COURT INFLUENCES ON COMEDY IN THE REIGN OF CHARLES I
WE ARE not forced to bridge by a mere act of the imagination the gap between formal Platonic drama and Restoration comedy. Platonic tragi-comedy triumphed but a few brief years, while its popularity was insured by the queen's gracious influence. Before the Platonic fashion had a chance to become self-destructive through its own excesses, court authority became suddenly annulled. With the loss of that royal enthusiasm which had been its purest stimulus, the cult rapidly declined. Only its outward ceremonies survived the gray chill of the first months of civil war. During the last years of the court vogue of Platonism, its artificial emphasis was already being satirized in comedy. The comedies of this period are very limited in number and certainly not rich in dramatic interest. They usher in, however, with a rather naïve gesture, the dramatic program of Restoration comedy.
It is not strange that the chivalric creed which Henrietta Maria sought to impose on the English court was accepted by the sophisticated and worldly members of that court with some reservations. As soon as there were Platonics, there were inevitably anti-Platonics. At the English court anti-Platonic fires were at first partially smothered, although the air was full of the smoke. In France they already burned brightly in D'Urfé Astrée the code-book of the entire Platonic system. Interesting from many points of view, Astrée is of unique interest in its early anticipation of the Restoration comic spirit.
Even while gravely enforcing Platonic ceremonies, D'Urfé was