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Nebraska State Journal

April 24, 1894
page 5


Mr. Richard Mansfield and company played "Beau Brummell" to a fair house at the Lansing last night. Sometimes, after seeing a play which has attained such a degree of perfection that it may be truly called a work of art, a part of art's self, the feeling steals over one that it is commonplace and impertinent to make laudatory remarks about it. It is easy enough to bestow gentle and encouraging words upon negative performances, but to work like Mansfield's impersonation of Beau Brummell common admiration seems unworthy incense. Mr. Mansfield's acting last night was far above the understanding of the majority of his audience. It is a sad tendency among Lincoln playgoers to measure an actor's greatness by the strength of his voice. Mr. Mansfield is one of the few actors who do not use their voices very much. He does not have to, he can make the silences speak. His Beau Brummell is a masterpiece of fine toning and shading. There are no sensational climaxes that show up like great dashes of color. The whole creation is like a picture in soft color, whose strength and delicacy is not easily appreciated by an untrained eye. A character like Beau Brummell takes one into the sharps and flats and intricate modulations of art. It is not easy to give a role foolishness and foppishness and with them elegance and manliness. In some way Mr. Mansfield always makes one side of his nature suggest the other. When he is manicuring his nails one always feels that he can do something better because he does that so well, and when he sacrifices his love and prosperity it seems perfectly natural that he should brush the dust from his sleeve while he does it. The thing that ennobles Mansfield's Beau and makes him more than a cad or a fop is the wonderful preservation of the type. There is never a suggestion of affectation, or of assuming airs, because he never drops them. He is the same elegant gentleman to himself and to his own mirror, one knows that he even sleeps with elegance and grace. If it is a role he never drops it and he wears the mask starving. It is not the cheap bourgeoisie elegance that is pinned on and laced on and tied on with strings; it fits him as easily and lightly as his own skin. His foppery is his personality. If Beau were a coal heaver he would be Beau still, would handle his coal gracefully and never blacken his hands. It was the preservation of the type that made the last two acts so pathetic. The highest kind of nobleness is when a type can survive the things that seem necessary to it, when a man can be lord of an attic as though he were lord of a manor and be luxurious without luxury. It is this strange, consistent correctness that makes him burn the letters which would blast the reputation of men and women have deserted him, and keep his honor as immaculate as his hands. It is unnecessary to mention the great points in Mr. Mansfield's presentation, their variety and delicacy was infinite, like modulations in music. No "Cardinal Woolsey's Farewell to Power" was ever more touching than Beau Brummell's reception to the snuff box that the king did not notice.

Of the company little need be said. They were like Beau Brummell's wardrobe, correct and sufficient in every way. Mr. D.H. Harkins as the Prince of Wales was especially good, and he had a sort of air about him that reminded one of Thackera's essays on the Georges .