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Title: Henry Irving's Impressions of America
Author: Hatton, Joseph
Language: English
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                         TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.



                            HENRY IRVING’S

                        IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA

                        NARRATED IN A SERIES OF

                      _SKETCHES, CHRONICLES, AND
                            CONVERSATIONS_

                                  BY

                             JOSEPH HATTON

                               AUTHOR OF
 “CLYTIE,” “CRUEL LONDON,” “THREE RECRUITS,” “TO-DAY IN AMERICA,” ETC.

[Illustration: LOGO]

                                BOSTON
                      JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY
                                 1884

                            Copyright, 1884
                      JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY

                         _All rights reserved_

             Press of Rockwell and Churchill, 39 Arch St.



TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.


THIS book is the outcome of a desire to chronicle, in a lasting form,
some of the events of a tour which your kindness has made a delight
to Ellen Terry and myself. Before leaving London I ventured upon a
prophecy that in journeying to America we were going amongst friends.
That prophecy has been fulfilled.

In the history of the stage the Lyceum Company is the first complete
organization which has crossed the Atlantic with the entire equipment
of a theatre.

As the tour is, I believe, unique, so also is this record of it; and
I particularly desire to emphasize a fact concerning its authorship.
I am, myself, only responsible for my share in the conversations and
dialogues that are set down, everything else being the work of my
friend, Joseph Hatton, well known to you as the author of “To-day in
America.”

I can but trust that I have not erred in expressing, for publication,
some passing thoughts about a country which has excited my profound
admiration, and which has the highest claims upon my gratitude.

  HENRY IRVING.

NEW YORK, April 30, 1884.



CONTENTS.


  I.—AT HOME.

                                                                    PAGE
  Talking of America—Warned against the Interviewer—
  “Travellers’ Tales”—Good-by to London—International Gossip—A
  Mythical Palace on the Thames—Reports from “A Little English
  Friend”—The Grange—A Grafton Street Interior—Souvenirs
  and Portraits—An Actor on His Audiences—Hamlet at the
  Lyceum—Critics and Public Opinion—The Final Verdict—First
  Nights—Anonymous Letters—Notable Gifts—The Character
  of Louis XI.—“A Poor Mother who had Lost Her Son”—Scene
  Calls—Stories of a “Dresser”—Behind the Scenes—“Waking
  Up”—The Original Beefsteak Club Room—Host and Guests               1

  II.—NEW YORK.

  Going to Meet the “Britannic”—The “Blackbird”—Skirmishers
  of the American Press—The London “Standard’s” Message to New
  York, Boston, and Chicago—“Working” America—“Reportorial”
  Experiences—Daylight off Staten Island—At Quarantine under
  the Stars and Stripes—“God Save the Queen!” and “Hail to the
  Chief!”—Received and “Interviewed”—“Portia on a Trip from
  the Venetian Seas”—What the Reporters Think and what Irving
  Says—The Necessity of Applause—An Anecdote of Forrest—Mr.
  Vanderbilt and the Mirror—Miss Terry and the Reporters—“Tell
  them I never loved home so well as now”—Landed and
  Welcomed—Scenes on the Quay—At the Brevoort                       39

  III.—FIRST IMPRESSIONS.

  Union Square, New York—An Enterprising Chronicler—The
  Lambs—The Newspapers and the New-comers—“Art must
  Advance with the Times”—“Romeo and Juliet” at the
  Lyceum—“Character Parts”—No Real Tradition of Shakespearian
  Acting—“Mannerisms”—The Stage as an Educator—Lafayette
  Place—A Notable Little Dinner—The Great American Bird,
  “Not the Eagle, but the Duck”—A Question of “Appropriate
  Music”—Speculators in Tickets and their Enormous
  Profits—Middlemen, the Star Theatre, and the Play going Public     65

  IV.—AT THE LOTOS CLUB.

  The Savage Club of America—Thackeray and Lord Houghton—A
  Great Banquet—Mr. Whitelaw Reid on Irving and the Actor’s
  Calling—“Welcome to a Country where he may find not Unworthy
  Brethren”—An Answer to the Warnings of the English Traveller
  of Chapter I.—“Shakespeare’s Charles the First”—A Night of
  Wit and Humor—Chauncey M. Depew on Theatrical Evolution—The
  Knighting of Sullivan—The Delineator of Romance visiting
  the Home of America’s Creator of Romance—After-dinner
  Stories—Conspiring against the Peace of a Harmless
  Scotchman—A Pleasant Jest                                          84

  V.—THE NIGHT BEFORE THE PLAY.

  The Vividness of First Impressions—New York Hotels—On the
  Elevated Road with “Charlie”—Trotting Horses—Audiences
  on both Sides of the Atlantic—“A Man knows best what
  he can do”—“Americanisms,” so called—A Satirical
  Sketch, entitled “Bitten by a Dog”—Louis and the Duke of
  Stratford-on-Avon—Macready and the Forrest Riots                  108

  VI.—THE BELLS.

  A Stormy Night in New York—Ticket-Speculators at Work—A
  First-night Audience—Mathias received with Enthusiasm—Behind
  the Scenes—Lighting the Stage—Returning Thanks—Criticism of
  the Crowd—John Gilbert’s Opinion—Actor and Audience—English
  Playgoers and Londoners—Laughter and Applause—An Artistic
  Triumph                                                            123

  VII.—“RED LETTER DAYS.”

  Miss Ellen Terry’s First Appearance in New York—The Press
  on Charles and the Queen—A Professional Matinée—An
  Audience of Actors to See Louis XI.—How they Impressed
  the Actor, and what they Thought of Him—A Visit to Henry
  Ward Beecher—At Church and at Home—Mrs. Beecher and Miss
  Terry—Reminiscences—Studies of Death, Physiological and
  Idealistic—Louis’ Death and Hamlet’s—A Strange Story             140

  VIII.—A QUIET EVENING.

  A First Visit behind the Scenes—Cooper and Kean—The
  University Club—A very Notable Dinner—Chief Justice Davis and
  Lord Chief Justice Coleridge—A Menu worth Discussing—Terrapin
  and Canvas-Back Duck—“A Little Family Party”—Florence’s
  Romance—Among the Lambs—The Fate of a Manuscript Speech—A
  Story of John Kemble—Words of Welcome—Last Night of the New
  York Engagement—_Au Revoir!_                                      165

  IX.—AT PHILADELPHIA AND “IN CLOVER.”

  Rivalries of American Cities—Boston and Philadelphia—The
  Real and the Picturesque—Miss Terry’s Portia—“Three
  Kinds of Criticism”—First Appearance as Hamlet—Miss
  Terry’s Ophelia—Journalism and the Stage—Critics, Past
  and Present—Philadelphia and English Cities—A New Style
  of Newspaper—Bogus Reports and Interviews; an Example of
  Them—The Clover Club—A Letter from an Eminent American
  Tragedian—Presented with Forrest’s Watch—The Macready
  Trouble—Hamlet, and an Invitation from Guest to Hosts             187

  X.—BOSTON AND SHYLOCK.

  Rural Scenes on Both Sides of the Atlantic—First Impressions
  of Railway Travel—The Cars—One of the Largest Theatres in
  America—The Drama in Boston—Early Struggles to represent
  Plays in Public—“Moral Lectures”—Boston Criticisms—Shylock,
  Portia, Hamlet, and Ophelia—Different Readings of
  Shylock—Dressing-Room Criticism—Shylock considered—A
  Reminiscence of Tunis—How Shakespeare should be interpreted on
  the Stage—Two Methods illustrated—Shylock before the Court of
  Venice—How Actors should be judged                                214

  XI.—A CITY OF SLEIGHS.

  Snow and Sleigh Bells—“Brooks of Sheffield”—In the Boston
  Suburbs—Smokeless Coal—At the Somerset Club—Miss Ellen Terry
  and the Papyrus—A Ladies’ Night—Club Literature—Curious
  Minutes—“Greeting to Ellen Terry”—St. Botolph—Oliver Wendell
  Holmes and Charles the First—“Good-by and a Merry Christmas”      237

  XII.—LOOKING FORWARD TO CHRISTMAS.

  Interviewing in England and America—Rehearsing Richard and
  Lady Ann—Reminiscences of a Christmas Dinner—A Homely
  Feast—Joe Robins and Guy Fawkes—He would be an Actor—The
  Luxury of Warmth—“One Touch of Nature”                            254

  XIII.—A WILD RAILWAY JOURNEY.

  A Great American Railway Station—Platforms and
  Waiting-Rooms—A Queer Night—“Snow is as Bad as Fog”—A
  Farmer who Suggests Mathias in “The Bells”—A Romance of
  the Hudson—Looking for the “Maryland” and Finding “The
  Danites”—Fighting a Snow-storm—“A Ministering Angel”—The
  Publicity of Private Cars—Mysterious Proceedings—Strange
  Lights—Snowed up—Digging out the Railway Points—A Good
  Samaritan Locomotive—Trains Ahead of Us, Trains Behind
  Us—Railway Lights and Bells—“What’s Going On?”                   264

  XIV.—CHRISTMAS, AND AN INCIDENT BY THE WAY.

  At Baltimore—Street Scenes—Christmas Wares—Pretty Women
  in “Rubber Cloaks”—Contrasts—Street Hawkers—Southern
  Blondes—Furs and Diamonds—Rehearsing under
  Difficulties—Blacks and Whites—Negro Philosophy—Honest
  Work—“The Best Company on its Legs I have ever seen”—Our
  Christmas Supper—“Absent Friends”—Pictures in the Fire
  and Afterwards—An Intercepted Contribution to Magazine
  Literature—Correcting a Falsehood—Honesty and Fair Play          285

  XV.—FROM BROOKLYN TO CHICAGO.

  “Fussy”—The Brooklyn Ferry—Crossing the North River—A
  Picturesque Crowd—Brooklyn Bridge at Night—Warned against
  Chicago—Conservatism of American Critics—Dangers of
  the Road—Railway-Train Bandits—An Early Interviewer—A
  Reporter’s Story—Life on a Private Car—Miss Terry and her
  “Luck”—American Women                                             305

  XVI.—THE PRAIRIE CITY.

  First Impressions of Chicago—A Bitter Winter—Great
  Storms—Thirty Degrees below Zero—On the Shores of Lake
  Michigan—Street Architecture—Pullman City—Western
  Journalism—Chicago Criticism—Notable Entertainments—At
  the Press Club—The Club Life of America—What America has
  done—Unfair Comparisons between the Great New World and the
  Older Civilizations of Europe—Mistaking Notoriety for Fame—A
  Speech of Thanks—Facts, Figures, and Tests of Popularity, Past
  and to Come                                                        321

  XVII.—ST. LOUIS, CINCINNATI, INDIANAPOLIS, COLUMBUS.

  Sunshine and Snow—Wintry Landscapes—Fire and
  Frost—Picturesque St. Louis—“The Elks”—A Notable
  Reception—“Dime Shows”—Under-studies—Germany
  in America—“On the Ohio”—Printing under
  Difficulties—“Baggage-smashing”—Handsome Negroes and Sunday
  Papers—The Wonders of Chicago                                     344

  XVIII.—CHIEFLY CONCERNING A HOLIDAY AT NIAGARA.

  The Return Visit to Chicago—Welcomed Back again—Farewell
  Speech—Niagara in the Winter—A Sensation at the
  Hotel—Requisitioning adjacent Towns for Chickens and
  Turkeys—Ira Aldridge and a Colored Dramatic Club—A Blizzard
  from the North-west—The Scene of Webb’s Death—“A great
  Stage-manager, Nature”—Life and Death of “The Hermit of
  Niagara”—A Fatal Picnic—The Lyceum Company at Dinner—Mr.
  Howe Proposes a Toast—Terriss meets with an Accident that
  recalls a Romantic Tragedy                                         363

  XIX.—FROM TORONTO TO BOSTON.

  Lake Ontario—Canadian Pastimes—Tobogganing—On an Ice
  Slide—“Shooting Niagara and After”—Toronto Students—Dressing
  for the Theatre—“God Save the Queen”—Incidents of
  Travel—Locomotive Vagaries—Stopping the Train—“Fined
  One Hundred Dollars “—The Hotels and the Poor—Tenement
  Houses—The Stage and the Pulpit—Actors, Past and Present—The
  Stage and the Bar-room—The Second Visit to Boston—Enormous
  Receipts—A Glance at the Financial Results of the Tour            382

  XX.—WASHINGTON, NEW ENGLAND, AND SOME “RETURN VISITS.”

  From Rail to River—Once More on Board the
  “Maryland”—Recollections of President Arthur—At the
  White House—Washington Society—An Apt Shakespearian
  Quotation—Distinguished People—“Hamlet”—A Council of
  War—Making Out the Route of a New Tour—A Week in New England
  Cities—Brooklyn and Philadelphia Revisited                        399

  XXI.—“BY THE WAY.”

  “My Name is Mulldoon, I live in the Twenty-fourth
  Ward”—Protective Duties and the Fine Arts—“The General
  Muster”—A Message from Kansas City—American Cabmen—Alarming
  Notices in Hotels—The Chicago Fire Service—What a Fire
  Patrol can Do in a few Seconds—Marshalling the Fire
  Brigades—William Winter—“Office Rules”—The Reform Club and
  Politics—Enterprising Reporters—International Satire—How
  a Man of “Simple and Regular Habits” Lives—Secretaries
  in Waiting—The Bisbee Murders—“Hunted Down”—Outside
  Civilization—“The Bazoo”—The Story of a Failure—A Texan
  Tragedy—Shooting in a Theatre—Evolutions of Towns                423

  XXII.—“THE LONGEST JOURNEY COMES TO AN END.”

  “Our Closing Month in New York”—Lent—At Rehearsal—Finishing
  Touches—Behind the Scenes at the Lyceum and the Star—The
  Story of the Production of “Much Ado” in New York—Scenery
  and Properties on the Tour—Tone—Surprise for Agents
  in Advance—Interesting Technicalities—An Incident of
  the Mounting of “Much Ado”—The Tomb Scene—A Great
  Achievement—The End                                               463



IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA.



I.

AT HOME.

 Talking of America—Warned against the Interviewer—“Travellers’
 Tales”—Good-by to London—International Gossip—A Mythical Palace
 on the Thames—Reports from “A Little English Friend”—The Grange—A
 Grafton-Street Interior—Souvenirs and Portraits—An Actor on His
 Audiences—Hamlet at the Lyceum—Critics and Public Opinion—The
 Final Verdict—First Nights—Anonymous Letters—Notable Gifts—The
 Character of Louis XI.—“A Poor Mother who had Lost Her Son”—Scene
 Calls—Stories of a “Dresser”—Behind the Scenes—“Waking Up”—The
 Original Beefsteak Club Boom—Host and Guests.


I.

“AND I don’t think he believes a word I have said,” was Mr. John T.
Raymond’s own commentary upon a series of romances of “the wild West”
which he had related to Mr. Henry Irving[1] with an intensity that was
worthy of Col. Sellers himself.

The comedian’s reminiscences were graphic narratives of theatrical and
frontier life, with six-shooters and bowie-knives in them, and narrow
escapes enough to have made the fortunes of what the Americans call a
ten-cent novel.

“Oh, yes, I believe it is the duty of the door-keeper at a Western
theatre to collect the weapons of the audience before admitting the
people to the house; that what we call the cloak-room in London, you
might call the armory out West; and that the bowie-knife of a Texan
critic never weighs less than fourteen pounds. But I am not going as
far as Texas, though one might do worse if one were merely crossing the
Atlantic in search of adventures.”

America was at this time a far-off country, about which travellers
told Irving strange stories. I recall many a pleasant evening in the
Beefsteak Club room, of the Lyceum Theatre, when famous citizens of the
United States, actors more particularly, have sat at his round table,
and smoked the Havannah of peace and pleasant memories: Booth, Barrett,
Boucicault, McCullough, Raymond, Florence, and others of their craft;
Generals Horace Porter, Fairchild, Merritt, Mr. Sam. Ward, Mr. Rufus
Hatch, Mr. James R. Osgood, Mr. Hurlbert, Mr. Crawford, Col. Buck,
Mr. Dan Dougherty, and many others. They all promised him a kindly
reception and a great success.

“I question, however,” said an English guest, taking the other side, as
Englishmen love to do, if only for the sake of argument, “if America
will quite care for the naturalness of your effects, the neutral
tones of some of your stage pictures, the peaceful character, if I
may so style it, of your representations. They like breadth and color
and show; they are accustomed to the marvellous and the gigantic in
nature; they expect on the stage some sort of interpretation of these
things,—great rivers, lofty mountains, and the startling colors of
their fall tints. Your gentle meads of Hampton, the poetic grace of
“Charles the First,” the simplicity of your loveliest sets, and the
quiet dignity of your Shylock, will, I fear, seem tame to them.”

“Human nature, I fancy,” Irving responded, “is the same all the world
over, and I have played to many Americans in this very theatre. You
will say, perhaps, that they will accept here in London what they
would not care for on the other side of the Atlantic. You would say
we are an old country, with fairly settled tastes in art, a calm
atmosphere, a cultivated knowledge; and that possibly what we, in our
narrower ways, regard as a subtilty of art, they may not see. That may
be so, though some of their humor is subtle enough, and the best of it
leaves a great deal to the imagination. I know many persons, American
and English, have talked to me in your strain; yet I never saw quieter
or more delicate acting than in Jefferson’s Rip Van Winkle. As I said
before, human nature is ever the same: it loves and hates, it quarrels
and murders, it honors valor, sympathizes with the unfortunate, and
delights in seeing human passions delineated on the stage. Moreover,
are not the Americans, after all, our own flesh and blood? I never
think of them in the sense of foreigners, as one does of the French and
Germans, and the other European nations who do not speak our language;
and I have yet to learn that there is any difference between us so
marked that the jangle of “The Bells,” shall not stir their imagination
as much as the sorrows of Charles shall move their hearts, and the
story of Louis heighten their pulses. We shall see. I cannot exactly
say that my soul’s in arms and eager for the fray, but I have no
doubt about the result. That love of breadth, of largeness, of color,
you talk of, should go hand in hand with a catholic taste, devoid of
littleness and combined with a liberal criticism that is not always
looking for spots on the sun.”

“You are not nervous, then, as to your reception?”

“No, I am sure it will be kindly; and, for their criticism, I think it
will be just. There is the same honesty of purpose and intention in
American as in English criticism, and, above all, there is the great
play-going public, which is very much the same frank, generous, candid
audience all over the world.”

“But there is the American interviewer! You have not yet encountered
that interesting individual.”

“Oh, yes, I have.”

“Has he been here, then?”

“Yes; not in his war-paint, nor with his six-shooter and bowie-knife,
as he goes about in Raymond’s Texan country, yet an interviewer still.”

“And you found him not disagreeable?” asked the travelled guest.

“I found him well informed and quite a pleasant fellow.”

“Ah, but he was here under your own control, probably smoking a cigar
in your own room. Wait until he boards the steamer off New York. Then
you will see the sort of person he is, with his string of questions
more personal than the fire of an Old Bailey lawyer at a hostile
witness under cross-examination. The Inquisition of old is not in the
race with these gentlemen, except that the law, even in America, does
not allow them to put you to physical torture, though they make up for
that check upon their liberty by the mental pain they can inflict upon
you. Apart from the interviewers proper, I have known reporters to
disguise themselves as waiters, that they may pry into your secrets and
report upon your most trivial actions.”

“You have evidently suffered,” said Irving.

“No, not I; but I have known those who have. Nothing is sacred from
the prying eyes and unscrupulous pens of these men. ‘You smile, old
friend,’ to quote your ‘Louis the Eleventh,’ but I am not exaggerating
nor setting down aught in malice. You will see! The interviewers will
turn you inside out.”

“You don’t say so! Well, that will be a new sensation, at all events,”
answered Irving; and, when our friend had left, he remarked, “I wonder
if Americans, when they visit this country, go home and exaggerate our
peculiarities as much as some of our own countrymen, after a first trip
across the Atlantic, evidently exaggerate theirs.”

“There are many travellers who, in relating their experiences, think it
necessary to accentuate them with exaggerated color; and then we have
to make allowances for each man’s individuality.”

“How much certain of our critical friends make of that same
‘individuality,’ by the way, when they choose to call it ‘mannerism’!
The interviewers, I suppose, will have a good deal to say on that
subject.”

“English papers and American correspondents have given them plenty of
points for personal criticism.”

“That is true. They will be clever if they can find anything new to say
in that direction. Well, I don’t think it is courage, and I know it is
not vanity; yet I feel quite happy about this American tour.”

       *       *       *       *       *

A week or two later and Irving spoke the sentiments of his heart upon
this subject, at the farewell banquet given to him by artistic,
literary, legal, social, and journalistic London, under the presidency
of Lord Chief Justice Coleridge; and it will be fitting, I trust, to
close these preliminary paragraphs with his characteristic and touching
good-by:—

“My Lord Chief Justice, my lords and gentlemen,—I cannot conceive
a greater honor entering into the life of any man than the honor
you have paid me by assembling here to-night. To look around this
room and scan the faces of my distinguished hosts would stir to its
depths a colder nature than mine. It is not in my power, my lords and
gentlemen, to thank you for the compliment you have to-night paid me.

  “‘The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
   Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel.’

“Never before have I so strongly felt the magic of those words; but
you will remember it is also said, in the same sentence, ‘Give thy
thoughts no tongue.’ (Laughter.) And gladly, had it been possible,
would I have obeyed that wise injunction to-night. (Renewed laughter.)
The actor is profoundly influenced by precedent, and I cannot
forget that many of my predecessors have been nerved by farewell
banquets for the honor which awaited them on the other side of the
Atlantic; but this occasion I regard as much more than a compliment
to myself,—I regard it as a tribute to the art which I am proud to
serve—(Cheers),—and I believe that feeling will be shared by the
profession to which you have assembled to do honor. (Cheers.) The
time has long gone by when there was any need to apologize for the
actor’s calling. (Hear! Hear!) The world can no more exist without the
drama than it can without its sister art,—music. The stage gives the
readiest response to the demand of human nature to be transported out
of itself into the realms of the ideal,—not that all our ideas on
the stage are realized; none but the artist knows how immeasurably he
may fall short of his aim or his conception; but to have an ideal in
art, and to strive through one’s life to embody it, may be a passion
to the actor, as it may be to the poet. (Cheers.) Your lordship has
spoken most eloquently of my career. Possessed of a generous mind
and a highly judicial faculty, your lordship has been to-night, I
fear, more generous than judicial. But, if I have in any way deserved
commendation, I am proud that it is as an actor that I have won it.
(Cheers.) As the director of a theatre my experience has been short,
but as an actor I have been before the London public for seventeen
years; and on one thing I am sure you will all agree,—that no actor
or manager has ever received from that public more generous and
ungrudging encouragement and support. (Cheers.) Concerning our visit
to America I need hardly say that I am looking forward to it with no
common pleasure. It has often been an ambition with English actors to
gain the good-will of the English-speaking race,—a good-will which is
right heartily reciprocated towards our American fellow-workers, when
they gratify us by sojourning here. (Cheers.) Your God-speed would
alone assure me a hearty welcome in any land; but I am not going
amongst strangers,—I am going amongst friends (Cheers),—and when
I, for the first time, touch American ground, I shall receive many
a grip of the hand from men whose friendship I am proud to possess.
(Cheers.) Concerning our expedition the American people will no doubt
exercise an independent judgment,—a prejudice of theirs and a habit
of long-standing,—(Laughter),—as your lordship has reminded us, by
the fact that to-day is the fourth of July,—an anniversary rapidly
becoming an English institution. Your lordship is doubtless aware, as
to-night has so happily proved, that the stage has reckoned amongst
its stanchest supporters many great and distinguished lawyers. There
are many lawyers, I am told, in America,—(Laughter),—and as I am
sure that they all deserve to be judges, I am in hopes that they will
materially help me to gain a favorable verdict from the American
people. (Cheers and laughter.) I have given but poor expression
to my sense of the honor you have conferred upon me, and upon the
comrades associated with me in this our enterprise,—an enterprise
which, I hope, will favorably show the method and discipline of
a company of English actors; on their behalf I thank you, and I
also thank you on behalf of the lady who has so adorned the Lyceum
stage,—(Cheers),—and to whose rare gifts your lordship has paid
so just and gracious a tribute. (Cheers.) The climax of the favor
extended to me by my countrymen has been reached to-night. You have
set upon me a burden of responsibility,—a burden which I gladly and
proudly bear. The memory of to-night will be to me a sacred thing,—a
memory which will, throughout my life, be ever treasured; a memory
which will stimulate me to further endeavor, and encourage me to
loftier aim. (Loud and continued cheers.)


