|Monsieur Pierre Agenor de Vargnes, the Examining Magistrate, was the exact opposite of a practical joker. He was dignity, staidness, correctness personified. As a sedate man, he was quite incapable of being guilty, even in his dreams, of a... Read more of The Man With The Pale Eyes at Mystery Stories.ca|| Informational|
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The Afflictions Of An English Cat
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A Psychical Invasion
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The Afflictions Of An English Cat
When the report of your first meeting arrived in London, O! French
Animals, it caused the hearts of the friends of Animal Reform to beat
faster. In my own humble experience, I have so many proofs of the
superiority of Beasts over Man that in my character of an English Cat I
see the occasion, long awaited, of publishing the story of my life, in
order to show how my poor soul has been tortured by the hypocritical
laws of England. On two occasions, already, some Mice, whom I have made
a vow to respect since the bill passed by your august parliament, have
taken me to Colburn's, where, observing old ladies, spinsters of
uncertain years, and even young married women, correcting proofs, I have
asked myself why, having claws, I should not make use of them in a
similar manner. One never knows what women think, especially the women
who write, while a Cat, victim of English perfidy, is interested to say
more than she thinks, and her profuseness may serve to compensate for
what these ladies do not say. I am ambitious to be the Mrs. Inchbald of
Cats and I beg you to have consideration for my noble efforts, O! French
Cats, among whom has risen the noblest house of our race, that of Puss
in Boots, eternal type of Advertiser, whom so many men have imitated but
to whom no one has yet erected a monument.
I was born at the home of a parson in Catshire, near the little town of
Miaulbury. My mother's fecundity condemned nearly all her infants to a
cruel fate, because, as you know, the cause of the maternal intemperance
of English cats, who threaten to populate the whole world, has not yet
been decided. Toms and females each insist it is due to their own
amiability and respective virtues. But impertinent observers have
remarked that Cats in England are required to be so boringly proper that
this is their only distraction. Others pretend that herein may lie
concealed great questions of commerce and politics, having to do with
the English rule of India, but these matters are not for my paws to
write of and I leave them to the Edinburgh-Review. I was not drowned
with the others on account of the whiteness of my robe. Also I was named
Beauty. Alas! the parson, who had a wife and eleven daughters, was too
poor to keep me. An elderly female noticed that I had an affection for
the parson's Bible; I slept on it all the time, not because I was
religious, but because it was the only clean spot I could find in the
house. She believed, perhaps, that I belonged to the sect of sacred
animals which had already furnished the she-ass of Balaam, and took me
away with her. I was only two months old at this time. This old woman,
who gave evenings for which she sent out cards inscribed Tea and
Bible, tried to communicate to me the fatal science of the daughters of
Eve. Her method, which consisted in delivering long lectures on personal
dignity and on the obligations due the world, was a very successful one.
In order to avoid these lectures one submitted to martyrdom.
One morning I, a poor little daughter of Nature, attracted by a bowl of
cream, covered by a muffin, knocked the muffin off with my paw, and
lapped the cream. Then in joy, and perhaps also on account of the
weakness of my young organs, I delivered myself on the waxed floor to
the imperious need which young Cats feel. Perceiving the proofs of what
she called my intemperance and my faults of education, the old woman
seized me and whipped me vigorously with a birchrod, protesting that she
would make me a lady or she would abandon me.
"Permit me to give you a lesson in gentility," she said. "Understand,
Miss Beauty, that English Cats veil natural acts, which are opposed to
the laws of English respectability, in the most profound mystery, and
banish all that is improper, applying to the creature, as you have heard
the Reverend Doctor Simpson say, the laws made by God for the creation.
Have you ever seen the Earth behave itself indecently? Learn to suffer a
thousand deaths rather than reveal your desires; in this suppression
consists the virtue of the saints. The greatest privilege of Cats is to
depart with the grace that characterizes your actions, and let no one
know where you are going to make your little toilets. Thus you expose
yourself only when you are beautiful. Deceived by appearances, everybody
will take you for an angel. In the future when such a desire seizes you,
look out of the window, give the impression that you desire to go for a
walk, then run to a copse or to the gutter."
As a simple Cat of good sense, I found much hypocrisy in this doctrine,
but I was so young!
"And when I am in the gutter?" thought I, looking at the old woman.
"Once alone, and sure of not being seen by anybody, well, Beauty, you
can sacrifice respectability with much more charm because you have been
discreet in public. It is in the observance of this very precept that
the perfection of the moral English shines the brightest: they occupy
themselves exclusively with appearances, this world being, alas, only
illusion and deception."
