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of apolitical character, for which see F. Holl, Das politische nnd religiose Tendeni -
drama des 16. Jahrhwiderts in Frankreich {Munch. Beitrtige 26), pp. 48 — 57,
1903, and E. Faguet, La tragedie an xvi e siecle, pp. 309 ff. ; see also the latter for
other inferior writers of tragedy of this time.

4 M. Lanson in his Corneille (pp. 39-44), after pointing out quite rightly thai
French tragedy of the 16th cent, is different not only in degree but in kind from
that of the 17th cent., goes on to say that both are copies of the same original, viz.
Greek tragedy, and that the earlier type, the tragedy of 'passion,' perished partly
because there was no poet strong enough to give it life, and partly because h
in its essense lyrical it suffered from the general decline of lyricism in f 1
which took place at the beginning of the 17th cent. Put can a type of tragedj 1:
which, as he says, " there is no study of the play and conflict of wills." in which
"everything is decided before the curtain rises and there is nothing lefi bul t'
note the palpitations of the victims, the lamentations of the vanquish* d, 1
a copy of Greek tragedy ? Can it be called drama at all ?

T. II.




which Renaissance critics built up, partly on the practice of
the ancients, and partly on a misunderstanding or at least a
careless reading of certain precepts in Aristotle's Poetics,
tragedy and comedy were two perfectly distinct species of
drama. Tragedy deals with princes, ends unhap pily, a ™i-L s
w ritten in a lofty style. Comedy on the other hand draws
its characters, fromjthe middle or lower clas ses, employs a
familiar style, a nd ends h a ppily 1 .

In the case therefore of a play which did not preserve
these distinctions, but combined the characteristics of comedy
and tragedy, it seemed logical to call it by the hybrid name
of ' tragi-comedy.' So far as I know, the earliest play to
which this title was given is the famous Celestina or Tragi-
comedies de Calista y Melibea, written at the close of the
fifteenth century. The author, Fernando de Rojas, thus
justifies the name in his prologue. " Some have said," he
remarks, " that this play ought to be called a tragedy, because
it ends unhappily, while its first author wanted to call it •
comedy because it begins pleasantly. I therefore prefer
choose a middle term and call it a tragi-comedy 2 ."

1 We first meet in France with this hard and fast division in Peletier's L
Podique (1555). Au lieu des personnes comiques qui sont de basse condition a
Tragedie s'inlroduisent Rois, Princes et grattds Seigneurs. lit au lieu qu'en
Comedie les choses ont joyeuse issue, en la Tragedie la fin est tousjours luctucus t
lamentable, ou horrible a voir. ...La comedie parte faci/ement, et comme nous az »
dit, populairement. La tragedie est sublime, capable de grander matures (p. .
Scaliger (1561) says of tragedy: Reges principes, Exitus horribiles, Oratio grm
(1. vi.) ; of comedy : Exitu laelum, stilo populari (1. v.). So Vauquelin : I
tout ainsi qu'eu Vune ne sont introduits que Roys et Princes Hen nourris et bicn
apris, aussi en Vautre ne se voient que des personnages vulgaires et de moyenne
condition, qui pour avoir debauche et suborne" une fille ne font cas de Vepouser pour
couvrir leurfaitte et eviler la punition du peche : et tousjours fi rent en noces ou autre
conteniemenl cette comedie. Discours sur la Satyr e in Diverses poesies, i. 125.
Aristotle merely says, 'H oe Kcofxt^Sia earl fj.i/x7]<TLs <(>av\oTepuu (an imitation of
persons of a lower type).

2 Compare with this the prologue to Plautus's Amphitryo in which Mercurius
says :

Faciam ut commixta sit haec tragicomoedia :

Nam me perpetuo facere ul sit comoedia,

Reges quo ueniant et di, non par arbitror.

Quid igitur ? quoniam hie seruos quoque partes habel,

Faciam sit, proinde ut dixi, tragicomoedia.


In France the name first occurs in the title of a play
published in 1554, Tragique-comedie de Vhomtne justifit par
Foi, by Henri de Barran 1 , but neither this play nor a tragi-
comedie by Antoine de la Croix on the subject of the Three
Children and the fiery furnace (1561)' 2 , both the work of
Protestants, is anything more than an old-fashioned morality
and mystery under a new name. T he first use of the term in
France to denote an i rregular dram a, that is to say a play that ^y^
jsjieither ^a classical tra gedy no r a classical c omedy, belongs
to the year 1564, when according to Brantome and Castelnau
a tragi-comedie on the subject of "La belle Genievr e" of Ariosto
was played at Fontainebleau on Shrove Tuesday by the
princesses 3 . All trace of this play, if it was ever published.
has been lost, but the same source furnished Gamier with the
subject for his tragi-comedie of nearly twenty years later.

