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that of metrical composition there neither is nor can be any essential difference'
is demolished once for all by Coleridge in his Biographia litteraria (11. cc. 14 — 20),
largely by help of Wordsworth's own poetry.

2 The theories of the Pleiad are to be found not only in Du Bellay's Def ence
and preface to the 2nd ed. of Olive, but in Ronsard's Ahrege de Fart poetique,
published in 1565 (CEuvres, VII. 317 ff.), and in his two prefaces to the Franciade
(id. III.). See also Marty- Laveaux , La langue de la J'leiade, and L. Mellerio,
Lexique de Ronsara


As regards the reforms in vocabulary, so far is it from
true that ' the muse of Ronsard spoke Greek and Latin ' that
except in his earliest work one has to search diligently before
finding a Greek or a Latin word. In reality the methods which
Du Bellay and Ronsard indicated for the enrichment of the
poetic vocabulary were twofold : (i) the adoption of existing
words hitherto neglected, such as archaisms, provincialisms
and the technical terms of various trades 1 ; (ii) the formation
of new words whether from Greek or Latin, or from French
sources. To the formation from disused French words Ronsard
gave the picturesque name of provignement, the technical
term for the layering of plants 2 . Now all these methods of
adding to the vocabulary are perfectly legitimate, and it
only depends upon whether they are used with discretion.
This discretion Ronsard and Du Bellay not only preached,
but on the whole practised. Whether they would have done
so without the criticisms that were freely directed against
their youthful essays is another matter ; and it is noteworthy
that Ronsard in one of the last poems he ever wrote, the Caprice
a Simon Nicolas 2 , says as boldly as Du Bellay in the Deffence:

Promeine-toy dans les plaines Attiques,
Fay nouveaux mots, r'appelle les antiques,
Yoy les Romains, et destine du ciel,
Desrobe, ainsi que les mouches a miel,
Leurs belles fleurs par les Charites peintes.
Lors sans viser aux jalouses attaintes
Des mal-vueillans, formes-en les douceurs
Que Melpomene inspire dans les cceurs !
J'ay fait ainsi : toutesfois ce vulgaire,
A qui jamais je n'ay peu satisfaire,
Ny n'ay voulu, me fascha tellement
De son japper en mon adventment,

1 Tu n'oublieras les noms propres des outils de tons mestiers et prendras plaisir
a fenquerir le phis que tu pourras, et principalement de la chasse. (Ronsard,
Abrege, CEuvres, VII. 321.)

2 Si les vieux mots abolis par usage out laisse quelque rejetton,...tu le pourras
provtgfier. {Preface sur la Franciade, ib. in. 33.) Cf. Abrege', vn. n?. For
Du Bellay 's views on vocabulary see Deffence, II. c. vi.

3 CEuvres, VI. 326. The reference to Henry of Navarre as the heir to the
throne shews that it must have been written after the death of Alencon in June
1584. It was not published in Ronsard's lifetime.


Ouand je hantay les eaux de Castalie,
Que nostre langue en est moins embellie ;
Car elle est manque, et faut de Taction
Pour la conduire a sa perfection.

Indeed some of his followers, especially Bai'f, were not
so ready to submit to the compromise which common sense
dictated. But whatever were Ronsard's reasons the number
of words of Greek or Latin formation which he invented and
which have since dropped out of the vocabulary is relatively
very small 1 . On the other hand he drew far more largely
from the older French language, but the majority of his
archaic introductions failed to keep their place. He is not
however the only poet against whom this charge can be

The reforms of the Pleiad in the matter of syntax are less
defensible. There is nothing to object to in the compound
epithets formed with a verb and a substantive, such as porte-
lance and rase-terre*, but the attempt to force French syntax
into a classical mould by such methods as the use of the
adjective as an adverb was doomed to failure. These however
were not peculiar to the Pleiad ; Rabelais, for instance, practised
them freely.

