Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

STAGE CROWDS. M. FRANCISQUE SARCEY, combating the the.

ory of the Saxe-Meiningen Dramatic Directors respecting the training and importance of the theatrical crowd, recently emitted the following opinion : "The crowd on the stage can perfectly well be represented by five or six supernumeraries, or even by a single one, which last would prob. ably be the best if such a thing could be allowed, as the part could then be allotted to a genuine actor.” Thereupon one of M. Sarcey's colleagues immediately pounced upon that rather absurd remark, and gives an account of an imaginary drama with copious extracts therefrom, in which M. Coquelin, on his return from America, will personate, all alone, the usual throng. It is rather too long to give in its entirety, but here are some of the more amusing details :

SCENE-A terrace in front of the palace. The prince is seated in the foreground, with his confidant, Astolfo, beside him. M. Coquelin is drawn up in good order in the background.

Prince-Astolfo, call my brave subjects to me. (M. Coquelin advances). Come, my good friends, and do not be afraid. I want to see you around me. (M. Coquelin forms a hollow square and surrounds the prince). Come, come, no pushing. There is plenty of room. (M. Coquelin ceases to push himself). It is very pleasant to see you thus beside me. For you I am not a sovereign, but a friend-I might almost say a father. The names of all of you are familiar to me. Good-morning, Ber

Glad to see you, Pietro, As pretty as ever, Picciolo. And you, my good old Leonardo-still robust and vigorous, I see.

Ah, I love you all-all! (Murmurs of gratitude from the interior of M. Coquelin).

Astolfo-What a touching scene ! Friends, shout with me long live our prince! But, there -enough-enough-these cries fatigue Moreover, I have something serious to say. I have taken a resolution te retire to a cloister. J. Coquelin-Is it possible ? No, no!

We cannot permit it! Stay with us! For pity's sakes! No-no-no! (While uttering these cries, M. Coquelin is grouped in a variety of picturesque attitudes.

With one hand he wipes away his tears ; with the other he embraces the knees of the prince).

Prince-My old companion-at-arms, you will, I hope, never forget me?

M. Coquelin (voice of the men-at-arms)-- We will never forget you,

PrinceAnd you, young girls, will you not pray for me?

M. Coquelin (voice of young girls)—We will always pray for you.

Prince-And you, little children, the future hope of my principality, you will preserve a remembrance of me?

M. Coquelin (voice of the little children)-We will keep your memory sacred.

PrinceThat is well. Leave me now. I would be alone. (Exit M. Coquelin in mournful silence, half at the right and half at the left).

Astolfo--Never have I seen so many noble souls assembled together.

DOUBLE-JOINTED PEOPLE. -Not everyone can be a contortionist. Some feats are absolutely impossible to the average man. Others, again, depend less on pecularities of structure thau on those of function. When we come to consider what, and how great, are the deviations from the normal structure of bones, joints, and muscles, we feel at once the difficulty of defining precisely what is normal. The range of individual variation is wonderfully great. I have seen human shouider-blades so different that if they were the bones of unknown animals sent for examination to Huxley's scientific inhabitant of Saturn, it is highly probable that he would assign them to different species. To take a more familiar illus. tration, it is well known that chiidren differ greatly in their ability to turn out their toes. Failure to do so does not imply awkwardness, but often depends solely on the shape of the bones of the leg, which offers a hindrance which it is useless cruelty to call on the child to overcome at once, though it may yield to long-continued treatment. Now, just as some children nacurally turn out their toes more than others, so some can bend their backs and twist them. selves more than others, and in all likelihood the primary cause is in both cases a peculiarity of structure, which way well have been increased and accentuated by suitable exercises, till in some cases the peculiarity has becom- so pronounced that it must be called abnormal. Many curious questions are involved in this study, which are puzzles to anatomists and surgeons as well as to others There are various points, of little practical importance, which are so familiar that one is surprised to find out how little they are understood. One of these is, What is the actual cordition in loose-jointed or “ double. jointed”, persons, as they are called? What occurs when people “snaptheir joints," or when some movement of the knee causes a sudden re. port? I am not aware that these latter questions have ever been satisfactorily answered.-From ** The Anatomy of the Contortionist," by Dr. Thomas Dwight, in the April Scribner's.

