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In spite of revolutions, M. Thiers completed last year the ninth volume of his * History of the Consulate and the Empire ;" last year, also, in spite of his exile, M. Louis Blanc published the third volume of his “ History of the French Revolution.” Little has been heard of George Sand. The “ Château des Désertes” met with a very mediocre success. The first volume is charming, but the second is full of paradoxical statements in regard to the theatres and dramatic works. The amiable story-teller, Jules Sandeau, also published only one romance, “ Sacs et Parchemin.”
Add to this list, 6 small but glorious, Janin says, a “History of Paris," by M. T. Lavallée, and a new “ Tableau de Paris,” by M. Edmond Texier. The latter is cleverly illustrated, and is a very popular book. We cannot, at first, see why M. Janin next classes together a “Histoire des Marionnettes,”: by M. Charles Magnin, and “ L'Histoire de la Littérature Française,” by M. Géruzez. The fact turns out to be, that the history of French literature is written in as much space as the history of puppets. “Is not,” asks Janin, “this a sad thing for the history of puppets ? Such a history," he adds, “ reminds him of the overture of Don Juan' by Mozart arranged for two flageolets.”
The usual quantity of poetry made its appearance during the year, not wanting in that kind of noise that flatters the ear, and in a certain movement that pleases the senses, but that is all. Among them, however, are two that will live; the “Fables” of M, Viennet, and the “ Perles et Camées” of Théophile Gautier.
Literature and the fine arts suffered severe losses during the last year. Among the most regretted were Eugène Bernouf—a young but learned Orientalist, the learned Baron Walckenaer, the Count de St. Priest, and, above all, Tony Johannot, with whom has perished “ Le Livre Illustre.”
The transition from books to the theatre is the more easy, as dramatic authors have adopted the pleasant habit of reproducing on the stage the works that have been accepted by their readers. Thus we have seen M. de Lamartine's charming episode of 6 Graziella” produced at the Gymnase ; and M. de Lamartine himself, an honour which he might well have dispensed with, singing sentimental couplets in praise of his amours. M. Jules Sandeau also manufactured an ingenious and charming comedy from his romance « Le Château de la Seiglière." This piece, entitled on the stage “ Mademoiselle de la Seiglière," met with great success at the Théâtre Français, and was played alternate nights with a pretty little drama, in verse, by M. Emile Augièr, entitled “ Diana,” a fable of the time of Cardinal Richelieu. These two pieces were so successful as to have been performed for nearly a year, and were at length succeeded by the “Ulysses” of M. Ponsard, a work sealed with the stamp of a rare ability. “ Ulysses” is penned in what Janin calls the almost brutal simplicity of the Homeric poem from whence it is derived; hence it was received, at first, with murmurs, but the true poetic feeling that pervades the whole drama ultimately won the feelings of the spectators, and ensured another triumph to the author of " Charlotte Corday' and “ Lucretia.”
So much for the Théâtre Français. A very successful drama, by M. Ernest Serret, called “ Les Familles," was produced at the Odéon, or second Théâtre Français, as it is now called, as also a drama in three acts, by M. Léon Guillard, entitled “ L'exil de Machiavel.” The success of the latter was of a less satisfactory character, Janin tells us, because three acts were not sufficient to develop the character of one of the greatest statesmen of the world, struggling against so many weak-minded but obstinate princes, and so many petty interests.
The Opera existed for six long months on the “ Juif Errant,” it will exist six longer upon the “ Prophète.” The public prefers the youthful grace and vigour of the Opera Comique to the salaried pomps and magnificences of the Opera. . There the bourgeois can take his wife and daughter in safety, and these ladies never weary applauding the “ Croix de Marie,” the “Rendez-vous Bourgeois,” the “Giralda,” and “ Bon soir, Monsieur Pantalon."
Not quite so select, but no less charming, the Gymnase has given its habitués two or three successful comedies during the past year. First in rank was “ Mercadet le Faiseur,” a posthumous work of De Balsac's. Le Faiseur means a man who is perpetually plotting as to how he shall get his dinner or his breakfast. George Sand also contributed to the repertory of the Gymnase a pastoral, in three acts, “ Les Vacances de Pandolphe ;" but the public, which seldom allows itself to be vexed at anything from the pen of a first-rate wit, was actually enraged at this production, and declared that it was taken for a child, and being brought back too late in the day to Pierrot and Columbine! The first allusion is to the great and successful character created by Frédéric Lemaitre during the past year on the boards of the Gaîté, and which was no less than Paillasse.
If the Gaîté belongs to Frédéric Lemaitre, so undoubtedly the Ambigu Comique belongs to the beautiful and eloquent Madame Guyon. She reigns there an absolute and yet pleasing queen, and rules alike the hearts and the minds of her subjects. As Bertha la Flamande she makes them laugh and weep alternately, and indeed has it all her own way. The actor being at the Ambigu more than the play.