Earlier in date than Garnier's play is a tragi-comedie of a

Very different type, the Lucelle of Louis le Jars, written in

Ct irose and published in 1576 4 . The subject is briefly as

Mows. Lucelle, who is wooed by a wealthy suitor, secretly

ex irries her father's clerk. The father, on discovering them

' tether, makes them both drink poison, which, in violation of

\ classical tradition, they do on the stage. The clerk then

Tis out to be the son of a Polish prince and the poison to

. merely a sleeping-draught. The construction of the play


plpjc Jert (p- r 3 [ ) gives also as instances of tragi-comedies a Latin play, Fernandas
f "■="=*/«.?, written by Verardi in Italy at the end of the 15th cent., some of the plays
r -.'J!ie Portuguese dramatist, Gil Vicente (fl. 15 14-1 557) and the ' tragical comedy '
rAppius and Virginia (said to have been acted as early as 1563).
<- Vauquelin says :

Quand il y a die meurtre et qtfon voit toutefois,
Qu'd la fin sont contens les plus grands et les A'oi's,
Quand du grave et du das le parler en mendie,
On abuse du nom de Tragecomedie.

A. P. iii. 165-8.
Sir P. Sidney in his Apologie speaks of the ' mungrell Tragy-comedic ' which
results from the mingling of Kings and Clowns.

1 See E. Picot in Bull, du prot. franc. 1892, pp. 626 ff.

2 Bib. Nat. (bound up in the same volume with Philaniri).

3 See J. Madeleine in Rev. de la Renaissance, 190,',, .',o ff.

4 I have only seen the edition published at Rouen in 1600.




is extremely crude, and the language often stilted and
pedantic. The comic element is furnished by a tiresome
valet who aspires to be a wit 1 . The author in his dedicatory
preface defends the use of prose on the ground that it is more
natural, especially in the mouths of valets and chambermaids.
Moreover, he naively adds, writers who have no aptitude for
verse find it easier.

If Lucelle is a drame bourgeois Garnier'sjragbgumedy of
Bradamante. li ke Corneille's Don Sanche and Moliere's Don
77".- ;v/.- ,/V Wivarre, is a comedic hcroiquc. The subject is taken
from the last three cantos of the Orlando Furioso. Brada-
mante, the daughter of Aymon and Beatrix, has two suitors,
Leon the eldest son of the Greek Emperor and Roger the
converted Saracen, whose love she reciprocates. Her paren ;
want her to marry Leon, but before the Emperor Charlemag aS
will give his consent he insists that Leon, in accordance v n e
a condition previously agreed upon, must first vanq^se
Bradamante in single combat. Leon knows that thjt .
beyond his powers. He therefore asks Roger, whose li r
had saved by helping him to escape from prison whe
was under sentence of death, and of whose love for B
mante he is ignorant, to take his place and fight unck , ;
name and arms. Roger, bound by his sense of oblig „
consents. He fights with Bradamante, and without pht
acting on the offensive is proclaimed the victor. ' ie
Roger's sister Marphire declares that Bradamante had g '*t
him a promise of marriage, and that Leon must fight .'^r
him for her hand. This leads to Leon's discovery of f"
friend's passion and to his renunciation of Bradamante in /'*
favour. Ambassadors from Bulgaria now arrive to off*
Roger the crown of that country ; Bradamante's parents are
satisfied ; and Leon is consoled with the hand of Charle-
magne's daughter.

It will be seen that there is here plenty of material for a
romantic drama, and on the whole Gamier has acquitted

1 The play is said to be imitated from the Amor costante of Alessandro
Piccolomini, bishop in partibus of Patras (see F. Flamini, // Cinqtucento,
p. 559)-



himself fairly well in its construction. Though there are
some obscurities in the developement of the action, and
though the Fifth Act— as in many good plays — is decidedly
inferior to the rest, there is not only life anrl rnov^'^Tnt but
real dramatic action 1 . It was a great advantage to Gamier
to have chosen a modem subje ct, for it enabled him to a
considerable extent to shake himse lf free from the baleful
influence of Seneca. There are still long monologues and

still a goodly crop of sententious maxims, and it is in

accordance with the practice of Renaissance tragedy that

Roger and Bradamante should not meet till the last Scene,

and that then they should not speak to each other. But,

.apart from these survivals, there is great improvemen ts The

^i°?H9 i s natu ral and expressiv e ; above all it does not

su.nsist merely of rhetorical or lyrical outbursts, but it really

iduces to the developement of the act ion. The first two

Xver 'mes of the Second Act, that between Aymon and Beatrix,

euros' that between Aymon and his son Renaud, are really

'orient. The different dispositions of Aymon and his wife

ex i rrvell brought out, and the dialogue is spirited with a vein

J^etlue comedy in it. Sometimes indeed there is an uninten-

- c il comic element, for Gamier does not always hit off the

n s tone of heroic comedy, the mean between that of tragedy

: rr that of burlesque.

