Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama
Walter W. Greg

Part 4 out of 10

Your sacred foreheads all ungarlanded.

Here the traditional story of Cephalus and Procris, as founded on the
rather inferior version in the seventh book of the _Metamorphoses_, ends.
There remains, however, a fifth act, in which Diana appears, raises
Procri, and restores her to her husband.

The play, composed for the most part in octaves with choruses in _terza
rima_, is, from the dramatic point of view, open to obvious and fatal
objections. The preposterous _dea ex machina_ of the last act; the
inconsequence of motive and inconsistency of character, partly, it is
true, inherent in the original story, but by no means made less obvious by
the dramatist; the insufficiency of the action to fill the necessary
space, and the inability of the author to make the most of his materials,
are all alike patent. On the other hand, we have already noticed a certain
theatrical ability displayed in the writing of the first act, and we may
further attribute the alteration by which Procri is represented as jealous
of Cefalo's original lover, Aurora, instead of the wholly imaginary Aura,
as in Ovid, to a desire for dramatic unity of motive.

The extent to which either the _Orfeo_ or _Cefalo_ can be regarded as
pastoral will now be clear, and it must be confessed that they do not
carry us very far. The two fifteenth-century plays constitute a distinct
species which has attained to a high degree of differentiation if not of
dramatic evolution, and critics who would see in them the origin of the
later pastoral drama have to explain the strange phenomenon of the species
lying dormant for nearly three-quarters of a century, and then suddenly
developing into an equally individualized but very dissimilar form[164].
It should, moreover, be borne in mind that contemporary critics never
regarded the Arcadian pastoral as in any way connected with the
mythological drama, and that the writers of pastoral themselves claimed no
kinship with Poliziano or Correggio, but always ranked themselves as the
followers of Beccari alone in the line of dramatic development. On the
other hand, there can be no reasonable doubt that such performances went
to accustom spectators to that mixture of mythology and idealism which
forms the atmosphere, so to speak, of the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor fido_.
This must be my excuse for lingering over these early works.


When dealing with the Italian eclogue we saw how, at a certain point, it
began to assume a distinctly dramatic character, and in so doing took the
first step towards the possible evolution of a real pastoral drama. It
will be my task in the ensuing pages to follow up this clue, and to show
how the pastoral drama arose through a process of natural development from
the recited eclogue.

The dramatic tendency was indeed inherent in the eclogue from the very
first. Throughout there is a steady growth in the use of dialogue: of the
Idyls of Theocritus only about a third contain more than one character; of
Vergil's Bucolics at least half; of Calpurnius' all but one; of the
eclogues of Petrarch and Boccaccio all without exception. This tendency
did not escape Guarini, who, when not led into puerilities by his love of
self-laudation, often shows considerable insight. 'The eclogue,' he says,
'is nothing but a short discussion between shepherds, differing in no
other manner from that sort of scene which the Latins call dialogue,
except in so far as being whole and independent, possessing within itself
both beginning and end[165].'

Having thus gradually altered the literary form of the eclogue, this
tendency towards dramatic expression next showed itself in the manner in
which the poem was presented to the world. For circulation in print or
manuscript, or for informal reading, came to be substituted recitation in
character. The dialogue was divided between two persons who spoke
alternately, and it is evident from the somewhat meagre texts that survive
that, in the earliest examples, these _ecloghe rappresentative_, or
dramatic eclogues as I shall call them, differed in no way from the purely
literary productions which we considered in an earlier section. Evidence
of actual representation is often wanting, and the exact date in most
cases is uncertain; but, since there is no doubt that such performances
actually did take place, we are not only justified in assuming that
several poems of the period belong to this class, but we can also, on
internai evidence, arrange them more or less in a natural sequence of
dramatic development. One such eclogue has come down to us from the pen of
Baldassare Taccone, a Genoese who also wrote mythological plays on the
subjects of Danae and Actaeon. Another, interesting as dealing with the
corruption of the Curia at a moment when its scandalous traffic was
carried on in the light of day with more than usually cynical
indifference, was actually presented at Rome under the patronage of
Cardinal Giovanni Colonna at the carnival of 1490, during the pontificate
of Innocent VIII. Gradually a more complex form was evolved, the number of
speakers was increased, and some of these made their entrance during the
progress of the recitation. So too in the matter of metrical form, the
strict _terza rima_ of the earlier examples came to be diversified with
_rime sdrucciole_, and by being intermingled with verses with internal
rime, with _ottava rima, settenari_ couplets, and lyrical measures.
Castiglione's representation at Urbino has been noticed previously. Among
similar productions may be mentioned two poems by a certain Caperano of
Faenza, printed in 1508, while others are found at Siena in 1517 and 1523.
Besides the texts that are extant we also have record of a good many which
have perished. In 1493 the representation of eclogues formed part of the
revels prepared by Alexander VI for the marriage of Lucrezia Borgia with
Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro, and this was again the case when, having
been divorced from Giovanni, and her second husband having perished by the
assassin's dagger, she finally in 1502 became the wife of Alfonso d'Este,
heir to the duchy of Ferrara. Eclogues were again represented at Ferrara
in 1508, and received specific mention among the dramatic performances
dealt with by the laws of Venice.

We thus see that the eclogue had every opportunity of developing into a
regular dramatic form. At this point a variety of external influences made
themselves felt, which facilitated or modified its growth. Perhaps
foremost among these should be reckoned that of the 'regular' drama--that
is of the drama based upon an imitation of the classics, chiefly of the
Latin authors. The conception of dramatic art which was in men's minds at
the time naturally and inevitably influenced the development of a form of
poem which was daily becoming more sensibly dramatic. Next there was the
influence of the mythological drama embodying the romantic and ideal
elements of classical myth, but in form representing the tradition of the
old religious plays. This led to the occasional introduction of
supernatural characters, counteracted the rationalizing influence of the
Roman dramatists, and supplied the pastoral with its peculiar imaginative
atmosphere. Lastly, there was the 'rustic' influence, which was at no time
very strong, and left no mark upon the form as finally evolved, but which
has nevertheless to be taken into account in tracing the process of
development. The influence exercised by burlesque and realistic scenes
from real life cannot have been brought to bear on the eclogue until it
had already attained to a dramatic character of some complexity. The
earliest text of the kind we possess dates from 1508, and it is doubtful
whether or not it was acted. In 1513 we have record of a rustic
performance at the Capitol, and a satyrical and allegorical piece of like
nature, and belonging to the same year, is actually preserved, as is also
one in Bellunese dialect. These shows became the special characteristic of
the Rozzi society at Siena, in whose hands they soon developed into short
realistic farces of low life, composed in dialectal verse and acted by
members of the society at many of the courts of Italy. The fashion,
though never widely spread, survived for many years, the most famous
author of such pieces being Michelangelo Buonarroti the younger at the
beginning of the next century.

These _drammi rusticali_, as they were called, may not improbably have
owed their origin to the fashion of rustic composition set by Lorenzo de'
Medici in his _Nencia_, and may thus in their origin have been related to
the courtly eclogue; but the subsequent development of the kind is at most
parallel to that of the pastoral drama, and should not be regarded either
as the origin or as a subdivision of this latter. Nor did the rustic
compositions exercise any permanent influence on the pastoral drama; the
most that can be said is that an occasional text shows signs of being
affected by the low vulgarity of the kind.

Returning to the polite eclogues, we soon find an increase in the dramatic
complexity of the form. Tansillo's _Due pellegrini_, which cannot be later
than 1528, contains the rudiments of a plot, two lovers bent on suicide
being persuaded by a miraculous voice to become reconciled with the world
and life. Poetic justice befalls the two nymphs in an eclogue by Luca di
Lorenzo, printed in 1530, the disdainful Diversa being condemned to love
the boor Fantasia, while Euridice's loving disposition is rewarded by the
devotion of Orindio.

We now come to what may almost be regarded as the first conscious attempt
to write a pastoral play--an attempt, however, which met with but partial
success. This is the _Amaranta_, a 'Comedia nuova pastorale' by
Giambattista Casalio of Faenza, which most probably belongs to a date
somewhat before 1538. In it the mutual love of Partenio and Amaranta is
thwarted by the girl's mother Celia, who destines her for a goatherd.
Partenio is led to believe that his love has played him false, while in
her turn Amaranta supposes herself forsaken. The two meet, however, at the
hut of a wise nymph Lucina, through whose intervention they are reconciled
and their union effected. The piece, which attains to some proportions, is
divided into five acts, and, while owing a certain debt to the _Orfeo_, is
itself pastoral in character with occasional coarse touches borrowed from
the rustic shows. It is in the _Amaranta_ that we first meet with an
attempt to introduce a real plot of some human interest into a purely
pastoral composition; we are no longer dealing with a merely occasional
piece written in celebration of some special person or festivity, no
longer with a mythological masque or pageant, nor with an amorous
allegory, but with a piece the interest of which, slight as it is, lies in
the fate of the characters involved.

The fifteen years or so which separate the work of Casalio from that of
Beccari saw the production of a succession of more or less pastoral works
which serve, to some extent at least, to bridge over the gap which
separates even the most elaborate of the above compositions from the
recognized appearance of the fully-developed pastoral drama in the
_Sacrifizio_. The chief characteristic which marks the work of these years
is a tendency to deliberate experiment. The writers appear to have been
conscious that their work was striving towards a form which had not yet
been achieved, though they were themselves vague as to what that form
might be. Epicuro's _Mirzia_ tends towards the mythological drama; the
_Silvia_ written by one Fileno, which, like the _Amaranta_, turns on the
temporary estrangement of two lovers, introduces considerable elements
from the rustic performances; in Cazza's _Erbusto_ the amorous skein is
cut by the discovery of consanguinity and an [Greek: a)nagno/risis] after
the manner of the Latin comedy. Similar in plot to this last is a
fragmentary pastoral of Giraldi Cintio's published from manuscript by
Signor Carducci. Another curious but isolated experiment is Cintio's
_Egle_, in intent a revival of the 'satyric' drama of the Greeks, in
substance a dramatization of the motive of Sannazzaro's _Salices_. In one
sense these experiments ended in failure; it was not through the
elaboration of mythological or superhuman elements, nor through the humour
of burlesque or realistic rusticity, nor yet through the violence of
unexpected discoveries, that the destined form of the pastoral drama was
to be attained. On the other hand, they undoubtedly served to introduce an
elaboration of plot and complexity of dramatic structure which is
altogether lacking in the earlier eclogues and masques, but without which
the work of Tasso and Guarini could never have occupied the commanding
position that it does in the history of literature. They carry us forward
to the point at which the pastoral drama took its shape and being.

Of the elements compounded of pastoral idealism and the graceful purity of
classical myth, and combining the scenic attractions of the masque with
the reasoned action and human interest of the regular drama, the Arcadian
pastoral first achieved definite form in the work of Agostino Beccari. His
_Sacrifizio_, styled 'favola pastorale' on the title-page of the first
impression, was acted at the palace of Francesco d' Este at Ferrara in the
presence of Ercole II and his son Luigi, and of the Duchess Renata and her
daughters Lucrezia and Leonora, on two occasions in February and March
1554. The piece was revived more than thirty years later, namely in 1587,
when the courtly world was already familiar with Tasso's masterpiece, and
was ringing with the prospective fame of the _Pastor fido_, and
represented both at Sassuolo and Ferrara.

The action involves three pairs of lovers. Turico loves Stellinia in spite
of the fact that she has transferred her affections to Erasto. Erasto in
his turn pays his homage to Callinome, the type of the 'careless'
shepherdess, a nymph vowed to the service of Diana. There remains
Carpalio, whose love for Melidia is secretly returned; its consummation
being prevented by the girl's brother Pimonio, who refuses to countenance
the match, and keeps dragon guard over his sister. In the meanwhile
shepherds and shepherdesses assemble to honour the festival and sacrifice
of Pan, which proves the occasion for the unravelling of the amorous
tangle. Stellinia, wishing to rid herself of her rival in Erasto's love,
induces Callinome so far to break her vestal vow as to be present at the
forbidden feast. Here she is promptly detected by the offended goddess and
sentenced to do battle against one of the fiercest of the Erymanthian
boars. Erasto comes to her aid with a magic ointment, which has the power
of rendering the user invisible, and with the help of which she achieves
her task unharmed. Out of gratitude she rewards her preserver with her
love. Not only is Stellinia thus condemned to witness the failure of her
plot, but she is herself carried off by a satyr, who endeavours to deceive
each of the nymphs in turn. Being rescued from his power by the faithful
Turico, she too capitulates to love. Lastly, in the absence of Pimonio,
who has gone to be present at the games held at the festival, Carpalio and
Melidia pluck the fruit of love, and are saved from the anger of the
brother through his conveniently falling into an enchanted lake whence he
emerges in the shape of a boar.