II.

NO man was ever more written of or talked about in America than Henry
Irving; probably no man was ever more misrepresented as to his art
and his life. A monster, according to his enemies; an angel, if you
took the verdict of his friends; he was a mystery to untravelled
American journalists, and an enigma to the great play-going public of
the American cities. They were told that people either loved or hated
him at first sight. American tourists even carried home contradictory
reports of him, though the majority were enthusiastic in praise of
him as an actor and as a man. The American newspaper correspondent
is naturally a trifle more sensational in the style of his work than
his English colleague, because his editor favors graphic writing,
entertaining chronicles, picturesque descriptions. Then the sub-editor
or compiler of news from the foreign exchanges looks out for “English
personals,” gossip about the Queen, notes on the Prince of Wales,
out-of-the-way criticisms of actors and public persons of all classes;
and so every _outre_ thing that has been published about Irving in
England has found its way into the ubiquitous press of America. Added
to this publicity, private correspondence has also dealt largely
with him, his work, his manners, his habits; for every American who
travels writes letters home to his family and often to his local paper,
and many English people who have visited America keep up a pleasant
epistolary communication with their good friends in the New World.


III.

BEING in New York ahead of Mr. Irving’s arrival, I found much of the
curious fiction of which gossip had made him the hero, crystallized
into definite assertions, that were accepted as undisputed facts.
A day’s sail from the Empire city, in a pretty Eastern villa, I
discovered the London gossip-monger’s influence rampant. But if
a prominent critic in London could publicly credit Mr. Irving’s
success as an actor to his hospitable dispensation of “chicken and
champagne,” one need not be surprised that ordinary gossips should
draw as liberally on their imagination for illustrations of his social
popularity. A leading figure in the world of art, and a person of
distinction in Vanity Fair, it is not to be wondered at that Jealousy
and Mrs. Grundy, standing outside his orbit, should invent many
startling stories about him. I have not exaggerated the following
conversation, and I am glad to use it here, not only as illustrative
of the singular misrepresentations of Irving’s life and habits, but to
bind up in this volume a sketch of the actor and the man which has the
merit of being eminently true, and at the same time not inappropriate
to these pages.

“Lives in chambers!” exclaimed an American lady, during an
after-dinner conversation in a pleasant eastern home. “I thought he
owned a lovely palace.”

“Indeed; where, madam?” I asked, “in Utopia?”

“No, sir; on the banks of your Thames river. A little English friend of
mine told me so, and described the furnishing of it. I understand that
it is as splendid as Claude Melnotte’s by the Lake of Como.”

“And as real?”

“I don’t know what you mean; but, if what she says is true, it is
wickeder, any way. You do not say that it is all false about his
banquets to the aristocracy, his royal receptions? What about the
Prince of Wales, then, and Lord Beaconsfield and Mr. Gladstone and
the Poet Laureate visiting him? And his garden parties and the
illuminations at night, parterres of flowers mixed up with colored
lamps, his collections of rhododendrons and his military bands?”

“Were you ever at a Botanical _Fête_ in Regent’s Park?” I asked.

“I have never crossed the Atlantic.”

“Your little English friend evidently knows the Botanical well.”

“She is acquainted with everything and everybody in London. I wish
she were here now. Perhaps she knows a little more than some of Mr.
Irving’s friends care to admit.”

“Does she know Mr. Irving?”

“She knows his house.”

“By the Lake of Como?”

“No, sir; by the Thames.”

“One comes from home to hear news. Will you not tell us all about it,
then?”

“No, I will not. I think you are positively rude; but that is like you
English. There, I beg your pardon; you made me say it. But, seriously
now, is not Mr. Irving as rich as—”

“Claude Melnotte?”

“No; Cr[oe]sus, or Vanderbilt, or Mackay? And does he not live in that
palace, and have crowds of servants, and visit with the court and
the aristocracy? Why, I read in the papers myself, quite lately, of
an estate he had bought near, let me see,—is there such a place as
Hammersmith?”

“Yes.”

“Is that on the Thames?”

“Yes, more or less.”

“Well, then, is that true? More or less, I suppose. You are thinking
how inquisitive I am. But you started the subject.”

“Did I?”

“You said he lives in chambers.”

“I answered your own question.”

“Ah!” she said, laughing merrily, “now I know my little English friend
spoke the truth, because I remember she said there was a mystery about
Mr. Irving’s lovely house; that he only receives a certain princely and
lordly set there. How could she have described it if she had not seen
it? A baronial castle, a park, lovely gardens, great dogs lying about
on the lawns, wainscoted chambers, a library full of scarce books and
costly _bric-à-brac_, Oriental rugs, baths, stained-glass windows,
suits of armor, and a powerful bell in a turret to call the servants in
to meals.”

“Beautiful! But if there is a mystery about it, what of those gorgeous
receptions?”

“Oh, don’t ask me questions. It is I who am seeking for information.
There is no public person in the world just at this moment in whom I
take a deeper interest. If he were not coming to America I should have
been obliged to go to London, if only to see what you call a first
night at the Lyceum. We read all about these things. We are kept well
informed by our newspaper correspondents—”

“And your little English friend.”

“Yes, she writes to me quite often.”

“Well, now I will tell you the truth about that palace on the Thames,”
I said.

“Ah! he confesses,” exclaimed the bright little lady, whose friends
suspect her of writing more than one of the famous American novels.

An interested and interesting group of ladies and gentlemen brought
their chairs closer to the conversational centre of the company.

“A few years ago, Irving and a friend, strolling through the purlieus
of Brook Green (a decayed village that has been swallowed up by the
progress of West End, London), towards Hammersmith, saw a house to be
sold. It was low and dilapidated, but it had an old-fashioned garden,
and the lease was offered at a small sum. Irving knew the house, and he
had a mind to examine its half-ruined rooms. He did so, and concluded
his investigation by buying the lease. It cost him about half the
money you would pay for an ordinary house off Fifth avenue, in New
York; less than you would pay for a house in Remsen street, Brooklyn;
in Michigan avenue, Chicago; or in Commonwealth avenue, Boston. Since
then it has been one of his few sources of amusement to lay out its
garden, to restore the old house and make it habitable. It is a typical
English home, with low red roofs, ancient trees, oaken stairs, and a
garden with old-fashioned flowers and fruit in it; but it is the home
of a yeoman rather than a prince, the home of a Cincinnatus rather
than the palace of an Alcibiades. The staff of servants consists of
a gardener and his wife, and I have been present at several of the
owner’s receptions. The invitation was given in this wise: ‘I am going
to drive to the Grange, on Sunday afternoon,—will you bring your wife,
and have a cup of tea?’ And that described the feast; but Irving,
looking at his gilliflowers and tulips, watching the gambols of his
dogs, and discussing between whiles the relative cost of carpets and
India matting, illustrated the truth of the philosophy, that there is
real recreation and rest in a mere change of occupation. Those persons
who tell you that Irving’s tastes are not simple, his private life an
honor to him, and his success the result of earnestness of purpose,
clearness of aim, deep study and hard work, neither know him nor
understand how great a battle men fight in England, who cut their way
upwards from the ranks, to stand with the highest at head-quarters.”

Quite a round of applause greeted this plain story.

“Why, my dear sir,” exclaimed my original interlocutor, “I am right
glad to hear the truth. Well, well, and that is Mr. Irving’s real home,
is it? But I thought you said he lives in chambers.”

“One day he hopes to furnish and enjoy the simplicity and quiet of that
cottage in a garden, four miles from his theatre; but he still lives,
where he has lived for a dozen years or more, in very unpretentious
rooms in the heart of London.”

And now, courteous reader, come straightway into this little company of
the friendly and the curious, and I will show you where Henry Irving
lived until he set sail for America, and you shall hear him talk about
his art and his work; for my good friend, the editor of “Harper’s
Magazine,” commissioned me to describe the famous English actor at
home, and here is the result:—


IV.

AT the corner of Grafton street, where the traffic of a famous West End
artery ebbs and flows among picture exhibitions and jewelry stores,
lives the most popular actor of his time. It is a mysterious-looking
house. The basement is occupied by a trunk store. From the first floor
to the top are Mr. Henry Irving’s chambers. They present from the
outside a series of dingy, half-blind windows that suggest no prospect
of warmth or cheer. “Fitting abode of the spirit of tragic gloom!” you
might well exclaim, standing on the threshold. You shall enter with me,
if you will, to correct your first impressions, and bear testimony to
the fact that appearances are often deceptive.

This sombre door, the first on the left as we enter Grafton street from
Bond street, leads to his chambers. Two flights of stairs (not bright,
as a Paris staircase), not with the sunlight upon the carpet, as in
New York, but darkened with the shadows of a London atmosphere,—and
we enter his general room. With the hum of the West End buzzing at the
windows, the colored glass of which shuts out what little sunlight
falls there, the apartment is characteristic of a great artist and a
great city. The mantel-piece recalls the ancient fashion of old English
mansions. It is practically an oak cabinet, with a silver shield as
the centre-piece. On the opposite side of the room is a well-stocked
bookcase, surmounted by a raven that carries one’s thoughts to Poe
and his sombre story. On tables here and there are materials for
letter-writing, and evidence of much correspondence, though one of
the actor’s social sins is said to be the tardiness with which he
answers letters. The truth is, the many pressing claims on his time
do not enable him to act always upon the late Duke of Wellington’s
well-known principle of immediately replying to every letter that
is addressed to him. A greater philosopher than His Grace said many
letters answer themselves if you let them alone, and I should not
wonder if Irving finds much truth in the axiom. _Bric-à-brac_, historic
relics, theatrical properties, articles of _virtu_, lie about in
admired disorder. Here is Edmund Kean’s sword, which was presented to
Irving on the first night of his Richard III. by that excellent and
much-respected artist Mr. Chippendale, who had acted with Edmund Kean,
and was his perpersonal friend. In a glass case near this precious
treasure is a ring that belonged to David Garrick. It is an exquisite
setting of a miniature of Shakespeare. This was given to Irving by the
Baroness Burdett-Coutts. In a cabinet near one of the windows, the
order of the George, which Edmund Kean wore in “Richard III.,” and
his prompt-book of “Othello.” Close by are three marble busts,—one
of Young, with a faded wreath upon its brow; another of Mrs. Harriet
Brown, “a most dear and valued friend” (to use his own words); and
the third, of Ellen Terry, sculptured by Irving’s friend, Brodie,—a
portrait of Rossi (presented by the actor) as Nero; a photograph of
Charles Dickens (presented by Miss Mary Dickens),—the one by Gurney,
of New York, which the great author himself thought an excellent
portrait; medallions of Émile Devrient and John Herchell (the latter
a gift from Herchell’s daughter); and a sketch of a favorite Scotch
terrier (very well known to his friends as “Charlie”), which during the
last year or two has become his most constant companion at home and at
the theatre. The adjoining room continues the collection of the actor’s
art treasures,—not the mere connoisseur’s museum of articles of
_virtu_, but things which have a personal value and a special history
associated with the art their owner loves.

It is a frank smile that greets us as the actor enters and extends his
long, thin hand. I know no one whose hand is so suggestive of nervous
energy and artistic capacity as Irving’s. It is in perfect harmony with
the long, expressive face, the notably æsthetic figure!

“You want to talk shop,” he says, striding about the room, with his
hands in the pockets of his loose gray coat. “Well, with all my heart,
if you think it useful and interesting.”

“I do.”

“May I select the subject?”

“Yes.”

“Then I would like to go back to one we touched upon at your own
suggestion some months ago.”

“An actor on his audiences?”

“Yes. The subject is a good one; it interests me, and in that brief
anonymous newspaper sketch of a year ago you did little more than
indicate the points we discussed. Let us see if we cannot revive and
complete it.”

“Agreed. I will ‘interview’ you, then, as they say in America.”

“By all means,” replied my host, handing me a cigar, and settling
himself down in an easy-chair by the fire. “I am ready.”

“Well, then, as I think I have said before when on this subject,
there has always appeared to me something phenomenal in the mutual
understanding that exists between you and your audiences; it argues an
active sympathy and confidence on both sides.”

“That is exactly what I think exists. In presence of my audience I feel
as safe and contented as when sitting down with an old friend.”

“I have seen Lord Beaconsfield, when he was Mr. Disraeli, rise in the
House of Commons, and begin a speech in a vein and manner evidently
considered beforehand, which, proving at the moment out of harmony
with the feelings of the house, he has entirely altered from his
original idea to suit the immediate mood and temper of his audience.
Now, sympathetic as you are with _your_ audience, have you, under their
influence in the development of a new character, ever altered your
first idea during the course of the representation?”

“You open up an interesting train of thought,” he answered. “Except
once, I have never altered my original idea under the circumstances
you suggest; that was in ‘Vanderdecken,’ and I changed the last scene.
I can always tell when the audience is with me. It was not with me in
‘Vanderdecken’; neither was it entirely on the first night of ‘Hamlet,’
which is, perhaps, curious, considering my subsequent success. On the
first night I felt that the audience did not go with me until the
first meeting with Ophelia, when they changed toward me entirely. But
as night succeeded night, my Hamlet grew in their estimation. I could
feel it all the time, and now I _know_ that they like it,—that they
are with me heart and soul. I will tell you a curious thing about my
‘Hamlet’ audience. It is the most interesting audience I play to. For
any other piece there is a difficulty in getting the people seated by
half-past eight. For ‘Hamlet’ the house is full and quiet, and waiting
for the curtain to go up, by half-past seven. On the first night the
curtain dropped at a quarter to one.”

“In what part do you feel most at home with your audience, and most
certain of them?”

“Well, in Hamlet,” he replied, thoughtfully.

“Has that been your greatest pecuniary success?”

“Yes.”

“What were the two unprecedented runs of ‘Hamlet’?”

“The first was two hundred nights; the second, one hundred and seven;
and in the country I have often played it ten times out of a twelve
nights’ engagement. But, as we have moved into this line of thought
about audiences, it should be remembered that, with the exception of
two or three performances, I had never played Hamlet before that first
night at the Lyceum. Indeed, so far as regards what is called the
classic and legitimate drama, my successes, such as they were, had been
made outside it, really in eccentric comedy. As a rule, actors who have
appeared for the first time in London in such parts as Richard III.,
Macbeth, Hamlet, and Othello, have played them previously for years
in the country; and here comes a point about my audiences. They knew
this, and I am sure they estimated the performance accordingly, giving
me their special sympathy and good wishes. I believe in the justice
of audiences. They are sincere and hearty in their approval of what
they like, and have the greatest hand in making an actor’s reputation.
Journalistic power cannot be overvalued; it is enormous; but, in regard
to actors, it is a remarkable fact that their permanent reputations,
the final and lasting verdict of their merits, are made chiefly by
their audiences. Sometimes the true record comes after the players are
dead, and it is sometimes written by men who possibly never saw them.
Edmund Kean’s may be called a posthumous reputation. If you read the
newspapers of the time you will find that during his acting days he
was terribly mauled. Garrick’s impersonations were not much written
about in his day. As to Burbage, Betterton, and other famous actors of
their time, whose names are familiar to us, when they lived there were
practically no newspapers to chronicle their work.”

“You believe, then, that merit eventually makes its mark, in spite of
professional criticism, and that, like Masonic rituals, the story of
success, its form and pressure, may go down orally to posterity?”

“I believe that what audiences really like they stand by. I believe
they hand down the actor’s name to future generations. They are the
judge and jury who find the verdict and pronounce sentence. I will give
you an example in keeping with the rapid age in which we live. I am
quite certain that within twelve hours of the production of a new play
of any importance all London knows whether the piece is a success or a
failure, no matter whether the journals have criticised it or not. Each
person in the audience is the centre of a little community, and the
word is passed on from one to the other.”

“What is your feeling in regard to first-night audiences, apart from
the regular play-going public? I should imagine that the sensitive
nature of a true artist must be considerably jarred by the knowledge
that a first-night audience is peculiarly fastidious and sophisticated.”

“I confess I am happier in presence of what you call the regular
play-going public. I am apt to become depressed on a first night. Some
of my friends and fellow-artists are stimulated and excited by a sense
of opposition. I fear it lowers me. I know that while there is a good,
hearty crowd who have come to be pleased, there are some who have _not_
come to be pleased. God help us if we were in the hands of the few who,
from personal or other motives, come to the theatre in the hope of
seeing a failure, and who pour out their malice and spite in anonymous
letters!”

“Detraction and malicious opposition are among the penalties of
success. To be on a higher platform than your fellows is to be a mark
for envy and slander,” I answered, dropping, I fear, into platitude,
which my host cut short with a shrug of the shoulders and a rapid
stride across the room.

He handed to me a book, handsomely bound and with broad margins,
through which ran a ripple of old-faced type, evidently the work of an
author and a handicraftsman who love the memories both of Caxton and
his immediate successors. It was entitled “Notes on Louis XI.; with
some short extracts from Commines’ Memoirs,” and was dated “London,
1878,—printed for the author.”

“That book,” said my host, “was sent to me by a person I had then never
seen nor heard of. It came to me anonymously. I wished to have a second
copy of it, and sent to the printer with the purpose of obtaining it.
He replied by telling me the work was not for sale, and referring me
to the author, whose address he sent to me. I made the application as
requested; another copy was forwarded, and with it a kindly intimation
that if ever I should be near the house of the writer, ‘we should be
glad to see you.’ I called in due course, and found the author one of a
most agreeable family. ‘You will wonder,’ they said at parting, ‘why we
wrote and compiled this book. It was simply for this reason: a public
critic in a leading journal had said, as nothing was really known
of the character, manners, and habits of Louis XI., an actor might
take whatever liberties he pleased with the subject. We prepared this
little volume to put on record a refutation of the statement, a protest
against it, and a tribute to your impersonation of the character.’ Here
is another present that I received soon afterward,—one of the most
beautiful works of its kind I ever remember to have seen.”

It was an artistic casket, in which was enshrined what looked like a
missal bound in carved ivory and gold. It proved, however, to be a
beautifully bound book of poetic and other memorials of Charles the
First, printed and illustrated by hand, with exquisite head and tail
pieces in water-colors, portraits, coats-of-arms, and vignettes, by
Buckman, Castaing, Terrel, Slie, and Phillips. The work was “imprinted
for the author at London, 30th January, 1879,” and the title ran: “To
the Honor of Henry Irving: to cherish the Memory of Charles the First:
these Thoughts, Gold of the Dead, are here devoted.” As a work of art,
the book is a treasure. The portraits of the Charleses and several of
their generals are in the highest style of water-color painting, with
gold borders; and the initial letters and other embellishments are
studies of the most finished and delicate character.

“Now these,” said their owner, returning the volumes to the
book-shelves over which the raven stretched its wings, “are only two
out of scores of proofs that audiences are intellectually active, and
that they find many ways of fixing their opinions. These incidents of
personal action are evidences of the spirit of the whole. One night,
in “Hamlet,” something was thrown upon the stage. It struck a lamp,
and fell into the orchestra. It could not be found for some time. An
inquiry was made about it by some person in the front,—an aged woman,
who was much concerned that I had not received it,—so I was informed
at the box-office. A sad-looking woman, evidently very poor, called the
next day; and, being informed that the trinket was found, expressed
herself greatly pleased. ‘I often come to the gallery of the theatre,’
she said, ‘and I wanted Mr. Irving to have this family heirloom. I
wanted him alone in this world to possess it.’ This is the trinket,
which I wear on my watch-chain. The theatre was evidently a solace to
that poor soul. She had probably some sorrow in her life; and she may
have felt a kind of comfort in Hamlet, or myself, perhaps, possessing
this little cross.”

As he spoke, the actor’s lithe fingers were busy at his watch-chain,
and he seemed to be questioning the secret romance of the trinket
thrown to him from the gallery.

“I don’t know why else she let it fall upon the stage; but strange
impulses sometimes take hold of people sitting at a play, especially in
tragedy.”

The trinket about which he speculated so much is an old-fashioned gold
cross. On two sides is engraved, “Faith, Hope, and Charity”; on the
front, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”; and on the reverse, “I
scorn to fear or change.”

“They said at the box-office,” went on the actor, musingly, “that she
was a poor mother who had lost her son;” and then, rousing himself, he
returned brightly to the subject of our conversation. “One example,” he
said, “of the generous sympathy of audiences serves to point the moral
of what I mean; and in every case the motive is the same, to show an
earnest appreciation, and to encourage and give pleasure to the actor.
At Sheffield one night, during the grouse season, a man in the gallery
threw a brace of birds upon the stage, with a rough note of thanks and
compliments; and one of the pit audience sent me round a knife which
he had made himself. You see, the people who do these things have
nothing to gain; they are under no extraneous influence; they judge for
themselves; and they are representative of that great Public Opinion
which makes or mars, and which in the end is always right. When they
are against you it is hard at the time to be convinced that you are
wrong; _but you are_. Take my case. I made my first success at the
St. James’s. We were to have opened with ‘Hunted Down.’ We did not.
I was cast for Doricourt in ‘The Belle’s Stratagem,’—a part which I
had never played before, and which I thought did not suit me. I felt
that this was the opinion of the audience soon after the play began.
The house appeared to be indifferent, and I believed that failure was
conclusively stamped upon my work, when suddenly, on my exit after the
mad scene, I was startled by a burst of applause, and so great was the
enthusiasm of the audience that I was compelled to reappear on the
scene,—a somewhat unusual thing, as you know, except on the operatic
stage.”

“And in America,” I said, “where scene-calls are quite usual, and quite
destructive of the illusion of the play, I think.”

“You are right; and, by the way, if there must be calls, I like our
modern method of taking a call after an act on the scene itself. But
to proceed. I next played ‘Hunted Down,’ and they liked me in that;
and when they do like, audiences are no niggards of their confessions
of pleasure. My next engagement was at the Queen’s Theatre, where I
was successful. Then I went to the Gaiety, where I played Chevenex. I
followed at Drury Lane in ‘Formosa,’ and nobody noticed me at all.”

