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of Englishmen from becoming subscribers; sults. Jules Janin, who writes everywhere for although it does not effect the articles and on everything, on what he does as well of science, yet these alone escape its influ- as on what he does not understand, is hardence; history, literature, and philosophy, ly the sort of writer one would most trust in have a Catholic coloring which is not ac- the pages of a Cyclopædia. One would ceptable to Protestant readers.
doubt his accuracy and sincerity. One Apart from these considerations, the work would believe nothing on his word. He is on the whole a creditable and useful one could not be quoted as an authority even in Some articles are insufficient, as is the case Grub street; one would as soon believe the with all Cyclopædias: some of them elabo- ' Quarterly Review. In spite of this we rate and worthy of all praise. 'Alienation' pronounce his biographies wonderful. With is excellent; so is 'Accouchement;' so also a keen eye for the salient characteristics, he is ' Abbaye.' Voltaire has no justice award-gives you but few details, and they all tell. ed him. Is M. Philarète Chasles really in- With a rattling, somewhat wordy style, he sensible to the greatness of that astonishing is never dull, never obscure. Reckless writer, or is he merely following the preju- enough as to facts, he is never careless as to dices of the party to which he belongs ? effect. You may detect him in a hundred The article 'Sublime' is contemptible, blunders without disturbiug his effect one being a few illustrations, without the least single iota. He does not care for dates philosophical inquiry. The article 'Art,' and literal facts; he cares only for results. by Buchez, will find great favor in the eyes The life of Lesage has been attempted a of the party he addresses, but in the eyes of hundred times; it has been written only no other mortals.
once, and that once by Jules Janin. ComSome of the biographies appear to us to pare his introductory memoir to the illustrabe very nearly models of Cyclopædia arti- ted edition of 'Le Diable Boiteux,' with cles; brief yet satisfactory. It has been every other memoir, and the graphic force well said that
with which it is executed will call forth Who narrates
your admiration. So also we would ask The stature of a man, his gait, his dress, you to interrogate yourself as to what sort The color of his hair, what meats he loved, of an idea you have of the author of 'Le Where he abode, what haunts he frequented, Barbier de Seville ? Then read Janin's His place and time of birth, bis age at death, And how much crape and cambric mourned his account of Beaumarchais : end
“Of all the fame, nay more, of all the Writes a biography! But who records
noise which this man once made, what now The yearnings of the heart, its joys, its pangs, remains ? nothing but some long, licentious, Its alternating apathy and hope, Its stores of memory which the richer grow
withered comedies, which are now painful The longer they are hived, its faith that stands
to behold; like vice when it has grown old Upon the grave, and counts it as a beach
ed, with no other refuge than the Whence souls embark for home, its prayers for truckle bed of an hospital. That Beau
marchais who wore out his life in overIts trust in heaven, despite of man-writes fiction ! Get a new Lexicon.".
throwing authority, and overthrew it indeed
because in his time it hung upon a breath; And who that has ever toiled through the what has this revolution profited him ? dull monotony of facts which most writers Alone amongst the revolutionists of the deem biography, can help being struck with eighteenth century, Voltaire still lives and the graphic impression conveyed by the reigns; he is the master, the chief of that Beaumarchais of Jules Janin in this Cyclo- rebellion of wits whose names have been pædia ? We do not say that it is unexcep-absorbed in his fame. The most famous tionable; we do not fancy that it could not satellites who aided him to make a name, have been still further improved by the rig- have hardly any share in his glory; they orous statement of all facts and dates ; but have all fallen into obscurity, Beaumarchais we ask, is not the image of the man clear- as well as the rest. Beaumarchais is now ly presented ? In those seemingly careless only represented by an old woman, once lines there is more matter than in pages of the Countess Almaviva, by a cunning and ponderous dullness priding itself on facts. ill-bred servant named Susanna, and by a İnstead of facts he gives you a distinct im- fat, grisly, wrinkled old man called Figaro, pression ; in the place of dates he gives re- a bad go-between without credit, living
"Gerald and other Poems.' By J. W. Mars- from hand to mouth by selling old clothes. ton, Esq.