In the prologue the author boldly announces the novelty of his work--

Una favola nova pastorale
............nova in tanto
Ch' altra non fu giammai forse piu udita
Di questa sorte recitarsi in scena.

Guarini, who is said to have supplied a prologue for the revival of the
piece, bore out Beccari's claim when he wrote in his essay on
tragi-comedy: 'First among the moderns to possess the happy boldness to
make in this kind, namely the pastoral dramatic tale, of which there is no
trace among the ancients, was Agostin de' Beccari, a worthy citizen of
Ferrara, to whom alone does the world owe the fair creation of this sort
of poem[166].'

Several pieces of no great interest or importance serve to fill the decade
or so following on the production of Beccari's play. Groto, known as the
Cieco d' Adria, combined the mythological motive with much of the vulgar
obscenity of the Latin comedy. Lollio also produced a hybrid of an earlier
type in his _Aretusa_. In 1567 a return was made to the pastoral tradition
of Beccari in Agostino Argenti's play _Lo Sfortunato_. Among the
spectators who witnessed the first performance of this piece before Duke
Alfonso and his court at Ferrara was a youth of twenty-two, lately
attached to the household of the Cardinal Luigi d' Este. In all
probability this was Tasso's first introduction to a style of composition
which not many years later he was to make famous throughout Europe. The
play he witnessed on that occasion, however, was no work of surpassing
genius. It cannot, indeed, be said to mark any decided advance on
Beccari's work except in so far, perhaps, as it at times foreshadows the
somewhat sickly sentiment of later pastorals, including Tasso's own. The
shepherd Sfortunato loves Dafne, Dafne loves Iacinto, who in his turn
pursues Flaminia, while she loves only Silvio, who loves himself. Nothing
particular happens till the fourth scene of Act III. Then Silvio, tired of
being the last link in the chain of love, devises a plan for placing
Flaminia and Dafne in the power of their respective lovers. Flaminia,
assailed by Iacinto, makes up her mind to bow to fate, and accepts with a
good grace the love it is no longer in her power to fly. Sfortunato, on
the other hand, rather than offend his mistress, allows her to depart
unharmed, and since he thereby forgoes his only chance of enjoying the
object of his passion, determines to die. His vow is overheard by Dafne,
who, seeing that her love for Iacinto may no more avail, at last relents.
A third nymph, introduced to make the numbers even, takes the veil among
the followers of Diana, and so lives the object of Silvio's chaste regard.
It will be readily seen how in the character of Sfortunato we have the
forerunner of Tasso's Aminta; but it will also appear what poor use has
been made of the situation. The truth is that we have up to now been
dealing merely with origins, with productions which are of interest only
in the reflected light of later work; whatever there is of real beauty and
of permanent value in the pastoral drama of Italy is due to the breath of
life inspired into the phantasms of earlier writers by the genius of Tasso
and Guarini.


We have now followed the dramatic pastoral from its obscure origin in the
eclogue to the eve of its assuming a recognized and abiding position in
the literature of Europe[167]. But if it is in a measure easy thus to
trace back the Arcadian drama to its historical sources, and to show how
the _Aminta_ came to be possible, it is not so easy to show how it came to
be actual. All creative work is the outcome of three fashioning forces,
the historical position, the personal circumstances of the artist, and his
individual genius. The pastoral drama had reached what I may perhaps be
allowed to call the 'psychological point' in its development. At the same
moment it happened that Tasso, having returned from a fruitless and
uncongenial mission to the Valois court, enjoyed a brief period of calm
and prosperity in the congenial society of Leonora d' Este, before the
critical bickerings to which he exposed himself in connexion with the
_Gerusalemme_ wrought havoc with an already over-sensitive and
overstrained temperament. Furthermore it happened that he brought to the
spontaneous composition of his courtly toy just that touch of languorous
beauty, that soft vein of sentiment, which formed perhaps his most
characteristic contribution to the artistic tone of his age, veiling a
novel mood in his favourite phrase, _un non so che_[168]. Had all this not
been, had not the fortune of a suitable genius and the chance of personal
surroundings jumped with the historical possibility, we might indeed have
had any number of lifeless 'Sacrifices' and 'Unhappy Ones,' but Italy
would have added no new kind to the forms of dramatic art. Had it not been
for the _Aminta_, the pastoral drama must almost necessarily have been
stillborn, for Guarini was too much of a pedant to do more than to imitate
and enlarge, while other writers belong to the decline.

The _Aminta_, while possessing a delicate dramatic structure of its own,
yet retains not a little of the simplicity of the _ecloga
rappresentativa_. Indeed, it is worth noting, alike on account of this
quality in the poem itself as also of its literary ancestry, that, in a
letter written within a year of its original production, Tiburio Almerici
speaks of it by the old name of eclogue[169]. Referring to its
representation at Urbino, he writes: 'Il terzo spettacolo, che si e
goduto questo carnovale, e stato un' egloga del Tasso, che fu recitata
questo giovedi passato da alcuni gioveni d' Urbino nella sala, che fu
fatta per la venuta delia Principessa.' The princess in question was none
other than Lucrezia d' Este, who had lately become the wife of Tasso's
former companion Francesco Maria della Rovere, now Duke of Urbino, and who
with her sister Leonora, the heroine of the Tasso legend, had, it will be
remembered, stood sponsor to Beccari's play nearly twenty years before.
The representation at Urbino to which Almerici alludes was not of course
the first. Written in the winter of 1572-3 during the absence of Duke
Alfonso, the piece was acted after his return from Rome in the summer of
the latter year. Ferrara, as we have seen, had become and was long
destined to remain the special home of the pastoral drama in Italy. Here
on July 31, in the palace of Belvedere, built on an island in the Po, the
court of the Estensi assembled to witness the production of Tasso's
play[170]. The staging, both on this and on subsequent occasions, was no
doubt answerable to the nature of the piece, and added the splendour of
the masque to the classic grace of the fable. Almerici remarks on the
special attractions for spectators and auditors alike of what he calls 'la
novita del coro fra ciascuno atto,' by which he clearly meant the
spectacular interludes known as _intermedi_, the verses for which are
commonly printed at the end of the play[171]. But the representation which
struck the imagination of contemporaries was that before the Grand Duke
Ferdinand at Florence. This took place in 1590[172]. Guarini's play had in
its turn won renown far beyond the frontiers of Italy, while the author
of the _Aminta_, a yet attractive but impossible madman, was destined for
the few remaining years of his life to drag his tale of woes and but too
often his rags from one Italian court to another, ere he sank at last
exhausted where S. Onofrio overlooks St. Peter's dome.

The structure of the play is not free from a good deal of stiffness and
artificiality, which it bequeathed to its successors. It borrowed from the
classical drama a chorus, on the whole less Greek than Latin, the use of
confidants, and the introduction of messengers and descriptive passages.
These last, it may be noted, are deliberately and wantonly classical, not
merely necessitated by the exigencies of the action, difficult of
representation as in the attempted suicide of Aminta, impossible as in the
rescue of Silvia from the satyr, but resorted to in order to veil the
dramatic weakness of the author's imagination, as is plain from the
description of the final meeting of the lovers. Yet it may be freely
admitted that to this device, the substitution namely of narrative for
action, we owe most of the finest poetic passages of the play: the
description of the youthful loves of Aminta and Silvia and the former's
ruse to win a kiss, the picture of Silvia bound to the tree by the pool,
Tirsi's account of the court, the description of Silvia at the spring--one
of the most elaborate in the piece--the account of her escape from the
wolves, last but not least that description of Silvia finding the
unconscious Aminta, so full of subtle and effeminate seduction, prophetic
of a later age of morals and of taste:

Ma come Silvia il riconobbe, e vide
Le belle guance tenere d' Aminta
Iscolorite in si leggiadri modi,
Che viola non e che impallidisca
Si dolcemente, e lui languir si fatto,
Che parea gia negli ultimi sospiri
Esalar l'alma; in guisa di Baccante
Gridando, e percotendosi il bel petto,
Lascio cadersi in sul giacente corpo,
E giunse viso a viso, e bocca a bocca. (V. i.)

So too the chorus, though awkward enough from a dramatic point of view
and in so far as it fulfils any dramatic purpose, offers a sufficient
justification for its existence in the magnificent ode on 'honour,' that
rapturous song of the golden age of love, the poetic supremacy of which
has never been questioned, whatever may have been thought of its ethical
significance. To that aspect we shall return later. At present it will be
well to give some more or less detailed account of the action of the piece

The shepherd Aminta loves Silvia, formerly as a child his playmate and
companion, now a huntress devoted to the service of Diana, proud in her
virginity and unfettered state. The play opens in a sufficiently
conventional manner, but wrought with sparkling verse, with two companion
scenes. In the first of these Silvia brushes aside the importunities of
her confidant Dafne who seeks to allure her to the blandishments of love
with sententious natural examples and modern instances.

Cangia, cangia consiglio,
Pazzerella che sei,
Che il pentirsi dassezzo nulla giova;

such is the burden of her song, or yet again, recalling the golden days of
love she too of yore had wasted:

Il mondo invecchia
E invecchiando intristisce.

Words of profound melancholy these, uttered in the days of the burnt-out
fires of the renaissance. But all this moves not Silvia, nymph of the
woods and of the chase, and, if she is indeed as fancy-free as she would
have us believe, her lover may even console himself with the reflection

If of herself she will not love,
Nothing will make her--
The devil take her!

She has, after all, every right to the position. The next scene introduces
Aminta and his friend Tirsi, to whom he reveals the object and the history
of his love. Translated into bald prose, his confession has no very great
interest, but it opens with one of those exquisitely pencilled sketches
that lie scattered throughout the play.

All' ombra d' un bel faggio Silvia e Filli
Sedean un giorno, ed io con loro insieme;
Quando un' ape ingegnosa, che cogliendo
Sen giva il mel per que' prati fioriti,
Alle guance di Fillide volando,
Alle guance vermiglie come rosa,
Le morse e le rimorse avidamente;
Ch' alla similitudine ingannata
Forse un fior le credette.

Silvia heals the hurt by whispering over it a charm; and the whole
description is instinct with that delicate, soft sentiment of Tasso's
which almost, though never quite, sinks into sentimentality. Aminta feigns
to have been stung on the lip, and begs Silvia to heal the hurt.

La semplicetta Silvia,
Pietosa del mio male,
S' offri di dar aita
Alla finta ferita, ahi lasso! e fece
Piu cupa e piu mortale
La mia piaga verace,
Quando le labbra sue
Giunse alle labbra mie.

It is easy to argue that this is childish, that it mattered no whit though
they kissed from now to doomsday. But only the reader who cannot feel its
beauty is safe from the enervating narcotic of Tasso's style.

The first scene of the second act introduces a new character, the satyr,
type of brute nature in the artificially polished Arcadia of courtly
shepherds. He inherits no savoury character from his literary
predecessors, and he is content to play to the role. His monologue may be
passed over; it and still more the next scene serve to measure the cynical
indelicacy of feeling which was tolerated in the Italian courts. It is a
quality wholly different from the mere coarseness exhibited in the English
drama under Elizabeth and James, but it is one which will astonish no one
who has looked on the dramatic reflection of Italian society in the scenes
of the _Mandragola_. The satyr is succeeded on the stage by the confidants
Dafne and Tirsi in consultation as to the means of bringing about an
understanding between Aminta and Silvia. The scene is characterized by
those caustic reflections on women which serve to balance the extravagant
iciness of the 'careless' nymphs and became a commonplace of the pastoral

Or, non sai tu com' e fatta la donna?
Fugge, e fuggendo vuol ch' altri la giunga;
Niega, e negando vuol ch' altri si toglia;
Pugna, e pugnando vuol ch' altri la vinca.

