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it at its truest and best source, and yet a source worth to “Paradise Regained,” and makes a where all may go and draw for it.
great poem of a work in which Milton's imagiNevertheless we are not to suppose that every- nation does not soar high. Wordsworth has in thing is precious which Wordsworth, standing constant possession, and at command, no style even at this perennial and beautiful source, may of this kind; but he had too poetic a nature, and give us. Wordsworthians are apt to talk as if it had read the great poets too well, not to catch, must be. They will speak with the same rever- as I have already remarked, something of it ocence of “The Sailor's Mother,” for example, as casionally. We find it not only in his Miltonic of “ Lucy Gray.” They do their master harmlines; we find it in such a phrase as this, where by such lack of discrimination. “Lucy Gray” the manner is his own, not Milton's— is a beautiful success; "The Sailor's Mother” is
the fierce confederate storm a failure. To give aright what he wishes to give, to interpret and render successfully, is not
Of sorrow barricadoed evermore
Within the walls of cities"always within Wordsworth's own command. It is within no poet's command; here is the part although even here, perhaps, the power of style, of the Muse, the inspiration, the God, the “not which is undeniable, is more properly that of ourselves." In Wordsworth's case, the accident, for so it may almost be called, of inspiration, is change wrought by genuine poetic style. It is
eloquent prose than the subtile heightening and
, of peculiar importance. No poet, perhaps, is so evidently filled with a new and sacred energy chiefly makes the effectiveness of “ Laodameia.”
style, again, and the elevation given by style, which when the inspiration is upon him; no poet, Still the right sort of verse to choose from Wordswhen it fails him, is so left “weak as is a break- worth, if we are to seize his true and most charing wave." I remember hearing him
acteristic form of expression, is a line like this: "Goethe's poetry was not inevitable enough.” The remark is striking and true; no line in “And never lifted up a single stone." Goethe, as Goethe said himself, but its maker knew well how it came there. Wordsworth is There is nothing subtile in it, no heightening, no right, Goethe's poetry is not inevitable; not in- study of poetic style, strictly so called, at all; yet evitable enough. But Wordsworth's poetry, it is expression of the highest and most truly exwhen he is at his best, is inevitable, as inevitable pressive kind. as Nature herself. It might seem that Nature
Wordsworth owed much to Burns, and a style not only gave him the matter for his poem, but of perfect plainness, relying for effect solely on wrote his poem for him. He has no style. He the weight and force of that which with entire was too conversant with Milton not to catch at fidelity it utters, Burns could show him : times his master's manner, and he has fine Miltonic lines; but he has no assured poetic style of
“ The poor inhabitant below
Was quick to learn and wise to know, his own, like Milton. When he seeks to have a
And keenly felt the friendly glow style he falls into ponderosity and pomposity.
And softer flame; In “The Excursion" we have his style, as an ar
But thoughtless follies laid him low tistic product of his own creation; and, although
And stained his name." Jeffrey completely failed to recognize Wordsworth's real greatness, he was yet not wrong in Every one will be conscious of a likeness here saying of “The Excursion,” as a work of poetic to Wordsworth; and, if Wordsworth did great style, “ This will never do." And yet, magical things with this nobly plain manner, we must as is that power, which Wordsworth has not, of remember, what indeed he himself would always assured and possessed poetic style, he has some- have been forward to acknowledge, that Burns thing which is an equivalent for it.
used it before him. Every one who has any sense for these things Still Wordsworth's use of it has something feels the subtile turn, the heightening, which is unique and unmatchable. Nature herself seems, given to a poet's verse by his genius for style. I say, to take the pen out of his hand, and to We can feel it in the
write for him with her own bare, sheer, penetrat“After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well”
ing power. This arises from two causes: from
the profound sincereness with which Wordsworth of Shakespeare; in the
feels his subject, and also from the profoundly though fall’n on evil days,
sincere and natural character of his' subject itOn evil days though fall’n, and evil tongues
self. He can and will treat such a subject with
nothing but the most plain, first-hand, almost of Milton. It is the incomparable charm of Mil- austere naturalness. His expression may often ton's power of poetic style which gives such be called bald, as, for instance, in the poem of
“Resolution and Independence"; but it is bald than Wordsworth. But I know not where else, as the bare mountain-tops are bald, with a bald- among the moderns, we are to find his superiors. ness which is full of grandeur.
