The Adventures of Captain Pamphile, and Delaporte's Little Presents
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Dumas wrote the first few chapters of Captain Pamphile as early as 1834, when they appeared in the second volume of the Journal des Enfants, the story being continued in the third and sixth and completed in the seventh volume. In 1835 the same chapters, entitled Jacques I. et Jacques II.: Fragmens Historiques, were reprinted in Dumas Souvenirs dAntony, which, containing stories so remarkable as Blanche de Beaulieu and Le Cocker de Cabriolet, were read by everyone who cared for the productions of the Romantic School. Jacques I. et Jacques II. had a great success, and in 1840, Dumas having completed the book, Dumont published it as Le Capitaine Pamphile, with the following editorial note: -
"At last we find ourselves in the fortunate position of being able to bring before the public the interesting series of adventures associated with the name of Captain Pamphile. It has required no less than the time which has elapsed since the first four chapters appeared in the Souvenirs d' Antony (from which we have reprinted them in order to lay before our readers a complete work), that is to say, five years, to procure the necessary documents relating to the characters in this history. These documents were scattered over the four quarters of the globe, but, thanks to the good offices of our consuls, we have succeeded in gathering them together. We feel amply rewarded to-day for our trouble by the conviction that we are presenting to the public a book which is so nearly perfect that only professional critics, with their well-known justice and discernment, are capable of pointing out the slight distance by which the account of The Adventures of Captain Pamphile falls short of absolute perfection."
The original text was not, however, exactly reproduced, and for the edification of the curious in such matters we translate the concluding paragraph of Jacques I. et Jacqttes II., which should be read after the mention of the captains purchase of a parrot on page 18 of the present edition.
"Gentlemen," said Jadin, breaking off short in his narrative, "as it has proved impossible for me to find out whether the parroquet in question was a true parrot or a cockatoo, and as it was important to clear this point up, I wrote to Captain Pamphile, in order to procure the most accurate information as to the family of the new personage we are about to bring under your notice, but before my letter reached him he, having disposed of his cargo most advantageously, had set out on a second voyage to India. Mme. Pamphile did me the honour to reply to my letter, saying that her husband would be back in September or October next; I am therefore obliged to ask you to wait till then for the continuation of the history of Jacques I. et Jacques II."
For general reading in France the edition of 1840 has been entirely superseded by the issue of one illustrated by Bertall. The book with Le Flèau de Naples also forms a volume of the Œuvres Completes.