“Do you think you always understand the silence of an audience? I mean
in this way: on a first night, for example, I have sometimes gone round
to speak to an actor, and have been met with the remark, ‘How cold the
audience is!’ as if excessive quietness was indicative of displeasure,
the idea being that when an audience is really pleased, it always
stamps its feet and claps its hands. I have seen an artist making his
or her greatest success with an audience that manifested its delight by
suppressing every attempt at applause.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” he answered. “I recall a case in
point. There was such an absence of applause on the first night of
‘The Two Roses,’ while I was on the stage, that I could not believe my
friends when they congratulated me on my success. But with experience
one gets to understand the idiosyncrasies and habits of audiences.
You spoke of the silence of some audiences. The most wonderful quiet
and silence I have ever experienced as an actor, a stillness that is
profound, has been in those two great theatres, the one that was burned
down at Glasgow, and the Standard, in London, during the court scene of
‘The Bells.’”


V.

GENIUS is rarely without a sense of humor. Mr. Irving has a broad
appreciation of fun, though his own humor is subtle and deep down.
This is never better shown than in his Richard and Louis. It now and
then appears in his conversations; and when he has an anecdote to
tell he seems to develop the finer and more delicate motives of the
action of the narrative, as if he were dramatizing it as he went along.
We dropped our main subject of audiences presently to talk of other
things. He related to me a couple of stories of a “dresser” who was his
servant in days gone by. The poor man is dead now, and these incidents
of his life will not hurt his memory.

“One night,” said Irving, “when I had been playing a new part, the
old man said, while dressing me, ‘This is your masterpiece, sir!’ How
do you think he had arrived at this opinion? He had seen nothing of
the piece, but he noticed that I perspired more than usual. The poor
fellow was given over to drink at last; so I told him we must part if
he did not mend his ways. ‘I wonder,’ I said to him, ‘that, for the
sake of your wife and children, you do not reform; besides, you look
so ridiculous.’ Indeed, I never saw a sillier man when he was tipsy;
and his very name would set children laughing,—it was Doody. Well, in
response to my appeal, with maudlin vanity and with tears in his eyes,
he answered, ‘They make so much of me!’ It reminded me of Dean Ramsay’s
story of his drunken parishioner. The parson, you remember, admonished
the whiskey-drinking Scot, concluding his lecture by offering his own
conduct as an example. ‘I can go into the village and come home again
without getting drunk.’ ‘Ah, minister, but I’m sae popular!’ was the
fuddling parishioner’s apologetic reply.”

A notable person in appearance, I said just now. Let me sketch the
famous actor as we leave his rooms together. A tall, spare figure in a
dark overcoat and grayish trousers, black neckerchief carelessly tied,
a tall hat, rather broad at the brim. His hair is black and bushy, with
a wave in it on the verge of a curl, and suggestions of gray at the
temples and over the ears. It is a pale, somewhat ascetic face, with
bushy eyebrows, dark dreamy eyes, a nose that indicates gentleness
rather than strength, a thin upper lip, a mouth opposed to all ideas
of sensuousness, but nervous and sensitive, a strong jaw and chin, and
a head inclined to droop a little, as is often the case with men of a
studious habit. There is great individuality in the whole figure, and
in the face a rare mobility which photography fails to catch in all the
efforts I have yet seen of English artists. Though the popular idea is
rather to associate tragedy with the face and manner of Irving, there
is nothing sunnier than his smile. It lights up all his countenance,
and reveals his soul in his eyes; but it is like the sunshine that
bursts for a moment from a cloud, and disappears to leave the landscape
again in shadows, flecked here and there with fleeting reminiscences of
the sun.

The management of the Lyceum Theatre has a moral and classic atmosphere
of its own. A change came over the house with the success of “The
Bells.” “Charles I.” consummated it. You enter the theatre with
feelings entirely different from those which take possession of you at
any other house. It is as if the management inspired you with a special
sense of its responsibility to Art, and your own obligations to support
its earnest endeavors. Mr. Irving has intensified all this by a careful
personal attention to every detail belonging to the conduct of his
theatre. He has stamped his own individuality upon it. His influence is
seen and felt on all hands. He has given the color of his ambition to
his officers and servants. His object is to perfect the art of dramatic
representation, and elevate the profession to which he belongs. There
is no commercial consideration at work when he is mounting a play,
though his experience is that neither expense nor pains are lost on the
public.


VI.

WHEN Mr. Irving’s art is discussed, when his Hamlet or his Mathias,
his Shylock or his Dei Franchi, are discussed, he should be regarded
from a broader stand-point than that of the mere actor. He is entitled
to be looked at as not only the central figure of the play, but as the
motive power of the whole entertainment,—the master who has set the
story and grouped it, the controlling genius of the moving picture, the
source of the inspiration of the painter, the musician, the costumer,
and the machinist, whose combined efforts go to the realization of the
actor-manager’s conception and plans. It is acknowledged on all hands
that Mr. Irving has done more for dramatic art all round than any actor
of our time; and it is open to serious question whether any artist
of any time has done as much. Not alone on the stage, but in front
of it, at the very entrance of his theatre, the dignified influence
of his management is felt. Every department has for its head a man
of experience and tact, and every person about the place, from the
humblest messenger to the highest officer and actor, seems to carry
about with him a certain pride of association with the management.

Mr. Irving’s dressing-room at the theatre is a thorough business-like
apartment, with at the same time evidences of the taste which obtains
at his chambers. It is as unpretentious and yet in its way as
remarkable as the man. See him sitting there at the dressing-table,
where he is model to himself, where he converts himself into the
character he is sustaining. His own face is his canvas, his own
person, for the time being, the lay figure which he adorns. It is
a large square table in the corner of the room. In the centre is a
small old-fashioned mirror, which is practically the easel upon which
he works; for therein is reflected the face which has to depict the
passion and fear of Mathias, the cupidity of Richard, the martyrdom
of Charles, the grim viciousness of Dubosc, the implacable justice of
the avenging Dei Franchi, and the touching melancholy of Hamlet. As a
mere matter of “make-up,” his realizations of the historical pictures
of Charles the First and Philip of Spain are the highest kind of art.
They belong to Vandyck and Velasquez, not only in their imitation
of the great masters, but in the sort of inspiration for character
and color which moved those famous painters. See him sitting, I say,
the actor-artist at his easel. A tray on the right-hand side of his
mirror may be called his palette; it contains an assortment of colors,
paint-pots, powders, and brushes; but in his hand, instead of the
maulstick, is the familiar hare’s-foot,—the actor’s “best friend” from
the earliest days of rouge and burned cork. To the left of the mirror
lie letters opened and unopened, missives just brought by the post, a
jewel-box, and various “properties” in the way of chains, lockets, or
buckles that belong to the part he is playing. He is talking to his
stage-manager, or to some intimate friend, as he continues his work.
You can hear the action of the drama that is going on,—a distant
cheer, the clash of swords, a merry laugh, or a passing chorus. The
“call-boy” of the theatre looks in at intervals to report the progress
of the piece up to the point where it is necessary the leading artist
should appear upon the stage. Then, as if he is simply going to see a
friend who is waiting for him, Irving leaves his dressing-room, and you
are alone. There is no “pulling himself together,” or “bracing up,” or
putting on “tragic airs” as he goes. It is a pleasant “Good-night,” or
“I shall see you again,” that takes him out of his dressing-room, and
you can tell when he is before the audience by the loud cheers that
come rushing up the staircases from the stage. While he is away, you
look around the room. You find that the few pictures which decorate
the walls are theatrical portraits. Here is an etching of Garrick’s
head; there a water-color of Ellen Terry; here a study of Macready in
Virginius; there a study in oil of Edmund Kean, by Clint, side by side
with a portrait of George Frederic Cooke, by Liversiege. Interspersed
among these things are framed play-bills of a past age and interesting
autograph letters. Near the dressing-table is a tall looking-glass,
in front of it an easy-chair, over which are lying a collection of
new draperies and costumes recently submitted for the actor-manager’s
approval. The room is warm with the gas that illuminates it; the
atmosphere delightful to the fancy that finds a special fascination
behind the foot-lights.


VII.

A REFLECTIVE writer, with the power to vividly recall a past age and
contrast it with the present, might find ample inspiration in the rooms
to which Mr. Irving presently invites us. It is Saturday night. On this
last day in every acting week it is his habit to sup at the theatre,
and, in spite of his two performances, he finds strength enough to
entertain a few guests, sometimes a snug party of three, sometimes
a lively company of eight or ten. We descend a carpeted staircase,
cross the stage upon the remains of the snow scene of the “Corsican
Brothers,” ascend a winding stair, pass through an armory packed with
such a variety of weapons as to suggest the Tower of London, and are
then ushered into a spacious wainscoted apartment, with a full set of
polished ancient armor in each corner of it, an antique fireplace with
the example of an old master over the mantel, a high-backed settee in
an alcove opposite the blind windows (the sills of which are decorated
with ancient bottles and jugs), and in the centre of the room an old
oak dining-table, furnished for supper with white cloth, cut glass, and
silver, among which shine the familiar beet-root and tomato.

“This was the old Beefsteak Club room,” says our host; “beyond there is
the kitchen; the members dined here. The apartments were lumber-rooms
until lately.”

Classic lumber-rooms truly! In the history of the clubs no association
is more famous than the Sublime Society of Beefsteaks. The late
William Jerdan was the first to attempt anything like a concise sketch
of the club, and he wrote his reminiscences thereof for me and “The
Gentleman’s Magazine” a dozen years ago, in the popular modern days
of that periodical. Jerdan gave me an account of the club in the days
when he visited it. “The President,” he said,—“an absolute despot
during his reign,—sat at the head of the table adorned with ribbon
and badge, and with the insignia of a silver gridiron on his breast;
his head, when he was oracular, was crowned with a feathery hat, said
to have been worn by Garrick in some gay part on the stage. He looked
every inch a king. At the table on this occasion were seated the
Bishop, Samuel Arnold, the patriotic originator of English opera, and
strenuous encourager of native musical talent. He wore a mitre, said
to have belonged to Cardinal Gregorio; but be that as it might, it
became him well as he set it on his head to pronounce the grace before
meat, which he intoned as reverently as if he had been in presence
of the Archbishop of Canterbury instead of a bevy of Steakers. Near
him was John Richards, the Recorder, whose office in passing sentence
on culprits was discharged with piquancy and effect. Captain Morris,
the Laureate, occupied a distinguished seat; so also did Dick Wilson,
the Secretary, a bit of a butt to the jokers, who were wont to extort
from him some account of a Continental trip, where he prided himself
on having ordered a ‘boulevard’ for his dinner, and _un paysan_ (for
_faisan_) to be roasted; and last of all I can recall to mind, at the
bottom of the plenteous board sat the all-important ‘Boots,’ the
youngest member of the august assembly. These associated as a sort of
staff with a score of other gentlemen, all men of the world, men of
intellect and intelligence, well educated, and of celebrity in various
lines of life—noblemen, lawyers, physicians and surgeons, authors,
artists, newspaper editors, actors,—it is hardly possible to conceive
any combination of various talent to be more efficient for the object
sought than the Beefsteaks. The accommodation for their meetings was
built, expressly for that end, behind the scenes of the Lyceum Theatre,
by Mr. Arnold; and, among other features, was a room with no daylight
to intrude, and this was the dining-room, with the old gridiron on the
ceiling, over the centre of the table. The cookery on which the good
cheer of the company depended was carried on in what may be called the
kitchen, in full view of the chairman, and served through the opposite
wall, namely, a huge gridiron with bars as wide apart as the ‘chess’
of small windows, handed hot-and-hot to the expectant hungerers. There
were choice salads (mostly of beet root), porter, and port. The plates
were never overloaded, but small cuts sufficed till almost satiated
appetite perhaps called for one more from the third cut in the rump
itself, which His Grace of Norfolk, after many slices, prized as the
grand essence of bullock!”

Other times, other manners. The rooms are still there. The gridiron is
gone from the ceiling, but the one through which sliced bullock used
to be handed “hot-and-hot” to the nobility of blood and intellect
remains. It and the kitchen (now furnished with a fine modern
cooking-range) are shut off from the dining-room, and neither porter
nor port ever weighs down the spirits of Mr. Irving’s guests. He
sometimes regales a few friends here after the play. The _menu_ on
these occasions would contrast as strangely with that of the old days
as the guests and the subjects of their conversation and mirth. It is
classic ground on which we tread, and the ghosts that rise before us
are those of Sheridan, Perry, Lord Erskine, Cam Hobhouse, and their
boon companions. Should the notabilities among Irving’s friends be
mentioned, the list would be a fair challenge to the old Beefsteaks. I
do not propose to deal with these giants of yesterday and to-day, but
to contrast with Jerdan’s picture a recent supper of guests gathered
together on an invitation of only a few hours previously. On the left
side of Irving sat one of his most intimate friends, a famous London
comedian; on the right, a well-known American tragedian, who had not
yet played in London; opposite, at the other side of the circular-ended
table, sat a theatrical manager from Dublin, and another of the same
profession from the English midlands; the other chairs were occupied by
a famous traveller, an American gentleman connected with literature and
life insurance, a young gentleman belonging to English political and
fashionable society, the editor of a Liverpool journal, a provincial
playwright, and a north-country philanthropist. The repast began with
oysters, and ran through a few _entrées_ and a steak, finishing with a
rare old Stilton cheese. There were various salads, very dry sherry
and Champagne, a rich Burgundy, and, after all, sodas and brandies
and cigars. The talk was “shop” from first to last,—discussions of
the artistic treatment of certain characters by actors of the day and
of a previous age, anecdotes of the stage, the position of the drama,
its purpose and mission. Every guest contributed his quota to the
general talk, the host himself giving way to the humor of the hour,
and chatting of his career, his position, his hopes, his prospects,
his ambition, in the frankest way. Neither the space at my disposal
nor the custom of the place will permit of a revelation of this social
dialogue; for the founder of the feast has revived, with the restored
Beefsteak rooms, the motto from Horace’s “Epistles” (paraphrased by the
old club Bishop), which is still inscribed on the dining-room wall:—

  “Let no one bear beyond this threshold hence,
  Words uttered here in friendly confidence.”



II.

NEW YORK.

 Going to Meet the “Britannic”—The “Blackbird”—Skirmishers of the
 American Press—The London “Standard’s” Message to New York, Boston,
 and Chicago—“Working” America—“Reportorial” Experiences—Daylight
 off Staten Island—At Quarantine under the Stars and Stripes—“God
 Save the Queen!” and “Hail to the Chief!”—Received and
 “Interviewed”—“Portia on a Trip from the Venetian Seas”—What the
 Reporters Think and what Irving Says—The Necessity of Applause—An
 Anecdote of Forrest—Mr. Vanderbilt and the Mirror—Miss Terry and the
 Reporters—“Tell them I never loved home so well as now”—Landed and
 Welcomed—Scenes on the Quay—At the Brevoort.


I.

FOUR o’clock in the morning, October 21, 1883. A cheerful gleam of
light falls upon a group of Lotos guests as they separate at the
hospitable door-way of that famous New York club. Otherwise Fifth
avenue is solitary and cold. The voices of the clubmen strike the ear
pleasantly. “Going to meet Irving,” you hear some of them say, and
“Good-night,” the others. Presently the group breaks up, and moves
off in different directions. “I ordered a carriage at the Brevoort
House,” says one of the men who pursue their way down Fifth avenue.
They are the only persons stirring in the street. The electric arcs
give them accompanying shadows as black as the night-clouds above
them. The Edison lamps exhibit the tall buildings, sharp and clear,
against the darkness. Two guardians of a carpet-store, on the corner
of Fourteenth street, sleep calmly among the show-bales that decorate
the sidewalk. An empty car goes jingling along into Union square. A
pair of flickering lights are seen in the distance. They belong to “the
carriage at the Brevoort House.” It will only hold half our number. The
civilities that belong to such a situation being duly exchanged, there
are some who prefer to walk; and an advance is made on foot and on
wheels towards the North river.

For my own part I would, as a rule, rather walk than ride in a private
carriage in New York. The street cars and the elevated railroad are
comfortable enough; but a corduroy road in a forest track is not more
emphatic in its demands upon the nerves of a timid driver than are
the pitfalls of a down-town street in the Empire city. I nevertheless
elect to ride. We are four; we might be any number, to one who should
attempt to count us, so numerous does the jolting of our otherwise
comfortable brougham appear to make us. We are tossed and pitched
about as persistently as we might be in a dingy during a gale off some
stormy headland. Presently the fresh breeze of the river blows upon
us as if to justify the simile; then we are thrown at each other more
violently than ever; a flash of gas-light greets us; the next moment
it is dark again, and we stop with alarming suddenness. “Twenty-second
street pier,” says our driver, opening the door. We are received
by a mysterious officer, who addresses us from beneath a world of
comforters and overcoats. “Want the ‘Blackbird’?” he asks. We do.
“This way,” he says. We follow him, to be ushered straightway into
the presence of those active scouts and skirmishers of the American
press,—the interviewers. Here they are, a veritable army of them, on
board Mr. Starin’s well-known river steamer, the “Blackbird,” their
wits and their pencils duly sharpened for their prey. Youth and age
both dedicate themselves to this lively branch of American journalism.
I tell a London friend who is here to “mind his eye,” or they may
practise upon him, and that if he refuses to satisfy their inquiries
they may sacrifice him to their spleen; for some of them are shivering
with cold, and complaining that they have had no rest. Finding an
English artist here from the “Illustrated London News,” I conduct
him secretly to the “Ladies’ cabin.” It is occupied by a number of
mysterious forms, lying about in every conceivable posture; some on
the floor, some on the sofas; their faces partially disguised under
slouch hats, their figures enveloped in cloaks and coats. They are
asleep. The cabin is dimly lighted, and there is an odor of tobacco
in the oily atmosphere. “Who are they?” asks my friend, in a whisper.
“Interviewers!” I reply, as we slip back to the stove in the saloon.
“What a picture Doré would have made of the ladies’ cabin!” says the
English artist.


II.

WE encounter more new-comers in the saloon. Two of them bring copies
of the morning papers. I recognize several of the interesting crowd,
and cannot help telling them something of the conversation of the
Beefsteak Club room guest who drew their pictures in London, as
a warning to the traveller whom they were going to meet. I find
them almost as ill-informed, and quite as entertaining, concerning
Irving’s mannerisms, as was the traveller in question touching
their own occupation. They talk very much in the spirit of what has
recently appeared here in some of the newspapers about Irving and his
art-methods. New York, they say, will not be dictated to by London;
New York judges for itself. At the same time they do not think it a
generous thing on the part of the London “Standard” to send a hostile
editorial _avant-courier_ to New York, to prejudice the English
actor’s audiences and his critics.[2] Nor do they think this “British
malevolence” will have any effect either way, though the “Standard”
practically proclaims Mr. Irving and Miss Terry as impostors. This
article has been printed by the press, from New York to San Francisco,
while the Lyceum Company and its chief are on the Atlantic. I have
often heard it said, in England, that Irving had been wonderfully
“worked” in America. Men who are worthy to have great and devoted
friends unconsciously make bitter enemies. Irving is honored with a few
of these attendants upon fame. If the people who regard his reputation
as a thing that has been “worked” could have visited New York a week
before his arrival they could not have failed to be delighted to
see how much was being done against him, and how little for him. An
ingenious and hostile pamphleteer was in evidence in every bookseller’s
window. Villainous cheap photographs of “actor and manager” were hawked
in the streets. Copies of an untruthful sketch of his career, printed
by a London weekly, were circulated through the mails. The “Standard’s”
strange appeal to New York, Boston, and Chicago was cabled to the
“Herald” and republished in the evening papers. Ticket speculators had
bought up all the best seats at the Star Theatre, where the English
actor was to appear, and refused to sell them to the public except
at exorbitant, and, for many play-goers, prohibitive rates. So far
as “working” went the London enemies of the Lyceum manager were so
actively represented in New York that his friends in the Empire city
must have felt a trifle chilled at the outlook. The operations of the
ticket speculators, it must, however, be admitted, seemed to project in
Irving’s path the most formidable of all the other obstacles.


III.

BUT Irving’s ship is sailing on through the darkness while I have
been making this “aside,” and the “Blackbird” is in motion; for I
hear the swish of the river, and the lights on shore are dancing by
the port-holes. Mr. Abbey’s fine military band, from the Metropolitan
Opera House, has come on board; so also has a band of waiters from the
Brunswick. Breakfast is being spread in the saloon. The brigands from
the ladies’ cabin have laid aside their slouch hats and cloaks. They
look as harmless and as amiable as any company of English journalists.
Night and dark-lanterns might convert the mildest-mannered crowd into
the appearance of a pirate crew.

I wish the Irving guest of my first chapter could see and talk to
these interviewers. I learn that they represent journals at Boston,
Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, and other cities besides New York.
One of them has interviewed Lord Coleridge; another was with Grant
during the war; a third was with Lee. They have all had interesting
experiences. One is an Englishman; another hails from “bonnie
Scotland.” There is no suggestion of rowdyism among them. I owe them
an apology on the “excuse accuse” principle, for saying these things;
but the “interviewer” is not understood in England; he is often abused
in America, and I should like to do him justice. These gentlemen of
the press who are going out to meet Irving are reporters. Socially
they occupy the lowest station of journalism, though their work is
of primary importance. Intellectually they are capable men, and the
best of them write graphically, and with an artistic sense of the
picturesque. They should, and no doubt do, develop into accomplished
and powerful journalists; for theirs is the best of education. They
study mankind; they come in contact with the most prominent of American
statesmen; they talk with all great foreigners who visit the United
States; they are admitted into close intercourse with the leading
spirits of the age; they have chatted on familiar terms with Lincoln,
Sheridan, Grant, Garfield, Huxley, Coleridge, Arnold, Patti, Bernhardt,
Nilsson, and they will presently have added to the long list of their
personal acquaintances Irving and Miss Terry. They are travellers, and,
of necessity, observers. Their presscard is a talisman that opens to
them all doors of current knowledge; and I am bound to say that these
men on board the “Blackbird” are, in conversation and manners, quite
worthy of the trust reposed in them by the several great journals which
they represent.


IV.

“‘BRITANNIC’ ahead!” shouts a voice from the gangway. We clamber on
deck. It is daylight. The air is still keen. The wooded shores of
Staten island are brown with the last tints of autumn. Up the wide
reaches of the river, an arm of the great sea, come all kinds of craft;
some beating along under sail; others, floating palaces, propelled
by steam. These latter are ferry-boats and passenger steamers. You
have seen them in many a marine picture and panorama of American
travel. The “Blackbird” is typical of the rest,—double decks, broad
saloons, tiers of berths, ladies’ cabins, and every ceiling packed
with life-buoys in case of accident. We push along through the choppy
water, our steam-whistle screaming hoarse announcements of our course.
The “Britannic” lies calmly at quarantine, the stars and stripes at
her topmast, the British flag at her stern. She is an impressive
picture,—her masts reaching up into the gray sky, every rope taut, her
outlines sharp and firm. In the distance other ocean steamers glide
towards us, attended by busy tugs and handsome launches. One tries to
compare the scene with the Mersey and the Thames, and the only likeness
is in the ocean steamers, which have come thence across the seas. For
the rest, the scene is essentially American,—the broad river, the
gay wooden villas ashore, the brown hills, the bright steam craft on
the river, the fast rig of the trading schooners; and above all the
stars and stripes of the many flags that flutter in the breeze, and
the triumphant eagles that extend their golden wings over the lofty
steerage turrets of tug and floating palace.

