Lucile Reviewed in The Literary Gazette, 1861
(London) 140 (2300) New Series (2 March 1861), p201-204
A undated clipping pasted into a 1879 Osgood Blue & Gold Edition of Lucile reads:
LORD LYTTON'S PLAGIARISM
A COMPARISON OF "LUCILE" WITH GEORGE SAND'S "LAVINIA"
From the London World
I have received the following very interesting letter, apropos Lord Lytton's plagiarism:
Sir: In "What the World Says" of the 19th inst., you mention that a writer in the Atlantic Monthly has discovered that a novel by George Sand, entitled "Lavinia," is the original of Lord Lytton's "Lucile," that "even the situations, with few exceptions, are copied, and whole pages of the most animated epigrammatic dialogue are plagiarized, word for word, except where the exigencies of rhyme and metre require a deviation from the French. You also mention that the writer of the article has, since his discovery, been informed that he had been anticipated by some one in England several years ago. He was anticipated by some one at Madras early in 1861. My dear and lamented friend, R.S. Ellis, afterward a member of the Legislative Council at Calcutta and of the Indian Council in London - one of the ablest of Indian civilians, and better read in French novels than any one at that time in India, except perhaps Lord Canning - made the discovery, and handed the matter over to me. I wrote an article on the subject, which was sent home to the care of Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., who were Ellis's agents at home, with a request that a place might be found for it in some weekly publication. The article appeared in the Literary Gazette, then edited by the late Shirley Brooks, on the 2nd of March, 1861. The editor was responsible for the very strong expressions - such as "a plagiarism astounding for its impudence, for its persistency, and for the position of the writer who has been so dishonest and imprudent as to venture upon it," "a shameful fraud" - which occur in the introductory paragraph; but the rest of the article I wrote. One of the most striking points in the plagiarism was that in the preface the author, or rather translator, declared that he had "endeavored to follow a path on which he could discover no footsteps before him either to guide or to warn;" when, in fact, as the review proceeded to point out by long comparative extracts, "Lucile," "in so far as regards Part I of the poem, in nothing more than "Lavinia" by George Sand, carefully and neatly paraphrased, to a great extent literally translated." "We see that Mr. Owen Meredith is preparing for publication a volume to be called "The Songs of Servia." Will this prove to be a translation from Bèranger?" Well, the volume was published under this title - said by a Servian scholar to be ungrammatical – "Serbski Pesme" and it actually proved to a translation from a French version!
The Library Journal (New York: F. Leypoldt, 1881), 6:6 (June 1881), page 189:
Lucile. -- Plagiarisms are so nearly related to pseudonymous writing that we condense the following from the London World quoted in the American bookseller:
A writer in the Atlantic monthly has discovered that ‘Lavinia,’ by George Sand, is the original of Lord Lytton's ‘Lucile,” which is merely a careful and neat paraphrase, in many cases an exact translation of the French novel. He was anticipated by R. S. Ellis in Madras early in 1861. An article founded on his discovery appeared in the Literary gazette March 2, 1861, concluding thus: “We see that Mr. Owen Meredith is preparing for publication a volume to be called ‘The Songs of Servia! Will it prove to be a translation from Béranger?’ The volume was published under the title -- said by a Servian scholar to be ungrammatical -- of ‘Serbski Pesme,’ and it actually proved to be translated from a French version.
MR. OWEN MEREDITH'S "LUCILE."
London: The Literary Gazette 140 (2300) New Series (March 2, 1861), p201-204.
We have to call the attention of our readers to one of the most gross and audacious plagiarism which the history of literature ever had to record-a plagiarism which is astounding alike for its impudence, for its persistency, and from the position of the writer who has been so dishonest and so imprudent as to venture upon it. It is an unpalatable office to show that the son of one of the most illustrious authors of the day, has deliberately committed the most heinous offence of which a man of lepers can be guilty. But, disagreeable and painful as the task island much as we regret the mortification which the disclosure Must inevitably cause amongst Mr. Owen Meredith's friends, still it is our plain duty to the public to expose the shameful fraud that has been put upon them.
