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The Lesser Bourgeoisie by Honore de Balzac

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Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@templar.actrix.gen.nz
Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com
and Bonnie Sala

(The Middle Classes)


Translated By
Katharine Prescott Wormeley


To Constance-Victoire.

Here, madame, is one of those books which come into the mind,
whence no one knows, giving pleasure to the author before he can
foresee what reception the public, our great present judge, will
accord to it. Feeling almost certain of your sympathy in my
pleasure, I dedicate the book to you. Ought it not to belong to
you as the tithe formerly belonged to the Church in memory of God,
who makes all things bud and fruit in the fields and in the

A few lumps of clay, left by Moliere at the feet of his colossal
statue of Tartuffe, have here been kneaded by a hand more daring
than able; but, at whatever distance I may be from the greatest of
comic writers, I shall still be glad to have used these crumbs in
showing the modern Hypocrite in action. The chief encouragement
that I have had in this difficult undertaking was in finding it
apart from all religious questions,--questions which ought to be
kept out of it for the sake of one so pious as yourself; and also
because of what a great writer has lately called our present
"indifference in matters of religion."

May the double signification of your names be for my book a
prophecy! Deign to find here the respectful gratitude of him who
ventures to call himself the most devoted of your servants.

De Balzac.

(The Middle Classes)





The tourniquet Saint-Jean, the narrow passage entered through a
turnstile, a description of which was said to be so wearisome in the
study entitled "A Double Life" (Scenes from Private Life), that naive
relic of old Paris, has at the present moment no existence except in
our said typography. The building of the Hotel-de-Ville, such as we
now see it, swept away a whole section of the city.

In 1830, passers along the street could still see the turnstile
painted on the sign of a wine-merchant, but even that house, its last
asylum, has been demolished. Alas! old Paris is disappearing with
frightful rapidity. Here and there, in the course of this history of
Parisian life, will be found preserved, sometimes the type of the
dwellings of the middle ages, like that described in "Fame and Sorrow"
(Scenes from Private Life), one or two specimens of which exist to the
present day; sometimes a house like that of Judge Popinot, rue du
Fouarre, a specimen of the former bourgeoisie; here, the remains of
Fulbert's house; there, the old dock of the Seine as it was under
Charles IX. Why should not the historian of French society, a new Old
Mortality, endeavor to save these curious expressions of the past, as
Walter Scott's old man rubbed up the tombstones? Certainly, for the
last ten years the outcries of literature in this direction have not
been superfluous; art is beginning to disguise beneath its floriated
ornaments those ignoble facades of what are called in Paris "houses of
product," which one of our poets has jocosely compared to chests of

Let us remark here, that the creation of the municipal commission "del
ornamento" which superintends at Milan the architecture of street
facades, and to which every house owner is compelled to subject his
plan, dates from the seventeenth century. Consequently, we see in that
charming capital the effects of this public spirit on the part of
nobles and burghers, while we admire their buildings so full of
character and originality. Hideous, unrestrained speculation which,
year after year, changes the uniform level of storeys, compresses a
whole apartment into the space of what used to be a salon, and wages
war upon gardens, will infallibly react on Parisian manners and
morals. We shall soon be forced to live more without than within. Our
sacred private life, the freedom and liberty of home, where will they
be?--reserved for those who can muster fifty thousand francs a year!
In fact, few millionaires now allow themselves the luxury of a house
to themselves, guarded by a courtyard on a street and protected from
public curiosity by a shady garden at the back.

By levelling fortunes, that section of the Code which regulates
testamentary bequests, has produced these huge stone phalansteries, in
which thirty families are often lodged, returning a rental of a
hundred thousand francs a year. Fifty years hence we shall be able to
count on our fingers the few remaining houses which resemble that
occupied, at the moment our narrative begins, by the Thuillier family,
--a really curious house which deserves the honor of an exact
description, if only to compare the life of the bourgeoisie of former
times with that of to-day.

The situation and the aspect of this house, the frame of our present
Scene of manners and morals, has, moreover, a flavor, a perfume of the
lesser bourgeoisie, which may attract or repel attention according to
the taste of each reader.

In the first place, the Thuillier house did not belong to either
Monsieur or Madame Thuillier, but to Mademoiselle Thuillier, the
sister of Monsieur Thuillier.

This house, bought during the first six months which followed the
revolution of July by Mademoiselle Marie-Jeanne-Brigitte Thuillier, a
spinster of full age, stands about the middle of the rue Saint-
Dominique d'Enfer, to the right as you enter by the rue d'Enfer, so
that the main building occupied by Monsieur Thuillier faces south.

The progressive movement which is carrying the Parisian population to
the heights along the right bank of the Seine had long injured the
sale of property in what is called the "Latin quarter," when reasons,
which will be given when we come to treat of the character and habits
of Monsieur Thuillier, determined his sister to the purchase of real
estate. She obtained this property for the small sum of forty-six
thousand francs; certain extras amounted to six thousand more; in all,
the price paid was fifty-two thousand francs. A description of the
property given in the style of an advertisement, and the results
obtained by Monsieur Thuillier's exertions, will explain by what means
so many fortunes increased enormously after July, 1830, while so many
others sank.

Toward the street the house presents a facade of rough stone covered
with plaster, cracked by weather and lined by the mason's instrument
into a semblance of blocks of cut stone. This frontage is so common in
Paris and so ugly that the city ought to offer premiums to house-
owners who would build their facades of cut-stone blocks. Seven
windows lighted the gray front of this house which was raised three
storeys, ending in a mansard roof covered with slate. The porte-
cochere, heavy and solid, showed by its workmanship and style that the
front building on the street had been erected in the days of the
Empire, to utilize a part of the courtyard of the vast old mansion,
built at an epoch when the quarter d'Enfer enjoyed a certain vogue.

On one side was the porter's lodge; on the other the staircase of the
front building. Two wings, built against the adjoining houses, had
formerly served as stables, coach-house, kitchen and offices to the
rear dwelling; but since 1830, they had been converted into warerooms.
The one on the right was let to a certain M. Metivier, jr., wholesale
dealer in paper; that on the left to a bookseller named Barbet. The
offices of each were above the warerooms; the bookseller occupying the
first storey, and the paper-dealer the second storey of the house on
the street. Metivier, jr., who was more of a commission merchant in
paper than a regular dealer, and Barbet, much more of a money lender
and discounter than a bookseller, kept these vast warerooms for the
purpose of storing,--one, his stacks of paper, bought of needy
manufacturers, the other, editions of books given as security for

The shark of bookselling and the pike of paper-dealing lived on the
best of terms, and their mutual operations, exempt from the turmoil of
retail business, brought so few carriages into that tranquil courtyard
that the concierge was obliged to pull up the grass between the paving
stones. Messrs. Barbet and Metivier paid a few rare visits to their
landlords, and the punctuality with which they paid their rent classed
them as good tenants; in fact, they were looked upon as very honest
men by the Thuillier circle.

As for the third floor on the street, it was made into two apartments;
one of which was occupied by M. Dutocq, clerk of the justice of peace,
a retired government employee, and a frequenter of the Thuillier
salon; the other by the hero of this Scene, about whom we must content
ourselves at the present moment by fixing the amount of his rent,--
namely, seven hundred francs a year,--and the location he had chosen
in the heart of this well-filled building, exactly three years before
the curtain rises on the present domestic drama.

The clerk, a bachelor of fifty, occupied the larger of the two
apartments on the third floor. He kept a cook, and the rent of the
rooms was a thousand francs a year. Within two years of the time of
her purchase, Mademoiselle Thuillier was receiving seven thousand two
hundred francs in rentals, for a house which the late proprietor had
supplied with outside blinds, renovated within, and adorned with
mirrors, without being able to sell or let it. Moreover, the
Thuilliers themselves, nobly lodged, as we shall see, enjoyed also a
fine garden,--one of the finest in that quarter,--the trees of which
shaded the lonely little street named the rue Neuve-Saint-Catherine.

Standing between the courtyard and the garden, the main building,
which they inhabited, seems to have been the caprice of some enriched
bourgeois in the reign of Louis XIV.; the dwelling, perhaps, of a
president of the parliament, or that of a tranquil savant. Its noble
free-stone blocks, damaged by time, have a certain air of Louis-the-
Fourteenth grandeur; the courses of the facade define the storeys;
panels of red brick recall the appearance of the stables at
Versailles; the windows have masks carved as ornaments in the centre
of their arches and below their sills. The door, of small panels in
the upper half and plain below, through which, when open, the garden
can be seen, is of that honest, unassuming style which was often
employed in former days for the porter's lodges of the royal chateaux.

This building, with five windows to each course, rises two storeys
above the ground-floor, and is particularly noticeable for a roof of
four sides ending in a weather-vane, and broken here and there by
tall, handsome chimneys, and oval windows. Perhaps this structure is
the remains of some great mansion; but after examining all the
existing old maps of Paris, we find nothing which bears out this
conjecture. Moreover, the title-deeds of property under Louis XIV. was
Petitot, the celebrated painter in miniature, who obtained it
originally from President Lecamus. We may therefore believe that
Lecamus lived in this building while he was erecting his more famous
mansion in the rue de Thorigny.

So Art and the legal robe have passed this way in turn. How many
instigations of needs and pleasures have led to the interior
arrangement of the dwelling! To right, as we enter a square hall
forming a closed vestibule, rises a stone staircase with two windows
looking on the garden. Beneath the staircase opens a door to the
cellar. From this vestibule we enter the dining-room, lighted from the
courtyard, and the dining-room communicates at its side with the
kitchen, which forms a continuation of the wing in which are the
warerooms of Metivier and Barbet. Behind the staircase extends, on the
garden side, a fine study or office with two large windows. The first
and second floor form two complete apartments, and the servants'
quarters are shown by the oval windows in the four-sided roof.

A large porcelain stove heats the square vestibule, the two glass
doors of which, placed opposite to each other, light it. This room,
paved in black and white marble, is especially noticeable for a
ceiling of beams formerly painted and gilt, but which had since
received, probably under the Empire, a coat of plain white paint. The
three doors of the study, salon and dining-room, surmounted by oval
panels, are awaiting a restoration that is more than needed. The wood-
work is heavy, but the ornamentation is not without merit. The salon,
panelled throughout, recalls the great century by its tall mantelpiece
of Languedoc marble, its ceiling decorated at the corners, and by the
style of its windows, which still retain their little panes. The
dining-room, communicating with the salon by a double door, is floored
with stone; the wood-work is oak, unpainted, and an atrocious modern
wall-paper has been substituted for the tapestries of the olden time.
The ceiling is of chestnut; and the study, modernized by Thuillier,
adds its quota to these discordances.

The white and gold mouldings of the salon are so effaced that nothing
remains of the gilding but reddish lines, while the white enamelling
is yellow, cracked, and peeling off. Never did the Latin saying "Otium
cum dignitate" have a greater commentary to the mind of a poet than in
this noble building. The iron-work of the staircase baluster is worthy
of the artist and the magistrate; but to find other traces of their
taste to-day in this majestic relic, the eyes of an artistic observer
are needed.

