On the appointed day, Humboldt found himself dining with two strangers: one acquitted himself politely, if somewhat reservedly, saying nothing throughout the meal; the other, eccentrically attired and quite unkempt, chattered with incessant animation.
At the end of the meal, Humboldt turned to his friend. "I like your lunatic," he whispered, indicating the second man. "He amuses me." "But it's the other who's the lunatic," the doctor replied. "The man you're looking at is Monsieur Honore de Balzac."