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the character of Danville was Talma's first appearance in comedy in Paris. He has in " Misanthropie et Repentir," "Falkland," and " Shakspeare Amoureux," occasionally verged on the borders of this sacred domain ; but, what with the nicely-defined boundaries of melodrame on the one hand, and those of farce on the other, he has never till now taken his unquestionable station as the hero of genteel and legitimate comedy.
It is not within my limits, nor my intention, to criticise this play minutely. Its plan affords no evidence of great originality of invention, and its leading characters will call to the English reader's mind Sir Peter and Lady Teazle, Lord and Lady Townley; and, more particularly still, Moody and Peggy. M. Delavigne has, I know, both read and warmly admired The School for Scandal,” to which he no doubt owes the subject of this piece : but of its still more striking coincidence with the “Country Girl” he was quite ignorant, never having heard of that play till the eve of the representation of his own.
Having devoted so much space to the subject of M. Delavigne's most recent work, I must be restricted to limits too narrow to give a detailed notice of the many productions of his versatile talents. He is the author of one other comedy, "Les Comédiens;" and two tragedies, “ Les Vâpres Siciliennes" and " Le Paria;” besides those still more popular poems, "Les Messéniennes," on which his chief claim to celebrity may, after all, be considered to rest. The general distinctive character of the author is an extreme Aexibility of talent; and his style possesses, in a great measure, the suppleness and variety which distinguish his conceptions. Less energetic and profound than Delamartine, he is more elegant and correct. Yet there is no timidity in his style, nor a servile following of Racine, of whom we may easily recognise him to be a disciple. He overcomes with singular felicity many obstacles arising from the difficulties of versification, which the French alone consider beauties, but which the rest of the world thinks deformities. In all the varietieś of style peculiar to tragedy, comedy, elegy, and ode, that facility has communicated to him the secret of introducing those images and expressions which properly belong to each ; and he succeeds in throwing into verses that may be weak in thought, a suavity of expression which steals upon the heart in tones as harmonious as can be drawn from the harsh instrument of French versification. He is, indeed, particularly attentive to the exactness of rhyme, paying strict regard to those graces to which so much of the celebrity of his great master is due. His chief faults are an occasional want of point ; proceeding, perhaps, from a premature abandonment to the impulse of ideas not perfectly defined to himself; and casual passages of redundancy, when the too ardent love of elegance leads, as it generally does, to weakness.
Casimir Delavigne is the second of three brothers, the eldest of whom has also displayed considerable dramatic talents, and is the author of several popular pieces. The subject of this notice was born at Havre de Grace in the year 1794. At the age of seventeen, while yet at college, he published a copy of verses on the birth of the King of Rome; but, after that boyish proof of his poetical turn, he prudently abstained from appearing before the public until 1816, when he gave to the world his first series of political poems, entitled “Messéniennes.” The novelty of the idea, and the brilliancy of the execution of these
pieces, suiting so well with the tone of public feeling at that period, ensured them prompt success. But the strong sentiments of liberalism which they displayed, mixed with their exaggerations, particularly where England was the subject of the poet's dispraise, stamped them as the effusions of a young and heated mind, and placed the author, as a party man, in the foremost ranks of opposition. It is easy to be believed that he became, from that moment, a marked object for royalist enmity, affording one of the many proofs, that no public man, however
amiable or talented, can venture to identify himself with the political feelings of one party, without instantly incurring the deadly hatred of the other. Such has been the state of public feeling for several years past; nor is it at all subsiding. The consolidation of royalist power, and the defeat of liberal hope, seem only to have widened the breach ; and it is lamentable to see literature and its professors clinging to the worst example held out by politics. It is easy to comprehend the fatal effect this must produce upon literature in most of its departments; but it is probably less injurious to poetry than to the others. Poetry is a great generalizer; and, even when it is political, poetry is so much woven with imagination, that its realities attract but a comparatively small share of hostility : and though one could not hope to meet in the same salon two authors of opposite couleurs, a popular tragedy may attract general applause, let it come from the right side or the left, from Šoumet or Arnault-while Marchangy, the Ultra Avocat-general, and Le Brun, the poet of Napoleon, sit cheek-by-jowl together in the Vieillards."
