The most finished performance that Lincoln has seen for a long time or will see for a long time to come was that of Richard Mansfield at the Lansing theatre last Monday night. The whole play is like a chapter from Henry Esmond , in some way it was entirely Thackerayesque . It was saturated with the spirit of the time and people that Thackeray us[?]ed to deal with. Mr. Mansfield is perfectly self-contained and self-sufficient. He depends very little upon the applause or appreciation of his audience, and on this one occasion it was very fortunate for him that it was so. He has intellectual standards that are unshaken by the chance emotions of the hour. He seldom so much as glances across the footlights, he is unconscious that the gallery exists. More than any other actor he acts for the play and for himself. His acting is conscientious because he is unconscious of anything but his part. It is easy to believe that Mr. Mansfield was a painter for ten years of his life. He has the artistic love of modulated color and sound. He carries the sense of tone and tone color even into his acting. His Beau Brummell is perfectly even in pitch. Of course the quality of intensity changes in different situations, but the quantity does not vary. The pain of exquisite perfection of the first act and the subdued boredness on his face in the dance were as genuinely painful as the havoc of suffering and starvation that stamped his countenance in the last two acts. In the first part of the play his prosperity was toned down by his utter correctness, in the last part his poverty was elevated by the man's innate refinement. The whole creation of Beau Brummell is like a picture in which everything must echo and savor of the predominating color. It is easy to see that Mr. Mansfield is an intelligent and educated man. Any actor with an emotional nature can play roles in which the emotions are simple and decided. He had only to work himself up and let himself loose. Thomas Keene , by limping and leering and hissing, manages to make the public believe he can play "Richard III." because the popular conception of Richard is only that he should be as wicked and disagreeable as possible. Robert Downing deludes people into thinking he can play "Virginius" because he is fat and oratorical. Hate, love, nobleness in the theory and the abstract are easy things to enact. But the emotions in the role of Beau Brummell are delicate, complex, negative, almost contradictory. It requires as much intelligence and insight as Hamlet. Most very good actors would be vulgar fops in the part, it requires a scholar and a gentleman to portray it, it takes culture of mind and delicacy of instinct to comprehend it. There is but one living novelist who could handle the character in a novel, George Meredith ; but one living actor who can act it, Richard Mansfield. The two men suggest each other in many ways, though perhaps it is only because they are two of the very few serenely great in this troubled, feverish century.
Mr. Mansfield runs to the analytical and psychological. He has taste and talent for it. The roles which he has dramatized and especially created for himself are Beau Brummell, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Arthur Dimmesdale in "A Scarlet Letter." It is to this acute faculty of analysis that he owes his power. He has the power to touch chords that are not often struck, he calls up feelings that do not often awake in the gaslight of the theatre. Yes, Richard Mansfield is a great artist. As one saw him burn those letters at the grate or heard him ask Walter to ring for his carriage one felt that he was worthy to act on that night, that night of nights, the immortal 23rd of April, the night on which 330 years ago when God a second time turned his face in love toward man. If the title role had been a Shakespearean one it could not have been more serene, self reliant and self sufficient, more fit to be played on that great birth-night of genius when for us a child was born and to us a king was given.
The twenty-third of April has come and gone again, just as it has done for three hundred and thirty years since it was made hallowed to the world. I wonder how many people know or care that it has come again. Perhaps some fəw Shakespearian scholars who are scholars rejoiced that morning, and a great many professional people and perhaps the stars that mete out human fate, and the angels, if there are any. But the people of the world, who call themselves society, and the people of the schools, who call themselves culture, knew little and cared less. We have a Thanksgiving day in memory of blessings we never get, a Fourth of July in memory of a document that is largely a dead letter, a George Washington's day, a Saint Patrick's day, a Decoration day, aSt. Valentin's day in memory of nonsense and an Arbor day in memory of nothing whatever, but the day of William Shakespeare's birth passes without honor or recognition, except among the faithful hearts of a despised profession. Even the light opera and comedy people know and reverence that day which pastors and professors do not recognize. Julia Marlowe , with that womanly sweetness and delicacy charateristic of her, spent the day and night in solitude, in contemplation and adoration of Mary Arden , who, as a Chicago critic beautifully puts it, is almost as much to be envied among women as that other Mary of holy memory.
