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• Bravo Spriggs! try back, old man! and then I rushed off in a cold sweat, leaving Brutus with his arms folded, fit to eat his boots.
“Ever hear the story of Green Ibid ? That's the nickname a fellow utility of mine goes by, ever since he—but I'll tell you all about it. You know the directions for dressing a piece? So and So, green court suit, silver lace, paste buckles, court sword, white bag court wig; Somebody Else, green court ibid—that means, “the same,' you know-lace, buckles, sword, wig ibid, and so on. Well, this young chap he rushes in late-nobody in the dressingroom—all going on. Call-boy hollering away · Mr. Montmorenci called twice.' No go. I was first courtier, and I had got to go on in green velvet coat—and was close to the wings when I could hear poor Montmorenci saying to somebody, “My gracious !—I have got no wig-only an old man's here, and direction says second courtier, green ibid—and I can't find a green ibid anywhere. What is a green ibid ? Hasn't anybody got a green ibid? There isn't one in the house, I do believe."
“You never heard me talk so much before, did you? Well, I don't often talk. I'm so sick of everything now. Life seems to me little else than so much general utility, buttoning and unbuttoning, dressing and changingso much, or so little, eating and drinking, going to bed and getting up again. All flat, stale and unprofitable,' till the exit comes—and I don't care much how soon, blest if I do! I was not always what I am now. Time was when these eyes, now dim with tears, were—no, hang it, I'm not on' now. My father kept a large public house in Kent, and he had a pretty barmaid. I was nineteen and she was past twenty—and we fell in love with each other. An aunt had left her £150, and I hadn't a shilling. We were engaged to be married. I had a cousin in business for himself in the borough. He agreed to take me,
and I came to London, Mary stopping down with my people for a bit.
fell in with some actors in one way or another—and at last, after several amateur successes at private theatricals, I got wild, threw up my berth, and, two months afterwards, one of my actor friends got me a pound a week at the old Coburg Theatre. Mary, in a year and a half or so, came up to London after me, and took a little tobacco shop over the water—and on my salary and the little shop we got married-and were happy enough till a little Spriggs was likely very soon to stop the way. I had got on pretty well, for me, by that time. Well, I was to have a benefit one night-not before the time, for a vagabond boy had robbed the till at home and cut his lucky—and Mary was hourly expected to be a mother. I was to play a favorite part of mine—and I'd sold a good many tickets, for I was pretty popular. When the curtain rose, the house looked healthy enough. At nine o'clock it was pretty chock full. I'd been thinking a deal about Mary all night, and somehow I couldn't get her poor dear old pale face out of my sight. The manager slaps me on the back, and says—and he wasn't too fond of that sort of thing— Hang it, Spriggs, you are a doosid clever fellow, and I con-grat-ulate you, that's flat.'
“I felt as if I was first cousin to Baron Rothschild after that—and all the hands I got clapping me. I suppose I must have been deuced funny then. I've never felt so since. Well, it was about a quarter of an hour before the curtain would fall. I was standing handy to go on at the 0. P. side, when I thought I heard one of the carpenter's whisper ‘Poor fellow!' in such a right down earnest way that it staggered me—thinking, as I had been, about my little missis. But that passed off. When the curtain fell I was called before it, and never felt prouder in my life. As I came behind, the manager came up to me with a grave look, and taking me aside, says very feelingly,
‘Spriggs, my boy, I'm afraid I've just had bad news for you. Your poor wife's just confined, and they've sent for you, as they think it will go hard with her.' With that and the poor fellow' I'd just heard, you might have knocked me down with a feather. How I ran home round the corner I never knew. The shop was shut, and no sooner had I put the latch key in the door, with my hand all a tremble, than one of the neighbors, a kind old soul, stepped down the stairs and pulling me by the arm into the little back parlor, where my Mary and I used to sit so happy of a night when I came home to supper after the theatre, shut the door and says, “Mr. Spriggs, that's a dear man, you must bear it; poor Mrs. Spriggs is gohe. She said she hoped she'd live to see you, but it wasn't to be. There, there, don't take on so, sir; she's better off now. I went up stairs and saw the poor dear lying dead! she and her baby. That's all—that's all—all, all, my life! I left the Cobourg. That's years ago. Some of 'em that don't know me call me ‘Dismal Tommy.' But they don't know what first spoilt “a rising low comedian,' and made him a G, U. Never mind. It's all gone away now.”
Sticks ” Behind the Scenes. — Bad Acting. – Murdering Parts. The Woman who went Insane in a Theatre.-A “Scholarly" Fool Plays Paris.-A “Gentlemanly" Style of Dying on the Stage.—The Man who Died into the Orchestra.-A Lady's Hand throws an Actor into a Perspiration of Bewilderment.--- What will I do with It?”—Lack of Noble Incentives to the Stage Life.—Mountebanks vs. Artists.
It is not too much to say, as regards the “common run” of actors and actresses, that not one in ten of those who adopt the stage as a profession, have any real conception of the artistic requirements of an actor.
They are not actuated by those high aspirations which lead the artist to seek to embody his conceptions in outward form—whether by painting, sculpture or dramatism.
They are not artists, though every one of them claims the name; they belong to the order of “stage struck barbers.”
The “sticks” of the stage are both masculine and feminine-mostly young people—who have no idea of character, but whose vanity is great enough to take the place of everything else.
If it were a penal offense to “murder” a part, what a tumbling off of heads there would be—and what a “weeding out the stage would undergo !
A woman in Saginaw, Michigan, was some months ago taken insane while witnessing a play, and carried out of the theatre to a lunatic asylum. A wag suggested that the reason she went mad was because the acting was so bad.
Neither the possession of a fine voice, an exquisite elocution, a captivating fancy, a commanding person, classical taste and education, a handsome face, nor all
DOWN THE LADDER.
combined, are sufficient to make an actress of the first rank.
There must be the power of individualization. actress who is a true artiste sinks the private woman in the part she plays. She is Lady Macbeth, walking at night beneath the shadow of a guilty conscience; she is Meg Merrilles, the weird creation of Sir Walter Scott, masculine, superstitious, hideous and gaunt; she is the Duchess of Malfi, queenly, lovely, accepting death with mingled horror and exultation.
Your ordinary representatives of these characters will walk through the greater part of the play in their own petty little individuality, and perhaps burst out upon you in a passion torn to tatters in the more striking passages. Not so a great actress. She assumes the part in its minutest details, and never forgets to act, even in situations when ordinary actors would suppose there was nothing to be done. The very fingers of her hands express rage, terror, despair or delight.
And from such a player as this, one can follow a long line of gradations in quality, step by step down the ladder of excellence, and at the bottom of it find the dry, hard, soulless “stick,” with the action of a wooden image.
Mrs. Mowatt tells the story of a “scholarly" stick who was on one occasion entrusted with the part of Paris, in “Romeo and Juliet.” “He delivered the language with scholarly precision, and might have passed for an actor until he came to the fighting scene with Romeo. Romeo disarmed him with a facility which did great credit to the good nature of Paris, for whom life had, of course, lost its charms with Juliet. It then became the duty of Paris, who is mortally wounded, to die. The Paris on this occasion took his death blow very kindly. His dying preparations were made with praiseworthy deliberation. First he looked over one shoulder, and then over the