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HISTORY ENDOWED WITH LIFE.

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passions, and politics of the men who fought the wars of the Roses as in the plays of this author. Who ever saw, except their own contemporaries, the heroes of antiquity, until Shakspeare introduced them to us face to face—the living, breathing, speaking inhabitants of Greece and Rome,-their warriors, sages, orators, patriarchs, and plebians? To the man who reads history only, Marius, Sylla, Nero, and Caligula have none of the features of humanity about them. The chief acts of their lives being exhibited unrelieved by a statement of the means by which their deeds were accomplished, they appear like the grotesque figures in a phantasmagoria—fearful from their indistinctness, horrible from their mysterious burlesque on human nature, and alike hideous whether we laugh or shudder at the monstrous chimera. Turn to the page of Shakspeare, or behold his swelling scene at the theatre, and these men—seen, arriving at natural ends by natural means,—teach the eternal truth that the heart of man is the same in all ages, and that vice has produced misery and virtue happiness, from the beginning of the world. The doctor quotes Plato as averse to the theatre. Every man who has not forgotten his school-boy classics can quote passages in Plato which would make the doctor feel that he calculated too much on the ignorance of his hearers. And Aristotle, too, the divine drags into the argument. Why, every tyro knows that the only laws acknowledged, even to this day, for constructing comedies are those of this philosopher, who declares that 'tragedy is intended to purge our passions by means of terror and pity.' And Tacitus says the German manners were guarded by having no play-houses among them.' If that be true, the Germans have thought better on the subject since the time of Tacitus; for one of the modern writers of that nation (Zingerman) says, “We are greatly a dramatic people. Nothing but good can result from the

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VULNERABLE POINTS.

widest indulgence of this taste among us, unless it happen that the sedentary and imaginative student should, through his diseased appetite, draw poison from the stage, as the serpent distils venom from the nutritious things of nature.' The doctor next invokes Ovid to his aid. Surely nothing but a design to frighten us with an array of classical names could induce the preacher to bolster his argument with the opinion of the most licentious poet of ancient or modern times. Ovid calling the theatre dissolute! and advising its suppression! Why, 'tis like Satan denouncing heaven from the burning lake, or like a pickpocket advising the suppression of the penal code. Next we have a list of the formidable opinions of the early fathers of the Church, who were unanimous in thecondemnation of the theatre. Doubtless. So they were in the condemnation and burning of martyrs and witches. However pious were many of them, according to their unchristian and ferocious notions of piety, their sentiments on the subject of the Drama are not worth a moment's discussion. The doctor here arrives at a point where the stage seems indeed vulnerable. He alludes to the bars for the sale of liquors, and to the third row.

* Bars are no more necessary to the theatre than to the pulpit. I am old enough to remember the time when men would assemble at the tavern nearest the church as soon as the service was over, and there discuss the merits of the sermon and of brandy and water at the same time. The Temperance movement, however, wrought wonders, and I believe the same men do not drink now,—at least not until they reach home. The other charge is a graver one—the third tier. This evil is no more essential to the Drama than the bars; nor is it ‘an inseparable concomitant of the theatre.' The separation has taken place in many towns of this country.” And at the present time, I may add, the separation is complete throughout the whole

