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."
Genius is answerable only to itself; it is the sole judge of the means, since it alone knows the end; thus genius must consider itself as above the law, for it is the task of genius to remake the law; moreover the man who frees himself from his time and place may take everything, hazard everything, for everything is his by right.
Science is the language of the temporal world; love is that of the spiritual world. Man, indeed, describes more than he explains; while the angelic spirit sees and understands. Science saddens man; love enraptures the angel; science is still seeking; love has found.
Constancy will always be the genius of love, the indication of that strength which constitutes the poet. A man should possess all women in his wife, like those squalid poetasters of the seventeenth century who made fair Irises and dazzling Chloes of their lowly Manons.
Virtue, my pet, is an abstract idea, varying in its manifestations with the surroundings. Virtue in Provence, in Constantinople, in London, and in Paris bears very different fruit, but is none the less virtue.
One day, about the middle of July 1838, one of the carriages, lately introduced to Paris cabstands, and known as Milords, was driving down the Rue de l'Universite, conveying a stout man of middle height in the uniform of a captain of the National Guard.
A girl's coquetry is of the simplest, she thinks that all is said when the veil is laid aside; a woman's coquetry is endless, she shrouds herself in veil after veil, she satisfies every demand of man's vanity, the novice responds but to one.
Creole women take after Europe in their intelligence, after the Tropics in the illogical violence of their passions, and after the Indies in the apathetic indolence with which they commit or suffer good and evil.
A Creole woman is like a child, she wants to possess everything immediately; like a child, she would set fire to a house in order to fry an egg. In her languor, she thinks of nothing; when passionately aroused, she thinks of any act possible or impossible.
Fools gain greater advantages through their weakness than intelligent men through their strength. We watch a great man struggling against fate and we do not lift a finger to help him. But we patronize a grocer who is headed for bankruptcy.
Conviction brings a silent, indefinable beauty into faces made of the commonest human clay; the devout worshiper at any shrine reflects something of its golden glow, even as the glory of a noble love shines like a sort of light from a woman's face.
Holding this book in your hand, sinking back in your soft armchair, you will say to yourself: perhaps it will amuse me. And after you have read this story of great misfortunes, you will no doubt dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild exaggeration and flights of fancy. But rest assured: this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true.
When passion is not fed, it changes to need. At this juncture, marriage becomes a fixed idea in the mind of the bourgeois, being the only means whereby he can win a woman and appropriate her to his uses.
What moralist can deny that well-bred and vicious people are much more agreeable than their virtuous counterparts? Having crimes to atone for, they provisionally solicit indulgence by showing leniency toward the defects of their judges. Thus they pass for excellent folk.
The pleasures of love proceed successively from a distich to a quatrain, from a quatrain to a sonnet, from a sonnet to a ballad, from a ballad to an ode, from an ode to a cantata, and from a cantata to a dithyramb. A husband who begins with the dithyramb is a fool.
All human beings go through a previous life... Who knows how many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude of spiritual worlds?
In France everything is a matter for jest. People make quips about the scaffold, about Napoleon's defeat on the banks of The Beresina, and about the barricades of our revolutions. So, at the assizes of the Last Judgment, there will always be a Frenchmen to crack a joke.
The events of human life, whether public or private, are so intimately linked to architecture that most observers can reconstruct nations or individuals in all the truth of their habits from the remains of their monuments or from their domestic relics.
There are no little events with the heart. It magnifies everything; it places in the same scales the fall of an empire of fourteen years and the dropping of a woman's glove, and almost always the glove weighs more than the empire
The viscountess had raised the forefinger of her right hand and made a pretty gesture toward a stool at her feet. There was such intense tyrannical passion in the gesture that the marquis relinquished the doorknob and came back.
Love is the most melodious of all harmonies and the sentiment of love is innate. Woman is a delightful instrument of pleasure, but it is necessary to know its trembling strings, to study the position of them, the timid keyboard, the fingering so changeful and capricious which befits it.
Hortense was a wife; Valerie a mistress.Many men desire to have these two editions of the same work, although it is proof of deep inferiority in a man if he cannot make his wife his mistress. Seeking variety is a sign of impotence.