It would be perhaps unjust to give a decisive opinion as to the bent of Delavigne's genius. He has tried many walks in his art, and has trod every one of them with gracefulness and success. But his powers have not yet found their level. He is but thirty years of
age ; and we have the dictum of the most acute of French critics, that he has not lived long enough to have acquired sufficient knowledge of life and the human heart for surmounting the difficulties of dramatic writing. If a judgment, not premature, might be formed from what he has already done, we should be perhaps inclined to say that Voltaire's decision is applicable to his case ; for, in none of the four pieces which he has given to the stage are to be found those bold and masterly delineations of the heart and the mind, that stamp an author as a firstrate dramatic genius. There is, however, enough of power as well as pathos in the tragedies, and brilliancy in the comedies, to give a sure promise of still greater excellence. We must, moreover, recollect that the great staple of success in French dramatic writing, power of versifieation, is possessed by Delavigne in an eminent degree ; and that neither Racine nor Molière were as successful in their first essays as he has been in his.
But, as I have before said, his chief distinction is probably not so much founded on these laborious efforts for the stage, as on the lighter and less difficult pieces called “Messéniennes.” These have procured for him, not only the fame and emolument naturally attached to a successful production, but also the nomination, by the late garde-desceaur M. Pasquier, of librarian of the Chancellerie, and the not less marked honour of an unmerited destitution at the hands of that minis
ter's successor, M. de Peronneyt. On this occasion the Duke of Orleans, with a promptness at once liberal and princely, placed himself before this first attempt at persecution, and appointed the poet his librarian ; a situation not subject to the shiftings of ministerial, or even monarchical caprice.
M. Delavigne's four theatrical pieces have appeared during the space of so many years. The most popular of the three which have, up to this moment, passed the ordeal of criticism is “Les Vêpres Siciliennes." It has been, by the legalised and inscrutable despotism of the censorship, lately prohibited from representation. The “ Messéniennes” to the number of eight, with some smaller pieces, bave appeared at intervals. Of the last three of these a notice was given, soon after their appearance, in a former number of this work* ; and it may therefore be unnecessary to swell out this rather desultory article by any comment upon them or their fellows. Another series is, it is said, receiving the last preparatory touches for publication from the author's elegant pen; and if an ardent wish might be expressed in homely phrase, I would utter a hope that the pen may not be nibbed too finely, but that the author may give, as he did in “Parthénope et l'Etrangère," an intrepid and vigorous specimen of genius, wielding the only weapon, now that swords are sheathed, which may be used by hands devoted to the cause of freedom.
I had nearly omitted to mention that, at the last vacancy in the Academy, Casimir Delavigne was put in nomination ; but rejected to make way for the Abbé Freyssinous! It is fitting that a politico-religious candidate should meet with preference before a poet, in an institution formed by a Cardinal Ri lieu, and in which Molière never found a seat. This recollection may console Delavigne, as he talks over his failure in the domestic circle of which he is so truly an ornament.
The New-made Grare.
His western beams was flinging as in scorn
Of those in sable garb, that, sorrow-worn,
Who should have wedded on the very morn
Of this sad eve, on which I saw him borne
The bride's gay trappings, stood all pale and cold,
To feel its depth, or have a tear to shed
* Vol. V. pp. 385 and 497.
When any thing provoking occurs in Great Britain, it is, by a vulgar adage, said that “flesh and blood can't bear it.” The phrase, if it proceeded from a disembodied mouth like mine, would constitute what is here called a bull. I shall therefore content myself with remarking, that the treatment which one Mr. William Titiup, commonly called Tittup the Civilian, has received and is receiving from the other sex, has excited my high displeasure. To shew the origin and extent of his injuries, I must enter rather at large into his history.
