In spite of Kevin Egan's clear identification of its author the quotation has so far not been located. We find it in a footnote to a passage critical of Irish landlordism in Édouard Drumont's (1844-1917) Le testament d'un antisémite (1891):
Cela rappelle la réponse de Frédérick Lemaître à la reine Victoria. Frédérick avait été jouer à Londres le Chiffonier de Paris; la reine l'avait fait venir dans sa loge, et la vieille ogresse aux dents jaunes avait feint l'attendrissement.
- Comment, vous avez de pareilles misères à Paris?
- Madame, répondit Frédérick avec sa voix tonnante et son grand geste, ce sont nos Irlandais...
The French journalist may have picked up the anecdote in Kazlitt Arvine's Cyclopaedia of anecdotes of literature and the fine arts of 1852:
The Sunday Mercury says that, after Frederic Le Maitre had played before Queen Victoria some scenes of a new role he is about to play at the Port St. Martin, called the Rag Picker, her majesty, who had become very much interested, said to the artiste, "How is it possible that there can be such wretched, unhappy people among you?" To which Le Maitre replied, — "Madame, they are the Irish of France."
Drumont received considerable attention abroad, and the Freeman's Journal's description of him on 7 September 1889 is nothing out of the ordinary:
M. Edouard Drumont, the author of some very clever books, though somewhat ferocious in tone, upon the Jewish question...