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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Exposee has a fuller sense than the simple English verb


[271]

Perhaps the dullest part is where (save the mark!) the Demon of Socrates is brought in to talk sometimes mere platitudes, sometimes tame paradoxes which might as well be put in the mouth of any pupil-teacher, or any popular journalist or dramatist, of the present day.--Of the attempt to make Swift Cyrano's debtor one need say little: but among predecessors, if not creditors, Ben Jonson, for his _News from the New World discovered in the Moon_, may at least be mentioned.

[272] The key-mongers, of course, identify the three with the author, her own husband, and La Rochefoucauld.

[273] He has ensconced himself in one of the smaller rooms of a garden pavilion outside of which they are sitting, having left their suite at some distance.

[274] _Maitresse de sa conduite_, a curious but not difficult text as to French ideas of marriage.

[275] I have been obliged to insert "trials" to bring out the meaning of "_exposee au milieu_." "_Exposee_" has a fuller sense than the simple English verb, and almost equals the legal "exposed for sale."

[276] Mme. de la Fayette was a very accomplished woman, and, possibly from her familiarity with Queen Henrietta Maria, well acquainted with English as well as French history. But our proper names, as usual, vanquish her, and she makes Henry VIII. marry Jane _Seimer_ and Catherine

_Havart_.

[277] This does not apply to the _main_ love story but to the atmosphere generally. The Vidame de Chartres, for instance, is represented as in love with (1) Queen Catherine; (2) a Mme. de Themines, with whom he is not quite satisfied; (3) a Mme. de Martignes, with whom he is; (4) a lady unnamed, with whom he has _trompe_ them all. This may be true enough to life; but it is difficult to make it into good matter of fiction, especially with a crowd of other people doing much the same.

[278] It ought, perhaps, to be added that though manners, etc., altered not a little between Henri II. and Louis XIV., the alteration was much less than in most other histories at most other periods. It would be easy to find two persons in Tallemant whose actual experience covered the whole time.

[279] You _had_ to call it so when I first saw it; when I last did so it was "Oiron." No doubt it is something else now.

[280] For that, see Chapter XII.

[281] See below on the version Introduction to the _Quatre Facardins_.

[282] Including miscellaneous imbecility and unsuitableness as well as moral indecorum.

[283] Written for the _Fortnightly Review_ in 1882, but by a chapter of accidents not printed till 1890. Reprinted next year in _Essays on French Novelists_ (London, 1891).

[284] Miss Ruth Clark.

[285] The conclusion of _Vathek_ is of course undoubtedly more "admirable" than anything of Hamilton's; but it is in a quite different genus.

[286] The piece _Celle que j'adore_ is the best of the casual verses, though there are other good songs, etc. Those which alternate with the prose of some of the tales are too often (as in the case of the _Cabinet_ insets, _v. sup._) rather prosaic. Of the prose miscellanies the so-called _Relations_ "of different places in Europe," and "of a voyage to Mauritania," contain some of the cream of Hamilton's almost uniquely ironic narrative and commentary. When that great book, "The Nature and History of Irony," which has to be written is written--the last man died with the last century and the next hour seems far off--a contrast of Hamilton and Kinglake will probably form part of it.


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