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Qui laissa choir son fuzeau

Sur le bord d'une fontaine :

Mais courant apres sa laine

Plonge la teste dans l'eau,

Et se noya la pauvrette :

Car a sa voix trop foiblette

Nul son desastre sentit,

Puis assez loin ses compagnes

Parmi les verdes campagnes

Gardoyent leur troupeau petit.

Ha ! trop cruelle adventure !

Ha ! mort trop fiere et trop dure !

Et trop cruel le flambeau,

Sacre" pour son hymenee,

Qui l'attendant l'a menee,

Au lieu du lit, au tombeau 1 .

The year after the publication of Les pierres precieuses,
Belleau died, and Ronsard wrote for him the shortest and
best of his epitaphs :

Ne taillez, mains industrieuses,
Des pierres pour couvrir Belleau :
Luy-mesme a basty son tombeau
Dedans ses pierres precieuses 2 .

Jean-Antoine de Baif w as, as we have seen, the member
of the Pleiad whose association with Ronsard was of longest
date. The son of a man who was not only in high place
but was of considerable distinction as a humanist, he had
from his tenderest years the most distinguished scholars in
France for his tutors, Charles Estienne, Jacques Toussain and
Jean Dorat 3 . His father died in 1547 leaving him a house
in Paris and a small property in Anjou. He was only twenty
when he published a narrative poem, imitated from Moschus,

1 CEuvres, II. 248.

2 Ronsard, CEuvres, VII. 247. Belleau was buried on the 6th of March, 1577,
so that Colletet is wrong in giving March 7 as the day of his death.

3 He was born at Venice in February 1532 :

Oust (Aout) dans Paris vit le carnage (the massacre of St Bartholomew) ;

Le fevrier davant, mon dge

Van quarantieme accomplissoit.
For an account of his early life see the poem Au roy, which was prefixed to the
collected edition of his poems published in 1572-3. He died in 1589.


entitled Le ravissement cT Europe (1552) 1 , and it is doubtful
whether he ever wrote anything better. It has the merit of
grace and elegance and a lively fancy, and to these qualities
Bai'f added little in later life. At the close of the same year

he published another small volume entitled A mouzs, addressed
to a fictitious lady under the name of Meline 2 . It is noteworthy
that little more than half the pieces are sonnets — in the second
part there are only two — and that these are much inferior to
the other poems, which are chiefly odes of a light character.

The odes are at any rate natural, being alike in form and
matter far better suited than the Petrarchian sonnet to Ba'rf's
temperament. For he was neither a man of strong emotions
nor a conscientious artist. Unfortunately in his next attempt,
having meanwhile found a real mistress 3 who treated him
with the orthodox Petrarchian cruelty, he reverted to the
sonnet-form with increased energy, and the new volume,
entitled Amours de Franci ne, and divided into four books,
serves to shew that a real mistress can inspire just as cold
and artificial poetry as a fictitious one. In the two latter
books there are no sonnets, and one of the best pieces A pres
les vents is written in t erza ri ma, but it is characteristic of
Bai'f, who was nothing if not an improvisatore , that the execu-
tion falls off considerably towards the close of the poem 4 . In
1 572—3 he published a collected edition of his works in four
volumes. The fourth, entitled Les passetemps, contains his
most celebrated poem Du_printeinps 5 , which is often compared
with Belleau's ^^r/7. But the execution is more commonplace
and by no means so uniformly careful. If we compare the
poem with Meleager's original, we see how Bai'f shirks the
little details and delicate touches of the Greek artist. The
best stanza is the last :

1 CEuvres, ed. Marty-Laveaux, II. 421 ; Poesies choisies, ed. Becq de Fouquieres,
p. 78.

2 Les amours de Jan Anloine de Baif, 1^52 ; the printing was finished on
December 10.

3 She was sister to the lady whom Jacques Tahureau celebrated under the name
of FAdmiree.

* CEuvres, II. 97; Poisies choisies, p. 152.
5 CEuvres, IV. 210; Poesies choisies, p. 233.


