The Message - Honore de Balzac - Страница 1 из 19

By Honore De Balzac
Translated by Ellen Marriage
To M. le Marquis Damaso Pareto
I have always longed to tell a simple and true story, which should
strike terror into two young lovers, and drive them to take refuge each
in the other's heart, as two children cling together at the sight of a
snake by a woodside. At the risk of spoiling my story and of being taken
for a coxcomb, I state my intention at the outset.
I myself played a part in this almost commonplace tragedy; so if it
fails to interest you, the failure will be in part my own fault, in
part owing to historical veracity. Plenty of things in real life are
superlatively uninteresting; so that it is one-half of art to select
from realities those which contain possibilities of poetry.
In 1819 I was traveling from Paris to Moulins. The state of my finances
obliged me to take an outside place. Englishmen, as you know, regard
those airy perches on the top of the coach as the best seats; and for
the first few miles I discovered abundance of excellent reasons for
justifying the opinion of our neighbors. A young fellow, apparently in
somewhat better circumstances, who came to take the seat beside me
from preference, listened to my reasoning with inoffensive smiles. An
approximate nearness of age, a similarity in ways of thinking, a common
love of fresh air, and of the rich landscape scenery through which the
coach was lumbering along,--these things, together with an indescribable
magnetic something, drew us before long into one of those short-lived

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