Obrazy na stronie

globe in his hand resembles the great God of heaven. The judge sat in an awkward old-fashioned easy chair, that looked like a chair of particular convenience. The Grecian soldiers were in long Turkish trowsers, with their hair well powdered and pomatumed in the true French style. But the most curious thing of all, was a painted chimney in Socrates' prison, with the tongs and fire shovel, and some tobacco-pipes lying upon the chimney-piece.

It may well be supposed here that I am embellishing my story, but I can assure my readers, that this is by no means the case, that I have stated nothing but what is literally fact. “ That is truly German !" said my neighbour yesterday, when the Russian beat his wife. That is truly French, could I have said to-day, when I saw the tobacco pipes upon the chimney-piece.

Even the ring which Socrates gave at last to the gaoler was in the newest French fashion, a longish blue stone, or glass, set round with brilliants. Xantippe pleased me more than anything else in the play. Greater pains seemed to have been bestowed on the drawing of her character than on any other. She was not represented as the termagant described in children's little books, but as a hasty, yet good-hearted woman, which was really the fact. The part was besides extremely well performed, and nature, by making the actress uncommonly plain, approaching indeed to ugliness, had suited her more particularly for the character.

The rest of the performers are scarcely worth mentioning. They all flourished their arms about, screamed like madmen, and were repaid with unbounded applause. Indeed, of all the theatres I have yet seen, I think the audience here were the most lavish of their tokens of approbation. They were bountiful even to prodigality. Incessant claps, incessant exclamations of bravo! resounded from all parts of the house, almost to the deafening of those few among the audience who did not join in them; and still at nothing—and again at nothing.

The second piece in some measure exonerated us for the disgust occasioned by the first. The Universal History' is pretty little opera, intended to shew that every inhabitant of the earth, from the richest to the poorest, from the king to the beggar, complains of the miseries of life, and complains unjustly. This universal repining, and the many not unusual accidents of life which are generally the cause of it, as a lost suit, infidelity in love or friend. ship, ingratitude in children, and the like, are brought forward and examined with much wit and humour. The airs have some very comic touches, and are well set. At the conclusion, a hermit appears among the assembly, and instructs them that man ought always to be cheerful and happy, since there are no positive ills but what he himself creates.

The author must, however, excuse me, if I cannot assent to his position. There is certainly much real physical evil in the world. I will grant, that perhaps in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, that restless unsatisfied creature man, may be his own tormentor. But I wish that some one from among the multitude had stepped forwards and addressed the hermit, “My friend, death has torn from my arms a wife on whom I doated;" for I should much have liked to hear what answer this merry advocate for the non-existence of evil could have given. Probably he had sought refuge in some common-place saying, some pious reflection.

I have a practical standard by which to measure unhappiness, that rarely deceives me. Whenever anything unpleasant occurs to me, I ask myself whether, in a year's time, I shall think of it any more? Will it then have any influence upon my fate? If I must answer these questions in the affirmative, I have then reason to consider it as a misfortune ; if not, I concern myself no more about it.

By this standard have I measured the loss of thee, my

beloved Frederica! and I pronounce it an incon. ceivable misfortune; for were I to live to the age of a hundred years, never could I forget our cruel separation: my soul would still be torn with anguish whenever I reflected upon thy being so prematurely taken from me.

December 27. This evening was spent amid the most horrible sensations of ennui at the Théâtre de Beaujoluis. It is a little, miserable, cold, inhospitable house, the performers were ugly, and croaked like frogs, and the piece was one of the most wretched productions of the commencement of the present century. It was called ' L'Antidramaturge,' a comedy in three acts, of which not fewer than three were superfluous. A cold and feeble essay upon dramatic poetry, interwoven with a love intrigue, miserably flat and insipid.

The second piece was ‘Le Bon Père,' a petite pièce in one act. He might be a very good father to his children, but he was insupportably ennuyant to us. The music was little better than might be heard in any alehouse. Not one among the singers seemed to understand a note, and woe to them if, at the day of judgment, they are to give an account of every

false tone they have uttered here below!

The whole concluded with ‘Le Deguisement Amoureux,' also an opera, but in two acts, otherwise twin brother to · Le Bon Père. We had perseverance enough to stay to the end. I cannot claim much merit in this, for I have not yet by any means ohtained the object for which, night after night, I visit some place of amusement, that of dissipating thought. Never was thought so little dissipated. The whole evening I could almost fancy that my wife was sitting by my side, nor did I wish for a moment to awaken myself from this delusion.

Here, as in all other places of the like kind in Paris,

was the public laughably prodigal of applause. Once they were absolutely so shameless as to encore a contemptible chorus; and this encore was itself pronounced in such an insipid and tasteless manner, that it involuntarily reminded me of their fricasees. Still more nauseating to a German ear is the manner in which the Greek and Roman names are pronounced by a Frenchman.

December 28. The ‘Petites Affiches de Paris,' of which abundance come out daily, scarcely ever fail of producing something worthy of observation ; and whoever would give himself the trouble of selecting from them regularly such things only as would be interesting at all times and in all countries, might publish annually a very tolerably sized volume. I have already collected many things, and mean to continue the practice.

The following quatraine is from one of the affiches of to-day. The thought is brilliantly expressed, however untrue. O honneur! O chimere ! en vain l'homme t'implore ;

Helas! pour être heureux, ses vœux sont superflus. En esperant, il ne l'est pas encore,

En jouissant il ne l'est déjà plus. Oh happiness! chimera! thee in vain

Does man with wishes and with sighs implore; In hoping, he must still unblest remain,

And in enjoying he is blest no more. I deny both assertions. How! Cannot hope make us happy! then were we wretches indeed! Hope is the childhood and youth of happiness. It supports a man as leading-strings, sings him to sleep, amuses him with gay pictures. And though, when at length the bridge to reality is passed, things may not appear altogether so smiling as in prospect, yet undoubtedly that moment, at least, when we consider hope as actually exchanged for possession, is one of true and exquisite delight.

Heaven only knows what kind of enjoyments floated in the poor poet's ideas! If those merely that depend upon the senses, he may be right. But the man who could advert to such alone, had doubtless never experienced the only true happiness to be found in this mortal life, domestic peace and content. He does not know how truly, when the heart can boast of these blessings, weeks seem but as hours, nor can he be aware that though in such a state everything goes on in a regular and uniform routine, that peaceful uniformity soon becomes the dearest thing on earth. Thus circumstanced, it is true, a man knows constantly at one hour what is to be done in the next, yet does he not therefore apply to it the less willingly -the less joyfully. He always returns home eagerly, and is never so happy as at home. As he returns, he pleases himself with the idea that he shall see his beloved wife in such or such a room, busied at such or such an employment, and feels not the less pleasure from its being one at which he daily finds her. What delicious transport thrills through his soul when greeted by her smile ; how eager is he to tell all the little incidents of his absence, all the news he has heard, and to learn how the domestic affairs have passed during the time, though that absence may not perhaps have exceeded an hour. With what ardour does he engage in his daily occupations, when assured that his toils will be repaid by a kiss and smile of good-humour! Oh! he who has tasted these sweets, never could assert that happiness was not to be found in the world!

No! the poet doubtless never was married !-Or, if he have been, his wife was not a Frederica. He deserves pity; he has mine.

The French, however, delight extremely to play with words. This poet plays with his esperant and jouissant, as the people at large with their constitution and federation. I even to-day heard bonbons à la fedération cried. France appears to me at present


« PoprzedniaDalej »