The Middle Classes/Dedication

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                         To Constance-Victoire.

  Here, madame, is one of those books which come into the mind,
  whence no one knows, giving pleasure to the author before he can
  foresee what reception the public, our great present judge, will
  accord to it. Feeling almost certain of your sympathy in my
  pleasure, I dedicate the book to you. Ought it not to belong to
  you as the tithe formerly belonged to the Church in memory of God,
  who makes all things bud and fruit in the fields and in the

  A few lumps of clay, left by Moliere at the feet of his colossal
  statue of Tartuffe, have here been kneaded by a hand more daring
  than able; but, at whatever distance I may be from the greatest of
  comic writers, I shall still be glad to have used these crumbs in
  showing the modern Hypocrite in action. The chief encouragement
  that I have had in this difficult undertaking was in finding it
  apart from all religious questions,—questions which ought to be
  kept out of it for the sake of one so pious as yourself; and also
  because of what a great writer has lately called our present
  "indifference in matters of religion."

  May the double signification of your names be for my book a
  prophecy! Deign to find here the respectful gratitude of him who
  ventures to call himself the most devoted of your servants.

                                                 De Balzac.