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stage, is expressed with precisely that degree of fervour with which it is felt. The use of a lorgnette is very distasteful to them—a fact that is quickly brought home to any stranger who may incautiously raise one; and the presence of a white hat creates the same excitement as that much-derided article in the Sheldon theatre during the Oxford Commemoration. A small boy sees a white hat, when, raising his forefinger in the air, he shouts "one for a white hat." In an instant, some hundreds of forefingers are in the air, and some hundreds of throats are shouting the war cry. If in the innocence of your heart you fail to join, the fist of some lusty young rough falls heavily on you, and you are requested or demanded to " one for a white hat." The best plan, under these circumstances, is to do as Rome does, and howl with the rest; for should you, in the first moment of virtuous indignation, follow the impulse of your nature, and knock down your playful assailant, you would incur the certainty of a "whipping," and run a very fair chance of an incurably broken head. At the Bowery, the pieces most favoured are those of the melo-dramatic order, but the habitués are quite capable of appreciating good acting, and well-written dramas, without the usual blood-and-thunder elements. On one occasion, the writer witnessed the national drama"Isreal Putnam; or, the Iron Son of '76," at this theatre, the interest of which play is derived from the glorification of Washington and the consequent downfall of Lord Cornwallis, and the sovereignty of George III.
Of course, the gentlemen representing Lord Cornwallis and other English officers, were rather pulling against the tide, while Washington, Putnam, and a hero whose name appeared to be Potwolloper (Cadwallader?), had merely to lay on their oars and float on the stream of patriotism which bubbled around; but it is due to the "Bowery Boys" to say that the jokes telling against their countrymen were as liberally applauded as others which were created at the expense of the English. It was only at the end of the piece, when the English flag was lowered to be supplanted by the victorious stars and stripes, and Cornwallis' sword was received by Washington, with a suaviter in modo-which one hopes the original may have possessed that moderation gave way to enthusiasm. The Americans, as a rule, are not to be tempted into noisy applause by mere claptrap; and though, on the occasion referred to, it was right and natural to cheer this record of their triumph, yet the shouts that greeted the crest-fallen Cornwallis and the affable Washington,
resounded through the theatre, rich with the roll of Hibernian brogue, conveying a fearful significance of the feeling which vents itself in migration and Fenianism. The loud Irish cheers that rang from pit to gallery were, to a looker on, more dramatic than anything else that night produced at the Bowery.
Exactly opposite the Bowery is the German Stadt Theatre-a house arranged more in the English fashion than any other here, though without the ornamentation usually found in our theatres. The performances, which comprise historical, allegorical, operette-ical, etc., etc., are conducted in German, and the audiences are almost exclusively composed of Teutons. Judging from the appearance of those in the higher-priced parts of the theatre, New York must contain a large number of the better classes of Germans, as well as the rank and file of that nation, for it needs a large population to support even one theatre; and in the case of the German residents in New York, the remark has a double force, from the fact of there being a number of German saloons, and, so-called, "national gardens," that absorb many hundreds of men who would otherwise be frequenters of the theatre. Mademoiselle Janauschek, too, who has been playing in German at the Academy of Music, has drawn crowded houses, though her reputation and histrionic abilities have proved sufficient to attract large numbers of Americans, as well as of her own countrymen.
The question, "What are the American public like ?" is one often asked by English and foreign artists, whose ideas of the country and its people are commonly derived from anecdotes and the writings of facetious gentlemen. How muddled and incorrect are their preconceived notions, they themselves discover on their arrival in America.
A New York audience-not referring to the Bowery locale-is in some respects a very discriminating assembly, slow in applause, and undemonstrative of their likes and dislikes, except in particular instances, where the one touch of nature asserts its proverbial predominance over all national distinctions. The education of the people being in no way sectional or the result of privilege, the occupants of the cheaper seats are almost as capable as their richer neighbours of forming an opinion on the merits of an actor or a play. In this respect they are like the higher class audiences of London theatres; but it is owned by Americans themselves that their marks of approval are more limited than is consistent with their appreciation of artistic worth. Applause is the breath of an artist's life, and should not be withheld
when honestly deserved, from mere laziness or indifference. Every one must have observed that on the first night of a new piece, the applause is louder and more frequent than on the succeeding evenings, and many people incorrectly ascribe that to the author's friends. The real explanation of this is found in the fact of there being present a number of people who are themselves intimately connected with the stage-actors, authors, amateurs, and the outer fringe of the profession. These are capable of judging minutely whether an artist has done well or ill with the part, and neither laziness nor false modesty prevents their testifying their approval when it has been gained. A piece may be, too often is, rubbish from beginning to end, yet the house may ring with applause, caused by the excellence of some actor or actress's reading, or the creation of character in some apparently-trivial part. Plaudits under these circumstances, invariably come from those who understand the mysteries and niceties of dramatic art, and are worth untold quantities of the noisy approval that proceeds from a claptrapped gallery. That characteristic of a New York audience, to which exception may be most justly taken, arises from their love of dress. An actress's popularity too often arises from her ability to appear in expensive dresses, while merit is often invisible to their eyes when clothed in garments of a cheap material. This arose in a great measure from the freak of a celebrated actress, whose exceptional wealth enabled her to appear in almost regal garb, but her retirement from the stage failed to eradicate the evil she had introduced, and the spectacle of a poor girl arrayed in the glories of a standing-alone silk, is by no means an uncommon phenomenon. Time will mend this, but the critics have not yet made war on an order of things that calls to mind the early days of the drama, when Nell Gwyn and her associates were wont to frolic about the stage in the richest dresses they could get, regardless of the presumable garb of the characters they impersonated. "A beggar in satin" is an exaggerated term, used here when speaking of the dresses worn on a particular stage, but, like all such sayings, is founded on fact, and has about it a certain smack of truth.
Before leaving the theatres and their supporters to speak of artists and stage literature, it may be as well to mention one regulation here, which is sadly needed in London. Every playgoer must be familiar with the subtle art of the English boxkeepers, in obtaining fees for showing visitors to their places, but under the pretence of selling the play-bills. That one has purchased a numbered and reserved seat is but a partial
protection, and those who have not done so find it impossible to obtain the seats they want without tipping the boxkeeper. The Adelphi Theatre is the one bright example in London of a rule that “obtains everywhere in New York. A number of copies of "The Stage," or "The Season," journals that correspond to the French "Entr'acte," and contain a bill of the play, is placed near the cheque gate, and each visitor taking one as he passes, proceeds to his appointed place, or in search of one that suits him, unaided and untroubled. Managers do not here join in the plunder and persecution of their patrons by leasing the passes of their dominions to a domestic banditti, and could any such system be inaugurated, its existence would be short-lived and inglorious, for were an American, who had purchased his ticket at the box office, to be called upon for a further payment for some nameless object, he would demand the reason why, in terms so emphatic, and manner so decided, that the attempted imposition would speedily be abandoned.
THE world has wearied of its toys
With grave experience manifold.
Of pasteboard and of tinsel wrought;
Than sober common sense?
The world is very sharp and keen,
Away with Love-that sickly stuff
The only matters worth a thought
Are house and land, and rank and rents,
And reckoned in the Three per
Than sober common sense?