Pierre Daniel Huet, Traitté de l’origine des romans (1670)

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Text of the English edition published in 1715

Short Title

[ornament] THE| HISTORY| OF| ROMANCES [ornament]

Title page


THE| HISTORY| OF| ROMANCES.| AN| Enquiry into their Original;| Instructions for Composing them;| AN| Account of the most Eminent| AUTHORS;| With Characters, and Curious Observations| upon the Best Performance of that Kind.| [rule]| Written in Latin by HUETIUS;| Made English by| Mr. STEPHEN LEWIS.| [rule] ——juvat integros accedere fontes,| Atque haurire. Lucr.| [rule]| Rrinted for J HOOKE, at the Flower-de-luce,| and T. CALDECOTT, at the Sun; both against St.| Dunstan’s Church in Fleetstreet. 1715.




THERE is not any Speculation, which affords a more agreeable Pleasure to the Mind, than that of beholding from what Obscure and Mean Beginnings, the most Polite and Entertaining Arts have


risen to be the Admiration and Delight of Mankind. To pursue them up to the most abstruse Fountains, and then to view by what Steps they arise to Perfection; does not only excite an Amazement at their Increase; but an Impatient Desire of Inventing some New Subject, to be improv'd and advanc'd by Posterity.

The first Occasion of introducing ROMANCE into the World, was, without Dispute to mollify the Rigour of Precepts, by the Allurements of Example. Where the Mind can't be subdued into Virtue, by Reason and Philosophy; nothing can


influence it more, than to present to it the Success and Felicity, which Crowns the Pursuit of what's Great and Honourable. As the Poet very elegantly alludes to Homer;

Qui quid sit pulchum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non
Planius & melius, Chrysippo & Crantore dicit.

And since in all Ages there were very few real Instances, fit to be proposed for Exact Patters of Imitation; the Ingenious Fabulist was forced to supply them out of his own Invention.


Hence it appears, that the Original of ROMANCE is very Ancient; since this Way of Promoting Virtue has been received in the Earliest Ages; as is evident from the first Records of Mankind. And as it stands very remote from Modern Ages; so, That is found out, must be an High Satisfaction to the Curious in Antiquity.

Upon this Account, They are very much indebted to the Labour and Penetration of Huetius; who has, with great Judgment, traced the Subject he undertook to Illustrate, till he found it in


its Infancy, involved in the Umbrage of Fable, and perplexed in the Folds of Mystery and Riddle.

This Task was enjoin'd Him (He informs us) by his Acquaintance and Friend, Monsieur Segrais; a gentleman very intimately versed in all Polite Learning; and admirably well qualified, to Discern and Judge, upon the Subject of ROMANCES; since He had discover's himself to be a Compleat Master in the Art, by several inimitable Productions of that Nature, which he published in the Language of his Country: A Country, Famous for all Sorts of


Delightful Amusement, and producing Men of the Quickest Apprehension, and Strong Propensity to the Advancement of Letters; as appears from the Labours of the Learned of that Nation; among whom Huetius has the Honour not to be the Lowest in Esteem.

This Modest Encomium may possibly be thought Profuse, upon the Author of so invaluable a Treatise as the following, but,

In tenui labor; at tenuis non gloria; si quem
Numina læva sinunt, auditque vocatus Apollo.


And, in my Opinion, the Man who acquits himself well of the Province he undertakes, (tho' of small Importance) deserves as much, as He who has been more Fortunate in the Choice of a Subject for his Application

Without doubt, Huetius was sensible of this; otherwise he would have bestowed his Time to a better Account, since He had before approv'd himself very well to the World, by his Ingenious Performances in Divinity, and other Learning. And I dare assert, that none of his Labours have contributed more to his Reputation than


his Accurate Disquisition into the Original of Romances.

For if it has not improved, It has certainly enlarg'd his Fame; because It is Recommended to the World, in Two of the most Extensive Languages Known in it ; I mean, Latin and French: So that i have no great Reason to fear its being well received in English : Especially since Romance has of late convey'd it self very far into the Esteem of this Nation, and is become the Principal Diversion of the Retirement of People of all Conditions. And


Especially since Romance has of late convey'd it self very far into the Esteem of this Nation, and is become the Principal Diversion of the Retirement of People of all Conditions.


has; This, I presume, is not the first Case, where a Good Design has aton'd for some slight Imperfections in the Prosecution of it.










The Original of stand the Intellect to that they give to leave to admit a greater Number of differnt Ideas. In short,Poems make some Military Act,or Politic Conduct, their Theme, and only descant upon Love at Pleasure; where- as Romances, an the contrary, have Love for their Principal Subject, and don't concern them- selves in War or Politicks, but by Accident. I speak of Rgular Romances, for those in Old French, Spanish and Italian, have generally more of the Sol- dier than Gallant. This induced Giraldi to con- cieve, That the Name Romance was derived from a Greek Word, signisying Force and Stength, since the Performances in that kind made




same may be apply'd to Romances, with this Restraint, that a total Fiction of the Argument is more allowable in Romances, where the Actors are of indifferent Quality, (such are the Comic) than in Heroic Performances, where Princes and Conquerors are the Characters, and where the Adventures are Memorable and Illustrious; because it can't be probable that great Transactions and Events lie hid to the World, and neglected by Historians; and Probability, which is not always observ'd in History, is essential to a Romance.

I exclude that sort of History which is False throughout the whole Narration, but was invented






Discourse is Figures. They never express themselves but in Allegories. Their Theology and Philosophy, but principally their Politicks and Morals, are all disguised under Fables and Parables.

We may see by the Hieroglyphicks of the Egyptians, to what degree that Nation inclined to be Mysterious; every Thing with them was expressed by Images; all in Disguise. Their Religion was veil'd, and never disclos'd to the Vulgar, but under the Mask of Fables; which they never took off, but for the Information of such as were thought worthy to be initiated into their Arcana. Herodotus says, That the Greeks had from


them their Mythology, and Theology; and he relates some Stories which himself hat learned from Egytians, and for which he is thought too Credulous, tho' he delivers them only as Fables. However, it tickled the Genius, and suited the Fancies of the Greeks, a Nation, as Herodotus affirms, desirous to learn, and entirely addicted to Novelties. 'Twas without doubt from these Priests, that Pythagoras and Plato, in their Voyage to Egypt, learned to Transform their Philosophy, and hide it under the Shadow of Mystery and Disguide. As for the Arabians, if you enquire into their Books, you'll find






The Original of

dit to be given to the Ancient Histories of the Persians, Medes, an Syrians, because of the strong Inclination ther Writers hat to relate Falfities for Truth; since the Composers of Fables were in the Highest Esteem, an were sure the People would take Pleasure to read those Fabulous Recitals compos'd after the Manner of Histories. The Fables of ... ar so much in Favour with them, that they will havbe the Author to be their Countryman (the fame with Locman, mention'din the Alcoran, as I have observ'd) who is in so high Reputation among all the People in the Levant, that they despoil Phrygiaof the Honour fo his Birth, and vindicate it to themselves.


