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Marking, with paw upon his mazzard,
Which seem'd as if a grudge they bore
And sometimes more.
He was beset by clamorous brutes,
Their several suits.
Claim for payment.
Butters no parsnips.”
A special writ,
Serve it on Stubbs, and follow it Up with the utmost rigour of the law. This lawyer was a friend of Stubbs,
That is to say,
In a civic way,
Damon leaves Pythias to the stake,
Pylades and Orestes break,
Into his outstretch'd hand he thrust his
“ My dear, dear Stubbs, pray do me justice ;In this affair I hope you see No censure can attach to me
Don't entertain a wrong impression;
I'm doing now what must be done
He knock'd him down !
The Gouty Merchant and the Stranger.
His leg roll'd up in fleecy hose,
While t'other held beneath his uose
Ships, shops, and slops,
Euter'd, and most politely said, -
To the King's Head,
Such kind attentions from a stranger!
Of these domestic foes,
Even beneath your very nose,
And walk off-thus.”-
he made no more remark,
But march'd off with his prize,
Among the various objects of pleasure and of instruction which I proposed to myself in visiting Paris, one of the chief was the gratification which I expected to derive from witnessing the performances and cultivating the acquaintance of Talma. I arrived in the French capital in September 1819, and easily obtained an introduction to the great actor, who is remarkable for the frankness and amenity of his manners, and the readiness with which he communicates information upon every subject connected with his profession. He had just returned from a circuit through the provincial theatres, where, like our own performers of note, he had reaped a golden harvest, of which it was said he had great need, for he is possessed with a mania for building, and lavishes in the indulgence of his architectural propensities the large salary paid to him by the crown, which, with the more immediate profits of bis profession, leave him an income of above 40001. a-year. He had exceeded, in this instance, the period of absence usually allowed to actors of eminence. I saw him at this moment of popular exasperation (for the French public are jealous of their rights in the genius of their distinguished artists), and when the ultra press took occasion to vent its political animosities for the offence which he was supposed to have committed in withdrawing himself from the admiration of Paris, to dedicate his talents to the more ignoble, but more profitable pursuit of provincial applause. It is scarcely possible that in England the merits of an actor should be estimated by his political tenets, or that he should be depreciated or extolled in a public paper, according to his sympathy with the editor in questions wholly unconnected with the stage. It is indeed well understood that an eminent performer of the day occasionally attributes the severity of some articles in the government journals to the liberality of his public notions; but it is pretty evident that no one annexes the least importance to his creed upon reform with the single exception of himself. But in Paris it is otherwise. The spirit of faction pursues the artist with as much inveteracy, as the senator, and Talma, who had indeed given some cause of complaint to his fellow-actors by his departure from their rules, and to the public by the splenetic manner in which he received an intimation of their displeasure, was laid open to invective of the most galling and malignant kind. He became exasperated, and refused to act. The committee of management had of their own accord put his name into the playbills, and given notice of his appearance upon several occasions--he announced indisposition, and the public anger was roused to an excess, which the misconduct of a minister would scarcely excite amongst ourselves. I was presented to him, at the moment that he was placed in this embarrassing condition, and when I had an opportunity of witnessing his genuine character as brought out by the vehement passions and resentments by which he was inflamed against the persons whom he designated as his bitter and envenomed foes. His temperament seemed to me to be of a boiling and indomitable quality, and he gave utterance to his indignation with gesture of the most impassioned kind. I was a good deal surprised at his communicativeness with an individual with whom he had had no previous acquaintance. Among the many grievances to which he alleged that he was perpetually exposed, he particularly mentioned the management of the French theatre, which is indeed extremely liable to abuse. It is composed of the principal performers, both male and female, to whom the administration under the control of one of the ministers is entrusted ; and those who know any thing of actors, or which is nearly the same thing, who have read the Third canto of Don Juan, will readily conjecture how many and how deep must be the jealousies and animosities which distract this strange and whimsical republic. In no other profession are individual vanities brought into such frequent and direct collision. Theatrical rivalry recognizes no distinction of sex. The deadliest animosity is often found to prevail between persons who are condemned to represent the most impassioned agonies of love. It may be easily imagined that a commonwealth composed of such discordant materials is exposed to perpetual agitation. For the purpose of obviating in some degree the evils to which such a system must give rise, a rule has been adopted that a certain class of parts should be assigned to cach performer, from which he can never, as long as he remains in the theatre, either ascend or fall. Thus, an indisputable possession of some of the noblest provinces of the drama is secured to mediocrity, and it becomes