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Title: Mary Anderson
Author: Farrar, J. M.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mary Anderson" ***

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Team



MARY ANDERSON

by

J.M. FARRAR, M.A.

1885



CHAPTER I.

AT HOME.


Long Branch, one of America's most famous watering-places, in midsummer,
its softly-wooded hills dotted here and there with picturesque "frame"
villas of dazzling white, and below the purple Atlantic sweeping in
restlessly on to the New Jersey shore. The sultry day has been one of
summer storm, and the waves are tipped still with crests of snowy foam,
though now the sun is sinking peacefully to rest amid banks of cloud,
aflame with rose and violet and gold.

About a mile back from the shore stands a rambling country house embosomed
in a small park a few acres in extent, and immediately surrounding it
masses of the magnificent shrub known as Rose of Sharon, in full bloom, in
which the walls of snowy white, with their windows gleaming in the
sunlight, seem set as in a bed of color. The air is full of perfume. The
scent of flower and tree rises gratefully from the rain-laden earth. The
birds make the air musical with song; and here and there in the
neighboring wood, the pretty brown squirrels spring from branch to branch,
and dash down with their gambols the rain drops in a diamond spray. A
broad veranda covered with luxuriant honeysuckle and clematis stretches
along the eastern front of the house, and the wide bay window, thrown open
just now to the summer wind, seems framed in flowers. As we approach
nearer, the deep, rich notes of an organ strike upon the ear. Some one,
with seeming unconsciousness, is producing a sweet passionate music, which
changes momentarily with the player's passing mood. We pause an instant
and look into the room. Here is a picture which might be called "a dream
of fair women." Seated at the organ in the subdued light is a young woman
of a strange, almost startling beauty. Her graceful figure clad in a
simple black robe, unrelieved by a single ornament, is slight, and almost
girlish, though there is a rounded fullness in its line which betrays that
womanhood has been reached. A small classic head carried with easy grace;
finely chiseled features; full, deep, gray eyes; and crowning all a wealth
of auburn hair, from which peeps, as she turns, a pink, shell-like ear;
these complete a picture which seems to belong to another clime and
another age, and lives hardly but on the canvas of Titian. We are almost
sorry to enter the room and break the spell. Mary Anderson's manner as she
starts up from the organ with a light elastic spring to greet her visitors
is singularly gracious and winning. There is a frank fearlessness in the
beautiful speaking eyes so full of poetry and soul, a mingled tenderness
and decision in the mouth, with an utter absence of that
self-consciousness and coquetry which often mar the charm of even the most
beautiful face. This is the artist's study to which she flies back gladly,
now and then, for a few weeks' rest and relaxation from the exacting life
of a strolling player, whose days are spent wandering in pursuit of her
profession over the vast continent which stretches from the Atlantic to
the Pacific. Here she may be found often busy with her part when the faint
rose begins to steal over the tree tops at early dawn; or sometimes when
the world is asleep, and the only sounds are the wind, as it sighs
mournfully through the neighboring wood, or the far-off murmur of the
Atlantic waves as they dash sullenly upon the beach. On a still summer's
night she will wander sometimes, a fair Rosalind, such as Shakespeare
would have loved, in the neighboring grove, and wake its silent echoes as
she recites the Great Master's lines; or she will stand upon the
flower-clad veranda, under the moonlight, her hair stirred softly by the
summer wind, and it becomes to her the balcony from which Juliet murmurs
the story of her love to a ghostly Romeo beneath.

A large English deerhound, who was dozing at her feet when we entered the
room, starts up with his mistress, and after a lazy stretch seems to ask
to join in the welcome. Mary Anderson explains that he is an old favorite,
dear from his resemblance to a hound which figures in some of the
portraits of Mary Queen of Scots. He has failed ignominiously in an
attempted training for a dramatic career, and can do no more than howl a
doleful and distracting accompaniment to his mistress' voice in singing.
We glance round the room, and see that the walls are covered with
portraits of eminent actors, living and dead, with here and there
bookcases filled with favorite dramatic authors; in a corner a bust of
Shakespeare; and on a velvet stand a stage dagger which once belonged to
Sarah Siddons. Over the mantelpiece is a huge elk's head, which fell to
the rifle of General Crook, and was presented to Mary Anderson by that
renowned American hunter; and here, under a glass case, is a stuffed hawk,
a deceased actor and former colleague. Dressed in appropriate costume he
used to take the part of the Hawk in Sheridan Knowles' comedy of "Love,"
in which Mary Anderson played the Countess. The story of this bird's
training is as characteristic of her passion for stage realism as of that
indomitable power of will to overcome obstacles, to which much of her
success is due. She determined to have a live hawk for the part instead of
the conventional stuffed one of the stage, and with some difficulty
procured a half-wild bird from a menagerie. Arming herself with strong
spectacles and heavy gauntlets, she spent many a weary day in the painful
process of "taming the shrew." After a long struggle, in which she came
off sometimes torn and bleeding, the bird was taught to fly from the
falconer's shoulder on to her outstretched finger and stay there while she
recited the lines--

  "How nature fashioned him for his bold trade!
  Gave him his stars of eyes to range abroad.
  His wings of glorious spread to mow the air
  And breast of might to use them!"

and then, by tickling his feet, he would fly off: and flap his wings
appropriately, while she went on--

                           "I delight
  To fly my hawk. The hawk's a glorious bird;
  Obedient--yet a daring, dauntless bird!"

Here, too, are her guitar and zither, on both which instruments Mary
Anderson is a proficient.

And now that we have seen all her treasures, we must follow her to the top
of the house, from which is obtained a fine view of the Atlantic as it
races in mighty waves on to the beach at Long Branch. She declares that in
the offing, among the snowy craft which dance at anchor there, can be
distinguished her pretty steam yacht, the Galatea.

Night is falling fast, but with that impulsiveness which is so
characteristic of her, Mary Anderson insists upon our paying a visit to
the stables to see her favorite mare, Maggie Logan. Poor Maggie is now
blind with age, but in her palmy days she could carry her mistress, who is
a splendid horsewoman, in a flight of five miles across the prairie in
sixteen minutes. As we enter the box, Maggie turns her pretty head at
sound of the familiar voice, and in response to a gentle hint, her
mistress produces a piece of sugar from her pocket. As Mary Anderson
strokes the fine thoroughbred head, we think the pair are not very much
unlike. Meanwhile, Maggie's stable companion cranes his beautiful neck
over the side of the box, and begs for the caress which is not denied him.

Night has fallen now in earnest, and the beaming colored boy holds his
lantern to guide us along the path, while Maggie whinnies after us her
adieu. The grasshoppers chirp merrily in the sodden grass, and now and
then a startled rabbit darts out of the wood and crosses close to our
feet. The light is almost blinding as we enter the cheerful dining-room,
where supper is laid on the snowy cloth, and are introduced to the
charming family circle of the Long Branch villa. Though it is the home now
of an old Southerner, Mary Anderson's step-father, it is a favorite
trysting-place with Grant, the hero of the North, with Sherman, and many
another famous man, between whom and the South there raged twenty years
ago so deadly and prolonged a feud. While not actually a daughter of the
South by birth, Mary Anderson is such by early education and associations,
and to these grim old soldiers she seems often the emblem of Peace, as
they sit in the pretty drawing-room at Long Branch, and listen, sometimes
with tear-dimmed eyes, to the sweet tones of her voice as she sings for
them their favorite songs.



CHAPTER II.

BIRTH AND EDUCATION.


Seldom has a more charming story been written than that of Mary Anderson's
childhood and youth to the time when, a beautiful girl of sixteen, she
made her _debut_ in what has ever since remained her favorite _role_,
Juliet--and the only Juliet who has ever played the part at the same age
since Fanny Kemble.

There was nothing in her home surroundings to guide in the direction of a
dramatic career; indeed her parents seemed to have entertained the not
uncommon dread of the temptations and dangers of a stage life for their
daughter, and only yielded at last before the earnest passionate purpose
to which so much of Mary Anderson's after success is due. They bent wisely
at length before the mysterious power of genius which shone out in the
beautiful child long before she was able fully to understand whither the
resistless promptings to tread the "mimic stage of life" were leading her.
In the end the New World gained an actress of whom it may be well proud,
and the Old World has been fain to confess that it has no monopoly of the
highest types of histrionic genius.

Mary Anderson was born at Sacramento, on the Pacific slope, on the 28th of
July, 1859, but removed with her parents to Kentucky, when but six months
old. German and English blood are mingled in her veins, her mother being
of German descent, while her father was the grandson of an Englishman. On
the outbreak of the civil war he joined the ranks of the Southern armies,
and fell fighting under the Confederate flag before Mobile. When but three
years old Mary Anderson was left fatherless, and a year or two afterward
she and her little brother Joseph found almost more than a father's love
and care in her mother's second husband, Dr. Hamilton Griffin, an old
Southern planter, who had abandoned his plantations at the outbreak of the
war, and after a successful career as an army surgeon, established himself
in practice at Louisville.

Mary Anderson's early years were characteristic of her future. She was one
of those children whose wild artist nature chafes under the restraints of
home and school life. Generous to a fault, the life and soul of her
companions, yet to control her taxed to their utmost the parental
resources; and it must be admitted she was the torment of her teachers.
Her wild exuberant spirits overleaped the bounds of school life, and
sometimes made order and discipline difficult of enforcement. She was
never known to tell an untruth, but at the same time she would never
confess to a fault. Imprisoned often for punishment in a room, she would
steadfastly refuse to admit that she had done wrong, and, maternal
patience exhausted, the mutinous little culprit had commonly to be
released impenitent and unconfessed. Indeed her wildness acquired for her
the name of "Little Mustang;" as, later on, her fondness for poring over
books beyond her childish years that of "Little Newspaper." At school, the
confession must be made, she was refractory and idle. The prosaic routine
of school life was dull and distasteful to the child, who, at ten years of
age, found her highest delight in the plays of Shakespeare. Many of her
school hours were spent in a corner, face to the wall, and with a book on
her head, to restrain the mischievous habit of making faces at her
companions, which used to convulse the school with ill-suppressed
laughter. She would sally forth in the morning with her little satchel,
fresh and neat as a daisy, to return at night with frock in rents, and all
the buttons, if any way ornamental, given away in an impulsive generosity
to her schoolmates. It soon became evident that she would learn little or
nothing at school; and on a faithful promise to amend her ways if she
might only leave and pursue her studies at home, Mary Anderson was
permitted, when but thirteen years of age, to terminate her school career.
But instead of studying "Magnall's Questions," or becoming better
acquainted with "The Use of the Globes," she spent most of her time in
devouring the pages of Shakespeare, and committing favorite passages to
memory. To her childish fancy they seemed to open the gates of dreamland,
where she could hold converse with a world peopled by heroes, and live a
life apart from the prosaic everyday existence which surrounded her in a
modern American town. Shakespeare was the teacher who replaced the "school
marm," with her dull and formal lessons. Her quick perceptive mind grasped
his great and noble thoughts, which gave a vigor and robustness to her
mental growth. Since those days she has assimilated rather than acquired
knowledge, and there are now few women of her age whose information is
more varied, or whose conversation displays greater mental culture, and
higher intellectual development. Strangely enough, it was the male
characters of Shakespeare which touched Mary Anderson's youthful fancy;
and she studied with a passionate ardor such parts as Hamlet, Romeo, and
Richard III. With the wonderful intuition of an art-nature, she seems to
have felt that the cultivation of the voice was a first essential to
success. She ransacked her father's library for works on elocution, and
discovering on one occasion "Rush on the Voice," proceeded, for many weeks
before it became known to her parents, to commence under its guidance the
task of building up a somewhat weak and ineffective organ into a voice
capable of expressing with ease the whole gamut of feeling from the
fiercest passion to the tenderest sentiment, and which can fill with a
whisper the largest theater.

The passion for a theatrical career seems to have been born in the child.
At ten she would recite passages from Shakespeare, and arrange her room to
represent appropriately the stage scene. Her first visit to the theater
was when she was about twelve, one winter's evening, to see a fairy piece
called "Puck." The house was only a short distance from her home at
Louisville, and she and her little brother presented themselves at the
entrance door hours before the time announced for the performance. The
door-keeper happened to observe the children, and thinking they would
freeze standing outside in the wintry wind, good naturedly opened the door
and admitted Mary Anderson to Paradise--or what seemed like it to her--the
empty benches of the dress circle, the dim half-light, the mysterious
horizon of dull green curtain, beyond which lay Fairyland. Here for two or
three hours she sat entranced, till the peanut boy made his appearance to
herald the approach of the glories of the evening. From that date the die
of Mary Anderson's destiny was cast. The theater became her world. She
looked with admiring interest on a super, or even a bill-sticker, as they
passed the windows of her father's house; and an actor seen in the streets
in the flesh filled her with the same reverent awe and admiration as
though the gods had descended from their serene heights to mingle in the
dust with common mortals. We are not sure that she still retains this
among the other illusions of her youth!

The person who seems to have fixed Mary Anderson's theatrical destiny was
one Henry Woude. He had been an actor of some distinction on the American
stage, which he had, however, abandoned for the pulpit. Mr. Woude happened
to be one of her father's patients, and the conversation turning one day
upon Mary's passion for a theatrical career, the older actor expressed a
wish to hear her read. He was enthusiastic in praise of the power and
promise displayed by the self-trained girl, and declared to the astonished
father that in his youthful daughter he possessed a second Rachel. Mr.
Woude advised an immediate training for a dramatic career; but the
parental repugnance to the stage was not yet overcome, and Mary remained a
while longer to pursue, as best she might, her dramatic studies in her own
home, and with no other teachers than the artistic instinct which had
already guided her so far on the path to eventual triumph and success.

When in her fourteenth year, Mary Anderson saw for the first time a really
great actor. Edwin Booth came on a starring tour to Louisville, and she
witnessed his Richard III., one of the actor's most powerful
impersonations. That night was a new revelation to her in dramatic art,
and she returned home to lie awake for hours, sleepless from excitement,
and pondering whether it were possible that she could ever wield the same
magic power. She commenced at once the serious study of "Richard III." The
manner of Booth was carefully copied, and that great artist would
doubtless have been as much amused as flattered to note the servility with
which his rendering of the part was adhered to. A preliminary rehearsal
took place in the kitchen before a little colored girl, some years Mary
Anderson's senior, who had that devoted attachment to her young mistress
often found in the colored races to the whites. Dinah was so much
terrified by the fierce declamation that she almost went into hysterics,
and rushing up-stairs begged the mother to come down and see what was the
matter with "Miss Mami," as she was affectionately called at home. Consent
was at length obtained to a little drawing-room entertainment at home of
"Richard III.," with Miss Mary Anderson for the first and last time in the
title _role_. For some months the young _debutante_ had carefully saved
her pocket money for the purchase of an appropriate costume, and,
resisting, as best she might, the attractions of the sweetmeat shop,
managed to accumulate five dollars. With her mother's help a little
costume was got up--a purple satin tunic, green silk cape, and plumed
hat--and wearing the traditional hump, the youthful, representative of
Richard appeared for the first time before an audience in the Tent Scene,
preceded by the Cottage Scene from "The Lady of Lyons." The back
drawing-room was arranged as a stage; her mother acting as prompter,
though her help was little needed; and, judged by the enthusiastic
applause of friends and neighbors, the performance was a great success.
The young actress received it all with even more apparent coolness than if
she had trodden the boards for years, and made her exits with the calm
dignity which she had observed to be Edwin Booth's manner under similar
circumstances. Indeed, Booth became to her childish fancy the divinity who
could open to her the door of the stage she longed so ardently to reach.
She confided to the little colored girl a plan to save their money, and
fly to New York to Mr. Booth, and ask him to place her on the stage. Dinah
entered heartily into the affair, and at one time they had managed to
hoard as much as five dollars for the carrying out of this romantic
scheme. Some years afterward when the wish of her heart had been long
accomplished, Mary Anderson made Mr. Booth's acquaintance, and recounting
to him her childish fancy asked what he would have done if she had
succeeded in presenting herself to him in New York. "Why, my child, I
should have taken you down to the depot, bought a couple of tickets for
Louisville, and given you in charge of the conductor," was the rather
discouraging answer of the great tragedian.