In the spring of last year Mr. Owen Meredith's poem of "Lucile" was published and in our review of it (see ''Literary Gazette," for May 5, No. 97) we expressed a suspicion that in spite of his claim to originality brought forward in the preface, Mr. Owen Meredith was not "so totally without a guiding star in his new pilgrimage." We indicated that he was "under constant and most obtrusive obligations" to Alfred de Musset, and we gave one instance where the English author had translated literally two of de Musset's lines. These suspicions, as we have since discovered, were so far from being unfounded, that we now accuse him, not of stealing one or two stanzas, but his entire poem from a foreign source.
In short, we have discovered beyond a doubt that Mr. Owen Meredith's "Lucile," in so far as regards part I of that poem, is nothing more than "Lavinia" by George Sand,* carefully and neatly paraphrased - to a great extent, as we shall show, literally translated, and converted into an English metre, of which Mr. Owen Meredith is, we believe, the sole patentee. We give him full credit for his rhymes, but the dramatis personae ; the plot, the situations, the minute descriptions of scenery and feelings and objects, in the French prose and the English verse are identical. Mr. Owen Meredith has treated with the most reverent hand the work of the great French novelist, and has put as little of his own as was possible into his version of "Lavinia." But what can be the meaning of the passage which in our first review we quoted from the preface to "Lucile:"- "In this poem I have abandoned those forms of verse with which I had most familiarised my thoughts, and have endeavoured to follow a path on which I could discover no footprints before me to guide or to warn ." Did Mr. Owen Meredith merely intend in this sentence to claim originality for his cantering anapests, but not for his ideas? We are the more inclined to ask these questions, because, in the note to page 58, Mr. Owen Meredith is almost affected in his avowal of the derivation of his song "The Paradise Bird," from the suggestion of a friend. What straining at this gnat of a song, when the author has swallowed and digested without a qualm, without an audible groan or visible grimace, the whole of George Sand's "Lavinia"!
But the whole of the note in question deserves reproduction. It is as follows:- "The idea, which is imperfectly embodied in this song, was suggested to me by a friend, to whom I am indebted for so much throughout this poem, that I gladly avail myself of this passing opportunity, in acknowledging the fact, the record the fact, to record my grateful sense of it. I mine him not. When he reads these words, his heart will comprehend what is in mine while I write them. -"Lucile", p58.
Now, we are naturally led to wonder who this friend can be, "to whom" Mr. Meredith is "indebted for so much throughout this poem," unless it be George Sand herself. But before proceeding to point out, by comparative extracts, how extensively he is "indebted" to George Sand, we may remark that the only passage in "Lucile" in which her name is mentioned seems to indicate, by a false spelling, and by a very uncomplimentary anachronism as to her age, that Mr. Owen Meredith, however carefully he may have studied her works, has no personal acquaintance with George Sand.
-------- "I think that Georges Sand
Must have met him and known him when, after the Peace,
He made the grand tour of the Continent." - p25.
The celebrated nom de plume is here Gallicised by the "s" added to the George; and most certainly that name had never been heard or thought of at the Peace in 1815, when George Sand was about ten years old.
The story of "Lavinia" (and of "Lucile," Part I. ) is very simple. The Lady Lavinia (in the English version, the Countess Lucile), hearing that her former lovel [sic], Sir Lionel (Lord Alfred) is engaged to a young English heiress, and is staying with a party of her friends at a watering-place in the Pyrenees, within a few rules of her own residence, writes to remind him of a pledge interchanged by them when, after deciding that they were unsuited to each other, they "parted as friends, soon mere strangers to grow." This pledge was that, whenever demanded by the lady, the gentleman was to restore to her in person her letters and her portrait. The French original and the English paraphrase both open with this letter, on the arrival of which the faithless lover seeks the advice of Lavinia's cousin Henry, (in "Lucile" it is his own cousin John), and after a conversation, in which, cousin Henry (cousin John) takes his place as the comic character of the piece, Sir Lionel (Lord Alfred) starts for the place of Lavinia's (Lucile's) residence to fulfil the pledge. He arrives at night, and sees the lady, unseen himself, at a ball-room, where she is dancing with a new admirer, the Count de Morangy, who in "Lucile" is called the Duc de Luvois. This sight rouses his jealousy, and half revives his farmer passion. Sir Lionel (Lord Alfred) waits upon Lavinia (Lucile) at her house to restore her letters and portrait. We now give, from the French and English versions, the description of her reception-room, its contents, and their effect upon the recreant lover:–
"Lavinia," page 278.
