« PreviousContinue »
In Two Acts,
Author of The Spectre Bridegroom, Giovanni in London, &c.
PRINTED FROM THE *CTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL, BY D-G.
To which are added,
A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME, -CAST OF THE CHARACTERS,
EMBELLISHED WITH A PORTRAIT OF MR. MATHEWS,
IN THE CHARACTER OF MONSIEUR MORBLEU.
Engraved on Steel by Mr. WOOLNOTH, from an original Drawing
by MR. WAGEMAN.
CAMDEN NEW TOWN.
Some of our earliest and indeed most pleasing recollections are associated with French society. We mean that society which consisted of men of genius and literature, who, hunted from their native country by traitors and mur. derers, sought and found refuge on the generous shores of Britain. With the emigrants we passed much of our early life, and had therefore an opportunity of marking their inany peculiarities. Their irritability, their patience--their vivacity, their sadness-their pride, their poverty.
In them, the elements were strangely mingled. Their transitions from grave to gay were as volatile as their motions ; and if an involuntary sigh escaped them at the thought of what they once had been, it was succeeded by a tear of gratitude, and a smile of content. We have beheld them insulted by full-blown pride and brutal ignorance, but their dependance has forbade reply; and though a transient flush might overspread their cheek, it was more in sorrow than in anger ; more allied to anguish than to resentment.
“ Of all the griefs that harass the distress'd,
Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest;
Separated from the friends of his youth—his family slaughtered, or, at best, driven into exile-himself a wandercr in a foreign land, with all the evils attendant on poverty-lived there a being that had stronger claims on our humanity than the French emigrant? Home, a name so dear to every Englishman, must have had some charms for him-and if he found among strangers anything that even approximated to the word, the utmost it could do, would be to sooth the sorrows it never could heal.
But however misfortune and English fogs might have damped the spirit of the emigrant, his constitutional gaiety must still break out, come what will,
6 Voilà la soleil ; je suis heureux "' is no uncommon exclanation from the lips of a Frenchman, who, of all other men,
the most apt to be elated by the presence of that glorious luminary. - Angry, or pleased, Monsieur is equally comical! His ejaculations, his shrugs, his nods, and wiuks, are à never failing source of merriment. We have no objections to a few practical jokes, provided they offer po insult to his misfortuves. When schoolboys, we have ourselves taken no small liberties with “ Meo Magister.” If we liave not, like Cowslip,“ pulled," we have absolutely singed his wig. We have moreover mingled pepper with his souffand upon one occasion, we so far proceeded to extremities, as to drive pins, not the heads of them, through the bottom of his easy chair.
“O shame! where is thy blush ?" The French character has been variously drawn, according to the caprice and prejudice of individuals. Johnson, who had neither legs for dancing, nor ears for music, dismisses it most contemptuously
“All sciences a fasting Monsieur knows,
And bid him go to hell—to hell he goes." If the Doctor intended fisting as a term of reproach, he must surely have forgotten that he hinself ever signed “ Impransus."
Cowper's picture is inore agreeable, and comes nearest the truth.
“ The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk,
Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk,
With which he shouts and carols,' l'ive le Roi !'" In this picture, happiness is neither of difficult vor expensive attainment. We could wish, that in our own country it were pursued with no greater violation of decency and propriety
This Farce is founded on the well-known poetical tale of “ Monsieur Tonson,” which is said to be a true story. But whether true or false, it is insufferably entertaining, aud mischievously comical. The author has shewn considerable tact in dramatizing the original,- he has grafted on it a very interesting tale, and from a mere outline, he has drawn the most finished portrait of a kind-hearted and eccentric Freộchman that the stage cau produce.