Not long afterward Mary Anderson's dramatic powers were submitted to the
critical judgment of Miss Cushman. That great actress, then in the zenith
of her fame, was residing not far distant at Cincinnati. Accompanied by
her mother, Mary presented herself at Miss Cushman's hotel. They happened
to meet in the vestibule. The veteran actress took the young aspirant's
hand with her accustomed vigorous grasp, to which Mary, not to be outdone,
nerved herself to respond in kind; and patting her at the same time
affectionately on the cheek, invited her to read before her on an early
morning. When Miss Cushman had entered her waiting carriage, Mary
Anderson, with her wonted veneration for what pertained to the stage,
begged that she might be allowed to be the first to sit in the chair that
had been occupied for a few moments by the great actress. Miss Cushman's
verdict was highly favorable. "You have," she said, "three essential
requisites for the stage; voice, personality, and gesture. With a year's
longer study and some training, you may venture to make an appearance
before the public." Miss Cushman recommended that she should take lessons
from the younger Vandenhoff, who was at the time a successful dramatic
teacher in New York. A year from that date occurred the actress' lamented
death, almost on the very day of Mary Anderson's _debut_.

Returning home thus encouraged, her dramatic studies were resumed with
fresh ardor. The question of the New York project was anxiously debated in
the family councils. It was at length decided that Mary Anderson should
receive some regular training for the stage; and accompanied by her mother
she was soon afterward on her way to the Empire City, full of happiness
and pride that the dream of her life seemed now within reach of
attainment. Vandenhoff was paid a hundred dollars for ten lessons, and
taught his pupil mainly the necessary stage business. This was, strictly
speaking. Mary Anderson's only professional training for a dramatic
career. The stories which have been current since her appearance in
London, as to her having been a pupil of Cushman, or of other
distinguished American artists, are entirely apocryphal, and have been
evolved by the critics who have given them to the world out of that
fertile soil, their own inner consciousness. There is certainly no
circumstance in her career which reflects more credit on Mary Anderson
than that her success, and the high position as an artist she has won thus
early in life, are due to her own almost unaided efforts. Well may it be
said of her--

  "What merit to be dropped on fortune's hill?
  The honor is to mount it."



CHAPTER III.

EARLY YEARS ON THE STAGE.


Between eight and nine years ago, Mary Anderson made her _debut_ at
Louisville, in the home of her childhood, and before an audience, many of
whom had known her from a child. This was how it came about. The season
had not been very successful at Macaulay's Theater, and one Milnes Levick,
an English stock-actor of the company, happened to be in some pecuniary
difficulties, and in need of funds to leave the town. The manager
bethought him of Mary Anderson, and conceived the bold idea of producing
"Romeo and Juliet," with the untried young novice in the _role_ of Juliet
for poor Levick's benefit. It was on a Thursday that the proposition was
made to her by the manager at the theater, and the performance was to take
place on the following Saturday. Mary, almost wild with delight, gave an
eager acceptance if she could but obtain her parents' consent. The
passers-by turned many of them that day to look at the beautiful girl, who
flew almost panting through the streets to reach her home. The bell handle
actually broke in her impetuous eager hands. The answer was "Yes," and at
length the dream of her life was realized. On the following Saturday, the
27th of November, 1875, after only a single rehearsal, and wearing the
borrowed costume of the manager's wife, who happened to be about the same
size as herself, and without the slightest "make up," Mary Anderson
appeared as one of Shakespeare's favorite heroines. She was announced in
the playbills thus:--

    JULIET   .    .    BY A LOUISVILLE YOUNG LADY.
    (Her first appearance on any stage.)

The theater was packed from curiosity, and this is what the _Louisville
Courier_ said of the performance next morning.


_Louisville Courier_, November 28th, 1875.

"We can scarcely bring ourselves to speak of the young actress, who came
before the footlights last night, with the coolness of a critic and a
spectator. An interest in native genius and young endeavor, in courage and
brave effort that arrives from so near us--our own city--precludes the
possibility of standing outside of sympathy, and peering in with analyzing
and judicial glance. But we do not think that any man of judgment who
witnessed Miss Anderson's acting of Juliet, can doubt that she is a great
actress. In the latter scenes she interpreted the very spirit and soul of
tragedy, and thrilled the whole house into silence by the depth of her
passion and her power. She is essentially a tragic genius, and began
really to act only after the scene in which her nurse tells Juliet of what
she supposes is her lover's death. The quick gasp, the terrified stricken
face, the tottering step, the passionate and heart-rending accents were
nature's own marks of affecting overwhelming grief. Miss Anderson has
great power over the lower tones of her rich voice. Her whisper
electrifies and penetrates; her hurried words in the passion of the scene,
where she drinks the sleeping potion, and afterward in the catastrophe at
the end, although very far below conversational pitch, came to the ear
with distinctness and with wonderful effect. In the final scene she
reached the climax of her acting, which, from the time of Tybalt's death
to the end, was full of tragic power that we have never seen excelled. It
will be observed that we have placed the merit of this actress (in our
opinion) for the most part in her deeper and more somber powers, and
despite the high praise that we more gladly offer as her due, we cannot be
blind to her faults in the presentation of last evening. She is,
undoubtedly, a great actress, and last night evidenced a magnificent
genius, more especially remarkable on account of her extreme youth; but
whether she is a great Juliet is, indeed, more doubtful. We can imagine
her as personating Lady Macbeth superbly, and hope soon to witness her in
the part. As Juliet, her conception is almost perfect, as evinced by her
rare and exceptional taste and intuitive understanding of the text. But
her enactment of the earlier scenes lacks the exuberance and earnest
joyfulness of the pure and glowing Flower of Italy, with all her fanciful
conceits and delightful and loving ardor.

"We could not, in Miss Anderson's rendition of the balcony scene, help
feeling in the tones of her voice, an almost stern foreboding of their
saddening fates--a foreboding stranger than that which falls as a shadow
to all ecstatic youthful hope and joy. Other faults--as evident,
undoubtedly, to her and to her advisers, as to us--are for the most part
superficial, and will disappear in a little further experience. A first
appearance, coupled with so much merit and youth, may well excuse many
things.

"A lack of true interpretation we can never excuse. We give mediocrity
fair common-place words, generally of commendation unaccompanied by
censure. But when we come to deal with a divine inspiration, our words
must have their full meaning.

"We do not here want mere commendatory phrases, whose stereotyped faces
appear again and again. We want just appreciation, just censure. Thus our
criticism is not to be considered unkind. Nay, we not only owe it to the
truth and to ourselves in Miss Anderson's case, to state the existence of
faults and crudities in her acting, but we owe it to her, for it is the
greatest kindness, and yet we do not speak harshly and are glad to admit
that most of her faults--such for instance as frequently casting up the
eyes--are not only slight in themselves, but enhanced if not caused by the
timidity natural on such an occasion.

"But enough of faults. We know something of the quality of our home
actress. We see with but little further training and experience she will
stand among the foremost actresses on the stage. We are charmed by her
beauty and commanding power, and are justified in predicting great future
success."

In the following February Mary Anderson appeared again at Macaulay's
Theater for a week, when she played, with success, Bianca in "Phasio,"
studied by the advice of the manager, who thought she had a vocation for
heavy tragedy; also Julia in "The Hunchback," Evadne, and again Juliet.

The reputation of the rising young actress began to spread now beyond the
bounds of her Kentucky home, and on the 6th of March, 1876, she commenced
a week's engagement at the Opera House in St. Louis. Old Ben de Bar, the
great Falstaff of his time, was manager of this theater. He had known all
the most eminent American actors, and had been manager for many of the
stars; and he was quick to discern the brilliant future which awaited the
young actress. The St. Louis engagement was not altogether successful,
though it was brightened by the praises of General Sherman, with whom was
formed then a friendship which remains unbroken till to-day. Indeed, the
old veteran can never pass Long Branch in his travels without "stopping
off to see Mary." Ben de Bar had a theater in New Orleans known as the St.
Charles. It was the Drury Lane of that city, and situated in an
unfashionable quarter of the town. Its benches were reported to be almost
deserted and its treasury nearly empty. But an engagement to appear there
for a week was accepted joyfully by Mary Anderson. She played Evadne at a
parting _matinee_ in St. Louis on the Saturday, traveled to New Orleans
all through Sunday, arriving there at two o'clock on the Monday afternoon,
rushed down to the theater to rehearse with a new company, and that night
appeared to a house of only forty-eight dollars! The students of the
Military College formed a large part of the scanty audience, and fired
with the beauty and talent of the young actress, they sallied forth
between the acts and bought up all the bouquets in the quarter. The final
act of "Evadne" was played almost knee-deep in flowers, and that night
Mary Anderson was compelled to hire a wagon to carry home to her hotel the
floral offerings of her martial admirers. General and Mrs. Tom Thumb
occupied the stage box on one of the early nights of the engagement, and
the fame of the beautiful young star soon reached the fashionable quarter
of New Orleans, and Upper Tendom flocked to the despised St. Charles. On
the following Saturday night there was a house packed from floor to
ceiling, the takings, meanwhile, having risen from 48 to 500 dollars. An
offer of an engagement at the Varietes, the Lyceum of New Orleans, quickly
followed, and the daring feat of appearing as Meg Merrilies was attempted
on its boards. The press predicted failure, and warned the young aspirant
against essaying a part almost identified with Cushman, then but lately
deceased, who had been a great favorite with the New Orleans public, and
one of whose best impersonations it was. The actors too, with whom Mary
Anderson rehearsed, looked forward to anything but a success. Nothing
daunted, however, and confident in her own powers, she spent two hours in
perfecting a make-up so successful, that even her mother failed to
recognize her in the strange, weird disguise; and then, darkening her
dressing-room, set herself resolutely to get into the heart of her part.
Mary Anderson's Meg Merrilies was an immense success; Cushman herself
never received greater applause, and the scene was quite an ovation.
Hearing, on the fall of the curtain, that General Beauregard, one of the
heroes of the civil war, intended to make a presentation, she threw off
her disguise, and smoothing her hair rushed back to the stage, to receive
the Badge of the Washington Artillery, a belt enameled in blue, with
crossed cannons in gold with diamond vents, and suspended from the belt a
tiger's head in gold, with diamond eyes and ruby tongue. The corps had
been known through the war as the "Tiger Heads," and were famed for their
deeds of daring and bravery. The belt bore the inscription, "To Mary
Anderson, from her friends of the Battalion." She returned thanks in a
little speech, which was received with much enthusiasm, and retired almost
overcome with pleasure and pride. The youthful actress, who had then not
completed her seventeenth year, took by storm the hearts of the impulsive
and chivalrous Southerners. On the morning of her departure, she found to
her astonishment that the railway company had placed a fine "Pullman" and
special engine at her disposal all the way to Louisville. Generals
Beauregard and Hood, with many distinguished Southerners, were on the
platform to bid her farewell, and she returned home with purse and
reputation, both marvelously grown.

After a brief period spent in diligent study, Mary Anderson fulfilled a
second engagement in New Orleans, which proved a great financial success.
The criticisms of this period all admit her histrionic power, though some
describe her efforts as at times raw and crude, faults hardly to be
wondered at in a young girl mainly self-taught, and with barely a year's
experience of the business of the stage.

About this time Mary Anderson met with the first serious rebuff in her
hitherto so successful career. It happened, too, in California, the State
of her birth, where she was to have a somewhat rude experience of the old
adage, that "a prophet has no honor in his own country." John McCullough
was then managing with great success the principal theater in San
Francisco, and offered her a two weeks' engagement. But California would
have none of her. The public were cold and unsympathetic, the press
actually hostile. The critics declared not only that she could not act,
but that she was devoid of all capability of improvement. One, more
gallant than his fellows, was gracious enough to remark that, in spite of
her mean capacity as an artist, she possessed a neck like a column of
marble. It was only when she appeared as Meg Merrilies that the
Californians thawed a little, and the press relented somewhat. Edwin Booth
happened to be in San Francisco at the time, and it was on the stage of
California that Mary Anderson first met the distinguished actor who had
been her early stage ideal. He told her that for ten years he had never
sat through a performance till hers; and the praises of the great
tragedian went far to console her for the coldness and want of sympathy in
the general public. It was by Booth's advice, as well as John
McCullough's, that she now began to study such parts as Parthenia, as
better suited to her powers than more somber tragedy. Those were the old
stock theater days in America, when every theater had a fair standing
company, and relied for its success on the judicious selection of stars.
This system, though perhaps a somewhat vicious one, made so many
engagements possible to Mary Anderson, whose means would not have admitted
of the costlier system of traveling with a special company.

The return journey from California was made painfully memorable by a
disastrous accident to a railway train which had preceded the party, and
they were compelled to stop for the night at a little roadside town in
Missouri. The hotels were full of wounded passengers, and scenes of
distress were visible on all sides. When they were almost despairing of a
night's lodging, a plain countryman approached them, and offered the
hospitality of his pretty white cottage hard by, embosomed in its trees
and flowers. The offer was thankfully accepted, and soon after their
arrival the wife's sister, a "school mar'm," came in, and seemed to warm
at once to her beautiful young visitor. She proposed a walk, and the two
girls sallied forth into the fields. The stranger turned the subject to
Shakespeare and the stage, with which Mary Anderson was fain to confess
but a very slight acquaintance, fearing the announcement of her profession
would shock the prejudices of these simple country folk, who might shrink
from having "a play actress" under their roof. Some months after the party
had returned home there came a letter from these kind people saying how,
to their delight and astonishment, they had accidentally discovered who
had been their guest. It seemed the sister was an enthusiastic
Shakespearean student, and all agreed that in entertaining Mary Anderson
they had "entertained an angel unawares."

