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Honore de Balzac

The Garret
His dazed condition, however, soon passed away after Honore's removal from the
Vendome school. He was required to take long walks and play outdoor games, in
consequence of which his cheeks filled out and regained their natural healthy colour. In
appearance he was now a big lad, naive and contented, who laughingly submitted to his
sisters' teasing. But he had put his ideas in order: the new and troubled wine of books, to
the intoxication of which he had succumbed, had clarified itself; his intellect was now
exceptionally profound and mature. But his family was not willing to perceive this, and
when by chance some remark of his revealed it his mother would answer:
"Honore, you do not understand what you are saying!"
He did not try to dissuade her from this opinion, but consoled himself by turning to Laure
and Laurence and confiding his plans to them:
"You shall see! I am going to be a great man!"
The girls laughed at this somewhat heavy-witted brother, who was so behind-hand in his
studies, that although in the second form when he left Vendome, he had to be put back
into the third at Tours, in the institution conducted by a M. Chretien. They greeted him
with profound bows and mock reverence, and, while he responded with a good-natured
smile, there was a certain pride mingled with it and an indefinable secret certainty as to
the future.
In 1814 Francois Balzac was appointed Director of the Commissary Department of the
First Military District, and the whole family removed to Paris, settling in the Marais
quarter. Honore continued his studies at two different schools successively, first at the
Lepitre school, in the Rue Saint-Louis, and then at the establishment of Sganzer and
Bauzelin, in the Rue de Thorigny, where he continued to display the same mediocrity and
the same indifference regarding the tasks required of him. Having finished the prescribed
courses, he returned to his family, which at this time was living at No. 40, Rue du
Temple, and his father decided that he should study law, supplementing the theoretical
instruction of the law school with practical lessons from an attorney and notary. Honore
was enrolled in the law school November 4, 1816, and at the same time was intrusted to a
certain M. de Merville, who undertook to teach him procedure. He spent eighteen months
in these studies, and was then transferred to the office of M. Passez, where the same lapse
of time initiated him into the secrets of a notary's duties. In the month of January, 1819,
he passed his examinations in law.
During these three years the life of Honore de Balzac had been extremely laborious. He
faithfully attended the law school courses and copied legal and notarial documents. Yet
all this did not prevent him from satisfying his literary tastes by attending the lectures
given at the Sorbonne by Villemain, Guizot and Cousin. Nor had he given up his
ambition to write and to become a great man, as he had predicted to his sisters, Laure and