There was one year when that day was fittingly observed, and that was when Mary Anderson , that good queen of art, left her crowded London houses and went down to Stratford, and on the night of the 23d played "Rosalind" to dedicate the great theatre that the people of Stratford built in the memory of Shakespeare. It was more fitting perhaps that an American woman play there that night than an English woman because Shakespeare belongs to two nations now. Then one always fancies if he had been born just a few centuries later he would been an American. That night must have been one to remember, when even the stolid English country folk were moved to their depths, and the crowds that went down from London sat breathless, and the actress, who herself was so like Shakespeare's great woman, between the acts was on her knees in her dressing room with her crucifix in her hands. Mary Anderson said afterward that in all her professional career she never enjoyed and suffered and hoped and feared as she did that night.
Perhaps some day the Anglo-Saxon races will realize what Shakespeare did for them, how he dignified their language, exalted their literature and letters above that of all people, and gave them their place among the nations of the earth. If I were asked for the answer of the riddle of things I would as lief say "Shakespeare" as anything. For him alone it was worth while that a planet should be called out of Chaos and a race formed out of nothingness. He justified all history before him, sanctified all history after him.
Hallen and Hart will separate next year.
Henry Irving says the trouble with Hamlet was his liver.
During the first week in Chicago Hoyt's "Milk White Flag" played to over $10,000.
Under the management of Charles A. Davis Robert Ingersoll will lecture two weeks, beginning April 23.
Paul Kester has written a new play for Alexander Salvini , called "The Last of the Moors," which Mr. Salvini will produce next season. Eleanor Moretti , the leading woman of Salvini's company, is ill.
Annie Russell , who retired from A. M. Palmer's company five years ago on account of illness, and whose ill health has since kept her in retirement, has been engaged by Manager Charles Frohman for the Empire stock for next season.
Last week, because of her excessive fright in the recently introduced cavalry charge scene of "The Girl I Left Behind Me," as that play is being produced at the Academy of Music, New York, Miss Sydney Armstrong resigned from Charles Frohman's stock company. She was to have closed her engagement with that manager at the end of the present season.
Laura Bur and her mother have left for Europe. Miss Burt will take part in the great London production of "In Old Kentucky," at which H. R. H. of Wales himself will be present. Doubtless the prince — but remarks are useless.
Charles Frohman has sold all his rights in Oscar Wilde's society play, "Lady Windermere's Fan," to his brother Gustave , and wishes it understood that representations of this play in future will be in no way under his supervision.
James J. Corbett made his debut on the English stage April 21 at the Drury Lane theatre, London, and was welcomed by a large audience. Mr. Corbett's entrance upon the stage was loudly cheered, and throughout the play he won considerable applause.
Joseph Jefferson will play his usual repertoire next season for twenty weeks. His company will engage afterward in playing the well known melodrama, "Shadows of a Great City," which his son, Thomas Jefferson , will manage. Mr. Jefferson is playing to the capacity of the Star theatre in New York.
Alba Heywood is sick at Louisville, Ky., with muscular rheumatism. He was obliged to cancel Bedford, Ind., April 7, where a large house awaited him, and the first three nights at Harris' theatre, Louisville, Ky. His company are awaiting his recovery, which is looked for in a few days, when they will resume their tour.
Tragedian Keene says: "I find that the south, with true conservatism, stands by the legitimate best of any section in the country. They read and understand Shakespeare there. In the north and new west there is too much bustle, hurry and scurry after wealth to cultivate general scholarship, and people go to the theatre merely to be amused.
It is said that Mounet-Sully never smiles. He hates comedy and has a passion for Greek literature and things Greek. His wife, of course, loves the theatre des varieties dearly and frankly confesses that the acting of her great husband bores her to death. We all know that no man is a hero to his valet, but there should be a new proverb made stating how few geniuses are heroes to their wives.