Such is the intellectual, philosophical, and
moral lumber of a man who overturned as sed his door against Beaumarchais. Beaumany things as Voltaire, and who perhaps marchais persevered; he sent the councillor made more noise than Voltaire, that is to a gold watch, set with brilliants, and a say, made a great deal too much.
hundred and fifteen louis. At this price, “ Beaumarchais was born at Paris in the Goezman listened to the pleader, but when year 1732; he died in the year 1799. He the day arrived, Goezman gave judgment thus traversed all that troubled portion of against Beaumarchais, who then rememthe 18th century, of which he was one of bered the line from the Plaideurs : “ Mais the coryphees. He witnessed the birth, rendez donc l'argent !' And effectively growth, and extinction of the French re- the watch, the brilliants, and a hundred volution, and escaped its dangers by a louis were returned to him. Beaumarchais miracle, and the remains of that good for-claimed the fifteen louis which still retune which attended him through life.- mained due. The councillor Goezman, Beaumarchais was a child of chance; bis instead of returning the money, prosecueducation was chance, his life was all ted Beaumarchais for libel. Beaumarchais chance, so were his wit, his talent, and his defended himself valiantly. He instantly style. What he says of his Figaro might set to work, and with inexhaustible humor be said of himself, Enfant trouvé ! En-recited all his adventures with M. and Madfant perdu, docteur !' And doubtless, had ame Goezman, namely, three useless visits heaven so willed it, Beaumarchais would on Friday, the 2nd of April: one usesul have been the son of a prince. Unfortu- one the next day, the 3rd of April, thanks nately heaven did not will it.
to Madame Goezman; on the 4th of April “Before he became a comic poet he com- an audience promised but not granted ; on menced, like Figaro, by being a musician. the 5th of April, the day of the report, an He gave music lessons to Mesdames, the audience granted by the wife, refused by daughters of Louis XV., virtuous princess- the husband, and a hundred louis placed in es who, without sufficient foresight, grant- her hands, a watch set with brilliants, and ed their all-powerful protection to this cle- fifteen louis which Madame Goezman not ver intriguer ; Beaumarchais taught them choosing to return, Beaumarchais is threatthe guitar, Figaro's instrument. And thus ened with M. de Sartines and M. de la the musician became a courtier ; the cour- Vrillière ; and Geezman like a fool Jaying tier soon became litigious; the litigious his complaint in the hands of the presiman ushered in the comic poet; the comic dent, the procureur-géneral is commissionpoet preceeded the sellers of guns to the ed to inquire ; and the sieur Baculard-ArAmerican insurgents. He did every thing, naud, lying, accuses the sieur Beaumarhe used every thing, he was by turns rich, chais. And thus Beaumarchais goes on poor, glorious, proscribed, carried in tri- confiding all to the public, and it may be umph, shut up in Saint Lazare, glorified, imagined how much this amused the specand treated like a bandit by M. Bergasse, tators, and what pleasure they took in seewho was an honest man. All his life is ing the parlement Maupeou treated in this contained in his 'Mémoires Judiciaires ; fashion. All around Beaumarchais aphe there shows himself not without art, but plauded him ; his irony and anger were without paint, such as he saw himself, a excited ; Goezman and his wife were deJittle handsomer, perhaps, than he really voted to the infernal regions; the corrupt was. In these memoirs are to be found judge was everywhere pointed at: all that the most creative and remorseless “There was a chapter in these memoirs fancy can say of any one, on the spur of the entitled “Confrontation de moi à Madame moment. This affair which occupied all Goezman,' which was a real comedy, in Europe, was originally a bagatelle. Beau- which you saw Beaumarchais and Madame marchais, who had worked with Paris