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effusions, and the most magnificent inventions of the human mind.

It is curious, in illustration of the French character, to contrast the proceedings in the theatre of Paris, during thj&revolution, with those which take place at the present day. What an immense difference between the political tone of all parties! At the "Theatre Francais," where interludes are Dost, we might say, consecrated to the worship of an Emperor, three successive representations of the republican tragedy of "La Mort de Brutus" took place in the course of one night, in the year 1793, exacted by the insatiable appetite of the French public, for every thing that savoured in the least, of republicanism. Three several times was the theatre emptied { and filled with a different audience; and Talma, who is now j at intervals, graciously summoned to play for the amusement of their Imperial majesties at their private theatre of St. Cloud,—was compelled, as many times in succession, to go through the part of Brutus;—a task in the execution of which he was sustained, by his own burning zeal for liberty and equality! The "imperial academy of music" which is now in the nature of a temple, where the apotheosis of the " grand Napoleon" is nightly rehearsed, then resounded incessantly with fa ira, and the Marseilles hymn; and such was the sympathetic enthusiasm of the singers and the public, that on one occasion, five hundred young men enlisted for the frontiers, immediately after hearing the hymn just mentioned, chaunted from the stage by Lais, brandishing a poignard in one hand and waving the cap of liberty in the other. This great "vocal academician," who now supports the musical honours of the new piece called " the Triumphs of Trajan," in other words—the triumphs of Napoleon—was at one time an infuriate propagandist of jacobinism; journeyed through France on amission from the society at Paris, presented inflammatory addresses to the public authorities, &c.—And,—what is not the least remarkable,—the Parisians themselves seem to contemplate their own inconsistency, without a feeling of mortificatios or self reproach. I was once present at the performance, by Picard's company, in the theatre de PImperatrice, of an extravagant little piece intitled Le Reveil de Sept Ans,* which afforded a striking exemplification of what I have here stated. The fable of it is this;—a gentleman of fortune, a royalist at heart, is supposed to have fallen into a deep sleep during the republican era, and to have continued in that state until

* The meaning of this title is, a waking from a sleep of seven rears


after the establishment of the imperial throne. The action of the piece consists in the terror with which he is seized, when, on waking, he hears himself saluted by his attendants, with the title of Mr. instead of Citizen, from an idea

tViat it will furnish a ground of accusation against him,

in the new alarms which he conceives, at the language of all those who approach him, concerning the Emperor, the Princes. &c,—and in the astonishment and delight with which he hears the proper explanation of the mystery, on being told of the entire revolution that had taken place during his nap, both in the condition and the nomenclature of things. I cannot describe to you the satisfaction with which a numerous audience, consisting, perhaps, in great part, of persons who had gone all lengths with the republican leaders, contemplated this dramatic picture of their own apostacy, and of the versatility of the national character. Every little incident and phrase which served to mark more emphatically the suddenness of the change, and the strength of the contrast, was received with an increased relish, and the most obstreperous applause.

The principal heroines of the Theatre Franfais, are Mdlle. Georges, and Mdlle. Duchesnois. Talma has confessedly no rival of his own sex, but these ladies contest with each other the empire of the stage in their walk, and it is, I must confess, difficult to decide between them, so equally balanced are their pretensions. Both, in my humble opinion, are not much above mediocrity, but this is far from being the sentiment of the Parisians, and to them we should submit in such matters. Duchesnois is compared to Duclos and Clairon, and Georges to Le Couvreur, the three most celebrated of the French actresses, in the time of the monarchy. I should be sorry to think, however, that so many volumes had been written in commemoration of talents, no greater than those which I could discover in the Phedres and Camilles of the present day. Mdlle. Georges is tall and graceful, and has a head of the true Grecian model. Her countenance is at the same time exceedingly fine. Nature has been far less bountiful to her rival, whose stature is low, and whose face is revoltingly ugly. She is said, indeed, amply to supply these defects, by the superior force with which she conceives her part, and the more overpowering energy with which she declaims. As a compensation, also, for the harshness of her voice, her intonations are uncommonly judicious, and studied with unremitting care.

Much pathos is ascribed to the acting of Mdlle. Georges, but I must acknowledge that I never felt it. Her declamation is toodrawlingand tearful^'larmoyante^—Xoborrowthe idiom

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of her critics. If there be any defect in the elocution of Mrs. Siddons, it is something of the same nature, although not by any means carried to an equally reprehensible excess. Both the French actresses transgress all bounds in the violence of their rant, and the variation of their tones, where they think it necessary to display strong feeling, or great animation. This is the general vice not only of the tragic actors of Paris, but of all public speakers in France. They do not wax warm by sufficiently slow degrees, for a due correspondence of emotion on the part of the auditor, and then go much beyond his utmost pitch, particularly if his constitution be one of the sluggish cast, which we have inherited from our progenitors.

The competition of Georges and Duchesnois had divided the French metropolis, into two parties scarcely less violently inflamed against each other, than the factions of the Circus, which distracted Constantinople in the reign of the Emperor Justinian, under the denomination of " Greens" and " Blues." It was hazardous, even for a stranger, to express an opinion on the merit of either of these actresses, in the pit of the Theatre Franfais, or in fact in any other theatre of the capital. I have known in several instances, the disputes on this subject, to become so general, and to assume so serious an aspect, that it was found necessary to claim the interference of the guard stationed at the doors. The feuds of which I am speaking, began with the stage heroines themselves, and extended to the decrotteurs or shoe-blacks, who took an interest in the question of their supremacy, little less profound than that of the professed critics. All the gazettes and journals were enlisted on one side or the other, and waged the most acrimonious hostilities.

