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despotically and capriciously by the gentlemen of the bedchamber, its revenues squandered upon their mistresses, and the avenues to fame which it afforded, confined to their sycophants and favourites. The revolution threw the management of the houses (except the Opera) into the hands of committees, raised the comedians to all the privileges of genteel society, and some of its members to stations even of political importance. With respect to the latter species of advancement, however, the body of comedians have not derived much honour from the statesmanship of Collot d'Herbois, the minion of Robespierre.* Much credit is due to Talma, for refraining to meddle with the sanguinary declaimers of that day: he made use of the revolution to advance himself in his profession-no farther; and he certainly had every temptation and opportunity to become politically conspicuous. By a minor but more honourable distinction, Molé, Preville, and Monvel, became members of the Institute. Notwithstanding these advantages, the monopoly of parts is still as close as ever, and the management being in the hands of the principal actors, whose interest is much more bent to support stage-supremacy than all the favouritism of the gentlemen of the chamber, rising talent must remain depressed as ever. Another existing hardship is, that all the theatres are obliged to contribute one-tenth of their yearly revenue towards the support of the Grand Opéra : thus the genius of Ducis and of Talma is compelled to retrench from its little reward to pay the extravagant annuities of opera-dancers. In return for this, however, both actors and authors can look forward to a recompense that in our country they cannot. An interest in the property of a piece is not confined to the life of the author, but descends like an estate to his children; and actors are enabled to look forward to a comfortable and independent old age, by the certainty of enjoying an annuity on retiring, proportioned to their respective merits. The present king, with great generosity, has already settled a very handsome one on Talma.

This great actor made his debút at the Théatre Français in November 1787, in the part of Séide in “ Mahomet;" but it was not till two years subsequent that he laid the foundation of his present pre-eminence in the tragedy of Charles the Ninth, by Jos. M. Chénier. It was represented for the first time on November 4th, 1789; St. Phal, the first actor t, considered the King of Navarre to be the leading character in the piece, and left Talma the possession of the other. The tragedy met with unbounded success, owing more to its political allusions than its merits; the ruling party of the theatre, however, envied Talma the lucky hit he had made, and brought forward Larive for

• It was Collot d'Herbois, the comedian, that directed the massacres at Lyons, during the reign of terror. That unfortunate town had hissed him off the stage for his miserable acting ten years before, and he avenged the disgrace by cutting off the heads of its inhabitants.

+ St. Phal has retired from the stage about a month since. On which occasion the tragedy of Sylla was represented for the first time : it is written by M. Jouy, well known in England as the Hermite de la Chaussée D'Antin. It is but just to mention, that he formerly wrote a most ferocious tragedy against the English, the scene of which was in India. How the French revolutionists could have had the impudence to accuse the English of bloodshed is hard to conceive. Mutato nomine de se falula narretur.

the purpose of rivalling and eclipsing him. Charles the Ninth no longer appeared in the affiches or play-bills, and Talma seems to have remained laudably quiet under the oppression for a full twelvemonth.

It was during this interval that La Harpe, in August 1790, appeared at the bar of the National Assembly, and read in the name of the dramatic authors, that petition which afterwards procured the decree concerning the liberty of the theatres, &c. The principal articles in the petition were: The abolition of what was called privilèges des spectacles; that every theatre should possess inexclusively the right to represent the ancient dramatic authors; that every author should have the right to fix the value of his own work, and that no piece should be represented without the permission of the author. It is to be understood that the French poets do not give up their property to managers for the receipts of a certain number of nights, as they do in England, but that they receive a certain portion of the receipts every time their piece is represented.

At length the patience of Talma began to be worn out, and he was resolved no longer to be kept in the back-ground. Charles the Ninth was again performed, but whether through the intrigues of the actor, or those merely of the popular party, is hard to determine. A deputy of the town of Marseilles demanded, in the name of his colleagues, a representation of Charles the Ninth; among those who stood up to second the demand was Mirabeau. Naudet, one of the actors, made excuses founded on the illness of some of his comrades. Talma denied that there was any truth in the plea. In fine the piece was ordered to be performed: the applause during the representation was, however, much interrupted with disorder and opposition—the promoters of disturbance were arrested, and sent to the Hotel de Ville ; among them one is surprised to find the famous Danton. The discomfited party did not fail to accuse Talma of intriguing to bring forward the piece and excite confusion. Talma addressed Mirabeau to exculpate him from the charge, and Mirabeau answered him satisfactorily. The actor was not content with this, but publicly addressed a letter to Naudet, in which he inveighs bitterly against the noirs of the Comédie Française. The anti-popular party in the National Assembly had been branded with the epithet of noir, answering to our malignant in the days of Cromwell. In consequence of this letter, the company of comedians banished Talma from their society, and refused to act with him. Chénier, the author of the piece, cannot be supposed to have been left tranquil during this dispute. In one of his letters, he says, “ I have been compelled to carry pistols for my personal defence, from the moment that my tragedy of Charles the Ninth raised me up an enemy in every dastard slave."