Du- Goezman move, and heard them talk. But verney, found himself in Paris Duverney's the public feared that it would end too soon; debt at the death of the latter. The heirs the public might certainly have trusted claimed 150,000 francs of Beaumarchais; Beaumarchais for making the most of Beaumarchais, on his side, claimed 15,000. scandal. The unfortunate fifteen louis Whilst the cause was pending, Beau- were never allowed to drop. They were marchais, like Figaro, endeavored to the watchword in this great battle. And see his judges : ' A-t-il-vu mon secrètaire, when he had replied to the wife, he began ce ton-on gar-arcon la ?' One of the to reply to the husband; he heaped phycouncillors of the parlement Maupeou clo-sical on moral proofs, and thus dragged the
OCTOBER, 1844. 18
parlement Maupeou through the mud. jesting on every thing sacred; only when he And when nothing more could be made placed himself on the stage, he no longer out of the male and female Goezman, he called himself Beaumarchais but Figaro. allowed the parlement to pass sentence, “ Once his name altered, he struts about and by that sentence the parlement Mau- the stage with as much freedom and impupeou again injured itself, for it gave the dence as if he ran no risk of being recog. right to neither party. But the public had nized. He first shows us Figaro, like long judged the cause in Beaumarchais's Beaumarchais, the child of his own works, favor. The cause was heard and won; a poet, a musician, playing the guitar, livtown and court sided with Beaumarchais ; ing from hand to mouth, laughing at the the Prince de Conti himself, who was ex- great man who pays him, practising all tremely jealous of his prerogative as prince irades, even the least honorable ones, for a of the blood, invited him to dinner; he called living, flattering aloud the nobles whom he Beaumarchais a great citizen, a new expres- secretly maligns, a leader of intrigues, a sion which was a whole revolution in itself
. chatterer, necessitous, clever, always on his “This lawsuit gave Beaumarchais a love guard against first impulses, for the sole of lawsuits. He was already accustomed reason that first impulses are almost always to them, his style also; success had render- good ; such is this newly-invented hero ed him quarrelsome. He therefore consid- In order to make him more presentable ered himself very fortunate when his sec- and attractive, Beaumarchais gives Fiond lawsuit commenced against M. Ber- garo the handsomest dress of all Spain. gasse the advocate, who prosecuted him in The Barbier de Seville is but the first act the name of the sanctity of the marriage of this long story. Be patient! You will state ; Beaumarchais was accused of hav- soon see all the persons whose amours, pasing aided in the seduction of Madame sions, hatreds, fears, ambitions, and hopes
, Kornmann. This time the accuser was Beaumarchais presents to you, busy in an not a Goezman, but an upright and honest endless drama, complicated by the strangest lawyer, belonging to that courageous young details. bar which already foreboded the French “The 'Mariage de Figaro' is therefore revolution ; one of those lauryers whom the second chapter of the immortal story, Fabre d'Eglantine has so spiritedly and suc- of which the sieur Beaumarchais is the cessfully drawn in the Philinte : 'Go, fetch hero. What a chapter ! what a long and me a lawyer.' Moreover, since the Goez-incredible philippic against the whole of man affair, France laughed less, France at society! what a jesting leveller is Figaro! last understood she was marching to her hat wonderful audacity was required, erruin, and then Beaumarchais had to plead er to imagine that such a play should be with a stronger antagonist, and more than publicly represented under a monarchy once the man of wit was crushed by the which remenubered Lcuis XIV. and King emphatic eloquence of the adverse barris-Louis XV. And what perseverance and ter. Beaumarchais no longer had so many will of iron necessary to get such a piece laughers on his side.
