Epilogue to Balzac’s Succubus
Good Advice for Anytime... Lest you lose your head.
"I quitted the service of the church, and espoused your.
mother, from whom I received infinite blessings, and with
whom I shared my life, my goods, my soul, and all. And she
agreed with me in following precepts —
Firstly, that to live happily, it is necessary to keep far away from church people,
to honour them much without giving them leave to enter
your house, any more than to those who by right, just or
unjust, are supposed to be superior to us.
Secondly, to take a modest condition, and to keep oneself in it without wishing
to appear in any way rich. To have a care to excite no envy,
nor strike any onesoever in any manner, because it is needful
to be as strong as an oak, which kills the plants at its feet, to
crush envious heads, and even then would one succumb,
since human oaks are especially rare and that none of our family
should flatter himself that he is one, granting
that he be one of us.
Thirdly, never to spend more than one quarter of one's income, conceal one's wealth, hide
one's goods and chattels, to undertake no office, to go to
church like other people, and always keep one's thoughts to
oneself, seeing that they belong to you and not to others,
who twist them about, turn them after their own fashion,
and make calumnies therefrom.
Fourthly, always to remain in the condition of our family business, who are now and
forever drapers. To marry your daughters to good drapers,
send your sons to be drapers in other towns of France furnished
with these wise precepts, and to bring them up to the
honour of drapery, and without leaving any dream of ambition
in their minds. A draper like a Tournebouche should be
their glory, their arms, their name, their motto, their life.
Thus by being always drapers, they will be always
Tournebouches, and rub on like the good little insects, who
once lodged in the beam, made their dens, and go on with
security to the end of their ball of thread.
Fifthly never to speak any other language than that of drapery, and never to
dispute concerning religion or government. And even though
the government of the state, the province, religion, and God
turn about, or have a fancy to go to the right or to the left,
always in your quality of Tournebouche, stick to your cloth.
Thus unnoticed by the others of the town, the Tournebouches
will live in peace with their little Tournebouches—paying
the tithes and taxes, and all that they are required by force to
give, be it to God, or to the king, to the town of to the
parish, with all of whom it is unwise to struggle. Also it is
necessary to keep the patrimonial treasure, to have peace and
to buy peace, never to owe anything, to have corn in the
house, and enjoy yourselves with the doors and windows
"By this means none will take from the Tournebouches,
neither the state, nor the Church, nor the Lords, to whom
should the case be that force is employed, you will lend a few
crowns without cherishing the idea of ever seeing him again—
I mean the crowns.
"Thus, in all seasons people will love the Tournebouches,
will mock the Tournebouches as poor people—as the slow
Tournebouches, as Tournebouches of no understanding. Let
the know-nothings say on. The Tournebouches will neither
be burned nor hanged, to the advantage of King or Church,
or other people; and the wise Tournebouches will have secretly
money in their pockets, and joy in their houses, hidden
"Now, my dear son, follow this the counsel of a modest
and middle-class life. Maintain this in thy family as a county
charter; and when you die, let your successor maintain it as
the sacred gospel of the Tournebouches, until God wills it
that there be no longer Tournebouches in this world."
*This letter has been found at the time of the inventory
made in the house of Francois Tournebouche, lord of Veretz,
chancellor to Monseigneur the Dauphin, and condemned at
the time of the rebellion of the said lord against the King to
lose his head, and have all his goods confiscated by order of
the Parliament of Paris. The said letter has been handed to
the Governor of Touraine as an historical curiosity, and joined
to the pieces of the process in the archbishopric of Tours.