The Thuilliers and their predecessors have frequently degraded this
jewel of the upper bourgeoisie by the habits and inventions of the
lesser bourgeoisie. Look at those walnut chairs covered with horse-
hair, that mahogany table with its oilcloth cover, that sideboard,
also of mahogany, that carpet, bought at a bargain, beneath the table,
those metal lamps, that wretched paper with its red border, those
execrable engravings, and the calico curtains with red fringes, in a
dining-room, where the friends of Petitot once feasted! Do you notice
the effect produced in the salon by those portraits of Monsieur and
Madame and Mademoiselle Thuillier by Pierre Grassou, the artist par
excellence of the modern bourgeoisie. Have you remarked the card-
tables and the consoles of the Empire, the tea-table supported by a
lyre, and that species of sofa, of gnarled mahogany, covered in
painted velvet of a chocolate tone? On the chimney-piece, with the
clock (representing the Bellona of the Empire), are candelabra with
fluted columns. Curtains of woollen damask, with under-curtains of
embroidered muslin held back by stamped brass holders, drape the
windows. On the floor a cheap carpet. The handsome vestibule has
wooden benches, covered with velvet, and the panelled walls with their
fine carvings are mostly hidden by wardrobes, brought there from time
to time from the bedrooms occupied by the Thuilliers. Fear, that
hideous divinity, has caused the family to add sheet-iron doors on the
garden side and on the courtyard side, which are folded back against
the walls in the daytime, and are closed at night.

It is easy to explain the deplorable profanation practised on this
monument of the private life of the bourgeoisie of the seventeenth
century, by the private life of the bourgeoisie of the nineteenth. At
the beginning of the Consulate, let us say, some master-mason having
bought the ancient building, took the idea of turning to account the
ground which lay between it and the street. He probably pulled down
the fine porte-cochere or entrance gate, flanked by little lodges
which guarded the charming "sejour" (to use a word of the olden time),
and proceeded, with the industry of a Parisian proprietor, to impress
his withering mark on the elegance of the old building. What a curious
study might be made of the successive title-deeds of property in
Paris! A private lunatic asylum performs its functions in the rue des
Batailles in the former dwelling of the Chevalier Pierre Bayard du
Terrail, once without fear and without reproach; a street has now been
built by the present bourgeois administration through the site of the
hotel Necker. Old Paris is departing, following its kings who
abandoned it. For one masterpiece of architecture saved from
destruction by a Polish princess (the hotel Lambert, Ile Saint-Louis,
bought and occupied by the Princess Czartoriska) how many little
palaces have fallen, like this dwelling of Petitot, into the hands of
such as Thuillier.

Here follows the causes which made Mademoiselle Thuillier the owner of
the house.



At the fall of the Villele ministry, Monsieur Louis-Jerome Thuillier,
who had then seen twenty-six years' service as a clerk in the ministry
of finance, became sub-director of a department thereof; but scarcely
had he enjoyed the subaltern authority of a position formerly his
lowest hope, when the events of July, 1830, forced him to resign it.
He calculated, shrewdly enough, that his pension would be honorably
and readily given by the new-comers, glad to have another office at
their disposal. He was right; for a pension of seventeen hundred
francs was paid to him immediately.

When the prudent sub-director first talked of resigning, his sister,
who was far more the companion of his life than his wife, trembled for
his future.

"What will become of Thuillier?" was a question which Madame and
Mademoiselle Thuillier put to each other with mutual terror in their
little lodging on a third floor of the rue d'Argenteuil.

"Securing his pension will occupy him for a time," Mademoiselle
Thuillier said one day; "but I am thinking of investing my savings in
a way that will cut out work for him. Yes; it will be something like
administrating the finances to manage a piece of property."

"Oh, sister! you will save his life," cried Madame Thuillier.

"I have always looked for a crisis of this kind in Jerome's life,"
replied the old maid, with a protecting air.

Mademoiselle Thuillier had too often heard her brother remark: "Such a
one is dead; he only survived his retirement two years"; she had too
often heard Colleville, her brother's intimate friend, a government
employee like himself, say, jesting on this climacteric of
bureaucrats, "We shall all come to it, ourselves," not to appreciate
the danger her brother was running. The change from activity to
leisure is, in truth, the critical period for government employees of
all kinds.

Those of them who know not how to substitute, or perhaps cannot
substitute other occupations for the work to which they have been
accustomed, change in a singular manner; some die outright; others
take to fishing, the vacancy of that amusement resembling that of
their late employment under government; others, who are smarter men,
dabble in stocks, lose their savings, and are thankful to obtain a
place in some enterprise that is likely to succeed, after a first
disaster and liquidation, in the hands of an abler management. The
late clerk then rubs his hands, now empty, and says to himself, "I
always did foresee the success of the business." But nearly all these
retired bureaucrats have to fight against their former habits.

"Some," Colleville used to say, "are victims to a sort of 'spleen'
peculiar to the government clerk; they die of a checked circulation; a
red-tapeworm is in their vitals. That little Poiret couldn't see the
well-known white carton without changing color at the beloved sight;
he used to turn from green to yellow."

Mademoiselle Thuillier was considered the moving spirit of her
brother's household; she was not without decision and force of
character, as the following history will show. This superiority over
those who immediately surrounded her enabled her to judge her brother,
although she adored him. After witnessing the failure of the hopes she
had set upon her idol, she had too much real maternity in her feeling
for him to let herself be mistaken as to his social value.

Thuillier and his sister were children of the head porter at the
ministry of finance. Jerome had escaped, thanks to his near-
sightedness, all drafts and conscriptions. The father's ambition was
to make his son a government clerk. At the beginning of this century
the army presented too many posts not to leave various vacancies in
the government offices. A deficiency of minor officials enabled old
Pere Thuillier to hoist his son upon the lowest step of the
bureaucratic hierarchy. The old man died in 1814, leaving Jerome on
the point of becoming sub-director, but with no other fortune than
that prospect. The worthy Thuillier and his wife (who died in 1810)
had retired from active service in 1806, with a pension as their only
means of support; having spent what property they had in giving Jerome
the education required in these days, and in supporting both him and
his sister.

The influence of the Restoration on the bureaucracy is well known.
From the forty and one suppressed departments a crowd of honorable
employees returned to Paris with nothing to do, and clamorous for
places inferior to those they had lately occupied. To these acquired
rights were added those of exiled families ruined by the Revolution.
Pressed between the two floods, Jerome thought himself lucky not to
have been dismissed under some frivolous pretext. He trembled until
the day when, becoming by mere chance sub-director, he saw himself
secure of a retiring pension. This cursory view of matters will serve
to explain Monsieur Thuillier's very limited scope and knowledge. He
had learned the Latin, mathematics, history, and geography that are
taught in schools, but he never got beyond what is called the second
class; his father having preferred to take advantage of a sudden
opportunity to place him at the ministry. So, while the young
Thuillier was making his first records on the Grand-Livre, he ought to
have been studying his rhetoric and philosophy.

While grinding the ministerial machine, he had no leisure to cultivate
letters, still less the arts; but he acquired a routine knowledge of
his business, and when he had an opportunity to rise, under the
Empire, to the sphere of superior employees, he assumed a superficial
air of competence which concealed the son of a porter, though none of
it rubbed into his mind. His ignorance, however, taught him to keep
silence, and silence served him well. He accustomed himself to
practise, under the imperial regime, a passive obedience which pleased
his superiors; and it was to this quality that he owed at a later
period his promotion to the rank of sub-director. His routine habits
then became great experience; his manners and his silence concealed
his lack of education, and his absolute nullity was a recommendation,
for a cipher was needed. The government was afraid of displeasing both
parties in the Chamber by selecting a man from either side; it
therefore got out of the difficulty by resorting to the rule of
seniority. That is how Thuillier became sub-director. Mademoiselle
Thuillier, knowing that her brother abhorred reading, and could
substitute no business for the bustle of a public office, had wisely
resolved to plunge him into the cares of property, into the culture of
a garden, in short, into all the infinitely petty concerns and
neighborhood intrigues which make up the life of the bourgeoisie.

The transplanting of the Thuillier household from the rue d'Argenteuil
to the rue Saint-Dominique d'Enfer, the business of making the
purchase, of finding a suitable porter, and then of obtaining tenants
occupied Thuillier from 1831 to 1832. When the phenomenon of the
change was accomplished, and the sister saw that Jerome had borne it
fairly well, she found him other cares and occupations (about which we
shall hear later), all based upon the character of the man himself, as
to which it will now be useful to give information.

Though the son of a ministerial porter, Thuillier was what is called a
fine man, slender in figure, above middle height, and possessing a
face that was rather agreeable if wearing his spectacles, but
frightful without them; which is frequently the case with near-sighted
persons; for the habit of looking through glasses has covered the
pupils of his eyes with a sort of film.

Between the ages of eighteen and thirty, young Thuillier had much
success among women, in a sphere which began with the lesser bourgeois
and ended in that of the heads of departments. Under the Empire, war
left Parisian society rather denuded of men of energy, who were mostly
on the battlefield; and perhaps, as a great physician has suggested,
this may account for the flabbiness of the generation which occupies
the middle of the nineteenth century.

Thuillier, forced to make himself noticeable by other charms than
those of mind, learned to dance and to waltz in a way to be cited; he
was called "that handsome Thuillier"; he played billiards to
perfection; he knew how to cut out likenesses in black paper, and his
friend Colleville coached him so well that he was able to sing all the
ballads of the day. These various small accomplishments resulted in
that appearance of success which deceives youth and befogs it about
the future. Mademoiselle Thuillier, from 1806 to 1814, believed in her
brother as Mademoiselle d'Orleans believed in Louis-Philippe. She was
proud of Jerome; she expected to see him the director-general of his
department of the ministry, thanks to his successes in certain salons,
where, undoubtedly, he would never have been admitted but for the
circumstances which made society under the Empire a medley.

But the successes of "that handsome Thuillier" were usually of short
duration; women did not care to keep his devotion any more than he
desired to make his devotion eternal. He was really an unwilling Don
Juan; the career of a "beau" wearied him to the point of aging him;
his face, covered with lines like that of an old coquette, looked a
dozen years older than the registers made him. There remained to him
of all his successes in gallantry, a habit of looking at himself in
mirrors, of buttoning his coat to define his waist, and of posing in
various dancing attitudes; all of which prolonged, beyond the period
of enjoying his advantages, the sort of lease that he held on his
cognomen, "that handsome Thuillier."

The truth of 1806 has, however, become a fable, in 1826. He retains a
few vestiges of the former costume of the beaux of the Empire, which
are not unbecoming to the dignity of a former sub-director. He still
wears the white cravat with innumerable folds, wherein his chin is
buried, and the coquettish bow, formerly tied by the hands of beauty,
the two ends of which threaten danger to the passers to right and
left. He follows the fashions of former days, adapting them to his
present needs; he tips his hat on the back of his head, and wears
shoes and thread stockings in summer; his long-tailed coats remind one
of the well-known "surtouts" of the Empire; he has not yet abandoned
his frilled shirts and his white waistcoats; he still plays with his
Empire switch, and holds himself so erect that his back bends in. No
one, seeing Thuillier promenading on the boulevards, would take him
for the son of a man who cooked the breakfasts of the clerks at a
ministry and wore the livery of Louis XVI.; he resembles an imperial
diplomatist or a sub-prefect. Now, not only did Mademoiselle Thuillier
very innocently work upon her brother's weak spot by encouraging in
him an excessive care of his person, which, in her, was simply a
continuation of her worship, but she also provided him with family
joys, by transplanting to their midst a household which had hitherto
been quasi-collateral to them.

It was that of Monsieur Colleville, an intimate friend of Thuillier.
But before we proceed to describe Pylades let us finish with Orestes,
and explain why Thuillier--that handsome Thuillier--was left without a
family of his own--for the family, be it said, is non-existent without
children. Herein appears one of those deep mysteries which lie buried
in the arena of private life, a few shreds of which rise to the
surface at moments when the pain of a concealed situation grows
poignant. This concerns the life of Madame and Mademoiselle Thuillier;
so far, we have seen only the life (and we may call it the public
life) of Jerome Thuillier.