I have spoken lightly of Wordsworthians; Wherever we meet with the successful bal- and, if we are to get Wordsworth recognized by ance, in Wordsworth, of profound truth of sub- the public and by the world, we must recommend ject with profound truth of execution, he is him not in the spirit of a clique, but in the spirit unique. His best poems are those which most of disinterested lovers of poetry. But I am a perfectly exhibit this balance. I have a warm Wordsworthian myself. I can read with pleaadmiration for “ Laodameia and for the great sure “ Peter Bell," and the whole series of “Ec“Ode"; but, if I am to tell the very truth, I find clesiastical Sonnets,” and the address to Mr. Wil“ Laodameia” not wholly free from something kinson's spade, and even the “Thanksgiving artificial, and the great “Ode" not wholly free Ode "-everything of Wordsworth, I think, exfrom something declamatory. If I had to pick cept “Vaudracour and Julia.” It is not for noout the kind of poems which most perfectly show thing that one has been brought up in the veneraWordsworth's unique power, I should rather tion of a man so truly worthy of it; that one has choose poems such as Michael," “ The Foun- seen him and heard him, lived in his neighbortain,” The Highland Reaper.” And poems hood and been familiar with his country. No with the peculiar and unique beauty which dis- Wordsworthian has a tenderer affection for this tinguishes these he produced in considerable pure and sage master than I, or is less really ofnumber; besides very many other poems of fended by his defects. But Wordsworth is somewhich the worth, although not so rare as the thing more than the pure and sage master of a worth of these, is still exceedingly high.
small band of devoted followers, and we ought On the whole, then, as I said at the begin- not to rest satisfied until he is seen to be what he ning, not only is Wordsworth eminent because is. He is one of the very chief glories of Engof the goodness of his best work, but he is emi- lish poetry; and by nothing is England so glonent, also, because of the great body of good work rious as by her poetry. Let us lay aside every which he has left to us. With the ancients I weight which hinders our getting him recognized will not compare him. In many respects the an- as this, and let our one study be to bring to pass, cients are far above us, and yet there is some- as widely as possible and as truly as possible, his thing that we demand which they can never give. own word concerning his poems: “They will Leaving the ancients, let us come to the poets coöperate with the benign tendencies in human and poetry of Christendom. Dante, Shakespeare, nature and society, and will, in their degree, be Milton, even Goethe, are altogether larger and efficacious in making men wiser, better, and hapmore splendid luminaries in the poetical heaven pier.”.
MATTHEW ARNOLD, in Macmillan's Magazine.
THE "HE origins of the national theatre of France thus much in view, it may be neither uninterest
are remote and manifold. It was not made ing nor unprofitable to trace the story of what in a day, nor was it the work of a single man. would be our pattern institution, from its beginTo
say nothing of the fact that a new literature nings downward to those later and not less honhad to be created to make its foundation desira- orable developments that are near and familiar ble, its institution was the result of several dis- to ourselves. tinct processes of combination and assimilation,
1. extending over a long period of years and deal- The Théâtre-Français, as we know it, is the ing with a vast quantity of wide-scattered and foundation of Louis XIV. Into his work he put heterogeneous material; and the privileges of whatever was worth preserving of the three chief monopoly and state protection were necessary to theatres that kept Paris in amusement during the its well-being from the time of its establishment first eighty years of the seventeenth century. in its present likeness. The project has been These three theatres were that of the Hôtel de often mooted of endowing England with a na- Bourgogne, that of the Marais, and that one estional stage ; it is not impossible but the idea may tablished by Molière, at the Hôtel du Petit-Bourtake shape of some sort after all. And, with bon first of all and afterward within the Palais Royal, and transferred at his death, by his friend Naturally the Brothers took to standing on their and comrade La Grange, to the Hôtel Guéne- rights and defending their position. Backed by gaud.
