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any attempt to determine specific debts to others, we are interested in Rabelais' contribution for its own sake. It is worth while to remember that it is his thought-though not his alone that our age has adopted for itself. If a more complete recognition of the long period of time which in the past has elapsed between the promulgation of great thoughts and their fulfilment should strengthen our resolve not to let them longer remain merely dreams, then it will not be useless for us, whenever possible, to remind ourselves of those who have already blazed the trail. Especially is this the case with Rabelais, who presents us with so striking a parallel to the situation of our own time.
GEORGE R. HAVENS
THE TENTH TALE OF THE HEPTAMERON
Quand Virgile en marbre était roi
HE tenth of the Nouvelles of Marguerite de Navarre relates the loves of Floride and Amadour:
Floride, après le decès de son mary, et avoir vertueusement resisté à Amadour, qui l'avoit pressé de son honneur jusques au bout, s'en ala rendre religieuse au monastere de Jesus.
It is one of the most gracious of the tales, in which we seem to recognize peculiarly the delicate range of Marguerite's understanding, her indulgence and her sense of both reality and religion. Is it autobiographical? Have the personages historical originals? The questions were sure to be asked. Leroux de Lincy did whatever conjecture could accomplish in the immediate historical background towards identification, and in the edition of P. S. Jacob (p. 61) these conjectures are duly sifted-to no very satisfactory end. Louise of Savoy as possible prototype for the heroine, the experiences of Marguerite herself with Admiral Bonnivet, the Spanish wars of Francis I, may or may not have primed the writer's imagination. It is significant that, as in La Princesse de Clèves, the incidents are thrown back nearly a generation, which
would seem to suggest unlikelihood that any precise identifications were intended. This is distinctly not a roman à clef: Marguerite was too much both a scholar and an artist to have used that dubious genre. The pastiche is a different matter: the temptation to do something like a Christian modernization of the more romantic episodes of Virgil, to produce an elegy in the mood of Ovid, is distinctly more perceptible. The young widow is not the Italian Renaissance heroine: her charm is half, at least, moral. She is a kinswoman of Beatrice even more than of Laura:
Ne vous esmerveillez point si j'ay perdu la parole devant Madame Floride, says her lover; car les vertus et la saige parolle qui sont cachez sous ceste grande jeunesse m'ont tellement estonné que je ne luy ay sceu que dire. Mais je vous prie, Avanturade, comme celle qui scavez ses secrets, me dire s'il est possible que en ceste court elle n'ayt tous les cueurs des gentils hommes; car ceulx qui la congnoistront et ne l'aymeront sont pierres ou bestes.
This Floride, after her lover's death in warfare with the Moors, apres qu'elle eut faict ses obseques honorablement, sans en parler a mere ny a belle mere, s'en ala rendre religieuse au monastere . . prenant pour mary et amy celuy qui l'avoit delivré d'un amour si vehemente que celle d'Amadour et de l'enuy si grand que de la compaignie d'un tel mary. Ainsi tourna toutes ses affections a aymer Dieu si parfaictement qu'après avoir vescu longuement religieuse, luy rendit son ame en telle joye que l'epouse a d'aller veoir son epoux."
This is, in brief, the evolution of the story. It is the same essentially as that of Christine de Pisan's Livre du duc des vrais amants, and of the Princesse de Clèves of Madame de la Fayette, the dainty and the distinguished fiction of two women writers of the fifteenth and of the seventeenth century respectively. The tenth tale is curiously a link between these other two in the French classical tradition. Behind all three is the same sober knowledge of both Latin literature and French court life, as well as more or less of personal unhappiness. An extremely cultivated and appreciative public was also equally at the disposition of the three charming ladies. Shall we look for conclusive data as to direct and conscious borrowings or imitation? If they exist we should hardly find them, here and now.
More profitable might be an examination of the taste and the morality that give a special accent to these three stories. They are not didactic: they relate, rather, certain psychological facts. These things happened: women are like that in Christian-Stoic France. These are universals presented by artists. Such would seem to be the common mood of their authors in the three great Classic centuries of French letters. In Descartes' Les Passions de l'Ame (Art. XLV) this mood is set forth-also as "constatation":
Nos passions ne peuvent pas aussi directement être excitées ni ôtées par l'action de notre volonté, mais elles peuvent l'être indirectement par la représentation des choses qui ont coutume d'être jointes avec les passions que nous voulons avoir, et qui sont contraires à celles que nous voulons rejeter. Ainsi, pour exciter en soi la hardiesse et ôter la peur, il ne suffit pas d'en avoir la volonté, mais il faut s'appliquer à considerer les raisons, les objets ou les exemples qui persuadent que le péril n'est pas grand: qu'il y a toujours plus de sûreté en la défense qu'en la fuite; qu'on aura de la gloire et de la joie d'avoir vaincu, au lieu qu'on ne peut attendre que du regret et de la honte d'avoir fui, et choses semblables.