Et si le chanter m'agre'e,
N'est-ce pas avec raison,
Puisqu'ainsi tout se recree
Avec la gaye saison.

But if Bai'f was an indifferent poet, he was a man of an
active and enterprising mind who delighted to experiment
in various directions. He translated the Antigone of Sophocles
and the Eunuchus of Terence and adapted the Miles Gloriosus
of Plautus to French readers. But his most popular and at
the same time his most original work is Mimes, enseignements
et proverbes, of which two books were published in his lifetime
and two after his death 1 . The term mimes was due to the
fact that the chief source of the work was the Sententiae of
Publilius Syrus, a mime-writer of the first century B.C., whose
mimes or farces contained numerous wise and moral sayings,
which were collected in the first century of our era and largely
added to during the middle ages. They were edited by Henri
Estienne, and were frequently translated into French in the
course of the sixteenth century 2 . Besides this source Bai'f
drew from Theognis and Phocylides, and from two modern
collections of sayings, the Adages of Jean le Bon and a collec-
tion of Italian proverbs with French equivalents which was
published in 1548. Thus his Mimes consist of a variety of
satirical and moral reflexions, with the occasional introduction
of a short fable, strung together with little or no attempt at
unity and written in a jerky octosyllabic metre. The one
addressed to Villeroy may serve as a specimen. The opening
lines give an account of the writer's various literary per-
formances :

Quand je pense au divers ouvrage
Ou j'ai badine tout mon age,
Tantost epigrammatisant,
Tantost sonnant la tragedie,
Puis me gossant en comedie,
Puis des amours petrarquisant 3 .

1 Book I was published in 1576, I and II together in 1581 and the whole four
books in 1597.

2 P. Syrus is often quoted by Montaigne, once by name.

3 CEuvres, V. 41; Poesies choisies, p. 2X7.


There is more unity about the last mime of the fourth
book, in which Bai'f, writing as a catholic and a loyalist,
advocates as Ronsard had done in his earliest discours a
reform of the church from within. As poetry the mimes
are hardly superior to Marot's coq a Vanes, on which Du
Bellay poured such contempt, but the style is well-suited
to Bai'f's facile and slipshod method of production. Another
novelty was a didactic poem on Meteorology, imitated from
Aratus, Virgil and Manilius, but only one book appeared 1 .

Bai'f's other experiments were in the direction of language
and metre. In 1574 he published a volume entitled Etrenes
de poezie fransoeze en vers mezitres 2 , in which he not only
adhered with a few modifications to the system of spelling
advocated by Ramus, but gave specimens of poems written
in classical metres. It is obvious that such an attempt is far
more difficult in French than in English, and that at any rate
Bai'f was not the man to accomplish so great a revolution.
Although some other poets, Marc-Claude de Buttet,D'Aubigne,
Passerat, and especially Rapin, made similar experiments, the
attempt to introduce ' measured ' verse met with little favour 3 .
Bai'f however persevered for a time in his task, and among
the poems unpublished at his death were a translation of the
Psalms (completed in 1573) and three books of Chansonnettes
in vers m esures*. In spite of his failure it is possible that if a
stronger poet, Ronsard for instance, had gone to work on
somewhat different lines there might have been introduced
into French poetry at this critical stage of its developement a

1 Le premier des meteor es, 1567; CEuvres, II. 1; Poesies c/ioisies, pp. 7 ff.

2 i.e. verse scanned according to quantity.

3 See for these attempts Pasquier, Recherches, VII. c. xi; D'Aubigne, CEuvres,
I. 453 ; Darmesteter and Hatzfeld, pp. 1 13 ff. ; Kastner, op. cit. 295 ff. (an excellent
account). About the year 1562 Jacques de la Taille wrote a treatise entitled
La maniere defaire des vers en francois comme en grec el en latin, but it was not
published till after his death in 1573.

