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scene used to occur nightly in summer time in the Champs Elysées. Before the seated public, beneath the trees, an oldish woman used to appear, with a slip of carpet on her arm, a fiddle beneath it, and a tin cup hanging on her finger. She was closely followed by a slim, pale, dark, but fiery-eyed girl, whose thoughts seemed to be with some world far away. When the woman had spread the carpet, had placed the cup at one corner, and had scraped a few hideous notes on the fiddle, the pale dark-eyed girl advanced on the carpet and recited passages from Racine and Corneille. With her beautiful head raised, with slight, rare, but most graceful action, with voice and emphasis in exact accord with her words, that pale-faced, inspired girl, enraptured her out-of-door audience. After a time she was seen no more, and it was concluded that her own inward fire had utterly consumed her, and she was forgotten. By-and-by there descended on the deserted temple of tragedy a new queen-nay, a goddess, bearing the name of Rachel. As the subdued and charmed public gazed and listened and sent up their incense of praise and their shout of adulation, memories of the pale-faced girl who used to recite beneath the stars in the Champs Elysées came upon them. Some, however, could see no resemblance. Others denied the possibility of identity between the abject servant of the muse in the open air, and the glorious, though pale-faced, fieryeyed queen of tragedy, occupying a throne which none could dispute with her. When half her brief, splendid, extravagant, and not blameless reign was over, Mdlle. Rachel gave a "house-warming" on the occasion of opening her new and gorgeously-furnished mansion in the Rue Troncin. During the evening the hostess disappeared, and the maître d'hôtel requested the crowded company in the great saloon so to arrange themselves as to leave space enough for Mdlle. Rachel to appear at the upper end of the room, as she was about to favour the company with the recital of some passages from Racine and Corneille. Thereupon entered an old woman with strip of carpet, fiddle, and tin pot, followed by the queen of tragedy, in the shabbiest of frocks, pale, thoughtful, inspired, and with a sad smile that was not altogether out of tune with her pale meditations; and then, the carpet being spread, the fiddle scraped, and the cup deposited, Rachel trod the carpet as if it were the stage, and recited two or three passages from the masterpieces of the French masters in dramatic poetry, and moved her audience according to her will, in sympathy and delight. When the hurricane of applause had passed, and while a murmuring of enjoyment seemed as its softer echo, Rachel stooped, picked up the old tin cup, and going round with it to collect gratuities from the company, said, "Anciennement, c'était pour maman; à présent, c'est pour les pauvres."
The Rachel career was of unsurpassable splendour. Before it declined in darkness and set in premature painful death, the now old
queen of tragedy, Mdlle. Georges, met the sole heiress of the great inheritance, Mdlle. Rachel, on the field of the glory of both. Rachel was then at the best of her powers, at the highest tide of her triumphs. They appeared in the same piece, Racine's 'Iphigénie.' Mdlle. Georges was Clytemnestre; Rachel played Eriphile. They stood in presence, like the old and the young wrestlers, gazing on each other. Then each struggled for the crown from the spectators, till, whether out of compliment, which is doubtful, or that she was really subdued by the weight, power, and majestic grandeur of Mdlle. Georges, Eriphile forgot to act, and seemed to be lost in admiration at the acting of the then very stout, but still beautiful, mother of the French stage. The younger rival, however, was the first to leave the arena. She acted in both hemispheres, led what is called a stormy life, was as eccentric as she was full of good impulses, and to the last she knew no more of the personages she acted than what she learned of them from the pieces in which they were represented. Rachel died utterly exhausted. The wear and tear of her professional life was aggravated by the want of repose, the restlessness, and the riot of the tragedy queen at home. She was royally buried. In the foyer of the Théâtre Français Rachel and Mars, in marble, represent the Melpomene and Thalia of France. They are both dead and forgotten by the French public.
For years after Mdlle. Duchesnois had vanished from the scene, Mdlle. Georges may be said to have languished out her life. One day of snow and fog, in January, 1867, a funeral procession set out from Passy, traversed the living city of Paris, and entered through the mist the city of the dead, Père la Chaise. Alexandre Dumas was chief mourner. "In that coffin," said Jules Janin, "lay more sorrows, passions, poetry, and hopes than in a thousand proud tombs in the cemetery of Père la Chaise." She who had represented and felt and expressed all these sentiments, emotions and ideas, was the last survivor of the line of dramatic queens in France.
That line had its Lady Jane Grey, its queen for an hour; one who was loved and admired during that time, and whose hard fate was deplored for full as long a period. About the year 1819-20 there appeared at the Odéon a Mdlle. Charton. She made her début in a new piece, 'Lancastre,' in which she acted Queen Elizabeth. Her youth and beauty, combined with extraordinary talent, took the public mind prisoner. Here was a young goddess who would shower delight when the maturer divinities had gone back to Olympus. The lithographed portrait of Mdlle. Charton was in all the shops and was eagerly bought. Suddenly she ceased to act. A jealous lover had flung into that beautiful and happy face a cup of vitriol, and destroyed beauty, happiness, and partially the eyesight, for ever. The young actress refused to prosecute the ruffian, and sat at home suffering and
helpless, till she became "absorbed in the population "-that is to say, starved, or very nearly so. She had one poor female friend who helped just to keep her alive. In this way the once proud young beauty literally went down life into old age and increase of anguish. She dragged through the horrible time of the horrible Commune, and then she died. Her body was carried to the common pauper grave at Montmartre, and one poor actor who had occasionally given her what help he could, a M. Dupuis, followed her to that bourne.