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land. In a future chapter I shall refer more at length to this subject, and show how the theatre can be purged of vice and indecency, by proper effort. My father concludes: “Those periods in history in which the Drama declined are marked by bigotry, violence, and civil war. All the theatres in London were closed by order of Oliver Cromwell, and ten days afterward the head of Charles the First rolled from the block! Terror and gloom hung over the kingdom. The Drama was interdicted—the arts perished—the woof rotted in the loom—the plow rusted in the furrow, and men's hearts were strung to the ferocity of fanaticism. Fathers and sons shed each other's blood; and in the intervals of lust and murder, wild riot howled through the wasted land. Even if permitted by the laws, the theatre could not exist amid such horrors. But the actors were outlawed, and the bigoted Roundheads fixed that stigma upon the profession of a player which illiterate and narrow-minded people attach to it even to this day. The Pulpit too often depicts Virtue in austere and forbidding colors, and strips her of every attractive grace. The path of duty is made a rugged and toilsome way-narrow and steep; and the fainting pilgrim is sternly forbidden to turn aside his bleeding feet to tread, even for a moment, the soft and pleasant greensward of Sin, which smiles alluring on every side. The Stage paints Virtue in her holiday garments; and though storms sometimes gather round her radiant head, the countenance of the heavenly maid, resigned, serene, and meek, beams forth, after a season of patient suffering, with ineffable refulgence. Vice constantly wears his hideous features, and in the sure, inevitable, punishment of the guilty we behold the type of that Eternal Justice, before whose fiat the purest of us shall tremble when the curtain falls on the Great Drama of Life."

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MY FIRST VISIT BEHIND THE SCENES.

CHAPTER ITI.

My First Visit Behind the Scenes, an Infant in Long Clothes. My

First Appearance Before an Audience, a Child of Five Years.Children as Actors.— Ristori's Debut as a New-born Babe.—Drilling Children in the Art of Acting.--Early Distaste for the Life.—Precocious Dramatic Children.—The Bateman Sisters.-Amusing Anecdotes of Children on the Stage.-A Healthy Infant.

I cannot remember the time when I was not familiar with that curious place known both to theatricals and the outer world as Behind the Scenes. I know I was not born there, but I think I must have been carried there when I was a baby in long clothes. I cannot remember when the musty stage trappings, the pasteboard goblets, the wooden thrones, the canvas tombs, were unfamiliar sights to me.

I think I could not have been more than four or five years old when I made my first appearance on the boards -very much against my will,—and from that period until within five years ago, when I bade farewell to the mimic stage, I hope forever, I have played, off and on, sometimes with an intermission of years, sometimes every night in the year, from babyhood up.

My childhood debut was made in the character of Cora's child in Pizarro, and subsequently as the child of Damon in the play of Damon and Pythias.

My father, if I remember rightly, was stage manager of the theatre in Cincinnati at the time.

Madame Ristori began her dramatic career earlier than this. When she was less than three months old, she was carried on the stage in a basket, to personate a new-born infant.

Cora's child and Damon's child have nothing to say;

CHILDHOOD'S PAINS.

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but I can recall this day the shudder of terror with which I received the news that I would be obliged to go on the stage at night, as Cora's child. For fancy a girl baby being fought over with broad swords by a party of actors! One of them (Rolla) seizes the child, flings it upon his shoulder, and rushes across a shaking bridge, which, after he has crossed, he knocks down with his sword, holding the unhappy child high in the air with his left hand, while he is engaged in these playful diversions with his right.

I was always sadly frightened when I was called upon to play these little parts; and although the actress who played Cora generally gave me sugar plums for being “good,” I could not reconcile myself to it. My mother tried her best to relieve me from the irksome task. Sometimes they succeeded in finding another child, whose parents would hire her out for the night; but it often happened that at the last moment these people would fail to appear, and I was sent for, routed out of my first sleep to go on again to personate Cora’s child.

By and by I got into “speaking parts," such as the Duke of York in Richard the Third; the child in the Rent Day, a touching domestic drama, now little played, and others.

Of course, a child has to be instructed in these speaking parts. It could scarcely be expected that the immature intellect of childhood could grasp the subtle wit of Shakspeare.

For instance, the young Duke of York says to Gloster (afterwards Richard the Third), after his brother has said:

"My Lord of York will still be cross in talk ;

Uncle, your grace knows how to bear with him."
DUKE OF YORK_“You mean to bear me, not to bear with me.

Uncle, my brother mocks both you and me;
Because that I am little, like an ape,
He thinks that you should bear me on your shoulders."

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