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These altitudes, it will be noticed, are very inferior to those of Mr. Colebrooke. One observation more and we have done. The first nameless mountain of Mr. Colebrooke's list was calculated by Lieutenant Webb at 21,000 feet above the plains of Rohilkhund, or 21,500 above the level of the sea, “from a mean of numerous altitudes, taken at different times of the day, with an excellent instrument, its distance being previously ascertained by observation, from the well deternined extremities of a sufficient base.'* We now find it stretched out to 22,769, and all the others seem to have grown in the same proportion. On every consideration, therefore, we conceive that we are borne out in concluding, that the height of the Himalaya mountains has not yet been determined with sufficient accuracy, to assert their superiority over the Cordilleras of the Andes.

Art. VI. Les Théâtres. Par un Amateur. Paris. 1917. 8vo.

pp. 284.

THE influence of the stage upon the morals and manners of a

people is now so generally admitted, that we shall not be guilty either of the common-place of enforcing it, or of the temerity of denying it. We are inclined to believe, however, (as we lately took occasion to observe,) that this influence, as far as it regards England, is a little over-rated—we doubt that the Beggars' Opera ever made an additional highwayman, or that Gay was entitled even to Mr. Courtney’st lively praise of being the Orpheus of highwaymen.

We readily admit however the policy of the act of the 10th Geo. II. c. 28. for licensing plays and play-houses; the very nature of the stage justifies this restriction on the general liberty, subject only to our ulterior responsibility, of speaking and writing what we please. Mischief once promulgated on the stage is irremediable-it is addressed to thousands, who ou many accounts are peculiarly liable to receive strong and sudden impressions; it is enforced upon them by all the magic of theatrical illusion, by the splendour of poetry, or by the vigour of eloquence; and a libel might be promulgated, a riot created, and characters and lives lost before even a constable at the door could interfere.

If, then, in this sober country, which has been so long accustomed to enjoy its freedom with moderation, it be thought necessary(and we never have heard, since the passing of the licensing act, a contrary opinion)—to have some previous restriction, we cannot be

• Mr. Colebrooke's Essays on the Source of the Ganges, vol. xi. + Buswell's Life of Jobuson, vol. ii. p. 374.

surprized surprized that the principle should be carried still farther with respect to our volatile and enthusiastic neighbours. In addition to their natural susceptibility, there are many other causes which contribute to the effect theatrical pieces have on a French audience; --the chief of these is, that, for a long series of years, the French public had no other subject or place on which or in which they could express an opinion. It was so before the Revolution it was so to a greater degree during the reigns of terror both of Maximilian and of Napoleon. Those who are acquainted with French literature are aware that the proudest title of M. Laya, who has been lately elected to the French Academy, and whose election has so much offended all the ultra-liberals, was, that in the wildest fury of the Revolution, he had the courage to bring out a piece called L'Ami des Loix, which the audience had the good feeling to applaud ;-he escaped the guillotine only by flight and concealment; and he still receives the punishment of his offence-or, as he, we presume, considers it, the reward of his virtues---in the defeated rivalry of M. Benjamin Constant, and the malignity of the united factions of Robespierre and Buonaparte.

In the latter years of the jacobin emperor, the theatres were as much under bis own controul as the senate and legislative body. Nothing indeed seems more surprizing than that the spirit of literary discussion-which the imposing splendour of Louis XIV. could not restrain, which the lettres de cachet of Louis XV. could not intimidate, which the indulgence and liberality of Louis XVI. permitted to grow to extravagance, which Robespierre could not quite destroy, and which the Directory could not quite enslave-the tremendous terror of Buonaparte's government should for a time extinguish. Always slavish in polities, and timidly subservient to the reigning powers, it was then, for the first time, that the audience of a French theatre were terrified into complete literary as well as political subjection. This extraordinary rigour could not last long; it fell together with the great empire, and the theatres of France are once more the scenes, not merely of critical disputes, but of much of that kind of spirit, which, in England, vents itself in Palace-yard meetings, elections, and tavern dinners.

Among such a people it is not surprizing that the regulations of the stage should be a matter of police; but with all our experience on this subject, we confess we were not prepared to find the theatre of France reduced to a system of such official organization and dependence upon the government, as we find iu the work which we are about to examine.

The book itself consists of about twenty or thirty pages of introductory matter, loose, affected, and sometimes unintelligible --criticising defects iu so silly a style that they can meet uo aiten

tion, and suggesting improvements so very extravagant that they deserve none. The rest of the volume, above two hundred

pages, is occupied with a kind of Statistical Account of the Stage of France, and we believe we may venture to say that-neither of the army, the navy, the church, nor the court; neither of the arts, sciences, agriculture, nor manufactures; neither of the internal nor external policy of the kingdom of France, does there exist so full, so exact, and so organized, an account as this of the play-houses-a curious proof of the genius of the people.

The number of theatres in Paris prior to the revolution was seven; and on these were exhibited-during the early days of that disastrous period—every inflammatory species of representation : the actors, like the authors, were touched by the revolutionary mania ; and costumes à la Grecque, and coëffures à la Romaine, and wigs and daggers à la Brutus, effectually turned their heads, and -natio comada est—the whole people, stage-players and all, set about performing a grand republican farce, which, in a few months, degenerated into the most dreadful tragedy that ever stained the annals of the world.