"Des rideaux de basin bien blanc recevaient l'ombre mouvante des sapins qui seconnaient leurs chevelures noires au vent de la nuit sous l'humide regard de la lune. De petits seaux de bois d'olivier verni elaient remplis des plus belles fleurs de la montague. Lavinia avait cueilli elle-même, dans les plus désertes vallées et sur les plus hautes rimes, ces bella-dones au sein vermeil, ces aconits au cimier d'azur du calice vénéneux; ces silènes blanc et rose dont les pétales sont si délicatement découpes; ces pales saponaires; ces clochettes si transparentes et plissées comme de la mousselline; ces valérianes de pourpre; toutes ces sauvages filles de la solitude, si embaumées et si fraiches, que le chamois craint de les flétrir en les effleurant en sa course, et que l'eau des sources inconnue au chasseur les couche a peine sous sou flux nonchalant et silencieux.
"Cette chambrette blanche et parfumée avait en vérité, et comme á son insu, un air des rendezvous; mais elle semblait aussi le sanctuaire d'un amour virginal et pur. Les bougies jetaient une clarté timide: les fleurs semblaient fermer modestement leur sein á la lumière; aucun vetament de femme aucun vestige de coquetterie ne s' était oublié à traîner sur à les meubles: seulement un bouquet de pensées flétries et un gant blanc décousu gisaient côte à côte sur la cheminée. Lionel, poussé par un mouvement irrésistible, prit le gant et le froissa dans ses mains. C'était comme l'étreinte convulsive et froide d'un denier adieu. Il prit le bouquet sans parfum, le contempla un instant, fit une allusion amère aux fleurs qui le composaient, et le rejeta brusquement loin de lui. Lavinia avait elle posé la ce bouquet avec le dessein qu'il fut commenté par son ancien amant?"
"Lucile," page 70.
"In the white curtains waver'd the delicate shade
Of the heaving acacias in which the breeze played.
O'er the smooth wooden floor, polish'd dark as a glass,
Fragrant white Indian matting allow'd you to pass.
In light olive baskets, by window and door,
Some hung from the ceiling, some crowding the floor,
Rich wild flowers, plucked by Lucile from the hill,
Seem'd the room with their passionate presence to fill;
Blue aconite, hid in white roses, reposed:
The deep bella-donna its vermeil disclosed;
And the frail saponaire, and the tender blue-bell,
And the purple valerian - each child of the fell
And the solitude flourish'd, fed fair from the source
Of waters the huntsman scarce heeds in his coarse,
Where the chamois and lizard, with delicate hoof,
Pause or flit through the pinnacled silence aloof.
"This white, little, fragrant apartment, 'tis true,
Seem'd unconsciously fashion'd for some rendezvous;
But you felt. By the sense of its beauty reposed,
'Twas the shrine of a life chaste and calm. Half unclosed
In the light slept the flowers; all was pure and at rest;
All peaceful, all modest, all seem'd self-possessed,
And aware of the silence. No vestige nor trace
Of a young woman's coquetry troubled the place
Not a scarf, not a shawl: on the mantel-piece merely
A nosegay of flowers, all wither'd or nearly,
And a little white glove that was torn at the wrist.
Impelled by an impulse, too strong to resist,
Lord Alfred caught up, with a feverish grasp,
The torn glove, and flung it aside with a gasp,
It seem'd like the thrill of a final farewell.
He took up the nose-gay, without bloom or small,
And inaudibly, bitterly muttered, or sigh'd
Some rebuke to the flowers ere he laid it aside.
Had Luclle by design left the dead flowers there?
The torn glove? I know nothing. I cannot declare."
This is a tolerably close translation; and we would call particular attention to the description of the wild flowers, the name of one appearing in "Lucile" in its original French as the "saponaire". Does Mr. Owen Meredith know what it is? We do not. The scene proceeds as follows:–
"Lavinia," p. 279.
"Lavinia eutra tandis quo Lionel était plonge dans cette contemplation; le bruit du torrent et de la brise empêcha qu'il ne l'entendit. Elle resta plusieurs minutes debout derrière lui, occupée sans doute a se recueillir, et se demandant peut-être si c'était la l'homme qu'elle avait tant aime; car, a cette heure d'émotion obligée et de situation prévue, Lavinia croyait pourtant faire un rêve. Elle se rappelait le temps ou il lui aurait semble impossible de revoir Sir Lionel sans tomber morte de colère et de douleur. Et maintenant elle était la, douce, calme, indlifferente peut-être.
