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The charge is prepared, and the evidence clear,
Such as witches, and creatures,
And hook'd noses and chins,
With all proper diction,
And due “legal fiction ;"
With force and with arms,
Enter'd four thousand rooms ;
At words so profound
Rob gazes around,
No glance, did I say?
Yes, one !—Madge Gray !-She is there in the midst of the crowd standing by, And she gives him one glance from her coal-black eye, One touch to his hand, and one word to his ear,(That's a line which I've stolen from Sir Walter, I fear,)-
While nobody near
Seems to see her or hear.
Ere his fingers can clasp,
It is snatch'd from his grasp,
Through the mystified group,
With a halloo and whoop,
“ Clean bumbaized” and amazed, and fix'd, all in the room stick, “Oh! what's gone with Robin, and Madge, and the broomstick ?" Ay, “what's gone” indeed, Ned ?-of what befell Madge Gray and the broomstick I never heard tell; But Robin was found that morn, on the ground, In yon old
grey ruin again, safe and sound, Except that at first he complain'd much of thirst, And a shocking bad head-ache, of all ills the worst,
And close by his knee
A flask you might see,
Rob from this hour is an alter'd man;
Sticks to his trade,
Marries Miss Slade,
Learns to despise
Now my little boy Ned,
Brush off to your bed, Tie your night-cap on safe, or a napkin instead, Or these November nights you'll catch cold in your head; And remember my tale, and the moral it teaches, Which you 'll find much the same as what Solomon preaches, Don't flirt with young ladies! don't practise soft speeches ; Avoid waltzes, quadrilles, pumps, silk hose, and knee-breeches; Frequent not grey ruins, shun riot and revelry, Hocus Pocus, and Conj'ring, and all sorts of devilry; Don't meddle with broomsticks,-they're Beelzebub's switches ; Of cellars keep clear,—they're the devil's own ditches; And beware of balls, banquettings, brandy, and—witches ! Don't run after black eyes, above all —if you do, Depend on 't you'll find what I say will come true, Old Nick, some fine morning, will “hey after you!"
Tis rich old Hunks's burial day,
And friends have round him swarm'd
At " Funerals perform’d!"
THE FRENCH OR ENGLISH.
“ If they have a fault, it is that they are too serious," so says Sterne of the French ; though he does not give us, or the Count, in his Sentimental Journey, the promised explanation of his meaning; but it is curious, with the received and vulgar opinion that the French are a gay and frivolous people, that we should have the recorded judgment of so many celebrated men that they have been in all times a serious nation. The Roman Emperor Julian, lorg a resident at the primitive Paris, and by nature sad, declared the gravity of the inhabitants of his dear Lutetia pleased him ; the essayist, Jouy, and the traveller, Kotzebue, have remarked this spirit of melancholy in the French.
It is the more curious that this gaiety and frivolity is always spoken of in contrast with the dulness and sobriety of their neighbours, the English; yet when the manners and habits of the respective people are observed, it is difficult to say why this should have become so common an assertion. It is indeed difficult to say what are character. istics of a nation ; what makes gaiety, frivolity, and their contraries, melancholy, seriousness, dulness, and gravity, when so many of the latter qualities appear to belong to the French: so many of the former to the English. The two nations are, nevertheless, classed almost without exception under the opposite categories.
Perhaps the character of a people cannot be better taken than from their public amusements, and this especially applies to the French, who devote so much of their time to them. Sir Walter Scott says it is remarkable that the French, thought to be a gay and lively people, should have a drama, which no other nation can bear for its dulness, the tedium of its dialogue, and the slowness of its plot. Dryden makes the same observation on the French Theatre; but the classic drama which Walter Scott and Dryden allude to has ceased to be in vogue. The performances of Thespis are now based upon a much broader foundation, and the new school of the romanticists, in opposition to the classics, has established itself. The French, however, still attend the heaviest representations at the Theatre Français, conversations, called comedies, and tragedies which progress in rhyme, and end à l'eli. quette. They still admire the mellowness of their verse, which takes away from the force of the sentiment, and from all power and nature in the acting. Given up to the license of the romanticists, they de. light in an assemblage of horrors, and in a voluptuous excess of guilt. Everybody has either heard of, read, or seen, La Tour de Nesle, and Lucrece Borgia. Pieces of this description are constantly succeeding, though no longer so well written.
Clotilde, a tragedy, in which Ma. demoiselle Mars performed at the Theatre Français, was equal to any of the productions of the Porte St. Martin ; and the tore given by these two play-houses for so long a period has pervaded all the minor and Vaudeville theatres. The time has been when it was not possible to choose an entertainment without tragedy; and sometimes the the. atre devoted to farces would play all sad and affecting pieces : the Vaudeville, “ Le duel sous le Cardinal Richelieu," and " Un de plus ;" the Ambigue, “ Fils de l'Empereur;” the Theatre de la Gaiete, not. notwithstanding its name, “Le bal et la mort ;" at the Varieties there was no other variety; and at the Gymnastiques they were in the same practice. Dance and song alike join in this general conspiracy. All the performances are of a pathetic nature in the Acade. mie, as, for example, " Masaniello," " Gustavus,” “The Jewess," and the “ Massacre of St. Bartholomew." The dead dance in their burial clothes in “Robert la Diable ;" whilst devils waltz, and angels sing, in “ La Tentation."