me.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

CROWDED OUT.

| AM nobody. I am living in a London lodging

house. My room is up three pairs of stairs. I bave come to London to sell or to part with in some manner an opera, a comedy, a volume of verse, songs, sketches, stories. I compose as well as I write. I am ambitious. For the sake of another, one other, I am ambitious. For my. self it does not matter. If nobody will discover me I must discover myself. I must demand recognition, I must wrest attention ; they are my due. I look from my window over the smoky roofs of London. What will it do for me, this great cold city? It shall hear me, it shall pause for a moment, for a day, for a year. I will make it to listen to me, to look at me. I have left a continent behind, I have crossed a great water ; I have incurred dangers, trials of all kinds ; I have grown pale and thin with labor and the midnight oil ; I have starved and watched the dawn break starving ; I have prayed on my stubborn knees for death, and I have prayed on my stubborn knees for life-all that I might reach London, London that has killed so many of my brothers ; London the cold, London the blind, London the cruel! I am here at last. I am here to be tested, to be proved, to be worn proudly, as a favorite and costly jewel is worn, or to be flung aside scornfully, or to be dropped stealthily to-the devil ! And I love it so, this great London! I am ready to swear no one ever loved it so before! The smokier it is, the dirtier, the dingier, the better. The oftener it rains the bet

he more whimsical it is, the more fickle, the more credulous, the more self-sufficient, the more self-existent, the better. Nothing that it can do, nothing that can be, can change my love for it, great, cruel London !

But to be cruel to me, to be fickle to me, to be deaf to me, to be blind to me! Would I change then? I might. As yet it does not know me. I pass through its streets, touching here a bit of old black wall, picking there an ivy leaf, and it knows me not. It is holy ground to me. It is the mistress whose hand alone I as yet dare to kiss. Some day I shall possess the whole, and I shall walk with the firm and buoyant tread of the accepted, delighted lover. Only to-day I am nobody. I am crowded out. Yet there are moments when the mere joy of being in England, of being in London, satisfies me.

I have seen the sunbeam strike the glory along the green. I

know it is an English sky above me, all change, all mutability. No steady, cloudless sphere of blue, but ever-varying glories of white piled cloud against the gray. Listen to this. I saw a primrose-the first I had ever seen-in the hedge. They said Pick it.” But I did not. I, who had written three years ago

I never pulled a primrose, I,
But could I know but there might lie
E’en now some small or hidden seed,
Within, below, an English mead,
Waiting for sun and rain to make
A flower of it for my poor sake,
I then could wait till winds should tell,
For me there swayed or swung a bell,
Or reared a banner, peered a star,

Or curved a cup in woods afar. I who had written that, I had found my first primrose, and I could not pluck it. I found it fair, be sure. I find all England fair. The shimmering mist and the tender rain, the red wallflower and the ivy green, the singing birds and the shallow streams-all the country; the blackened churches, the grass-grown churchyards, the hum of streets, the crowded omnibus, the gorgeous shops-all the town. God! do I not love it, my England ? Yet not my England yet. Till she proclaim it herself, I am not hers. I will make her inine. I will write as no man has ever written about her, for very love of her. I look out to-night from my narrow window and think how the moonlight falls on Tintern, on Glastonbury, on Furness. How it falls on the primrose I would not pluck. How it would like to fall on the tall blue-bells in the wood. I see the light of Oxford street; the omnibuses rattle by ; the people are going to see Irving, Wilson Barrett, Ellen Terry. What line of mine, what bar, what thought or phrase will turn the silence into song, the copper into gold ?

* I come back to the window and sit at the square centre table. It is rickety and uncomfortable, unless to write on. I kick it. I would kick anything that came in my way to-night. · I am savage.

Outside a French piano is playing that infernal waltz. A fair subject for kicking, if you will. But, though I would, I cannot. What a room! The fire-place is filled with orange peel and brown paper, cigar stumps and matches. One blind I pulled down this morning; the other is crooked. The lamp glass is cracked, my work, too. I dare not look at the wall paper nor the pictures. The carpet I have kicked into holes. I can see it, though I can't feel it, it is so thin.

ter.