almost impossible that genius should make its escape beyond the very limited boundaries to which it may have been originally confined. To one actor, for example, are allotted the parts of old men—another is the perpetual tyrant -a third the eternal lover of the stage-while a fourth is condemned to be the common receptacle of all the secrets of the various personages involved in the business of the play. By this arrangement, which is invariably adhered to, if a new tragedy is to be acted, the author is never consulted as to the disposition of the parts: they are not awarded, according to their importance in the drama, to the actors best calculated for their enactment, but in exact conformity with the original appropriation established at the theatre. A French performer talks of a character, which he thinks himself entitled to represent, as a portion of his property, and considers that it belongs to him as exclusively as one of the dresses of his wardrobe. The consequence of this very preposterous regulation is, that very inferior actors constantly represent the most conspicuous personages in the play; and on the other hand, no matter what indications of genius an actor may evince in the performance of some humble part, he cannot expect a more favourable occasion for the display of his powers, but, once bound to the oar, can never be loosened from his fate. I inquired of Talma, whether, if an actor, who had upon his first admission upon the Parisian boards been condemned to the part of confidante—the tame trustee of all the mysteries of a French tragedy-were to manifest in his humble sphere strong glimpses of genius, he would not be suffered by the committce to make an experiment in the performance of some part which might afford a scope for the evidence of superior power. He answered, that it was hardly possible ; and stated as an instance of the hardships to which he was himself condemned, that there were several tragedies which he wished to have had revived, but that as it happened that the principal parts did not belong to the class of characters which had first fallen to his lot, his object could not be accomplished; and thus, to gratify the jealousies of actors, some of the master-pieces of the French scene arc excluded from the stage. He particularly mentioned Athalie, in which the part of the high priest is so conspicuous, and that upon his having suggested its restoration, the actor who enjoys a sort of copyhold in the pontifical characters, had interposed his customary right, and claimed Joab as his own.
This circumstance prevented the revival of the play. The actor, who is a person of no ability, retained his prerogative, and Racine's chef-d'œuvre remained in exile from the stage. I asked him why he performed Marigny in Raynouard's tragedy of the Templars, as I conceived the grand master the better part: to which he assented, and alleged the same absurd jealousy as the motive for his not having been permitted to act it. At the time of my first introduction to Talma, he had had several differences with his brethren of the buskin upon the grounds I have alluded to ; and the animosity which they excited in his mind, and to which the public complaints against his conduct had made no inconsiderable addition, induced him to think and represent himself as persecuted and unhappy. He expressed a strong disrelish for his profession, as almost all men, but especially actors, are in the habit of doing ; for they furnish the best commentary on Horace's satire upon that singular propensity of our nature. He said that when a young man, he felt an intense pleasure in acting, but that use had worn it away. Upon my inquiring of him whether he was moved in the personation of the terrible passions, in which his chief excellence consists, he answered that when he first performed a character requiring great emotion, he entered in imagination into the feelings which he undertook to delineate, but that gradually the impression passed away, and that when he appeared to be rapt in the very ecstasy of passion, he was in reality quite insensible and calm. To this, however, I did not yield my implicit faith ; and upon
another occasion he intimated that all his power arose from the faculty of selfexcitation, and that he traced whatever talent he possessed to the intensity of his emotions, and to no other source. It is indeed from the boiling springs about the heart that all true genius must take its rise. I had an opportunity of witnessing on the very first day of my acquaintance, an example of that excitability of temperament, of which he afterwards spoke. A gentleman of considerable rank in the literary circles, waited upon Talma, for the purpose of remonstrating against his obstinacy in refusing to appear.
He addressed him in the tone and language of unaffected regard. I proposed to leave the room, as I conceived the subject a delicate one; but Talma requested me to stay. A conversation ensued between the two friends, which gradually rose from warmth into intemperance, and the actor was soon transported into emotions almost as vehement as I ever saw him exhibit upon the stage. This anger was not merely French : it was the result of that promptitude to feel which became habitual in the exercise of his art, and which followed him into the ordinary intercourse of private life.
Having had many occasions to meet Talma, I tried to direct 'the conversation towards topics more immediately connected with his profession, and gleaned from him opinions which may be attended with some interest, not so much, perhaps, from their own intrinsic value, as from the eminence of the person by whom they were expressed. He seemed to me competent to form some judgment of our distinguished English actors; for lie understood our language, and even