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his religious mortifiers, but the Great Condé, then in favour, was a sworn enemy of bigots; the Pope had not long since been bearded by the French authorities in Rome; Cardinals and Bishops were for the most part laymen at heart, and mixed not only with politics but with the pleasures of life; in short," the cloth," as a matter of any solemnity, was at a disadvantage; and to pretend to an unusual measure of sanctity, was in some sort to offend priests as well as laymen. Molière himself tells us, that he had the approbation of the Legate; and that the greater part of the Bishops, to whom he had taken care to read his work, were " of the same way of thinking as his Majesty."* Nevertheless, a tremendous cry was raised against it, even before it appeared. The author was called, he tells us, a libertine, a blasphemer, a devil incarnate; and no sooner was it brought out, than very worthy people, acted upon by the cries of bigotry, joined in the wish to have it suppressed. The President of Parliament, who agreed to become the instrument of the suppression, was the celebrated Lamoignon, the friend of Boileau, and reckoned one of the best men in the world. Boileau helped him perhaps afterwards to a better judgment. Menage tells us expressly, that he himself spoke to the President about it, and told him that the moral of the play was excellent, and calculated to be of public service.+
Menage, in the same passage of his book, ventures to prefer Molière's prose to his verses. That learned wit had no very great taste in verses at any time, and had been accustomed to a very bad taste in particular, which Molière rooted out. The classical scholar was judicious and generous enough at the time to acknowledge the reformation; but perhaps he never heartily forgot his old propensities. Perhaps also he grudged Molière that extraordinary facility in versifying, which Boileau has recorded with astonishment.‡
The happy power for which Boileau here praises his friend, is one of the most remarkable things in the Tartuffe. Those who know the Hypocrite of the English stage, know the other in a certain way; and know it well. But there is no comparison in the two styles; every word telling with double force in the Frenchman's mouth, and uniting with the familiarity of prose the terseness of wit in rhyme. Let the reader imagine the best colloquial verses of Dryden or Pope, full of wit and humour, uttering the finest knowledge of life, comprising a plot no less interesting than simple, agitating the feelings deeply before they have done, and dismissing the audience in the most generous disposition for truth; and they have a picture of this great and perfect comedy. An English audience, in their own language, could not relish a comedy in
"Premier Placet, présenté au Roi, sur la comedie du Tartuffe." + Menagiana, p. 43. Edit. 1694.
Menage tells us, that when he himself sat down to write verses, he first "got together" his "rhymes ;" and that his rhymes sometimes took him three or four months to "fill up !"-Id. p. 261.
rhyme so well as the French can. Their manners are less conscious and mixed up. They could not so easily take an artificial grace for a natural one. But heard through the dimness of a language not habitual to us, we become just enough sensible of the grace and power of the versification, to admire the comedy the more, without being the less sensible of its truth and nature.
In venturing to lay a scene of it before the reader, we have therefore not ventured to do it in rhyme. It is indeed an injustice to the author, in one sense, not to do so (supposing we were able to do it); but it would be hurting the effect of his truth and humour, which are the greater matters. We have selected the scene more particularly, because it exhibits what we conceive to be the greatest and most original trait in the author's genius; to wit, his delight in putting a good, broad, sustained, and even farcical-looking joke, knowing it to be founded in exquisite truth, and resolving to relish it with us unalloyed, for that reason. It is the spirit and gusto of the truth, taking place of the formal image; and only making us hail and incorporate with it the more. The scene is between Orgon, the credulous master of the house who makes an idol of Tartuffe; and Dorina the servant, a great enemy of the impostor, and burning to see him detected. Tartuffe has not yet made his appearance, and this is the first time Orgon has made his. Let the reader admire the singular skill, with which in the midst of this "joke run down," the audience are let into the interior of the host's credulity, and of Tartuffe's power and worldliness. Orgon says but two things alternately throughout; and the performer must be imagined at once giving us a sense of this monotony of ideas, and varying the expression of them for the true comic effect. A little pause must be fancied occasionally, and a face full of meaning. The author of the Hypocrite has not ventured upon it; but, imagine it in the hands of Munden! To complete the scene, Orgon's brother-in-law, another enemy of Tartuffe's, is present, wondering all the while at his infatuation. Orgon has just come from the country, and after interchanging civilities with his brother, begs him to excuse him a little, while he talks with the servant and asks after the welfare of his house. He addresses her accordingly:
"Well, Dorina, has everything been going on as it should do these two days? How do they all do? And what have they been about?
Dor. My mistress was ill the day before yesterday with a fever. She had a headache quite dreadful to think of.
Org. And Tartuffe?
Dor. Tartuffe! Oh he is wonderfully well; fat and hearty, a fresh complexion, and a mouth as red as a rose.
Org. (turning about with an air of fondness) Poor soul!
Dor. In the evening my mistress was taken with a sickness, and could not touch a bit at supper, her head was so bad.
Org. And Tartuffe?
Dor. Oh, seeing she could not eat, he eat by himself; and very devoutly swallowed two partridges, with a good half of a hashed leg of mutton.
Org. Poor soul!
Dor. My mistress did not shut her eyes all night. The fever hindered her from getting a wink of sleep, and we were obliged to watch by her till morning.
Org. And Tartuffe!
Dor. Tartuffe, happy gentleman, with a comfortable yawn, goes me right from table to bed, where he plunges into his warm nest, and sleeps soundly till morning.