tog. This play then with its subject taken from modern romanc e,

P l p ts hap p y endi ng, and its somewhat familiar style, anticipate s

. . n_a _ considerable measure the, tragi-comedies of_ Alexan dre

Hardy^, which took possession of the stage rather more than a

quarter of a century later.

1 Gamier contemplates the possibility of its being acted, and it was in fact
acted early in the next century. See Rigal in Petit de Julleville, ill. 269 n. 1.



2. Comedy.

The developement of French Renaissance comedy pro-
ceeded on somewhat different lines from that of French
Renaissance tragedy. In the first place it never broke so
entirely as tragedy did with its mediaeval predecessor. This
was an advantage, for the farce had at any rate this in its
favour, that, unlike the mystery play, it was founded on the
observation of real life. Secondly, Renaissance comedy had
in Plautus and Terence far superior classical models to Senec -.,
This was especially the case with Terence, whose carefViada-
unexaggerated study of life, conscientious workmansj'suitors,
unfailing urbanity of style make, as is generally the.oger the
man of talent and culture a better master than thjr paren e
original genius. Thirdly, French comedy was infArlemagjs
a far greater extent than tragedy by its Italian dance v he
fact, before long this last influence, like that oft vanqiise'
tragedy, entirely overshadowed the two others. lat thi,t .

Italian comedy, like Italian tragedy, was maimose li, r
in its origin. Ariosto's first play, the Cassaria, ^ whe
1498, and first performed in 1508, is merely an f or B
of the Casina of Plautus. In the Suppositi, producundt. ;
following year, though the scene is laid in Fer blig ,»
though there are references to contemporary evout ''- (lt
the social life of the day, the classical influence is still . ' r ie
and there are liberal borrowings from the Eunuc. g ^t
Terence and the Captivi of Plautus. It was A riost tt 1
mainly determined the direction of Italian comedy :>f v "
who had the chief influence on that of France, n 1.
Suppositi was, as we have seen, translated twice, in ,off<
and in 1552, and a translation of his Negromante was m;are
by Jean de la Taille about 1560 1 . His comedies are p^c-
comedies of intrigue ; that is to say, the plot is the first con-
sideration, and such attempt as there is in them to portray
character is only of secondary account. The heroines are
invariably kept in the background ; indeed in some plays the
female character upon whom the whole plot turns never
1 Published in 1573; (Eitvres, IV.



appears on the stage 1 . On the other hand important parts
are assigned to the servants, especially to the valet in his
various forms, more or less stereotyped, under the influence
of the Arlecchino, Pedrolino and other types of the popular
covwicdia delV arte.

This love of stock characters, which had been inherent in

Italy ever since the days of the Oscan fabulae Atellanae, and

of which there are ample traces in the comedy of Plautus

and Terence, is a remarkable feature of Italian Renaissance

acr'iedy. Besides the various types of valet, we have the

Rogern in love ; the parasite, modelled on Gnatho in the

and tha'-r, whose business it is to assist the lover in his

.apart froi th e leno and lena ; the soldier of fortune, or miles

h. ialogue ?-t once a swaggerer and a coward; and lastly, the

su -nsist me:- only type which owes nothing to the classical

iduces t

Xver 'mes of tl'duct of the play also shews certain persistent

ci>ros that b'he scene invariably represents a public street in

'lo-llent. situated the houses of the principal characters, a

ex i.rri /e ll Dr , arrangement which enables the dialogue to be

' tr ^ e tlue co c in the street without any change of scene being

-c.lcofi The plot is largely developed by the help of

•ns tone or asides, which are overheard by some person to

: n" 1 thai iey are not addressed. As in Renaissance tragedy

tog. Thin often takes the place of action, some of it being

P 1 ? Ls hap re unrepresentable than murder'or suicide. There is

°! n~, a c liberal use of soliloquy 3 . Briefly, the merits of this

Hard y are its ingenious working out of the plot, and its

°L Uar his is no doubt partly due to the fact that female parts in Ariosto's time

. always played by men.
See P. Toldo, Rev. dliist. Hit. v. 246 ff.; E. Rigal, ib. IV. 161 ff. Les person-

w conventionnels de la comedie au xvi e sikle; and for the characters of the
commedia delP arte, Arlecchino and the other types of valet, Pantalone, //
capitano, and // dottore, see M. Sand, Masques el Botiffbns, 2 vols, i860, and
K. Mantzius, A History of Theatrical Art (translated by Louise von Cossel), 11.
211 — 268, 1903.