For the Arabians say he was of the Race of the Hebrews; and the Persians assert, that he was an Arabian Negro, and lived in the Town Casuvin, which is the Arsacia of the Antients. Others on the contrary (observing his Life written by Mirkond, to be very agreeable to that of Aesop, which Maximus Planudes has left; and taking Notice, that as the Angels give Wisdom to Locman in Mirkond, so Mercury bestows the same upon Aesop, according to Philostratus) are perswaded that the Greeks have stolen Locman from the Orientals, and of him composed their Aesop. But I must not here determine this Controversy. I shall only recommend what is said by Strabo






which was Translated by the Hebrews, and is at this Day to be found in the Libraries of the Curious. Father Poussin, the Jesuit, has joined to his Pachymeron, which he lately Printed at Rome, a Dialogue between Absolom, King of the Indies, and a Gymnosophist, upon several Questions of Morality; where this Philosopher never expresses himself but in Fables, after the Manner of Aesop. The Preface to this Book imports, that it was carefully kept in the Treasury of the Charters of the Realm; that Perzoez Physician of Chosroez, King of Persia, Translated it out of Indian and Persian, some other out of Persian into Arabian and Simeon


Sethi from Arabian into Greek. This Book is so little different from the Apologues, which bear the name of the Indian 'Pilpay, and which were seen in French from few Years since, that there's no doubt but that it was either the Original, or the Copy. For 'tis said that this 'Pilpay was a Brachman, who had a Great Post in the Affairs of State and Government of the Indies under KIng Dobchelin; that he comprized all his Politics and Morals within this Book, which was preserved by the Kings of the Indies, as a Treasure of Wisdom and Learning. That the Reputation of this Book being carried so far as Nonchierevon, KIng of Persia, he procured a


thet of Fabulous to the River Hydaspes, which arises in this Country, meaned that it begins and ends its Course among a People very much addicted to Fiction and Disguise. These Fictions and Parables which you see make up the prophane Learning of the Nations before mention'd, have been sanctify'd in Syria; and the Sacred Authors complying with the Humour of the Jews, made Use of them to express the Inspirations they receiv'd from Heaven. The Holy Scripture is altogether Mysterious, Allegorical, and Enigmatical. The Talmudists are of Opinion that the Book of Job is no other than a Parable of the Hebrews


Invention; this Book, that of David, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticles, and all other Holy Songs, are Poetical Works abounding with Figures, which would seem bold and violent in our Writings, and which are frequent in those of that Nation. The Book of Proverbs is otherwise call'd the Paraboles, because Proverbs of this sort, according to the Definition of Quintilian, are only short Figures or Parables express'd in little.

The Book of Canticles is a kind of Dramatick Poem, where the passionate Sentiments of the Bridegroom and Spouse are expressed after a Manner so tender and touching, that we


Should be charmed and affected with it, if the Expression and Figures had a little more Conformity to our Genius, or if we could Divest our selves of Prejudice, which disposes us to dislike every Thing which is the least different from what we are used to, tho´ by this Practice we condemn our selves without perceiving it, since our Lightness never permits us to continue long in the Approbation of any Thing. our Savior himself scarce ever gave any Precepts to the Jews but under the Veil of Parabels. The Talmud contains a million of Fables, every one more Impertinent than the other, many of the Rabbins


have since explained, illustrated, and digested them in their particular Works; and beside this have composed several Poems, Prologues and Apologues.

The Cyprians and Cilicians have invented certain Fables which bore the Name of the People of those Nations; and the particular Disposition of the Cilicians to Lying gave rise to one of the Ancientest Proverbs in Greece.

In short, Fables have been in such Vogue all over these Countries, that (according to the Testimony of Lucian,) there were particular Orders of Men among the Assyrians and Arabians, whose sole (whole?) Province was to explain Fables; and who observed such a


Regularity in their Life, that they extended it much farther than other People.

But it is not enough to have discovered The Original of Romances; we must see by what Streams they have spread and convey'd themselves into Greece, and Italy, and whether they have passed from thence to us; or we have received them from any other Nation. The Ionians, a People of Asia Minor, being raised to great Power, and having acquired vast Riches, immersed themselves into Luxury and Voluptuousness, and indulged themselves in all the Extravagancies of Plenty.


Cyrus subdued them by making Crœsus his Captive, with whom he received all Asia Minor into his Subjection. The Persians upon this Success admitted their Manners with their Laws, and mixed their Debauches with those their own Inclinations supplied them with, and so grew to be the most Voluptuous Nation in the World. They began to refine upon the Pleasures of the Table, by making the Addition of Flowers and Perfumes. They first invented the Ornaments for their houses. The finest Wools, and the richest Tapestries in the World were their Productions. They invented the lascivious Dance, call'd the Ionic; and became so remarkable for Effemi-


nacy, that


But there were the first who corrupted them, and filled them with Lascivious and Amorous Narrations. Their Works are devoured by Time: We hear of no more than Aristides of them, who was the most Famous of the Romancers, and wrote several Books of Verse, called the Milesian Fables. I find that one Dionyius, a Milesian, who lived under the Reign of Darius the First, composed some Fabulous Histories; but since I can't certain whether this was any more than a compiling of Ancient Fables, and can't see sufficient Reason to believe, that they could properly be called Milesian Fables; I can't number


him among the Writers of Romance. The Ionians, descended from Attica and Peloponnesus, out of the Deference they had for their Original, maintain'd a great Correspondence with the Greeks. The Children of these Nations were sent from the one to the other for Education, that they might be the better acquainted with the Manners and Habit of Life of each other. By this Commerce Greece, which had of it self Inclination enough to Fables, learned the Art of Romances from the Ionians, and improved it with great Success. But to avoid Confusion, I shall endeavour to give an Account of those Writers amongst the Greeks,



tant. That which confirms my Suspicion, is a little Story cited from him by Atheneus, which gives an Account of some Marks of Love and Esteem which Gyges, King of Lydia, expressed to one of his Courtesans. Antonius `Diogenes, (according to the oppinion of Photius) lived not long after Alexander; and composed a true Romance of the Amours of Dinias and Dercyllis, in Imitation of the Odysseis of Homer, and the Adventurous Voyage of Ulysses. This Romance, though very Imperfect in several Particulars, and stuffed with scolish and extravagant Relations, scarce excusable in a poet, may nevertheles be called Regular. Photius has an Abstract


The Original of it in his Bibliotheca, and asserts it to be the Original of that which Lucian, Lucius, Jamblichus, Achilles Tatius, Heliodorus, and Damascius, have written in this Nature. However, he adds in the fame Place, that Antonius Diogenes makes mention of one Antiphanes more Ancient than himself, who wrote a Book of wonderful Histories like his; so that we have the same Reason to believe, That he errected the Idea and Institution of Romances, as that Antonius Diogenes did. I suppose he must be understood to speak of Antiphanes the Comic Poet, whom Stephanus the Geographer, and others, affirm to have composed a Collection of imper-


tinent and incredible Relations. He was of Berge, a Town of Thrace; but we can have no information of what Country Antonius Diogenes was. I can't tell precifely in what Time Aristides of Miletus lived; but this we may be confident of, That it was before the Civil Wars of Marius and Sylla; because Sifenna, a Roman Historian of that Time, translated his Milefian Fables. This Work was full of Obscenities, and upon that Account gave great Diversion to the Romans; so that the Surenas, or Lieutenant-General of the Parthian Government, who defeated the Roman Army under Graffus, when he found them among the Baggage of


Roscius, took Occasion before the Senate of Selencia to insult and defame the tender and effeminate Disposition of the Romans, who in the time of War could not disengage themselves of so soft entertainments.