I admit that these disguises were revolting to all my animal good sense,
but on account of the whipping, it seemed preferable to understand that
exterior propriety was all that was demanded of an English Cat. From
this moment I accustomed myself to conceal the titbits that I loved
under the bed. Nobody ever saw me eat, or drink, or make my toilet. I
was regarded as the pearl of Cats.
Now I had occasion to observe those stupid men who are called savants.
Among the doctors and others who were friends of my mistress, there was
this Simpson, a fool, a son of a rich landowner, who was waiting for a
bequest, and who, to deserve it, explained all animal actions by
religious theories. He saw me one evening lapping milk from a saucer and
complimented the old woman on the manner in which I had been bred,
seeing me lick first the edges of the saucer and gradually diminish the
circle of fluid.
"See," he said, "how in saintly company all becomes perfection: Beauty
understands eternity, because she describes the circle which is its
emblem in lapping her milk."
Conscience obliges me to state that the aversion of Cats to wetting
their fur was the only reason for my fashion of drinking, but we will
always be badly understood by the savants who are much more preoccupied
in showing their own wit, than in discovering ours.
When the ladies or the gentlemen lifted me to pass their hands over my
snowy back to make the sparks fly from my hair, the old woman remarked
with pride, "You can hold her without having any fear for your dress;
she is admirably well-bred!" Everybody said I was an angel; I was loaded
with delicacies, but I assure you that I was profoundly bored. I was
well aware of the fact that a young female Cat of the neighbourhood had
run away with a Tom. This word, Tom, caused my soul a suffering which
nothing could alleviate, not even the compliments I received, or rather
that my mistress lavished on herself.
"Beauty is entirely moral; she is a little angel," she said. "Although
she is very beautiful she has the air of not knowing it. She never looks
at anybody, which is the height of a fine aristocratic education. When
she does look at anybody it is with that perfect indifference which we
demand of our young girls, but which we obtain only with great
difficulty. She never intrudes herself unless you call her; she never
jumps on you with familiarity; nobody ever sees her eat, and certainly
that monster of a Lord Byron would have adored her. Like a tried and
true Englishwoman she loves tea, sits, gravely calm, while the Bible is
being explained, and thinks badly of nobody, a fact which permits one to
speak freely before her. She is simple, without affectation, and has no
desire for jewels. Give her a ring and she will not keep it. Finally,
she does not imitate the vulgarity of the hunter. She loves her home and
remains there so perfectly tranquil that at times you would believe that
she was a mechanical Cat made at Birmingham or Manchester, which is the
ne plus ultra of the finest education."
What these men and old women call education is the custom of
dissimulating natural manners, and when they have completely depraved us
they say that we are well-bred. One evening my mistress begged one of
the young ladies to sing. When this girl went to the piano and began to
sing I recognized at once an Irish melody that I had heard in my youth,
and I remembered that I also was a musician. So I merged my voice with
hers, but I received some raps on the head while she received
compliments. I was revolted by this sovereign injustice and ran away to
the garret. Sacred love of country! What a delicious night! I at last
knew what the roof was. I heard Toms sing hymns to their mates, and
these adorable elegies made me feel ashamed of the hypocrisies my
mistress had forced upon me. Soon some of the Cats observed me and
appeared to take offence at my presence, when a Tom with shaggy hair, a
magnificent beard, and a fine figure, came to look at me and said to the
company, "It's only a child!" At these condescending words, I bounded
about on the tiles, moving with that agility which distinguishes us; I
fell on my paws in that flexible fashion which no other animal knows how
to imitate in order to show that I was no child. But these calineries
were a pure waste of time. "When will some one serenade me?" I asked
myself. The aspect of these haughty Toms, their melodies, that the human
voice could never hope to rival, had moved me profoundly, and were the
cause of my inventing little lyrics that I sang on the stairs. But an
event of tremendous importance was about to occur which tore me
violently from this innocent life. I went to London with a niece of my
mistress, a rich heiress who adored me, who kissed me, caressed me with
a kind of madness, and who pleased me so much that I became attached to
her, against all the habits of our race. We were never separated and I
was able to observe the great world of London during the season. It was
there that I studied the perversity of English manners, which have power
even over the beasts, that I became acquainted with that cant which
Byron cursed and of which I am the victim as well as he, but without
having enjoyed my hours of leisure.
