Графични страници
PDF файл

some assert, that the direction of certain the proportion between the the gentilhommes de la chambre population of the capital and the was, in general, beneficial. Former- due number of its theatres. But all ly, the theatres were under the con- public places should be free as to troul of the gentilhommes de la cham- the species of amusement. All bre, but, at the establishment of the would then be well attended, and all directorial government, they were concerned secure against the conseplaced in the power of the minister quences of failure, and the true inof the interior, in whose department terest of the art be likewise prothey have since continued. Of late, moted. Neither absolute indepenhowever, it is asserted, that they dence nor exclusive privilege should are to be under the direction of a prevail, but a middle course be prefect of the palace.

adopted, to fix the fate of those Doubtless, the liberty introduced great scenic establishments, which, by the revolution has been, in some forming an essential part of public respects, abused. But why should diversion, have great influence on we fall into a contrary excess, and the morals of the nation. resort to arbitrary measures, which The playhouses have been well are equally liable to be abused ? attended this winter, particularly Their number may justify the inter- the principal ones; but, in Paris, ference of the government ; but the every rank has not exactly its thealiberty of representing pieces of all tre as at a ball. From the speckinds, such only excepted as may tacles on the Boulevards to those of be hurtful to morals, seems to be a the first and second rank, there is a salutary and incontestible principle. mixed company. Formerly, the By disengaging the French comic lower classes confined themselves opera from the narrow sphere to to the former, but now they visit which it was confined, this licence the latter. An increase of wages has effected a musical revolution, at has enabled the labourer to gratify which all persons of taste must re- himself with some kinds of luxury, joice, by introducing on that stage and he now takes a peep at those the harmonic riches of Italy. This scenes, of which he before acquired, too has produced, on theatres of the from hearsay, but imperfect notions. second and third rank, pieces de If you wish to see a new or favouficient, neither in regularity, con- rite piece, you must not neglect to nexion, representation, nor decora- secure a seat early, for, on such oction. Before the revolution, the casions, the house is full long before spirit of dramatic authors was fet. the curtain rises. You cannot take tered by a set of privileged come- places as in England, except you dians, who discouraged them by un- take a box, which is expensive. In gracious refusals, or disgusted them that case you pay for it at the time by unjust preferences. Hence the you engage it, and it is kept locked old adage in France, that, when an till you make your appearance.... author had composed a good piece, Besides the boxes reserved for the he had performed but half his task; officers of the staff of the city of the more difficult half of getting it Paris, and those at the head of the read and represented still remained police, who have free admission to to be accomplished.

all the spectacles, on producing their It certainly belongs to the govern- ivory ticket, there is a box at each ment to limit their number, not by appropriated to the minister of pubprivileges which might be granted lic instruction. through favour, or obtained, per In Paris you are kept outside of haps, for money. The taste of the the house till you receive a ticket public being known, the population for your money, through a hole in should first be considered, as that the wall. A few paces from the which furnishes both money and door of the principal theatres are spectators. It would be easy to as two receiver's offices, which are ne


[ocr errors]

sooner open, than candidates for ad- giving offence. Criticism is no longer mission begin to form long ranks, silenced by a military despot, who, extending from the portico into the for an exclamation or gesture, not very street, and advance to them exactly coinciding to his liking, pointtwo abreast in regular succession. "ed him out to his myrmidons, and A steady sentinel, posted at the transferred him at once to prison. aperture, repeats your wishes to This despotism has been denied : the receiver in a mild, conciliating but I will relate an instance of it. manner. Other sentinels are sta- Some years ago, I was present at tioned for the preservation of order, the Theatre Francais, when, in one under the immediate eye of the offi- of Corneille's pieces, mademoiselle cer, who sees that every one has his Raucourt, the tragic actress, was turn; however, it is not uncommon particularly negligent in the delifor forestallers to procure a certain very of a passage, in which justice number of them, especially for a to the author required the nicest new or favourite piece, and offer discrimination. An amateur in the them privately at a usurious price, parterre reproved her, in a very which many are glad to pay rather gentle manner, for a wrong emphathan fall in the rear.

sis. Being, at this time, a favourite The method I take is this : have of the queen, she was, it seems, suing informed myself what spectacle perior to admonition, and persisted is worth seeing, while at dinner I in her misplaced shrieks, till it besend my valet de place, or desire came evident that she set the audihim to dispatch a commissionnaire ence at defiance. Others joined in for the tickets wanted, so that when expressing their disapprobation. InI arrive, I have only to walk in, and stantly the major singled out the place myself to the best advantage. leading critic : two grenadiers for

It is wise not to establish the re- ced their way to the place where ceiver's offices inside of the house, he was seated, and conveyed him to as in our theatres. By this plan, prison, for having had the audacity however great the crowd, the en- to reprove an actress in favour at trance is always unobstructed, and court. From such improper exerthose violent struggles and pres- cise of authority, the following verse sures, which have cost the lives of had become a proverb : many, are effectually prevented..... No half price is taken, but in differ- « Il est bien des sifflets, mais nous aoons ent parts of the house there are la garde.bureaux de supplement, where, if you want to pass from one part to A guard outside of a theatre is another, you exchange your coun- necessary for preserving order ; but ter-mark on paying the difference. that the audience should not be at

