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Les MisÚrables - The Wisdom of Tholomyes

1. M. Myriel

2. M. Myriel becomes M. Welcome

3. A Hard Bishopric for a Good Bishop

4. Works corresponding to Words

5. Monseigneur Bienvenu made his Cassocks last too long

6. Who guarded his House for him

7. Cravatte

8. Philosophy after Drinking

9. The Brother as depicted by the Sister

10. The Bishop in the Presence of an Unknown Light

11. A Restriction

12. The Solitude of Monseigneur Welcome

13. What he believed

14. What he thought

15. The Evening of a Day of Walking

16. Prudence counselled to Wisdom

17. The Heroism of Passive Obedience

18. Details concerning the Cheese-Dairies of Pontarlier

19. Tranquillity

20. Jean Valjean

21. The Interior of Despair

22. Billows and Shadows

23. New Troubles

24. The Man aroused

25. What he does

26. The Bishop works

27. Little Gervais

28. The Year 1817

29. A Double Quartette

30. Four and Four

31. Tholomyes is so Merry that he sings a Spanish Ditty

32. At Bombardas

33. A Chapter in which they adore Each Other

34. The Wisdom of Tholomyes

35. The Death of a Horse

36. A Merry End to Mirth

37. One Mother meets Another Mother

38. First Sketch of Two Unprepossessing Figures

39. The Lark

40. The History of a Progress in Black Glass Trinkets

41. Madeleine

42. Sums deposited with Laffitte

43. M. Madeleine in Mourning

44. Vague Flashes on the Horizon

45. Father Fauchelevent

46. Fauchelevent becomes a Gardener in Paris

47. Madame Victurnien expends Thirty Francs on Morality

48. Madame Victurnien's Success

49. Result of the Success

50. Christus nos Liberavit

51. M. Bamatabois's Inactivity

52. The Solution of Some Questions connected with the Municipal Police

53. The Beginning of Repose

54. How Jean may become Champ

55. Sister Simplice

56. The Perspicacity of Master Scaufflaire

57. A Tempest in a Skull

58. Forms assumed by Suffering during Sleep

59. Hindrances

60. Sister Simplice put to the Proof

61. The Traveller on his Arrival takes Precautions for Departure

62. An Entrance by Favor

63. A Place where Convictions are in Process of Formation

64. The System of Denials

65. Champmathieu more and more Astonished

66. In what Mirror M. Madeleine contemplates his Hair

67. Fantine Happy

68. Javert Satisfied

69. Authority reasserts its Rights

70. A Suitable Tomb

71. What is met with on the Way from Nivelles

72. Hougomont

73. The Eighteenth of June, 1815

74. A

75. The Quid Obscurum of Battles

76. Four o'clock in the Afternoon

77. Napoleon in a Good Humor

78. The Emperor puts a Question to the Guide Lacoste

79. The Unexpected

80. The Plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean

81. A Bad Guide to Napoleon; a Good Guide to Bulow

82. The Guard

83. The Catastrophe

84. The Last Square

85. Cambronne

86. Quot Libras in Duce?

87. Is Waterloo to be considered Good?

88. A Recrudescence of Divine Right

89. The Battle-Field at Night

90. Number 24,601 becomes Number 9,430

91. In which the reader will peruse Two Verses which are of the Devil's Composition possibly

92. The Ankle-Chain must have undergone a Certain Preparatory Manipulation to be thus broken with a Blow from a Hammer

93. The Water Question at Montfermeil

94. Two Complete Portraits

95. Men must have Wine, and Horses must have Water

96. Entrance on the Scene of a Doll

97. The Little One All Alone

98. Which possibly proves Boulatruelle's Intelligence

99. Cosette Side by Side with the Stranger in the Dark

100. The Unpleasantness of receiving into One's House a Poor Man who may be a Rich Man

101. Thenardier at his Manoeuvres

102. He who seeks to better himself may render his Situation Worse

103. Number 9,430 reappears, and Cosette wins it in the Lottery

104. Master Gorbeau

105. A Nest for Owl and a Warbler

106. Two Misfortunes Make One Piece of Good Fortune

107. The Remarks of the Principal Tenant

108. A Five-Franc Piece Falls on the Ground and Produces a Tumult

109. The Zigzags of Strategy

