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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
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 S-- on 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 SM, 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 havo beun 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,
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 stafj. 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 goats 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
were dried. Profuse and pulpy sea-weed on the beach, Pushed by the latest heary tide some way Across the jostled shingle, was too far For washing back, now that the sea at ebb Left an each time retreating track of foam. There were the wonted tetchy and sidelong
crabs, With fishes silvery in distended death. No want of blue now in the upper sky :But also many piled-up flat grey clouds, Thriatening a stormy night-time; and the Sank, a red glare, between two lengthened
Now as the outskirts neared; and down
the streets Which crossed them he was catching
glimpses still Of waves which whitening shattered out
at sea. The road grew steep here, climbing up a
elope Strewn with October leaves, which followed
him, Or dristed edgeways on. The grey ad
vanced, 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 lie
stopped An opened upper window of a houso 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
mouth To mouth, with “Very" answered, or a
you'd been__ The face turned sharply on him, and the
your wife ?
letters that begin · Dear John; | Chat
The plaited flower fell separate all to earth Had changed him, and the months and
Now seated—“As you see, John," Grey shade,
began, So lessened was the bulk between their
"This is a bed-room. I have not had time boughs,
To trouble myself yet about the house." Had there been sun to cast it. In the grass “You are but just arrived, then ?" Rested the moisture of the recent rain.
“Yes, but just.” No one seemed coming; so he walked some
He was about to say some more, but steps
stopped. Backward, and peered: no sign of any one. “And now,” said Harling," you shall tell He knocked, and at the touch the door unclosed.
About yourself. And how and where's “ Don't you remember, years ago, your What is it brought you down here? Hare
friend, And correspondent since, John Hurling?”
Oxford, in which your practice was so good?
“Oh, Or are you here on holidays? I come I know you, sir, of course—I did at once." Upon you by an unexpected chance.
There must be something to be learned, I “ Sir! Why, how now? Between old
know; Chances are not all chance-work. Tell me
all." In your handwriting, I have asked after, These eight years, in some scores of postes.
His friend rose up at this; and Harling saw restantes !
His knuckles on his forehead, at his hair, Too many, I should hope, for us to Sir And thought his eyes grew larger through Each other now. But only tell me,
the dark. Grey
Grey toucbed him on the shoulder, draw.
ing breath Grey said, “Come up, come up."
To speak with, but he then again sat down. There was a haste “Why, first I ought to hear your news, I About his words and manner, and he seemed think,” To balf forget what first he meant to do. At last he answered, swallowing the gasps He paused at the stairs' foot; then, with a Which came into his mouth, and clipped glance
his words. Thrown backward at his friend, who stayed “Though travellers have a vested right to for him,
lie, le mounted hurriedly, two steps at once. I'll take it all on trust.” He forged a laugh. They bad not shaken hands yet. Ilarling his
Harling grew certain there was something Had proffered with the words he uttered first,
His friend had got to tell, and must, but But Grey had not appeared to notice it. feared.
He knew how such a fenr, by yielding Harling had caught the look of the other's grows, face
And would have had him speak it out at Where twilight in the doorway glimmered fresh,
Nevertheless he answered, " As you will. And he had fancied it was pale and worn, And yet I have but little left to say And anxious as with watchings through Since my last letter. But the whole is this. the night.
But let us first have light before we talk, But in the room the light no longer served That we may know each other once again. For one to see the other, how the weeks I shall not tatter you if grizzled hairs
With a dark ridge to each, and grizzled
brows; IIis 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 Har.
ling saw, Who now resumed the thread of bis dis
course. “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 stool aloof from all the
year ; 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 : She turned up quite a Red Republican After their twenty-fourth of February ; And my successor in her graces fell With her—both fighting and yelling side
by side. 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. And then they swore I was an Orleanist, An English spy, or something; and indeed I found myself, the scanty days I stopped, A centre-piece for all the blackest looks. At least I thought so. Many of my friends, Besides, were gone, waiting for better times When next they come to Paris. So I left Disgusted, and crossed over. Why should I Quit England and dear brother Tories ?
still, Although I do now think of settling here, Perhaps, before another twelvemonth goes, The South will tempt me back--sooner,
perhaps. I must, I think, die travelling in the
South." He made an end of speaking. Grey looked
up. “Is there no more ?” he asked. He said,
“No more.” Grey's face turned whiter, and his fingers
Prove to outnumber your original brown,
I am more than half a Frenchman, I be
moodily. “Can we not talk again as once we used, Through twilight and through evening into
niglit, 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 liglit-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