Org. Poor soul!
Dor. At last we prevailed upon Madame to be blooded, and she had great relief
Org. And Tartuffe '
Dor. Monsieur Tartuffe was very much relieved also. He found himself charming; and to repair the loss of the blood which Madame had sustained, took four draughts of wine with his breakfast.
Org. Poor soul!
Dor. In short both are very well now; so I'll go and tell my mistress you are coming, and how happy you are to hear she is recovered."
We have left ourselves very little room to speak of the actors. In fact we must see them again, before we can venture to speak much; and then we shall feel diffident, except in speaking of what all the world may judge of. French nature is in some respects so different from ours, we mean, that the same nature, where great passions are not concerned, exhibits itself in such various ways through the medium of national manners,—that all critics ought to be cautious how they pronounce upon it, especially those who know more of the language in books than as it is spoken; which we confess to be our case. We shall therefore wait, and judge cautiously. Meantime we cannot help saying, that M. Perlet appears to us a performer of the very first merit, full both of sensibility and judg ment, relishing, self-possessed, various," up," as the phrase is, to every situation, and every part of it; and with an equal perception of the gravest as well as the lightest things he has to say. There was an air of singular depth and intention throughout his performance; and when he turned with that preternatural insolence of heart, after his detection, and pausing before he spoke, with his arm up, and an air of frightful preparation, told the master of the house "to go out of the house himself, for it was his,"—there was something ghastly and awful in it. The house was so still, we felt as if we could almost have heard the rain out of doors. Yet the same man, we are told, is wonderful in clowns and idiots, and is but a young actor. We must not forget Madame Daudel, a sort of younger Mrs Davison; very pleasant. She acted Dorine.
There is real poetry in the work by an unknown author entitled The Poet's Pilgrimage; and we hope soon to have an opportunity of shewing it. Medium, G.T. M. B.-W.-S. T. P. A Well-Wisher (very kind and welcome), and our cautious friend who signs himself "Your obedt. humble servant, as it may prove,"—are received, and will be separately noticed next week.
Published by HUNT and CLARKE, York street, Covent garden; and sold by all Booksellers and Newsvenders in town and country.-Price 3d.
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No. IV. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 30, 1828.
Something alone yet not alone, to be wished, and only to be found, in a friend."-SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
FINE DAYS IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY.
WE speak of those days, unexpected, sunshiny, cheerful, even vernal, which come towards the end of January, and are too apt to come alone. They are often set in the midst of a series of rainy ones, like a patch of blue in the sky. Fine weather is much at any time, after or before the end of the year; but, in the latter case, the days are still winter days; whereas, in the former, the year being turned, and March and April before us, we seem to feel the coming of spring. In the streets and squares, the ladies are abroad, with their colours and glowing cheeks. If you can hear anything but noise, you hear the sparrows. People anticipate at breakfast the pleasure they shall have in "getting out." The solitary poplar in a corner looks green against the sky; and the brick wall has a warmth in it. Then in the noisier streets, what a multitude and a new life! What horseback! What promenading! What shopping, and giving good day! Bonnets encounter bonnets:-all the Miss Williamses meet all the Miss Joneses; and everybody wonders, particularly at nothing. The shop windows, putting forward their best, may be said to be in blossom. The yellow carriages flash in the sunshine; footmen rejoice in their white calves, not dabbed upon, as usual, with rain; the gossips look out of their three pair-of-stairs windows; other windows are thrown open; fruiterers' shops look well, swelling with full baskets; pavements are found to be dry; lap-dogs frisk under their asthmas; and old gentlemen issue forth, peering up at the region of the north-east.
Then in the country, how emerald the green, how open-looking the prospect! Honeysuckles (a name alone with a garden in it) are detected in blossom; the hazel follows; the snowdrop hangs its white perfection, exquisite with green; we fancy the trees are already thicker; voices of winter birds are taken for new ones; and, in February new ones come— -the thrush, the chaffinch, and the woodlark. Then rooks begin to pair; and the wagtail dances in the lane. As we write this article, the sun is on our paper, and chanticleer (the same, we trust, that we heard the other day) seems to crow in a very different style, lord of the ascendant, and as willing to be with his wives abroad as at home. We think we see him, as in Chaucer's homestead:
He looketh, as it were a grim leoùn;
And on his toes he roameth up and down;
Will the reader have the rest of the picture, as Chaucer gave it? It is as bright and strong as the day itself, and as suited to it as a falcon to a knight's fist. Hear how the old poet throws forth his strenuous music; as fine, considered as mere music and versification, as the description is pleasant and noble.
His comb was redder than the fine corall,
Hardly one pause like the other throughout, and yet all flowing and sweet. The pause on the third syllable in the last line but one, and that on the sixth in the last, together with the deep variety of vowels, make a beautiful concluding couplet; and indeed the whole is a study for versification. So little were those old poets unaware of their task, as some are apt to suppose them and so little have others dreamt, that they surpassed them in their own pretensions. The accent, it is to be observed, in those concluding words, as coral and colour, is to be thrown on the last syllable, as it is in Italian. Color, colore, and Chaucer's old Anglo-Gallican word, is a much nobler one than our modern colour. We have injured many such words by throwing back the accent.
We should beg pardon for this digression, if it had not been part of our understood agreement with the reader to be as desultory as we please, and as befits Companions. Our very enjoyment