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226                             A FEW MEMORIES
so palpably blind prejudice that it needs no refutation. My observation has taught me that the greatest dangers of the theatre are a strong tendency to vanity, a certain carelessness about the great realities of life (which are principally noticed and used for gaining dramatic effects), and the feverish lack of repose that made the old age of Mrs. Siddons so pitiable. It is not good for an instrument to be strung too high; and it seems to me that the actor (an instrument of many strings) is constantly tuned up to concert pitch.
During my last years before the public I felt and dreaded the undermining effects of such restlessness, and, after the season in America, I resolved to take a full year's repose. To do this, offers from Spain, Germany, France, and Australia were refused. We went to a quiet part of Paris for the winter, taking an apartment near the Bois. But, instead of using my time for recreation, I devoted it to the study of French, music, and to general reading. As I had almost entirely educated myself, I wished to profit by such an opportunity for further improvement.
Our days always began with mass at Notre Dame des Victoires. What a lesson of beautiful and enduring faith that church teaches! One