Lucins of Patras, Lucian of Samosata, and Jamblichus, lived very near the same Time, under the Emperors Antoninus, and Marcus Aurelius. The first of them must not be reckoned among Romancers, for he no more than collected some Metamorphoses of the Magical Transformation of Men into Beasts, and Beasts into Men; dealing very simply and fairly, since he believed all that he wrote. Lucian


with much more Policy and Judgment, relates some part of his Works only to expose and ridicule them, in the Book which he called Lucius's Ass; to intimate that the Fiction was originally his. 'Tis in Effect an Abridgment of the two first Books of Lucius's Metamorphosis ; and this Fragment lets us see, That Photius had great Reason to arraign and decry his obscene and smutty Expressions. This ingenious and celebrated Ass, whose History these Authors wrote, was extremely like another of the same Worth and Merit, which Photius speaks of from Damascius in this Manner: "This Ass, says he, was the "Best of a Grammarian na-




added to that which delivers Rules for Composing a good History; infer that he intended it as an Example of what he had enjoyned, tho' he himself declares in the Entrance of the Work, That he had no father Design in it, than to expose those Poets, Historians, and Philosophers themselves, who exhibited Fiction for Truth which Impunity; and wrote such Relations of Foreign Countries, as Clesias and Jambulus had done.

Now if this be true which Photius assures us, That the Romance of Antonius Diogenes gave rise to these two of Lucian: We must understand that Lucian took Occasion from this, and the fabulous Histories of Clesias and


Jambulus, to compose his own, on purpose to detect and condemn the Vanity and Impertinence of theirs.

About this Time Jamblichus publish'd his Babylonics, (for that was the Name of it) in which the vastly outdid all who preceded him. For if we may judge of it by the Fragment which Photius has left us of it, his Design comprehends but one Action, adorned with all necessary Improvements; and attended with Episodes, arising from the principal Subject. He has observed Verisimility most exactly; his Adventures are mixed with Variety without Confusion:

We can find Fault with nothing but want of Art in the Contri-


vance of his Plot; that he has not been strict in following the Order of Time; and that he did not admit the Reader into the Middle of his Design at his first fetting out, after the Example of Homer in his Odysseis. Time has been Favourable to this Piece, for it has been seen in the Library of the Escurial.

Helidorus excell'd him in the Disposition of his Subject, and indeed in every other Particular. Hitherto the World had not seen any thing better designed, and morre compleat in Romance, than the Adventures of Theagenes and Chariclea. Nothing can be more chaste that their Loves. By this it appears, (beside the Honour of the Christian Religion,


gion, which he professed) that he had in his own Nature such an Air of Virtue, as shines throughout the Work; in which not only Jamblichus, but almost all the rest, are much his Inferiors. His Merit advanced him to the Dignity of an Episcopal See: He was Bishop of Tricca, a City of Thessaly. Socrates reports, that he introduced into that Diocese, the Custom of Deposing such of the Clergy, as did not abstain from the Women they had contracted before their Admission into Orders. This makes me very much suspect what Nicephorus, a credulous Writer, of little Judgment or Sincerity, relates; That a Provincial Synod, understanding the


the Danger which the Reading this Romance (so highly Authorised by the Dignity of its Author) might expose Young People to; proposed, that he should either consent to the Burning of his Book, or the Resignation of his Bishoprick; and that he accepted the latter of the Conditions. For the rest, I can`t but admire, that a Learned Man of this Age should suspect, whether this was the Book of Helidornus, Bishop of Tricca, or no; after Socrates, Photius, and Nicephornus, had given such evident Testimonies of it. Some have been of Opinion, that he lived about the End of the Twelfth Age; confounding him with Heliodorus the Arabian, whole Life


Philostratus has writ, among those of the other Sophists. But it is known, that he was Cotemporary with Arcadius and Honorius; and we find in Photius'´s Catalogue of the Romancers, who he thought wrote in Imitation of Antonius Diogenes, where he names them in a Chronological Order; he has placed Heliodorus after Jamblichus, and before Damascius; who lived in the Time of the Emperor Justinian.

According to this Account, Achilles Tatius, who wrote a Regular Romance of the Amours of Clitophon and Leucippe, ought to have preceded; tho´I can find no certain Account, to justify my Opinion. Others think


him more recent in his Style: However, he is not to be compared to Heliodorus, either for the Regularity of his Manners, the Variety of Events, or the Artifice of Unravelling his Plots. Indeed his Style is to be preferr'd to that of Heliodorus, because &squo;tis more Simple and Natural; whereas the other's is more forced. Some day, that he was a Christian, and a Bishop too. ’Tis strange, that the Obscenity of his Book should be to easily forgot; and more so, that the Emperor Leo, sirnamed the Philosopher, should commend the Modesty of it, in an Epigram which is yet extant; and not only permit, but recommend the Reading of it with the clo-


sest Application, to all those who profess the Love of Chastity.

I am afraid I shall be impleaded of Rashness, if I assign the next Place to Athenagoras, under whose Name there goes a Romance, the Title of which is, Of True and Perfect Love, This Book has not appeared in any Language but French, of Fumee's Translation; who tells us in his Preface, that he had the Greek Original from Mr. de Lamane, Prothonotary of the Cardinal d'Armagnac; and that he never saw it elsewhere. I almost dare add, 'twas never seen since; for the Name of it was never mention'd that I know of, in Catalogues of


any Libraries...


he had a good Opportunity to judge of, because he had the Originals before him. He takes it for a True Story, not understanding the Art of Romances. For my part, tho' I can't pronounce of it in Certainty, because I have not seen the Original in Greek; yet the Reading the Translation, inclines me to think, that he had several sufficient Grounds, to assign the Author of it to be Athenagoras the Apologist. For the Apologist was a Christian; and this speaks of Divinity, after a manner very inconsistent with any, but one of that Profession: As when he makes the priests of Ammom declare, "That there is but One" God; and that every Nation -


desirous to represent his Essence to the Simple, had invented several Images, which expressed but the same Thing. That their true Signification being defaced by Time, the Vulgar believed there were so many Gods, as they saw Images: That this was the Original of Idolatry. That Bacchus, when he built the Temple of Ammon, placed in it no other Image than that of God; because as there is but One in Heaven, which contains but One World; in this World there is but One God, who is communicated in Spirit. He makes this, and much more, said by some Egyptian


Merchants. That the Gods in the Fable, denoted the different Operations of this Sovereign, and only One Divinity, who is without Beginning, and without End: Whom he calls Obscure, and Dark, because he is Invisible, and Incomprehensible. Farther; the Discourses of the Priests and Merchants, upon the Divine Effence, very much resemble those of Athenagoras, in his Legation. The Apologist was a Priest of Athens; this was an Athenian Philosopher: Both seem Men of Sense, and Learning, and great Penetration into Antiquity.


But on the other side, we have many Reasons to suspect, not only that this is not Athenagoras the Christian, but that the Book it self is a mere Forgery. Photius, giving an Exact Acount of the Composers of Romances before his Time, takes no Notice of him at all. Nobody ever saw a Copy of this work in any Library; and that which the Translator made use of, never appear'd since. Besides, he represents the Habitation, Life and Conduct of the Priests and Religious of Ammon, so very like the Convents and Government of our Monks and Friars, that it ill accords with what History informs us,


of the Time when the Monastic Life began, and when it arrived to Perfection.

