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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Our old friend Spithridates comes back


The advent of Araminta.]

Now, as this is by no means a very exceptional, certainly not a unique, score of pages, and as it has taken almost a whole one of ours to give a rather imperfect notion of its contents, it follows that it would take about six hundred, if not more, to do justice to the ten or twelve thousand of the original. Which (in one of the most immortal of formulas) "is impossible." We must fall back, therefore, on the system already pursued for the rest of this volume, and perhaps even contract its application in some cases. A rash promise of the now entirely, if not also rather insanely,[171] generous Prince not to marry Mandane without fighting Philidaspes, or rather the King of Assyria, beforehand, is important; and an at last minute description of Cyrus's person and equipment as he sets out (on one of the proudest and finest horses that ever was, with a war-dress the superbest that can be imagined, and with Mandane's magnificent scarf put on for the first time) is not quite omissible. But then things become intricate. Our old friend Spithridates comes back, and has first love affairs and afterwards an enormous _recit_-episode with a certain Princess of Pontus, whom Cyrus, reminding one slightly of Bentley on Mr. Pope's _Homer_ and Tommy Merton on Cider, pronounces to be _belle, blonde, blanche et bien faite_, but not Mandane; and who has the further charm of possessing, for the first time in literature if one mistakes not, the

renowned name of Araminta. A pair of letters between these two will be useful as specimens, and to some, it may be hoped, agreeable in themselves.


[Sidenote: Her correspondence with Spithridates.]

I depart, Madam, because you wish it: but, in departing, I am the most unhappy of all men. I know not whither I go; nor when I shall return; nor even if you wish that I _should_ return; and yet they tell me I must live and hope. But I should not know how to do either the one or the other, unless you order me to do both by two lines in your own hand. Therefore I beg them of you, divine Princess--in the name of an illustrious person, now no more, [_her brother Sinnesis, who had been a great friend of his_], but who will live for ever in the memory of


[_He can hardly have hoped for anything better than the following answer, which is much more "downright Dunstable" than is usual here._]


Live as long as it shall please the Gods to allow you. Hope as long as Araminta lives--she begs you: and even if you yourself wish to live, she orders you to do so.

[_In other words he says, "My own Araminta, say 'Yes'!" and she does. This attitude necessarily involves the despair of a Rival, who writes thus:_]


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