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Produced by Dagny; and John Bickers





Notice the words: _The man of distinction to whom this book is
dedicated_. Need I say: "You are that man." - THE AUTHOR.

The woman who may be induced by the title of this book to open it,
can save herself the trouble; she has already read the work
without knowing it. A man, however malicious he may possibly be,
can never say about a woman as much good or as much evil as they
themselves think. If, in spite of this notice, a woman will
persist in reading the volume, she ought to be prevented by
delicacy from despising the author, from the very moment that he,
forfeiting the praise which most artists welcome, has in a certain
way engraved on the title page of his book the prudent inscription
written on the portal of certain establishments: _Ladies must not




The two Analytical Studies, _Physiology of Marriage_ and _Petty
Troubles of Married Life_, belong quite apart from the action of the
_Comedie Humaine_, and can only be included therein by virtue of a
special dispensation on the part of their author, who made for them an
eighth division therein, thus giving them a local habitation and a
name. Although they come far down in the list of titles, their
creation belongs almost to the formative era. Balzac had just shaken
his skirts clear of the immature dust of the _Oeuvres de Jeunesse_,
and by the publication, in 1829, of _The Chouans_, had made his first
real bow to his larger public. In December of that same year appeared
the _Physiology of Marriage_, followed eleven months later by a few
papers belonging to _Petty Troubles of Married Life_. Meanwhile,
between these two Analytical Studies, came a remarkable novelette, _At
the Sign of the Cat and Racket_, followed soon after by one of the
most famous stories of the entire _Comedie_, _The Magic Skin_.

We are thus particular to place the two Analytical Studies in time and
in environment, that the wonderful versatility of the author may
become apparent - and more: that Balzac may be vindicated from the
charge of dullness and inaccuracy at this period. Such traits might
have been charged against him had he left only the Analytical Studies.
But when they are preceded by the faithful though heavy scene of
military life, and succeeded by the searching and vivid philosophical
study, their faults and failures may be considered for the sake of
their company.

It is hard to determine Balzac's full purpose in including the
Analytical Studies in the _Comedie_. They are not novels. The few,
lightly-sketched characters are not connected with those of the
_Comedie_, save in one or two remote instances. They must have been
included in order to make one more room in the gigantic mansion which
the author had planned. His seventh sense of subdivision saw here
fresh material to classify. And so these grim, almost sardonic essays
were placed where they now appear.

In all kindness, the Balzac novitiate is warned against beginning an
acquaintance with the author through the medium of the Analytical
Studies. He would be almost certain to misjudge Balzac's attitude, and
might even be tempted to forsake his further cultivation. The mistake
would be serious for the reader and unjust to the author. These
studies are chiefly valuable as outlining a peculiar - and, shall we
say, forced? - mood that sought expression in an isolated channel. All
his life long, Balzac found time for miscellaneous writings
- critiques, letters, reviews, essays, political diatribes and
sketches. In early life they were his "pot-boilers," and he never
ceased writing them, probably urged partly by continued need of money,
partly through fondness for this sort of thing. His _Physiology_ is
fairly representative of the material, being analysis in satirical
vein of sundry foibles of society. This class of composition was very
popular in the time of Louis Philippe.

The _Physiology of Marriage_ is couched in a spirit of
pseudo-seriousness that leaves one in doubt as to Balzac's faith with
the reader. At times he seems honestly to be trying to analyze a
particular phase of his subject; at other times he appears to be
ridiculing the whole institution of marriage. If this be not the case,
then he would seem unfitted for his task - through the ignorance of a
bachelor - and adds to error the element of slander. He is at fault
through lack of intimate experience. And yet the flashes of keen
penetration preclude such a charge as this. A few bold touches of his
pen, and a picture is drawn which glows with convincing reality. While
here and there occur paragraphs of powerful description or searching
philosophy which proclaim Balzac the mature, Balzac the observant.

