Mark Antony had done his best to entertain Cleopatra and was peeved by her taunts as to the quality of his table. He was perplexed too. When she remarked that she would in one supper spend ten million sesterii Antony laid a wager that it was impossible.
When she laid out her table Mark Antony checked each item against the bill and he had to laugh at her presumption. But she promised that not only she will keep her promise but that the supper would cost 60m.Sesterii.
For the second course a goblet of vinegar of special quality, strong enough to dissolve pearls was brought in. For the occasion she was wearing two most precious pearls in the world. Before his eyes she took off one and dropped into the vinegar. Making sure it was dissolved she downed her goblet. She would have done the same with her second pearl had not Plancus the referee stopped her from it. He pronouncedher to have already won the wager.
Turning to a crest-fallen Antony she murmured,”No soldier is a match for a woman.”
In the German state of Würtemberg, the town of Weinsbeg crowns a hill overlooking surrounding vineyards. In the Romanesque church over there one may see a tablet dedicated to the memory of faithful wives. In the vicinity are the ruins of Weibertreu castle or Castle of the Faithful Wives.
Who were these women?
In 1140, Emperor Conrad III seized the town and had surrounded the castle where the townsfolk had sought refuge. Only the women were allowed to leave carrying whatever they considered most precious of their possessions. At that each woman loaded her husband onto her back.(L’echo de la Mode. France.)
Empress Josephine wife of Napoleon was once giving a party to which she heard that a woman she detested also would be present. Having been informed that the guest would, for the occasion wear a dress of deep green she hastily redecorated her drawing room in a shade of blue that would make her dress seem vulgar and gaudy.( E.A Rheinhardt-“Josephine, the wife of Napoleon.)
Philospher Herbert Spenser (1820-1903)remained a bachelor by default: he could not find one suitable. His well meaning friends for long tried to pair him off with their candidates without success. At last one woman who they described as having not only beauty but a great mind was introduced to the great man. After spending several hours in her company the philosopher informed his matchmaker that she was undoubtedly beautiful. As for her great mind he found it was ‘a small mind in constant activity.’
During rehearsal Laurette Taylor (1884-1946) was told by the director,”This is your scene, Miss Taylor and I feel you should have the centre of the stage for it.”
She replied with her characteristic hesistant tone,”You know, this may seem odd to you but I always thought where I was- that was the centre of the stage.”( Guthrie Meclintic(?)- Me and Kit-Little, Brown)
When Helen Hayes, the actress addressed the Senate on a bill to admit refugee children to the U.S.A one senator heckled her,”Do you mean to say you’d adopt a child unseen?”
The actress replied:”I never saw my own child until it was delivered.”(World Digest.)
The range of Eleonara Duse(1858-1924) as a dramatic actress was as astounding as her ability to live and breathe the role she currently played off stage as well. In Trieste she once played Odette and the dramatist Marco Prago found her sitting on the floor of her hotel room, tears running down her cheeks.
“What’s wrong?”he asked in alarm.
“Nothing,”she replied between sobs,”But tonight I am playing Odette and if I don’t cry a bit now, I shall weep too much in the fourth act.”
Eleonara Duse admitted no one to her dressing room during a performance except her personal maid. One when she was performing in Stuttgart, the king of Würtemberg wanted to visit her during the interval and sent a message in advance and she politely refused since ‘all visits shatter the illusion I need.’ Undeterred the king went and knocked on her door. Duse was adamant. The next day
She and her troupe were ordered out of the country.
Eleonara Duse was possibly goaded to excel herself by Sarah Bernhardt who was performing in Alexandre Dumas’latest play ’The Princes of Baghdad’ at Turin. She night after night watched her all the while learning from her. The day after the Divine Sarah left town she announced to her producer she shall not appear tomorrow except in the role her rival had triumphed. Finall she had her way and her performance was a success.
These two great divas were once in London drawing crowds and George Bernard Shaw after watching them praised Sarah for her beauty, skill and extra-ordinary personality and wrote thus,”Sarah Bernhardt… is always the same. She does not enter into the leading character, she substitutes herself for it. All this is precisely what does not happen in the case of Duse, whose every part is a separate creation.”
Mrs. Fiske, American actress
Once Margaret Anglin left this message stuck in the mirror in Mrs.Fiske’s dressing room. ’Margaret Anglin says Mrs.Fiske is the best actress in America.” Mrs.Fiske read it,added two commas, stuck it in an envelope and sent it back to Miss Angline. It read, ”Margaret Anglin,says Mrs. Fiske, is the best actress in America.”
Dorothy Parker(1893-1967)critic and humorist once bumped into a lady in the doorway of ’21’. She stepped back and motioned for for Dorothy to exit first, saying,”Age before beauty.” Pat came her retort,”Pearls before swine”as she went out.
Dorothy once owned an isolated country house. Asked if she could describe it in two words she said,”Want it?”
Dorothy Parker was once at a dinner honouring a governor. During the speeches a man next to her let out a belch and showed his embarrassment. She leant over to whisper,”Never mind. I’ll let the governor to pardon you.”
At a party she was asked by a bore if she had her ears pierced. She murmured,”No but I have often had them bored.”
Danseuse Yvette Guilbert(1865-1944) the subject of countless sketches, paintings and posters by Toulose Lautrec, was once savaged by Sarcey a formidable critic of the day and she forced her way into his study. She said,”You are an insolent cad…“.
“I regret,”he said and pointed to a pile of papers that needed to be filled before noon,”and if we have no more to say to each other…”
At this the fiery tempered danseuse seized the brass inkstand and overturned it on the sheets saying,”they were to be dirtied, they are dirtied.”
Germaine Coty, wife of Rene Coty the former president of the French Republic was a warmhearted lady. On the night her husband was elected as the President the hall-porter fell on her neck,”Oh madame! We are so happy…. but also sad to see you leaving us.” “Yes,”Mme Coty sighed,”to think that I have ordered fuel for the whole winter!” That remark endeared her instantly to the French houswives who could count on her as one of them.
Madame de Staël(1766-1817)
Germaine de Staël, the French writer called on Napoleon Bonaparte one day and insisted on seeing him. His orderly told her that the Citizen-General was in his bath. ”That is unimportant,” she exclaimed,”Genius has no sex.”
When Napoleon told Madame.de Staël that women had no business being interested in politics, she replied,”In a country where women have been decapitated, it is only natural for other women to ask why?”
Seated between the beautiful Mme.Recamier and the plain Mme. de Staël, the astronomer Lalande said,”How happy I am to find myself between beauty and wit.”
“And without possessing either,”came her prompt reply.
Archive for May 4th, 2008
Posted in anecdotes, tagged battle of the sexes, Cleopatra, Dorothy Parker, Eleonara Duse, Helen Hayes, Herbert Spencer, Lalande, Laurette Taylor, Mark Antony, Mrs. Fiske Mme.de Stael, Napoleon on May 4, 2008| Leave a Comment »