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Henry Irving
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 85 pages of information about The Drama.

    “For our eyes to see! 
    Sons of wisdom, song, and power,
    Giving earth her richest dower,
    And making nations free—­
    A glorious company!

    “Call them from the dead
    For our eyes to see! 
    Forms of beauty, love, and grace,
    ‘Sunshine in the shady place,’
    That made it life to be—­
    A blessed company!”

ADDRESS

TO THE STUDENTS

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HARVARD

30Th March 1885

THE ART OF ACTING

I.

The occasion.

I am deeply sensible of the compliment that has been paid, not so much to me personally as to the calling I represent, by the invitation to deliver an address to the students of this University.  As an actor, and especially as an English actor, it is a great pleasure to speak for my art in one of the chief centres of American culture; for in inviting me here to-day you intended, I believe, to recognize the drama as an educational influence, to show a genuine interest in the stage as a factor in life which must be accepted and not ignored by intelligent people.  I have thought that the best use I can make of the privilege you have conferred upon me is to offer you, as well as I am able, something like a practical exposition of my art; for it may chance—­who knows?—­that some of you may at some future time be disposed to adopt it as a vocation.  Not that I wish to be regarded as a tempter who has come among you to seduce you from your present studies by artful pictures of the fascinations of the footlights.  But I naturally supposed that you would like me to choose, as the theme of my address, the subject in which I am most interested, and to which my life has been devoted; and that if any students here should ever determine to become actors, they could not be much the worse for the information and counsel I could gather for them from a tolerably extensive experience.  This subject will, I trust, be welcome to all of you who are interested in the stage as an institution which appeals to the sober-minded and intelligent; for I take it that you have no lingering prejudice against the theatre, or else I should not be here.  Nor are you disposed, like certain good people, to object to the theatre simply as a name.  These sticklers for principle would never enter a playhouse for worlds; and I have heard that in a famous city of Massachusetts, not a hundred miles from here, there are persons to whom the theatre is unknown, but who have no objection to see a play in a building which is called a museum, especially if the vestibule leading to the theatre should be decorated with sound moral principles in the shape of statues, pictures, and stuffed objects in glass cases.

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