*

*

*

* * * *

*

My clothes are lying all about. The soot of London begrimes every object in the room. I would buy a pot of musk or a silken scarf, if I dared, but how can I ?

I must get my bread first and live for beauty after. Everything is refused though, everything sent back or else dropped as it were into some · bottomless bit or gulf.

Here is my opera. This is my magnum opus, very dear, very clear, very well preserved. For it is three years old. I scored it nearly altogether, by her side, Hortense, my dear love, my northern bird! You could flush under my gaze, you could kindle at my touch, but you were not for me, you were not for me! * * My head droops down, I could go to sleep. But I must not waste the time in sleep. I will write another story. No; I had four returned to-day. Ah! cruel London ! To love you so, only that I may be spurned and thrust aside, ignored, forgotten. But to-morrow I will try again. I will take the opera to the theatres, I will see the managers, I will even tell them about it myself and about Hortense—but it will be hard. They do not know me, they do not know Hortense. They will laugh, they will say “ You fool.” And I shall be helpless, I shall let them say it. They will never listen to me, though I play my most beautiful phrase, for I am nobody, And Hortense, the child with the royal air, Hortense, with her imperial brow and her hair rolled over its cushion, Hortense, the Châtelaine of Beau Séjour, the delicate, haughty, pale and impassioned daughter of a noble house, that Hortense, my Hortense, is nobody!

Who in this great London will believe in me, who will care to know about Hortense or about Beau Séjour? If they ask me, I shall say-oh ! proudly !-not in Normandy nor in Alsace, but far away across a great water dwells snch a maiden in such a chateau. There by the side of a northern river, ever rippling, ever sparkling in summer, hard, hard frozen in winter, stretches a vast estate.

I remember its impenetrable pinewood. its deep ravine; I see the château, long and white and straggling, with the red tiled towers and the tall French windows ; I see the terrace where the hound must still sleep; I see the square side tower with the black iron shutters; I see the very window where Hortense has set her light; I see the floating cribs on the river, I hear the boatmen singing :

Descendez à lombre,

Ma Jolie blonde,

And now I am dreaming surely! This is London, not Beau Séjour, and Hortense is far away, and it is that cursed fellow in the street I hear! The morrow comes on quickly. Were I to draw up that crooked blind now I should see the first streaks of daylight. Who pinned those other curtains together? That was well done, for I don't want to see the daylight; and it comes in, you know, Hortense, when you think it is shut out. Somebody calls it fingers, and that is just what it is, long fingers of dawn, always pale, always gay and white, stealing in and around my pillow for me. Never pink, never rosy, mind that; always faint and shadowy and gray.

It was all caste. Caste in London, caste in Le Bas Canada, all the same.

Because she was a St. Hilaire. Her full nameHortense Angelique De Repentigny de St. Iiluire-how it grates on me afresh with its aristocratic plentitude. She is well-born, certainly; better born than most of these girls I have seen here in London, driving, walking, riding in the parks. They wear their hair over cushions too. Freckled skins, high cheekbones, square foreheads, spreading eyebrows-they shouldn't wear it so. It suits Hortense—with her pale patrician outline and her dark pencilled eyebrows, and her black ribbon and amulet around her neck. 0, Marie, priey pour nons qui avous recours a tous! Once I walked out to Beau Séjour. She did not expect me and I crept through the leafy ravine to the pinewood, then on to the steps, and so up to the terrace. Through the French window I could see her seated at the long table opposite Father Couture. She lives alone with the good Père. She is the last one of the noble line, and he guards her well and guards her money too.

“I do remember that it vill be all for ze Church,” she has said to me. And the priest has taught her all she knows, how to sew and embroider, and cook and read, though he never lets her read anything but works on religion. Religion, always religion ! He has brought her up like a nun, crushed the life out of her. Until I found her out, found my jewel out. It is Ten nyson

that. But his "Maud” freer to woo than Hortense, freer to love and kiss and hold—my God! that night while I watched them studying and bending over those cursed works on the Martyrs and the Saints and the Mis sion houses—I saw him-him-that old priesttake her in his arms and caress her, drink her

a

who says

was

That is right for there is a chance—there is a chance of these things proving blessings after all to good girls, and you were a good girl, Hortense, You will not mind my calling you Hortense, will you? When we are in Le Bas Canada again, in your own seignieury, it will be “ Madamoiselle," I promise you You say it is a strange pillow, Hortense ? Books, my girl, and manuscripts ; hard, but not so hard as London stones and London hearts. Do you know I think I am dying, or else going mad? And no one will listen, even if I cry out.

