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Sarah Bernhardt's cold prevention recipe

previous: New York, Jan. 24, 1892

Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) French actress who made her American debut at Booth’s Theatre in 1880. The New York Times index of theater reviews include a number of plays in October- December 1891  and Theodora Jan 5 1892.  She was in the audience when Alabama was produced at Palmer's Theatre in 1891. Did EJ Phillips see her act?  Seems almost certain that Maud Harrison did.

26 West 31st Street, NY
Feby 7th 1892

Dear daughter Neppie,

Enclosed I send you a recipe to make "sedative water" for sponging the body over after a bath. It prevents taking colds and (as the ingredients tell you) is very strengthening. I tried it last night for the first time, slept like the proverbial "top" and feel almost free from the pains in my joints and limbs this Morning.

For [grandson] Edward I would take half a teacup full of hot water and add a tablespoon full of the mixture. Rub him all over and wipe him dry with a towel very briskly. I think it would also be very good for you – strengthen the muscles and keep the cold out and give you an appetite. Try it - and for [Neppie's husband, EJP's son] Albert  after a drill or fire. He will likely need it after performance on the 22nd.

Miss [Maud] Harrison obtained the recipe from Sarah Bernhardt and she tells me she has been using it for sometime and has never had a cold since using it, though very subject to them before, as I know. I expect to grow quite young under its influence, judging by my feelings this morning after one application.

I enclose one dollar to have it made up, with my best wishes that it will be beneficial to you all. Love and Kisses to you, Edward & Albert from your loving Mother

A paper in EJP’s handwriting, is headed

A recipe from the great: Sarah Bernhardt

A preventive from colds – for external use

2 oz. – Spirits of camphor

2 oz. – Spirits of ammonium

2 cups of alcohols

Cup of sea salt

Dissolve Sea Salt in boiling water. Put in quart bottle. Add the other ingredients and fill up the bottle with hot water. Wet a sponge and apply all over the body. After a bath is the best time to use it  

I think this might be good for Edward – a tablespoonful will be enough to use at a time, or even less for him. Do not put it on his face. He might not like it, though it would not impair him.

Sarah Bernhardt toured America 9 times. Except on rare occasions, in later years, she always performed in French. Her celebrated roles included Frou-Frou and La Tosca

EJ Phillips' colleague Jessie Millward asked Sarah Bernhardt why she had never learned English, and reported on her stage roles.

I was at a reception given by Miss Marbury and Miss Elsie de Wolff at their charming house in Irving Place, and there I met Madame Sarah Bernhardt. Ever since — many years before —
I had seen her as Camille, I had worshipped the great French artist, for her performance as Camille first opened my eyes to the wonderful possibility of sinking oneself into a character and
entirely losing one's own identity. Camille had lived before me, and Bernhardt had lived and suffered as Camille. Later, three times in one week I went to see her as La Tosca during one of 
our vacations at the Adelphi, and I would return home exhausted myself after that wonderful torture scene. She was, of course a frequent visitor at the Lyceum, and often and often would I 
gaze furtively at her box from the stage and marvel at her. Therefore I was nervously flattered and excited when I found that she remembered me and asked to meet me. We chatted for a time
through an interpreter, and she reminded me of many of the parts I had played at the Lyceum. 

Then she said that she had heard that I was to play in " Diplomacy," and asked what part I had selected. I told her that I had chosen the part of Zicka.  
" Wise girl," she said, nodding her head ; " that is the part." 
And then I summoned up courage and asked her why she, who could do nearly everything, and had such multitudes of admirers in England and America, had never learnt English. 
She laughed. " Madame has never had the time," explained the interpreter. 
Wonderful Sarah Bernhardt! 
When a critic on a New York paper hinted delicately that her frizzy hair was false and that her teeth were 
too good to be her own, she called on him, and letting down her hair before him : 
" Pull eet ! " she exclaimed. " Is eet real or not ? " 
And then, taking his finger, she bit it. 
" Are zey false ? " she demanded. 
At all events the great Sarah knew enough English to make herself understood. But another descriptive reporter, I fancy, drew on his imagination when he wrote that with some difficulty 
he had penetrated the great tragedienne's hotel sitting-room to make enquiries as to her future arrangements, and had asked, among other things, whether she intended visiting all the States. 
"Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Baltimore, Minneapolis, sure — but nix on the punk towns," was the reply that the divine Sarah was reported to have given.  
Jessie Millward, Myself and Others, Hutchinson  1923 http://www.archive.org/stream/myselfothers00milluoft/myselfothers00milluoft_djvu.txt  

Of all late Victorian actresses, it was Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923) who embraced celebrity with the greatest enthusiasm. Building her career on a reputation both on and off stage for illicit and unbridled passion, power and danger ... Victor Hugo and Jean Racine, she broke free to control her own career and repertoire, soon displaying a marked preference for scandalous roles as courtesans, adulteresses and murderers in contemporary boulevard dramas by Victorien Sardou and Alexandre Dumas fils. The 156 performances she gave in her 1880 tour of the United States, for example, included 65 of La Dame aux Camelias, 41 of Frou-frou, 17 of Adrienne Lecouvreur and 6 of Phèdre. As William Archer was moved to observe in 1895, ‘Someone to cajole and someone to murder are the two necessities of artistic existence for Madame Sarah Bernhardt’, accompanying his comment with an explanatory table, listing the victims and lovers in each of her recent plays.2   Private Lives and Public Spaces: Reputation, Celebrity and the Late Victorian Actress, Sos Eltis chapter 10 Theatre and Celebrity in Britain 1660-200 https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057%2F9780230523845_10

Sarah Bernhardt/s autobiography Memories of my Life 1923 [Oxford Companion Theatre
Skinner, Cornelia Otis, Madame Sarah,  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005WBP5/...

Sarah Bernhardt and Sister Carrie http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Sister_Carrie/Chapter_37  
Sarah Bernhardt, Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Bernhardt 

video Sarah Bernhardt La Samaritaine 1903 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjyB18FVGNc&feature=related
video Sarah Bernhardt and Sacha Guitry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj5AT1mXKw4

next: New York, Feb. 5, 1892

Last revised July 11,  2019

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