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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Between Saint Preux and Bradley Headstone

[366] There is another curious anticipation of Dickens here: for Julie, as Dora does with Agnes, entreats Claire to "fill her vacant place"--though, by the way, not with her husband. And a third parallel, between Saint-Preux and Bradley Headstone, need not be quite farcical.

[367] You _may_ tear out Introductions, if you do it neatly; and this I say, having written many.

[368] Also Rousseau, without meaning it, has made him by no means a fool. When, on learning from his wife and daughter that Saint-Preux had been officiating as "coach," he asked if this genius was a gentleman, and on hearing that he was not, replied, "What have you paid him, then?" it was not, as the novelist and his hero took it, in their vanity, to be, mere insolence of caste. M. d'Etange knew perfectly well that though he could not trust a French gentleman with his wife, there was not nearly so much danger with his daughter--while a _roturier_ was not only entitled to be paid, and might accept pay without derogation, but was not unlikely, as the old North Country saying goes, to take it in malt if he did not receive it in meal.

[369] I observe that I have not yet fulfilled the promise of saying something of Wolmar, but the less said of him the better. He belongs wholly to that latter portion which has been wished away; he is a respectable Deist--than which it is essentially impossible, one would suppose, for orthodoxy and unorthodoxy alike to imagine anything more uninteresting; and his behaviour to Saint-Preux appears to me to be simply nauseous. He cannot, like Rowena, "forgive as a Christian," because he is not one, and any other form of forgiveness or even of tolerance is, in the circumstances, disgusting. But it was Rousseau's way to be disgusting sometimes.

[370] We have spoken of his attempt at the fairy tale; _qui_ Gomersal _non odit_ in English verse, _amet Le Levite d'Ephraim_ in French prose, etc. etc.

[371] He did not even, as Rousseau did with his human offspring, habitually take them to the Foundling Hospital--that is to say, in the case of literature, the anonymous press. He left them in MS., gave them away, and in some cases behaved to them in such an incomprehensible fashion that one wonders how they ever came to light.

[372] Carlyle's _Essay_ and Lord Morley of Blackburn's book are excepted. But Carlyle had not the whole before him, and Lord Morley was principally dealing with the _Encyclopedie_.

[373] Especially as Genin, like Carlyle, did not know all. There is, I believe, a later selection, but I have not seen it.

[374] Even the long, odd, and sometimes tedious _Reve de D'Alembert_, which Carlyle thought "we could have done without," but which others have extolled, has vivid narrative touches, though one is not much surprised at Mlle. de Lespinasse having been by no means grateful for the part assigned to her.

[375] The cleansing effect of war is an old _cliche_. It has been curiously illustrated in this case: for the first proof of the present passage reached me on the very same day with the news of the expulsion of the Germans from the village of Puisieux. So the name got "_red_-washed" from its old reproach.

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