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ordinances, by which all stage-plays and interludes were absolutely forbidden, under very severe penalties.
The players-still, however, continued to exhibit occasionally at Holland House, and at some other noblemen's seats in the vicinity of the capital; and even ventured to make occasional appearances at the Red Bull under the pretence of other and not forbidden entertainments. On these occasions Goffe, the celebrated actor of women's parts at the Globe and Blackfriars, was the usual jackal to summon the scattered comedians together. The want of a theatrical wardrobe, and of those properties to which they had been accustomed, was easily overlooked, and the taste for theatrical entertainments was still so prevalent among a portion of the community as to induce them to brave the penalties which were equally to be inflicted on those who were merely present at, as on those who took part in, such spectacles.
DESTOUCHES THE DRAMATIST, AND BONAPARTE.
AMONG the dramatic writers for whom Bonaparte had conceived a decided aversion was Destouches. None of his chamberlains durst
ever think of suffering one of his pieces to be acted before his majesty. Those gentlemen, sixty in number, had also taken great pains to learn the titles of all the plays written by that author; that in case a manager should have permitted one of them to creep into his list, it might be immediately erased. They were not all, however, men of great literary attainments, so that the most ludicrous mistakes were sometimes made.
One day Bonaparte being at Compeigne, inquired of his grand marshal what play was to be represented that night? “Sire," replied the officer, “. Le Philosophe sans le Sçavoir,' will be performed before your majesty."_" Who is the author of the piece ?" asked the emperor. " Destouches, Sire.”—“ I don't like that Destouches ; let the · Tartuffe' be performed."“ Your majesty shall be obeyed,” rejoined the grand marshal in the most submissive manner, and without cousidering whether it were possible to comply with the command or not. He hastened directly to the chamberlain who was charged with the superintendance of this theatre. “ Sir," said he to the latter, “ the Emperor will not have · Le Philosophe sans le Sçavoir' per
formed to night." _"No, indeed! and why not?"
“Because he cannot bear Destouches.”_"Gracious heaven! the piece is not Destouches’; the actors told me it was Sedaine's. The scoundrels always behave in this manner. The Emperor is right, he knows every thing. And now I recol. lect myself - Le Philosophe Mari,' notLe Philosophe sans le Sçavoir,' is Destouches'. Well, such a thing shall never happen again. But what can we have to night?” -“ The Emperor desires to have Le Tartuffe !'”_“Le Tartuffe!' How can that be done? We have but very few actors at Compeigne. I expect some this evening, but they will not arrive in time, and I have here no Orgon and no Cleanthes !"_" Never mind : let those two characters be omitted: I'll answer for it, the court will not perceive it.”—“ Very likely—but the Emperor ! -But a thought just occurs to me.
The players whom I expect will possibly dine at Senlis; for as they were not to perform tomorrow, they will not hurry themselves: I will send for them, perhaps they might arrive in time by travelling post ?" No sooner said than done! A chaise was immediately sent off on the Paris road, and with it a gendarme, who had orders
to inquire of all the vehicles he should meet, whether there were any actors in them.
The gendarme reached Senlis, and went from one inn to another, every where asking if any actors were there. Two travellers dining quietly together heard the question and dropped their knives and forks with affright. These were St. Phal and Grandménil, two actors of character and talent, but who were not great admirers of Bonaparte. On hearing the inquiry of the gendarme, they gave themselves up for lost. Their apprehensions were redoubled when the gendarme, after asking their names, desired them, without further ceremony, to step into the post chaise. They conceived immediately that they were to be conveyed to the Castle of Ham, and were not convinced of their mistake till they reached Compeigne, and were informed by the grand marshal that it had been found necessary to hasten their coming, because his majesty disliked “ Le Philosophe sans le Sçavoir," by Destouches; and “Le Tartuffe" (which he did like) must, in consequence, be performed. This explanation turned their fright into mirth, and every thing terminated to the gratification of all parties.
Philip Massinger, the immediate successor of Shakspeare, and second only to him as a dramatic poet, was often as majestic and generally more elegant than his master ; he was as powerful a ruler of the understanding, as the Bard of Avon was of the passions. And yet, with such rare talents, Massinger appears to have maintained a constant struggle with adversity, and to have enjoyed no gleam of sunshine ; life was, to him, one long wintry day, and “ shadows, clouds, and darkness," sat upon it. There is a letter of his preserved, in which, he, with Field, and two or three others as necessitous as himself, solicits the loan of a few pounds, with as much humility and self-abasement, as if a mendicant asked alms. He was buried in the church-yard of St. Saviour's, Southwark, and it does not appear, from the strictest search, that a stone or inscription of any kind ever marked the spot, where lies the dust of Massinger ; even the memorial of his mortality is given with a pathetic brevity, which accords but too well with the obscure and humble passages of his life. It simply states : “ March 20, 1639-40, buried Philip Massinger, a stranger."