Many nations have their interludes to dissipate the sadness of tragedy, or the monotony of the same performance. The Romans listened to some satire after a gloomy representation, which sent them away in a livelier humour. The Italians have dancing, or other entertainments, between the acts. But the French, giving a unity of thought to every piece, assign to different theatres separate per. formances. Our theatres are indiscriminately devoted to all the purposes of the drama, if their shows and pageants can be classed under this title : nor is seriousness, or any continuity or similarity of entertainment, ever allowed to reign long. When John Kemble and Mrs. Siddons acted in Macbeth, we were relieved by some broad farce; and in the winter season Mother Goose, clown, and panta. loon, completely effaced all previous lugubrious recollections. Happy people, who can pass so quietly from one sensation to another, from tragedy to farce, from comedy to buffoonery!
But, with us, still more odd associations enter into the more serious business of life,—a ball used to terminate the sessions ; and, when the victims of the law were dangling on the gal. lows, the judges, lawyers, sheriffs, chaplains, and the tender sex, were practising the light fantastic toe. I have danced at an English gaol during the race-week, where the clanking of chains might have added to the sound of the orchestra. Our report of crimes is the subject matter of daily mirth, and forms an annual comic budget, wherein many may inquire with Miss Martineau, which are the most criminal, the reporters and the readers, or the reported. The British public stand by like an audience of grinning schoolboys, by nature equally inclined to roguery, to enjoy the laugh at the expense of the unfortunate scapegoats who are offered up as victims to the offended majesty of the laws. The Gazette des Tribunaux, the most successful journal in Paris, is chiefly occupied by a study of the morale and statistics of guilt rather than in relating the facetiæ of crime ; of the grave matters of the law as well as the mere affairs of police,—the former of which is thought inadmissible in general English society, aad engrossed by readers of black letters, smellers of musty parchment, and tyers of red tape.
In the light effusions of the French vaudeville there are many pieces of intellectual interest, wherein some nicety of manners, or something of a domestic nature, is portrayed, that would never come up to the point of exaggeration necessary for an English audi.
Our five-act comedies are but five-act farces : but, if this difference is observable in the drama, and on the stage, nowhere is it more marked than in the audiences. The great attention of the French may be contrasted with the noisy interference of the Eng. lish; and, though it may be alleged to be owing entirely to the fear of the military, yet it is worthy of remark, that the French people of their own accord range themselves in long lines, two by two, VOL. 11.
previously to the opening of the doors, and on their entrance to the theatres.
It may be said that the French show a frivolity in the passion they display for music and the dance ; but the latter they copy from the Italians, where it is essentially and generaliy a serious performance. An ancient stoic wept to see a ballet; and well might tears be excited by the pathos and poetry of Taglioni.
Music alone is the object of attraction at the Italiennes at Paris. There is no dance, and the decorations and the mise en scene are mi. serable ; but there, and also at the Academie, with what deep attention do the people listen? The imperative command to silence in their chut, chut! strikes everybody dumb. But with us the opera is rather a fashionable passe temps, and place of visiting and conversation, though there is more variety on the stage in dance and song, more splendid decorations, than in Paris, and more frequent change of representations and performers than in any Italian Opera in Europe.
We are perhaps the most particular people in the world, after the Americans, in our conversation ; but we have always allowed great freedom and grossièretés on thc stage, which argues an inconsistency of character. The French are in the opposite way the most remark. able for their freedom of speech : however, I have heard some of them hiss Molière, and the sweet organ of Mademoiselle Mars in the Femmes Savantes, where the dialogue is a little too plain ; while we let pass much grosser indecencies of language in Othello.
But our pantomimes, which are the universal farce of Christmas, strongly mark the fun and frolic of the English character, in oppo. sition to the French. In Shakspeare, we have the constant intro. duction of clowns; they constitute the whole histrionic effort in our Fairs; and the pantomime is the original drama of England. The French have no such comic originality on their stage ; nor did I ever see anything of the kind in their country fetes The rustics still stick to the mysteries, and, instead of clowns, harlequins, and columbines, you have representations out of the New Testament. The more frequent dancing in France is often mentioned, as a proof of the greater gaiety and vivacity of the French. But on the stage it is a science ; in the feet of Taglioni a fine art; and without her, says Journal des Debats, speaking of the Bayaderes, the ballet is insuf. ferably tedious.
I have too often heard it said that the French would jump up and dance at the sound of music, whilst we remained deaf to the animating strains of the waltz and quadrille. Now, I have been to a masked ball at the opera, so advertised in all the announcements, where no other music was of course played, and from eleven o'clock to three in the morning, all parties and both sexes (the men with their hats on their heads) did nothing but walk arm-in-arm, and by couples up and down the room. Every other piece of music in the Concert, Musard, and the Champs Elysees certainly relates to the dance; but I never perceived it produce a movement to that effect.
All other nations have some national dances, which represent the hilarity of the meeting and the extravagant emotions of their minds. The sentimental Italian, the saltarello; the grave Spaniard, the fandango; and we, with the Irish and Scotch, the jig, country dance, the hop, the reel, the hornpipe, &c,; but I never heard the French had any. thing corresponding. They all seem reduced to the formal monotony of the quadrille.