The California trip may be said to close the first period of Mary
Anderson's dramatic career. With some draw-backs and some rebuffs she had
made a great success, but she was known thus far only as a Western girl,
who had yet to encounter the judgment of the more critical audiences of
the South and East, as years later, with a reputation second to none all
over the States as well as in Canada, she essayed, with a success which
has been seldom equaled, perhaps never surpassed, the ordeal of facing, at
the Lyceum, an audience, perhaps the most fastidious and critical in
London.



CHAPTER IV.

THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR.


Mary Anderson returned home from California disheartened and dispirited.
To her it had proved anything but a Golden State. Her visit there was the
first serious rebuff in her brief dramatic career whose opening months had
been so full of promise, and even of triumph. She was barely seventeen,
and a spirit less brave, or less confident in its own powers, might easily
have succumbed beneath the storm of adverse criticism. Happily for
herself, and happily too for the stage on both sides of the Atlantic, the
young _debutante_ took the lesson wisely to heart. She saw that the
heights of dramatic fame could not be taken by storm; that her past
successes, if brilliant, regard being had to her youth and want of
training, were far from secure. She was like some fair flower which had
sprung up warmed by the genial sunshine, likely enough to wither and die
before the first keen blast. Her youth, her beauty, her undoubted dramatic
genius, were points strongly in her favor; but these could ill
counterbalance, at first at any rate, the want of systematic training, the
almost total absence of any experience of the representation by others of
the parts which she sought to make her own. She had seen Charlotte
Cushman; indeed, in "Meg Merrilies," but of the true rendering of a part
so difficult and complex as Shakespeare's Juliet, she knew absolutely
nothing but what she had been taught by the promptings of her own artistic
instinct. She was herself the only Juliet, as she was the only Bianca, and
the only Evadne, she had ever seen upon any stage. In those days she had,
perhaps, never heard the remark of Mademoiselle Mars, who was the most
charming of Juliets at sixty. "Si j'avais ma jeunesse, je n'aurais pas mon
talent."

Coming back then to her Kentucky home from the ill-starred Californian
trip, Mary Anderson seems to have determined to essay again the lowest
steps of the ladder of fame. She took a summer engagement with a company,
which was little else than a band of strolling players. The _repertoire_
was of the usual ambitious character, and Mary was able to assume once
more her favorite _role_ of Juliet. The company was deficient in a Romeo,
and the part was consequently undertaken by a lady--a _role_ by the way in
which Cushman achieved one of her greatest triumphs. In spite, however, of
the young star, the little band played to sadly empty houses, and the
treasury was so depleted that, in the generosity of her heart, Mary
Anderson proposed to organize a benefit _matinee_, and play Juliet. She
went down to the theater at the appointed hour and dressed for her part.
After some delay a man strayed into the pit, then a couple of boys peeped
over the rails of the gallery, and, at last, a lady entered the
dress-circle. The disheartened manager was compelled at length to appear
before the curtain and announce that, in consequence of the want of public
support, the performance could not take place. That day Mary Anderson
walked home to her hotel through the quiet streets of the little Kentucky
town--which shall be nameless--with a sort of miserable feeling at her
heart, that the world had no soul for the great creations of Shakespeare's
master-mind, which had so entranced her youthful fancy. It all seemed like
a descent into some chill valley of darkness, after the sweet incense of
praise, the perfume of flowers, and the crowded theaters which had been
her earlier experiences. But the dark storm cloud was soon to pass over,
and henceforth almost unbroken sunshine was to attend Mary Anderson's
career. For her there was to be no heart-breaking period of mean
obscurity, no years of dull unrequited toil. She burst as a star upon the
theatrical world, and a star she has remained to this day, because,
through all her successes, she never for a moment lost sight of the fact
that she could only maintain her ground by patient study, and steady
persistent hard work. Failures she had unquestionably. Her rendering of a
part was often rough, often unfinished. Not uncommonly she was surpassed
in knowledge of stage business by the most obscure member of the companies
with whom she played; but the public recognized instinctively the true
light of genius which shone clear and bright through all defects and all
shortcomings. It was a rare experience, whether on the stage, or in other
paths of art, but not an unknown one. Fanny Kemble, who made her _debut_
at Covent Garden at the same age as Mary Anderson, took the town by storm
at once, and seemed to burst upon the stage as a finished actress. David
Garrick was the greatest actor in England after he had been on the boards
less than three months. Shelley was little more than sixteen when he wrote
"Queen Mab;" and Beckford's "Vathek" was the production of a youth of
barely twenty.

In the year 1876, Mary Anderson received an offer from a distinguished
theatrical manager, John T. Ford, of Washington and Baltimore, to join his
company as a star, but at an ordinary salary. Three hundred dollars a
week, even in those early days, was small pay for the rising young
actress, who was already without a rival in her own line on the American
stage; but the extended tour through the States which the engagement
offered, the security of a good company, and of able management, led to an
immediate acceptance. On this as on every other occasion, through her
theatrical career, Mary Anderson was accompanied by her father and mother,
who have ever watched over her welfare with the tenderest solicitude. All
the arrangements for the trip were _en prince_. Indeed we have small idea
in our little sea-girt isle, of the luxury and even splendor with which
American stars travel over the vast distances between one city and another
on the immense Western continent. The City of Worcester, a new Pullman
car, subsequently used by Sarah Bernhardt, and afterward by Edwin Booth,
was chartered for the party, consisting of Mary Anderson, her father,
mother, and brother, and the young actress' maid and secretary. A cook and
three colored porters constituted the _personnel_ of the establishment.
There was a completely equipped kitchen, a dining-room with commodious
family table; a tiny drawing-room with its piano, portraits of favorite
artists, and some choicely-filled bookshelves, as well as capital sleeping
quarters. It was literally a splendid home upon wheels. Where the hotels
happened to be inferior at any particular town, the party occupied it
through the period of the engagement. Visitors were received, friendly
parties arranged, and little of the inconvenience and discomfort of travel
experienced. It was thus that Mary Anderson made her first great
theatrical tour through the States. In spite of now and then a cold, or
even hostile press, her progress was very like a triumph. In many places
she created an absolute _furore_, hundreds being turned away at the
theater doors. Indeed, it was no uncommon occurrence for an ordinary seat
whose advertised price was seventy-five cents to sell at as high a premium
as twenty-five dollars. The management reaped a rich harvest, and Mary
Anderson played on this Southern trip to more money than any previous
actor, excepting only Edwin Forrest. There was still one drop of bitter in
this cup of sweetness and success. The company, jealous of the prominence
given to one whom they regarded as a mere untried girl, proceeded to add
what they could to her difficulties by "boycotting" her. There were two
exceptions among the gentlemen actors; and we are pleased to be able to
record that one of these was an Englishman. The ladies were unanimous in
proclaiming a war to the knife!

Needless to say the impassioned youth of the New World now and then
pursued the wandering star in her travels at immense expenditure of time
and money, as well as of floral decorations. This is young America's way
of showing his admiration for a favorite actress. He is silent and
unobtrusive. He makes his presence known by the midnight serenade beneath
her windows; by the bouquets which fall at her feet on every
representation, and are sent to the room of her hotel at the same hour
each day; by his constant attendance on the departure platform at the
railway station. We are not sure that this silent worship which so often
persistently followed her path was displeasing to Mary Anderson. It
touched, if not her heart, yet that poetic vein which runs through her
nature, and reminded her sometimes of the vain pursuit with which
Evangeline followed her wandering lover.

Manager Ford had taken Mary Anderson through the South with great profit
to himself. In this she had had no direct pecuniary interest beyond her
modest salary. She had, of course, greatly enriched her reputation if not
her purse. She had become at home in her parts, and even added to her
_repertoire_, the manager's daughter, with whom she played Juliet and Lady
Macbeth alternately, having translated for her "La Fille de Roland," in
which she has since appeared with great success. She was then but
seventeen and a half, and had never possessed a diamond, when on returning
home from church one Sunday morning, she found a little jewel case
containing a magnificent diamond cross, an acknowledgment from the manager
of her services to his company. The gift was the more appreciated from the
fact that it was a very exceptional specimen of managerial generosity in
America!

The criticisms of the press during the early years of Mary Anderson's
theatrical career are full of interest, viewed in the light of her after
and firmly established success. They show that the American people were
not slow to recognize the genius of the young girl, who was destined
hereafter to spread a luster on the stage of two continents. At the same
time they are full either of a ridiculous praise which is blind to the
presence of the least fault, and would have turned the head of a young
girl not endowed with the sturdy common sense possessed by Mary Anderson;
or they are marked by a vindictive animosity which defeats its very
object, and practically attracts public notice in favor of an actress it
is obviously meant to crush. These newspaper criticisms are further
amusing as showing the family likeness which exists between the _genus_
"dramatic critic" on both sides of the Atlantic. Each seems to believe
that he carries the fate of the actor in his inkhorn. Each seems blind to
the fact that _Vox populi vox Dei_; that favorable criticism never yet
made an artist, who had not within him the power to win the popular favor;
still more, that adverse criticism can never extinguish the heaven-sent
spark of true artistic fire.

The verdict of Louisville on its home-grown actress has been given in a
preceding chapter. The estimate, however, of strangers is of far more
value than that of friends or acquaintance. The judgment of St. Louis,
where Mary Anderson played her earliest engagements away from home is, on
the whole, the most interesting dramatic criticism of her early
performances on record. St. Louis is a city of considerable culture, and
stands in much the same relation to the South as does its modern rival
Chicago to the North-West. Its newspapers are some of the ablest on the
continent, and its audiences perhaps as critical as any in America if we
except perhaps such places as Boston or New York.

The _St. Louis Globe Democrat_ says:--

"A diamond in the rough, but yet a diamond, was the mental verdict of the
jury who sat in the Opera House last night to see Miss Mary Anderson on
her first appearance here in the character of Juliet. It was in reality
her _debut_ upon the stage. She played, a short time since, for one week
in her native city, Louisville, but this is her first effort upon a stage
away from the associations which surround an appearance among friends, and
which must, to a great extent, influence the general judgment of the
_debutante's_ merit.... We believe her to be the most promising young
actress who has stepped upon the boards for many a day, and before whom
there is, undoubtedly, a brilliant and successful career."

The _St. Louis Republican_ has the following very interesting notice:--

"A fresh and beautiful young girl of Juliet's age embodied and presented
Juliet. Beauty often mirrors its type in this beautiful character, but
very rarely does Juliet's youth meet its youthful counterpart on the
stage.... A great Juliet is not the question here, but the possibility of
a Juliet near the age at which the dramatist presented his heroine. Mary
Anderson is untampered by any stage traditions, and she rendered
Shakespeare's youngest heroine as she felt her pulsing in his lines....
She leads a return to the source of poetic inspiration, and exemplifies
what true artistic instincts and feeling can do on the stage, without
either the traditions and experience of acting. She colors her own
conceptions and figure of Juliet, and by her work vindicates the master,
and proves that Juliet can be presented by a girl of her own age.... The
fourth act exhibited great tragic power, and no want was felt in the
celebrated chamber scene, which is the test passage of this _role_.... It
stamped the performance as a success, and the actress as a phenomenon....
The thought must have gone round the house among those who knew the
facts--Can this be only the seventh performance on the stage of this young
girl?"

Here is another notice a few months later on in Mary Anderson's dramatic
career from the _Baltimore Gazette_:--

"Miss Anderson's Juliet has the charm which belongs to youth, beauty, and
natural genius. Her fair face, her flexible youth--for she is still in her
teens--and her great natural dramatic genius, make her personation of that
sweet creation of Shakespeare successful, in spite of her immaturity as an
artist. We have so often seen aged Juliets; stiff, stagey Juliets; fat,
roomy Juliets; and ill-featured Juliets, that the sight of a young,
lady-like girl with natural dramatic genius, a bright face, an unworn
voice, is truly refreshing. In the scene where the nurse brings her the
bad news of Tybalt's death and Romeo's banishment, she acted charmingly.
In gesture, attitude, and facial expression she gave evidence of emotion
so true and strong, as showed she was capable of losing her own identity
in the _role_."

As an amusing specimen of vindictive criticism, we subjoin a notice in the
_Washington Capitol_, under date May 28, 1876. This lengthy notice
contains strong internal evidence of a deadly feud existing between
Manager Ford and the editor of the _Capitol_, and the stab is given
through the fair bosom of Mary Anderson, whose immense success in
Senatorial Washington, this atrabilious knight of the plume devotes two
columns of his valuable space to explaining away.


Washington City _Daily Capitol_, 28th May, 1876.

"Miss Anderson comes to us on a perfect whirlwind of newspaper puffs. We
use the words advisedly, for in none of them can be found a paragraph of
criticism. If Siddons or Cushman had been materialized and restored to the
stage in all their pristine excellence, the excitement in Cincinnati,
Louisville, St. Louis and New Orleans, could not have been more intense.
The very firemen of one of those cities seem to have been aroused and lost
their hearts, if not their heads; and not only serenaded the object of
their adoration, but got up a decoration for her to wear of the most
costly and gorgeous sort. Under this state of facts we waited with unusual
impatience for sixteen sticks to give the cue that was to fetch on the
Juliet. It came at last, and Juliet stalked in. Had Lady Macbeth responded
to the summons we could not have been more amazed. Miss Anderson is heroic
in size and manner. The lovely heiress to the house of the Capulets, on
the turn of sixteen, swept in upon the stage as if she were mistress of
the house, situation, and of fate, and bent on bringing the enemy to
terms. Her face is sweet, at times positively beautiful, but incapable of
expression. Her voice, while clear, is hard, metallic, at intervals nasal,
and all the while stagey. She has been trained in the old Kemble tragic
pump-handle style of elocution, that runs talk on stilts. Her manner is
crude and awkward. In the balcony scene she only needed a pair of gold
rimmed glasses to have made her an excellent schoolmistress, chiding a
naughty young man for intruding upon the sacred premises of Madame
Fevialli's select academy for young ladies. In the love scenes that
followed she was cold enough to be broken to pieces for a refrigerator.
But who could have warmed up to such a Romeo? That unpleasant youth pained
us with his quite unnecessary gyrations and spasmodic noise. We soon
discovered that Miss Anderson had been coached for Juliet without
possessing on her part the most distant conception of the character--or
capacity to render it, had she the information. She was not doing Juliet
from end to end. She was as far from Juliet as the North Pole is from the
Equator. She was doing something else. We could not make out clearly what
that character was; but it was something quite different and a good way
off. Sometimes we thought it was Lady Macbeth, sometimes Meg Merrilies,
sometimes Lucretia Borgia, but never for a moment Juliet. We speak thus
plainly of Miss Anderson because her injudicious and enthusiastic friends
are injuring, if they are not ruining her. Her fine physique, her dash,
her beautiful face, her clear ringing voice, have carried crowds off their
heads--well, they are off at both ends; for on last Thursday night the
amount of applauding was based on shoe leather. The lovely Anderson was
called out at the end of each act. As to that, the active Romeo had his
call. We never saw before precisely such a house. The north-west was out
in full force. Kentucky came to the front like a little man. General
Sherman, sitting at our elbow, wore out his gloves, blistered his hands,
and then borrowed a cotton umbrella from his neighbor. Miss Anderson, with
all her natural advantages, added to her love of the art, her indomitable
will as shown in her square prominent jaw, has a career before her, but it
is not down the path indicated by these enthusiastic friends. 'The steeps
where Fame's proud temple shines afar' are difficult of access, and genius
waters them with more tears than sturdy, steady, persevering talent.