There was of course a tumult in the theatre, as soon as the resolution of the comedians against Talma became publicly known. The parterre was quieted the first evening by an assurance on the part of the performers, that they would answer the inquiries and complaints relative to M. Talma on the ensuing evening. It was the 12th of September,-Henri made his appearance as soon as the curtain rose, and addressed the audience :-"Gentlemen, our society, persuaded that M. Talma has betrayed its interests, and compromised the public tranquillity by his conduct, have come to the unanimous resolution

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of having no connexion whatsoever with him, till authority shall have decided the subject of debate." Whilst a mingled tumult of disapprobation and applause followed this address, Dugazon, another of the performers, rushed on the stage, and addressed the audience abruptly :-“Gentlemen, the society of comedians are about to take the same steps against me that they have already taken against M. Talma. It is false that M. Talma has betrayed the society; all his crime consists in having told the public, that he could play Charles the Ninth.” Upon this a fresh tumult arose, the rancour of which, though not the noise, was allayed by Soulleau's rising and imitating the snuffling voice of the then president of the National Assembly, crying à l'ordre, and ringing an immense bell.* Divided in respect between the old authorities of the monarchy and the new ones of the revolution, some of the comedians had recourse to the gentlemen of the chamber, and others to the mayor of Paris. The mayor with difficulty allayed the tumult, and an arrêt du conseil was next day issued and placarded, enjoining Messieurs of the Comédie Française to continue their performances in company with M. Talma. They flatly refused to yield, and the magistrates shut up the theatre altogether, until they at length thought proper to submit. Talma appeared again in Charles the Ninth on the 28th of September. Peace, notwithstanding, was not restored in the green-room; scandalous pamphlets were continually making their appearance. Naudet publicly accused Talma of cowardice, and asserted that he had concealed himself with his fusil in a granary on the day of a popular tumult. The latter allowed having been in the granary on the day mentioned, but said that he had merely ascended, that he might there have a better view of the tumult. We here take leave of the French green-room and Talma for a while, merely mentioning, that as that actor laid the foundation of his fame in Charles the Ninth, he "put the seal to it" (as the French critics observe) in the Othello of Ducis.

The following letter, addressed by Chénier to one of the journals at this period, in which England is popularly quoted as a precedent, forms a curious contrast with the national sentiment at present:~"I was not myself,” says he, “present at the scenes which took place a few days since at the theatre, but I have since conversed with many Englishmen who had the misfortune to be witnesses of them, and who were not a little scandalized on the occasion. If the public call for an actor whom they have not seen a long time, the other comedians who are hostile to this actor, engage their creatures to cry NO:-so far there is nothing extraordinary. The comedians dare to accuse this actor before the public with a seriousness that but augments the ridicule of the whole affair :-nor is this very astonishing. A comedian, bound by ties of friendship with the one proscribed, comes forward to defend him with a zeal, at least laudable--this too is natural. But here is the absurdity :—the comedians are permitted to answer the public, and the public, who pays, is not permitted to answer the comedians. This is what strangers cannot conceive : they affirm, that at London, it is not the public which owes respect and obedience to the performers, but the performers to the public. They also observe, that soldiers and fusils are a strange way of maintaining order in the interior of a theatre ; and they speak with derision of the liberty of a people, who allow themselves to be surrounded with armed men in the enjoyment of pleasures which they purchase. They assure me, that even in Spain, which is by no means a free country, they do not degrade brave soldiers to the unworthy employment of constraining the public liberty merely to serve the hatred or caprice of the comedians. And they farther profess themselves assured, and I myself join with them in the conviction, that such a display of authority cannot meet the approbation of citizens such as Messieurs Bailly and Lafayette, &c."


Seignors vn poi mentendez
Ki les gius de esches amez.'

Chess MS. The period of the introduction of Chess into Europe, and particularly England, is, like the origin of the game itself, involved in considerable obscurity: the most probable supposition is, that this scientific pastime was introduced into Europe about the latter end of the 11th century; that England was indebted for her knowledge of it to the communication opened with the East, by means of the crusades; and that it afterwards became generally known on the return of Edward the First from the Holy Land, towards the close of the thirteenth century.*

The early romances make frequent mention of chess, from which a few instances may not be uninteresting.

