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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCLXXVI. February, 1847. Vol. LXI.
Author: Various
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After two years passed in Spain, and with the reputation of one of the best colonels in Suchet's army, Pepe returned to Naples. Murat, who had just come back from Russia, received him kindly, and made him a major-general. Notwithstanding this, he entertained serious thoughts of quitting the service. He had left Spain full of political hopes; and now the independence which Napoleon's disasters had given to Murat rendered their realization more than ever improbable. His discontent was participated in by many of his countrymen, especially by the Carbonari, which sect was greatly on the increase, fostered by the Bourbonites, who, for their own purposes, sought to sow dissensions in Naples. "I looked upon this sect," says General Pepe, "as a useful agent for the civilisation of the popular classes; but, at the same time, I was of opinion that, as it was necessary to force the king to grant liberal institutions, it was needful to make use of the army to avoid, as much as possible, all disorders of the state." The Abruzzi were the focus of the Carbonaro doctrines, and thither the general had been despatched with his brigade. When there, he learned Murat's departure for Dresden, to command Napoleon's cavalry. "Such was the eccentricity of Joachim, that a few days before quitting Naples, he had been in treaty with England to proclaim the independence of Italy, that nation engaging to furnish twenty thousand men and a considerable sum of money for this purpose. The ratification of the treaty only reached Naples after the departure of the king." Caroline Buonaparte, regent of Naples during her husband's absence, hated Pepe for his liberal principles and declared opposition to the French party, and showed him marked distrust. October came; Leipsic was fought, Napoleon retreated towards the Rhine,—Murat returned to Naples. Deprived of the support of his brother-in-law, whose star was visibly on the decline, it was time he should think and act for himself. In this critical conjuncture, he displayed, as usual, a grievous want of judgment. With a strong Bourbonite party against him, he could not make up his mind to conciliate, by concession, the liberal section of his subjects. On the other hand, Ferdinand, under the guidance of England, had given a constitution to Sicily, and promised to extend a similar boon to the Neapolitans if they would restore him to his continental dominions. In this promise, it is true, the patriot party, with the horrors of 1799 fresh in their memory, placed little confidence. General Pepe attributes much of Murat's undecided and injudicious conduct to Napoleon's treatment of him. "The emperor," he says, "one day exalted him to the skies, and the next would humble him to the very dust, condemning every thing he did, not only through the public papers, but in his private correspondence." On this head, the general gives very curious particulars, derived from the Duke of Campo Chiaro, chief of the police, and minister under Murat. The dilemma in which King Joachim found himself might have perplexed a wiser man. It was an option between turning his arms against his country and his benefactor, and losing his crown, which he could not hope to retain if he declared against the allies. After negotiating at one and the same time with all parties, he finally, at the commencement of 1814, concluded a treaty of alliance with Austria. But his mind was in an unsettled and wavering state; and he made no secret to those French officers who still followed his fortunes, of the good will with which he would once more fight beside, instead of against, his old companions in arms. "The Austrians so firmly expected this volta-facia, that they attempted, with one of Nugent's regiments of hussars, to take him prisoner at Bologna." At times, Pepe fancied that the king was about to comply with the wishes of the patriot party, grant a liberal constitution, and proclaim the independence of Italy. His hopes of this were particularly strong, when he found himself appointed to organise and command a legion, to consist of men from all the provinces of Italy, and of whose officers he was to have the nomination. That so important a trust as this should be confided to a man noted for his democratic principles, of whom the king never spoke but as the tribune and the tete de fer, and who had been more than once suspected of an intention to revolt, was indeed a symptom of a change in Murat's views. But it all ended in smoke. Pepe drew up the plan of the legion, and submitted it to the king, who took no further notice of it. He was engrossed in watching the final struggle between Napoleon and the allies.

On the 19th April, when about to besiege Piacenza, news reached Murat of the fall of Paris, and of the treaty of peace concluded with the viceroy of the kingdom of Italy. The war was suspended, and the Neapolitan army retired southwards. At Rimini, General Pepe, who commanded the rear guard, fell in with the Pope, then proceeding to Rome, and was admitted to an interview. Never oblivious of his political principles, he took an opportunity of saying, "that it would be worthy of an Italian pontiff to collect about him the sons of Italy, and to drive the foreigners out of his native land." His holiness listened attentively, but made no reply. When Murat was informed of this bold suggestion of Pepe's, he exclaimed, "He will not leave even the Pope quiet," and this saying became a standing joke against the tenacious patriot. A few days afterwards, General Ambrosio, another of the liberal party, had been advocating to the Pope the advantages of a constitution for Italy, "when a crippled gentleman was brought to the carriage door, who requested the pontiff to bestow his blessing upon him, that he might recover the use of his limbs. The Pope, turning towards Ambrosio, said, 'You see, General, where we are; Italy is still far from the period you so ardently desire.'" Ambrosio and his friends, especially Pepe, were of the contrary opinion, and conspired to compel Murat to grant them a constitution. Seventeen general officers were implicated in the plot, but when the moment for action came, the majority faltered, Pepe was left in the lurch, and became the scapegoat. Urged to fly to Milan, he refused to lower himself in the opinion of his countrymen by seeking refuge amidst the oppressors of Italy. He was ordered to the castle of St. Elmo, there to appear before a court-martial, but on reaching Naples, the placable Murat had forgotten his anger, and received him kindly. "I treat all my subjects, and you in particular, like my children," were his first words. In the interesting conversation that followed, Pepe urged the king to grant a constitution, as the surest means of securing the affections of his subjects and consolidating his throne. Murat replied, that he should long since have done so, but that such a proceeding would draw upon him the implacable animosity of Austria. And he declined relying, as his unceremonious counsellor urged him to do, upon the courage of six millions of Neapolitans and the natural strongholds of the country. He was never offended at Pepe's frankness, for he had faith in his personal attachment. "It is certain," says the General, "that, after my country, I was most truly attached to Joachim, and I would have given my life for him." Subsequent events proved this, and showed Murat that the man who, boldly and to his face, had blamed the conduct of the king, was the firm friend of the depressed and unhappy fugitive. In the closing scene of Joachim's reign, when the disbanded Neapolitans, badly led, and in some instances deserted by generals who should never have held the rank, fled before the hosts of Austria, the sympathy and friendship of his plain-spoken follower were amongst the last and best consolations of the falling monarch. Very bitter must have been Murat's reflections at that moment; the conviction was forced upon him that his misfortunes resulted chiefly from his own want of judgment and too great facility; captivity or exile stared him in the face; the sunny smile which, even in moments of the greatest peril, rarely left his countenance, was chased by shame and self-reproach, and tears stood upon his cheeks. "I could not restrain my own, and, instead of speaking, I advanced, took his hand, and kissed it. Oh! how touched he was by this act of respectful affection on my part! Who knows but at that moment he recollected the words I had addressed to him in his palace, 'Whenever you shall find yourself in a situation of danger, you will learn to distinguish your real friends from the friends of your fortune.'" A very few days after this affecting scene, on the night of the 20th May, Murat crossed over in disguise to Ischia, and embarked for France. On the 23d, took place the triumphal entry of the Austrians into the city of Naples.

The particulars of Murat's last mad act, his landing in Italy at the head of thirty men, and of his consequent capture and tragical death, have been related by many writers, and General Pepe could add little in the way of facts to what was already known. He makes some interesting reflections on the subject, and traces the supreme ill-luck by which Joachim was pursued in his last desperate venture. On the return of the Bourbons to France, two of his followers, who had accompanied him from Naples, hired a vessel to convey him to England or America. But, as fate would have it, the place of rendezvous was misunderstood. Murat missed his friends, and, being in hourly peril of his life, put to sea in a boat. Landed in Corsica, the affectionate welcome he met from thousands of the inhabitants, many of whom had formerly served under him, cheered his drooping spirits, and inspired him with the idea of a descent in Italy. He had two hundred and seventy followers, hardy Corsican mountaineers, and had they landed with him, General Pepe is of opinion that he would soon have raised a force sufficiently strong to maintain the campaign, and extort favourable conditions from Austria, as far, at least, as regarded his life and liberty. But the six small vessels in which he left Ajaccio were scattered by a tempest, and he was driven, with but a tithe of his followers, to the very last port he ought to have made. The inhabitants of Pizzo, whose coasting trade had been ruined during the war, were glad of peace on any terms, and looked upon Murat as a firebrand, come to renew their calamities. They assailed the adventurers and drove them to the shore. But when Joachim would fain have re-embarked, he saw his ship standing out to sea. The treacherous commander had betrayed him for the sake of the valuables he had left on board. And Murat, the chivalrous, the brave, remained a prisoner in the hands of his former subjects, scoffed at and reviled by the lowest of the people. Five days afterwards, twelve bullets in the breast terminated his misfortunes. It was a soldier's death, but had been better met on the battle-field. There, amidst the boom of artillery, and the din of charging squadrons, should have terminated the career of the most dashing cavalry officer of modern times, of one who might well have disputed with Ney the proud title of the "brave des braves."