"Charlotte Cushman told us once that the heaviest article she had to carry
up was her heart. The divine actress who now leads the English-spoken
stage began her professional career as a ballet dancer, and has grown her
laurels from her tears. We suspected Miss Anderson's success. It was too
triumphant, too easy. After years of weary labor, of heart-breaking
disappointments, of dreary obscurity, genius sometimes blazes out for a
brief period to dazzle humanity; and quite as often never blazes, but
disappears without a triumph.

"To such life is not a battle, but a campaign with ten defeats, yea,
twenty defeats to one victory.

"Miss Anderson will think us harsh and unkind in this. She will live, we
hope, to consider us her best friend.

"There is one fact upon which she can comfort herself: she could not get
two hours and a half of our time and a column in the _Capitol_ were she
without merit. There is value in her; but to fetch it out she must go
back, begin lower, and give years to training, education, and hard work.
She can labor ten years for the sake of living five. As for her support,
it was of the sort afforded by John T., the showman, and very funny. Mrs.
Germon, God bless her! was properly funny. She is the best old woman on
end in the world.

"Romeo (Mr. Morton) we have spoken of. Lingham is supposed to have done
Mercutio. Well, he did do him. That is, he went through the motions. He
seemed to be saying something anent the great case of Capulet _vs._
Montague, but so indistinct that there was a general sense of relief when
he staggered off to die. Deaths generally had this effect Thursday night,
and the house not only applauded the exits, but made itself exceedingly
merry.

"When Paris went down and a tombstone fell over him, his plaintive cry of
'Oh, I am killed!' was received with shouts of laughter.

"It was the most laughable we ever witnessed. In the first scene one of
those marble statues, so peculiar to John T.'s mismanagement, that
resemble granite in a bad state of small-pox, fell over.

"The house was amazed to see it resolve itself into a board, and laughed
tumultuously to note how it righted itself up in a mysterious manner, and
stood in an easy reclining posture till the curtain fell.

"The scene that exhibited the balcony affair was a sweet thing. Evidently
the noble house of the Capulets was in reduced circumstances. The building
from which Juliet issued was a frame structure so frail in material that
we feared a collapse.

"If the carpenter who erected that structure for the Capulets charged more
than ten dollars currency he swindled the noble old duffer infamously. The
front elevation came under that order of architecture known out West as
Conestoga. It was all of fifteen feet in height, and depended for
ornamentation on a brilliant horse cover thrown over the corner of the
balcony, and a slop bucket that Juliet was evidently about to empty on the
head of Romeo when that youth made his presence known. The house shook so
under Juliet's substantial tread, that an old lady near us wished to be
taken out, declaring that 'that young female would get her neck broken
next thing.'

"In the last scene where the page (Miss Lulu Dickson) was ordered to
extinguish the torch, the poor girl made frantic efforts, but failing,
walked off with the thing blazing.

"When Paris entered with his page, a youth in a night shirt, that youth
carried in his countenance the fixed determination of putting out his
torch at the right moment or dieing in the attempt. We all saw that.

"Expectancy was worked up to a point of intense interest, so that when at
last the word was given, a puff of wind not only extinguished the torch
but shook the scenery, and made us thankful the young man did wear
pantaloons, as the consequences might have been terrible.

"When Count Paris fell mortally wounded, a tombstone at his side fell over
him in the most convenient and charming manner. The house was so convulsed
with merriment that when poor Juliet was exposed in the tomb she was
greeted with laughter, much to the poor girl's embarrassment. And this is
the sort of entertainment to which we have been treated throughout our
entire season. But then the showman is a success and pays his bills."

The great Eastern cities of America are regarded by an American artist
much in the same light as is the metropolis by a provincial artist at
home. Their approval is supposed to stamp as genuine the verdict of
remoter districts. The success which had attended Mary Anderson in her
journeyings West and South was not to desert her when she presented
herself before the presumably more critical audiences of the East. She
made her Eastern _debut_ at Pittsburg, the Birmingham of America, in the
heat of the Presidential election of 1880, and met with a thoroughly
enthusiastic reception, to proceed thence to Philadelphia, where she
reaped plenty of honor, but very little money. Boston, the Athens of the
New World, was reached at length. When Mary Anderson was taken down by the
manager to see the vast Boston Theater, whose auditorium seats 4000
people, and which Henry Irving declared to be the finest in the world, she
almost fainted with apprehension. She opened here in Evadne, and one
journal predicted that she would take Cushman's place. This part was
followed by Juliet, Meg Merrilies, and her other chief impersonations. On
one day of her engagement the receipts at a matinee and an evening
performance amounted together to the large sum of $7000.

The visit to Boston was made memorable to Mary Anderson by her
introduction to Longfellow. About a week after she had opened, a friend of
the poet's came to her with a request that she would pay him a visit at
his pretty house in the suburbs of Boston, Longfellow being indisposed at
the time, and confined to his quaint old study, overlooking the waters of
the sluggish Charles, and the scenery made immortal in his verse. Here was
commenced a warm friendship between the beautiful young artist and the
aged poet, which continued unbroken to the day of his death. He was seated
when she entered, in a richly-carved chair, of which Longfellow told her
this charming story. The "spreading chestnut tree," immortalized in "The
Village Blacksmith," happened to stand in an outlying village near Boston,
somewhat inconveniently for the public traffic at some cross roads. It
became necessary to cut it down, and remove the forge beneath. But the
village fathers did not venture to proceed to an act which they regarded
as something like sacrilege, without consulting Longfellow. At their
request he paid a visit of farewell to the spot, and sanctioned what was
proposed. Not long after, a handsomely carved chair was forwarded to him,
made from the wood of the "spreading chestnut tree," and which bore an
inscription commemorative of the circumstances under which it was given.
Few of his possessions were dearer to Longfellow than this dumb memento
how deeply his poetry had sunk into the national heart of his countrymen.
It stood in the chimney corner of his study, and till the day of his death
was always his favorite seat.

The verdict of Longfellow upon Mary Anderson is worth that of a legion of
newspaper critics, and his judgment of her Juliet deserves to be recorded
in letters of gold. The morning after her benefit, he said to her, "I have
been thinking of Juliet all night. _Last night you were Juliet!_"

At the Boston Theater occurred an accident which shows the marvelous
courage and power of endurance possessed by the young actress. In the play
of "Meg Merrilies," she had to appear suddenly in one scene at the top of
a cliff, some fifteen feet above the stage. To avoid the danger of falling
over, it was necessary to use a staff. Mary Anderson had managed to find
one of Cushman's, but the point having become smooth through use, she told
one of the people of the theater to put a small nail at the bottom.
Instead of this, he affixed a good-sized spike, and one night Mary
Anderson, coming out as usual, drove this right through her foot, in her
sudden stop on the cliffs brink. Without flinching, or moving a muscle,
with Spartan fortitude she played the scene to the end, though almost
fainting with pain, till on the fall of the curtain the spiked staff was
drawn out, not without force. Longfellow was much concerned at this
accident, and on nights she did not play would sit by her side in her box,
and wrap the furred overcoat he used to wear carefully round her wounded
foot.

From Boston Mary Anderson proceeded to New York to fulfill a two weeks'
engagement at the Fifth Avenue Theater. She opened with a good company in
"The Lady of Lyons." General Sherman had advised her to read no papers,
but one morning to her great encouragement, some good friend thrust under
her door a very favorable notice in the New York _Herald_. The engagement
proved a great success, and was ultimately extended to six weeks, the
actress playing two new parts, Juliet and The Daughter of Roland. She had
passed the last ordeal successfully, and might rejoice as she stood on the
crest of the hill of Fame that the ambition of her young life was at
length realized. Her subsequent theatrical career in the States and Canada
need not be recorded here. She had become America's representative
_tragedienne_; there was none to dispute her claims. Year after year she
continued to increase an already brilliant reputation, and to amass one of
the largest fortunes it has ever been the happy lot of any artist to
secure.



CHAPTER V.

FIRST VISIT TO EUROPE.


In the summer of 1879, was paid Mary Anderson's first visit to Europe. It
had long been eagerly anticipated. In the lands of the Old World was the
cradle of the Art she loved so well, and it was with feelings almost of
awe that she entered their portals. She had few if any introductions, and
spent a month in London wandering curiously through the conventional
scenes usually visited by a stranger. Westminster Abbey was among her
favorite haunts; its ancient aisles, its storied windows, its thousand
memories of a past which antedated by so many centuries the civilization
of her native land, appealed deeply to the ardent imagination of the
impassioned girl. Here was a world of which she had read and dreamed, but
whose over-mastering, living influence was now for the first time felt. It
seemed like the first glimpse of verdant forest, of enameled meadow, of
crystal stream, of pure sky to one who had been blind. It was another
atmosphere, another life. Brief as was her visit, it gave an impulse to
those germs which lie deep in every poetic soul. She saw there was an
illimitable world of Art, whose threshold as yet she had hardly
trodden--and she went home full of the inspiration caught at the ancient
fountains of Poetry and Art. From that time an intellectual change seems
to have passed over her. Her studies took new channels, and her
impersonations were mellowed and glorified from her personal contact with
the associations of a great past.

A visit to Stratford-on-Avon was one of the most delightful events of the
trip. It seemed to Mary Anderson the emblem of peace and contentment and
quiet; and though as a stranger she did not then enjoy so many of the
privileges which were willingly accorded her during the present visit to
this country, she still looks back to the day when she knelt by the grave
of Shakespeare as one of the most eventful and inspiring of her life.

Much of the time of Mary Anderson's European visit was spent in Paris.
Through the kindness of General Sherman she obtained introductions to
Ristori and other distinguished artists, and, to her delight, secured also
the _entree_ behind the scenes of the Theatre Francais. Its magnificent
green-room, the walls lined with portraits of departed celebrities of that
famous theater, amazed her by its splendor; and to her it was a strange
and curious sight to see the actors in "Hernani" come in and play cards in
their gorgeous stage costumes at intervals in the performance. On one of
these occasions she naively asked Sarah Bernhardt why her portrait did not
appear on the walls? The great artist replied that she hoped Mary Anderson
did not wish her dead, as only under such circumstances could an
appearance there be permitted to her. "Behind the scenes" of the Theatre
Francais was a source of never-wearying interest, and Mary Anderson
thought the effects of light attained there far surpassed anything she had
witnessed on the English or American stage.

The verdict of Ristori, before whom she recited, was highly favorable, and
the great _tragedienne_ predicted a brilliant career for the young
actress, and declared she would be a great success with an English company
in Paris, while the "divine Sarah" affirmed that she had never seen
greater originality. On the return journey from Paris a brief stay was
made at the quaint city of Rouen. Joan of Arc's stake, and the house
where, tradition has it, she resided, were sacred spots to Mary Anderson;
and the ancient towers, the curious old streets, overlooking the fertile
valley through which the Seine wanders like a silver thread, are memories
which have since remained to her ever green. During her first visit to
England Mary Anderson never dreamt of the possibility that she herself
might appear on the English stage. Indeed the effect of her first European
tour was depressing and disheartening. She saw only how much there was for
her to see, how much to learn in the world of Art. A feeling of
home-sickness came over her, and she longed to be back at her seaside home
where she could watch the wild restless Atlantic as it swept in upon the
New Jersey shore, and listen to the sad music of the weary waves. This was
the instinct of a true artist nature, which had depths capable of being
stirred by the touch of what is great and noble.

In the following year, however, there came an offer from the manager of
Drury Lane to appear upon its boards. Mary Anderson received it with a
pleased surprise. It told that her name had spread beyond her native land,
and that thus early had been earned a reputation which commended her as
worthy to appear on the stage of a great and famous London theater. But
her reply was a refusal. She thought herself hardly finished enough to
face such a test of her powers; and the natural ambition of a successful
actress to extend the area of her triumph seemed to have found no place in
her heart.



CHAPTER VI.

SECOND VISIT TO EUROPE.--EXPERIENCES ON THE ENGLISH STAGE.


The interval of five years which elapsed between Mary Anderson's first and
second visits to Europe was busily occupied by starring tours in the
States and Canada. Mr. Henry Abbey's first proposal, in 1883, for an
engagement at the Lyceum was met with the same negative which had been
given to that of Mr. Augustus Harris. But, happening some time afterward
to meet her step-father, Dr. Griffin, in Baltimore, Mr. Abbey again urged
his offer, to which a somewhat reluctant consent was at length given. The
most ambitious moment of her artist-life seemed to have arrived at last.
If she attained success, the crown was set on all the previous triumphs of
her art; if failure were the issue, she would return to America
discredited, if not disgraced, as an actress. The very crisis of her
stage-life had come now in earnest. It found her despondent, almost
despairing; at the last moment she was ready to draw back. She had then
none of the many friends who afterward welcomed her with heartfelt
sincerity whenever the curtain rose on her performance. She saw Irving in
"Louis XI." and "Shylock." The brilliant powers of the great actor filled
her at once with admiration and with dread, when she remembered how soon
she too must face the same audiences. She sought to distract herself by
making a round of the London theaters, but the most amusing of farces
could hardly draw from her a passing smile, or lift for a moment the
weight of apprehension which pressed on her heart. The very play in which
she was destined first to present herself before a London audience was
condemned beforehand. To make a _debut_ as Parthenia was to court certain
failure. The very actors who rehearsed with her were Job's comforters. She
saw in their faces a dreary vista of empty houses, of hostile critics, of
general disaster. She almost broke down under the trial, and the sight of
her first play-bill which told that the die was irrevocably cast for good
or evil made her heart sink with fear. On going down to the theater upon
the opening night she found, with mingled pleasure and surprise, that on
both sides of the Atlantic fellow artists were regarding her with kindly
sympathizing hearts. Her dressing-room was filled with beautiful floral
offerings from many distinguished actors in England and America, while
telegrams from Booth, McCullough, Lawrence Barrett, Irving, Ellen Terry,
Christine Nilsson, and Lillie Langtry, bade her be of good courage, and
wished her success. The overture smote like a dirge on her ear, and when
the callboy came to announce that the moment of her entrance was at hand,
it reminded her of nothing so much as the feeling of mourners when the
sable mute appears at the door, as a signal to form the procession to the
tomb. But in a moment the ordeal was safely passed, and passed forever so
far as an English audience is concerned. Seldom has any actress received
so warm and enthusiastic a reception. Mary Anderson confesses now that
never till that moment did she experience anything so generous and so
sympathetic, and offered to one who was then but "a stranger in a strange
land." Mary Anderson's Parthenia was a brilliant success. Her glorious
youth, her strange beauty, her admirable impersonation of a part of
exceptional difficulty, won their way to all hearts. A certain amount of
nervousness and timidity was inevitable to a first performance. The sudden
revulsion of feeling, from deep despondency to complete triumphant
success, made it difficult, at times, for the actress to master her
feelings sufficiently to make her words audible through the house. One
candid youth in the gallery endeavored to encourage her with a kindly
"Speak up, Mary." The words recalled her in an instant to herself, and for
the rest of the evening she had regained her wonted self-possession.

