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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

I learn from the books that there were some other Achards


[302]

Here is one from "Un Diamant" (_Contes et Nouvelles_), which, though destitute of the charms of poetry, rivals and perhaps indeed suggested our own

And even an Eastern Counties' train Comes in at last.

"Quelque loin qu'on aille, on finit par arriver; _on arrive bien a Saint-Maur--trois lieues a faire--en coucou_."

[303] In the same article in which he dealt with Charles de Bernard.

[304] I know that many people do not agree with me here; but Blake did: "Tell me the facts, O historian, and leave me to reason on them as I please; away with your reasoning and your rubbish.... Tell me the What: I do not want you to tell me the Why and the How. I can find that out for myself."

[305] If my friend Mr. Henley were alive (and I would he were) I should have to "look out for squalls." It was, as ought to be well known, his idea that _Henri Trois et Sa Cour_ was much more the rallying trumpet of 1830 that _Hernani_, and I believe a large part of his dislike for Thackeray was due to the cruel fun which _The Paris Sketch-book_ makes of _Kean_. But I speak as I think and find, after long re-thinking and researching.

[306] I have made some further excursions in the work of Achard, but they did not incline me to continue them, and I do not propose to say anything of the results here. I learn

from the books that there were some other Achards, one of whom "improved the production of the beet-root sugar." I would much rather have written _Belle-Rose_.

[307] Emma Robinson. I used, I think, to prefer her to either of her more famous companions in the list. But I have never read her _Caesar Borgia_. It sounds appetising.

[308] Some may say, "There might have been an end much sooner with some of the foregoing." Perhaps so--once more. I do not claim to be _hujus orbis Papa_ and infallible. But I sample to the best of my knowledge and judgment.

[309] _Beau Demon_, _Coeur d'Acier_, _La Tache Rouge_, etc. Feval began a little later than most of the others in this chapter, but he is of their class.

[310] Thackeray, when very young and wasting his time and money in editing the _National Standard_, wrote a short and very savage review of this which may be found in the Oxford Edition of his works (vol. i., as arranged by the present writer). It is virtuously indignant (and no wonder, seeing that the writer takes it quite seriously), but, as Thackeray was almost to the last when in that mood, quite bull-in-a-china-shoppy. You _might_ take it seriously, and yet critically in another way, as a "degeneracy" of the Terror-Novel. But the "rotting" view is better.

CHAPTER VIII

DUMAS THE ELDER

[Sidenote: The case of Dumas.]

With Dumas[311] _pere_ the same difficulties (or nearly the same) of general and particular nature present themselves as those which occurred with Balzac. There is, again, the task--not so arduous and by no means so hopeless as some may think, but still not of the easiest--of writing pretty fully without repetition on subjects on which you have written fully already. There is the enormous bulk, far greater than in the other case, of the work: which makes any complete survey of its individual components impossible. And there is the wide if not universal knowledge of this or that--if not of this _and_ that--part of it; which makes such survey unnecessary and probably unwelcome. But here, as there, in whatever contrast of degree and kind, there is the importance in relation to the general subject, which needs pretty abundant notice, and the particular character of that importance, which demands special examination.


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