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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Courthope may give occasion to an acknowledgment


[_Edinburgh, 1914-15; Southampton, 1915-16_] 1 ROYAL CRESCENT, BATH, _May 31, 1917_.


P. 3, _note_.--This note was originally left vague, because, in the first place, to perform public and personal fantasias with one's spear on the shield of a champion, with whom one does not intend to fight out the quarrel, seems to me bad chivalry, and secondly, because those readers who were likely to be interested could hardly mistake the reference. The regretted death, a short time after the page was sent to press, of Mr. W. J. Courthope may give occasion to an acknowledgment, coupled with a sincere _ave atque vale_. Mr. Courthope was never an intimate friend of mine, and our agreement was greater in political than in literary matters: but for more than thirty years we were on the best terms of acquaintance, and I had a thorough respect for his accomplishments.

P. 20, l. 5.--_Fuerres de Gadres._ I wonder how many people thought of this when Englishmen "forayed Gaza" just before Easter, 1917?

P. 46, mid-page.--It so happened that, some time after having passed this sheet for press, I was re-reading Dante (as is my custom every year or two), and came upon that other passage (in the _Paradiso_, and therefore not

known to more than a few of the thousands who know the Francesca one) in which the poet refers to the explanation between Lancelot and the Queen. It had escaped my memory (though I think I may say honestly that I knew it well enough) when I passed the sheet: but it seemed to me that perhaps some readers, who do not care much for "parallel passages" in the pedantic sense, might, like myself, feel pleasure in having the great things of literature, in different places, brought together. Moreover, the _Paradiso_ allusion seems to have puzzled or misled most of the commentators, including the late Mr. A. J. Butler, who, by his translation and edition of the _Purgatorio_ in 1880, was my Virgil to lead me through the _Commedia_, after I had sinfully neglected it for exactly half a life-time. He did not know, and might easily not have known, the Vulgate _Lancelot_: but some of those whom he cites, and who evidently _did_ know it, do not seem to have recognised the full significance of the passage in Dante. The text will give the original: the _Paradiso_ (xvi. 13-15) reference tells how Beatrice (after Cacciaguida's biographical and historical recital, and when Dante, in a confessed outburst of family pride, addresses his ancestor with the stately _Voi_), "smiling, appeared like her who coughed at the first fault which is written of Guinevere." This, of course (see text once more), is the Lady of Malahault, though Dante does not name her as he does Prince Galahault in the other _locus_. The older commentators (who, as has been said, _did_ know the original) do not seem to have seen in the reference much more than that both ladies noticed, and perhaps approved, what was happening. But I think there is more in it. The Lady of Malahault (see note in text) had previously been aware that Lancelot was deeply in love, though he would not tell her with whom. Her cough therefore meant: "Ah! I have found you out." Now Beatrice, well as she knew Dante's propensity to love, knew as well that _pride_ was even more of a besetting weakness of his. This was quite a harmless instance of it: but still it _was_ an instance--and the "smile" which is _not_ recorded of the Arthurian lady meant: "Ah! I have _caught_ you out." Even if this be excessive "reading into" the texts, the juxtaposition of them may not be unsatisfactory to some who are not least worth satisfying. (Since writing this, I have been reminded that Mr. Paget Toynbee did make the "juxtaposition" in his Clarendon Press _Specimens of Old French_ (October, 1892), printing there the "Lady of Malahault" passage from MSS. copied by Professor Ker. But there can be no harm in duplicating it.)

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