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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Thought that Macaulay was proved to be absolutely right


[231]

She seems, however (see vol. 37 as above), to have been a real person.

[232] The would-be anonymous compiler (he was really Gueulette, on whom _v. inf._) of this and the other collections now to be noticed, when acknowledging his sufficiently evident _supercherie_ and some of his indebtednesses (_e.g._ to Straparola), defends this on Edgeworthian principles. But though it is quite true that a healthy curiosity as to such things may be aroused by tales, it should be left to satisfy itself, not forestalled and spoilt and stunted by immediate information.

[233] The once very popular _Tales of the Genii_ (_v. inf._) which are often referred to by Scott and other men of his generation, seem to have dropped out of notice comparatively. We shall meet them here in French.

[234] The late Mr. Henley was at one time much interested in this point, and consulted me about it. But I could tell him nothing; and I do not know whether he ever satisfied himself on the subject. Lesage _is_ said (though I am not sure that the evidence goes beyond _on dit_) to have revised the work of Petis de La Croix in the _Days_; and some of his own certainly corresponds to it.

[235] Or, as it was once put, with easy epigram, when the artificial fairy tale is not dreadfully improper it is apt to be dreadfully proper.

[236] Nothing suits the

entire group better than the reply of the ferocious and sleepless but not unintelligent Sultan Hudgiadge, in the _Nouveaux Contes Orientaux_, when his little benefactress Moradbak says that she will have the honour to-morrow of telling him a _histoire Mongole_. "Le pays n'y fait rien," says he. And it doesn't.

[237] All of them, be it remembered, the work of Gueulette (_v. inf._).

[238] The recently recovered "episodes" of this are rather more like the _Cabinet_ stories than _Vathek_ itself; and perhaps a sense of this may have been part of the reason why Beckford never published them.

[239] He came to ask, or rather demand, Zibeline's hand for his master: and the fairy made his magnificence appear rags and rubbish.

[240] Mr. Toots's "I'm a-a-fraid you must have got very wet." When Courtebotte returns from his expedition, across six months of snow, to the Ice Mountain on the top of which rests Zibeline's heart, "many thousand persons" ask him, "_Vous avez donc eu bien froid?_"

[241] She is also said to have been a "love-child" of no less a father than Prince Eugene.

[242] Anybody who is curious as to this should look up the matter, as may be done most conveniently in an _excursus_ of Napier's edition, where my "friend of" [more than] "forty years," the late Mr. Mowbray Morris, in a note to his own admirable one-volume "Globe" issue, thought that Macaulay was "proved to be absolutely right." Morris, though his published and signed writings were few, and though he pushed to its very furthest the hatred of personal advertisement natural to most English "_gentlemen_ of the press," was a man of the world and of letters in most unusual combination; of a true Augustan taste both in criticism and in composition; of wit and of _savoir vivre_ such as few possess. But, like all men who are good for anything, he had some crazes: and one of them was Macaulay. I own that I do not think all the honours were on T. B. M.'s side in this mellay: but this is not the place to reason out the matter. What is quite certain is that in this long-winded and mostly trivial performance there is a great deal of intended, or at least suggested, political satire. But Johnson, though he might well think little of _Titi_, need not have despised the whole _Cabinet_ (or as he calls it, perhaps using the real title of another issue, _Bibliotheque_), and would not on another occasion. Indeed the diary-notes in which the thing occurs are too much in shorthand to be trustworthy texts.


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