From that time till Mary Anderson's first Lyceum season closed, the world
of London flocked to see her. The house was packed nightly from floor to
ceiling, and she is said to have played to more money than the
distinguished lessee of the theater himself. Among the visitors with whom
Mary Anderson was a special favorite were the prince and princess. They
witnessed each of her performances more than once, and both did her the
honor to make her personal acquaintance, and compliment her on her
success. So many absurd stories have been circulated as to Mary Anderson's
alleged unwillingness to meet the Prince of Wales, that the true story may
as well be told once for all here. On one of the early performances of
"Ingomar," the prince and princess occupied the royal box, and the prince
caused it to be intimated to Mary Anderson that he should be glad to be
introduced to her after the third act. The little republican naively
responded that she never saw any one till after the close of the
performance. H.R.H. promptly rejoined that he always left the theater
immediately the curtain fell. Meanwhile the manager represented to her the
ungraciousness of not complying with a request which half the actresses in
London would have sacrificed their diamonds to receive. And so at the
close of the third act Mary Anderson presented herself, leaning on her
father's arm, in the anteroom of the royal box. Only the prince was there,
and "He said to me," relates Mary Anderson, "more charming things than
were ever said to me, in a few minutes, in all my life. I was delighted
with his kindness, and with his simple pleasant manner, which put me at my
ease in a moment; but I was rather surprised that the princess did not see
me as well." The piece over, and there came a second message, that the
princess also wished to be introduced. With her winning smile she took
Mary Anderson's hand in hers, and thanking her for the pleasure she had
afforded by her charming impersonation, graciously presented Mary with her
own bouquet.

The true version of another story, this time as to the Princess of Wales
and Mary Anderson, may as well now be given. One evening Count Gleichen
happened to be dining _tete-a-tete_ with the prince and princess at
Marlborough House. When they adjourned to the drawing-room, the princess
showed the count some photographs of a young lady, remarking upon her
singular beauty, and suggesting what a charming subject she would make for
his chisel. The count was fain to confess that he did not even know who
the lady was, and had to be informed that she was the new American
actress, beautiful Mary Anderson. He expressed the pleasure it would give
him to have so charming a model in his studio, and asked the princess
whether he was at liberty to tell Mary Anderson that the suggestion came
from her, to which the princess replied that he certainly might do so.
Three replicas of the bust will be executed, of which Count Gleichen
intends to present one to her royal highness, another to Mary Anderson's
mother, while the third will be placed in the Grosvenor Gallery. This is
really all the foundation for the story of a royal command to Count
Gleichen to execute a bust of Mary Anderson for the Princess of Wales.

Among those who were constant visitors at the Lyceum was Lord Lytton, or
as Mary Anderson loves to call him, "Owen Meredith." Her representation of
his father's heroine in "The Lady of Lyons" naturally interested him
greatly, and it is possible he may himself write for her a special play.
Between them there soon sprung up one of those warm friendships often seen
between two artist natures, and Lord Lytton paid Mary Anderson the
compliment of lending her an unpublished manuscript play of his father's
to read. Tennyson, too, sought the acquaintance of one who in his verse
would make a charming picture. He was invited to meet her at dinner at a
London house, and was her cavalier on the occasion. The author of "The
Princess" did not in truth succeed in supplanting in her regard the bard
of her native land, Longfellow; but he so won on Mary's heart that she
afterward presented him with the gift--somewhat unpoetic, it must be
admitted--of a bottle of priceless Kentucky whisky, of a fabulous age!

If Mary Anderson was a favorite with the public before the curtain, she
was no less popular with her fellow artists on the stage. Jealousy and
ill-will not seldom reign among the surroundings of a star. It is a trial
to human nature to be but a lesser light revolving round some brilliant
luminary--but the setting to adorn the jewel. But Mary Anderson won the
hearts of every one on the boards, from actors to scene-shifters. And at
Christmas, in which she is a great believer, every one, high or low,
connected with the Lyceum, was presented with some kind and thoughtful
mark of her remembrance. And when the season closed, she was presented in
turn, on the stage, with a beautiful diamond suit, the gift of the fellow
artists who had shared for so long her triumphs and her toils.

Mary Anderson's success in London was fully indorsed by the verdict of the
great provincial towns. Everywhere she was received with enthusiasm, and
hundreds were nightly turned from the doors of the theaters where she
appeared. In Edinburgh she played to a house of £450, a larger sum than
was ever taken at the doors of the Lyceum. The receipts of the week in
Manchester were larger than those of any preceding week in the theatrical
history of the great Northern town. Taken as a whole, her success has been
without a parallel on the English stage. If she has not altogether escaped
hostile criticism in the press, she has won the sympathies of the public
in a way which no artist of other than English birth has succeeded in
doing before her. They have come and gone, dazzled us for a time, but have
left behind them no endearing remembrance. Mary Anderson has found her way
to our hearts. It seems almost impossible that she can ever leave us to
resume again the old life of a wandering star across the great American
continent. It may be rash to venture a prophecy as to what the future may
bring forth; but thus much we may say with truth, that, whenever Mary
Anderson departs finally from our shores, the name of England will remain
graven on her heart.



CHAPTER VII.

IMPRESSIONS OF ENGLAND.


Almost every traveler from either side of the Atlantic, with the faintest
pretensions to distinction, bursts forth on his return to his native
shores in a volume of "Impressions." Archæologists and philosophers,
novelists and divines, apostles of sweetness and light, and star actors,
are accustomed thus to favor the public with volumes which the public
could very often be well content to spare. It is but natural that we
should wish to know what Mary Anderson thinks of the "fast-anchored isle"
and the folk who dwell therein. I wish, indeed, that these "Impressions"
could have been given in her own words. The work would have been much
better done, and far more interesting; but failing this, I must endeavor,
following a recent illustrious example, to give them at second hand.
During the earlier months of her stay among us, she lived somewhat the
life of a recluse. Shut up in a pretty villa under the shadow of the
Hampstead Hills, she saw little society but that of a few fellow artists,
who found their way to her on Sunday afternoons. Indeed, she almost shrank
from the idea of entering general society. The English world she wished to
know was a world of the past, peopled by the creations of genius; not the
modern world, which crowds London drawing-rooms. She saw the English
people from the stage, and they were to her little more than audiences
which vanished from her life when the curtain descended. From her earliest
years she had been, in common with many of her countrymen, a passionate
admirer of the great English novelist, Dickens. Much of her leisure was
spent in pilgrimages to the spots round London which he has made immortal.
Now and then, with her brother for a protector, she would go to lunch at
an ancient hostelry in the Borough, where one of the scenes of Dickens'
stories is laid, but which has degenerated now almost to the rank of a
public-house. Here she would try to people the place in fancy with the
characters of the novel. "To listen to the talk of the people at such
places," she once said to me, "was better than any play I ever saw."

Stratford-on-Avon too, was, of course, revisited, and many days were spent
in lingering lovingly over the memorials of her favorite Shakespeare. She
soon became well known to the guardians of the spot, and many privileges
were granted to her not accorded on her first visit, four years before,
when she was regarded but as a unit in the crowd of passing visitors who
throng to the shrine of the great master of English dramatic art. On one
occasion when she was in the church of Stratford-on-Avon, the ancient
clerk asked her if she would mind being locked in while he went home to
his tea. Nothing loath she consented, and remained shut up in the still
solemnity of the place. Kneeling down by the grave of Shakespeare, she
took out a pocket "Romeo and Juliet" and recited Juliet's death scene
close to the spot where the great master, who created her, lay in his long
sleep. But presently the wind rose to a storm, the branches of the
surrounding trees dashed against the windows, darkness spread through the
ghostly aisles, and terror-stricken, Mary fled to the door, glad enough to
be released by the returning janitor.

Rural England with its moss-grown farmhouses, its gray steeples, its white
cottages clustering under their shadow, its tiny fields, its green
hedgerows, garrisoned by the mighty elms, charmed Mary Anderson beyond
expression, contrasting so strongly with the vast prairies, the primeval
forests, the mighty rivers of her own giant land. These were the
boundaries of her horizon in the earlier months of her stay among us; she
knew little but the England of the past, and the England as the stranger
sees it, who passes on his travels through its smiling landscapes. But a
change of residence to Kensington brought Mary Anderson more within reach
of those whom she had so charmed upon the stage, and who longed to have
the opportunity of knowing her personally. By degrees her drawing-rooms
became the scene of an informal Sunday afternoon reception. Artists and
novelists, poets and sculptors, statesmen and divines, journalists and
people of fashion crowded to see her, and came away wondering at the skill
and power with which this young girl, evidently fresh to society, could
hold her own, and converse fluently and intelligently on almost any
subject. If the verdict of London society was that Mary Anderson was as
clever in the drawing-room as she was attractive on the stage, she, in her
turn, was charmed to speak face to face with many whose names and whose
works had long been familiar to her. It was a new world of art and
intellect and genius to which she was suddenly introduced, and which
seemed to her all the more brilliant after the somewhat prosaic uniformity
of society in her own republican land. To say that she admires and loves
England with all her heart may be safely asserted. To say that it has
almost succeeded in stealing away her heart from the land of her birth,
she would hardly like to hear said. But we think her mind is somewhat that
of Captain Macheath, in the "Beggars' Opera"--

  "How happy could I be with either,
  Were t'other dear charmer away."

One superiority, at least, she confesses England to have over America. The
dreadful "interviewer" who has haunted her steps for the last eight years
of her life with a dogged pertinacity which would take no denial, was here
nowhere to be seen. He exists we know, but she failed to recognize the
same _genus_ in the quite harmless-looking gentleman, who, occasionally on
the stage after a performance, or in her drawing-room, engaged her in
conversation, when leading questions were skillfully disguised; and, then,
much to her astonishment, afterward produced a picture of her in print
with materials she was quite unconscious of having furnished. She failed,
she admits now, to see the conventional "note-book," so symbolical of the
calling at home, and thus her fears and suspicions were disarmed.

One instance of Mary Anderson's kind and womanly sympathy to some of the
poorest of London's waifs and strays should not be unrecorded here. It was
represented to her at Christmas time that funds were needed for a dinner
to a number of poor boys in Seven Dials. She willingly found them, and a
good old-fashioned English dinner was given, at her expense, in the Board
School Room to some three hundred hungry little fellows, who crowded
through the snow of the wintry New Year's Day to its hospitable roof.
Though she is not of our faith, Mary Anderson was true to the precepts of
that Christian Charity which, at such seasons, knows no distinction of
creed; and of all the kind acts which she has done quietly and
unostentatiously since she came among us, this is one which commends her
perhaps most of all to our affection and regard.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS.

"_Quot homines, tot sententiæ._"


It may, perhaps, be interesting to record here some of the criticisms
which have appeared in several of the leading London and provincial
journals on Mary Anderson's performances, and especially on her _debut_ at
the Lyceum. Such notices are forgotten almost as soon as read, and except
for some biographical purpose like the present, lie buried in the files of
a newspaper office. It is usual to intersperse them with the text; but for
the purpose of more convenient reference they have been included in a
separate chapter.


_Standard_, 3d September, 1883.

"The opening of the Lyceum on Saturday evening, was signalized by the
assembly of a crowded and fashionable audience to witness the first
appearance in this country of Miss Mary Anderson as Parthenia in Maria
Lovell's four-act play of 'Ingomar.' Though young in years, Miss Anderson
is evidently a practiced actress. She knows the business of the stage
perfectly, is learned in the art of making points, and, what is more,
knows how to bide her opportunity. The wise discretion which imposes
restraint upon the performer was somewhat too rigidly observed in the
earlier scenes on Saturday night, the consequence being that in one of the
most impressive passages of the not very inspired dialogue, the little
distance between the sublime and the ridiculous was bridged by a voice
from the gallery, which, adopting a tone, ejaculated 'A little louder,
Mary.' A less experienced artist might well have been taken aback by this
sudden infraction of dramatic proprieties. Miss Anderson, however, did not
loose her nerve, but simply took the hint in good part and acted upon it.
There is very little reason to dwell at any length upon the piece. Miss
Anderson will, doubtless, take a speedy opportunity of appearing in some
other work in which her capacity as an actress can be better gauged than
in Maria Lovell's bit of tawdry sentiment. A real power of delineating
passion was exhibited in the scene where Parthenia repulses the advances
of her too venturesome admirer, and in this direction, to our minds, the
best efforts of the lady tend. All we can do at present is to chronicle
Miss Anderson's complete success, the recalls being so numerous as to defy
particularization."


_The Times_, 3d September, 1883.

"Miss Mary Anderson, although but three or four and twenty, has for
several years past occupied a leading position in the United States, and
ranks as the highest of the American 'stars,' whose effulgence Mr. Abbey
relies upon to attract the public at the Lyceum in Mr. Irving's absence.
Recommendations of this high order were more than sufficient to insure
Miss Anderson a cordial reception. They were such as to dispose a
sympathetic audience to make the most ample allowance for nervousness on
the part of the _debutante_, and to distrust all impressions they might
have of an unfavorable kind, or at least to grant the possession of a more
complete knowledge of the lady's attainments to those who had trumpeted
her praise so loudly. That such should have been the mood of the house,
was a circumstance not without its influence on the events of the evening.
It was manifestly owing in some measure to the critical spirit being
subordinated for the time being to the hospitable, that Miss Anderson was
able to obtain all the outward and visible signs of a dramatic triumph in
a _role_ which intrinsically had little to commend it.... Usually it is
the rude manliness, the uncouth virtues, the awkward and childlike
submissiveness of that tamed Bull of Bashan [Ingomar] that absorbs the
attention of a theatrical audience. On Saturday evening the center of
interest was, of course, transferred to Parthenia. To the interpretation
of this character Miss Anderson brings natural gifts of rare excellence,
gifts of face and form and action, which suffice almost themselves to play
the part; and the warmth of the applause which greeted her as she first
tripped upon the stage expressed the admiration no less than the welcome
of the house. Her severely simple robes of virgin white, worn with classic
grace, revealed a figure as lissome and perfect of contour as a draped
Venus of Thorwaldsen, her face seen under her mass of dark brown hair,
negligently bound with a ribbon, was too _mignonne_, perhaps, to be
classic, but looked pretty and girlish. A performance so graced could not
fail to be pleasing. And yet it was impossible not to feel, as the play
progressed, that to the fine embodiment of the romantic heroine, art was
in some degree wanting. The beautiful Parthenia, like a soulless statue,
pleased the eye, but left the heart untouched. It became evident that
faults of training or, perhaps, of temperament, were to be set off against
the actress' unquestionable merits. The elegant artificiality of the
American school, a tendency to pose and be self-conscious, to smirk even,
if the word may be permitted, especially when advancing to the footlights
to receive a full measure of applause, were fatal to such sentiment as
even so stilted a play could be made to yield. It was but too evident that
Parthenia was at all times more concerned with the fall of her drapery
than with the effect of her speeches, and that gesture, action,
intonation--everything which constitutes a living individuality were in
her case not so much the outcome of the feeling proper to the character,
as the manifestation of diligent painstaking art which had not yet learnt
to conceal itself. The gleam of the smallest spark of genius would have
been a welcome relief to the monotony of talent.... It must not be
forgotten, however, that a highly artificial play like 'Ingomar' is by no
means a favorable medium for the display of an actress' powers, though it
may fairly indicate their nature. Before a definite rank can be assigned
to her among English actresses, Miss Anderson must be seen in some of her
other characters."


