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 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)


by his Aquaintance 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'd 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 Delight-


And, in my Opinion, the Man who acquits himselof 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 Subjekt 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


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.













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













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



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 Inven-




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,






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 Contrivance





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 Imiration 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





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





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-"




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 ...



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 be-


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.



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:





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




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




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



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






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






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-




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


and Penia, (in which Terms he would express Riches and Poverty,) which produce 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 possess'd of this Enjoyment, it feels the greatest Pleasure. But this




tions there find themselves agreeably provoked and appeased. 'Tis hence, that those who act more by Reason than Passion, 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 Passion. They love the Fiction, and enquire no farther. Now Fiction being nothing but Narrations, True in Appearance, and False in Reality; the Minds of the Simple, who discern only













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 Pendantry, 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 one 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 pf 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 worth their Inconveniences; 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 [...] Despair of a Young Man.


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; [...] are the most unguarded to its Ass-

144 [sic!]

saults, that the most Ignorant [...] Able Philosophers.


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; devriving her self so Generously of that Glory which was her Due, and not seeking for a Reward, but in her Virtue; as if while She took so much Trouble for the Honour of our Nation, She would soare that Shame to Our Sex. But Time has done her that Justice, which She denied her self; and has informed us, that the Illustrious Bassa, Grand cyrus, and Claelia, are the Performances of Madam De Scudery: that the Art of making Romances, which might defend it


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-