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The Love-Tiff   By: (1622-1673)

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The Love tiff ( Le Dépit amoureux ) is composed of two pieces joined together. The first and longest is a comparatively modest imitation of a very coarse and indecent Italian comedy, L'Interesse , by Signer Nicolo Secchi; its intrigue depends chiefly on the substitution of a female for a male child, a change which forms the groundwork of many plays and novels, and of which Shakespeare has also made use. The second and best part of the Love tiff belongs to Molière alone, and is composed chiefly of the whole of the first act, the first six verses of the third scene, and the whole of the fourth scene of the second act; these, with a few alterations and a few. lines added, form, the comedy which the Théâtre Française plays at the present time. It was first represented at Béziers towards the end of 1656, when the States General of Languedoc were assembled in that town, and met with great success; a success which continued when it was played in Paris at the Théâtre du Petit Bourbon in 1658. Why in some of the former English translations of Moliére the servant Gros René is called "Gros Renard" we are unable to understand, for both names are thoroughly French. Mr. Ozell, in his translation, gives him the unmistakably English, but not very euphonious name of "punch gutted Ben, alias Renier," whilst Foote calls him "Hugh." The incidents of the Love tiff are arranged artistically, though in the Spanish taste; the plot is too complicated, and the ending very unnatural. But the characters are well delineated, and fathers, lovers, mistresses, and servants all move about amidst a complication of errors from which there is no visible disentangling. The conversation between Valère and Ascanio in man's clothes, the mutual begging pardon of Albert and Polydore, the natural astonishment of Lucile, accused in the presence of her father, and the stratagem of Éraste to get the truth from his servants, are all described in a masterly manner, whilst the tiff between Éraste and Lucile, which gives the title to the piece, as well as their reconciliation, are considered among the best scenes of this play.

Nearly all actors in France who play either the valets or the soubrettes have attempted the parts of Gros René and Marinette, and even the great tragédienne Madlle. Rachel ventured, on the 1st of July, 1844, to act Marinette, but not with much success.

Dryden has imitated, in the fourth act of An Evening's Love , a small part of the scene between Marinette and Éraste, the quarrelling scene between Lucile, Éraste, Marinette, and Gros René, as well as in the third act of the same play, the scene between Albert and Metaphrastus. Vanbrugh has very closely followed Molière's play in the Mistake , but has laid the scene in Spain. This is the principal difference I can perceive. He has paraphased the French with a spirit and ease which a mere translation can hardly ever acquire. The epilogue to his play, written by M. Motteux, a Frenchman, whom the revocation of the Edict of Nantes brought into England, is filthy in the extreme. Mr. J. King has curtailed Vanbrugh's play into an interlude, in one act, called Lover's Quarrels , or Like Master Like Man .

Another imitator of Molière was Edward Ravenscroft, of whom Baker says in his Biographia Dramatica , that he was "a writer or compiler of plays, who lived in the reigns of Charles II. and his two successors." He was descended from the family of the Ravenscrofts, in Flintshire; a family, as he himself, in a dedication asserts, so ancient that when William the Conqueror came into England, one of his nobles married into it.

He was some time a member of the Middle Temple; but, looking on the dry study of the law as greatly beneath the attention of a man of genius, quitted it. He was an arrant plagiary. Dryden attacked one of his plays, The Citizen turned Gentleman , an imitation of Molière's Bourgeois Gentilhomme , in the Prologue to The Assignation ... Continue reading book >>

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