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the wars which he conducted were, for the most part, essential to the preservation of France, and Europe itself, from the formidable encroachments of the Austrian house ; that, in spite of those wars, the people were not oppressed with exorbitant imposts; and that he left the kingdom he had governed in a more flourishing and vigorous state than at any former period of the French history, or at the decease of Louis XIV.
The cabals formed against this great statesman were not carried on by the patriotism of public virtue or the emulation of equal talent: they were but court struggles, in which the most worthless agents had recourse to the most desperate means. In each, as I have before observed, we see the twofold attempt to murder the minister and to betray the country. Such, then, are the agents, and such the designs, with which truth, in the drama as in history, requires us to contrast the celebrated cardinal; not disguising his foibles or his vices, but not unjust to the grander qualities (especially the love of country) by which they were often dignified, and, at times, redeemed.
The historical drama is the concentration of histora ical events. In the attempt to place upon the stage the picture of an era, that license with dates and details which poetry permits, and which the highest authorities in the drama of France herself have sanctioned, has been, though not unsparingly, indulged. The conspiracy of the Duc de Bouillon is, for instance, amalgamated with the dénouement of The Day of Dupes ;* and circumstances connected with the treason of Cinq Mars (whose brilliant youth and gloomy catastrophe tend to subvert poetic and historic justice, by seducing us to forget his base ingratitude and his perfidious apostacy) are identified with the fate of the earlier favourite
* Le cardinal se croit perdu, et prepare sa retraite. Ses amis lui conseillent de tenter enfin auprès du roi un nouvel effort. Le cardinal va trouver le roi à Versailles. Le roi qui avait sacrifié son ministre par faiblesse, se remit par faiblesse entre ses mains, et il lui abandonne ceux qui l'avaient perdu. Ce jour qui est encore à present appelle la Journée des Dupes, fut celui du pouvoir absolu du cardinal. - Voltaire, Hist. Gen.
Baradas,* whose sudden rise and as sudden fall passed into a proverb. I ought to add, that the noble romance of Cinq Mars suggested one of the scenes in the fifth act; and that for the conception of some portion of the intrigue connected with De Mauprat and Julie, I am, with great alterations of incident, and considerable, if not entire reconstruction of character, indebted to an early and admirable novel by the author of Picciola.f
London, April, 1839.
* En six mois il (le roi) fit (Baradas) premier ecuyer, premier gentilhomme de la chambre, Capitaine de St. Germain, and lieutenant de roi, en Champagne. En moins de temps encore, on lui ôta tout, et des debris de sa grandeur, à peine lui resta-t-il de quoi payer ses dettes : de sorte que pour signifier une grande fortune dissipée aussi qu'acquise on disoit en commun proverbe Fortune de Baradas.- Anquetil.
+ It may be as well, however, to caution the English reader against some of the impressions which the eloquence of both the writers I refer to are calculated to leave. They have exaggerated the more evil, and have kept out of sight the nobler, qualities of the cardinal.
PERSONS OF THE DRAMA,
AS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE-ROYAL, COVENT GARDEN,
THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 1839.
MR. DIDDEAR. Baradas, favourite of the king, first
gentleman of the chamber, premier ecuyer, ge.
MR. WARDE. CARDINAL RICHELIEU
MR. MACREADY. THE CHEVALIER DE MAUPRAT
MR. ANDERSON. THE SIEUR DE BERINGHEN (in attendance
on the king,* one of the conspirators) Mr. VỊNING. JOSEPH, a Capuchin, Richelieu's confidant
MR. Phelps. HUGUET, an officer of Richelieu's household guard, a spy
MR. BENNETT. Francois, first page to Richelieu Mr. Howe. First Courtier
MR. ROBERTS. Captain of the Archers.
MR. Matthews. First,
MR. TILBURY. Second, Secretaries of state
MR. YARNOLD, Third
MR. PAYNE. Governor of the Bastile
MR. WALDRON. Jailer
MR. AYLIFFE. Courtiers, Pages, Conspirators, Officers, Soldiers, fc.
WOMEN. JULIE DE MORTEMAR, an orphan, ward to Richelieu
Miss H. Faucit. MARION DE LORME, mistress to Orleans, but in Richelieu's pay
Miss CHARLES. * Properly speaking, the king's first Valet de Chambre, a post of great importance at that time.
NOTE. The length of the play necessarily requires curtailments on the stage, the principal of which are specified (as they occur) in marginal notes. Many of the passages thus omitted, however immaterial to the audience, must obviously be such as the reader would be least inclined to dispense with, viz., those which, without being ab. solutely essential to the business of the stage, contain either the subtler strokes of character, or the more poetical embellishments of description. A more important consequence of these suppressions is, that Richelieu himself is left, too often and too unrelievedly, to positions which place him in an amiable light, without that shadowing forth of his more sinister motives and his fiercer qualities which is attempted in the written play. Thus, the character takes a degree of credit due only to the situation. To judge the author's conception of Richelieu fairly, and to estimate how far it is consistent with historical portraiture, the play must be read.