At the Porte St. Martin M. Gérard Nerval has produced “L’Imagier de Harlem,” an episode in the history of the art of printing. At the Circus an amusing fairy piece, “ La Chatte Blanche,” has sufficed its audience for a whole year. At the Palais Royal, the only place in Paris where people still laugh, there has been one constant succession of new farces. The great thing of the year has, however, been without contestation “ La Dame aux Camélias," by young Alexandre Dumas, and which was produced at the Théâtre du Vaudeville. Janin speaks of it as “a phenomenon which manifested itself with all the appearances and all the consequences of a phenomenon.” Obstinately refused by the censorship, it required a revolution to enable it to be brought before the public, with whom, from that moment, it became an integral portion of their daily life.
“Nothing was heard spoken of,” says Janin, “but • La Dame aux Camélias ;' people swore by her, she was the life and preoccupation of a whole nation; not a queen at her grave has been followed by such prolonged mourning ; not a young, innocent girl, in her early coffin, has had so many, or such bitter tears shed upon her; every evening, and for a hundred days continuously, the agony and the death of that woman have been the cause, positively, of a public mourning; fanatics rushed to touch the mortuary cloth bordered with lace as if it had covered the body of a saint! Oh, the fools who could prostrate themselves before the apo
theosis of licence'and of vice! Oh, the inse risate people who wept at the death of a courtesan, and who had not a tear to spare for Iphigenia! Oh, the fine answer to make to that posterity which now begins, when she shall ask- What was France doing in 1852? She was shedding all the tears of her body on the coffin of a person without virtue; she could not comfort herself for the loss of the Lady with the Camelias; she despoiled the best gardens of Paris in order to bury that profane beauty every night under the flowers that she loved !”
It appears, from the amusing revelations contained in the pages of the Almanach Comique, that the same irregular means are taken in Paris to force the circulation of cheap and inferior literature as has of late been in vogue in London, more especially in regard to periodicals which address themselves to the fair sex. Mademoiselle Louisette, for example, had given in her subscription to the Fleurs Animées and the Pirates. Janin does not notice the works in question. The Fleurs Animées must, by its title, be captivating to sentimental young ladies, and it professed to be luxuriously illustrated by Grandville. As to the Pirates, we can understand that there must have been something to make the heart beat and the flesh creep in a delicate young creature like Louisette; but such is the taste of young ladies, they like to revel alternately in the perfume of flowers, and the noise and smoke of boarding a pirate ship.
But there was another temptation held out to the fair Louisette to give in her subscription to these choice literary productions. The itinerant publisher, a certain M. Croitier, had also promised, on the completion of the works, and the payment of the subscription in full, to give to the young lady, as a premium, “ a beautiful gold watch, with cylinder, and four holes with rubies.”
This clause in the agreement, added to the respectable appearance (la mise confortable) of the tradesman, and still more the good condition of the donkey on which he drove about his merchandise, seduced Louisette into the position of a permanent subscriber; for these kind of works, sold in numbers at the door, are never known to terminate so long as the subscription is paid regularly. There is a story of piracy and murder now being trafficked at John o' Groat's, which was begun in Clerkenwell in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. Poor Louisette paid for number after number of the Fleurs Animées, but the more numbers came out the more animated grew the flowers, till it seemed as if the whole of the vegetable kingdom was destined to do duty in this interminable publication. She had paid 120 francs, and was in despair, when some unknown catastrophe put a sudden stop to the publication. Louisette had been a most assiduous subscriber, and she did not hesitate, no more flowers making their appearance, in and out of season, to call for her premium of a gold watch.
“ It is all right,” said Croitier ; "call again to-morrow, the premium shall be made over to you."
Poor Louisette could not sleep, thinking of the four holes with rubies. At an early hour in the morning she was at the librarian's.
“ Here it is,” said M. Croitier.
“ Oh, what a large parcel !” exclaimed Louisette ; 6 you told me it would only be a very small watch."
“Make yourself easy; you will be satisfied; but do not open the parcel till you get home.”
Louisette, acting upon the instructions thus given to her, hurried into the street, ran all the way home, got up five stories with a hop, skip, and a jump, nearly broke in her rebellious door, and with her breath exhausted by the exertion, undid the parcel, to find-two candlesticks!
66 What a base deception,” exclaimed Louisette, on recovering from her surprise. “Well, I thought that a lady's watch would not make a parcel of that size and shape; but we shall see if I am to be put off in this way.”
So Louisette returned to the publisher's—it is needless to describe her reproaches, her sighs, her tears.
56 'Tis all right, all right," said the publisher. “I thought that you would like candlesticks better, it would have started you in housekeeping, and you would have been prepared, when your turn came, to light up the hymeneal torches ; but we will say no more about it-do you prefer this work-table ?"
“ No, certainly not; I have been promised a watch, and I will have a watch.”
