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The Footlight Favorites
by [?]

In Jean Paul’s cry “How lonely is everyone in this wide charnal of the universe!”–is the explanation of–much.

We are as we are. And Allah is great.

And because we are as we are, it is fallacy to think that the good women, in the accepted sense of the term, are the only virtuous ones. Women of the stage and of the world ponder little on Moses and the prophets. Their lives are too full of grinding fact to reck much of unsubstantial fancies. And Prayer and Priest save women from little if Personality be not there. Teachings of virtue and morality are lip service and things of air. But when a woman’s self rises to defend her honor–an honor that is a sacred thing in its own worth, not a question that will but win her reward in other life, then does true morality speak and then does woman find her greatest safeguard. A woman is but a weak thing who must cower behind the skirts of her religion to guard her purity. And these women of the stage who are its “middle class” are also its gentlewomen. For unfortunately its “stars” many of them but rival the other “stratum” in lawless infamy. In that, did the writer in December make his supreme mistake.

Temptation in the footlight world is strong, but a woman’s pride is stronger. Under temptation’s test, her religion might was dim, but her refinement would rise as a battlement in defense. Her church and creed might waver and sink, but that undefinable innocence which we call womanhood, would lead her, a Dian, through the fires of hell. In society and the slums a large percentage of women are courtesans by choice. The one has a refinement that is but a veneer, and the other has no refinement at all. And as with the world, so with the stage. In the middle class are found the truer gentlewomen. Women of the drama must of necessity be gentlewomen, the refinement must be innate, or they would fail utterly. An actress who is a gentlewoman can with her art stoop to portray sin, but an actress who is a common woman cannot rise to portray a refinement of which her coarse nature has no conception. Mrs. Kendal a woman who is as the wife of Caesar, can become a “Second Mrs. Tanguery” before the footlights. But Lizzie Annadale’s chorus girl could never enact the role of a Mrs. Kendal on or off the stage. The former is a comparatively light task. The latter is an impossibility. And because they are refined women, though not necessarily “good” women, are they as a class virtuous women. Their instinctive womanhood would shrink from an impure life as quickly as they would lift their skirts from the mire of the gutter. The deadly chill of physical repulsion would be as strong in one case as in the other. In individual cases they have “sinned” as we term it, but qui voulez vous! The ratio on the stage is little larger than that of the world’s middle class and not at all larger than that of the world’s society women. I also object to those wild fanatics who would “elevate the stage,” not because it would be Herculean labor, but because the aforesaid fanatics would find larger and more fruitful fields for their efforts in the shadow of their own church spire. Let them leave the women of the footlights alone and turn their attention to the women in the boxes. It would give a bored public relief and be distinctly and beautifully amusing–as an experiment. Waco, Texas, December 11, 1897.