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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

But I hope they waltzed to the mazurka


[551]

A pleasant study, in poetic use of imagery and phrase, is the gradation from the bare and grand Lucretian simplicity of _silentia noctis_, through the "favour and prettiness" (slightly tautological though) of the Virgilian _tacitae per amica silentia lunae_, to the recovery and intensifying of magnificence in _dove il sol tace_. By the way, _silentia_ (for the singular undergoes Quintilian's apology for the Latin _-um_) is one of the few instances in which a Latin word beats the Greek. [Greek: sige] is really inferior.

[552] What annoys him most of all is that he should have an uncomfortable feeling about the woman "_comme_ si je l'avais _aimee_!" He had only, you see, done something else.

[553] They should not have done this, and I do not think they did; it was the couples that jostled them. And even this ought not to have happened. The fastest waltzing (I am speaking of the old _deux-temps_, which this must have been) conveyed an almost uncanny extra power of vision, and at the same time of avoidance, to the right persons. Indeed, the first three lines of this extract have been objected to as base and inconsistent. I think not; the common out of which you rise to the uncommon is worth indication.

[554] It may be added that the contrast of an earlier mazurka--in the slowness of which the pair had time to look at each other, feel each other, and otherwise remain in Paradise,

but outside of the double Nirvana--is highly creditable. But I hope they _waltzed_ to the mazurka. It is rather annoying to other people who are doing the orthodox step; but it is the perfection of the slow movement, which affords, as above, opportunities that do not exist in the faster and more delirious gyration.

[555] This (which may be called M. Rod's novel-headquarters) occurs also not merely in _L'Eau Courante_ but in _Les Roches Blanches_, a book which opens very well in a Mrs. Gaskell or Mrs. Oliphant vein, with the introduction of a new pastor, but ends much less satisfactorily, with a guiltless but not at all convincing love-affair between this pastor and the wife of his chief parishioner.

[556] His wife for a time, Madame Judith Gautier, who died very recently, wrote in a fashion not unworthy of her blood both in verse and prose (part of her production being translations from Chinese), and was the only lady-member of the quaint _Contre_-academie formed by E. de Goncourt.

[557] And this shame becomes more acute when I think of one or two individual books, such especially as M. Henry Cochin's _Manuscrit de Monsieur C. A. L. Larsonnier_--a most pathetic and delightful story of a mental malady which makes time and memory seem to go backward though the victim can force himself to continue his ordinary duties, and record his sufferings.


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