4 He also introduced a line of fifteen syllables, scanned in the ordinary way,
which he called vers baifin :

Je veux donner aux Francois un vers de phis libre accordance
Pour le joindre au luth sonue d'une moins contraincte cadance.
He also invented other rhythms, which shew however more ingenuity than taste.


certain amount of quantitative measurement, and as a conse-
sequence a larger musical element.

For at the bottom of Bai'f's attempted reforms both in
spelling and in versification was the belief which he shared
with Ronsard 1 i n the clo se connexion between poetry and
music. It was this belief which led him to found under the
—patronage of Charles IX the Academie d e poesie et de musique 2 .
Established at the close of 1570 3 it consisted of two classes
of members, Musicians or poets and Listeners (Auditeurs),
the former class being paid stipends provided by the sub-
scriptions of the latter. At the weekly meetings which were
held on Sundays, as a rule in Bai'f's house, the Musicians
recited their poems, apparently to the accompaniment of
music 4 . During the lifetime of Charl es IX, who accepted the
title of Protector and First Listener of the society, the
Academy flourished greatly, and numbered the chief poets
of the day among its members. Its chief business was, as
Sainte-Beuve says, the determination of the quantity of sounds 5 ,
a work with which, as we have seen, the phonetic reforms,
proposed by Bai'f and others, were closely connected. And
not only in the matter of quantity, but in everything connected
with poetry, Bai'f endeavoured to revive classical practices.
It was before the Academy that he recited his versions of

1 La musique, disoit-il, est la sceur puisnie de la poesie. . .sans la niusiqite la poesie
est presqite sans grace. Binet, Vie de Ronsard.

2 See E. Fremy, V academie des dcrniers I'alois, 1887.

3 Date of letters-patent, November, 1570.

4 Les musiciens seront tenus tons les Jours de dimanche chanter et reciter leurs
lettres et musique mesurees, selon fordre convenu par entr'eux, deux heures d'horloge
durant en faveur des auditeurs escrits an livre de r academie ou enrigistreront les
noms, sumo/us et qualitez de ceux qui se cottisent pour Pentretien de f academie,
ensemble la somme en laquelle se seront de leur gre cottisez ; et pareillement les
noms et sttrnoms des musiciens d'icelle et les convenances sous lesquelles ils seront
entrez, receics et appointez. (Statute 2.)

The twelfth statute is so admirable that I cannot forbear quoting it also :
Les auditeurs, durant que I'on ckantera, ne parleront ny ne s'acousleront ny
feront bruit, mat's se tiendront le plus coy qiiil leur sera possible, jusques a ce que la
chanson qui se prononcera soil fuiie ; et durant que se dira tine chanson, ne fraperont
h. I'huis de la sale qiion ouvrira a la fin de chaque chanson pour admettre les audi-
teurs attendans.

3 Mesurer les sons elcmenlaires de la langue ( Tableau, p. 81).


Sophocles and Terence, and made suggestions for the intro-
duction on the French stage of the rhythmical movements
of the classical chorus 1 . After the death of Charles IX the
Academy languished for a time till in the year 1576 it was
reconstituted. Bai'f himself soon after the realisation of his
project began to suffer from the complaint of which he
eventually died, and the remainder of his life was clouded not
only by the straitened circumstances in which the religious
wars involved so many men of letters, but by ill-health. He
survived however all the members of the Pleiad except
Pontus de Tyard, and died on September 19, 1589, while the
new king, Henry IV, was fighting against the League at Arques.
Nature had not endowed Bai'f with more than a slender portion
of poetic genius, and he did not sufficiently cultivate that
portion. The faults more or less common to the whole school,
the dependence on models, the pedantry, the artificiality, are
more conspicuous in him than in any other member of it. But
the classical Renaissance had no more enthusiastic or enter-
prising champion, not even in Ronsard himself.

