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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

They often seem to confuse it with priggishness


I never can make up my mind whether I am more sorry that Madame Necker did not marry Gibbon or that Mademoiselle Necker did not, as was subsequently on the cards, marry Pitt. The results in either case--both, alas! could hardly have come off--would have been most curious.

[10] The most obvious if not the only possible reason for this would be intended outrage, murder, and suicide; but though Valorbe is a robustious kind of idiot, he does not seem to have made up such mind as he has to this agreeable combination.

[11] I forget whether other characters have been identified, but Leonce does not appear to have much in him of M. de Narbonne, Corinne's chief lover of the period, who seems to have been a sort of French Chesterfield, without the wit, which nobody denies our man, or the real good-nature which he possessed.

[12] Perhaps, after all, _not_ too many, for they all richly deserve it.

[13] Eyes like the Ravenswing's, "as b-b-big as billiard balls" and of some brightness, are allowed her, but hardly any other good point.

[14] I never pretended to be an art-critic, save as complying with Blake's negative injunction or qualification "not to be connoisseured out of my senses," and I do not know what is the technical word in the arts of design corresponding to [Greek: dianoia] in literature.

justify;">[15] I hope this iteration may not seem too damnable. It is intended to bring before the reader's mind the utterly _willowish_ character of Oswald, Lord Nelvil. The slightest impact of accident will bend down, the weakest wind of circumstance blow about, his plans and preferences.

[16] That he seems to have unlimited leave is not perhaps, for a peer in the period, to be cavilled at; the manner in which he alternately breaks blood-vessels and is up to fighting in the tropics may be rather more so.

[17] As I may have remarked elsewhere, they often seem to confuse it with "priggishness," "cant," and other amiable _cosas de Inglaterra_. (The late M. Jules Lemaitre, as Professor Ker reminds me, even gave the picturesque but quite inadequate description: "Le snob est un mouton de Panurge pretentieux, un mouton qui saute a la file, mais d'un air suffisant.") We cannot disclaim the general origin, but we may protest against confusion of the particular substance.

[18] _Corinne, ou l'Italie._

[19] If anybody thinks _Wilhelm Meister_ or the _Wahlverwandtschaften_ a good novel, I am his very humble servant in begging to differ. Freytag's _Soll und Haben_ is perhaps the nearest approach; but, on English or French standards, it could only get a fair second class.

[20] Corinne "walks and talks" (as the lady in the song was asked to do, but without requiring the offer of a blue silk gown) with her Oswald all over the churches and palaces and monuments of Rome, "doing" also Naples, Venice, etc.

[21] She was rather proud of these mighty members: and some readers may recall that not least Heinesque remark of the poet who so much shocks Kaiser Wilhelm II., "Those of the Venus of Milo are not more beautiful."

[22] Including also a third short story, _Le Dernier Abencerage_, which belongs, constructively, rather to the _Voyages_. It is in a way the liveliest (at least the most "incidented") of all, but not the most interesting, and with very little _temporal_ colour, though some local. It may, however, be taken as another proof of Chateaubriand's importance in the germinal way, for it starts the Romantic interest in Spanish things. The contrast with the dirty rubbish of Pigault-Lebrun's _La Folie Espagnole_ is also not negligible.

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