On the publication of _Petty Troubles of Married Life_ in _La Presse_,
the publishers of that periodical had this to say: "M. de Balzac has
already produced, as you know, the _Physiology of Marriage_, a book
full of diabolical ingenuity and an analysis of society that would
drive to despair Leuwenhoech and Swammerdam, who beheld the entire
universe in a drop of water. This inexhaustible subject has again
inspired an entertaining book full of Gallic malice and English humor,
where Rabelais and Sterne meet and greet him at the same moment."

In _Petty Troubles_ we have the sardonic vein fully developed. The
whole edifice of romance seems but a card house, and all virtue merely
a question of utility. We must not err, however, in taking sentiments
at their apparent value, for the real Balzac lies deeper; and here and
there a glimpse of his true spirit and greater power becomes apparent.
The bitter satire yields place to a vein of feeling true and fine, and
gleaming like rich gold amid baser metal. Note "Another Glimpse of
Adolphus" with its splendid vein of reverie and quiet inspiration to
higher living. It is touches like this which save the book and reveal
the author.

_Petty Troubles of Married Life_ is a pendant or sequel to _Physiology
of Marriage_. It is, as Balzac says, to the _Physiology_ "what Fact is
to Theory, or History to Philosophy, and has its logic, as life,
viewed as a whole, has its logic also." We must then say with the
author, that "if literature is the reflection of manners, we must
admit that our manners recognize the defects pointed out by the
_Physiology of Marriage_ in this fundamental institution;" and we must
concede for _Petty Troubles_ one of those "terrible blows dealt this
social basis."

The _Physiologie du Mariage, ou Meditations de philosophie eclectique
sur le bonheur et le malheur conjugal_ is dated at Paris, 1824-29. It
first appeared anonymously, December, 1829, dated 1830, from the press
of Charles Gosselin and Urbain Canel, in two octavo volumes with its
present introduction and a note of correction now omitted. Its next
appearance was signed, in 1834, in a two-volume edition of Ollivier.
In 1846 it was entered, with its dedication to the reader, in the
first edition of _Etudes Analytiques_ - the first edition also of the
_Comedie Humaine_ - as Volume XVI. All the subsequent editions have
retained the original small division heads, called Meditations.

_Petites Miseres de la Vie Conjugale_ is not dated. Its composition
was achieved piecemeal, beginning shortly after its predecessor
appeared. But it was not till long after - in 1845-46 - that its present
two-part form was published in a single octavo volume by Chlendowski.
A break had ensued between the first and second parts, the latter
having appeared practically in full in _La Presse_ of December, 1845.
The sub-headings have remained unchanged since the original printing.




"Marriage is not an institution of nature. The family in the east is
entirely different from the family in the west. Man is the servant of
nature, and the institutions of society are grafts, not spontaneous
growths of nature. Laws are made to suit manners, and manners vary.

"Marriage must therefore undergo the gradual development towards
perfection to which all human affairs submit."

These words, pronounced in the presence of the Conseil d'Etat by
Napoleon during the discussion of the civil code, produced a profound
impression upon the author of this book; and perhaps unconsciously he
received the suggestion of this work, which he now presents to the
public. And indeed at the period during which, while still in his
youth, he studied French law, the word ADULTERY made a singular
impression upon him. Taking, as it did, a prominent place in the code,
this word never occurred to his mind without conjuring up its mournful
train of consequences. Tears, shame, hatred, terror, secret crime,
bloody wars, families without a head, and social misery rose like a
sudden line of phantoms before him when he read the solemn word
ADULTERY! Later on, when he became acquainted with the most cultivated
circles of society, the author perceived that the rigor of marriage
laws was very generally modified by adultery. He found that the number
of unhappy homes was larger than that of happy marriages. In fact, he
was the first to notice that of all human sciences that which relates
to marriage was the least progressive. But this was the observation of
a young man; and with him, as with so many others, this thought, like
a pebble flung into the bosom of a lake, was lost in the abyss of his
tumultuous thoughts. Nevertheless, in spite of himself the author was
compelled to investigate, and eventually there was gathered within his
mind, little by little, a swarm of conclusions, more or less just, on
the subject of married life. Works like the present one are formed in
the mind of the author with as much mystery as that with which
truffles grow on the scented plains of Perigord. Out of the primitive
and holy horror which adultery caused him and the investigation which
he had thoughtlessly made, there was born one morning a trifling
thought in which his ideas were formulated. This thought was really a
satire upon marriage. It was as follows: A husband and wife found
themselves in love with each other for the first time after
twenty-seven years of marriage.

