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Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley (1830-1908).


To Madame Eveline de Hanska, nee Comtesse Rzewuska.

Madame,—Here is the work which you asked of me. I am happy, in
thus dedicating it, to offer you a proof of the respectful
affection you allow me to bear you. If I am reproached for
impotence in this attempt to draw from the depths of mysticism a
book which seeks to give, in the lucid transparency of our
beautiful language, the luminous poesy of the Orient, to you the
blame! Did you not command this struggle (resembling that of
Jacob) by telling me that the most imperfect sketch of this
Figure, dreamed of by you, as it has been by me since childhood,
would still be something to you?

Here, then, it is,—that something. Would that this book could
belong exclusively to noble spirits, preserved like yours from
worldly pettiness by solitude! THEY would know how to give to it
the melodious rhythm that it lacks, which might have made it, in
the hands of a poet, the glorious epic that France still awaits.
But from me they must accept it as one of those sculptured
balustrades, carved by a hand of faith, on which the pilgrims
lean, in the choir of some glorious church, to think upon the end
of man.

I am, madame, with respect, Your devoted servant, De Balzac.

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