that at a time when everybody was a connoisseur in horseflesh, the appearance of the aforesaid pony at Meung[.....]produced an unfavorable feeling, which extended to his rider. And this feeling had been more painfully perceived by young d’Artagnan (the rider) [......]from his not being able to conceal from himself the ridiculous appearance that such a steed gave him, good horseman as he was. He had sighed deeply, therefore, when accepting the gift of the pony from M.d’Artagnan the elder.He was not ignorant that such a beast was worth at least twenty livres

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

What did he mean by the bold part? I understand as [ the reason why he perceived this feeling so painfully is that he wasn't able to hide the " the ridiculous appearance" his horse's color give to him. Giving What a great a horseman he is, he should be able to].

  • D'Artagnan's bad feeling was perceived so painfully by him because he was not able to hide from himself the ridiculous appearance his horse's colour and manner of walking gave to him. This was because he was a good horseman (who knew about horses). Jul 17, 2022 at 19:40
  • The " hide it from himself" or "conceal it from himself" are confusing. I don't if the point of hiding/concealing it is for him to not see it or for other to not see it.
    – Ali
    Jul 17, 2022 at 19:50
  • D'Artagnan is a proud young man, and he would like to pretend to himself that he does not look ridiculous, but he is too good a horseman to succeed in that pretence. Have you never seen someone pretending that they do not know that they look ridiculous? Jul 17, 2022 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


The horse gave D'Artagnan a ridiculous appearance in this sense. The horse had an odd physical appearance as D'Artagnan was aware because he was quite knowledgeable about horses. He further realized that most observers, not knowing the horse was a gift, would assume that he had had chosen to buy that odd horse, and would conclude therefore that D'Artagnan was simple minded and therefore socially ridiculous.

It is a remarkably convoluted sentence though that may be the fault of the translator rather than Dumas.

EDIT: Many thanks to Kate Bunting for locating the original. As she says, the French original is convoluted; the translator is not to blame for that. However, the word translated as “appearance” is perhaps not perfectly chosen. “Aspect” might better capture the flavor of the French original.

  • So " conceal it from himself" is for him not to see it?
    – Ali
    Jul 17, 2022 at 19:56
  • "not being able to conceal it from himself" means he DID see it Jul 17, 2022 at 20:01
  • The original is pretty convoluted - Et cette sensation avait été d'autant plus pénible au jeune d'Artagnan (...), qu'il ne se cachait pas le côte ridicule que lui donnait, si bon cavalier qu'il fût, une pareille monture - and the next sentence in the translation is part of the same one in the original! Jul 18, 2022 at 10:30
  • @KateBunting Thank you sincerely for the original language. I have forgotten 80% of my French, but your comment inspired an edit in my post. Jul 18, 2022 at 13:16
  • Luckily I realised that the passage must be near the beginning of the story! NB The word is cavalier, not chevalier - D'Artagnan rode well but still looked silly on the odd horse. Jul 18, 2022 at 13:38

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