We have purposely dwelt upon the earlier portion of General Pepe's work, to the exclusion of its latter chapters. We can take but little interest in Neapolitan history since 1815, in the abortive revolutionary struggles and manoeuvres of the Carbonari and other would-be liberators. Nor do the ample details given by the general greatly increase our respect for Italian patriotism; whilst we trace more than one discrepancy between the conclusions he draws and the results he exhibits. He holds his countrymen to have been long since ripe for a constitutional government and free institutions, and yet he himself shows us that, when a revolution was achieved, and those great objects attained, the leading men of his party, those who had been foremost in effecting the change, proved traitors or dupes, and that the people, organised in militia and national guards, displayed so little self-devotion, such small zeal in defence of their newly acquired liberties, as to be utterly disheartened by the very first conflict with their treacherous king's supporters, and to disperse, never again to reassemble. Such was, the case in 1821, and in vain does General Pepe try to justify his countrymen by attributing their weakness and defection to the machinations of the evil-disposed. The truth, we believe, is to be found in the final words of his own proclamation, addressed to the national guards after the disastrous encounter, in the vain hope of once more rousing them to resistance. "Your women," he said, "will make you blush for your weakness, and will bid you hasten again to surround that general whose confidence in your patriotism you should have justified better than you did on the 7th of March, when you fought at Rieti."

His darling Constitution overthrown, Pepe wandered forth an exile. But hope never deserted him. Baffled, he was not discouraged. He sought on all sides for means to renew the struggle. And truly some of his projects, however creditable to his intrepidity and zeal, say little for his prudence and coolness of judgment. What can be thought of his application in 1823 to Mavrocordato for a thousand chosen Greeks, with whom he proposed to land in Calabria! Of course the chief of the new Greek government civilly declined leading a thousand of his countrymen for any such desperate venture. In 1830 the general's hopes were raised high by the success of the French revolution. His active brain teemed with projects, and in his mind's eye he again saw the tri-colored banner floating from St. Elmo's towers. Vain delusions, not destined to realization. The feeble attempts of the Italian patriots were easily suppressed, and Pepe retired to Paris, to mourn the fate of his beloved and beautiful country, doomed to languish in Austrian servitude and under Bourbon despotism.

* * * * *



FRENCH PLAYERS AND PLAYHOUSES.[13]

[13] "The Theatres of Paris. By Charles Hervey." London and Paris, 1846.

In these dull days of latter winter few of our readers will quarrel with us for transporting them to the gayest capital in Europe, the city of pleasure, the Capua of the age. In London, at least, there is just now little to regret; it wears its dreariest, dirtiest, and most disconsolate garb. The streets are slippery with black mud and blacker ice, a yellow halo surrounds the gas lamps, even the Bude lights look quenched and uncomfortable; cabmen, peevish at the paucity of fares, curse with triple intensity the wood pavement and the luckless garrons that slide and stumble over it; the blue and benumbed fingers of Italian grinders can scarcely turn the organ handles; tattered children and half-starved women, pale, shivering, and tearful, pester the pedestrian with offers of knitted wares, and of winter nosegays, meagre and miserable as themselves. The popular cheerfulness and merry-making of Christmas time are over, and have not yet been succeeded by the bustle and gaiety of the fashionable world. London is abandoned to its million of nobodies; the few thousands whose presence gives it life are still on the list of absentees.

Mark the contrast. But a minute ago we were in London—dull, empty London—and behold! we are in Paris—gay, crowded, lively Paris—now at the height of its season, and in full swing of carnival dissipation. By a process of which, since the days of Scheherazade, we alone possess the secret, we have flown over Kent, skimmed the Channel, sped across the uninteresting plains of Picardy, and are seated at dinner—where? In the spacious saloon of the Hotel des Princes, at the succulent table of the Cafe de Paris, or in the gaudy and dazzling apartments of the Maison Doree? No matter. Or let us choose the last, the Maison Dedoree as it has been called, its external gilding having ill resisted the assaults of winter's snows and summer's parching heat. But although, as Mr. Moore of Ireland has informed us, all that's bright must fade, it follows not that the substantial deteriorates with the superficial. And the cookery of the Maison Doree has improved as its gilding has rubbed off, until even the Cafe de Paris and the far-famed Trois Freres must veil their inferior charms before the manifold perfections of this Apician sanctuary. Here, then, we establish ourselves, in this snug embrasure, whence we have a full view of the throng of diners, whilst plate glass and a muslin curtain alone intervene between us and the broad asphalt of the Boulevard. A morocco book, a sheet of vellum, and a pencil, are before us. We write a dozen lines, and hand them to our companion; he reads, nods approval, and transfers the precious document to the smug and expectant waiter. The sharp eye of that Ganymede of the Gilt House had at once detected our Britannic origin, conspicuous in our sober garb and shaven chins; and doubtless he anticipated one of those uncouth bills of fare, infamous by their gastronomical solecisms, which Englishmen are apt to perpetrate, for he smiles with an air of agreeable disappointment as he glances at our judicious menu. No cause for wonder, most dapper of garcons! 'Tis not the first time, by many, that we have tabled our Napoleons on your damask napery. Schooled by indigestion, like Dido by misfortune, we have learned to order our dinner, even at Paris; and are no more to be led astray in the labyrinth of your interminable carte, than you, versed in the currency of Albion, are to be deluded by a Brummagem sovereign, or a note of the Bank of Elegance. So, presto, to work! our blessing and a double pourboire your promised reward. And, verily, he earns them well. The potage a la bisque is irreproachable; the truffles, those black diamonds of the epicure, are the pick of Perigueux; the chambertin is of the old green seal, the sparkling ai frappe to a turn, and, whilst we tranquilly degustate and deliberately imbibe, the influence of that greatest achievement of human genius, a good dinner, percolates through our system, telling upon our moral as upon our physical man. We feel ineffably benevolent: doubtless we look so; for yonder old gentleman with the white hair, red ribbon, and ditto face, dining, tete-a-tete with himself, and who is now at his eleventh dish—a tempting but inexplicable compound, which Ortila himself would be puzzled to analyse—contemplates us, in the intervals of his forkings-in, with a benign and admiring look. Our trusty friend and vis-a-vis turns his head, and we behold ourselves reflected in the opposite mirror. 'Tis as we thought: our physiognomy is philanthropical in the extreme. Quite the "mild, angelic air," that Byron talks of, when describing a gentleman in very different circumstances.

But we have no time to dwell upon our personal fascinations, or to speculate upon the cause of their increase within the last half hour; no eyes have we save for that Lucullian salmi steaming before us; and, like ourselves, all around us are absorbed in absorbing. Though every table is full, there is little noise in the crowded apartment. Men go to the Maison Doree to eat, not to chatter. Without, too, there is a lull, after the bustle and racket of the afternoon. The day has been splendid—crisp, bright, and invigorating, and all the dandies and beauties of Paris have been abroad, driving in the Champs Elysees, galloping through the leafless avenues of the Bois de Boulogne, basking in the winter sun upon the cheerful Boulevards. The morning's amusements are over; those of the night have not yet begun. It is the moment of the interlude, the hour of dine, and Paris is busied in the most important of its diurnal acts. But, alas for the briefness of earthly joys, and the limited capacity of mortal stomachs! Sad is it that not even in this Golden Mansion can a feeble child of clay dine twice. We long for the appetite of a Dando, for the digestion of the bird of the desert, to recommence our meal, from the soup to the fondu. Vain are our aspirations. The soft languor of repletion steals over us, as we dally with our final olive, and buzz the Lafitte. Waiter! the coffee. At the word, the essence of Mocha, black as Erebus, and fragrant as a breeze, from the Spice Islands, smokes beneath our nostrils, the sparkling glasses receive the golden liqueur, and—WE HAVE DINED.

Good dinners and amusing theatricals enter largely into the pleasurable anticipations of English visiters to Paris. The fame of French cooks and actors is universal; all are eager to taste their productions, and witness their performances. Let a tyrannical royal ordinance or sumptuary law close the playhouses and cut down the bills of fare from a volume to a page, and a sensible diminution will ensue in the influx of foreigners into France. However great the desire to visit Versailles, stare at the Vendome column, and ramble round the Palais Royal, those attractions, if put into the scale, will frequently be found less weighty than a vaudeville, a dinner at Very's, and a breakfast at the renowned Rocher. In their expectations, both gastronomical and theatrical, strangers in Paris are often disappointed. We refer, of course, to tyros; not to the regular birds of passage who consider a month or two in the French metropolis as essential a part of their annual recreations as Ascot or the moors. These, of course, are well versed in Parisian mysteries, both of the drama and the dining room. But to the novice, a guide is necessary, whether through the crowded columns of a restaurateur's complicated carte, or amidst the fair promises held out by the two dozen playbills posted each morning at eleven o'clock upon the walls and pillars of Paris. For want of it, many a Johnny Newcome finds himself, after much bewilderment and painful deliberation, masticating an unsatisfactory dinner or witnessing a stupid play. We have often wondered that, amongst the multitude of Paris guide books, not one was to be found containing minute instructions to the stranger as to the dinners he should order, and the plays and actors he should see; giving, in short, a series of bills of fare, culinary and histrionic. This deficit has at last been supplied, at least as regards things theatrical. A book has been published which should find a place in the portmanteau of every Englishman starting for the French capital. Partly a compilation from French works, and partly the result of the author's own experience, it contains the general history of each of the Paris theatres, biographical and critical sketches of the actors, lists and anecdotes of the principal musicians and authors who compose and write for the stage, and, finally, an enumeration of the best performers at each theatre, and of the pieces in which they are seen to the greatest advantage. We need say no more to demonstrate the utility of the work to those going abroad. And by those remaining at home, its lively pages will be found a mine of amusing anecdote and curious information. Abounding in racy and pungent details, sometimes valuable from their connexion with historical characters, and as illustrations of the manners and morals of the times, the history of the French stage might almost be indefinitely prolonged; and, amidst the multitude of materials, it required some ingenuity to select, as Mr. Hervey has done, those most suitable to the taste of the day, and to pack them into a single volume.