Now we are alongside the “Britannic.” As our engines stop, the band of
thirty Italians on our deck strikes up “God save the Queen.” One or two
British hands instinctively raise one or two British hats, and many a
heart, I am sure, on board the “Britannic” beats the quicker under the
influence of the familiar strains. A few emigrants, with unkempt hair,
on the after deck, gaze open-mouthed at the “Blackbird.” Several early
risers appear forward and greet with waving hands the welcoming crowd
from New York. One has time to note the weather-beaten color of the
“Britannic’s” funnels.

“What sort of a passage?” cries a voice, shouting in competition with
the wind that is blowing hard through the rigging.

“Pretty rough,” is the answer.

“Where is Mr. Irving?” cries out another “Blackbird” passenger.

“In bed,” is the response.

“Oh!” says the interrogator, amidst a general laugh.

“Beg pardon, no,” presently shouts the man on the “Britannic,”—“he’s
shaving.”

Another laugh, drowned by a salute of some neighboring guns. At this
moment a boat is lowered from the splendid yacht “Yosemite,” which
has been steaming round about the “Britannic” for some time. It is
Mr. Tilden’s vessel. He has lent it to Mr. Lawrence Barrett and Mr.
William Florence. They have come out to meet Irving and Miss Terry,
with a view to carry them free from worry or pressure to their several
hotels. The two well-known actors are in the yacht’s pinnace, and some
of us wonder if they are good sailors. The waves which do not stir the
“Britannic,” and only gently move the “Blackbird,” fairly toss the
“Yosemite’s” boat; but the occupants appear to be quite at home in her.
She disappears around the “Britannic’s” bows to make the port side
for boarding, and as she does so Mr. Irving suddenly appears between
the gangway and the ship’s boats, on a level with the deck of the
“Blackbird” about midships. “There he is!” shout a score of voices. He
looks pale in the cold, raw light; but he smiles pleasantly, and takes
off a felt bowler hat as the “Blackbird” gives him a cheer of welcome.

“Won’t you come here? The quarantine authorities object to our visiting
the ship until the doctor has left her.”

A plank is thrust from our paddle-box, Irving climbs the “Britannic’s”
bulwark, and grasps a hand held out to steady him as he clambers aboard
the “Blackbird” right in the midst of the interviewers. Shaking hands
with his manager, Mr. Abbey, and others, he is introduced to some of
the pressmen, who scan his face and figure with undisguised interest.
By this time Messrs. Barrett and Florence appear on the “Britannic.”
They have got safely out of their boat and have a breezy and contented
expression in their eyes. Irving now recrosses the temporary gangway,
and is fairly embraced by his two American friends. The band strikes
up, “Hail to the Chief!” Then the gentlemen of the press are invited
to join Mr. Irving on board the “Yosemite.” They are arrested by
what one of them promptly designates “a vision of pre-Raphaelitish
beauty.” It is Miss Ellen Terry.[3] Every hat goes off as she comes
gayly through the throng. “Portia, on a trip from the Venetian seas!”
exclaims an enthusiastic young journalist, endeavoring to cap the
æsthetic compliment of his neighbor. Escorted by Mr. Barrett, and
introduced by Mr. Irving, she is deeply moved, as well she may be,
by the novel scene. “Britannic” passengers crowd about her to say
good-by; the band is playing “Rule, Britannia”; many a gay river boat
and steamer is navigating the dancing waters; the sun is shining, flags
fluttering, and a score of hands are held out to help Portia down the
gangway on board the “Yosemite,” which is as trim and bright and sturdy
in its way as a British gun-boat. While the heroine of the trip is
taking her seat on deck, and kissing her hand to the “Britannic,” the
“Yosemite” drives ahead of the ocean steamer. Mr. Irving goes down into
the spacious cabin, which is crowded with the gentlemen against whose
sharp and inquisitive interrogations he has been so persistently warned.


V.

“WELL, gentlemen, you want to talk to me,” he says, lighting a cigar,
and offering his case to his nearest neighbors.

The reporters look at him and smile. They have had a brief consultation
as to which of them shall open the business, but without coming to
any definite arrangement. Irving, scanning the kindly faces, is no
doubt smiling inwardly at the picture which his London friend had
drawn of the interviewers. He is the least embarrassed of the company.
Nobody seems inclined to talk; yet every movement of Irving invites
interrogatory attack.

“A little champagne, gentlemen,” suggests Mr. Florence, pushing his way
before the ship’s steward and waiters.

“And chicken,” says Irving, smiling; “that is how we do it in London,
they say.”

This point is lost, however, upon the reporters, a few of whom sip
their champagne, but not with anything like fervor. They have been
waiting many hours to interview Irving, and they want to do it. I fancy
they are afraid of each other.

“Now, gentlemen,” says Irving, “time flies, and I have a dread of you.
I have looked forward to this meeting, not without pleasure, but with
much apprehension. Don’t ask me how I like America at present. I
shall, I am sure; and I think the bay superb. There, I place myself at
your mercy. Don’t spare me.”

Everybody laughs. Barrett and Florence look on curiously. Bram Stoker,
Mr. Irving’s acting manager, cannot disguise his anxiety. Loveday, his
stage-manager and old friend, is amused. He has heard many curious
things about America from his brother George, who accompanied the
famous English comedian, Mr. J. L. Toole (one of Irving’s oldest, and
perhaps his most intimate, friend), on his American tour. Neither
Loveday nor Stoker has ever crossed the Atlantic before. They have
talked of it, and pictured themselves steaming up the North river into
New York many a time; but they find their forecast utterly unlike the
original.

“What about his mannerisms?” says one reporter to another. “I notice
nothing strange, nothing _outre_ either in his speech or walk.”

“He seems perfectly natural to me,” the other replies; and it is this
first “revelation” that has evidently tongue-tied the “reportorial”
company. They have read so much about the so-called eccentricities
of the English visitor’s personality that they cannot overcome their
surprise at finding themselves addressed by a gentleman whose grace
of manner reminds them rather of the polished ease of Lord Coleridge
than of the _bizarre_ figure with which caricature, pictorially and
otherwise, has familiarized them.

“We are all very glad to see you, sir, and to welcome you to New York,”
says one of the interviewers, presently.

“Thank you with all my heart,” says Irving.

“And we would like to ask you a few questions, and to have you talk
about your plans in this country. You open in ‘The Bells,’—that was
one of your first great successes?”

“Yes.”

“You will produce your plays here just in the same way as in London?”
chimes in a second interviewer.

“With the same effects, and, as far as possible, with the same cast?”

“Yes.”

“And what are your particular effects, for instance, in ‘The Bells’ and
‘Louis XI.,’ say, as regard mounting and lighting?”

“Well, gentlemen,” answers Irving, laying aside his cigar and folding
his arms, “I will explain. In the first place, in visiting America, I
determined I would endeavor to do justice to myself, to the theatre,
and to you. I was told I might come alone as a star, or I might come
with a few members of my company, and that I would be sure to make
money. That did not represent any part of my desire in visiting
America. The pleasure of seeing the New World, the ambition to win its
favor and its friendship, and to show it some of the work we do at
the Lyceum,—these are my reasons for being here. I have, therefore,
brought my company and my scenery. Miss Ellen Terry, one of the most
perfect and charming actresses that ever graced the English stage,
consented to share our fortunes in this great enterprise; so I bring
you almost literally the Lyceum Theatre.”

“How many artists, sir?”

“Oh, counting the entire company and staff, somewhere between sixty
and seventy, I suppose. Fifty of them have already arrived here in the
‘City of Rome.’”

“In what order do you produce your pieces here?”

“‘The Bells,’ ‘Charles,’ ‘The Lyons Mail,’ ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ we
do first.”

“Have you any particular reason for the sequence of them?”

“My idea is to produce my Lyceum successes in their order, as they were
done in London; I thought it would be interesting to show the series
one after the other in that way.”

“When do you play ‘Hamlet?’”

“On my return to New York in the spring.”

“Any special reason for that?”

“A managerial one. We propose to keep one or two novelties for our
second visit. Probably we shall reserve ‘Much Ado’ as well as ‘Hamlet.’
Moreover, a month is too short a time for us to get through our
repertoire.”

“In which part do you think you most excel?”

“Which do you like most of all your range of characters?”

“What is your opinion of Mr. Booth as an actor?”

These questions come from different parts of the crowd. It reminds me
of the scene between an English parliamentary candidate and a caucus
constituency, with the exception that the American questioners are
quite friendly and respectful, their chief desire evidently being to
give Mr. Irving texts upon which he can speak with interest to their
readers.

“Mr. Booth and I are warm friends. It is not necessary to tell you that
he is a great actor. I acted with him many subordinate parts when he
first came to England, about twenty years ago.”

“What do you think is his finest impersonation?”

“I would say ‘Lear,’ though I believe the American verdict would be
‘Richelieu.’ Singularly enough ‘Richelieu’ is not a popular play in
England. Mr. Booth’s mad scene in ‘Lear,’ I am told, is superb. I
did not see it; but I can speak of Othello and Iago: both are fine
performances.”

“You played in ‘Othello’ with Mr. Booth in London you say?”

“I produced ‘Othello’ especially for Mr. Booth, and played Iago for the
first time on that occasion. We afterwards alternated the parts.”

“Shakespeare is popular in England,—more so now than for some years
past, I believe?”

“Yes.”

“What has been the motive-power in this revival?”

“England has to-day many Shakespearian societies, and our countrymen
read the poet much more than they did five and twenty years ago. As a
rule our fathers obtained their knowledge of him from the theatre, and
were often, of course, greatly misled as to the meaning and intention
of the poet, under the manipulation of Colley Cibber and others.”

“Which of Shakespeare’s plays is most popular in England?”

“‘Hamlet.’ And, singularly, the next one is not ‘Julius Cæsar,’ which
is the most popular after ‘Hamlet,’ I believe, in your country.
‘Othello’ might possibly rank second with us, if it were not difficult
to get two equally good actors for the two leading parts. Salvini’s
Othello, for instance, suffered because the Iago was weak.”

“You don’t play ‘Julius Cæsar,’ then, in England?”

“No. There is a difficulty in filling worthily the three leading parts.”

By this time Mr. Irving is on the most comfortable and familiar terms
with the gentlemen of the press. He has laid aside his cigar, and
smiles often with a curious and amused expression of face.

“You must find this kind of work, this interviewing, very difficult,”
he says, presently, in a tone of friendly banter.

“Sometimes,” answers one of them; and they all laugh, entering into
the spirit of the obvious fun of a victim who is not suffering half as
much as he expected to do, and who indeed, is, on the whole, very well
satisfied with himself.

“Don’t you think we might go on deck now and see the harbor?” he asks.

“Oh, yes,” they all say; and in a few minutes the “Yosemite’s” pretty
saloon is vacated.

Mr. Irving and his friends go forward; Miss Terry is aft, in charge
of Mr. Barrett. She is looking intently down the river at the far-off
“Britannic,” which is now beginning to move forward in our wake, the
“Yosemite” leaving behind her a long, white track of foam.

The interviewers are again busily engaged with Mr. Irving. He is once
more the centre of an interested group of men. Not one of them takes
a note. They seem to be putting all he says down in their minds. They
are accustomed to tax their memories. One catches, in the expression of
their faces, evidence of something like an inter-vision. They seem to
be ticking off, in their minds, the points as the speaker makes them;
for Irving now appears to be talking as much for his own amusement as
for the public instruction. He finds that he has a quick, intelligent,
and attentive audience, and the absence of note-books and anything like
a show of machinery for recording his words puts him thoroughly at his
ease. Then he likes to talk “shop”; as who does not? And what is more
delightful to hear than experts on their own work?

“Do your American audiences applaud much?” he asks.

“Yes,” they said; “oh, yes.”

“Because, you know, your Edwin Forrest once stopped in the middle of
a scene and addressed his audience on the subject of their silence.
‘You must applaud,’ he said, ‘or I cannot act.’ I quite sympathize with
that feeling. An actor needs applause. It is his life and soul when he
is on the stage. The enthusiasm of the audience reacts upon him. He
gives them back heat for heat. If they are cordial he is encouraged; if
they are excited so is he; as they respond to his efforts he tightens
his grip upon their imagination and emotions. You have no pit in your
American theatres, as we have; that is, your stalls, or parquet, cover
the entire floor. It is to the quick feelings and heartiness of the
pit and gallery that an actor looks for encouragement during his great
scenes in England. Our stalls are appreciative, but not demonstrative.
Our pit and gallery are both.”

Irving, when particularly moved, likes to tramp about. Whenever the
situation allows it he does so upon the stage. Probably recalling the
way in which pit and gallery rose at him—and stalls and dress-circle,
too, for that matter—on his farewell night at the Lyceum, he paces
about the deck, all the interviewers making rapid mental note of
his gait, and watching for some startling peculiarity that does not
manifest itself.

“He has not got it; why, the man is as natural and as straight and
capable as a man can be,” says one to another.

“And a real good fellow,” is the response. “Ask him about Vanderbilt
and the mirror.”

“O Mr. Irving!—just one more question.”

“As many as you like, my friend,” is the ready reply.

“Is it true that you are to be the guest of Mr. Vanderbilt?”

“And be surrounded with ingeniously constructed mirrors, where I can
see myself always, and all at once? I have heard strange stories about
Mr. Vanderbilt having had a wonderful mirror of this kind constructed
for my use, so that I may pose before it in all my loveliest attitudes.
Something of the kind has been said, eh?” he asks, laughing.

“Oh, yes, that is so,” is the mirthful response.

“Then you may contradict it, if you will. You may say that I am here
for work; that I shall have no time to be any one’s guest, though I
hope the day may come when I shall have leisure to visit my friends.
You may add, if you will” (here he lowered his voice with a little air
of mystery), “that I always carry a mirror of my own about with me
wherever I go, because I love to pose and contemplate my lovely figure
whenever the opportunity offers.”

“That will do, I guess,” says a gentleman of the interviewing staff;
“thank you, Mr. Irving, for your courtesy and information.”

“I am obliged to you very much,” he says, and then, having his
attention directed to the first view of New York, expresses his wonder
and delight at the scene, as well he may.

Ahead the towers and spires of New York stand out in a picturesque
outline against the sky. On either hand the water-line is fringed with
the spars of ships and steamers. On the left stretches far away the
low-lying shore of New Jersey; on the right, Brooklyn can be seen,
rising upwards, a broken line of roofs and steeples. Further away,
joining “the city of churches” to Manhattan, hangs in mid-air that
marvel of science, the triple carriage, foot, and rail road known
as the Brooklyn bridge. Around the “Yosemite,” as she ploughs along
towards her quay, throng many busy steamers, outstripping, in the race
for port, fleets of sailing vessels that are beating up the broad
reaches of the river before the autumn wind.


VI.

“SHE is not quite pretty,” says a New York reporter, turning to me
during his contemplation of Miss Terry, who is very picturesque as she
sits by the taffrail at the stern; “but she is handsome, and she is
distinguished. I think we would like to ask her a few questions; will
you introduce us?”

I do the honors of this presentation. Miss Terry is too much under the
influence of the wonderful scene that meets her gaze to receive the
reporters with calmness.

“And this is New York!” she exclaims. “What a surprising place! And,
oh, what a river! So different to the Thames! And to think that I am in
New York! It does not seem possible. I cannot realize it.”

“If you had a message to send home to your friends, Miss Terry, what
would it be?” asks Reporter No. 1, a more than usually bashful young
man.

The question is a trifle unfortunate.

“Tell them I never loved home so well as now,” she answers, in her
frank, impulsive way.

She turns her head away to hide her tears, and Reporter No. 2
remonstrates with his companion.

“I wouldn’t have said it for anything,” says No. 1. “I was thinking how
I would add a few words for her to my London cable,—that’s a fact.”

“It is very foolish of me, pray excuse me,” says the lady; “it is all
so new and strange. I know my eyes are red, and this is not the sort of
face to go into New York with, is it?”

“I think New York will be quite satisfied, Miss Terry,” says a third
reporter; “but don’t let us distress you.”

“Oh, no, I am quite myself now. You want to ask me some questions?”

“Not if you object.”

“I don’t object; only you see one has been looking forward to this day
a long time, and seeing land again and houses, and so many ships, and
New York itself, may well excite a stranger.”

“Yes, indeed, that is so,” remarks No. 1, upon whom she turns quickly,
the “Liberty” scarf at her neck flying in the wind, and her earnest
eyes flashing.

“Have you ever felt what it is to be a stranger just entering a strange
land? If not you can hardly realize my sensations. Not that I have any
fears about my reception. No, it is not that; the Americans on the ship
were so kind to me, and you are so very considerate, that I am sure
everybody ashore will be friendly.”

“Do you know Miss Anderson?”

“Yes. She is a beautiful woman. I have not seen her upon the stage; but
I have met her.”

“Do you consider ‘Charles I.’ will present you to a New York audience
in one of your best characters?”

“No; and I am not very fond of the part of Henrietta Maria either.”

“What are your favorite characters?”

“Oh, I hardly know,” she says, now fairly interested in the
conversation; and turning easily towards her questioners, for the first
time, “I love nearly all I play; but I don’t like to cry, and I cannot
help it in ‘Charles I.’ I like comedy best,—Portia, Beatrice, and
Letitia Hardy.”

“Do you intend to star on your own account?”

“No, no.”

“You prefer to cast your fortunes with the Lyceum company?”

“Yes, certainly. Sufficient for the day is the Lyceum thereof. There is
no chance of my ever desiring to change. I am devoted to the Lyceum,
and to Mr. Irving. No one admires him more than I do; no one knows
better, I think, how much he has done for our art; no one dreams of how
much more he will yet do if he is spared. I used to think, when I was
with Charles Kean,—I served my apprenticeship, you know, with Mr. and
Mrs. Charles Kean,—that his performances and mounting of plays were
perfect in their way. But look at Mr. Irving’s work; look at what he
has done and what he does. I am sure you will be delighted with him.
Excuse me, is that the ‘Britannic’ yonder, following in our wake?”

“Yes.”

She kisses her hand to the vessel, and then turns to wonder at the
city, which seems to be coming towards us, so steadily does the
“Yosemite” glide along, hardly suggesting motion.

Then suddenly the word is passed that the “Yosemite” is about to land
her passengers. A few minutes later she slips alongside the wharf at
the foot of Canal street. The reporters take their leave, raising
their hats to Miss Terry, many of them shaking hands with Mr. Irving.
Carriages are in waiting for Mr. Barrett and his party. A small crowd,
learning who the new-comers were, give them a cheer of welcome, and
Henry Irving and Ellen Terry stand upon American soil.

“I am told,” says Mr. Irving, as we drive away, “that when Jumbo
arrived in New York he put out his foot and felt if the ground was
solid enough to bear his weight. The New Yorkers, I believe, were very
much amused at that. They have a keen sense of fun. Where are we going
now?”

“To the Customs, at the White Star wharf, to sign your declaration
papers,” says Mr. Florence.

“How many packages have you in your state-room, madame?” asks a sturdy
official, addressing Miss Terry.

“Well, really I don’t know; three or four, I think.”

“Not more than that?” suggests Mr. Barrett.

“Perhaps five or six.”

“Not any more?” asks the official. “Shall I say five or six?”

“Well, really, I cannot say. Where’s my maid? Is it important,—the
exact number?”

There is a touch of bewilderment in her manner which amuses the
officials, and everybody laughs—she herself very heartily—when
her maid says there are fourteen packages of various kinds in the
state-room of the “Britannic,” which is now discharging her passengers.
A scene of bustle and excitement is developing just as we are permitted
to depart. A famous politician is on board. There is a procession,
with a band of music, to meet him. Crowds of poor people are pushing
forward for the “Britannic” gangway to meet a crowd of still poorer
emigrant friends. Imposing equipages are here to carry off the rich and
prosperous travellers. Tons of portmanteaus, trunks, boxes, baggage of
every kind, are sliding from the vessel’s side upon the quay. Friends
are greeting friends. Children are being hugged by fathers and mothers.
Ship’s stewards are hurrying to and fro. The expressman, jingling his
brass checks, is looking for business; his carts are fighting their
way among the attendant carriages and more ponderous wagons. A line of
Custom-House men form in line, a living cord of blue and silver, across
the roadway exit of the wharf. There is a smell of tar and coffee
and baked peanuts in the atmosphere, together with the sound of many
voices; and the bustle repeats itself outside in the rattle of arriving
and departing carts and carriages. Above all one hears the pleasant
music of distant car-bells. We dash along, over level crossings,
past very continental-looking riverside _cabarets_ and rum-shops,
under elevated railroads, and up streets that recall Holland, France,
Brighton, and Liverpool, until we reach Washington square. The dead
leaves of autumn are beginning to hide the fading grass; but the sun is
shining gloriously away up in a blue sky. Irving is impressed with the
beauty of the city as we enter Fifth avenue, its many spires marking
the long line of street as far as the eye can see. The Brevoort House
has proved a welcome, if expensive, haven of rest to many a weary
traveller. To-day its bright windows and green sun-blinds, its white
marble steps, and its wholesome aspect of homelike comfort, suggest
the pleasantest possibilities.

Let us leave the latest of its guests to his first experiences of the
most hotel-keeping nation in the world.



III.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS.

 Union Square, New York—An Enterprising Chronicler—The Lambs—The
 Newspapers and the New-comers—“Art Must Advance with the
 Times”—“Romeo and Juliet” at the Lyceum—“Character Parts”—No Real
 Tradition of Shakespearian Acting—“Mannerisms”—The Stage as an
 Educator—Lafayette Place—A Notable Little Dinner—The Great American
 Bird, “Not the Eagle, but the Duck”—A Question of “Appropriate
 Music”—Speculators in Tickets and their Enormous Profits—Middlemen,
 the Star Theatre, and the Play-going Public.


I.

“IT is not like my original idea of it, so far,” said Irving, the next
morning,—“this city of New York. The hotel, the Fifth avenue, the
people,—everything is a little different to one’s anticipations; and
yet it seems to me that I have seen it all before. It is London and
Paris combined. I have been ‘round to call on Miss Terry. She is at
what she calls ‘The Hotel—ahem!’—the Hotel Dam, in Union square. Dam
is the proprietor. It is a handsome house. A fine square. The buildings
are very tall. The cars, running along the streets, their many bells,
the curious wire-drawn look of the wheels of private carriages,—all a
little odd. Fifth avenue is splendid! And what a glorious sky!”

He rattled on, amused and interested, as he stood in the back room of
his suite of three on the ground floor at the Brevoort.

“Several interviewers in there,” he said, pointing to the folding-doors
that shut us out from the other apartment. “One reporter wanted to
attend regularly, and chronicle all I did,—where I went to, and how;
what I ate, and when; he wished to have a record of everybody who
called, what they said, and what I said to them.”

“An enterprising chronicler; probably a ‘liner,’ as we should call him
on the other side,—a liner unattached.”

“He was very civil. I thanked him, and made him understand that I am
modest, and do not like so much attention as he suggests. But these
other gentlemen, let us see them together.”