Listening to the deliberations of these two, it cannot but strike us that
in spite of their polished speech the straightforward London stage would
have hesitated but little to bestow on them the names they deserve, and
which it were yet scarce honest to have here set down. We pass on, and,
whatever may be said regarding the moral atmosphere of the rest of the
play, we shall not again have to make complaint of the corruption of
manners assumed in the situation. In the following scene Tirsi undertakes
the difficult task of inducing Aminta to intrude upon Silvia, where she is
said to be alone at the spring preparing for the chase. It is only by
hinting that Silvia has secretly instructed Dafne to arrange the tryst
that he in the end succeeds in persuading the bashful lover to risk the
displeasure of his mistress.

At the opening of Act III Tirsi enters lamenting in bitter terms the
cruelty of Silvia. Interrogated by the chorus, he relates how, as he and
Aminta approached the spring where Silvia was bathing, they heard a cry
and, hastening to the spot, found the nymph bound hand and foot to a tree,
and confronting her the satyr. At their approach the monster fled, and
Aminta released the nymph, who _ignuda come nacque_ at once took flight,
leaving her lover in despair. In the meanwhile Aminta has sought to kill
himself with his own spear, but has been prevented by Dafne, and the two
now enter. At this moment too comes Nerina, one of the 'messengers' of the
piece, with the news that Silvia has been slain while pursuing a wolf in
the forest. Thereupon Aminta, with a last reproach to Dafne for having
prevented him from putting an end to his miserable life before being the
recipient of such direful news, rushes off the scene at a pace to mock
pursuit. In the next act, however, Silvia reappears and narrates her
escape. Here we arrive at the dramatic climax of the play. Dafne expresses
her fear that the false report of Silvia's death may indeed prove the
death of Aminta. The nymph at first shows herself incredulous, but on
learning that he had already once sought death on her account she wavers
and owns to pity if not to love--

Oh potess' io
Con l' amor mio comprar la vita sua,
Anzi pur con la mia la vita sua,
S' egli e pur morto!

Hereupon Ergasto enters with the news that Aminta has thrown himself from
a cliff, and Silvia, now completely overcome, goes off with the intention
of dying on the body of her dead lover.

The shortness, as well as the dramatic weakness, of the fifth act is
conspicuous even in proportion to the modest limits of the whole. It runs
to less than one hundred and fifty lines, and merely relates how Aminta's
fall was broken, how Silvia's love awoke, and all ended happily. The most
significant passage, that namely which describes Aminta being called back
to life in Silvia's arms, has been already quoted. He revives unharmed,
and the lovers,

Alike in age, in generous birth alike
And mutual desires,

gather in love the fruits which they have sown in weeping.

It is worth while quoting the final chorus in witness of the spirit of
half bantering humour in which the whole was conceived even by the serious
Tasso, a spirit we unfortunately too often seek in vain among his

Non so se il molto amaro
Che provato ha costui servendo, amando,
Piangendo e disperando,
Raddolcito esser puote pienamente
D' alcun dolce presente:
Ma, se piu caro viene
E piu si gusta dopo 'l male il bene,
Io non ti chieggio, Amore,
Questa beatitudine maggiore:
Bea pur gli altri in tal guisa;
Me la mia ninfa accoglia
Dopo brevi preghiere e servir breve:
E siano i condimenti
Delle nostre dolcezze
Non si gravi tormenti,
Ma soavi disdegni,
E soavi ripulse,
Risse e guerre a cui segua,
Reintegrando i cori, o pace o tregua.

It is with these words that the author leaves his graceful fantasy; and
such, we have perhaps the right to assume, was the spirit in which the
whole was composed. Were any one to object to our seeking to analyse the
quality of the piece, arguing that to do so were to break a butterfly upon
the wheel, much might reasonably be said in support of his view.
Nevertheless, when a work of art, however delicate and slender, has
received the homage of generations, and influenced cultivated taste for
centuries, and in widely different countries, we have a right to inquire
whereon its supremacy is based, and what the nature of its influence has

With the sources from which Tasso drew the various elements of his plot we
need have little to do. The child-love of Silvia and Aminta is of the
stuff of _Daphnis and Chloe_; the ruse by which the kiss is obtained is
borrowed from Achilles Tatius; the compliment to the court of the Estensi
is after the manner of Vergil, or of Castiglione, or of Ariosto, or of any
other of the allegorical eclogists of whom Vergil was the first; the germ
of the golden-age chorus is to be found in the elegies of Tibullus (II.
iii); the character of the satyr belongs to tradition; the rent veil of
Silvia reminds us of that of Ovid's Thisbe (_Met._ IV. 55). The language
too is reminiscent. The finest lines in the play--

Amiam: che 'l sol si muore, e poi rinasce;
A noi sua breve luce
S' asconde, e 'l sonno eterna notte adduce--(_Coro_ I.)

belong to Catullus:

Viuamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus;...
soles occidere et redire possunt;
nobis cum semel occidit breuis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda. (_Carm._ V.)

The words in which Amore describes himself in the prologue--

non mica un dio
Selvaggio, o della plebe degli dei,
Ma tra' grandi celesti il piu possente--

recall Ovid's lines:

nec de plebe deo, sed qui caelestia magna
sceptra manu teneo. (_Met._ I. 595.)

Again, the line:

Dove la costa face di se grembo;

which occurs alike in the play (V. i.) and in the _Purgatorio_ (VII. 68),
supplies evidence, as do similar borrowings in the _Gerusalemme_, of
Tasso's study of Dante.

The prologue introduces Amore in pastoral disguise, escaped from the care
of his mother, who would confine his activity to the Courts, and intent on
loosing his shafts among the nymphs and shepherds of Arcadia. In the form
of this prologue, which became the model for subsequent pastoral writers
in Italy[173], and in the heavenly descent of the principal characters, we
may see the influence of the mythological play; while the substance both
of the prologue and of the epilogue, or _Amore fuggitivo_, in which Venus
comes to seek her runaway among the ladies and gallants of the court, is
of course borrowed from the famous first idyl of Moschus. Again the
topical element is not absent, though it is less prominent than some of
the earlier work might lead us to expect. In the poet Tirsi--

allor ch' ardendo
Forsennato egli erro per le foreste
Si, ch' insieme movea pietate e riso
Nelle vezzose ninfe e ne' pastori;
Ne gia cose scrivea digne di riso,
Sebben cose facea digne di riso--(I. i.)

we may, of course, see the poet himself. In Batto too, mentioned together
with Tirsi, it is not unreasonable to recognize Battisto Guarini, whom at
that time Tasso might still regard as his friend. Again, it is usual to
identify Elpino with Giovanbattista Pigna, secretary of state at the
Estense court, and one with whom, though no friend of the poet's, it was
yet to his advantage to stand well. The flattery bestowed is not a little

Or non rammenti
Cio che l' altrieri Elpino raccontava,
Il saggio Elpino a la bella Licori,
Licori che in Elpin puote cogli occhi
Quel ch' ei potere in lei dovria col canto,
Se 'l dovere in amor si ritrovasse;
E 'l raccontava udendo Batto e Tirsi,
Gran maestri d' amore; e 'l raccontava
Nell' antro dell' Aurora, ove sull' uscio
E scritto: _Lungi, ah lungi ite, profani_?
Diceva egli, e diceva che gliel disse
Quel grande che canto l' armi e gli amori,
Ch' a lui lascio la fistola morendo;
Che laggiu nello 'nferno e un nero speco,
La dove esala un fumo pien di puzza
Dalle tristi fornaci d' Acheronte;
E che quivi punite eternamente
In tormenti di tenebre e di pianto
Son le femmine ingrate e sconoscenti. (I. i.)

He who sang of arms and love is of course Ariosto--

Le donne, i cavalier, l' arme, gli amori,
Le cortesie, l' audaci imprese io canto--

from whom Tasso borrows the above description of the reward awaiting
ungrateful women, as also the fiction of the tell-tale walls and chairs in
Mopso's account of the court (I. ii). And this Elpino, whose pipe

correr fa di puro latte i fiumi
E stillar melle dalle dure scorze, (III. i.)

later becomes the Alete of the _Gerusalemme_,

Gran fabbro di calunnie adorne in modi
Novi che sono accuse e paion lodi. (II. 58.)

His flattery had not shielded the unhappy poet against the ill-will of
the minister[174].

Again, the picture drawn by Tirsi of the ideal court (I. ii.) is a glowing
compliment to that of the Estensi and to Duke Alfonso himself. It is
contrasted with the usual pastoral denunciation of court and city put into
the mouth of the pretended augur Mopso. In this character it has been
customary to see Sperone Speroni, who later accused Tasso of plagiarizing
him in the _Gerusalemme_, and was the first to apply the ominous word
'madman' to the unfortunate poet. To Speroni's play _Canace_ Tasso may
have been indebted for the free measures with which he diversified his
blank verse, as likewise for the line:

Pianti, sospiri e dimandar mercede;[175]

though it must not be supposed that there is any resemblance in style
between the _Aminta_ and Speroni's revolting and frigid declamation of
butchery and lust. Nor did the debt pass unnoticed. In 1585 Guarini, who
had long since parted with the sinking ship of the younger poet's
friendship, was ready to flatter Speroni with the declaration 'che tanto
di leggiadria e sempre paruto a me, che abbia nell' Aminta suo conseguito
Torquato Tasso, quant' egli fu imitatore della Canace[176].'

Lastly, in the hopeless suit of Aminta to Silvia, criticism has not failed
to see a reference to the supposed relation between Tasso and Leonora d'
Este. That Tasso, who in his overwrought imagination no doubt harboured a
sentimental regard for the princess, was conscious of the parallel is in
some degree probable; that he should have identified his creation with
himself is, in view of the solution of the dramatic situation, utterly
impossible. Indeed, it would perhaps not be extravagant to suppose that
his care to identify himself with Aminta's confidant may have been an
unusual but not untimely piece of caution on his part, to prevent poisoned
gossip connecting him too closely with his hero.

The question of the influence of the _Aminta_ on later works and on
European thought generally opens up large and difficult issues. It is one
of those works which we are not justified in treating from the purely
literary point of view. If we wish to see it in its relation to
contemporary society, and to estimate its influence upon subsequent
literature, we cannot afford to neglect its ethical bearings. This inquiry
must necessarily lead us beyond the sphere of literary criticism proper,
but it is a task which one who has undertaken to give an account of
pastoral literature has no right to shirk.

The central motive of the piece is the struggle between the feverish
passion of Aminta and the virginal coldness of Silvia. Of this motive and
of the manner in which it is treated it is not altogether easy to speak,
and this less from any inherent element in the subject or from the
difficulty of accurately apprehending the peculiarities of sentiment
proper to former ages, than from the readiness of all ages alike to accept
in such matters the counterfeit coin of conventional protestation for the
sterling reticence of natural delicacy. No doubt this tendency has been
aided by the fact that the secrets of a girl's heart, whatever may be
their true dramatic value, form an unsuitable and ineffective subject for
declamation. The difficulties must not, however, be allowed to weigh
against the importance of coming to a clear understanding as to the true
nature of this _non so che_ of false sentiment, of which it would hardly
be too much to affirm that it made the fortune of the pastoral in
aristocratic Italy on the one hand, and proved its ruin in middle-class
London on the other.

To Tasso is due that assumption of extravagant and conventional _pudor_
which forms one of the most abiding features of the pastoral drama. To
censure an exaggeration of the charm of modesty on the threshold of the
_seicento_, or to object a strained sense of chastity against the author
of the golden-age chorus, may indeed seem strange; but, as with Fletcher
at a later date, the very extravagance of the paradox may supply us with
the key to its solution.