Among all this Obscurity what seems most probable to me, is, that 'tis an Ancient Work, but of a later Date than the Apology.

For I observe such a Profound Knowledge, both in Matters of Nature and Art; so great an Intimacy with the Annals of Time past, so many Curious Remarks, not taken from Ancient Authors which are left us, but which relate to, and explain them; so much of the Greek Phrase, which one may discover throughout the Translation; and over all, a certain Character of Antiquity, which cannot be


counterfeited; that I cant't be persuaded that it is any Production of Fumee's, whose Learning was but indifferent; or that the most Able and Ingenious Person in those Days, could devise any Thing like it. If Photius hash not mentioned him; how many other Great and Famous Authors have escaped his Cognisance, or his Diligence! If in our Days only one Copy was found, which perhaps is since lost; how many other Exellent Works have undergone the same Destiny! If this fails of giving you Satisfaction, and you'll oblige me to extend my Conjectures, and attempt to find out the Precise Time of its Production; I have nothing left to


support my opinion, but one Passage in the Preface to the Work; where he complains of the fatal Blow his Country Athens was about to receive, in the General Desolation of Greece; which can't be understood, but of the Irruption of the Scythians into Greece, which happen'd under the Empire of Gallienns; or else that of Alaric, King of the Goths, which fell out in the Time of Arcadius and Honorius. For Athens was not sack'd since Sylla's Time, till the Invasion of the Scythians, which was about Three Hundred and fifty Years after, which preceded that of the Goths the same Term of Years. But I see more Reason to apply the Words of the Author to the


the conquest of Alaric; because the Scyntians were soon repulsed from Athens, before they had done much Mischief; but the Goths treatened them with much more Rudeness, and left behind them sad Instances of the Barbarous Cruelty. Synefius, who lives at Time, speaks of them in the same Terms with our Auhor; and, with him, laments to see Learning; and the Liberal Sciences, ravaged by the Barbarians, in the very Place of their Birth, and Seat of their Empire. However, this work, which bears the Name of Athenagoras, is invented with Wit, conducted with Art, Sententious, and full of Excellent Moral Precepts: The Events agree with



to one Principal Action, follow the Rules of an Heroick Poem ; as Athenagoras and Heliodorus have done, tho' not so accurately : But our Old French have multiplied them without Order, Connexion, or Art. These the Italians have imitated, borrowing of them their Romances, with their Imperfections. Here we Giraldi in a worse Error than the former : He endeavours to commend this Vice, and turn it into a Virtue : Whereas, if it be true what himself asserts, that a Romance should resemble a Perfect Body , and consist of many different Parts and Proportions all under one Head ; it follows , that the Principal Action of a Romance should be


equal Beauty and Eminence, it was as impossible to digest them into one regular body, as it would be to erect a compleat structure with no materials but sand. The applause which the faulty romances of his nation have received, does yet justify him the less: We are not to judge of a performance by the number, but sufficiency of the approbators. Every one assumes to himself the license to judge of, and censure poesie and romance: The sumptuous palaces and common streets are made tribunals, where the merit sof the greatest works receive a supreme decision. There every one shoots his bolt, and boldly prefumes to fet an estimate of



With Verisimilty; the Episodes are drawn from the Subject; the Characters clear and distinct: Decorum is exactly preserved throughout: Nothing low; nothing forced, or like the Pedantic Style of the Sophists. The Argument is double; (which makes one of the great Beauties of our Modern Comedy) for besides the Adventure of Theagenes and Chariclea, he delivers that of Pherecydes and Malangenia; which envinces the Mistake of Giraldi, who believed in Multiplying of Actions was the Invention of the Italians; whereas the Greeks and our Old French , have practicd before them. The first, with Dependance and Subordination to…..


I return to the romance of Athenagoras; where the discovery of the plot, tho' without machine, is less happy than the rest; it goes not off smartly enough; it presents itself, before the passion and impatience of the reader are sufficiently warmed, and is made with too much repetition. But his greatest fault is his extrevagant ostentation, with which he displays his skill in architecture. What he writes might be admirable elsewhere, but is vicious and impertinent where he disposes it. "For a Poet, faith Giraldi ought not, in describing a Fabric, to shew himself an Architect; for in taking Notice of Particulars be-"



each other, at a Feast of Minerva; as Theagenes and Chariclea do at the Feast of Apollo. Athenagoras makes one Harondates Governor of the Lower Egypt: Heliodorus makes Oroondates Governor of Egypt. Athenagoras feigns Theogenes ready to be sacrificed by the Scythians: Heliogenes makes Theagenes about to be a Victim to the Ethiopians: And Athenagoras, like Heliodorus, has disposed his Work into Ten Books.

I shall not place the Books of Paradoxes of Damascius, an Heathen Philosopher, who lived under Justinian, among the Number of Romances. For tho' Photius observes, that he imitated Antonius Diogenes, the Model of (Greek)


Romances. Greek Romacers; 'tis to be understood, that like him he composed Histories, Fabulous and Incredible, but not Romantic, nor after the manner of Romances: For he related only the Apparations of Spectres, and Goblins, and Events above Nature, either too lightly to be credited, or invented with little Adress, becoming the Atheism and Impiety of the Author. Two Years after Damascius, was the History of Barlaam and Josophat, composed by St. John Damascenus. Many Ancient Manusscripts ascripe it to John the Sinaite, who lived in the Time of Theodosius; but without Reason, as Billius makes it appear; because the Disputes against the ...


The Original of

Iconoclafts, which are inferted in this work, were not move at that time, nor longer after, by Leo Isauricus the emperor, under whom st. john damascenus lived. ´Tis a roamance, but a spiritual one: It treats of love; but ´tis the love of god: we there find much bloodshed; but ´tis the blood of martyrs: it is written in the form of an history, not according to the rules of a romance; tho´ verifimility is exactly enough observed. It bears with it to many marks of fiction, that it is not to be read, but with some little judgement to discover it. In the other particulars of it, one may detect the fabulous genius of the author´s nation, by the great


great number of parables, comparisons, and similitudes, which are very liberally dispersed in it. The Romance of Theodorus Prodomus, and that which some attribute to Eustathius Bishop of Thessalonica, who flourished in the empire of Manuel Comnenus, about the middle of the Twelfth Age, are much of the same nature. The first contains the Amours of Dosicles and Rhodanthe; the other, those of Asmenas and Ismene. Monsieur Gaulmen has made both of them public, with his translation and notes. He says nothing of Eustathius; in the preface to the book which bears that name: I'll interpret his silence in his favour and


believe, that that Ingenious Man could not fall into the Error of those, who persuade themselves, that the Learned and Famous Commentator upon Homer, was capable of writing such a Miserable Work as this. Besides, some Manuscripts read the Author Eumathius, and not Eustathius. However that be, nothing is more frigid, empty,and impertinent: No Decorum, no Verisimility, no Conduct is preserved. 'Tis the Work of some School-boy, or wretched Pedagogue, who deserved to be a School-boy all the Days of his Life. Theodorus Prodomus is little better; however, he has something more Art, tho' it be fearce-


scarcely perceivable. He never extricates himself, but by Machinery. He understands not how to make his Actors preserve the Justness and Uniformity of their Characters. His work is rather a Poem, than a Pomance, for it is writ in Verse; and this makes his Style (which is too Licentious, and full of Figures) the more pardonable: But since his Verse is Iambic, which is extremely like Prose, I can't exclude him from it. Some say he was a Russian by Birth, a Briest, a Poet, a Philosopher, and a Physician.

