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His Majesty was pleased to give up a room
in his own palacethe great hall of Malines,
that isto the uses of the opera! Here, was
more of that queer jumble and meeting of
extremes, always attendant on the eve of a
crisis. Conceive the Paris public crowding
in, and paying down their money at the
palace doorten francs for the best places
straying loose in the gilded corridors and
ancient chambers of that noble palace!
Conceive, too, the ten prima donnas, the six
tenors, and the six basses; the chorus, the
orchestra, the five leadind danseuses, with
their band of five and thirty coryphées, all
running loose and at free quarters in the
Palace of Kings! Here was a glaring
contradiction! The king so hedged up and fenced
about with stateafar off at Versaillesand
then of a sudden this rough familiarity, this
rubbing of skirts with singers and dancers!

Room was also found in the palace for
another entertainment know as the Concert
Spirituel; and on Good Fridays, Christmas
eves, and such occasions when the theatres
were closed, the orchestra, chorus, and leading
voices of the royal opera, migrated to the
Hall of the Hundred Swiss, and gave Te
Deum and Miserere! She who had been
raving about the stage only the night before as
Armida, now gave out with holy compassion
and fervour, the sacred strain of Palestina.

The parterre of the theatre was usually in
possesion of some half a regiment of
Fusiliers. These gentlemen looked well to the
right and to the left; and on any undue
marks of disapprobation the offender was
marched off under escort. Such dramatic
tyranny was submitted to, not without deep
but suppressed mutterings. But there was
other use for our French militaires: the
noble Louis Antoine de Goutant, Duc de
Biron, Marshal of France, Chevalier of all
the Orders, St. Esprit, St. Louis, and the rest
of themthis noble gentleman, allowed his
regiment, the French Guards, to assist at the
opera spectacles, filling the stage handsomely
as "the Army;" but he insisted on their giving
up to him the small drink-money they
recieved for their nights work. Be sure
they were those very French Guard
that flung down their arms at the people's
first invitation! Worthy regiment of a
worthy colonel! Was he one of Mr. Burke's
pet cavaliers, whose sword was to have leaped
from its scabbard when the trial came?

The profane wits of the day, christened
Vespers and Evening OfficeThe Beggars'
Opera! The singing was so fine, and seats
were to be had for sixpence. Which brings
to mind a certain English place of worship,
that used to be known in old times as the
Shilling Opera.

There must have been a queer scene every
night at the breaking up of the opera. There
is a perfect mob of linkboys and men to call
carriages, all comic fellows by profession.
They deafen the air with cries for my Lord
Duke's carriage, for my Lord Marquis's
vehicle! They are always ripe for a bit of
drollery. If a poor Gascon, fresh from the
country, and with a queer cut about the
shape of his garments, should be trying to
slip away home quietly, the wags lower their
torches to light up his thin ungainly limbs,
and whisper hoarsely to him: "Does my
lord wish his coach called? What is my
lord's coachman's name?" You must fee
them handsomely; otherwise, be he duke or
marshal, our opera-goer will have to stand
upon the steps, all night perhaps, waiting
vainly for his equipage.

They were very fond of private theatricals
at this time, and especially of the pleasant
little pieces poor M. de Musset had a
knack in fitting together. At Chantilly, the
Prince of Condé and Duchess of Bourbon
performed with signal grace and success: and
the Duke of Orleans would walk through a
part fairly enough. How ill must that
inflamed blotched countenance of his have
looked by the glare of the footlights! The
Queen Marie Antoinette had entertainments
of her ownnot in that charming Versailles
theatrebut in her own "small suite" as
they called it. With what dignity she would
have played her part, it need not be suggested;
here is Mr. Burke's delicate cabinet picture
of her still to be seen, poor soul! That play
acting and descamptivos brought her no
good. Yet it would have been a treat to
have had a seat in a front stall and looked,
on one of those Versailles nights, at the
queen and noble lords and ladies enacting a
petite comédie. What grace, what elegance,
what ease, now that the finest ladies and
gentlemen in the world were upon the
boards! Poor, poor souls! They were to play
upon another stage presently!

Now have been run through lightly, the
chief points of that strange harlequinade.
And what a queer picture it makes! All to
be soon blown up sky-high, or buried in the
lava! But they fiddled on to the last, busy
with their dancing, and music, and opera,
and even their bull-fights at Barrier. For
these fine clement Bourbons had their bull-
fights, though, not so long since, they turned
capital out of certain doings at half-Spanish
Bayonne. For all which short comings they
have surely paid heavy reckoning!

Here then we will leave this fascinating
subject; and so close this short series of
papers all to the one tune.*
* Vide The French War Office in Seventeen Hundred
and Eighty-five; Bourbon Paris Photographed; A Royal
Pilot Balloon; The Eve of a Revolution (first paper).


IT is as Mr. Brown of the Stock Exchange
that I am now addressing the public. I had
occasion, some few months back, to go to my
bankers in Saint James's Street to draw the