VAUDEVILLE. And, or d-rau, is a phrase among navigators, implying the reverse of *marine de roan, is used to express drifting down a stream :—" Personne no remelt, nom noun laissions tiller harau do l'eau." Vaudeville appears originally to have been applied to designate any song or ballad borne along on the current of town gossip or popularity—d-rau de rill?. It has been custousnry among etymologists to maintain that the word was originally ran-dc vire, from the valley of Vire in Normandy, " where gay and malicious songs were composed centuries ago, which had great currency." No evidence has ever been adduced in support of this legend, and the kind of rhymes originally designated by the word vaudeville are quite as likely to have originated in populous towns and their gossiping crowds, as iu a Norman valley. " Vaudeville," we read in the ' Dictionnaire de l'Acaddmie,' "signifies a popular song, the air of which is easily sung, and the words composed upon some story of the day." From songs the term was extended to pamphlets and theatrical pieces founded on ephemeral gossip. At present the theatrical application of the name has superseded the others. Theatrically speaking, a vaudeville is a short drama, the dialogues of which are interspersed with short songs set to popular airs. Tho principal charm of the vaudeville con
sists in its covert allusions, its delicate raillery on the leading characters and events of the time. The plot ought to be simple--rather sketched or indicated, than developed—and the characters preseuted in the same slight manner. The interest ought never to be sufficiently serious to divert attention from the interchange of playful sarcasm and simple melodies which all can appreciate. The vaudeville charms by its brilliant and easy dialogue, its snatches of apparently impromptu music and song, aud its least possiblo spice of malice : any attempt to give a show of reality to the story and persons of the drama would reader the elegant trifle ponderous and stupid. Hitherto French authors alone (with perhaps the exception of GUthe) have succeeded in composing, and French actors in representing, these charming nothings : the graceful levity of the vaudeville can scarcely ever bear translation into the more sinewy languages of Europe. Among all French authors of vaudeville, the palm is undoubtedly due to the late M. Scribe of the thousand dramas.