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The principal personages here are all drawn from the authoress's own experience, herself being the heroine, her husband the Prince of Cleves, and Rochefoucauld the Duc de Nemours.
Madame de Staël followed in the wake of these ladies. Both in “Delphine" and in “Corinne” she painted herself as she desired to appear,-the passionate, generous, self-sacrificing, and somewhat hysterical personage whose love was her life. In “Delphine,” by the way, she ridiculed the Machiavelian subtlety of Talleyrand in her sketch of Madame de Vernon; and Talleyrand's mot has often been recorded. “I understand," he said to the authoress, " that we both appear in your new book disguised as women."
One of the most extraordinary episodes in literary history is the love-affair between Alfred de Musset and George Sand, and the three novels which re. sulted from it. The bare facts seem to be as follows. In 1832 Musset met George Sand and fell desperately in love with her. Next year the pair went to Italy together. Musset returned alone, broken in health and spirits. Rumor was of course busy with inventing reasons why they quarrelled, but for a time. neither spoke. "The Confessions of a Child of the Age" came out in 1836, and in them Musset painted George Sand in glowing colors under the name of Brigitte Pierson, attributing to the hero, obviously drawn from himself. all the blame for the rupture in their relations. Thirteen years later, when he was dead, George Sand published her celebrated romance of “Elle et Lui," and this was followed almost immediately by Paul de Musset's “Lui et Elle.” “She and He" was meant by George Sand as her vindication. It tells how two artists are thrown for a brief period into ill-assorted union. The man is all selfishness, the woman all self-sacrifice. At last his egotism, capriciousness, and brutality revolt even her tender love and patience, and she finds comfort elsewhere. Substantially the same outline of story is told by Paul de Musset, only the man is all that is amiable, devoted, and self-sacrificing, while the woman acts throughout as a heartless and abandoned, though diabolically fascinating, creature. In conclusion the author states that the victim of this woman's wiles in his dying hour called his brother to his bedside and enjoined him, if ever she should calumniate him in his grave, to vindicate his memory against her slanders. “The brother made the promise," says the narrator. coolly, “and I have since heard that he has kept his word.”
The overstrained sentimentalism which the first portion of this century inherited from the eighteenth naturally brought about its own reaction. The sense of humor reasserted itself; the ridiculous side of the grand, the gloomy, and the peculiar became painfully conspicuous. The persifage of Heine, the satire of Thackeray, were the natural results. In his deepest anguish Heine never forgets to ward off the ridicule of the uninterested on-looker. Thackeray denies his highest self and paints his lower qualities in Pendennis. In his hatred of posing he will not draw himself up to his full height. Hawthorne, who also hated cant, has depicted himself in Miles Coverdale, a faint, colorless reflection of one of the strongest and manliest figures in our romantic literature. Such nuances, however, were unknown to the robust self-complacence of Charles Reade, who in his “ Terrible Temptation" has painted himself as the author Rolfe, with his very best foot foremost. The portrait, it will be remembered, called forth a storm of ridicule, but Reade boldly ac. knowledged that he was the original of the sketch, and insisted that he had a perfect right to describe his own virtues. Charlotte Brontë, it is very evident, was her own Jane Eyre, and to a certain extent her own Lucy Snow. And George Eliot has drawn largely from herself in Maggie Tulliver, Romola, Dorothea, and all that group of characters whom Leslie Stephen classes together as women in need of a confessor.
Reason. Not against but above reason, a favorite phrase of the old schoolmen in regard to supernatural matters. Locke adopts the distinction in his “Essay on the Understanding,” Book iv., ch. viii., where he says, in substance, that propositions are either above, according to, or contrary to reason. Thus, the resurrection of the dead is above reason, the existence of one God according to reason, and the existence of several gods contrary to reason. Victor Cousin considers this distinction “more specious than profound.”
Recording Angel. A famous passage in Sterne's “Tristram Shandy" runs as follows:
“ A-well-a-day! do what we can for him," said Trim, maintaining his point, " the poor soul will die." "He shall not die, by !" cried my Uncle Toby. The accusing spirit which flew up to heaven's chancery with the oath blushed as he gave it in, and the recording angel, as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out forever.
