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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

189 I have said that you can do this with the Astree


[181]

It is amusing, as one reads this, to remember Hume's essay in which he lays stress on the _contrast_ between Greek and French ideas in this very matter of the duel.

[182] A curious and rather doubtful position; well worth the consideration of anybody who wishes to write the much-wanted _History and Philosophy of Duelling_.

[183] The author uses "Prince," as indeed one might expect, rather in the Continental than in the English way, and the persons who bear it are not always sons of kings or members of reigning families. The two most agreeable _quiproquos_ arising from this difference are probably the fictitious unwillingness of the excellent Miss Higgs to descend from "Princesse de Montcontour" to "Duchesse d'Ivry," and the, it is said, historical contempt of a comparatively recent Papal dignitary for an English Roman Catholic document which had no Princes among the signatories.

[184] Nobody, unless I forget, has the wisdom to put the counter-question, "Can you ever cease loving if you have once really loved?" which is to be carefully distinguished from a third, "Can you love more than once?" But there are more approaches to these _arcana_ in the _Astree_ than in Mlle. de Scudery.

[185] A very nice phrase.

[186] He had refused to cross swords with her, and had lowered his own in salute.

justify;">[187] Compare the not quite so ingenious adjustment of the intended burning of Croesus.

[188] _Clelie_ is about as bad in this respect, _v. inf._: the others less so.

[189] I have said that you _can_ do this with the _Astree_, and that this makes for superiority in it: but there also I think absolutely continuous reading of the whole would become "collar-work."

[190] That is to say, several weeks occupied in the manner above indicated. You may sometimes read two of the volumes in a day, but much oftener you will find one enough; in the actual process for the present history some intervals must be allowed for digestion and _precis_; and, as above remarked, if other forms of "cheerfulness," in Dr. Johnson's friend Mr. Edwards's phrase, do not "break in" of themselves, you must make them, to keep any freshness in the task. I fancy the twenty volumes were, if not "my _sole_ occupation" (like that more cheerful and charitable one of the head-waiter at Limmer's), my main one for nearly twice twenty days.

[191] In this respect the remarks above extend backwards to the _Astree_, and even to some of the smaller and earlier novels mentioned in connection with it. But the "Heroics," especially Mlle. de Scudery, _modernise_ the treatment not inconsiderably.

[192] Achilles Tatius and the author of _Hysminias and Hysmine_ come nearest. But the first is too ancient and the last too modern.

[193] We have indeed endeavoured to discover a "form" of the greatest and best kind in the Arthurian, but it has been acknowledged that it may not have been deliberately reached--or approached--by even a single artist, and that, if it was, the identity of that artist is not quite certain.

[194] The intolerance of anything but scraps is one of the numerous arms and legs of the twentieth century Baal. There are some who have not bowed down to it.

[195] For Soliman is not indisposed to fall in love with his illustrious Bassa's beloved.

[196] At the close of _Old Mortality_.


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