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A PITIABLE OBJECT.

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CHAPTER XVIII.

Stage-Struck Youths.— The Victim of an Unhappy Fever.-A Pitiable

Object.-His General Impecuniosity.--His Vanity and Presumption. False Ideas of the Stage Life.—Sticks and Stage-Drivers.— Worthy Industry.-Democratic Possibilities.—The Stage-Struck Heroes of the Midsummer Night's Dream.-Modern Stage-Struck Youths.—Queer Letters to Managers.-A Girl of “Sixteen Summers, and some say Good-looking.”—Two Smart Girls wish to “Act upon the Stage."-A Stage-Struck Bostonian. - A Pig with Five Legs.-A Stage-Struck Philadelphian. He Appears under an Assumed Name at the Chestnut Street Theatre. — His Love of the Coulisses.—“The Most Delightful Place in the World." - A Species of Infatuation. - A Discontented Manager. - An Actress who “Married Well."-Her Yearnings for the Old Life.-A Letter and an Epithet.

Flesh is heir to many ills, but there are medicines for most of them—though between ills and pills I never could see much difference, as a matter of comfort.

If it were not for the extra p, any one can see that ills and pills are as like as two p's.

For almost all the ills that flesh is heir to, there are medicaments of some sort, with medical men to inflict them on us; but the unfortunate mortal is beyond the reach of medical skill who is attacked with that fever which is not recognized in the medical dictionaries, but which is known to us all by the term “stage-struck."

In this case physicians are in vain; it is impossible to heal this sick soul; and what boots it to cry shoo! to the demon who takes possession of the stage-struck sufferer?

It is very easy to laugh at the distress of the stagestruck youth, but it really is no joke to him. His fever interrupts the ordinary course of existence, in the most unhappy way.

Talk about toothache! Talk about corns! Talk about

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IMPECUNIOUS IMBECILITY.

dyspepsia, even! The stage-struck youth cannot sleep; he cannot eat; he can drink-but let us hope he will not, for no drink that ever was compounded will quench his thirst.

He is, indeed, a very pitiable object, with that histrionic fire burning in his bosom.

This fever generally attacks young men in the lower walks of life-idle apprentices and weak-headed boys, who have no more idea of the artistic requirements of the stage than a Bedouin Arab has of the latest Paris fashions.

The stage-struck youth is generally an impecunious person, and there is united to the fever in his blood a famine in his pocket.

He fancies that the road to fame and fortune is a clear one, by the way of the theatre.

Usually he is a person who has been flattered by his friends into the belief that he is a wonderful mimic or a thrilling orator.

He spoke pieces at school with great success, and his vanity has been so fed by the petty triumphs of that little stage, that he is incapacitated for a studious pursuit of education.

He disdains arithmetic, and grammar is altogether beneath him.

And when he is emancipated from leading-strings, and strikes out in the world for himself, he is thoroughly unfitted for a laborious and conscientious pursuit of any vocation.

He has contracted habits of idleness, and desires nothing now, but to go through life spouting for a livinglike the whales—that toil not, neither do they spin.

The first mistake of a stage-struck youth is exactly here. He fancies that the theatre, being a play-house, is not a place for work—a mistake which is more likely to

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land him in the workhouse, at last, than to make him a rich and famous actor.

I have known, I was almost going to say, a thousand examples of the stage-struck youth in my day, and I can count on my fingers, this hour, all those who, having gone upon the stage, still stay upon it; while the number of those who have perished by the way is legion.

The fact is, as I have already intimated, there is no occupation more laborious than that of acting; and, generally, it is only those who have been bred from childhood to the boards—whose parents were actors before themwho are fit to cope with the toilsome necessities of the stage.

Those who, from the outside world, are stage-struck, are almost invariably very poor sticks indeed, and would make a better figure driving a stage than strutting on one in the borrowed feathers of the actor.

Stage-driving” is not in itself a disreputable employment, by any means. With the memory of Jehu and Tony Weller to inspire us, we shall not underrate the honors which belong to a race of beings now nearly ex tinct; but a stage-driver is not generally a scholar, nor imbued with high artistic tastes; and therefore he will do better to keep his seat on the box than to seek the approbation of the boxes.

A shoemaker on his bench is a useful member of society, and, in so far as he cultivates his mind, he is entitled to sit higher; but, so long as he pursues his trade for a livelihood, he had better take the advice of the temperance lecturer, and “stick to his last, cobbler."

Shoemakers, we know, have risen to honor and greatness, and blacksmiths have become learned men, and eloquent divines; and I heard once of a tanner who became President. I honor labor. I honor all those who work, and work

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STAGE-STRUCK BOTTOM.

honestly and well, according to their place, whether with head or hand.

I respect a carpenter at his bench, or a blacksmith at his anvil; but a stage-struck carpenter or blacksmith I can laugh at as heartily as any one in the world.

Shakespeare chose for his stage-struck heroes, in the “Midsummer Night's Dream,” a half dozen of the “hardhanded men of Athens;” “rude patches,” Puck calls them, " who worked for bread upon Athenian stalls.”

There was Flute, the bellows-mender; Starveling, the tailor; Quince, the carpenter; Snout, the tinker; Snug, the joiner; and Nick Bottom, the weaver.

They were all desperately stage-struck, but Bully Bottom by far the most severely. This unhappy man wanted to play all the parts in their piece of “Pyramus and Thisby,” and, when they were at rehearsal, made a deal of trouble by clamoring for this part and the other.

He was cast for Pyramus; and, “What is Pyramus ?” he asks, “a lover or a tyrant?"

“A lover," says Quince, “ that kills himself, most gallantly, for love."

“ That,” says Bottom,“ will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes.

I will move storms—I will condole in some measure.”

But, though so pleased with the lover's part, Bottom cannot help wishing it had been a tyrant—"a part to tear a cat in—to make all split."

Then, when Francis Flute is cast for the part of Thisby, Bottom wants to play that; he thinks he could play a woman capitally.

“Let me play Thisby, too,” he says; “I'll speak in a monstrous little voice-Thisne, Thisne-Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear; thy Thisby dear; and lady dear!”

When Snug, the joiner, is cast for the part of the lion,

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he is told that he has nothing to do but roar. Whereupon poor stage-struck Bottom's vanity is again aroused.

“Let me play the lion, too,” he says; “I will roar that it will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar that I will make the duke say, 'Let him roar againlet him roar again.'

To this Quince objects : “An' you should do it too terriribly, you would fright the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek, and that were enough to hang us all. Ay, that would hang us, every mother's son.”

But Bottom replies, with a persistency worthy of a better purpose:

“I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us. But I will aggravate my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove. I will roar you an' 'twere any nightingale.”

The fun these fine fellows make when they are on the stage, to perform their ridiculous play, is as rich as anything to be found in the language.

Among modern stage-struck youths are representatives of every class in society. A gentleman who recently examined a package of some two hundred letters from stagestruck people, addressed to a Boston manager, relates that one was from a refined and cultivated young lady, who had fallen in love with Edwin Booth; another from an awkward, uneducated, rustic boor, who, having seen a troupe of strolling Thespians in some country town, instantly decided that he was born to histrionic fame. Most of the letters, especially those from the ladies, were very long, with long exordiums and long perorations. The writers first beg pardon for intruding, then explain at great length their feelings and aspirations, then make their request for employment or advice, and wind up with a labored apology. In many cases the fair writers adopt

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