Marie-Jeanne-Brigitte Thuillier, four years older than her brother,
had been utterly sacrificed to him; it was easier to give a career to
one than a "dot" to the other. Misfortune to some natures is a pharos,
which illumines to their eyes the dark low corners of social
existence. Superior to her brother both in mind and energy, Brigitte
had one of those natures which, under the hammer of persecution,
gather themselves together, become compact and powerfully resistant,
not to say inflexible. Jealous of her independence, she kept aloof
from the life of the household; choosing to make herself the sole
arbiter of her own fate. At fourteen years of age, she went to live
alone in a garret, not far from the ministry of finance, which was
then in the rue Vivienne, and also not far from the Bank of France,
then, and now, in the rue de la Vrilliere. There she bravely gave
herself up to a form of industry little known and the perquisite of a
few persons, which she obtained, thanks to the patrons of her father.
It consisted in making bags to hold coin for the Bank, the Treasury,
and the great financial houses. At the end of three years she employed
two workwomen. By investing her savings on the Grand-Livre, she found
herself, in 1814, the mistress of three thousand six hundred francs a
year, earned in fifteen years. As she spent little, and dined with her
father as long as he lived, and, as government securities were very
low during the last convulsions of the Empire, this result, which
seems at first sight exaggerated, explains itself.

On the death of their father, Brigitte and Jerome, the former being
twenty-seven, the latter twenty-three, united their existence. Brother
and sister were bound together by an extreme affection. If Jerome,
then at the height of his success, was pinched for money, his sister,
clothed in serge, and her fingers roughened by the coarse thread with
which she sewed her bags, would give him a few louis. In Brigitte's
eyes Jerome was the handsomest and most charming man in the whole
French Empire. To keep house for this cherished brother, to be
initiated into the secrets of Lindor and Don Juan, to be his
handmaiden, his spaniel, was Brigitte's dream. She immolated herself
lovingly to an idol whose selfishness, always great, was enormously
increased by her self-sacrifice. She sold her business to her fore-
woman for fifteen thousand francs and came to live with Thuillier in
the rue d'Argenteuil, where she made herself the mother, protectress,
and servant of this spoiled child of women. Brigitte, with the natural
caution of a girl who owed everything to her own discretion and her
own labor, concealed the amount of her savings from Jerome,--fearing,
no doubt, the extravagance of a man of gallantry. She merely paid a
quota of six hundred francs a year to the expenses of the household,
and this, with her brother's eighteen hundred, enabled her to make
both ends meet at the end of the year.

From the first days of their coming together, Thuillier listened to
his sister as to an oracle; he consulted her in his trifling affairs,
kept none of his secrets from her, and thus made her taste the fruit
of despotism which was, in truth, the one little sin of her nature.
But the sister had sacrificed everything to the brother; she had
staked her all upon his heart; she lived by him only. Brigitte's
ascendancy over Jerome was singularly proved by the marriage which she
procured for him about the year 1814.

Seeing the tendency to enforced reduction which the new-comers to
power under the Restoration were beginning to bring about in the
government offices, and particularly since the return of the old
society which sought to ride over the bourgeoisie, Brigitte
understood, far better than her brother could explain it to her, the
social crisis which presently extinguished their common hopes. No more
successes for that handsome Thuillier in the salons of the nobles who
now succeeded the plebeians of the Empire!

Thuillier was not enough of a person to take up a politic opinion and
choose a party; he felt, as his sister did for him, the necessity of
profiting by the remains of his youth to make a settlement. In such a
situation, a sister as jealous of her power as Brigitte naturally
would, and ought, to marry her brother, to suit herself as well as to
suit him; for she alone could make him really happy, Madame Thuillier
being only an indispensable accessory to the obtaining of two or three
children. If Brigitte did not have an intellect quite the equal of her
will, at least she had the instinct of her despotism; without, it is
true, education, she marched straight before her, with the headstrong
determination of a nature accustomed to succeed. She had the genius of
housekeeping, a faculty for economy, a thorough understanding of how
to live, and a love for work. She saw plainly that she could never
succeed in marrying Jerome into a sphere above their own, where
parents might inquire into their domestic life and feel uneasy at
finding a mistress already reigning in the home. She therefore sought
in a lower grade for persons to dazzle, and found, almost beside her,
a suitable match.

The oldest usher at the Bank, a man named Lemprun, had an only
daughter, called Celeste. Mademoiselle Celeste Lemprun would inherit
the fortune of her mother, the only daughter of a rich farmer. This
fortune consisted of some acres of land in the environs of Paris,
which the old father still worked; besides this, she would have the
property of Lemprun himself, a man who had left the firms of Thelusson
and of Keller to enter the service of the Bank of France. Lemprun, now
the head of that service, enjoyed the respect and consideration of the
governors and auditors.

The Bank council, on hearing of the probable marriage of Celeste to an
honorable employee at the ministry of finance, promised a wedding
present of six thousand francs. This gift, added to twelve thousand
given by Pere Lemprun, and twelve thousand more from the maternal
grandfather, Sieur Galard, market-gardener at Auteuil, brought up the
dowry to thirty thousand francs. Old Galard and Monsieur and Madame
Lemprun were delighted with the marriage. Lemprun himself knew
Mademoiselle Thuillier, and considered her one of the worthiest and
most conscientious women in Paris. Brigitte then, for the first time,
allowed her investments on the Grand-Livre to shine forth, assuring
Lemprun that she should never marry; consequently, neither he nor his
wife, persons devoted to the main chance, would ever allow themselves
to find fault with Brigitte. Above all, they were greatly struck by
the splendid prospects of the handsome Thuillier, and the marriage
took place, as the conventional saying is, to the general

The governor of the Bank and the secretary were the bride's witnesses;
Monsieur de la Billardiere, director of Thuillier's department, and
Monsieur Rabourdin, head of the office, being those of the groom. Six
days after the marriage old Lemprun was the victim of a daring robbery
which made a great noise in the newspapers of the day, though it was
quickly forgotten during the events of 1815. The guilty parties having
escaped detection, Lemprun wished to make up the loss; but the Bank
agreed to carry the deficit to its profit and loss account;
nevertheless, the poor old man actually died of the grief this affair
had caused him. He regarded it as an attack upon his aged honor.

Madame Lemprun then resigned all her property to her daughter, Madame
Thuillier, and went to live with her father at Auteuil until he died
from an accident in 1817. Alarmed at the prospect of having to manage
or lease the market-garden and the farm of her father, Madame Lemprun
entreated Brigitte, whose honesty and capacity astonished her, to wind
up old Galard's affairs, and to settle the property in such a way that
her daughter should take possession of everything, securing to her
mother fifteen hundred francs a year and the house at Auteuil. The
landed property of the old farmer was sold in lots, and brought in
thirty thousand francs. Lemprun's estate had given as much more, so
that Madame Thuillier's fortune, including her "dot," amounted in 1818
to ninety thousand francs. Joining the revenue of this property to
that of the brother and sister, the Thuillier household had an income,
in 1818, amounting to eleven thousand francs, managed by Brigitte
alone on her sole responsibility. It is necessary to begin by stating
this financial position, not only to prevent objections but to rid the
drama of difficulties.

Brigitte began, from the first, by allowing her brother five hundred
francs a month, and by sailing the household boat at the rate of five
thousand francs a year. She granted to her sister-in-law fifty francs
a month, explaining to her carefully that she herself was satisfied
with forty. To strengthen her despotism by the power of money,
Brigitte laid by the surplus of her own funds. She made, so it was
said in business offices, usurious loans by means of her brother, who
appeared as a money-lender. If, between the years 1813 and 1830,
Brigitte had capitalized sixty thousand francs, that sum can be
explained by the rise in the Funds, and there is no need to have
recourse to accusations more or less well founded, which have nothing
to do with our present history.

From the first days of the marriage, Brigitte subdued the unfortunate
Madame Thuillier with a touch of the spur and a jerk of the bit, both
of which she made her feel severely. A further display of tyranny was
useless; the victim resigned herself at once. Celeste, thoroughly
understood by Brigitte, a girl without mind or education, accustomed
to a sedentary life and a tranquil atmosphere, was extremely gentle by
nature; she was pious in the fullest acceptation of the word; she
would willingly have expiated by the hardest punishments the
involuntary wrong of giving pain to her neighbor. She was utterly
ignorant of life; accustomed to be waited on by her mother, who did
the whole service of the house, for Celeste was unable to make much
exertion, owing to a lymphatic constitution which the least toil
wearied. She was truly a daughter of the people of Paris, where
children, seldom handsome, and of no vigor, the product of poverty and
toil, of homes without fresh air, without freedom of action, without
any of the conveniences of life, meet us at every turn.

At the time of the marriage, Celeste was seen to be a little woman,
fair and faded almost to sickliness, fat, slow, and silly in the
countenance. Her forehead, much too large and too prominent, suggested
water on the brain, and beneath that waxen cupola her face, noticeably
too small and ending in a point like the nose of a mouse, made some
people fear she would become, sooner or later, imbecile. Her eyes,
which were light blue, and her lips, always fixed in a smile, did not
contradict that idea. On the solemn occasion of her marriage she had
the manner, air, and attitude of a person condemned to death, whose
only desire is that it might all be over speedily.

"She is rather round," said Colleville to Thuillier.

Brigitte was just the knife to cut into such a nature, to which her
own formed the strongest contrast. Mademoiselle Thuillier was
remarkable for her regular and correct beauty, but a beauty injured by
toil which, from her very childhood, had bent her down to painful,
thankless tasks, and by the secret privations she imposed upon herself
in order to amass her little property. Her complexion, early
discolored, had something the tint of steel. Her brown eyes were
framed in brown; on the upper lip was a brown floss like a sort of
smoke. Her lips were thin, and her imperious forehead was surmounted
by hair once black, now turning to chinchilla. She held herself as
straight as the fairest beauty; but all things else about her showed
the hardiness of her life, the deadening of her natural fire, the cost
of what she was!

To Brigitte, Celeste was simply a fortune to lay hold of, a future
mother to rule, one more subject in her empire. She soon reproached
her for being WEAK, a constant word in her vocabulary, and the jealous
old maid, who would strongly have resented any signs of activity in
her sister-in-law, now took a savage pleasure in prodding the languid
inertness of the feeble creature. Celeste, ashamed to see her sister-
in-law displaying such energy in household work, endeavored to help
her, and fell ill in consequence. Instantly, Brigitte was devoted to
her, nursed her like a beloved sister, and would say, in presence of
Thuillier: "You haven't any strength, my child; you must never do
anything again." She showed up Celeste's incapacity by that display of
sympathy with which strength, seeming to pity weakness, finds means to
boast of its own powers.

But, as all despotic natures liking to exercise their strength are
full of tenderness for physical sufferings, Brigitte took such real
care of her sister-in-law as to satisfy Celeste's mother when she came
to see her daughter. After Madame Thuillier recovered, however, she
called her, in Celeste's hearing, "a helpless creature, good for
nothing!" which sent the poor thing crying to her room. When Thuillier
found her there, drying her eyes, he excused her sister, saying:--

"She is an excellent woman, but rather hasty; she loves you in her own
way; she behaves just so with me."

Celeste, remembering the maternal care of her sister-in-law during her
illness, forgave the wound. Brigitte always treated her brother as the
king of the family; she exalted him to Celeste, and made him out an
autocrat, a Ladislas, an infallible pope. Madame Thuillier having lost
her father and grandfather, and being well-nigh deserted by her
mother, who came to see her on Thursdays only (she herself spending
Sundays at Auteuil in summer), had no one left to love except her
husband, and she did love him,--in the first place, because he was her
husband, and secondly, because he still remained to her "that handsome
Thuillier." Besides, he sometimes treated her like a wife, and all
these reasons together made her adore him. He seemed to her all the
more perfect because he often took up her defence and scolded his
sister, not from any real interest in his wife, but for pure
selfishness, and in order to have peace in the household during the
very few moments that he stayed there.

