviction as Baron Rothschild when, in his bureaux of the Rue Laffitte, he decides upon some way of doubling the capital just realised by a successful railroad. As we have taken occasion to remark, between the plan and its realisation there was, in Balzac's brain, no intermediate step; it was realised as soon as it was conceived; nor must this be lost sight of, for the peculiarities of his talent all belong immediately to this intense, this flesh-and-blood reality, which every idea that crosses his mind instantaneously assumes.

In Paris, what is termed “ all the world” is familiar with the story of Balzac and Henri Monnier. The former had just promised to write a play (for the first time), in which Frederick had promised to perform (this was long before the adventure of Vautrin). Walking home from the meeting with the great actor, Balzac was counting up the proceeds of the affair; and had arrived at one hundred and odd thousand francs, when he met IIenri Monnier, to whom he spoke of this new piece of goodluck as of a thing the advantages whereof he was already tranquilly enjoying. "Well, then,” replied Henri Monnier," as the operation is so far advanced, and is so infallible, just lend me a five-franc piece upon it.”

In this instinctive faculty of simultaneous conception and embodiment lies, we say, the individuality of Balzac's talent when its creations are brought before the world; but he himself has a distinct private reason for creating. He creates his fancy's offspring, not that they may live,--they do live naturally, and, as it were, of themselves, but that they may calculate; that they may make and lose their fortunes, get into difficulties and out of them; and that he, Balzac, may administer and dispose of, manipulate and register, their losses and their gains. Fix upon this arithimetical tendency as the secret of Balzac's psychological and intellectual unity, take hold of it as the guiding-line that you must never let 'slip, and it will bring you safely through the whole labyrinth of his inventions. This is the reason why, when night falls (for during the day he scarcely ever works), he sits down surrounded by a whole world of creatures perfectly and absolutely real to him, and devotes himself to looking into and "settling their affairs." Here is the secret of all the banking business of Nucingen and Du Tillet, of Lucien de Rubempre’s entire carcer; and of the long struggle necessitated by that, in itself most excellent speculation, the vegetable writing-paper of Angoulême. Hence spring all the eternal law-suits, with their exact amount of costs cast up to a fraction, and the usurer's in

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