The falsity of Tasso's position is evinced partly in the main action of
the drama, partly in the commentary supplied by the minor personages. The
character of Aminta himself is unimportant in this respect; when we have
described him as effeminate, sickly, and over-refined, we have said all
that is necessary in view of the position he occupies with regard to
Silvia. She, we are given to understand, is the type of the 'careless'
shepherdess, the unspotted nymph of Diana[177], rejoicing in the chase
alone, and importuned by the love of Aminta, which she neither
reciprocates nor understands, and of the genuineness of which she shows
herself, indeed, not a little sceptical. If, however, she is as careless
as she appears, her conversion is certainly most sudden. The picture,
moreover, drawn by Dafne of Silvia coquetting with her shadow in the pool,
though possibly coloured by malice, supplies a sufficient hint of the
true state of the girl's fancy. She is in truth such a Chloe of innocence
as might spring up in the rank soil of a petty Italian court infected with
post-Tridentine morality. Were she indeed careless of Aminta's devotion we
could easily sympathize with her when she brushes aside Dafne's
importunity with the words:

Faccia Aminta di se e de' suoi amori
Quel ch' a lui piace; a me nulla ne cale. (I. i.)

It is altogether different with her attitude of arrogant pudicity when she

Odio il suo amore
Ch' odia la mia onestate; (Ib.)

and again:

In questa guisa gradirei ciascuno
Insidiator di mia virginitate,
Che tu dimandi amante, ed io nemico. (Ib.)

Silvia here conjoins the unwholesome medieval ideal of virginity with the
corrupt spectre of renaissance 'honour'--

quel vano
Nome senza soggetto,
Quell' idolo d' errori, idol d' inganno[178], (_Coro_ I.)

as Tasso himself styled it--that conventional mask so bitterly contrasted
with the natural goodness of the age of gold[179].

The general conception of love and its attendant emotions that permeates
the work and vitiates so many of its descendants appears yet more
glaringly characterized in some of the minor personages. On these it is
not my intention to dwell. Of Dafne and Tirsi, that is, be it remembered,
Tasso's self, I have spoken, however briefly, yet at sufficient length
already. Suffice it to add here that Dafne's suggestion, that modesty is
commonly but a veil for lust, is nothing more than the cynical expression
of the attitude adopted throughout the play. Love is no ideal and
idealizing emotion, but a mere gratification of the senses--a _luxuria_
scarcely distinguishable from _gula_. Ignorance can alone explain an
attitude of indifference towards its pleasures. The girl who does not care
to embrace opportunity is no better than a child--'Fanciulla tanto
sciocca, quanto bella,' as Dafne says. So, again, there is nothing
ennobling in the devotion of the hero, nothing elevating in his fidelity.
All the mysticism, all the ideality, of the early days of the renaissance
have long since disappeared, and chivalrous feeling, that last lingering
glory of the middle age, is dead.

We are, indeed, justified in regarding what I may term the degeneration of
sexual feeling in the _Aminta_ as to a great extent the negation of
chivalrous love, for, even apart from the allegorizing mysticism of Dante,
that love contained its ennobling elements. And yet, strangely enough, not
a little of the convention at least of chivalrous love survives in the
debased Arcadian love of the sentimental pastoral. Both alike are
primarily of an animal nature, and this in a sense other than that in
which physical love may be said to form an element in all natural relation
between man and woman. Again, in both we find the rational machinery by
which love shall be rewarded. The lover serves his apprenticeship, either
with deeds of arms or with sighs and sonnets, and the credit of the
mistress is light who refuses to reward him for his service. The System
assumes neither choice, nor passion, nor pleasure on her part. Her act is
regarded in the cold light of a calculated payment, undisguised by any joy
of passionate surrender. But whereas in the outgrowth of feudalism, in the
chivalry of the middle ages, this system formed the great incentive to
martial daring, whereas when idealized in Beatrice it became almost
undistinguishable from the ferveurs of religion, we find it with Tasso
sinking into a weak and mawkish sensuality. More than any other
sentimentalist Tasso justified his title by 'fiddling harmonics on the
strings of sensualism,' and it may be added that the ear is constantly
catching the fundamental note.

The foregoing remarks appeared necessary in order to understand the
subsequent history of the dramatic pastoral as well as the conditions
under which it took form and being, but they have led us far beyond the
limits of literary criticism proper. The next characteristic of the play
to be considered is one which, while possessing an important ethical
bearing, is also closely connected with the aesthetic composition. I refer
to the peculiar, not sensual but sensuous, nature of the beauty. The
effect produced by the descriptions, by the suggestions, by the general
tone, by the subtle modulations of the verse in adaptation to its theme,
is less one of literary and intellectual than of direct emotional
perception, producing the immediate physical impression of an actual
presence. The beauty has a subtle enervating charm, languid and
voluptuous, at the same time as clear and limpid in tone. The effect
produced is one and whole, that of a perfect work of art, and the same
impression remains with us afterwards. Smooth limbs, soft and white, that
shine through the waters of the spring and amid the jewelled spray, or
half revealed among the thickets of lustrous green, a slant ray of
sunlight athwart the loosened gold of the hair--the vision floats before
us as if conjured up by the strains of music rather than by actual words.
This kinship with another art did not escape so acute a critic as Symonds
as a characteristic of Tasso's style. But the kinship on another side with
the art of painting is equally close; a thousand pictures rise before us
as we follow the perfect melody of the irregular lyric measures. The white
veil fluttering and the swift feet flashing amid the brambles and the
trailing creepers of the wood, bright crimson staining the spotless purity
of the flying skirts as the huntress bursts through the clinging tangles
that seek to hold her as if jealous of a human love, the lusty strength of
the bronzed and hairy satyr in contrast with the tender limbs of the
captive nymph, the dark cliff, and the still mirror of the lake reflecting
the rosebuds pressed artfully against the girl's soft neck as she crouches
by its brink,

Backed by the forest, circled by the flowers,
Bathed in the sunshine of the golden hours,

the armed huntress, the grey-coated wolves, and the white-robed
chorus--here are a series of pictures of seductive beauty for the brush of
a painter to realize upon the walls of some palace of pleasure.

The _Aminta_ attained a wide popularity even before the appearance of the
first edition from the Aldine house at Venice early in 1581--the epistle
is dated 1580. The printer of the Ferrarese edition of the same year
remarks: 'Tosto che la Fama ... mi rapporto, che in Venetia si stampava l'
Aminta, ... cosi subito pensai, che quella sola Impressione dovesse essere
ben poca per sodisfattione di tanti virtuosi, che sono desiderosi di
vederla alla luce.' A critical edition was prepared at Paris in the middle
of the following century by Egidio Menagio of the Accademia della Crusca,
and dedicated to Maria della Vergna, better known, under her married name
of Madame de la Fayette, as the author of the _Princesse de Cleves_[180].
In 1693 the play was attacked by Bartolomeo Ceva Grimaldi, Duke of Telese,
in an address read before the Accademia degli Uniti at Naples[181]. He was
answered before the same society by Francesco Baldassare Paglia, and in
1700 appeared Giusto Fontanini's elaborate defence[182]. To each chapter
of this work is prefixed a passage from Grimaldi's address, which is then
laboriously refuted. The Duke's attack is puerile cavil, and in spite of
the reputed ability of its author the defence must be admitted to be much
on the same level.


The attention which we have bestowed upon the _Aminta_ will allow us to
pass more rapidly than would otherwise have been possible over its
successor and rival, the _Pastor fido_. This is due to the fact that the
moral and artistic environment of the two pieces is much the same, and
further, that it is this environment which to a great extent determined,
not only the individual character of the poems, but likewise the nature of
their subsequent influence.

Recent research has had the effect of dispelling not a few of the
traditional ideas respecting Guarini's play. Among them is the fable that
it took twenty years to write, which would carry back its inception to
days before the composition of the _Aminta_. It is now recognized that
nine years is the utmost that can be assigned, letters being extant which
fix the genesis of the play in 1581, or at the earliest in 1580 a year or
so previous to Guarini's departure from Ferrara[183]. Again, it has been
usual to assume that the play was performed as early as 1585, whereas
there is in truth no evidence of any representation previous to the
appearance of the first edition dated 1590[184]. The early fortunes of the
play are indeed typical of the ill-success that dogged the author
throughout life. Though untouched by the tragic misfortunes which lend
interest to Tasso's career, his lot was at times a hard one and we may
excuse him if, at the last, he was no less embittered than his younger
rival. He was not cursed, it is true, with Tasso's incurable idealism;
but, if in consequence he exposed himself less to the buffets of
disillusionment, he likewise lacked its sustaining and ennobling power.
Tasso used the pastoral machinery to idealize the court; Guarini accepted
the pastoral convention of the superiority of the 'natural' life of the
country, and used it as a means of pouring out his bitterness of soul. The
_Aminta_, it should be remembered, was written during a few weeks, months
at most, at a time when Tasso was comparatively fortunate and happy; the
_Pastor fido_ was the ten years' labour of a retired and disappointed
courtier, whose later days were further embittered by domestic
misfortunes. In the same way as it was characteristic of Tasso's rosy view
that no law should be allowed to curb the purity of natural love in his
dream of the ideal age, so it was characteristic of the spirit of his
imitator to seek the ideal in the prudent love that strives towards no
distant star beyond the bounds of law. And the fact that Guarini saw fit
seriously to oppose a scholastic's moral figment to the poet's age of gold
may serve as a sufficient measure of the soul of the pedant.

When Battista Guarini[185] entered the service of the Duke of Ferrara in
1567 he was already married and had attained the age of thirty, being
seven years older than Tasso. His duties at court were political, and he
was employed on several missions of a diplomatic character. There was no
reason whatever, beyond his own perverse ambition, why he should have come
into rivalry with Tasso, yet he did so both as a writer of verses and as a
hanger-on of court beauties. It is impossible to acquit him of bad taste
in the manner in which he and some at least of his fellow courtiers
treated the unfortunate poet, and there was certainly bad blood between
the two soon after the production of the _Aminta_, owing, probably, to the
ungenerous remarks passed by Guarini upon the author's indebtedness to
previous writers. After Tasso's confinement to S. Anna in 1579, Guarini
became court poet, and the luckless prisoner was condemned to see his own
poems entrusted to the editorial care of his rival.

Guarini, however, was not satisfied with the court of Ferrara. His estate
was reduced by the expenses entailed by his missions as ambassador, for
which, like Machiavelli, he appears never to have received adequate
supplies, and by the continuous litigation in which he involved himself.
His political imagination, too, had been fired during a stay at Turin with
the possibilities inherent for Italy in the house of Savoy--an enthusiasm
which possibly did not tend to smooth his relations with his own master.
In 1582 he left Ferrara and the service of Alfonso and retired to his
ancestral estates of S. Bellino. Here he devoted himself to the
composition of the play he had lately taken in hand, which, in spite of
spasmodic returns to political life not only at the court of the Estensi
but also at Turin and Florence, forms thenceforward with its many
vicissitudes the central interest of his biography. He survived till 1612,
dying at the age of seventy-four.

To do justice to the _Pastor fido_ it would be best to give the story in
the form of a continuous narrative rather than an analysis of the actual
scenes, since the author's constructive power lay almost wholly in the
invention of an intricate plot and his weakness in the scenic rendering of
it. His dramatic methods, however, so far elaborated from the simplicity
of Tasso's, had a vast influence over subsequent work, and it is highly
important to obtain a clear idea of their nature. We shall, therefore, be
condemned to follow Guarini, part-way at least, through the stiff
artificiality of his interminable scenes.

A complicated story which is narrated at length in the course of the play
explains the peculiar laws of Arcadia on which the plot hinges[186]. These
comprise an edict of Diana to the effect that any nymph found guilty of a
breach of faith shall suffer death at the altar unless some one offers to
die in her place; likewise a custom whereby a nymph between fifteen and
twenty years of age is annually sacrificed to the goddess. When besought
to release the land from this tribute Diana through her oracle replies:

Non avra prima fin quel che v' offende,
Che duo semi del ciel congiunga amore;
E di donna infedel l' antico errore
L' alta pieta d' un pastor fido ammende.

The only two in Arcadia who fulfil the conditions of the oracle are
Silvio, the son of the high priest Montano, and Amarilli, daughter of
Titiro, who have in their veins the blood of Hercules and Pan. These two
have consequently been betrothed and, being now arrived at marriageable
age, their final union is imminent.

