M. (François) Guizot.

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more than comedy, should be deprived of the right of
treating undignified subjects ; and in what particulars
the actions of a few comedians are more low and vulgar
than the household quarrels of a woodman and his wife,*
the knaveries of a valet,' or the flatteries of an intriguing
person who is desirous to get money from a miser ? *
Wherever talent is placed in its right position, the sub-
ject is well chosen; and nowhere was Scarron's talent

' See Molière's " Médecin mal<rré lui."

' See the "Fourberies de Scapin "

* See Molière'' s " L'Avare." and other pieces.



3G(Î COPtNEILLE'S CONTEMPORARIES.

more rightly placed than in the "Roman Comique ;" and
nowhere has it produced more complete effect. These
personages are not presented to us disfigured in a fantas-
tical manner in order to excite our mirth; they are ex-
hibited to our view under the natural forms of their con-
dition, position, and character ; they are laughable be-
cause they are ridiculous, and not because an effort has
been made to render them absurd. Their pleasantry
springs from their very nature. There is something truly
original in the character of La Rancune, a misanthropies,
envious, vain scoundrel, whose imperturbable coolness
has, nevertheless, gained for him a sort of superiority
and respect. The figure of Ragotin is ever the same —
always equally merry in the various adventures in which
he is involved by his love or his foolishness. The scenes
in which these different actors appear are varied ; the
descriptions are vivid, animated, and striking; in a word,
although the "Roman Comique" is not marked by that
force of observation, and that fund of philosophical truth
which place " Gil Bias" in the first rank of productions
of this kind, we find it characterized at least by great
fidelity in the reproduction of external and laughable
forms, by consummate talent in their arrangement and
delineation, by an imagination most fruitful in the inven-
tion of details, by a careful choice of circumstances, and
by a measure of pleasantry which we were not perhaps
prepared to expect from the author : in a word, we find
in it all those qualities which can entitle it to high praise,
not as a burlesque composition, but as its name indicates,
as a really comic work.

I shall say nothing of Scarron's comedies — works
which their complicated and 'uninteresting plots, their
trivial and unnatural folly, and their strained burlesque,
have consigned to that oblivion which they so rich^"



PAUL SCARRON. 367

serve. If one of the Jodelets and Doni Japhet (VArnûnie
have sometimes re-appeared in our own days, it has only
been by the aid of the talent of some clever actor, who
has redeemed the tediousness of these ignoble caricatures,
and disguised their excessive platitude by his excessive
grotesqueness. Some of Scarron's " Nouvelles," Dedica-
tions and Letters, with his " Factum," and a very few
short poems, are the sources to which we may still look
for the piquant originality of that mind and character,
the singular combination of which gained Scarron a repu-
tation which, in his own times, was superior to that which
his works deserved ; and which at the present day has
fallen below that which his talent might have merited if,
less spoilt by the taste of the age in which he lived and
the fluency of the style in which he achieved such bril-
liant success, he had been compelled to cultivate to a
greater extent those natural gifts which had been so
abundantly lavished upon him. ,



APPENDIX



Appendix A. — Page 130.

PIERRE CORNEILLE, THE FATHER,

AND THE LETTERS OF NOBILITY GRANTED TO HIS FAMILY BY LOUIS XIII.,
AND LOUIS XIV., IN 1637 AND 1669.

Extract from a Memoir read by M. Floquet at the academy of Rouen,
January 20, 1837.

The readiness with which you have always received any new
documents relative to the illustrious Corneille may, I think, as-
sure me that a favorable reception will be given to a document
which I have very recently discovered, even though it concerns
not the great poet himself, but his father — who, as you know,
exercised at Rouen, for about thirty years, the functions of gen-
eral overseer of waters and forests. This honorable post was not
always without its perils ; at that time, interminable wars, pro-
tracted famines, frequent interruptions of commercial and in-
dustrial operations, often reduced our province, and especially its
capital, to a condition of misery such as we can in these times
with difficulty imagine. The people, having neither food nor
occupation, could scarcely be restrained from violation of order ;
seditious movements were not unfrequent, and it was even a
fortunate circumstance when the famished multitude confined
their turbulence to the forests which bordered on the town of
Rouen. In the ancient registers of the Parliament continual
allusion is made to the devastation of these forests, not by a few
isolated individuals, but by numerous bands, almost always arm-
ed, who were the terror of the forest constabulary, whom they
boldly faced and put to flight, and whom they sometimes even
killed.

