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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

134 Sidenote Montreux and the Bergeries de Juliette


[Sidenote:

Examples of their style.]

No one will be surprised to hear that the "Phebus" or systematised conceit, for which the period is famous, and which the beloved Marguerite herself did not a little favour, is abundant in them. From a large selection of M. Reynier's, I cull, as perhaps the most delightful of all these, if not also of all known to me in any language, the following:

During this task, Love, who had ambushed himself, plunged his wings in the tears of the lover, and dried them in the burning breast of the maiden.

"A squadron of sighs" is unambitious, but neat, terse, and very tempting to the imagination. More complicated is a lady "floating on the sea of the persecution of her Prince, who would fain give her up to the shipwreck of his own concupiscence."

And I like this:

The grafts of our desires being inarched long since in the tree of our loves, the branches thereof bore the lovely bouquets of our hopes.

And this is fine:

Paper! that the rest of your white surface may not blush at my shame, suffer me to blacken it with my sorrow!

It has always been a sad mystery to me why rude and dull intelligences should sneer at, or denounce, these delightful fantastries,

the very stuff of which dreams and love and poetry--the three best things of life--are made.[134]

[Sidenote: Montreux and the _Bergeries de Juliette_.]

The British Museum possesses not very many of the, I believe, numerous works of Nicolas de Montreux, _alias_, as has been said, Ollenix du Mont Sacre, a "gentleman of Maine," as he scrupulously designates himself. But it does possess two parts (the first two) of the _Bergeries de Juliette_, and I am not in the least surprised that no reader of them should have worried any librarian into completing the set. Each of these parts is a stout volume of some five hundred pages,[135] not very small, of close small print, filled with stuff of the most deadly dulness. For instance, Ollenix is desirous to illustrate the magnificence and the danger of those professional persons of the other sex at Venice who have filled no small place in literature from Coryat to Rousseau. So he tells us, without a gleam or suspicion of humour, that one customer was so astonied at the decorations of the bedroom, the bed, etc., that he remained for two whole hours considering them, and forgetting to pay any attention to the lady. It is satisfactory to know that she revenged herself by raising the fee to an inordinate amount, and insisting on her absurd client's lackey being sent to fetch it before the actual conference took place. But the silliness of the story itself is a fair sample of Montreux' wits, and these wits manage to make anything they deal with duller by their way of telling it.


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