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Nebraska State Journal


2 December 1894
page 13

AS YOU LIKE IT.

Apropos of football, it seems to be one of the very few thoroughly reputable and manly games left in the nineteenth century. It is one of the few games which offer no particular inducement to betting and which are not conducive to strained or unnatural excitement. It arouses only the most simple and normal emotions. It requires strength and skill and courage, attributes which no young man can afford to be without. In answer to the old objection that many young men of leisure go to Yale only to play football, it is certainly true that football is the most wholesome and reputable of all the many diversions of young men of leisure. The extreme popularity of the game and the ambition to be on the "first eleven" has done more to purify the living of young men in the larger colleges than all the precepts of their instructors. The average public can hardly appreciate the value of keeping gentlemen of leisure under rigid training for four months in the year. The necessity of eating plain food, of sleeping eight hours, of abstaining absolutely from tobacco and stimulants and other things more or less harmful for four months is a novel experience to most young men of the "fast set," an and experience which cannot be other than beneficial. There is another thing. Athletics are the one resisting force that curbs the growing tendencies toward effeminacy so prevalent in the eastern colleges. Football is the deadliest foe that chappieism has. It is a game of blood and muscle and fresh air. It renders distasteful the maudlin, trivial dissipations that sap the energies of the youth of the wealthier classes. It is all very well for old grandmothers over their tea to sigh at the cruelties of the game. But it is not half so dangerous as many other things. It doesn't do Cholly or Fweddy any harm to have his collar bone smashed occasionally. He is better off than his soft handed, soft-headed friend who, for reasons not very creditable to himself, could not play on the eleven if he wanted too. Anything is worthy that encourages a young man to keep his physical manhood perfect. The field is the only place that some young men ever know anything of the rough and tumble of life. Like the fagging system at Eton it is good because it lays the mighty low and brings down them which were exalted. Neither his bank book nor his visiting list can help a man on the eleven, he has nothing to back him but his arm and his head, and his life is no better than any other man's. It is well for the gilded youth to be placed in that position occasionally.

          

Taken as a game, it is a royal one. It is one of the few survivals of the heroic. It is as strictly Anglo-Saxon as fencing is Latin. It is founded on the bulldog strength which is the bulwrak of the English people. It has in it something of the old stubborn strength that goes clear back to the day of the Norman conquest. The descendants of King Harold can never be entirely gentlemen; there must always be a little of the barbarian lurking in them somewhere. When the last trace of that vital spark, that exultation of physical powers, that preference of strength to dexterity, that fury of animal courage dies out of the race, then providence will be done with us and will have some new barbarian people ready to come and conquer.

          

News comes from Davenport, Ia., that Mr. Joseph K. Emmet has married his leading lady. We wish Mr. Emmet every possible happiness, and would say in the words that another Joseph has made immortal: "Here's to your good health und your families, may you live and prosper." However, not at all apropos of Mr. Emmett, but of actors in general, it is a fact that very few stage marriages are happy. Indeed, very few artists of any kind ever find much happines in Hymen. Poets usually marry some nice little lady who will see that their linen is clean and that their hair is combed, and poetesses pick up some worthy young man who will look after the children and that does very well. But on the stage actors marry leading ladies and actresses marry managers, and both sides of the family have personal aims and ambitions and careers of their own. For the first few years things go very well, but it is a sad fact that except in very exceptional cases that first infatuation does not last forever. The old desire to "have and to hold" gradually cools into a mild species of affection and respect. In the everyday world that is a very good substitute, for the woman in the question has her children and her social life. But in the life behind the scenes it is different. The woman's work comes first: if it did not she would not be fit to be upon the stage at all. Professional differences and difficulties arise, even business quarrels. There is a serious as well as a flippant explanation for the fact that half the best actresses in America are divorced women. In the first place it is natural that they should marry. No woman so needs a friend and protector as an actress who is enduring all the business cares of her work, all the stinging sneers of the press and pulpit, the advances of unprincipled managers, and the physical strain and exposure that every woman on the stage has to endure to some extent. They frequently become attached to men who are greatly their inferior. It is a law of nature apparently that artists marry their inferiors. After the romance and glamor of the thing has worn off, and things wear quickly behind the footlights, whether complexions or affections, they find that their husbands have married them to live on them and to fare sumptuously upon the money they endure every fatigue to make. The actress resents this, trims her husband down to an allowance; the husband refuses to be trimmed med, and the actress files an application for divorce. To an actress a divorce is unfortunately a simple matter. To a woman in society it is almost impossible: even if she has the courage to face the gossip and c mment it entails she will endure anything rather than face the prospect of being "dropped." But an actress is always moving, Her old friends drop out of her life because they have so little in common; she hesitates to form new ones for it would be a continual goodbye. He life is made up of her work, that becomes all in all. She has no friends to shock, no family to grieve. She has only her work to do. If her hnsband impedes her she bids him go his own way, and she goes hers. That is all there is to it. Stage divorces seldom result from estranged or outraged affections. The affection has made its exit before the divorce gets its cue.

          

"Ah," pleaded the little German manager, "be merciful, do this once an act of charity. We are almost stranded; we haf not fife dollars in dat company alltogedder. A bad notice will ruin us."

"But, sir." expostulated the hard-hearted critic, "your show is unspeakable; it is beyond the pale."

