A Little Tour In France, By Henry James



























































































 -   If this
were the case, I would willingly have crossed its
threshold; not for the sake of any relic of - Page 8
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If This Were The Case, I Would Willingly Have Crossed Its Threshold; Not For The Sake Of Any Relic Of

The great novelist which it may possibly contain, nor even for that of any mystic virtue which may be supposed

To reside within its walls, but simply because to look at those four modest walls can hardly fail to give one a strong impression of the force of human endeavour. Balzac, in the maturity of his vision, took in more of human life than any one, since Shakspeare, who has attempted to tell us stories about it; and the very small scene on which his consciousness dawned is one end of the immense scale that he traversed. I confess it shocked me a little to find that he was born in a house "in a row," - a house, moreover, which at the date of his birth must have been only about twenty years old. All that is contradictory. If the tenement selected for this honour could not be ancient and em- browned, it should at least have been detached.

There is a charming description, in his little tale of "La Grenadiere," of the view of the opposite side of the Loire as you have it from the square at the end of the Rue Royale, - a square that has some preten- sions to grandeur, overlooked as it is by the Hotel de Ville and the Musee, a pair of edifices which directly contemplate the river, and ornamented with marble images of Francois Rabelais and Rene Descartes. The former, erected a few years since, is a very honor- able production; the pedastal of the latter could, as a matter of course, only be inscribed with the _Cogito ergo Sum._ The two statues mark the two opposite poles to which the brilliant French mind has travelled; and if there were an effigy of Balzac at Tours, it ought to stand midway between them.

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