Arabella, my mistress, was a young person like many others in England;
she was not sure whom she wanted for a husband. The absolute liberty
that is permitted girls in choosing a husband drives them nearly crazy,
especially when they recall that English custom does not sanction
intimate conversation after marriage. I was far from dreaming that the
London Cats had adopted this severity, that the English laws would be
cruelly applied to me, and that I would be a victim of the court at the
terrible Doctors' Commons. Arabella was charming to all the men she met,
and every one of them believed that he was going to marry this beautiful
girl, but when an affair threatened to terminate in wedlock, she would
find some pretext for a break, conduct which did not seem very
respectable to me. "Marry a bow-legged man! Never!" she said of one. "As
to that little fellow he is snub-nosed." Men were all so much alike to
me that I could not understand this uncertainty founded on purely
Finally one day an old English Peer, seeing me, said to her: "You have a
beautiful Cat. She resembles you. She is white, she is young, she should
have a husband. Let me bring her a magnificent Angora that I have at
Three days later the Peer brought in the handsomest Tom of the Peerage.
Puff, with a black coat, had the most magnificent eyes, green and
yellow, but cold and proud. The long silky hair of his tail, remarkable
for its yellow rings, swept the carpet. Perhaps he came from the
imperial house of Austria, because, as you see, he wore the colours. His
manners were those of a Cat who had seen the court and the great world.
His severity, in the matter of carrying himself, was so great that he
would not scratch his head were anybody present. Puff had travelled on
the continent. To sum up, he was so remarkably handsome that he had
been, it was said, caressed by the Queen of England. Simple and naive as
I was I leaped at his neck to engage him in play, but he refused under
the pretext that we were being watched. I then perceived that this
English Cat Peer owed this forced and fictitious gravity that in England
is called respectability to age and to intemperance at table. His
weight, that men admired, interfered with his movements. Such was the
true reason for his not responding to my pleasant advances. Calm and
cold he sat on his unnamable, agitating his beard, looking at me and
at times closing his eyes. In the society world of English Cats, Puff
was the richest kind of catch for a Cat born at a parson's. He had two
valets in his service; he ate from Chinese porcelain, and he drank only
black tea. He drove in a carriage in Hyde Park and had been to
My mistress kept him. Unknown to me, all the feline population of London
learned that Miss Beauty from Catshire had married Puff, marked with the
colours of Austria. During the night I heard a concert in the street.
Accompanied by my lord, who, according to his taste, walked slowly, I
descended. We found the Cats of the Peerage, who had come to
congratulate me and to ask me to join their Ratophile Society. They
explained that nothing was more common than running after Rats and Mice.
The words, shocking, vulgar, were constantly on their lips. To conclude,
they had formed, for the glory of the country, a Temperance Society. A
few nights later my lord and I went on the roof of Almack's to hear a
grey Cat speak on the subject. In his exhortation, which was constantly
supported by cries of "Hear! Hear!" he proved that Saint Paul in writing
about charity had the Cats of England in mind. It was then the special
duty of the English, who could go from one end of the world to the other
on their ships without fear of the sea, to spread the principles of the
morale ratophile. As a matter of fact English Cats were already
preaching the doctrines of the Society, based on the hygienic
discoveries of science. When Rats and Mice were dissected little
distinction could be found between them and Cats; the oppression of one
race by the other then was opposed to the Laws of Beasts, which are
stronger even than the Laws of Men. "They are our brothers," he
continued. And he painted such a vivid picture of the suffering of a Rat
in the jaws of a Cat that I burst into tears.
Observing that I was deceived by this speech, Lord Puff confided to me
that England expected to do an immense trade in Rats and Mice; that if
the Cats would eat no more, Rats would be England's best product; that
there was always a practical reason concealed behind English morality;
and that the alliance between morality and trade was the only alliance
on which England really counted.
Puff appeared to me to be too good a politician ever to make a
A country Cat made the observation that on the continent, especially at
Paris, near the fortifications, Tom Cats were sacrificed daily by the
Catholics. Somebody interrupted with the cry of "Question!" Added to
these cruel executions was the frightful slander of passing the brave
animals off for Rabbits, a lie and a barbarity which he attributed to an
ignorance of the true Anglican religion which did not permit lying and
cheating except in the government, foreign affairs, and the cabinet.