At this point the play opens. Silvio cares for nothing but the chase,
regardless alike of his destined bride and of the love borne him by the
nymph Dorinda; Amarilli is seemingly heart-whole, but secretly loves her
suitor Mirtillo, a stranger in Arcadia, whom, however, she persists in
treating with coldness in view of the penalty involved by a breach of
faith. Mirtillo in his turn is loved by Corisca, a wanton nymph who has
learned the arts of the city, and who is pursued both by Coridone, to whom
she is formally engaged, but whom she neglects, and by a satyr. Almost
every character is provided with a confidant: Silvio has Linco; Mirtillo,
Ergasto; Dorinda, Lupino; Carino[187], the supposed father of Mirtillo,
has Uranio; Montano and Titiro act as confidants to one another. The only
case arguing any dramatic feeling is that in which Amarilli makes a
confidant of her rival Corisca; while Corisca and the satyr alone among
the more important characters are left to address the audience directly.
Even the confidants sometimes need confidants in their turn, these being
supplied by a conveniently ubiquitous chorus.

In the first scene of Act I, after the prologue, in which Alfeo rises to
pay compliments to Carlo Emanuele and his bride, we are introduced to
Silvio and Linco, who are about to start in pursuit of a savage boar which
has been devastating the country. Linco taxes his companion with his
neglect of the softer joys of love, to which Silvio replies with
long-drawn praise of the free life of the woods. The scene is parallel to
the first of the _Aminta_, and the author has sought here and elsewhere to
point the contrast. Thus where Tasso wrote:

Cangia, cangia consiglio,
Pazzerella che sei;
Che il pentirsi dassezzo nulla giova;

Guarini has:

Lascia, lascia le selve,
Folle garzon, lascia le fere, ed ama.

In the next scene, again modelled on the corresponding one in Tasso's
play, we find Ergasto comforting Mirtillo in his despair at Amarilli's
'cruelty.' Mirtillo has but recently arrived in Arcadia, and is ignorant
of its history and customs, which Ergasto explains at length. The third
scene is devoted to a long monologue by Corisca; the fourth to a
conversation between Montano and Titiro, who discuss the oracles
concerning the approaching marriage and recount portentous dreams. A
monologue by the satyr relating his ill-usage at the hands of Corisca,
followed by a chorus, ends the first act. The next scene contains the
history of Mirtillo's passion as narrated to his confidant. Ergasto has
enlisted the services of Corisca, and the whole paraphernalia of love lead
in the next act to an interview between Mirtillo and Amarilli. The
author's dramatic method whereby he presents us with alternate scenes from
the various threads of the plot will by now be evident to the reader, and
the remainder may for clearness' sake be thrown into narrative form.

Corisca, well knowing that it is impossible for Amarilli to show favour to
Mirtillo, and hoping to ingratiate herself with him, prevails upon the
nymph to grant her lover a hearing, provided the interview be secret and
short. During a game of blind man's buff the players suddenly retire,
leaving Mirtillo and Amarilli alone. The interview of course comes to
nothing, but as soon as Mirtillo has left her Amarilli relieves her
feelings in a monologue confessing her love, which is overheard by
Corisca[188]. Charged with her weakness, she confesses her dislike of the
marriage with Silvio. Hereupon Corisca conceives a plan for ridding
herself at once of her rival in Mirtillo's affections and of her own
affianced lover. She leads Amarilli to suppose that Silvio is faithless
to his betrothal vow. If Amarilli can prove Silvio guilty she will
herself be free, and she agrees to hide in a recess in a cave where
Corisca alleges that Silvio has an assignation. Next Corisca makes an
appointment to meet her lover Coridone in the same cave, intending that he
and Amarilli shall be surprised together. Finally, in order to obtain a
witness, she accuses Amarilli to Mirtillo of being faithless, and bids him
watch the mouth of the cave in which she alleges the nymph has an
assignation with Coridone. This ingenious plan would have succeeded to
perfection but for Mirtillo's precipitancy, for, seeing Amarilli enter the
cave, he at once concludes her guilt and follows her forthwith to wreak
revenge. At that moment the satyr appears and, misunderstanding some words
of Mirtillo's, proceeds to bar the entrance to the cave with a huge rock,
thinking he is imprisoning Mirtillo and Corisca. He then goes off to
inform the priests of the pollution committed so near their temple. These
enter the cave and apprehend the lovers. Amarilli is at once condemned to
death, but Mirtillo thereupon offers himself in her place and, being
accepted by the priests, is kept as a sacrifice, Amarilli being at the
same time closely guarded lest she should lay violent hands upon herself.

In the meantime Silvio has been successful in his hunting of the boar,
whose head he brings home in triumph. There follows an echo-scene, one of
those toys which, as old as the Greek Anthology, and cultivated in Latin
by Tebaldeo, and in Italian by Poliziano, owed, not indeed their
introduction, but certainly their great popularity in pastoral, to
Guarini. His example is fairly successful. The echo predicts that the end
of Silvio's 'carelessness' is at hand, when he shall himself break his bow
and follow her who now follows him. The prophecy is quick of fulfilment.
With a jest he turns to go, when his eye falls on a grey object crouching
among the bushes. He supposes it to be a wolf, and looses an arrow at it.
It proves, however, to be Dorinda, who has throughout followed his chase
disguised in the rough wolf-skin coat of a herdsman, and who is now led
fainting on to the scene by Lupino. Silvio is overcome with remorse, and,
careless alike of his troth to Amarilli and of the fate of Arcadia,
declares that thenceforth he will love none but Dorinda, and will die
with her should his arrow prove fatal. They leave the stage for good--to
get healed and married.

To return to the main plot. At sundown Mirtillo is led out to die, and the
sacrifice is about to be performed when his supposed father, an Arcadian
by birth, though he has long lived at Elis, and has just arrived in search
of his foster child, interposes. Explanations ensue, and it gradually
appears that Mirtillo is the eldest son of Montano, washed away in his
cradle by the floods of the Alpheus twenty years before. Thus in the love
between him and Amarilli, and in his voluntary sacrifice of himself in her
place, the oracle is fulfilled, and Arcadia freed from its maiden tribute.
This seems obvious enough, though it takes the inspiration of a blind
prophet to drive it into the heads of the assembled Arcadians. A final
difficulty remains--the broken troth. But it so happens that Mirtillo was
originally named Silvio, so that to 'Silvio' no faith is broken. A
casuistical reason indeed; but good enough for the purpose. No attempt is
made to clear Amarilli of the compromising evidence on which she had been
condemned, but the pair have the favour of the gods, and the chorus makes
no difficulty of chanting the virtue of the bride.

Such is Guarini's play; a plot constructed with consummate ingenuity, but
presented with an almost entire lack of dramatic feeling. Almost the whole
of the action takes place off the stage. Silvio and Dorinda leave the
scene apparently for a tragic catastrophe; their subsequent union is only
reported; so is the surprisal of Mirtillo and Amarilli, the scene in which
the former offers himself as a sacrifice in her place, and their meeting
after the cloud of death has passed. The solitary scene revealing any real
dramatic power is that between Amarilli and the priest Nicandro, in which
the girl maintains her innocence. Her terror when confronted with death is
drawn with some delicacy and pathos, though we sadly miss those poignant
touches that the English playwrights seem always to have had at command on
similar occasions. Her fear of death, however, stands in powerful dramatic
contrast with the sudden courage she displays when her lover seeks to die
in her place. Guarini was perfectly aware of the value of this contrast,
for he placed the following lines in the mouth of the _messo_ who reports
the scene:

Or odi maraviglia.
Quella che fu pur dianzi
Si dalla tema del morire oppressa,
Fatta allor di repente
A le parole di Mirtillo invitta,
Con intrepido cor cosi rispose:
'Pensi dunque, Mirtillo,
Di dar col tuo morire
Vita a chi di te vive?
O miracolo ingiusto! Su, ministri;
Su, che si tarda? omai
Menatemi agli altari.' (V. ii.)

And yet this dramatic contrast has been wantonly thrown away by the
substitution of narrative for representation, less for the sake of a blind
adherence to classical convention, as on account of the author's inability
honestly to face a powerful situation. The same dramatic incapacity shows
itself in his use of borrowings. It will be sufficient to mention the
sententious words from Ovid (_Amores_, I. viii. 43) placed in the mouth of
the chorus:

Dunque non si dira donna pudica
Se non quella che mai
Non fu sollecitata; (IV. in.)

in order to compare them with the use made of the same by Webster when he
made Vittoria at her trial exclaim:

Casta est quam nemo rogavit!--

a comparison which at once reveals the gulf fixed between the clairvoyant
dramatist and the mere pedantic scholar.

And yet the subsequent history of pastoral reminds us that it is quite
possible to underestimate Guarini's merits as a playwright. In the
construction of a complicated plot, apart from the dramatic presentation
thereof, he achieved a success not to be paralleled by any previous work
in Italy, for the difference in the titles of the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor
fido_, the one styled _favola_ and the other _tragi-commedia_, indicates a
real distinction; and Guarini's proud claim to have invented a new
dramatic kind was not wholly unfounded[189]. It was this that caused
Symonds to speak of his play as 'sculptured in pure forms of classic
grace,' while describing the _Aminta_ as 'perfumed and delicate like
flowers of spring.' And lastly, it was this more elaborately dramatic
quality that was responsible for the far greater influence exercised by
Guarini than by Tasso, both on the subsequent drama of Italy and still
more on the fortunes of the pastoral in England.

Moreover, in Amarilli, Guarini created one really dramatic character and
devoted to it one really dramatic scene. His heroine is probably the best
character to be found in the whole of the pastoral drama, and this simply
because there is a reason for her coldness towards the lover, upon her
love to whom the plot depends. Unless love is to be mutual the motive
force of the drama fails, and consequently, when nymphs insist on parading
their inhuman superiority to the dictates of natural affection, they are
simply refusing to fulfil their dramatic _raison d'etre_. With Amarilli it
is otherwise. She has the right to say:

Ama l' onesta mia, s' amante sei; (III. iii.)

and there is a pathos in the words which the author may not have himself
fully understood; whereas the similar expression of Tasso's Silvia quoted
on a previous page is insufferable in its smug self-conceit.

Of this quality of extravagant virginity noticed as a characteristic of
Tasso's play there is on the whole less in the _Pastor fido_. It is also
freer from the tone of cynical corruption and from improper suggestion.
These merits are, however, more than counterbalanced in the ethical scale
by the elaboration of the spirit of sentimental sensualism, which becomes
as it were an enveloping atmosphere, and lends an enervating seduction to
the piece. This spirit, already present in the _Aminta_, reappeared in an
emphasized form in the _Pastor fido_, and attained its height in the
following century in Marino's epic of _Adone_. We find it infusing the
scene of Mirtillo's first meeting with Amarilli, which may be said to set
the tone of the rest of the poem. Happening to see the nymph at the
Olympian games, Mirtillo at once fell in love and contrived to introduce
himself in female attire into the company of maidens to which she
belonged. Here, the proposal being made to hold a kissing match among
themselves, Amarilli was unanimously chosen judge, and, the contest over,
she awarded the prize to the disguised youth. The incident owes its
origin, as Guarini's notes point out, to the twelfth Idyl of Theocritus,
and the suggestion of the kissing match is aptly put into the mouth of a
girl from Megara, where an annual contest of kisses among the Greek youths
was actually held. Guarini, however, most probably borrowed the episode
from the fifth canto of Tasso's _Rinaldo_.

The sentimental seductiveness of this and other scenes did not escape
sharp comment in some quarters within a few years of the publication of
the play. In 1605 Cardinal Bellarmino, meeting Guarini at Rome, told him
plainly that he had done as much harm to morals by his _Pastor fido_ as by
their heresies Luther and Calvin had done to religion. Later Janus Nicius
Erythraeus, that is Giovanni Vittorio Rossi, in his _Pinacoteca_, compared
the play to a rock-infested sea full of seductive sirens, in which no
small number of girls and wives were said to have made shipwreck. It is at
first sight ratifier a severe indictment to bring against Guarini's play,
especially when we remember that a work of art is more often an index than
a cause of social corruption. After what has been said, however, of the
nature of the sentiment both in the _Pastor fido_ and the _Aminta_, the
charge can hardly be dismissed as altogether unfounded. It is only fair to
add that very different views have been held with regard to the moral
aspect of the play, the theory of its essential healthiness finding an
eloquent advocate in Ugo Angelo Canello[190].