My Judgment upon the Pastorals of Longus the Sophist, is the fame with that I gave of the Two former Romances. For tho'


tho' the Learned of Late Times have commended them for their Elegance and Agreement, joined to a Simplicity proper to the Nature of the Subjects; yet I can observe nothing in it, but that Simplicity, which sometimes declines to Childishness and Impertinence. There is nothing in it of Invention, or Conduct. He begins grosly in the Birth of his Shepherds, and ends with their Marriage. He never clears up his Adventures; but by Machines improper, and ill contrived. His Expressions are so obscene, that one must be somewhat of a Cynic, to read them without Blushing. His Style does not deserve the Commendations.


dations it receives. 'Tis the Style of a Sophist, such as he was


it receives. 'Tis the Style of a Sophist, such as he was; like that of Eustathius, and Theodorus Prodromus, which partakes of the Orator and Historian, tho' it be proper for neither of them.

'Tis full of Metaphors, Antitheses, Figures, which dazzle and surprize the Simple, and tickle the Ear, without satisfying the Mind; instead pf Engaging the Reader, by the Novelty of Events, the Arrangement and Variety of Matter, a clear and close Narration, attended by a smotth and regular Cadence, which always advances within the Subject.

He endeavours (as all Sophists do) to entertain his Reader with Accidental Descriptions:


than he has done: That one of them was of Antioch; another of Ephelus; the Third of Cyprus: All of them wrote Love-Stories. The first gave his Book the Name of Babylonics; the Second entitled his the Ephesiaes, and relates the Amours of Habrecomas and Anthea; the Third named his the Cypriaes; where he recounts the Amours of Cynaras, Myrrba, and Adonis. I ought not to forget Parthenius of Nicea, from whom we receive a Collection of Love-Histories, which he inscribes to the Poet Cornelius Gallus, in the Reign of Augustus. Many of them are drawn from the Ancient Fable, and all from Ancient


Authors, which he cites. Some of them feem to be Romantic, and to have been extracted from the Milesian Fables ; as that of Erippe and Zanthus, in the Eighth; that of Polycrites and Diognete, in the Ninth; that of Luconoc and Cyantippe, in the Tenth; that of Neara and Hypsicreon, and Promedon, in the Eighteenth Chapters. For besides that these Adventures are ascribed to Milesian Persons, it does not at all appear, that they have been taken either from the Fable, or Ancient History. The fame may be said of the Amours of Caunus and Biblis, Children of the Founder of Miletus, which he reports in the Eleventh Chapter. They are a Fiction of the Coun-


Countrey which have made it Famous, and have consecrated it in the Ancient Mythology. This however I offer, as a flight Conjecture. In my Account,I distinguish the Regular Romances, from those which are not so. I call those Regular, which are composed after the Rules of an Heroic Poem. The Greeks, who have happily improved most Arts and Sciences, that they may be reckoned the First Inventors of them, have also cultivated the Art of Romances. They have reform´d it from the Rude Dress it appeared in among the Orientals: They have reduced it into a more Regular Shape, adjusting


it to the Rules of the Epopee, and joining those Different Parts into One Compleat Body, which made up the Romances of former Times, without Order or Disposition. Of all the Greek Romancers I have named, they who observed these Rules, are only Antonius Diogenes, Lucian, Athenagoras, Jamblichus, Heliodorus, Achilles Tatius, Eustathius, and Theodorus Prodromus. I don't mention Lucius of Patras, nor Damascius, whom I have not enrolled among the Authors of Romances. St. John Damascenus, and Longus, might easily have reduced their Works under these Laws; but they either were ignorant of them, or despised them I can't affirm any




came a Proverb: But he does not discover wherein the Alteration consisted. Suidas believed, they were like those of Aesop; but he is mistaken in this, as well as many other Places. The Old Commentator upon Aristophanes saith, That the Sybarites made use of Beasts in their Fables, and Aesop of Men in his. This Passage is certainly corrupted: For as it appears that Aesop's Fables employed Beasts, it follows, that those of the Sybarites made use of Men. He informs us in express Terms, in another Place, that those of the Sybarites were pleasant, and provoked Laughter. I find a Piece of one of them in Aelian. `Tis a little Story, which he saith he took



the Work of Hemitheon the Sybarite, which Lucian speaks of, as a Mass of Smuttiness. This appears to have no Ground: For one can`t imagine, that the Sybaritida agreed with the Book of Hemitheon, in any thing more than the equal Obscenity of them both; and this was common to all the Sybaritic Fables. Besides this, the Sybaritida were composed not long before Ovid`s Time; whereas the Town Sybaris was demolish`d by the Crofoniales Five Hundred Years before him: So that`tis more credible, that the Sybaritida were composed by some Roman, and received that Name, because they were composed in Imitation of theSybaritic Fables. A cer-


certain old Author, whose Name I believe you don`t much value, gives us to understand, that their Style was concise and Laconic; but all this doth not evince, that they had nothing of the Romance in them. This Passage of Ovid makes it clear, that in his Time, the Romans had given Admittance to the Fables of the Sybarties: And he informs us in the fame Book, that the Famous Historian Sisenna had translated it from the Milesian Fables of Aristedes. This Sisenna lived in Sylla`s Time, and was(with Him) of the Great and Illustrious Family of the Cornelians. He was Prator of Sciily and Achaia; wrote the History of his Country; and



ence appears the Esteem Romances had in Rome; which is more evident, by the Romance which Petronius (one of their Consuls, and the most polished Man of his Time) composed. He disposed it into the


Form of a Satyr, of the same Kind which Varro invented, intermixing Prose with Verse, the Serious with the Jocose, and stile with Menippean; because Menippus had before treated of Serious Matters in a Pleasant Style. This Satyr of Petronius fails not to be a True Romance: It contains nothing but diverting and ingenious Fictions; tho' they are sometimes too licentious and immodest. He hides under a Disguise a fine and poinant Railery, against the Vices of Noro's Court. That remains of it, are only some incoherent Fragments, or rather Collections of some industrious Person; so that one can't exactly discern the


the form and Connexion of the whole Piece; tho´ it appears to be conducted with Order. And ´tis probable those incoherent parts, would compose a very Compleat Body, with the Addition of those which are lost. Tho´ Petronius seems to be a very great Critic, and of an exquisite Taste in Learning; his Style does not always advance to the Delicacy of his judgment: Something of Affection may be observed. In some Places he´s too Florid and Adorned; and degenerates from that Natural and Majestic Simplicity, which shined in the Augustan Age. So true is it, that the Art of Speaking, which is practiced by all the World, (and what


what very Few understand) is yet much easier to be understood,than practised well. Some say,the Poet Lucan (who also lived in the Reign of Nero) composed Saltic Fables; wherein(some think) wererecounted the Intrigous of Satyrs and Nymphs. This agree well with a Romance, and the Wit of that Age, which was very much inclined to the Amusements of that Art. But since there is nothing left us of it but the title, and that does not clearly express the Nature of the Work; it shall say nothing of it.