“Hum! how obstinate you are! well, I can suit you. I have a beautiful watch, but it is at the pawnbroker's for the miserable sum of 20 francs-it is worth more than 250. If you were to add the 20 to the previous sum ".
“ Has it four holes with rubies ?”
“Four holes! It has more than ten; it is a watch that is all holeslooks like a bit of lace.”
Louisette added the further contribution of 20 francs to the 120 already paid over, and shortly afterwards received in exchange a silver watch worth 15 francs.
The literary débutante and subscriber for premiums had learnt courage enough from the perusal of the Pirates to summon M. Croitier before the police court of Paris, where the confortable publisher was condemned to 200 francs' fine, five months' imprisonment, and 100 francs' damages.
The caricatures of the French by themselves are always infinitely better than those of the English. We do not say this from nationality, or from any sensitiveness at being caricatured by our lively neighbours, but simply from the fact that they do not see into the niceties of English character: they have, generally speaking, one or two types, and these they have adhered to from time immemorial. Take, for example, the history of Mimi Panachée.
She was born one night between two polkas, under the flaming gas of Mabille. A glass of champagne poured on her head consecrated her lorette, and with elastic calf, and sparkling eye, she threw herself at one spring between Mousqueton and Carabine, on the traces of Mogador and of Pomaré.
A splenetic and ventripotent Englishman, brought to Paris by a pleasuretrain, repaired to a ball at the Château Rouge. The chorographic eccentricities of Lucile L- , better known as Mimi Panachée, captivated his attention. “Shocking!' shocking !” (sic) he muttered, at first slightly disgusted. But soon conquered by her inimitable grace and fine shape, he clapped his hands, exclaiming, “ Beautiful! beautiful !”
So engrossed was Sir W- by the exquisite dancer, that he did not see that in applauding he had let a valuable diamond ring fall. from his finger.
This ring was picked up by Mimi Panachée. She thought at first that it was dross, but when she ascertained its real value, like an honest girl that she was, she repaired with it to the commissary of police. This magistrate had himself just received information of the loss sustained by the Englishman, and he gave his address to the lorette, who naturally wished to have the opportunity of restoring herself the ring to its owner.
Sir W— received the fair terpsichorean with the utmost politeness, and insisted on her stopping to supper. About the time when the Dantzic was succeeding to the Ai, he passed the ring that had been brought back to him on her finger, and asked in the bluntest manner possible, “If I married you would you be faithful to me?” “I swear it with lifted hand," answered Mimi Panachée, as she raised her right foot to the height of her Amphitryon's eye. This graceful movement decided her fate. Sir W , subjugated, offered her his hand, his bank-notes, and his spleen.
Previously to crossing the Channel, Sir W- took an apartment for her in the Chaussée d'Autin, which he furnished in the most magnificent manner, and the fortunate lorette gave herself up with renewed ardour to the saltarelles and the cachuchas to which she was soon to bid a perpetual farewell.
The eve of the day fixed for her departure she invited the chorographic stars of the public balls and casinos to a souper dansant. The assembly was numerous and select. There were there, besides, Paquerette, Folinette, Cigarette, Gaminette, and other turlurettes-all that feminine dynasty which assume the names of the streets in which their boudoirs are established as so many titles of nobility.
There were there the Baroness of Trudaine, the Countess of Paradise, the Duchess de la Michodière, &c. These had naturally brought their esquires with them. So animated did the party become that, after a time, plates, bottles, and glasses flew out of the windows in the midst of shouts of laughter. A patrol that happened to be going by was saluted by a shower of liquors and preserves, glasses and pots included.
Shocked at seeing such good things thus disposed of, the heroes of the 2nd December invaded the house of Mimi Panachée ; but here they experienced an unanticipated resistance. The lorettes assembled in the form of a battalion, and armed with everything that came first to hand, they kept the military for a long time in check. At last victory remained with the men of war, and a number of the combatants of both sexes were taken away to prison, charged with nocturnal rioting and rebellion, and insult to the authorities.
Among the prisoners was Mimi Panachée, general-in-chief. May the tribunal be indulgent for the last frolic of this gay butterfly, who will soon be changed into a moth by the fogs of perfidious Albion, and to whom even riches will not be able to disguise the ennui of a country, where there are no lively people but drunkards, no game but beefsteaks, no ripe fruit but baked apples, and no sun but the moon!
At a period when every kind of profession and trade is overdone, when there are more lawyers than plaintiffs, and more doctors than patients; when there are not as many portraits to paint as there are would be Corregios, and even counters are wanting for ambitious linendrapers, it is justly, observes a Gallic scribbler, the duty of the press to make known every new opening that presents itself-every new resource that is developed for the unemployed industrious.
In ingenious Paris the tribunals of correctional police, corresponding to our police-magistrates' courts, make known more than any other places the inventions of new lines of business destined to take the places of those that are going by ; for such is the eternal law, nothing accumulates, everything is replaced, and that alike in the succession of things and ideas. It was before the police-magistrates that was first made known the pro