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Full text of "A few memories"

DISADVANTAGES  OF A FIRST NIGHT            183
criticised. If his heart is breaking, he must conceal his suffering to assume mirth; and if his gay-ety does not seem spontaneous, his auditors will surely put it down to bad acting. They may never have seen him before, and may never see him again; and so will always be under the impression that he is incapable. Most artists are, through anxiety and nervousness, generally at their worst on a first night; and yet it is then that judgment is pronounced upon them. Juliet was received with far more enthusiasm than she deserved. Fortunately, applause does not blind one to one's shortcomings. I knew I had not entered into the character, and was accordingly unhappy and humiliated. I resolved, therefore, to restudy and remodel the part. The result was that in a short time I hardly knew my Juliet; and at the end of the season I found her more deserving of the success she received. My brother Joe, who years before had given up college to adopt the stage, and so be near me, was admirable in looks and acting as the fiery Tybalt. "That young fellow might be a younger Kemble," said John Pettie, R.A., to William Black, as Joe came upon the stage. Mr. Pettie did not even know his name at the time. I had great pride in his success.