Transcriber's Note: Words italicized in the original are surrounded by underscores. Words in bold in the original are surrounded by equal signs. Words in Greek in the original are transliterated and placed between plus signs. A complete list of corrections follows the text.
THE REVENGE OF BUSSY D'AMBOIS
BY GEORGE CHAPMAN
FREDERICK S. BOAS, M.A.
PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN QUEEN'S COLLEGE, BELFAST
BOSTON, U.S.A., AND LONDON D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS 1905
COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY D. C. HEATH & CO.
In this volume an attempt is made for the first time to edit Bussy D'Ambois and The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois in a manner suitable to the requirements of modern scholarship. Of the relations of this edition to its predecessors some details are given in the Notes on the Text of the two plays. But in these few prefatory words I should like to call attention to one or two points, and make some acknowledgments.
The immediate source of Bussy D'Ambois still remains undiscovered. But the episodes in the career of Chapman's hero, vouched for by contemporaries like Brantome and Marguerite of Valois, and related in some detail in my Introduction, are typical of the material which the dramatist worked upon. And an important clue to the spirit in which he handled it is the identification, here first made, of part of Bussy's dying speech with lines put by Seneca into the mouth of Hercules in his last agony on Mount Oeta. The exploits of D'Ambois were in Chapman's imaginative vision those of a semi-mythical hero rather than of a Frenchman whose life overlapped with his own.
On the provenance of The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois I have been fortunately able, with valuable assistance from others, to cast much new light. In an article in The Athenaeum, Jan. 10, 1903, I showed that the immediate source of many of the episodes in the play was Edward Grimeston's translation (1607) of Jean de Serres's Inventaire General de l'Histoire de France. Since that date I owe to Mr. H. Richards, Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, the important discovery that a number of speeches in the play are borrowed from the Discourses of Epictetus, from whom Chapman drew his conception of the character of Clermont D'Ambois. My brother-in-law, Mr. S. G. Owen, Student of Christ Church, has given me valuable help in explaining some obscure classical allusions. Dr. J. A. H. Murray, the editor of the New English Dictionary, has kindly furnished me with the interpretation of a difficult passage in Bussy D'Ambois; and Mr. W. J. Craig, editor of the Arden Shakespeare, and Mr. Le Gay Brereton, of the University of Sidney, have been good enough to proffer helpful suggestions. Finally I am indebted to Professor George P. Baker, the General Editor of this Series, for valuable advice and help on a large number of points, while the proofs of this volume were passing through the press.
F. S. B.
George Chapman was probably born in the year after Elizabeth's accession. Anthony Wood gives 1557 as the date, but the inscription on his portrait, prefixed to the edition of The Whole Works of Homer in 1616, points to 1559. He was a native of Hitchin in Hertfordshire, as we learn from an allusion in his poem Euthymiae Raptus or The Teares of Peace, and from W. Browne's reference to him in Britannia's Pastorals as "the learned shepheard of faire Hitching Hill." According to Wood "in 1574 or thereabouts, he being well grounded in school learning was sent to the University." Wood is uncertain whether he went first to Oxford or to Cambridge, but he is sure, though he gives no authority for the statement, that Chapman spent some time at the former "where he was observed to be most excellent in the Latin & Greek tongues, but not in logic or philosophy, and therefore I presume that that was the reason why he took no degree there."
His life for almost a couple of decades afterwards is a blank, though it has been conjectured on evidences drawn from The Shadow of Night and Alphonsus Emperor of Germany, respectively, that he served in one of Sir F. Vere's campaigns in the Netherlands, and that he travelled in Germany. The Shadow of Night, consisting of two "poeticall hymnes" appeared in 1594, and is his first extant work. It was followed in 1595 by Ovid's Banquet of Sence, The Amorous Zodiac, and other poems. These early compositions, while containing fine passages, are obscure and crabbed in style.[v-1] In 1598 appeared Marlowe's fragmentary Hero and Leander with Chapman's continuation. By this year he had established his position as a playwright, for Meres in his Palladis Tamia praises him both as a writer of tragedy and of comedy. We know from Henslowe's Diary that his earliest extant comedy The Blinde Begger of Alexandria was produced on February 12, 1596, and that for the next two or three years he was working busily for this enterprising manager. An Humerous dayes Myrth (pr. 1599), and All Fooles (pr. 1605) under the earlier title of The World Runs on Wheels,[vi-1] were composed during this period.
Meanwhile he had begun the work with which his name is most closely linked, his translation of Homer. The first instalment, entitled Seaven Bookes of the Iliades of Homere, Prince of Poets, was published in 1598, and was dedicated to the Earl of Essex. After the Earl's execution Chapman found a yet more powerful patron, for, as we learn from the letters printed recently in The Athenaeum (cf. Bibliography, sec. III), he was appointed about 1604 "sewer (i. e. cupbearer) in ordinary," to Prince Henry, eldest son of James I. The Prince encouraged him to proceed with his translation, and about 1609 appeared the first twelve books of the Iliad (including the seven formerly published) with a fine "Epistle Dedicatory," to "the high-born Prince of men, Henry." In 1611 the version of the Iliad was completed, and that of the Odyssey was, at Prince Henry's desire, now taken in hand. But the untimely death of the Prince, on November 6th, 1612, dashed all Chapman's hopes of receiving the anticipated reward of his labours. According to a petition which he addressed to the Privy Council, the Prince had promised him on the conclusion of his translation L300, and "uppon his deathbed a good pension during my life." Not only were both of these withheld, but he was deprived of his post of "sewer" by Prince Charles. Nevertheless he completed the version of the Odyssey in 1614, and in 1616 he published a folio volume entitled The Whole Works of Homer. The translation, in spite of its inaccuracies and its "conceits," is, by virtue of its sustained dignity and vigour, one of the noblest monuments of Elizabethan genius.
By 1605, if not earlier, Chapman had resumed his work for the stage. In that year he wrote conjointly with Marston and Jonson the comedy of Eastward Hoe. On account of some passages reflecting on the Scotch, the authors were imprisoned. The details of the affair are obscure. According to Jonson, in his conversation later with Drummond, Chapman and Marston were responsible for the obnoxious passages, and he voluntarily imprisoned himself with them. But in one of the recently printed letters, which apparently refers to this episode, Chapman declares that he and Jonson lie under the Kings displeasure for "two clawses and both of them not our owne," i. e., apparently, written by Marston.[vii-1] However this may be, the offenders were soon released, and Chapman continued energetically his dramatic work. In 1606 appeared two of his most elaborate comedies, The Gentleman Usher and Monsieur D'Olive, and in the next year was published his first and most successful tragedy, Bussy D'Ambois. In 1608 were produced two connected plays, The Conspiracie and Tragedie of Charles, Duke of Byron, dealing with recent events in France, and based upon materials in E. Grimeston's translation (1607) of Jean de Serres' History. Again Chapman found himself in trouble with the authorities, for the French ambassador, offended by a scene in which Henry IV's Queen was introduced in unseemly fashion, had the performance of the plays stopped for a time. Chapman had to go into hiding to avoid arrest, and when he came out, he had great difficulty in getting the plays licensed for publication, even with the omission of the offending episodes. His fourth tragedy based on French history, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, appeared in 1613. It had been preceded by two comedies, May-Day (1611), and The Widdowes' Teares (1612). Possibly, as Mr Dobell suggests (Athenaeum, 23 March, 1901), the coarse satire of the latter play may have been due to its author's annoyance at the apparent refusal of his suit by a widow to whom some of the recently printed letters are addressed. In 1613 he produced his Maske of the Middle Temple and Lyncolns Inne, which was one of the series performed in honour of the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth and the Elector Palatine. Another hymeneal work, produced on a much less auspicious occasion, was an allegorical poem, Andromeda Liberata, celebrating the marriage of the Earl of Somerset with the divorced Lady Essex in December, 1613.
The year 1614, when the Odyssey was completed, marks the culminating point of Chapman's literary activity. Henceforward, partly perhaps owing to the disappointment of his hopes through Prince Henry's death, his production was more intermittent. Translations of the Homeric Hymns, of the Georgicks of Hesiod, and other classical writings, mainly occupy the period till 1631. In that year he printed another tragedy, Caesar and Pompey, which, however, as we learn from the dedication, had been written "long since." The remaining plays with which his name has been connected did not appear during his lifetime. A comedy, The Ball, licensed in 1632, but not published till 1639, has the names of Chapman and Shirley on the title-page, but the latter was certainly its main author. Another play, however, issued in the same year, and ascribed to the same hands, The Tragedie of Chabot, Admiral of France makes the impression, from its subject-matter and its style, of being chiefly due to Chapman. In 1654 two tragedies, Alphonsus Emperour of Germany and The Revenge for Honour, were separately published under Chapman's name. Their authorship, however, is doubtful. There is nothing in the style or diction of Alphonsus which resembles Chapman's undisputed work, and it is hard to believe that he had a hand in it. The Revenge for Honour is on an Oriental theme, entirely different from those handled by Chapman in his other tragedies, and the versification is marked by a greater frequency of feminine endings than is usual with him; but phrases and thoughts occur which may be paralleled from his plays, and the work may be from his hand.