In fact, that handsome Thuillier was never at home except at dinner,
after which meal he went out, returning very late at night. He went to
balls and other social festivities by himself, precisely as if he were
still a bachelor. Thus the two women were always alone together.
Celeste insensibly fell into a passive attitude, and became what
Brigitte wanted her,--a helot. The Queen Elizabeth of the household
then passed from despotism to a sort of pity for the poor victim who
was always sacrificed. She ended by softening her haughty ways, her
cutting speech, her contemptuous tones, as soon as she was certain
that her sister-in-law was completely under the yoke. When she saw the
wounds it made on the neck of her victim, she took care of her as a
thing of her own, and Celeste entered upon happier days. Comparing the
end with the beginning, she even felt a sort of love for her torturer.
To gain some power of self-defence, to become something less a cipher
in the household, supported, unknown to herself, by her own means, the
poor helot had but a single chance, and that chance never came to her.

Celeste had no child. This barrenness, which, from month to month,
brought floods of tears from her eyes, was long the cause of
Brigitte's scorn; she reproached the poor woman bitterly for being fit
for nothing, not even to bear children. The old maid, who had longed
to love her brother's child as if it were her own, was unable, for
years, to reconcile herself to this irremediable sterility.

At the time when our history begins, namely, in 1840, Celeste, then
forty-six years old, had ceased to weep; she now had the certainty of
never being a mother. And here is a strange thing. After twenty-five
years of this life, in which victory had ended by first dulling and
then breaking its own knife, Brigitte loved Celeste as much as Celeste
loved Brigitte. Time, ease, and the perpetual rubbing of domestic
life, had worn off the angles and smoothed the asperities; Celeste's
resignation and lamb-like gentleness had brought, at last, a serene
and peaceful autumn. The two women were still further united by the
one sentiment that lay within them, namely, their adoration for the
lucky and selfish Thuillier.

Moreover, these two women, both childless, had each, like all women
who have vainly desired children, fallen in love with a child. This
fictitious motherhood, equal in strength to a real motherhood, needs
an explanation which will carry us to the very heart of our drama, and
will show the reason of the new occupation which Mademoiselle
Thuillier provided for her brother.



Thuillier had entered the ministry of finance as supernumerary at the
same time as Colleville, who has been mentioned already as his
intimate friend. In opposition to the well-regulated, gloomy household
of Thuillier, social nature had provided that of Colleville; and if it
is impossible not to remark that this fortuitous contrast was scarcely
moral, we must add that, before deciding that point, it would be well
to wait for the end of this drama, unfortunately too true, for which
the present historian is not responsible.

Colleville was the only son of a talented musician, formerly first
violin at the Opera under Francoeur and Rebel, who related, at least
six times a month during his lifetime, anecdotes concerning the
representations of the "Village Seer"; and mimicked Jean-Jacques
Rousseau, taking him off to perfection. Colleville and Thuillier were
inseparable friends; they had no secrets from each other, and their
friendship, begun at fifteen years of age, had never known a cloud up
to the year 1839. The former was one of those employees who are
called, in the government offices, pluralists. These clerks are
remarkable for their industry. Colleville, a good musician, owed to
the name and influence of his father a situation as first clarionet at
the Opera-Comique, and so long as he was a bachelor, Colleville, who
was rather richer than Thuillier, shared his means with his friend.
But, unlike Thuillier, Colleville married for love a Mademoiselle
Flavie, the natural daughter of a celebrated danseuse at the Opera;
her reputed father being a certain du Bourguier, one of the richest
contractors of the day. In style and origin, Flavie was apparently
destined for a melancholy career, when Colleville, often sent to her
mother's apartments, fell in love with her and married her. Prince
Galathionne, who at that time was "protecting" the danseuse, then
approaching the end of her brilliant career, gave Flavie a "dot" of
twenty thousand francs, to which her mother added a magnificent
trousseau. Other friends and opera-comrades sent jewels and
silver-ware, so that the Colleville household was far richer in
superfluities than in capital. Flavie, brought up in opulence, began
her married life in a charming apartment, furnished by her mother's
upholsterer, where the young wife, who was full of taste for art and
for artists, and possessed a certain elegance, ruled, a queen.

Madame Colleville was pretty and piquant, clever, gay, and graceful;
to express her in one sentence,--a charming creature. Her mother, the
danseuse, now forty-three years old, retired from the stage and went
to live in the country,--thus depriving her daughter of the resources
derived from her wasteful extravagance. Madame Colleville kept a very
agreeable but extremely free and easy household. From 1816 to 1826 she
had five children. Colleville, a musician in the evening, kept the
books of a merchant from seven to nine in the morning, and by ten
o'clock he was at his ministry. Thus, by blowing into a bit of wood by
night, and writing double-entry accounts in the early morning, he
managed to eke out his earnings to seven or eight thousand francs a

Madame Colleville played the part of a "comme il faut" woman; she
received on Wednesdays, gave a concert once a month and a dinner every
fortnight. She never saw Colleville except at dinner and at night,
when he returned about twelve o'clock, at which hour she was
frequently not at home herself. She went to the theatres, where boxes
were sometimes given to her; and she would send word to Colleville to
come and fetch her from such or such a house, where she was supping
and dancing. At her own house, guests found excellent cheer, and her
society, though rather mixed, was very amusing; she received and
welcomed actresses, artists, men of letters, and a few rich men.
Madame Colleville's elegance was on a par with that of Tullia, the
leading prima-donna, with whom she was intimate; but though the
Collevilles encroached on their capital and were often in difficulty
by the end of the month, Flavie was never in debt.

Colleville was very happy; he still loved his wife, and he made
himself her best friend. Always received by her with affectionate
smiles and sympathetic pleasure, he yielded readily to the
irresistible grace of her manners. The vehement activity with which he
pursued his three avocations was a part of his natural character and
temperament. He was a fine stout man, ruddy, jovial, extravagant, and
full of ideas. In ten years there was never a quarrel in his
household. Among business men he was looked upon, in common with all
artists, as a scatter-brained fellow; and superficial persons thought
that the constant hurry of this hard worker was only the restless
coming and going of a busybody.

Colleville had the sense to seem stupid; he boasted of his family
happiness, and gave himself unheard-of trouble in making anagrams, in
order at times to seem absorbed in that passion. The government clerks
of his division at the ministry, the office directors, and even the
heads of divisions came to his concerts; now and then he quietly
bestowed upon them opera tickets, when he needed some extra indulgence
on account of his frequent absence. Rehearsals took half the time that
he ought to have been at his desk; but the musical knowledge his
father had bequeathed to him was sufficiently genuine and well-
grounded to excuse him from all but final rehearsals. Thanks to Madame
Colleville's intimacies, both the theatre and the ministry lent
themselves kindly to the needs of this industrious pluralist, who,
moreover, was bringing up, with great care, a youth, warmly
recommended to him by his wife, a future great musician, who sometimes
took his place in the orchestra with a promise of eventually
succeeding him. In fact, about the year 1827 this young man became the
first clarionet when Colleville resigned his position.

The usual comment on Flavie was, "That little slip of a coquette,
Madame Colleville." The eldest of the Colleville children, born in
1816, was the living image of Colleville himself. In 1818, Madame
Colleville held the cavalry in high estimation, above even art; and
she distinguished more particularly a sub-lieutenant in the dragoons
of Saint-Chamans, the young and rich Charles de Gondreville, who
afterwards died in the Spanish campaign. By that time Flavie had had a
second son, whom she henceforth dedicated to a military career. In
1820 she considered banking the nursing mother of trade, the supporter
of Nations, and she made the great Keller, that famous banker and
orator, her idol. She then had another son, whom she named Francois,
resolving to make him a merchant,--feeling sure that Keller's
influence would never fail him. About the close of the year 1820,
Thuillier, the intimate friend of Monsieur and Madame Colleville, felt
the need of pouring his sorrows into the bosom of this excellent
woman, and to her he related his conjugal miseries. For six years he
had longed to have children, but God did not bless him; although that
poor Madame Thuillier had made novenas, and had even gone, uselessly,
to Notra-Dame de Liesse! He depicted Celeste in various lights, which
brought the words "Poor Thuillier!" from Flavie's lips. She herself
was rather sad, having at the moment no dominant opinion. She poured
her own griefs into Thuillier's bosom. The great Keller, that hero of
the Left, was, in reality, extremely petty; she had learned to know
the other side of public fame, the follies of banking, the emptiness
of eloquence! The orator only spoke for show; to her he had behaved
extremely ill. Thuillier was indignant. "None but stupid fellows know
how to love," he said; "take me!" That handsome Thuillier was
henceforth supposed to be paying court to Madame Colleville, and was
rated as one of her "attentives,"--a word in vogue during the Empire.

"Ha! you are after my wife," said Colleville, laughing. "Take care;
she'll leave you in the lurch, like all the rest."

A rather clever speech, by which Colleville saved his marital dignity.
From 1820 to 1821, Thuillier, in virtue of his title as friend of the
family, helped Colleville, who had formerly helped him; so much so,
that in eighteen months he had lent nearly ten thousand francs to the
Colleville establishment, with no intention of ever claiming them. In
the spring of 1821, Madame Colleville gave birth to a charming little
girl, to whom Monsieur and Madame Thuillier were godfather and
godmother. The child was baptized Celeste-Louise-Caroline-Brigitte;
Mademoiselle Thuillier wishing that her name should be given among
others to the little angel. The name of Caroline was a graceful
attention paid to Colleville. Old mother Lemprun assumed the care of
putting the baby to nurse under her own eyes at Auteuil, where Celeste
and her sister-in-law Brigitte, paid it regularly a semi-weekly visit.

As soon as Madame Colleville recovered she said to Thuillier, frankly,
in a very serious tone:--

"My dear friend, if we are all to remain good friends, you must be our
friend only. Colleville is attached to you; well, that's enough for
you in this household."

"Explain to me," said the handsome Thuillier to Tullia after this
remark, "why women are never attached to me. I am not the Apollo
Belvidere, but for all that I'm not a Vulcan; I am passably good-
looking, I have sense, I am faithful--"

"Do you want me to tell you the truth?" replied Tullia.

"Yes," said Thuillier.

"Well, though we can, sometimes, love a stupid fellow, we never love a
silly one."

Those words killed Thuillier; he never got over them; henceforth he
was a prey to melancholy and accused all women of caprice.

The secretary-general of the ministry, des Lupeaulx, whose influence
Madame Colleville thought greater than it was, and of whom she said,
later, "That was one of my mistakes," became for a time the great man
of the Colleville salon; but as Flavie found he had no power to
promote Colleville into the upper division, she had the good sense to
resent des Lupeaulx's attentions to Madame Rabourdin (whom she called
a minx), to whose house she had never been invited, and who had twice
had the impertinence not to come to the Colleville concerts.

Madame Colleville was deeply affected by the death of young
Gondreville; she felt, she said, the finger of God. In 1824 she turned
over a new leaf, talked of economy, stopped her receptions, busied
herself with her children, determined to become a good mother of a
family; no favorite friend was seen at her house. She went to church,
reformed her dress, wore gray, and talked Catholicism, mysticism, and
so forth. All this produced, in 1825, another little son, whom she
named Theodore. Soon after, in 1826, Colleville was appointed sub-
director of the Clergeot division, and later, in 1828, collector of
taxes in a Paris arrondissement. He also received the cross of the
Legion of honor, to enable him to put his daughter at the royal school
of Saint-Denis. The half-scholarship obtained by Keller for the eldest
boy, Charles, was transferred to the second in 1830, when Charles
entered the school of Saint-Louis on a full scholarship. The third
son, taken under the protection of Madame la Dauphine, was provided
with a three-quarter scholarship in the Henri IV. school.

