Letters of Two Brides

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Author: Honore de Balzac

XLIII Mme. De Macumer to the Comtesse De L’estorade

For the first time in my life, my dear Renee, I have been alone and crying. I was sitting under a willow, on a wooden bench by the side of the long Chantepleurs marsh. The view there is charming, but it needs some merry children to complete it, and I wait for you. I have been married nearly three years, and no child! The thought of your quiver full drove me to explore my heart.

And this is what I find there. "Oh! if I had to suffer a hundred-fold what Renee suffered when my godson was born; if I had to see my child in convulsions, even so would to God that I might have a cherub of my own, like your Athenais!" I can see her from here in my mind’s eye, and I know she is beautiful as the day, for you tell me nothing about her—that is just like my Renee! I believe you divine my trouble.

Each time my hopes are disappointed, I fall a prey for some days to the blackest melancholy. Then I compose sad elegies. When shall I embroider little caps and sew lace edgings to encircle a tiny head? When choose the cambric for the baby-clothes? Shall I never hear baby lips shout "Mamma," and have my dress pulled by a teasing despot whom my heart adores? Are there to be no wheelmarks of a little carriage on the gravel, no broken toys littered about the courtyard? Shall I never visit the toy-shops, as mothers do, to buy swords, and dolls, and baby-houses? And will it never be mine to watch the unfolding of a precious life—another Felipe, only more dear? I would have a son, if only to learn how a lover can be more to one in his second self.

My park and castle are cold and desolate to me. A childless woman is a monstrosity of nature; we exist only to be mothers. Oh! my sage in woman’s livery, how well you have conned the book of life! Everywhere, too, barrenness is a dismal thing. My life is a little too much like one of Gessner’s or Florian’s sheepfolds, which Rivarol longed to see invaded by a wolf. I too have it in me to make sacrifices! There are forces in me, I feel, which Felipe has no use for; and if I am not to be a mother, I must be allowed to indulge myself in some romantic sorrow.

I have just made this remark to my belated Moor, and it brought tears to his eyes. He cannot stand any joking on his love, so I let him off easily, and only called him a paladin of folly.

At times I am seized with a desire to go on pilgrimage, to bear my longings to the shrine of some madonna or to a watering-place. Next winter I shall take medical advice. I am too much enraged with myself to write more. Good-bye.

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Honoré de Balzac

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Chicago: Honore de Balzac, "XLIII Mme. De Macumer to the Comtesse De L’estorade," Letters of Two Brides, trans. Marriage, Ellen in Letters of Two Brides Original Sources, accessed April 25, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRTQBPIC21BMP2P.

MLA: de Balzac, Honore. "XLIII Mme. De Macumer to the Comtesse De L’estorade." Letters of Two Brides, translted by Marriage, Ellen, in Letters of Two Brides, Original Sources. 25 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRTQBPIC21BMP2P.

Harvard: de Balzac, H, 'XLIII Mme. De Macumer to the Comtesse De L’estorade' in Letters of Two Brides, trans. . cited in , Letters of Two Brides. Original Sources, retrieved 25 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRTQBPIC21BMP2P.