Passing from vocabulary and syntax to the general question
of style it must be noticed that the Pleiad in their endeavours
to create a poetical style distinct from that of prose somewhat
oversho t the mark. They were too fond of periphrasis, and
they were too much afraid of using common words! Un-
fortunately it was just" these exaggerations of their theory
which commended themselves to the unpoetical minds of their

1 M. Mellerio reckons two or three hundred, including proper names and their
derivates and compound adjectives formed in the Greek fashion, in over 80,000
lines, {op. cit. p. xlvi.) In Marty-Laveaux's glossary of the Pleiad, which, though
it does not pretend to be exhaustive, may be taken as representative, Greek words
occupy 40 pages, Latin 76, archaisms 142, and technical terms 61.

2 For these compounds see H. Estienne, Precellence, pp. 152 ff.

3 Excmple des ?nauvais vers :

Madame, en bonne foy, je vous donne mon cceur;
N'usez point envers moy, s'il vous plaist, de rigueur.
Efface cceur et rigueur, /// in- trouveras un seul mot qui tie soil vulgaire on
trivial. (Ronsard, Pre/, sur la Franciade, ill. 30.)


successors. On the other hand the essential part of their
reform, the cultivation of the imagination, was entirely over-
looked. For thejvork of the Pleiad may be described even
more accurately as the c reation of imaginati ve poet ry than_as
the creation of noble poetry 1 .

The defects of the school are tolerably obvious. In the
first place the writers studied literature too much, and life t oo
little. It was literature, an d not li fe, which inspired many of
their happiest efforts 2 . They would probably have argued
that so long as the style was their own it did not matter if
the ideas were borrowed. Unfortunately even the style of
many of the lesser writers is not so much their own as one
common to the whole school.

A second defect, which is closely allied to the first, is the
contempt which they entertained and _e2cpjresseci_fox^th£..din-
learned multitude. Bastier de la P eruse was only voicing
the sentiments of the whole school when he wrote :

J'ay cache dix mille vers

rieins de graces nompareilles,

Qui ne seront descouvers

Que pour les doctes oreilles.

Le vulgaire populace

Ne merite telle grace,

Et la grand' tourbe ignorante

N'est digne qu'on les luy chante :

Car Apollon ne veut pas

Que celuy qu'il favorise

Ses vers divins profanise

Les chantant au peuple bas 3 .

But the greatest poetry appeals alike to the learned and
the unlearned. While Ronsard and his disciples success-
fully vindicated the claims of the vernacular language to a

1 The services of the Pleiad to versification have already been pointed out
in connexion with Ronsard, to whom they were chiefly due.

2 The theory of imitation, which Du Bellay preaches so imperiously in the
Deffence, is stated in a more moderate form in his preface to U Olive ', and more
moderately still by Peletier in his Art Poetique : Par settle imitation rien ne se

fait grand: c'est le fait d'un homme paresseux et de peu de cosur, de marcher ious-
jours apres tin autre. (Cited by Chamard, p. 24.)

3 GLuvres choisies des poetes francais du xvi e siecle, p. 150.


hearing, they failed through a want of sympathy with the
pulse of the nation to create a thoroughly national poetry.
From one obvious blemish at any rate they would have been
saved by a greater regard for the grand' tourbe igtiorante,
and that is from the abuse of classical learning and classical
mythology, in a word from the pedantry which is only
another form of provincialism.

Thirdly, in spite of their too exclusive devotion to form
their execution is often careless. They are too easily satisfied
with their work, they lack the habit of rigorous self-criticism.
Claiming to be above all things artists, they forget that an
essential quality of a true artist is perfect craftmanship.
From this reproach, indeed, Belleau, and to a considerable
extent Ronsard, must be excepted. And even with the
majority of Ronsard's followers it is chiefly in their execution
of longer pieces that they fail. They can take pains with
a sonnet or a short lyric, but when it comes to a more pro-
longed effort they lose patience, and scamp their work. They
did not realise that that immortality for which they all
thirsted, and to which the least among them looked forward
with such confident expectation, is not to be had on so easy
terms. Yet Du Bellay, though he did not always practise
what he preached, had warned them that qui desire vivre en
la memoire de la Posterite, doit, commc mart en soy mesme,
siier et trembler maintesfois 1 .

