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on melodrama to be agreeable in a theatre where the vaudeville flon-flon should always reign supreme. The main, indeed, the sole support of “ Le Trésor du Pauvre” is Bardou, and right earnestly did that excellent actor exert himself on the first night of performance to avert the storm of which his talent alone prevented the explosion. Bardou has, hitherto, been known rather as a comic than as a strictly dramatic performer, and, notwithstanding the pathos displayed by him in his creations of le Bonhomme Job, and of Jean Gauthier, in the famous “Mémoires du Diable," has seldom had an opportunity of fairly showing the singular versatility of his powers. The very long and trying part of Pierre Bertin in “ Le Trésor du Pauvre” is sustained by him with great ability, and would alone entitle Bardou to rank among the leading comedians of the day, had not that distinction been long ago attained by him. I hope this truly clever actor will some day be introduced to the English public: setting aside his personal merits, his répertoire is at once extensive and amusing, and embraces every variety of piece from comedy and drama down to the broadest farce, from “ Le Protégé” and “Les Trois Loges,” to “ Les Petites Misères" and “ La Gazette des Tribunaux."

Independently of their dramatic celebrity, several French actors enjoy a deserved reputation as painters, sculptors, and lithographers; Beauvallet and Geffroy, of the Théâtre Français, have both given proofs of unquestionable talent, the former as an historical, the latter as a portrait-painter.* I have, also, seen some very pretty landscapes, sketched from nature, and presented to Mademoiselle Louise Fitzjames by Coralli, the clever dancer of the Opera. Mélingue, of the Théâtre Historique, is an excellent sculptor, and is the author of many statuettes of first-rate merit, among others, of one representing Bouffé in “ Le Gamin de Paris.” Alfred Baron, of the Ambigu, takes profile-likenesses in plaster very faithfully; Matio, of the same theatre, is a good lithographer; and Tétard, of the Vaudeville, employs his leisure hours in executing Lilliputian statuettes of all the dramatic, musical, and literary celebrities of the day, forming a complete gallery of burlesque portraits, the price of each being only a franc. Among his last, and I may add, best, are Frederick Lennaître in “ Le Chiffonnier de Paris,” and Vernet in “Les Trois Portiers."

A propos of Vernet, I was present the other day, during a discussion entr'artistes, as to the respective merits of this admirable comedian and Bouffé. Much was said on both sides, but the inajority were evidently in favour of Vernet, when an old actor, happening to join the group, was called on for his opinion. Mes enfans," said he, “ I myself consider Vernet unquestionably the first comedian living, but say so with deference, after having heard Mademoiselle Mars proclaim the contrary. Shortly before her death, I asked her the same question you have just put to me; her answer, without a moment's reflection, was, Certainement, Vernet est bon, très bon même ; muis Bouffé!! n'a t-il pas créé la Fille de l'Avare!'

*

The conversion of the ancient Cirque Olympique into a third lyric theatre, or national opera, does not appear to me likely to prove so profitable a speculation as was at first imagined. No theatre was, for many

* Geffroy's admirable picture of the foyer de la Comédie Française, which contains portraits of all the modern dramatic celebrities of that theatre, and which, I regret to say, has never yet been engraved, is one of the chief ornaments of the foyer des rtistes.

years, so popular as the Cirque ; the grand military spectacles produced there, mostly relating to the campaigns and victories of Napoleon, were calculated not only to amuse, but also to interest the Boulevart public, and no species of entertainment, perhaps, could have excited, in a greater degree, their sympathy and admiration. Now the case is sadly altered for the worse : in place of these splendid battle-pieces, which the enthusiastic titis liked none the less from being deafened by the cannons and choked by the powder, in place of the imposing processions, and of the funny episodes introduced here and there, while the grand scenes were preparing at the back of the stage-in place of these really amusing entertainments, we have operas, creditably got up as far as the mise en scéne is concerned, but indifferently acted, and wretchedly sung.

After undergoing an hour and a half's martyrdom the other evening, in listening to Adolphe Adam's operette," Une bonne Fortune," most woefully massacred by Joseph Kelm, the buffo of the company, and an exactor of the Gymnase and Renaissance, who over-acts and under-sings his parts in an ultra-provincial style, and a parcel of voiceless automata, male and female, I sat out with extreme difficulty two acts of “ Alize, Reine de Golconde," one of Berton's most charming operas, abounding in original and lively airs, which the performers, one and all, vied with each other in disfiguring as much as possible. Imagine a tenor singing as if his mouth was full of plums, or four, or what you like, a prima donna making vain efforts to touch the high notes in her bravura, a mezzo soprano, with a plump face and blonde ringlets, but not the slightest shadow of voice beyond a chirp, and a bass with an organ resembling that of a chained-up mastiff, and you have some idea of the ensemble with which one portion of the national opera-company execute the music allotted to them. I say one portion, for the other moiety of the troupe sing in " Gastibelza,” which I have not yet heard, but will speak of hereafter.

