Pierre Daniel Huet, Traitté de l’origine des romans (1670)
- Pierre Daniel Huet, Treatise of Romances, 1670, first English translation (1672). Oldenburg Anglistikserver
- Pierre Daniel Huet, History of Romances, 1670, translated by Stephen Lewis (1715) ECCO Oldenburg Anglistikserver
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Text of the English edition published in 1715
[ornament] THE| HISTORY| OF| ROMANCES [ornament]
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 Judgement, 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)
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.
have fince 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 theAffyrians and Arabians, whose fole (whole?) Province was to explain Fables; and who observed such a Regularity
Cyrus fubdued them by making Crasus 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 fupplied 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 Effeminacy,
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 wether 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
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 named"
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 meritsof the greatest works receive a supreme decision. There every one shoots his bolt, and boldly prefumes to fet an estimate of
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
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
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
with Herbs and Roots; so when the Knowledge of Truth, which is the Proper and Natural Aliment of the Mind, begins to fail, we have Recourse to Falshood, 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 itself; so that two oppositely different Paths, which are Ignorance and Learning, Rudeness and Politness, do often conduct uss to the same End; which is, an
have recourse to what's past, and to come, in Truth and in Fiction, in Imaginary Spaces and Impossibilities, For Objects to exert it sels 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 Applealing a Violent Hunger, and Extinguishing a Corroding Thirst. This is that which Plato intends, in the Marriage of Dorus
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 engroffed the Public Admiration, but that some are still left for the many Excellent Romances wgich displayed themselves in France since His
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 Honour