_Daily News_, 3d September, 1883.

"It will be recollected that Mr. Irving, in his farewell speech at the
Lyceum Theater, on the 28th of July, made a point of bespeaking a kindly
welcome for Miss Mary Anderson on her appearance at his theater during his
absence, as the actress he alluded to was a lady whose beauty and talent
had made her the favorite of America, from Maine to California. It would
not perhaps be unfair to attribute to this cordial introduction something
of the special interest which was evidently aroused by Miss Anderson's
_debut_ here on Saturday night. English playgoers recognize but vaguely
the distinguishing characteristics of actors and actresses, whose fame has
been won wholly by their performances on the other side of the Atlantic.
It was therefore just as well that before Miss Anderson arrived some
definite claim as to her pretensions should be authoritatively put
forward. These would, it must be confessed, have been liable to
misconception if they had been judged solely by her first performance on
the London stage. 'Ingomar' is not a play, and Parthenia is certainly not
a character, calculated to call forth the higher powers of an ambitious
actress. As a matter of fact, Miss Anderson, who began her histrion career
at an early age, and is even now of extremely youthful appearance, has had
plenty of experience and success in _roles_ of much more difficulty, and
much wider possibilities. Her modest enterprise on Saturday night was
quite as successful as could have been anticipated. There is not enough
human reality about Parthenia to allow her representative to interest very
deeply the sympathy of her hearers. There is not enough poetry in the
drama to enable the actress to mar our imagination by calling her own into
play. What Miss Anderson could achieve was this: she was able in the first
place to prove, by the aid of the Massilian maiden's becoming, yet
exacting attire, that her personal advantages have been by no means
overrated. Her features regular yet full of expression, her figure slight
but not spare, the pose of her small and graceful head, all these,
together with a girlish prettiness of manner, and a singularly refined
bearing, are quite enough to account for at least one of the phases of
Miss Anderson's popularity. Her voice is not wanting in melody of a
certain kind, though its tones lack variety. Her accent is slight, and
seldom unpleasant. Of her elocution it is scarcely fair to judge until she
has caught more accurately the pitch required for the theater. For the
accomplishment of any great things Miss Anderson had not on Saturday night
any opportunity, nor did her treatment of such mild pathos and passion as
the character permitted impress us with the idea that her command of deep
feeling is as yet matured. So far as it goes, however, her method is
extremely winning, and her further efforts, especially in the direction of
comedy and romantic drama, will be watched with interest, and may be
anticipated with pleasure."


_Morning Post_, 3rd September, 1883.

"LYCEUM THEATER.

"This theater was reopened under the management of Mr. Henry Abbey on
Saturday evening, when was revived Mrs. Lovell's play called 'Ingomar,' a
picturesque but somewhat ponderous work of German origin, first produced
some thirty years ago at Drury Lane with Mr. James Anderson and Miss
Vandenhoff as the principal personages. The interest centers not so much
in the barbarian Ingomar as in his enchantress, Parthenia, of whom Miss
Mary Anderson, an American artist of fine renown, proves a comely and
efficient representative. In summing up the qualifications of an actress
the Transatlantic critics never fail to take into account her personal
charms--a fascinating factor. Borne on the wings of an enthusiastic press,
the fame of Miss Anderson's loveliness had reached our shores long before
her own arrival. The Britishers were prepared to see a very handsome lady,
and they have not been disappointed. Miss Anderson's beauty is of Grecian
type, with a head of classic contour, finely chiseled features, and a tall
statuesque figure, whose Hellenic expression a graceful costume of antique
design sets off to the best advantage. You fancy that you have seen her
before, and so perhaps you have upon the canvas of Angelica Kauffman. For
the rest, Miss Anderson is very clever and highly accomplished. Her
talents are brilliant and abundant, and they have been carefully
cultivated to every perfection of art save one--the concealment of it. She
has grace, but it is studied, not negligent grace; her action is always
picturesque and obviously premeditated; everything she says and does is
impressive, but it speaks a foregone conclusion. Her acting is polished
and in correct taste. What it wants is freshness, spontaneity, _abandon_.
Among English artists of a bygone age her style might probably find a
parallel in the stately elegance and artificial grandeur of the Kembles.
It has nothing in common with the electric _verve_ and romantic ardor of
Edmund Kean. Of the _feu sacre_ which irradiated Rachel and gives to
Bernhardt splendor ineffable, Miss Anderson has not a spark. She is not
inspired. Hers is a pure, bright, steady light; but it lacks mystic
effulgence. It is not empyreal. It is not 'the light that never was on sea
or land--the consecration and the poet's dream.' It is not genius. It is
talent. In a word, Miss Anderson is beautiful, winsome, gifted, and
accomplished. To say this is to say much, and it fills to the brim the
measure of legitimate praise. She is an eminently good, but not a great
artist."


_Daily Telegraph_, 3rd September, 1883.

"There was a natural desire to see, nay, rather let us say to welcome Miss
Mary Anderson, who made her _debut_ as Parthenia in 'Ingomar' on Saturday
evening last. The fame of this actress had already preceded her. An
enthusiastic climber up the rugged mountain paths of the art she had
elected to serve ... an earnest volunteer in the almost forlorn cause of
the poetical drama: a believer in the past, not merely because it is past,
but because in it was embodied much of the beautiful and the hopeful that
has been lost to us, Miss Mary Anderson was assured an honest greeting at
a theater of cherished memories.... It has been said that the friends of
Miss Anderson were very ill-advised to allow her to appear as Parthenia in
the now almost-forgotten play of 'Ingomar.' We venture to differ entirely
with this opinion. That the American actress interested, moved, and at
times delighted her audience in a play supposed to be unfashionable and
out of date, is, in truth, the best feather that can be placed in her
cap.... There must clearly be something in an actress who cannot only hold
her own as Parthenia, but in addition dissipate the dullness of
'Ingomar.'... And now comes the question, how far Miss Mary Anderson
succeeded in a task that requires both artistic instinct and personal
charm to carry it to a successful issue. The lady has been called
classical, Greek, and so on, but is, in truth, a very modern reproduction
of a classical type--a Venus by Mr. Gibson, rather than a Venus by Milo; a
classic draped figure of a Wedgwood plaque more than an echo from the
Parthenon.... The actress has evidently been well taught, and is both an
apt and clever pupil; she speaks clearly, enunciates well, occasionally
conceals the art she has so closely studied, and is at times both tender
and graceful.... Her one great fault is insincerity, or, in other words,
inability thoroughly to grasp the sympathies of the thoughtful part of her
audience. She is destitute of the supreme gift of sensibility that Talma
considers essential, and Diderot maintains is detrimental to the highest
acting. Diderot may be right, and Talma may be wrong, but we are convinced
that the art Miss Anderson has practiced is, on the whole, barren and
unpersuasive. She does not appear to feel the words she speaks, or to be
deeply moved by the situations in which she is placed. She is forever
acting--thinking of her attitudes, posing very prettily, but still posing
for all that.... She weeps, but there are no tears in her eyes; she
murmurs her love verses with charming cadence, but there is no throb of
heart in them.... These things, however, did not seem to affect her
audience. They cheered her as if their hearts were really touched....
These, however, are but early impressions, and we shall be anxious to see
her in still another delineation."


_Standard_, 10th December, 1883.

"LYCEUM THEATER.

"Miss Mary Anderson has won such favor from audiences at the Lyceum, that
anything she did would attract interest and curiosity. Galatea, in Mr.
W.S. Gilbert's mythological comedy, 'Pygmalion and Galatea,' has,
moreover, been spoken of as one of the actress' chief successes, and a
crowded house on Saturday evening was the result of the announcement of
its revival. An ideal Galatea could scarcely be realized, for there should
be in the triumph of the sculptor's art, endowed by the gods with life, a
supernatural grace and beauty. The singular picturesqueness of Miss
Anderson's poses and gestures, the consequences of careful study of the
best sculpture, has been noted in all that she has done, and this quality
fits her peculiarly for the part of the vivified statue. In this respect
it is little to say that Galatea has never before been represented with so
near an approach to perfection."


_Daily News_, 10th December, 1883.

"The part of Galatea, in which Miss Anderson made her first appearance in
England at the Lyceum Theater on Saturday evening, enables this delightful
actress to exhibit in her fullest charms the exquisite grace of form and
the simple elegance of gesture and movement by virtue of which she stands
wholly without a rival on the stage. Whether in the alcove, where she is
first discovered motionless upon the pedestal, or when miraculously endued
with life, she moves, a beautiful yet discordant element in the Athenian
sculptor's household. The statuesque outline and the perfect harmony
between the figure of the actress and her surroundings, were striking
enough to draw more than once from the crowded theater, otherwise hushed
and attentive, an audible expression of pleasure. Rarely, indeed, can an
attempt to satisfy by actual bodily presentment the ideal of a poetical
legend have approached so nearly to absolute perfection."


_The Morning Post_, 10th December, 1883.

"'Pygmalion and Galatea,' a play in which Miss Mary Anderson is said to
have scored her most generally accepted success in her own country, has
now taken at the Lyceum the place of 'The Lady of Lyons,' a drama
certainly not well fitted to the young actress' capabilities. Mr.
Gilbert's well-known fairy comedy is in many respects exactly suited to
the display of Miss Anderson's special merits. Its heroine is a statue,
and a very beautiful simulation of chiseled marble was sure to be achieved
by a lady of Miss Anderson's personal advantages, and of her approved
skill in artistic posing. Moreover, the sub-acid spirit of the piece
rarely allows its sentiment to go very deep, and it is in the
expression--perhaps, we should write the experience--of really earnest
emotion, that Miss Anderson's chief deficiency lies. Galatea is moreover
by no means the strongest acting part in the comedy, affording few of the
opportunities for the exhibition of passion, which fall to the lot of the
heart-broken and indignant wife, Cynisca. Although in 1871, on the
original production of the play, Mrs. Kendall made much of Galatea's
womanly pathos, there is plenty of room for an effective rendering of the
character, which deliberately hides the woman in the statue. Such a
rendering is, as might have been expected, Miss Anderson's. Even in her
ingenious scenes of comedy with Leucippe and with Chrysos, there is no
more dramatic vivacity than might be looked for in a temporarily animated
block of stone. Her love for the sculptor who has given her vitality is
perfectly cold in its purity. There is no spontaneity in the accents in
which it is told, no amorous impulse to which it gives rise. This new
Galatea, however, is fair to look upon--so fair in her statuesque
attitudes and her shapely presence, that the infatuation of the man who
created her is readily understood. By the classic beauty of her features
and the perfect molding of her figure she is enabled to give all possible
credibility to the legend of her miraculous birth. Moreover, the
refinement of her bearing and manner allows no jarring note to be struck,
and although, when Galatea sadly returns to marble not a tear is shed by
the spectator, it is felt that a plausible and consistent interpretation
of the character has been given."


_The Times_, 10th December, 1883.

"Mr. Gilbert's play 'Pygmalion and Galatea,' is a perversion of Ovid's
fable of the Sculptor of Cyprus, the main interest of which upon the stage
is derived from its cynical contrast between the innocence of the
beautiful nymph of stone whom Pygmalion's love endows with life, and the
conventional prudishness of society. Obviously the purpose of such a
travesty may be fulfilled without any call upon the deeper emotions--upon
the stress of passion, which springs from that 'knowledge of good and
evil' transmitted by Eve to all her daughters. It is sufficient that the
living and breathing Galatea of the play should seem to embody the classic
marble, that she should move about the stage with statuesque grace and
that she should artlessly discuss the relations of the sexes in the
language of double intent. Miss Anderson's degree of talent, as shown in
the impersonations she has already given us, and her command of classical
pose, have already suggested this character as one for which she was
eminently fitted. It was therefore no surprise to those who have been
least disposed to admit this lady's claim to greatness as an actress that
her Galatea on Saturday night should have been an ideally beautiful and
tolerably complete embodiment of the part. If the heart was not touched,
as, indeed, in such a play it scarcely ought to be, the eye was enabled to
repose upon the finest _tableau vivant_ that the stage has ever seen. Upon
the curtains of the alcove being withdrawn, where the statue still
inanimate rests upon its pedestal, the admiration of the house was
unbounded. Not only was the pose of the figure under the lime-light
artistic in the highest sense, but the tresses and the drapery were most
skillfully arranged to look like the work of the chisel. It is significant
of the measure of Miss Anderson's art, that in her animated moments
subsequently she should not have excelled the plastic grace of this first
picture. At the same time, to her credit it must be said, that she never
fell much below it. Her movements on the stage, her management of her
drapery, her attitudes were full of classic beauty. Actresses there have
been who have given us much more than this statuesque posing, who have
transformed Galatea into a woman of flesh and blood, animated by true
womanly love for Pygmalion as the first man on whom her eyes alight.
Sentiment of this kind, whether intended by the author or not, would
scarcely harmonize with the satirical spirit of the play, and the innocent
prattle which Miss Anderson gives us in place of it meets sufficiently
well the requirements of the case dramatically, leaving the spectator free
to derive pleasure from his sense of the beautiful, here so strikingly
appealed to, from the occasionally audacious turns of the dialogue in
relation to social questions, from the disconcerted airs of Pygmalion at
the contemplation of his own handiwork, and from the real womanly jealousy
of Cynisca."


_The Graphic_, 14th December, 1883.

"Never, perhaps, have the playgoing public been so much at variance with
the critics as in the case of the young American actress now performing at
the Lyceum Theater. There is no denying the fact that Miss Anderson is, to
use a popular expression, 'the rage;' but it is equally certain that she
owes this position in very slight degree to the published accounts of her
acting. From the first she has been received, with few exceptions, only in
a coldly critical spirit; and yet her reputation has gone on gathering in
strength till now, the Lyceum is crowded nightly with fashionable folk
whose carriages block the way; and those who would secure places to
witness her performances are met at the box offices with the information
that all the seats have been taken long in advance. How are we to account
for the fact that this young lady who came but the other day among us a
stranger, even her name being scarcely known, and who still refrains from
those 'bold advertisements,' which in the case of so many other managers
and performers usurp the functions of the trumpet of fame, has made her
way in a few short months only to the very highest place in the estimation
of our play going public? We can see no possible explanation save the
simple one that her acting affords pleasure in a high degree; for those
who insinuate that her beauty alone is the attraction may easily be
answered by reference to numerous actresses of unquestionable personal
attractions who have failed to arouse anything approaching to the same
degree of interest. As regards the unfavorable critics, we are inclined to
think that they have been unable to shake off the associations of the
essentially artificial characters--Parthenia and Pauline--in which Miss
Anderson has unfortunately chosen to appear. Further complaints of
artificiality and coldness have, it is true, been put forth _a propos_ of
her first appearance on Saturday evening in Mr. Gilbert's beautiful
mythological comedy of 'Pygmalion and Galatea;' but protests are beginning
to appear in some quarters, and we are much mistaken if this graceful and
accomplished actress is not destined yet to win the favor of her censors.
The statuesque beauty of her appearance and the classic grace of all her
movements and attitudes, as the Greek statue suddenly endowed with life,
have received general recognition; but not less remarkable were the
simplicity, the tenderness, and, on due occasion, the passionate impulse
of her acting, though the impersonation is no doubt in the chastened
classical vein. It is difficult to imagine how a realization of Mr.
Gilbert's conception could be made more perfect."


