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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

And it has been urged for Edmond that good men liked him


[460]

Pepys had nothing that could be called _bad_ blood. Horace perhaps had a little, but it was sweet and childlike compared to the "acrid-quack" fluid of Edmond de Goncourt's veins and heart. Probably several people have seen in M. de Goncourt the suggestion of an _un_-Puritan Malvolio.

[461] Not, however, in the second case, by Sainte-Beuve, whose lukewarmness Edmond--a "Sensitive Plant" in this way if hardly in others--never forgave.

[462] She served them for a very long period without giving them any apparent cause for complaint. They only found out her delinquencies after her death, or in her last illness--I forget which. Probably nothing could better show "the nature of the animals" than this _post-mortem_ grubbing belowstairs for a "subject," and washing your own household dirty linen in public--for profit.

[463] It may be well to smash, in a passing note, a silly catchword popular with some rather belated English admirers of the Naturalist school a few years ago. They praised its "frankness." You might as well praise the "straightforwardness" of a man who goes out of his way to explore laystalls and, having picked up ordure, holds it up to public view.

[464] Both excellent things in their way, of course. Perhaps it would be better to say asafoetida.

[465] It is perhaps only fair to warn readers who may

not know the fact, that some very good and (in the French as well as the English sense) respectable judges think much better of the work, and even of the men or man, than I do. _Renee Mauperin_ especially (as indeed I have admitted) has a considerable body of suffrage; the general style pleases some, and it has been urged for Edmond that good men liked him. But these good men had not read his diary. There is, however, no doubt that it is an exceptionally strong case of "rubbing the [right or the] wrong way." Books and men and style all rub me the wrong way; and, though I have some knack at using the brushes and _fixatures_ of pure criticism, I can't get myself smoothed down.

[466] See note at close of chapter. One of the most comic things in the whole Naturalist episode was the rising up of some of these disciples to rebuke their master, in a round robin, for "right-hand and left-hand defections" from the pure gospel of the sect.

[467] The word is used, designedly but not fraudulently, as combining "observation" and "experiment" _to the extent proper to art_. Deliberate and after-thought "experi_ments_" in actual life are (except in trivial matters) very risky things; and the _Summa Rerum_ itself is apt to resent them, as, for instance, Mr. Thomas Day and Mr. Felix Graham found in the matter of wife-culture.

[468] _V. sup._ Vol. I. p. 278. I was much pleased to find that the quotation considerably "put out" one of my few unfavourable critics. "The Importance of Gastronomy in Novels" is a beautiful subject--still, I think, virgin, though Thackeray has touched on it in others once or twice, and illustrated it magnificently himself.


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