"Lionel se retourna machinalement et la vit. Il ne s'y attendait pas, un cri lui échappa; puis, honteux d'une telle inconvenance, confundu de ce qu'il éprouvait, il fit un violent effort pour addresser a Lady Lavinia un salut correct et irréprochable. Mais, malgré lui un trouble imprévu, une agitation invincible, paralysaient son esprit ingénieux et frivole, cet esprit si docile, si complaisant, qui se tenait bonjours prêt, suivant les bois de l'amabilité, a se jeter tout entier dans las circulation, et a passer, comme l'or, te main en main pour l'usage du premier venu. Cette fois, l'esprit rebelle se traisait et restait éperdu a contempler Lady Lavinia."
"Lucile," p. 71.
"Just then Lucile entered the room, undiscerned
By Lord Alfred, whose face to the window was turn'd
In a strange reverie.
-------------- The time was, when Lucile,
In beholding that man could not help but reveal
The rapture, the fear, which wrench'd out every nerve
In the heart of the girl from the woman's reserve.
And now - she gazed at him, calm, smiling - perchance
--------" Indifferently turning his glance,
Alfred Vargrave encounter'd that gaze unaware.
O'er a boddice snow-white stream'd her soft dusky hair;
A rose-bud half-blown in her hand; in her eyes
A half pensive smile.
------------A sharp cry of surprise
Escap'd from his lips; then embarrass'd and vex'd,
He saluted the Countess; and sought, much perplex'd,
For some trivial remark - the conventional phrases -
Irreproachable manners, appropriate praises.
But in spite of himself, some unknown agitation,
An invincible trouble, a strange palpitation,
Confused his ingenious and frivolous wit;
Overtook and entangled and paralysed it.
That wit so complacent and docile, that ever
Lightly came at the call of the lightest endeavour,
Ready coined, and availably current as gold,
Which, secure of its value, so fluently roll'd,
In free circulation from hand on to hand
For the usage of all, at a moment's command:
For once it rebelled, it was mute and unstirr'd,
And he looked at Lucile without speaking a word."
Scarcely a point in the French original is missed in the English translation, which, on the whole, is done with great skill and taste. We might perhaps take exception to "his ingenious and frivolous wit," which is too literal a rendering of "son esprit ingénieux et frivole," and is doubtful English.
We continue without a break or the omission of a line:–
"Lavinia," page 280
"C'est q'uil ne s'attendait pas à la revoir si belle . Il l'avait laisse bien souffrante et bien altérée. Dans ce temps la les larmes avaient flétri ses jones, le chagrin avait amaigri su taille; elle avait l'oeil e'éteint, la main sèche, une parure négligée. Elle s'enlaidissait imprudemment alors, la pauvre Lavinia! sans songer que la douleur n'embellit que le coeur de la femme, et que la plupart des hommes nieraient volontiers l'existence de l'aime chez la femme, comme il fut fait en un certain concile de prélats Italiens.
"Maintenant Lavinia était dans tout l'éclat de cette seconde beauté qui revient aux femmes quand elles n'out pas recu au coeur d'atteintes irréparables dans, leur première jeunesse. C'était toujours une minée et pale Portugaise, d'un reflet un peu bronze, d'un profil un peu sévère; mais son regard et sou manières avaient pris toute l'aménité, toute la grâce caressante des Françaises. Sa peau brune était veloutée par l'effet d'une santé calme et raffermie; son frêle corsage avait retrouve la souplesse et la vivacité florissante de la jeunesse; ses cheveux, qu'elle avait coupés jadis pour en faire un sacrifice à l'amour, se déployaient maintenant dans tout leur luxe en épaisses torsades sur son front lisse et uni; sa toilette se composait d'une robe de mousseline de l'Inde et d'une touffe de bruyère blanche cueillie dans le ravin et mêlée à ses cheveux. Il n'est pas de plus gracieuse plante que la bruyère blanche; on eut dit, a la voir balancer des délicates girandoles sur les cheveux noirs de Lavinia, des grappes de perles vivantes. Un gôut exquis avait présidé a cette coiffure et a cette simple toilette, ou l'ingénieuse coquetterie de la femme se révélait à force de se cacher."
"Lucile," p. 72.
"Perhaps what so troubled him was, that the face
On whose features he gazed had no more than a trace
Of the face his remembrance had imaged for years.