2. Magny, Tahureau, Louise Labe, Jamyn.

Outside the actual Pleiad, the most productive and, with
the exception of Louise Labe, the most interesting poet, at
any rate of those who confined themselves to non-dramatic
poetry, is Olivier de Magny. He has been compared to Alfred
de Musset, and certainly he reminds us of Sainte-Beuve's
remarks on that poet : " il entra dans le sanctnaire lyrique
tout eperonne, et par la fenetre,je le crois bien," and again, " il
osa avoir de lesprit, mime avec un brin de seandale." And
Magny might have said of himself, as Musset did :

77 gai, jenne et hardi,
Et se jetait en etourdi

A Paventure;
Librement il respirait Pair,
Et pai'fois il se montrait Jier

D'une blessure.

1 See Baif's An roy {Poesies choisies, p. 52).


For Magny, like Musset, drank freely of the cup of
pleasure, and he gives us his ' confessions ' with the same
naive frankness. But his love-affairs, unlike Musset's, never
passed from the domain of gallantry to that of passion, so
that though he outlived the age at which Musset had written
practically all his best things, he resembles rather the poet
of the Andalouse and the Ballade a la lime than the poet of
the Nuits and the Stances a la Malibran. The date of his
birth is uncertain, but it must have been about 1530 1 . He
was quite a young man when he came from Cahors, of which
like Marot he was a native, to Paris, where he became
secretary to his fellow-provincial Hugues Salel, abbot of Saint-
Cheron 2 . His patron dying in 1553 he was left for a time
without any regular employment. It was doubtless with a
view to obtaining it that he published in that year a volume
of poems entitled Amours. It consisted of 102 sonnets
addressed to an ideal mistress, probably Marguerite de Gordon,
a noble lady of the neighbourhood of Cahors, and of fifteen
odes, of which some are addressed to various friends and
others to a real mistress, whom he calls Castianire 3 . In the
ease and fluency of its verse this volume is very similar to
Bai'f's Amours and as in the case of Baif the odes of the real
lover are superior to the sonnets of the ideal one. They have
the grace and liveliness which come naturally to Magny when
he is himself and not an imitator of others. The succeeding
volume, Gayete's, published in 1554, shews the same qualities
and deals with the same subjects, love and friendship. The
longest piece, Les Matinales, is a clever imitation of Ronsard's
Les Bacc/tanales*.

Early in 1555 he went to Rome as secretary to Jean
d'Avanson, who was charged with a special mission to the
Pope 5 . He returned in 1556 and in the following year

1 For Magny see J. Favre, Olivier de Magny, 1885.

2 See ante, I. p. 93.

3 He also published in 1553 Hymne sur la naissance de Madame Marguerite
de France., avec quelques autres vers liriques {Dernieres poesies).

4 Ed. E. Courbet, p. 62.

5 M. Favre, p. 53, assigns this mission to 1553; the correct date is given by


published a new volume under the title of Souspirs. It was
written at Rome at the same time as Du Bellay's Regrets,
which it closely resembles in title, form and substance :

Selon les passions ou j'ai este submis,
Ou bien, ou mal, d'amour, ou de mes ennemys,
J'ay descrit chacun jour la cause toute telle.

Et c'est pourquoy, Duthier, on void dedans ces vers
Par cy, par Ik meslez tant d'arguments divers
Et que plains de soupirs, Soupirs je les appelle 1 .

It is impossible to say which of the two men was the
originator of the idea, but doubtless the execution was carried
out in friendly rivalry 2 . Magny's journal intime is kept with
far less discretion, so far as his own affairs are concerned,
than Du Bellay's. In execution it shews a marked improve-
ment on his preceding work ; the style is not merely fluent,
but it is often distinguished. The variety of the themes, tatit
d'arguments divers, and the poet's light touch make this volume
more agreeable reading than any of the sonnet-sequences of
the period, except Du Bellay's Regrets. As is usual with
Magny there is a good deal of imitation, not to say literal
translation, from the Latins and Italians, especially from
Petrarch. The sonnet which most excited the admiration of
Magny's contemporaries, and which was set to music by the
celebrated composer Orlando di Lassus, is one made on the
pattern of a strambotto by Serafino :

M. Hola, Charon, Charon Nautonnier infernal.
C. Qui est cest importun qui si presse m'appelle?
M. C'est l'esprit dplore" d'un amoureux fidelle,

Lequel pour bien aimer n'eust jamais que du mal.
C. Que cherches tu de moy? M. Le passaige fatal.
C. Qui est ton homicide? M. O demande cruelle !