Less than a century ago Paris contained but four theatres. These were, the French Comedy, the Royal Academy of Music or Grand Opera, the Italian Comedy, where vaudevilles and comic operas were performed, and the Theatre de la Foire. The two last named were the ancestors of the present Opera Comique. "Up to 1593," says Mr. Hervey, "the actors of the Theatres de la Foire St. Germain and St. Laurent consisted of dogs, cats, monkeys, and even rats, some of the latter animals being so admirably trained as to dance a grand ballet on a table, whilst one in particular, a white rat from Lapland, executed a saraband with surpassing grace." In 1716 the manager of one of these theatres obtained leave to give musical performances. This was the origin of the Opera Comique, which, forty years later, was amalgamated with the Italian comedy at the Hotel de Bourgogne, whence, in 1783, the united companies transferred themselves to the Salle Favart. To the four theatres above enumerated, a few others were added during the reigns of Louis XV. and his successor, but they were of little note, and the increase in the number of theatrical establishments was unimportant until the revolution. Then license was universal, and no special one was required to open theatres. In 1791 a prodigious number were established, and, for some years afterwards, nearly fifty, large and small, existed in Paris. In the time of the empire twenty-eight of these remained, until Napoleon issued an edict reducing them to ten. At the present day the French capital contains twenty-two theatres, including the new Theatre Montpensier, the privilege for which was conceded to Alexandre Dumas at the request of the prince whose name it bears. Besides these there are a number of petty playhouses outside the barriers, at Batignolles, Belleville, and similar places, and Mr. Hervey informs us that a license has just been granted for a third French opera-house. Play-loving as the population of Paris undoubtedly is, it must be admitted that ample provision is made for its gratification.

The natural classification of the more important of the Parisian theatres, about fifteen in number, is under four heads: opera—tragedy, comedy, and drama—vaudeville—melodrama. The first division includes the French opera, the Italians, the Opera Comique; the second, the Francais and the Odeon; at the Porte St. Martin and Ambigu Comique, melodrama is the staple commodity, varied, however, with performances of a lighter kind; whilst vaudevilles, broad farces, and short comedies constitute the chief stock in trade of the remainder. At many of the theatres an entire change in the style of the performances is of no unfrequent occurrence. We have known the Gaite in the dolefuls, and the Porte St. Martin abandoning its scaffolds, trap-doors, and other melodramatic horrors, for fun, farce, and ballet. As a regular thing, dancing is only to be seen at the Grand Opera. The license of each theatre specifies the nature of the performances allowed it, but this is a matter difficult exactly to define, and the rule is easy of evasion. A better check, perhaps, is the jealousy with which one theatre beholds another infringing on its attributes. Thus, some years ago, at the Francais, where the performances should be confined to tragedy, high comedy, and drama, a play interspersed with songs was brought out. The Vaudeville viewed this as a usurpation of its privileges, and forthwith produced a piece called "La Tragedie au Vaudeville," saying that if the Francais sang vaudevilles, the Vaudeville was justified in singing tragedy.

There are in Paris four Theatres Royal, subsidised by the French government to the extent of about twelve hundred thousand francs, or nearly L50,000. Rather more than the half of this sum goes to the Grand Opera, nor is it too much, if we consider the enormous salaries paid to the singers and dancers at that theatre, and the low prices of admission; the best place in the house costing less than a pit-ticket at the Italian opera in London. The Opera Comique receives nearly ten thousand pounds a-year, the Francais eight, the Odeon four. The other theatres do as well as they can without subsidies, and, as in this country, are losing or profitable concerns according to the skill of the manager, to the merits of the actors and plays produced; and, oftener still, according to the caprice and good pleasure of the public. Their prices of admission are generally higher in proportion than those of the larger theatres. It must be admitted that their performances are often more amusing.

Although one or two attempts were made at earlier periods, the permanent establishment of the opera in France cannot be traced further back than the reign of Louis XIV., when Cardinal Mazarine had the happy idea of introducing it, in hopes of amusing that most unamuseable of monarchs. The novelty found great favour, both with sovereign and courtiers. Performances took place in the king's private apartments; the Marquis of Sourdeac, a man of immense wealth and considerable mechanical skill, constructed a theatre in his Norman castle, and brought out the "Toison d'Or," with words by Corneille. At last an opera company was regularly installed in a building in the Rue Vaugirard, and here, upon one occasion, when the King was present, the Prince of Conde, and other great nobles, danced upon the stage amongst the actors. "The first opera in which female dancers were introduced was the Triumph of Love, played at St. Germains before Louis XIV. On the occasion of this brilliant fete, several ladies of the court were amongst the performers, and it was resolved that they should in future be replaced by professional danseuses, the female characters in the ballet having previously been sustained by men." Lully, the celebrated composer, was manager of the opera house, where he amassed a very large fortune. He made himself greatly dreaded by his orchestra, whom he used to belabour over the head with his fiddle. In this manner he is said to have broken scores of violins, and one unlucky clarionet-player, in particular, who was never either in time or tune, cost him a vast number of instruments. They shivered like glass upon the obdurate noddle of the faulty Orpheus, and Lully swore he had never met with so vile a musician, or so hard a head. After a time it was discovered that the offender wore a leaden lining to his periwig. Louis XIV. never ceased to take a most paternal interest in his opera company. He went so far as to regulate and write out with his own hand, the salaries allowed to the performers. Those were not days when a singer was better paid than the general of an army, or a minister of state; when each note of a tenor's voice was worth a corresponding one, and of no small figure, issued from the Bank of France. The salary of a first rate tenor or barytone, was then less than is now given to a chorister or walking gentleman. Sixty pounds were the highest yearly sum granted by Louis XIV. to the best opera singer. The first female dancer received thirty-six pounds! We are quite sure, that the waiting maid of an Elssler or a Taglioni, would turn up her nose at such a pittance. Louis XIV. was gathered to his fathers, and soon after his death matters improved a little. Still the pay was poor enough. But what of that? Those were the palmy days of the heroes and heroines of the foot lamps. For the disciples of Thespis, Paris was a paradise. True, when dead they were refused Christian burial, but they cared little about that, sinners that they were, for, whilst living, courted, flattered, and cherished, they amassed, or more often spent, princely fortunes. During the dissolute half century preceding the revolution, they were at the summit of their prosperity. High born dames, even princesses of blood royal, culled their favourites from amongst the knights of the buskin; actresses, dancers, mere figurantes, saw the wealthiest and proudest languishing at their feet, and contending for their smiles. That was the time when Vestris, the God of Dance, as he called himself, said publicly, and with the most perfect conviction, that there were only three great men in Europe, the King of Prussia, M. de Voltaire, and himself! "There are roses as well as thorns in my profession," said he to a friend who expatiated on the happiness of being a public favourite. "I assure you, sometimes I think I would rather be a mere captain of cavalry than what I am." "Old chronicles," says Albert Cler, in a spirited sketch of the French opera, "tell us of the extraordinary luxury, in carriages, liveries, furniture, and jewels, displayed by the goddesses of the opera. The Prince d'Henin passed a contract with Sophie Arnould, by a clause of which he engaged to supply her with a new equipage every month. A nymph who flourished in the time of the Directory, the celebrated Clotilde, enjoyed, thanks to the munificence of an Italian prince and of a Spanish admiral, an income of two millions, and managed, notwithstanding this royal revenue, to get into debt to the tune of some five hundred thousand francs yearly." Earlier than this, by fifty years, the Camargo and the Salle were all the rage. The latter, Mr. Hervey tells us, paid a visit to London, and there, at one of her performances, gold and bank-notes were showered upon the stage, to the amount of L800. Her annual salary at the French opera was less than L150. The suppers of Mademoiselle Guimard, another of the fairy-footed sisterhood, whose bust, bequeathed by her to the opera, is still the principal ornament of the dancers' green-room, were renowned throughout Europe. They occurred thrice in the week; the first was attended by the most distinguished courtiers and nobles, the second by artists and by men of letters and learning, the third, which deserved the name of an orgie, by the prettiest women she could collect.

Few of the amateurs, who, armed with double-barrelled telescopes, contemplate from box or stall the agile bounds and graceful evolutions of the houris of the ballet, have any conception of the amount of labour and torture gone through, before even an approach to perfection in the Terpsichorean art is accomplished. Alberic Second, the very witty author of a very amusing book (albeit in thorough French taste) "Les Petits Mysteres de l'Opera," to whose pages Mr. Hervey confesses himself largely indebted, gives many curious details on this subject. An immense amount of courage, patience, resignation, and toil, is necessary, to become even a middling dancer. The poor children—for dancing, above all things, must be learnt young—commence with the stocks, heel to heel and knees outwards. Half an hour of this, and another species of martyrdom begins. One foot is placed upon a bar which is grasped by the contrary hand. This is called se casser, to break one's self. After this agreeable process come the thousand and one steps, essential to an opera dancer. "Such," says an imaginary danseuse from whom M. Second professes to receive his information, "are the agreeable elements of the art of dancing. And do not suppose that these rude fatigues are of short duration. They are perpetual, and on that condition only does a dancer retain her activity and suppleness. A week's idleness must be atoned for by two months' double labour. The opera-dancer realises the fable of Sisyphus and his rock. She resembles the horse, who pays with his repose, his flesh and his liberty, the rapid victories of the racecourse. I have seen Mademoiselle Taglioni, after receiving a two hours' lesson from her father, fall helpless upon the floor, and allow herself to be undressed, spunged, and again attired, without the least consciousness of what passed. The agility and wonderful bounds with which she, that same evening, delighted the public, were at this price." Besides these terrible fatigues, dancers often run serious personal risks. So, at least, says the author of the "Petits Mysteres" who, as a journalist and frequenter of the coulisses, is excellent authority. He cannot resist a joke, but it is easy to sift the facts from their admixture of burlesque exaggerations. "By dint of incurring simulated dangers, the dancer accustoms herself to real peril, as a soldier in war time becomes habituated to murder and pillage. She suspends herself from wires, sits upon pasteboard clouds, disappears through trap doors, comes in by the chimney and goes out by the window. In the first act of the Peri there is so dangerous a leap, that I consider Carlotta Grisi risks her life every time she takes it. Let M. Petipa be once awkward, or even absent, and Carlotta will break her head upon the boards. I know an Englishman who attends every performance of this ballet. He is persuaded it will be fatal to Carlotta, and would not for the world miss the catastrophe. It is the same man who, for three years, followed Carter and Van Amburgh, always hoping that a day would come when the animals would sup with their masters, and upon their masters." Considering the preparatory ordeal and frequent perils of their profession, dancers fairly earn the money and honours paid to them. Crowned heads have condescended to treat them as equals. At Stuttgart, we are told, Taglioni, towards the commencement of her career, won the affections of the Queen of Wurtemberg, who shed tears at her departure. At Munich, the King of Bavaria introduced her to his Queen, with the words, "Mademoiselle, je vous presente ma femme." "At Vienna she was once called before the curtain twenty-two times in one evening, and was drawn to her hotel, in her own carriage, by forty young men of the first Austrian families." Every one remembers the enthusiasm excited by Fanny Elssler amongst the matter-of-fact Yankees. During her last engagement at the French opera her salary was eighty thousand francs a-year. Taglioni and Elssler personify the two styles into which the present school of dancing is divided, the ballonne and the tacquete. The former is lightness combined with grace, when the dancer seems to float upon air. The tacquete is vivacity and rapidity; little quick steps on the points of the feet.