Nothing can be better regulated liberty to approve or condemn such both inside and out. You are not a passage or actor, is to stifle the shocked, as formerly, by the pre- expression of that general opinion sence of black-whiskered grena- which alone can produce good perdiers, occupying different parts of formers. The interior police of the the house, and, by their inflexible theatre being, at present, almost ensternness, awing the spectators into tirely in the hands of the public a suppression of their feelings. No themselves, it is more justly obseryfusileer, with fixed bayonet and ed and duly respected. piece loaded with ball, now dictates Considering the natural impetuoto the pit that such a seat must hold sity of their character, one is surso many, though some among them prised at the patient tranquility might be as broad-bottomed as with which the French range themDutchmen. If you find yourself in- selves in their places. Seldom do commoded by heat or pressure, you they interrupt the performance by are at liberty to declare it, without loud talk, but converse in a whisper. When one sees them applaud, with quit the house, is immediately to rerapture, a tender scene, which pair to the police-office of the thc. breathes sentiments of humanity atre, in order to give such explanaor compassion, one is tempted to tions as may be required of him, question whether the Parisians of whence he may either transfer him the present day belong to the iden- to the competent tribunal, or set tical race that could, at one time, him at liberty, according to circumdisplay the ferocity of tygers, and, stances. at another, the tameness of lambs, Proper places are appointed for while their nearest relations and carriages to wait at. When the best friends were daily bleeding on play is ended, no carriage in waitthe scaffold.

ing can move till the first crowd No theatre can be opened with- coming out of the house has disout the permission of the police, appeared. The commanding offi. who depute proper persons to as- cer of the guard on duty decides the certain that the house is solidly moment when carriages may be built, the passages and outlets unin- called. cumbered and commodious, and that No carriage can move quicker it is provided with reservoirs of wa. than a foot-pace, and but on a single ter, and an adequate number of fire. rank, till it has got clear of the engines.

streets in the vicinity of the theEvery public place is shut up im- atre. Nor can it arrive thither but mediately, if, for a single day, the by the streets appointed for that proprietors neglect to keep the re- purpose. servoirs full of water, the engines Two hours before the rising of in proper order, and the fire-men the curtain, sentinels are placed ready.

in sufficient number to execute these No persons can be admitted be orders, and prevent any obstruction hind the scenes, except those in the in the different avenues of the theservice of the theatre; nor must the atre. tickets distributed exceed that of Indeed, obstruction is now selthe persons the house can conveni dom seen : I have more than once ently hold.

had the curiosity to count, and cause No coachman, under any pretext, to be counted, all the private carcan quit the reins of his horses, riages in waiting at the grand while the persons he has driven are French opera, on a night when the getting out of or into their carriage. boxes were filled with the most Indeed the necessity of his doing so fashionable company. Neither I is obviated by porters stationed at nor my valet de place could ever the door of the theatres, and ap- reckon more than from forty to fifty; pointed by the police. They are whereas, formerly it was not uncomdistinguished by a brass plate, on mon to see here between two and which their permission and the three hundred ; and the noise of so name of the theatre are engraved many equipages rattling through

At every theatre there is an exte- the streets, from each of the prinrior guard, at the disposal of the cipal theatres, sufficiently indicatcivil officer, stationed there for the ed that the performance was ended. preservation of order. This guard cannot enter the theatre unless the safety of the public is endangered, and at the express requisition of the

A PARIS BALL. said officer, who must first, in a loud voice, apprize the audience of his By a traveller, in 1802. intention.

All are bound to obey, provie IN this gay capital, balls succeed sionally, the officer of police. Every to balls in an almost incredible va. one invited, or summoned by him to riety. There are an immense nuir

ber every evening, so that persons chore, far from being embarrassed, fond of dancing have full scope for lavs fresh claim to your applause. the exercise of their talents in Paris. With mathematical precision, she It is no longer a matter of surprise measures with her oye the space to to me that the French women dance which she is restricted by the cuso well, since I find they take fre- riosity of the by-standers. Rapid quent lessons from their master, and as lightning, she springs forward till almost every night they are at a the measure recalling her to the dance of one kind or another. The place she left, she traces her orbit, same set of dances lasts the whole like a planet, at the same time reseason, and go where you will, you volving on her axis. Sometimes hier have a repetition of the same thing. “light, fantastic toe" will approach However, this detracts not, in the within half an inch of your foot ; smallest degree, from the merit of nay, you shall almost feel her breath those who shine as first-rate dan on your cheek, and still she will not cers. The mechanical part of the touch you, except, perhaps, with business they may thius acquire by the skirt of her floating tunic. constant practice; but the decora. Among the female part of the tive part, if I may so term the fas- company, I observed several lovely cinating grace which they display women; some who might have been in all their movements, is that the taken for Asiatic sultanas, irradiat. result of study, or do they hold it ing the space around them by the from the bounteous hand of Nature? dazzling brilliancy of their orna.