He was treated as a radical and a dreamer. "We are here in the interests
of the Cats of England, not in those of continental Cats!" cried a fiery
Tory Tom. Puff went to sleep. Just as the assembly was breaking up a
young Cat from the French embassy, whose accent proclaimed his
nationality, addressed me these delicious words:
"Dear Beauty, it will be an eternity before Nature forms another Cat as
perfect as you. The cashmere of Persia and the Indies is like camel's
hair when it is compared to your fine and brilliant silk. You exhale a
perfume which is the concentrated essence of the felicity of the angels,
an odour I have detected in the salon of the Prince de Talleyrand, which
I left to come to this stupid meeting. The fire of your eyes illuminates
the night! Your ears would be entirely perfect if they would listen to
my supplications. There is not a rose in England as rose as the rose
flesh which borders your little rose mouth. A fisherman would search in
vain in the depths of Ormus for pearls of the quality of your teeth.
Your dear face, fine and gracious, is the loveliest that England has
produced. Near to your celestial robe the snow of the Alps would seem to
be red. Ah! those coats which are only to be seen in your fogs! Softly
and gracefully your paws bear your body which is the culmination of the
miracles of creation, but your tail, the subtle interpreter of the
beating of your heart, surpasses it. Yes! never was there such an
exquisite curve, more correct roundness. No Cat ever moved more
delicately. Come away from this old fool of a Puff, who sleeps like an
English Peer in parliament, who besides is a scoundrel who has sold
himself to the Whigs, and who, owing to a too long sojourn at Bengal,
has lost everything that can please a Cat."
Then, without having the air of looking at him, I took in the appearance
of this charming French Tom. He was a careless little rogue and not in
any respect like an English Cat. His cavalier manner as well as his way
of shaking his ear stamped him as a gay bachelor without a care. I avow
that I was weary of the solemnity of English Cats, and of their purely
practical propriety. Their respectability, especially, seemed ridiculous
to me. The excessive naturalness of this badly groomed Cat surprised me
in its violent contrast to all that I had seen in London. Besides my
life was so strictly regulated, I knew so well what I had to count on
for the rest of my days, that I welcomed the promise of the unexpected
in the physiognomy of this French Cat. My whole life appeared insipid to
me. I comprehended that I could live on the roofs with an amazing
creature who came from that country where the inhabitants consoled
themselves for the victories of the greatest English general by these
Malbrouk s'en va-t-en guerre,
Mironton, TON, TON, MIRONTAINE!
Nevertheless I awakened my lord, told him how late it was, and suggested
that we ought to go in. I gave no sign of having listened to this
declaration, and my apparent insensibility petrified Brisquet. He
remained behind, more surprised than ever because he considered himself
handsome. I learned later that it was an easy matter for him to seduce
most Cats. I examined him through a corner of my eye: he ran away with
little bounds, returned, leaping the width of the street, then jumped
back again, like a French Cat in despair. A true Englishman would have
been decent enough not to let me see how he felt.
Some days later my lord and I were stopping in the magnificent house of
the old Peer; then I went in the carriage for a drive in Hyde Park. We
ate only chicken bones, fishbones, cream, milk, and chocolate. However
heating this diet might prove to others my so-called husband remained
sober. He was respectable even in his treatment of me. Generally he
slept from seven in the evening at the whist table on the knees of his
Grace. On this account my soul received no satisfaction and I pined
away. This condition was aggravated by a little affection of the
intestines occasioned by pure herring oil (the Port Wine of English
Cats), which Puff used, and which made me very ill. My mistress sent for
a physician who had graduated at Edinburgh after having studied a long
time in Paris. Having diagnosed my malady he promised my mistress that
he would cure me the next day. He returned, as a matter of fact, and
took an instrument of French manufacture out of his pocket. I felt a
kind of fright on perceiving a barrel of white metal terminating in a
slender tube. At the sight of this mechanism, which the doctor exhibited
with satisfaction, Their Graces blushed, became irritable, and muttered
several fine sentiments about the dignity of the English: for instance
that the Catholics of old England were more distinguished for their
opinions of this infamous instrument than for their opinions of the
Bible. The Duke added that at Paris the French unblushingly made an
exhibition of it in their national theatre in a comedy by Moliere, but
that in London a watchman would not dare pronounce its name.
"Give her some calomel."
"But Your Grace would kill her!" cried the doctor.
"The French can do as they like," replied His Grace. "I do not know, no
more do you, what would happen if this degrading instrument were
employed, but what I do know is that a true English physician should
cure his patients only with the old English remedies."
