Lirette evidently did not realize what she was doing in the matter of the convent, and was displeased with many things after entering it. Balzac was vexed at what she wrote to Madame Hanska, but felt that she was not altogether responsible for her actions, believing that it was a very personal sentiment which caused her to enter the convent.[*] He could not understand her indifference to her friends, she did penance by keeping a letter from Anna eighteen days before opening it. He found her stupidity unequaled, but he sent his housekeeper to see her, and visited her himself when he had time.
[*] It has been stated that Mademoiselle Borel was
so impressed by the
chants, lights and ceremony at the funeral of M. de Hanski in
November 1841, that it caused her to give up her protestant faith
and enter the convent. Miss Sandars (Balzac) has well remarked:
“We may wonder, however, whether tardy remorse for her deceit
towards the dead man, who had treated her with kindness, had not
its influence in causing this sudden religious enthusiasm, and
whether the Sister in the Convent of the Visitation in Paris gave
herself extra penance for her sins of connivance.” Mademoiselle
died in this convent, rue d’Enfer, in 1857.
In addition to all this, the poor novelist had one more trial to undergo; this was to see her take the vows (December 2, 1845). He was misinformed as to the time of the ceremony, so went too soon and wasted much precious time, but he remained through the long service in order to see her afterwards. But in all this Lirette was to accomplish one thing for him. As she had helped in his correspondence, she was soon to be the means of bringing him and his Chatelaine together again; the devotion of Madame Hanska and Anna to the former governess being such that they came to Paris to see her.
In the home of the de Hanskis in the Russian waste were two other women, Mesdemoiselles Severine and Denise Wylezynska, who were to play a small part in Balzac’s life. Both of these relatives probably came with M. de Hanski and his family to Switzerland in 1833; their names are mentioned frequently in his letters to Madame Hanska, and soon after his visit at Neufchatel the novelist asks that Mademoiselle Severine preserve her gracious indifference. These ladies were cousins of M. de Hanski, and probably were sisters of M. Thaddee Wylezynski, mentioned in connection with Madame Hanska. After her husband’s death, Madame Hanska must have invited these two ladies to live with her, for Balzac inquires about the two young people she had with her.
Mademoiselle Denise has been suspected of having written the first letter for Madame Hanska, and the dedication of La Grenadiere has been replaced by the initials “A. D. W.,” supposed to mean “a Denise Wylezynska”; the actual dedication is an unpublished correction of Balzac himself.