It was very interesting to hear Irving talk to his visitors, one
after the other, about his art and his work. I had never seen him
in such good conversational form before. So far from resisting his
interrogators, he enjoyed their questions, and, at the same time, often
puzzled them with his answers. Some of his visitors came with minds
free and unprejudiced to receive his impressions; with pens ready to
record them. Others had evidently read up for the interview; they had
turned over the pages of Hazlitt, Lamb, and Shakespeare with a purpose.
Others had clearly studied the ingenious pamphlet of Mr. Archer; these
had odd questions to ask, and were amazed at the quickness of Irving’s
repartee. As a rule they reported the new-comer correctly. The mistakes
they made were trivial, though some of them might have seemed important
in prejudiced eyes. I propose, presently, to give an example of this
journalistic work.

After dinner Mr. Irving went to a quiet little reception at the house
of a friend, and at night he visited the Lambs Club. The members are
principally actors, and Sunday night is their only holiday. Once a
month they dine together. On this night they held their first meeting
of the season. The rooms were crowded. Irving was welcomed with three
cheers. Mr. William Florence, Mr. Raymond, Mr. Henry Edwards, Mr.
Howson, and other well-known actors introduced him to their brother
members, and a committee was at once formed to arrange a date when the
club could honor itself and its guest with a special dinner.

“It is very delightful to be so cordially received,” said Irving, “by
my brother actors. I shall be proud to accept your hospitality on any
evening that is convenient to you. It must be on a Sunday, of course. I
am told New York is strict in its observance of Sunday. Well, I am glad
of it,—it is the actor’s only day of rest.”


II.

ON Monday morning the newspapers, from one end of the United States to
the other, chronicled the arrival of Mr. Irving and Miss Terry. The
New York journals rivalled each other in columns of bright descriptive
matter, with headings in more than customary detail. The “Herald”
commenced its announcement in this way:—

  IRVING—TERRY.

  Arrival of the Famous English Actor and the Leading Lady
  of the Lyceum.

  A Hearty Welcome Down the Bay by Old Friends.

  AN INTERVIEW WITH MR. IRVING.


  His Views on the Drama and Stage of To-day.

  PLANS FOR THE FUTURE.

  The “Sun” greeted its readers with,—

  UP EARLY TO MEET IRVING!

  A BUSINESS-LIKE HAMLET AND A JOLLY OPHELIA
  ARRIVE.

  What the Famous English Actor Looks Like, and How He
  Talks—A Stentorian Greeting Down at
  Quarantine before Breakfast.

The “Morning Journal” (the latest success in cheap newspaper
enterprise) proclaimed:—

  ENGLAND’S GREAT ACTOR.

  Henry Irving Cordially Welcomed in the Lower Bay.

  He Tells of His Hopes and Fears, and Expresses Delight
  over Dreaded Newspaper Interviewers—
  Miss Terry Joyful.

A leading Western journal pays a large salary to a clever member of its
staff, whose duty is confined to the work of giving to the varied news
of the day attractive titles. The New York press is less exuberant in
this direction than formerly.

The sketches of the arrival of the “Britannic’s” passengers are bright
and personal. They describe the appearance of Mr. Irving and Miss
Terry. The vivacity of Miss Terry charmed the reporters. The quiet
dignity of Irving surprised and impressed them. The “interviews”
generally referred to Mr. Irving’s trip across the Atlantic; his
programme for New York; his hopes of a successful tour; his ideas of
the differences between American and English theatres; what he thought
of Booth, and other points which I have myself set forth, perhaps
more in detail than was possible for the journals, and, what is more
important, from the platform of an interested English spectator.
The following conversation is, in the main, a revised edition of an
interview that appeared in the “Herald.”

“And now to speak to you of yourself as an actor, and also of your
theatre,—let me ask you, to what mainly do you attribute your success?”

“The success I have made, such as it is, has been made by acting—by
acting alone, whether good or bad.”[4]

“There is a notion in America, Mr. Irving, that your extraordinary
success is due to your _mise en scène_ and the research you have given
to the proper mounting of your pieces.”

“Indeed, is that so? And yet ‘The Cup’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ were
the only two pieces I have done in which the _mise en scène_ has been
really remarkable. During my early association with the Lyceum nothing
of that kind was attempted. For instance, the church-yard scene in
‘Hamlet’ was a scene painted for ‘Eugene Aram,’ as the then manager of
the Lyceum (my old friend, Mr. Bateman), did not believe in the success
of ‘Hamlet.’ The run of the play was two hundred nights. I have been
associated with the Lyceum since 1871, eleven years, and, until the
production of ‘The Corsican Brothers’ and ‘The Cup,’ in 1880-1881,
no play in which I acted had ever been elaborately mounted. Before
the time of these plays I had acted in ‘The Bells,’ ‘Charles I.,’
‘Eugene Aram,’ ‘Philip,’ ‘Richelieu,’ ‘Hamlet,’ ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Louis XI.,’
‘Othello,’ ‘Richard III.,’ ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ ‘The Iron Chest,’
and others; and this, I think, is sufficient answer to the statement
that my success has, in any way, depended upon the mounting of plays.
When I played ‘Hamlet,’ under my own management, which commenced in
December, 1878, I produced it with great care; and many things, in
the way of costume and decoration, which had been before neglected,
I endeavored to amend. But take, for instance, ‘The Merchant of
Venice,’—it was put upon the stage in twenty-three days.”

“It will be impossible for managers to go back to the bad system of
mounting formerly in vogue, will it not?”

“I think so. Indeed, it is impossible for the stage to go back to what
it was in any sense. Art must advance with the times, and with the
advance of other arts there must necessarily be an advance of art as
applied to the stage. In arranging the scenery for ‘Romeo and Juliet’
I had in view not only the producing of a beautiful picture, but the
illustration of the text. Every scene I have done adds to the poetry
of the play. It is not done for the sake of effect merely, but to add
to the glamor of the love story. That was my intention, and I think
that result was attained. I believe everything in a play that heightens
and assists the imagination, and in no way hampers or restrains it,
is good, and ought to be made use of. I think you should, in every
respect, give the best you can. For instance, Edwin Booth and I acted
together in ‘Othello.’ He alone would have drawn a great public; yet
I took as much pains with it as any play I ever put upon the stage. I
took comparatively as much pains with the ‘Two Roses’ and the ‘Captain
of the Watch’ as with ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ But there is no other play
in Shakespeare that seems to me to so much require a pictorial setting
as ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ You could not present plays nowadays as they
formerly did, any more than you could treat them generally as they were
treated.”

“How did you come to identify yourself so much with the revival of
Shakespearian acting?”

“I will try to tell you briefly what I have done since I have been
before the London public. Much against the wish of my friends I took
an engagement at the Lyceum, then under the management of Mr. Bateman.
I had successfully acted in many plays besides ‘Two Roses,’ which
ran three hundred nights. It was thought by everybody interested in
such matters that I ought to identify myself with what they called
‘character parts’; though what that phrase means, by the way, I never
could exactly understand, for I have a prejudice in the belief that
every part should be a character. I always wanted to play in the
higher drama. Even in my boyhood my desire had been in that direction.
When at the Vaudeville Theatre I recited the drama of ‘Eugene Aram,’
simply to get an idea as to whether I could impress an audience with
a tragic theme. I hoped I could, and at once made up my mind to
prepare myself to play characters of another type. When Mr. Bateman
engaged me he told me he would give me an opportunity, if he could,
to play various parts, as it was to his interest as much as to mine
to discover what he thought would be successful,—though, of course,
never dreaming of ‘Hamlet’ or ‘Richard III.’ Well, the Lyceum opened,
but did not succeed. Mr. Bateman had lost a lot of money, and he
intended giving it up. He proposed to me to go to America with him. By
my advice, and against his wish, ‘The Bells’ was rehearsed, but he did
not believe in it much. He thought there was a prejudice against the
management, and that there would probably be a prejudice against that
sort of romantic play. It produced a very poor house, although a most
enthusiastic one. From that time the theatre prospered. The next piece
was a great difficulty. It was thought that whatever part I played it
must be a villain, associated with crime in some way or other; because
I had been identified with such sort of characters it was thought my
_forte_ lay in that direction. I should tell you that I had associated
histrionically with all sorts of bad characters, house-breakers,
blacklegs, assassins. When ‘Charles I.’ was announced, it was said
that the bad side of the king’s character should be the one portrayed,
not the good, because it would be ridiculous to expect me to exhibit
any pathos, or to give the domestic and loving side of its character.
After the first night the audience thought differently. Following
‘Charles I.’ ‘Eugene Aram’ was, by Mr. Bateman’s desire, produced.
In this we have a character much like that of Mathias, but with a
pathetic side to it. Then Mr. Bateman wished me to play ‘Richelieu.’ I
had no desire to do that; but he continued to persuade, and to please
him I did it. It ran for a long time with great success. What I did
play, by my own desire, and against his belief in its success, was
‘Hamlet,’ for you must know that at that time there was a motto among
managers,—‘Shakespeare spells bankruptcy.’”

“What is your method in preparing to put a play on the stage,—say one
of Shakespeare’s; would you be guided by the tradition of Shakespearian
acting?”

“There is no tradition of Shakespearian acting; nor is there anything
written down as to the proper way of acting Shakespeare. We have the
memoirs and the biographies of great actors, and we know something of
their methods; but it does not amount to a tradition or to a school
of Shakespearian acting. For instance, what is known on the stage
of Shakespeare’s tradition of Richard? Nothing. The stage tradition
is Colley Cibber. ‘Off with his head,—so much for Buckingham!’ is,
perhaps, the most familiar line of his text. We have had some men who
have taken this or that great actor as their exemplar; they have copied
him as nearly as they could. Actors, to be true, should, I think, act
for themselves.”

“You would advise an actor, then, to go to the book and study the play
out for himself, and not take this or that character by rote?”

“Certainly; take the book, and work the play out to the best of your
intelligence. I believe my great safeguard has been that I have always
tried to work out a character myself. As a boy I never would see a play
until I had studied it first.”

“That would be an answer to the strictures which have been made on
you, that you have not kept to the old acting versions, but have made
versions for yourself?”

“True; and why should I not, if I keep, as I do, to Shakespeare? For
many actors Shakespeare was not good enough. A picture which hangs
in my rooms affords an instance in point. It represents Mr. Holman
and Miss Brunton in the characters of Romeo and Juliet, and gives a
quotation from the last scene of Act V. Juliet says, ‘You fright me.
Speak; oh, let me hear some voice beside my own in this drear vault of
death; or I shall faint. Support me.’ Romeo replies, ‘Oh! I cannot. I
have no strength, but want thy feeble aid. Cruel poison!’ Not one word
of which, as you know, is Shakespeare’s.”

“You referred just now to the necessity of an actor acting ‘from
himself;’—in other words, not sinking his own individuality in the
part he is trying to represent; would it not be an answer to those who
charge you with mannerisms on the stage? Is it not true, in short, that
the more strongly individual a man is the more pronounced his so-called
mannerisms will be?”

“Have we not all mannerisms? I never yet saw a human being worth
considering without them.”

“I believe you object to spectators being present at your rehearsals.
What are your reasons for that course?”

“There are several, each of which would be a valid objection.”

“For instance?”

“Well, first of all, it is not fair to author, manager, or actor, as
the impression given at an incomplete performance cannot be a correct
one.”

“But surely by a trained intellect due allowance can be made for
shortcomings?”

“For shortcomings, yes; but a trained intellect cannot see the full
value of an effort, perhaps jarred or spoiled through some mechanical
defect; or, if the trained intellect knows all about it, why needs it
to be present at all? Now, it seems to me that one must have a reason
for being present, either business or curiosity, and business cannot be
properly done, while curiosity can wait.”

“Another reason?”

“It is unjust to the artists. A play to be complete must, in all its
details, finally pass through one imagination. There must be some
one intellect to organize and control; and in order that this may be
effected it is necessary to experimentalize. Many a thing may be shown
at rehearsal which is omitted in representation. If this be seen, and
not explained, a false impression is created. A loyal company and staff
help much to realize in detail and effect the purpose of the manager;
but still, all are but individual men and women, and no one likes to be
corrected or advised before strangers.”

“As to the alleged dearth of good modern English plays, what do you
think is the cause of their non-production?”

“I deny the dearth, except so far as there is always a dearth of the
good things of the world. I hold that there are good English plays. I
could name you many.”

“What are your opinions of the stage as an educational medium? I ask
the question because there is a large class of people, both intelligent
and cultured, who still look upon the stage and stage-plays, even if
not downright immoral, as not conducive to any intellectual or moral
good.”

“My dear sir, I must refer you to history for an answer to that
problem. It cannot be solved on the narrow basis of one craft or
calling. Such ideas are due to ignorance. Why, in England, three
hundred years ago,—in Shakespeare’s time,—in the years when he,
more than any other human being in all that great age of venture and
development, of search and research, was doing much to make the era
famous, actors were but servants, and the stage was only tolerated by
court license. A century later, in London city, actors were pilloried
and the calling deemed vagrancy; while in France a Christian burial was
denied to Molière’s corpse. The study of social history and development
teaches a lesson in which you may read your answer. When bigotry and
superstition fade, and toleration triumphs, then the work of which the
stage is capable will be fairly judged, and there will be no bar to
encounter. The lesson of toleration is not for the player alone; the
preacher must learn it.”


III.

THE first week in New York was, in a great measure, spent between the
theatre and the hotel. Invitations to dinner and receptions were, as a
rule, declined. The exceptions were breakfasts given by Mr. Vanderbilt
and Judge Shea. Many distinguished persons called. All kinds of polite
attentions were offered, some of which it is to be feared Irving had
not time or opportunity to acknowledge as he could have wished. One
gentleman placed his carriage at Mr. Irving’s disposal; another offered
to lend him his house; another his steam launch. These courtesies
were tendered gracefully and without ostentation. Flowers were sent
regularly from unknown hands to the Hotel Dam. Miss Terry went driving
with friends in the Park, and found the trotting-track a fascinating
scene. Within forty-eight hours Irving was a familiar figure in the
lower part of Fifth avenue and Union square, as he walked to and
from the theatre. He and Miss Terry made their first acquaintance
at Delmonico’s in company with myself and wife. An elegant little
dinner, of which the ice-creams were its most successful feature.
Artistic in construction, they were triumphs of delicate color. I think
they were the _chef’s_ tributes to Miss Terry’s supposed æsthetic
taste. No wonder the Delmonicos made millions of dollars, when it is
possible that the chief reminiscence of a dinner may be associated
with the ice-creams and sweets. On Tuesday, after a rehearsal and
a drive down-town on a pouring wet day, I piloted the new-comer to
Sieghortner’s, in Lafayette place. This well-known _café_ occupies the
house in which the Astors lived. It is a building characteristic of
the early days of New York’s first millionnaires,—marble steps, heavy
mahogany doors, rich Moorish decorations, spacious hall-ways. Close by
is the Astor Library, a valuable institution, and the street itself
has quite an Old-World look. It was once the most fashionable quarter
of New York; but wealth has moved towards the park, and left Lafayette
place to restaurants, boarding-houses, public baths, and stores.
Sieghortner himself is a typical Dutchman, a veritable Knickerbocker
of hotel-keepers, and a _gourmet_. He is almost the only “landlord”
(as we would call him at home) in New York who will condescend to
wait upon his guests. It is a pleasure to look upon his beaming face
when you order a dinner and leave _menu_ and wines to his judgment.
As he stands by your chair, directing his attendants, he is radiant
with satisfaction if you are pleased, and would no doubt be plunged
into despair if you were dissatisfied. Shrewsbury oysters, gumbo soup,
cutlets, canvas-back ducks, a _soufflé_, Stilton cheese, an ice, a
_liqueur_, a dish of fruit, and a bottle of hock that filled the room
with its delicious perfume.

“It was perfection, Mr. Sieghortner,” said Irving, as he sipped his
coffee, and addressed the old man,—“the canvas-back superb. You are
so interested in the art of dining that you will appreciate a little
experience of mine in connection with the great American bird,—I don’t
mean the eagle, but the duck.”

Sieghortner rubbed his hands, and said, “Oh, yes,—why, of course!”

“An old American friend of mine,—dead now, alas!—when he was in his
prime, as they say, frequently had numbers of canvas-back ducks sent
to London from New York. On the first great occasion of this kind
he invited thirty guests to eat thirty ducks. He spent a day or two
instructing the _chef_ of a well-known club how to cook them. The
kitchen was to be well heated, you know, and the ducks carried gently
through.”

“Oh, yes, that’s the way!” said Sieghortner, rubbing his hands.

“Well, the night came. His guests were in full force. The ducks were
served. They had a whitey-brown and flabby appearance. Bateman cut one
and put it aside. He tried another, and in his rage flung it under the
table. The dinner was an utter failure.”

“Dear! dear!” exclaimed Sieghortner.

“My friend did not forget it for months. He was continually saying,
‘I wonder how that fool spoiled our ducks; I have tried to find out,
but it is a mystery.’ Nearly a year afterwards I heard of the _chef’s_
sudden death. Meeting my friend, I said, ‘Have you heard of poor
So-and-so, the _chef_ at the club,—he is dead!’—‘I am very glad of
it!’ he exclaimed. ‘Do you know, he cooked those ducks over the gas!’”

“Dear! dear!” exclaimed Sieghortner, a quick expression of anger on his
face, “why, he ought to have been hanged!”


IV.

IT is customary in American theatres for the orchestra to play the
audience out as well as in.

“We will dispense with that,” said Irving to his conductor, Mr. Ball.

“It is a general habit here,” remarked the Star manager.

“Yes, I understand so,” Irving replied; “but it seems to me a difficult
matter to select the music appropriately to the piece. What sort of
music do you usually play?”

“A march.”

“Ah, well, you see our plays are so different, that a march which would
do one night would be entirely out of place the next. Have you the
score of ‘The Dead March in Saul’?”

“No,” was the conductor’s reply.

“Well, then, I think we will finish as we do in London,—with the
fall of the curtain. If we make a failure on Monday night, the most
appropriate thing you could play would be ‘The Dead March.’ As you have
no score of it we will do without the exit music.”

“And who knows,” said Irving, as we walked back to the hotel,
“whether we shall have a success or not? The wild manner in which the
speculators in tickets are going on is enough to ruin anything.[5]
They have bought up every good seat in the house, I am told, and
will only part with them at almost prohibitive prices. The play-goers
may resent their operations and keep away; if they pay ten and twenty
dollars for a seat, instead of two and a half or three, they cannot be
expected to come to the house in a contented frame of mind. The more
money they have been plundered of, the more exacting they will be in
regard to the actors; it is only natural they should. Then we have no
pit proper, and the lowest admission price to the gallery is a dollar.
I would have preferred to play to Lyceum prices; but in that case they
say I should only have been putting so much more into the pockets of
the speculators. These operators in tickets are protected by the law;
managers are obliged to sell to them, and the dealers have a right to
hawk them on the pavement at the entrance of the theatres.”

“This is a State or city law, only applying to New York. I don’t
think it exists anywhere else in the Union. It certainly does not at
Philadelphia and Boston.”

“It is an outrage on the public,” he replied. “Legitimate agencies for
the convenience of the public, with a profit of ten or twenty per cent.
to the vendor, is one thing; but exacting from the public five and
ten dollars for a two-and-a-half-dollar seat is another. After all, a
community, however rich, have only a certain amount of money to spend
on amusements. Therefore the special attractions and the speculators
get the lion’s share, and the general or regular amusements of the
place have to be content with short commons.”

“If the ‘Sun’ reporter could hear you he would congratulate himself on
having called you ‘a business-like Hamlet.’”



IV.

AT THE LOTOS CLUB.

 The Savage Club of America—Thackeray and Lord Houghton—A Great
 Banquet—Mr. Whitelaw Reid on Irving and the Actor’s Calling—“Welcome
 to a Country where he may find not Unworthy Brethren”—An Answer to
 the Warnings of the English Traveller of Chapter I.—“Shakespeare’s
 Charles the First”—A Night of Wit and Humor—Chauncey M.
 Depew on Theatrical Evolution—The Knighting of Sullivan—The
 Delineator of Romance visiting the Home of America’s Creator of
 Romance—After-dinner Stories—Conspiring against the Peace of a
 Harmless Scotchman—A Pleasant Jest.


I.

THE Lotos Club is the Savage of America, as the Century is its Garrick;
each, however, with a difference. The Lotos admits to membership
gentlemen who are not necessarily journalists, authors, actors, and
painters, earning their subsistence out of the arts. They must be
clubable and good fellows, in the estimation of the committee; and
herein lies their best qualification. This combination of the arts
proper with trade and finance has made the club a success in the
broadest sense of the term. Their home is a palace compared with that
of the Savage in London. The general atmosphere of the Century is more
akin to that of the Garrick, and it is a far closer corporation than
the Lotos. Mr. Thackeray spent a good deal of his time there when he
was in New York; while Lord Houghton, it is said, preferred the more
jovial fireside of the Lotos. In those days the younger club was in
humbler, but not less comfortable, quarters than those it now occupies;
while the Century, conservative and conscious of its more aristocratic
record, is well content with the house which is associated with many
years of pleasant memories.

The Lotos honored Irving with a banquet; the Century welcomed him at
one of its famous monthly reunions. The Lotos dinner was the first
public recognition, outside the press, of Irving in America. He had
accepted its invitation before sailing for New York, and sat down with
the Lotos-eaters on the Saturday (October 27) prior to his Monday
night’s appearance at the Star Theatre. The club-rooms had never been
so crowded as on this occasion. Dishes were laid for a hundred and
forty members and guests in the dining-room and _salon_ of the club,
and fifty others consented to eat together in the restaurant and
reading-room upstairs, and fifty or sixty others had to be content to
come in after dinner. Mr. Irving sat on the right hand of the President
of the club, Mr. Whitelaw Reid, editor of the “Tribune.” At the same
table were Chauncey M. Depew, Dr. A. E. Macdonald, General Horace
Porter, E. Randolph Robinson, Algernon S. Sullivan, R. B. Roosevelt,
Thomas W. Knox, H. H. Gorringe, W. H. Smith, Rev. Robert Laird Collyer,
and F. R. Lawrence. Among others present were Lawrence Barrett, Joseph
Jefferson, William J. Florence, R. W. Gilder, Dr. Fordyce Barker, D. G.
Croly, General Winslow, and A. Oakey Hall. In a window alcove behind
the President’s chair stood an easel, holding a large portrait of
Irving as Shylock.

Coffee being served, Mr. Irving was conducted upstairs to be introduced
to the diners in his honor who were crowded out of the lower rooms.
They received him with a loud cheer, and then accompanied him to join
the other guests. The company broke up into groups, stood about the
door-ways, and thronged around the President, who thereupon arose and
addressed them as follows:—

 “You must excuse the difficulty in procuring seats. You know the
 venerable story which Oscar Wilde appropriated about the sign over the
 piano in a far-western concert-hall: ‘Don’t shoot the performer; he’s
 doing the best he can.’ (Laughter.) The committee beg me to repeat
 in their behalf that touching old appeal. They’ve done the best they
 could. There are five hundred members of this club, and only one
 hundred and forty seats in this dining-room; they have done their
 utmost to put the five hundred men into the one hundred and forty
 seats. Don’t shoot! They’ll come down, apologize, retreat, resign,—do
 anything to please you. They’ve thoroughly tried this thing of putting
 two men in one seat and persuading the other three that standing room
 is just as good; and to-night, as the perspiration rolls from their
 troubled brows, their fervent hope and prayer is that the manager for
 your distinguished guest may be haunted by that self-same trouble all
 through his American tour! (Applause and laughter.)