Little as it became him, Guarini chose to adopt the attitude of a
guardian of morals, and Bellarmino's words clearly possessed a special
sting. This pose was in truth but a part of the general attitude he
assumed towards the author of the _Aminta_. His superficial propriety
authorized him, in his own eyes, to utter a formal censure upon the
amorous dream of the ideal poet. He paid the price of his unwarranted
conceit. Those passages in which he was at most pains to contrast his
ethical philosophy with Tasso's imaginative Utopia are those in which he
most clearly betrayed his own insufferable pedantry; while critics even in
his own day saw through the unexceptionable morality of his frigid
declamations and ruthlessly exposed the sentimental corruption that lay
beneath. When we compare his parody in the fourth chorus of the _Pastor
fido_ with Tasso's great ode; his sententious 'Piaccia se lice' with
Tasso's 'S' ei piace, ei lice'; his utterly banal

Speriam: che 'l sol cadente anco rinasce;
E 'l ciel, quando men luce,
L' aspettato seren spesso n' adduce,

with Tasso's superb, even though borrowed, paganism:

Amiam: che 'l sol si muore, e poi rinasce;
A noi sua breve luce
S' asconde, e 'l sonno eterna notte adduce--

when we make this comparison we have the spiritual measure of the man. A
similar comparison will give us his measure as a poet. Take the graceful
but over-elaborated picture:

Quell' augellin che canta
Si dolcemente, e lascivetto vola
Or dall' abete al faggio,
Ed or dal faggio al mirto,
S' avesse umano spirto
Direbbe: 'Ardo d' amore, ardo d' amore!'

Compare with this the spontaneous sketch of Tasso:

Odi quell' usignuolo
Che va di ramo in ramo
Cantando: 'Io amo, io amo!'[191]

Or again, with the irresistible slyness of the final chorus of the
_Aminta_ already quoted compare the sententious lines with which Guarini
closed his play:

O fortunata coppia,
Che pianto ha seminato, e riso accoglie!
Con quante amare doglie
Hai raddolciti tu gli affetti tuoi!
Quinci imparate voi,
O ciechi e troppo teneri mortali,
I sinceri diletti, e i veri mali.
Non e sana ogni gioia,
Ne mal cio che v' annoia.
Quello e vero gioire,
Che nasce da virtu dopo il soffrire.

It is impossible not to come to the conclusion that we are listening in
the one case to a genuine poet of no common order, in the other to a
poetaster of considerable learning and great ingenuity, who elected to don
the outward habit of a somewhat hypocritical morality. The effect of the
contrast is further heightened when we remember that Guarini never for a
moment doubted that he had far surpassed the work of his predecessor.

Guarini's comment on the _Aminta_ in his letter to Speroni has been
already quoted: it does little credit to the writer. Manso, the companion
and biographer of Tasso, records that, the poet being asked by some
friends what he thought of the _Pastor fido_, a copy of which had lately
found its way to him at Naples:

Et egli, 'Mi piace sopramodo, ma confesso di non saper la cagione perche
mi piaccia.' Onde io rispondendogli, 'Vi piacera per avventura,'
soggiunsi, 'quel che vi riconoscete del vostro.' Et egli replico, 'Ne
puo piacere il vedere il suo in man d' altri.'[192]

Guarini would hardly have acknowledged his indebtedness to Tasso in the
way of art, but he drew on all sources for the incidents of his plot, and,
since he appears to have valued a reputation for scholarship above one for
originality, he recorded a fair proportion of his borrowings in his notes.

* * * * *

The _Pastor fido_ was the talk of the Italian Courts even before it was
completed. Early in 1584 the heir to the duchy of Mantua, Vincenzo
Gonzaga, to whose intercession Tasso later owed his liberty, entreated
Guarini to let him have his already famous pastoral for the occasion of
his marriage with Eleonora de' Medici. The poet, however, found it
impossible to complete the work in time, and sent the _Idropica_ instead.
In the autumn a projected representation of the now completed play came to
naught. The following year Guarini presented his play to the Duke of
Savoy, and received a gold chain as an acknowledgement. The occasion was
the entry into Turin of Carlo Emanuele and his bride, Catharine of
Austria, the marriage having taken place at Saragossa some time
previously. The dedication is recorded on the title-page of the first
edition in words that have not unnaturally been held to imply that the
play was performed on that occasion.[193] It is clear, however, from
contemporary documents that this is an error, and, though preparations
were made in view of a performance at the following carnival, these too
were abandoned. After this we find mention of preparations made at a
variety of places, but they never came to anything, and there is reason to
believe that some at least were abandoned owing to the opposition of
Alfonso d' Este, who never forgave a courtier who transferred his
allegiance to another prince. In 1591 Vincenzo Gonzaga, now duke, summoned
Guarini to Mantua, and matters advanced as far as a _prova generale_ or
dress rehearsal. The project, however, had once more to be abandoned owing
to the death of Cardinal Gianvincenzo Gonzaga at Rome. We possess the
scheme for the four _intermezzi_ designed for this occasion, representing
the _Musica della Terra, del Mare, dell' Aria_, and _Celeste_. They were
scenic and musical only, without words. About this time too, that is after
the appearance of the first edition dated 1590, we have notes of
preparations for several private performances, the ultimate fate of which
is uncertain. The first representation of which there is definite
evidence, though even here details are lacking, took place at Crema in
Lombardy in 1596, at the cost of Lodovico Zurla[194]. After this
performances become frequent, and in 1598, after the death of Alfonso, the
play was finally produced in state before Vincenzo Gonzaga at Mantua. On
all these occasions we may suppose that other prologues were substituted
for that addressed to _gran Caterina_ and _magnanimo Carlo_[195].

In the meanwhile Guarini, fearing piracy, had turned his attention to the
publication of his play. He first resolved to submit it to the criticism
of Lionardo Salviati and Scipione Gonzaga, the latter of whom had been a
member of the unlucky committee for the revision of the _Gerusalemme_.
Unfortunately little or nothing is known as to the criticisms and
recommendations of these two men. The work finally appeared, as we learn
from a letter of the author, at Venice in December, 1589. It is a handsome
quarto from the press of Giovanbattista Bonfadino, and is dated the
following year[196]. In 1602 a luxurious edition, said on the title-page
to be the twentieth, was issued at Venice by Giovanbattista Ciotti. This
represents Guarini's final revision of the text, and contains, besides a
portrait and engravings, elaborate notes by the author, and an essay on

The _Pastor fido_ was the object of a violent attack while as yet it
circulated in manuscript only. As early as 1587 a certain Giasone de Nores
or Denores, a Cypriot noble who held the chair of moral philosophy at the
university of Padua, published a pamphlet on the relations existing
between different forms of literature and the philosophy of government, in
which, while refraining from any specific allusions, he denounced
tragi-comedies and pastorals as 'monstrous and disproportionate
compositions ... contrary to the principles of moral and civil
philosophy.' Guarini argued that, as his play was the only one deserving
to be called a tragi-comedy and was at the same time a pastoral, the
reference was palpable. He proceeded therefore to compose a counterblast
which he named _Il Verato_ (1588) after a well-known comic actor of the
time, who, it may be remarked, had had the management of Argenti's
_Sfortunato_ in 1567. In this pamphlet Guarini traversed the professor's
propositions with a good deal of scholastic ergotism: 'As in compounds the
hot accords with the cold, its mortal enemy, as the dry humour with the
moist, so the elements of tragedy and comedy, though separately
antagonistic, yet when united in a third form,' _et cetera et cetera_. De
Nores replied in an _Apologia_ (1590), disclaiming all personal allusion,
and the poet finally answered back in a _Verato secondo_, first published
in 1593, after his antagonist's death, restating his arguments and
seasoning them with a good deal of unmannerly abuse. These two treatises
of Guarini's were reprinted with alterations as the _Compendio della
poesia tragicommica_, in the 1602 edition of the play, and together with
the notes to the same edition form Guarini's own share of the
controversy[198]. But in 1600, before these had appeared, a Paduan,
Faustino Summo, published a set attack on and dissection of the play;
while a certain Giovan Pietro Malacreta of Vicenza illustrated the
attitude of the age with regard to literature by putting forward a series
of critical _dubbi_, that is, doubts as to the 'authority' of the form
employed. Both works are distinguished by a spirit of puerile cavil, which
would of itself almost suffice to reconcile us to the worst faults of the
poet. Thus Malacreta is not even content to let the author choose his own
title, arguing that Mirtillo was faithful not in his quality of shepherd
but of lover[199]. He goes on to complain of the tangle of laws and
oracles which Guarini invents in order to motive the action of his play;
and here, though taken individually his objections may be hypercritical,
he has laid his finger on a very real weakness of the author's ingenious
plot. It is, moreover, a weakness common to almost the whole tribe of the
Arcadian, or rather Utopian, pastorals. Apologists soon appeared, and had
little difficulty in disposing of most of the adverse criticisms. A
specific _Risposta_ to Malacreta appeared at Padua in 1600 from the pen of
Paolo Beni. Defences by Giovanni Savio and Orlando Pescetti were printed
at Venice and Verona respectively in 1601, while one at least, written by
Gauges de Gozze of Pesaro, under the pseudonym of Fileno di Isauro,
circulated in manuscript. These writings, however, are marked either by
futile endeavours to reconcile the _Pastor fido_ with the supposed
teaching of Aristotle and Horace, or else by such extravagant laudation as
that of Pescetti, who doubted not that had Aristotle known Guarini's play,
it would have been to him the model of a new kind to rank with the epic of
Homer and the tragedy of Sophocles[200]. Finally, Summo returned to the
charge with a rejoinder to Pescetti and Beni printed at Vicenza in
1601[201]. But all this writing and counter-writing in no way affected the
popularity of the _Pastor fido_ and its successors. Moreover, the critical
position of the combatants on both sides was essentially false. It would
be an easy task to fill a volume with strictures on the play touching its
sentimental tone, its affected manners, its stiff development, its
undramatic construction, the weak drawing of character, the lack of motive
force to move the complex machinery, and many other points--strictures
that should be unanswerable. But those who wish to understand the
influence exercised by the play over subsequent literature in Europe will
find their time better spent in analysing those qualities, whether
emotional or artistic, which won for it the enthusiastic worship of the
civilized world.

Numerous translations bear witness to its popularity far beyond the shores
of Italy. The earliest of these was into French, and appeared in 1595; it
was followed by several others. The Spanish versions have already been
mentioned, and the English will occupy our attention shortly. Besides
these there are versions, often more than one, in German, Greek, Swedish,
Dutch, and Polish. There are likewise versions in the Bergamasc and
Neapolitan dialects, while the manuscript of a Latin translation is
preserved in the University Library at Cambridge.


There were obvious advantages in treating the two masterpieces of pastoral
drama in Italy in close connexion with one another. It must not, however,
be supposed that they stood alone in the field of pastoral composition.
Both between the years 1573 when the _Aminta_ was composed and 1590 when
the _Pastor fido_ was printed, and also after the latter year, the stream
of plays continued unchecked, though, apart from a general tendency
towards greater regularity of dramatic construction, they do not form any
organic link in the chain of artistic development. Few deserve more than
passing notice. In the earlier ones, at least, we still find a tendency to
introduce extraneous elements. Thus _Gl' Intricati_, printed in 1581, and
acted a few years before at Zara, the work of Count Alvise, or, it would
appear, more correctly Luigi, Pasqualigo, contains a farcical and magical
part combined with some rather coarse jesting between two rogues, one
Spanish and one Bolognese, who speak in their respective dialects. Another
play in which a comic element appears is Bartolommeo Rossi's _Fiammella_
(1584), which has the further peculiarity of introducing allegorical
characters into the prologue, and mythological into the play. Another
piece belonging to this period is the _Pentimento amoroso_ by Luigi Groto,
which was printed as early as 1575. It is a wild tale of murder and
intrigue, judgement and outrageous self-sacrifice, composed in
_sdrucciolo_ verse and speeches of monstrous length. Another piece,
Gabriele Zinano's _Caride_, surreptitiously printed in 1582, and included
in an authorized publication in 1590, has the peculiarity of placing the
prologue in the mouth of Vergil. Lastly, I may mention Angelo Ingegneri's
_Danza di Venere_, acted at Parma in 1583, and printed the following year.
It contains the incident of a mad shepherd's regaining his wits through
gazing on the beauty of a sleeping nymph, thus borrowing the motive of
Boccaccio's tale of Cymon and Iphigenia. Its chief interest for us,
however, lies in the episode of the hero employing a gang of satyrs to
carry off his beloved during a solemn dance in honour of Venus. This looks
like a reminiscence of Giraldi Cintio's _Egle_, and through it of the old
satyric drama[202].

