Imatges de pÓgina

columns, its encircling gallery occu- pleasant plays as Mademoiselle de la pied by venders of newspapers, old Seiglière, Le Mari à la Campagne, prints, cheap novels, surgical treatises, Bataille de Dames, and innumerable stage plays, and every species of low- others of the same class, to say nopriced literature likely to find purchas- thing of Molière, ever new and welers in the vicinity of a medical school come when well performed, and of the and a large theatre. This building is heroines of Racine and Corneille, imthe Odéon, which bore, under Napo- personated by Rachel. Two short leon the Great, the title of Théatre pieces, produced at the principal de l'Impératrice, but which is better French theatre, derived a factitious known as the Second Théatre Français. interest from their suppression. As It has been twice burned down, and nothing in either of them could poshas frequently changed its occupants sibly be twisted into moral or poli-even the Italian Opera having quar- tical offence, their prohibition has tered itself there for a time; but its puzzled everybody. Their very innosuccess as a French theatre has been

cence was probably its cause. It was very fluctuating, and never brilliant. considered, in high quarters, that they It gives tragedies, comedies, and dra- were hardly worthy of the stage upon mas, and is intended, as its second which they were produced. Such, title indicates, to be a kind of supple- at least, is one of the explanations ment to the Comédie Française. It is most generally credited. The slightone of the houses that enjoy a pecu- est of the two, Les Lundis de Madame, niary subvention from the French go- a very frivolous one-act comedy, has, vernment. Owing to its situation, however, had its interdiction removed, remote from the modern, and from and is occasionally performed. It most of the fashionably - inhabited was bardly worth the trouble either parts of Paris, it must rely for an au- of production or prohibition. The dience, except in the case of unusually other play, by the Marquis de Belloy, attractive pieces, upon the dwellers is a very brief tragedy entitled La upon the southern banks of the Seine. Mal'aria, in one act of twelve scenes. This last winter it has had a run of It bears upon its title-page the con. luck. Henry Mounier's play, The cluding lines of the fifth canto of Grandeur and Decline of M. Prud- Dante's Purgatory : homme, had scarcely begun to lose the « Ricordi ti di me che son la Pia, first freshness of its vogue, when a Siena mi fe', disfecemi Maremma. comedy by Ponsard filled every corner Salsi colui che'nnanellata pria, of the house-and it takes sixteen hun- Disposando, m'avea con la sua gemma." dred spectators to fill the Odéon. Pia, a noble lady of Sienna, the

The most successful plays produced wife of Messer Nello della Pietra, at Paris during the season now con- was surprised by her husband, Volpi cluded have been, at the Gympase, relates, in a lover's arms. Della Philiberte and Le Fils de Famille; and Pietra took her with him to the at the Odéon, Punsard's five-act Maremma, a district near Sienna comedy of L'Honneur et l'Argent. very fertile in corn, but whose exhalaWe need only refer to Lady Tartuffe, tions are fatal in summer. “ In the which has been the subject of a pre- Maremma I perished," says the shade vious paper, and with whose excep- to Dante; "in what manner is well tion, the Comédie Française has made known to him who, when he wed me, no very remarkable hit this season. placed upon my finger a jewelled Mallefille's comedy of Le Caur et la ring." This is the basis of the wellDot was well received, and deserves written but almost plötless piece of notice, but it was elbowed aside by M. de Belloy, who has somewhat Madame de Girardin's play, which altered Dante's anecdote. The scene followed hard upon its heels. Doubt- passes in the count's castle in the less it will again be performed. The Maremma, where he is awaiting the Comédie Française has such an inex- death of his wife, there shut up with haustible store of excellent stock him. He learns that his father-inpieces that the absence of novelty is law, Tolommei, is marching with an unheeded by the public, which gladly armed force to attack bim. He interthrongs to the performance of such cepts a bunch of flowers which Mila, the countess's attendant, has received Philiberte, as to a play of a higher from a knight in Tolommei's com- class, the late M. Bayard's Fils de pany, with orders to deliver it to her Famille was the first performed of all mistress. In these flowers he sheds the pieces we have designated as rea subtle poison; then, Mila's sus- cently successful. It is an extremely picion being aroused, he smells them amusing comédie vaudeville, such as himself in her presence and that of even a blasé playgoer may sit out his wife. The Tolommei reach the twice with pleasure. It has the castle, and her family march greets double merit of beginning with a the ears of the dying countess, whose spirit and vivacity that at once please husband, dropping the sword he has and fix the attention, and of rising in drawn to defend his stronghold, falls interest in each successive act. Be. and dies at her feet. The piece is as sides this, and although the nature of gloomy as it well can be, but that is the piece hardly permits the anticipano reason for its prohibition, which tion of a tragical termination, the has not yet been rescinded. As a suspense is so well kept up that one poem it has merit and elegance. feels safe from that, and out of pain

