Droll Stories — Volume 3

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#Continental European #Literary Collections
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Excerpt PROLOGUE Certain persons have interrogated the author as to why there was such a demand for these tales that no year passes without his giving an instalment of them, and why he has lately taken to writing commas mixed up with bad syllables, at which the ladies publicly knit their brows, and have put to him other questions of a like character. The author declares that these treacherous words, cast like pebbles in his path, have touched him in the very depths of his heart, and he is sufficiently cognisant of his duty not to fail to give to his special audience in this prologue certain reasons other than the preceding ones, because it is always necessary to reason with children until they are grown up, understand things, and hold their tongues; and because he perceives many mischievous fellows among the crowd of noisy people, who ignore at pleasure the real object of these volumes. In the first place know, that if certain virtuous ladies—I say virtuous because common and low class women do not read these stories, preferring those that are never published; on the contrary, other citizens' wives and ladies, of high respectability and godliness, although doubtless disgusted with the subject-matter, read them piously to satisfy an evil spirit, and thus keep themselves virtuous. Do you understand, my good reapers of horns? It is better to be deceived by the tale of a book than cuckolded through the story of a gentleman. You are saved the damage by this, poor fools! besides which, often your lady becomes enamoured, is seized with fecund agitations to your advantage, raised in her by the present book. Therefore do these volumes assist to populate the land and maintain it in mirth, honour and health. I say mirth, because much is to be derived from these tales. I say honour, because you save your nest from the claws of that youthful demon named cuckoldom in the language of the Celts. I say health, because this book incites that which was prescribed by the Church of Salerno, for the avoidance of cerebral plethora. Can you derive a like proof in any other typographically blackened portfolios? Ha! ha! where are the books that make children? Think! Nowhere. But you will find a glut of children making books which beget nothing but weariness. But to continue. Now be it known that when ladies, of a virtuous nature and a talkative turn of mind, converse publicly on the subject of these volumes, a great number of them, far from reprimanding the author, confess that they like him very much, esteem him a valiant man, worthy to be a monk in the Abbey of Theleme. For as many reasons as there are stars in the heavens, he does not drop the style which he has adopted in these said tales, but lets himself be vituperated, and keeps steadily on his way, because noble France is a woman who refuses to yield, crying, twisting about, and saying, "No, no, never! Oh, sir, what are you going to do? I won't let you; you'd rumple me." And when the volume is done and finished, all smiles, she exclaims, "Oh, master, are there any more to come?" You may take it for granted that the author is a merry fellow, who troubles himself little about the cries, tears and tricks of the lady you call glory, fashion, or public favour, for he knows her to be a wanton who would put up with any violence....
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