Yes! the face he remember'd was faded with tears:
Grief had famished the figure, and dimm'd the dark eyes,
And starv'd the pale lips, too acquainted with sighs
And that tender, and gracious, and fond coquelleria
Of a woman who knows her least ribbon to be
Something dear to the lips that so warmly caress
Every sacred detail of her exquisite dress,
In the careless toilette of Lucile - then too sad
To care aught to her changeable beauty to add –
Lord Alfred had never admired before!
Alas! poor Lucile, in those weak days of yore,
Had neglected herself, never heeding, nor thinking
(While the blossom and bloom of her beauty were shrinking),
That sorrow can beautify only the heart -
Not the face - of a woman; and can but impart
Its endearment to one that hath suffer'd. In truth
Grief hath beauty for grief; but gay youth loves gay youth
The woman that now met, unshrinking, his gaze,
Seem'd to bask in the silent but sumptuous blaze
Of that soft second summer, more ripe than the first,
Which returns when the bud to the blossom hath burst
In spite of the stormiest April. Lucile
Had acquired that matchless unconscious appeal
To the homage which none but a churl would withhold -
That caressing and exquisite grace - never bold,
Ever present - which just a few women possess.
From a healthful repose, undisturb'd by the stress
Of unquiet emotions, her soft cheek had drawn
A freshness as pure as the twilight of dawn.
Her figure, though slight, had revived everywhere
The luxurious proportions of youth; and her hair -
Once shorn as an offering to passionate love -
Now floated or rested redundant above
Her airy pure forehead and throat; gathered loose
Under which by one violet knot, the profuse
Milk-white folds of a cool modest garment reposed,
Rippled faint by the breast they half hid, half disclosed.
And her simple attire thus in all things reveal'd
The fine art which so artfully all things conceal'd.
"Lavinia," page 281.
"Jamais Lionel n'avait vu Lavinia si séduisante. Il faillit un instant se prosterner et lui demander pardon; mais le sourire calme qu'il vit sur son visage lui rendit le degré d'amertume nécessaire pour supporter l'entrevue avec toutes les apparences de la dignité.
"A défaut de phrase convenable, il tira de son sein un paquet soigneusement cachetée, et le déposant sur la table, 'Madame,' lui dit il d'une voix assurée, 'vous voyez que j'ai obéi en esclave; puis je croire qu'a compter de ce jour ma liberté me sera rendue?' 'Il me semble,' lui répondit Lavinia, avec une expression de gaieté mélancolique 'que jusqu' ici votre liberté n'a pas été trop enchaînée, Sir Lionel! En vérité, seriez vous reste tout ce temps dans mes fers? J'avoue que je ne m'en étais pas flattée.'
"'Oh, Madame, au nom de ciel, ne raillons pas! N'est ce pas un triste moment que celui-ci?'
"'C'est une vieille tradition,' répondit elle, 'un dénoûment convenu, une situation inévitable dans toutes les histoires de l'amour. Et si, lorsqu'on s'écrit, on était pénètre de la nécessite future de s'arracher mutuellement ses lettres avec méfiance. . Mais on n'y songe point. A vingt ans, on écrit avec la profonde sécurité d'avoir échange des serments éternels; on sourit de pitie en songeant a ces vulgaires résultats de toutes les passions qui s'éteignent; on a l'orgueil de croire que seul entre tous, on servira d'exception a cette grande loi de la fragilité humaine! Noble erreur, heureuse fatuité, d'ou naissent la grandeur et les illusions de la jeunesse! n'est-ce pas, Lionel?"'
"Lucile," page 74.
"Lord Alfred, who never conceived that Lucile
Could have looked so enchanting, felt tempted to kneel
At her feet, and her pardon with passion implore;
But the calm smile that met him sufficed to restore
The pride and the bitterness needed to meet
The occasion with dignity due and discreet.
"'Madam,' - thus he began with a voice reassur'd,
'You see that your latest command has secured
My immediate obedience - presuming I may
Consider my freedom restor'd from this day.'
"'I hadl thought,' said Lucile, with a smile gay yet sad,
That your freedom from me not a fetter has had.
Indeed in my chains have you rested till now?
I had not so flatter'd myself, I avow.'
"'For Heaven's sake, madam,' Lord Alfred replied,
'Do not jest: has this moment no sadness?' he sigh'd.