3 See for Italian comedy Gaspary, II. 577 ff.; V. de Amicis, V imitanone
classica nella commedia Italiatia del xvi secolo in Annali della regia scuola wrmali
superiore di Pisa, II. 1— 151, Pisa, 1873; and for the general characteristics ol
Ariosto's comedies Gaspary, ib. 419 ff.


lively and natural dialogue, while its defects are a general
conventionality and the substitution of mechanical artifice
for natural developement. Under the former defect may be
included an indifference to morality too complete even for
the Italian society of that day.

These characteristics apply not only to Ariosto, but to the
mass oi' Italian comedies which followed his pattern. The
one great production of the period, Machiavelli's Mandragola,
seems to have been little known in France ; moreover, it is
only by the writer's superior genius, by his masterly dissection
of character, his close observation of manners, and his crisp
incisive dialogue that his comedy rises superior to those of
his contemporaries. There is, however, one other Italian
comedy of this period which calls for special notice, namely
Gli Ingannati, written by an anonymous member of the
Sienese Academy called Gli Intronati, and first performed
in 1 53 1. A translation of it by Charles Estienne appeared
in 1543, entitled Lc Sacrifice, and this was republished in
1 549 and 1556 under the proper title of Les Abitsez 1 . In
a long letter addressed to the Dauphin, Estienne declares
it to be the best imitation of the ancients that has yet
been made in prose. It has the usual stock characters,
an old man in love, a pedant, and several valets ; but the
dialogue is lively and natural, there are some excellent scenes,
and the complicated plot is worked out with great ingenuity.
It also has a special interest for Englishmen as being the
source from which Shakespeare, either directly or indirectly,
derived that part of Twelfth Night which turns on Viola's
disguise in male attire and her extraordinary resemblance to
her brother.

Butjthe ^ fij;st _comedy__qf_ the French Renaissance, J odelle 's
Ungate, owes nothing to Italian comedy, and little to classical

1 The 1549 edition is in the Brit. Mus. ; for those of 1543 and 1556 see Cat. La
Valli'ere, II. nos. 3766-7. The name Sacrifice is derived from a poem prefixed to
the Italian edition entitled II sacrifizio degli Intronati (to Minerva). (See L. Allacci,
Dramaturgia, 1755.) It was translated in part by T. L. Peacock, 1862, whose
translation with a connecting outline to supply the gaps is printed in the
Variorum edition of Shakespeare ed. H. H. Furness, xm. 341 ff., Philadelphia,
I <J0 1 .



comedy. It is the direct descendant of the mediaeval farce,
borrowing from it even its octosyllabic metre. But it differs
from it in one important particular ; it is a complete drama
instead of merely a single scene. For, as M. Gaston Paris
points out, the length of Patelin, which admits of its being
divided into three acts, is exceptional 1 . The typical farce, of
which the Farce nouvelle die paste et de la tar te* may be taken
as a specimen, is, says the same authority, " a representation
in verse of a scene in private life ; it is short, and has few
characters ; it generally introduces us to the interior of a
lower middle-class household, and it especially delights in
depicting either the infidelity and deceit of women, or their
obstinacy and disagreeable character. Another favourite class
of subjects are the tricks and stratagems played by clever
lovers on rich men of limited intelligence 3 ." This accurate
description of the mediaeval farce will enable' us to judge how
far Jodelle is still dominated by the old traditions with which
he professes in his prologue to have broken entirely.

The plot of Etigaie is simple, and, from a reader's point^-
of view, fairly well constructed. But there is no attempt to
link the scenes together, so that it would be difficult to act on a
proper stage. The language has considerable point and vigour,
but it is jerky and unequal, and not sufficiently characteristic
of the speakers. Jodelle apologises for its being more serious
than that of a Latin comedy, and in fact the whole tone of
the play is somewhat serious for a comedy, in the sense that
there is nothing comic either in the dialogue or the situations.
It is only in some of the characters, in Jean the chaplain
and Guillaume the wittol husband, that we find germs of real
comedy. And this brings us to the chief merit of the play,
that it is a genuine and not wholly unsuccessful attempt to
portray character. Besides Jean and Guillaume, we have
Eugene, an Epicurean abbe, who gives the title to the play,
his sister Helene, an officer Florimond, and his servant
Arnauld, a usurer Matthieu, and lastly, Alix, the wife of

1 La poesie du moyen a^e, i ma ser. p. 252.

'-' Printed by P. Toynbee, Specimens of Old French, pp. 3 27 It'.

