"I hear Scribbler finally got one of his plays on the boards."
"Yes, the property man tore up his manuscript and used it in the snow storm scene."
"So you think the author of this play will live, do you?" remarked the tourist.
"Yes," replied the manager of the Frozen Dog Opera House. "He's got a five-mile start and I don't think the boys kin ketch him."—Life.
We all know the troubles of a dramatist are many and varied.
Here's an advertisement taken from a morning paper that shows to what a pass a genius may come in a great city:
"Wanted—A collaborator, by a young playwright. The play is already written; collaborator to furnish board and bed until play is produced."
For some time after the restoration of Charles the Second, young smooth-faced men performed the women's parts on the stage. That monarch, coming before his usual time to hear Shakspeare's Hamlet, sent the Earl of Rochester to know the reason of the delay; who brought word back, that the queen was not quite shaved. "Ods fish" (his usual expression), "I beg her majesty's pardon! we will wait till her barber is done with her."
Liston, in his early career, was a favourite at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and having applied to the manager for a remuneration equal to the increased value of his services, he refused the request, adding, "If you are dissatisfied you are welcome to leave me; such actors as you, sir, are to be found in every bush." On the evening of the day when this colloquy occurred, the manager was driving to another town, where he intended "to carry on the war," when he perceived Liston standing in the middle of a hedge by the road-side. "Good heavens! Liston," cried the manager, "what are you doing there?" "Only looking for some of the actors you told me of this morning," was the reply.
The late M. Segur, among other literary productions, supplied the French theatres with a number of pleasing trifles. If he was not always successful, he was at least always gay in his reverses. When his works were ill received by the public, he consoled himself for a failure by a bon-mot; he made even a point of consoling his companions in misfortune. A piece of his was once brought forward called the Yellow Cabriolet, which happened to be condemned on the first representation. Some days afterwards a piece, by another author, was presented, which was equally unfortunate. The author, petrified at his failure, stood for a moment immoveable. "Come, come, my dear sir," said M. Segur, "don't be cast down, I will give you a seat in my Yellow Cabriolet."
When Sir Charles Sedley's comedy of "Bellamira" was performed, the roof of the theatre fell down, by which, however, few people were hurt except the author. This occasioned Sir Fleetwood Shepherd to say, "There was so much fire in his play, that it blew up the poet, house and all." "No," replied the good-natured author, "the play was so heavy, that it broke down the house, and buried the poor poet in his own rubbish."
Monsieur de la Motte, soon after the representation of his "Ines de Castro," which was very successful, although much censured by the press, was sitting one day in a coffee-house, when he heard several of the critics abusing his play. Finding that he was unknown to them, he joined heartily in abusing it himself. At length, after a great many sarcastic remarks, one of them, yawning, said, "Well, what shall we do with ourselves this evening?" "Why, suppose," said de la Motte, "we go to the seventy-second representation of this bad play."
"When I was a poor girl," said the Duchess of St. Albans, "working very hard for my thirty shillings a week, I went down to Liverpool during the holidays, where I was always kindly received. I was to perform in a new piece, something like those pretty little dramas they get up now at our minor theatres; and in my character I represented a poor, friendless orphan girl, reduced to the most wretched poverty. A heartless tradesman prosecutes the sad heroine for a heavy debt, and insists on putting her in prison unless some one will be bail for her. The girl replies, 'Then I have no hope, I have not a friend in the world.' 'What? will no one be bail for you, to save you from prison?' asks the stern creditor. 'I have told you I have not a friend on earth,' is the reply. But just as I was uttering the words, I saw a sailor in the upper gallery springing over the railing, letting himself down from one tier to another, until he bounded clear over the orchestra and footlights, and placed himself beside me in a moment.' Yes, you shall have one friend at least, my poor young woman,' said he, with the greatest expression in his honest, sunburnt countenance; 'I will go bail for you to any amount. And as for you (turning to the frightened actor), if you don't bear a hand, and shift your moorings, you lubber, it will be worse for you when I come athwart your bows.' Every creature in the house rose; the uproar was perfectly indescribable; peals of laughter, screams of terror, cheers from his tawny messmates in the gallery, preparatory scrapings of violins from the orchestra, were mingled together; and amidst the universal din there stood the unconscious cause of it, sheltering me, 'the poor, distressed young woman,' and breathing defiance and destruction against my mimic persecutor. He was only persuaded to relinquish his care of me by the manager pretending to arrive and rescue me, with a profusion of theatrical banknotes."
In the second year of Kean's London triumph, an elderly lady, whose sympathy had been excited by his forlorn condition in boyhood, but who had lost sight of him in his wanderings till his sudden starting into fame astonished the world, was induced, on renewing their acquaintance, to pay a visit of some days to him and Mrs. Kean, at their residence in Clarges-street. She made no secret of her intention to evince the interest she felt in his welfare by a considerable bequest in her will; but, on accompanying Mrs. K. to the theatre to see Kean perform Luke, she was so appalled by the cold-blooded villany of the character, that, attributing the skill of the actor to the actual possession of the fiendlike attributes, her regard was turned into suspicion and distrust. She left London the next day, and dying soon afterwards, it appeared that she had altered her testamentary disposition of her property, which had once been made in Kean's favour, and bequeathed the sum originally destined for him to a distant relative, of whom she knew nothing but by name.