The principal singers now engaged at the French opera are Duprez and Gardoni, tenors; Baroilhet, the barytone; Bremond and Serda, who have succeeded, if they could not replace, the celebrated bass, Levasseur; and Madame Stoltz. Duprez is well known in England as a singer of great energy and admirable method, but whose powers have grievously suffered from over-exertion. Halevy and Meyerbeer should be indicted as the assassins of his once beautiful voice. The five tremendous acts of Robert le Diable, and the stunning accompaniments of the author of the Juive, are destructive to any tenor. In Paris, Duprez is still a favourite, especially in Guillaume Tell, considered his crack part. Gardoni, who has now been two years on the opera boards, has replaced him in some of his characters. This young singer has a very fresh and melodious voice, great taste and feeling, but lacks power, and, it is to be feared, will share the fate of most of his predecessors, and soon succumb to the thundering orchestra of the Academie Royale.[14] As Mr. Hervey very justly observes, there is no medium for a tenor at the French opera. He must either scream, in order to be heard above the music, or be wholly inaudible. Baroilhet is unquestionably the best of the present opera company. His acting and singing are alike good, and his voice, of a less delicate texture than a tenor, has preserved its vigour and freshness. It would be unfair to estimate his abilities by his performance, some two years ago, at the London Opera-house. He was then in ill health, and was heard to great disadvantage. He has been fifteen years on the stage, but only the last five of them have been passed at Paris. He previously sang at various Italian theatres, chiefly at the San Carlo. Donizetti's Roberto Devereux and Belisario were composed expressly for him. Madame Rosine Stoltz, whose portrait, a very fair resemblance, is prefixed to Mr. Hervey's sketch of her operatic career, is a highly dramatic singer and an excellent actress, but her voice, of unusually extensive range, has a metallic sharpness which to our ear is not pleasant. She possesses a good stage face and figure, and her performance is most effective both in tragic and comic parts, although she is usually preferred in the former. We believe she has never sung in England, perhaps on account of the short respite allowed her by the French opera—but one month in the year. She is said to be a god-daughter of the Duchess of Berri. Various notices of her life have been published, but there is little agreement between them. It is generally understood that her early years were unprosperous, and that she endured much suffering and misfortune. If so, she learned mercy from persecution, for she is now noted for her benevolence, and for the generous assistance she affords to the needy amongst her comrades.

[14] Doubtless Gardoni was apprehensive of some such deterioration of his voice, for he has just left the Academie, after much opposition on the part of the manager, and has made a highly successful appearance at the Italian opera.

Notwithstanding the efforts and merits of these three or four singers, the French opera is in a declining state. A numerous company is not always synonymous with a strong one. The present manager, M. Leon Pillet, has been accused of disgusting, dismissing, or omitting to engage, some of the best singers of the day. Poultier, the Rouen cooper, a tenor of the Duprez school, is cited as an instance. He was engaged by a former management at a thousand francs a-month for eight months in the year, but, although much liked by the public, he was kept in the background, owing partly, it was reported, to his own unassuming character, and partly to certain green-room intrigues and jealousies. During his vacation he starred in the provinces, earning four or five times the amount of his Paris salary. In his native town he was carried in triumph, and treated to an interminable serenade, whose performers, according to the deposition of our friend, M. Second, relieved each other every two hours, and kept up their harmony for a whole day and night. Roger, of the Opera Comique, is another singer whose proper place is at the Grand Opera, he is young, handsome, a good actor, and since Duprez' decline, the best French tenor extant.

At Paris theatres, and especially at the opera, the next best thing to having a good company is to have a good claque. Such, at least, is the theory of the actors and managers of the present day. The more rusty the tenor, the more wrinkled the prima donna, the greater the need of an army of iron-fisted, brazen-visaged hirelings to get artificial applause, and inoculate the public with their factitious enthusiasm. In this latter respect they now rarely succeed. The device is stale, the trick detected, and yet the practice is maintained. It takes in no one. Even raw provincials and newly imported foreigners are up to the stratagem before they have been a week in Paris. The press inveighs against it; audiences, far from being duped, often remain silent when most pleased, lest they should be confounded with the claqueurs. But no manager dares to strike the first blow at this troublesome abuse. There is a regular contractor for the opera claque, receiving so much a month from each actor. Duprez has always refused to submit to this extortion, but he is, or was, the only exception to the rule. The contractor has an organised regiment under his orders, mustering sixty strong. Every opera night, before the opening of the doors, they assemble at a low coffee-house in the Rue Favart, to receive his orders for the evening, and thence follow him to the theatre, into which they are admitted through a private entrance. Some of them are paid for applauding—these are the chiefs, the veteran clappers; others applaud for a free admission, whilst a third class are content to do their best for the good of the house, and to pay half-price for their tickets. The distribution of these bravo-battalions, these knights of the chandelier, as they are called, from the post of their main body being in the centre of the pit, requires much skill and judgment. The captain of the claque is an important personage, respected by his subordinates, courted by the actors, and skilled in the strategy of his profession, which yields him a handsome income. A tap of his cane on the ground is the signal for applause. The chatouilleur, or tickler, a variety of the genus claqueur, is in vogue chiefly at the smaller theatres. His duty is to laugh, and, if possible, infect his neighbours with his mirth. He stands upon a lower grade of the social step-ladder than the claqueur; very unjustly, as it appears to us, his scope for the display of original genius being decidedly larger. How delicately may he modulate his merriment, and control his cachinnations, establishing a regular gamut, rising from the titter to the guffaw, abating from the irrepressible horse-laugh to the gratified snigger. He may himself be a better actor than those for whose benefit his mirth is feigned. And when, with aching ribs and a moist pocket-handkerchief—for an accomplished chatouilleur must be able to laugh till he cries—he retires from the scene enlivened by his efforts, it is with the proud consciousness that his contagious chuckle, as much as author's jokes or buffo's comicalities, has contributed to set the theatre in a roar.

Boileau said that

Le Francais, ne malin, crea le vaudeville,

and Boileau was right, although, when he wrote the line, he referred to a particular style of satirical song, and not to the farces and comedies, intermixed with couplets and snatches of music, that have since borne the name. The Frenchman not only created the vaudeville, but he reserved to himself its monopoly. Essentially French, it is inimitable on any other stage. Of the many attempts made, none have succeeded in catching its peculiar spirit. The Englishman has his farce, the German his possenspiel, the Spaniard his saynete, but the vaudeville will only flourish on French soil, or, at least, in the hands of French authors and actors. Piron and Lesage were its fathers; their mantle has been handed down through succeeding generations, worn alternately by a Piis and a Barre, by a Panard, whom Marmontel called the La Fontaine of the vaudeville, and a Desaugiers, until, in the present day, it rests upon the shoulders of Scribe, and his legion of rivals and imitators. With the exception of the four theatres royal and the Italian opera, there is not a playhouse in Paris where it is not performed, although in each it takes a different tone, to which the actors, as they change from one stage to another, insensibly adapt themselves. Thus the four principal vaudeville theatres have each their own style. There is an immeasurable distance between the vaudeville grivois, the laxity, not to say the positive indecency, of the Palais Royal—supported by the double-entendres of Ravel and Madame Lemenil, and the buffoonery of Alcide Tousez—and the neat and correct little comedies of the Gymnase, so admirably enacted by a Ferville, a Numa, and a Rose Cheri. To the latter theatre, the Parisian matrons conduct their daughters; the former they themselves hesitate to visit. The substance is not invariably more praiseworthy at the one than at the other, but the form is always more decorous.