''Tis an ancient tradition,' she answered, 'a tale
Often told - a position too sure to prevail
In the end of all legends of love. If we wrote
When we first love, foreseeing that hour yet remote
Wherein of necessity each would recal
Front the other the poor foolish records of all
Those emotions, whose pain, when recorded, seem'd bliss,
Should we write as we wrote? But one thinks not of this;
At twenty (who does not at twenty?) we write
Believing eternal the frail vows we plight;
And we smile with a confident pity, above
The vulgar results of all poor human love:
For we deem, with that vanity common to youth,
Because what we feel in our bosoms, in truth,
Is novel to us - that 'tis novel to earth.
And will prove the exception, in durance and worth,
To the great law to which all on earth must incline.
The error was noble, the vanity fine!
Shall we blame it because we survive it? Ah, no;
'Twas the youth of our youth, my lord, is it not so?'
We have, perhaps, quoted enough already to prove our case, and we might be satisfied to refer our readers to the books themselves for further confirmation. We cannot transfer forty or fifty pages from "Lucile," and thirty from "Lavinia," to our columns, which would be necessary if we wished to exhibit all the parts of "Lucile" which are pilfered from George Sand, as shamefully as those we have already given. We have only space for a few more extracts.
The interview proceeds in both versions from the point where we broke off, in the same spirit and in identical language. Lord Alfred is shocked to hear Lucile "pronounce the death-warrant of all the illusions of life " - ("prononcer l'arrêt de mort sur toutes les illusions du passé"):-
"Lucile," p. 76.
"He himself knew, none better, the things to he said
Upon subjects like this. Yet he bowed down his head;
He had not the courage, he dared not decide
To aid that frail hand to the heart's suicide."
"Lavinia," p. 282.
"Il savait bien mieux que personne tout ce qui pouvait être dit en pareil cas, mais il n' avait pas le courage d'aider Lavinia à se suicider."
As he remains silent, she therefore proceeds to explain that she had not recalled their pledges of affection from motives of prudence, but because she
--------" From all that I hear,
Fear'd those letters might now (might they not?) interfere
With the peace of another."
"Je ne m'y serais jamais détermine si le repos d' une autre femme n'était compromis par l'existence de ces papiers."
"Lucile," p. 77.
"He look'd up and look'd long in the face of Lucile,
To mark if that face by a sign would reveal
At the thought of Miss Darcy the least jealous pain.
He look'd keenly and long, yet he look'd there in vain -
The face was calm, cheerful, reserved, and precise.
Is this woman,' he thought, 'changed to diamond or doe?
'You are generous, madam, he murmur'd at last,
And into his voice a light irony pass'd,
If these be indeed the sole motives you feel.'
'What others but these could I have?' said Lucile."
"Lavinia," p. 283.
"Lionel regarda fixement Lavinia, attentif au moindre signe d'amertume ou de chagrin que la pensée de Margaret Ellis ferait naître en elle: mais il lui fut impossible de trouver la plus légère altération dans sou regard ou dams sa voix. Lavinia semblait être invulnérable désormais.
"'Cette femme s'est elle changée en diamant ou en glace?' se demanda-t-il.
"'Vous etes genereuse,' lui dit il avec un mélange de reconnaissance et d'ironie,' si c'est la votre unique motif.'
"'Quel autre pouvais - je avoir, Sir Lionel?'"
For two more pages of "Lucile" the literal translation of the conversation in "Lavinia" proceeds until Lord Alfred,
("Lucile," p. 79.)
------- "Thrill'd by the beauty of nature disclosed
In the pathos of all he had witness'd, his head
And his knee he bow'd humbly, and faltering said,
'Ah, Madam! I feel that I never till now
Comprehended you - never! I blush to avow
That I have not deserved you.'
----------"'No, no,' answered she,
'When you knew me, I was not what now I may be,'
And raised with a passionate glance
The hand of Lucile to his lips."
"Dominé par la beauté du caractère qui se révélait a lui, it courba la tête et plia le genon.
"'Je ne vous avais jamais comprise, Madame, lui dit'il d'une voix altérée; je ne savais point ce que vous valez: j'étais indigne de vous et j'en rougis.'
"Ne dites pas cela, Lionel, répondit-elle en lui tendant la main pour le relever. Quand vous m'avez connue, je n'étais pas ce que je suis aujourdhui, &c." &c., &c.