It is but fair to add, that the theatre is well lighted, that the public foyer (which is open, and communicates with the couloir on the grand tier) is very prettily arranged, and that the prices are sufficiently reasonable. It would be as well, however, if the orchestra stalls were an inch or two wider, in the event of Lablache's taking it into his head to visit the theatre; as it is, an individual of even moderately rotund dimensions may possibly squeeze into one, but he will find it as difficult to get out again, as did once a slender young man to pass poor Lepeintre jeune, who, having ensconced himself comfortably in the balcon of one of the theatres, became an insurmountable obstacle to any passing to and fro. In vain did Lepeintre make superhuman efforts to squeeze himself into a small compass, in vain did his slim neighbour, one of the sauciest and most shallowbrained of Parisian gents, heap reproaches and insults on his devoted head; to force a passage was impossible, and our fat friend, at last. overcome by his exertions, and annoyed by the ill-bred insinuations of the calicot, remarked loud enough to be heard by those around him, and with a roguish twinkle of his eye, “ Que voulez-rous, monsieur, il n'est pas donné a tout le monde d'être PLAT!”

From the Opéra National I went in for an hour to the Funambules, in order to see a pantomime, in which young Déburau, son of the inimitable Pierrot, was to appear. He is tall and slightly made, and his countenance is extremely flexible ; there is a knowing expression in his eye, which strongly reminds one of his father, and his by-play is remarkably clever. I know no theatre throughout all Paris so entertaining as this little bandbox, crowded as it is with the blue-frocked titis, grisettes, and gamins ; if there be no fun going on upon the stage, there is sure to be plenty in the gallery, from whence slices of apple and bits of orange-peal are periodically distributed with the strictest impartiality among the more aristocratical occupiers of the pit. Then, if one of the songs in a vaudeville (for vaudevilles are given there as well as pantomimes) is more than usually ill sung, there is always a farceur ready to cry out bis, and if the dialogue hangs heavy, nothing is easier than to burst out in chorus with

Larifla, fla, fla, larifla, fla, fla,

Larifla, fla, fla. Or,

Voilà la vie, voilà la vie,

Du vrai Rohémien Parisien. These interruptions are taken as a matter of course by the actors, who are not a whit embarrassed by them, but go on with their parts, even though not a word they say be heard beyond the foot lights. Thus from the opening of the doors to the final fall of the curtain, the audience are kept in a continued state of merriment, which would alone suffice to account for the immense popularity enjoyed by this theatre. The prices, moreover, are within the means of all, the best places costing but thirty sous, and the cheapest only four. As a sententious philosopher en blouse truly remarked, “ C'est magnifique, et pas cher." By the

way

the event of the month in a theatrical point of view is the rentrée at the Théâtre Français of Madame Allan Despréaux in “ Un Caprice.” The piece is charming, and so is the actress ; since Mademoiselle Mars, no such worthy representative of la haute comedie has been seen on the French stage. Such grace, such a perfect tenue, such exquisite refinement of look, tone, and manner. And is it possible that such a pearl beyond price can have been for ten years condemned to exile, if not in Siberia, at least in St. Petersburg. Fi donc !

Paris, December 20th, 1847.

NEW YEAR'S DAY. So New Year's Day has come again, Since New Year's Day, a year since now In your mind is it joy or pain

How many a pure and spotless brow, That holds the greatest sway

And loving hearts “ that then were gay," Joy that the world is well-nigh done, Have pass'd like sunshine all away. The haven near, the victory won ? And he who dares his thoughts repass Or pain because another year

In memory's retrospective glass, Is past ? The end is still more near.

Sees in the clearest forms of truth,

The depths of age, the shoals of youth, Ah! e'en in the most thoughtless breast, And how they both have miss'd their aim, Unwelcome visitings are press'd,

In flutt'ring round and round the flame; As one by one our years depart,

Losing their more substantial things Never again to glad the heart ;

In fire which only burnt their wings. As one by one with silent tread, The silver hairs now deck the head, Come youth, come age, and with the And “crow's feet” show their deep'ning

year trace

Now past, let folly disappear. Upon the smooth, remembered face. There is no real joy in folly

Its very hopes are cheats, and we This day, how many look in vain Build our foundations on the sea. For dear ones they will ne'er again Truth is too good and far too holyIn fondest earthly love embrace ! Earth's pleasures lead to meancholyTheir looks recall their forms re- But let us strive our way to win trace!

Unstain'd by guilt unmark'd by sin.

N. B.

LITERARY NOTICES.