It is not merely that they allow themselves too much
licence in language and versification. This is a comparatively
venial fault. But they write too fluently and too easily,
without having sufficiently refined their ideas in the crucible
of imagination, without having transmuted the rough ore
into the gold of poetry. They go on writing after their
inspiration is exhausted, and as a rule inspiration comes to
them only in short breaths.

These then are the defects of the school as a whole,
the substitution of literature for life as the source of inspira-
tion, the want of sympathy with the thoughts and aims_oF
the nation at large, and a lack of rigorous self-criticism. And

1 Deffcnce, II. c. iii.


the very fact of its being a school helped to produce these
defects, f or solidarity is a hindr a nce to originality, and .mutual
admiratioiT_J J s fatal to self-criticism. On the other hand we
must not forget that the repetition of the same defects in so
many writers forces them upon our attention. It is by its
best work and not by its failures that the Pleiad must in all
fairness be judged. If it has produced no great national
poem, if even its best work is neither deeply passionate nor
daringly imaginative, it has enriched poetry with many
examples jof rare be auty and excellence, models of grace and



Pontus de Tyard, Erreurs amoureuses^ 1549. Continuation des
Erreurs amoureuses, 1 5 5 1, and two other volumes. Les CEnvres poetiques,
1573. CEuvres, ed. Ch. Marty- Laveaux (in Pleiade franqaise, with Dorat),

R.EMY BELLEAU, Bergerie, 1572 (Le Petit, p. 95). Les amours et
nouveaux eschanges des pierres precieuses, 1576 (Picot, 1. no. 694). Les
CEuvres poetiques, 1585 [ib. no. 690) ; ed. Gouverneur {Bib. elze'v.), 3 vols.
1867 ; ed. Ch. Marty-Laveaux (in Pleiade francaise), 2 vols. 1878.

Jean-Antoine de Ba'if, Les Amours, 1552. Quatre livres de
F Amour de Francine, 1555. Le p7-emier des mcte'ores, 1567. Le Brave,
1567. Euvres en rime, 4 vols. 1572-3 (Le Petit, p. 86; Picot, I.
no. 684). Etrenes de poezie fratisoeze en vers mezure's, 1574 (Le Petit,
p. 91). Les Mimes, enseignements et proverbes (book i.), 1576 (Picot, I.
no. 687); Les Mimes (books i. and ii.), 1581 ; Mimes, ed. P. Blanchemain,
2 vols. 1880. CEuvres, ed. Ch. Marty-Laveaux (in Pleiade francaise),
5 vols. 1881-1890. Poesies choisies, ed. L. Becq de Fouquieres, 1874 (with
a bibliography, pp. xxxiv ff.).

Olivier de Magny, Les Amours, 1553. Les Gayetes, 1554. Les
Souspirs, 1557. Les Odes, 1559. All these have been separately edited by
E. Courbet, together with Dernieres Poesies, making altogether 6 vols,
(two for the Odes), 1871-1880 ; and by P. Blanchemain, 1869-1876.

Jacques Tahureau, Premieres poesies, 1554. Sonnets, odes et mi-
gnardises amoureuses de VAdmiree, 1554. Poesies, ed. P. Blanchemain,
2 vols. 1870. Les dialogues, 1565 ; ed. F. Conscience, 1870.

Louise Labe, Euvres, 1555 (Le Petit, p. 75); ed. P. Blanchemain,
1875; ed. Ch. Boy, 2 vols. 1887.

Marc-Claude de Buttet, Amalthee, 1560. CEuvres poetiques, ed.
A. P. Soupe, 1877; ed. P. Lacroix, 2 vols. 1880.


Jean Doublet, Les Elegies, 1559; ed. P. Blanchemain, 1869; in Cab.
du Bibliophile, 187 1.