_The World_, 12th December, 1883.

"The revival of 'Pygmalion and Galatea' at the Lyceum on Saturday last,
with Miss Mary Anderson in the part of the animated statue, excited
considerable interest and drew together a large and enthusiastic audience.
Without attempting any comparison between Mrs. Kendal and the young
American actress, it may at once be stated, that the latter gave an
interesting and original rendering of Galatea. As the velvet curtain drawn
aside disclosed the snowy statue on its pedestal, in a pose of classic
beauty, it seemed hard to believe that such sculptural forms, the delicate
features, the fine arms, the graceful figure, could be of any other
material than marble. The gradual awakening to life, the joy and wonder of
the bright young creature, to whom existence is still a mystery, were
charmingly indicated; and when Miss Anderson stepped forward slowly in her
soft clinging draperies, with her pretty brown hair lightly powdered, she
satisfied the most fastidiously critical sense of beauty. Galatea, as Miss
Anderson understands her, is statuesque; but Galatea is also a woman,
perfect in the purity of ideal womanhood. The chief characteristics of her
nature are innate modesty and refinement, which, though, perhaps, not
strictly fashionable attributes, are appropriate enough in a daughter of
the gods. When she loves, it is without any airs and graces. She has not
an atom of self-consciousness; she cannot premeditate; she loves because
she _must_, rather than because she will, because it is the condition of
her life. Some of the naive remarks she has to utter, might in clumsy lips
seem coarse. Miss Anderson delivered them with consummate grace and
innocence, but her fine smile, her bright sparkling eye, proved
sufficiently, that the innocence was not stupidity. The first long speech
at the conclusion of which she kneels to Pygmalion was beautifully
rendered, and elicited a burst of applause, which was repeated at
intervals throughout the evening. Her poses were always graceful,
sometimes strikingly beautiful.

"Miss Anderson has the true sense of rhythm and the clearest enunciation;
she has a deep and musical voice, which in moments of pathos thrills with
a sweet and tender inflection. She has seized, in this instance, upon the
touching rather than the harmonious side of Galatea, the pure and innocent
girl who is not fit to live upon this world. She is only not human because
she is superior to human folly; she cannot understand sin because it is so
sweet; she asks to be taught a fault; but the womanly love and devotion,
and unselfishness, are all there, writ in clear and uncompromising
characters. The first and last acts were decidedly the best; in the latter
especially Miss Anderson touched a true pathetic chord, and fairly
elicited the pity and sympathy of the audience. With a gentle wonder and
true dignity she meets the gradual dropping away of her illusion, the
crumbling of her unreasoning faith, the cruel stings when her spiritual
nature is misunderstood, and her actions misinterpreted. She is jarred by
the rough contact of commonplace facts, and ruffled and wounded by the
strange and cynical indifference to her sufferings of the man she loves.
At last when she can bear no more, yet uncomplaining to the last, like a
flower broken on its stem, shrinking and sensitive, she totters out with
one loud cry of woe, the expression of her agony. Miss Anderson is a poet,
she brings everything to the level of her own refined and artistic
sensibility, and the result is that while she presents us with a picture
of ideal womanhood, she must appeal of necessity rather to our
imaginations than to our senses, and may by some persons be considered
cold. Once or twice she dropped her voice so as to became almost
inaudible, and occasionally forced her low tones more than was quite
agreeable; but whether in speech, in gesture, or in delicate suggestive
byplay, her performance is essentially finished. One or two little actions
may be noted, such as the instinctive recoil of alarmed modesty when
Pygmalion blames her for saying 'things that others would reprove,' or her
expression of troubled wonder to find that it is 'possible to say one
thing and mean another.'"


_Daily Telegraph_, 10th December, 1883.

"'PYGMALION AND GALATEA.'

"It is the fashion to judge of Miss Anderson outside her capacity and
competency as an actress. Ungraciously enough she is regarded and reviewed
as the thing of beauty that is a joy forever, and her infatuated admirers
view her first as a picture, last as an artist. If, then, public taste was
agitated by the Parthenia who lolled in her mother's lap and twisted
flower garlands at the feet of her noble savage Ingomar; if society
fluttered with excitement at the sight of the faultless Pauline gazing
into the fire on the eve of her ill-fated marriage, how much more
jubilation there will be now that Miss Mary Anderson, a lovely woman in
studied drapery, stands posed at once as a statue, and as a subject for
the photographic pictures which will flood the town. Unquestionably Miss
Anderson never looked so well as a statue, both lifeless and animated,
never comported herself with such grace, never gave such a perfect
embodiment of purity and innocence. In marble she was a statue motionless;
in life she was a statue half warmed. There are those who believe, or who
try to persuade themselves, that this is all Galatea has to do--to appear
behind a curtain as a '_pose plastique_,' to make an excellent '_tableau
vivant_,' and to wear Greek drapery, as if she had stepped down from a
niche in the Acropolis. All this Miss Mary Anderson does to perfection.
She is a living, breathing statue. A more beautiful object in its innocent
severity the stage has seldom seen. But is this all that Galatea has to
do? Those who have studied Mr. Gilbert's poem will scarcely say so.
Galatea descended from her pedestal has to become human, and has to
reconcile her audience to the contradictory position of a woman, who,
presumably innocent of the world and its ways, is unconsciously cynical
and exquisitely pathetic. We grant that it is a most difficult part to
play. Only an artist can give effect to the comedy, or touch the true
chord of sentiment that underlies the idea of Galatea. But to make Galatea
consistently inhuman, persistently frigid, and monotonously spiritual, is,
if not absolutely incorrect, at least glaringly ineffective. If Galatea
does not become a breathing, living woman when she descends from her
pedestal, a woman capable of love, a woman with a foreshadowing of
passion, a woman of tears and tenderness, then the play goes for
nothing.... Miss Anderson reads Galatea in a severe fashion. She is a
Galatea perfectly formed, whose heart has not yet been adjusted. She
shrinks from humanity. She wants to be classical and severe, and her last
cry to Pygmalion, instead of being the utterance of a tortured soul, is
'monotonous and hollow as a ghost's.' It is with no desire to be
discourteous that we venture any comparison between the Galatea of Miss
Anderson and of Mrs. Kendal. The comparison should only be made on the
point of reading. Yet surely there can be no doubt that Mrs. Kendal's idea
of Galatea, while appealing to the heart, is more dramatically effective.
It illumines the poem."


_The Times_, 28th January, 1884.

"LYCEUM THEATER.

"Those who have suspected that Miss Mary Anderson was well advised in
clinging to the artificial class of character hitherto associated with her
engagement at the Lyceum--characters, that is to say, making little call
upon the emotional faculties of their exponent--will not be disposed to
modify their opinion from her 'creation' of the new part of distinctly
higher scope in Mr. Gilbert's one act drama, 'Comedy and Tragedy,'
produced for the first time on Saturday night. Though passing in a single
scene, this piece furnishes a more crucial test of Miss Anderson's powers
than any of her previous assumptions in this country. Unfortunately it
also assigns limits to those powers which few actresses of the second or
even third rank need despair of attaining. Such a piece as this, it will
be seen, makes the highest demands upon an actress. Tenderly affectionate,
and true with her husband, when she arranges with him the plan upon which
so much depends: heartless and _insouciante_ in manner while she receives
her guests; affectedly gay and vivacious while her husband's fate is
trembling in the balance; deeply tragic in her anguish when her fortitude
has broken down; and finally overcome with joy as her husband is restored
to her arms; she has to pass and repass, without a pause, from one extreme
of her art to the other. There is probably no actress but Sarah Bernhardt
who could render all the various phases of this character as they should
be rendered. There is only one phase of it that comes fairly within Miss
Anderson's grasp. Of vivacity there is not a spark in her nature; a
heavy-footed impassiveness weighs upon all her efforts to be sprightly.
The refinement, the subtlety, the animation, the _ton_, of an actress of
the Comedie Francaise she does not so much as suggest. Womanly sympathy,
tenderness, and trust, those qualities which constitute a far deeper and
more abiding charm than statuesque beauty, are equally absent from an
impersonation which in its earlier phases is almost distressingly labored.
While the actress is entertaining her guests with improvised comedy,
moreover, no undercurrent of emotion, no suggestion of suppressed anxiety
is perceptible. It is not till this double _role_, which demands a degree
of _finesse_ evidently beyond Miss Anderson's range, is exchanged for the
unaffected expression of mental torture that the actress rises to the
occasion, and here it is pleasing to record, she displayed on Saturday
night an earnestness and an intensity which won her an ungrudging round of
applause. Miss Anderson's conception of the character is excellent, it is
her powers of execution that are defective; and we do not omit from these
the quality of her voice, which at times sinks into a hard and
unsympathetic key."


_Morning Post_, 28th January, 1884.

"A change effected in the programme at the Lyceum Theater on Saturday
night makes Mr. Gilbert responsible for the whole entertainment of the
evening. His fairy comedy of 'Pygmalion and Galatea,' is now supplemented
by a new dramatic study in which, under the ambitious title 'Comedy and
Tragedy,' he has been at special pains to provide Miss Mary Anderson with
an effective _role_. This popular young actress has every reason to
congratulate herself upon the opportunity for distinction thus placed in
her way, for Mr. Gilbert has accomplished his task in a thoroughly
workmanlike manner. In the course of a single act he has demanded from the
exponent of his principal character the most varied histrionic
capabilities, for he has asked her to be by turns the consummate actress
and the unsophisticated woman, the gracious hostess and the vindictive
enemy, the humorous reciter and the tragedy queen. Nor has he done this
merely by inventing plausible excuses for a succession of conscious
assumptions, such as those of the entertainer who appears first in one
guise and then in another, that he may exhibit his deft versatility. There
is a genuine dramatic motive for the display by the heroine of 'Comedy and
Tragedy' of quickly changing emotions and accomplishments. She acts
because circumstances really call upon her to act, and not because the
showman pulls the strings of his puppet as the whim of the moment may
suggest. The question is, how far Miss Anderson is able to realize for us
the mental agony and the characteristic self-command of such a woman as
Clarice in such a state as hers. The answer, as given on Saturday by a
demonstrative audience, was wholly favorable; as it suggests itself to a
calmer judgment the kindly verdict must be qualified by reservations many
and serious. We may admit at once that Miss Anderson deserves all praise
for her exhibition of earnest force, and for the nervous spirit with which
she attacks her work. It is a pleasant surprise to see her depending upon
something beyond her skill in the art of the _tableau vivant_. The ring of
her deep voice may not always be melodious, but at any rate it is true,
and the burst of passionate entreaty carries with it the genuine
conviction of distress. What is missing is the distinction of bearing that
should mark a leading member of the famous _troupe_ of players, grace of
movement as distinguished from grace of power, lightening of touch in
Clarice's comedy, and refinement of expression in her tragedy. At present
the impersonation is rough and almost clumsy whilst, at times, the
vigorous elocution almost descends to the level of ranting. Many of these
faults may, however, have been due to Miss Anderson's evident nervousness,
and to the whirlwind of excitement in which she hurried through her task;
and we shall be quite prepared to find her performance improve greatly
under less trying conditions."


_The Scotsman_, 28th April, 1884.

"Last night the young American actress, who has, during the past few
months, acquired such great popularity in London, made her first
appearance before an Edinburgh audience in the same character she chose
for her Metropolitan _debut_--that of Parthenia in 'Ingomar.' The piece
itself is essentially old-fashioned. It is one of that category of
'sentimental dramas' which were in vogue thirty or forty years ago, but
are not sufficiently complex in their intrigue, or subtle in their
analysis of emotion, to suit the somewhat cloyed palates of the present
generation of playgoers. Yet, through two or three among the long list of
plays of this type, there runs like a vein of gold amid the dross, a noble
and true idea that preserves them from the common fate, and one of these
few pieces is 'Ingomar.' Its blank verse may be stilted, its action often
forced and unreal; but the pictures it presents of a daughter's devotion,
a maiden's purity, a brave man's love and supreme self-sacrifice, are
drawn with a breadth and a simplicity of outline that make them at once
appreciable, and they are pictures upon which few people can help looking
with pleasure and sympathy. We do not say that Miss Anderson could not
possibly have chosen a better character in which to introduce herself to
an Edinburgh audience; but certainly it would be difficult to conceive a
more charming interpretation of Parthenia than she gave last night. To
personal attractions of the highest order she adds a rich and musical
voice, capable of a wide range of accent and inflection, a command of
gesture which is abundantly varied, but always graceful and--what is,
perhaps, of more moment to the artist than all else--an unmistakable
capacity for grasping the essential significance of a character, and
identifying herself thoroughly with it. Her delineation is not only
exquisitely picturesque; it leaves behind the impression of a thoughtful
conception wrought out with consistency, and developed with real dramatic
power. The lighter phases of Parthenia's nature were, as they should be,
kept generally prominent, but when the demand came for stronger and tenser
emotions the actress was always able to respond to it--as for instance in
Parthenia's defiance of Ingomar, when his love finds its first uncouth
utterance, in her bitter anguish when she thinks he has left her forever,
and in her final avowal of love and devotion. These are the crucial points
in the rendering of the part; and they were so played last night by Miss
Anderson as to prove that she is equal to much more exacting _roles_. She
was excellently supported by Mr. Barnes as Ingomar, and fairly well by the
representatives of the numerous minor personages who contribute to the
development of the story, without having individual interest of their own.
Miss Anderson won an enthusiastic reception at the hands of a large and
discriminating audience, being called before the curtain at the close of
each act."


_Glasgow Evening Star_, 6th May, 1884.

"MISS ANDERSON AT THE ROYALTY.

"No modern actress has created such a _furore_ in this country as Miss
Anderson. Coming to us from America with the reputation of being the
foremost exponent of histrionic art in that country, it was but natural
that her advent should be regarded with very critical eyes by many who
thought that America claimed too much for their charming actress. Thus
predisposed to find as many faults as possible in one who boldly
challenged their verdict on her own merits alone, it is not surprising
that Metropolitan critics were almost unanimous in their opinion that Miss
Anderson, although a clever actress and a very beautiful woman, was not by
any means a great artist. They did not hesitate to say, moreover, that
much of her success as an actress was due to her physical grace and
beauty. We have no hesitation in stating a directly contrary opinion."