THE LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE.*

Ilow little the workings of genius depend upon the mere accidental form and circumstances under which it is brought into the world, is shown daily by the obscurity which envelops the personal history of those who in past ages produced many of the most glorious monuments of the human intellect; the latter seem to partake in the immortal nature of the spirit which is fled, while the memory of the errors or virtues which distinguished the individual are buried in the grave. A natural curiosity urges us in such cases to do our best to lift up the veil which covers the past; but our inquiries, when most successful, show us only that the object of our search lived among his contemporaries like one of them, and that outwardly he differed little from the ordinary stamp of his fellow men. In fact, we learn that the genius which shines brightest in after ages did not always dwell among the great, or the rich, , or the powerful.

We have a remarkable instance of this in the case of Shakespeare, whose personal history is so exceedingly obscure, although we know comparatively well the lives of most of his literary contemporaries, even of obscure writers whose works have hardly any claim upon our attention. The former biographers of the poet appear to have been striving mainly to find something in Shakespeare's history elevated above the character of people in general-while Mr. Halliwell alone has carried his inquiries to any extent among those sources which were likely to furnish the history of the English yeoman and the honest burgess of Stratfordupon-Avon. Blind tradition, beginning with the so oft repeated deerstealing exploit, had embellished his life with romance ; but this is now dissipated by the discovery that the poet's chief pursuit was that of gaining and investing money. We cannot help thinking that this circumstance explains, in a great measure, why his name occurs so seldom in the literary correspondence and anecdote of the time. One or two very slight notices, though not of the most authentic description, lead us to believe that he was by no means wanting in those convivial qualities which made the joyous and merry companion; and he no doubt, when in London, associated with his fellow-actors, and with many of the literary characters of the time. But had he been personally much mixed up with the latter, or had he indulged in the wild, reckless life which we are accustomed to ascribe to the former, we should probably have heard much more of him.

Mr. Halliwell has ransacked every record-office in the country, as well as in London, that offered any prospect of contributing to our knowledge of the history of Shakespeare and his family, and the result has been the discovery of a great number of new documents, which establish many very interesting and important facts. He informs us, that his original intention was merely to print the documents, which, at the suggestion of

The Life of William Shakespeare. Including many Particulars respecting the Poet and his Family never before published. By James Orchard Halliwell, Esq. London: John Russell Smith. 8vo.

1848.

his publisher, he has interwoven into a biographical memoir. The documents are, however, all given at full, and thus the volume before us forms a complete treasury of Shakesperian history.

Mr. Halliwell has, by means of extensive researches in the municipal archives of Stratford and the registers of the neighbourhood, made us satisfactorily acquainted with the condition and history of the Shakespeare family in their native place during nearly a century, including the time at which the poet lived. They come before us as substantial yeomen of the county and respectable burgesses of the town. John Shakespeare, the poet's father, besides property in the neighbourhood, which he farmed himself, exercised in Stratford the trade of a glover, and was an active member of the corporation of the town, in which he possessed houses, and of which he was an alderman, and served the office of high-bailiff in 1568-9. William Shakespeare was born in 1564, and appears to have received a good education at the grammar-school. Mr. Halliwell has discovered some curious intimations in the corporation books, which tend to show that John Shakespeare had a taste for dramatic exhibitions, and that as an influential member of the corporation he did his best to encourage them in his native town. Here, no doubt, was the origin of his son William Shakespeare's love for the stage, with which, in all probability, he had formed a connexion before he went to London. The Stratford books show that, while the latter was a mere boy, his father's affairs became involved in difficulties, and that he was much reduced in circumstances, which may have had some influence in determining the poet to seek his fortune in the metropolis. All authentic facts join in proving that William Shakespeare always continued his relations with his native town, that when he gained money by his profession he invested his gain in lands and houses there, and that his great ambition was to become one of the richest and most influential men in Stratford-upon-Avon. Mr. Halliwell has also shown that there are indirect local allusions to his native place in Shakespeare's writings that prove how constantly he bore it in his mind; and he has remarked on the singular circumstance, that most of the names of the secondary comic characters in his plays, such as Forde, Page, Peto, Bardolf, Fluellyn, Sly, Broom, Hearne, &c., are found in entries in the Stratford books as those of persons living in the town or neighbourhood.

We have not room to trace circumstantially all the interesting facts relating to Shakespeare, brought to light, or illustrated, in Mr. Halliwell's book, but we will merely state that his documents show the poet in private life intent chiefly ou gaining money ; and it appears that at the same time that he was profiting largely by his profession in London, he was trading with his money in Stratford.' He appears in the town records as a corn-dealer ; and Mr. Halliwell traces with great exactitude his successive purchases of houses and land. He has also shown us, by other transactions between the poet and his townsmen, the influence which he was gradually obtaining among them. But a still more curious trait in Shakespeare's character now comes to light, namely, that as soon as he had obtained a capital in ready money, he began to increase it by supplying loans at interest, a proceeding very little in character with what the ardent admirers of the great dramatist would willingly expect, and certainly not very poetic. Yet it occurred at the period when he was most active in literature, and composed some of his first dramas. It is also curious that, as soon as he had satisfied himself in the acquisition of

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