He hesitated till the last moment, but finally dropped them in the box, saying, "I shall win!"--the cry of a gambler, the cry of the great general, the compulsive cry that has ruined more men than it has ever saved.
No hawk swooping down upon his prey, no stag improvising new detours by which to trick the huntsman, no dog scenting game from afar is comparable in speed to the celerity of a salesman when he gets wind a deal, to his skill in tripping up or forestalling a rival, and to the art with which he sniffs out and discovers a possible sale.
In Paris, when certain people see you ready to set your foot in the stirrup, some pull your coat-tails, others loosen the buckle of the strap that you may fall and crack your skull; one wrenches off your horse's shoes, another steals your whip, and the least treacherous of them all is the man whom you see coming to fire his pistol at you point blank.
Such is life. It is no cleaner than a kitchen; it reeks like a kitchen; and if you mean to cook your dinner, you must expect to soil your hands; the real art is in getting them clean again, and therein lies the whole morality of our epoch.
According to man's environment, society has made as many different types of men as there are varieties in zoology. The differences between a soldier, a workman, a statesman, a tradesman, a sailor, a poet, a pauper and a priest, are more difficult to seize, but quite considerable as the differences between a wolf, a lion, an ass, a crow, a sea-calf, a sheep, and so on.
[Raphael's] great superiority is due to the instinctive sense which, in him, seems to desire to shatter form. Form is, in his figures, what it is in ourselves, an interpreter for the communication of ideas and sensations, an exhaustless source of poetic inspiration. Every figure is a world in itself, a portrait of which the original appeared in a sublime vision, in a flood of light, pointed to by an inward voice, laid bare by a divine finger which showed what the sources of expression had been in the whole past life of the subject.
A country is strong which consists of wealthy families, every member of whom is interested in defending a common treasure; it is weak when composed of scattered individuals, to whom it matters little whether they obey seven or one, a Russian or a Corsican, so long as each keeps his own plot of land, blind in their wretched egotism, to the fact that the day is coming when this too will be torn from them.
A grass blade believes that men build palaces for it to grow in. Grass wedges its way between the closest blocks of marble and it brings them down. This power of feeble life which can creep in anywhere is greater than that of the mighty behind their cannons.
A lui la foi, a' elle le doute, a' elle le fardeau le plus lourd: la femme ne souffre-t-elle pas toujours pour deux? For him, faith; for her, doubt and for her theheavier load: does not the woman always suffer for both?
A murderer is less loathsome to us than a spy. The murderer may have acted on a sudden mad impulse; he may be penitent and amend; but a spy is always a spy, night and day, in bed, at table, as he walks abroad; his vileness pervades every moment of his life
A penniless man who has no ties to bind him is master of himself at any rate, but a luckless wretch who is in love no longer belongs to himself, and may not take his own life. Love makes us almost sacred in our own eyes; it is the life of another that we revere within us; then and so begins for us the cruelest trouble of all.
A sick man, surrounded by those who love him, nursed by those who wish earnestly that he should live, will recover (all other things being equal), when another patient tended by hirelings will die. Doctors decline to see unconscious magnestism in this phenomenon; for them it is the result of intelligent nursing, of exact obedience to their orders; but many a mother knows the virtue of such ardent projections of strong, unceasing prayer.
A wife is property that one acquires by contract, she is transferable, because possession of her requires title; in fact, woman is, so to speak, only man's appendage; consequently, slice, cut, clip her, you have all rights to her.
A woman in the depths of despair proves so persuasive that she wrenches the forgiveness lurking deep in the heart of her lover. This is all the more true when that woman is young, pretty, and so decollete as to emerge from the neck of her gown in the costume of Eve.
A woman questions the man who loves exactly as a judge questions a criminal. This being so, a flash of the eye, a mere word, an inflection of the voice or a moment's hesitation suffice to expose the fact, betrayal or crime he is attempting to conceal.
A woman's greatest charm consists in a constant appeal to a man's generosity by a gracious declaration of helplessness which fills him with pride and awakens the most magnificent feelings in his heart.
Ah! how much a mother learns from her child! The constant protection of a helpless being forces us to so strict an alliance with virtue, that a woman never shows to full advantage except as a mother. Then alone can her character expand in the fulfillment of all life's duties and the enjoyment of all its pleasures.