This physician, who was beginning to make a big reputation, lost all his
practice in the great world. Another doctor was called in, who asked me
some improper questions about Puff, and who informed me that the real
device of the English was: Dieu et mon droit congugal!
One night I heard the voice of the French Cat in the street. Nobody
could see us; I climbed up the chimney and, appearing on the housetop,
cried, "In the rain-trough!" This response gave him wings; he was at my
side in the twinkling of an eye. Would you believe that this French Cat
had the audacity to take advantage of my exclamation. He cried, "Come to
my arms," daring to become familiar with me, a Cat of distinction,
without knowing me better. I regarded him frigidly and, to give him a
lesson, I told him that I belonged to the Temperance Society.
"I see, sir," I said to him, "by your accent and by the looseness of
your conversation, that you, like all Catholic Cats, are inclined to
laugh and make sport, believing that confession will purge you, but in
England we have another standard of morality. We are always respectable,
even in our pleasures."
This young Cat, struck by the majesty of English cant, listened to me
with a kind of attention which made me hope I could convert him to
Protestantism. He then told me in purple words that he would do anything
I wished provided I would permit him to adore me. I looked at him
without being able to reply because his very beautiful and splendid eyes
sparkled like stars; they lighted the night. Made bold by my silence, he
cried "Dear Minette!"
"What new indecency is this?" I demanded, being well aware that French
Cats are very free in their references.
Brisquet assured me that on the continent everybody, even the King
himself, said to his daughter, Ma petite Minette, to show his
affection, that many of the prettiest and most aristocratic young wives
called their husbands, Mon petit chat, even when they did not love
them. If I wanted to please him I would call him, Mon petit homme!
Then he raised his paws with infinite grace. Thoroughly frightened I ran
away. Brisquet was so happy that he sang Rule Britannia, and the next
day his dear voice hummed again in my ears.
"Ah! you also are in love, dear Beauty," my mistress said to me,
observing me extended on the carpet, the paws flat, the body in soft
abandon, bathing in the poetry of my memories.
I was astonished that a woman should show so much intelligence, and so,
raising my dorsal spine, I began to rub up against her legs and to purr
lovingly with the deepest chords of my contralto voice.
While my mistress was scratching my head and caressing me and while I
was looking at her tenderly a scene occurred in Bond Street which had
terrible results for me.
Puck, a nephew of Puff's, in line to succeed him and who, for the time
being, lived in the barracks of the Life Guards, ran into my dear
Brisquet. The sly Captain Puck complimented the attache on his success
with me, adding that I had resisted the most charming Toms in England.
Brisquet, foolish, vain Frenchman that he was, responded that he would
be happy to gain my attention, but that he had a horror of Cats who
spoke to him of temperance, the Bible, etc.
"Oh!" said Puck, "she talks to you then?"
Dear French Brisquet thus became a victim of English diplomacy, but
later he committed one of these impardonable faults which irritate all
well-bred Cats in England. This little idiot was truly very
inconsistent. Did he not bow to me in Hyde Park and try to talk with me
familiarly as if we were well acquainted? I looked straight through him
coldly and severely. The coachman seeing this Frenchman insult me
slashed him with his whip. Brisquet was cut but not killed and he
received the blow with such nonchalance, continuing to look at me, that
I was absolutely fascinated. I loved him for the manner in which he took
his punishment, seeing only me, feeling only the favour of my presence,
conquering the natural inclination of Cats to flee at the slightest
warning of hostility. He could not know that I came near dying, in spite
of my apparent coldness. From that moment I made up my mind to elope.
That evening, on the roof, I threw myself tremblingly into his arms.
"My dear," I asked him, "have you the capital necessary to pay damages
to old Puff?"
"I have no other capital," replied the French Cat, laughing, "than the
hairs of my moustache, my four paws, and this tail." Then he swept the
gutter with a proud gesture.
"Not any capital," I cried, "but then you are only an adventurer, my
"I love adventures," he said to me tenderly. "In France it is the custom
to fight a duel in the circumstances to which you allude. French Cats
have recourse to their claws and not to their gold."
"Poor country," I said to him, "and why does it send beasts so denuded
of capital to the foreign embassies?"
"That's simple enough," said Brisquet. "Our new government does not love
money--at least it does not love its employees to have money. It only
seeks intellectual capacity."
Dear Brisquet answered me so lightly that I began to fear he was
"Love without money is nonsense," I said. "While you were seeking food
you would not occupy yourself with me, my dear."
