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supposed to wear a superfluity of raiment, Mrs. Kean used to be always bunched out by layer upon layer of petticoats. Still, I never yet have seen the play which could be made or marred by a single costume, and if the petticoats were “full” of plaits, the voice was full of pathos-and the dignity, the simplicity, the womanliness of Mrs. Charles Kean's Hermione must surely be remembered by all who had the good fortune to see the play.

The transition, however, from the old happy-go-lucky way of "staging" a piece, with its sublime indifference to correctness of detail and disregard of archæology, was steadily advancing. Charles Kean had been sent to Eton by his father, and one of the advantages he derived from a classical education was, that he had his eyes opened to the absurd anachronisms in costume and accessories which prevailed at that period, and when he undertook the management of the Princess's Theatre he earnestly set to work to carry on the good change already begun by Kemble and Macready. A naturally refined taste in addition to a scholarly sense of accuracy and refinement set him on the right path, and he it was, in company with Mr. Phelps, who firmly established the series of stage reforms which have been brought in our day to such wonderful perfection by Mr. Irving.

Very young actors sometimes complain of low salaries and long hours. I wish they could see Mr. Kean's salary list—they would soon cease to grumble. Why, a young man to-day gets as much for carrying on a coalbox as an experienced actor then received for playing an important part. Then, how different the hours are ! If a company now has to rehearse for four hours in the day it is thought a great hardship. But when I was a child, rehearsals often used to last till four or five in the morning. What weary work, it was to be sure! My poor little legs used to ache, and sometimes I could hardly keep my eyes open when I was on the stage. Often I used to creep into the green-room, which everyone acquainted with the old Princess's will remember well, and there, curled up in the deep recess of the window, forget myself, my troubles and my art-if you can talk of art in connection with a child of eight-in a delicious sleep. How well I remember, too, the view from that window. It looked out on a great square

courtyard, in which the spare scenery that was not in immediate use was stacked. For some reason or other this courtyard was a favourite playground for a large company of rats. I don't know what the attraction was for them, except that they liked nibbling the paint off the canvas. Out they used to troop in swarms, and I from my safe and cosy nook would watch and wonder. Once a terrible storm came on when I was perched up on my window-seat. The thunderstorm, the old courtyard, and the rats made a most picturesque scene; and to this day I am reminded of it by the Brocken scene in Faust—the thunder and lightning, the creatures crawling on every side, the greyness of the whole thing.

One day, though, as I lay curled up in my window, I was the witness of a very different scene, and one which made an indelible impression on my mind. I had been asleep, as usual, I suppose, when I was awakened by a sudden noise, and looking up I saw Mr. Harley stretched on the sofa in a fit. One side of his face was working convulsively, and he was unable to speak, but he held out his hand to me and tried to call to me, "Little Nelly!” Imagine my terror, and to heighten the horror of the scene he was still dressed as Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice, the part he had been playing that evening. A doctor was sent for, and Mr. Harley was looked after, but he never recovered from this seizure. Poor Mr. Harley! I can recollect him quite plainly! An old gentleman-an old fop-always smiling ; his two large rows of teeth were so very good! And he had pompous, grandiloquent manners, and wore white gaiters and a hanging eye-glass! There he lay on the sofa, all drawn to one side, gibbering and mouthing at me, and calling “Little Nell! Little Nell!” I can see him now.

The greater portion of my time when I was at the Princess's was not, however, spent in sleep in the green-room window. Young as I was I was almost unconsciously taking in a number of lessons which have been most useful to me in my subsequent career. I hold it of immense importance that at this period the Princess's was almost entirely given up to Shakespeare.

Consequently I was nourished from my earliest youth on that most wholesome of all foods for actors, the Shakespearean drama ; but this was not the only good I derived from my early apprenticeship at the Princess's. It was there I was grounded in all the wearisome but most essential details of an actress's education. The greatest pains, for instance, were taken with what old-fashioned schoolmistresses loved to designate “deportment.” Never shall I forget that other old “fop,” Oscar Byrn, who was the dancing master and “ director of crowds,” &c. He often used to say that “an actress was no actress unless she had learnt to dance early," and indefatigable were the pains he took to illustrate his theory by practice. But he was not more anxious to teach than I, child as I was, to learn; and now I look back upon it, I feel that I must have absorbed much of his ardour in watching those under his tuition. There was an old-fashioned minuet “step” to the learning of which he used to attach great importance, and whenever he had a spare moment or two he would put me through my paces. There was another exercise of which I was not so fond, and that was what Mr. Byrn used to call “walking the plank.” Up and down one of the long planks extending the length of the stage he used to make us walk, at first slowly, and then quicker and quicker, until we were able at a considerable pace to walk the whole length of it without deviating an inch from the straight line. This exercise he used to say, and I think quite truly, taught us uprightness of carriage and certainty of step. Dear old Mr. Byrn, I fear that he would have been somewhat shocked if he had lived to see the erratic way in which I now move about the stage. I can recall his directions now, the very sound of his voice—“Eyes right! Chest out! Chin tucked in !” We children used to scoff at him in those days and think it all a great nuisance, but I have learnt now to see what an immense aid not only to deportment but to clear utterance is “a chest thrown out and a head thrown back.”