Emile Augier is one of the wittiest about the hero, only in the last scene. and most successful of the French The first act passes in the outskirts dramatists of the day. His forte is of the town of Nancy, in the garden in genteel comedy, and his last pro- of a wine-house, the favourite resort duction of this class, Philiberte, does of some lancers of the garrison. The no discredit to his former ones. His regiment has just been joined by a five-act comedy of Gabrielle received new colonel, already dreaded and a prize from the French Academy, on disliked by his subordinates as a the double ground of literary merit martinet and stern officer. Mutual and good moral tendency. It was friends have planned a marriage beafterwards played in London, where, tween him and Emmeline de Vilbraie, notwithstanding the certificate of pro- a rich and fascinating young widow, priety it had obtained in its own whose country-house is at Grandcountry, it was made the subject of a champ, a_couple of leagues from violent and undeserved attack in a Nancy. Emmeline, curious to see morning newspaper; and, although and learn something of her proposed the opinion of the critic ought to have suitor, disguises herself as a peasant, bad no weight, and his judgment was and is driven to Nancy by a garpromptly controverted by his cotem- dener's wife. When close to the little poraries, it was yet thought proper tavern, their donkey runs away, and soon afterwards to withdraw the is stopped by the lancers, who afterpiece, owing to the gross imputations wards wish to pay themselves, soldier cast upon it, and lest even the very fashion, for the assistance they have few persons who saw no other news- rendered. Emmeline is rescued from paper than the one in question should their importunity by Armand, the believe that the St James's Theatre Fils de Famille, a young man of was nightly playing a farrago of wealthy family, who, after sowing an vice and immorality. Gabrielle was unusual quantity of wild oats, has brought out at the Comédie Française, gathered, for sole crop, the coarse where most of M. Augier's plays have jacket and worsted epaulets of a been first performed, and where Phili- private soldier. His own boundless berte would doubtless also have been, extravagance, his father's just severhad its author chosen to wait. But ity, drove him to enlist, and he is rewhen he was ready, the theatre was signed to his lot, although he has not not; Rachel was busy with her part forgotten, and often regrets, the pleaof Lady Tartuffe, and Augier, despair- sures and refinements of the society ing of his piece being brought out in he has been compelled to relinquish. the course of the last winter, took it Emmeline, detained at the little inn, to the Gymnase, where the characters and availing herself of the opporwere excellently cast, although it tunity to obtain information concerncomprises but two really advantage- ing the colonel, of whom she receives ous parts.

no very favourable account, is struck Although we give precedence to by the good manners and aristocratic VOL. LXXIV.--NO. CCCCLIII.



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air of the young lancer, who, on his is exchanged for the boudoir. The part, is so captivated by the peasant lifting of the curtain discloses an elegirl—whose white hands puzzle him gant drawing-room in the chateau of greatly—that he misses a parade, and Grandchamp. Emmeline is there, is confined to quarters by his sergeant. and with her Madame Laroche, the The gardener's wife returns from sister of the colonel of lancers. The market, and Emmeline departs, leav- officer's wife or widow is a personage ing in Armand's possession a nosegay daily met with in France, and possesshe has stolen from her, but refusing ing very marked characteristics; and to tell him the name of her village. this opportunity bas been embraced A very spirited scene—a carousal of to exhibit, and even exonerate, her lancers in the garden-is interrupted peculiarities. The thing has been a by the arrival of Frederick, an old little overdone, and Madame Laroche friend of Armand's, affianced to his is a caricature rather than a type. sister, and who is on his way to a She has buried a brace of military neighbouring chateau. He has pro- husbands, and avenged, with her own mised his intended to see her brother, pistol, the death of one slain in her and try to restore him to his family, presence by a Bedouin. She walks who are anxious to have him released and talks like an old soldier, and lives from his humble position. Armand with her brother, for whose character, will not pledge himself to quit the qualities, and accomplishments (inservice, but agrees to put on a suit of cluding his skill as a musician and his friend's clothes, and accompany draughtsman) she cherishes a somehim to a ball to be given that night what higher admiration than they deat the chateau of Grandchamp.