In discussing the vaudeville, the theatre bearing that name naturally claims the precedence, to which the excellence of its present company also gives it some title. Until the year 1792, there existed at Paris no theatre specially appropriated to this style of performance, which was given at the Comedie Italienne. It attracted crowds; and Sedaine, the composer, vexed to see it preferred to his comic operas, wrote a couplet against it, exhibiting more spleen than poetical merit. The attack, however, together with the refusal of a small pension which he had claimed from the Italian Comedy, to whose treasury he had brought millions of francs, irritated Piis, the vaudevilliste then in vogue, the Scribe of his day. In conjunction with Barre and a few actors, he opened a theatre in the Rue de Chartres. The enterprise was crowned with complete success, and an able company was soon assembled. Mr. Hervey has collected some droll anecdotes of the actors who flourished under this management, although they lose part of their point by translation. Chapelle, a short stout man, "with eyes that were continually opening and shutting, thick black eyebrows, a mouth always half open, and a pair of legs resembling in shape the feet of an elephant," was remarkable for his credulity, and his comrades took particular delight in mystifying him. "Seveste, who had just returned from fulfilling an engagement at Rouen, told the unfortunate dupe that, during his stay in that town, he had succeeded in taming a carp so perfectly, that it followed him about like a dog; adding, that he was much grieved at having lost it. 'How did that happen?' said Chapelle, greatly interested. 'Why,' replied Seveste, 'one evening I took it to my dressing-room at the theatre; as I was going home after the performance, a terrible storm came on, and my poor carp, in trying to leap a gutter, fell in and was drowned.'—'How very unlucky!' cried Chapelle; 'I always thought a carp could swim like a fish!' As he grew older, however, Chapelle, weary of being continually hoaxed, made up his mind to believe nothing, and carried his scepticism so far as to reply to a friend's anxious inquiries after his health, 'Ask somebody else that question, my fine fellow; you can't take me in now.'" Another of the company, Carpentier, drank away his memory, forgot his old parts, and could learn no new ones. For a long time he did not act, but at last ventured to appear in a procession, as a barber who had nothing to say. The audience immediately recognised their old favourite, and applauded him for several minutes after he left the stage. Once more behind the scenes, he exclaimed, "Ils m'ont reconnu! Ils m'ont reconnu!" and burst into tears. "In one of his parts, Carpentier had some couplets to sing, of which the first ran as follows:—

Un acteur, Qui veut de l'auteur Suivre en tout L'esprit et le gout, Doit d'abord, De savoir son role, Faire au moins le petit effort.

Here he stopped short, and repeated the verse thrice, but could get no further; from that day a settled gloom came over him, and he soon committed suicide, by throwing himself out of a window."

The great guns of the present Vaudeville company are, Arnal, Bardou, and Felix; Madame Albert, lately become Madame Bignon, by a second marriage; and Madame Doche, sister of Miss Plunkett the dancer. It would be difficult to find five better actors in their respective styles. All of them, with the exception, we believe, of Bardou, have performed in London, and been received with enthusiasm as great as the chilly audience of the St. James's theatre ever thinks fit to manifest. Arnal, although he has formidable rivals at his own and other theatres, is unquestionably the first French comic actor of the day. Farce is his forte—we ask his pardon, and would say, comedy, vaudeville, charge, extravaganza, or any other names by which it may be fitting to designate the very farcical pieces in which he usually performs. There are no farces now upon the French stage; the term is voted low. Moliere, it is true, wrote and acted farces, until he glided into a higher style; but the more genteel authors and actors of the present time, will not so far condescend. They willingly produce and perform the most pitiful buffooneries, but then it is under a better sounding title. They look to the letter and not the spirit; admit the thing, but repudiate the name. Les farceurs! Arnal, of course, follows the fashion of the times, although too sensible a fellow, we suspect, to care a rush about the matter. For the last twenty years he has been the chief prop of the Vaudeville, where he performs for ten months out of the twelve, at a salary of fourteen hundred pounds, with feux or allowances of twenty francs for every act he plays in. His first appearance was in the tragic character of Mithridates, in which he convulsed his audience with laughter. Convinced by this experiment that tragedy was not his line, he turned his attention to low comedy, and enacted Jocrisse. "In this part," he says, in a very clever poetical epistle to his friend Bouffe, "I was allowed to be tolerably amusing, but all declared that I was much more comic in Mithridates." Off the stage there is nothing particularly funny in Arnal's appearance. The expression of his face, which is much marked with the small pox, is quiet and serious, and it is by this same seriousness that he makes his hearers laugh. When acting, nothing will extort a smile from him. Gifted with extreme self-possession and a ready wit, he now and then embroiders his parts, always with the happiest effect. The excessive dryness with which he gives out his jokes often constitutes their chief merit. To enumerate his crack characters, those which he may be said to have created, would be too long a task. The Poltron is one of his best, and the story goes that his valet, who had been a soldier, having seen him perform it, gave him warning the next morning, declaring that he could not possibly remain in the service of so inveterate a coward. Some of his happiest efforts have been made in little one-act drolleries for two performers; such as Passe Minuit, where he is ably seconded by Bardou. "In private life, Arnal is grave, taciturn, and fond of study; he is said to be a regular frequenter of the Bibliotheque Royale, and has published, besides his epistle to Bouffe, a collection of prettily versified tales and fables." The letter to Bouffe is an amusing, and witty sketch of his own career.

Happening, some seven years ago, to enter the ill-lighted, low-roofed theatre of a third-rate French town, full five hundred miles from Paris, we were struck and fascinated by the exquisite grace and feeling with which an actress of the name of Albert enacted the part of a blind girl in Frederick Soulie's painful drama of Diane de Chivry. The place of so accomplished a performer was evidently on the Parisian boards, and we learned with surprise, that she was on no mere starring expedition, but had quitted the capital, where she was idolised, with a view to a long stay in the provinces. It is rare that French actors who can obtain a decent engagement at Paris, consent to waste their sweetness upon provincials for more than a few nights in the year; and at the time, the motives of Madame Albert's self-banishment, which has only recently terminated, was to us a mystery. The explanation we subsequently heard of it, agrees with that given by Mr. Hervey, and is most creditable to the delicacy and good feeling of the actress who thus abandoned the scene of her early triumphs to submit herself to the caprices and clumsy criticisms of country audiences. She wished "to spare her husband—then engaged in a subordinate capacity at the Theatre Francais, and who was seldom spoken of otherwise than as 'the husband of Madame Albert of the Vaudeville'—the mortification of seeing his own efforts completely cast into the shade by those of his wife; and it was with the view of associating him in future with her own successes that she determined on refusing every proposal made to her by the different managers of the capital, a task she persevered in until his death enabled her to return without compunction to Paris, where her place had long been empty." Eclipsed and unnoticed in the metropolis, M. Albert, whose real name was Rodrigues, passed muster very well in country towns. Of his widow, who has been seen and appreciated in London, we need say nothing. All who have witnessed her delightful performances, will admit her to be one of the most charming actresses of the day. Voice, face, figure, every thing is in her favour; her popularity is as well established as her talent is versatile and perfect. "She is cited," says Mr. Hervey, "as one of those who, not more by their brilliant natural gifts than by their private worth, have become ornaments of the profession to which they belong, and who, whilst they can fairly claim universal admiration, are not less entitled to universal respect." There are few actresses upon any stage deserving of so high an encomium; there is perhaps not one of whom, as of Madame Albert, it may with truth be said, that in the several styles of comedy, vaudeville, and domestic drama, she is unsurpassed, if not unequalled.

Another pretty woman and excellent actress is the Belgian beauty, Madame Doche, to whose personal attractions the lithograph prefixed to her memoir does less than justice. She made her first appearance at the early age of fourteen, at the Versailles theatre, under the assumed name of Fleury. She is now only three-and-twenty, but her reputation as a first-rate actress has been established for the last half-dozen years. Of her it was said, when she acted at Brussels, her native city, that she was pretty enough to succeed without talent, and had enough talent to dispense with beauty. She was one of the first who, with Felix for her partner, danced the Polka upon the Paris stage, in the piece called La Polka en Province. The dance was then new, and her graceful performance of it excited enthusiastic applause.

From the Vaudeville to its neighbour and rival, the Varietes, the distance is short; to choose between them, in respect of excellence of acting, and amount of amusement, is very difficult. The founder of the Varietes was the witty Mlle. Montansier, who, previously to the first French Revolution, had the management of the Versailles theatre, as well as of several of the principal provincial ones. In 1790, she opened the house now known as the Palais Royal, for mixed performances, tragedy, comedy, and opera. There Mlle. Mars commenced her career. The prosperity of the company dates from 1798, when the celebrated Brunet joined it. Brunet was the theatrical joker of his time; and all stray puns and witticisms, good, bad, and indifferent, were attributed to him as regularly as, at a later day, and in another country, they have, been fathered upon a Jekyll and a Rogers. Many of his jests had a political character, and got him into serious scrapes. This, Mr. Hervey appears to doubt, but without reason. In various memoirs and reminiscences of the early years of the present century, we find recorded Brunet's stinging sarcasms, and the consequent reprimands and even imprisonments be incurred. "L'Empereur n'aime que Josephine et la chasse!" was his exclamation when Napoleon's project of divorce was first bruited about; and for days Paris rang with the sharp jest. "Le char l'attend!" he cried, pausing before the triumphal arch on which stood the horses and empty chariot, the spoils of Venice. But the license of Monsieur Brunet's tongue was little relished by the imperial charlatan,—le claqueur de la Grand Armee, as he has been called. Corsican though he was, he had a thorough French susceptibility of ridicule, and well knew that, with his laughter-loving subjects, wit carried weight. The actor was summoned before the prefect of police, severely lectured, and admonished to abjure puns, if he would escape punishment. "Mais que voulez vous que je fasse," replied poor Brunet, in piteous accents, "c'est mon metier de faire des calembourgs, j'y gagne ma vie. Voulez vous donc que je scie du bois?"[15] And, in spite of menaces and imprisonment, he continued each evening to delight the audience of the Varietes with his highly spiced allusions to the men and events of the day. His reputation was European. "Brazier, in his Histoire des Petits Theatres de Paris, relates that, being one day, (March 31st, 1814) on guard at the Barriere St. Martin, a young Calmuck officer, who could hardly speak a word of French, asked him the way to Brunet's theatre." Aided by Tiercelin, the popular actor of the time, who took his types from the lowest classes of the people, Brunet ensured the prosperity of the theatre, until at last the actors at the Francais, who had long complained of the preference accorded by the public to Brunet's performances, addressed repeated remonstrances to government, and declared that the taste of the nation was becoming corrupted, and the classic drama of Corneille and Racine despised. They were supported by Fouche and a section of the press, until at last Napoleon, who meddled greatly in theatrical matters, and one of whose sayings was, that if Corneille had lived in his time, he would have made him a prince, thought proper to interfere. Brunet's company was ejected from the Palais Royal, and took refuge, whilst the present theatre on the Boulevard Montmartre was building, in the Theatre de la Cite, on the left bank of the Seine. On the last night at the Palais Royal, (31st December, 1806,) the actors and actresses took their leave of the public on that side the river, in a series of appropriate couplets. One of these ran as follows:—

Vous que l'tambour et tambourin A la gloir', au plaisir entraine; Quand vous avez passe le Rhin, Craindrez vous de passer la Seine?

