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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

There are several 'most intolerables


[177]

She survived into the next decade and worked till the last with no distinct declension, but she did not complete it, dying in 1876. Her famous direction about her grave, _Laissez la verdure_, is characteristic of her odd mixture if theatricality and true nature. But if any one wishes to come to her work with a comfortable preoccupation in favor of herself, he should begin with her _Letters_. Those of her old age especially are charming.

[178] Cf. Mr. Alfred Lammle on his unpoetical justice to Mr. Fledgeby in _Our Mutual Friend_.

[179] Valentine has an elder sister who has a son, irregularily existent, but is as much in love with Benedict as if she were a girl and he were a gentleman; and this son marries the much older Athenais, a lovely peasant girl who has been the unwilling _fiancee_ and wife of the ingenious pitchforker. You have seldom to go far in George Sand for an unmarried lady with a child for chastity, and a widow who marries a boy for maternal affection.

[180] There is also an Irish priest called Magnus, who, like everybody else, is deeply and (in the proper sense of _sans espoir_) desperately in love with Lelia. He is, on the whole, quite the maddest--and perhaps the most despicable--of the lot.

[181] If any one says, "So, then, there are several 'most intolerables,'" let me point out that intolerableness is a more than "twy-peaked"

hill or range. Julien Sorel and Marius were not designed to be gentlemen.

[182] It is bad for Amelie, who, in a not unnatural revulsion from her _fiance's_ neglects and eccentricities, lets herself be fooled by the handsome Italian.

[183] George Sand's treatment of the great Empress, Marie Antoinette's mother, is a curious mixture of half-reluctant admiration and Republican bad-bloodedness.

[184] Porpora is included, but the amiable monarch, who has heard that the old _maestro_ speaks freely of him, gives private orders that he shall be stopped at the frontier.

[185] _Cow's_ breath has, I believe, been prescribed in such cases by the faculty; hardly children's.

[186] She does not make the delicate distinction once drawn by another of her sex: "I can tell you how many people I have kissed, but I cannot tell you how many have kissed _me_."

[187] She is rather fond of taking her readers into confidence this way. I have no particular objection to it; but those who object to Thackeray's _parabases_ ought to think this is a still more objectionable thing.

[188] The Count Albani plays his difficult part of thirdsman very well throughout, though just at first he would make an advance on "auld lang syne" if Lucrezia would let him. But later he is on strict honour, and quarrels with the Prince for his tyranny.

[189] It is very pleasing to see, as I have seen, this famous phrase quoted as if it had reference to the _joys_ of Arcadia.

[190] If any among my congregation be offended by apparent flippancy in this notice of a book which, to my profound astonishment, some people have taken as the author's masterpiece, I apologise. But if I spoke more seriously I should also speak more severely.


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