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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

He will do anything for Araminta


and finishes the First Book.

The Second opens smartly enough with the actual siege of Sardis; but we cannot get rid of Araminta (it is sad to have to wish that she was not "our own Araminta" quite so often) and Spithridates. Conversations between the still prejudiced Mandane and the Lydian Princess Palmis--a sensible and agreeable girl--are better; but from them we are hurled into a _Histoire de Sesostre_ (the Egyptian prince, son of Amasis, who is now an ally of Cyrus) _et de Timarete_, which not only fills the whole of the rest of the volume, but swells over into the next, being much occupied with the villainies of a certain Heracleon, who is at the time a wounded prisoner in Cyrus's Camp. The siege is kept up briskly, but Cyrus's courteous release of certain captives adds fuel to Mandane's wrath as having been procured by Araminta. He will do anything for Araminta! The releases themselves give rise to fresh "alarums and excursions," among which we again meet a pretty name (Candiope), borrowed by Dryden. Doralise is also much to the fore; and we have a regular _Histoire_, though a shorter one than usual, of _Arpalice and Thrasimede_, which will, as some say, "bulk largely" later. The length of this part is, indeed, enormous, the double volume running to over fourteen hundred pages, instead of the usual ten or twelve. But its close is spirited and sufficiently interim-catastrophic. Cyrus discovers in the _enceinte_ of Sardis the usual weak point--an apparently impregnable scarped rock, which has been weakly
fortified and garrisoned--takes it by escalade in person with his best paladins, and after it the city.

But of course he cannot expect to have it all his own way when not quite twelve-twentieths of the book are gone, and he finds that Mandane is gone likewise; the King of Pontus, who has practically usurped the authority of Croesus, having once more carried her off--perhaps not so entirely unwilling as before. Cyrus pursues, and while he is absent the King of Assyria (Philidaspes) shows himself even more of a "Philip Devil" than usual by putting the captive Lydian prince on a pyre, threatening to burn him if he will not reveal the place of the Princess's flight, and actually having the torch applied. Of course Cyrus turns up at the nick of time, has the fire put out, rates the King of Assyria soundly for his violence, and apologises handsomely to Croesus. The notion of an apology for nearly roasting a man may appear to have its ludicrous side, but the way in which the historic pyre and the mention of Solon are brought in without discrediting the hero is certainly ingenious. The Mandane-hunt is renewed, but fruitlessly.

At the beginning of Part VII. there are--according to the habit noticed, and in rather extra measure as regards "us" if not "them"--some interesting things. The first is an example--perhaps the best in the book--of the elaborate description (called in Greek rhetorical technique _ecphrasis_) which is so common in the Greek Romances. The subject is an extraordinarily beautiful statue of a woman which Cyrus sees in Croesus's gallery, and which will have sequels later. It, or part of it, may be given:


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