I have been at several private ments; others without jewels, but balls, in which pleasure, not profit, calling in every other aid of dress was the motive for which they for the embellishment of their perwere given, and the company was son ; and a few, rich in their native select. In this line madame Reca- charms alone, verifying the expresmier takes the lead; but though her sion of the poet. balls are more splendid, those of In a well-educated French womadame Soubiran are more agree- man, there is an ease, an affability, able. On the 21st of Frimaire (Dea desire to please and be pleased, cember 12th), I was at a public which not only render her manners ball, of the most brilliant kind now peculiarly engaging, but also influknown in Paris. It was the first of ence her gait, her gestures, her the subscription given this season, whole deportment in short, and capand, from the name of the apart- tivate admiration. Her natural ment where it is held, it is styled cheerfulness and vivacity spread the Bal du Salon des Etrangers. over her features an animation sel.

Midnight is the general hour for dom to be found in our English fair, the commencement of such diver- whose general characteristics are sions; but, owing to the long train reserve and coldness. Hence that of carriages setting down company striking expression which exhibits at this ball, it was near two o'clock the grace of the French women to before I could arrive at the scene of superior advantage. action, in the Rue Grange Bate- Three of the most remarkable liere, near the Boulevards.

women in the ball-room were maAfter I alighted, and presented dame la princesse de Santa-Croce, my ticket, some time elapsed before who displayed more diamonds than I could squeeze into the room where any of her competitors ; mademoithe dancing was going forward... selle Lescot, who was the best danThe spectators were here so inter- cer among several ladies renowned mixed with the dancers, that they for dancing; and madame Tallien, formed around them a border as who was, on the whole, the handcomplete as a frame to a picture. somest female that I saw in the It is astonishing that, under such room. circumstances, a Parisian Terpsi. I had previously seen madame Tallien at the Opera Buffa, and tected, is of more prejudice to sowas struck by her appearance, he. ciety than bare-faced profligacy." fore I knew who she was. On see. The lady then resumed thus coning her again at the Salon des cerning the subject of my inquiry. Etrangers, I inquired of a French “ Were some people to hear me,” lady of my acquaintance, whose un- said she, “ they might think that I derstanding and discernment are had drawn you a flattering portrait pre-eminent, if madame Tallien had of madame Tallien, and say, by nothing to recommend her but her way of contrast, when the devil bepersonal attractions? “ In madame came old, he turned hermit; but I Tallien," said she, “ beauty, wit, should answer, that, for some years, goodness of heart, grace, talents, all no twenty-four hours have elapsed are united. In a gay world, where without persons, whom I could name malice subsists in all its force, her on occasion, having begun their inconsistencies alone have been talk- daily career by going to see her, ed of, without any mention being who saved their life, when, to acmade of the numerous acts of bene- complish that object, she hazarded ficence, which have balanced, if they her own." have not effaced, her weakness..... Here then is an additional inWould you believe,” continued she, stance of the noble energy mani" that, in Paris, the grand theatre fested by women, during the most of misconduct, where moral obliga. calamitous periods of the revolution. tions are so much disregarded, Unappalled by the terrors of captiwhere we daily commit actions vity or of death, their sensibility im. which we condemn in others; would pelled them to brave the ferocity of you believe, that madame Tallien sanguinary tyrants, in order to ad. experiences again and again the minister hope or comfort to a pa. mortification of being deprived of rent, a husband, a relation, or a the society of this or that woman, friend. Some of these heroines, who has nothing to boast of but her though in the bloom of youth, not depravity, and cannot plead one act content with sympathizing in the of kindness, or even indulgence ?..... misfortunes of others, gave themThis picture is very dark,” added selves up as a voluntary sacrifice, she, “but the colouring is true.” rather than survive those whose " What you tell me," observed I, preservation they valued more than " proves that, notwithstanding the their own existence. Rome may irruption of immorality, attributed vaunt her Porcia or her Cornelia ; to the revolution, it is still necessary but the page of her history can profor a woman to preserve appear. duce no such exaltation of the feances at least, in order to be re- male character as has been exhiceived here in what is termed the bited, within the last ten years, by best company.” “ Yes, indeed,” French women. Examples like replied she ; " if a woman neglects these, of generosity, fortitude, and that main point in Paris, she will greatness of soul, deserve to be re. soon find herself lowered in the opi- corded to the end of time, as they nion of the fashionable world, and do honour to the sex, and to human be at last excluded from even the nature. secondary circles. In London, your If, according to the scale of Pari. people of fashion are not quite so sian enjoyment, a ball or rout is dull rigid.” “ If a husband chooses to or insipid, a moins qu'on ne manque wink at his wife's incontinence," re. d'y etre etouffe, how supreme. must joined I, “ the world on our side of have been the satisfaction of the. the water is sufficiently complaisant company at the Salon des Etran. to follow his example. Now, with gers. The number present, estiyou, character is made to depend mated at seven or eight hundred, more on the observance of etiquette, occasioned so great a crowd, that it and certainly hypocrisy, when de- was by no means an easy enterprise

« ПредишнаНапред »