He amused himself with this little axiom and passed a whole week in
delight, grouping around this harmless epigram the crowd of ideas
which came to him unconsciously and which he was astonished to find
that he possessed. His humorous mood yielded at last to the claims of
serious investigation. Willing as he was to take a hint, the author
returned to his habitual idleness. Nevertheless, this slight germ of
science and of joke grew to perfection, unfostered, in the fields of
thought. Each phase of the work which had been condemned by others
took root and gathered strength, surviving like the slight branch of a
tree which, flung upon the sand by a winter's storm, finds itself
covered at morning with white and fantastic icicles, produced by the
caprices of nightly frosts. So the sketch lived on and became the
starting point of myriad branching moralizations. It was like a
polypus which multiplies itself by generation. The feelings of youth,
the observations which a favorable opportunity led him to make, were
verified in the most trifling events of his after life. Soon this mass
of ideas became harmonized, took life, seemed, as it were, to become a
living individual and moved in the midst of those domains of fancy,
where the soul loves to give full rein to its wild creations. Amid all
the distractions of the world and of life, the author always heard a
voice ringing in his ears and mockingly revealing the secrets of
things at the very moment he was watching a woman as she danced,
smiled, or talked. Just as Mephistopheles pointed out to Faust in that
terrific assemblage at the Brocken, faces full of frightful augury, so
the author was conscious in the midst of the ball of a demon who would
strike him on the shoulder with a familiar air and say to him: "Do you
notice that enchanting smile? It is a grin of hatred." And then the
demon would strut about like one of the captains in the old comedies
of Hardy. He would twitch the folds of a lace mantle and endeavor to
make new the fretted tinsel and spangles of its former glory. And then
like Rabelais he would burst into loud and unrestrainable laughter,
and would trace on the street-wall a word which might serve as a
pendant to the "Drink!" which was the only oracle obtainable from the
heavenly bottle. This literary Trilby would often appear seated on
piles of books, and with hooked fingers would point out with a grin of
malice two yellow volumes whose title dazzled the eyes. Then when he
saw he had attracted the author's attention he spelt out, in a voice
alluring as the tones of an harmonica, _Physiology of Marriage_! But,
almost always he appeared at night during my dreams, gentle as some
fairy guardian; he tried by words of sweetness to subdue the soul
which he would appropriate to himself. While he attracted, he also
scoffed at me; supple as a woman's mind, cruel as a tiger, his
friendliness was more formidable than his hatred, for he never yielded
a caress without also inflicting a wound. One night in particular he
exhausted the resources of his sorceries, and crowned all by a last
effort. He came, he sat on the edge of the bed like a young maiden
full of love, who at first keeps silence but whose eyes sparkle, until
at last her secret escapes her.

"This," said he, "is a prospectus of a new life-buoy, by means of
which one can pass over the Seine dry-footed. This other pamphlet is
the report of the Institute on a garment by wearing which we can pass
through flames without being burnt. Have you no scheme which can
preserve marriage from the miseries of excessive cold and excessive
heat? Listen to me! Here we have a book on the _Art_ of preserving
foods; on the _Art_ of curing smoky chimneys; on the _Art_ of making
good mortar; on the _Art_ of tying a cravat; on the _Art_ of carving

In a moment he had named such a prodigious number of books that the
author felt his head go round.

"These myriads of books," says he, "have been devoured by readers; and
while everybody does not build a house, and some grow hungry, and
others have no cravat, or no fire to warm themselves at, yet everybody
to some degree is married. But come look yonder."

