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The Amateur.

The following severe criticism upon amateurs appears in the London Court Circular—“ Amongst the most deeplyrooted sentiments in the heart of man is the love of approbation, and to this weakness in a great measure he owes his strength, or at least some of the most important results of his life. There is no denying the fact that a very large per centage of mankind perform the tasks which fall to their lot in life with the com-mon-place intention of making money, or, as it is called, * getting a living.’ But to a sublime proportion the only stimulus to deeds of venture and heroism, of brain and physique, is found in their love of approbation. The sound of applause is to some hearts and ears the sweetest music that can be heard; no incense rises so fragrantly as the buzz of approval. Even an uninterested and unambitious audience feel a gratification in hearing the very sound they themselves create, and envy the recipient of their approbation the applause they are so willing to give. To imitate the professional men and women who have their blissful reward for undoubted skill, a certain class of unqualified neophytes amble towards the goal which is only attained by sheer drudgery and unflinching study. What the ‘ professional ’ achieves by a life’s work, the 1 amateur,’ as the members of this class are termed, appears to inherit. The amateur is like Genius, he leaps over the ground which Talent has to trudge, and is an actor before he knows how to act, a singer before he knows how to sing. The foundation of all this is that invincible love of approbation which is at once the glory and the ridicule of amateurs. It is the boast of an amateur that he does not play for money, for ‘aliving,’ he prefers to play, to—well let us say it—to please himself. Who shall gainsay us when we assert that in an amateur performance the most delighted person is the amateur himself. A relation, a sincere friend, or an admirer may be pleased, and even amused (we are stretching a point here), at the exhibition of raw efficiency and conceited imbecility ; but was there ever an amateur performance that required a play-bill to tell the audience that it was an amateur performance 1 We do not, by the way, expect to see amateurs act, but we do expect them to know their lines ; and this is a hopeless case to look for. Yet in the face of this utter inefficiency the amateur swaggers more than the professional actor. He criticises the real article, and ip presenting it himself hapds us the ipost glaring “ shoddy.” Conceit is altogether too mild a term for his self-glorification ; he is not afraid to play Hamlet, Sir Charles Coldstream, and Cox in the same evening., And indeed he need not, for one is as good as the other. The singing amateur is as pretentious as the acting amateur ; but he js not so irrepressible. He can’t sing all kinds of music, because he cannot possess a bass voice, a tenor voice, and a treble voice at once, with any degree of comfort to himself. He is either sentimental or ferocious, as his voice compels him ; but we are spared the universality of genius which is oppressive in the amateur actor. But in all branches of art this amateurism is the same. It is a conceited and bad imitation, a fruitless striving to ape superiority. Ape is the word. The chief impression left on the minds of even an indulgent audience after witnessing an amateur performance is that they have seen it better done on the stage. Of course they have. There is the same wide gap between professionals and amateurs as is observable between Regulars and Yplunteers. Amateurs have no fight to interfere with trade, as they can only play at shop. Let them amuse themselves (they never amuse others), but let them not offend the public, even when they attempt to hide their ! imbecility behind, the curtain of charity. Even charity is too weak to excuse them. ;

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The Amateur. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 192, 15 November 1880

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