[15] Innumerable jests and lampoons circulated at the time of Napoleon's separation from Josephine, and second marriage. Conscious of the unworthy part he acted, the Emperor was greatly galled by them. "The keenest and most remarkable of these," says a German author who was in Paris at the time, "is unquestionably a Chanson Poissarde, of which hundreds of copies have been distributed, and which thousands have got by heart. Its author, in spite of Napoleon's fury, and of the zealous exertions of the police, has not been discovered. Several hundred persons have been arrested for copying or repeating it; but its original source remains unknown." It consists of nine verses, in the vulgar and mutilated French of the Paris halles. A couple of them will give a notion of the sly wit of the whole. They refer, of course, to the Emperor and to his future bride, Maria Louisa of Austria:—

Pour ell' il s'est fait l'aut' jour Pemd'en bel habit d'dimanche, Et des diamants tout autour, Pres d' sa figur comm' ca tranche! La p'tite luronne, j'en somm' sur, Aim' mieux l'present que l'futur.

Ah! comm' ell' va s'amuser, C' te princess' qui nous arrive! Nous, j'allons boir' et danser, N's enrouer a crier: Vive! Ell, s' ra l'idol' d' la nation, J' l'ons lu dans l'proclamation.

This reference to the martial prowess of the "grande nation," of course nearly brought down the house, but it did not carry the audience over the water, at least for some time. At last a new and successful play proved a magnet of irresistible attraction, and produced a receipt of twelve thousand pounds in three months.

In June, 1807, the new Theatre des Varietes opened. Its situation, on a crowded central boulevard, is excellent, and its vogue, with a few brief intervals, has been constant. A large proportion of the best French comic actors of the present century have acted there during the thirty-nine years that have elapsed since its inauguration. Amongst these are reckoned Bosquier Gavaudan, the best couplet singer of his day,—remarkable for his distinct articulation, and who, "from constantly personating officers of rank, grew so accustomed to wear a red ribbon in his coat, that, even when sitting in his dressing-gown at home, he did not feel comfortable without one in his button-hole;" Mme. Barroyer, a flame of Charles X. before the Revolution, the protectress and one of the teachers of Mlle. Mars; Potier, pronounced by Talma to be the most consummate actor he ever knew; Vernet, the admirable comedian; and Odry, who has been called the French Liston, but who is preferred, by most of those whom a thorough knowledge of both languages renders capable of equally appreciating French and English farce, even to the great Paul Pry himself. Then came Frederick Lemaitre, the hero of the melodrama, and sometimes of the more elevated class of drama. He was ill supported at the Varietes, and consequently proved less attractive than he has since been at the Porte St. Martin. He is remarkable for the care with which he studies every detail of his characters, even to the most trifling points of dress and accessories. His love of consistency betrays him, at times, into what may be termed the pedantry of costume. "When playing Buridan, in the Tour de Nesle, he appeared as prime minister in the fourth act, clad in velvet, but with a plain woollen shirt, whereas the courtiers around him wore fine linen garnished with lace. On his being asked the reason of this apparent inconsistency, he replied, that he did not wear a linen shirt because at the epoch referred to in the piece, they were not in common use; 'Nay, more,' added he, 'a century afterward, Isabel of Bavaria was reproached with extravagance for having too much of linen in her trousseau." He was once hissed at Orleans, when performing the part of a starving and destitute man, for taking snuff out of a bit of paper. He had thought it improbable that the needy wretch he represented would carry a snuff-box. Guessing the cause of the public disapprobation, he produced a gold one, which was vehemently applauded.

Jenny Vertpre the miniature Mars, as she has been called, in compliment to her talent, and with reference to her diminutive stature, held more than one engagement at the Varietes. She has been a great rambler, having acted in Germany, Holland, and Belgium, and visited England as manager of a French company. She married Carmouche, a writer of vaudevilles, has left the stage, and teaches young actresses.

The present company at this pleasant theatre is rich in talent. It includes seven or eight actors and actresses, who may be justly termed excellent in their respective styles. At the top of the list stand Bouffe and Dejazet. Respecting the latter, we have but little to add to the opinion we expressed in a recent number of this Magazine. After a long and fatiguing career, and at an age when most actresses have either left the stage, or dwindled into duennas and other subordinate parts, she still affords more pleasure by her performances than nine-tenths of her youthful contemporaries. Her making-up, is admirable, and she and Madame Doche divide between the honour of being the best dressed women on the French stage. In the ball-room or the street she still looks young; for although her face depends upon paint, her figure is erect and juvenile, and one would hardly suspect her of being the mother of "Monsieur Eugene Dejazet, who has attained some celebrity as a musical composer, and of a daughter who appeared at the St. James's theatre, in 1844, under the name of Mademoiselle Herminie." Her generosity and excellent heart have endeared her to her comrades. Her wit and ready repartee are proverbial. Mr. Hervey quotes a few of her bon mots, but he might have made a better selection. It is true that, besides the difficulty of translation, he may have been hampered by the latitude the lady allows herself. He regrets that a collection of her smart sayings is not made, to be called Dejazetiana; and opines that it would rival in merit, and far surpass in bulk, the volume containing the sallies of the famous Sophie Arnould. Something of the sort has been published, under the title of the "Perroquet de Mademoiselle Dejazet," but to its authenticity or value we are unable to speak.

In the year 1821, a young man in his twenty-first year, by trade a carver and gilder, was engaged to act at the new theatre of the Panorama Dramatique, at the enormous salary of twelve pounds per annum. To augment this pittance, and to please his father, who was averse to his new profession, he employed himself between the acts in gilding frames in a small workshop behind the scenes. This ill-paid aspirant to histrionic fame was MARIE BOUFFE, "the most perfect comedian of his day," says Mr. Hervey, and we fully coincide in the verdict. Bouffe, is one of the most intelligent, accomplished, and agreeable actors we ever saw; subtle and delicate in his conceptions of character, energetic without rant, ever true to Nature, and of a rare versatility of talent. We have known several persons who fancied, partly perhaps on account of his name, that he only acted comic parts: they should see him obtain a succes de larmes, throw a whole theatre into tears, by his exquisite feeling and pathos in serious ones. No actor more thoroughly makes his audience forget that he is one. His identification with his part is complete. The two lines of characters he usually takes are old men and lads, even very young boys. And in both he perfectly succeeds. We are doubtful in which to prefer him. As the noisy, lively, mischievous urchen in the Gamin de Paris, and as the griping old miser in the Fille de l'Avare, he is equally excellent. His countenance is remarkable. A clever critic has said of him, that he has the physiognomy of a Mephistopheles and the eye of an angel. The observation is singularly happy. There is something Mephistophelian in the curve of his nose, and in the lines around his mouth. His command of expression is extraordinary; his eyes, especially, alternately flash fire and grow dim with melancholy or tenderness. His figure is short, thin, and frail; his general appearance sickly, and not without cause, for poor Bouffe is consumptive, and, to judge from his looks, not long for this world. The only actor upon the French or English stage with whom we can compare him is the veteran Farren. But the comparison is to the advantage of the Frenchman, whose chief characteristic is his entire freedom from mannerism and stage trick. Mr. Farren is of the old and sterling school of actors, of which, unfortunately, so few remain. He stands first in his line upon the English boards, and deserves to be spoken of with all respect. Would that we had a dozen as good. But he has his faults, and the chief one is mannerism, certain peculiar ways that prevent the spectator from forgetting the actor in the person he represents, trifles, which it may be hypercritical to cavil at, but which nevertheless spoil the illusion, and compel the exclamation, "There is Farren." Take for example his favourite trick of scratching his upper lip with his forefinger. We have seen Bouffe many times—less frequently, certainly, than we have Farren—but we never perceived in him any of these peculiarities. His creations are original and new throughout; the mime disappears, and we have before as the gossiping old man, the rough shipboy, the simple-hearted recruit. We are really at a loss to point out a fault or suggest an improvement in Bouffe's acting. "If the public," says M. Eugene Briffault, "finds that he makes but little progress in the course of each year, it is because he is as near perfection as an actor can be." Many of Mr. Hervey's criticisms are excellent; none more so than the following:—"Bouffe's gaiety is frank and communicative, his pathos simple, yet inexpressibly touching; the foundation of his character is sensibility; he feels all he says. He never employs any superfluity of action for the purpose of producing effect, nor does he seek, by first raising his voice almost to a shriek, and then lowering it to a whisper, to startle his audience into a fit of enthusiasm; on the contrary, a studied sobriety, both of speech and gesture, is one of the peculiar features of his acting." When Bouffe visits England, we recommend some of our actors, who at present "imitate humanity so abominably," to attend his performances, and strive to profit by his example.

