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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

110 Really good wines were proportionally cheap


[110]

Really good wines were proportionally cheap; but the little isle was not quite so good at beer, except some remarkable old ale, which one small brewery had ventured on, and which my friends of the 22nd Regiment discovered and (very wisely) drank up.--It may surprise honest fanatics and annoy others to hear that, despite the cheapness and abundance of their bugbear, there was no serious crime of any kind in Guernsey during the six years I knew it, and no disorder worth speaking of, even among sailors and newly arrived troops.

[111] The shape of the island; the position of its only "residential" town of any size in the middle of one of the coasts, so that the roads spread fan-wise from it; the absence of any large flat space except in the northern parish of "The Vale"; the geological formation which tends, as in Devonshire, to sink the roads into deep and sometimes "water" lanes; lastly, perhaps, the extreme subdivision of property, which multiplies the ways of communication--these things contribute to this "_pedestrian_-paradise" character. There are many places where, with plenty of good walking "objectives," you can get to none of them without a disgusting repetition of the same initial grind. In Guernsey, except as regards the sea, which never wearies, there is no such even partial monotony.

[112] It is well known that even among great writers this habit of duplication is often, though very far from always,

present. Hugo is specially liable to it. The oddest example I remember is that the approach to the Dutch ship at the end of _L'Homme Qui Rit_ reproduces on the Thames almost exactly the details of the iron gate of the sewers on the Seine, where Thenardier treacherously exposes Valjean to the clutches of Javert, in _Les Miserables_, though of course the use made of it is quite different.

[113] It must be remembered that this also belongs to the Channel Islands division: and the Angel of the Sea has still some part in it.

[114] Those of _Ivanhoe_ and _Kenilworth_ have enraged pedants and amused the elect for a century. But I do not remember much notice being taken of that jump of half a millennium and one year more in _The Talisman_, where Count Henry of Champagne "smiles like a sparkling goblet of his own wine." This was in 1192, while the ever-blessed Dom Perignon did not make champagne "sparkle" till 1693. Idolatry may suggest that "sparkling" is a perpetual epithet of wine; but I fear this will not do.

[115] _Substitue_ means "entailed" in technical French. But I know no instance of this kind of "contingent remainder" in England.

[116] A compound (as Victor himself might suggest) of "Hardyknut" and "Sine qua non"? Or "Hardbake"?

[117] He has been found out through the agency of one "Barkilphedro" (Barkis-Phaedrus?), an Irishman of familiar sept, who is "Decanter of the Bottles of the Sea," and who finds, in one of his trovers, a derelict gourd of confession thrown overboard by the Comprachicos when wrecked (in another half-volume earlier) all over the Channel from Portland to Alderney.


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