Amour m'a fait mourir. C. Jamais dans ma nasselle

Nul subget a l'amour je ne conduis a val.
M. Et de grace, Charon, regois-moy dans ta barque.
C. Cherche un autre nocher, car ny moy ny la Parque

M. Chamard,_/. du Bellay, p. 315 n. 1. Magny clearly did not leave France till
after the publication of the 1554 volume.

1 Concluding sonnet (ed. Courbet, p. 123).

2 Magny arrived in Rome at the end of March 1555, and Du Bellay did not
begin the Regrets before the summer of that year.


N'entreprenons jamais sur ce maistre des dieux.
M. J'iray done maugre toy, car j'ay dedans mon ame
Tant de traicts amoureux et de larmes aux yeux,
Que je feray le fleuve, et la barque, et la rame 1 .

But the gem of the series is the following, which in its
simplicity and in its distinction, in its imaginative language
and rich harmony, is worthy to stand beside the best sonnets
of Ronsard and Du Bellay :

Puisque le cler Soleil veult apparoistre aux cieux,
Et que je voy desja la rougissante Aurore
Qui de ses raiz vermeils le ciel d'lnde colore,
Sus-sus chassons, Bellay, ce somme de noz yeux.

Allons passer aux champs ce loisir ocieux,
Pangeas avecques nous y viendra bien encore,
Et qu'un chascun de nous a son reng rememore
Ses antiques amours d'un chant soulacieux.

Imitons les oiseaux qui par ces verds boucaiges
Au gazouil des ruysseaux degoizent leurs ramaiges,
Bienveignant de leurs voix l'Aurore a son retour.

Voyla ja Gohory, qui de sa main apreste
Un chapeau verdissant qui ne craint la tempeste,
Pour cil qui ce jourd'huy chantera mieux l'amour 2 .

The Odes published in 15 59 s were Magny's most ambitious
work, the first two books consisting chiefly of long, too long,
odes addressed to various friends and patrons. But it is in
the shorter and lighter poems of the three latter books that
he is at his best. In the third book are the Polypheme*, a
fairly close imitation of the Cyclops of Theocritus, five Vceux*
which should be compared with Du Bellay's, an Horatian ode
entitled De la condition de la vie des homines*, and a charming
ode of great vivacity on a dog named Peloton or Ploton, whom
Du Bellay had already celebrated 7 . But I will quote in prefer-
ence to these two from the fourth book. The first shews how
gracefully and even originally Magny could treat the well-.
worn subject of the gold and ivory, the coral and pearls of a
mistress's face :

1 No. lxiv. ib. p. 47. 2 No. cxxxiii. ib. p. 94.

3 Ed. Courbet, 2 vols. 1876. 4 II. 14. 5 ib. 59 — 64.

6 ib. 74; Saintsbury, Specimens of French Literature, p. 68.

7 Ed. Courbet, II. 79.


Elle est a vous, douce maistresse,
Ceste belle et dore'e tresse,
Qui feroit honte au mesmes or,
Et ce front qui d'ivoire semble,
Et ces yeux deux astres ensemble,
Maistresse, sont a vous encor.

A vous est ce beau teinct de rozes,
Et ces deux belles levres closes,
Qui semblent deux brins de coral :
Et ces dentz par ou se repousse
Le muse de vostre aleine douce,
Qui semblent perles ou cristal.

Bref a vous est la belle face,
Le bon esprit, la bonne grace,
Qu'on veoid en vous et l'entretien :
Seulle est a moy la peine dure,
Et tous les travaulx que j'endure
Pour vous aymer et vouloir bien 1 .