We have lingered at the Varietes, and must move onwards, rather against our will, and although much remains to be said concerning that amusing theatre and its actors. Hyacinthe's nose, alone, would furnish materials for a chapter, and of alarming longitude, if in proportion with the feature. The two Lepeintres would fill an article. They are brothers and rival punsters. The jokes of Lepeintre, Jenue have been printed and sold at the theatre door. His senior, who is no way inferior to him, either as a wit or an actor, said, with reference to himself, that he carried abundance, wherever he went, "puisqu'on y voyoit le pain trainer (Lepeintre aine.)"

On the site of an old cemetery stands the theatre known as the Gymnase Dramatique. A suggestive fact for the moralist. Death replaced by Momus; the mourner's tears succeeded by the quips and cranks of an Achard, by the wreathed smiles of a Rose Cheri. Where the funeral once took its slow and solemn way, rouged processions pass, tinsel heroes strut, and vapour. Thousand-tinted garlands supplant the pale immortelles that decked the graves; the sable cloak is doffed, and motley's the only wear. Surely actors must be bold men to tread a stage covering so many mouldering relics of mortality. Not for Potosi, and the Real del Monte to boot, would we do it, lest, at the witching hour, some ghastly skeleton array should rise and drive us from the Golgotha, or drag us to the charnel-house beneath. But we forget that the good old days are gone when such things were, or were believed in, and that superstition is now as much out of date as a heavy coach upon the Great North Road. Spectres may occasionally be seen at the Gymnase, but they are very material, flesh-and-blood sort of goblins, well known as impostors, even to the scene-shifters. This need not prevent any aspiring young novelist, desirous of coming out in the ghastly and ghostly line, from profiting by our hint, and producing, after a little preparatory cramming with Mrs. Radcliffe and the Five Nights of St. Albans, what the newspapers call "a romance of thrilling interest" on the subject of the gay Gymnase and its grave foundation.

Built in 1819, the Gymnase "was originally intended, as its name denotes, to be a kind of preparatory school for dramatic aspirants, whence the most promising actors and actresses were to be occasionally transferred to the different royal theatres." For some years—from 1824 till the July Revolution—it was known as the Theatre de Madame, and was under the special patronage of the Duchess of Berri, whom the manager had propitiated by sending a part of his company to amuse her when bathing at Dieppe. At that time it ranked immediately after the theatres royal, taking the precedence of the Vaudeville and other minors. Shorn by the Revolution of its honours and privileges, its favour with the public suffered little diminution. For many years Bouffe performed there, and there achieved his greatest triumphs. At the Varietes he has not been so well catered for by the dramatists. The present company at the Gymnase is very good. Bressant, Ferville, Numa, Klein, and Achard, are excellent actors. In actresses, also, the theatre is well provided, and the whole tone of its company and performances is such as to render it one of the most correct and agreeable in Paris. But the gem of the Gymnase, its grand attraction, to our thinking, is that delightful little actress, Rose Cheri. Never, assuredly, was a pretty name more appropriately bestowed. Her plump, fresh, pleasant little face, reminds one of the Rose, and cherie she assuredly is by the hundreds of thousands whom her graceful and tasteful performance has enchanted. Mademoiselle Cheri, who is only one-and-twenty, made her "first appearance upon any stage" at the somewhat early age of five years. "She acted the part of Lisette, in the Roman d'une Heure, for the amusement of her parents, (the other two characters being sustained by two of her playmates;) and the talent displayed by her was so remarkable, that she was encouraged to repeat the essay in public at the theatre of Bourges, on which occasion her infant exertions were rewarded by the enthusiastic applause of the audience, and—which was probably still more to her taste—by a shower of bonbons." Either the applause or the bonbons, or both, decided her vocation, and she continued to act from time to time, until at length she became a regular member of a provincial company, whose manager was her father. In 1842, she went to Paris, where she soon took rank with the best jeunes premieres of the capital. She has been justly called the most loveable actress upon the French stage; so graceful, so soft and womanly, displaying alternately such genuine feeling and nature, and such arch coquetry of manner; always such great freshness of style. We were pleased to see her properly appreciated during her last visit to London, both by press and public. Trained to the stage from so early an age—although not, as Mademoiselle Dejazet is said to have been, born in a theatre—it is not surprising that Rose Cheri is in the highest degree self-possessed and at her ease. But if she is sans peur on the boards, she is also—most rare commendation for a French actress—sans reproche in private life. Such a Rose as this is indeed the pride of the garden.

Two words about the Palais Royal, and we have done; leaving the dramatic aristocracy of the theatres royal, and the smaller fry of the Boulevards, for some future opportunity of comment. The Francais, although it reckons in its company several excellent comic actors, relies chiefly on tragedy, and will doubtless continue to do so, as long as it possesses Rachel, or until a comedian of very extraordinary talent starts up. And in French tragedies, even, heretical as it may sound, in the classic masterpieces of Corneille and Racine, we take far less pleasure than in the witty and sparkling comedies of many less renowned authors, to which the genius of the language so much better adapts itself. Nay, we confess to have more than once passed the Francais without the least compunction, with les Horaces or Andromaque on the bills, and a crowd at the door, to commit ourselves, a few paces farther, to the friendly arms of a stall at the Palais Royal, and the mirth-inspiring influence of Tousez and Levassor, the most comical buffoon and admirable mimic on the French stage.

When the Varietes' company was expelled from the little theatre of the Palais Royal, it became the scene of all manner of bastard performances. Rope dancers, wooden puppets, even dogs were the actors. The most intelligent of these were the quadrupeds. Mr. Hervey gives the following analysis of a melodrama enacted by them:—

"A young Russian princess, held captive in a castle by a tyrant, has a lover, who has sworn to effect her rescue. On the rising of the curtain, the fair prisoner, a pretty spaniel, is discovered walking on the parapet of a tower; the lover, a very handsome dog, presently appears at the foot of the wall, barking most amorously. As for the tyrant, he is represented by a ferocious-looking bull-dog, with a smashed nose. On a given signal, the lover's army make their entree, and scale the walls of the castle, which, after a gallant defence on the part of the garrison, is finally taken, and the princess delivered."

When the public had had enough of these canine comedies, the theatre was converted into a coffee-house. But the old dramatic prestige still hung about the place, and, after a time, the frequenters of the establishment were diverted, whilst sipping their punch and lemonade, with detached scenes and short vaudevilles, performed by two or three persons. Finally, in 1830, the house was rebuilt, and a regular license obtained; and from that date to the present day it has been a favourite resort of all lovers of a hearty laugh. Dejazet and Achard were long its chief support. They have left it; but others, little, if at all, inferior, have replaced them. Foremost amongst these stands Pierre Levassor, the best comic ballad-singer in France. Innumerable were the difficulties he had to overcome before he could fully gratify his passion for acting, and display his innate talent at a Paris theatre. His father, an old soldier of Napoleon's armies, opposed his propensity, which early manifested itself, in every possible way, and apprenticed him to a trade. During the revolution of 1830, young Levassor was on business at Marseilles, where a dinner was given to celebrate the event. "At the general request, he sang the song of the Trois Couleurs, with such immense success, that on the party adjourning after dinner to the theatre, a note was thrown on the stage, in which he volunteered to sing it in public, if agreeable to the audience. The offer was accepted; and both song and vocalist were loudly applauded." This incident was decisive of his future career. On his return to Paris he became an actor, and soon conquered great popularity. He is particularly clever in disguising himself, so as to be quite unrecognisable. With his dress he changes his voice, gait, and even his face; and will look the part of a decrepid old woman every bit as well as the more easily assumed one of a scapegrace student. His vivacity, good-humour, and fun, are inexhaustible. In the ludicrous extravaganzas, reviews of the past year, which nearly every carnival sees produced at the Palais Royal, he is perfectly irresistible. Powerfully aided by Grassot, Lemenil, Sainville, and Alcide Tousez, he keeps the house in an unceasing roar, even at pieces which, like the Pommes-de-terre Malades and the Enfant du Carnaval, are in themselves of very feeble merit. An excellent singer and clever actor, he is also a capital dancer and first-rate mimic, imitating with extraordinary facility every possible sound, whether the cries of animals or any thing else. And, off the stage, Levassor is as unassuming and gentlemanly as he is amusing and accomplished upon it.

Ravel is another droll dog, but quite in a different style from Levassor. The latter is all quickness, impetuosity, and entrain; Ravel is of a more passive style of comicality. At times he reminds us of two English actors, Buckstone of the Haymarket, and Wright, the Adelphi low comedian. He has something of Buckstone's odd monotony of manner, and, like him, often excites the laughter of an audience by his mere look or attitude. When Wright is not compelled to make a buffoon of himself in some stupid travestie, but is allowed fair scope for the display of his comic talents, which are really considerable, we prefer him to Ravel. He is a steady and improving performer. In Paul Pry, and some other stock pieces, his acting is quiet and excellent. Many of Ravel's characters have been taken by him in the English version. Ravel is seldom seen to greater advantage than as a soldier. He exactly renders the mingled simplicity and cunning of the conscript; the tricks of the barrack-room grafted upon clownish dulness. The piece called the Tourlourou—the French nickname for a recruit—founded on a novel of Paul de Kock's, was one of his triumphs, and another was Le Caporal et la Payse, Englished as "Seeing Wright." In short, he occupies a high position amongst the half-dozen drolls who, night after night, send home the audience of the Palais Royal brimful of mirthful reminiscences.