He waved his hand, and appeared to bring before me a distant ocean
where all the books of the world were tossing up and down like
agitated waves. The octodecimos bounded over the surface of the water.
The octavos as they were flung on their way uttered a solemn sound,
sank to the bottom, and only rose up again with great difficulty,
hindered as they were by duodecimos and works of smaller bulk which
floated on the top and melted into light foam. The furious billows
were crowded with journalists, proof-readers, paper-makers,
apprentices, printers' agents, whose hands alone were seen mingled in
the confusion among the books. Millions of voices rang in the air,
like those of schoolboys bathing. Certain men were seen moving hither
and thither in canoes, engaged in fishing out the books, and landing
them on the shore in the presence of a tall man, of a disdainful air,
dressed in black, and of a cold, unsympathetic expression. The whole
scene represented the libraries and the public. The demon pointed out
with his finger a skiff freshly decked out with all sails set and
instead of a flag bearing a placard. Then with a peal of sardonic
laughter, he read with a thundering voice: _Physiology of Marriage_.

The author fell in love, the devil left him in peace, for he would
have undertaken more than he could handle if he had entered an
apartment occupied by a woman. Several years passed without bringing
other torments than those of love, and the author was inclined to
believe that he had been healed of one infirmity by means of another
which took its place. But one evening he found himself in a Parisian
drawing-room where one of the men among the circle who stood round the
fireplace began the conversation by relating in a sepulchral voice the
following anecdote:

A peculiar thing took place at Ghent while I was staying there. A lady
ten years a widow lay on her bed attacked by mortal sickness. The
three heirs of collateral lineage were waiting for her last sigh. They
did not leave her side for fear that she would make a will in favor of
the convent of Beguins belonging to the town. The sick woman kept
silent, she seemed dozing and death appeared to overspread very
gradually her mute and livid face. Can't you imagine those three
relations seated in silence through that winter midnight beside her
bed? An old nurse is with them and she shakes her head, and the doctor
sees with anxiety that the sickness has reached its last stage, and
holds his hat in one hand and with the other makes a sign to the
relations, as if to say to them: "I have no more visits to make here."
Amid the solemn silence of the room is heard the dull rustling of a
snow-storm which beats upon the shutters. For fear that the eyes of
the dying woman might be dazzled by the light, the youngest of the
heirs had fitted a shade to the candle which stood near that bed so
that the circle of light scarcely reached the pillow of the deathbed,
from which the sallow countenance of the sick woman stood out like a
figure of Christ imperfectly gilded and fixed upon a cross of
tarnished silver. The flickering rays shed by the blue flames of a
crackling fire were therefore the sole light of this sombre chamber,
where the denouement of a drama was just ending. A log suddenly rolled
from the fire onto the floor, as if presaging some catastrophe. At the
sound of it the sick woman quickly rose to a sitting posture. She
opened two eyes, clear as those of a cat, and all present eyed her in
astonishment. She saw the log advance, and before any one could check
an unexpected movement which seemed prompted by a kind of delirium,
she bounded from her bed, seized the tongs and threw the coal back
into the fireplace. The nurse, the doctor, the relations rushed to her
assistance; they took the dying woman in their arms. They put her back
in bed; she laid her head upon her pillow and after a few minutes
died, keeping her eyes fixed even after her death upon that plank in
the floor which the burning brand had touched. Scarcely had the
Countess Van Ostroem expired when the three co-heirs exchanged looks
of suspicion, and thinking no more about their aunt, began to examine
the mysterious floor. As they were Belgians their calculations were as
rapid as their glances. An agreement was made by three words uttered
in a low voice that none of them should leave the chamber. A servant
was sent to fetch a carpenter. Their collateral hearts beat excitedly
as they gathered round the treasured flooring, and watched their young
apprentice giving the first blow with his chisel. The plank was cut

"My aunt made a sign," said the youngest of the heirs.