Ambitious men spend their youth in rendering themselves worthy of patronage; it is their great mistake. While the foolish creatures are laying in stores of knowledge and energy, so that they shall not sink under the weight of responsible posts that recede from them, schemers come and go who are wealthy in words and destitute of ideas, astonish the ignorant, and creep into the confidence of those who have a little knowledge.
At thirty years a woman asks her lover to give her back the esteem she has forfeited for his sake; she lives only for him, her thoughts are full of his future, he must have a great career, she bids him make it glorious; she can obey, entreat, command, humble herself, or rise in pride; times without number she brings comfort when a young girl can only make moan.
Beaucoup d'hommes ont un orgueil qui les pousse a' cacher leurs combats et a' ne se montrer que victorieux. Many men have pride that causes them to hide their combats and to only show themselves victorious.
But also remember: if you have any genuine feelings, hide them like treasure; never let anyone so much as suspect them, or you're lost. Instead of being the executioner, you'll be the victim. And if you ever fall in love, keep that absolutely secret! Never breathe a word until you're completely sure of the person to whom you open your heart. And to protect that love, even before you feel it, learn to despise the world.
Events are never absolute, their outcome depends entirely upon the individual. Misfortune is a stepping stone for a genius, a piscina for a Christian, a treasure for a man of parts, and an abyss for a weakling.
Everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink - for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.
For businessmen, the world is a bale of banknotes in circulation; for most young men, it is a woman; for some women, it is a man; and for others it may be a salon, a coterie, a part of town or a whole city.
For pain is perhaps but a violent pleasure? Who could determine the point where pleasure becomes pain, where pain is still a pleasure? Is not the utmost brightness of the ideal world soothing to us, while the lightest shadows of the physical world annoy?
Girls are apt to imagine noble and enchanting and totally imaginary figures in their own minds; they have fanciful extravagant ideas about men, and sentiment, and life; and then they innocently endow somebody or other with all the perfections for their daydreams, and put their trust in him.
How did you get back?' asked Vautrin. 'I walked,' replied Eugene. 'I wouldn't like half-pleasures, myself,' observed the tempter. 'I'd want to go there in my own carriage, have my own box, and come back in comfort. All or nothing, that's my motto.' 'And a very good one,' said Madame Vauquer.
However gross a man may be, the minute he expresses a strong and genuine affection, some inner secretion alters his features, animates his gestures, and colors his voice. The stupidest man will often, under the stress of passion, achieve heights of eloquence, in thought if not in language, and seem to move in some luminous sphere. Goriot's voice and gesture had at this moment the power of communication that characterizes the great actor. Are not our finer feelings the poems of the human will?
I declare, on my soul and conscience, that the attainment of power, or of a great name in literature, seemed to me an easier victory than a success with some young, witty, and gracious lady of high degree.
If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtis flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy's trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one ... he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent.
In all lands, sailors form a race apart. They profess a congenital contempt for landlubbers. As for the tradesman, he understands nothing of sailors nor cares a fig about them. He is content to rob them if he can.
In the silence of their studios, busied for days at a time with works which leave the mind relatively free, painters become like women; their thoughts can revolve around the minor facts of life and penetrate their hidden meaning.
Isn't it really quite extraordinary to see that, since man took his first step, no one has asked himself why he walks, how he walks, if he has ever walked, if he could walk better, what he achieves in walking .. questions that are tied to all the philosophical, psychological, and political systems which preoccupy the world.
It is beyond a doubt that during the sixteenth century, and the years immediately preceding and following it, poisoning had been brought to a pitch of perfection which remains unknown to modern chemistry, but which is indisputably proved by history. Italy, the cradle of modern science, was at that time, the inventor and mistress of these secrets, many of which are lost.
It is easier for a woman to be a good wife than a good mother. A widow has two duties with contrary obligations: she is a mother and she must exercise paternal authority. Few woman are strong enough to understand and to play this role.
Let passion reach a catastrophe and it submits us to an intoxicating force far more powerful than the niggardly irritation of wine or of opium. The lucidity our ideas then achieve, and the delicacy of our overly exalted sensations, produce the strangest and most unexpected effects.