Nicolas Ellain, Sonnets, 1561. CEuvres poetiques, ed. A. Genty,

Jacques de Fouilloux, Venerie ou Traite de la Chasse, 1562.

Estienne DE LA Bo£tie, Vers francois, 1 57 1. CEuvres completes, ed.
P. Bonnefons, 1892.

SCEVOLE DE Sainte-Marthe, Les premieres ceuvres, 1569 (Picot, I.
no. 715); Les oeuvres, 1579 (ib. no. 716).

Amadis Jamyn, Les CEuvres poetiques, 1575 (Picot, 1. no. 738). Le
Second Volume des CEuvres, 1584. Ed. C. Brunet, 2 vols. 1878 (a selection

All the above, except Baif, Doublet, and Fouilloux, are represented in
L. Becq de Fouquieres. CEuvres choisies des poetes francais du xvi e siecle
contemporazns de Ronsard, 1879. The selection from each poet is pre-
ceded by a brief notice of his life and writings.

Biographies and Studies.

C.-A. Sainte-Beuve, Tableau de la poe'sie francaise. H. F. Cary, Early
French Poets. J. -P. Abel Jeandet, Pontus de Tyard, i860. F. Flamini,
Du role de P. de Tyard dans le Petrarquisme francais in Rev. de la Ren. I.
43 ff. R. Besser, Ueber R. Belleaus Steingedicht in Zeitsch. fiir franz.
Spr. VIII. 184 — 250, 1886. H. Wagner, R. Belleau und seine Werke^
Leipsic, 1890. H. Nagel, Das Leben J.-A. de Baif's in Archiv fiir neueren:
Spr. und Litt. LX. 240 ff., 1878, and Die Werke J.-A. de Baif's, ib. LXK
52 ff., 201 ff., 439 ff., 1879. E. Fremy, EAcadcmie des derniers Valois.,
1887. J. Favre, Olivier de Magny, 1885. H. Chardon, La vie de
Tahureau, 1885.

T. II.



We have seen that the founders of the Pleiad had sat at
the feet of the Greek professor, Jean Dorat, and had imbibed
from his stimulating lectures a boundless enthusiasm for
the masterpieces of Greek literature. We have seen that
Ronsard's most cherished models, at any rate in theory, were
Homer and Pindar, and that in the original preface to the
Fraiiciade he professed to have modelled his work rather on
the naive spontaneity {facilite) of Homer than on the careful
(curieuse) diligence of Virgil 1 . Yet in the _Fzanciade the
imitation of Virgil is in reality more conspicuous than that of
Homer, and in the posthumous preface which treats of the
heroic poem in general Homer is barely mentioned, while
Virgil and his 'divine Al?ieid' are praised to the skies 2 .
What were the causes of this change in his ideals ?

In the first place it was due to the simple fact that the
French nation belongs to the Latin race. The affinities which
Henri Estienne • pointed out between the French and the
Greek language do no doubt exist, though they are scarcely
those on which he insists ; but at bottom the character alike
of language and literature is essentially Latin. Thus when
after half-a-century of Hellenism that process of Latinisation,
which had begun as far back as the fourteenth century, once
more resumed its natural course, French literature returned as
;it were from its foster parent to its natural mother. Even
from the first the poets of the Pleiad had drunk largely of

1 CEnvres, III. 9. - ib. 22 ff.


_Latin inspiration. We have seen how important a part both
the vernacular and the neo-Latin poetry of Italy had played
in their developement, and that one among them at least,
Joachi m du Bella}% not only turned by preference to Latin
models, but in his warm feelings, his passionate eagerness, his
observation of the outward aspect of things, was at heart a
true Latin.

Thus the phase of Hellenic influence, all important though
it was while it lasted, was of short duration. Being an exotic
it required artificial care, and this care, owing to the rapid
decay of Greek scholarship in France, was now withdrawn.
Partly as the result of the civil wars the study of Greek in
France began rapidly to decline after the fatal year 1572, and
to be confined more and more to a narrow circle of scholars.
*' Frenchmen," says Ronsard in the posthumous preface
referred to above, " have more knowledge of Virgil than of
Homer and other Greek authors 1 ."