"Gott in himmel!" groaned the manager; "man, my soubrettes are starving, my leading man cannot got his shirt out of de laundry."

          

Some of the funniest mispronunciations in the world are heard about the theatre and sometimes even on the stage. Of course "Kameel" is chief and most laughable among them. Then there is the new Madam Sans Gene which is frequently pronounced "Sanz Geen," and Mercedes , which Mr. James O'Neil's leading lady used to invariably twist into "Mursedees," Ruy Blas which is called "Ruie Blass," Hernani "Hernanny," monsieur either "monseer" or "musher" and mademoiselle which is always "madamasell."

          

Occasionally the stage affords a moral object lesson and on such occasions the people who write about the stage generally take occasion to preach a little. One can't blame them. They have to write so much that is very other than sermonizing that they ought not to be denied the privilege of a sermon now and then, just by the way of a change. The latest occasion for moralizing is Mr. Robert Mantell's failure as Romeo , and it is a pretty plausible hook to hang a sermon on. The public has no particular right to criticise an actor's private life until it affects their work; then it has a right to speak. It has been demonstrated a hundred times that a mediocre actor cannot play the son of the Montagues. An actor must have grace, abandon and the inward fire to even attempt the role. There was a time when Mr. Mantell could play Romeo, imperfectly, but with a promise which he has never fulfilled, which now he never will fulfill. Now, by a peculiar little touch of irony which the gods are rather fond of giving human life, Miss Behrens can play a better Jul et than Mr. Mantell's Romeo. That must make Mr. Mantell smart a little if he remembers the time when his managers and friends besought him to drop Charlotte Behrens at least professionally, and to get a leading lady who could properly support him. Mr. Mantell's friends knew well enough that she must either rise to his level or he must sink to hers. And they knew she could not rise. What is that old line that we used to read before Locksley Hall grew trite? "Yet it shall be; thou shalt lower to his level day by day, What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympathize with clay."

In this case it was the man who lowered. It is difficult to say just what point evil effects and weakens art. Some artists have been able to stand a good deal of it. Most great artists have had rather imprudent flames, but they outgrew them. Mr. Mantell has not outgrown his. Schiller and Goethe aud the rest of them had their temporary weakness, but they were more faithful to their work than to the woman in the case. That was rather heartless, but in keeping with the unwritten laws of art. Faithlessness to art is only fatal when it becomes habitual. Mr. Mantell allowed his to become so. There is a certain servitude which no soul can give to another and live. A book much more frequently quoted than followed remarks: "The soul that sinneth shall die." There is something in it. The Hebrews knew a thing or two. They had Solomon's glaring example before them. A more modern way to put it would be "the soul that abases itself shall die." It does not matter much in what way. whether it is through whisky or frivolity, the yoke of social bondage, general indolence of Charlotte Behren , it all amounts to the same thing. This peculiar balance of the vital forces, this unison of all one's powers into one lambent flame which men call genius is such an exceedingly delicate thing. When the fire is out once only God Himself could relight it. No one can say just how or when the chhnge comes, any more than they can say how the light fades from an opal. In some undiscernable way the elusive quality of value goes and what was precious becomes common clay.

          

Sometimes there are lights that have failed in their attempt to burn again. Mr. Mantell is not the only one. Only a few weeks ago Mr. Maurice Barrymore gave New York a shock, For a single night he seemed regenerated and the press and public that had hoped so long in vain were loud in their praises of this coming genius who had been "coming" now for almost twenty years. By some haphazard inspiration, by the exhilaration of the role, the influence of the wonderful woman who played Camille on that memorable Monday night, he was Armand Duval of Paris , loving not wisely. but too well. The next night he was Mr. Maurice Barrymore of the Rialto, forgetting his lines and drinking more brandy than was good for him between the acts. In stories painters and musicians who have wasted their lives die painting or playing divinely, but in life things don't go that way. No, there are no deathbed repentances in art. It takes a whole long life not only of faith, but of works to give an artist salvation and immortality among his kind. For the prodigal in art there is no return. A man cannot spend his life or even a few years of it among the husks and the swine and then go back clean and upright to his father's house. Neither can he call on a dozen young ladies and the wine houses in the same afternoon or reach the temple of fame by walking the Rialto in creased trousers.

          

Manager Frank Zehrung seems to have a talent for advertising. Just before Pauline Hall came to town he persuaded a Sioux City minister to give her several thousand dollars worth of advertising free, and a few days ago prevailed upon Mr. Nat Goodwin to conveniently get a jag on and go into Chicago and make himself exceedingly famous. What Mr. Zehrung can do next in the way of unique advertising is hard to conjecture. Nothing is left for him but to hire some one to elope with Black Patti , who appears at his house next month.

          

` A good story is told apropos of Mr. Barron's recent verbous explosion in the Inter Ocean in which he accuses Mr. Goodwin of possibilities of becoming a great emotional actor and a great tragedian and heaven knows what not, all of which Mr. Goodwin never dreamed of being. Well, the story goes that two of Mr. Goodwin's old friends met on the Rialto one day with the following dialogue:

First Thespian: "Have you heard the news? The Chicago papers say Goodwin's got aspirations."

Second Thespian: "Aspirations! Good God, man; I thought it was only the tremens. Aspirations? Poor Nat, and all alone out west there!"



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