Of course, one of the first bridles which they were impatient to throw off was that which restrained the stage. By a decree of the 19th January, 1791, any person who pleased might open a theatre, subject to no other conditions than that of giving notice of his intention to the local authorities, and observing the few directions which the municipal officers were empowered to give. This, as might be expected, soon produced if not overflowing houses, at least an overflowing of houses; and thirty theatres were frequently opened in Paris on the same evening. We need not point out to our readers the tremendous effects which so many cheap places of resort for the idle, the profligate, and the violent must have bad, at a time when all old principles were unsettled, and all old institutions tottering—when all professions were neglected, and almost all trades at a stand. This state of extreme intoxication and madness continued longer than could have been expected; for, in 1794, we find, by a decree of the Convention, that there were still twenty theatres of sufficient consequence to be entiųed to receive from the public treasure, the price of four gratuitous representations; and nothing can more clearly shew the absurd importance and inflated style in which it was the fashion to treat theatrical affairs, than a decree of the National Assembly of the 18th October in that


which enactsArt. 1. The theatrical year shall henceforward be reckoned with the

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civil year.

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• Art. 2. The Committees of Public Instruction and Finance shall unite together, and propose a scheme for the number, salaries, discipline, &c. of the actors, &c.' VOL. XVII, NO. XXXIV.



To the first of these grave articles is subjoined a still graver note, to apprize the world that though thus extensive in its terms, the articles, in fact, only applied to the Opera, for that in the rest of France the theatrical year was to begin as heretofore! At the moment when this admirable regulation was making, his serene highness the prince archi-chancellor of the empire, Duke of Parma, Peter Cambacérès, one of the constellation of great men whom the restoration has obscured, was president of the National Convention. We mention it to the honoar of fallen greatness.

In November, 1796, a decree was passed, (and has ever since continued in force,) which enacts that a décime on every franc of the price of entrance at all places of public amusement should be collected for the use of the poor—that is, one penny out of every ten.

It is somewhat curious to find this very tax proposed to Mr. Secretary Walsingham, in 1586, by some zealous person, as a trifling compensation for the immorality of stage plays. If this mischief must be tolerated, let every stage in London pay a weekly pension to the poor ; that ex hoc malo proveniat aliquod bonum : but it is rather to be wished that players might be used, as Apollo did his laughing-semel in amo.' Extrenies meet; and a profligate French government acted on the principle of an over-rigliteous English puritan.

The following extract of the table of the produce of this duty for the last six years, in which so many extraordinary events have occurred, will serve, as a kind of moral thermometer, to shew to how little vicissitude of feeling the public mind of France is subject--and with what regularity the course of amusement has gone on during the Austrian campaign, the retreat of Mosco, the invasion of France, the overthrow of the empire, the capture of the capital, and the establishment and re-establishment of the king.

1815 1816 Theatres

396940 408017 446551 449038 432635 Fetes Publiques

10887 Bals

6018 Concerts

597 Soiries Amusantes

4.40 Panoramas

2311 Petits Spectacles

8618 Curiosités





fr. 421381



9280 5:50 1994 2589 2387 2741 6397

54 13




Total fr. 455,393 157,503 438,855 485,137 491,826 497,563 From this account, it appears that the year which immediately followed the heaviest calamity that ever befel a nation, the Russian retreat, witnessed but little diminution in the quantity of public ainusement and gaiety in France,—the immense influx of strangers in the vears 1814 and 1815, made up, we presume, for the absence


of the French; but the superiority of the last year over all the for-
mer, can only be attributed to the return of the nation to their na-
tural and peaceful enjoyments: and we are glad to observe that in
those species of amusements which more especially belong to the
people themselves, such as the Bals, Soirées Amusantes and Petits
Spectacles, there is a considerable increase beyond any former
In 1807, no less than twenty-three theatres existed in Paris,
The Opéra,

Théâtre Français,

La Cité,

Le Théâtre Mareux,

Le Théâtre des Muses,

Le Marais,

Les Jeunes Elèves,

Les Jeunes Artistes,
Porte St. Martin,

Les Troubadours,

Les Jeunes Comédiens,

Le Cirque Olympique,
La Gaieté,

Théâtre Sans Prétentions.
Les Variétés,
An imperial decree, however, of August 1807, reduced this list te
the following:




La Gaieté, to which were afterwards added, the theatre of the Porte St. Martin and Franconi's Cirque Olympique, and latterly, by the king, the Italian theatre called Favart; so that there are, at present, eleven theatres in Paris, which, with the exception of the Opéra, Odéon* and Favart, are open every night, and more particularly, that is, with greater affluence of company, on Sundays: besides which, there are, we learn from this work, sixty-three shows, spectacles, panoramas or exhibitions. These are of all kinds and at all prices. M. Bauthin, of the Palais-Royal, does not attempt to deceive you by pompous pretensions-he simply offers, in two words, to gratify two tastes at once, and advertises caffé et sauvage. M. Roussel, of the Rue des Boucheries, equally laconic but less precise, invites you generally to see Phenomena; and while several others offer to show a crocodile, or the Simplon, or a vaisseau ambulant, M. Prevost, on the Boulevard du Temple, saves you an infinity of trouble by opening, at one view, the panorama of the whole universe. This, to our surprize, is the only panorama mentioned by our autbor, as now

• We believe that latterly the Odéon plays every night.

GG 2


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