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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

Is almost throughout imitation Balzacian


[418]

And, according to one reviewer, the deficient sense of humour.

[419] They _might_ serve to exemplify About's often doubtful taste. The central story and main figures of _Tolla_ were taken from a collection of the poor girl's letters published by her family a few years before; and the original of "Lello" was still alive. _His_ relations tried to buy up the book, and nearly succeeded. In the MS. About had, while slightly altering the names, referred pretty fully to this document. The whole thing has, however, rather a much-ado-about-nothing air and, save as connected with a periodical of such undoubted "seriousness," might suggest a trick.

[420] "It" was _Timon of Athens_.

[421] It may please the historically given reader to regard this as an actual survival of the Scudery _histoire_--_Histoire de Madame Fratieff et de sa fille Nadine_. Only it would, as such, have occupied a score or two of pages for each one.

[422] Tolla is not so _very_ delightful: but she is meant to be.

[423] About has a gird or two at Balzac, but evidently imitates him. In this very book, when the old duke (_v. inf._) comes under Madame Chermidy's influence, he suggests Baron Hulot; and _Madelon_ (_v. inf. ib._) is almost throughout imitation-Balzacian.

[424] For Honorine, though managing to retain some

public reputation, has long been practically "unclassed"; and it is not only her husband's profession which has made him leave her.

[425] Germaine, quite naturally and properly, starts with a strong dislike to her husband. When he takes her to Italy, and devotes himself to the care of her health, this changes to affection. And the more it changes, the more disagreeable she makes herself to him.

[426] This also has, in matters not political, the "charming and useful" side. It would be very unpleasant if she always saw all sides of all questions.

[427] I am quite aware that the giving up of the islands was not the _immediate_ result of his mission.

[428] That is to say, supposing that Isopel ever could have been happy with a lover

So _laggard_ in love, _though_ so dauntless in war

as George Borrow.

[429] As well as the Balzacian following, _haud passibus aequis_, above referred to.

[430] I do not know whether any other novelists continued the series of diversely coloured "doctors," as the fly-makers have done.

[431] He _could_ "piffle" when he went out of it. The would-be satirical characterisation of two aristocrats, Madame d'Arlange and M. de Commarin, in the book shortly to be noticed, is the thinnest and most conventional of things, except, perhaps, the companion trap-to-catch-the-French-Philistine of anti-clericalism which also shows itself sometimes.

[432] Two people, thinking of moving house in London, went once to inspect an advertised abode in the Kensington district. They did not much like the street; they still less liked a very grim female who opened the door and showed them over the house; and there was nothing to reconcile them in the house itself. But, wishing to be polite, the lady of the couple, as they were leaving, addressed to the grim guardian some feeble compliment on something or other as being "nice." "P'raps," was the reply, "for them as likes the ---- Road." It is unnecessary to say that the visitors went down the steps in a fashion for which we have no exact English term, but which is admirably expressed by the French verb _degringoler_.


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