Melmoth Reconciled by Honoré de Balzac


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Melmoth Reconciled, by Honore de Balzac

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: Melmoth Reconciled

Author: Honore de Balzac

Translator: Ellen Marriage

Release Date: April 3, 2005 [EBook #1277]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Dagny; and Bonnie Sala




Translated by
Ellen Marriage

To Monsieur le General Baron de Pommereul, a token of the friendship
between our fathers, which survives in their sons.


There is a special variety of human nature obtained in the Social
Kingdom by a process analogous to that of the gardener's craft in the
Vegetable Kingdom, to wit, by the forcing-house--a species of hybrid
which can be raised neither from seed nor from slips. This product is
known as the Cashier, an anthropomorphous growth, watered by religious
doctrine, trained up in fear of the guillotine, pruned by vice, to
flourish on a third floor with an estimable wife by his side and an
uninteresting family. The number of cashiers in Paris must always be a
problem for the physiologist. Has any one as yet been able to state
correctly the terms of the proportion sum wherein the cashier figures
as the unknown _x_? Where will you find the man who shall live with
wealth, like a cat with a caged mouse? This man, for further
qualification, shall be capable of sitting boxed in behind an iron
grating for seven or eight hours a day during seven-eighths of the
year, perched upon a cane-seated chair in a space as narrow as a
lieutenant's cabin on board a man-of-war. Such a man must be able to
defy anchylosis of the knee and thigh joints; he must have a soul
above meanness, in order to live meanly; must lose all relish for
money by dint of handling it. Demand this peculiar specimen of any
creed, educational system, school, or institution you please, and
select Paris, that city of fiery ordeals and branch establishment of
hell, as the soil in which to plant the said cashier. So be it.
Creeds, schools, institutions and moral systems, all human rules and
regulations, great and small, will, one after another, present much
the same face that an intimate friend turns upon you when you ask him
to lend you a thousand francs. With a dolorous dropping of the jaw,
they indicate the guillotine, much as your friend aforesaid will
furnish you with the address of the money-lender, pointing you to one
of the hundred gates by which a man comes to the last refuge of the

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