These plays all belong to the period between the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor
fido_. Tasso's and Guarini's masterpieces mark the point of furthest
development attained by the pastoral drama in Italy, or indeed in Europe.
With them the vitality which rendered evolution possible was spent, though
the power of reproduction remained unimpaired for close on a century.
Signor Rossi, in the monograph of which I have already made such free use,
mentions a number of plays, whose dependence on the _Pastor fido_ is
evident from their titles, though Guarini's influence is, of course, far
more widely spread than such eclectic treatment reveals. The most curious,
perhaps, is a play, _I figliuoli di Aminta e Silvia e di Mirtillo ed
Amarilli_, by Ercole Pelliciari, dealing with the fortunes of the children
of the heroes and heroines of Tasso and Guarini. We are on the way to a
genealogical cycle of Arcadian drama, similar to the cycles of romance
that centred round Roland and Launcelot. It would be a work of
supererogation to demonstrate in detail the influence exercised by Tasso
and Guarini over their Italian followers, and a task of forbidding
proportions to give the bare titles of the plays that witnessed to that
influence. Serassi reports that in 1614 Clementi Bartoli of Urbino
possessed no less than eighty pastoral plays; while by 1700, the year of
Fontanini's work on the _Aminta_, Giannantonio Moraldi is said to hsve
brought together in Rome a collection of over two hundred.[203] Every
device was resorted to that could lend novelty to the scenes; in Carlo
Noci's _Cintia_ (1594) the heroine returns home disguised as a boy to find
her lover courting another nymph; in Francesco Contarini's _Finta
Fiammetta_ (1610), on the other hand, the plot turns on the courtship of
Delfide by her lover Celindo in girl's attire; while in Orazio Serono's
_Fida Armilla_ (1610) we have the annual human sacrifice to a monstrous
serpent--all of which later became familiar themes in pastoral drama and
romance. Two plays only call for closer attention, and this rather on
account of a certain reputation they have gained than of any intrinsic
merit. One of these, Antonio Ongaro's _Alceo_, which was printed in 1582
and is therefore earlier than the _Pastor fido_, has been happily
nicknamed _Aminta bagnato_. It is a piscatorial adaptation of Tasso's
play, which it follows almost scene for scene. The satyr becomes a triton
with as little change of character as the nymphs and shepherds undergo in
their metamorphosis to fisher girls and boys. Alceo shows less
resourcefulness than his prototype in that he twice tries to commit
suicide by throwing himself into the sea. The last act is spun out to
three scenes in accordance with the demand for greater regularity of
dramatic construction, but gains nothing but tedium thereby. The other
play to be considered connects itself in plot rather with the _Pastor
fido_. It is the _Filli di Sciro_, the work of Guidubaldo Bonarelli della
Rovere. The poet's father enjoyed the protection of the Duke Guidubaldo II
of Urbino, but in after days he removed to the court of the Estensi at
Ferrara. It was here that the play appeared in 1607, though it is
dedicated to Francesco Maria della Rovere, who had by that time succeeded
his father in the duchy of Urbino. The plot of the play is highly
intricate, and shows a tendency towards the introduction of an adventurous
element; it turns upon the tribute of youths and maidens exacted from the
island of Scyros by the king of Thrace. The figure of the satyr is
replaced by a centaur who carries off one of the nymphs. Her cries attract
two youths who succeed in driving off the monster, but are severely
wounded in the encounter. The nymph, Celia, thereupon falls in love with
both her rescuers at once, and it is only when one of them proves to be
her long-lost brother that she is able to make up her mind between
them[204]. This brother had been carried off as a child by the Thracians
together with his betrothed Filli, and having escaped was lately returned
to his native land. From a dramatic point of view the _denoument_ is even
more preposterous than usual. The principal characters leave the stage at
the end of the fourth act, under sentence of death, and do not reappear,
the whole of the last act being occupied with narratives of their
subsequent fortunes. A point which is possibly worth notice is the
introduction of that affected talk on the technicalities of sheepcraft
which adds so greatly to the already intolerable artificiality of the
later pastoral drama, but which is happily absent from the work of Tasso
and Guarini.

* * * * *

We have now reached the end of our survey of the Italian pastoral drama.
In spite of the space it has been necessary to devote to the subject, it
must be borne in mind that we have treated it from one point of view only.
Besides the interest which it possesses in connexion with the development
of pastoral tradition, it also plays a very important part in the history
of dramatic art, not in Italy alone, but over the whole of Europe. On this
aspect of the subject we have hardly so much as touched. Nor is this all.
If it is true, as is commonly assumed, that the opera had its birth in the
_Orfeo_ of Angelo Poliziano, it is not less true that it found its cradle
in the Arcadian drama. A few isolated pieces may still be able to charm us
by their poetic beauty. In dealing with the rest it must never be
forgotten that without the costly scenery and elaborate musical setting
that lent body and soul to them in their day, we have what is little
better than the dry bones of these _ephemeridae_ of courtly art.

Chapter IV.

Dramatic Origins of the English Pastoral Drama


Having at length arrived at what must be regarded as the main subject of
this work, it will be my task in the remaining chapters to follow the
growth of the pastoral drama in England down to the middle of the
seventeenth century, and in so doing to gather up and weave into a
connected web the loose threads of my discourse.

Taking birth among the upland meadows of Sicily, the pastoral tradition
first assumed its conventional garb in imperial Rome, and this it
preserved among learned writers after its revival in the dawn of the
Italian renaissance. With Arcadia for its local habitation it underwent a
rebirth in the opening years of the sixteenth century in Sannazzaro's
romance, and again towards the close in the drama of Tasso. It became
chivalric in Spain and courtly in France, and finally reached this country
in three main streams, the eclogue borrowed by Spenser from Marot, the
romance suggested to Sidney by Montemayor, and the drama imitated by
Daniel from Tasso and Guarini. Once here, it blended variously with other
influences and with native tradition to produce a body of dramatic work,
which, ill-defined, spasmodic and occasional, nevertheless reveals on
inspection a certain character of its own, and one moreover not precisely
to be paralleled from the literary annals of any other European nation.

The indications of a native pastoral impulse, manifesting itself in the
burlesque of the religions drama and the romance of the popular ballads,
we have already considered. The connexion which it is possible to trace
between this undefined impulse and the later pastoral tradition is in no
wise literary; in so far as it exists at all and is one of temperament
alone, a bent of national character. In tracing the rise of the form in
Italy upon the one hand, and in England upon the other, we are struck by
certain curious contrasts and also by certain curious parallelisms. The
closest analogy to the ballad themes to be discovered in the literature of
Italy is in certain of the songs of Sacchetti and his contemporaries, but
it would be unwise to insist on the resemblance. The more suggestive
parallel of the _novelle_ has to be ruled out on the score of form, and is
further differentiated by the notable lack in them of romantic spirit.
Again, in the _sacre rappresentazioni_, the burlesque interpolations from
actual life, which with us aided the genesis of the interlude, and through
it of the romantic comedy, are as a rule so conspicuously absent that the
rustic farce with which one nativity play opens can only be regarded as a
direct and conscious imitation from the French. It is, on the other hand,
a remarkable fact, and one which, in the absence of any evidence of direct
imitation,[205] must be taken to indicate a real parallelism in the
evolution of the tradition in the two countries, that in England as in
Italy the way was paved for pastoral by the appearance of mythological
plays, introducing incidentally pastoral scenes and characters, and
anticipating to some extent at any rate the peculiar atmosphere of the
Arcadian drama.

* * * * *

The earliest of these English mythological plays, alike in date of
production and of publication, was George Peele's _Arraignment of Paris_,
'A Pastorall. Presented before the Queenes Majestie, by the children of
her Chappell,' no doubt in 1581, and printed three years later.[206] It
partakes of the nature of the masque in that the whole composition centres
round a compliment to the Queen, Eliza or Zabeta--a name which, as Dr.
Ward notes, Peele probably borrowed along with one or two other hints from
Gascoigne's Kenilworth entertainment of 1575. The title sufficiently
expresses its mythological character, and the precise value of the term
'pastoral' on the title-page is difficult to determine. The characters are
for the most part either mythological or rustic; the only truly pastoral
ones being Paris and Oenone, whose parts, however, in so far as they are
pastoral, are also of the slightest. It is of course impossible to say
exactly to what extent the fame of the Italian pastoral drama may have
penetrated to England--the _Aminta_ was first printed the year of the
production of Peele's play, and waited a decade before the first English
translation and the first English edition appeared[207]--but no influence
of Tasso's masterpiece can be detected in the _Arraignment_; still less is
it possible to trace any acquaintance with Poliziano's work.

After a prologue, in which Ate foretells in staid and measured but not
unpleasing blank verse the fall of Troy, the silvan deities, Pan, Faunus,
Silvanus, Pomona, Flora, enter to welcome the three goddesses who are on
their way to visit 'Ida hills,' and who after a while enter, led by Rhanis
and accompanied by the Muses, whose processional chant heralds their
approach. They are greeted by Pan, who sings:

The God of Shepherds, and his mates,
With country cheer salutes your states,
Fair, wise, and worthy as you be,
And thank the gracions ladies three
For honour done to Ida.

When these have retired from the stage there follows a charming idyllic
scene between the lovers Paris and Oenone, which contains the delightful
old song, one of the lyric pearls of the Elizabethan drama:

_Oenone._ Fair and fair, and twice so fair,
As fair as any may be;
The fairest shepherd on our green,
A love for any lady.

_Paris._ Fair and fair, and twice so fair,
As fair as any may be;
Thy love is fair for thee alone,
And for no other lady.

_Oenone._ My love is fair, my love is gay,
As fresh as bin the flowers in May,
And of my love my roundelay,
My merry, merry, merry roundelay,
Concludes with Cupid's curse--
They that do change old love for new,
Pray gods they change for worse!

_Both._ They that do change old love for new,
Pray gods they change for worse!

The second act presents us the three goddesses who have come to Ida on a
party of pleasure with no very definite object in view, and are now
engaged in exercising their tongues at one another's expense. The scene
consists of a cross-fire of feminine amenities, not of the most delicate,
it is true, and therefore not here to be reproduced, yet of a keenness of
temper and a ringing mastery in the rimed verse little less than brilliant
in themselves, and little less than a portent at the date of their
appearance. Then a storm arises, during which, the goddesses having sought
refuge in Diana's bower, Ate rolls the fatal ball upon the stage. On the
return of the three the inscription _Detur pulcherrimae_ breeds fresh
strife, until they agree to submit the case for judgement to the next man
they meet. Paris arriving upon the scene at this point is at once called
upon to decide the rival claims of the contending goddesses. First Juno
promises wealth and empery, and presents a tree hung as with fruit with
crowns and diadems, all which shall be the meed of the partial judge.
Pallas next seeks to allure the swain with the pomp and circumstance of
war, and conjures up a show in which nine knights, no doubt the nine
worthies, tread a 'warlike almain.' Last Venus speaks:

Come, shepherd, come, sweet shepherd, look on me,
These bene too hot alarums these for thee:
But if thou wilt give me the golden ball,
Cupid my boy shall ha't to play withal,
That whenso'er this apple he shall see,
The God of Love himself shall think on thee,
And bid thee look and choose, and he will wound
Whereso thy fancy's object shall be found.