 “London appropriated our national anniversary, to do honor to its
 favorite actor as he was about to visit us. On that occasion, on
 the Fourth of July last, at a banquet without a parallel in the
 history of the British stage, and to which there are actually none
 to be compared, save the far less significant, but still famous,
 entertainments to Kean and Macready,—at that banquet your guest
 said: ‘This God-speed would alone insure me a hearty welcome in any
 land. But I am not going among strangers. I am going among friends.’
 (Applause.)

 “Let us take him at his word. Once we were apt to get our opinions
 from the other side. If that grows less and less a habit now, with the
 spread among us, since we attained our national majority, of a way
 of doing our own thinking, we are still all the more glad to welcome
 friendships from the other side.

 “We know our friendly guest as the man whom a great, kindred nation
 has agreed to accept as its foremost living dramatic representative.
 We know that his success has tended to elevate and purify the stage,
 to dignify the actor’s calling, to widen and better its influence. We
 know the scholarship he has brought to the representation of the great
 dramatists, the minute and comprehensive attention he has given to
 every detail alike of his own acting and of the general management.
 His countrymen do not say that if he were not the foremost actor
 in England he would be the first manager;—they declare that he is
 already both. (Applause.)

 “We bid him the heartiest of welcomes to a country where he may find
 not unworthy brethren. Our greeting indeed takes a tone of special
 cordiality not so much from what we know of his foreign repute, or
 from our remembering the great assemblage of representative countrymen
 gathered to give him their farewell and God-speed. It comes even
 more from our knowing him as the friend of Edwin Booth (Applause),
 and Joseph Jefferson (Applause), and Lawrence Barrett (Applause),
 and John McCullough (Applause), and William Florence (Applause). And
 if anything else were needed to make the grasp of every man’s hand
 in this club yet warmer, it is furnished when we remember that his
 conspicuous friend among English actors is our friend, John Toole.
 (Applause.)

 “It would not be fair to our distinguished but unsuspicious guest,
 adventuring into these foreign parts, if, before sitting down, I did
 not warn him that all this, and much more which he is likely to hear,
 is said around the dinner-table. Let him not think that he wholly
 knows us, and is fairly naturalized, until he has read the papers the
 morning after his first performance. What they may contain no living
 man knoweth (Laughter); but others have sometimes groaned that we
 treat our guests with too much attention; that we accord them, in
 fact, the same distinguished honor we give our national bird,—the
 turkey,—which we first feed and afterwards carve up. (Great laughter.)

 “But the prologue is an antiquated device, now pretty well banished
 from the stage, because it merely detains you from what you came to
 hear. I will detain you no longer. I give you, gentlemen, Our Guest,—

  “O trumpet set for Shakespeare’s lips to blow!”

 “Health to Henry Irving, and a hearty welcome.” (Great applause.)


II.

THE toast was drank with ringing cheers, and in its report of the reply
the “Tribune” says: “Mr. Irving spoke in measured tones, and with a
singularly clear and effective enunciation, his frequent ironical
sallies being received with bursts of laughter and applause.” He said:—

 “Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,—It is not in my power to thank you,
 with eloquence, for the reception that you have given me to-night.
 In spite of the comforting words and suggestions of our friend, the
 chairman, that on Tuesday morning my feelings may undergo a change,
 I am quite determined that to-night and to-morrow night, if all be
 well, I shall have a good night’s rest. I _do_ feel naturalized; and,
 whatever may be said to the contrary, I shall always bear away with
 me the impression that I am among my own flesh and blood. (Applause.)
 The simile of the turkey did not affect me very much; for if the
 ill-omened bird (I do not know whether he is as familiar in your
 country as he is in mine), the _goose_, is not served up I shall be
 very content. (Applause.)

 “You have received me, not as a stranger, but as a welcome friend
 (Applause), and that welcome I appreciate with all my heart and soul.
 In coming here amongst you I really had—I may as well confess it—but
 one terror. The Atlantic I would brave; the wind and weather I would
 scorn; even sea-sickness I would enjoy; but there was one terror,—the
 interviewer. (Laughter.) But I am very glad to tell you that that is
 passed; and I have said so much to the interviewer that I have very
 little left to say to you. I must, however, also tell you that I find
 the interviewer a very much misrepresented person. He seemed to me
 to be a most courteous gentleman, who had but an amiable curiosity
 to know a little about myself that he did not know before; and I was
 very well satisfied to gratify him as much as I could. I was told
 that he would turn me inside out; that he would cross-examine me, and
 then appear against me the following morning. (Laughter.) But I found
 nothing of the sort; and if I had any complaint to make against him,
 the comments with which he tempered his suggestions were so flattering
 and so gratifying to myself that I forgave him the suggestions that
 he made. The only thing that I would quarrel with him for was for
 saying that I reminded him of Oscar Wilde. (Laughter.) Oscar Wilde
 is a very clever fellow, and I am not going to descant upon him. You
 know more about him than I do; and I hope that when Oscar Wilde reads
 what I have said—as I suppose he will—he will take no offence. I am
 extremely indebted to the interviewer, also, for telling me that I was
 classed with Edwin Booth. With that I have no fault to find.

 “To the courtesy and kindness of American gentlemen I have long been
 accustomed; for if you have not in London, as you have in Paris, an
 American quarter, it is really because Americans are found everywhere
 in London; and I think that everywhere in London they are welcome.
 (Applause.) Our interests are mutual; and in our art we are getting
 day by day more closely allied. London is now talking with raptures
 of your Mary Anderson (Applause); of your great tragedian, Booth
 (Applause); of your great comedian, Jefferson (Applause)—I dislike
 the words ‘tragedian’ and ‘comedian’; actor is so much better, and it
 is a household word. McCullough and Clarke, and my friends Florence
 and Raymond, have had amongst us the heartiest of welcomes. And I am
 quite sure that your famous actress, Clara Morris, need only come
 amongst us—as my friend, Lawrence Barrett, is coming—to have another
 welcome.

 “Mr. Whitelaw Reid has spoken of my work in my art in the kindest
 and most appreciative way. If I have done anything to gain that
 commendation, it is because I have striven to do my duty; and but for
 the appreciation of many of my countrymen, who have thought so, and
 but for the appreciation that I receive now at this table, I am quite
 sure that my work would have been in vain.

 “I do not intend to bore you with any ideas of mine about my art,
 either histrionically or pictorially. My method, histrionically, is a
 very simple one. I merely endeavor to go to the fountain-head to get
 my inspiration; and by what my work is I know that you will judge it,
 and judge it fairly. I am quite sure of this: that no people will go
 to a theatre with a greater desire to do justice to an actor than you
 will go to the theatre to see me on Monday night. (Applause.) If you
 like me you will express it; and, if you do not like me, still you
 will treat me kindly.

 “Our art is cosmopolitan. Every actor has his own methods, as every
 painter has his methods, and every writer has his style. The best
 actor amongst us has a great deal to learn. It is only at the end of
 his career that he finds how short is his life, and how long is his
 art. Concerning the mounting of plays, I give to a play of Shakespeare
 the same advantage that I would give to any modern author; and until a
 greater man than Shakespeare arrives, I think I shall continue to do
 so. (Applause.)

 “In my own dear land I am glad to tell you that the love for
 Shakespearian drama is very greatly increasing. Shakespearian
 societies throughout our land have done much to encourage that. You
 know very well that there was a time when Shakespeare was said by
 a London manager to spell ‘bankruptcy,’ and Lord Byron ‘ruin.’ I
 remember that at one of the revivals of Shakespearian plays at the
 Lyceum, a gentleman leaving the theatre was heard to express the
 opinion that the play was not a bad one; that he thought it might
 have a tolerable run, but that it would be very much improved if
 it had not contained so many quotations. (Laughter.) The play was
 ‘Macbeth.’ (Laughter.) I have been told that that gentleman is
 sometimes to be found in the British Museum, in the old reading-room
 devoted to Shakespearian manuscripts, and that he is very frequently
 found turning them over; but with what success I do not know. I also
 remember that once, when a play was produced, a friend of mine asked
 me what the subject of it was. I said to him that the subject was
 Charles I.; at which he hemmed and hawed and said, ‘Very good; _very_
 good; oh, capital! Charles I. Yes, I should think that would do
 very well. Let me see. Charles I. Do you mean Shakespeare’s Charles
 I.?’ (Laughter.) However, these things are improving, and even
 the old play-goer,—I do not know whether such a character exists
 amongst you,—who is amongst us a very dreadful creature; even he is
 beginning to tolerate the student who goes to the book, instead of to
 traditional characters, for his inspiration.

 “We are very hypocritical, however, some of us, in England. We go to
 the Crystal Palace to see the play of ‘Hamlet,’ and go to the Crystal
 Palace because it is not a theatre; and when we would not go to a
 theatre to see the play of ‘Hamlet,’ we will go to the Crystal Palace,
 or some other such place, to see the ‘Pink Dominoes.’ (Laughter.) We
 will crowd sometimes to the French theatre, without understanding the
 nationality, the gesture, of the actors, or a word of their language,
 when we will desert our own theatres where these pieces are being
 played. But fortunately no such difference as that can exist between
 us; and I cherish the hope that it will be my good fortune, and more
 especially the good fortune of my fellow-workers, and especially of
 my gifted companion and friend, Ellen Terry (Great applause),—I
 say that I cherish the hope that we shall be able to win your favor.
 (Applause.) I dare say that you will find many of us very strange and
 very odd, with peculiarities of speech, and with peculiarities of
 manner and of gesture; but it would, perhaps, not be so pleasurable if
 we were all just alike. (Laughter.) It is not our fault, you know, if
 we are Englishmen.

 “Gentlemen, I thank you with all my heart for the greeting you have
 given me. I thank you for the brotherly hand that you have extended to
 me. And if anything could make one feel at home, and comfortable, and
 sure of having a real good time amongst you, it is the cordiality with
 which I have been received to-night. The very accents of your hearty
 greeting, and the very kindness of your genial faces, tell me that
 there are in your hearts good and kind overflowing wishes. Gentlemen,
 I thank you with all my heart; and I feel that there is a bond between
 us which dates before to-night.”

The speaker sat down amidst great applause. His manner and matter had
evidently given great satisfaction. How he had been misrepresented
as to his mannerisms is unconsciously admitted by the note of the
“Tribune” reporter that he spoke clearly. He did, and in that quiet,
self-possessed, conversational style which was remarked as so effective
at the London banquet.


III.

AS it was generally admitted that the speaking on this night had never
been exceeded in wit and humor, and for its cordiality towards a famous
Englishman, at any of the Lotos dinners, I make no apology for printing
portions of the other addresses. Mr. Chauncey M. Depew, General Porter,
and ex-Mayor Oakey Hall, have long since made distinct reputations
for themselves as American orators. At an English dinner men speak
to set toasts. In America they are called upon, frequently without
warning, to speak to a sentiment, or “to say a few words.” It was in
this fashion that the speakers at the Irving banquet were brought into
the extemporized programme, and with the most agreeable results. Mr.
Chauncey M. Depew, being asked by the chairman to speak, rose promptly,
amidst the clouds of many Havanas, and said:—

 “Mr. President,—The best criticism that was made upon the speech of
 our guest to-night was, ‘He talks like an American.’ I am sure that
 this memorable night will be recollected from the fact that, in the
 midst of the din of wars and contests and controversies about us, this
 is simply a peaceful tribute on behalf of this club to one of the
 chief and most devoted of the exponents of the drama. We have welcomed
 to this country recently many eminent Englishmen, and among them Lord
 Coleridge, whom we were glad to see and to honor, both for what he is
 and what he represents. We have received, at the same time with Mr.
 Irving, Matthew Arnold, and, while as a great thinker we give him
 welcome, we warn him that orthodoxy has for him its scalping-knife
 sharp, and that the theological hatchet is thirsting for his gore.
 (Laughter.)

 “The whole town is in a din and furore with the operatic war, and
 tenors are peeping over high ‘C’s’ to get at each other, while
 sopranos are hauled before the courts. (Laughter.) Mapleson walks
 around with the chip on his shoulder, and Abbey calls upon the police
 to prevent him from hurting somebody. (Laughter.)

 “But, while this controversy rages, we meet here to-night, with one
 voice and one accord, to welcome the most eminent dramatic scenic
 painter of this century and the most eminent English actor of this
 generation. (Applause.) We have welcomed to this board many men from
 beyond the seas, and while they have poured something into this vast
 reservoir of intellectual wealth, we have done more for them. Lord
 Houghton asserts that his health and longevity after his reception
 here were largely due to the fact that he learned at this place the
 way to longevity by a cheap and frugal meal. (Laughter.) From this
 board Sullivan arose to become a knight. (Laughter and applause.) We
 are all of us familiar with the oratory which usually characterizes an
 expression of the relations between the old country and the new. There
 is nothing better known in the whole range of eloquence than that
 which refers to the interdependent relations, in respect to literature
 and science and art, between America and England. While this chord is
 familiar there is one string which is not often touched, and that is
 the debt we owe to the English thinkers, Huxley, Tyndall, and Darwin,
 who have created the shibboleth, known in all the schools of America,
 that evolution is the great principle of modern science.

 “While the most of us believe in evolution in theory, in practice we
 have seen it only upon the stage. The Englishman, from whom our Yankee
 inherits commercial instincts, saw our want and supplied it. First he
 sent to us Lydia Thompson and her troupe. (Laughter.) And then the
 shrewd Englishman sent us ‘Pinafore.’ We were at first fascinated,
 then charmed, and then annihilated. We could stand ‘Pinafore’ for six
 hundred consecutive nights in all the theatres, to the exclusion of
 everything else; in the parlor, upon the piano, in the school-room, on
 the hurdy-gurdy and on the hand-organ; but when the church choir could
 do nothing else, then there rose a cry for relief from one end of
 this country to the other. (Great laughter.) The like of that cry has
 never been heard since the children of Israel sought to escape from
 Egypt. (Renewed laughter.) Then, in recognition of his great service,
 Queen Victoria summoned the author to her presence, and said to him:
 ‘For one hundred years I have sought to subdue those children of ours
 beyond the seas, but without avail; but for your grand success arise
 and take your place with the knights of armor.’ (Great laughter.)

 “There is nothing which more clearly indicates the development of this
 American people from provincialism and its bigotry than the welcome
 given to Macready, and that which we accord to Irving. To secure a
 hearing for Macready required that the soldiery should march with
 fixed bayonets and shotted guns, while the blood of the mob poured
 through the gutter. But now the American people have developed into a
 recognition of the fact that to be a great people they must adopt that
 catholicity that embraces men all over the world; that, while they may
 believe in Protection for textile fabrics and manufactures, there must
 be Free Trade in genius. (Applause.)

 “We hail, with the gladdest acclaim and heartiest welcome, the German
 Barnay, the Italian Salvini, and the English Irving, because we wish
 to have the best the world has of art in any of its departments, and
 because we want to show them that their success is incomplete until
 they have passed the ordeal of American criticism. (Applause.) The
 very best tribute of recent times to the sentiment of right-minded
 men of culture and intelligence on both sides of the Atlantic,
 notwithstanding what demagogues may say, is that a London audience
 crowded the house and rose to the highest enthusiasm to greet the
 appearance, and applaud the acting, of the American, Edwin Booth
 (Applause); and its counterpart will be the reciprocity manifested by
 the American people in crowding the house and applauding the acting
 of Henry Irving. (Applause.) Still, in illustration of the same
 idea, while London renders her most generous tribute to the beauty
 and genius of Mary Anderson, we here, with an equal chivalry, will
 receive with our best loyalty that beautiful, charming, and genial
 woman, that brilliant actress, that great genius, Ellen Terry.” (Great
 applause.)

General Horace Porter, being called up by the President, assured the
company that he was really not prepared to speak. He said he felt
considerably embarrassed. His audience evidently did not believe him,
and he amply justified their scepticism. In an easy, conversational
manner he said:—

 “I do not even feel that security which was enjoyed by Daniel in
 the lions’ den, for he had the comfortable assurance that as these
 animals had their original programme, although he might be eaten,
 it was not likely that he would be called upon for an after-dinner
 speech. (Laughter.) But if there is any stimulus which can arouse the
 most sluggish mind it has been abundantly furnished to-night by the
 finished and chaste address which has fallen from the lips of our
 distinguished guest. He has shown us to-night how well qualified he
 is to furnish us with that dish which I know is so much relished in
 his own country,—after-dinner tongue garnished with brains. Standing,
 as we do, in the presence of so distinguished a representative of
 that profession which is accustomed to speak the carefully prepared
 words of the dramatists, I would not be surprised to hear our guest
 say, in the language of Romeo to Juliet in the balcony scene, as he
 listens to my ill-considered words, ‘He speaks, yet he says nothing.’
 (Laughter.) I hope Mr. Irving is beginning to understand that speech
 is the peculiar form of insanity that comes upon the American mind
 after dinner, and that here men keep silent only when they are
 salivated. (Laughter.) Our guest, no doubt, begins to realize what
 this martyrdom is. By the time he is ready to depart from us he will,
 no doubt, have greater respect than ever before for the beneficence
 of that Providence which has endowed us with two ears and only one
 mouth, (Laughter.) But this martyrdom to-night does not seem to be
 of the nature of the martyrdom of Charles I., for throughout it all
 he has not lost his head. It seems to be rather that martyrdom of
 Cranmer,—he has been so thoroughly toasted on every side. (Laughter.)
 But there is one privilege that Mr. Irving must not expect to enjoy.
 When German and French artists came here they enjoyed a special and
 peculiar privilege; they were not able to understand a word that was
 said by the speakers. (Laughter.)

 “But I cannot sit down without saying a few words in all seriousness.
 It is that this club considers that it enjoys a peculiar privilege in
 having the distinguished guest of the night partaking of his first
 family meal within our land in these walls. (Applause.) It has been a
 cherished desire on the part of this club to press the cup of greeting
 to his lips. We recognize in him the masterly interpreter of the
 sublime works of that prince of dramatists whom both countries claim
 as their own. He comes amongst us with a name that is no stranger to
 our hearts. In his coming here I see the great delineator of romance
 visiting the land of our most charming creator of romance,—Henry
 Irving visiting the home of Washington Irving. The American people
 feel under a deep sense of obligation to our guest, because when that
 great representative of the American drama set foot upon foreign
 shores the lips that gave him the warmest greeting, the hands that led
 him to the boards of London’s most distinguished temple of the drama,
 were those of Henry Irving. He shared equally with Booth the honors
 of his own stage; and laid down the principle that has become a law,
 which declares the path of ambition is never so narrow that two cannot
 walk abreast upon it.

 “It was my privilege a year ago to hear Mr. Irving in his own home. It
 was my privilege to feast my vision upon the masterly creations of the
 stage of the Lyceum. There one saw at once the reality of painting.
 There the curtain rises upon absolute perfection. If I were asked
 the secret of his success I should say it is owing to his constant
 aspirations after the highest realms of dramatic art. I would that
 words or deeds of mine could add to the warmth of the welcome he has
 received.” (Loud applause.)

Dr. A. E. Macdonald, ex-Mayor A. Oakey Hall, Dr. Robert Laird Collier,
Mr. Joseph Jefferson, and other gentlemen, also responded to the
chairman’s call. Dr. Macdonald indulged in some good-humored sallies at
the expense of Mr. Depew. He also spoke of the New York press having
“only just arrived at a proper estimate of its true value,—the result
being a general reduction in price to two cents.” Mr. Oakey Hall,
referring to the many streets and buildings he had been officially
called upon to name, said, “I now, in memory of this night, declare
that the window recess in which our illustrious guest is sitting shall,
from henceforth, be known as ‘The Henry Irving!’” Mr. Jefferson said,
“Gentlemen, Charles Lamb is reported to have declared that there are
only two classes in the world,—one born to borrow, and the other to
lend. So do I think there are two classes of speech-makers,—one born
to get into it, the other to get out of it. I belong to the latter
crowd. Nevertheless on this occasion I rise cheerfully to do my best
among the born talkers. Mr. Irving must be getting tired of hearing
his name mentioned so often with words of welcome and admiration, and
I will only say that I join heartily in all the kind and worthy things
that have been said of him.”


IV.

IT was late before the Lotos-eaters parted, although London clubmen
take more out of the night than is the habit with New-Yorkers. The
raciness of the evening’s speeches was repeated in the stories that
were told by the genial few, who sat and talked and smoked with their
guest until Fifth avenue was as quiet and deserted as it was when a
crowd of admiring friends went out to meet the “Britannic” a week
previously. _Apropos_ of an amusing anecdote, with a practical joke in
it, which was related, I think, by Colonel Knox, the courteous honorary
secretary of the club, Irving said, “I am not much of a hand at that
kind of fun, but I remember an incident in which my old friend Toole, a
Glasgow doctor, and myself were engaged that may amuse you. Some years
ago we found ourselves with a holiday forced upon us by the church of
Scotland. We utilized it by going out a short distance into the country
and dining together at a famous roadside inn. The house was quite empty
of guests, and we claimed the privilege of travellers, on our way to
the next town, to sit over our dinner a trifle later than it was the
custom to keep the bar open. The landlord was very civil, and we had an
excellent dinner. The waiter who attended to our wants was a quaint old
fellow,—one of those rugged sort of serving-men with whom Sir Walter
Scott has made us all so well acquainted. While he was respectful,
he was, nevertheless, very talkative. He told us there had been of
late many robberies in the neighborhood. The constabulary, he said,
were quite out of their reckoning in regard to tracing the thieves.
He wondered if the country was going back again to the coaching days
when cracksmen and highwaymen had it all their own way in those parts.
The old fellow was a little superstitious too, and a lover of the
marvellous, as many of the country people who live outside great cities
are apt to be.

“‘You seem a trifle hipped,’ I said; ‘take a glass of wine.’

“‘I am just a wee bit low,’ he said; ‘what wi’ the bad weather, the
dull times’—

“‘And the robberies you’ve lately had about here,’ I suggested.

“‘Ah, weel, they’re nae calculated to raise one’s sperits. Good health
to you, gentlemen!’

“We thanked him and I filled his glass again.

“‘This house,’ said Toole, ‘is rather a lonely place; you don’t have
many guests staying here?’

“‘Not at this time o’ the year,’ he replied; ‘only just chance
customers.’

“I filled his glass again before he went for the cheese. When he came
back I took up a fork, and expressed some surprise that his master
should, in these thieving days, entrust his guests with real silver
plate.

“‘I dinna bring it oot for everybody,’ he replied; ‘but for a pairty o’
gentlemen like yoursels, it’s a defferent thing.’

“‘Is the salver there,’ asked Toole, taking up the running and pointing
to the sideboard, ‘real silver?’

“‘Indeed it is, and all the plate aboot is silver, and I ken they dinna
mak’ sich silver nowadays.’

“‘Bring us a little whiskey!—a pint in a decanter; a drop of the
best,’ I said.

“Having planted the right kind of seed in his mind for the working of
a little jest I had in my own, my companions and myself entered into
a conspiracy against the peace of this harmless Scotchman. Invited to
take a nip of whiskey, he readily complied, and just as readily took
a seat. We drew him out about all the robberies and murders he could
remember, and then deftly got from him the statement that his master
had gone to bed, leaving up only himself, the bar-maid, and his wife.
Presently the doctor looked at his watch, and said it would soon be
time for us to go. ‘I think you had better get our bill, Sandy,’ I
said, for by this time I was quite on familiar terms with him, and he
with me. ‘You need not be in a hurry; let us have it in about a quarter
of an hour,’ added Toole, somewhat mysteriously. ‘We are not quite
ready to go yet.’