On May 12, 1634, he died, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Giles's in the Field, where his friend Inigo Jones erected a monument to his memory. According to Wood, he was a person of "most reverend aspect, religious and temperate, qualities rarely meeting in a poet." Though his material success seems to have been small, he gained the friendship of many of the most illustrious spirits of his time—Essex, Prince Henry, Bacon, Jonson, Webster, among the number—and it has been his good fortune to draw in after years splendid tributes from such successors in the poetic art as Keats and A. C. Swinburne.
[v-1] This Biography was written before the appearance of Mr. Acheson's volume, Shakespeare and the Rival Poet. Without endorsing all his arguments or conclusions, I hold that Mr. Acheson has proved that Shakespeare in a number of his Sonnets refers to these earlier poems of Chapman's. He has thus brought almost conclusive evidence in support of Minto's identification of Shakespeare's rival with Chapman—a conjecture with which I, in 1896, expressed strong sympathy in my Shakspere and his Predecessors.
[vi-1] This identification seems established by the entry in Henslowe's _Diary_, under date 2 July 1599. "Lent unto thomas Dowton to paye Mr Chapman, in full paymente for his boocke called the world rones a whelles, and now all foolles, but the foolle, some of _ xxxs."
[vii-1] See pp. 158-64, Jonson's Eastward Hoe and Alchemist, F. E. Schelling (Belles Lettres Series, 1904).
The group of Chapman's plays based upon recent French history, to which Bussy D'Ambois and its sequel belong, forms one of the most unique memorials of the Elizabethan drama. The playwrights of the period were profoundly interested in the annals of their own country, and exploited them for the stage with a magnificent indifference to historical accuracy. Gorboduc and Locrine were as real to them as any Lancastrian or Tudor prince, and their reigns were made to furnish salutary lessons to sixteenth century "magistrates." Scarcely less interesting were the heroes of republican Greece and Rome: Caesar, Pompey, and Antony, decked out in Elizabethan garb, were as familiar to the playgoers of the time as their own national heroes, real or legendary. But the contemporary history of continental states had comparatively little attraction for the dramatists of the period, and when they handled it, they usually had some political or religious end in view. Under a thin veil of allegory, Lyly in Midas gratified his audience with a scathing denunciation of the ambition and gold-hunger of Philip II of Spain; and half a century later Middleton in a still bolder and more transparent allegory, The Game of Chess, dared to ridicule on the stage Philip's successor, and his envoy, Gondomar. But both plays were suggested by the elements of friction in the relations of England and Spain.
French history also supplied material to some of the London playwrights, but almost exclusively as it bore upon the great conflict between the forces of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The Masaker of France, which Henslowe mentions as having been played on January 3, 1592-3, may or may not be identical with Marlowe's The Massacre at Paris, printed towards the close of the sixteenth century, but in all probability it expressed similarly the burning indignation of Protestant England at the appalling events of the Eve of St. Bartholomew. Whatever Marlowe's religious or irreligious views may have been, he acted on this occasion as the mouthpiece of the vast majority of his countrymen, and he founded on recent French history a play which, with all its defects, is of special interest to our present inquiry. For Chapman, who finished Marlowe's incompleted poem, Hero and Leander, must have been familiar with this drama, which introduced personages and events that were partly to reappear in the two Bussy plays. A brief examination of The Massacre at Paris will, therefore, help to throw into relief the special characteristics of Chapman's dramas.
It opens with the marriage, in 1572, of Henry of Navarre and Margaret, sister of King Charles IX, which was intended to assuage the religious strife. But the Duke of Guise, the protagonist of the play, is determined to counterwork this policy, and with the aid of Catherine de Medicis, the Queen-Mother, and the Duke of Anjou (afterwards Henry III), he arranges the massacre of the Huguenots. Of the events of the fatal night we get a number of glimpses, including the murder of a Protestant, Scroune, by Mountsorrell (Chapman's Montsurry), who is represented as one of the Guise's most fanatical adherents. Charles soon afterwards dies, and is succeeded by his brother Henry, but "his mind runs on his minions," and Catherine and the Guise wield all real power. But there is one sphere which Guise cannot control—his wife's heart, which is given to Mugeroun, one of the "minions" of the King. Another of the minions, Joyeux, is sent against Henry of Navarre, and is defeated and slain; but Henry, learning that Guise has raised an army against his sovereign "to plant the Pope and Popelings in the realm," joins forces with the King against the rebel, who is treacherously murdered and dies crying, "Vive la messe! perish Huguenots!" His brother, the Cardinal, meets a similar fate, but the house of Lorraine is speedily revenged by a friar, who stabs King Henry. He dies, vowing vengeance upon Rome, and sending messages to Queen Elizabeth, "whom God hath bless'd for hating papistry."
It is easy to see how a play on these lines would have appealed to an Elizabethan audience, while Marlowe, whether his religious sympathies were engaged or not, realized the dramatic possibilities of the figure of the Guise, one of the lawlessly aspiring brotherhood that had so irresistible a fascination for his genius. But it is much more difficult to understand why, soon after the accession of James I, Chapman should have gone back to the same period of French history, and reintroduced a number of the same prominent figures, Henry III, Guise, his Duchess, and Mountsorrell, not in their relation to great political and religious outbreaks, but grouped round a figure who can scarcely have been very familiar to the English theatre-going public—Louis de Clermont, Bussy d'Amboise.[xii-1]
This personage was born in 1549, and was the eldest son of Jacques de Clermont d'Amboise, seigneur de Bussy et de Saxe-Fontaine, by his first wife, Catherine de Beauvais. He followed the career of arms, and in 1568 we hear of him as a commandant of a company. He was in Paris during the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and took advantage of it to settle a private feud. He had had a prolonged lawsuit with his cousin Antoine de Clermont, a prominent Huguenot, and follower of the King of Navarre. While his rival was fleeing for safety he had the misfortune to fall into the hands of Bussy, who dispatched him then and there. He afterwards distinguished himself in various operations against the Huguenots, and by his bravery and accomplishments won the favour of the Duke of Anjou, who, after the accession of Henry III in 1575, was heir to the throne. The Duke in this year appointed him his couronell, and henceforward he passed into his service. In 1576, as a reward for negotiating "la paix de Monsieur" with the Huguenots, the Duke received the territories of Anjou, Touraine, and Berry, and at once appointed Bussy governor of Anjou. In November the new governor arrived at Angers, the capital of the Duchy, and was welcomed by the citizens; but the disorders and exactions of his troops soon aroused the anger of the populace, and the King had to interfere in their behalf, though for a time Bussy set his injunctions at defiance. At last he retired from the city, and rejoined the Duke, in close intercourse with whom he remained during the following years, accompanying him finally on his unsuccessful expedition to the Low Countries in the summer of 1578. On Anjou's return to court in January, 1579, Bussy, who seems to have alienated his patron by his presumptuous behaviour, did not go with him, but took up his residence again in the territory of Anjou. He was less occupied, however, with his official duties than with his criminal passion for Francoise de Maridort, wife of the Comte de Monsoreau, who had been appointed grand-veneur to the Duke. The favorite mansion of the Comte was at La Coutanciere, and it was here that Bussy ardently pursued his intrigue with the Countess. But a jocular letter on the subject, which he sent to the Duke of Anjou, was shown, according to the historian, De Thou, by the Duke to the King, who, in his turn, passed it on to Montsoreau. The latter thereupon forced his wife to make a treacherous assignation with Bussy at the chateau on the night of the 18th of August, and on his appearance, with his companion in pleasure, Claude Colasseau, they were both assassinated by the retainers of the infuriated husband.
The tragic close of Bussy's life has given his career an interest disproportionate to his historical importance. But the drama of La Coutanciere was only the final episode in a career crowded with romantic incidents. The annalists and memoir-writers of the period prove that Bussy's exploits as a duellist and a gallant had impressed vividly the imagination of his contemporaries. Margaret of Valois, the wife of Henry IV, Brantome, who was a relative and friend of D'Ambois, and L'Estoile, the chronicler and journalist, are amongst those who have left us their impressions of this beau sabreur. Chapman must have had access to memorials akin to theirs as a foundation for his drama, and though, for chronological reasons, they cannot have been utilized by him, they illustrate the materials which he employed.