110. It Is Lucky That the Pont D'Austerlitz Bears Carriages

111. To Wit, the Plan of Paris in 1727

112. The Gropings of Flight

113. Which Would be Impossible With Gas Lanterns

114. The Beginning of an Enigma

115. Continuation of the Enigma

116. The Enigma Becomes Doubly Mysterious

117. The Man with the Bell

118. Which Explains How Javert Got on the Scent

119. Number 62 Rue Petit-Picpus

120. The Obedience of Martin Verga

121. Austerities

122. Gayeties

123. Distractions

124. The Little Convent

125. Some Silhouettes of this Darkness

126. Post Corda Lapides

127. A Century under a Guimpe

128. Origin of the Perpetual Adoration

129. End of the Petit-Picpus

130. The Convent as an Abstract Idea

131. The Convent as an Historical Fact

132. On What Conditions One can respect the Past

133. The Convent from the Point of View of Principles

134. Prayer

135. The Absolute Goodness of Prayer

136. Precautions to be observed in Blame

137. Faith, Law

138. Which treats of the Manner of entering a Convent

139. Fauchelevent in the Presence of a Difficulty

140. Mother Innocente

141. In which Jean Valjean has quite the Air of having read Austin Castillejo

142. It is not Necessary to be Drunk in order to be Immortal

143. Between Four Planks

144. In which will be found the Origin of the Saying: Don't lose the Card

145. A Successful Interrogatory

146. Cloistered







In the meantime, while some sang, the rest talked together
tumultuously all at once; it was no longer anything but noise.
Tholomyes intervened.

"Let us not talk at random nor too fast," he exclaimed.
"Let us reflect, if we wish to be brilliant. Too much improvisation
empties the mind in a stupid way. Running beer gathers no froth.
No haste, gentlemen. Let us mingle majesty with the feast. Let us
eat with meditation; let us make haste slowly. Let us not hurry.
Consider the springtime; if it makes haste, it is done for;
that is to say, it gets frozen. Excess of zeal ruins peach-trees
and apricot-trees. Excess of zeal kills the grace and the mirth
of good dinners. No zeal, gentlemen! Grimod de la Reyniere agrees
with Talleyrand."

A hollow sound of rebellion rumbled through the group.

"Leave us in peace, Tholomyes," said Blachevelle.

"Down with the tyrant!" said Fameuil.

"Bombarda, Bombance, and Bambochel!" cried Listolier.

"Sunday exists," resumed Fameuil.

"We are sober," added Listolier.

"Tholomyes," remarked Blachevelle, "contemplate my calmness [mon calme]."

"You are the Marquis of that," retorted Tholomyes.

This mediocre play upon words produced the effect of a stone in a pool.
The Marquis de Montcalm was at that time a celebrated royalist.
All the frogs held their peace.

"Friends," cried Tholomyes, with the accent of a man who had
recovered his empire, "Come to yourselves. This pun which has
fallen from the skies must not be received with too much stupor.
Everything which falls in that way is not necessarily worthy of
enthusiasm and respect. The pun is the dung of the mind which soars.
The jest falls, no matter where; and the mind after producing a piece
of stupidity plunges into the azure depths. A whitish speck flattened
against the rock does not prevent the condor from soaring aloft.
Far be it from me to insult the pun! I honor it in proportion
to its merits; nothing more. All the most august, the most sublime,
the most charming of humanity, and perhaps outside of humanity,
have made puns. Jesus Christ made a pun on St. Peter, Moses on Isaac,
AEschylus on Polynices, Cleopatra on Octavius. And observe that
Cleopatra's pun preceded the battle of Actium, and that had it
not been for it, no one would have remembered the city of Toryne,
a Greek name which signifies a ladle. That once conceded, I return
to my exhortation. I repeat, brothers, I repeat, no zeal, no hubbub,
no excess; even in witticisms, gayety, jollities, or plays on words.
Listen to me. I have the prudence of Amphiaraus and the baldness
of Caesar. There must be a limit, even to rebuses. Est modus
in rebus.