performed under a king who was an honest “He then threw himself into comedy man, to whom excesses of all kinds caused with renewed vigor. He possessed all the as much repugnance as terror. King Louqualities which make, not a comic poet, is XVI., to whom the piece had been read, but an inventor of scenes, acts, dialogues, expressed himself frankly on the subject and imbroglios; his was a bantering imag- Be certain,' said he, ‘that this piece
will ination caring little for truth. Ile would never be played! This man sneers at er. willingly have exchanged all dramatic im- ery thing. To be consistent, the Bastile probabilities for a bon mot ; he had a con- should be pulled down, if such a comedy fused notion that his comedy had not long were publicly acted.' Louis XVI. was not to live, and therefore wrote it in haste. To aware of the truth of what he said. He commence and finish his dramatic career was a weak and respectable man, who fore(we do not reckon his melodrama of saw evils, but knew not how to prevent
Les deux Amis') he had the assistance of them. The king was borne down by the one person, which was himself; he repre-exacting and witty body of nobles, who sented himself such as he was; daring to thought themselves invulnerable, and who insolence, witty to shamelessness, skeptical did not choose to appear to fear dangerous to impiety, despising the world and de-writings, like the common people. More spising himself more than any thing in it, lover, after having at first authorized the
performance of the ‘Mariage,' the king thus. All French society clapping its withdrew the permission he had granted; hands to encourage the comic poet, who to which Beaumarchais replied that he dragged it through dirt, shame, infamy, and would have his piece performed in the insult. All the authorities of society are choir of Notre Dame. And Beaumarchais compromised in this fatal drama. First aphimself was not aware how truly he spoke. pears a priest, mixed up with all this unAt last, in spite of the king, in spite of all cleanliness, flattering, cringing, a trader in the right-minded men in France, at least love, and sneered at. The nobleman is the of all those who knew or could foresee the laughing-stock of his servant, himself ridifuture, the piece was played with a scan- culing law, justice, morals, and marriage, dalous success, which has no equal in the ridiculing himself and every one else. annals of the theatre. The day preceding The lady appears on terms of friendship this terrible and solemn one, the Theatre with the servant, who is her rival, burning Français was half filled with people who with a secret flame for a boy of fifteen, an spent the night there. Monsieur, the king's adulteress in her heart before being one with brother, was present at the first performance her body. The judge shows himself corin a public box. The king, however, anx- rupt and a corrupter, a poor foolish creaiously waited for the piece to be played. ture, ignoble in appearance. None are He hoped, he said, that it would be damned. spared in this satire on the world. The A vain hope. As if success did not al- peasant Antonio is drunk ; his niece is a ways attend the demolishers. The piece girl almost ruined by her own folly. Old was lauded to the skies. It was listened Marcelina, who has lost a child, is only to with unanimous delight! 'If there is placed there to make us laugh at the feelany thing madder than my play,' said Beau- ings of maternity. Doctor Bartholo holds marchais, “it is its success. The piece out his cheek to receive the slap aimed at had all the effect of a revolution. Court science. Childhood itself, even childhood, and city flocked to it, and it may be ima- that pure and holy innocence which Juvegined with what delight. Some great la- nal orders should be so respected, is placed dies wished to go in private boxes. Beau- there also to be the victim of immoral pasmarchais replied that his play was not writ- sions. Poor child! his heart is filled with ten for prudes. Prudes, if you please ; bad passions ; he is already made a vicious but Cherubino, half naked at the countess's creature, sighing, and his heart beating for feet, is hardly less immoral, seen from a cvery woman, whoever she may be; Madpublic than a private box. One young man ame Almaviva, Susanna, Fanchette, he wrote to Beaumarchais to ask for å ticket, pursues them all, even old Marcelina. even were he to die afterwards. Yes, it is poor child! they pass him from one to the a strange and incredible thing in the annals other like some frivolous toy. And all of a civilized people, that an entire socie- these vices have been portrayed in the same ty, the patient work of eighteen centuries, drama, solely to amuse the crowd for five the treasure of morals which nations must hours every evening. amass, but which they, alas! amass but “They all came panting, curious, greedy seldom, should be thus remorselessly sacri- to be present at this immoral spectacle. ficed. And sacrificed to what? To a piece of And whilst these imprudent men clapped buffoonery, a scandal, an immoral story of their hands at this debauch of wit, they did love and adultery. Yes, that was all ; on not hear the shaking of the falling throne; one hand, the Mariage de Figaro;' on they did not hear that revolution roaring in the other, the monarchy of Louis XIV. ; the distance; they did not hear the murmurs -on one hand, the wit of Beaumarchais; of the people of '89, who meant to take these on the other, the genius of Bossuet. Oh! members of French society at their word : what would Bossuet have said had he been the people was coming to clutch them in present at such a scene! Oh! what would the midst of this joy, this license, these ecibe stern Cardinal Richelieu have said had stacies, these past vices, and to plunge them he been told that one day, and that at no into what an abyss ! into what despair ! into distant period, the King of France himself what a revolution !" would not, and could not, venture in his This is a striking picture, but an exagown kingdom to prevent the performance geration. Beaumarchais was able to overof a stage play! A strange thing! Oh! turn the monarchy of Louis XIV. and Bosthe wondrous blindness of nations that are suet, only because France would no longer ruining themselves. To ruin themselves submit to the burthen. Beaumarchais was
