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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO

nil m hi hi i inn mini '



3 1822 00809 6372



LIBRARY 1

UNIVK*S1TY OF
CALIFORNIA
SAN DIEGO ,



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO



3 1822 00809 6372



SO



"As you please, father," the girl ans •
lowering her eyes.

( The Country Parson, pi<- 18 I



Wik*v&VT) 31: £» it ion



THE COUNTRY PARSON

AND ALBERT SA VARUS

THE PEASANTRY



BY
HONORE De BALZAC

With Introductions by

GEORGE SAINTSBURY



IHL\






THE THOMPSON PUBLISHING COMPANY

SAINT LOUIS AND PHILADELPHIA



COPYRIGHTED 1901

BY

3obn S>. Bvil

All Rights Reserved



CONTENTS
PART I
INTRODUCTION ....
THE COUNTRY PARSON :

{LeCurlde lil/age)
I. VERONIgUE -
II. TASCHERON -

III. THE CURE OF MONTEGNAC

IV. MADAME GRASLIN AT MONTEGNAC
V. VERONIQUE IS LAID IN THE TOMB



ALBERT SA VARUS



(Albert Suvat us)



PART II



FAOK

ix



I

- 49

- 78

- 129

- 229

- 271



INTRODUCTION



THE PEASANTRY



CHAP.

I. THE CHATEAU



(/.« PUysuns)
BOOK I



II. A BUCOI.IC OVICKLOOKED BV VIKGII.
III. THE TAVERN



IV. ANOTHER IDYLL
VOL. IO— I



3

20

34
52



iv CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

V. THE ENEMIES FACE TO FACE - - 68

VI. A TALE OF ROBBERS - - - "9°

VII. OF EXTINCT SOCIAL SPECIES - - - I07

VIII. THE GREAT REVOLUTIONS OF A LITTLE VALLEY 121

IX. OF MEDIOCRACY - - - 146

X. A HAPPY WOMAN'S PRESENTIMENTS - - 165

XI. THE OARISTYS, THE EIGHTEENTH ECLOGUE OF
THEOCRITUS, LITTLE APPRECIATED IN A

COURT OF ASSIZE - 180

XII. SHOWS HOW THE TAVERN IS THE PEOPLE'S

PARLIAMENT - - - - - I99

XIII. THE PEASANTS' MONEY-LENDER - - - 217

BOOK II.

I. THE BEST SOCIETY OF SOULANGES - - 239

II. THE QUEEN'S DRAWING-ROOM - 262

III. THE CAFE DE LA PAIX - 280

IV. THE TRIUMVIRATE OF V1LLE-AUX-FAYES - 291
V. HOW A VICTORY WAS WON WITHOUT A BLOW - 305

VI. THE FOREST AND THE HARVEST - - 313

VII. THE GREYHOUND - - - 322

VIII. RUSTIC VIRTUES - - - 334

IX. THE CATASTROPHE .... 338

X. THE VICTORY OF THE VANQUISHED - * 344

(Translator, Ellen Marriage)



ILLUSTRATIONS



PART I

'•AS YOU PLEASE, I ITHER," THE GIRL ANSWERED, LOWERING

HER EYES (p. l8) - - - Frontispiece

PAGE

WHEN VERONIQUE WAS LEARNING TO WALK, HER
FATHER SQUATTED UPON HIS HEELS FOUR PACES
AWAY - - - - 8

"AH, SAVE HIS SOUL AT LEAST!" - - - 102

TASCHERON'S SISTER CLASPED HER HANDS AT :

SIGHT OF THIS GHOST - - - 237



PART II

SHE LEANT ON EM1I.E BLONDET'S ARM - - - 168

A TUG AT HIS GRANDFATHER'S BLOUSE, WHICH SENT

THE OLD MAX OVER OX Till. MOUND - - 238



THE COUNTRY PARSON

AND

ALBERT SAVARUS



INTRODUCTION

Perhaps in no instance of Balzac's work is his singular fancy
for pulling that work about more remarkably instanced and
illustrated than in the case of Le Cure de Village. The
double date, 1837-1845, which the author attached to it, in
his usual conscientious manner, to indicate these revisions,
has a greater signification than almost anywhere else. When
the book, or rather its constituent parts, first appeared in the
Presse for 1839, having been written the winter before, not
only was it very different in detail, but the order of the parts
was altogether dissimilar. Balzac here carried out his favor-
ite plan — a plan followed by many other authors no doubt,
but always, as it seems to me, of questionable wisdom — that
of beginning in the middle and then "throwing back" with a
long retrospective and explanatory digression.