“‘Vary weel, and thank ye,’ he said, at the same time making us a
bow which was quite a study of manner, combining independence and
servility. He was a fine old fellow, straight as a poplar, but with a
face full of wrinkles, and a characteristic gait that some people would
call a mannerism.

“The moment he left the room each of us seized a piece of plate until
we had cleared up every bit of silver in the room. We noted the exact
places from which we took every piece; then we opened the window. It
was a very dark night, but we had noticed that close by the window
there were some thick shrubs. We put out the gas, but left alight two
candles on the table, so that we could see from our hiding-place what
Sandy’s face would look like when it should dawn upon him that we were
a pack of thieves—perhaps part of the gang of swell mobsmen who had
become the terror of the district.

“I shall never forget the bewildered expression of the poor fellow’s
face as he stared at the empty room. Amazement gave place to fear,
and fear to indignation, when he discovered that the silver had been
carried off.

“‘Great heevens!’ he exclaimed. ‘Thieves! berglers! robbers! An’ if the
rogues hae nae carried off the plate and gan awa’ wi’out payin’ their
score into the bargain, my name is nae Sandy Blake!”

“He rushed to the open window and peered wildly out into the darkness.

“‘The scoundrels were just fooling me, like any softy.’

“Then he began to shout ‘Thieves!’ and ‘Murder!’ and ran off, as we
hoped and expected he would, to alarm the house. We all crept back to
the room, closed the window, drew down the blind, relighted the gas and
our cigars, put each piece of silver back into its proper place, and
sat down to wait for our bill. We could hear Sandy, at the top of his
voice, telling the story of the robbery; and in a few minutes we heard,
evidently the entire household, coming pell-mell to the dining-room.
Then our door was flung open; but the crowd, instead of rushing in upon
us, suddenly paused _en masse_, and Sandy exclaimed, ‘Great God! Weel,
weel! Hae I just gane clean daft?’

“‘Come awa’, drunken foo’, come awa’!’ exclaimed the landlord, pulling
Sandy and the rest back into the passage and shutting the door; but we
could hear how both master and wife abused poor Sandy, who did nothing
but call upon his Maker and declare, if he had to die that minute, when
he went into the room it was empty of both guests and silver. He was
told to go to bed and sleep off his drunk, and thank his stars that his
long service saved him from instant dismissal.

“We rang the bell. The landlord himself answered it. We asked for an
explanation of the hubbub. It was nothing, he said, only that his man
had got drunk and made a fool of himself. Was that all, we asked.
Well, yes, except that he was very sorry to have so disturbed us.
To have all the house burst in upon us, we said, was such a strange
proceeding, that we begged he would explain it. He said he did not
like to do so. It was the first time Sandy had ever been known to get
so drunk as to lose his senses, and all he could do was to express his
regret that his servant had made a fool of himself; but he would not
insult his guests by telling them how great an ass the fellow was. We
coaxed him, however, to explain the entire business; and at last, with
many apologies, he told us how the drunken fool had mistaken us for
a pack of thieves, and swore we had run off without paying our bill
and taken the plate with us. We humored the landlord for a time, and
when he was at last in a genial temper we told him the true story,
and he enjoyed the joke as well as any of us. Then we had him send
for Sandy, who was so glad to discover that he had not lost his wits
that a couple of sovereigns left him, at our departure, just as happy
and contented a man as he was before making the acquaintance of ‘a
parcel of actors,’ who are still regarded in some remote corners of
Great Britain as the ‘rogues and vagabonds’ they are proclaimed in our
ancient statute-books.”



V.

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE PLAY.


 The Vividness of First Impressions—New York Hotels—On the Elevated
 Road with “Charlie”—Trotting Horses—Audiences on both Sides of
 the Atlantic—“A Man knows best what he can do”—“Americanisms,” so
 called—A Satirical Sketch, entitled “Bitten by a Dog “—Louis and the
 Duke of Stratford-on-Avon—Macready and the Forrest Riots.


I.

“A JOURNALIST from Chicago is anxious to have your opinion of New
York, and some suggestions about your feelings in regard to your first
appearance in America,” I said; “and if you will talk to him I have
undertaken to collaborate with him in writing the interview, so that I
may revise and adopt it for our book of impressions.”

“Is he here?”

“Yes, he has come over a thousand miles for the purpose, and his chief
is an old friend of mine, the proprietor of ‘The Daily News.’”

“I am quite willing,” he said, “if you think my impressions are of
sufficient importance to record, after only a week of New York.”

“First impressions of a new country are always the most vivid.
I believe in first impressions, at all events, in your case. It
is another matter when one comes to treat them as a basis for
philosophical argument. Your friend, Mr. Matthew Arnold, was not
backward in discussing the American people, their cities, their
institutions, their manners and customs, before he had crossed the
Atlantic at all.”

“Well, let us talk to Chicago then, if you wish it.”

“So far, are you satisfied with your reception in this country?”

“More than satisfied; I am delighted, I might say amazed. It is not
only the press and the public who have shown me so much attention, but
I have received many courtesies privately,—some from American friends
whom I have met in London, some from gentlemen whom I have never seen.”

“What is your general impression of New York, its theatres, hotels,
streets, and its social life?”

“I think Wallack’s, or the Star, as it is called, one of the most
admirable theatres I have ever seen, so far as the auditorium is
concerned, and, in some respects, as to the stage. The appointments
behind the foot-lights are rather primitive; but, as a whole, it is a
fine house.”

“Is it as good as your own in London?”

“Better, in many respects. As for the hotels, they are on a far larger
scale, and seem more complete in their arrangements than ours. The
Brevoort is, I am told, more like an English house than any other in
the city. The genial proprietor evidently desires to make his guests
think so. Portraits of Queen Victoria, the late Prince Consort, and
pictorial reminiscences of the old country, meet you at every turn. As
for social life in New York, what I have seen of it is very much like
social life in London—a little different in its forms and ceremonies,
or, I might say, in the absence of ceremony—with this exception, that
there does not appear to be what you would call an idle class here,—a
class of gentlemen who have little else to do but to be amused and have
what you call ‘a good time.’ Everybody seems to be engaged in business
of some kind or another.”

“Is this your first visit to America?”

“Yes; though I seem to have known it for a long time. American friends
in London have for years been telling me interesting things about your
country. I had heard of the elevated road, Brooklyn bridge, and the
splendid harbor of New York. But they are all quite different to what I
had imagined them. The elevated railway is a marvellous piece of work.
I rode down-town upon the Sixth-avenue line yesterday. They compelled
me to carry my dog Charlie; and I notice, by the way, a remarkable
absence of dogs in the streets. You see them everywhere, you know, in
London. Charlie, an old friend of mine, attracted great attention on
the cars.”

“More than you did?”

“Oh, yes, much more. He’s a well-bred little fellow, and one gentleman,
who took a great interest in him, tried to open negotiations to buy him
from me. Poor Charlie!—he is getting old and blind, though he looks
sprightly enough. He has travelled with me in Europe and Africa, and
now in America; some day we hope to see Asia together.”

“Does he go with you to the theatre?”

“Always; and he knows the pieces I play. I suppose he knows them by
the color of the clothes I wear. During some plays he sniffs about all
night—during the long ones he settles quietly down. When Hamlet is
played he is particularly sedate. He hates the ‘Lyons Mail,’ because
there is shooting in it. When the murder scene comes he hides away in
the furthermost corner he can find.”

“You are fond of animals?”

“Yes, very; and the most characteristic thing I believe I have yet seen
in America is your trotting-horse. I have been twice upon the track
beyond the park; it is a wonderful sight.”

“Have you no trotting-horses in England?”

“Nothing like yours, and no light vehicles such as yours. I could only
think of the old chariot-races as I watched the teams of magnificent
trotters that rushed by me like the wind. I hear you have a fine
race-course at Chicago. Our friend Hatton told me long ago about seeing
the famous Maud S. make her great time there.”

“Oh, yes. I remember how astonished he was. Maud S. and our fire-engine
service captured his fancy. He described the racing in ‘To-day in
America.’ You are coming to Chicago?”

“Yes. I am informed that I shall strike quite a different civilization
in your city to that of New York; that public life with you is even
more ardent than it is in the Empire city, and that the spirit of your
commerce is more energetic. I can hardly understand that; but I long
to see your wonderful streets and your city boundaries that daily push
their way into the prairie. John McCullough, I remember, once gave me a
startling description of Chicago.”

“I see that Mr. Sala, in the ‘Illustrated London News,’ warns you to
expect our press to attack you. Is Mr. Sala a friend of yours?”

“Yes; and a dear friend and a very remarkable man. But we are wandering
a little from the subject you came to talk about.”

“Not much. May I ask if you have any nervousness as to your first
appearance?”

“Yes, the natural nervousness that is part of an actor’s first
appearances everywhere. I cannot think that the taste for the drama is
any different in New York and Chicago from Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow,
Liverpool, Birmingham, or London, in my own country.”

“Very much is expected of you. It would be hardly possible for you to
realize the exaggerated ideas of some people. If you were a god you
could not satisfy their expectations.”

“Nor, if I were a demon, could I achieve the attitudes and poses of my
caricaturists. Between the two there is hope.”

“You feel that it is a great ordeal any way?”

“Yes.”

“Some of your methods are new, more particularly as to Shakespearian
productions?”

“I believe so. In my early days I had little opportunity to see other
actors play Shakespeare, except on the stage where I acted with them,
and then I was so occupied with my own work that I had little time
to observe theirs. I had, consequently, to think for myself. It does
not follow, of course, that I have always done the right thing, but
my principle has been to go straight to the author. I have not taken
up the methods of other actors, nor modelled my work on this or that
tradition. A man knows best what he can do; and it seems to me just
as absurd for one actor to imitate another, to recite this speech, or
impersonate that action, as he has seen some other actor recite or
impersonate, as it would be for a writer to print a historical incident
just as some other had done, or for a modern novelist to write his
stories on the lines of Fielding, Richardson, or Thackeray, without
giving play to his own talents, or reins to his own imagination and
conception of character.”

“I will not weary you by going over the old ground concerning your
alleged mannerisms; but I see that a New York paper has already taken
you to task for jesting about the Pilgrim fathers. Did you notice that?”

“Oh, yes; you mean as to the Pilgrim mothers. I had no intention
to jest about Plymouth rock. I only repeated a story told me by an
American friend, the point of which was that the austerity of the
Pilgrim fathers must have made them trying persons for the Pilgrim
mothers. A very harmless bit of fun. One of my interviewers makes me
speak of ‘Americanisms’ too. The word should have been ‘mannerisms.’
In regard to the so-called Americanisms of American actors, all I have
heard in that way have fallen from the lips of Raymond and Florence,
just as you would hear cockneyisms from our humorous comedians, Toole
and Brough. The accent of your great actors does not strike me as
different to our own; though a reporter on board the ‘Britannic,’ last
Sunday, told me he had understood I had a very strange accent, and was
surprised to find that I spoke English as well as he did.”


II.

THE night before Irving’s first appearance at the Star Theatre was
spent at a quiet little supper, given to a few private friends, at the
Manhattan Club. The conversation turned chiefly upon English actors.

“I was once at a dinner of a theatrical fund, over which a famous old
actor presided,” said Irving. “His proposal of the first toast of the
evening was a pathetic incident. His mind was wandering back to his
early days. After alluding to the loyalty of all classes of Englishmen,
and of actors in particular, he raised his glass and said, ‘Gentlemen,
I beg to give you the health of His Majesty King George the Third!’”

Somebody suggested that the ocean trip had done Irving a great deal of
good.

“It was the most perfect rest I ever remember to have had,” he said;
“nothing to do, nothing to think of, no letters to answer—none to
receive, for that matter; nothing to do but to rest. I took plenty of
exercise, also, on deck. I must have walked many miles a day.”

Later in the evening, over a last cigar, he said to me, “But I did a
little writing on board the ‘Britannic.’ I think it will amuse you.
Watson asked me to send him something for the Christmas number of his
newspaper,—an anecdote, or sketch of some kind. Shortly before I left
Liverpool there appeared in the journals a paragraph to the effect that
I had been bitten by a dog at some aristocratic house. It occurred to
me on the ‘Britannic’ that this would make a good little story. You
were telling me last night about my estate and palace on the Thames;
and yet, I don’t suppose any man leads a quieter life than I do. I call
my story ‘Bitten by a Dog.’”

He read as follows, and, like all good humorists, was tickled with
his own fun, laughing now and then with real enjoyment at the
suggestiveness of his satirical references to newspaper gossips, who,
not knowing him personally, or being in any way acquainted with his
habits, undertake to describe his inner life:—

 “We regret to hear that Mr. Henry Irving, while on a visit near——,
 was severely bitten by a favorite dog, belonging to his host. He bled
 profusely, but we sincerely hope that he will not seriously suffer
 from this occurrence.—_Newspaper Paragraph._

“The circumstance thus recorded was somewhat novel to me, and having
received several telegrams and letters of condolence upon my sad
misfortune, I thought I would attempt, during my leisure upon the good
ship ‘Britannic,’ to tell this little story of ‘The Bite of a Dog,’
with a veracity equalling that of the inventor of the above-quoted
paragraph.

“Seated in one of the suite of rooms which I invariably occupy in
the hotels of the United Kingdom during my provincial tours,—which
have become alike the wonder and amazement of the entire dramatic
profession,—I was gazing into one of the many mirrors before which it
is my regular habit to study grace of pose and poetry of expression.
I was surrounded by the secretaries without whom I never travel; some
telegraphing to the four corners of the globe the astounding success
and enormous profit which accompany all my undertakings; others
translating some of those essays on dramatic art which have done so
much to regenerate the British drama; others copying in manifold
certain not uncomplimentary criticisms of my own composition upon the
most subtle and sublime of my impersonations; for, with Garrick, I
agree that the actor should ever embrace the opportunity of becoming
the critic of his own performances.

“In the midst of this multitudinous work a messenger was announced from
the Duke of Stratford-upon-Avon. With a thrill of pleasure I sprang
to my feet, and, greeting the messenger with a fascinating smile,
begged him to be seated. Then throwing myself with a careless ease upon
the velvet-pile sofa which adorned my room (a present from one of my
admirers, and which I always carry with me, as I do my many mirrors), I
crossed my graceful right over my still more graceful left leg, broke
the duke’s seal, and perused his letter.

“It was an invitation to sojourn from Saturday to Monday at the duke’s
feudal home, some fifteen miles from the town I was then appearing in.
Throughout my life it has been my practice to solicit the favor and
patronage of the great; for it is my firm belief that, to elevate
one’s art, one should mix as much as possible with the nobility and
gentry.

  “‘To grovel to the great is no disgrace,
  For nothing humble can be out of place.’

“This social opportunity was not to be lost; hesitation there was none;
the invitation was accepted.

“On the night of my visit to His Grace, the theatre was crammed from
floor to ceiling with an audience attracted by that cold curiosity
which characterizes the public with regard to my performances. The play
was ‘Louis XI.,’ and the difficult feat which I had to accomplish was
to catch a train after the performance, in order to present myself at
the mansion of my noble host in time to participate in the ducal supper.

“Throughout the play I labored with all heart and earnestness to cut
short the performance by every means in my power. I was determined to
sleep under the roof of the Stratford-upon-Avons that night, come what
come would.

“The curtain fell only five minutes before the time of the train
starting; so, throwing on my overcoat of sable furs (a handsome adjunct
to my American expedition), and, still attired as King Louis,—for I
had no time to change my costume,—I rushed into the brougham, ready at
the stage-door, and, followed by my _valet_, drove frantically to the
station.

“I was thrust immediately through the open door of the nearest
compartment—the door was locked—the whistle shrieked—away sped the
train—and, panting and breathless, I was left to my meditations.

“‘Ah, horror! most dreadful thought; too dreadful to relate! I have
left the theatre without my teeth,—my beautiful teeth!’

“In order to heighten the realism of the impersonation when I first
acted Louis, I had several teeth extracted by one of our most eminent
dentists, who has offered, as an advertisement, to take out any others
in the like liberal manner.[6] In my insane hurry to catch the train I
had left my teeth in a glass on my dressing-room table.

“But regrets are useless; the train has stopped, and I enter the duke’s
chariot, in waiting at the station, and through the broad woodlands
soon reach the duke’s home.

“I alight from the ancestral coach and enter the ancestral hall, in
which a cheerful fire is blazing upon the ancestral hearth.

“Suddenly I find myself in the presence of my host, surrounded by many
scions of the nobility of ‘England, Home, and Beauty.’ The oddness of
my position (dressed as I was, and minus my teeth), and the natural
inferiority which I always feel when in the presence of the real
aristocrat, robbed me for the moment of my self-possession, and I
unconsciously permitted two of the gentlemen in powder to divest me of
my overcoat, and there I stood revealed as that wicked monarch Louis XI.

“Now, this character I have long had an idea of abandoning, for in art
the eye must be pleased; and though it is commendable to follow nature
and truth, yet, if this can only be accomplished at the cost of one’s
personal appearance, nature and truth should certainly give way. But to
resume.

“Surprise at my aspect was in every face. There was a painful pause,
and then a burst of laughter.

“‘What is it?’ whispered one.

“‘Who is it?’ whispered another.

“‘Irving,’ said a third.

“‘Who’s Irving?’ asked a fourth.

“‘What! don’t you know?—the actor—Irving, the actor—I’ve seen him at
the Gaiety!’

“I was profoundly relieved by the duke coming to my rescue and
graciously suggesting that I might, before supper, wish to see my room.
I thanked His Grace with the dignity with which nature has endowed
me, and strode like Marshal Stalk across the marble vestibule, when
a fierce sanguinary Blenheim spaniel flew from the lap of a dowager
duchess, and, with a terrific howl, buried its fangs in the calf of my
beautiful left leg.

“Consternation and pallor were in every countenance; the dowager ran
to seize her pet; but, to the dismay of all, the dog’s hold would not
relax. They pulled and pulled again, and ‘Fido’ howled at every pull.
His teeth, unlike mine, would not be extracted.

“There was a pause of painful silence. Mingled fear and compassion sat
on every brow. The dowager was on the point of swooning in the arms
of the duke, when the dignity and distinction which sometimes support
me in emergencies came to my aid. Turning to the gentle assembly,
with a seraphic smile upon my noble features, I said, as well as my
articulation would permit me:—

“‘Be not alarmed, fair ladies; be not alarmed! The dog has not torn my
leg, he has only torn my paddings!’”


III.

“GOOD-NIGHT,” I said, “and good luck! When next we say good-night New
York will have pronounced its verdict.”

“I don’t believe in luck,” he answered. “It will be all right. But it
seems strange, after all our talks of America, that to-morrow night I
am to act here in New York. How everything comes to an end! Next year
at this time, all being well, we shall be looking back upon the whole
tour, recalling incidents of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago,
Baltimore, Washington; and I dare say it will appear very much like a
dream. It was not far from this hotel where Macready found refuge from
the mob, in a friend’s house. During this week several persons who were
present have mentioned the riots to me, and they all blame Forrest.
I told them Forrest had some reason to believe that Macready had set
Forster against him, which, no doubt, helped to embitter Forrest’s
mind. They say, however, that Forrest’s hatred of English actors
amounted to something like a mania. He must have been a remarkable and
great actor in many parts.”[7]

Irving little thought that in the reminiscences of a past, which had
yet to come, would be an incident that should inseparably link his own
name with the Forrest-Macready riots.



VI.

THE BELLS.

 A Stormy Night in New York—Ticket-Speculators at Work—A
 First-night Audience—Mathias received with Enthusiasm—Behind the
 Scenes—Lighting the Stage—Returning Thanks—Criticism of the
 Crowd—John Gilbert’s Opinion—Actor and Audience—English Playgoers
 and Londoners—Laughter and Applause—An Artistic Triumph.


I.

TORRENTS of rain without, and a great fashionable crowd within the Star
Theatre, inaugurated Irving’s first appearance on the American stage.

The electric lights, away up among the wet clouds that emptied
themselves over Union square, flashed coldly on untended roadways,
which vehicles of all kinds churned into rivers of mud. The
architectural surroundings of the place and the well-appointed
carriages that dashed along to the Star Theatre and the opera were
singularly out of keeping with the broken streets and the everlasting
telegraph poles of the American continent.

It was a night on which London would have hesitated to turn out of its
comfortable homes to greet even the most illustrious stranger; for the
rain was tropical in its density. It splashed on the pavements in great
drops, or, taken hold of by the wind, came at you in sheets of water.
Carriage-horses were protected with “rubber cloths,” and the people
who stepped out of the cars at the top of Broadway, or were driven
to the door of the theatre in the public stages, were enveloped in
“water-proofs.” Nevertheless, the moment they alighted they were mobbed
by a band of ticket-speculators, who followed or preceded them into the
broad vestibule of the theatre, hawking seats even under the box-office
windows. In appearance these energetic dealers were the counterpart
of the betting men you may see on any English race-course,—the same
in manner, and almost in voice. They were warmly and well clad, had
satchels strapped to their shoulders; but, instead of shouting, “Two to
one, bar one!” “I’ll bet on the field!” and other similar invitations
to do business, they announced, in hoarse tones, “I have seats in the
front row!” “Orchestra seats, third row!” “I have the best seats in the
orchestra!” These New York speculators held in one hand a thick bundle
of notes, and a packet of tickets in the other. They had change ready
for any note you might offer them, and their tickets were frequently
what they represented them to be, “for the choicest locations.”

For some time a notable crowd of persons, distinguished in New York
society, pushed their way to seats which they had already secured, many
of them at a premium of one hundred per cent. beyond the box-office
rates.[8] A large number of persons waited in the vestibule until
the curtain should go up, in the hope that the speculators would, for
a moderate consideration, relax their grip on “choice seats.” Many
tickets were sold, however, in the street, and in the vestibule of
the theatre, for sums varying from five to ten dollars. Later in the
evening, during the first and second acts of the play, the speculators
parted with the balance of their property at box-office rates, which
they readily obtained.

The entire floor of an American theatre is devoted to stall seats.
Ladies and gentlemen who occupied the back seats had to submit to
constant arrivals all through the first and second acts. The doors
at the Star Theatre open right upon the audience. They were swinging
backwards and forwards during the first half hour of the piece.
It is a universal habit in America not to be seated at the time
announced for the curtain to go up. Add to this the obstruction of
the ticket-speculators, and the premium they offer to late comers.
Supplement these disturbing elements with a wet night, the natural
annoyance of individuals who have paid large premiums for their seats,
the prejudice against Irving which had been persistently promoted by
his few but active enemies; and you will understand the severity of the
ordeal of this first appearance in the United States.


II.