The first two Acts of the play are chiefly occupied with Bussy's arrival at court, his entry into the service of Monsieur, his quarrel with Guise, and the duel between himself and Barrisor, with two supporters on either side. Brantome, in his Discours sur les Duels, relates from personal knowledge an incident between Guise and Bussy, which took place shortly after the accession of Henry III. The Duke took occasion of a royal hunting party to draw Bussy alone into the forest, and to demand certain explanations of him. D'Ambois gave these in a satisfactory manner; but had he not done so, the Duke declared, in spite of their difference of rank, he would have engaged in single combat with him. The explanations demanded may well have concerned the honour of the Duchess, and we get at any rate a hint for the episode in Chapman's play (I, ii, 57-185).
For the duelling narrative (II, i, 35-137) we get considerably more than a hint. Our chief authority is again Brantome, in another work, the Discours sur les Couronnels de l'infanterie de France. He tells us that he was with Bussy at a play, when a dispute arose between him and the Marquis of Saint-Phal as to whether the jet embroidery on a certain muff represented XX or YY. The quarrel was appeased for the time being, but on the following day Bussy, meeting Saint-Phal at the house of a lady with whom he had had relations, and who was now the mistress of the Marquis, renewed the dispute. An encounter took place between Bussy, supported by five or six gentlemen, and Saint-Phal, assisted by an equal number of Scotchmen of the Royal Guard, one of whom wounded Bussy's hand. Thereupon Saint-Phal withdrew, but his fire-eating rival was anxious at all hazards for another encounter. It was only with the greatest difficulty, as Brantome relates in entertaining fashion, that the King was able to bring about a reconciliation between them. Such an episode, reported with exaggeration of details, might well have suggested the narrative in Act II of the triple encounter.
Brantome further relates a midnight attack upon Bussy, about a month later, by a number of his jealous rivals, when he had a narrow escape from death. Of this incident another account has been given by Margaret of Valois in her Memoires. Margaret and her brother, the Duke of Anjou, were devoted to one another, and Bussy was for a time a paramour of the Queen of Navarre. Though she denies the liaison, she says of him that there was not "en ce siecle-la de son sexe et de sa qualite rien de semblable en valeur, reputation, grace, et esprit." Margaret, L'Estoile, and Brantome all relate similar incidents during Bussy's sojourn at court in the year 1578, and the last-named adds:
"Si je voulois raconter toutes les querelles qu'il a eues, j'aurois beaucoup affaire; helas! il en a trop eu, et toutes les a desmeslees a son tres-grand honneur et heur. Il en vouloit souvant par trop a plusieurs, sans aucun respect; je luy ay dict cent fois; mais il se fioit tant en sa valeur qu'il mesprisoit tous les conseils de ses amis . . . Dieu ayt son ame! Mais il mourut (quand il trespassa) un preux tres vaillant et genereux."
It is plain, therefore, that Chapman in his picture of Bussy's quarrels and encounters-at-arms was deviating little, except in details of names and dates, from the actual facts of history. Bussy's career was so romantic that it was impossible for even the most inventive dramatist to embellish it. This was especially true of its closing episode, which occupies the later acts of Chapman's drama—the intrigue with the Countess of Montsoreau and the tragic fate which it involved. It is somewhat singular that the earliest narratives of the event which have come down to us were published subsequently to the play. The statement, accepted for a long time, that De Thou's Historiae sui Temporis was the basis of Chapman's tragedy, has been completely disproved. The passage in which he narrates the story of Bussy's death does not occur in the earlier editions of his work, and first found its way into the issue published at Geneva in 1620. A similar narrative appeared in the following year in L'Estoile's Journal, which first saw the light in 1621, ten years after its author's death. But under a thin disguise there had already appeared a detailed history of Bussy's last amour and his fall, though this, too, was later than Chapman's drama. A novelist, Francois de Rosset, had published a volume of tales entitled Les Histoires Tragiques de Nostre Temps. The earliest known edition is one of 1615, though it was preceded, probably not long, by an earlier edition full of "fautes insupportables," for which Rosset apologizes. He is careful to state in his preface that he is relating "des histoires autant veritables que tristes et funestes. Les noms de la pluspart des personnages sont seulement desguisez en ce Theatre, a fin de n'affliger pas tant les familles de ceux qui en ont donne le sujet." The fate of Bussy forms the subject of the seventeenth history, entitled "De la mort pitoyable du valeureux Lysis." Lysis was the name under which Margaret of Valois celebrated the memory of her former lover in a poem entitled "L'esprit de Lysis disant adieu a sa Flore." But apart from this proof of identification, the details given by Rosset are so full that there can be no uncertainty in the matter. Indeed, in some of his statements, as in his account of the first meeting between the lovers, Rosset probably supplies facts unrecorded by the historians of the period.
From a comparison of these more or less contemporary records it is evident that, whatever actual source Chapman may have used, he has given in many respects a faithful portrait of the historical Bussy D'Ambois. It happened that at the time of Bussy's death the Duke of Anjou, his patron, was in London, laying ineffective siege to the hand of Elizabeth. This coincidence may have given wider currency in England to Bussy's tragic story than would otherwise have been the case. But a quarter of a century later this adventitious interest would have evaporated, and the success of Chapman's play would be due less to its theme than to its qualities of style and construction. To these we must therefore now turn.
With Chapman's enthusiasm for classical literature, it was natural that he should be influenced by classical models, even when handling a thoroughly modern subject. His Bussy is, in certain aspects, the miles gloriosus of Latin drama, while in the tragic crisis of his fate he demonstrably borrows, as is shown in this edition for the first time, the accents of the Senecan Hercules on Mount Oeta (cf. notes on v, iv, 100 and 109). Hence the technique of the work is largely of the semi-Senecan type with which Kyd and his school had familiarized the English stage. Thus Bussy's opening monologue serves in some sort as a Prologue; the narrative by the Nuntius in Act II, i, 35-137, is in the most approved classical manner; an Umbra or Ghost makes its regulation entrance in the last Act, and though the accumulated horrors of the closing scenes violate every canon of classical art, they had become traditional in the semi-Senecan type of play, and were doubtless highly acceptable to the audiences of the period. But while the Senecan and semi-Senecan methods had their dangers, their effect on English dramatists was in so far salutary that they necessitated care in plot-construction. And it is doubtful whether Chapman has hitherto received due credit for the ingenuity and skill with which he has woven into the texture of his drama a number of varied threads. Bussy's life was, as has been shown, crowded with incidents, and the final catastrophe at La Coutanciere had no direct relation with the duels and intrigues of his younger days at Court. Chapman, however, has connected the earlier and the later episodes with much ingenuity. Departing from historical truth, he represents Bussy as a poor adventurer at Court, whose fortunes are entirely made by the patronage of Monsieur. His sudden elevation turns his head, and he insults the Duke of Guise by courting his wife before his face, thus earning his enmity, and exciting at the same time the ridicule of the other courtiers. Hence springs the encounter with Barrisor and his companions, and this is made to serve as an introduction to the amour between Bussy and Tamyra, as Chapman chooses to call the Countess of Montsurry. For Barrisor, we are told (II, ii, 202 ff.), had long wooed the Countess, and the report was spread that the "main quarrel" between him and Bussy "grew about her love," Barrisor thinking that D'Ambois's courtship of the Duchess of Guise was really directed towards "his elected mistress." On the advice of a Friar named Comolet, to whom Chapman strangely enough assigns the repulsive role of go-between, Bussy wins his way at night into Tamyra's chamber on the plea that he has come to reassure her that she is in no way guilty of Barrisor's blood. Thus the main theme of the play is linked with the opening incidents, and the action from first to last is laid in Paris, whither the closing scenes of Bussy's career are shifted. By another ingenious departure from historical truth the Duke of Anjou, to whom Bussy owes his rise, is represented as the main agent in his fall. He is angered at the favour shown by the King to the follower whom he had raised to serve his own ends, and he conspires with Guise for his overthrow. He is the more eagerly bent upon this when he discovers through Tamyra's waiting-woman that the Countess, whose favours he has vainly sought to win, has granted them to Bussy. It is he who, by means of a paper, convinces Montsurry of his wife's guilt, and it is he, together with Guise, who suggests to the Count the stratagem by which Tamyra is forced to decoy her paramour to his doom. All this is deftly contrived and does credit to Chapman's dramatic craftsmanship. It is true that the last two Acts are spun out with supernatural episodes of a singularly unconvincing type. The Friar's invocation of Behemoth, who proves a most unserviceable spirit, and the vain attempts of this scoundrelly ecclesiastic's ghost to shield D'Ambois from his fate, strike us as wofully crude and mechanical excursions into the occult. But they doubtless served their turn with audiences who had an insatiable craving for such manifestations, and were not particular as to the precise form they took.