"There must be a limit, even to dinners. You are fond of
apple turnovers, ladies; do not indulge in them to excess.
Even in the matter of turnovers, good sense and art are requisite.
Gluttony chastises the glutton, Gula punit Gulax. Indigestion is
charged by the good God with preaching morality to stomachs.
And remember this: each one of our passions, even love, has a stomach
which must not be filled too full. In all things the word finis
must be written in good season; self-control must be exercised
when the matter becomes urgent; the bolt must be drawn on appetite;
one must set one's own fantasy to the violin, and carry one's self
to the post. The sage is the man who knows how, at a given moment,
to effect his own arrest. Have some confidence in me, for I have
succeeded to some extent in my study of the law, according to the
verdict of my examinations, for I know the difference between the
question put and the question pending, for I have sustained a thesis
in Latin upon the manner in which torture was administered at Rome
at the epoch when Munatius Demens was quaestor of the Parricide;
because I am going to be a doctor, apparently it does not follow
that it is absolutely necessary that I should be an imbecile.
I recommend you to moderation in your desires. It is true that my
name is Felix Tholomyes; I speak well. Happy is he who, when the
hour strikes, takes a heroic resolve, and abdicates like Sylla
or Origenes."

Favourite listened with profound attention.

"Felix," said she, "what a pretty word! I love that name.
It is Latin; it means prosper."

Tholomyes went on:--

"Quirites, gentlemen, caballeros, my friends. Do you wish never to
feel the prick, to do without the nuptial bed, and to brave love?
Nothing more simple. Here is the receipt: lemonade, excessive exercise,
hard labor; work yourself to death, drag blocks, sleep not, hold vigil,
gorge yourself with nitrous beverages, and potions of nymphaeas;
drink emulsions of poppies and agnus castus; season this with
a strict diet, starve yourself, and add thereto cold baths,
girdles of herbs, the application of a plate of lead, lotions made
with the subacetate of lead, and fomentations of oxycrat."

"I prefer a woman," said Listolier.

"Woman," resumed Tholomyes; "distrust her. Woe to him who yields
himself to the unstable heart of woman! Woman is perfidious
and disingenuous. She detests the serpent from professional jealousy.
The serpent is the shop over the way."

"Tholomyes!" cried Blachevelle, "you are drunk!"

"Pardieu," said Tholomyes.

"Then be gay," resumed Blachevelle.

"I agree to that," responded Tholomyes.

And, refilling his glass, he rose.