The recording angel has been a familiar figure in popular quotation ever since, and has been freely plagiarized. Thus, Campbell :
But sad as angels for the good man's sin,
Pleasures of Hope, Part II., 1. 357. Thackeray, in “ Pendennis,” has a passage less obviously patterned after Sterne. Old Major Pendennis has just heard that his nephew is dangerously sick, and Lord Steyne hustles him into a carriage :
“You've twenty minutes to catch the mail-train. Jump in, Pendennis; and drive like h- , sir! do you hear ?"
The carriage drove off swiftly with Pendennis and his companions, and let us trust that the oath will be pardoned to the Marquis of Steyne.
Recover. The position of the “recover" is described by Captain O'Rourke in his “Manual of Sword Exercise” as follows: “Raise the right hand until it comes a little below and about six inches in front of the chin, edge of the sword to the left, point inclining to the front, thumb extended along the back of the grip, and the nails towards the face." This, it will be seen, is a position in which it would be both easy and natural to raise the sword-hilt to the lips; and the term “recover" is traced back by military archæologists to the days of the Crusades. It has nothing whatever to do with the French verb recouvrir, or with that form of saluting, therefore, which consists in the tender of homage by baring the head. It is derived from the French verb recouvrer, and embalms the memory of the ages of faith in which the sword-hilt, made in the form of a cross, was raised to the lips of the knights who swore upon it to “recover" from the Paynim the “sainte terre d'Ouliremer," as old Villehardouin calls it.
Red-haired girls and white horses. The popular jest about the necessary contiguity of red-haired girls and white horses is by no means modern, though in its recent revival it has swept over the country as a novelty. Some of us remember that our grandfathers used jocularly to assert it to the wondering ears of youth as a well-attested fact. In all likelihood, the saying took its origin in the old English game called sometimes the “game of the road," but more often "ups and downs,” which is still a favorite among children and travelling salesmen in Great Britain. One party takes the “up” side of the street or road, the other the “ down,” counting one for every ordinary object and five for a white horse (a piebald counting as white), until a certain number agreed upon carries off the victory; but a red-headed woman or a donkey wins the game at once.
Another explanation refers the phrase to a North-of-Ireland superstition that the sight of a red-headed girl brings ill luck to the beholder unless he retrace his steps to the starting point; but if he meet a white horse at any stage of his backward progress the spell is ipso facto averted. In the midland counties of England, on the other hand, it is ill luck to meet a white horse without spitting at it. In Wexford an odd cure for the whooping-cough is suggested by current superstition. The patient trudges along the road until he meets a piebald horse, and shouts out to the rider, “Halloo, man on the piebald horse! what is good for the whooping-cough?" and no matter how absurd the remedy suggested, he will certainly be cured. In Scotland, to dream of a white horse foretells the coming of a letter.
The prejudice against red hair is as wide-spread and deep-rooted as it is unaccountable. Tradition assigns reddish hair to both Absalom and Judas. Thus, Rosalind, complaining of her lover's tardiness, pettishly exclaims, “ His own hair is of the dissembling color !” and is answered by Celia, “Somewhat browner than Judas's.” Marston, also, in his “Insatiate Countess," says, “I ever thought by his red beard he would prove a Judas : here am I bought and sold.”
But Leonardo da Vinci, it may be noted in passing, paints Judas with black hair in his fresco “The Last Judgment."
All over Europe red hair is associated with treachery and deceitfulness. In a collection of German proverbs made by Henry Bebel as early as 1512, the following occurs : “The short in stature are naturally proud, and the redhaired untrustworthy.” In England, Thomas Hughes says, " I myself know persons who on that account alone never admit into their service any whose hair is thus objectionable.” An old French proverb warns you, “Saluté no redhaired man nor bearded woman nearer than thirty feet off, with three stones in the fist to defend thee in thy need." In Sweden the prejudice against red hair is explained on the ground that the traitor jarl Asbjörn, who betrayed King Canute to his death, was red-headed. But even the ancient Egyptians had the same prejudice. For one thing, of course, a red-haired man was likely to be a foreigner. But, in addition, red was symbolical of Typho, a spirit of evil. Any one with ruddy complexion or red hair was suspected of being connected with the evil one. Red donkeys, especially, were looked upon as naturally evil beasts, and red oxen were offered in the sacrifices.
