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Page 425, of vol. ii. Sir J. B. says, respecting the pictures and marbles at the Louvre, “I always was, and still remain to be, decidedly of opinion, that by giving our aid in emptying the Louvre, we authorized not only an act of unfairness to the French, but of impolicy as concerned ourselves.” The whole of this observation is ridiculous. The treasures of art were obtained for the French nation by robbery; and France was no more authorized to keep them, than a footpad is, to retain the watch or diamond ring he had despoiled a traveller of on the highway. As to depriving students of the advantage of copying paintings, &c., Sir J. B.'s arguments are little else than childish. Let artists and students seek their subjects in their original places, as heretofore; and let the French rejoice that they are forced, on occasions, to copy from nature, not from the labours of others.
Towards the conclusion of the second volume of his most extraordinary work, Sir Jonah B. arraigns Napoleon as an impudent pretender; Colonel Macirone and Doctor Marshall as something worse than pretenders; Talleyrand and Fouché as two accomplished villains; and convicts himself of being a rather silly old gentleman. That Napoleon was, after all, but a clumsy chief
and a much more clumsy politician, the simple story of his career proves beyond dispute. In his first-named capacity of warrior, he failed literally in every attempt which he made. He was beaten out
tain in war,
of Italy, out of Egypt, out of Germany, out of Portugal, out of Spain, out of Russia, out of his (supposed) project of invading Britain, out of Belgiumand, at last, out of France! By his incapability as a diplomatist, he ruined himself ultimately and utterly. Had he possessed political foresight, he would, as he might, have married into the Imperial family of Russia, not as he did, into that of Austria; and so have been protected, instead of being crushed. Or he might, as it is reported, have made terms at Fontainbleau, and been then a greater potentate than Louis XIV. ever was ;-but vanity rendered him short-sighted ; and he was undone.
For a few years, he cajoled and bullied mankind by his amazing speciousness, and unparalleled impudence : and finally, overreached by a much abler man than himself,—Talleyrand, as well as by Fouché and others,—died a miserable captive ; scarcely bewailed by his dependents and former admirers ; and derided and detested by the numberless enemies he had made. This is what no other person has yet dared to present to the world—the faithful portrait of him (whom Lord Brougham has compared with, and preferred to-Julius Cæsar,)—the true historical likeness of Napoleon Buonaparte.
The above subject has, for half a century, engaged my mind, and still I find myself not quite decided on
the question. At least, any decision to which I may have come, is so totally at variance, not only with the practice of the stage, but with the opinions of many others, as to make me, in some measure, doubtful of the soundness of my own. This, I confess, could I obtain my wish, is in favour of invariably seeing the personages in a drama attired precisely according to the fashion of the times and places with which the dramatic story of a piece is supposed to be identified.
There are, it must be granted, difficulties, and very serious ones, in the way of my proposal. Let the scene, indeed, of the play brought forward, be laid in Athens in the days of Pericles, or Rome in those of Augustus, and the arrangement is easy enough. Ancient statuary will furnish us sufficiently with ideas for the requisite style of dress; the imitation of bare arms and legs is attainable by the aid of the tailor and the haberdasher; and our Athenian warrior, or Roman lady may pass : few of the spectators could criticise such minute deviations as would probably
The classic eye of a Porson or a Kemble would be required to detect a false colour in the border of a toga, or the omission of the half-moon in the buskin of a patrician. Whenever, in fact, the dramatic story refers to the refined or ruder ages of antiquity, every thing may be pretty well managed.
The same is nearly as true, when our imagined scene belongs to old English history ;-suppose from the reign of Elizabeth up to that of King John. We all have seen, on tombs and in paint
ings, the appropriate chain-mail, rapiers, baskethilted swords, short cloaks, scarlet hose, ruffs, farthingales, feather-fans, high-crowned hats, peaked beards, &c.; and something like these articles, allowing for a few mistakes and anachronisms, may satisfy the ordinary, or even cultivated, spectator. Though, in these respects, strange blunders have been exhibited, and for many a day were patiently endured.
Some yet survive who witnessed the renowned actor, John Kemble, learned and judicious as he was, marching to the fatal field, and fighting the battle of Bosworth, as King Richard the Third, arrayed in spotless silk stockings, and long-quartered dancing shoes, adorned with the Rose of York; or rushing forth as mad Lear, or the murderous Macbeth—with a flowered satin night-gown, which might have been, and possibly was, the lounging-robe of one of Louis XV.'s coxcomb courtiers; and wearing, as Lear, a straw crown as large, massive, and elaborately constructed as a bee-hive. I remember the illustrious bard of Erin-the pride of her poets-making me laugh at the account he gave of his amazement and satisfaction on seeing, in the Dublin Theatre Royal, the head of the veteran Clytus, surmounted by a helmet of the Fermanagh militia !
These and similar absurdities continued, indeed, till Kean's discernment taught the boards, and the public, a purer lesson. His Richard, especially, was in some points better imagined; and Kean fell becomingly at Bosworth, with a pair of martial boots and knightly spurs on him.
But now we arrive at the puzzling period, when Dryden, Congreve, Addison, Steele, and Rowe and Gay, wrote for the stage; and the question is—what should be done? Should the performance of any of the old standard plays be resolved on, -of any, for instance, between the times of King William the Third, and the early part of George the Third's reign-and several of these are occasionally revived,--the embarrassment as to costume is formidable. On the one hand, great would be the awkwardness of having before us the chief personages of both sexes, whether in tragedy or comedy, attired in the habits worn by gentlemen and ladies of the days supposed, conversing, quarreling, and making love, in voluminous wigs, roll-up scarlet or black stockings, hoops, lappets, and high-heeled shoes ! Yet, we know that these very plays were so dressed when first produced, and that the spectators were neither startled nor dissatisfied.
It should likewise be remembered, that the plots of these plays perpetually require that disputes should be indicated, and duels fought; and therefore, that, independently of its being the fashion of the hour, it is necessary for the men to wear swords. Now, supposing Cumberland's fine comedy, “ The West Indian,” or Moore's domestic tragedy, “The Gamester," brought forward, as I have often seen them, we