In this version the story of Tascheron's crime and its pun-
ishment came first; and it was not till after the execution
that the early history of Veronique (who gave her name to
this part as to a Suite du Cure de Village) was introduced.
This history ceased at the crisis of her life ; and when it was
taken up in a third part, called Veronique au Tombeau, only
the present conclusion of the book, with her confession, was
given. The long account of her sojourn at Montegnae, of
her labors there, of the episode of Farrabesche, and so forth,
did not appear till 1841, when the whole book, with the in-
versions and, insertions just indicated, appeared in such a
changed form, that even the indefatigable M. de Lovenjoul
dismisses as "impossible" the idea of exhibiting a complete

(*)



X INTRODUCTION

picture of the various changes made. Nor was the author
even yet contented; for in 1845, before establishing it in its
place in the Comedie, he not only, as was his wont, took out
the chapter-headings, leaving five divisions only, but intro-
duced other alterations, resulting in the present condition of
the book.

• It is not necessary to dwell very much on the advantages
or disadvantages of these changes. There is no doubt that,
as has been said above, the trick of beginning the story in
the middle, and then doubling back on the start, has many
drawbacks. But, on the other hand, that of an introduction
which has apparently very little to do with anything, and
which has nothing whatever to do with the title of the book,
has others; and I do not know that in the final reconstitu-
tion Balzac has made Veronique's part in the matter, even
in her confession, as clear as it should be. It is indeed almost
unavoidable that twisting and turning the shape of a story
about, as he was wont to do, should bring the penalty of de-
stroying, or at least damaging, its unity.

As the book stands it may be said to consist of three parts
united rather by identity of the personages who act in them
than by exact dramatic connection. There is, to take the
title-part first (though it is by no means the most really
important or pervading) the picture of the "Cure de Village,"
which is almost an exact, and beyond doubt a designed, pendant
to that of the "Medecin de Champagne." The Abbe Bonnet
indeed is not able to carry out economic ameliorations, as
Dr. Benassis is, personally, but by inducing Veronique to
do so he brings about the same result, and on an even larger
scale. His personal action (with the necessary changes for
his profession) is also tolerably identical, and on the whole



INTRODUCTION Xl

the two portraits may fairly be hung together as Balzac's
ideal representations of the good man in soul-curing and
body-curing respectively. Both are largely conditioned by
his eighteenth-century fancy for "playing Providence," and
by his delight in extensive financial-commercial schemes. I
believe that in both books these schemes have been stumbling-
blocks, if not to all readers, yet to a good many. But the
beauty of the portraiture of the "Cure" is nearly, if not quite
equal, to that of the doctor, though the institution of celibacy
has prevented Balzac from giving a key to the conduct of
Bonnet quite as sufficient as that which he furnished for the
conduct of Benassis.

The second part of the book is the crime — episodic as re-
gards the criminal, cardinal as regards other points — of
Tascheron. Balzac was very fond of "his crimes;" and it is
quite worth while in connection with his handling of the
murder here to study the curious story of his actual interfer-
ence in the famous Peytel case, which also interested Thack-
eray so much in his Paris days. The Tascheron case itself
(which from a note appears to have been partly suggested
by some actual affair) no doubt has interests for those who like
such things, and the picture of the criminal in prison is very
striking. But we see and know so very little of Tascheron
himself, and even to the very last (which is long afterwards)
we are left so much in the dark as to his love for Yeronique,
that the thing has an extraneous air. It is like a short story
foisted in.

This objection connects itself at once with a similar one
to the delineation of Veronique. There is nothing in her
conduct intrinsically impossible, or even improbable. A girl
of her temperament, at once, as often happens, strongly sen-



xii INTRODUCTION

sual and strongly devotional, deprived of her good looks by
.'llness, thrown into the arms of a husband physically repul-
sive, and after a short time not troubling himself to be
amiable in any other way, might very well take refuge in the
substantial, if not ennobling, consolations offered by a good-
looking and amiable young fellow of the lower class. Her
conduct at the time of the crime (her exact complicity in
which is, as we have said, rather imperfectly indicated) is
also fairly probable, and to her repentance and amendment
of life no exception can be taken. But only in this last stage
do we really see anything of the inside of Veronique's nature ;
and even then we do not see it completely. The author's
silence on the details of the actual liaison with Tascheron
has its advantages, but it also has its defects.

Still, the book is one of great attraction and interest, and
takes, if I may judge by my own experience, a high rank for
enchaining power among that class of Balzac's books which
cannot be put exactly highest. If the changes made in it
by its author have to some extent dislocated it as a whole,
they have resulted in very high excellence for almost all the
parts.