In point of character-drawing the play presents a more complex problem. Bussy is a typically Renaissance hero and appealed to the sympathies of an age which set store above all things on exuberant vitality and prowess, and was readier than our own to allow them full rein. The King seems to be giving voice to Chapman's conception of Bussy's character, when he describes him in III, ii, 90 ff. as
"A man so good that only would uphold Man in his native noblesse, from whose fall All our dissentions arise," &c.
And in certain aspects Bussy does not come far short of the ideal thus pictured. His bravery, versatility, frankness, and readiness of speech are all vividly portrayed, while his mettlesome temper and his arrogance are alike essential to his role, and are true to the record of the historical D'Ambois. But there is a coarseness of fibre in Chapman's creation, an occasional foul-mouthed ribaldry of utterance which robs him of sympathetic charm. He has in him more of the swashbuckler and the bully than of the courtier and the cavalier. Beaumont and Fletcher, one cannot help feeling, would have invested him with more refinement and grace, and would have given a tenderer note to the love-scenes between him and Tamyra. Bussy takes the Countess's affections so completely by storm, and he ignores so entirely the rights of her husband, that it is difficult to accord him the measure of sympathy in his fall, which the fate of a tragic hero should evoke.
Tamyra appeals more to us, because we see in her more of the conflict between passion and moral obligation, which is the essence of drama. Her scornful rejection of the advances of Monsieur (II, ii), though her husband palliates his conduct as that of "a bachelor and a courtier, I, and a prince," proves that she is no light o' love, and that her surrender to Bussy is the result of a sudden and overmastering passion. Even in the moment of keenest expectation she is torn between conflicting emotions (II, ii, 169-182), and after their first interview, Bussy takes her to task because her
"Conscience is too nice, And bites too hotly of the Puritane spice."
But she masters her scruples sufficiently to play the thorough-going dissembler when she meets her husband, and she keeps up the pretence when she declares to Bussy before the Court (III, ii, 138), "Y'are one I know not," and speaks of him vaguely in a later scene as "the man." So, too, when Montsurry first tells her of the suspicions which Monsieur has excited in him, she protests with artfully calculated indignation against the charge of wrong-doing with this "serpent." But the brutal and deliberate violence of her husband when he knows the truth, and the perfidious meanness with which he makes her the reluctant instrument of her lover's ruin, win back for her much of our alienated sympathy. Yet at the close her position is curiously equivocal. It is at her prayer that Bussy has spared Montsurry when "he hath him down" in the final struggle; but when her lover is mortally wounded by a pistol shot, she implores his pardon for her share in bringing him to his doom. And when the Friar's ghost seeks to reconcile husband and wife, the former is justified in crying ironically (V, iv, 163-64):
"See how she merits this, still kneeling by, And mourning his fall, more than her own fault!"
Montsurry's portraiture, indeed, suffers from the same lack of consistency as his wife's. In his earlier relations with her he strikes a tenderer note than is heard elsewhere in the play, and his first outburst of fury, when his suspicions are aroused, springs, like Othello's, from the depth of his love and trust (IV, i, 169-70):
"My whole heart is wounded, When any least thought in you is but touch'd."
But there is nothing of Othello's noble agony of soul, nor of his sense that he is carrying out a solemn judicial act on the woman he still loves, in Montsurry's long-drawn torture of his wife. Indeed a comparison of the episodes brings into relief the restraint and purity of Shakespeare's art when handling the most terrible of tragic themes. Yet the Moor himself might have uttered Montsurry's cry (V, i, 183-85),
"Here, here was she That was a whole world without spot to me, Though now a world of spot."
And there is something of pathetic dignity in his final forgiveness of his wife, coupled with the declaration that his honour demands that she must fly his house for ever.
Monsieur and the Guise are simpler types. The former is the ambitious villain of quality, chafing at the thought that there is but a thread betwixt him and a crown, and prepared to compass his ends by any means that fall short of the actual killing of the King. It is as a useful adherent of his faction that he elevates Bussy, and when he finds him favoured by Henry he ruthlessly strikes him down, all the more readily that he is his successful rival for Tamyra's love. He is the typical Renaissance politician, whose characteristics are expounded with characteristically vituperative energy by Bussy in III, ii, 439-94.
Beside this arch-villain, the Guise, aspiring and factious though he be, falls into a secondary place. Probably Chapman did not care to elaborate a figure of whom Marlowe had given so powerful a sketch in the Massacre at Paris. The influence of the early play may also be seen in the handling of the King, who is portrayed with an indulgent pen, and who reappears in the role of an enthusiastic admirer of the English Queen and Court. The other personages in the drama are colourless, though Chapman succeeds in creating the general atmosphere of a frivolous and dissolute society.
But the plot and portraiture in Bussy D'Ambois are both less distinctive than the "full and heightened" style, to which was largely due its popularity with readers and theatre-goers of its period, but which was afterwards to bring upon it such severe censure, when taste had changed. Dryden's onslaught in his Dedication to the Spanish Friar (1681) marks the full turn of the tide. The passage is familiar, but it must be reproduced here:
"I have sometimes wondered, in the reading, what has become of those glaring colours which annoyed me in Bussy D'Ambois upon the theatre; but when I had taken up what I supposed a fallen star, I found I had been cozened with a jelly; nothing but a cold dull mass, which glittered no longer than it was shooting; a dwarfish thought, dressed up in gigantic words, repetition in abundance, looseness of expression, and gross hyperboles; the sense of one line expanded prodigiously into ten; and, to sum up all, uncorrect English, and a hideous mingle of false poetry and true nonsense; or, at best, a scantling of wit, which lay gasping for life, and groaning beneath a heap of rubbish. A famous modern poet used to sacrifice every year a Statius to Virgil's manes; and I have indignation enough to burn a D'Ambois annually to the memory of Jonson."
Dryden's critical verdicts are never lightly to be set aside. He is singularly shrewd and unprejudiced in his judgements, and has a remarkable faculty of hitting the right nail on the head. But Chapman, in whom the barbarian and the pedant were so strongly commingled, was a type that fell outside the wide range of Dryden's appreciation. The Restoration writer fails, in the first place, to recognize that Bussy D'Ambois is pitched advisedly from first to last in a high key. Throughout the drama men and women are playing for great stakes. No one is ever at rest. Action and passion are both at fever heat. We move in an atmosphere of duels and state intrigues by day, of assignations and murders by night. Even the subordinate personages in the drama, the stewards and waiting-women, partake of the restless spirit of their superiors. They are constantly arguing, quarrelling, gossiping—their tongues and wits are always on the move. Thus Chapman aimed throughout at energy of expression at all costs. To this he sacrificed beauty of phrase and rhythm, even lucidity. He pushed it often to exaggerated extremes of coarseness and riotous fancy. He laid on "glaring colours" till eye and brain are fatigued. To this opening phrase of Dryden no exception can be taken. But can his further charges stand? Is it true to say of Bussy D'Ambois that it is characterised by "dwarfish thought dressed up in gigantic words," that it is "a hideous mingle of false poetry and true nonsense"? The accusation of "nonsense" recoils upon its maker. Involved, obscure, inflated as Chapman's phrasing not infrequently is, it is not mere rhodomontade, sound, and fury, signifying nothing. There are some passages (as the Notes testify) where the thread of his meaning seems to disappear amidst his fertile imagery, but even here one feels not that sense is lacking, but that one has failed to find the clue to the zigzag movements of Chapman's brain. Nor is it fair to speak of Chapman as dressing up dwarfish thoughts in stilted phrases. There is not the slightest tendency in the play to spin out words to hide a poverty of ideas; in fact many of the difficulties spring from excessive condensation. Where Chapman is really assailable is in a singular incontinence of imagery. Every idea that occurs to him brings with it a plethora of illustrations, in the way of simile, metaphor, or other figure of speech; he seems impotent to check the exuberant riot of his fancy till it has exhausted its whole store. The underlying thought in many passages, though not deserving Dryden's contemptuous epithet, is sufficiently obvious. Chapman was not dowered with the penetrating imagination that reveals as by a lightning flash unsuspected depths of human character or of moral law. But he has the gnomic faculty that can convey truths of general experience in aphoristic form, and he can wind into a debatable moral issue with adroit casuistry. Take for instance the discussion (II, i, 149-79) on the legitimacy of private vengeance, or (III, i, 10-30) on the nature and effect of sin, or (V, ii) on Nature's "blindness" in her workings. In lighter vein, but winged with the shafts of a caustic humour are Bussy's invectives against courtly practices (I, i, 84-104) and hypocrisy in high places (III, ii, 25-59), while the "flyting" between him and Monsieur is perhaps the choicest specimen of Elizabethan "Billingsgate" that has come down to us. It was a versatile pen that could turn from passages like these to the epic narrative of the duel, or Tamyra's lyric invocation of the "peaceful regents of the night" (II, ii, 158), or Bussy's stately elegy upon himself, as he dies standing, propped on his true sword.