3 G. Paris, op. cit. p. 251.



Guillaume and the mistress of Florimond and Eugene. All
of these, with the exception of Alix, who is wholly con-
ventional, represent with fair success types of contemporary
society. Moreover in the first scene, a dialogue between
Eugene and Jean, we find the germ of that social satire
which became the groundwork of Moliere's comedy. On
the other hand Jodelle makes no attempt, as Moliere does,
to reform the world. Regarded as a criticism of life nothing
could be more immoral than his play, but it is charitable to
suppose that neither author nor audience was more concerned
with its moral aspect than a modern spectator is with that of
Punch and Judy 1 . In this as in other respects Jodelle is no
doubt merely carrying on the tradition of the mediaeval farce-—

Grevin's first comedy, La Tresoriere^vs, in no way remark-
able. It is the story of a commonplace intrigue worked out
by means of narrative rather than action 2 . It is, however,
unfair to speak of it as a mere rechauffe of Eugene, to which
it bears no real resemblance. His second corned}-, Les Esba/us,
was played at the College of Beauvais on the same day as his
tragedy of Cesar, namely February 16, 1560. It shows far
more comic power than Jodelle's play, but in other respects
it is an advance in a wrong direction. The plot is more
intricate, and the author is evidently more concerned with its
management, in which he is fairly successful, than with the
study of character. Both subject and characters belong to
the conventional repertoire of Italian comedy. Josse is the
amorous old man, Julien the loquacious and sententious valet,
and Panthaleone (in spite of his name) the swaggering soldier
of fortune. But whereas on the Italian stage this last character
is generally a Spaniard, here he is an Italian, and serves as
an occasion for pungent attacks on the country to which the
play is so largely indebted 3 :

! It is the conduct of Helene, the one virtuous character in the piece, which
makes the play repulsive, if you regard it seriously. It is the same with Lucrezia
in the Mandragola, but Machiavelli writes as a cold-blooded observer of con-
temporary life.

2 It is printed in Les poetes francais, IV.

3 Though doubtless Grevin owed something to a study of Les Abusez, his play
can hardly be called an imitation of it.


Pensez-vous le Frangois si sot,
Ou'il n'egalle bien en parolle
Toute l'apparence frivolle
De vostre langue effeminee,
Qui, comme une espesse fumee,
Nous donnant au commencement
Un effroyable estonnement,
A la parfin s'esvanouit
Avecque le vent qui la suit ?
Nostre France est trop abbruvee
De vostre feinte controuvee
Et deceptive intention 1 .

On the other hand, in Belleau's comedy, La Reconnue, there
is_no trace of Italian influence. Though not published till
1578, the year after his death, it was written at a much earlier
date, probably not long after Eugene. It is better written on
the whole than either that play or Grevin's, and, as one might
expect from the author's other work, it shews a considerable
faculty for close observation, especially of external objects.
Nor is it wanting in satirical power. But as a play it is a
complete failure ; it is a mere succession of scenes, strung
together on a loose thread of plot. Except in length it differs
little from a mediaeval farce.

All these comedies are, like Eugene, written in octosyllabic
verse, a vehicle which lends itself readily to diffuse and nerve-
less writing. But Jean de la Taille, in his play of Lis Corrivaux,
written about 1562 2 , though not published till 1573, followed
the Italian fashion of writing in prose, and with considerable
success. His language is at once appropriate to the charac-
ters, easy, lively, and fairly amusing. In point of morality he
is decidedly superior to his predecessors, as his play shews
some feeling for the serious side of life. But in other respects
it belongs to the same type as Les Esbahis, with even less
attempt at the portrayal of character. The three old men,
the two lovers, and the four valets are all purely conventional,
with little or nothing to distinguish the different specimens of
each class. Nor is the play at all suited to the stage, for the

1 Act V. Sc. 4 .

2 It is praised by his brother Jacques, who died in that year; moreover the
scene is laid about ten years after the entry of Henry II into Met/, in 1552.



chief incidents are narrated instead of being acted. In his
prologue Jean de la Taille adopts an attitude of uncompro-
mising hostility to the old farces and moralities, and professes
that his comedy is modelled on the ancient Greeks and Latins
and on some modern Italians. This is so far true in that it
shews more trace of Latin influence, especially of Terence,

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