In 1830 Colleville, who had the good fortune not to lose a child, was
obliged, owing to his well-known attachment to the fallen royal
family, to send in his resignation; but he was clever enough to make a
bargain for it,--obtaining in exchange a pension of two thousand four
hundred francs, based on his period of service, and ten thousand
francs indemnity paid by his successor; he also received the rank of
officer of the Legion of honor. Nevertheless, he found himself in
rather a cramped condition when Mademoiselle Thuillier, in 1832,
advised him to come and live near them; pointing out to him the
possibility of obtaining some position in the mayor's office, which,
in fact, he did obtain a few weeks later, at a salary of three
thousand francs. Thus Thuillier and Colleville were destined to end
their days together. In 1833 Madame Colleville, then thirty-five years
old, settled herself in the rue d'Enfer, at the corner of the rue des
Deux-Eglises with Celeste and little Theodore, the other boys being at
their several schools. Colleville was equidistant between the mayor's
office and the rue Saint-Dominique d'Enfer. Thus the household, after
a brilliant, gay, headlong, reformed, and calmed existence, subsided
finally into bourgeois obscurity with five thousand four hundred
francs a year for its sole dependence.

Celeste was by this time twelve years of age, and she promised to be
pretty. She needed masters, and her education ought to cost not less
than two thousand francs a year. The mother felt the necessity of
keeping her under the eye of her godfather and godmother. She
therefore very willingly adopted the proposal of Mademoiselle
Thuillier, who, without committing herself to any engagement, allowed
Madame Colleville to understand that the fortunes of her brother, his
wife, and herself would go, ultimately, to the little Celeste. The
child had been left at Auteuil until she was seven years of age,
adored by the good old Madame Lemprun, who died in 1829, leaving
twenty thousand francs, and a house which was sold for the enormous
sum of twenty-eight thousand. The lively little girl had seen very
little of her mother, but very much of Mademoiselle and Madame
Thuillier when she first returned to the paternal mansion in 1829; but
in 1833 she fell under the dominion of Flavie, who was then, as we
have said, endeavoring to do her duty, which, like other women
instigated by remorse, she exaggerated. Without being an unkind
mother, Flavie was very stern with her daughter. She remembered her
own bringing-up, and swore within herself to make Celeste a virtuous
woman. She took her to mass, and had her prepared for her first
communion by a rector who has since become a bishop. Celeste was all
the more readily pious, because her godmother, Madame Thuillier, was a
saint, and the child adored her; she felt that the poor neglected
woman loved her better than her own mother.

From 1833 to 1840 she received a brilliant education according to the
ideas of the bourgeoisie. The best music-masters made her a fair
musician; she could paint a water-color properly; she danced extremely
well; and she had studied the French language, history, geography,
English, Italian,--in short, all that constitutes the education of a
well-brought-up young lady. Of medium height, rather plump,
unfortunately near-sighted, she was neither plain nor pretty; not
without delicacy or even brilliancy of complexion, it is true, but
totally devoid of all distinction of manner. She had a great fund of
reserved sensibility, and her godfather and godmother, Mademoiselle
Thuillier and Colleville, were unanimous on one point,--the great
resource of mothers--namely, that Celeste was capable of attachment.
One of her beauties was a magnificent head of very fine blond hair;
but her hands and feet showed her bourgeois origin.

Celeste endeared herself by precious qualities; she was kind, simple,
without gall of any kind; she loved her father and mother, and would
willingly sacrifice herself for their sake. Brought up to the deepest
admiration for her godfather by Brigitte (who taught her to say "Aunt
Brigitte"), and by Madame Thuillier and her own mother, Celeste
imbibed the highest idea of the ex-beau of the Empire. The house in
the rue Saint-Dominique d'Enfer produced upon her very much the effect
of the Chateau des Tuileries on a courtier of the new dynasty.

Thuillier had not escaped the action of the administrative rolling-pin
which thins the mind as it spreads it out. Exhausted by irksome toil,
as much as by his life of gallantry, the ex-sub-director had well-nigh
lost all his faculties by the time he came to live in the rue Saint-
Dominique. But his weary face, on which there still reigned an air of
imperial haughtiness, mingled with a certain contentment, the conceit
of an upper official, made a deep impression upon Celeste. She alone
adored that haggard face. The girl, moreover, felt herself to be the
happiness of the Thuillier household.



The Collevilles and their children became, naturally, the nucleus of
the circle which Mademoiselle Thuillier had the ambition to group
around her brother. A former clerk in the Billardiere division of the
ministry, named Phellion, had lived for the last thirty years in their
present quarter. He was promptly greeted by Colleville and Thuillier
at the first review. Phellion proved to be one of the most respected
men in the arrondissement. He had one daughter, now married to a
school-teacher in the rue Saint-Hyacinthe, a Monsieur Barniol.
Phellion's eldest son was a professor of mathematics in a royal
college; he gave lectures and private lessons, being devoted, so his
father was wont to say, to pure mathematics. A second son was in the
government School of Engineering. Phellion had a pension of nine
hundred francs, and he possessed a little property of nine thousand
and a few odd hundred francs; the fruit of his economy and that of his
wife during thirty years of toil and privation. He was, moreover, the
owner of a little house and garden where he lived in the "impasse" des
Feuillantines,--in thirty years he had never used the old-fashioned
word "cul-de-sac"!

Dutocq, the clerk of the justice of peace, was also a former employee
at the ministry of finance. Sacrificed, in former days, to one of
those necessities which are always met with in representative
government, he had accepted the position of scapegoat, receiving,
privately, a round sum of money and the opportunity to buy his present
post of clerk in the arrondissement. This man, not very honorable, and
known to be a spy in the government offices, was never welcomed as he
thought he ought to be by the Thuilliers; but the coldness of his
landlords only made him the more persistent in going to see them. He
was a bachelor and had various vices; he therefore concealed his life
carefully, knowing well how to maintain his position by flattering his
superiors. The justice of peace was much attached to Dutocq. This man,
base as he was, managed, in the end, to make himself tolerated by the
Thuilliers, chiefly by coarse and cringing adulation. He knew the
facts of Thuillier's whole life, his relations with Colleville, and,
above all, with Madame Colleville. One and all they feared his tongue,
and the Thuilliers, without admitting him to any intimacy, endured his

The family which became the flower of the Thuillier salon was that of
a former ministerial clerk, once an object of pity in the government
offices, who, driven by poverty, left the public service, in 1827, to
fling himself into a business enterprise, having, as he thought, an
idea. Minard (that was his name) foresaw a fortune in one of those
wicked conceptions which reflect such discredit on French commerce,
but which, in the year 1827, had not yet been exposed and blasted by
publicity. Minard bought tea and mixed it with tea-leaves already
used; also he adulterated the elements of chocolate in a manner which
enabled him to sell the chocolate itself very cheaply. This trade in
colonial products, begun in the quartier Saint-Marcel, made a merchant
of Minard. He started a factory, and through these early connections
he was able to reach the sources of raw material. He then did
honorably, and on a large scale, a business begun in the first
instance dishonorably. He became a distiller, worked upon untold
quantities of products, and, by the year 1835, was considered the
richest merchant in the region of the Place Maubert. By that time he
had bought a handsome house in the rue des Macons-Sorbonne; he had
been assistant mayor, and in 1839 became mayor of his arrondissement
and judge in the Court of Commerce. He kept a carriage, had a country-
place near Lagny; his wife wore diamonds at the court balls, and he
prided himself on the rosette of an officer of the Legion of honor in
his buttonhole.

Minard and his wife were exceedingly benevolent. Perhaps he wished to
return in retail to the poor the sums he had mulcted from the public
by the wholesale. Phellion, Colleville, and Thuillier met their old
comrade, Minard, at election, and an intimacy followed; all the closer
with the Thuilliers and Collevilles because Madame Minard seemed
enchanted to make an acquaintance for her daughter in Celeste
Colleville. It was at a grand ball given by the Minards that Celeste
made her first appearance in society (being at that time sixteen and a
half years old), dressed as her Christian named demanded, which seemed
to be prophetic of her coming life. Delighted to be friendly with
Mademoiselle Minard, her elder by four years, she persuaded her father
and godfather to cultivate the Minard establishment, with its gilded
salons and great opulence, where many political celebrities of the
"juste milieu" were wont to congregate, such as Monsieur Popinot, who
became, after a time, minister of commerce; Cochin, since made Baron
Cochin, a former employee at the ministry of finance, who, having a
large interest in the drug business, was now the oracle of the Lombard
and Bourdonnais quarters, conjointly with Monsieur Anselme Popinot.
Minard's eldest son, a lawyer, aiming to succeed those barristers who
were turned down from the Palais for political reasons in 1830, was
the genius of the household, and his mother, even more than his
father, aspired to marry him well. Zelie Minard, formerly a flower-
maker, felt an ardent passion for the upper social spheres, and
desired to enter them through the marriages of her son and daughter;
whereas Minard, wiser than she, and imbued with the vigor of the
middle classes, which the revolution of July had infiltrated into the
fibres of government, thought only of wealth and fortune.

He frequented the Thuillier salon to gain information as to Celeste's
probable inheritance. He knew, like Dutocq and Phellion, the reports
occasioned by Thuillier's former intimacy with Flavie, and he saw at a
glance the idolatry of the Thuilliers for their godchild. Dutocq, to
gain admittance to Minard's house, fawned upon him grossly. When
Minard, the Rothschild of the arrondissement, appeared at the
Thuilliers', he compared him cleverly to Napoleon, finding him stout,
fat, and blooming, having left him at the ministry thin, pale, and

"You looked, in the division Billardiere," he said, "like Napoleon
before the 18th Brumaire, and I behold you now the Napoleon of the

Notwithstanding which flattery, Minard received Dutocq very coldly and
did not invite him to his house; consequently, he made a mortal enemy
of the former clerk.

Monsieur and Madame Phellion, worthy as they were, could not keep
themselves from making calculations and cherishing hopes; they thought
that Celeste would be the very wife for their son the professor;
therefore, to have, as it were, a watcher in the Thuillier salon, they
introduced their son-in-law, Monsieur Barniol, a man much respected in
the faubourg Saint-Jacques, and also an old employee at the mayor's
office, an intimate friend of theirs, named Laudigeois. Thus the
Phellions formed a phalanx of seven persons; the Collevilles were not
less numerous; so that on Sundays it often appeared that thirty
persons were assembled in the Thuillier salon. Thuillier renewed
acquaintance with the Saillards, Baudoyers, and Falleixs,--all persons
of respectability in the quarter of the Palais-Royal, whom they often
invited to dinner.

Madame Colleville was, as a woman, the most distinguished member of
this society, just as Minard junior and Professor Phellion were
superior among the men. All the others, without ideas or education,
and issuing from the lower ranks, presented the types and the
absurdities of the lesser bourgeoisie. Though all success, especially
if won from distant sources, seems to presuppose some genuine merit,
Minard was really an inflated balloon. Expressing himself in empty
phrases, mistaking sycophancy for politeness, and wordiness for wit,
he uttered his commonplaces with a brisk assurance that passed for
eloquence. Certain words which said nothing but answered all things,--
progress, steam, bitumen, National guard, order, democratic element,
spirit of association, legality, movement, resistance,--seemed, as
each political phase developed, to have been actually made for Minard,
whose talk was a paraphrase on the ideas of his newspaper. Julien
Minard, the young lawyer, suffered from his father as much as his
father suffered from his wife. Zelie had grown pretentious with
wealth, without, at the same time, learning to speak French. She was
now very fat, and gave the idea, in her rich surroundings, of a cook
married to her master.