During the long administration of Corneille the father, in the



¥



370 APPENDIX.

reign of Louis XIII., nothing was more frequent than these
scenes of pillage, and all the perseverance, aL the intrepidity
which the overseers of woods and forests could command were
required in order to suppress them. To confine myself to one
fact among the many others which, are to be found in the regis-
ters of the Parliament of Normandy, we find that in the month
of January, 1612, the elder Corneille resisted in person the
armed bands who every day pillaged the forest of Roumare.'
It is a singular fact that, out of twelve sergeants who had been
previously appointed to guard the forests bordering on Rouen,
_eight had just been dismissed at a time when the robbers in
these woods were continually being multiplied. Corneille the
elder, however, followed by only four sergeants, and assisted by a
substitute of the Procureur-General, went on horseback to the
scene of these disorders. On the road to Bapaume he wasmet
by a band of fifteen or twenty plunderers, anned with bill-hooks
and hatchets. To the remonstrances of Corneille these desperate
men answered roughly " that they were going to the forest, and
were dying wath hunger and cold." Corneille, even though
attended by so few followers, did not hesitate to order that some
of the hatchets and implements with which these men were
armed should be taken away from them. This, however, was
not accomplished without some difficulty, and '• it was suspected,"
says the register, "that a revolt was rising against him and his
colleagues." A few moments after this, one of his four sergeants
was maltreated by the advanced guard of another band, consist-
ing of more than three hundred armed plunderers ; who, having
descended from the forest of Roumare, laden with wood, took up
their position in line along the avenues — " and there was danger,"
says the register, " lest they should fall upon Pierre Corneille and
those who accompanied him." He hastened his return to Rouen,
and reported to the Parliament the particulars of his adventure,
which we have reproduced almost verbatim. This sovereign
tribunal perceived what disastrous consequences would result
from such disorders, " not only," say the king's servants, " in the
injury caused to the forest, but in the disposition to revolt which
would manifest itself whenever scarcity should arrive." Ac-
cordingly, acting according to the information supplied by Pierre

' " Registre secret du Parlement de Rouen." (Manuscript.) Jan. 7th,
1GI2.



APPENDIX. 371

Corneille, they took such measures as put a stop, at least for a
time, to these popular movements. If we reflect on all the
similar cases, so frequent durinf^ the reign of Louis XIII., when,
during an administration of thirty years, the elder Corneille had
thus to resist in person, and, it may be said, alone, the outbreaks of
a people reduced to desperation by famine — we shall feel how
justly he merited the lettres do 7ioblessc which were granted to
him, and which we have only recently discovered, after the
lengthened but fruitless searches which have been made at dif-
ferent times by those who were interested in the descendants of
the great poet. Not that^we would carefully assert this — not
that we are insensible to the fact that any nobility which is
granted by royal charter must appear insignificant when com-
pared with that higher nobility which the great Corneille has
won for himself by his works and his genius. None can feel
this more than we do ; yet, in our times, when so much and
unwearied attention is given to curious investigations, when in-
formation concerning such men as Corneille is eagerly sought
after, why should we slight the remembrance of a mark of honor
which was conferred in acknowledgment of long and eminent
services upon the father of this great man— a distinction, more-
over, of which our great poet and his brother Thomas always
availed themselves ? This was sufficiently natural, doubtless, at
a time when such titles could in certain places secure an honor-
able reception, which might, perhaps, have been denied to un-
adorned native talent — and in an age which was so profusely
supplied with luminaries, and had attained to so high a philo-
sophical eminence, that the man of worth who was not some-
what graced by wealth or distinguished rank was sometimes
rather at a discount. Accordingly, as sons of a Le Pesant de
Bois-Guilbert (a name which, for a long time, has been an
honorable one in that province, and is even still honored there)
— as sous of a conscientious and intrepid magistrate, ennobled on
account of numerous services, and of no mean repute — Pierre
and Thomas Corneille (the one entitled Sieur de Damville, the
other Sieur de Lisle, and both of them squires), were received into
distinguished circles, at first as gentlemen of a good family, and
were afterward doubtless sought for and entertained as poets and
writers.

It is not for us to despise what these distinguished men did



372 APPENDIX.

not disdain, and what besides was gi-anted to their family at a
time when the recent and remarkable success of the " Cid" — a
success previously unprecedented in the annals of the theatre —
might justly seem a supplement to the numerous titles of the
father, and a seal to the royal grant of nobility which was to
descend to his eldest son, the great poet. The " Cid," in fact,
appeared in 1636, and in January, 1637, exactly two hundred
years ago, Louis XIII., signed the lettres de noblesse which were
granted by him to Pierre Corneille, father of the great Corneille.
By an edict of January, 1634 (Article iv.), this monarch had
promised " that for the future he would not grant any letters to
confer nobility, except fo)- g?-eat and important cotisiderations."
These letters, therefore, which were granted in January, 1637,
so soon after the publication of this edict, seem to possess an
additional value :

" Louis, par la grâce de Dieu, roi de France et de Navarre, à
tous présent et à venir, salut.