Whereupon 'Helen entereth in her bravery' attended by four Cupids, and
singing an Italian song which has, however, little merit. As at a later
day Faustus, so now Paris bows before the sovereignty of her beauty, and
then wanders off through Ida glades in the company of the victorious queen
of love, leaving her outraged rivals to plot a common revenge. Act III
introduces the slight rustic element. Hobbinol, Diggon, and Thenot enter
to Colin, who is lamenting the cruelty of his love Thestylis. The names
are obviously borrowed from the _Shepherd's Calender_, but while Colin is
still the type of the hopeless lover, there is no necessity to suspect any
personal identification. The _Arraignment_ was probably produced less than
two years after the publication of Spenser's eclogues, and Peele, who was
an Oxford man, may even have been ignorant of their authorship[208]. Still
more unnecessary are certain other identifications between characters in
the play and persons at court which have been propounded. Such
identifications, at any rate, have no importance for our present task,
which is to ascertain in what measure and in what manner Peele's work
paved the way for the advent of the Italian pastoral; and we note, with
regard to the present scene, that the more polished and more homely
elements alike--both Colin on the one hand, and Diggon, Hobbinol, and the
rest on the other--are inspired by Spenser's work, and by his alone.
Meanwhile Oenone enters, lamenting her desertion by Paris. There is
delicate pathos in the reminiscence of her former song which haunts the
outpouring of her grief--

False Paris, this was not thy vow, when thou and I were one,
To range and change old loves for new; but now those days be gone.

She is less happy in a set lament, beginning:

Melpomene, the Muse of tragic songs,

in which we may perhaps catch a distant echo of Spenser's:

Melpomene, the mournfull'st Muse of nine.

As she ends she is accosted by Mercury, who has been sent to summon Paris
to appear at Juno's suit before the assembly of the gods on a charge of
partiality in judgement. A pretty dialogue ensues in broken fourteeners,
in which the subtle god elicits a description of the shepherd from the
unsuspecting nymph--it too contains some delicate reminiscences of the
lover's duet.

_Mercury._ Is love to blame?

_Oenone._ The queen of love hath made him false his troth.

_Mer._ Mean ye, indeed, the queen of love?

_Oen._ Even wanton Cupid's dame.

_Mer._ Why, was thy love so lovely, then?

_Oen._ His beauty height his shame;
The fairest shepherd on our green.

_Mer._ Is he a shepherd, than?

_Oen._ And sometime kept a bleating flock.

_Mer._ Enough, this is the man.

In the next scene we find Paris and Venus together. First the goddess
directs the assembled shepherds to inscribe the words, 'The love whom
Thestylis hath slain,' as the epitaph of the now dead Colin. When these
have left the stage she turns to Paris:

Sweet shepherd, didst thou ever love?

_Paris._ Lady, a little once.

She then warns him against the dangers of faithlessness in a passage which
is a good example of Peele's use of the old rimed versification, and as
such deserves quotation.

My boy, I will instruct thee in a piece of poetry,
That haply erst thou hast not heard: in hell there is a tree,
Where once a-day do sleep the souls of false forsworen lovers,
With open hearts; and there about in swarms the number hovers
Of poor forsaken ghosts, whose wings from off this tree do beat
Round drops of fiery Phlegethon to scorch false hearts with heat.
This pain did Venus and her son entreat the prince of hell
T'impose on such as faithless were to such as loved them well:
And, therefore, this, my lovely boy, fair Venus doth advise thee,
Be true and steadfast in thy love, beware thou do disguise thee;
For he that makes but love a jest, when pleaseth him to start,
Shall feel those fiery water-drops consume his faithless heart.

_Paris._ Is Venus and her son so full of justice and severity?

_Venus._ Pity it were that love should not be linked with indifferency.[209]

Then follow Colin's funeral, the punishment of the hard-hearted Thestylis,
condemned to love a 'foul crooked churl' who 'crabbedly refuseth her,'
and the scene in which Mercury summons Paris before the Olympian tribunal.
Here we find him in the next act. The gods being seated in the bower of
Diana, Juno and Pallas, and Venus and Paris appear 'on sides' before the
throne of Jove, and in answer to his indictment the shepherd of Ida
delivers a spirited speech. Again the verse is of no small merit.
Defending himself from the charge of partiality in the bestowal of the
prize, he argues:

Had it been destined to majesty--
Yet will I not rob Venus of her grace--
Then stately Juno might have borne the ball.
Had it to wisdom been intituled,
My human wit had given it Pallas then.
But sith unto the fairest of the three
That power, that threw it for my farther ill,
Did dedicate this ball--and safest durst
My shepherd's skill adventure, as I thought,
To judge of form and beauty rather than
Of Juno's state or Pallas' worthiness--...
Behold, to Venus Paris gave the fruit,
A daysman[210] chosen there by full consent,
And heavenly powers should not repent their deeds.

After consultation the gods decide to dismiss the prisoner, though we
gather that he is not wholly acquitted.

_Jupiter._ Shepherd, thou hast been heard with equity and law,
And for thy stars do thee to other calling draw,
We here dismiss thee hence, by order of our senate;
Go take thy way to Troy, and there abide thy fate.

_Venus._ Sweet shepherd, with such luck in love, while thou dost live,
As may the Queen of Love to any lover give.

_Paris._ My luck is loss, howe'er my love do speed:
I fear me Paris shall but rue his deed.

_Apollo._ From Ida woods now wends the shepherd's boy,
That in his bosom carries fire to Troy.

This, however, does not settle the case, and the final adjudication of the
apple of beauty is entrusted by the gods to Diana, since it was in her
grove that it was found. Parting company with classical legend in the
incident which gives its title to the play, Peele further adds a fifth
act, in which he contrives to make the world-famous history subserve the
courtly ends of the masque. When the rival claimants have solemnly sworn
to abide by the decision of their compeer, Diana begins:

It is enough; and, goddesses, attend.
There wons within these pleasaunt shady woods,
Where neither storm nor sun's distemperature
Have power to hurt by cruel heat or cold, ...
Far from disturbance of our country gods,
Amid the cypress springs[211], a gracions nymph,
That honours Dian for her chastity,
And likes the labours well of Phoebe's groves;
The place Elizium hight, and of the place
Her name that governs there Eliza is,
A kingdom that may well compare with mine,
An auncient seat of kings, a second Troy,
Y-compass'd round with a commodious sea.

The rest may be easily imagined. The contending divinities resign their

_Venus._ To this fair nymph, not earthly, but divine,
Contents it me my honour to resign.

_Pallas._ To this fair queen, so beautiful and wise,
Pallas bequeaths her title in the prize.

_Juno._ To her whom Juno's looks so well become,
The Queen of Heaven yields at Phoebe's doom.

The three Fates now enter, and singing a Latin song lay their 'properties'
at the feet of the queen. Then each in turn delivers a speech appropriate
to her character, and finally Diana 'delivereth the ball of gold into the
Queen's own hands,' and the play ends with a couple of doggerel hexameters
chanted by way of epilogue by the assembled actors:

Vive diu felix votis hominumque deumque,
Corpore, mente, libro, doctissima, candida, casta.

The jingle of these lines would alone suffice to prove that Peele's ear
was none of the most delicate, and he particularly sins in disregarding
the accent in the rime-word, a peculiarity which may have been noticed
even in the short passages quoted above. Nevertheless, even apart from its
lyrics, one of which is in its way unsurpassed, the play contains passages
of real grace in the versification. The greater part is written either in
fourteeners or in decasyllabic couplets with occasional alexandrines, in
both of which the author displays an ease and mastery which, to say the
least, were uncommon in the dramatic work of the early eighties; while the
passages of blank verse introduced at important dramatic points, notably
in Paris' defence and in Diana's speech, are the best of their kind
between Surrey and Marlowe. The style, though now and again clumsy, is in
general free from affectation except for an occasional weakness in the
shape of a play upon words. Such is the connexion of Eliza with Elizium,
in a passage already quoted, and the time-honoured _non Angli sed

Her people are y-cleped Angeli,
Or, if I miss, a letter is the most--

occurring a few lines later; also the words of Lachesis:

Et tibi, non aliis, didicerunt parcere Parcae.

With regard to the general construction of the piece it is hardly too much
to say that the skill with which the author has enlarged a masque-subject
into a regular drama, altered a classical legend to subserve a particular
aim, and conducted throughout the multiple perhaps rather than complex
threads of his plot, mark him out as pre-eminent among his contemporaries.
We must not, it is true, look for perfect balance of construction, for
adequacy of dramatic climax, or for subtle characterization; but what has
been achieved was, in the stage of development at which the drama had then
arrived, no mean achievement. The dramatic effects are carefully prepared
for and led up to, reminding us almost at times of the recurrence of a
musical motive. Thus the song between Paris and Oenone, just before the
shepherd goes off to cross Dame Venus' path, is a fine piece of dramatic
irony as well as a charming lyric; while the effect of the reminiscences
of the song scattered through the later pastoral scenes has been already
noticed. Another instance is Venus' warning of the pains in store for
faithless lovers, which fittingly anticipates the words with which Paris
leaves the assembly of the gods. Again, we find a conscious preparation
for the contention between the goddesses in their previous bickerings, and
a conscious juxtaposition of the forsaken Oenone and the love-lorn Colin.
Lastly, there are scattered throughout the play not a few graphic touches,
as when Mercury at sight of Oenone exclaims:

Dare wage my wings the lass doth love, she looks so bleak and thin!

Such then is Peele's mythological play, presented in all the state of a
court revel before her majesty by the children of the Chapel Royal, a play
which it is more correct to say prepared the ground for than, as is
usually asserted, itself contained the germ of the later pastoral drama.
In spite of the care bestowed upon its composition, the _Arraignment of
Paris_ remains a slight and occasional production; but it nevertheless
claims its place as one of the most graceful pieces of its kind, and the
ascription of the play to Shakespeare, current in the later seventeenth
century, is perhaps more of an honour to the elder than of an insult to
the younger poet. Nor, at a more recent date, was Lamb uncritically
enthusiastic when he said of Peele's play that 'had it been in all parts
equal, the Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher had been but a second name in
this sort of Writing.'

Before leaving Peele, mention must be made of one other play from his pen,
namely the _Hunting of Cupid_, known to us unfortunately from a few
fragments only. This is the more tantalizing on account of the freshness
of the passages preserved in _England's Helicon_ and _England's
Parnassus_, and in a commonplace-book belonging to Drummond of
Hawthornden, and also from the fact that there is good reason to suppose
that the work was actually printed[212]. So far as can be judged from the
extracts we possess, and from Drummond's jottings, it appears to have been
a tissue of mythological conceits, much after the manner of the
_Arraignment_, though possibly somewhat more distinctly pastoral in

About contemporary with the _Arraignment of Paris_ are the earliest plays
of John Lyly, the Euphuist. Most of these are of a mythological character,
while three come more particularly under our notice on account of their
pastoral tendency, namely, _Gallathea, Love's Metamorphosis_, and the
_Woman in the Moon_[214].

Although Lyly's romance itself lay outside the scope of this inquiry, we
have already had, in the pastoral work of his imitators, ample
opportunities of becoming acquainted with the peculiarities of the style
he rendered fashionable. Its laborious affectation is all the more
irritating when we remember that its author, on turning his attention to
the more or less unseemly brawling of the Martin Mar-prelate pasquilade,
revealed a command of effective vernacular hardly, if at all, inferior to
that of his friend Nashe; and its complex artificiality becomes but more
apparent when applied to dramatic work. Nevertheless in an age when prose
style was in an even more chaotic state than prosody, Euphuism could claim
qualities of no small value and importance, while as an experiment it was
no more absurd, and vastly more popular, than those in classical
versification. Its qualities, when we consider the general state of
contemporary literature, may well account for the popularity of Lyly's
attempt at novel-writing, but the style was radically unsuited for
dramatic composition, and the result is for the most part hardly to be
tolerated, and can only have met with such court-favour as fell to its
lot, owing to the general fashion for which its success in the romance was
responsible. It is indeed noteworthy that Lyly is the only writer who ever
ventured to apply his literary invention _in toto_ to the uses of the
stage, while even in the romance he lived to see Euphuism as a fashionable
style pale before the growing popularity of Arcadianism[215]. The opening
of _Gallathea_ may supply a specimen of the style as it appears in the
dramas; the scene is laid in Lincolnshire, and Tyterus is addressing his
daughter who gives her name to the piece:

In tymes past, where thou seest a heape of small pyble, stoode a stately
Temple of white Marble, which was dedicated to the God of the Sea, (and
in right being so neere the Sea): hether came all such as eyther
ventured by long travell to see Countries, or by great traffique to use
merchandise, offering Sacrifice by fire, to gette safety by water;
yeelding thanks for perrils past, and making prayers for good successe
to come: but Fortune, constant in nothing but inconstancie, did change
her copie, as the people their custome; for the Land being oppressed by


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