It can only have been the ingrained prejudice of the Restoration period against "metaphysical" verse that deadened Dryden's ear to the charm of such passages as these. Another less notable poet and playwright of the time showed more discrimination. This was Thomas D'Urfey, who in 1691 brought out a revised version of the play at the Theatre Royal. In a dedication to Lord Carlisle which he prefixed to this version, on its publication in the same year, he testifies to the great popularity of the play after the reopening of the theatres.
"About sixteen years since, when first my good or ill stars ordained me a Knight Errant in this fairy land of poetry, I saw the Bussy d'Ambois of Mr. Chapman acted by Mr. Hart, which in spight of the obsolete phrases and intolerable fustian with which a great part of it was cramm'd, and which I have altered in these new sheets, had some extraordinary beauties, which sensibly charmed me; which being improved by the graceful action of that eternally renowned and best of actors, so attracted not only me, but the town in general, that they were obliged to pass by and excuse the gross errors in the writing, and allow it amongst the rank of the topping tragedies of that time."
Charles Hart, who was thus one of the long succession of actors to make a striking reputation in the title part, died in 1683, and, according to D'Urfey, "for a long time after" the play "lay buried in [his] grave." But "not willing to have it quite lost, I presumed to revise it and write the plot new." D'Urfey's main alteration was to represent Bussy and Tamyra as having been betrothed before the play opens, and the latter forced against her will into a marriage with the wealthy Count Montsurry. This, he maintained, palliated the heroine's surrender to passion and made her "distress in the last Act . . . much more liable to pity." Whether morality is really a gainer by this well-meant variation from the more primitive code of the original play is open to question, but we welcome the substitution of Teresia the "governess" and confidante of Tamyra for Friar Comolet as the envoy between the lovers. Another notable change is the omission of the narrative of the Nuntius, which is replaced by a short duelling scene upon the stage. D'Urfey rejects, too, the supernatural machinery in Act IV, and the details of the torture of the erring Countess, whom, at the close of the play, he represents not as wandering from her husband's home, but as stabbing herself in despair.
If Chapman's plot needed to be "writ new" at all, D'Urfey deserves credit for having done his work with considerable skill and taste, though he hints in his dedication that there were detractors who did not view his version as favourably as Lord Carlisle. He had some difficulty, he tells us, in finding an actor to undertake the part, but at last prevailed upon Mountfort to do so, though he was diffident of appearing in a role in which Hart had made so great a reputation. Mrs. Bracegirdle, as we learn from the list of Dramatis Personae prefixed to the published edition, played Tamyra, and the revival seems to have been a success. But Mountfort was assassinated in the Strand towards the close of the following year, and apparently the career of Bussy upon the boards ended with his life.
In the same year as D'Urfey revised the play, Langbaine published his Account of the English Dramatick Poets, wherein (p. 59) he mentions that Bussy "has the preference" among all Chapman's writings and vindicates it against Dryden's attack:
"I know not how Mr. Dryden came to be so possest with indignation against this play, as to resolve to burn one annually to the memory of Ben Jonson: but I know very well that there are some who allow it a just commendation; and others that since have taken the liberty to promise a solemn annual sacrifice of The Hind and Panther to the memory of Mr. Quarles and John Bunyan."
But neither D'Urfey nor Langbaine could secure for Bussy D'Ambois a renewal of its earlier popularity. During the eighteenth century it fell into complete oblivion, and though (as the Bibliography testifies) nineteenth-century critics and commentators have sought to atone for the neglect of their predecessors, the faults of the play, obvious at a glance, have hitherto impaired the full recognition of its distinctive merits of design and thought. To bring these into clearer relief, and trace the relation of its plot to the recorded episodes of Bussy's career, has been the aim of the preceding pages. It must always count to Chapman's credit that he, an Englishman, realized to the full the fascination of the brilliant Renaissance figure, who had to wait till the nineteenth century to be rediscovered for literary purposes by the greatest romance-writer among his own countrymen. In Bussy, the man of action, there was a Titanic strain that appealed to Chapman's intractable and rough-hewn genius. To the dramatist he was the classical Hercules born anew, accomplishing similar feats, and lured to a similar treacherous doom. Thus the cardinal virtue of the play is a Herculean energy of movement and of speech which borrows something of epic quality from the Homeric translations on which Chapman was simultaneously engaged, and thereby links Bussy D'Ambois to his most triumphant literary achievement.
Six years after the publication of the first Quarto of Bussy D'Ambois Chapman issued a sequel, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, which, as we learn from the title-page, had been "often presented at the private Playhouse in the White-Fryers." But in the interval he had written two other plays based on recent French history, Byrons Conspiracie and The Tragedie of Charles Duke of Byron, and in certain aspects The Revenge is more closely related to these immediate forerunners than to the piece of which it is the titular successor. The discovery which I recently was fortunate enough to make of a common immediate source of the two Byron plays and of The Revenge accentuates the connection between them, and at the same time throws fresh light on the problem of the provenance of the second D'Ambois drama.
In his scholarly monograph Quellen Studien zu den Dramen George Chapmans, Massingers, und Fords (1897), E. Koeppel showed that the three connected plays were based upon materials taken from Jean de Serres's Inventaire General de l'Histoire de France (1603), Pierre Matthieu's Histoire de France durant Sept Annees de Paix du Regne de Henri IV (1605), and P. V. Cayet's Chronologie Septenaire de l'Histoire de la Paix entre les Roys de France et d'Espagne (1605). The picture suggested by Koeppel's treatise was of Chapman collating a number of contemporary French historical works, and choosing from each of them such portions as suited his dramatic purposes. But this conception, as I have shown in the Athenaeum for Jan. 10, 1903, p. 51, must now be abandoned. Chapman did not go to the French originals at all, but to a more easily accessible source, wherein the task of selection and rearrangement had already been in large measure performed. In 1607 the printer, George Eld, published a handsome folio, of which the British Museum possesses a fine copy (c. 66, b. 14), originally the property of Prince Henry, eldest son of James I. Its title is: "A General Inventorie of the Historie of France, from the beginning of that Monarchie, unto the Treatie of Vervins, in the Yeare 1598. Written by Jhon de Serres. And continued unto these Times, out of the best Authors which have written of that Subiect. Translated out of French into English by Edward Grimeston, Gentleman." This work, the popularity of which is attested by the publication of a second, enlarged, edition in 1611, was the direct source of the "Byron" plays, and of The Revenge.
In a dedication addressed to the Earls of Suffolk and Salisbury, Grimeston states that having retired to "private and domesticke cares" after "some years expence in France, for the publike service of the State," he has translated "this generall Historie of France written by John de Serres." In a preface "to the Reader" he makes the further important statement:
"The History of John de Serres ends with the Treatie at Vervins betwixt France and Spaine in the yeare 1598. I have been importuned to make the History perfect, and to continue it unto these times, whereunto I have added (for your better satisfaction) what I could extract out of Peter Mathew and other late writers touching this subject. Some perchance will challenge me of indiscretion, that I have not translated Peter Mathew onely, being reputed so eloquent and learned a Writer. To them I answere first, that I found many things written by him that were not fit to be inserted, and some things belonging unto the Historie, related by others, whereof he makes no mention. Secondly his style is so full and his discourse so copious, as the worke would have held no proportion, for that this last addition of seven years must have exceeded halfe Serres Historie. Which considerations have made me to draw forth what I thought most materiall for the subject, and to leave the rest as unnecessarie."
From this we learn that Grimeston followed Jean de Serres till 1598, and that from then till 1604 (his time-limit in his first edition) his principal source was P. Matthieu's Histoire de France, rigorously condensed, and, at the same time, supplemented from other authorities. A collation of Grimeston's text with that of the "Byron" plays and The Revenge proves that every passage in which the dramatist draws upon historical materials is to be found within the four corners of the folio of 1607. The most striking illustrations of this are to be found in the "Byron" plays, and I have shown elsewhere (Athenaeum, loc. cit.) that though Chapman in handling the career of the ill-fated Marshal of France is apparently exploiting Pierre Matthieu, Jean de Serres, and Cayet in turn, he is really taking advantage of the labours of Grimeston, who had rifled their stores for his skilful historical mosaic. Grimeston must thus henceforward be recognized as holding something of the same relation to Chapman as Sir T. North does to Shakespeare, with the distinction that he not only provides the raw material of historical tragedy, but goes some way in the refining process.
