Honoré de Balzac
[Writer, b. 1799, Tours, France, d. 1850, Paris.]
The steam-engine was rejected as absurd, just as aerial navigation is today. So were gunpowder, the printing press, spectacles and the latest newcomer, the daguerreotype. If someone had gone up to Napoleon and told him that a building or a man is permanently represented by an image in the atmosphere, and that everything that exists possesses an intangible spectre which may nevertheless become visible, Napoleon would have had him put away in the asylum at Charenton, just as Richelieu dispatched the unfortunate Salomon de Cuax to the madhouse at Bicêtre when that Norman martyr came to him with the invention of the steamship. —And yet Daguerre’s invention demonstrates exactly what I have just said.