In this imperfect sketch of some of the leading French theatres and actors, we have taken little opportunity of censure. We could notice but a few, and have selected from the most worthy. In Paris, as elsewhere, pumps, to use a green-room term, are plentiful. But in the higher class of theatres they are in the minority; and moreover there is a neatness and tact in the performance of French actors, which, in the less prominent characters, at least, goes some way to atone for the absence of decided talent. A French comedian may be tame, he may be incorrect in the conception of his part; he is rarely vulgar or ridiculous. We refer, of course, to the actors allowed to figure on the boards of the half-score good theatres in Paris. There is no lack of inferior ones, where the laugh is more often at the performer than at the performance. But most even of these will repay a visit, if not for the sake of the actors, for that of the audience. Despised by the fashionable and pleasure-seeking, they afford a rich field to the observant man. He must not, it is true, be squeamish, and fear to let the unsavoury reek of tabac-de-caporal, or the odours of potato brandy and logwood wine come betwixt the wind and his nobility. Neither must he dread contact with the mechanic's blouse, with the cotton gown of the grisette, or the velveteen vest of the titi of the Boulevards; he must even make up his mind to see his neighbour, dispensing with his upper garment, exhibit his brawny arms in shirt sleeves of questionable purity. If he dare encounter these little imaginary contaminations, he will find entertainment in the humours of the Boulevard du Temple; in the pantomimes of the Funambules—once the scene of poor Debureau's triumphs—and in the ten-franc vaudevilles of the Petit Lazari.

* * * * *



THE REIGN OF GEORGE THE SECOND.[16]

[16] "Memoirs of the Reign of George the Second; by Horace Walpole." Edited by the late Lord Holland. 3 vols. Colburn: London.

Walpole, in giving his history to the world, renounces the title of an historian. He proclaims himself simply a compiler; his volumes, Memoires Pour Servir; and his chief purpose, simply, to give his own recollections, day by day, of the men and things passing before his eyes. Yet what historian has ever told his story with more spirit, ever sketched his characters with more living truth, or led our curiosity onward through the labyrinth of political intrigue, parliamentary struggle, and national vicissitude, with so light, and yet so leading a hand? A part of this charm arises from the interest which he himself took in his performance. He evidently delighted in the revival of those scenes in which he had once figured, and the powerful portraiture which, in his study, realized the characters of the eminent men whom he had seen successively depart from the political world. In this lies the spell which makes Walpole the favourite of all the higher order of readers in our age, and will make him popular to the last hour of the English language.

We read Gibbon like a task. We are astonished at his learned opulence, his indefatigable labour, and his flood of rich and high-wrought conception; but we grow as weary of him, as if we walked through an Indian treasury, and rested the eye only on heaps of gold. With all our great historical writers, the mind feels a sense of their toil, and, however it may be endured for the sake of its knowledge, our toil, too, is inevitable, and the crop must be raised only by the sweat of our own brow.

But the pages of Walpole give us the knowledge without the toil, and, instead of bending to the tillage, we pluck the fruit from the tree as we pass along. When he, too, is heavy, his failure arises simply from his attempting to assume the style of his contemporaries. He is not made for their harness, however it may be plated and embroidered. He cannot move in their stately and measured pace. His genius is volatile and vivid; he moves by bounds: and his display is always the most effective when, abandoning the beaten tracks of authorship, he speeds his light way across the field, and exhibits at once the agility of his powers and the caprice of his will.

What infinite gratification have we lost, by the want of such a writer in the days of classical antiquity! With what interest would the living world follow a Greek or a Roman Walpole! With what delight should we contemplate a Greek Council, with Pericles for its president, sketched by the hand of a spectator, and shown in the brilliant contests, intellectual intrigue, and ardent ambition of these sons of soul! What a scene would such a writer make of Cicero confronting Catiline, with the supremacy of Rome trembling in the scale, and the crowded senate-house preparing to hear the sentence of life or death! We might have wanted the strong historic phraseology of Sallust; or, in a subsequent age, the gloomy grandeur of Tacitus, that Caravaggio of ancient Rome; we might have lost some of the classic beauty, and all the theatric drapery, but we should have had a clearer, more emphatic, and more faithful picture, than in the severe energy of the one, or the picturesque mysticism of the other. We should have known the characters as they were known to the patrician and the populace of two thousand years ago; we should have seen them as they threw out all their stately and muscular strength; we should have been able to recover them from the tomb, make them move before us "in their armour, as they lived," and gather from their lips the language of times and things, now past away from man.

Still, we must acknowledge that Walpole's chief excellence is in his letters. His sportive spleen, his polished sarcasm, and his keen insight into the ways of men, place him at the head of all epistolary authorship. He has had but two competitors for this fame,—it is remarkable that they were both women,—De Sevigne in France, and Lady Wortley Montague in England; yet, how utterly inferior are De Sevigne's feeble sketches of court life, and vapid panegyrics on the "adorable Grignan;" or the Englishwoman's rambling details of travels and tribulations, to the pungent pleasantry and substantial vigour of Walpole! The Frenchwoman's sketches are like her artificial flowers, to the freshness of the true. Lady Mary's slipshod sentences and coarse voluptuousness are equally inferior to the accurate finish and fashionable animation of the man who combined the critic with the courtier, and was the philosopher even more than he was the man of fashion.

Walpole is now an English classic. It is striking, to see a man of talent thus vindicating his genius in the grave, making a posthumous defence of his character, and compelling posterity to acknowledge the distinctions of which he was defrauded by the petulance of his time. His example and his success administer a moral which ought not to be thrown away. There are many individuals in our own time, who might thus nobly avenge themselves on the injustice of their age. The Frenchman's maxim, Il n'y a que bonheur, et malheur, is unanswerably true; and not only men of the finest faculties are often ill used by fortune, but they are often the worst used. Their conscious superiority renders them fastidious of the lower arts of success; their sense of honour disqualifies them for all those services which require flexibility of conscience; and their sensibility to injustice makes them retort public injury, by disdainfully abandoning the struggle, and retiring from the vulgar bustle of the world.

Let such men, then, glance over the pages of Walpole, and see how productive may be made the hours of obscurity; how vigorously the oblivion of one generation may be redeemed by the honours of another; and how effectively the humble man of genius may survive the glaring favourites of an ephemeral good fortune.

Walpole, in his lifetime, was either pitied as a disappointed official, or laughed at as a collector of cracked china; but who either pities or laughs at him now? Posterity delights in the products of his study, while the prosperous tribe of his parliamentary day are forgotten, or remembered only through those products of his study. The Pulteneys, Granvilles, Lyttletons, and Wyndhams, are extinguished, and their chief interest now arises from Walpole's fixing their names in his works; as an architect uses the busts and masks of antiquity to decorate the gates, or crowns the buttresses of his temple.

Lord Holland's preface contains the following brief statement relative to the present publication.

Among the papers found at Strawberry Hill, after the death of Lord Orford, was the following memorandum, wrapped in an envelope, on which was written, "Not to be opened till after my will."

"In my library, at Strawberry Hill, are two wainscot chests or boxes, the larger marked with an A, the lesser with a B. I desire that, as soon as I am dead, my executor and executrix will cord up strongly and seal the larger box marked A, and deliver it to the Honourable Hugh Conway Seymour; to be kept by him unopened and sealed, till the eldest son of Lady Waldegrave, or whichever of her sons, being Earl of Waldegrave, shall attain the age of twenty-five years, when the said chest, with whatever it contains, shall be delivered to him for his own."

The rest of the order refers simply to the keeping of the key in the interim. The date is August 19, 1796.

Lord Holland then argues, with a rather unnecessary waste of argument, that the history contained within this chest was intended for publication, which, of course, it must have been.

In his private correspondence, Walpole frequently alludes to his preparation of the present work. In a letter to Mr. Montague, in 1752, he tells him, that "his memoirs of last year are quite finished," but that he means to add some pages of notes, "that will not want anecdotes;" and in answer to Montague, who had ludicrously menaced him with a messenger from the Secretary's office, to seize his papers, he says, "I have buried the memoirs under the oak in my garden, where they are to be found a thousand years hence, and taken perhaps for a Runic history in rhyme."

In another part of his memoirs of 1758, he says, with reference to the different stages of his work, "During the former part, I lived in the centre of business, was intimately acquainted with many of the chief actors, was eager in politics, and indefatigable in heaping up materials for my work. Now, detached from those busy scenes, with many political connexions dropped or dissolved; indifferent to events, and indolent; I shall have fewer opportunities of informing myself or others." And in this supposed indolence and ignorance, he sits down to his work without delay, and fills his volumes with information, inaccessible to nine-tenths of the ablest and most active in his generation.

But it is not our purpose to give a consecutive view of the contents of those volumes. Their nature is the reverse of consecutive. They are as odd, irregular, and often as novel, as the changes of a kaleidoscope. Nothing can be less like a picture, with its background, and foreground, its middle tints and its chiaroscuro. Their best emblem perhaps would be the "Dissolving views," where a palace has scarcely met the eye, before it melts into an Italian lake; or the procession to a Romish shrine is metamorphosed into a charge of cavalry. The volumes are a melange of characters, anecdotes, and reflections. We shall open the pages at hazard, and take, as it comes first, in those "Sortes Walpolianae," a Westminster election.

There is "nothing new under the sun." What the Irish cry for "Repeal" is now, the cry for the "Stuarts" was a hundred years ago. Faction equally throve on both; and the tribe who live by faction in all ages uttered both cries with equal perseverance—the only distinction between them being, that as the Jacobite cry was an affair of the scaffold, it was uttered with a more judicious reserve.

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