The Theatre

O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
~ Deuteronomy 32:29

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.
~ Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
~ Ecclesiastes 12:1

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
~ 1 John 2:15-17

This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
~ James 3:15

Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
~ Ecclesiastes 7:3

The Theatre and its Destructive Influences, by William S. Plumer. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “Theatrical Entertainments, A Premium Tract”.

The Theatre and its Destructive Influences.

A true narrative from a Physician’s Diary.

Under the deceitful colouring – For useful mirth and salutary woe,” does the stage present its poisonous chalice to the unwary, who, in the giddy ardor of youth, or the unreflecting moments of mature age, grasp the fatal cup and drink its deadly sweets, and are thus almost imperceptibly drawn into the vortex of destruction. Alas! alas! too often has the decoy proved successful. How many amiable and interesting youth of either sex, even within the circle of our limited acquaintance, have been hurled by this deceitful amusement from happiness to misery, from joy to sadness!

The last time I beheld my once cheerful and amiable friend, was in the medical ward of the poor house, lingering on the confines of eternity, stretched upon a straw pallet, with the coarsest covering for his bed, deserted and alone, no sympathising friend to soothe his dying anguish, no kind voice to solace the last moments of his sad and melancholy existence. A little board suspended against the wall above his bed, on which was written with a piece of chalk the sufferer’s name, in characters scarcely intelligible, led to his recognition. I paused and looked with a melancholy earnestness on the emaciated and deathlike features of the dying man, but could not discover a single trace of his once manly countenance. I exerted my imagination to the utmost, to bring to recollection some little incident of our early intimacy with which I could associate the features of the once loved companion of my youth, and those of the ghastly object that lay before me. But I could not–even the faintest trace of what he appeared to be was lost. Could I be mistaken? O that I had been.

I reluctantly drew near his bed, and in a trembling voice ventured to call the fluttering spirit of the dying man back to this world. I called him by a familiar title; he understood not, he seemed insensible as death, until I gently shook him; he opened his eyes, started up, and gave me a wild look, for a moment, then his eyelids gradually closed, his forehead .contracted, and he slunk away into his stupor as if he knew me, for the instant, and from remorse of conscience would avoid all remembrance of early days.

What a sad reverse was exhibited in this awful spectacle. In his youth he was the gayest of the gay; the favoured child of favoured parents; he was indulged to a fault; his every desire was gratified. He grew a handsome boy, polite and easy in his manners, gentle and amiable in his disposition; at school we all loved him, and in the innocent sports of the play ground he was the ring-leader; he was always our choice. When the time came for his leaving school and engaging in mercantile business, he mingled with new associates. Early in life he centred his affections upon a lovely girl of his own age; they were united in matrimony, and for a time never was there a happier couple. But, alas! the allurements of company, the theatre, the ball room, and the tavern, proved temptations too powerful for his unsuspecting heart—the consequences are soon told. Driven from business, excluded from virtuous society, divorced from his broken-hearted wife, deserted by all his friends, he became an outcast and a beggar. O! methought while I stood over his dying body, if he had the ability to speak, and the inclination to communicate, he would address me in some such language as this:

“Beware of the theatre; it first led me in youth, and I was easily led, into immoral indulgences. It is no difficult task to trace the primary step of my destruction to the lobbies of the theatre, and its infatuating connexions, the bar and the coffee room. There I spent my evenings; Shakespeare and the British theatre became my only reading; actors and actresses my only associates. The tavern, the oyster house, and houses of pleasure finally drew me into their destructive labyrinths. I strove to avoid the earthly hell I saw myself plunging into; but its fatal chains were riveted too fast and too strong upon my poor soul. I attempted to plead with myself the innocency of my indulged pleasures. It was the gratification of a harm less desire that induced me for the first time to cross the threshold of the theatre. It would not do. I could not allay the pangs of an already wounded conscience. Well, do I remember, when the curtain rose for the first time to my astonished view, how my heart bounded for joy as I viewed the rich and dazzling scenery, and drank in the deceitful representations of the actors. The play was the Road to Ruin,’ a true semblance of my future destiny; but little did I then think that I had taken the first step towards consequences fraught with my eternal destruction. The glittering attractions of the stage soon drew me there again, and too soon did I become infatuated with its seductive charms. One fatal step led on to another, until I found myself sliding rapidly down the steep abyss of ruin.”

A little restorative which I procured from the distant nurse of the ward aroused for a moment, in the struggling effort to swallow, the dying man from what appeared to be his sleep of death. I again called him by his own familiar name, he again, and for the last time in this world, looked at me; but, O! it was a fearful look! Heaving a deep-drawn deathly sigh, he put out his emaciated and cold hand, and attempted to speak; his voice failed him, he recovered himself and made a second effort, it was a desperate one”O W—” calling me by name, “the theatre, the first fruits of my transgression, is sending my poor lost soul to hell; O! admonish the the the “-young, he would have said, but his utterance and his breath were simultaneously interrupted by the death gurgle. After several ineffectual attempts to breathe freely, during which he firmly yet insensibly grasped my hand, he gave one long gasp and was no more-his unfettered spirit had forsaken its earthly tenement and fled to regions beyond the grave.