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ignored, or dismissed with a passing comment. No actor (unless very green), and few managers, give the lightest credence to such effusions.
Year after year, we read the same unmeaning twaddle:-"Mr. So-and-So sustained the part with his usual ability; Miss So-and-So was graceful and charming as ever; Mr. lacks spirit; Mr. What's-his-name is a promising young actor," etc. By the by, that word, "promising," is a very favourite one, as it means nothing; a man may be a very bad actor, and yet one day become an excellent one. Apropos of this word. A well-known London artiste, after having sustained for several years a leading position in the Metropolis, and made the tour of the United States, was described by a provincial critic as a promising actor, who, with time and experience, would take a foremost position in his profession.
Performances are frequently criticised by men who have never seen them. Not long ago, a certain comic lecturer was advertised to appear in the town of Son a certain night. A large audience assembled, the time of beginning arrived, but the gentleman did not. Half an hour passed away; the audience grew impatient. A telegram arrived; the train which was conveying the lecturer had broken down forty miles from S——, and he could not arrive in time to gratify the public. The money was returned, and the people dispersed. On the following Saturday, the organ informed its readers that the lecturer delighted a numerous audience with his wit and comicalities. A few weeks back, a north country critic, noticing a performance, wrote that Mr. So-and-So played the leading part with his accustomed care. I was in the theatre on the night in question; the part mentioned was sustained by another gentleman, and Mr. So-and-So played an entirely opposite one. The parts had been reversed by an error of the printer; the judicious and veracious critic had contented himself with reading the play-bill, and amusing his imagination with a fancy critique.
Last winter, there appeared a notice on the "School for Scandal," as performed at the principal theatre of a town celebrated for woollen manufactories. Lady Teazle was played by a well-known London actress; as a matter of course, to her was accorded the lion's share of the praise. The second object of eulogy was the gentleman who sustained the part of Joseph Surface; his dress was praised, his acting was praised-he was the perfection of Josephs? What was the truth? This paragon was dressed in crimson and gold when he should have been attired in black, out of pique to the Charles Surface, to which
character he fancied himself entitled. To say nothing of the impersonation, he was so grossly imperfect in the text that, in the screen scene, the lady could not proceed with the dialogue, and openly reprimanded him before the public. Yet his painstaking acting was particularly the theme of praise. The other characters of the play, several of which were well played, were censured or ignored. This may appear to the unprofessional an exaggeration, but it is a literal truth.
A good specimen of the provincial reporter was lately to be found in a certain Welsh town. He was a penny barber. At the time I first became cognizant of his existence, the leading lady of the theatre was the object of his especial displeasure; her acting was descanted upon with all the virulence of his limited English? Why? Because he had grown sentimental upon the actress who had preceded her, and who probably, in consideration of certain fulsome notices, had not discouraged his attentions. The bereaved swain vented his gall in an endeavour to damage the reputation of a blameless woman, who possesses far greater talent than his Chloe.
In towns that do not boast the inestimable boon of a regular correspondent, the reports are supplied by actors, who praise themselves highly, their friends moderately, and lash their rivals unmercifully.
The editor is not altogether responsible for these abuses; it is impossible for him to guarantee the accuracy of the critiques forwarded under the present arrangement of his staff. But the abuse is none the
less monstrous for all that.
The general public has a superstitious reverence for whatever appears in print; it thinks the judgment of a newspaper must be superior to its own. The trash of provincial criticism has its believers, and why not? The ordinary reader cannot know the secret springs that move the machine. The press is a mighty power both for right and wrong, and many an artiste of good talent has suffered bitterly by these petty gnats of printer's ink.
Mrs. Holmes Grey.
BY WILLIAM M. ROSSETTI.
"Perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart; one of the indivisible primary faculties or sentiments which give direction to the character of man." -EDGAR POE.
RAIN WASHED for hours, the streets at last
Profuse and pulpy sea-weed on the beach,
With fishes silvery in distended death.
No want of blue now in the upper sky :But also many piled-up flat grey clouds, Threatening a stormy night-time; and the
Sank, a red glare, between two lengthened streaks,
Hot dun, that stretched to southward; and at whiles
The wind over the water swept and swept.
The townspeople, and, more, the visitors, Were passing to the sea-beach through the streets,
To take advantage of the lull of rain. The English "Rainy weather" went from mouth
To mouth, with "Very" answered, or a shrug
Of shoulders, and a growl, and "Sure to be! Began the very day that we arrived."
"Yes," answered one who met a travelling friend;
"I had forgotten that in England you
To feast my eyes on British tiles and slates."
Now as the outskirts neared; and down the streets
Which crossed them he was catching glimpses still
Of waves which whitening shattered out
The road grew steep here, climbing up a elope
Strewn with October leaves, which followed him,
Or drifted edgeways on. The grey advanced,
Half colour and half dusk, along the sky. A dead leaf from a beech-tree loosed itself, And touched across his forehead. As he raised
His eyes, they caught a window, and he stopped
An opened upper window of a house With close-drawn blinds. A man was settled there,
Eager in looking out, yet covertly. He watched, nor moved his eyes from that he watched.