Now this decline in^the prestige of Greek coincides more
or less with the retirement of Ronsard from the Court in
1574, and so this event, which practically closed Ronsard's
poetical career, may be taken to mark the close also of the
first epoch of the Pleiad. From this time the uniformity of
aim and the solidarity of purpose which had characterised the
work of Ronsard and his more immediate contemporaries
begins to disappear, and new developements arise. It was
not that the younger poets consciously renounced any of the
poetical doctrines of the school, or ceased to regard Ronsard
as ' the prince of poets,' but by the natural process of time
some practices" came to be exaggerated, and others to be
modified, with the result that the stream of poetry which had
hitherto flowed in one broad channel now diverged into
separate currents. Of these currents the two principal ones
are those which are associated with the names of Du B artas
and Dgsportes. Both making their first public appearance as
original poets in the year 1 573, both arde nt admirers and
close disciples of Ro nsard, "both exaggerating some of the

1 See F. Brunetiere, V evolution des genres, 1890, pp. 51 — 53, but in my
■opinion he attributes too much weight to the influence of Scaliger's Poetice.



defects of the school while leading a reaction against others,
they are at the same time alike in conception and execution
the complete opposites of each other.

i. Du Bartas.

Guillaume de Salluste, s eigneur du^JBartas, was born at
Montfort, near Auch, the old capital of Gascony, in the year
1544. While the poets with whom we have hitherto been
concerned revolved round Paris and the Court and were warm
partisans of the Catholic cause, Du Bartas was at once a
provincial and a Protestant, two circumstances which in
themselves tended to differentiate his work from that of his
fellow poets. But so far as literary doctrines went he was an
ardent disciple of the Pleiad, and his first serious production
was a response to Du Bellay's appeal to his countrymen to
write an epic poem. Though Judith, as Du Bartas' epic was
called, was written in 1565, when its author was only about
twenty-one, it did not appear till 1573, in a volume published
at Bordeaux and entitled La Muse Chrestienne. Its subject,
as well as the title of the volume in which it appeared,
already indicates one element of opposition to the orthodox
Ronsardists. It is true that the subject was imposed on
Du Bartas by Jeanne d'Albret, the Queen of Navarre, but
he was quite well aware of its novelty, and in the preface he
speaks of himself as the first French writer to treat of a sacred
subject in a long poem. In another poem of La Muse
~~C7irestieu)ie, entitled Uranic ox_J\Iusc celeste, he represents the
Muse as inveighing against those who profane the divine use
of poetry by applying it to frivolous and immoral purposes :

Je ne puis d'un ceil sec voir que l'on mette en vente
Nos divines chansons et que d'un flateur vers,
Pour gagner la faveur des Princes plus pervers,
Un Commode, un Neron, un Caligule on vante.

She bids him devote himself to religious poetry, and accord-
ingly in obedience to this call he produced in 1578 a long
poem on the Creation entitled^Zc? Semaine. It was received
with enormous enthusiasm. Twenty editions were published


in five years, and it was translated into several languages.
The French Protestants were especially loud in its praise.
They welcomed it as a counterpoise to the semi-pagan and
frivolous Court poetry of Ronsard and his immediate followers,
which had recently culminated in the apotheosis of the
mignons b y D esportes and Jamyn. They proclaimed Du
Bartas to be Ronsard's superior, and even whispered that
Ronsard himself had acknowledged the fact. In a fine sonnet
the elder poet indignantly denied both assertions :

lis ont menty, D'Aurat, ceux qui le veulent dire,
Que Ronsard, dont la Muse a contente les Rois,
Soit moins que le Bartas, et qu'il ait par sa voix
Rendu ce tesmoignage ennemy de sa lyre !

lis ont menti, D'Aurat! si bas je ne respire;
Je sgay trop qui je suis, et mille et mille fois
Mille et mille tourmens plustost je souffrirois,
Ou'un adveu si contraire au nom que je desire.

lis ont menty, D'Aurat ! c'est une invention
Qui part, a mon advis, de trop d'ambition.
J'auroy menty moy-mesme en le faisant paroistre ;

Francus en rougiroit, et les neuf belles Sceurs
Qui tremperent mes vers dans leurs graves douceurs,
Pour un de leurs enfans ne me voudroient cognoistre 1 .

