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MACREADY AND THE BOY.
and in friendly prattle pass a half an hour away. Thaddy, in one of these confidential moments, expressed a longing desire to go to the theatre, and see his elderly friend act. *Very well,' said the tragedian, “I'll ask your father to let you go to-morrow night. Accordingly the request was duly made and granted, and on the night appointed the father and son made a portion of one of the most brilliant assemblages that ever gathered within the walls of the St. Charles. The play was ‘King Lear.' Macready never acted more beautifully. The frenzy and pathos of the choleric king were faithfully delineated; and in the great storm scene, where Lear is exposed to the fury of the tempest, with the lightning flashing around his aged head, the frenzied gesture and sublime pathos of the great actor drew down the thunders from the front of the house, which drowned the noise of the mimic tempest on the stage most effectually. Macready left the theatre with the applause still ringing in his ears. We all .have our little weaknesses, and the great actor could not feel entirely satisfied with the ovation bestowed on him by. refined ladies and grey-head critics. He wanted a tit bit of admiration, a bonne bouche, from little Thaddy. So, on the following day, he took the first opportunity in his conversation with his young friend to elicit his childish opinion of his acting. • Oh! it was beautiful, Mr. 'Cready,' said the boy. “You were pleased with the play, then, Thaddy?' said the gratified tragedian. -Yes, indeed, Mr. 'Cready,' answered Thaddy. Now, what do you think I was doing when I was in the rain, and when it was thundering and lightning so much ?' 'Oh, I felt so sorry for you,' said Thaddy. “You did that very well, though, Mr. 'Cready.' 'Ah! when I was throwing my arms about, you know what I did that for ? "Oh, yes, indeed, and I wanted to help you so much,' replied Thaddy, warming up at the remembrance of the thrilling performance, 'you were catching lightning bugs!”
CASTE, IN THE GREEN-ROOM.
The Personal and Private Lives of Players. Social Distinctions of the Green
Room.--Smoking and Drinking Behind the Scenes.-Curiosity of the Public about Actors' Private Lives.-The Wonderful Jones and Brown. -Clannishness of Actors.—A Lively Green Room Scene.-Admitting Visitors Behind the Scenes.- A Solitary Levee.- Actors’ Private Habits their Own Concern.—Persecution of Actors in Former Days.The Lesson of rity.-Excusable Curiosity.--Actors' Ages.—Habits of French Actors.-Love Letters of Actresses. -A Funny Specimen. -A Ludicrous French Lover.-Marriage of Actresses into High Life. -General Good Health of Players.— An Actress who went Mad.Players who Have Reached Great Age.—"Old Holland.”—Dejazet.
There are as many social distinctions in the green-room as in the parlor. The “Star" is the lion of the hour, and is treated by all with the deference usually shown to lions in society.
The Star will fraternize with the manager, the stagemanager, and the leading actors and actresses; but a “utility” person—male or female-or a “walking lady" or “gentleman" who would address the Star, except on a matter of business, would be considered presumptuous.
The carpenters, property-men, scene-shifters, and machinists never enter the green-room, and very rarely hold any conversation whatever with the players. These latter consider themselves artists; the others are artisans. It is the pride of position.
The musicians have a green-room of their own, where they wile away the long moments during the acts, when they are not called upon to play, by tuning their instruments, smoking a pipe or cigar, or sipping a mug of beer. The first of these offences is considered graver than the latter; and is liable to fine, or even discharge of the offender.
“No smoking allowed,” is a card conspicuously displayed behind the scenes and in the green-room of every well regulated theatre. Considering the amount of combustible matter always stowed away in theatres, the precaution is a wise one.
The curiosity of the public about the private life of player-folk is not a thing of modern growth.
The prosperous days of the profession have always been marked by this curiosity.
If you have the happiness to possess a garrulous and clear-headed old friend of eighty years of age, you will see what a hold the stage and its professors had on the generation at the commencement of this century.
“John Kemble, sir, always wore knee-breeches of grey cloth when he was in the country. Mrs. Siddons, sir, once tumbled over a stile near Coventry, and bore the mark of the accident on the instep of her right foot to her dying day. She died on a Friday, sir, and I have heard that she was married on a Thursday.”
The British newspapers of 1809 are filled with more columns of discussion on the late quarrel between Y. Z., of this theatre, and X. Y. of that, than of information about the armies in Spain. “It seemed as if the moment an unlucky person, whether an Hamlet, or an aspiring Ophelia, set foot upon the boards, they were forced in all future time to dance a torch-dance down the great hall of life, like a set of princes and potentates at a Prussian wedding, and found repose and shadow nevermore. To exist forever within the glare of lamps and the smell of orange-peel was a heavy price to pay for the chance of making a palpable hit as Laertes, or captivating a marquis in the white robes of Miranda. But this suffering actors were willing to endure and the public to inflict. Once encircled with the tinfoil crown
-once robed in imitation ermine-once grasping the wooden sceptre
JONES AND BROWN.
private existence was from thenceforth impossible to the vexed majesty of Sicily or the ill-favored King of Denmark. His ways were marked in Wardour Street-his appearance was greeted in Martin's Lane. The first seat of the gallery recognized him as he dived into a ham and beef shop to cheapen a sausage; the waiter at the Tavistock door pointed him out to the rural clergyman who was waiting for a coach. That's Mr. Brown, sir, of Covent Garden ; he is going to appear to-night as the crabbed old gent in the Winter's Tale,' or "That's Mr. Jones, sir, of Drury; he is to act Hamlet's uncle; a big man, and very strong. He began with gymnastics, but when he grew too heavy for the rope, he took to kings, sir; he has almost always a crown on his head. I've heard say, what with four hours' rehearsal and three hours' play, his reign would be nearly as long as George IV.'s, if they were added together, without counting the time they're both asleep.'" But the passion for dragging every one connected with the theatre before the public was not restricted, in that earlier day, to the mere wearers of the sock and buskin. “Woe befall the aspirant for dramatic reputation in any shape or form! If poverty, and beer, and vanity, and a cousin promoted to be prompter, induced a youthful Shakespeare to write a farce, he was a public. character until the earth was shoveled over him, at the parish expense, in the pauper's grave.
Chields were among the audience, or in the orchestra among the fiddlers, or behind the scenes among the paint-pots, taking notes; and whether the poor effort succeeded or not—whether triumphant shouts brought forward the author to the front of his private box, or indignant hisses drove him distracted from the housethe notes were printed; they were sent to a yearly volume of theatrical intelligence; they were incorporated with a thousand other records equally important; and he flour