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LETTER XIV.

TO Madame DE LA CHETARDIE.

I

1

MAD AM,
CANNOT taste of your Bounty without expresang at
the same time

my Gratitude. You have feasted me indeed these four Days in the most delicious Manner, and either there is no Pleasure in the Palate, or your Cheeses afford a Relish of the most exquisite Kind. They are not merely an artful Preparation of Cream; they are the Effect of a certain Quintessence hitherto unknown, they are I know not what kind of wonderful Production, which with a moft delicious Sweetness, preserve at the same time a most pleasing Poignancy. Undoubtedly, Madam, you must be the Favourite of Heaven, since you are thus blessed with a Land that flows with Milk and Honey. It was in this Manner, you know, that Providence formerly regaled its chosen People; and such were once the Riches of the Golden Age. But methinks you ought to limit the Luxury of your Table to Rarities of this kind, and not look out for any other Abundance, in a Place which affords such charming Repalts. You ought long since to have purified your Kitchen, and broke every Instrument of favage Destruction ; for would it not be a Shame to live by Cruelty and Murder, in the Midst of such innocent Provisions? I'am sure at least I can never esteem them too much, nor sufficiently thank you for your Present. It is in vain you would persuade me, that it was the Work of one of your Dairy Maids ; such coarse Hands could never be concerned in so curious a Production. Most certainly the Nymphs of Vienne were engaged in the Operation ; and it is an Original of their making, which you have fent me as a Rarity. If this Thought appears to you poetical, you must remember that the Subject is so too; and might with great Propriety make part of an Eclogue, or enter into fome Corner of a Pastoral. But I am by no means an Adept in the Art of Rhyming; besides, it is neceffary I Thould quit the Language of Fable, to assure you in very true and very ferious Profe, I so highly honour your Virtue, that Inhould always think I owed vou much, though I had never

received

14

received any Favour at your Hands; and if you were not my Benefactress, I hould nevertheless be always,

MADAM,

Your, &c.

BALZAC,

L E T T E R XV.

To the Mayor of ANGOULEME.

I

SIR,
Persuade myself that the Request which the Bearer of this

will make to you on my Behalf, will not be disagreeable, It concerns indeed the public Interest as well as mine; and I know you are fo punctual in the Functions of your Office, that to point out to you a Grievance, is almost the same as to redress it. At the Entrance of the Fauxbourg Lomeau, there is a way of which one cannot complain in common Terms. It would draw Imprecations from a Man that never used a stronger Affirmative in all his Life than yea verily; and raise the Indignation even of the mildeft Father of the Oratory. It was but the Day before Yesterday, that I had like to have been lost in it, and was in imminent Danger of being cast away in a terrible Slough. Had it indeed been in the open Sea, and in a shattered Vessel, exposed to the Fury of the Winds and Waves, the Accident would have been nothing extraordinary; but to suffer such a Misfortune upon Land, in a Coach, and during the

very Time of your Mayoralty, would have been beyond all Credit or Consolation. Two or three Words of an Order from you, would put this Affair into a better Situation, and at the same time oblige a whole County. Let me hope then that you will give Occasion to those without your District to join in Applauses with your own Citizens, and not fuffer your Province, which you have embellish'd in so many other Parts, to be disfigured in this by so vile a Blemish. But after the Interest of the Public has had its due Weight with you, will you not allow me to have some Share in your Consideration, and

be

be inclined to favour a Person who is thought not to be ungrateful for the good Offices he receives? There are who will lay even more, and assure you that you have an opportunity of extending your Reputation beyond the Bounds of your Province, and of making the Remembrance of your Mayors alty last longer then its annual Period. I shall learn by the return of the Bearer, if you think my Friends speak the Truth, and whether you have so high an Opinion of the Ac. knowledgment I shall make to you, as to comply with the Request I have already tender'd : To which I have only to add the Assurance of my being, with great Sincerity,

SIR,

Your, &c.

BALZAC

L E T TER XVI.