Mr. William Tittup was born, it is supposed for he carefully conceals the date,—somewhere between the years 1776 and 1780. He was an only son: there I pity him, for I sincerely believe it was no fault of his. That circumstance qualified him to take a part in a trio of dementation ; inasmuch as, according to another English adage, a man, his wife, and one child, are three fools. His parents, determining not to fly in the face of the proverb, educated him at home. Mr. George Tittup, his father, had been formerly a Blackwell-hall factor in Aldermanbury, and at one period thought himself a rich man. Meeting, however, with a knavish partner, who had drawn ór accepted-I never could ascertain which-- certain bills of exchange in the name of the firm, without the cognizance of his senior partner, the latter took fright, dissolved partnership, and, as he expressed it, “ backed out of the concern" with about ten thousand pounds. Having snatched this brand out of the fire, Mr. Tittup, like the pious Æneas, walked off with his wife and his little Ascanius to Twickenham, a village on the banks of the Thames, where he took the lease of a house in Montpelier-row. When little Billy, as the son was always called, notwithstanding his increase of stature, had attained his ninth year, Mr. John Austin, his maternal uncle, a thriving salesman in Houndsditch, suggested to the parents that it was high time that Bill should be sent to some public school, adding a benevolent hint that he would not mind being at half the expense. The proposition was naturally referred by the father to the mother. “I wish my brother would mind his own business,” exclaimed this grateful and prudential mamma, “ and not interfere with our plans about William.”—“Our plans, my dear !" said Mr. Tittup:“ I was not aware that we had any."->" Oh yes, we have: at least I have.”—“May I inquire what they are ?"_"That he shall be educated at home: it is decidedly the best arrangement for a youth with Billy's expectations." Mr. Tittup slightly wrinkled his forehead at the word “expectations ;" but it passed off, and his wife continued—“Only look at my brother's eldest boy Tom; he's at Eton: did you ever see such a savage ? Never well dressed ; and so excessively rude! The last time he was here, he knocked his trap-ball over our garden-wall into Mrs. Simms's summer-house; and when that lady brought it back in her own muff, neatly wrapped in a sheet of gilt-edged letter-paper, he merely said * Thank ye,' and never thought
of making a bow! 'So much for Eton ! That comes of public education !"-William Tittup was, of course, educated at home.
It would be disingenuous if I were to omit to mention one advantage
derived by the youth from his apron-string tether-an advantage which he never could have obtained at Eton or Harrow. Nothing came to his mother from the Richmond circulating library without his co-perusal. Before he was thirteen, he had read Lady Julia Mandeville, the Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy, Buchan's Family Medicine, Hayley's Essay on Old Maids, and Mrs. Gunning's Appeal to the Public against the General her Husband. At fourteen he had mastered the Secret History of the Green-Room, Anthony Pasquin's Life of the then late Earl of Barrymore, the Quarrel between Anne Kearsley the Bristol Milkwoman and Hannah More the Bristol Rhapsodian, and Mrs. Steele's Memoirs of Mrs. Baddeley. But it was not until his intellect had attained the vigour of fifteen, that he was entrusted with the perusal of Mrs. Robinson's Vancenza. I forbear to mention Moll Flanders, and the third volume of the Newgate Calendar, as these were lent to him, by Alice the cook, under a promise of secrecy.
The same battery of argument, which had knocked down every idea of sending her son to school, was now played off by Mrs. Tittup against establishing him in any trade or profession. The Church, Mrs. Tittup admitted, might do well enough, provided he could get the living of Petersham, or even of Kingston, for then he would be near his parents : but the present incumbents-she rather felt disposed to call them incubuses—seemed as if they never would move off. Her great objection to the Law was the necessity of travelling the circuits. “ You may remember, my dear,” addressing her husband, "when you had that cause to try with Sir Timothy Take-in, at Maidstone, about the sorrel mare. Mr. Serjeant Doze, who then led the circuit, was positively obliged to put up with a paltry sitting-room and bed-chamber over a crockery-ware shop, without any private entrance : his clerk's office was the Serjeant's bed-room ; and as we went up-stairs to the consultation, you may recollect I actually saw seven briefs lying upon the counterpane. Thank Heaven, our Billy is not reduced to that !"--This objection disposed of the Law; and the then revolutionary French war as rapidly disposed of the Army and Navy. “In short, my dear,” concluded Mr. Tittup, "you mean Billy to be a gentleman." “Certainly,” added his wife : “and why not? Will he not have the family estate when you and I are dead and gone ?"-William Tittup was, of course, a gentleman.
Fraught with the accomplishments above enumerated, with the addition of such French as the usher at Kingston Academy could afford to instil into him on half-holidays, provided it did not rain, William Tittup commenced doing the civil among the old ladies in the Row. At their whist-parties he snuffed the candles and threw on the coals; he handed round the tea-cups, and ran across the room like a lamplighter to carry back the vacant china : if he had occasion to drive away the sleeping cat from the hearth-rüg, in order to get at the hot water, he regularly reinstated the dappled animal
when that ceremony was over. His attentions at the Chapel, in the Row, were positively pestering. No man looked out a text so quickly, or pushed the page under the eye of his female neighbour so rapidly, he was inimitable at poking out a hassock, but eandour forces me to own that in