the Parliament, they shut up a theatre of farce, Of these three, the oldest and in some ways opened in 1571; they drove over the Alps in 1576 the most important, was the theatre of the Hôtel the famous Italian company called the Gelosi, de Bourgogne, situate in the Rue Mauconseil, and though it had letters patent from Henri III., and owing its existence to the histrionic initiative of had been summoned by him to amuse into inacthe Brotherhood of the Passion. At what mo
tion the States-General of Blois, and was comment this initiative began is not precisely deter- posed of artists of the stamp of Flaminio Scala mined, documentary evidence in the matter going and of Gabriel of Bologna, creator of the type back no further than 1398, when the Provost of of Francatrippa; they expelled the capital in Paris forbade the Brotherhood's performances 1584 a provincial company that had ventured to within his limits. In 1402, however, the Brothers quarter itself at the Hôtel de Cluny. But these got a charter from Charles VI., authorizing their moves availed them nothing. The Italian actors ass ation and establishment as actors in Paris. came back on their hands again and yet again ; Their first stage was erected in the great hall of they could get no encouragement from the poets, the Hospital of the Trinity, where they began by and the public had grown tired of them; the playing mysteries, and went on presently to play students and the strollers were better liked than farces as well. They filled it for one hundred they. They ended by being wise and provident ; and thirty-seven years, and had its privileges in 1585 they let their stage to a company of actconfirmed by letters patent from Francis I. in ors better qualified to adorn it than themselves, 1513. In 1538 they shifted their scene to the and these, after arguments and petitions and deHôtel de Flandre; and in 1548, in the disman- vices innumerable, succeeded (1676) in dispostlement by royal order of that refuge, they pur- sessing them of their theatre. chased a large slice of the site of the Hôtel At the date of its cession the play-house apde Bourgogne, unoccupied since the death of pears to have been in no sort of good repute. Charles the Bold, and gone entirely to ruin. In It was thoroughly out of repair; it had earned the same year they got a confirmation of their the qualification of a “cloaque et maison de Saprivilege from the Parliament, and were granted than"; its audiences, 'tis said, were wont to asa monopoly of Parisian theatricals. The only semble some two hours or so before the curtain condition imposed was to the effect that the sub- rose, and to spend the interval in dicing, immodjects of their plays should be no longer taken est talk, gluttony, drunkenness, and other pleasfrom the Scriptures; so that, though this condi- ing pastimes. The new tenants do not seem to tion seems to have been interpreted with great have sweetened its fame, and they soon got into freedom, 1548 may be regarded as the birth-year, trouble of another sort. After caricaturing Maynot only of the French stage, but also of the enne and the League, they were on the point of French secular drama. Letters patent from Hen- seeing their occupation gone and their room filled ri II. (1554 and 1559) and from Charles IX. (1569) with a Jesuits' college. Henri IV., however, got established the Brothers yet more firmly in their the upper hand of the League, and, as he loved place; and from him of the Saint Bartholomew, to laugh and amuse himself, the actors went on like all the Valois an artist to his finger-ends, they playing in safety. In safety, if not in peace. Imreceived material encouragement of some value. pudent strollers insisted on opening playhouses Their influence about this time was none the less at the fairs; a whole cloud of theatres, including upon the wane. The spirit of change was abroad. that of the Marais, came into being and action The Renaissance had made men literary and in- about them; and though, by persecuting these tolerant of ignorance; the good Brothers were relentlessly, and by rigidly enforcing the terms of unlettered and conservative, and their simple art, their monopoly, they succeeded in keeping themdisdained of the studious and serious enthusiasts selves at the head of things, and in making their into opposition with whom it had survived, had rivals a source of income, they did not succeed in outlived its means and its function, and was found keeping the ground to themselves. For the mono more acceptable. Their farces and moralities ment this was of little consequence to them. were treated as mere horse-play and foolery- They were successful, and that was enough. badineries et folies; and at the various colleges Enriched with a royal grant of twelve thousand about them Ronsard and his following were put- livres a year, in 1629 they called themselves the ting before the very public which had applauded “Comédiens de l'élite royale,” and they were them pieces antique in interest and novel and am- presently known as the Troupe Royale — the bitious in form, and were doing their utmost to Royal Company: a title to which they had every shatter into nothingness the respectable tradition right, and out of their pride in which there prothey had worked so hard and so long to establish. ceeded not a little of the suspicion and contempt
they were afterward to bestow on the pretensions sociates of the Théâtre-Français, was a tradition of Molière.
