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Bonaparte's Talents in Finance. — Garrick and the Madman.
Palace of the Conservative Senate. — Process of transferring Oil Paintings from Wood to Canvas. — The Dinner Knife. — Commodities. – Hall of the National Convention. — The Minister Talleyrand's Levee.
THE first consul is said to 'add to his other extraordinary powers, an acute and comprehensive knowledge of finance. Monsieurs— informed me, that whenever he waited upon him in his official capacity, with the national accounts, he displayed an acquaintance with the most complicated statements, which seemed intuitive.
He exhibits the same talents in philosophy, and in matters which are foreign to those vast objects of public employ, which have raised him to his present height of glory, and which in general preclude the subordinate enjoyment of elegant study.
Those acquirements, which providence in its wisdom has thinly scattered amongst mankind, and which seldom ripen to full maturity, although cherished by the most propitious advantages, and by the unreposing labours of a long, and blissful existence, spread their rich abundance, in the May morning of life, before this extraordinary being, who in the commencement of that very revolution, upon the ruins of which he has stepped to supreme authority, was a beardless stripling.
GARRICK AND THE MADMAN.
From the great performers upon the public stage of life, our conversation, one evening, at Madame S— 's, by a natural transition, embraced a review of the wonderful talents, which have at various times adorned the lesser drama of the theatre. Madame S- made some judicious remarks upon the french players of distinction, to all of whom she imputed a manner, and enunciation which have been imbibed in a school, in which nature has not been permitted to preside. Their tragedy, she said, was inflated with too much pomp, and their elegant comedy suffered by too volatile an airiness. She bestowed upon our immortal Garrick, the most decided preference, and superiority to any actor whom she had ever seen. The opportunity which she had of judging of his powers, was short, and singular, but fully enabled her to form a decisive opinion. When Garrick visited Paris for the last time, she was just married. This celebrated actor had letters of introduction to Monsieur SAt a large party, which Monsieur S- formed for the purpose of doing honour to his distinguished visitor, he exhibited several specimens of his unrivalled talents. Amongst others, he represented in dumb show, by the wonderful powers of his expressive countenance, the feelings of a father, who in looking over a lofty balcony with his only child in his arms, by accident dropped it. The disaster drove the unhappy parent mad. Garrick had visited him in his cell; where the miserable maniac was accustomed, several times in the course of the day, to exhibit all those looks
GARRICK AND THE MADMAN.
CHAP. and attitudes which he had displayed at the balcony*. On a
sudden he would bend himself forward, as if looking from a window into the street, with his arms folded as if they embraced a child, then he would start back, and appear as if he had lost something, search the room round and round, run again forward, as to the railing of a window, look down, and beat his forehead, as if he had beheld his infant bleeding, and breathless upon the pavement. Garrick's imitation was exquisite. The feelings of his beholders were wrought up to horror. The tears, and consternation of a gay fashionable french party, were applauses more flattering to the british Roscius, than the thunder of that acclamation, which, in the crowded theatre, followed the flash of his fiery eye, or the close of his appalling speech.
The english drama, however, has not escaped the animadversions of a french critic, whose taste and liberality are not very congenial with those of my charming, and generous friend. “ Their tragedies,” he says, (speaking of the english) “it is true, though interesting, and replete with “ beauties, are nevertheless dramatic monsters, half butchery, “ and half farce. Grotesque characters, and extravagant plea“ santry constitute the chief part of their comedies. In one “ of them, (not named) the devil enters sneezing, and “ somebody says to the devil, God bless you. They are not, “ however, all of this stamp. They have even some in very “ good taste.”
* The cause which induced Garrick to visit this unhappy person was, it is said, to render the representation of his King Lear more perfect.
ENGLISH DRAMA. - BASTILLE.
Yes, Monsicur Dourx, I agree with you, I think we have some in very good taste. I know not in what dramatic work the facetious frenchman has discovered the introduction of his satanic majesty under the influence of a cold, and receiving, as he enters, the usual deprecation on such occasions. I rather suspect that the adventures of Punch, and his fickle lady, who are always attended by a dancing demon, have afforded the materials for this sapient observation.
In the course of one of my morning rambles in Paris, I visited the ruins of the celebrated Bastille, of which prison, only the arsenal, some fragments of its massy walls, and two or three dungeons remain. The volcanic vengeance of the people, has swept away this mighty fabric, which the revolting mind of republican liberty denounced as the frightful den of despotism, upon the approach to which no marks of returning footsteps were imprinted, whilst, in her mad career, she converted every private dwelling in the metropolis into a revolutionary prison: So much for popular consistency !
In the mutations of time, to what different purposes are the same places applied ! Where the consuming martyr expired*, the unwieldy prize hog is exposed to sale; and the modern parisian derives the sources of warmth and comfort, from a place, the very name of which, once chilled the circulation of his blood. The site of the Bastille is now a magazine of wood, which supplies the city with fuel.
Every lover of pure liberty must leap with delight upon the disincumbered earth, where once stood that gloomy abode of “ broken hearts,” and reflect upon the sufferings of the wretched Latude, and the various victims of capricious pique, or prostitute resentment. It was here that, in the beautiful lines of Cowper, the hopeless prisoner was doomed
« To fly for refuge from distracting thought
The cells of the Bastille were constantly filled, during the syren reign of la Pompadour over the gloomy affections of Lewis the XVth. .
The overthrow of this dungeon has not rendered state prisons out of fashion in the republic, although it has mitigated the severity of their internal government. The towers of the Temple, look down upon the prostrate ruins of the Bastille.
From this memorable spot of ground, I went to the Observatory. In the rooms, which open upon an artificial ter