The Message by Honoré de Balzac


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Message, by Honore de Balzac

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
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with this eBook or online at

Title: The Message

Author: Honore de Balzac

Translator: Ellen Marriage

Release Date: April 3, 2005 [EBook #1189]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Dagny




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 traveller's intimacies, in which we unbend with
the more complacency because the intercourse is by its very
nature transient, and makes no implicit demands upon the future.

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