From the French of ERNEST FEYDEAU. New York : Evert D. Long & Co.
IF there be any one thing worse than French immorality, it is French morality. This is a moral book, à la Française, and weak as ditch-water. Nor is the ditch-water improved by being particularly dirty.
Edward, who is a mere boy, is in love with Fanny. This is natural enough. Fanny, who is decidedly an old girl, who has been married for fifteen years, and who has three children, is not less desperately in love with Edward, whom she regards with a most charming sentiment, in which the timid passion of the maiden blends gracefully with the maturer regard of an aunt or a grandmother. This is not quite so natural. Certainly, it can hardly be that she is fascinated by Edward, who is the most disgustingly silly young monkey to be found in the whole range of French novels. But the mystery is at once disclosed when we read the description of Fanny’s husband. He is "a species of bull with a human face.” “ His smile was not unpleasing, and his look without any malicious expression, but clear as crystal,” We begin to comprehend his inferiority to Edward,—to sympathize with the youth’s horror at the sight of this obnoxious husband, “ who seems to him,” as M. Janin says in his preface, “a hero — what do I say ? —a giant! — to the loving, timid, fragile child.” “ In fine, a certain air of calm rectitude pervaded his person.” Execrable wretch! could anything be more repulsive to true and delicate sentiment (as before, a la Française) ? “I should say his age WAS about forty.” Our wrath at this last atrocity can hardly be controlled. It seems as if M. Feydeau, by collecting in one individual all the qualities which most excite his abhorrence and contempt, had succeeded in giving us, in Fanny’s husband, a very tolerable specimen of a gentleman. We pardon all to the somewhat middle-aged lady, whose “ feelings are too many for her ”; and we only regret that M. Feydeau did not see the eminent propriety of increasing the lady’s admiration by having this brutal husband pull Edward’s divine nose or kick the adored person of the pauvre enfant down stairs.