Phellion, that type and model of the petty bourgeois, exhibited as
many virtues as he did absurdities. Accustomed to subordination during
his bureaucratic life, he respected all social superiority. He was
therefore silent before Minard. During the critical period of
retirement from office, he had held his own admirably, for the
following reason. Never until now had that worthy and excellent man
been able to indulge his own tastes. He loved the city of Paris; he
was interested in its embellishment, in the laying out of its streets;
he was capable of standing for hours to watch the demolition of
houses. He might now have been observed, stolidly planted on his legs,
his nose in the air, watching for the fall of a stone which some mason
was loosening at the top of a wall, and never moving till the stone
fell; when it had fallen he went away as happy as an academician at
the fall of a romantic drama. Veritable supernumeraries of the social
comedy, Phellion, Laudigeois, and their kind, fulfilled the functions
of the antique chorus. They wept when weeping was in order, laughed
when they should laugh, and sang in parts the public joys and sorrows;
they triumphed in their corner with the triumphs of Algiers, of
Constantine, of Lisbon, of Sainte-Jean d'Ulloa; they deplored the
death of Napoleon and the fatal catastrophes of the Saint-Merri and
the rue Transnonnain, grieving over celebrated men who were utterly
unknown to them. Phellion alone presents a double side: he divides
himself conscientiously between the reasons of the opposition and
those of the government. When fighting went on in the streets,
Phellion had the courage to declare himself before his neighbors; he
went to the Place Saint-Michel, the place where his battalion
assembled; he felt for the government and did his duty. Before and
during the riot, he supported the dynasty, the product of July; but,
as soon as the political trials began, he stood by the accused. This
innocent "weather-cockism" prevails in his political opinions; he
produces, in reply to all arguments, the "colossus of the North."
England is, to his thinking, as to that of the old "Constitutionnel,"
a crone with two faces,--Machiavellian Albion, and the model nation:
Machiavellian, when the interests of France and of Napoleon are
concerned; the model nation when the faults of the government are in
question. He admits, with his chosen paper, the democratic element,
but refuses in conversation all compact with the republican spirit.
The republican spirit to him means 1793, rioting, the Terror, and
agrarian law. The democratic element is the development of the lesser
bourgeoisie, the reign of Phellions.

The worthy old man is always dignified; dignity serves to explain his
life. He has brought up his children with dignity; he has kept himself
a father in their eyes; he insists on being honored in his home, just
as he himself honors power and his superiors. He has never made debts.
As a juryman his conscience obliges him to sweat blood and water in
the effort to follow the debates of a trial; he never laughs, not even
if the judge, and audience, and all the officials laugh. Eminently
useful, he gives his services, his time, everything--except his money.
Felix Phellion, his son, the professor, is his idol; he thinks him
capable of attaining to the Academy of Sciences. Thuillier, between
the audacious nullity of Minard, and the solid silliness of Phellion,
was a neutral substance, but connected with both through his dismal
experience. He managed to conceal the emptiness of his brain by
commonplace talk, just as he covered the yellow skin of his bald pate
with thready locks of his gray hair, brought from the back of his head
with infinite art by the comb of his hairdresser.

"In any other career," he was wont to say, speaking of the government
employ, "I should have made a very different fortune."

He had seen the RIGHT, which is possible in theory and impossible in
practice,--results proving contrary to premises,--and he related the
intrigues and the injustices of the Rabourdin affair.

"After that, one can believe all, and believe nothing," he would say.
"Ah! it is a queer thing, government! I'm very glad not to have a son,
and never to see him in the career of a place-hunter."

Colleville, ever gay, rotund, and good-humored, a sayer of
"quodlibets," a maker of anagrams, always busy, represented the
capable and bantering bourgeois, with faculty without success,
obstinate toil without result; he was also the embodiment of jovial
resignation, mind without object, art with usefulness, for, excellent
musician that he was, he never played now except for his daughter.

The Thuillier salon was in some sort a provincial salon, lighted,
however, by continual flashes from the Parisian conflagration; its
mediocrity and its platitudes followed the current of the times. The
popular saying and thing (for in Paris the thing and its saying are
like the horse and its rider) ricochetted, so to speak, to this
company. Monsieur Minard was always impatiently expected, for he was
certain to know the truth of important circumstances. The women of the
Thuillier salon held by the Jesuits; the men defended the University;
and, as a general thing, the women listened. A man of intelligence
(could he have borne the dulness of these evenings) would have
laughed, as he would at a comedy of Moliere, on hearing, amid endless
discussion, such remarks as the following:--

"How could the Revolution of 1789 have been avoided? The loans of
Louis XIV. prepared the way for it. Louis XV., an egotist, a man of
narrow mind (didn't he say, 'If I were lieutenant of police I would
suppress cabriolets'?), that dissolute king--you remember his Parc aux
Cerfs?--did much to open the abyss of revolution. Monsieur de Necker,
an evil-minded Genovese, set the thing a-going. Foreigners have always
tried to injure France. The maximum did great harm to the Revolution.
Legally Louis XVI. should never have been condemned; a jury would have
acquitted him. Why did Charles X. fall? Napoleon was a great man, and
the facts that prove his genius are anecdotal: he took five pinches of
snuff a minute out of a pocket lined with leather made in his
waistcoat. He looked into all his tradesmen's accounts; he went to
Saint-Denis to judge for himself the prices of things. Talma was his
friend; Talma taught him his gestures; nevertheless, he always refused
to give Talma the Legion of honor! The emperor mounted guard for a
sentinel who went to sleep, to save him from being shot. Those were
the things that made his soldiers adore him. Louis XVIII., who
certainly had some sense, was very unjust in calling him Monsieur de
Buonaparte. The defect of the present government is in letting itself
be led instead of leading. It holds itself too low. It is afraid of
men of energy. It ought to have torn up all the treaties of 1815 and
demanded the Rhine. They keep the same men too long in the ministry";
etc., etc.

"Come, you've exerted your minds long enough," said Mademoiselle
Thuillier, interrupting one of these luminous talks; "the altar is
dressed; begin your little game."

If these anterior facts and all these generalities were not placed
here as the frame of the present Scene, to give an idea of the spirit
of this society, the following drama would certainly have suffered
greatly. Moreover, this sketch is historically faithful; it shows a
social stratum of importance in any portrayal of manners and morals,
especially when we reflect that the political system of the Younger
branch rests almost wholly upon it.

The winter of the year 1839 was, it may be said, the period when the
Thuillier salon was in its greatest glory. The Minards came nearly
every Sunday, and began their evening by spending an hour there, if
they had other engagements elsewhere. Often Minard would leave his
wife at the Thuilliers and take his son and daughter to other houses.
This assiduity on the part of the Minards was brought about by a
somewhat tardy meeting between Messieurs Metivier, Barbet, and Minard
on an evening when the two former, being tenants of Mademoiselle
Thuillier, remained rather longer than usual in discussing business
with her. From Barbet, Minard learned that the old maid had money
transactions with himself and Metivier to the amount of sixty thousand
francs, besides having a large deposit in the Bank.

"Has she an account at the Bank?" asked Minard.

"I believe so," replied Barbet. "I give her at least eighty thousand
francs there."

Being on intimate terms with a governor of the Bank, Minard
ascertained that Mademoiselle Thuillier had, in point of fact, an
account of over two hundred thousand francs, the result of her
quarterly deposits for many years. Besides this, she owned the house
they lived in, which was not mortgaged, and was worth at least one
hundred thousand francs, if not more.

"Why should Mademoiselle Thuillier work in this way?" said Minard to
Metivier. "She'd be a good match for you," he added.

"I? oh, no," replied Metivier. "I shall do better by marrying a
cousin; my uncle Metivier has given me the succession to his business;
he has a hundred thousand francs a year and only two daughters."

However secretive Mademoiselle Thuillier might be,--and she said
nothing of her investments to any one, not even to her brother,
although a large amount of Madame Thuillier's fortune went to swell
the amount of her own savings,--it was difficult to prevent some ray
of light from gliding under the bushel which covered her treasure.

Dutocq, who frequented Barbet, with whom he had some resemblance in
character and countenance, had appraised, even more correctly than
Minard, the Thuillier finances. He knew that their savings amounted,
in 1838, to one hundred and fifty thousand francs, and he followed
their progress secretly, calculating profits by the help of that all-
wise money-lender, Barbet.

"Celeste will have from my brother and myself two hundred thousand
francs in ready money," the old maid had said to Barbet in confidence,
"and Madame Thuillier wishes to secure to her by the marriage contract
the ultimate possession of her own fortune. As for me, my will is
made. My brother will have everything during his lifetime, and Celeste
will be my heiress with that reservation. Monsieur Cardot, the notary,
is my executor."

Mademoiselle Thuillier now instigated her brother to renew his former
relations with the Saillards, Baudoyers, and others, who held a
position similar to that of the Thuilliers in the quartier Saint-
Antoine, of which Monsieur Saillard was mayor. Cardot, the notary, had
produced his aspirant for Celeste's hand in the person of Monsieur
Godeschal, attorney and successor to Derville; an able man, thirty-six
years of age, who had paid one hundred thousand francs for his
practice, which the two hundred thousand of the "dot" would doubly
clear off. Minard, however, got rid of Godeschal by informing
Mademoiselle Thuillier that Celeste's sister-in-law would be the
famous Mariette of the Opera.

"She came from the stage," said Colleville, alluding to his wife, "and
there's no need she should return to it."

"Besides, Monsieur Godeschal is too old for Celeste," remarked

"And ought we not," added Madame Thuillier, timidly, "to let her marry
according to her own taste, so as to be happy?"

The poor woman had detected in Felix Phellion a true love for Celeste;
the love that a woman crushed by Brigitte and wounded by her husband's
indifference (for Thuillier cared less for his wife than he did for a
servant) had dreamed that love might be,--bold in heart, timid
externally, sure of itself, reserved, hidden from others, but
expanding toward heaven. At twenty-three years of age, Felix Phellion
was a gentle, pure-minded young man, like all true scholars who
cultivate knowledge for knowledge's sake. He had been sacredly brought
up by his father, who, viewing all things seriously, had given him
none but good examples accompanied by trivial maxims. He was a young
man of medium height, with light chestnut hair, gray eyes, and a skin
full of freckles; gifted with a charming voice, a tranquil manner;
making few gestures; thoughtful, saying little, and that little
sensible; contradicting no one, and quite incapable of a sordid
thought or a selfish calculation.

"That," thought Madame Thuillier, "is what I should have liked my
husband to be."

One evening, in the month of February, 1840, the Thuillier salon
contained the various personages whose silhouettes we have just traced
out, together with some others. It was nearly the end of the month.
Barbet and Metivier having business with mademoiselle Brigitte, were
playing whist with Minard and Phellion. at another table were Julien
the advocate (a nickname given by Colleville to young Minard), Madame
Colleville, Monsieur Barniol, and Madame Phellion. "Bouillotte," at
five sous a stake, occupied Madame Minard, who knew no other game,
Colleville, old Monsieur Saillard, and Bandoze, his son-in-law. The
substitutes were Laudigeois and Dutocq. Mesdames Falleix, Baudoyer,
Barniol, and Mademoiselle Minard were playing boston, and Celeste was
sitting beside Prudence Minard. Young Phellion was listening to Madame
Thuillier and looking at Celeste.

At a corner of the fireplace sat enthroned on a sofa the Queen
Elizabeth of the family, as simply dressed as she had been for the
last thirty years; for no prosperity could have made her change her
habits. She wore on her chinchilla hair a black gauze cap, adorned
with the geranium called Charles X.; her gown, of plum-colored stuff,
made with a yoke, cost fifteen francs, her embroidered collarette was
worth six, and it ill disguised the deep wrinkle produced by the two
muscles which fastened the head to the vertebral column. The actor,
Monvel, playing Augustus Caesar in his old age, did not present a
harder and sterner profile than that of this female autocrat, knitting
socks for her brother. Before the fireplace stood Thuillier in an
attitude, ready to go forward and meet the arriving guests; near him
was a young man whose entrance had produced a great effect, when the
porter (who on Sundays wore his best clothes and waited on the
company) announced Monsieur Olivier Vinet.