" La Noblesse, fille de la Vertu, prend sa naissance, en tous
estats bien policés, des actes généreux <îe ceux qui tesmoignent,
au peril et pertes de leurs biens et incommodités de leurs per-
sonnes, estre utiles au service de leur prince et de la chose pub-
lique ; ce qui a donné subject aux roys nos prédécesseurs et à
nous de faire choix de ceux qui, par leur bons et louables effets,
ont rendu preuve entière de leur fidélité, pour les eslever et
mettre au rang des nobles, et, par ceste prérogative, rendre leurs
vie et actions remarquables à la postérité. Ce qui doibt servir
d'émulation aux autres, à ceste exemple, de s'acquérir de l'hon-
neur et réputation, eu espérance de pareille rescompence.

"Et d'autant que, par le tesmoignage de nos plus spéciaux
serviteurs, nous sommes deuement informés que nostre amé et
féal Pierre Corneille, issu de bonne et honorable race et famille,
a toujours eu en bonne et singulière recommandation le bien de
cest estât et le nostre en divers emplois qu'il a eus par nostre
commandement et pour le bien de nostre service et du publiq, et
particulièrement en l'exercice de l'ofllice de maisti-e de nos eaues
et forests, en la viconté de Rouen, durant plus(^e vingt ans, dont
il s'est acquitté avec un extrême soing et fidélité, pour la con-
servation de nos dictes forests, e1 en plusieurs autres occasions où
il s'est porté avec tel zèle et affection que ses services rendus et



APPENDIX. 373

reiix que nous espéx"ons de luy, a I'advenir, nous donnent subject
(le recongnoistre sa vertu et mérites, et les décorer de ce degré
d'honneur, pour marque et mémoire à sa postérité.

" Sçavoir faisons que nous, pour ces causes et autres bonnes et
justes considérations à ce nous mouvans, voulans le gratifier et
favorablement traicter, avons le diet Corneille, de nos grâce
spécialle, pleine puissance et authorité royalle, ses enfans et
postérité, masles et femelles, naiz et à naistre en loyal mariage,
annoblys et annoblissons, et du titre et qualité de noblesse décoré
et décorons par les présentes signées de nostre main. Voulons et
nous plaist qu'en tous actes et endroicts, tant en jugements que
dehors, ils soient tenus et réputez pour nobles, et puissent porter
le titre d'escuyer, jouyr et uzer de tous honneurs, privilléges et
exemptions, franchises, prérogatives, prééminences dont jouissent
et ont accoustumé jouyr les autres nobles de nostre royaume,
extraicts de noble et ancienne race ; et comme tels, ils puissent
acquérir tous fiefs possessions nobles, de quelques nature et
qualité qu'ils soient, et d'iceux, ensemble de ceux qu'ils ont acquis
et leur pourroient escheoir à I'advenir, jouyr et uzer tout ainsy
que s'ils estoient nais et issus de noble et ancienne race, sans
qu'ils soient ou puissent estre contraints en vuider leurs mains,
ayant, d'habondant, au diet Corneille, et à sa postérité, de nostre
plus ample grâce, permis et octroyé, permectons et octroyons qu'ils
puissent doresnavant porter partout et en tous lieux que bon leur
semblera, mesmes faire eslever par toutes et chacune leurs terres
et seigneuries, leurs armoiries timbrées tels que nous leurs donnons
et sont cy empreintes,' tout ainsi et en la mesme forme et manière,
que font et ont accoustumé faire les autres nobles de nostre diet
royaume.