In 1584 Du Bartas began the publication of La seconde
Semaine. It was to be a vast poem representing the Biblical
history of humanity down to the Last Judgment. The first
instalment contained two Days, each Day being divided into
four parts. But the poem was never finished. When it was
published after Du Bartas's death, the fourth Day, which was
to end with the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar,
was still incomplete.

The work had been interrupted by more pressing occu-
pations. From 1586 Du Bartas was employed by the King
of Navarre on various missions, including one in 1587 to
England and Scotland. In the latter country he received a
warm welcome from the royal pedant, James VI, who had
translated his Urania 1 , and who now wrote to congratulate his

1 Ronsard, (Euvres, v. 348.

2 Apparently about 1585, though it was not published till 1591 ; it is printed


brother of Navarre on having in his service so rare and virtuous
a person 1 . On his return to France Du Bartas commanded a
troop of horse and saw some fighting. His last poem was
written to celebrate the victory of Ivry, in which, however,
he did not take part. In the following July (1590) he died
from over-fatigue and neglected wounds 2 . He was a sincere,
modest and high-minded gentleman 3 .

After his death his renown steadily decreased. The
magnificent folio edition of his works published at Paris in
161 1 may, to use Sainte-Beuve's words, be regarded as their
tomb. It is true that a later edition was published at Geneva
in 1632 and that Joshua Sylvester's translation was very
popular in England 4 down to the Restoration 5 , but this was in
Protestant countries. In France Du Bartas was ignored by
Boileau as he already had been ignored by Malherbe, and
there has been no real reversal of this verdict. Notre Milton
manque 6 is the most recent appreciation that has been passed
on him, and it aptly expresses at once the grandeur and
nobility of his aims and the failure of his accomplishment.

There can be little question as to the actual merits and
defects of Du Bartas's work, however critics may differ in
striking the balance. It consists of fine passages interspersed
among long wastes of dull and tiresome poetry. Even the
best passages are generally blemished by serious errors in
taste. But they are marked by elevation of thought, vigour

in Arber's English Reprints. It was by order of James that T. Hudson translated
Jtidith (1582).

1 Letter from James VI of Scotland to the King of Navarre (printed by T. de
Larroque, Vies des poetes gaseous, p. 96).

2 De Thou, x. ix.

3 De Thou, XCIX. xvii, speaks of his modesty and candour.

4 "There be some French poets which afford excellent entertainment,
especially Du Bartas," Howell's Foreign Travel, 1650.

5 Sylvester translated the Cantiqne d'lvry in 1590, and fragments of the
Seconde Semaine in 1592. The first collected edition of his various translations of
Du Bartas appeared in 1605-6. and a nearly complete edition in 1621 under the
title of Du Bartas, his divine Weekes and Works with a Compleate Collection of all
the other most delightful Workes translated and written by y e famous Philomusus,
Joshua Sylvester, Gent, (printed by Humphray Lownes). There is a copy of this
edition in the Cambridge University Library, but not in the Brit. Mus.

6 P. Morillot in Petit de Julleville, III. 225.


and movement, and above all by imagination of the highest
ordejvthe imagination which is at once lofty a nd penetrative,
which can soar to transcendental heights, or illumine with
a touch the ordinary phenomena of nature. Such are the
description of the winds and of the signs of God's power in
the second Day of La Semaine, the praise of Gascony and of
country life in the third Day.

But imagination is not the quality which appeals most
strongly to French critics. On the other hand they are more
keenly alive than any foreign critic is likely to be to the
defective execution, the signs of provincialism and bad taste

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