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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

For remarks of Hugo himself on Pigault and Restif


not suffer; and he shared and

shared alike with his brothers and sisters. Under the Empire he obtained a place in the customs, and held it under succeeding reigns till 1824, dying eleven years later at over eighty, and having written novels continuously till a short time before his death, and till the very eve of 1830. This odd career was crowned by an odd accident, for his daughter's son was Emile Augier. I never knew this fact till after the death of my friend, the late Mr. H. D. Traill. If I had, I should certainly have asked him to write an Imaginary Conversation between grandfather and grandson. Some years (1822-1824) before his last novel, a complete edition of novels, plays, and very valueless miscellanies had been issued in twenty octavo volumes. The reader, like the river Iser in Campbell's great poem, will be justified for the most part in "rolling rapidly" through them. But he will find his course rather unexpectedly delayed sometimes, and it is the fact and the reasons of these delays which must form the subject of the text.--There is no doubt that Pigault was very largely read abroad as well as at home. We know that Miss Matilda Crawley read him before Waterloo. She must have inherited from her father, Sir Walpole, a strong stomach: and must have been less affected by the change of times than was the case with her contemporary, Scott's old friend, who having enjoyed "your bonny Mrs. Behn" in her youth, could not read her in age. For our poor maligned Afra (in her prose stories at any rate, and
most of her verse, if not in her plays) is an anticipated model of Victorian prudery and nicety compared with Pigault. I cannot help thinking that Marryat knew him too. Chapter and verse may not be forthcoming, and the resemblance may be accounted for by common likeness to Smollett: but not, to my thinking, quite sufficiently.

[425] He had a younger brother, in a small way also a novelist, and, apparently, in the Radcliffian style, who extra-named himself rather in the manner of 1830--Pigault-_Maubaillarck_. I have not yet come across this junior's work.--For remarks of Hugo himself on Pigault and Restif, see note at end of chapter.

[426] At least in his early books; it improves a little later. But see note on p. 453.

[427] For a defence of this word, _v. sup._ p. 280, _note_.

[428] It may be objected, "Did not the Scuderys and others do this?" The answer is that their public was not, strictly speaking, a "public" at all--it was a larger or smaller coterie.

[429] It has been said that Pigault spent some time in England, and he shows more knowledge of English things and books than was common with Frenchmen before, and for a long time after, his day. Nor does he, even during the Great War, exhibit any signs of acute Anglophobia.

[430] Pigault's adoration for Voltaire reaches the ludicrous, though we can seldom laugh _with_ him. It led him once to compose one of the very dullest books in literature, _Le Citateur_, a string of anti-Christian gibes and arguments from his idol and others.


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