But Mrs. Kean, of course, was my principal mistress in the most difficult art of clear articulation. Not that she took much trouble with me at this early stage, but I used to listen attentively to her instructions to the grown-up ladies of the company. “A, E, I, O, U, my dear,” she used to say, "are five distinct vowels, but don't mix them all up together as if you were making a pudding. If you want to say “I am going on the river,' say it plainly and don't tell us you are going on theʻrivah'! You must say her, not har; it is God, not Gud; remonstrance, not remunstrance," and so forth, and so forth. Nobody ever had a keener tongue or a kinder heart than Mrs. Kean, but where ridicule was necessary she never hesitated to use that weapon. “Use your arm from the shoulder, not from the elbow," she would explain. “Get your action free; don't stand like a trussed fowl." I did not like it at the time, but I am sure it did me good. The least among us can watch others, and the best "school of acting," it seems to me, is to make a good use of one's eyes and ears in a good theatre.

The only time that I ever met Macready was while I was at the Princess's. He was seeing the performance, and had come behind the scenes to speak to Charles Kean. My dressing-room was at the other side of the Royal entrance passage, and as, with my usual impetuosity, I was rushing back to my room, I ran right into the white waistcoat of an old gentleman. Looking up, I saw with alarm that I had nearly knocked over the great Mr. Macready. “Oh! I beg your pardon,” I exclaimed, in eager voice, but Mr. Macready, looking down with a very kindly smile, only laughed and answered, “Never mind, you are a very polite little girl, and you act very earnestly and speak very nicely.” I was too agitated to do anything but continue my headlong course to my dressing-room, but even in those short moments the strange attractiveness of his face impressed itself on my imagination. I remember distinctly his curling hair, his strangely-coloured eyes full of fire, and his beautiful wavy mouth.

Mr. Kean also made a strong impression upon me by his vivid personality. What struck me most about him, I think, was the great beauty of his voice, so soft and low, yet distinct and clear as a bell. When he used to play Richard II., this wonderful organ, by its magic charm, was alone sufficient to keep the house spellbound.

Actor-managers are very proud of their "long runs” nowadays, but when I remember that A Midsummer Night's Dream ran for two hundred and fifty nights at the Princess's, I feel that I must write it down, as it was a rather remarkable occurrence in those days. Puck was the part which was allotted to me in this play, and I revelled in the impish unreason of the sprite ; and even

VOL. IV.- No. 23.


now I feel the charm of parts where imagination can have free play, and there is no occasion to observe too closely the cold, hard rules of conventionality and the fetters of dry-as-dust realism.

Another piece, though of a very different kind, in which I took great pleasure in playing was a little farce called If the Cap Fits, by Edmund Yates, where I acted "Tiger Tom." But I am afraid that the real reason why I remember playing in this piece with so much pleasure was because, for the first time, I was allowed to wear a little pair of top-boots. What pride, to be sure, I used to take in those topboots ! It is true they were far too small for me, and made my feet ache fearfully, but I kept this fact a dead secret for fear they might be taken from me, and every evening used valorously to put up with the most insufferable tortures rather than run the chance of not appearing in my cherished top-boots. Whether this was an instance of pride in my art or of female vanity I will leave others to decide. In playing boys' parts I had great difficulty in learning to walk in a manner which satisfied Mrs. Kean, who, it seems to me now, had somewhat peculiar ideas on this point. She would insist on making me turn in my toes with the utmost precision. For she had a curious belief that boys always walked in this duck-like fashion. However, I learnt my lesson in the end, and ever afterwards, in playing boys' parts, I turned in my toes in the most punctilious manner.

I was also cast for a boy's part—a “dumb part ”—in the Merchant of Venice, and here my delight was diverted from my boots to a basket of doves which I was allowed to carry on my shoulder, and which in my youthful innocence I was firmly convinced made the principal attraction on the stage during the scene ir, which they appeared. The other little boys and girls regarded the basket of doves with eyes of bitter envy. One little chorus boy especially, though he professed a personal devotion of the deepest kind for me, could never quite get over those doves, and the romantic sentiment which he professed for me was considerably cooled by this circumstance. Before, he used to share his sweets with me in the most chivalrous manner, but after I was promoted to the proud position of dove-bearer he transferred his sweets and affection to some more fortunate little girl. Envy, after all, is the death of love!

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