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to him, crowds his neighbors on both sides, and provokes frowns if not audible remonstrance. If he be shaken from his forced rigidity by Brasseur's mirthful influence, he chafes his knees in the most exasperating manner, or crushes contiguous ribs. Even when quiet, he is comfortless as the occupant of a Third avenue car in a snowstorm. I have no doubt that one of the reasons for the continued toleration of the claque is the frightful struggle which attends every attempt of an audience to applaud for itself. Here, however, the enjoyment of the perform
. ance is never impaired by the sense of physical inconvenience. The visitor, accustomed to other houses, on seating himself in a Déjazet fauteuil suddenly imagines himself lost, and passes a moment or two in extreme bewilderment before he sinks contentedly back into its luxurious depths. On the evening in question, Déjazet's reception was an event to be remembered. Her first step upon the scene was the signal for loud outeries of welcome, not only from the orchestra and parterre, but also from the more decorous boxes, whence proceeded shrill feminine tones, agreeably diversifying the chorus. Hats and handkerchiefs were waved, and for five minutes the business of the stage was suspended in order that the audience might have its jubilee out. And when quiet at last returned, it was curious to observe how the house continued to beam with silent, though not less expressive delight at the re-appearance of the dear old favorite. On all sides, little phrases of compliment and endearment were murmured: “What grace ;' “Younger than ever ;' "Well done, petite ;' 'Ah, la maligne.' Pleasantly conscious of the favor lavished upon her, she glided through the representation with truly astonishing elasticity and buoyancy. Her attitudes and movements were literally like those of a young girl. Her face, closely viewed, betrayed advancing age, but by no means to the extent
that would have been expected. Her eyes flashed as brilliantly as those of her youngest supporters upon the stage; and I am sure that few of them could rival her lithe and supple form. Altogether, her appearance was that of a woman of about thirty-five. It is difficult to believe that her acting could ever have been more thoroughly artistic.
The timid flirtations of Bernard, his innocent wickedness, his immature attempts at gallantry, the affected bravery of his soldier life, the jaunty efforts to prove himself a man of the world, and the mischievous persistence of his last love-suit, were all expressed with inimitable grace and humor. The faculty of inventing impromptu óby-play,' always one of her best gifts, was everywhere conspicuous, and was recognized at each new point by bursts of laughter and applause. Of course, it was inevitable that at certain moments some evidence of time's changes should assert itself; but even these were made the occasion for demonstrations of encouragement and good-will. When about to sing a rather difficult song, she would advance to the rampe, nod saucily, as if to say, “You think I can't do it, but you shall see,' then pluckily assail her bravuras, comically tripping among the tortuous cadenzas, and at the end receive her applause with an odd little air of pride, indicating entire indifference as to the lost notes, or perhaps a satisfied conviction that everything had gone better than she had expected or the public deserved. Déjazet was always more famous for the manner than for for the method of her singing. It was her son, I think (a capital musician), who said of her that 'she sings out of tune with the most exquisite correctness in the world.''
In this connection, the following bit of information, which has just appeared, has more than passing interest : “A double stroke of good luck has fallen upon the Theatre Déjazet, belonging to the celebrated actress of
AN ELDERLY SOUBRETTE.
that name. M. Victorien Sardou, the author of Patrie' and ·Nos Bons Villageois,' has consented to write a comedy for it, and Baron Haussmann has determined to demolish it next Summer, to run a new.street over its site. The effect of the first of these measures will be to give Mademoiselle Déjazet a full house during all the winter season, and that of the second to put ten thousand pounds in her purse as indemnity. Truly, Providence is never kind by halves, for, had neither M. Sardou nor M. Haussmann turned their thoughts toward the Theatre Déjazet, it must inevitably have come to grief before long. The public had quite forgotten the way to it. Malle. Déjazet, it should be remarked, is seventy-three years old. She first appeared on the stage during the first Empire, and still acts now in the parts of soubrettes—that is, young servant maids!”
THE SACRED FIRE OF GENIUS.
Successful Actors.-George Frederick Cooke.-Success not always the Guerdon of Merit.-E. L. Davenport and Miss Lotta.-Jefferson, Booth and Forrest.- Booth's Wealth.- Booth as Hamlet.-Forrest.The Sock-and-Buskin View of Nature and Emotion.- Forrest's Debut.-Jefferson and Ristori.-Foreign and Native Actors.-Jefferson and Eliza Logan.-Jefferson's Home.-Wealthy Actors.-Ups and Downs.-Macready.-The Great Riot in 1848.-Julia Dean and Eliza
I have always believed that the energy, the perseverance, the "vim" required to make a fine position as an actor would be enough to make any person successful in other less precarious pursuits. For all art is precarious. The painter, the sculptor, the poet, the musician, all these But the very lead exactly as visionary lives as the actor. same spirit, the passion, which induces the painter to stick to his easel in spite of starvation, is what lures many a "poor player" on,-love of the art.
George Frederick Cooke, whose popularity was so great in England that he had to be fairly kidnapped to get him over to this country, never had his talents recognized until he was forty-five years of age. It may be that he did not reach perfection until that time; if so, this is a strong argument against those who claim that genius alone-and not study and application-makes an actor. If this idea could once be effectually scouted, it would drive many men who now are a disgrace to the theatrical professlon, either to hard study, as a means of possible. distinction, or to an abandonment of an art for which they are obviously unfitted.
But I know many writers, many painters, many sculptors, who labor under a delusion-exactly as some actors
GENIUS IN HUMBLE GUISE.
do—that one fine day the world will discover them to be great geniuses, and they have only to wait for that day, which will inevitably come, without exertion on their part. And the consequence is, they live and die in poverty, and perhaps drunkenness and vagabondage.
Cooke was called, in his day, the king of actors, the genius of geniuses. On the stage he was one man, another off it; as Cooke the actor he bore scarcely any resemblance to Cooke the man. Off the stage he was nervous, awkward, and embarrassed; on the stage impas
ioned, graceful, and “monarch of all he surveyed.” Off the stage he had no voice, but spoke in a disagreeable, indistinct whisper; on the stage he had a fine, mellow and powerful voice. In short, off the stage nothing but his grand eyes gave earnest of what he could perform upon it. And, as I have said, he did not attain eminence until he reached middle age, the period of youth being spent in the ordinary drudgery of a theatre.
Every actor who has not achieved fame and fortune will be quite willing to concede that success is not always the guerdon of merit.
There are, it is undoubted, numberless actors now performing in comparatively humble capacities in stock companies, who are far more meritorious than numberless others who display themselves as “stars," and make large sums of money.
Actors like E. L. Davenport, who have never created any marked sensation, and, in spite of rare abilities and conscientious effort, see themselves outstripped in the race for fortune by people far below them in all the qualities which should deserve success, may be excused for sometimes feeling that the theatre-going masses need educating
And apropos of this actor, there is a story which is good enough to print, for its own sake, as well as for the subtle truth which it suggests.