Albert Savants, with its enshrined story of 'l/Ambitieux
par Amour" (something of an oddity for Balzac, who often
puts a story within a story, but less formally than this), con-
tains various appeals, and shows not a few of its author's
well-known interests in politics, in affairs, in newspapers, not
to mention the enumerations of dots and fortunes which
he never could refuse himself. The affection of Savarus for
the Duchesse d'Argaiolo may interest different persons differ-



INTRODUCTION xiii

ently. It seems to me a little fade. But the character of
Rosalie de Watteyille is in a very different rank. Here only,
except, perhaps, in the case of Mademoiselle de Yerneuil,
whose unlucky experiences had emancipated her, has Balzae
depicted a girl full of character, individuality, and life. It
was apparently necessary that Rosalie should be made not
wholly amiable in order to obtain this accession of wits and
force, and to be freed from the fatal gift of candeur, the curse
of the French ingenue. Her creator has also thought proper
to punish her further, and cruelly, at the end of the book.
Nevertheless, though her story may be less interesting than
either of theirs, it is impossible not to put her in a much
higher rank as a heroine than either Eugenie or Ursule, and
not to wish that Balzac had included the conception of her in
a more important structure of fiction.

Albert Savarus appeared in sixty headed chapters in the
Siecle for May and June 1842, and then assumed its place in
the Comedie. But though left there, it also formed part of
a two-volume issue by Souverain in 1844, in company with
La Muse du departement. "Rosalie" was at first named
"Philomene."

As something has necessarily been said already about the
book-history of the Cure de Village, little remains but to give
exact dates and places of appearance. The Presse published
the (original) first part in December-January 1838-39, the
original second (Veronique) six months later, and the third
(Veronique au Tombeau) in August. All had chapters and
chapter-titles. As a book it was in its first complete form
published by Souverain in 1841, and was again altered wheii
it took rank in the Comedie six years later.

?. S.



THE COUNTRY PARSON

I

VERONIQUE

At the lower end of Limoges, at the corner of the Rue de la
Vieille-Poste and the Rue de la Cite, there stood, some thirty
years back, an old-fashioned shop of the kind that seems to
have changed in nothing since the Middle Ages. The great
stone paving-slabs, riven with countless cracks, were laid
upon the earth; the damp oozed up through them here and
there; while the heights and hollows of this primitive floor-
ing would have tripped up those who were not careful to ob-
serve them. Through the dust on the walls it was possible
to discern a sort of mosaic of timber and bricks, iron and
stone, a heterogeneous mass which owed its compact solidity
to time, and perhaps to chance. For more than two centuries
the huge rafters of the ceiling had bent without breaking be-
neath the weight of the upper stories, which were constructed
of wooden framework, protected from the weather by slates
arranged in a geometrical pattern; altogether, it was a quaint
example of a burgess' house in olden times. Once there had
been carved figures on the wooden window-frames, but sun
and rain had destroyed the ornaments, and the windows
themselves stood all awry; some bent outwards, some bent
in, yet others were minded to part company, and one and all
carried a little soil deposited (it would be hard to say how)
in crannies hollowed by the rain, where a few shy creeping
plants and thin weeds grew to break into meagre blossom in



2 THE COUNTRY TARSON

the spring. Velvet mosses covered the roof and the window-
sills. .

The pillar which supported the corner of the house, built
though it was of composite masonry, that is to say, partly of
stone, partly of brick and flints, was alarming to behold by
reason of its curvature ; it looked as though it must give way
some day beneath the weight of the superstructure whose
gable projected fully six inches. For which reason the
Local Authorities and the Board of Works bought the house
and pulled it down to widen the street. The venerable corner
pillar had its charms for lovers of old Limoges; it carried
a pretty sculptured shrine and a mutilated image of the Vir-
gin, broken during the Eevolution. Citizens of an archaeo-
logical turn could discover traces of the stone sill meant to
hold candlesticks and to receive wax tapers and flowers and
votive offerings of the pious.