"No; it was merely the quivering light that made it appear so,"
replied the eldest, who kept one eye on the treasure and the other on
the corpse.

The afflicted relations discovered exactly on the spot where the brand
had fallen a certain object artistically enveloped in a mass of

"Proceed," said the eldest of the heirs.

The chisel of the apprentice then brought to light a human head and
some odds and ends of clothing, from which they recognized the count
whom all the town believed to have died at Java, and whose loss had
been bitterly deplored by his wife.

The narrator of this old story was a tall spare man, with light eyes
and brown hair, and the author thought he saw in him a vague
resemblance to the demon who had before this tormented him; but the
stranger did not show the cloven foot. Suddenly the word ADULTERY
sounded in the ears of the author; and this word woke up in his
imagination the most mournful countenances of that procession which
before this had streamed by on the utterance of the magic syllables.
From that evening he was haunted and persecuted by dreams of a work
which did not yet exist; and at no period of his life was the author
assailed with such delusive notions about the fatal subject of this
book. But he bravely resisted the fiend, although the latter referred
the most unimportant incidents of life to this unknown work, and like
a customhouse officer set his stamp of mockery upon every occurrence.

Some days afterwards the author found himself in the company of two
ladies. The first of them had been one of the most refined and the
most intellectual women of Napoleon's court. In his day she occupied a
lofty position, but the sudden appearance of the Restoration caused
her downfall; she became a recluse. The second, who was young and
beautiful, was at that time living at Paris the life of a fashionable
woman. They were friends, because, the one being forty and the other
twenty-two years old, they were seldom rivals on the same field. The
author was considered quite insignificant by the first of the two
ladies, and since the other soon discovered this, they carried on in
his presence the conversation which they had begun in a frank
discussion of a woman's lot.

"Have you noticed, dear, that women in general bestow their love only
upon a fool?"

"What do you mean by that, duchess? And how can you make your remark
fit in with the fact that they have an aversion for their husbands?"

"These women are absolute tyrants!" said the author to himself. "Has
the devil again turned up in a mob cap?"

"No, dear, I am not joking," replied the duchess, "and I shudder with
fear for myself when I coolly consider people whom I have known in
other times. Wit always has a sparkle which wounds us, and the man who
has much of it makes us fear him perhaps, and if he is a proud man he
will be capable of jealousy, and is not therefore to our taste. In
fact, we prefer to raise a man to our own height rather than to have
to climb up to his. Talent has great successes for us to share in, but
the fool affords enjoyment to us; and we would sooner hear said 'that
is a very handsome man' than to see our lover elected to the

"That's enough, duchess! You have absolutely startled me."

And the young coquette began to describe the lovers about whom all the
women of her acquaintance raved; there was not a single man of
intellect among them.

"But I swear by my virtue," she said, "their husbands are worth more."

"But these are the sort of people they choose for husbands," the
duchess answered gravely.

"Tell me," asked the author, "is the disaster which threatens the
husband in France quite inevitable?"

"It is," replied the duchess, with a smile; "and the rage which
certain women breathe out against those of their sex, whose
unfortunate happiness it is to entertain a passion, proves what a
burden to them is their chastity. If it were not for fear of the
devil, one would be Lais; another owes her virtue to the dryness of
her selfish heart; a third to the silly behaviour of her first lover;
another still - "

The author checked this outpour of revelation by confiding to the two
ladies his design for the work with which he had been haunted; they
smiled and promised him their assistance. The youngest, with an air of
gaiety suggested one of the first chapters of the undertaking, by
saying that she would take upon herself to prove mathematically that
women who are entirely virtuous were creatures of reason.

When the author got home he said at once to his demon:

"Come! I am ready; let us sign the compact."

But the demon never returned.

If the author has written here the biography of his book he has not
acted on the prompting of fatuity. He relates facts which may furnish
material for the history of human thought, and will without doubt
explain the work itself. It may perhaps be important to certain
anatomists of thought to be told that the soul is feminine. Thus
although the author made a resolution not to think about the book

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