Her eulogium of his merits, This first act has more of the char- and her narrative of her African exacteristics of vaudeville than of co- ploits, are interrupted by his arrival. medy, but it is extremely gay and Canard follows him, carrying a musicamusing, and very well played. The book, and is kept in a state of fever scenes between Emmeline (Rose and bewilderment throughout the act, Chéri) and Armand (Bressant) are, by his meetings with the peasant girl as may be supposed from the high converted into a fine lady, and with character of both actors, admirably his own comrade in the garb of an performed. The part of Kirchet-the elegant civilian. Frederick arrives drouthy old sergeant, whose affection with Armand, who is as astonished for Armand is certainly not dimin- as Canard at sight of Emmeline, and ished by the clandestine generosity perfectly thunderstruck at beholding with which the latter (who receives his new colonel, who, however, is far occasional supplies from his sister) from recognising in the well-dressed rubs out the veteran's long chalk upon Parisian the private soldier he has the counter of Pomponne the tavern- scarcely seen and never noticed. The keeper-falls to the share of that situations that ensuo are remarkably very original actor Lesueur—the Père dramatic, and keep the audience conViolette of Mercadet. Pomponne, the tinually on the qui vive. Frederick, ex-canteen woman, who has retired who is an artist, is introduced as such from the service, and proposes be- to the colonel, who, on the strength stowing her hand upon Canard, of certain daubs with which he has trumpeter in the lancers, batman to beguiled garrison leisure, offers him the tyrant colonel, and the droll of his hand, and greets him as a brother the piece, is performed by a sister of of the brush. Frederick profits by Rose Chéri. Priston, who plays this cordial humour, not very common Canard, formerly acted in London; with Colonel Alphonse Deshayes, to he is a low comedian of the Ravel ask him to assist in obtaining the disschool, and of much promise. Alto- charge of Armand Dalber, a young gether, nothing can be brisker, plea- soldier of his regiment. The colonel santer, and more bustling than this remembers the name as that of a bad act, but the second is of a higher class soldier who had that morning missed of comedy. The contrast between the parade. He speaks contemptuously two is complete as regards both scene of gentlemen recruits, whose families, and personages.

The barrack-yard hopeless of redeeming them from idle and dissolute courses, suffer them to outbreak with extreme difficulty ; enter a regiment as they would send Emmeline and Frederick, observant them to a school of correction. Ar- of all that passes, are on tenterhooks, mand (who has been presented at the and endeavour, but in vain, to put an chateau by his mother's name of De end to the dangerous system of aggraBoisse) winces under the colonel's vation adopted by the imprudent lanharsh epithets, and thus betrays him- cer, who presently finds himself on self to Emmeline, who, up to that the verge of a duel with his commoment, has refused fully to credit manding officer. A scene in the cardher eyes and his identity. The colo- room, audible bat not visible to the nel, who is abrupt and soldierlike in public, and some unlucky pleasantry his tone, manner, and discourse, con- with a trophy of swords with which tinues to harp upon this string, and a military relation of Emmeline's has to inveigh against parade soldiers, adorned the gallery of the chateau, who pursue their club habits in coffee- bring matters to a crisis. The colohouses, and pass all the time which nel's wrath boils over, and he and they do not spend in the blackhole Armand walk out into the grounds in smoking and running after ladies' and fight-the former receiving a maids. Armand loses patience, and re- scratch in the hand, the latter a wound torts with affected politeness. “Really, in the arm-it being evidently Lasir," he says, “it is not reasonable to fontaine's destiny to be continually expect in a private lancer the distin- wounding Bressant. The act ends guished manners and exquisite tone of by the entrance of the colonel—fresh his colonel." This remark, the ironical from the fight, but kid-gloved and as intention of which is unmistakable, cool as a cucumber—to claim Emmeis the commencement of a course of line's hand for a promised countrysparring between Armand and the dance. colonel, in which all the advantage is The most remarkable feature of this on the side of the former. The colo- second act, as performed at the Gymnel, put forward by his sister, who pro- nase, is the admirable acting of Lafonclaims his musical talents and com- taine, as the colonel. Although this plaisant disposition all the while that personage is more than once placed in he abuses ber in an under tone for her awkward positions, bordering on the officiousness, goes to the piano to sing. ridiculous, he is not intended to be He sings out of time and out of tune, laughed at; the part is a grave one, and finds Emmeline's accompaniment and notwithstanding his military too slow. Armand laughs, and is style and queer temper, the colonel is decidedly impertinent-politely, but to be represented as a man of honour provokingly so. The colonel's choler and dignity, not without a certain rises ;

