"The great disadvantage of marrying an actor is that when he has an engagement there are no home evenings.
Sundays are free, but that, again, is the only evening of the week available for dining with friends. Happy couples prize their home evenings beyond expression. These are their best opportunities for enjoying each other's society. But the actor's wife is deprived of them. She is in the predicament either of being separated from him daily between 7 p.m. and 11.30 or else of knowing that he is "resting" - the accepted professional word for being out of an engagement. Sometimes it is the sad case of the young people that, when the husband could dine or sup at home with his wife, there is very little for dinner or supper.
But when he is in regular work she has to spend her evenings alone or go out and see friends. The awkward part of this is that, except in the case of other actor's wives, her acquaintance would be dining at that hour when her lonely evening would be just beginning, and the conventions forbid her to present herself at the dinner-hour.
She cannot spend every evening at the theatre where he is playing, and, unless she should make friends with wives of other men in his profession, she leads a lonely life. She may, however, be an actress herself, and in that case, unless both were employed at the same theatre, there would be still less of home life. Rehearsals would absorb many afternoons, and the married pair, after having breakfasted together, would scarcely meet again all day.
Even worse is it when the husband goes on tour with his company. To go with him is expensive; to stay at home is lonely. Even when their circumstances permit of her accompanying him, she has many solitary evenings alone in lodgings. It is inevitable.
When there are little children loneliness is much relieved. Even one child suffices to fill the mother's thoughts and to give her abundant occupation. She no longer wishes to go on tour with her husband; it would be very inconvenient to take the baby, and she herself is much happier at home.
Five o'clock is the actor's dinner-hour. This means a very early luncheon, and housekeeping has to be done a day in advance to meet the exigencies of the case. Wednesday's meals are arranged on Tuesday morning, Thursday's on Wednesday, and so on. Otherwise there would be difficulties about marketing or ordering in supplies. A certain amount of method is necessary to the due procession of the meals, even more than in the case of ordinary daily life. Foresight has to be cultivated, eventualities prepared for, accidents guarded against. Friends who drop in unexpectedly must not find a scarcity of provisions, and yet it is not easy to foretell how much or how little of the joint for two will be left over on the second day of its appearance at table.
The young wife's friends are probably anxious to show her the civility of asking her to dine, but without altering their dinner-hour to what they regard as the impossible hour of five, how is it to be done? Any engagement of the kind has to be accepted without her husband. This may make all the difference to the wife. Young couples enjoy being asked out together.
"What made the assembly shine? Robin was there."
Without Robin "the feast is but a business." On Sundays only can they be invited to dine out. To ask them on other evenings is a hollow mockery; in truth, a piece of bad manners.
They can have no week-ends together like other couples. He cannot get away until midnight on Saturday; he has to be back at the theatre at 7 p.m. on Monday. It is better than nothing, but it compares indifferently with the up-to-date week-end that begins on Friday and ends on Tuesday.
Jealousy is a dweller by the threshold in the life of an actor's wife. If he is good-looking and she has a disposition towards this malady of the mind, there will be little peace and joy in their mutual existence. Not every couple is so wise in these circumstances as a certain pair who manage in this way. The husband hands all the admiring and flattering letters he receives to his wife, and she answers them with sound advice. This may be harsh treatment, but girls and women capable of writing such letters to the jeune premier, the picturesque musician, or the handsome opera singer deserve it, and many possibly find it salutary.
Mario, the great singer, one of the handsomest men the world has ever seen, caused his wife agonies of jealousy owing to the enormous number of letters he received from infatuated women attracted by his romantic appearance and his exquisite voice. He was aware of this, and, to quote one who remembers this magnificent couple in their prime, the famous tenor "was never so abandoned in his love scenes when Grisi was present." He never ceased to adore his wife, but had sufficient very pardonable vanity to be pleased at the universal homage he received.