Within the shop a wooden staircase at the further end
gave access to the two floors above and to the attics in the
roof. The house itself, packed in between two neighboring
dwellings, had little depth from back to front, and no
light save from the windows which gave upon the street, the
two rooms on each floor having a window apiece, one look-
ing out into the Rue de la Vieille-Poste, and the other into
the Rue de la Cite. In the Middle Ages no artisan was bet-
ter housed. The old corner shop must surely have belonged
to some armorer or cutler, or master of some craft which
could be carried on in the open air, for it was impossible for
its inmates to see until the heavily-ironed shutters were taken
down and air as well as light freely admitted. There were
two doors (as is usually the case where a shop faces into two
streets), one on either side the pillar. But for the interrup-
tion of the white threshold stones, hollowed by the wear of
centuries, the whole shop front consisted of a low wall which
rose to elbow height. Along the top of this wall a groove had
been contrived, and a similar groove ran the length of the
beam above, which supported the weight of the house wall.
Into these grooves slid the heavy shutters, secured by huge



THE COUNTRY PARSON 3

iron bolts and bars; and when the doorways had been made
fast in like manner, the artisan's workshop was as good as
a fortress.

For the first twenty years of this present century the
Limousins had been accustomed to see the interior filled up
with old iron and brass, cart-springs, tires, bells, and every
sort of metal from the demolition of houses; but the curious
in the debris of the old town discovered, on a closer inspec-
tion, the traces of a forge in the place and a long streak of
soot, signs which confirmed the guesses of archaeologists as to
the original purpose of the dwelling. On the first floor there
was a living room and a kitchen, two more rooms on the sec-
ond, and an attic in the roof, which was used as a warehouse
for goods more fragile than the hardware tumbled down pell-
mell in the shop.

The house had been first let and then sold to one Sauviat,
a hawker, who from 1792 till 1796 traveled in Auvergne for
a distance of fifty leagues round, bartering pots, plates,
dishes, and glasses, all the gear, in fact, needed by the
poorest cottagers, for old iron, brass, lead, and metal of every
sort and description. The Auvergnat would give a brown
earthen pipkin worth a couple of sous for a pound weight of
lead or a couple of pounds of iron, a broken spade or hoe, or
an old cracked saucepan; and was always judge in his own
cause, and gave his own weights. In three years' time Sauviat
took another trade in addition, and became a tinman.

In 1793 he was able to buy a chateau put up for sale by
the nation. This he pulled down ; and doubtless repeated a
profitable experiment at more than one point in his sphere of
operations. After a while these first essays of his gave him an
irlea ; ho suggested a piece of business on a large scale to a fel-
low-countryman in Paris; and so it befell that the Black
Band, so notorious for the havoc which it wrought among
old buildings, was a sprout of old Sauviat's brain, the in-
vention of the hawker whom all Limoges had seen for seven-
and-twentv years in bis tumbledown shop among bis broken
bells, flaiis, chains, brackets, twisted leaden gutters, and



4 THE COUNTRY PARSON

heterogeneous old iron. In justice to Sauviat, it should he
said that he never knew how large and how notorious the as-
sociation became; lie only profited by it to the extent of the
capital which he invested with the famous firm of Brezac.

At last the Auvergnat grew tired of roaming from fair to
fair and place to place, and settled down in Limoges, where,
in 1797, he had married a wife, the motherless daughter of
a tinman, Champagnac by name. When the father-in-law
died, he bought the house in which he had, in a manner ;
localized his trade in old iron, though for some three years
after his marriage he had still made his rounds, his wife ac-
companying him. Sauviat had completed his fiftieth year
when he married old Champagnac's daughter, and the bride
herself was certainly thirty years old at the least. Champa-
gnac's girl was neither pretty nor blooming. She was born in
Auvergne, and the dialect was a mutual attraction; she was,
moreover, of the heavy build which enables a woman to stand
the roughest work; so she went with Sauviat on his rounds,
carried loads of lead and iron on her back, and drove the
sorry carrier's van full of the pottery on which her husband
made usurious profits, little as his customers imagined it.
La Champagnac was sun-burned and high-colored. She en-
joyed rude health, exhibiting when she laughed a row of teeth
large and white as blanched almonds, and, as to physique,
possessed the bust and hips of a woman destined by Xature
to be a mother. Her prolonged spinsterhood was entirely due
to her father ; he had not read Moliere, but he raised Harpa-
gon's cry of "Sans dot!" which scared suitors. The "Sans dot"
did not frighten Sauviat away ; he was not averse to receiving
the bride without a portion; in the first place, a would-be
bridegroom of fifty ought not to raise difficulties; and, in
the second, his wife saved him the expense of a servant. He
added nothing to the furniture of his room. On his wedding
day it contained a four-post bedstead hung with green serge
curtains and a valance with a scalloped edge; a dresser, a
chest of drawers, four eas3^-chairs, a table, and a looking-glass,
all bought at different times and from different places ; and till



THE COUNTRY PARSON 5

he left the old house for good, the list remained the same. On
the upper shelves of the dresser stood sundry pewter plates
and dishes, no two of them alike. After this description of
the bedroom, the kitchen may be left to the reader's imagina-
tion.