Manager Gorman of Gorman's theatre, Manchester, N. H., states that he has booked some of the strongest attractions for next season, also that his house will be elegantly fitted up and that he will be able to play any combination next season. Gerge H. Timmons opened a return engagement there April 23, for three nights, with "The Fairies' Well" company, making their third engagement there this season.
On April 30 the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of Ramses temple, Toronto, Can., will give a shrine theatre party at the Grand opera house in honor or W. S. Hart , a noble of Kismet temple, Brooklyn, N.Y., and leading man of the Mlle. Rhea company . "The New Magdalene" will be presented and Mlle. Rhea will also make it a souvenir night, giving to each one in attendance an autograph photo of herself. The company will remain in Toronto for a week's engagement.
Lucie W. Lewis , a Boston society woman who adopted the stage a few years ago with considerable success, has purchased from Charles F. Coghlan the society comedy, "Lady Barter." Miss Lewis has also bought from the same author a four-act comedy entitled "Disengaged." The latter play was to have been produced a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh at the opening of Mr. Coghlan's proposed tour, but owing to his indisposition it was never presented, as his tour was brought suddenly to a close.
Sutton Vane's new melodrama, "The Cotton King," has been a great success in London. Fanny Davenport has bought the American rights of representation and intends to send her husband, Melbourne McDowell , starring in it next year. The hero of the drama is a rich will owner in love with an heiress and has a villianous rival. The villian accuses the cotton king of seducing a girl in his mills to blight his chance with the heiress. The mill hands are about to take vengeance of the cotton king when the girl herself says the real cause of her distress is the heavy villian.
Little Eva Mudge , the talented character actress, has been engaged to appear at a reception to be given in a few days by President and Mrs. Cleveland in honor of the anniversary of the birth of their daughter, Ruth . The talent exhibited by this clever young actress, who is not yet thirteen years of age, reached the ears of President Cleveland, who requested that she be specially engaged to entertain the youthful guests and others to be present on the occasion. The affair will be given in the White house . Mr. and Mrs. Mudge will accompany their daughter to Washington.
From the Clipper. The Lincoln Park theatre, Lincoln, Neb., where Presley B. French is to put in a stock company for ten weeks this summer, is located in Lincoln park, a favorite suburban resort. In the advance notices, speaking of the season's opening and its different attractions at the park, the Lincoln papers have spoken well of the theatre, the company and the play to be presented. Kate Watson and Ed Anderson have recently signed for soubrettes and comedy. The Ammons-Clerisse Trio , now with the "The Two Johns," have also signed. The season opens June 10. Mr. French is negotiating with agents to secure the right to play some of the leading pieces.
Charles A. Gardner and entire company of twenty people left Cleveland, O., April 23, for Omaha, Neb., en route to the Pacific coast, opening May 21 at Stockwell's theatre, San Francisco, Cal. Mr. Gardner will produce his new play, "The Prize Winner," for the first time in California, also his successful comedy drama, "Fatherland." All new special scenery will be carried for both plays, as well as a large singing company, including the Tyrolese sextet and numerous specialty features. This coast tour for the summer is a twenty weeks, additional engagement, making a season of sixty weeks before opening the regular season at the Grand, New Orleans, La., September 16. Punch Wheeler will pilot the company.
At the close of Joseph Jefferson's engagement in St. Louis, the audience became so enthusiastic that the venerable actor had to make a curtain speech. He said: "I am deeply grateful for this renewed indication of your favor and of your appreciation of our mutual friend Rip . You don't know how much I cherish the applause of St. Louis. A gentleman of your city called on me the other day, and I see no reason why I should hesitate to say that the man, Professor Waldauer of the conservatory of music, and he said to me 'do you know, old friend, that it is just fifty years ago tonight you made your appearance before a St. Louis public?' And it proved to be a fact. Think what that means! Why, I have entertained your mothers and grandmothers, possibly your greatgrandmothers, and yet I am preserved in some miraculous way to entertain you tonight. I thank you again for your appreciation and compliments."