Living as we do in the nineteenth century, in an age of universal suffrage, of democracy, of liberalism, we asked ourselves the question whether what are called "the lower classes" had no rights in the novel; if that world beneath a world, the common people, must needs remain subject to the literary interdict, and helpless against the contempt of authors who have hitherto said no word to imply that the common people possess a heart and soul. We asked ourselves whether, in these days of equality in which we live, there are classes unworthy the notice of the author and the reader, misfortunes too lowly, dramas too foul-mouthed, catastrophes too commonplace in the terror they inspire. We were curious to know if that conventional symbol of a forgotten literature, of a vanished society, Tragedy, is definitely dead; if, in a country where castes no longer exist and aristocracy has no legal status, the miseries of the lowly and the poor would appeal to public interest, emotion, compassion, as forcibly as the miseries of the great and the rich; if, in a word, the tears that are shed in low life have the same power to cause tears to flow as the tears shed in high life.These thoughts led us to venture upon the humble tale, Sœur Philomène, in 1861; they lead us to put forth Germinie Lacerteux to-day.
olis and occupying a whole quarter of the city,--walking at slow steps through mud that never ends. Lastly the intoning of the priests, and the coffin laboriously lowered by the gravediggers' arms to the ends of the ropes, as a cask of wine is lowered into a cellar.
Wednesday, August 20.--Once more I must return to the hospital. For since the visit I paid Rose on Thursday and her sudden death the next day, there has existed for me a mystery which I force from my thoughts, but which constantly returns; the mystery of that agony of which I know nothing, of that sudden end. I long to know and I dread to learn. It does not seem to me as if she were dead; I think of her simply as of a person who has disappeared. My imagination returns to her last hours, gropes for them in the darkness and reconstructs them, and they torture me with their veiled horrors! I need to have my doubts resolved. At last, this morning, I took my courage in both hands. Again I see the hospital, again I see the red-faced, obe
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