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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Et parait remplie d'attraits a ses cruels amants


[389]

See next chapter.

[390] I wonder whether any one else has noticed that Thackeray, in the very agreeable illustration to one of not quite his greatest "letterpress" things, _A New Naval Drama_ (Oxford Ed. vol. viii. p. 421), makes the press-gang weep ostentatiously in the picture, though not in the text, where they only wave their cutlasses. It may be merely a coincidence: but it may not.

[391] There are reasons for thinking that Marmontel was deliberately "antidoting the _fanfreluches_" of the older tale-teller.

[392] In the original, suiting the rest of the setting, it is _rideaux_.

[393] "Explanations" is quite admirable, and, I think, neither borrowed from, nor, which is more surprising, by others.

[394] She declares that she has never actually "stooped to folly"; but admits that on more than one occasion it was only an accidental interruption which "luckily" (_heureusement_) saved her.

[395] It is necessary to retain the French here: for our "likes" is ambiguous.

[396] Cf. the stories, contradictory of each other, as to _our_ brown-coated philosopher's appearance in France. (Boswell, p. 322, Globe ed.)

[397] Cf. again the bestowal of this title by Horace Walpole, in his later days, on Edward Jerningham,

playwright, poetaster, and _petit maitre_, who, unluckily for himself, lived into the more roughly satirical times of the Revolutionary War.

[398] "The _sylph_ishness of _Le Mari Sylphe_ is only an ingenious and defensible fraud; and the philtre-flasks of _Alcidonis_ are little more than "properties.""

[399] Here is a specimen of his largest and most ambitious production, the _Etudes de la Nature_. "La femelle du tigre, exhalant l'odeur du carnage, fait retentir les solitudes de l'Afrique de ses miaulements affreux, et parait remplie d'attraits a ses cruels amants." By an odd chance, I once saw a real scene contrasting remarkably with Saint-Pierre's sentimental melodrama. It was in the Clifton Zoological Gardens, which, as possibly some readers may know, were at one time regarded as particularly home-like by the larger carnivora. It was a very fine day, and an equally fine young tigress was endeavouring to attract the attention of her cruel lover. She rolled delicately about, like a very large, very pretty, and exceptionally graceful cat; she made fantastic gestures with her paws and tail; and she purred literally "as gently as any sucking dove"--_roucoulement_ was the only word for it. But her "lover," though he certainly looked "cruel" and as if he would very much like to eat _me_, appeared totally indifferent to her attractions.

[400] So, also, when one is told that he called his son Paul and his daughter Virginie, it is cheerful to remember, with a pleasant sense of contrast, Scott's good-humoured contempt for the tourists who wanted to know whether Abbotsford was to be called Tullyveolan or Tillietudlem.


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