Though red hair is almost universally held in light esteem, the prejudice against red itself does not extend much beyond Egypt. In Congo, red is a sacred color ; in China and Japan it is used at death-beds to scare off evil spirits. In many parts of Europe, also, it is considered obnoxious to evil spirits. In old Teutonic folk-lore it was held to be symbolic of victory, pos. sibly in reminiscence of Thor's red beard. And as it was regarded, also, as representing heat, it was therefore, in a manner, heat, just as white, representing cold, was cold itself. Sick people were wrapped in red blankets, a superstition only recently revived in the red flannel underwear supposed to be useful in cases of rheumatism. Red flowers were used for disorders of the blood, as yellow for those of the liver.
Another example of the close connection between red and white is the corpse-candle, which if it burned red signified that a man was the doomed person; if white, a woman.
Red-Letter Day. This expression, meaning a fortunate or auspicious day, arises from the ancient custom of marking holidays on calendars in red ink. In the Church calendars the saints' days still continue red-letter days, the name being always printed in ink of that color. In the Prayer-Book of the Episcopal Church the designations of these days are in red, as is also the rubric, which is so called from the color.
Red Tape, in colloquial English, official formality or obstruction, a phrase which owes its origin to the red tape which at least for two centuries has
replies “ Yes.”
Februaposed bellows would do. Februthe Curragh asks the loca
been used by lawyers and public officials for tying up documents, etc. As far back as December 6, 1658, an advertisement in the Public Intelligencer offers a reward for the restoration of “a little bundle of papers tied with a red tape which were lost on Friday last was a sevennight between Worcester House and Lincoln's Inn.” The earliest known use of the term in its figurative sense is more than a century later, in a letter written by Sir Gilbert Elliot, afterwards Lord Minto, dated August 31, 1775: “Howe gets the command. The ships are in great forwardness. I can't say so much for the army. Your old friend (Lord Barrington) sticks to rules, tape, and packthread."
A luxuriant example of red tape was exhibited by Captain Vivian to the admiring House of Commons some years ago in the Committee on Army E need of a pair of bellows in the Curragh camp. After a preliminary whetting of the appetite of the red-tape dragon by a lengthy correspondence, the operation of getting this pair of bellows proceeded as follows: February 12. --War Department gives authority to the local commissariat officer to indent that is, give an order on the Royal Engineer Department for a pair of bellows. Same date. - Local commissariat officer applies to district engineer officer for a pair of bellows. February 16.--District engineer officer applies to military store officer at Dublin. February 19.-Military store officer informs royal engineer officer at Dublin that he can supply the bellows on requisition. February 20.-Royal engineer officer at Dublin forwards this information to local engineer officer at the Curragh. February 21.- Local engineer officer at the Curragh informs royal engineer officer at Dublin that he has no form of requisition. February 22,- Local engineer officer at the Curragh asks the local commissariat officer if the proposed bellows would do. February 23.- Local commissariat officer replies “ Yes." February 24.- Local engineer officer informs local commissariat officer that he must apply to the royal engineer officer, Dublin, and application is made accordingly, February 26.--Military stores officer at Dublin answers that he will supply the bellows on an order from the War Office. February 28.-Local commissariat officer produces authority from the War Office and reads it to local engineer officer. March 1.-District engineer officer declines to have anything to do with a service not brought to his notice through the proper authority; and local commissariat officer refers matter to commissariat officer in Dublin March 2.-Commissariat officer in Dublin relegates the question to the Deputy Quartermaster-General, Dublin, March 3.-Deputy Quartermaster-General passes on the requisition to Quartermaster-General, Horse Guards. March 5.-Horse Guards refer to War Office, and War Office refers to Commissariat-General-in-Chief, London, March 10.-Commissariat-General-in-Chief asks Director of Stores to give authority. Director of Stores states that the commissariat officer should include the bellows in his annual estimate; and Commissary-General in-Chief writes to the Horse Guards and to the commissariat officer, Dublin. March 20.-Commissariat officer at the Curragh writes to know why he does not get his bellows. Whether he ever did get them we do not know
Reductio ad absurdum (L., “Reduction to an absurdity"), a familiar bit of logical fence by which the argument or proposition of another is carried out to an absurd conclusion. A good illustration of the method is afforded by Buckingham's jest at the expense of Dryden. During the first performance of one of the latter's tragedies, the leading lady slowly and impressively repeated,
My wound is great because it is so small. With a terrible look of distress, she paused. Buckingham, rising imme. diately from his seat, added, in a loud, mimicking voice,
Then 'twould be greater were it none at all. The effect, we are told, was electrical. The actress was hissed off the stage, and the play was never performed again. Dryden had his revenge. He pilloried Buckingham for all time in his “Absalom and Achitophel,” under the name of Zimri.