of histrionic art till Adrienne Lecouvreur replaced They began by playing farce. On their stage it with her own; and the name of Michel Baron, at one time or another figured the accomplished who left La Grange in 1673 to join the Royal buffoons known to fame as Turlupin, Bruscam- Company, is greatest in the early history of the bille, Gros-Guillaume, Galinette la Galine, Gaul- French stage. tier-Garguille, Dame Gigogne, and Guillot-Gorju: The Marais Theatre was of infinitely less ausingers to a man of questionable songs, and thority, though 'twas actually from its boards artists of questionable modesty. But gradually that the classic comedy, the classic tragedy, and they rose to higher things; their specialty got to what is now called the spectacular drama, were be the arts of tragedy and tragi-comedy. Here- introduced to France and such of the world as in they were unrivaled. Bellerose, the player has been exampled by her. Opened somewhere whom Richelieu, a passionate lover of the theatre, in the latter years of the sixteenth century, and did not disdain to provide with apparel, was their affected from time to time by actors in revolt manager om 1629 to 1643. Montfleury, of the against the tyranny of the Hôtel de Burgogne, it mountain-belly, an ancestor of the illustrious acquired no real importance until 1629. The Dangeville ; Bellemore, the Miles Gloriosus of quarter, abominably paved and lighted and situhis epoch ; Beauchâteau, a butt of Molière ; ate afar from the modish parts of Paris, was a Hauteroche and De Villiers, the author-actors; quarter in ill repute; it was infested with cutRaymond Poisson, poet and player, the original purses and cloak - snatchers, with blackguard Crispin, whose naturalness was envied and ad- sworders and disreputable women; and only in mired by the maker and creator of Sganarelle its unused tennis-courts—the refuge in those himself; Alizon, the Hubert of the company, days of strollers seeking a local habitationfamous in old women, and in nurses and ser- could room be found for such actors as stooped vants; Brécourt, the Dutchman, desperado and to its use. In 1629, however, “Mélite," the first ruffian, dicer and drinker, adventurer and artist; play of the illustrious Corneille, was produced in the illustrious Josias de Soulas, Sieur de Prime- the Rue Mauconseil, apparently through the infosse, called Floridor, the most accomplished fluence of the celebrated Montdory. This notragedian of his decade; Marie Desmares, better table man, a great actor and an able manager, known as Mademoiselle de Champmeslé; Made- was chief of a company of strollers, knew Cormoiselle Beaupré, one of the first women to ap- neille at Rouen, and was the means of introducpear upon the boards, and aunt of the Marotte ing him to fame. He took “ Mélite" from the Beaupré who fought a duel with Catherine des Royal Company and played it for himself in the Urlis—all these artists figured, early or late, on Marais. In 1632 he and his followers were estabthe stage of the Hôtel de Bourgogne. That lished in the Fountain Tennis Court; and in stage, moreover, was actually the stage of “Cin- 1633, protected by Richelieu, who esteemed him na,” of “Horace,” of “Polyeucte,” and was pres- greatly, he was able to snap his fingers at a Parently to be that of “ * Mithridate," and of “ Phè- liamentary mandate ordering him to discontinue dre," and as the nursery, if not actually the birth- his performances, which had disgusted the inplace, of French tragedy, it was a stage with a habitants of the street by reason of the noise and tradition and a reputation. It is, indeed, the crowding attendant on them. In the same year parent stem of the Théâtre-Français. Its com- Louis XIII.-possibly to annoy Richelieu-draftpany was an association formed for the acting of ed six of his best actors into the Royal Company, plays, sharing its profits and expenses day by But Montdory, who was a troop in himself, and day and year by year, selling its vacancies at high who had still the services of Floridor, Bellemore, prices for the common weal, presenting the heirs and De Villiers, established himself in a tennisof such of its associates as died in harness with court in the Rue Vieille-du-Temple. The public a sufficiency of pistoles to indemnify them for loved and admired him greatly; he was very notheir loss, playing but thrice a week, setting the tably protected; he produced good pieces, and example in theatrical procedure, and exercising mounted his productions with exceptional tact indisputable authority in stage questions and in and skill; and he succeeded splendidly. Scarall matters connected with the art of tragedy. ron, Mairet, Tristan l'Hermite, and Scudéry were Racine, befriended liberally and sincerely by Mo- among his authors. Corneille, after giving him lière, took over to the Hôtel de Bourgogne his “La Galerie du Palais,” and “ L'Illusion Cosecond play, although it was already cast, mounted, mique," a play revived in our own time, for M. and rehearsed by the company of the Palais- Got to create anew and with extraordinary humor Royal. The best poets were proud to write for and art the original part of Bellemore, gave him it. The elocutionary system of Mademoiselle de • The Cid” (1636), and the year afterward the Champmeslé, who became one of the original as- success of this famous play was almost eclipsed by that of Tristan's “ Mariamne." The effect lot, and learning “Theagenes and Chariclea ” by produced by Montdory's “Herod " seems to have heart. The comedy of the epoch was either caribeen akin to that produced on contemporary cature or extravagance. The “ Visionnaires” of audiences by Salvini's “Conrad.” Unhappily the Desmarets, the “Don Japhet” of Scarron, the part was so tremendous in its quality as to cost “Pédant Joué " of Cyrano, were stock pieces; Paris her greatest actor. Montdory was struck and audiences had not much to content them but down with apoplexy after a performance of it, the rodomontades and stramazouns of the capand rose a paralytic. As he was a favorite with tain, the pedantic brutalities of the doctor, the Richelieu, the courtiers were liberal to him in knavish nastiness of the valet. Among these the matter of pensions; he retired worth ten well-worn types the men and women of Molière thousand livres a year. With him the theatre had not much to do to make a place for themlost its vogue. Tragedy and comedy ceased to selves; besides the stale, exaggerated fun of the be proper to its artists; and though Corneille re- hack authors, his humor-fresh, spontaneous, turned to it (1646) with “ Le Menteur,” it gradu- abundant, human-had but to be heard to be ally declined to the uses of spectacle and farce. recognized and acclaimed. The hour had come, Of the former of these, in Molière's day, it had and the man was there to keep tryst with it. come to make a specialty. On its stage was pro- As for the way in which his works and those duced, in 1661, the “ Toison d'Or” of Pierre Cor- of his great associates were produced, it differed reille, with elaborate engines and contrivances, strangely from the ways of to-day. The French the invention of the crack-brained, the litigious, have lost, it may be, the knack of masterpieces, the mechanical Marquis de Sourdéac, who was but their knowledge and practice of the art of afterward to be a thorn in the flesh of La Grange scenic decoration have mightily increased. In and the young Théâtre-Français. And in 1669, the beginning the theatres opened their doors Rozimont the author-actor, believing that a so but thrice a week-on Sundays, Tuesdays, and famous subject could hardly fail of success if Fridays: all Mondays being days of departure, taken in connection with “ces superbes ornemens all Wednesdays and Saturdays market-days, and de théâtre qu'on voit d'ordinaire chez nous," all Thursdays walking and visiting days: and the wrote for it a version of the legend of Don Juan play-goer, studying the red bill of the Hôtel de that may be read with interest even after those Bourgogne, whether it was couched in plain prose of Molière and Tirso de Molina.
or in trivial verse-read on it but the names of
piece and author, and saw no mention whatever II.
of actors. Under Louis XIII. the curtain rose When the manager of the Illustre Théâtre, at two of the afternoon; under Louis XIV., who itself, through Madeleine Béjart, an offshoot of loved to dine and kept his courtiers waiting while the Marais, returned to Paris in 1658, he found he dined, it got to rise as late as five. Usually these two chief play-houses in full working order. the house was lighted with tallow; but when the There was, besides, a company of Spanish actors, King was of the audience, he sat superbly among playing chiefly for the amusement of their coun- wax-candles supplied by his officers. You could trywoman, the Queen. There was a company of get into the pit—where cooling drinks and sweetItalians in receipt of a royal grant of fifteen thou- meats were sold in summer, and comforting and sand livres a year, and ruled by Tiberio Fiurelli, strengthening cordials and cough-mixtures could known for the greatest of all the Scaramouches. be got in winter—for fifteen sous on ordinary At the fairs of Saint Laurent and Saint Germain occasions; but, on extraordinary, you had to pay there were booths of strollers always. The Jes- thirty sous for your standing-room. After the uits were fast acquiring an indomitable habit of crush there was to see “The Cid” at Montdory's college theatricals. The beginnings of the opera theatre, the sides of the stage, once the refuge of were a fact. At the court, which was even more the poor author, became the fashionable part of choregraphically bent than that of our own Eliza- the auditorium; there you could see and be seen, beth, they danced in interminable ballets, con- you could get in the actor's way, you could bring trived by M. de Benserade and others, with a in a performing dog with you, and show off his gravity and a determination unparalleled in his- tricks between the alexandrines of Polyeucte and tory. It was a time, indeed, when play-acting Pauline; you could interrupt the play with all and play-making were popular professions, and, possible ease and security; and the cost of it all for a man who had ideas on the subject of both, was but a single half-louis, or five livres ten sous. there was room in it and to spare. Rotrou, the Money was, in those days, about four times as valiant artist, had been eight years in his grave, dear as now it is, and it was the habit of a cerand the world had got from Corneille the best tain class of spectators to try and see the play for he was ever to give ; Racine was a lad of nine- nothing, and so put themselves on the footing of teen, studying the Greek poets with Claude Lance- the officers and soldiers of the household brigade.