" Si donnons en mandement à nos amés et féaux conseillers les
gens teuans nostre cour des aides à Rouen, et autres nos justiciers
et officiers qu'il appartiendra, chacun endroit soy, que de nos pré-
sente grâce, don d'armes, et de tout le contenu ci-dessus ils facent,
souffrent et laissent jouyr et uzer pleinement, paisiblement et
perpétuellement le dit Corneille, ses dits enfans et postérité masles
et femelles, nais et à naistre en loial mariage, cessant et faisant

' D'azur, à la fasce d"or, chargées de trois têtes de lion de gueule, et
accompagnées de trois étoiles d'argent posées deux en chef et une en dointe.
"Armoriai général de France. Ville de Paris, folio 1066. Bibliothèque
Rovale." ■ ■ "



374 APPENDIX.

cesser tous troubles, et empeschemens au contraire. Car tel est
nostre plaisir, nonobstant quelsconques edicts, ordonnances, revoc-
quations, et reiglements à ce contraires, auxquels et à la desroga-
toire des desrogatoires y contenue, nous avons desrogé et desrogeons
par les dictes présentes. Et afin que ce soit chose ferme et stable
à toujours, nous avons faict mectre nostre scel aux dictes présentes,
sauf, en autres choses, notre droict, et l'autray en toutes.

" Donné à Paris, au mois de Janvier, l'an de grâce mil six cent
trente-sept, et de nostre règne le vingt-septième. Signé, Louis."
Et sur le reply, " Par le roy, De Lomenie," ung paraphe. Et à
costé visa, et scellé et las de soye rouge et verd du grand sceau
de cire verde.

Et sur le diet reply est escript: " Registrées aix registre de la
Court des Aides en Normandie, suivant l'arrest d'icelle du vingt-
quatrième jour de Mars, mil six cent trente-sept. Signé De
Lestoille," ung paraphe.

" Louis, by the grace of God, king of France and Navarre, to
all whom these presents may concern, greeting.

" Nobility, the daughter of Virtue, springs, in all states which
are wisely ruled, from the generous deeds of those who testify, at
the peril and loss of their property and the inconvenience of their
persons, that they are of value in the sennce of their prince and
of the commonwealth ; which has induced our royal predecessors
and ourself to make choice of those who, by their good and praise-
worthy performances, have given full proof of their fidelity, in
order that we may elevate them and place them in the rank of
nobles, and by this distinction render their life and actions re-
markable to posterity, which also may serve to excite the emula-
tion of others who witness this example, to gain honor and repu-
tation in hope of a similar recompense.

"And Ibrasmuch as that, by the testimony of our special serv-
ants, we have been duly informed that our friend and liege sub-
ject Pierre Corneille, sprung Irom good and honorable race and
family, has always had in good and singular consideration the
welfare of this state and of ourself in divers offices which he has
exercised by our commandment and for the welfare of our service
and of the public — and particularly in the exercise of the oflice
of overseer of our woods and forosis, in the viscounty of Rouen,
during more than twenty years, in which he has fulfilled his



APPENDIX. 375

charge with the greatest care and fidelity, for the preservation of
our said forests — and on several other occasions when he has
acted with such zeal and affection that his services already ren-
dered and those which we hope to receive from him in the future,
admonish us to recognize his virtue and deserts, and to decorate
them with this badge of honor, as a mark and a memorial to his
posterity.

"Be it known, therefore, that we, for these causes, and led to
this by other good and just considerations, wishing to gratify him
and treat him with due favor, have ennobled, and do ennoble,
the said Corneille, his children and posterity, male and female,
who have been or may be born to him and them in lawful mar-
riage, by our special grace, full power, and royal authority ; and
have decorated, and do decorate them, with the title and quality
of nobility by these presents signed with our hand. It is our
will and pleasure, that in all acts and rights, as well in legal
declarations as elsewhere, they should be held and reputed as
nobles, and should bear the title of Esquire, enjoying and using
all the honors, privileges, and exemptions, franchises, preroga-
tives, and pre-eminences which the other nobles of our kingdom,
descended from noble and ancient families, enjoy and have been
accustomed to enjoy ; and, as such, that they may acquire all
fiefs as possessed by nobles, of what nature and quality soever
they may be ; and may enjoy and use the aforesaid, together
with those which they have acquired, or which may fall to them
in future, m all respects as if they had beeii born in and descend-
ed from a noble and ancient race ; so that'they shall not, and
can not, be constrained to give up the same out of their hands,
since we have permitted and granted, and do permit and grant
fully, to the said Corneille and to his posterity, by our most ample
grace, that they shall for the future bear, every where and in all
places in which it may seem fit to them ; and also cause to be
placed in all and each of their lands and manors their arms,
stamped as we have gi-anted them, and as are here impressed X ,
entirely in the same form and manner as the other nobles of our
said kingdom do, and have been accustomed to do.

" So we give in command to our beloved and trusty counsellor
holding our Court of Aids at Rouen, and others our justiciaries
and officers to whom it may belong, each in his place, that of our
present grace, gift of arms, and all the contents hereof, they should



370 APPENDIX.

cause, suffer, and allow to enjoy and use fully, peaceably, and
perpetually, the said Corneille, his children and their posterity,
male and female, born, and to be born, in lawful wedlock,
ceasing, and causing to cease, all troubles and hindrances to the
contrary.