The passenger drew close beside the rails, Looking attentively. "Why, Grey," he cried;
"Can that be you, Grey? I had thought you'd been
The face turned sharply on him, and the
Glanced down, and both hands pulled the window shut.
Pushing a wicket gate, the other went
And these were fading mostly, thinly leaved, The earth-plots littered with the fall of them.
Stately some dahlia-clusters yet delayed,
The plaited flower fell separate all to earth By ring and ring; only the calyx stood Upon its stalk. The autumn time was come. Out of the bordering box stiff plantain grew.
Scarce would the loose trees have afforded shade,
So lessened was the bulk between their boughs,
Had there been sun to cast it. In the grass Rested the moisture of the recent rain.
No one seemed coming; so he walked some steps
Backward, and peered: no sign of any one. He knocked, and at the touch the door unclosed.
"Don't you remember, years ago, your friend,
And correspondent since, John Harling?"
I know you, sir, of course-I did at once."
"Sir! Why, how now?
friends like us?
How many letters that begin 'Dear John,' In your handwriting, I have asked after, These eight years, in some scores of postesrestantes!
Too many, I should hope, for us to Sir Each other now. But only tell me, Grey"
Grey said, "Come up, come up."
There was a haste About his words and manner, and he seemed To half forget what first he meant to do. He paused at the stairs' foot; then, with a glance
Thrown backward at his friend, who stayed for him,
He mounted hurriedly, two steps at once. They had not shaken hands yet. Iarling
Had proffered with the words he uttered first,
But Grey had not appeared to notice it.
Harling had caught the look of the other's face
Where twilight in the doorway glimmered fresh,
And he had fancied it was pale and worn, And anxious as with watchings through the night.
But in the room the light no longer served For one to see the other, how the weeks
About yourself. your wife? What is it brought you down here? Have you left
And how and where's
Oxford, in which your practice was so good?
Chances are not all chance-work. Tell me all."
His friend rose up at this; and Harling saw His knuckles on his forehead, at his hair, And thought his eyes grew larger through the dark.
Grey touched him on the shoulder, drawing breath
To speak with, but he then again sat down.
'Why, first I ought to hear your news, I think,"
At last he answered, swallowing the gasps Which came into his mouth, and clipped his words.
"Though travellers have a vested right to lie,
I'll take it all on trust." He forged a laugh.
Harling grew certain there was something
His friend had got to tell, and must, but feared.
He knew how such a fear, by yielding grows,
And would have had him speak it out at
Nevertheless he answered, "As you will.
Prove to outnumber your original brown, But tell you truth. You tell the truth of
I am more than half a Frenchman, I believe,
By this time. That's no compliment, say I, For a John Bull at heart, and I am one; Thank God, a Tory, and hang the Marseillaise!"
"No lights, no lights," Grey answered, moodily.
"Can we not talk again as once we used, Through twilight and through evening into night,
Knowing, without a light, it was we two?I little thought then it would come to this," He added, and his voice was only sad. "And it is well, too, that the light should come,
For then perhaps you will have made a guess,
By seeing me, before I tell it you.
My dear old friend, it's needless now to attempt
To hide it. I am wretched-that's the word.
I am a fool not to have got the thing
At last. But there's a minute's respite still,
The other, leaning forward, took his hand, And tried to speak some comfort; but the words
Faltered between his lips. For he was sure That, if he had already heard this grief, He would not talk of comfort, but sit dumb.
The lights were come now, and each looked on each.
The traveller's face was bronzed, and his hair crisp
And close, and his eyes steady-all himself Compact and prompt to any chance. And yet
He was essentially the same who went,
Travel and time had only mellowed him.
Arid and meagre, faded, marked with lines; The eyes had sunken further in the head,
With a dark ridge to each, and grizzled brows;
His hair, though as of old, was brown and soft.
The difference was less, but more the change.
Each looked on each some minutes: neither spoke.
His friend was clothed in black, as Harling saw,
Who now resumed the thread of his dis
"As for my own adventures, they are few : For, after I left Rome-the storm will burst,
Be sure, at Rome, before the year is doneI went straight back to Paris. Politics, You know, I've stood aloof from all the
But even with me, too, they have done their work.
My poor Louise was dead-shot down, I learned,
Upon the people's barricades in June:
I could not but curse at them through my teeth
With her own sacré-Dieu's-the whole of them
Who get up revolutions and revolts.
Although I do now think of settling here,
I must, I think, die travelling in the South."
He made an end of speaking. Grey looked
"Is there no more ?" he asked. He said, "No more."
Grey's face turned whiter, and his fingers twitched.