There is too much to listen to already in Eng. land. Think of all the growing green, Hor. tense, if you can, where you are, so far away from it all. Where you are it is cold, and the snow is still on the ground, and only the little bloodroot is up in the woods. Here where I am, Hortense, where I am going to die, it is warm, and green full of color-ob ! such color! Before I came here to London, you know, London that is going to do so much for me, for us both. I had one day-one day in the country. There 1 saw-No. they will not let me tell you, I knew they would try to prevent me, those long, gray fingers steal. ing in, stealing in ! But I will tell you. Listen, Hortense, please. I saw the hawthorne, pink and white, the laburnum-yellow-not fire-color, I shall correct the Laureate there, Hortense, when I am bettər, when I

publish. It is dreadful to be alone in London Don't come, Hortense. Stay where you are, even if it is cold and gray and there is no color. Keep your amulet round your neck, dear!

I count my pulse beats. It is a bad thing to do. It is broad daylight now and the fingers I can write again, perhaps.

The ink

God.

Hortense ! There is no ink left! And my heart-My heart, Hortense!!!

Descendez à l'ombre,
Ma Jolie blonde.

Seranus

*

*

*

breath, feast on her eyes, her hair, her delicate skin, and I burst in like a young madman and told rather Conture what I thought. Oh! I was mad! I should have won her first. I should have worked quietly, cautiously, waiting, waiting, biding my time. But I could never bide my time. And now she hates me, Hortense hates me, though she so nearly learned to love me. There where we used to listen to the magical river songs, we nearly loved, did we not Hortense? But she was a St. Hilaire, and I-I was nobody, and I had insulted le bon Père. Yet if I go back to her rich, prosperous, inpependent, What if that happen? But I begin to fancy it will never happen. My resolutions, where are they, what comes of them? Nothing. I have tried every. thing except the opera. Everything else has been rejected. For a week I have not gone to bed at all. I wait and see those ghastly gray fingers smoothing my pillow. I am not wanted. I am crowded out. My hands tremble and I cannot write. My eyes fail and I cannot see. To the window !

The lights of Oxford street once more; the glare and the rattle without, the fever and the ruin, the nerves and the heart within. Poor nerves, poor heart; it is food you want and wine and rest, and I cannot give them to you.

Sing, Hortense, will you? Sit by my side, by our dear river, St. Maurice, the clear, the sparkling. See how the floating cribs sail by each with its gleaming lights! It is like Venice, I suppose.

Shall we see Venice ever, Hortense, you and I? Sing now for me.

Descendez á l'ombre,

Ma Jolie blonde. Only you are a petite brune, there is nothing blonde about you, mignonne, my dear mademoiselle, I should say, if I were with you, of course, as I used to do. But surely I am with you, and those lights are the floating cribs I see, and your voice it is that sings, and presently the boatmen hear, and they turn and move their hands and join in-Now all together

Descendez á l'ombre.

*

*

* * *

*

*

*

*

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

*

*

have gone. The pen

*

*

The paper

[ocr errors]

*

*

*

It was like you, Hortense, to come all this way. How did you manage it, manage to cross the great water all alone? My poor girl, did you grow tired of Le bon Père at last, and of the Martyrs and the Saints and the Jesuit Fathers ? But you have got your amulet on and still I hope.

EXTRACTS FROM THE CRITIQUES. “A triumphant success. -The Orol.

A magnificent triumph."- The Magpie. “ The bit of the season. - The Crou.

“ Art and genius excel themselves.”—The Poll Parrot.

Neat, polished and fascinating."--The Hawk. A perfect morceau of its kind.- The Vulture.

“ The most delightful modern drama it has ever been our good fortune to witness with enthralled interest. The Buzzard.

To-Day

« AnkstesnisTęsti »