"Et dons son trouble il porta avec ardeur la main de Lavinia a ses lèvres." - ("Lavinia," p. 284-285.)
In short, he forgets the lapse of time, and makes violent love to the lady; but in the midst of their combat of wits, for the lady fences most adroitly with his attempted advances, a noise is heard at the door - it is Lucile's other adorer, the Duc de Luvois - in the original the Comte de Morangy - whom Lord Alfred had seen dancing with her at the ball, and who will not be denied admittance. Lord Alfred (Sir Lionel) slips out of the room into the garden, and witnesses, unobserved, the warmest part of the interview:-
("Lucile," p. 87.)
I ask you to leave me -
------------You do not reject?
I ask you to leave me the time to reflect.
You ask me?
--------- The time to reflect.
---------- Say - one word:
May I hope?
------ What the Countess replied was not heard
By Lord Alfred; for just then she rose and moved on.
The Duke bowed his lips o'er her Hand, and was gone.
Not a sound save the birds in the bustles,
And when Alfred Vargrave reel'd forth to the sunlight again,
He just saw the white robe of the Countess recede
As she enter 'd the, house.
------------- Scarcely conscious, indeed,
Of his steps, he too follow'd, and enter'd.
--------------------- He enter'd
Unnoticed; Lucile never stirr'd, so concentred,
And wholly absorbed in her thoughts she appear'd.
Her back to the window was turn'd. As he near'd
The sofa, her face from the glass was reflected,
Her dark eyes were fixed on the ground. Pale, dejected,
And lost in profound meditation she seem'd.
Softly, silently, over her droop'd shoulders stream'd
The afternoon sunlight. The cry of alarm
And surprise which escaped her, as now on her arm
Alfred Vargrave let fall a hand icily cold
And clammy as death, all too cruelly told
How far he had been from her thoughts."
("Lavinia," p. 291)
"Et elle lui tendit la main avec cordialité.
"Dieu de bonté! elle accepte! s'écria le comte en couvrant cette main de baisers.
"'Non pas, monsieur, dit Lavinia; je vous demande le temps de la réflexion.'
"'Hélas! mais puis-je espérer?'
"'Je ne sais pas; mais comptez sur ma réconaissance. Adieu. Retournez au bal; je l'exige. J'y serai dans un instant.'
"Le Comte baisa le bord de son écharpe avec passion et sortit. Aussitôt qu'il eut referme la porte, Lionel écarta tout a fait le rideau, s'apprêtant recevoir de Lady Blake l'autorisation de rentrer. Mais Lady Blake était assise sur le sofa, le dos tourne a la fenêtre. Lionel vit sa figure se refléter dans la glace placée vis-a-vis d'eux. Les yeux étaient fixés sur le parquet, sou attitude morne et pensive. Plongée dans une profonde méditation, elle avait complètement oublie Lionel, et l'exclamation de surprise qui lui échappa lorsque celui-ci sauta au milieu de la chambre fut l'aveu ingénu de cette cruelle distraction."
When the Count leaves the house, Lord Alfred (Sir Lionel) in a whirlwind of jealousy, bursts into the room, reclaims his letters and picture, gives her packet to Lucile (Lavinia), and says a last farewell. The next scene introduces us to a storm in a pass of the Pyrenees where Lord Alfred (Sir Lionel), by the merest accident - a happy coincidence - meets Lucile (Lavinia) taking shelter under an overhanging rock ("Lucile," p. 94-105 - "Lavinia," p. 294-300). Here he makes a proposal for her hand in the following terms: -
("Lucile," page 98.)
I hear - I see nought but yourself, I can feel
Nothing here but your presence. My pride fights in vain
With the truth that leaps frome m. We two meet again
'Neath yon terrible heaven that is watching above
To avenge if I lie when I swear that I love -
And beneath yon terrible heaven, at your feet,
I humble my head and my heart. I entreat
Your pardon, Lucile, for the past - I implore
For the future your mercy, - implore it with more
Of passion than prayer ever breathed. By the power
Which invisibly touches us both in this hour,
By the rights I have o'er you, Lucile, I demand' -
'The rights:' said Lucile, and drew from him her hand.
'Yes, the rights! for what greater to man may belong
Than the right to repair in the future the wrong
To the past?"
("Lavinia," page 298.)
