Imprecation comique, ou la Plainte des comediens Sur la guerre passée. ACTORS' LAMENT.
Imprecation comique, ou la Plainte des comediens Sur la guerre passée.
Bowing out

Imprecation comique, ou la Plainte des comediens Sur la guerre passée. Paris: [s.n.], 1649.

Half-sheet 4to (binding size 106 x 44 mm). Collation: A-C2 (C2 blank). 11 [recte 10] pp. Woodcut headpiece and initial. Printing flaw on p. 4 with loss to first letters of 6 lines. Title-leaf creased. Nineteenth-century quarter brown morocco (extremities rubbed).***

Only edition of an actor’s lament in rhyming couplets, describing the conditions in Paris during the first year of the Fronde. Not only were the theaters closed — actors silenced, playwrights’ imaginations dried up, and all broke — but, as described in the poem, Paris was at siege: people were starving, young girls were molested, mercenaries roamed the streets of Paris, and even actors engaged in real battles and died. Worst of all, the King and Queen Mother had left Paris. This final break with normalcy was the last straw, and in his final verses the writer (a middling poet) begs them to return, so that their subjects might see them, and that his people might take to the stage again, to dissipate the city’s fatal ennui, through “farces & ioyeusetez.” (The royal family did not return until August.)

Named in the poem (p. 5) are several well known actors of the time: Bellerose [Pierre le Messier, called Bellerose, manager of the Troupe Royale], De Villiers [Claude Deschamps, Sieur de Villiers, who was also a playwright], Lespy [François Bedeau, dit L'Espy], Beauchasteau [François Chatelet, or possibly his wife Madeleine Bouget], and Baron [André Boiron, called Baron]. All were associated with the theater of the Hôtel de Bourgogne.

The insurrection that is called the Parlementary Fronde, which had started as a revolt by the aristocratic Parlement of Paris against royal encroachments on its power and increased taxes by the Crown, was ended by an agreement signed in Rueil on 11 March 1649. In the meantime the Prince of Condé, fighting for the King, had besieged Paris, and in early January the Regent (Anne of Austria) and young King Louis XIV, along with Cardinal Mazarin, fled the city for their chateau at St. Germain en Laye. This pamphlet, in which it is reported that peace is promised, was probably written and published in March. The reference to the “past war” in the title was unfortunately premature, as skirmishes were to continue for four more years between various factions with shifting allegiances, in what became known as the Fronde des Princes.

The pamphlet was printed in haste, by an unsteady compositor or perhaps using poorly locked formes, resulting in wavering lines. OCLC locates no copies outside Europe. Moreau, Bibliographie des Mazarinades II: 1687.
Item #4140

Price: $1,250.00

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