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ESSAY XII.

WHETHER ACTORS OUGHT TO SIT

IN THE BOXES?

*?

ESSAY XII.

WHETHER ACTORS OUGHT TO SIT IN

THE BOXES?

I think not; and that for the following reasons, as well as I can give them :

Actors belong to the public: their persons are not their own property. They exhibit themselves on the stage: that is enough, without displaying themselves in the boxes of the theatre. I conceive that an actor, on account of the

very circumstances of his profession, ought to keep himself as much incognito as possible. He plays a number of parts disguised, transformed into them as much as he can “by his so potent art," and he should not disturb this borrowed impression by unmasking before company, more than he can help. Let him go into the pit, if he pleases, to see—not into the first circle, to be seen. He is seen enough without that: he is the centre of an illusion that he is bound to support, both, as it appears to me, by a certain

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self-respect which should repel idle curiosity, and by a certain deference to the public, in whom he has inspired certain prejudices which he is covenanted not to break. He represents the majesty of successive kings; he takes the responsibility of heroes and lovers on himself; the mantle of genius and nature falls on his shoulders; we “ pile millions” of associations on him, under which he should be “ buried quick,” and not perk out an inauspicious face upon us, with a plain-cut coat, to say—“ What fools you all were !—I am not Hamlet the Dane!”

It is very well and in strict propriety for Mr. Matthews, in his AT HOME, after he has been imitating his inimitable Scotchwoman, to slip out as quick as lightning, and appear in the side-box shaking hands with our old friend Jack Bannister. It adds to our surprise at the versatility of his changes of place and appearance, and he had been before us in his own person during a great part of the evening. There was no harm done—no imaginary spell broken—no discontinuity of thought or sentiment. Mr. Matthews is himself (without offence be it spoken) both a cleverer and more respectable man than many of the characters he represents. Not so when

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