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"At five o'clock he arose, dressed for dinner, and remained with his hosts in the drawing-room until ten o'clock, the hour at which he withdrew to go to bed. And he never in the least modified this settled routine."
These sojourns at Sache were longer or shorter according to the stage of his work and the state of his purse. The servants at the chateau had learned to tell from his expression whether he was prosperous or hard-up; when he felt poor he met them with an affable air and kindly words, for that was all he had to give them; when he was rich he moved among them with the air of a prince. They pardoned his haughty manner because he was generous. M. de Margonne often aided him with loans, but in order to keep him as long as possible, he never gave him the money until the moment of his departure.
On leaving Paris for he knew not how long, Honore de Balzac entrusted his interests to his mother. They were of such opposite temperaments, the one imaginative and extravagant, staking his whole life and fortune on fabulous figures, and the other precise, calculating and rather austere, that they could hardly be expected to understand each other, and frequent clashes had blunted all their tenderer impulses. Mme. de Balzac could not understand her son's blunders, and blamed him severely for them. She suffered from his apparently dissipated life, his love of luxury, his belief in his own greatness, of which no evidence had yet been offered to her matter-of-fact mind. Still wholly unaware of his genius, she could not fail to misjudge him. Yet she had already sacrificed herself once to save him from bankruptcy; and, with all her frowning and grumbling, she would never refuse her aid and experience when he asked for it.
It was Mme. de Balzac who undertook to see the publishers and magazine editors, to pass upon the contracts, to follow up the negotiations already under way, and to conclude them; in short, she represented her son in all respects in his badly involved business relations. From a distance he supervised operations, with a mathematical keenness of vision, and his mother assumed the responsibility of carrying out his wishes, bringing to the contest all her qualities of vigour, clear perception and crafty dealings. Honore de Balzac did not spare her. For he estimated her endurance by his own; and no sooner was he installed at Sache than he began to give her instructions that were little short of orders. She must copy The Grocer, which the Silhouette had published, send him a copy of Contes Bruns, obtain from Mme. de Berny a volume of The Chouans with her corrections, read the article on Bernard Palissy in the great Biographie Universelle, copy it, and make note of all the works that Palissy had written or which had been written about him, then hurry with those notes to M. de Mame, the book-seller,--whom she was to present with copies of volumes 3 and 4 of Scenes of Private Life, telling him that Honore had had a fall and could not leave the house,--and ask him to procure the works on her list,--then go to Laure, and read the notice on Bernard Palissy in "Papa's Biography," to see whether any other works are mentioned which were not included in the Biographie Universelle, and to buy elsewhere whatever M. de Mame did not have, if they were not too dear, and send them all as soon as possible. These works were all needed by Balzac as documents for the Search for the Absolute, which was meant to conclude the fourth volume of Philosophic Tales, published by Gosselin,--but probably they did not reach him in time, for the Search for the Absolute did not appear until 1834, and its place in the Tales was taken by the Biographic Notice of Louis Lambert.
To these express recommendations regarding his work Balzac added orders relative to his household. He "desired" that Leclercq should take out the horses half an hour each day; he concerned himself in regard to his outstanding debts, and he begged his mother to find out what he owed for June and July, so that he could get her the money.
Those few months of fashionable life and his frequenting aristocratic clubs had put his affairs in a piteous state. Mme. de Balzac drew up a balance sheet, without any attempt to spare him, and pointed out just what sacrifices were necessary. He was in no position to meet the heavy demands, in spite of his desperate toil. A gleam of hope, however, came in the midst of his distress, for his friends at Sache held out prospects of a wealthy marriage; but this hope was an elusive one: the prospective bride was not expected in Touraine until the month of October, and how in the meantime was he to pay his pressing debts? He calculated the utmost that he could earn, he assumed certain advances, he added up and with the help of his optimism he swelled his prospective receipts, yet not sufficiently to satisfy his creditors. He groaned, for he did not wish to sell at a loss what he had acquired with such difficulty, despoil himself, strip himself bare like a St. John;--then his energy reawoke and his self-confidence enabled him to accept the hard test. He consented to give up his horses,--for whose feed he was still owing, since he could not feed them on poetry, as he humorously wrote to Mme. de Girardin,--and his cabriolet. What matter? He was strong enough to rebuild the foundations of his fortune!
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Honoré de Balzac -by- Albert Keim and Louis Lumet