" For such is our pleasure, notwithstanding whatsoever edicts,
orders, counter-orders, and rules contrary to this, to which, and
to the derogatory of the derogatories therein contained, we have
derogated, and derogate, by these presents. And in order that
this thing may be firm and secure for all future time, we have
caused our seal to be put to these presents, saving, in other
things, our right, and that of others, in all.

" Given at Paris, in the month of January, the year of grace
one thousand six hundred and thirty-seven, and in the twenty-
seventh year of our reign. (Signed) Loins." And on the back :
" By the king, De Lomenie," a flourish. And on the side visa,
and sealed and tied with red and green silk, with the great seal
of green wax.

And on the said back is written : " Registered in the register
of the Court of Aids in Normandy, according to the decree of this
twenty-fourth day of March, one thousand six hundred and thirty-
seven. (Signed) De Lestoille,", a flourish.

These letters of nobility were registered on the 27th of March,
1637, in the Chamber of Accounts of Normandy, and were re-
newed by Louis XIV. in May, 1669, in favor of Pierre and
Thomas Corneille.



Appendix B. — Page 172.
LETTER OF CLAUDE SARRAU TO CORNEILLE,

REQUESTING HIM TO CELEBRATE THE MEMORY OF CARDINAL RICHELIEtT,
WHO HAD JUST DIED.

Claude Sarrau, councilor at the Parliament of Paris, and a
celebrated scholar, wrote, on the 14th of December, 1642, to
Pierre Corneille, then at Rouen, where he had made the ac-
quaintance of Sarrau, who had lived there some time after 1640,
during the interdiction of the Parliament of Normandy :



APPENDIX. :C7

" Scire imprimis desidero, utriim tribus exiraiis et diviuis tuis
dramatibus quartum adjungere mediteris. Sed, praesertim, exci-
tandœ sunt illse tuse Divse ut aliquod carmen te seque dignura
pangant super Magni Panis obitu.

" ' Multis ille quidem flebilis occidit.'
uvilli flebilior quam tibi, Cornelî. lile tamen, volens, nolens,
Appollinari laurea caput tuum redimivisset, si perennasset diutius.
Operum saltern tuorum insignem laudatorem amisisti. Sed non
eget virtus tua ullius praeconio ; quippe qua3 per universum ter-
rarum orbem,

" ' Quo sol exoritur, quo sol se gurgite mergit,'
latissime simul, cum gloria tuâ diffusa, tot admiratores nacta est
quot vivuut eruditi et candidi.

" In tanto igitur argument© silere te posse vix credam. Istud
tamen omne fuerit tui arbitrii :

" ' Invito non si va in Pamasso.'

" Inaudivi nescio quid de aliquo tuo poëmate sacro, quod an
affectum, an perfectum sit, queeso, rescribe. Vale, et me, ut
facere te scio, diligere perge.

" Lutetise Parisiorum, idiis Decembris, 1642."

TRANSLATION.

" First of all, I wish to know whether, to your three excellent
and divine dramas, you have any intention to add a fourth. But
especially is it fitting that your muse shovild be excited to produce
somp poem, w^orthy of you and of herself, on the death of Great
Pan. He has departed to the great sorrow of many,

" 'Multis ille quidem flebilis occidit.'
and none has more cause to regret him than yourself. For, wheth-
er willingly or otherwise, had he lived longer, he would have en-
circled your brow vdth Apollo's garland. You have lost an illus-
trious admirer of your works. But your merit does not require to
be proclaimed by any one ;• for throughout the whole world —

" ' Quo sol exoritur, quo sol se gurgite mergit,'
so widely has it been spread to your great glory, that wherever
there are learned and honorable men, there have you admirers.

" I can scarcely believe that you will be able to keep silence
under the inspiration of such a theme ; your inclination, how-
ever, 'must decide this :

" ' Invito non si va in Pamasso.'



378 APPENDIX.

"Rumors have reached me of some sacred poem of youre ;
write, 1 beg of you, to inform me whether it is finished, or you
have made much progress with it. Farewell : continue to love
me, as I know you do.

" Claudii Sarravii Epistolœ, Epist. 49."



Appendix C. — Page 202.

THE POLITICAL SIDE TAKEN BY CORNEILLE



Online LibraryM. (François) GuizotCorneille and his times → online text (page 29 of 32)