Like most young people, these two attributed to the world their own intelligence and virtues. Youth who knows no failure has no mercy on the faults of other people; but it has also a sublime faith in them.
Love is like some fresh spring, first a stream and then a river, changing its aspect and its nature as it flows to plunge itself in some boundless ocean, where restricted natures only find monotony, but where great souls are engulfed in endless contemplation.
Many of us marvel at the icy insensitivity with which women snuff out their armours. But if they did not blot out the past in this manner, life for them would lose all dignity and they could never resist the fatal familiarities to which they once submitted.
Marriage is a fierce battle before which the two partners ask heaven for its blessing, because loving each other is the most audacious of enterprises; the battle is not slow to start, and victory, that is to say freedom, goes to the cleverest.
Modern society includes three types of men who can never think very highly of the world--the priest, the physician, and the attorney-at-law. They all wear black, too, for are they not in mourning for every virtue and every illusion?
Music is of two kinds: one petty, poor, second-rate, never varying, its base the hundred or so phrasings which all musicians understand, a babbling which is more or less pleasant, the life that most composers live.
Nature knows nothing but solid bodies; your science deals only with combinations of surfaces. And so nature constantly gives the lie to all your laws; can you name one to which no fact makes an exception?
Nothing is so discreet as a young face, for nothing is less mobile; it has the serenity, the surface smoothness, and the freshnessof a lake. There is no character in women's faces before the age of thirty.
On the moral plane, true friends enjoy the same protection as the sense of smell confers upon dogs. They scent the sorrow of their friends, they divine its causes, and they clasp it to their minds and hearts.
One admirable trait in women is their lack of illusions about themselves. They never reason about their most blameworthy actions; their feelings carry them away. Even their dissimulation comes naturally to them, and in them crime is free of all baseness. Most of the time they simply do not know how it happened.
Poets and men of action differ: the former yield to their feelings in order to reproduce them in lively colors, and therefore judge only ex post facto; the latter feel and judge at one and the same time.
The election of a deputy to the Legislature offers a noble and majestic spectacle comparable only to the delivery of a child. It involves the same efforts, the same impurities, the same laceration, and the same triumph.
The fashions we call English in Paris are French in London, and vice versa. Franco-British hostility vanishes when it comes to questions of words and clothing. God save the King is a tune composed by Lully for a chorus in a play by Racine.
The habits of every animal are, at least in the eyes of man, constantly similar in all ages. But the habits, the clothes, the words and the dwelling of a prince, a banker, an artist, a bourgeois, a priest and a pauper, are wholly dissimilar and change at the will of civilizations.
The monotony of provincial life attracts the attention of people to the kitchen. You do not dine as luxuriously in the provinces as in Paris, but you dine better, because the dishes serve you are the result of mediation and study.
The prodigality of millionaires is comparable only to their greed of gain. Let some whim or passion seize them and money is of no account. In fact these Croesuses find whims and passions harder to come by than gold.
The response man has the greatest difficulty in tolerating is pity, especially when he warrants it. Hatred is a tonic, it makes one live, it inspires vengeance, but pity kills, it makes our weakness weaker.
The secret of the nobility and beauty of great ladies lies in the art with which they can shed their veils. In such situations, they become like ancient statues. If they kept the merest scarf on, they would be lewd. Your bourgeois woman will always try to cover her nakedness.
The virtues we acquire, which develop slowly within us, are the invisible links that bind each one of our existences to the others - existences which the spirit alone remembers, for Matter has no memory for spiritual things.
The weakest being on earth can accomplish feats of strength. The frailest urchin will ring every doorbell on the street in arctic weather or hoist himself aloft to inscribe his name on a virgin monument.
There are houses in certain provincial towns whose aspect inspires melancholy, akin to that called forth by sombre cloisters, dreary moorlands, or the desolation of ruins. Within these houses there is, perhaps, the silence of the cloister, the barrenness of moors, the skeleton of ruins; life and movement are so stagnant there that a stranger might think them uninhabited, were it not that he encounters suddenly the pale, cold glance of a motionless person, whose half-monastic face peers beyond the window-casing at the sound of an unaccustomed step.