"'Je ne vois rien ici que vous, Lavinia,' lui dit il avec force; 'je n'entends de voix qu la votre, je ne respire d'air que vôtre souffle, je n'ai d'émotion qu'a vous sentir pres de moi. Savez vous bien que je vous aime éperdument? Oui, vous le savez; vous l'avez bien vu aujourdhui, et peut-être vous l'avez voulu. Eh bien! triomphez s'il en est ainsi. Je suis a vos pieds, je vous demande le pardon et l'oubli du passé, le front dans la poussière; je vous demande l'avenir, oh, je vous le demande avec passion, et il faudra bien me l'accorder, Lavinia; car je vous veux fortement, et j'ai des droits sur vous. . . . ."
"Des droits?' répondit-elle, en lui retirant sa main.
"'N'est ce doc pas un droit, un affreux droit, que le mal que je t'ai fait, Lavinia?'"
("Lucile," p. 105.)
"It was late when o'er Serchon at last they descended.
To her chalet, in silence, Lord Alfred attended
The Countess. At parting she whispered him low,
'You have made to me, Alfred, an offer, I know
All the worth of believe me, I cannot reply.
Without time for reflection. Good night! not good-bye.'
'Alas! 'tis the very same answer you made
To the Duc de Luvois but a day since,' he said.
'No, Alfred, the very same, no,' she replied.
Her voice shook. 'If you love me, obey me. Abide
My answer to-morrow.'"
("Lavinia," p. 300.)
"La elle lui dit en baissant la voix: 'Lionel, vous m'avez fait des offres dont je sens tout le prix. Je n'y peux répondre sans y avoir mûrement réfléchi. . . . . .
" '- O Dieu! c'est la même réponse qu' a M. de Morangy.'
"'- Non, non, ce n'est pas la même chose,' répondit elle d'une voix altérée. 'Mais votre présence ici peut faire naître bien des bruits ridicules. Si vous m'aimez vraiment, Lionel, vous allez me jurer de m'obéir.'
"- Je le jure par Dieu et par vous."
There are many pretty and striking descriptions, many brilliant thoughts and graceful concetti scattered through the first part of "Lucile," which are certainly not taken from "Lavinia," and which we have not been able to trace to any other source. And yet, besides the general feeling of uncertainty as to origin, with which we cannot help viewing every word of this poem, after ascertaining the foreign birth of the greater part of it, there is a strong French flavour in many of the raciest passages throughout the book, which to our judgment indicates that the metal comes from the same mine as the first. This is especially the case in the plot and situations of the second part, and above all in the scene where Matilda, Lord Alfred's bride, is saved from the Duc de Luvois by Lucile herself. We have been reminded frequently of Frederic Soulie and others of his school, but too vaguely for a decisive accusation.
We have discovered, for example, one long illustration, in the passage descriptive of "the two Don Juans" who pervade Europe ("Lucile," p. 26), to be taken, without the slightest acknowledgment, from Alfred de Musset's "Namouna;" and we feel, therefore, that without some positive declaration from Mr. Owen Meredith himself, no single line, no single idea can be accepted as his own. Surely we may ask Mr. Owen Meredith to save us the trouble of a further search in Rolandi's shelves by making a clean breast of it. Perhaps, however, we have no right to expect this much candour from one who has been guilty of such an infamous imposture. At all events, we await with some curiosity the explanation which Mr. Owen Meredith may offer of this most extraordinary plagiarism. At present we cannot possibly imagine what line of defense this original poet will adopt, or what significance he intends us to attach to his ingenuous statement that he has "endeavoured to follow a path on which he could discover no footprints before him, either to guide or to warn ." We are happy, indeed, to think that there are few footprints (n the paths of plagiarism which Mr. Owen Meredith has endeavoured to follow, and we trust that his example will warn off all other writers who might be inclined to bring similar discredit upon English literature by forging English poetry out of French fiction, and by passing off the mongrel result as the production of their own original genius. We see that Mr. Owen Meredith is preparing for publication a volume, to be called "The Songs of Servia." Will they prove to be a translation from Bèranger?
* Published is 1811 by Perrotin, Rue Fontaine-Molière, in Paris . It is also to be found is in the second volume of George Sand's "Oeuvres Complétes" ( Brussels ) of which a copy may be consulted of the British Museum by any who wish to test our charges.
Last revised: 20 August 2010