The Muse of the Department, by Honoré de Balzac

To Monsieur le Comte Ferdinand de Gramont.

MY DEAR FERDINAND— If the chances of the world of literature — habent sua fata libelli — should allow these lines to be an enduring record, that will still be but a trifle in return for the trouble you have taken — you, the Hozier, the Cherin, the King-at-Arms of these Studies of Life; you, to whom the Navarreins, Cadignans, Langeais, Blamont–Chauvrys, Chaulieus, Arthez, Esgrignons, Mortsaufs, Valois — the hundred great names that form the Aristocracy of the “Human Comedy” owe their lordly mottoes and ingenious armorial bearings. Indeed, “the Armorial of the Etudes, devised by Ferdinand de Gramont, gentleman,” is a complete manual of French Heraldry, in which nothing is forgotten, not even the arms of the Empire, and I shall preserve it as a monument of friendship and of Benedictine patience. What profound knowledge of the old feudal spirit is to be seen in the motto of the Beauseants, Pulchre sedens, melius agens; in that of the Espards, Des partem leonis; in that of the Vandenesses, Ne se vend. And what elegance in the thousand details of the learned symbolism which will always show how far accuracy has been carried in my work, to which you, the poet, have contributed.

Your old friend,
De Balzac.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/balzac/muse/preface.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31