_Glasgow Herald_, 6th May, 1884.

"MISS ANDERSON AT THE ROYALTY THEATER.

"Since 'Pygmalion and Galatea' was produced at the Haymarket Theater,
fully a dozen years ago, when the part of Galatea was created by Mrs.
Kendal, quite a number of actresses have essayed the character. Most of
them have succeeded in presenting a carefully thought-out and
intelligently-executed picture; few have been able to realize in their
intensity, and give adequate embodiment to, the dreamy utterances of the
animated statue. It is a character which only consummate skill can
appropriately represent. The play is indeed a cunningly-devised fable; but
Galatea is the one central figure on which it hangs. Its humor and its
satire are so exquisitely keen that they must needs be delicately wielded.
That a statue should be vivified and endowed with speech and reason is a
bold conception, and it requires no ordinary artist to depict the emotion
of such a mythical being. For this duty Miss Anderson last night proved
herself more than capable. Her interpretation of the part is essentially
her own; it differs in some respects from previous representations of the
character, and to none of them is it inferior. In her conception of the
part, the importance of statuesque posing has been studied to the minutest
detail, and in this respect art could not well be linked with greater
natural advantages than are possessed by Miss Anderson. When, in the
opening scene, the curtains of the recess in the sculptor's studio were
thrown back from the statue, a perfect wealth of art was displayed in its
pose; it seemed indeed to be a realization of the author's conception of a
figure which all but breathes, yet still is only cold, dull stone. From
beginning to end, Miss Anderson's Galatea is a captivating study in the
highest sphere of histrionic art. There is no part of it that can be
singled out as better than another. It is a compact whole such as only few
actresses may hope to equal."


_Dublin Evening Mail_, 22d March, 1884.

"MARY ANDERSON AT THE GAIETY.

"Notwithstanding all that photography has done for the last few weeks to
familiarize Dublin with Miss Anderson's counterfeit presentment, the
original took the Gaiety audience last night by surprise. Her beauty
outran expectation. It was, moreover, generally different from what the
camera had suggested. It required an effort to recall in the brilliant,
mobile, speaking countenance before us the classic regularity and harmony
of the features which we had admired on cardboard. Brilliancy is the
single word that best sums up the characteristics of Miss Anderson's face,
figure and movements on the stage. But it is a brilliancy that is
altogether natural and spontaneous--a natural gift, not acquisition; and
it is a brilliancy which, while it is all alive with intelligence and
sympathy, is instinct to the core with a virginal sweetness and purity. In
'Ingomar' the heroine comes very early and abruptly on the scene before
the audience is interested in her arrival, or has, indeed, got rid of the
garish realities of the street. But Miss Anderson's appearance spoke for
itself without any aid from the playwright. The house, after a moment's
hesitation, broke out into sudden and quickly-growing applause, which was
evidently a tribute not to the artist, but to the woman. She understood
this herself, and evidently enjoyed her triumph with a frank and girlish
pleasure. She had conquered her audience before opening her lips. She is
of rather tall stature, a figure slight but perfectly modeled, her
well-shaped head dressed Greek fashion with the simple knot behind, her
arms, which the Greek costume displayed to the shoulder, long, white, and
of a roundness seldom attained so early in life, her walk and all her
attitudes consummately graceful and expressive. A more general form of
disparagement is that which pretends to account for all Miss Anderson's
popularity by her beauty. It is her beauty, these people say, not her
acting, that draws the crowd. We suspect the fact to be that Miss
Anderson's uncommon beauty is rather a hindrance than a help to the
perception of her real dramatic merits. People do not easily believe that
one and the same person can be distinguished in the highest degree by
different and independent excellences. They find it easier to make one of
the excellences do duty for both. Miss Anderson, it may be admitted, is
not a Sarah Bernhardt. At the same time we must observe that at
twenty-three the incomparable Sarah was not the consummate artist that she
is now, and has been for many years. We are not at all inclined to rank
Miss Anderson as an actress at a lower level than the very high one of
Miss Helen Faucit, of whose Antigone she reminded us in several passages
last night. Miss Faucit was more statuesque in her poses, more classical,
and, perhaps, touched occasionally a more profoundly pathetic chord. But
the balance is redeemed by other qualities of Miss Anderson's acting,
quite apart from all consideration of personal beauty.

"'Ingomar,' it must be said, is a mere melodrama, and as such does not
afford the highest test of an actor's capacity. The wonder is that Miss
Anderson makes so much of it. In her hands it was really a stirring and
very effective play."


_Dublin Daily Express_, 28th March, 1884.

"MISS ANDERSON AS GALATEA.

"Nothing that the sculptor's art could create could be more beautiful than
the still figure of Galatea, in classic _pose_, with gracefully flowing
robes, looking down from her pedestal on the hands that have given her
form, and it is not too much to say that nothing could be added to render
more perfect the illusion. The whole _pose_--her aspect, the _contour_ of
her head, the exquisite turn of the stately throat, the faultless symmetry
of shoulder and arms--everything is in keeping with the realization of the
most perfect, most beautiful, and most illusive figure that has ever been
witnessed on the stage. Miss Anderson indeed is liberally endowed with
physical charms, so fascinating that we can understand an audience finding
it not a little difficult to refrain from giving the rein to enthusiasm in
the presence of this fairest of Galateas. From these remarks, however, it
is not intended to be inferred that the young American is merely a
graceful creature with a 'pretty face.' Miss Anderson is unquestionably a
fine actress, and the high position which she now deservedly occupies
amongst her sister artists, we are inclined to think, has been gained
perhaps less through her personal attractions than by the sterling
characteristics of her art. Each of her scenes bears the stamp of
intelligence of an uncommon order, and perhaps not the least remarkable
feature in her portraiture of Galatea is that her effects, one and all,
are produced without a suspicion of straining. Those who were present in
the crowded theater last night, and saw the actress in the _role_--said to
be her finest--had, we are sure, no room to qualify the high reputation
which preceded the impersonation."



CHAPTER IX.

MARY ANDERSON AS AN ACTRESS.


The author approaches this, his concluding chapter, with some degree of
diffidence. Though he has in the foregoing pages essayed something like a
portrait of a very distinguished artist, he is not by profession a
dramatic critic. He does not belong to that noble band at whose nod the
actor is usually supposed to tremble. He is not a "first-nighter," who, by
the light of the midnight oil, dips his mighty pen in the ink which is to
seal on to-morrow's broad-sheet, as he proudly imagines, the professional
fate of the artists who are submitted for his censure or his praise. Not
that he is by any means an implicit believer in the verdict of the
professional critic. An actor who succeeds, should often fail according to
the recognized canons of dramatic criticism, and the reverse. That the
beautiful harmony of nature and the eternal fitness of things dramatic are
not always preserved, is due to that _profanum vulgus_ which sometimes
reverses the decisions of those dramatic divinities who sit enthroned,
like the twelve Cæsars, in the sacred temple of criticism, as the inspired
representatives of the press.

Those who have been at the trouble to read the various and conflicting
notices of the chief London journals upon Mary Anderson's
performances--for those of the great provincial towns she visited present
a singular unanimity in her favor--must have found it difficult, if not
impossible, to decide either on her merits as an artist, or on the true
place to be assigned to her in the temple of the drama. The veriest
misogynist among critics was compelled, in spite of himself, to confess to
the charm of her strange beauty. Hers, as all agreed, was the loveliest
face and the most graceful figure which had appeared on the London boards
within the memory of a generation. According to some she was an
accomplished actress, but she lacked that divine spark which stamps the
true artist. Others attributed her success to nothing but her personal
grace and beauty; while one critic, bolder than his fellows, even went so
far as to declare that whether she wore the attire of a Grecian maid, of a
fine French lady of a century ago, or of the fabled Galatea, only pretty
Miss Anderson, of Louisville, Kentucky, peeped out through every disguise.
Several causes, perhaps, combined to this uncertain sound which went forth
from the trumpet of the dramatic critic. Mary Anderson was an American
artist, who came here, it is true, with a great American reputation; but
so had come others before her, some of whom had wholly failed to stand the
fierce test of the London footlights. Then to "damn her with faint
praise," would not only be a safe course at the outset, but the steps to a
becoming _locus peniteniæ_ would be easy and gradual if the vane should,
in spite of the critics, veer round to the point of popular favor. One of
the most distinguished of English journalists lately observed in the House
of Commons that certain writers in back parlors were in the habit of
palming off their effusions as the voice of the great English public, till
that voice made itself heard. When the voice of the English theater-going
public upon Mary Anderson came to make itself heard in the crowded and
enthusiastic audiences of the Lyceum, in the friendship of all that was
most cultivated and best worth knowing in London society, it failed
altogether to echo the trumpet, we will not say of the back parlor critics
only, but of some critics distinguished in their profession, who can
little have anticipated how quickly the popular verdict would modify, if
not reverse their own.

It may be interesting to quote here some observations very much to the
point, on the dramatic criticism of the day, in an admirable paper read
recently by Mrs. Kendal before the Social Science Congress. It will hardly
be denied that there are few artists competent to speak with more
authority on matters theatrical, or better able to form a judgment on the
true inwardness of that Press criticism to which herself and her fellow
artists are so constantly subject:

"Existing critics generally rush into extremes, and either over-praise or
too cruelly condemn. The public, as a matter of course, turn to the
newspapers for information, but how can any judgment be formed when either
indiscriminate praise or unqualified abuse is given to almost every new
piece and to the actors who interpret it? Criticism, if it is to be worth
anything, should surely be criticism, but nowadays the writing of a
picturesque article, replete with eulogy, or the reverse, seems to be the
aim of the theatrical reviewer. Of course, the influence of the Press upon
the stage is very powerful, but it will cease to be so if playgoers find
that their mentors, the critics, are not trustworthy guides. The public
must, after all, decide the fate of a new play. If it be bad, the
Englishman of to-day will not declare it is good because the newspapers
have told him so. He will be disappointed, he will be bored, he will tell
his friends so, and the bad piece will fail to draw audiences. If, on the
other hand, the play is a good one, which has been condemned by the Press,
it will quicken the pulse and stir the heart of an audience in spite of
adverse criticism. The report that it contains the true ring will go
about, and success must follow. In a word, though the Press can do very
much to further the interests of the stage, it is powerless to kill good
work, and cannot galvanize that which is invertebrate into life."

To determine Mary Anderson's true stage place, and to make a fair and
impartial criticism of her performances is rendered further difficult by
the fact, that the English stage offers in the last generation scarcely
one with whom she can be compared, if we except perhaps Helen Faucit.
Between herself and that great artist, middle-aged play-goers seem to find
a certain resemblance; but to the present generation of playgoers Mary
Anderson is an absolutely new revelation on the London boards. Recalling
the roll of artists who have essayed similar parts for the last five and
twenty years, we can name not one who has given as she did what we may
best describe as a new stage sensation. Never was the pride of a free
maiden of ancient Greece more nobly expressed than in Parthenia: never
were the gradual steps from fear and abhorrence to love more finely
portrayed than in the stages of her rising passion for the savage
chieftain, whose captive hostage she was. Her Pauline was the old
patrician beauty of France living on the stage, a true woman in spite of
the selfish veneer of pride and caste with which the traditions of the
ancient _noblesse_ had covered her; while Galatea found in her certainly
the most poetic and beautiful representation of that fanciful character,
ever seen on any stage. This was the verdict of the public who thronged
the Lyceum to its utmost capacity, during the months of the past winter.
This was the verdict, too, of the largest provincial towns of the kingdom.
The critics, some of them, were willing to concede to Mary Anderson the
possession of every grace which can adorn a woman, and of every
qualification which can make an artist attractive, with a solitary but
fatal reservation--_she was devoid of genius_. But what, indeed, is genius
after all? It is the magic power to touch unerringly a sympathetic chord
in the human breast. The novelist, whose characters seem to be living; the
painter, the figures on whose canvas appear to breathe; the actor who,
while he treads the stage, is forgotten in the character he assumes; all
these possess it. This was the verdict of the public upon Mary Anderson,
and we are fain to believe that--_pace_ the critics--it was the true one.
Her Clarice was perhaps the least successful of her impersonations; and
given as an afterpiece, it taxed unfairly the endurance of an actress, who
had already been some hours upon the stage. But as a striking illustration
of the reality of her performance, we may mention, that, in the scene
where she is supposed by her guests to be acting, her fellow actors, who
should have applauded the tragic outburst which the public divine to be
real, were so disconcerted by the vehemence and seeming reality of her
grief and despair, that on the first representation of "Comedy and
Tragedy" they actually forgot their parts, and had to be called to task by
the author for failing properly to support the star. "No man," it is said,
"is a hero to his _valet de chambre_," and few indeed are the artists who
can make their fellow artists on the stage forget that the mimic passion
which convulses them is but consummate art after all.

Mary Anderson's present Lyceum season will exhibit her in characters which
will give opportunity for displaying powers of a widely different order to
those called forth in the last. A new Juliet and a new Lady Macbeth will
show the capacity she possesses for the true exhibition of the tenderest
as well as the stormiest passions which can agitate the human breast; and
she may perhaps appear in Cushman's famous _role_ of Meg Merrilies. In all
these she invites comparison with great impersonators of these parts who
are familiar to the stage. We will not anticipate the verdict of the
public, but of this much we are assured that rarely can Shakespeare's
favorite heroine have been represented by so much youth, and grace, and
beauty, and genuine artistic ability combined. Juliet was her first part,
and has always been, regarded by Mary Anderson with the affection due to a
first love. But it may not be generally known that she imagines her
_forte_ to lie rather in the exhibition of the stormier passions, and that
she succeeds better in parts like Lady Macbeth or Meg Merrilies. I
remember her once saying to me, as she raised her beautiful figure to its
full height, and stretched her hand to the ceiling, "I am always at my
best when I am uttering maledictions." Thus far, Mary Anderson has shown
herself to us in characters which must give a very incomplete estimate of
her powers. None indeed of the parts she assumed were adapted to bring out
the highest qualities of an artist. That she has succeeded in inspiring
the freshness and glow of life into plays, some of which, at least, were
supposed to be consigned almost to the limbo of disused stage properties,
stamps her as possessing genuine histrionic power. She has earned
distinguished fame all over the Western continent. London as well as the
great cities of the kingdom have hailed her as a Queen of the Stage. Such
an experience as hers is rare indeed, almost solitary, in its annals. A
self-trained girl, born quite out of the circle or influence of stage
associations, she burst, when but sixteen, as a star on the theatrical
horizon; and if her grace, her youth, her beauty, have helped her in the
upward flight, they have helped alone, and could not have atoned for the
want of that divine spark, which is the birthright of the artist who makes
a mark upon his generation and his time. When the more recent history of
the English-speaking stage shall once again be written, we do not doubt
that Mary Anderson will take her fitting place, side by side with the many
great artists who have so adorned it in the last half century; with
Charlotte Cushman, Helen Faucit, and Fanny Stirling, who represent its
earlier glories; with Mrs. Kendal, Mrs. Bancroft, and Ellen Terry, whose
names are interwoven with the triumphs of later years.





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