A temporary reconciliation was, however, effected between the two rival queens in person, before my departure from the capital, and led to a general truce. The event was signalized in this way. They were prevailed upon to consent to act in the same piece,—a proceeding which they had before studiously avoided,—and the "Horace" of Corneille was chosen for the occasion. My curiosity to know how they, and their audience would acquit themselves, induced me to brave a fiery trial at the door of the theatre, in order to obtain a seat. I procured one after great exertion, and was much amused. While the fair competitors laboured to extort the suffrage of the majority, by the most violent efforts imaginable, their separate adherents seemed to be endeavouring, to outvie each other in mutual condescension,by bestowing indiscriminately upon both favourites, plaudits without end or measure. At the termination of the play, the " tragic Duchesnois,"and " inimitable Georges"


were summoned to appear before the audience in the usual manner, to receive an undivided tribute of admiration. Immediately after this ceremony, they showed themselves arm in arm in a side box, and were no sooner descried by the pit, than a new chorus of plaudits burst forth, and continued until the lungs and ears of the enthusiasts themselves could bear no more. It was said that the government had interfered to produce the reconciliation, to which this scene was owing, but I cannot answer for the truth of the statement. Such an interposition,—had not the domestic peace of the capital been seriously threatened,—would appear to be a deviation from its ordinary and true policy, which is, to keep the Parisians as deeply engaged as possible in these weighty matters, in order that they may be less mindful,of the less important concerns of state.

The comedy of the Theatre Franfais is in all respects preferable, to that of any other stage in the world. It is replete with wit, elevated and chaste, and perfectly sustained by the performers of both sexes. Broad or low farce, together with the ribaldry and obscenity, which pollute the English theatres, are entirely banished from this. The decorum of the manner, —which is generally determined by that of the matter,—is also strikingly contrasted with what you witness at Convent Garden or Drury Lane, on the part not only of the inferior, but of the higher class of comedians. Of broad farce, melodramas, ludicrous pantomime and harlequinades,—much, too, exceedingly good in its kind,—there was enough to be found in the small theatres of Paris, but I do not recollect that I ever had occasion to remark, even where these are exhibited, such licentious incidents and offensive speeches as abound in the English after pieces of the present day, and with which our galleries are too often gratified in this country. 6 0 Fleury was at the head of the genteel comedy of France, at the period to which these letters refer. It was a rich treat to see him in "L'Ecole des Bourgeois," or as Frederick the Great, in the piece intitled " Les Deux Pages." I was told by those who had known the Prussian monarch, that the imitation was perfect in all respects. They could readily have imagined him present on the stage, not only by the dress and general appearance of the actor, but from the tones of his voice, and from every look and gesture. Fleury had about him, very able assistants, particularly among the females. The two Contats, Mdlles. Mars, Mezeray, and Bourgouin, were actresses of extraordinary merit, and at the same time of a captivating exterior. There was in fact nothing below mediocrity, and much that was of the highest excellence, in all the comic performances of this theatre.

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It is difficult for me to imagine, that any establishment of the kind which has ever existed, could yield more complete satisfaction throughout an evening, than was to be derived from the "Cinna" of Corneille and the " Deux Pages," played in succession: Talma in the part of the conspirator, and Fleury as the Prussian monarch. I have enjoyed the best bill of fare which Drury Lane could furnish for a single entertainment, when Elliston and Mrs. Jordan were upon the boards, but I must confess that, altogether, I was very differently regaled. Our good tragedies and comedies, containing as they do, beauties of a higher order than those, of which any others can boast, are, nevertheless, more unequal, and fatiguing in the ensemble, than the esteemed dramatic compositions of France. The English stage can scarcely produce a single play, of which some, and generally many parts, are not either oppressively dull, disgustingly vulgar, or abominably licentious. The sensations of pleasure which are experienced in an English theatre are usually blended, with almost an equal portion of opposite feelings, excited at intervals, either by the manner or the matter of the performance.

This is not the case in the Theatre Francais, with such a choice of entertainment, as that which I have specified, in the commencement of the preceding paragraph. All is in unison, and fitted to convey satisfaction,—both in the mechanical details and the intellectual exhibition. You have nothing that is below mediocrity or that is revolting, either from the author or the actor; but much to gratify the most refined taste, and elevate the most lofty imagination. The strictest attention is paid to congruity and decorum, in whatever appertains to the stage. The performers and the audience in this theatre, act, as if they respected themselves, and respected each other. To this rule there have, indeed, been exceptions, particularly during the revolution, but it is now rarely violated. The performer is allowed no loose speeches of his own, no lounging i attitudes or farcical tricks; nor is he exposed to unreasonable interruptions, or injurious clamours from any quarter.

I must stop here, or you will scarcely have the courage to encounter more of my voluminous, and desultory episdes. I mean to treat the subject of the minor theatres and amusements of Paris, in another communication. Reserve therefore your patience for a further trial.

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