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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

Broadhead could certainly read


[101] _Le Beau Pecopin_ in his _Rhine_-book is, of course, fairly substantial in one sense, but it is only an episode or inset-tale in something else, which is neither novel or romance.

[102] It must be four or five times the length of Scott's average, more than twice that of the longest books with which Dickens and Thackeray used to occupy nearly two years in monthly instalments, and very nearly, if not quite, that of Dumas' longest and most "spun-out" achievements in _Monte Cristo_, the _Vicomte de Bragelonne_ and _La Comtesse de Charny_.

[103] I am not forgetting or contradicting what was said above (page 26) of Rene. But Rene _does_ very little except when he kills the she-beavers; Marius is always doing something, and doing it offensively.

[104] The "Je ne sais pas lire" argument has more than once suggested to me a certain historical comparison. There have probably never been in all history two more abominable scoundrels for cold-blooded cruelty, the worst of all vices, than Eccelino da Romano and the late Mr. Broadhead, patron saint and great exemplar of Trade-Unionism. Broadhead could certainly read. Could Ezzelin? I do not know. But if he could not, the Hugonic belief in the efficacy of reading is not strongly supported. If he could, it is definitely damaged.

[105] _Vide_ what is said below on _Quatre-Vingt-Treize_.

[106] After the lapse of more than half a century some readers may have forgotten, and more may never have heard, the anecdote connected with this. It was rashly and somewhat foolishly pointed out to the poet-romancer himself that the air of "Bonny Dundee" was the very reverse of melancholy, and that he must have mistaken the name. His reply was the most categoric declaration possible of his general attitude, in such cases, "Et moi, je l'appelle 'Bonny Dundee.'" _Victor locutus est: causa finita est_ (he liked tags of not recondite Latin himself). And the leading case governs those of the bug-pipe and the (later) wapentake and _justicier-quorum_, and all the other wondrous things of which but a few can be mentioned here.

[107] I do not know whether any one has ever attempted to estimate his actual debt to Scott. There are better classics of inquiry, but in the class many worse subjects.

[108] In the opening scene she is something worse. If her writing "Gilliatt" in the snow had been a sort of rustic challenge of the "malo me petit, et fugit ad salices" kind, there might have been something (not much) to say for her. But she did not know Gilliatt; she did not want to know him; and the proceeding was either mere silly childishness, or else one of those pieces of bad taste of which her great creator was unluckily by no means incapable.

[109] I use this adjective in no contumelious sense, and certainly not because I have lived in Guernsey and only visited Jersey. To the impartial denizen of either, the rivalry of the two is as amusing as is that of Edinburgh and Glasgow, of Liverpool and Manchester, or of Bradford and Leeds. But, at any rate at the time of which I am speaking, Jersey was much more haunted by outsiders (in several senses of that word) than Guernsey. Residents--whether for the purposes unblushingly avowed by that sometime favourite of the stage, Mr. Eccles, or for the reasons less horrifying to the United Kingdom Alliance--found themselves more at home in "Caesarea" than in "Sarnia," and the "five-pounder," as the summer tripper was despiteously called by natives, liked to go as far as he could for his money, and found St. Helier's "livelier" than St. Peter Port.


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