applauded, because he spoke out the con- above all the wit he has displayed in the victions of the people. Beaumarchais was · Mariage de Figaro ;' it is a pity that there powerful, because he was applauded. is something to blame even in that. There was a point in his satire; there was “Beaumarchais' style, like the rest of wit in his attack on society; but this wit him, is an affair of chance. He writes by would have only raised a passing smile, had chance; but when chance favors him, he not all society been in a state of fermenta ften writes very well. He strains too often tion and ready to applaud any and every ex- after the final dart; but when he has found pression of its hatred to established ideas. it, he shoots against every thing with indeIn the same way Siéyes became powerful, fatigable liveliness. The speech on cal because he first put the question which all umny is a masterpiece of that materialist his contemporaries were endeavoring to style which embodies all things, and dresses bring into shape. What is the tiers-etat ? up a thought like a living person. Had he asked. To ask such a question was to Beaumarchais come into the world twenty produce a revolution. But if the men of years later, he would doubtless have been our day look back upon the comedies of one of the active minds of the deliberating Beaumarchais and the pamphlets of Siéyes, assemblies; and no doubt, after destroying we are unable to comprehend their prodi- every thing on his passage, he would have gious success; the wit of the one seems stopped short like Mirabeau, like him terforced and exaggerated; the logic of the rified by the ruins he had heaped up. How other trivial and narrow. Comedies and unfortunate that those dangerous minds arpamphlets were things of the day; and rived just in time to succeed. passed away with the circumstances which “ What more remains to be told ? Beaugave them birth. Not that Beaumarchais' marchais' literary existence terminates comedies are, theatrically speaking, con- with the ‘Mariage de Figaro.' He endeartemptible ; far from it. They have wit, ored, it is true, to carry out this fatal bistobanter, situation, and lively plots. They ry, and ended with adultery the drama he may be read with amusement; they will had begun with an elopement. The mire bear representation. But they seem very coupable had none of the success of la Compoor and feeble comedies to have produced tesse Almaviva. The ladies regretted their such tremendous enthusiasm.
Cherubino's being killed, the men selt no As a specimen of Beaumarchais' talent, pity for the woman of a certain age bewailwe think the memoirs infinitely superior to ing with so many tears the follies of her his comedies. They have the same liveli- youth; Figaro grown old and steady no ness, the same audacity, the same personal- longer anused
The style of ity, and greater force. Besides, the talent Beaumarchais, left to himself, appeared to is shown to greater advantage in creating all, what it really was—a trick in which such amusing scenes out of a law suit, than grammar and logic have to perform all sorts in creating amusing scenes out of an imag- of dangerous evolutions. The secret of inary story, the imbroglio of which is bor- this dazzling wit consists in saying the rerowed from the Spanish stage. The con- verse of things. Thus Beaumarchais had frontation with Madame Goezman is alone engraved on his dog's collar, ‘ Beaumarworth all the · Mariage de Figaro.' chais m'appartient !
That betrays the “ It must, however, be acknowledged that whole man. He has also written an opera Beaumarchais' great success was not wholly called 'Tarare.' 'Tarare' is again' F'igaunmerited. This man had wit equal to his ro,' or rather Beaumarchais singing buraudacity. Even in his animosity he had a lesque verses. This man soon grows old; certain good-humored smile, which render- he and all the persons he has created. ed him still more dangerous. He had ma- The revolution, with its iron hand, crushed ny kinds of courage, as he proved in Spain this mind, retaining only its venom. to a certain Clavijo, who had promised to Beaumarchais, seeing that no one in France, marry his sister.
In this circumstance, not even himself, had time to be witty, enBeaumarchais gave proofs not only of wit deavored to take to business again, and lost and courage, but of a great deal of good in it a large portion of his fortune. His feeling. He came frankly to the assistance supply of sixty thousand guns to America, of a poor afflicted woman, whom he pro- which paid him only with flattery, and his tected in this struggle against the seducer edition of Voltaire's works, were deplorable who knelt before him. There are people speculations. And as he no longer sucwho place this action of Beaumarchais' far ceeded in any thing, ennui seized bim, and