"Glory to wine! Nunc te, Bacche, canam! Pardon me ladies;
that is Spanish. And the proof of it, senoras, is this: like people,
like cask. The arrobe of Castile contains sixteen litres; the cantaro
of Alicante, twelve; the almude of the Canaries, twenty-five;
the cuartin of the Balearic Isles, twenty-six; the boot of
Tzar Peter, thirty. Long live that Tzar who was great, and long
live his boot, which was still greater! Ladies, take the advice
of a friend; make a mistake in your neighbor if you see fit.
The property of love is to err. A love affair is not made to crouch
down and brutalize itself like an English serving-maid who has
callouses on her knees from scrubbing. It is not made for that;
it errs gayly, our gentle love. It has been said, error is human;
I say, error is love. Ladies, I idolize you all. O Zephine,
O Josephine, face more than irregular, you would be charming were you
not all askew. You have the air of a pretty face upon which some one
has sat down by mistake. As for Favourite, O nymphs and muses! one day
when Blachevelle was crossing the gutter in the Rue Guerin-Boisseau,
he espied a beautiful girl with white stockings well drawn up,
which displayed her legs. This prologue pleased him, and Blachevelle
fell in love. The one he loved was Favourite. O Favourite,
thou hast Ionian lips. There was a Greek painter named Euphorion,
who was surnamed the painter of the lips. That Greek alone would
have been worthy to paint thy mouth. Listen! before thee, there was
never a creature worthy of the name. Thou wert made to receive the
apple like Venus, or to eat it like Eve; beauty begins with thee.
I have just referred to Eve; it is thou who hast created her.
Thou deservest the letters-patent of the beautiful woman. O Favourite,
I cease to address you as `thou,' because I pass from poetry to prose.
You were speaking of my name a little while ago. That touched me;
but let us, whoever we may be, distrust names. They may delude us.
I am called Felix, and I am not happy. Words are liars. Let us
not blindly accept the indications which they afford us. It would
be a mistake to write to Liege[2] for corks, and to Pau for gloves.
Miss Dahlia, were I in your place, I would call myself Rosa.
A flower should smell sweet, and woman should have wit. I say nothing
of Fantine; she is a dreamer, a musing, thoughtful, pensive person;
she is a phantom possessed of the form of a nymph and the modesty
of a nun, who has strayed into the life of a grisette, but who takes
refuge in illusions, and who sings and prays and gazes into the
azure without very well knowing what she sees or what she is doing,
and who, with her eyes fixed on heaven, wanders in a garden where
there are more birds than are in existence. O Fantine, know this:
I, Tholomyes, I am all illusion; but she does not even hear me,
that blond maid of Chimeras! as for the rest, everything about her
is freshness, suavity, youth, sweet morning light. O Fantine,
maid worthy of being called Marguerite or Pearl, you are a woman
from the beauteous Orient. Ladies, a second piece of advice:
do not marry; marriage is a graft; it takes well or ill;
avoid that risk. But bah! what am I saying? I am wasting my words.
Girls are incurable on the subject of marriage, and all that we
wise men can say will not prevent the waistcoat-makers and the
shoe-stitchers from dreaming of husbands studded with diamonds.
Well, so be it; but, my beauties, remember this, you eat too much sugar.
You have but one fault, O woman, and that is nibbling sugar.
O nibbling sex, your pretty little white teeth adore sugar.
Now, heed me well, sugar is a salt. All salts are withering.
Sugar is the most desiccating of all salts; it sucks the liquids
of the blood through the veins; hence the coagulation, and then the
solidification of the blood; hence tubercles in the lungs, hence death.
That is why diabetes borders on consumption. Then, do not crunch sugar,
and you will live. I turn to the men: gentlemen, make conquest,
rob each other of your well-beloved without remorse. Chassez across.
In love there are no friends. Everywhere where there is a pretty
woman hostility is open. No quarter, war to the death! a pretty
woman is a casus belli; a pretty woman is flagrant misdemeanor.
All the invasions of history have been determined by petticoats.
Woman is man's right. Romulus carried off the Sabines; William carried
off the Saxon women; Caesar carried off the Roman women. The man
who is not loved soars like a vulture over the mistresses of other men;
and for my own part, to all those unfortunate men who are widowers,
I throw the sublime proclamation of Bonaparte to the army of Italy:
"Soldiers, you are in need of everything; the enemy has it."


[2] Liege: a cork-tree. Pau: a jest on peau, skin.


Tholomyes paused.

"Take breath, Tholomyes," said Blachevelle.

At the same moment Blachevelle, supported by Listolier and Fameuil,
struck up to a plaintive air, one of those studio songs composed
of the first words which come to hand, rhymed richly and not at all,
as destitute of sense as the gesture of the tree and the sound
of the wind, which have their birth in the vapor of pipes, and are
dissipated and take their flight with them. This is the couplet
by which the group replied to Tholomyes' harangue:--


"The father turkey-cocks so grave
Some money to an agent gave,
That master good Clermont-Tonnerre
Might be made pope on Saint Johns' day fair.
But this good Clermont could not be
Made pope, because no priest was he;
And then their agent, whose wrath burned,
With all their money back returned."


This was not calculated to calm Tholomyes' improvisation; he emptied
his glass, filled, refilled it, and began again:--

"Down with wisdom! Forget all that I have said. Let us be neither
prudes nor prudent men nor prudhommes. I propose a toast to mirth;
be merry. Let us complete our course of law by folly and eating!
Indigestion and the digest. Let Justinian be the male, and Feasting,
the female! Joy in the depths! Live, O creation! The world
is a great diamond. I am happy. The birds are astonishing.
What a festival everywhere! The nightingale is a gratuitous Elleviou.
Summer, I salute thee! O Luxembourg! O Georgics of the Rue Madame,
and of the Allee de l'Observatoire! O pensive infantry soldiers!
O all those charming nurses who, while they guard the children,
amuse themselves! The pampas of America would please me if I had not
the arcades of the Odeon. My soul flits away into the virgin forests
and to the savannas. All is beautiful. The flies buzz in the sun.
The sun has sneezed out the humming bird. Embrace me, Fantine!"

He made a mistake and embraced Favourite.




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