The Metamorphosis of Apnleins, so well known by the Name of the Golden Ass, was com-



Elegant Episodes; and among others, with that of Psyche, which no one is ignorant of. He has taken no Care to retrench the Smuttiness of the Originals which he followed. His Style is that of a Sophist, full of Affectation and violent Figures; hard, barbarous, and very becoming an African. Some are of Opinion, that Clodius Albinus, a Pretender to the Empire, who was defeated by Severus, did not disdain this Employment. Juslius Capitolinus reports in his Life, that there were several Milesian Fables under his Name in very great Reputation, tho' but indifferently composed: And that Severus reproached the Senate, that they had



is attended by them) espouses Philology (which is the Love od Good Letters) he gives her whatever is Excellent in them, for a Nuptial Present: So that it is a continued Allegory, which properly does not deserve the Name of Romance, but rather that of a Fable. For, as I have already observed, a Fable represents Things which never have, or ever can happen; and a Romance takes notice of Things which may, but never have happen'd. The Artifice of this Allegory is not very subtle; he Style is Barbarism it self; so bold and extravagant in its Figures, that they are unpardonable in the most Desperate Poet. Tis disguised with so great an


Hitherto the Art of Romancing was maintained with some Splendor, but it soon decayed with Learning and the Empire; when the Furious nations of the North disseminated, with their Bodies, the Ignorance and barbarity of their Minds. Romances were hitherto composed for


Delight. Fabulous Histories were now introduced, because none were acquainted with the Truth. Taliessin, who lived about the Middle of the Sixth Age, under that King Arthur so famous in Romances; and Melkin, who was somewhat younger, writ the History of England, his Country, of King Arthur, and the Round Table. Balæus, who has put them in his Catalogue, speaks of them, as of Authors filled with Fables. The same may be said of Hunibaldus Francus, who (as some relate) was Cotemporary with Clovis, and whose History is no other but a Mass of Lies grossly conceived.



those which contained the Atchievements of King Arthur, and the Life of Merlin.


These Diverting Histories placed Readers, who were more ignorant than those who composed them. They did not, in those Days, trouble themselves with Researches into Antiquity, and after being informed of the Truth of what they wrote. They had the Stuff in their own Head, and went no farther than their own Invention. Thus Historians degenerated into True Romancers.

In this Age of Ignorance, the Latin Tongue, as well as Truth, was neglected and despised. The Versifiers, Composers, Inventers of Tales, Jesters, and in short, all of this Country who studied what they called Gay Science, began about the time of Hugh


Capet, to set upon Romancing with great Fury; and soon over-ran France, by dispersing them. These Fables were composed in the Roman Tongue [...]


The Spaniards use the Word Romance in the same Signification with us, and call their ordinary Language by that Name. The Romain being then most universally understood, those of Provence who apply'd themselves to Fictions, made use of it in their Writings, which from thence were called Romances.



destroyed by the Length of Time. Spain it self, and Italy, which have been so fruitful in Romances, received the Art of Composing them from us. Giraldi himself reports, "I may say, this Sort of Poesy had its first Original from the French, and perhaps had its Name from thence. From them it afterwards passed to the Spaniards; and last of all, it was received by the Italians. The late Salmasius, whose Memory I have in singular Veneration, both for his Great Learning, and the Friendship contracted between us; was of Opinion; that Spain having learned the Art of Romancing from the Arabians, did by their Exam


ple communicate it to the rest of Europe. But to admit this, we must assent, that Taliessin and Melkin, both English, and Hunnibaldus Francus, (which are all of them, believed to have composed their Romances about the Year 550) are most recent, by almost 200 years, than we can imagine. For the Revolt of Count Julian, and Entrance of the Arabians into Spain, happened not till 91 of the Hegira, or 712 of our Saviour; and some Time must be allowed for the Diffusing of these Romances into Spain, and for those which (as is pretended) the Spaniards made in Imitation of them; to be dispersed throughout Europe. I shall not take upon me to main-


maintain the Antiquity of these Writers, tho' I have great Authority to do it, because the common and received Opinion would support me. 'Tis certain that the Arabians were extremely addicted, as I have made appear, to the Gay Science, I mean, Poesy, Fable, and Fiction. This Science was preserv'd in its Primitive Rudeness by them, till it was cultivated and improved by the Greeks. They brought it along with their Arms into Africa, when they subdued it; tho' it had before flourished in that Country: For Aristotle, and after him Priscian, make mention of the Libyc Fables; and the Romances of Apuleius and Martianns Capella,


both Africans, (of whom I have spoken) threw, that it was the Wit of these people, which very much conduced to fortify the Victorious Arabians in their Inclination. We are farther inform'd from Leo Afer abd Marmol, that the African Arabians do still passionately love Romantic Poesy; that they celebrate the Exploits of their Bubala in Verse and Prose, as we do those of our Arthur and Lancelot; that their Moabites compose Ditties of Love: That in Fez, on Mahomet's Birth-Day, the Poets have their Assemblies and Public Sports. and repeat Verse to the People : That whoever of them has the Approbation of the Auditors,


is created Prince of the Poets for that Year: That the Kings of the House of Benimerinis, who have Reigned these Three Hundred Years, and which our Old Writers called Bellemarine, convene on a certain Day every Year the most Able Judges of the City of Fez, and entertain them with a Splendid Feast: after which the Poets repeat their Eulogiums, in Honour of Mahomet: That the King confers on him who excels the rest, a Sum of Money, an Horse, a Slave, and the Robes which himself wore that Day; and that none of them are dismissed without a Reward.


Spain, when it had received the Yoke of the Arabians, learnt with their Manners the Custom of Singing Love-Verses, and Celebrating the Actions of Great Men, after the Institution of the Bards among the Gauls. But these Songs, which they called Romances, were very different from what properly deserves that Name: For they were Poems composed for Singing, and consequently very concise. Some have made Collections of them; and many of them appear to be so very Ancient, that they can hardly be understood. They have sometimes served to illustrate and explain the histories of that Country, and to reduce the Events to the Order of Chronology.



to be the first Romance of Chivalry which was printed in Spain, and the Model, and Best of all the other. Palmerin of England, which some believe was composed by a King of Portugal, met with an Easy Sentence, to be put in a Box like that of Darius, wherein Alexander kept the Works of Homer. Don Belianis, the Mirror of Chilvalry, Tirante the White, and Kyrie Eleison of Montauban; (for in those Good Old Times it was believed, that Kyrie Eleison, and Paralipomenon, were the Names of some Saints) where the Subtleties of Madam Pleasure-of-my-Life, and the Love and Intrigues of the Widow Reposada, are highly



among us, to give their Vestments to Poets, which continues to this Day in Use at Fez, confirms this Suspicion: I answer; That it is not impossible that we should receive Rhymes from the Arabians, and in Imitation of them, apply them to Romances. I'll allow farther, that the Inclination we then had for Romances, might be enhanced and sortified by their Example; and that our Art of Romancing (as is probable) was enriched, and improved, by the Communication of Wars we were engaged in with Spain: But all this does not conclude, that we were indebted to them for our Inclination to this Art; since 'twas in


use with us, before 'twas known among them. This Reason does farther oblige me not to believe, that the Princes of France took the Custom of Divesting themselves of their Garments, in Favour of the Poets, from the Arabian Kings. I rather think, that each of them were affected with the Excellent Works they heard repeated, and could not restrain themselves from dispensing their Liberality immediately, and made use of their Garments, because they were nearest at Hand; as we read of some Saints, who have done the same to the Poor: And that this Custom, which was received into France by Accident,


and is continued in Fez, may have been introduced into both the Places by Chance. It is very credible, that the Italians were first induced to compose Romances, by the Examples of those in Provence, when the Popes fat at Avignon, and perhaps by that of other Divisions of the French, when the Normans and Charles Earl of Anjou, /Brother to St. Louis)a Virtuous Prince, a Lover of Poetry, and a Poet himself, made War in Italy. For the Normans could not refrain themselves from the Polite Science. History reports, they sung the Exploits of Roland, before they got that Memorable Battel, which gave the Crown of England to Willi-


