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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

And called himself de Cyrano Bergerac


[260] She falls in love with an ebony cabinet at a fair which they visit together, and he gives it her. But, anticipating that she will use it for her most precious things, he privately gets a second set of keys from the seller, and in her absence achieves the theft of the promise.

[261] Any one who has, as the present writer has had, opportunities of actually doing this, will find it a not uninteresting operation, and one which "amply repays the expense" of time and trouble.

[262] This is a point of importance. Details of a life-like character are most valuable in the novel; but if they are not "material" in the transferred sense they are simply a bore. Scott undoubtedly learnt this lesson from his prentice work in finishing Strutt's _Queenhoo Hall_, where the story is simply a clumsy vehicle for conveying information about sports and pastimes and costumes and such-like "antiqu_ar_ities."

[263] To us small, as are not those of its predecessors.

[264] Not a bad instance of the subacid touches which make the book lively, and which probably supply some explanation of its author's unpopularity. The "furred law-cats" of all kinds were always a prevailing party in Old France, and required stout gloves to touch them with.

[265] This (often called by its Italian name of Quarant' ore) is a "Devotion" during an exposure of the Sacrament for that time, in memory of the interval between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Our Lord. It is a public service, and, I suppose, collections were made _at intervals_. No one, especially no girl, could stand the time straight through. The "Paradise" was, of course, a "decoration."

[266] Javotte says "shoe the mule"--"ferrer la mule"--one of the phrases like "faire danser l'anse du panier" and others, for taking "self-presented testimonials," as Wilkie Collins's Captain Wragge more elegantly and less cryptically calls it.

[267] Of course the regular "thanks" of a collector for pious purposes.

[268] He does later seek this, and only loses her (if she can be called a loss) by his own folly. But his main objective is to _conter_ (or as Furetiere himself has it, _debiter_) _la fleurette_. It ought, perhaps, to be mentioned, as a possible counterweight or drawback, that the novelist breaks off to discuss the too great matter-of-factness of bourgeois girls and women. But he was to have great followers in this also.

[269] He was born and baptised Savinien de Cyrano, and called himself de Cyrano-Bergerac. The sound of the additional designation and some of his legendary peculiarities probably led to his being taken for a Gascon; but there is no evidence of meridional extraction or seat, and there appears to be some of Breton or other Western connection.

[270] There is nothing in the least astonishing in his having been this--if he was. The tendency of the Renaissance towards what is called "free thought" is quite well known; and the existence, in the seventeenth century, of a sort of school of boisterous and rather vulgar infidelity is familiar--with the names of Bardouville, and Saint-Ibal or Saint-Ibar, as members of it--to all readers of Saint-Evremond, Tallemant, the _Ana_, etc.


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