The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois follows historical lines less closely than the "Byron" plays, but here, too, Grimeston's volume was Chapman's inspiring source, and the perusal of its closing pages gives a clue to the origin of this most singular of the dramatist's serious plays. The final episode included in the folio of 1607 was the plot by which the Count d'Auvergne, who had been one of Byron's fellow conspirators, and who had fallen under suspicion for a second time in 1604, was treacherously arrested by agents of the King while attending a review of troops. The position of this narrative (translated from P. Matthieu) at the close of the folio must have helped to draw Chapman's special attention to it, and having expended his genius so liberally on the career of the arch-conspirator of the period, he was apparently moved to handle also that of his interesting confederate. But D'Auvergne's fortunes scarcely furnished the stuff for a complete drama, on Chapman's customary broad scale, and he seems therefore to have conceived the ingenious idea of utilising them as the groundwork of a sequel to his most popular play, Bussy D'Ambois.
He transformed the Count into an imaginary brother of his former hero. For though D'Ambois had two younger brothers, Hubert, seigneur de Moigneville, and Georges, baron de Bussy, it is highly improbable that Chapman had ever heard of them, and there was nothing in the career of either to suggest the figure of Clermont D'Ambois. The name given by Chapman to this unhistorical addition to the family was, I believe, due to a mere chance, if not a misunderstanding. In Grimeston's narrative of the plot against D'Auvergne he mentions that one of the King's agents, D'Eurre, "came to Clermont on Monday at night, and goes unto him [D'Auvergne] where he supped." Here the name Clermont denotes, of course, a place. But Chapman may have possibly misconceived it to refer to the Count, and, in any case, its occurrence in this context probably suggested its bestowal upon the hero of the second D'Ambois play.
A later passage in Grimeston's history gives an interesting glimpse of D'Auvergne's character. We are told that after he had been arrested, and was being conducted to Paris, "all the way he seemed no more afflicted, then when he was at libertie. He tould youthfull and idle tales of his love, and the deceiving of ladies. Hee shott in a harquebuse at birds, wherein hee was so perfect and excellent, as hee did kill larkes as they were flying."
From this hint of a personality serenely proof against the shocks of adversity Chapman elaborated the figure of the "Senecall man," Clermont D'Ambois. In developing his conception he drew, however, not primarily, as this phrase suggests, from the writings of the Roman senator and sage, but from those of the lowlier, though not less authoritative exponent of Stoic doctrine, the enfranchised slave, Epictetus. As is shown, for the first time, in the Notes to this edition, the Discourses of "the grave Greek moralist," known probably through a Latin version (cf. II, i, 157), must have been almost as close to Chapman's hand while he was writing The Revenge as Grimeston's compilation. Five long passages in the play (I, i, 336-42, II, i, 157-60, II, i, 211-32, III, iv, 58-75, and III, iv, 127-41) are translated or adapted from specific dicta in the Discourses, while Epictetus's work in its whole ethical teaching furnished material for the delineation of the ideal Stoic (IV, iv, 14-46) who
"May with heavens immortall powers compare, To whom the day and fortune equall are; Come faire or foule, what ever chance can fall, Fixt in himselfe, hee still is one to all."
But in the character of Clermont there mingle other elements than those derived from either the historical figure of D'Auvergne, or the ideal man of Stoic speculation. Had Hamlet never faltered in the task of executing justice upon the murderer of his father, it is doubtful if a brother of Bussy would ever have trod the Jacobean stage. Not indeed that the idea of vengeance being sought for D'Ambois's fate by one of his nearest kith and kin was without basis in fact. But it was a sister, not a brother, who had devoted her own and her husband's energies to the task, though finally the matter had been compromised. De Thou, at the close of his account of Bussy's murder, relates (vol. III, lib. LXVII, p. 330):
"Inde odia capitalia inter Bussianos et Monsorellum exorta: quorum exercendorum onus in se suscepit Joannes Monlucius Balagnius, . . . ducta in matrimonium occisi Bussii sorore, magni animi foemina quae faces irae maritali subjiciebat: vixque post novennium certis conditionibus jussu regis inter eum et Monsorellum transactum fuit."[xxxvii-1]
In a later passage (vol. V, lib. CXVIII, p. 558) he is even more explicit. After referring to Bussy's treacherous assassination, he continues:
"Quam injuriam Renata ejus soror, generosa foemina et supra sexum ambitiosa, a fratre proximisque neglectam, cum inultam manere impatientissime ferret, Balagnio se ultorem profitente, spretis suorum monitis in matrimonium cum ipso consensit."[xxxvii-2]
As these passages first appeared in De Thou's History in the edition of 1620, they cannot have been known to Chapman, when he was writing The Revenge. But the circumstances must have been familiar to him from some other source, probably that which supplied the material for the earlier play. He accordingly introduces Renee D'Ambois (whom he rechristens Charlotte) with her husband into his drama, but with great skill he makes her fiery passion for revenge at all costs a foil to the scrupulous and deliberate procedure of the high-souled Clermont. Like Hamlet, the latter has been commissioned by the ghost of his murdered kinsman to the execution of a task alien to his nature.
Though he sends a challenge to Montsurry, and is not lacking in "the D'Ambois spirit," the atmosphere in which he lingers with whole-hearted zest is that of the philosophical schools. He is eager to draw every chance comer into debate on the first principles of action. Absorbed in speculation, he is indifferent to external circumstances. As Hamlet at the crisis of his fate lets himself be shipped off to England, so Clermont makes no demur when the King, who suspects him of complicity with Guise's traitorous designs, sends him to Cambray, of which his brother-in-law, Baligny, has been appointed Lieutenant. When on his arrival, his sister, the Lieutenant's wife, upbraids him with "lingering" their "dear brother's wreak," he makes the confession (III, ii, 112-15):
"I repent that ever (By any instigation in th'appearance My brothers spirit made, as I imagin'd) That e'er I yeelded to revenge his murther."
Like Hamlet, too, Clermont, "generous and free from all contriving," is slow to suspect evil in others, and though warned by an anonymous letter—here Chapman draws the incidents from the story of Count D'Auvergne—he lets himself be entrapped at a "muster" or review of troops by the King's emissaries. But the intervention of Guise soon procures his release. In the dialogue that follows between him and his patron the influence of Shakespeare's tragedy is unmistakably patent. The latter is confiding to Clermont his apprehensions for the future, when the ghost of Bussy appears, and chides his brother for his delay in righting his wrongs. That the Umbra of the elder D'Ambois is here merely emulating the attitude of the elder Hamlet's spirit would be sufficiently obvious, even if it were not put beyond doubt by the excited dialogue between Guise, to whom the Ghost is invisible, and Clermont, which is almost a verbal echo of the parallel dialogue between the Danish Prince and the Queen. This second visitation from the unseen world at last stirs up Clermont to execute the long-delayed vengeance upon Montsurry, though he is all but forestalled by Charlotte, who has donned masculine disguise for the purpose. But hard upon the deed comes the news of Guise's assassination, and impatient of the earthly barriers that now sever him from his "lord," Clermont takes his own life in the approved Stoic fashion. So passes from the scene one of the most original and engaging figures in our dramatic literature, and the more thorough our analysis of the curiously diverse elements out of which he has been fashioned, the higher will be our estimate of Chapman's creative power.
Was it primarily with the motive of providing Clermont with a plausible excuse for suicide that Chapman so startlingly transformed the personality of Henry of Guise? The Duke as he appears in The Revenge has scarcely a feature in common either with the Guise of history or of the earlier play. Instead of the turbulent and intriguing noble we see a "true tenth worthy," who realizes that without accompanying virtues "greatness is a shade, a bubble," and who drinks in from the lips of Clermont doctrines "of stability and freedom." To such an extent does Chapman turn apologist for Guise that in a well-known passage (II, i, 205 ff.) he goes out of his way to declare that the Massacre of St. Bartholomew was "hainous" only "to a brutish sense, But not a manly reason," and to argue that the blame lay not with "religious Guise," but with those who had played false to "faith and true religion." So astonishing is the dramatist's change of front that, but for the complete lack of substantiating evidence, one would infer that, like Dryden in the interval between Religio Laici and The Hind and Panther, he had joined the Church of Rome. In any case the change is not due to the influence of Grimeston's volume, whence Chapman draws his material for the account of Guise's last days. For Jean de Serres (whom the Englishman is here translating) sums up the Duke's character in an "appreciation," where virtues and faults are impartially balanced and the latter are in no wise extenuated. It is another tribute to Chapman's skill, which only close study of the play in relation to its source brings out, that while he borrows, even to the most minute particulars, from the annalist, he throws round the closing episodes of Guise's career a halo of political martyrdom which there is nothing in the original to suggest. This metamorphosis of Guise is all the more remarkable, because Monsieur, his former co-partner in villany, reappears, in the one scene where he figures, in the same ribald, blustering vein as before, and his death is reported, at the close of Act IV, as a fulfilment of Bussy's dying curse.