All Europe was then overwhelmed with Darkness and Ignorance, but France, England, and Germany much less than Italy, which then produced but a small Number of Writers, and scarce any Authors of Romances. Those of that Country, who had a Mind to distinguish themselves by Learning and Knowledge, came for it to the University of Paris, which was the Mother of Sciences, and Nurse of the Learning of Europe. St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, the Poets Dante, and Boccace, came thither to study; and the President Fauchet produces, that the last of them took a great Part of his Novels from French Ro-


mances; and that Petrarch, and the other Italian Poets, have rifled for their Richest Fancies, the Songs of Thiband King of Navarre, Gace's Brussez, Chastelain de Corcy, and the Old French Romances. 'Twas then, in my Opinion, that the Italians learned from us the Science of Romance; which, by their own Confession, is to be ascribed to us, as well as that of Rhyming.

Thus Spain and Italy received from us an Art, which was the Effect of our Ignorance and Barbarity, and which the Politeness of the Persians, Ionians, and Greeks had produced. As Necessity engages us, to sustain our Bodies


with Herbs an Roots; so when the Knowledge of Truth, which is the Proper and Natural Aliment of the Mind, begins to fail, we have Recourse to Falsehood, which is the Imitation of Truth. As in Plenty we refuse Bread, and our ordinary Viands, for Ragousts; so our Minds, when acquainted with the Truth, forsake the Study and Speculation of it, to be entertained with its Image, which is Fiction. This Imitation according to Aristotle, is often more agreeable than the Original it self; so that two oppositely different Paths, which are Ignorance and Learning, Rudeness and Politeness, do often conduct us to the same End; which is


an Application to Fictions, Fables, and Romances. Hence it is, that the most Barbarous Nations are taken with Romantic Inventions, as well as the most Refined. The Originals of all the Savages of America, and particularly those of Peru, are nothing but Fables; no more are those of the Goths, which they wrote in their Ancient Runic Characters, upon great Stones; the Remains of which I my self have seen in Denmark. And if any Thing were left us of the Works, which the Bards among the Ancient Gauls composed, to eternize the Memory of their Nation, I don't question but we should find them enriched with Abundance of Fictions.


This Inclination to Fables, which is common to all Men, is not the Result of Reason; Imitation, or Custom. 'Tis Natural to them, and has its Seat in the very Frame and Disposition of their Soul. For the Desire of Knowledge is particular to man, and distinguishes him from Beasts no less than his Reason. nay we may observe in other Creatures some Rude Impressions of this; whereas the Desire of Understanding is Peculiar to Us only.

The Reason of this, according to my Opinion, is; because the Faculties of the Soul are too Vast an Extent, to be supplied by the Present Objects, so that 'tis obliged to


have recourse to what's past, and to come, in Truth and in Fictions, in Imaginary Spaces and Impossibilities, for Objects to exert it self upon. The Objects of Sense fill the Desires of the Soul of Brutes, who have no farther Concern; so that we can't discover in them these restless Emotions, which continually actuate the Mind of Man, and carry it into the Pursuit of a recent Information, to proportion (if possible the Object to the Faculty; and enjoy a Pleasure resembling that which we perceive in the Appeasing a Violent Hunger, and Extinguishing a Corroding Thirst. This is that which Plato intends, in the Marriage of Do-


rus and Penia, (in which Terms he would express Riches and Poverty,) which produces exquisite Pleasure. The Object is signified by Riches, which are not so but in Use and Intention; otherwise they are unfruitful and afford no Delight. The Faculty is intended by Poverty; which is sterile, and always attended by Inquietude, while 'tis separated from Riches; whereas its Union with them, supplies the Highest Satisfaction. The Case is the same with our Souls: Poverty, the same with Ignorance, is Natural to it; it sighs continually after Science; which is its Riches; and when 'tis posess'd of this Enjoyment, it feels the greatest Pleasure. But


this Pleasure is not always equal; it often is the Purchase of much labour and Difficulty: As when the Soul applies it self to intricate Speculations, and Occult Sciences, the Matter whereof is not present to our Senses; where the Imagination, which acts with Faculity, has a Less Part in the Pursuit than the Understanding, whose Operations are more Vehement and Intense: And because Labour is naturally tedious, the Soul is not carried to Hard and Spinous Learning, unless in Prospect of some Advantage, or Hope of some remote Amusement, or else by Necessity. But the Knowledge which attracts and delights it most, is that which is acquired without


Pain and where the Imagination alone acts on Subjects which fall under our Sense, ravish our Passions, and are great Movers in all the Affairs of Life. Such are Romances, which require no great Intention or Dispense of Mind, to understand them. No long Reasonings are exacted; the Memory is not overburthened: Nothing is demanded, but Fancy and Imagination. They move our Passions; but 'tis on purpose to sooth and calm them again: They excite neither Fear nor Compassion; [u]nless it be to display to us the Pleasure of seeing those we are afraid, or concern'd for, out of Reach of Danger or Distress. In short, all our Emo-


tions there find themselves agreeably provoked and appeased.

'Tis hence, that those who act more by [Passion than Reason], and labour more with their Imagination than Understanding, are affected by them; tho' these other are touched by them too, but after another manner. These are touched by the Beauties of Art, which amuse the Understanding; but the former, Ignorant and Simple, are sensible of no more than what strikes upon the Imagination, and stirs their Passions. They love the Fiction, and enquire no farther. Now Fictions being nothing but Narrations, True in Appearance, and False in Reality; the Minds of the Simple, who discern on


ly the Disguise, are pleased and highly satisfied with this Shew of Truth. But those who penetrate farther, and see into the Solid, are easily disgusted with the Falsity: So that the first love Falsehood, because it is concealed under an Appearance of Truth; the Latter are distasted with the Image of Truth, because of the Real Forgery which is couched under it; unless it be varnished with Ingenuity, Subtility, and Instruction, and recommends it self by the Excellency of Invention and Art. St Augustin makes this Observation somewhere; 'That these Falsities which carry a Signification, and suggest an Hidden Meaning, are not Lies,


but the Figures of Truth; which the most Wise and Holy Persons, and even our Saviour himself, have used upon Honourable and Pious Occasions.'