An extreme justness and frankness of moral perception-which is more than moral naturalism, however, in that it adds the peculiar tenderness of all the greater Stoicism, becomes sobrece by the action of grace. The literary quality is more interesting than the story told, or, rather, the literary quality seems to be symbolized, dramatized, as it were, by the narrative. In an unusual sense we have prose poetry. Nothing is more French: the Latin hexameter has simply thinned into the fine French phrase.
MT. HOLYOKE COLLEGE
MAUD ELIZABETH TEMPLE
A NOTE CONCERNING THE "VACANT STAKE" IN IRISH FOLKLORE.
N a collection of Irish folk-tales written down by me from the dictation of one Patsey Nowlan, an octogenarian illiterate native speaker from County Mayo, occurs the theme of the Vacant Stake (cf. ROM. REV., IX., 21) in the following form:
A young Prince starts on his journey, intent on marrying the most beautiful princess in the world. On his way he reaches at night a house where a wake is being held. An old woman is lying dead on a wretched bed, while three men stand around her, pouring the hot grease of their tapers over her body. These are her disappointed creditors, taking their revenge for the loss of the money she owed them. The prince pays the unfortunate woman's debts and has her buried decently. In requital for this act of kindness her brother instructs the prince how to win the most beautiful princess in the world. The "labor" imposed on the young suitor by the princess's father is to cleanse before sunset a stable neglected for seven years, failing in which the head of the prince is to be impaled on a stake.
In Patsey's wholesome Irish speech:
Bhí cúig spíce déag as dá fhichead as cúig céad timcheall an tighe agus bhí cloigeann shuas ar gach spice ach aon spíce amháin. (There were five hundred and fifty-five spikes around the house and a head on every one of them but one.)
The young man succeeds in accomplishing his task and wins the beautiful princess.
A similar story, from Ulster, will be found in E. C. Quiggin's A Dialect of Donegal, Cambridge, 1906, p. 201. See also Finck's Die araner Mundart, Marburg (1899), ii, 255.
JOSEPH DE PErott
French Literary Studies, by T. B. Rudmose-Brown, M.A., D.Litt., Professor of Romance Languages in the University of Dublin, Late Lecturer in Romanic Philology, University of Leeds. Dublin: The Talbott Press. London: T. Fisher Unwin. New York: John Lane, 8vo, 129 pp.
A book entitled "French Literary Studies," coming from the professor of Romance languages in Trinity College, Dublin, gives rise to many expectations. The table of contents promises a veritable treat, for there is mention of subjects drawn from every period of French literature onward from the Renaissance, except the seventeenth century which is singularly ignored.
Mr. Rudmose-Brown begins his studies with Maurice Scève and the Lyonese school (which happily brings the book within the scope of the ROMANIC REVIEW) and concludes them with two poets of our own day, Stuart Merrill and Francis Vielé-Griffin. His volume comprises essays on Ronsard, on the poets of the eighteenth century, on Leconte de Lisle, on Paul Verlaine. It opens with an introductory essay which gives the author's point of view on the somewhat outworn subject of the poet's mission, and embraces also a survey of French literature from the middle ages to the present day, judged on the one hand by the criterion of the personal note, on the other by that of freedom from didactic purpose.
The chapters on Stuart Merrill and Vielé-Griffin, the two French-American poets, may be named at once as best fulfilling the promise of the book. The author, drawing upon his personal advantage in possessing Merrill's friendship and Vielé-Griffin's acquaintance, can bring first-hand knowledge to the task of estimating genius, and, indeed, in Merrill's case, the very words of the poet preserved in private letters. Merrill's apologia for the Symbolists, drawn from that source, explains in terms to satisfy the enquirer, their reaction from the attitude of decadence-an attitude, not a perversion, as Professor Rudmose-Brown rightly implies. "The first work of the Symbolists," wrote Merrill, "consisted in disengaging themselves from Naturalism. Their reaction was perhaps excessive in the direction of a dreamy mysticism, but it was necessary, and our return to the essential realities of life was the logical conclusion of our first principles. We loved Truth too much not to hate Reality, when it seemed opposed to Truth. We retired from the world and sought Truth, and some of us think we have found it in Nature, others in the great anonymous crowd crying for Justice."1
Another letter gives the clue to Merrill's social and political views; his regret at the mere disappearance of the picturesque, his impatience with "a minority filling their money-bags and a majority stupefied by work and drink and voting like sheep for the Socialistic ticket instead of giving what is left in their veins of good red blood for the violent betterment of their condition."2 If Merrill's 1 French Literary Studies, pp. 98 and 99.
2 Ibid., p. 102.