A private communication made by Cardot to the celebrated "procureur-
general," father of this young man, was the cause of his visit.
Olivier Vinet had just been promoted from the court of Arcis-sur-Aube
to that of the Seine, where he now held the post of substitute
"procureur-de-roi." Cardot had already invited Thuillier and the elder
Vinet, who was likely to become minister of justice, with his son, to
dine with him. The notary estimated the fortunes which would
eventually fall to Celeste at seven hundred thousand francs. Vinet
junior appeared charmed to obtain the right to visit the Thuilliers on
Sundays. Great dowries make men commit great and unbecoming follies
without reserve or decency in these days.

Ten minutes later another young man, who had been talking with
Thuillier before the arrival of Olivier Vinet, raised his voice
eagerly, in a political discussion, and forced the young magistrate to
follow his example in the vivacious argument which now ensued. The
matter related to the vote by which the Chamber of Deputies had just
overthrown the ministry of the 12th of May, refusing the allowance
demanded for the Duc de Nemours.

"Assuredly," said the young man, "I am far from belonging to the
dynastic party; I am very far from approving of the rise of the
bourgeoisie to power. The bourgeoisie ought not, any more than the
aristocracy of other days, to assume to be the whole nation. But the
French bourgeoisie has now taken upon itself to create a new dynasty,
a royalty of its own, and behold how it treats it! When the people
allowed Napoleon to rise to power, it created with him a splendid and
monumental state of things; it was proud of his grandeur; and it nobly
gave its blood and sweat in building up the edifice of the Empire.
Between the magnificence of the aristocratic throne and those of the
imperial purple, between the great of the earth and the People, the
bourgeoisie is proving itself petty; it degrades power to its own
level instead of rising up to it. The saving of candle-ends it has so
long practised behind its counters, it now seeks to impose on its
princes. What may perhaps have been virtue in its shops is a blunder
and a crime higher up. I myself have wanted many things for the
people, but I never should have begun by lopping off ten millions of
francs from the new civil list. In becoming, as it were, nearly the
whole of France, the bourgeoisie owed to us the prosperity of the
people, splendor without ostentation, grandeur without privilege."

The father of Olivier Vinet was just now sulking with the government.
The robe of Keeper of the Seals, which had been his dream, was slow in
coming to him. The young substitute did not, therefore, know exactly
how to answer this speech; he thought it wise to enlarge on one of its
side issues.

"You are right, monsieur," said Olivier Vinet. "But, before
manifesting itself magnificently, the bourgeoisie has other duties to
fulfil towards France. The luxury you speak of should come after duty.
That which seems to you so blameable is the necessity of the moment.
The Chamber is far from having its full share in public affairs; the
ministers are less for France than they are for the crown, and
parliament has determined that the administration shall have, as in
England, a strength and power of its own, and not a mere borrowed
power. The day on which the administration can act for itself, and
represent the Chamber as the Chamber represents the country,
parliament will be found very liberal toward the crown. The whole
question is there. I state it without expressing my own opinion, for
the duties of my post demand, in politics, a certain fealty to the

"Setting aside the political question," replied the young man, whose
voice and accent were those of a native of Provence, "it is certainly
true that the bourgeoisie has ill understood its mission. We can see,
any day, the great law officers, attorney-generals, peers of France in
omnibuses, judges who live on their salaries, prefects without
fortunes, ministers in debt! Whereas the bourgeoisie, who have seized
upon those offices, ought to dignify them, as in the olden time when
aristocracy dignified them, and not occupy such posts solely for the
purpose of making their fortune, as scandalous disclosures have

"Who is this young man?" thought Olivier Vinet. "Is he a relative?
Cardot ought to have come with me on this first visit."

"Who is that little monsieur?" asked Minard of Barbet. "I have seen
him here several times."

"He is a tenant," replied Metivier, shuffling the cards.

"A lawyer," added Barbet, in a low voice, "who occupies a small
apartment on the third floor front. Oh! HE doesn't amount to much; he
has nothing."

"What is the name of that young man?" said Olivier Vinet to Thuillier.

"Theodose de la Peyrade; he is a barrister," replied Thuillier, in a

At that moment the women present, as well as the men, looked at the
two young fellows, and Madame Minard remarked to Colleville:--

"He is rather good-looking, that stranger."

"I have made his anagram," replied Colleville, "and his name, Charles-
Marie-Theodose de la Peyrade, prophecies: 'Eh! monsieur payera, de la
dot, des oies et le char.' Therefore, my dear Mamma Minard, be sure
you don't give him your daughter."

"They say that young man is better-looking than my son," said Madame
Phellion to Madame Colleville. "What do you think about it?"

"Oh! in the matter of physical beauty a woman might hesitate before
choosing," replied Madame Colleville.

At that moment it occurred to young Vinet as he looked round the
salon, so full of the lesser bourgeoisie, that it might be a shrewd
thing to magnify that particular class; and he thereupon enlarged upon
the meaning of the young Provencal barrister, declaring that men so
honored by the confidence of the government should imitate royalty and
encourage a magnificence surpassing that of the former court. It was
folly, he said, to lay by the emoluments of an office. Besides, could
it be done, in Paris especially, where costs of living had trebled,--
the apartment of a magistrate, for instance, costing three thousand
francs a year?

"My father," he said in conclusion, "allows me three thousand francs a
year, and that, with my salary, barely allows me to maintain my rank."

When the young substitute rode boldly into this bog-hole, the
Provencal, who had slyly enticed him there, exchanged, without being
observed, a wink with Dutocq, who was just then waiting for the place
of a player at bouillotte.

"There is such a demand for offices," remarked the latter, "that they
talk of creating two justices of the peace to each arrondissement in
order to make a dozen new clerkships. As if they could interfere with
our rights and our salaries, which already require an exhorbitant

"I have not yet had the pleasure of hearing you at the Palais," said
Vinet to Monsieur de la Peyrade.

"I am advocate for the poor, and I plead only before the justice of
peace," replied la Peyrade.

Mademoiselle Thuillier, as she listened to young Vinet's theory of the
necessity of spending an income, assumed a distant air and manner, the
significance of which was well understood by Dutocq and the young
Provencal. Vinet left the house in company with Minard and Julien the
advocate, so that the battle-field before the fire-place was abandoned
to la Peyrade and Dutocq.

"The upper bourgeoisie," said Dutocq to Thuillier, "will behave, in
future, exactly like the old aristocracy. The nobility wanted girls
with money to manure their lands, and the parvenus of to-day want the
same to feather their nests."

"That's exactly what Monsieur Thuillier was saying to me this
morning," remarked la Peyrade, boldly.

"Vinet's father," said Dutocq, "married a Demoiselle de Chargeboeuf
and has caught the opinions of the nobility; he wants a fortune at any
price; his wife spends money regally."

"Oh!" said Thuillier, in whom the jealousy between the two classes of
the bourgeoisie was fully roused, "take offices away from those
fellows and they'd fall back where they came."

Mademoiselle was knitting with such precipitous haste that she seemed
to be propelled by a steam-engine.

"Take my place, Monsieur Dutocq," said Madame Minard, rising. "My feet
are cold," she added, going to the fire, where the golden ornaments of
her turban made fireworks in the light of the Saint-Aurora wax-candles
that were struggling vainly to light the vast salon.

"He is very small fry, that young substitute," said Madame Minard,
glancing at Mademoiselle Thuillier.

"Small fry!" cried la Peyrade. "Ah, madame! how witty!"

"But madame has so long accustomed us to that sort of thing," said the
handsome Thuillier.

Madame Colleville was examining la Peyrade and comparing him with
young Phellion, who was just then talking to Celeste, neither of them
paying any heed to what was going on around them. This is, certainly,
the right moment to depict the singular personage who was destined to
play a signal part in the Thuillier household, and who fully deserves
the appellation of a great artist.



There exists in Provence, especially about Avignon, a race of men with
blond or chestnut hair, fair skin, and eyes that are almost tender,
their pupils calm, feeble, or languishing, rather than keen, ardent,
or profound, as they usually are in the eyes of Southerners. Let us
remark, in passing, that among Corsicans, a race subject to fits of
anger and dangerous irascibility, we often meet with fair skins and
physical natures of the same apparent tranquillity. These pale men,
rather stout, with somewhat dim and hazy eyes either green or blue,
are the worst species of humanity in Provence; and Charles-Marie-
Theodose de la Peyrade presents a fine type of that race, the
constitution of which deserves careful examination on the part of
medical science and philosophical physiology. There rises, at times,
within such men, a species of bile,--a bitter gall, which flies to
their head and makes them capable of ferocious actions, done,
apparently, in cold blood. Being the result of an inward intoxication,
this sort of dumb violence seems to be irreconcilable with their
quasi-lymphatic outward man, and the tranquillity of their benignant

Born in the neighborhood of Avignon, the young Provencal whose name we
have just mentioned was of middle height, well-proportioned, and
rather stout; the tone of his skin had no brilliancy; it was neither
livid nor dead-white, nor colored, but gelatinous,--that word can
alone give a true idea of the flabby, hueless envelope, beneath which
were concealed nerves that were less vigorous than capable of enormous
resistance at certain given moments. His eyes, of a pale cold blue,
expressed in their ordinary condition a species of deceptive sadness,
which must have had great charms for women. The forehead, finely cut,
was not without dignity, and it harmonized well with the soft, light
chestnut hair curling naturally, but slightly, at its tips. The nose,
precisely like that of a hunting dog, flat and furrowed at the tip,
inquisitive, intelligent, searching, always on the scent, instead of
expressing good-humor, was ironical and mocking; but this particular
aspect of his nature never showed itself openly; the young man must
have ceased to watch himself, he must have flown into fury before the
power came to him to flash out the sarcasm and the wit which
embittered, tenfold, his infernal humor. The mouth, the curving lines
and pomegranate-colored lips of which were very pleasing, seemed the
admirable instrument of an organ that was almost sweet in its middle
tones, where its owner usually kept it, but which, in its higher key,
vibrated on the ear like the sound of a gong. This falsetto was the
voice of his nerves and his anger. His face, kept expressionless by an
inward command, was oval in form. His manners, in harmony with the
sacerdotal calmness of the face, were reserved and conventional; but
he had supple, pliant ways which, though they never descended to
wheedling, were not lacking in seduction; although as soon as his back
was turned their charm seemed inexplicable. Charm, when it takes its
rise in the heart, leaves deep and lasting traces; that which is
merely a product of art, or of eloquence, has only a passing power; it
produces its immediate effect, and that is all. But how many
philosophers are there in life who are able to distinguish the
difference? Almost always the trick is played (to use a popular
expression) before the ordinary run of men have perceived its methods.

Everything about this young man of twenty-seven was in harmony with
his character; he obeyed his vocation by cultivating philanthropy,--
the only expression which explains the philanthropist. Theodose loved
the People, for he limited his love for humanity. Like the
horticulturist who devotes himself to roses, or dahlias, or heart's-
ease, or geraniums, and pays no attention to the plants his fancy has
not selected, so this young La Rochefoucault-Liancourt gave himself to
the workingmen, the proletariat and the paupers of the faubourgs
Saint-Jacques and Saint-Marceau. The strong man, the man of genius at
bay, the worthy poor of the bourgeois class, he cut them off from the
bosom of his charity. The heart of all persons with a mania is like
those boxes with compartments, in which sugarplums are kept in sorts:
"suum cuique tribuere" is their motto; they measure to each duty its
dose. There are some philanthropists who pity nothing but the man
condemned to death. Vanity is certainly the basis of philanthropy; but
in the case of this Provencal it was calculation, a predetermined
course, a "liberal" and democratic hypocrisy, played with a perfection
that no other actor will ever attain.