While Guise is transfigured, and Monsieur remains his truculent, vainglorious self, Montsurry has suffered a strange degeneration. It is sufficiently remarkable, to begin with, after his declaration at the end of Bussy D'Ambois,
"May both points of heavens strait axeltree Conjoyne in one, before thy selfe and me!"
to find him ready to receive back Tamyra as his wife, though her sole motive in rejoining him is to precipitate vengeance on his head. Nor had anything in the earlier play prepared us for the spectacle of him as a poltroon, who has "barricado'd" himself in his house to avoid a challenge, and who shrieks "murther!" at the entrance of an unexpected visitor. In the light of such conduct it is difficult to regard as merely assumed his pusillanimity in the final scene, where he at first grovels before Clermont on the plea that by his baseness he will "shame" the avenger's victory. And when he does finally nerve himself to the encounter, and dies with words of forgiveness for Clermont and Tamyra on his lips, the episode of reconciliation, though evidently intended to be edifying, is so huddled and inconsecutive as to be well-nigh ridiculous.
Equally ineffective and incongruous are the moralising discourses of which Bussy's ghost is made the spokesman. It does not seem to have occurred to Chapman that vindications of divine justice, suitable on the lips of the elder Hamlet, fell with singular infelicity from one who had met his doom in the course of a midnight intrigue. In fact, wherever the dramatist reintroduces the main figures of the earlier play, he falls to an inferior level. He seems unable to revivify its nobler elements, and merely repeats the more melodramatic and garish effects which refuse to blend with the classic grace and pathos of Clermont's story. The audiences before whom The Revenge was produced evidently showed themselves ill-affected towards such a medley of purely fictitious creations, and of historical personages and incidents, treated in the most arbitrary fashion. For Chapman in his dedicatory letter to Sir Thomas Howard refers bitterly to the "maligners" with whom the play met "in the scenicall presentation," and asks who will expect "the autenticall truth of eyther person or action . . . in a poeme, whose subject is not truth, but things like truth?" He forgets that "things like truth" are not attained, when alien elements are forced into mechanical union, or when well-known historical characters and events are presented under radically false colours. But we who read the drama after an interval of three centuries can afford to be less perturbed than Jacobean playgoers at its audacious juggling with facts, provided that it appeals to us in other ways. We are not likely indeed to adopt Chapman's view that the elements that give it enduring value are "materiall instruction, elegant and sententious excitation to vertue, and deflection from her contrary." For these we shall assuredly look elsewhere; it is not to them that The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois owes its distinctive charm. The secret of that charm lies outside the spheres of "autenticall truth," moral as well as historical. It consists, as it seems to me, essentially in this—that the play is one of the most truly spontaneous products of English "humanism" in its later phase. The same passionate impulse—in itself so curiously "romantic"—to revitalise classical life and ideals, which prompted Chapman's translation of "Homer, Prince of Poets," is the shaping spirit of this singular tragedy. Its hero, as we have seen, has strayed into the France of the Catholic Reaction from some academe in Athens or in imperial Rome. He is, in truth, far more really a spirit risen from the dead than the materialised Umbra of his brother. His pervasive influence works in all around him, so that nobles and courtiers forget for a time the strife of faction while they linger over some fragrant memory of the older world. Epictetus with his doctrines of how to live and how to die; the "grave Greeke tragedian" who drew "the princesse, sweet Antigone"; Homer with his "unmatched poem"; the orators Demetrius Phalerius and Demades—these and their like cast a spell over the scene, and transport us out of the troubled atmosphere of sixteenth-century vendetta into the "ampler aether," the "diviner air," of "the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome."
Thus the two Bussy plays, when critically examined, are seen to be essentially unlike in spite of their external similarity. The plot of the one springs from that of the other; both are laid in the same period and milieu; in technique they are closely akin. The diction and imagery are, indeed, simpler, and the verse is of more liquid cadence in The Revenge than in Bussy D'Ambois. But the true difference lies deeper,—in the innermost spirit of the two dramas. Bussy D'Ambois is begotten of "the very torrent, tempest, and whirlwind" of passion; it throbs with the stress of an over-tumultuous life. The Revenge is the offspring of the meditative impulse, that averts its gaze from the outward pageant of existence, to peer into the secrets of Man's ultimate destiny, and his relation to the "Universal," of which he involuntarily finds himself a part.
FREDERICK S. BOAS.
[xii-1] Through the kindness of Professor Baker I have seen an unpublished paper of Mr. P. C. Hoyt, Instructor in Harvard University, which first calls attention to the combined suggestiveness of three entries in Henslowe's Diary (Collier's ed.) for any discussion of the date of Bussy D'Ambois. In Henslowe's "Enventorey of all the aparell of the Lord Admirals men, taken the 13th of Marcher 1598," is an item, "Perowes sewt, which Wm Sley were." (Henslowe's Diary, ed. Collier, p. 275.) In no extant play save Bussy D'Ambois is a character called Pero introduced. Moreover, Henslowe (pp. 113 and 110) has the following entries: "Lent unto Wm Borne, the 19 of novembr 1598 . . . the some of xijs, wch he sayd yt was to Imbrader his hatte for the Gwisse. Lent Wm Birde, ales Borne, the 27 of novembr, to bye a payer of sylke stockens, to playe the Gwisse in xxs." Taken by themselves these two allusions to the "Gwisse" might refer, as Collier supposed, to Marlowe's The Massacre at Paris. But when combined with the mention of Pero earlier in the year, they may equally well refer to the Guise in Bussy D'Ambois. Can Bussy D'Ambois have been the unnamed "tragedie" by Chapman, for the first three Acts of which Henslowe lent him iijli on Jan. 4, 1598, followed by a similar sum on Jan. 8th, "in fulle payment for his tragedie?" The words which Dekker quotes in Satiromastix, Sc 7 (1602), "For trusty D'Amboys now the deed is done," seem to be a line from a play introducing D'Ambois. If, however, the play was written circa 1598, it must have been considerably revised after the accession of James I to the throne, for the allusions to Elizabeth as an "old Queene" (1, 2, 12), and to Bussy as being mistaken for "a knight of the new edition," must have been written after the accession of James I (Chronicle of the English Drama, 1, 59). But Mr Fleay's further statement that the words, "Tis leape yeere" (1, 2, 85), "must apply to the date of production," and "fix the time of representation to 1604," is only an ingenious conjecture. If the words "Ile be your ghost to haunt you," etc (1, 2, 243-244), refer to Macbeth, as I have suggested in the note on the passage, they point to a revision of the play not earlier than the latter part of 1606.
[xxxvii-1] "Hence a deadly feud arose between the kin of Bussy and Montsurry. The task of carrying this into action was undertaken by Jean Montluc Baligny, who had married the murdered man's sister, a high-spirited woman who fanned the flame of her husband's wrath. With difficulty, after a period of nine years, was an arrangement come to between him and Montsurry on specified terms by the order of the King."
[xxxvii-2] "Renee, his sister, a high-souled woman, and of aspirations loftier than those of her sex, brooked it very ill that this injury, of which his brother and nearest kin took no heed, should remain unavenged. When, therefore, Baligny profferred himself as an avenger, she agreed to marry him, in defiance of the admonitions of her family."
Bussy D'Ambois was first printed in quarto in 1607 by W. Aspley, and was reissued in 1608. In 1641, seven years after Chapman's death, Robert Lunne published another edition in quarto of the play, which, according to the title-page, was "much corrected and amended by the Author before his death." This quarto differs essentially from its predecessors. It omits and adds numerous passages, and makes constant minor changes in the text. The revised version is not appreciably superior to the original draft, but, on the evidence of the title-page, it must be accepted as authoritative. It was reissued by Lunne, with a different imprint, in 1646, and by J. Kirton, with a new title-page, in 1657. Copies of the 1641 quarto differ in unimportant details such as articular, articulat, for evidently some errors were corrected as the edition passed through the press. Some copies of the 1646 quarto duplicate the uncorrected copies of the 1641 quarto.
In a reprint of Chapman's Tragedies and Comedies, published by J. Pearson in 1873, the anonymous editor purported to "follow mainly" the text of 1641, but collation with the originals shows that he transcribed that of 1607, substituting the later version where the two quartos differed, but retaining elsewhere the spelling of the earlier one. Nor is his list of variants complete. There have been also three editions of the play in modernized spelling by C. W. Dilke in 1814, R. H. Shepherd in 1874, and W. L. Phelps in 1895, particulars of which are given in the Bibliography. The present edition is therefore the first to reproduce the authoritative text unimpaired. The original spelling has been retained, though capitalization has been modernized, and the use of italics for personal names has not been preserved. But the chaotic punctuation has been throughout revised, though, except to remove ambiguity, I have not interfered with one distinctive feature, an exceptionally frequent use of brackets. In a few cases of doubtful interpretation, the old punctuation has been given in the footnotes.