Among the Lays of Mademoiselle Marie, there is one called 'Eliduc,' in which we find that the king of that part of England round Exeter was extremely fond of chess, and, while playing a game with a foreign knight, explained to him the moves of the various pieces. In the romance of · Ferumbras,' Sir Lukafere of Baldas enters into conversation with Duke Naymes, and after many inquiries respecting the court of Charlemagne, asks what the amusements of the knights are during the intervals between one meal and another, the latter replies

“Sir, some men just with spear and shield,

And some men carol and sing good songs,
Some shoot with dartes in the field,

And some playen ut chess among." In · Richard Cæur de Lion, this monarch is engaged at a game of chess in his galley with the Earl of Richmond, when he received important intelligence from the steward of the Emperor of Cyprus.- In the very ancient romance of the Seven Wise Musters,' a jealous Earl is occupied at chess with one of his vassals, while a Knight of Hungary is paying his court to the nobleman's young and beautiful wife, whom he subsequently succeeds in extricating from a strong and lofty tower, in which she had been incarcerated by her husband. In the beautiful romance of Florence and Blaunche Floure,' the hero procures access to the haram of the Soldan of Babylon, where his mistress is confined, by permitting the porter to win from him at chess, a sacrifice of which every amateur of the game will fully understand the value: and a similar

* The learned author (Hon. Daines Barrington) of a Paper on Chess, inserted in the 9th volume of the Archæologia, supposes that this game was unknown in England until the return of Edward the First; but Robert of Gloucester, who composed his Chronicle between the years 1265 and 1278, would undoubtedly not have committed so great an anachronism, as to make the knights of King Arthur's court amuse themselves at chess, if tbis game had been then unknown, or had only been introduced into the kingdom so short a period before the compilation of his Chronicle. His words are

Sone after þýs noble mete, as rýzt was of such týde,
þe kyngtes atýled a hem aboute in eche sýde,
In feldes and in medýs to preue b her bachelerye.c
Somme wýb lance, some wýþ suerd, wy boute vylenje,
Wýþ pleyýnge at tables, oper atte chekere,

Wýþ castýnge oper wyssetýnge, d oper in som czyrt e manere. a accoutred.

courage, youth.

shooting. e other.

b their.

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stratagem was practised by Huon de Bourdeaux, in Egypt.-In The Life of Ipomydon, the festivities that attended the solemnization of the nuptials of Ipomydon and the Princess of Calabria were very splendid:

“ On the morrow, when it was day,
They busked them, as I you say,
Toward the church, with game and glee,
To make that great solempnitè.

The arch-bishop of that land
Wedded them, I understand.
When it was done, as I you say,
Home they went without delay.
By that they come to the castel,
Their meat was ready every deal.
Trumpes to meat gan blow tho,
Claryons and other minstrels mo.
Tho they washed and went to meat,
And every lord took his seat.
When they were set, all the rout,
Minstrels blew them all about,
Till they were served with pride
Of the first course that tide.
The service was of great array,
That they were served with that day.
Thus they ate, and made them glad,
With such service as they had.
When they had dined, as l you say,
Lordis and ladies yede to play;
Some to tables, and some lo chess,

With other games, more and less." In the romance of Ogier le Danois,' Churlot, the degenerate son of Charlemagne, incensed at losing two games to the young Baldwin, kills him with the massive chess-board : and the same fatal accident occurs in the romance of Guy of Warwick,' where Fabour, being invited by the Prince of Persia to play at chess, has the imprudence to give checkmate to the haughty son of the Soudan, who, offended by his presumption, wounds him on the head with the chess-board, which Fabour seizing in his turn, with one blow lays the prince dead at his feet. In the romance of Sir Tristrem, our hero is skilled in minstrelsy, in the mysteries of the chase, and in all knightly games; and hearing that the captain of a Norwegian vessel, freighted with hawks and treasure, had challenged any one to play at chess, for a stake of twenty shillings, he goes on board with Rohand and his sons, accepts the challenge, and wins from him six hawks and one hundred pounds, and the captain, to avoid paying what he had lost, puts to sea with Tristrem; the vessel being overtaken with a tempest, the mariners impute it to the injustice they have been guilty of, and under this impression pay Sir Tristrem his winnings, and put him on shore in an unknown country:XXVIII.

On his playing he wold Ther com a schip of Norway Twentie schilling to lay, To Sir Rohantes hold,

Sir Rohant him told,
With haukes white and grey,

And taught :
And panes a fair y fold : 6

For hauke silver he yold;c
Tristrem herd it say,

The fairest men him raught.d a Pennies, by implication weullh: thus, * As prince proud in pan' means as wealthy as a prince. b Manyfold. c Yielded, or gave.

Reached, gave.

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