There are no little events with the heart. It magnifies everything; it places in the same scales the fall of an empire of fourteen years and the dropping of a woman's glove, and almost always the glove weighs more than the empire.
Thinking is seeing.... Every human science is based on deduction, which is a slow process of seeing by which we work up from the effect to the cause; or, in a wider sense, all poetry like every work of art proceeds from a swift vision of things.
This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of with start up like sharpshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder.
This surface good-nature which captivates a new acquaintance and is no bar to treachery, which knows no scruple and is never at fault for an excuse, which makes an outcry at the wound which it condones, is one of the most distinctive features of the journalist. This camaraderie (the word is a stroke of genius) corrodes the noblest minds; it eats into their pride like rust, kills the germ of great deeds, and lends a sanction to moral cowardice.
To live in the presence of great truths and eternal laws, to be led by permanent ideals - that is what keeps a man patient when the world ignores him, and calm and unspoiled when the world praises him.
To stroll is a science, it is the gastronomy of the eye. To walk is to vegetate, to stroll is to live.... To stroll is to enjoy, it is to assume a mind-set, it is to admire the sublime pictures of unhappiness, of love, of joy, of graceful or grotesque portraits; it is to plunge one's vision to the depths of a thousand existences: young, it is to desire everything; old, it is to live the life of the young, to marry their passions.
Un homme n'a jamais pu e lever sa ma|"tresse jusqu'a' lui; mais une femme place toujours son amant aussi haut qu'elle. A man can never elevate his mistress to his rank, but a woman can always place her lover as high as she.
Vulgar souls look hastily and superficially at the sea and accuse it of monotony; other more privileged beings could spend a lifetime admiring it and discovering new and changing phenomena that delight them. So it is with love.
We must have books for recreation and entertainment, as well as books for instruction and for business; the former are agreeable, the latter useful, and the human mind requires both. The cannon law and the codes of Justinian shall have due honor, and reign at the universities; but Homer and Virgil need not therefore be banished. We will cultivate the olive and the vine, but without eradicating the myrtle and the rose.
What moralists describe as the mysteries of the human heart are solely the deceiving thoughts, the spontaneous impulses of self-regard. The sudden changes in character, about which so much has been said, are instinctive calculations for the furtherance of our own pleasures. Seeing himself now in his fine clothes, his new gloves and shoes, EugÃ¨ne de Rastignac forgot his noble resolve. Youth, when it swerves toward wrong, dares not look in the mirror of conscience; maturity has already seen itself there. That is the whole difference between the two phases of life.
What patient can trust the knowledge of a physician without reputation or furniture, in a period when publicity is all-powerful and when the government gilds the lamp posts on the Place de la Concorde in order to dazzle the poor?
Where some one else's welfare is concerned, a young girl becomes as ingenious as a thief. Guileless where she herself is in question, and full of foresight for me,-she is like a heavenly angel forgiving the strange incomprehensible sins of earth.
White and shining virgin of all human virtues, ark of the covenant between earth and heaven, tender and strong companion partaking of the lion and of the lamb, Prayer! Prayer will give you the key of heaven! Bold and pure as innocence, strong, like all that is single and simple, this glorious, invincible Queen rests, nevertheless, on the material world; she takes possession of it; like the sun, she clasps it in a circle of light.
Woman is a delightful instrument of pleasure, but it is necessary to know its trembling strings, to study the position of them, the timid keyboard, the fingering so changeful and capricious which befits it.
If you are to judge a man, you must know his secret thoughts, sorrows, and feelings; to know merely the outward events of a man's life would only serve to make a chronological table-a fool's notion of history.
One of the glories of society is to have created woman where Nature had made only a female; to have created a continuity of desire where Nature thought only of perpetuating the species; and, in fine, to have invented love.
Kindness is not without its rocks ahead. People are apt to put it down to an easy temper and seldom recognize it as the secret striving of a generous nature; whilst, on the other hand, the ill-natured get credit for all the evil they refrain from.
Marriage is a fight to the death, before which the wedded couple ask a blessing from heaven, because it is the rashest of all undertakings to swear eternal love; the fight at once commences and victory, that is to say liberty, remains in the hands of the cleverer of the two.