Theodose did not attack the rich; he contented himself with not
understanding them; he endured them; every one, in his opinion, ought
to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He had been, he said, a fervent
disciple of Saint-Simon, but that mistake must be attributed to his
youth: modern society could have no other basis than heredity. An
ardent Catholic, like all men from the Comtat, he went to the earliest
morning masses, and thus concealed his piety. Like other
philanthropists, he practised a sordid economy, and gave to the poor
his time, his legal advice, his eloquence, and such money as he
extracted for them from the rich. His clothes, always of black cloth,
were worn until the seams became white. Nature had done a great deal
for Theodose in not giving him that fine manly Southern beauty which
creates in others an imaginary expectation, to which it is more than
difficult for a man to respond. As it was, he could be what suited him
at the moment,--an agreeable man or a very ordinary one. Never, since
his admission to the Thuilliers', had he ventured, till this evening,
to raise his voice and speak as dogmatically as he had risked doing to
Olivier Vinet; but perhaps Theodose de la Peyrade was not sorry to
seize the opportunity to come out from the shade in which he had
hitherto kept himself. Besides, it was necessary to get rid of the
young substitute, just as the Minards had previously ruined the hopes
of Monsieur Godeschal. Like all superior men (for he certainly had
some superiority), Vinet had never lowered himself to the point where
the threads of these bourgeois spider-webs became visible to him, and
he had therefore plunged, like a fly, headforemost, into the almost
invisible trap to which Theodose inveigled him.

To complete this portrait of the poor man's lawyer we must here relate
the circumstances of his first arrival at the Thuilliers'.

Theodose came to lodge in Mademoiselle Thuillier's house toward the
close of the year 1837. He had taken his degree about five years
earlier, and had kept the proper number of terms to become a
barrister. Circumstances, however, about which he said nothing, had
interfered to prevent his being called to the bar; he was, therefore,
still a licentiate. But soon after he was installed in the little
apartment on the third floor, with the furniture rigorously required
by all members of his noble profession,--for the guild of barristers
admits no brother unless he has a suitable study, a legal library, and
can thus, as it were, verify his claims,--Theodose de la Peyrade began
to practise as a barrister before the Royal Court of Paris.

The whole of the year 1838 was employed in making this change in his
condition, and he led a most regular life. He studied at home in the
mornings till dinner-time, going sometimes to the Palais for important
cases. Having become very intimate with Dutocq (so Dutocq said), he
did certain services to the poor of the faubourg Saint-Jacques who
were brought to his notice by that official. He pleaded their cases
before the court, after bringing them to the notice of the attorneys,
who, according to the statutes of their order, are obliged to take
turns in doing business for the poor. As Theodose was careful to plead
only safe cases, he won them all. Those persons whom he thus obliged
expressed their gratitude and their admiration, in spite of the young
lawyer's admonitions, among their own class, and to the porters of
private houses, through whom many anecdotes rose to the ears of the
proprietors. Delighted to have in their house a tenant so worthy and
so charitable, the Thuilliers wished to attract him to their salon,
and they questioned Dutocq about him. The mayor's clerk replied as the
envious reply; while doing justice to the young man he dwelt on his
remarkable avarice, which might, however, be the effect of poverty.

"I have had other information about him. He belongs to the Peyrades,
an old family of the 'comtat' of Avignon; he came here toward the end
of 1829, to inquire about an uncle whose fortune was said to be
considerable; he discovered the address of the old man only three days
before his death; and the furniture of the deceased merely sufficed to
bury him and pay his debts. A friend of this useless uncle gave a
couple of hundred louis to the poor fortune-hunter, advising him to
finish his legal studies and enter the judiciary career. Those two
hundred louis supported him for three years in Paris, where he lived
like an anchorite. But being unable to discover his unknown friend and
benefactor, the poor student was in abject distress in 1833. He worked
then, like so many other licentiates, in politics and literature, by
which he kept himself for a time above want--for he had nothing to
expect from his family. His father, the youngest brother of the dead
uncle, has eleven other children, who live on a small estate called
Les Canquoelles. He finally obtained a place on a ministerial
newspaper, the manager of which was the famous Cerizet, so celebrated
for the persecutions he met with, under the Restoration, on account of
his attachment to the liberals,--a man whom the new Left will never
forgive for having made his paper ministerial. As the government of
these days does very little to protect even its most devoted servants
(witness the Gisquet affair), the republicans have ended by ruining
Cerizet. I tell you this to explain how it is that Cerizet is now a
copying clerk in my office. Well, in the days when he flourished as
managing editor of a paper directed by the Perier ministry against the
incendiary journals, the 'Tribune' and others, Cerizet, who is a
worthy fellow after all, though he is too fond of women, pleasure, and
good living, was very useful to Theodose, who edited the political
department of the paper; and if it hadn't been for the death of
Casimir Perier that young man would certainly have received an
appointment as substitute judge in Paris. As it was, he dropped back
in 1834-35, in spite of his talent; for his connection with a
ministerial journal of course did him harm. 'If it had not been for my
religious principles,' he said to me, 'I should have thrown myself
into the Seine.' However, it seems that the friend of his uncle must
have heard of his distress, for again he sent him a sum of money;
enough to complete his terms for the bar; but, strange to say, he has
never known the name or the address of this mysterious benefactor.
After all, perhaps, under such circumstances, his economy is
excusable, and he must have great strength of mind to refuse what the
poor devils whose cases he wins by his devotion offer him. He is
indignant at the way other lawyers speculate on the possibility or
impossibility of poor creatures, unjustly sued, paying for the costs
of their defence. Oh! he'll succeed in the end. I shouldn't be
surprised to see that fellow in some very brilliant position; he has
tenacity, honesty, and courage. He studies, he delves."

Notwithstanding the favor with which he was greeted, la Peyrade went
discreetly to the Thuilliers'. When reproached for this reserve he
went oftener, and ended by appearing every Sunday; he was invited to
all dinner-parties, and became at last so familiar in the house that
whenever he came to see Thuillier about four o'clock he was always
requested to take "pot-luck" without ceremony. Mademoiselle Thuillier
used to say:--

"Then we know that he will get a good dinner, poor fellow!"

A social phenomenon which has certainly been observed, but never, as
yet, formulated, or, if you like it better, published, though it fully
deserves to be recorded, is the return of habits, mind, and manners to
primitive conditions in certain persons who, between youth and old
age, have raised themselves above their first estate. Thus Thuillier
had become, once more, morally speaking, the son of a concierge. He
now made use of many of his father's jokes, and a little of the slime
of early days was beginning to appear on the surface of his declining
life. About five or six times a month, when the soup was rich and good
he would deposit his spoon in his empty plate and say, as if the
proposition were entirely novel:--

"That's better than a kick on the shin-bone!"

On hearing that witticism for the first time Theodose, to whom it was
really new, laughed so heartily that the handsome Thuillier was
tickled in his vanity as he had never been before. After that,
Theodose greeted the same speech with a knowing little smile. This
slight detail will explain how it was that on the morning of the day
when Theodose had his passage at arms with Vinet he had said to
Thuillier, as they were walking in the garden to see the effect of a

"You have much more wit than you give yourself credit for."

To which he received this answer:--

"In any other career, my dear Theodose, I should have made my way
nobly; but the fall of the Emperor broke my neck."

"There is still time," said the young lawyer. "In the first place,
what did that mountebank, Colleville, ever do to get the cross?"

There la Peyrade laid his finger on a sore wound which Thuillier hid
from every eye so carefully that even his sister did not know of it;
but the young man, interested in studying these bourgeois, had divined
the secret envy that gnawed at the heart of the ex-official.

"If you, experienced as you are, will do the honor to follow my
advice," added the philanthropist, "and, above all, not mention our
compact to any one, I will undertake to have you decorated with the
Legion of honor, to the applause of the whole quarter."

"Oh! if we succeed in that," cried Thuillier, "you don't know what I
would do for you."

This explains why Thuillier carried his head high when Theodose had
the audacity that evening to put opinions into his mouth.

In art--and perhaps Moliere had placed hypocrisy in the rank of art by
classing Tartuffe forever among comedians--there exists a point of
perfection to which genius alone attains; mere talent falls below it.
There is so little difference between a work of genius and a work of
talent, that only men of genius can appreciate the distance that
separates Raffaelle from Correggio, Titian from Rubens. More than
that; common minds are easily deceived on this point. The sign of
genius is a certain appearance of facility. In fact, its work must
appear, at first sight, ordinary, so natural is it, even on the
highest subjects. Many peasant-women hold their children as the famous
Madonna in the Dresden gallery holds hers. Well, the height of art in
a man of la Peyrade's force was to oblige others to say of him later:
"Everybody would have been taken in by him."

Now, in the salon Thuillier, he noted a dawning opposition; he
perceived in Colleville the somewhat clear-sighted and criticising
nature of an artist who has missed his vocation. The barrister felt
himself displeasing to Colleville, who (as the result of circumstances
not necessary to here report) considered himself justified in
believing in the science of anagrams. None of this anagrams had ever
failed. The clerks in the government office had laughed at him when,
demanding an anagram on the name of the poor helpless Auguste-Jean-
Francois Minard, he had produced, "J'amassai une si grande fortune";
and the event had justified him after the lapse of ten years!
Theodose, on several occasions, had made advances to the jovial
secretary of the mayor's office, and had felt himself rebuffed by a
coldness which was not natural in so sociable a man. When the game of
bouillotte came to an end, Colleville seized the moment to draw
Thuillier into the recess of a window and say to him:--

"You are letting that lawyer get too much foothold in your house; he
kept the ball in his own hands all the evening."

"Thank you, my friend; forewarned is forearmed," replied Thuillier,
inwardly scoffing at Colleville.

Theodose, who was talking at the moment to Madame Colleville, had his
eye on the two men, and, with the same prescience by which women know
when and how they are spoken of, he perceived that Colleville was
trying to injure him in the mind of the weak and silly Thuillier.
"Madame," he said in Flavie's ear, "if any one here is capable of
appreciating you it is certainly I. You seem to me a pearl dropped
into the mire. You say you are forty-two, but a woman is no older than
she looks, and many women of thirty would be thankful to have your
figure and that noble countenance, where love has passed without ever
filling the void in your heart. You have given yourself to God, I
know, and I have too much religion myself to regret it, but I also
know that you have done so because no human being has proved worthy of
you. You have been loved, but you have never been adored--I have
divined that. There is your husband, who has not known how to please
you in a position in keeping with your deserts. He dislikes me, as if
he thought I loved you; and he prevents me from telling you of a way
that I think I have found to place you in the sphere for which you
were destined. No, madame," he continued, rising, "the Abbe Gondrin
will not preach this year through Lent at our humble Saint-Jacques du
Haut-Pas; the preacher will be Monsieur d'Estival, a compatriot of
mine, and you will hear in him one of the most impressive speakers
that I have ever known,--a priest whose outward appearance is not
agreeable, but, oh! what a soul!"

"Then my desire will be gratified," said poor Madame Thuillier. "I
have never yet been able to understand a famous preacher."

A smile flickered on the lips of Mademoiselle Thuillier and several
others who heard the remark.

"They devote themselves too much to theological demonstration," said
Theodose. "I have long thought so myself--but I never talk religion;
if it had not been for Madame DE Colleville, I--"

"Are there demonstrations in theology?" asked the professor of
mathematics, naively, plunging headlong into the conversation.

"I think, monsieur," replied Theodose, looking straight at Felix
Phellion, "that you cannot be serious in asking me such a question."

"Felix," said old Phellion, coming heavily to the rescue of his son,
and catching a distressed look on the pale face of Madame Thuillier,--
"Felix separates religion into two categories; he considers it from
the human point of view and the divine point of view,--tradition and

"That is heresy, monsieur," replied Theodose. "Religion is one; it
requires, above all things, faith."

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