By way of response this charming Frenchman assured me that he was a
direct descendant of Puss in Boots. Besides he had ninety-nine ways of
borrowing money and we would have, he said, only a single way of
spending it. To conclude, he knew music and could give lessons. In fact,
he sang to me, in poignant tones, a national romance of his country, Au
clair de la lune....
At this inopportune moment, when seduced by his reasoning, I had
promised dear Brisquet to run away with him as soon as he could keep a
wife comfortably, Puck appeared, followed by several other Cats.
"I am lost!" I cried.
The very next day, indeed, the bench of Doctors' Commons was occupied by
a proces-verbal in criminal conversation. Puff was deaf; his nephews
took advantage of his weakness. Questioned by them, Puff said that at
night I had flattered him by calling him, Mon petit homme! This was
one of the most terrible things against me, because I could not explain
where I had learned these words of love. The judge, without knowing it,
was prejudiced against me, and I noted that he was in his second
childhood. His lordship never suspected the low intrigues of which I was
the victim. Many little Cats, who should have defended me against public
opinion, swore that Puff was always asking for his angel, the joy of his
eyes, his sweet Beauty! My own mother, come to London, refused to see me
or to speak to me, saying that an English Cat should always be above
suspicion, and that I had embittered her old age. Finally the servants
testified against me. I then saw perfectly clearly how everybody lost
his head in England. When it is a matter of a criminal conversation, all
sentiment is dead; a mother is no longer a mother, a nurse wants to take
back her milk, and all the Cats howl in the streets. But the most
infamous thing of all was that my old attorney who, in his time, would
believe in the innocence of the Queen of England, to whom I had
confessed everything to the last detail, who had assured me that there
was no reason to whip a Cat, and to whom, to prove my innocence, I
avowed that I did not even know the meaning of the words, "criminal
conversation" (he told me that the crime was so called precisely because
one spoke so little while committing it), this attorney, bribed by
Captain Puck, defended me so badly that my case appeared to be lost.
Under these circumstances I went on the stand myself.
"My Lords," I said, "I am an English Cat and I am innocent. What would
be said of the justice of old England if...."
Hardly had I pronounced these words than I was interrupted by a murmur
of voices, so strongly had the public been influenced by the
Cat-Chronicle and by Puck's friends.
"She questions the justice of old England which has created the jury!"
cried some one.
"She wishes to explain to you, My Lords," cried my adversary's
abominable lawyer, "that she went on the rooftop with a French Cat in
order to convert him to the Anglican faith, when, as a matter of fact,
she went there to learn how to say, Mon petit homme, in French, to her
husband, to listen to the abominable principles of papism, and to learn
to disregard the laws and customs of old England!"
Such piffle always drives an English audience wild. Therefore the words
of Puck's attorney were received with tumultuous applause. I was
condemned at the age of twenty-six months, when I could prove that I
still was ignorant of the very meaning of the word, Tom. But from all
this I gathered that it was on account of such practices that Albion
was called Old England.
I fell into a deep miscathropy which was caused less by my divorce than
by the death of my dear Brisquet, whom Puck had had killed by a mob,
fearing his vengeance. Also nothing made me more furious than to hear
the loyalty of English Cats spoken of.
You see, O! French Animals, that in familiarizing ourselves with men, we
borrow from them all their vices and bad institutions. Let us return to
the wild life where we obey only our instincts, and where we do not find
customs in conflict with the sacred wishes of Nature. At this moment I
am writing a treatise on the abuse of the working classes of animals, in
order to get them to pledge themselves to refrain from turning spits, to
refuse to allow themselves to be harnessed to carriages, in order, to
sum up, to teach them the means of protecting themselves against the
oppression of the grand aristocracy. Although we are celebrated for our
scribbling I believe that Miss Martineau would not repudiate me. You
know that on the continent literature has become the haven of all Cats
who protest against the immoral monopoly of marriage, who resist the
tyranny of institutions, and who desire to encourage natural laws. I
have omitted to tell you that, although Brisquet's body was slashed with
a wound in the back, the coroner, by an infamous hypocrisy, declared
that he had poisoned himself with arsenic, as if so gay, so light-headed
a Cat could have reflected long enough on the subject of life to
conceive so serious an idea, and as if a Cat whom I loved could have the
least desire to quit this existence! But with Marsh's apparatus spots
have been found on a plate.
HONORE DE BALZAC.
Translated by Carl Van Vechten.
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