Went last night to see Mademoiselle Mars, in “Valerie.” It was a finished performance, and worthy of her high reputation. Never was there so musical a voice as hers! Every tone of it goes direct to the heart, and its intonations soothe and charm the ear. Her countenance, too, is peculiarly expressive. Even when her eyes, in the role she enacted last night, were fixed, and supposed to be sightless, her countenance was still beautiful. There is a harmony in its various expressions that accords perfectly with her clear, soft, and liquid voice; and the united effect of both these attractions renders her irresistible.
Never did Art so strongly resemble Nature as in the acting of this admirable artiste. She identifies herself so completely with the part she performs, that she not only believes herself for the time being the heroine she represents, but makes others do so too. There was not a dry eye in the whole of the female part of the audience last night—a homage to her power that no other actress on the French stage could now command.
The style, too, of Mademoiselle Mars’ acting is the most difficult of all; because there is no exaggeration, no violence in it. The same difference exists between it and that of other actresses, as between a highly finished portrait and a glaringly coloured transparency. The feminine, the graceful, and the natural, are never lost sight of for a moment.
The French are admirable critics of acting, and are keenly alive to the beauties of a chaste and finished style, like that of Mademoiselle Mars. In Paris there is no playing to the galleries, and for a simple reason:—the occupants of the galleries here are as fastidious as those of the boxes, and any thing like outraging nature would be censured by them: whereas, in other countries, the broad and the exaggerated almost invariably find favour with the gods.
The same pure and refined taste that characterises the acting of Mademoiselle Mars presides also over her toilette, which is always appropriate and becoming.
Accustomed to the agreeable mixture of literary men in London society, I observe, with regret, their absence in that of Paris. I have repeatedly questioned people why this is, but have never been able to obtain a satisfactory answer. It tells much against the good taste of those who can give the tone to society here, that literary men should be left out of it; and if the latter will not mingle with the aristocratic circles they are to blame, for the union of both is advantageous to the interests of each.
Parisian society is very exclusive, and is divided into small coteries, into which a stranger finds it difficult to become initiated. Large routes are rare, and not at all suited to the tastes of the French people; who comment with merriment, if not with ridicule, on the evening parties in London, where the rooms being too small to contain half the guests invited, the stairs and ante-rooms are filled by a crowd, in which not only the power of conversing, but almost of respiring is impeded.