The other is a concise and beautiful expression of that
Renaissance spirit of which Magny was so representative a


Pour garder que le plaisir
Qui nous vient ore saysir,
De long temps ne nous eschappe,
Du Buys, fais porter la nappe,
Et dresser viste a manger.
Tandis je vaiz arranger
Dega et de la Catulle,
Properce, Ovide, et Tibulle,
Dessus la table espendus,
Entre les lucz bien tendus,
Et les lucz entre les rozes,
Et les rozes my decloses
Entre les ceilletz fleuriz,
Les ceilletz entre les liz,
Et les liz entre les tasses,
Parmy les vaisselles grasses.
La mort, peult estre, demain
Viendra prendre par la main
Le plus gay de ceste trouppe,
Pour l'enlever sur sa croupe

1 Ed. Courbet, II. 156.


Luy disant a l'impourveu,
' Sus gallant, c'est assez beu,
II est temps de venir boire
Aux enfers de l'onde noire 1 .'

It will be noticed that Magny here makes use of a metrical
resource which one rarely meets with in the poetry of the
Pleiad school, but which, when used in moderation, often
adds to the music of poetry — I mean repetition, or the principle
of the refrain. It will be found in other poems of the Odes ;
indeed in some it degenerates into a mechanical jingle 2 .

On May 31, 1559, probably after the publication of the
Odes, Magny was appointed one of the King's secretaries.
Two years later 'death took by the hand the gayest of the
troop 3 .' Magny has many of the defects of his school. He is
too much given to imitation; he is often artificial and pedantic;
he has even greater facility than Bai'f, and he has the same
disinclination to blot. But he has more originality, and more
real poetic feeling. His short pieces, in which he excels, have
not only grace and delicacy, but precision. Of all the poets
of the Pleiad he comes nearest to his friend Du Bellay. His
poetry has an atmosphere of its own, and it is an atmosphere
of life.

Another poet who, like Magny, died young was Jacques
Tahureau, of an Angevin family which had settled at Le Mans
where he was born in 1527. He died towards the close of
1555, having published in the previous year two volumes of
poetry entitled respectively Premieres Poesies, and Sonnets,
odes, et mignardises amour enses de I'Admire'e*. His friend
Vauquelin de la Fresnaye has spoken of his ' sugared ' art 5 ,
but this expression only applies to the mignardises amonrenses

1 ib. 88.

2 For instance in the last stanza of the Ode, A s'amye ett ltd disant adieu
(ib. 143), and in the chanson on p. 173.

3 His place was filled up on July 31, 1561 {Dernieres poesies, ed. Courbet, p. xxx).

4 The privilege for both volumes is dated March 7, 154-J. The premieres
poesies, which are of little merit, were therefore probably written before this date.
The sonnets were not written before 1553.

Lors Angers nous fit voir Tahureau, qui mignart
Nous affrianda tous au sucre de cet art.

A son livre.


and the baisers, which form but a small proportion of his
second volume. The sonnets and a few other grave poems,
which belong to the last two or three years of his life, are
more characteristic of the man. The sonnets are distinguished
from the great majority of the sonnet-sequences of the period,
first by a note of real passion, and secondly by the absence of
the usual Petrarchian commonplaces. They have flashes of
real imagination, and considerable originality of thought,
together with a love of argument and antithesis which reminds
one of Shakespeare's sonnets. But they are careless, rough
and inharmonious, and though they contain some lines of
first-rate quality 1 , they are seldom good throughout. It is
doubtful whether so poor a workman would ever have
developed into a great poet. The following is a favourable
specimen of his work :

Dames de Tours, si onq en vostre cueur
Entra d'Amour la poignante estincelle,
Voyez, helas ! la cruaute de celle
Qui se repaist et baigne en ma langueur.

Je suys certain que, voyant la rigueur
Dont elle tant a sa moytie rebelle,
La bannirez au nom de Tourangelle,
Nom qui ne sent rien moins qu'une ranqueur.

Mais, mais voyez, que dis-je! 6 grand blaspheme!
Voudriez vous bien cette beaute extresme
Desestimer digne de vostre nom,

Celle sans qui l'honneur de vostre ville,
Veuf de son loz, languiroit inutile
Et orphelin de son plus haut renom 2 ?

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