To a young Gentleman at School,

DEAR MASTER F.

that way.

I

AM glad to hear you are well fixt in your new School,

I have now before me the three last Letters which you sent your Father, and, at his Desire, am going to give you a few Directions concerning Letter-writing, in hopes they may be of some small Service toward improving your Talent

When you sit down to write, call off your Thoughts from every other Thing but the Subject you intend to handle : Confider it with Attention, place it in every Point of View, and examine it on every Side before you begin. By this means you will lay a Plan of it in your Mind, which will rise like a well-contrived Building, beautiful, uniform, and regular : Whereas, if you neglect to form to yourself fome Method of going through the Whole, and leave it to be conducted by giddy Accident, your Thoughts upon any Subject can never appear otherways than as a mere heap of Confufion. Confider you are now to form a Stile, or, in other Words, to learn the Way of expressing what you think; and your

doing

know, your

ing it well or ill for your whole Life, will depend, in a great measure, upon the Manner you fall into at the Beginning. It is of great Consequence therefore, to be attentive and dill- , gent at first, and an expressive, genteel, and easy Manner of Writing, is so useful, so engaging a Quality, that whatever Pains it costs, it amply will repay. Nor is the Talk fo difficult as you at first may think, a little Practice and Attention will enable you to lay down your Thoughts in Order ; and I from time to time will instruct and give you Rules for so doing. But, on your Part, I shall expect Observance and Application, without which nothing can be done,

As to Subjects, you are allowed in this way the utmost Liberty. Whatsoever has been done, or thought, or seen, or heard ; your Observations on what

you

Enquiries about what you do not know ; the Time, the Place, the Weather, every thing around stands ready for your Purpoles and the more Variety your intermix, the better. Set Discourses require a Dignity or Formality of Stile suitable to the Subject; whereas Letter-writing rejects all Pomp of Words, and is most agreeable, when most familiar. But tho' lofty Phrases are here improper, the Stile must not therefore sink into Meanness : And to prevent its doing so, an easy Complaisance, an open Sincerity, and unaffected Good Nature, should

appear

in
every

Place. A Letter should wear an honest, chearful Countenance, like one who truly esteems, and is glad to see his Friend ; and not look like a Fop admiring his own Dress, and seemingly pleased with nothing but himself.

Express your Meaning as briefly as possible ; long periods may please the Ear, but they perplex the Understanding. Let your Letters abound with Thoughts more than Words. A short Stile, and plain, strikes the Mind, and fixes an Impression; a tedious one is seldom clearly understood, and never long remember'd. But there is ftill something requisite heyond all this, towards the writing a polite and agreeable Letter, such as a Gentleman ought to be distinguished by ; and that is, an Air of good Breeding and Humanity, which cught constantly to appear in every Expression, and give a Beauty to the Whole. By this, I would not be suppos’d to mean,, overstraind or affected Compliments, or any thing that

way tending, but an easy, genteel, and obliging manner of Address, a Choice of Words which bear the most civil Meaning, and a generous and good-natur'd Complaisance.

What I have said of the Stile of your Letters, is intended as a Direction for your Conversation also, of which your

Care Care is necessary, as well as of your Writing. As the Profeffion allotted for you will require you to speak in Public, you should be inore than ordinary folicitous how to express yourself, upon all Occasions, in a clear and proper Manner, and to acquire an Habit of ranging your Thoughts readily, in apt and handsome Terms; and not blunder out your Meaning, or be ashamed to speak it for want of Words. . Common Conversation is not of so little Consequence as you may imagine; and if you now accustom yourself to talk at random, you will find it hereafter not easy to do otherwise.

I wish you good Success in all your Studies, and am certain your Capacity is equal to all your Father's Hopes. Confider, the Advantage will be all your own; and your Friends can have no other Share of it, but the Satisfaction of seeing you a learned and a virtuous Man.

I am,

SIR,

your affectionate Friend,

and bumble Servant,

B.

ARIT H.

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