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IT perhaps never entered into the head of
Lawrence Sterne, when he devised that
famous Yorick journey of his, that the
little phrase which stands at the threshold of
his book, should hereafter do such good
service to generations of coming writers.
Could it have been granted to the reverend
humourist to see these tourist chroniclers
catching in their extremity at this friendly
plank, and so saving their paragraph, or
halting period, from certain shipwreck, he
would most likely have stayed his hand in
time, and thought twice before sending
abroad the well-worn conclusion that they
ordered the matter better in France.

Someway the world generally appear to have
leaned to the same opinion. At the present
moment, it appears to be pretty well understood
that our neighbours are gifted with
a speciality for managingbesides having
a convenient knack of setting right things in
their right placesand losing no time over
the process. Indignant Briton shrugs his
shoulders disdainfully, and doubts if any
good can come of French management. Just
look, sir, at their vile passport systemtheir
gang of douaniers, spies, secret police, and other
inquisitors. There you have the results of
systemall in a nut-shell. No, no, believe
you me, sir, it won't do in a free country.

The mot of the ingenious Frenchman who
set about defining what was obscure, in this
negative fashion: Tout ce qu'est obscur, n'est
pas Français (nothing that is obscure, is
French), would hold with equal truth of
other matters in that pleasant country. It
might be shaped into Tout ce qu'est déréglé,
n'est pas Français (nothing that is disorderly,
is French), with no loss of point or
justice. For, wonderful is it how this passion
for ordering of things clings to every true
son of France (and to every daughter too),
whether roving or dwelling at home. It is
bound up strangely with all their fancies,
their pains and pleasures. It travels abroad
with them into far-off lands; to the camp,
where it lays out pretty gardens round the
hut, and garnishes the mud interior with
bright and effective decoration; to the colony,
where it reproduces the institutions of the
old country in a marvellous short span; to
the swamps of Cayenne even. It was this
spirit of system that ticketed off Kamiesch
into streets almost before the soldiers had
been set on shore. It is this same spirit of
system that every night ranges eager
Parisians in long queue at the theatre door
stern Sergent-de-ville seeing to it that each
abide his turn in patience. Nor does it tarry
there, but is borne in with the multitude, and
may be seen there, night after night, hovering
over the front rows of the parterre. What
wonders it may be brought to work in this
curious sphere ; how it gathers and disciplines
a dread host that can make or mar a
reputation in a breath ; how it can with equal
certainty ensure a brilliant success and an
utter failuremay, perhaps, furnish forth not
unprofitable matter for entertainment. Moreover,
there has been found a witty French
critic (and composer), M. Hector Berlioz, to
lend his aid in this delicate probing of the
mysteries of the Claque. In spite of the
remark so judiciously made to Sempronius,
it will be seen that it is possible for mortals
on the French boards at leastto command
success ; nor is it incumbent on them to do
more, beyond making certain pecuniary
arrangements prior to the rising of the curtain.

At the present moment it is pretty well
known that in every theatre under heaven
the claqueur element is more or less
recognised. For that matter, it is but a craving
of our common humanity, that follows us far
beyond the charmed circle of playhouse
influences. For has it not been written that
there is a kind of valet species abroad, which
never honors the unaccredited hero or
heroine, until they have been properly
countersigned, and accoutred with full uniform and
diploma, by that great godPublic Opinion.
Therefore does this public require certain
fuglemen, as it were, to furnish them their
cue and proper time ; and then does it set
forth in full cry, striving who shall first fall
down and worship. Even in the most
provincial of our theatres may be witnessed
rude efforts at combination, in behalf of some
local favourite. Intelligent observers have
discriminated, in a cloud of bouquets, between
the enthusiastic earnest offering, and the
insidious shower from the masked battery of the
claqueur. But the truth is, we, on this side of
the Straits, want organisation sadly. We are