Queens as they were, their advent to such royalty was impeded by every obstacle that could be thrown in their way. The 'Society' of French actors has been long noted for its cruel illiberality and its mean jealousy, especially the Society' that has been established since the Revolution-or, to speak correctly, during the Revolution which began in 1789, and which is now in the eighty-fourth year of its progress. The poor and modest Duchesnois had immense difficulty in being allowed to appear at all. The other actors would not even speak to her. When she was." called" by an enthusiastic audience no actor had the gallantry to offer a hand to lead her forward. A poor player, named Florence, at length did so, but on later occasions he was compelled to leave her to "go on " alone. When Mdlle. Rachel, ill-clad and haggard, besought a well-known sociétaire to aid her in obtaining permission to make her début on the stage of the Théâtre Français, he told her to get a basket and go and sell flowers. On the night of her triumph, when she did appear, and heaps of bouquets were flung at her feet, on her coming forward after the fall of the curtain, she flung them all into a basket, slung it from her shoulders, went to the actor who had advised her to go and vend flowers, and kneeling to him, asked him, half in smiles and half in tears, if he would not buy a nosegay! It is said that Mdlle. Mars was jealous of the promise of her sister, Georgina. Young débutantes are apt to think that the aged queens should abandon the parts of young princesses, and when the young débutantes have become old they are amazed at the impertinence of new comers who expect them to surrender the juvenile characters. The latest successful débutante, Mdlle. Rousseil and M. Mounae Sully, are where they now are in spite of their fellows who were there before them.
Mr. Superintendent Pryse.
A WELSH SKETCH.
BY ANNIE BEALE.
WHEN the Rebecca riots were suppressed in South Wales it was found expedient to inaugurate a police force, and no sooner had the redcoated, gold-laced military withdrawn than the blue-suited, silverbuttoned constabulary appeared. If it had been arrogant on the part of government to send soldiers into a loyal country, it was, to say the least of it, insulting to suppose that a handful of policemen could supervise a patriotic people; so the new arrivals were not welcomed with the ardour due to Queen's messengers. But we accustom ourselves to everything, and ignoble habit often destroys our grandest virtues. By degrees the native independence of our country-side laid itself down at the feet of the police, and our small crimes were so sifted that we began to cast about for larger ones that would not run through the sieve so easily.
But Mr. Superintendent Pryse was not a man to let either our little or great misdemeanours escape unriddled. He had not been in the army and fought in many battles to allow himself to be browbeat by a restive peasantry, and what his subordinates found difficult he made easy by degrees. Not that it was altogether easy for him to launch the iron ship of law, having been accustomed only to the sword of war. It is never easy to be the first at any work. The first man, the first navigator, the first explorer, the first missionary, and the first policeman, must have had a much more arduous task than their successors; and Mr. Superintendent Pryse found that he had to launch the aforesaid ironclad in very hot water indeed. But he entered on the task as boldly as he would have met his enemy on a battle-field, and fronted and handcuffed danger and opposition, to the terror of offenders and the amazement of beholders.
Pryse Super (as this gentleman was epigrammatically called by such as abused him behind his back and faced him as little as they conveniently could) was essentially a soldier in mind, mien and manners. He stood six feet two in his shoes, had a well-drilled walk and carriage, a commanding air, and handsome manly features. He was considered an Apollo by the ladies, albeit his eyes were of that coldish grey said to indicate sternness rather than tenderness, and his well-cut mouth had those resolute corners which seem to abjure dimples. Still, the cold eyes could kindle into warmth and the fixed
lips relax into a smile when women, children, or animals attracted him. Although not an old man, his hair and whiskers were turning white, and he had those deep lines between his eyebrows which are usually the legacy of thought or care. As he was not what is called a deep thinker, people who were not themselves very deep thinkers attributed this to disappointment, but of what kind they could not discover. We are all apt to seek reasons for our neighbours' "hard lines," so men said the Superintendent had been soured because richer officers had stepped over his head with golden feet when he was in the army and caused him to sell out in disgust; while the women affirmed that he had been disappointed in love, and sought to console him by plainly suggesting that he was not too old for a new passion. It is pretty certain that, had he lived in these days, when merit and service are to have the best of it, he would have been a general officer; and it is equally certain that he resisted the fascinations of the fair sex, and continued one of fortune's failures, an old bachelor.
Nevertheless, it was sometimes reported that he either had privately married, or would eventually marry, his housekeeper. The ladies envied and abused this excellent domestic, as ladies will, calling her designing, artful, naughty even; but still she reigned supreme at Mostyn Cottage-her master's abode-and certainly kept it, as the saying is, like a palace.
Mostyn Cottage-or Bachelor Hall, as the frivolous fair named it -was a small, unpretentious house on the outskirts of Trefavon, containing two sitting-rooms-one of which the Superintendent used as an office and a tolerable kitchen. The coach-house, stable, and dog-kennel, were as large as the dwelling-place, and adjoined it. It was surrounded by a good garden, and overlooked meadows, river and mountains. The Superintendent's bedroom faced the east, and it was his boast that he daily saw the sun rise above the mountains and mirror itself in the river. He was an ardent lover of nature and a true mountaineer at heart. He was also a martinet to himself as well as his men, and in character and face not unlike the Duke of Wellington. In this sun-illumined bedroom was an iron bedstead, uncurtained, a hard bed, and a plentiful supply of cold water.
Gwen the Super-as his housekeeper was called, to distinguish her from the other Gwen, or Gwenllean Joneses, of the town-reigned, as we have said, supreme over this abode and its master. Men must succumb to some fate or other, so he submitted to be tyrannised over by his housekeeper, who was, in short, sole female domestic of his establishment. In another sphere she would have been cited as "born to command"; in this she commanded without the accident of birth. His friends called her his Cleopatra, and not inaptly, for she was a black-eyed, black-haired, handsome woman, with brows nearly meeting above a straight nose, russet-brown complexion, with the richest