Since then 'tis true, that Lies commonly flow from Ignorance, and the Grossness of our Intellect; and that this Inundation of the Barbarians, who issued from the North, spread over all Europe, and plunged it into such profound Ignorance, as it could not clear it self from, within the Space of Two Ages; is it not then probable, that this Ignorance caused the same Effect in Europe, which it had produced every where besides? And is it not vain to enquire for that in


Chance, which we find in Nature? There is then no Reason to contend, but that the French, German, and English Romances, and all the Fables of the North, are Fruits of those Countries, and not imported from Abroad: That they never had other Originals than the Histories stuffed with Falsities, and made in Obscure Ignorant Times, when there was neither Industry nor Curiosity to discover the Truth of Things, nor Art to describe it, if 'twas found: That these Histories have been well received by the Unpolished and Half-barbarous People; and that the Historians thereupon took upon them the Liberty to pre-


sent them with what was purely forged, which were the Romances.




I shall not undertake to [...] examine whether Amadis de Gaul were originally from Spain, Flanders, or France; and whether the Romance of Tiel Ulespiegel be a Translation from the German; or in what Language the Romance of the Seven Wise Men of Greece was first written; or that of Dolopathos, which some say was extracted from the Parables of Sandaber the Indian. Some say 'tis to be found in Greek in some Libraries; which has furnished the Matter of an Italian Book call'd Erastus, (and of many of Boccace his Novels, as the same Fauchet has remarked) which was written in La-


tin by John Morck, or the Abby de Hauteselne, whereof Ancient Copies are to be seen; and translated into French by the Clerk Hubert, about the End of the Twelfth Age, and into High Dutch about Three Hundred Years afterwards; and an Hundred Years after that, from High Dutch into Latin again, by a Learned hand, who changed the Names of it, and was ignorant that the Dutch had come from the Latin.

It shall suffice if I tell you, that all these Works which Ignorance has given Birth to, carried along with them the Marks of their Original, and were no other than a Complication of


Fictions, grossly cast together in the greatest Confusion, and infinitely short of the Excellent Degree of Art and Elegance, to which the French Nation is now arrived in Romances. 'Tis truly a Subject of Admiration, that we, who have yielded to others the Bays for Epic Poetry, and History, have nevertheless advanced these to so high a Perfection, that the Best of theirs are not Equal to the Meanest of ours.

We owe (I believe) this Advantage to the Refinement and Politeness of our Gallantry; which proceeds, in my Opinion, from the great Liberty which the Men of France allow to the


Ladies. They are in a manner Recluses in Italy and Spain; and separated from Men by so many Obstacles, that they are scarce to be seen, and not to be spoken with at all. Hence the Men have neglected the Art of Engaging the Tender Sex, because the Occasions of it are so rare. All the Study and Business there, is to surmount the Difficulties of Access; when this is effected, they make Use of the Time, without amusing themselves with Forms. But in France, the Ladies go at large upon their Parole; and being under no Custody but that of their own Heart, erect it into a Fort, more strong and secure than


all the Keys, Grates, and Vigilance of the Douegnas. The Men are obliged to make a Regular and Formal Assault against this Fort, to employ so much Industry and Address to reduce it, that they have formed it into an Art scarce known to other Nations.

'Tis this Art which distinguishes the French from other Romances, and renders the Reading of them so Delicious, that they cause more Profitable Studies to be neglected.

The Ladies were first taken with this Lure: They made Romances their Study; and have despised the Ancient Fa


ble and History so far, that they now no longer understand those Works, from which they received their greatest Embellishments: And lest they should blush at this Ignorance, which they find themselves so often guilty of; they perceive they had better disapprove what they don't know, than take the Pains to learn it.

The Men, in Complaisance, have imitated them; condemned what they disliked, and call that Pedantry, which made an Essential Part of Politeness, even in Malherbe's Time. The Poets, and other French Writers who succeeded, have been constrained to submit to this Arbi


tration; and many of them, observing that the Knowledge of Antiquity would be of no Advantage to them, have ceased to study what they durst not practise: Thus a very Good Cause has produced an Ill Effect; and the Beauty of our Romances has drawn upon them the Contempt of Good Letters, and consequently Ignorance.

I don't, for all this, pretend to condemn the Reading of them. The Best Things in the World are attended with their Inconveniencies; Romances too may have much worse than Ignorance. I know what they are accused for: They exhaust our Devotion, and in-


spire us with Irregular Passions, and corrupt our Manner. All this may be, and sometimes does happen. But what can't Evil and Degenerated Minds make an Ill Use of? Weak Souls are contagious to themselves, and make Poyson of every Thing. Histories must be forbidden, which relate so many Pernicious Examples; and the Fable must undergo the same Fate; for there Crimes are authorised by the Practice of the Gods. [...]


Cherea, in Terence, fortifies himself in a Criminal Design, at the Sight of a Picture of Jupiter, which drew the Reverence of all other Spectators. Little Regard was had to Sobriety of Manners, in most Part of the Greek and Old French Romances, by Reason of the Vice of the Times in which they were composed. Even the Astrea, and some others which have followed, are Licentious. But the Modern Romances (I speak of the Good ones) are so far from this Fault, that you'll scarce find an Expression, or Word, which may shock Chaste Ears, or one single Action which may give Offence to Modesty.

143 [sic!]

If any one object; That Love is treated of in a Manner so Soft and Insinuating, that the Bait of this Dangerous Passion invades too easily the Tender Hearts; I answer, That it is so far from being Dangerous, that it is in some Respects Necessary, that the Young People of the World should be acquainted with it; that they may stop their Ears to that which is Criminal, and be better fortified against its Artifices; and know their Conduct, in that which has an Honest and Sacred End. This is so true, that Experience lays before us, that such as are least acquainted with Love, are the most unguarded to its As-

144 [sic!]

saults, that the most Ignorant are soonest decoyed. Add to this that Nothing so much refines and polishes Wit; Nothing conduces so much to the Forming and Advancing it to the Approbation of the World, as the Reading of Romances. These are the Dumb Tutors, which succeed those of the College, and teach us how to Live and Speak by a more Persuasive and Instructive method than theirs [...].


Monsieur D'Vrfee was the first who retrieved them from Barbarity, and reduced them to Rules, in his Incomparable Afirea, The most Ingenious and Polite Work which has appeared in this Kind, and which Eclipsed the Glory which Greece, Italy and Spain, had acquired. However, he has not discouraged those who come after him, to undertake what he has performed. He has not so far engrossed the Public Admiration, but that some are still left for the many Excellent Romances which displayed themselves in France since His.


None can, without Amazement, read those which a Maid as Illustrious in her Modesty, as her Merit, has published under a Borrowed Name; depriving her self so Generously of that Glory which was her Due, and not seeking for Reward, but in her Virtue; as if while She took so much Trouble for the Honour of our Nation, She would spare that Shame to Our Sex. But Time has done her that Justice, which she had denied her self; and has informed us, that the Illustrious Bassa, Grand Cyrus, and Clælia, are the Performances of Madam de Scudery: that the Art of making Romances, which might defend


itself against Scrupulous Censures, not only by the Commendations which the Patriarch Photius gives it, but by the great Examples of those who have applied themselves to it, might justify itself by Her's: That that which has been improved by Philosophers, as Apuleis, and Athenagoras; by a Roman Prator, as Sisenna; by a Consul, as Petronius; by a Pretender to the Empire, as Clodius Albinus; by a Priest, as Theodorus Prodromus; by Bishops, as Heliodorus, and Achilles Tatius; by a Pope, as Pius Secundus, who wrote the Loves of Euryalus and Lucretia; by a Saint, as John Damascenus; might have the Ho-