Dilke, though the earliest of the annotators, contributed most to the elucidation of allusions and obsolete phrases. While seeking to supplement his and his successors' labours in this direction, I have also attempted a more perilous task—the interpretation of passages where the difficulty arises from the peculiar texture of Chapman's thought and style. Such a critical venture seems a necessary preliminary if we are ever to sift truth from falsehood in Dryden's indictment—indolently accepted by many critics as conclusive—of Bussy D'Ambois.
The group of quartos of 1641, 1646, and 1657, containing Chapman's revised text, is denoted by the symbol "B"; those of 1607 and 1608 by "A." In the footnotes all the variants contained in A are given except in a few cases where the reading of A has been adopted in the text and that of B recorded as a variant. I have preferred the reading of A to B, when it gives an obviously better sense, or is metrically superior. I have also included in the Text fifty lines at the beginning of Act II, Scene 2, which are found only in A. Some slight conjectural emendations have been attempted which are distinguished by "emend. ed." in the footnotes. In these cases the reading of the quartos, if unanimous, is denoted by "Qq."
In the quartos the play is simply divided into five Acts. These I have subdivided into Scenes, within which the lines have been numbered to facilitate reference. The stage directions in B are numerous and precise, and I have made only a few additions, which are enclosed in brackets. The quartos vary between Bussy and D'Ambois, and between Behemoth and Spiritus, as a prefix to speeches. I have kept to the former throughout in either case.
F. S. B.
As it hath been often Acted with great Applause.
Being much corrected and amended by the Author before his death.
LONDON: Printed by A. N. for Robert Lunne. 1641.
The immediate source of the play has not been identified, but in the Introduction attention has been drawn to passages in the writings of Bussy's contemporaries, especially Brantome and Marguerite de Valois, which narrate episodes similar to those in the earlier Acts. Extracts from De Thou's Historiae sui temporis and Rosset's Histoires Tragiques, which tell the tale of Bussy's amorous intrigue and his assassination, have also been reprinted as an Appendix. But both these narratives are later than the play. Seneca's representation in the Hercules Oetaeus of the Greek hero's destruction by treachery gave Chapman suggestions for his treatment of the final episode in Bussy's career (cf. V, 4, 100-108, and note).
Not out of confidence that none but wee Are able to present this tragedie, Nor out of envie at the grace of late It did receive, nor yet to derogate From their deserts, who give out boldly that 5 They move with equall feet on the same flat; Neither for all, nor any of such ends, We offer it, gracious and noble friends, To your review; wee, farre from emulation, And (charitably judge) from imitation, 10 With this work entertaine you, a peece knowne, And still beleev'd, in Court to be our owne. To quit our claime, doubting our right or merit, Would argue in us poverty of spirit Which we must not subscribe to: Field is gone, 15 Whose action first did give it name, and one Who came the neerest to him, is denide By his gray beard to shew the height and pride Of D'Ambois youth and braverie; yet to hold Our title still a foot, and not grow cold 20 By giving it o're, a third man with his best Of care and paines defends our interest; As Richard he was lik'd, nor doe wee feare, In personating D'Ambois, hee'le appeare To faint, or goe lesse, so your free consent, 25 As heretofore, give him encouragement.
Prologue. The Prologue does not appear in A.
10 (charitably judge). So punctuated by ed. B has:—
To your review, we farre from emulation (And charitably judge from imitation) With this work entertaine you, a peece knowne And still beleev'd in Court to be our owne, To quit our claime, doubting our right or merit, Would argue in us poverty of spirit Which we must not subscribe to.
13 doubting. In some copies of B this is misprinted oubting.
HENRY III, King of France. MONSIEUR, his brother. THE DUKE OF GUISE. MONTSURRY, a Count. BUSSY D'AMBOIS. BARRISOR, } L'ANOU, } Courtiers: enemies of D'AMBOIS. PYRHOT, } BRISAC, } MELYNELL, } Courtiers: friends of D'AMBOIS. COMOLET, a Friar. MAFFE, steward to MONSIEUR. NUNCIUS. MURDERERS.
BEHEMOTH, } CARTOPHYLAX, } Spirits. UMBRA OF FRIAR.
ELENOR, Duchess of Guise. TAMYRA, Countess of Montsurry. BEAUPRE, niece to ELENOR. ANNABLE, maid to ELENOR. PERO, maid to TAMYRA. CHARLOTTE, maid to BEAUPRE. PYRA, a court lady. Courtiers, Ladies, Pages, Servants, Spirits, &c.
[4:1] The Quartos contain no list of Dramatis Personae. One is however prefixed to D'Urfey's version (1691), with the names of the performers added. C. W. Dilke prefixed a somewhat imperfect one to his edition in vol. III of Old English Plays (1814). W. L. Phelps, who did not know of Dilke's list, supplied a more correct one in his edition in the Mermaid Series (1895). The subjoined list adds some fresh details, especially concerning the subordinate characters.
[4:2] Many episodes in Bussy D'Ambois's career, which took place in the Province of Anjou, are transferred in the play to Paris.
ACTUS PRIMI SCENA PRIMA.
[A glade, near the Court.]
Enter Bussy D'Ambois poore.
[Bussy.] Fortune, not Reason, rules the state of things, Reward goes backwards, Honor on his head, Who is not poore is monstrous; only Need Gives forme and worth to every humane seed. As cedars beaten with continuall stormes, 5 So great men flourish; and doe imitate Unskilfull statuaries, who suppose (In forming a Colossus) if they make him Stroddle enough, stroot, and look bigg, and gape, Their work is goodly: so men meerely great 10 In their affected gravity of voice, Sowrnesse of countenance, manners cruelty, Authority, wealth, and all the spawne of Fortune, Think they beare all the Kingdomes worth before them; Yet differ not from those colossick statues, 15 Which, with heroique formes without o're-spread, Within are nought but morter, flint and lead. Man is a torch borne in the winde; a dreame But of a shadow, summ'd with all his substance; And as great seamen using all their wealth 20 And skills in Neptunes deepe invisible pathes, In tall ships richly built and ribd with brasse, To put a girdle round about the world, When they have done it (comming neere their haven) Are faine to give a warning peece, and call 25 A poore staid fisher-man, that never past His countries sight, to waft and guide them in: So when we wander furthest through the waves Of glassie Glory, and the gulfes of State, Topt with all titles, spreading all our reaches, 30 As if each private arme would sphere the earth, Wee must to vertue for her guide resort, Or wee shall shipwrack in our safest port. Procumbit.
[Enter] Monsieur with two Pages.
[Monsieur.] There is no second place in numerous state That holds more than a cypher: in a King 35 All places are contain'd. His words and looks Are like the flashes and the bolts of Jove; His deeds inimitable, like the sea That shuts still as it opes, and leaves no tracts, Nor prints of president for meane mens facts: 40 There's but a thred betwixt me and a crowne; I would not wish it cut, unlesse by nature; Yet to prepare me for that possible fortune, 'Tis good to get resolved spirits about mee. I follow'd D'Ambois to this greene retreat; 45 A man of spirit beyond the reach of feare, Who (discontent with his neglected worth) Neglects the light, and loves obscure abodes; But hee is young and haughty, apt to take Fire at advancement, to beare state, and flourish; 50 In his rise therefore shall my bounties shine: None lothes the world so much, nor loves to scoffe it, But gold and grace will make him surfet of it. What, D'Ambois!—
Buss. He, sir.
Mons. Turn'd to earth, alive! Up man, the sunne shines on thee.
Buss. Let it shine: 55 I am no mote to play in't, as great men are.
Mons. Callest thou men great in state, motes in the sunne? They say so that would have thee freeze in shades, That (like the grosse Sicilian gurmundist) Empty their noses in the cates they love, 60 That none may eat but they. Do thou but bring Light to the banquet Fortune sets before thee And thou wilt loath leane darknesse like thy death. Who would beleeve thy mettall could let sloth Rust and consume it? If Themistocles 65 Had liv'd obscur'd thus in th'Athenian State, Xerxes had made both him and it his slaves. If brave Camillus had lurckt so in Rome, He had not five times beene Dictator there, Nor foure times triumpht. If Epaminondas 70 (Who liv'd twice twenty yeeres obscur'd in Thebs) Had liv'd so still, he had beene still unnam'd, And paid his country nor himselfe their right: But putting forth his strength he rescu'd both From imminent ruine; and, like burnisht steele, 75 After long use he shin'd; for as the light Not only serves to shew, but render us Mutually profitable, so our lives In acts exemplarie not only winne Our selves good names, but doe to others give 80 Matter for vertuous deeds, by which wee live.