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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Sidenote Hedelin d'Aubignac Macarise

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[Sidenote: Hedelin d'Aubignac--_Macarise._]

Francois Hedelin, Abbe d'Aubignac, is one of those unfortunate but rarely quite guiltless persons who live in literary history much more by the fact of their having attacked or lectured greater men than themselves, and by witticisms directed against them, than by their own actual work, which is sometimes not wholly contemptible. He concerns us here only as the author of a philosophical-heroic romance, rather agreeably entitled _Macarise ou La Reine des Iles Fortunees_, where the bland naivete of the pedantry would almost disarm the present members of that Critical Regiment, of which the Abbe, in his turn, was not so much a chaplain as a most combatant officer. The very title goes on to neutralise its attractiveness by explaining--with that benignant condescension which is natural to at least some of its author's class--that it "contains the Moral Philosophy of the Stoics under the veil of several agreeable adventures in the form of a Romance"; and that we may not forget this, various side-notes refer to passages in an _Abrege_ of that philosophy. The net is thus quite frankly set in the sight of the bird, and if he chooses to walk into it, he has only himself to blame. The opening is a fine example of that plunge into the middle of things which Hedelin had learnt from his classical masters to think proper: "Les cruels persecuteurs

d'Arianax l'ayant reduit a la necessite de se precipiter[210] dans les eaux de la Sennatele avec son frere Dinazel...." The fact that the presupposed gentle reader knows nothing of the persons or the places mentioned is supposed to arouse in him an inextinguishable desire to find out. That he should be at once gratified is, of course, unthinkable. In fact his attention will soon be diverted from Arianax and Dinazel and the banks of the Sennatele altogether by the very tragical adventures of a certain Clearte. He, with a company of friends, visits the country of a tyrant, who is accustomed to welcome strangers and heap them with benefits, till a time comes (the allegory is something obvious) when he demands it all back, with their lives, through a cruel minister (again something "speakingly" named) "Thanate." The head of this company, Clearte, on receiving the sentence, talks Stoicism for many pages, and when he is exhausted, somebody else takes up the running in such a fascinating manner that it "seemed as if he had only to go on talking to make the victims immortal!" But the atrocious Thanate cuts, at the same moment, the thread of the discourse and the throat of Clearte--who is, however, transported to the dominions of Macarise,--and _histoires_ and "ecphrases" and interspersions of verse follow as usual. But the Abbe is nowise infirm of purpose; and the book ends with the strangest mixture of love-letters and not very short discourses on the various schools of philosophy, together with a Glossary or Onomasticon interpreting the proper names which have been used after the following fashion: "Alcarinte. _La Crainte_, du mot francais par anagramme sans aucun changement," though how you can have an anagram without a change is not explained.

[Sidenote: Gombauld--_Endimion._]

Perhaps one may class, if, indeed, classification is necessary, with the religious romances of Camus

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