Very neat, too, was Johnson's answer to one who quoted from Brooke's “Gustavus Vasa" the sentiment,
Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free. Johnson replied,
Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat. Ennius, the Roman poet, showed excellent common sense, as well as fine logical power, in his sarcasm on the pretensions of fortune-tellers :
Qui sibi semitam non sapiunt, alteri monstrant viam ;
De divitiis deducant drachmam, reddant cetera. (“They who know not the way for themselves, point it out to others. Of the persons to
ek for a drachma. Let them deduct the drachma from those riches, and hand over the balance.")
A recent example is afforded by Mr. Spurgeon's rebuke to certain of his followers who refused to interfere in politics on the ground that they were “not of this world.” This, he argued, was mere metaphor. “You might as well," said he, “being sheep of the Lord, decline to eat mutton-chop on the plea that it would be cannibalism.”
John Wilkes was once asked by a Catholic priest, “Where was the Prot. estant Church before Luther?” “Did you wash your face this morning?" asked Wilkes. “I did, sir.” “Then where was your face before it was washed ?” retorted Wilkes. A story has been invented about Cuvier to show that he could reduce even the eneniy of mankind to an absurdity by zoologi. cal rule. As he was walking one day near Avernus, the devil met him and demanded his worship. “No, I will not worship you," said the naturalist. “Then I will eat you,” rejoined the demon. Cuvier eyed him deliberately, and exclaimed, in a tone of mingled contempt and triumph, “Horns and cloven feet, -graminivorous. You cat me? Nonsense !" "Is it not right," said a conservative, advocating the justice and propriety of an hereditary no. bility, “that, in order to hand down to posterity the virtues of those who have been eminent for their services to their country, their posterity should enjoy the honors conferred on them as a reward for such services?" "By the same rule," replied a lady, "if a man is hanged for his misdeeds, all his posterity should be hanged too."
Republic of Letters, a cant literary phrase indicating that there is a democracy of the pen. In literature it seems to have been first used by Fielding in “Tom Jones," Book xiv. ch. i. But it is probably a reminiscence of Goldsmith's objection when Boswell talked of Johnson's unquestioned superiority: “ You are for making a monarchy of what should be a republic.”
Hood suggests that the phrase is used to insinuate that, taking the whole tribe of authors together, they have not a sovereign among them.
Reputation. Cassio, when dismissed from his rank for drunkenness, cries out, “Reputation, reputation, reputation ! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial." (Othello, Act ii., Sc. 3.) A little later, in the same play, lag. amplifies the idea :
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Act iii., Sc. 3. The sentiment finds a very striking parallel in one of the prefatory stanzas to the fifty-first canto of Berni's “ Orlando Innamorato,”-the more curious as Berni, it is believed, was not turned into English before Rose's partial translation in 1823 :
Who steals a bugle-horn, a ring, a steed,
Or such like worthless thing, has some discretion;
Who robs us of our fame, our best possession;