Neither husband nor wife could read, a slight defect of
education which did not prevent them from reckoning money
to admiration, nor from carrying on one of the most prosper-
ous of all trades, for Sauviat never bought anything unless
he felt sure of making a hundred per cent on the transac-
tion, and dispensed with book-keeping and counting-house
by carrying on a ready-money business. He possessed, more-
over, a faculty of memory so perfect, that an article might
remain for five years in his shop, and at the end of the time
both he and his wife could recollect the price they gave for it
to a farthing, together with the added interest for every year
since the outlay.

Sauviat's wife, when she was not busy about the house, al-
ways sat on a rickety wooden chair in her shop door beside
the pillar, knitting, and watching the passers-by, keeping an
eye on the old iron, and selling, weighing, and delivering it
herself if Sauviat was out on one of his journeys. At day-
break you might hear the dealer in old iron taking down the
shutters, the dog was let loose into the street, and very soon
Sauviat's wife came down to help her husband to arrange
their wares. Against the low wall of the shop in the Eue de la
Cite and the Eue de la Vieille-Poste, they propped their
heterogeneous collection of broken gun-barrels, cart springs.
and harness bells, — all the gimcracks, in short, which served
as a trade sign and gave a sufficiently poverty-stricken look
to a shop which in reality often contained twenty thousand
francs' worth of lead, steel, and bell metal. The retired
hawker and his wife never spoke of their money ; they hid it
as a malefactor conceals a crime, and for a long while were
suspected of clipping gold louis and silver crowns.

When old Ohampagnac died, the Sauviats made no in-
ventory- They searched every corner and cranny of the old



6 THE COUNTRY TARSON

man's house with the quickness of rats, stripped it bare as
a corpse, and sold the tinware themselves in their own shop.
Once a year, when December came round, Sauviat would go
to Paris, traveling in a public conveyance ; from which prem-
ises, observers in the quarter concluded that the dealer in
old iron saw to his investments in Paris himself, so that he
might keep the amount of his money a secret. It came out
in after years that as a lad Sauviat had known one of the
most celebrated metal merchants in Paris, a fellow-country-
man from Auvergne, and that Sauviat's savings were in-
vested with the prosperous firm of Brezac, the corner-stone
of the famous association of the Black Band, which was
started, as has been said, by Sauviat's advice, and in which
he held shares.

Sauviat was short and stout. He had a weary-looking face
and an honest expression, which attracted customers, and was
of no little use to him in the matter of sales. The dryness
of his affirmations, and the perfect indifference of his manner,
aided his pretensions. It was not easy to guess the color of
the skin beneath the black metallic grime which covered his
curly hair and countenance seamed with the smallpox. His
forehead was not without a certain nobility; indeed, he re-
sembled the traditional type chosen by painters for Saint
Peter, the man of the people among the apostles, the roughest
among their number, and likewise the shrewdest; Sauviat
had the hands of an indefatigable worker, rifted by inefface-
able cracks, square-shaped, and coarse and large. The mus-
cular framework of his chest seemed indestructible. All
through his life he dressed like a hawker, wearing the thick
iron-bound shoes, the blue stockings which his wife knitted
for him, the leather gaiters, breeches of bottle-green vel-
veteen, a coat with short skirts of the same material, and a
flapped waistcoat, where the copper key of a silver watch
dangled from an iron chain, worn by constant friction, till it
shone like polished steel. Pound his neck he wore a cotton
handkerchief, frayed by the constant rubbing of his beard.
On Sundays and holidays he appeared in a maroon overcoat



THE COUNTRY PARSON 7

so carefully kept that he bought a new one but twice in a
score of years.

As for their manner of living, the convicts in the hulks
might be said to fare sumptuously in comparison ; it was a
day of high festival indeed when they ate meat. Before La
Sauviat could bring herself to part with the money needed
for their daily sustenance, she rummaged through the two
pockets under her skirt, and never drew forth coin that was
not clipped or light weight, eyeing the crowns of six livres
and fifty sous pieces dolorously before she changed one of
them. The Sauviats contented themselves, for the most part,
with herrings, dried peas, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and salad,
and vegetables dressed in the cheapest way. They lived from
hand to mouth, laying in nothing except a bundle of garlic
now and again, or a rope of onions, which could not spoil, and
cost them a mere trifle. As for firewood, La Sauviat bought
the few sticks which they required in winter of the faggot-



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