he sings all the worse, and re- harsh nobility of character. At the quests Armand to do it better. Ar- same time, antil quite the close, it is mand does so, sings the second verse a most ungenial and unprepossessing in excellent style, and the third, which part, and, as such, doubly difficult to is for two voices, with Emmeline, play. Lafontaine's creation of it, to amidst the applause of the company. use the French term, leaves little or The colonel and his dragoon-sister are nothing to be desired. He makes up furions. The orchestra strikes up for to the very life; and nothing can be a quadrille. Colonel Deshayes asks better than his imperious gestures, Emmeline to dance; Armand, who is his stiff bearing, his ill-suppressed talking to her, declares she is already irritation at the raillery of the Parisian engaged to him; and the lady, taken (as he contemptuously designates Araback, does not confute the assertion. mand), his assumed softness to EmmeThere is a succession of incidents of line, and his aside remarks, ground this kind. Emmeline loses her nose- between his teeth at his sister. The gay; the colonel crosses the room to grim smile of triumph and satisfacseek one he has found and laid aside; tion which he casts at her over his before he can return, Armand pro- shoulder as he leads Emmeline off at duces that which he had taken from the end of the act, would alone stamp her in the tavern garden. The colo- him as a comedian of great dramatic nel nurses his wrath, repressing its capability. Although he had previously performed several parts with be here completely traced. Everycredit to himself, he had not yet had body tries to save Armand, and everysuch a success as this, and, if he con- body fails. Emmeline comes to Nancy tinues as well, he can hardly fail to in post-haste at the commencement of attain a high rank in his profession. the third act, to call upon the colonel

It is in Colonel Deshayes' quarters and his military sister, and coax them at Nancy that the third act passes. out to her house to pass the day, in It is chiefly occupied with the endea. hopes that Armand's discharge may be vours of Armand's friends to save him obtained before he is recognised by his from the fate to which, according to terrible chief. As a last resource, the rigour of martial law, bis duel when all seems lost, poor Pomponne with the colonel inevitably dooms suffers it to be believed, and even herhim. If the inexorable chief discovers self declares, that at the very time whom he has had for antagonist, a the duel occurred at Grandchamp, brief court-martial and a speedy firing. Armand was tête-à-tête with her in her party are all that can be expected. wine-shop. As an ex-virandière, the And be does discover it, although not slur thus cast upon her fair fame may without much difficulty-even Canard perhaps not have greatly affected her. abjuring his habitual garrulity, and But Canard once more blunders everyobstinately denying the identity of body into difficulty (and this time one which he is perfectly convinced. Ar- cannot but forgive him) by vindicatmand, brought before the colonel, ing his sweetheart, and declaring that feigns drunkenness. The colonel, who he himself had recognised bis comrade has sent for him merely with reference at the ball at Madame de Vilbraie's. to his discharge, cannot believe his There seems no issue but death from eyes, and is staggered by the positive Armand's unfortunate position ; and assertions of Canard and Emmeline were further proof wanting, it is furthat they do not see any resemblance nished by the dejected sergeant, who to M. de Boisse. Bressant plays the blurts out, in reply to a question from pretended drunkard with great judg- his colonel, that the prisoner is in ment and tact. The colonel orders hospital, instead of in the guard-room, him off to the guard-house, in custody owing to the hemorrhage from a wound of poor Kirchet, who is at his wits' in his arm. All is lost. In despair, end, trembling at once for his com- Emmeline writes to the colonel, rade's life and his sergeant's stripes. offering her hand as the price of Suddenly a thought strikes the colonel, Armand's pardon. An attempt to who is about to leave the room, but escape brings the young soldier once returns and grasps Arinand's right more into her presence, and various arm. The soldier breaks off a song circumstances assemble the other prinhe is singing, and his cap, which he cipal characters of the piece. The held in his right hand, falls to the colonel enters, Emmeline's letter in ground. “ Pick up your cap," says his hand. the colonel. “My cap," says Armand, " The COLONEL (quietly to Arwith a vacant smile, and pointing to it mand).—You no longer belong to my with his left hand," there is my cap.” regiment, sir ;--and, fortunately for He picks it up and resumes bis stave. you, your discharge is dated yesterThe colonel looks bard at him, main- day, and covers your fault. taining his grip upon his arm ; asks " EMMELINE.-Colonel ! him another question to try to throw " The COLONEL (with gentleness, him off his guard, and then relin- and showing her her letter). -Is not quishes his hold and quits the room, that what you asked, madam, as the still uncertain of his man. As he price of your hand ? goes out, Armand concludes his song; “ ARMAND (between his teeth).then, when sure that he is alone with Ha! that is it then ? Kirchet, he falls into a chair and utters “ The Colonel (quickly).—Sir ! a cry of agony. The cruel colonel (Emmeline starts. He continues, has been torturing his recent wound. mildly, but with some bitterness of The incidents of this three-act comedy, tone). – I am thought very ill of, which has a good deal of under-plot, really, since you believe me capable are too complicated and numerous to of such a bargain! Go, sir, and tell

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