A ROUND of applause greeted the rise of the curtain upon the first
scene of “The Bells.” The audience thus testified their desire to be
kindly; but, as the first part of the story was told, there was a
certain impatience even in their recognition of the artistic simplicity
of the scene. “The Bells” opens more like a novel than a play; and yet
the suggestiveness of the narrative at the table, as the topers chat
and drink, is singularly dramatic. On this first night the play seemed
to drag, and the audience were on the tiptoe of expectation. Those who
were comfortably seated were anxious for the appearance of Irving;
those who poured in to fill vacant seats at the back, and the hundreds
who pushed in to stand behind them, created an uncomfortable sensation
of disquiet. Had the Star been a London theatre, the patience of the
people who were seated would have been so seriously taxed that they
would hardly have permitted the play to proceed until order had been
secured in all parts of the house.

At last the door of the burgomaster’s homelike inn is flung open, and
Irving stands there in his snow-sprinkled furs, his right hand raised
above his head in the action of greeting his family, his left hand
grasping his whip. His entrance was never more natural, never more
picturesque. The audience hardly heard his opening words,—“It’s I!”
They greeted him with thunders of applause, and shouts of welcome. He
presently stepped forward from the door. Those who knew him would not
fail to detect an effort to control his emotions, when he bowed his
acknowledgments of a greeting as spontaneous as it was hearty. I had
seen him in his dressing-room only a short time before. He was anxious,
but firm as a rock; not in doubt of his own powers, but impressed, as
any man might be, under similar circumstances, with the knowledge of
how high the expectations of the people had been raised; how great the
task of even approaching the standard of their excited hopes.

And now that the audience, touched by the artistic novelty of his
appearance, and moved by their sentiments of hospitality, had given
vent to their feelings, they settled down to allow the actor, of whose
methods they had heard so much, to conquer their favorable opinion if
he could. Despite the prejudices of some, and the annoyance of those
who had been victimized by the speculators, auditors were willing to be
captured,—nay, were desirous, if they could honestly do so, to endorse
the verdict of their cousins of England, as to the place which Henry
Irving holds in dramatic art.

“The Bells” is a weird play. Its lines are simple; it never halts.
Mathias is an inn-keeper. He murders his guest, a Polish Jew, murders
him on the highway for his gold, and is forever haunted by his crime.
The jangle of the sleigh-bells, as the Jew’s horse gallops away after
its master’s death, is continually in the assassin’s ears. Their sad
music trickles through the story like the ripple of a rising stream
through stubble-fields in autumn. It sweeps over the dramatic narrative
like the sighing of the wind in “chill October.” Remorse takes
possession of the criminal; he dreams he is being tried for his life.

This scene affords special opportunities for illustrating Irving’s
dramatic magnetism. The judicial court of his dreamland forces him
to submit to the operations of a mesmerist. Under this influence he
makes confession of his crime by reënacting it. Nothing more weirdly
suggestive can be imagined. Before an audience as breathless as the
court, the actor went through the pantomime of stopping the Jew’s
horse, cutting down the Jew with an axe, plundering the body and
thrusting it into a lime-kiln. Then, convicted and condemned, the
murderer dies under the violent shock to his nerves of this retributive
force of imagination,—dies while the church-bells are ringing for his
daughter’s marriage,—his last agonizing words, “Take the rope from my
throat!”

Only a daring artist would undertake such a part; only a great one
could succeed in it. Most of the second and last acts is a monologue;
and, in a country like America, which is accustomed to rapidity of
thought and action, Irving was courageous in risking the result of
so serious a strain upon the mind of a highly strung audience. The
experiment, however, was entirely a triumph, notwithstanding the
previously-mentioned discomforts attending an overcrowded house, and
the rain that stormed without.


III.

THE curtain having fallen on the first act, Irving received the honor
of a triple call, after which I went to his room, and found him reading
some of the numerous cables and telegrams from home, and from several
distant American and Canadian cities, wishing him success.

“How kind everybody is!” he exclaimed, as he handed me a bundle of
despatches. “You should have seen the hundreds of telegrams and letters
that were sent to me on board the steamer as I was leaving Liverpool!”

“You are pleased?”

“More than pleased,” he said. “What an audience! I never played to
a more sympathetic lot of people in my life. They respond to every
movement and point of the scene with a marvellous promptitude.”

“You still feel that you are among friends?”

“I do, indeed.”

“I believe you played that first act to-night better than ever you
played it in London.”

“Do you think so? ‘Art is long and life is fleeting.’”

There was in the atmosphere behind the foot-lights something of the
electricity of a first night at the Lyceum,—no fuss, but a suppression
of feeling, a kind of setting of the teeth and a girding up of the
loins. The fine “property” horse of the vision scene, covered with snow
that would not melt, had been dragged to the rear, and the stage was
being set for the trial scene. Mr. Frank Tyars had donned his ermine
as the judge, the mesmerist was ready at the wing, the last nail was
being driven into the judicial bench. The local stage-hands and supers
were at last evidently impressed with the importance of attention to
some little matter of detail which they had daily tried to shirk at
rehearsal. There had even been difficulties, on the stage and off, in
regard to the regulation of the lights. Prominent gas-brackets had been
removed from the auditorium, but the lowering of the lights down nearly
to darkness for the last act of “The Bells” had been resisted. Later,
however, Mr. Loveday found his New York collaborators in this respect
willing allies; and within the first week the man who had charge of
the calcium lights said, “I have seen them all; every one of the great
actors and stage-managers; and they don’t begin to know as much about
lighting the stage as this Mr. Henry Irving has forgotten!”

A breathless silence testified to the impressiveness of the last act.
You might almost have fancied you heard, in the car-bells of the
streets, faint echoes of the sleigh-bells that jangled in the ears of
Mathias. I remember the first night of “The Bells,” at the Lyceum.
The stillness in this New York house, as Mathias died of imaginary
strangulation, reminded me of the London theatre on that occasion. The
sensation in the two houses was the same. Nobody moved until the thud
of the drop-curtain roller emphatically announced the end. Then the
Star audience, as the Lyceum audience had done before them, gave vent
to their enthusiasm.

Called and recalled, Irving appeared before the curtain. Then there was
a cry of “Speech!” “Speech!” whereupon, he said:—

 “Ladies and Gentlemen,—I believe it is a custom with you to allow
 an actor to thank you for the pleasure you have given to him; and I
 will avail myself of that custom now, to say that I thank you with all
 my heart and soul. It seems to me that the greatness of your welcome
 typifies the greatness of your nation. I thank you, and, ‘beggar that
 I am, I am even poor in thanks.’ Let me say that my comrades are also
 deeply sensible of your kindness, and let me add that I hope you will
 give a warmer welcome, if such were possible, than I have received,
 to my associate and friend, Miss Ellen Terry, who will have the honor
 of appearing before you to-morrow night. And, finally, if it be not
 a liberty, will you allow me to express the hope ‘that our loves may
 increase even as our days do grow.’”

As the audience left the theatre, the opinions expressed accentuated
the reality of the actor’s success. “The things that have been said
about his mannerisms are shameful”; “Why, he has no more mannerisms
than Booth!” “I never was more agreeably surprised”; “He speaks like
an educated American”; “And in the street looks like a Yale or Harvard
professor”; “Never saw anything finer”; “Most awfully impressive
scene, that last act”; “Stage magnetism in the highest degree”;
“Guess he is safe for the biggest run of popularity of any actor or
any man who has ever come to this country”; “Oh, he is immense!”
“Did you hear Tony Pastor say it’s the intensest acting he’s ever
seen,—that’s a compliment, from what you may call a low comedian”;
“Madame Nilsson,—wasn’t she delighted?” “Yes, she wouldn’t sing
to-night; would have a box to come and see Irving.” These were some of
the remarks one caught as the audience left the theatre, and the most
practical criticism is often heard as one leaves a theatre among the
crowd.

Coming upon a group of critics and others I learn that the critic of
“The Telegram” says, “Irving is, indeed, a revelation!” while Mr. Oakey
Hall, of “Truth,” thanks God he has lived to see such an actor. Several
members of the Press Club join in the chorus of praise. Buck and Fiske,
of “The Spirit of the Times,” smile quietly, as much as to say, “We
told you so.” The famous critic of the “Tribune” goes out saying,
“Yes, it is great; there is no denying it.” Mr. Wallack, who, too ill
to walk, had been carried to his box, expresses his hearty admiration
of the actor whom for so many years he had longed to see; and Mr.
Gilbert,[9] the veteran comedian and stage-manager at Wallack’s, is
“impressed beyond expression, especially with the business of counting
the dowry.”

There is a rush of critics, reporters, correspondents, “down-town” to
chronicle the night’s success. One or two writers, whose eccentricities
give a commercial value to their work, go away to maintain their
lively reputations; but, on the whole, it is evident that everybody,
press men and public, is greatly pleased. Many American journals in
distant States were represented at the theatre by their own critics
and by correspondents. Long telegraphic despatches were wired to the
leading cities of the Union; the Associated Press sent out special
messages; the London journals were in evidence, and a new Anglo-French
paper in Paris had commissioned its New York correspondent to cable
some thousand or more words of Irving’s opening night. Since the
Forrest-Macready riot no theatrical event had created so general an
interest as the first appearance of Irving in America.


IV.

GOING behind the scenes, after the play, I found a representative
of the “Herald” already ensconced in Mr. Irving’s dressing-room. He
was pressing the actor for his views of the audience, and for some
contrasts of his sensations under the influence of this audience
and others before whom he had played in England. At first Irving
seemed inclined to say no more than to express satisfaction at his
success. But the “Herald” representative was a quiet, cultivated, and
experienced journalist. Evidently a gentleman of education, a travelled
man, and discreet, he led the actor into the conversational direction
he desired him to go, and the result was a pleasant and instructive
interview:—

“When I first stepped into view of the audience, and saw and heard
the great reception it gave me, I was filled with emotion. I felt that
it was a great epoch in my life. The moment I faced the people I felt
that we were friends. I knew that they wished to like me, and would go
away, if I disappointed them, saying, ‘Well, we wanted to like him;
but we couldn’t.’ Who could stand before such an audience, on such an
occasion, and not be deeply moved? All I can say is, that it was a
glorious reception, and typical of your great people.”

“But as to the merits of the audience,—theatre-goers will judge your
acting,—what is your opinion of them?”

“The audience was a fine one. Apart from the marks of intelligence,
which could be read with the naked eye, it was a fine assembly. I never
played before a more responsive or sympathetic audience. It did not
miss a point. I could tell all through the play that every motion I
made was being closely watched; that every look, gesture, and tone was
carefully observed. It is stimulating to an actor to feel that he has
won his audience.”

“You felt confident that you had made an impression upon the audience,
and that there was no flattery in the applause?”

“After the first burst of welcome was over, yes. I had not been on the
stage five minutes before I knew that I had control of my hearers, and
that I could make every point in the play tell. Then the silence of the
people—the greatest compliment that could be paid to one in such a
play—was always succeeded by genuine applause at the end of the act!”

“Did you get such a reception when you appeared as Mathias first before
a London audience?”

“Oh, no. Don’t you see, I was comparatively little known then.”

“Mr. Irving, an English newspaper, a few days ago, expressed a hope
that you would be judged by your merits, independent of anything that
had previously been said or written about you, and that Americans in
this case would not slavishly echo English opinion.[10] Was there any
trace of independence in the manner of the audience?”

“Yes, yes,—there was, certainly,” said the actor, rising and pacing
the room. “It is not presumption in me to say that I am sure I was
judged solely on my merits, and that the audience went away pleased
with me. There were times to-night when I could feel the sympathy of my
hearers,—actually feel it.”

“The audience was quiet in the first act. The interest is worked up to
the climax so smoothly and gradually that there was no opportunity for
applause until the end?”

“There, now, you have found one of the differences between the judgment
of my audience to-night and those I have played to in London. In the
first part of the play the English audiences laughed a great deal;
quite boisterously, in fact, at some of the comedy scenes. But the
absence of this to-night, I think, was due to the fact that the people
were straining to get the exact run of the play, and were laboring
under anxiety—it is not presumption if I say so—to see me.

“Was there any other feature of this kind that you noticed?”

“Yes; when Christian yields to my demand for a promise that he will
never leave the village while I am alive, I say, ‘It was necessary!’
This point has generally provoked laughter in England. To-night it
evoked earnest applause. On the other hand, for the first time I heard
the audience laugh at ‘Now the dowry to be given to our dear son-in-law
in order that our dear son-in-law may love us.’”

“Are you willing to be judged as an actor by tonight’s performance, Mr.
Irving?”

“For that character, yes.”

“Is Mathias not your greatest rôle?”

“My best? Well, now, that’s hard to say. There is no ground for
comparison,—Charles the First is so different; he is full of qualities
that are foreign to Mathias. I cannot name a character in which I feel
I am best. They afford opportunities for the display of different
powers. I am fond of the part of Mathias, it is true.”

“Did your company play up to the standard of their work in the Lyceum?”

“Well, you have not seen them all; you have not seen Miss Terry or Mr.
Howe.”

“But did those of the company who were in the cast to-night do as well
as usual?”

“They were rather slower, but quite good. Of course every one was
excited, more or less. There is only one strong part in the play, and
that is mine. Mr. Terriss was excellent. Don’t you think he is a fine
fellow?”

Suiting the action to the word, Irving unconsciously dropped into a
military attitude, stretched his hand out and threw back his head,—a
perfect fac-simile of Mr. Terriss’ impersonation of Christian.

“Is the scenery the same that was used in the Lyceum?”

“Exactly the same. You prompt me to mention a particular point, now.
Did you notice how little the scenery had to do with the play? I have
it so on purpose. Why, there is practically no scenery. I try to get as
near truth as possible, as Caleb Plummer says. I have sometimes heard
that I rely on scenery. So far I do: if it were the hovel of King Lear
I would have a hovel, and if it were the palace of Cleopatra I would
make it as gorgeous as the possibilities of art would allow.”

“Do you look upon your reception to-night as a success?”

“In every way. One of your greatest actors told me that American
audiences are proverbially cold on first nights. He was trying to save
me from a possible disappointment. In addition to this, ‘The Bells’ is
not a play for applause, but for earnest, sympathetic silence. Need I
say that the demonstrations, which burst forth on every occasion that
good taste would allow, are the best evidences that to-night I have won
an artistic triumph?”



VII.

“RED LETTER DAYS.”

 Miss Ellen Terry’s First Appearance in New York—The Press on Charles
 and the Queen—A Professional Matinée—An Audience of Actors to
 See Louis XI.—How they Impressed the Actor, and what they Thought
 of Him—A Visit to Henry Ward Beecher—At Church and at Home—Mrs.
 Beecher and Miss Terry—Reminiscences—Studies of Death, Physiological
 and Idealistic—Louis’ Death and Hamlet’s—A Strange Story.


I.

NEW YORK received Miss Terry, on her first appearance before an
American audience, as cordially as it had welcomed Irving. It was as
Henrietta Maria that she spoke her first words on the stage of the New
World.[11] There is no more tenderly poetic play in the repertoire of
the modern drama than “Charles the First.” The story in Irving’s hands
is told with a truthful simplicity that belongs to the highest form of
theatrical art. All the leading critics recognized this. The effect of
the well-known Hampton Court cloth was so perfect in its way and so new
to some of them, that it was regarded as a cut cloth, with “raking”
and water pieces. The “Tribune” interpreted the general opinion of
the audience, when it said, “what most impressed them was Irving’s
extraordinary physical fitness to the accepted ideal of Charles Stuart,
combined with the passionate earnestness and personal magnetism that
enable him to create and sustain a perfect illusion”; while it may
be said to have just as happily expressed the views of another class
in the words, “To the student Mr. Irving’s Charles is especially
significant, as indicative of the actor’s method in applying what is
termed ‘natural’ treatment to the poetic drama.”

“Louis XI.,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “The Lyons Mail,” and “The
Belle’s Stratagem,” were the other pieces produced during the four
weeks in New York. The theatre was crowded nightly, and on the Saturday
_matinées_. The speculators found it easier to dispose of their
tickets, as the weeks wore on, even than during the first five or six
days of the engagement. Nothing damped the public ardor. The opera war
between Mapleson and Abbey, as representatives of two great parties
of wealthy art patrons, had no apparent influence on the receipts
at the Star Theatre. One of the greatest nights of the month marked
the first appearance of Patti at the Academy of Music. Inclement
weather, abnormal charges for seats, strong counterattractions at the
other houses, including the two grand Italian Opera Companies, might
have been expected to discount the financial success of any rival
entertainment. They made no difference to Irving. He was the talk, not
of New York, but of America; and after her appearance as Portia, Miss
Ellen Terry was almost as much written about as he himself. Unrivalled
in the higher walks of comedy, at home or abroad, Miss Terry is as new
to the American public in the naturalness of her methods, as Irving
himself.

Shylock excited controversy, Louis inspired admiration, Dubosc and
his virtuous double commanded respect, and the method of presenting
the plays was a theme of praise and delight in and out of the press.
Of Louis the “Sun” said “Mr. Irving won his audience to him almost
at once. It was impossible to withstand the intensity, the vivid
picturesqueness, and imposing reality of his portrayal, and after
each great scene of the play he was called again and again before the
curtain by hearty and most demonstrative applause. It was a wonderful
performance, and the impression that it left is one that can never be
laid aside.” The “Times” was struck with his appearance. “His make-up
is as perfect in its kind as that of Charles the First, and nobody
would imagine the actor to be the same as the actor in either of the
other parts which he has presented. But the verisimilitude here goes
much deeper than the make-up. There is the senile garrulity and the
senile impatience of garrulity, the senile chuckle over successful
strokes of business. And this character is deepened as the play
advances. The occasional expressions of energy are spasmodic; and after
each the patient relapses into a still more listless apathy, and this
decay is progressive until the death-scene, which is the strongest and
most impressive piece of realism that Mr. Irving has yet given us.”
The “Herald” commended Shylock to the Shakespearian student, “as the
best exposition of the character that can be seen on the stage”; while
the “Tribune” said of Miss Terry, “Her simple manner, always large and
adequate, with nothing puny or mincing about it, is one of the greatest
beauties of the art which it so deftly conceals. Her embodiment of a
woman’s loveliness, such as in Portia should be at once stately and
fascinating, and inspire at once respect and passion, was felicitous
beyond the reach of descriptive phrases. Her delivery of the Mercy
speech was one of the few perfectly modulated and entirely beautiful
pieces of eloquence that will dwell forever in memory. Her sweet and
sparkling by-play in the ‘business’ about the ring and in her exit
can only be called exquisite. Better comedy has not in our time been
seen.”[12]


II.

AT the written request of the leading actors and theatrical companies
of New York, Irving gave a “professional _matinée_” at the Star
Theatre. The play was “Louis XI.” It was the first time Irving had
appeared before an audience of actors in any country. The house was
packed from floor to ceiling. It was a singularly interesting and
interested audience. No actor, proud of his profession, could have
looked at it without a thrill of pleasure. Well-dressed, beaming with
intelligence and intellectuality, it was on good terms with itself, and
it settled down, in stalls, boxes, and dress-circle, with an air of
pleasant expectation that was refreshing to contemplate.[13]

Nothing could be more satisfactory to Mr. Irving and to his friends,
after the demonstrative applause of this very remarkable audience, than
the “Interviews” of many of the best-known actors and actresses which
appeared in the “Herald” on the following morning. Irving had no idea
that such a tribute was to be paid to him when, in talking with some
gentlemen of the press, at the close of the play, he said:—

“I never played before such an audience, so spontaneous in its
appreciation and applause, and it will remain with me as one of the
most interesting and most memorable events in my dramatic career. It is
very commonly said that actors are the worst judges of acting. But I
would ask why should actors be worse judges of their art than painters
of paintings or musicians of music?”

“Your audience was very enthusiastic, was it not?”

“It could not well have been more so. You see actors know well from
experience that an actor, to be stimulated, needs applause, and plenty
of it. Applause is as necessary to an actor as to an orator. The
greater the applause the more enthusiasm the actor puts into his work.
Therefore those who applaud most get most, and consequently my audience
of this afternoon”—

“Got the most out of your performance?”

“Well, they certainly excited me to feel the effect of their
appreciation on my own work. I felt an elation for them, and an elation
such as I have rarely experienced. I happened to walk into Mr. Millais’
studio, before leaving England. He had just finished a painting in
which I was interested,—in fact, it was a portrait of myself. I found
him in an extraordinarily cheerful mood. He clapped his hands with
delight, as he said, pointing to the portrait, ‘Watts has just been
here, and says it is the best thing I have ever done.’ Millais was
especially pleased, for this compliment came from a brother artist.
I dare say you will see the parallel in this my especial pleasure in
receiving the plaudits of my brother artists.”

“And how did the audience differ from the audiences you have been
playing to here?”

“This is the distinction, I think,—actors applaud all the touches
as you put them on; a general audience applaud the whole effect when
made. And so it was that all the little asides and touches of by-play
this afternoon were taken with as keen an appreciation of them as of
the whole effect of any scene or situation. I felt that my audience
thoroughly knew what they were applauding for. I felt that they
applauded myself and our company because they were really pleased; and
I will say again that my first professional _matinée_ has proved to be
one of the pleasantest events of my life.”

“It was a great performance,” said Mr. Edward Gilmore, one of the
managers of Niblo’s Garden.

“I have seen a good deal of acting,” said Mrs. Agnes Booth; “but I can
honestly say I have never seen anything that pleased me more: it was
simply perfect.”

“I have seen most of the performances in Europe of recent times,”
said Mme. Cottrelly, who had been a leading German actress and
manager before appearing on the Casino stage; “but I have never seen
anything that equalled Mr. Irving’s performance this afternoon. I
have never seen anything in the theatrical line that has been mounted
more correctly. It has not been surpassed in the finest German court
theatres that I have attended.”

“I think it is altogether one of the greatest performances the American
public and profession have ever seen,” said Mr. Dan Harkins. “The
wonderful perfection of detail and subtlety of by-play is, I think,
greater than I have seen in any other performance, excepting, perhaps,
Mr. Forrest’s ‘King Lear.’ Mr. Irving also is in a constant state of
activity; when he is not talking he is acting. He is making some clever
point all the time. The whole performance is great. It is great in the
leading character, great in all that is subordinate to it, which, by an
excellent stage management and a fine company, are brought into unusual
prominence.”

Mr. McCaull remarked: “It’s a long way the finest piece of
character-acting I have ever seen. Of course, I’m a young man, and
haven’t seen much; but I’ve seen Mr. Irving twice in this part, and
when I go to see a performance—out of my own theatre—twice, I can
tell you that, in my opinion, it must be a very fine one.”

“I am very familiar with ‘Louis XI.,’” said Mr. Harry Edwards,[14] “as
I have played in it myself a great deal. I appeared as Nemours with
Mr. Gustavus V. Brooke, and his performance of Louis XI. was a very
fine one. I then travelled for a year with Charles Kean, and played
Courtier, the Physician, in ‘Louis XI.,’ and once appeared with Kean
as Courtier. I also played Nemours with Charles Couldock. Well, I say
all this to show you that I am pretty familiar with the play, and with
great actors who have played ‘Louis XI.’ Mr. Irving’s Louis is one of
the greatest performances I have ever seen as a whole, and far superior
to that of any of his predecessors. He brings depth, more intensity,
and more variety, to the character than any of them. His facial action
is something wonderful. His performance stands on the highest plane of
dramatic excellence, and on the same plane as Macready’s famous Werner.
I may say that I am not an admirer of Mr. Irving in all parts, but his
Louis is unapproachable. I never enjoyed a performance so much in my
life, and I felt that I could sit it out for a week if I were given the
opportunity.”

“He is the greatest actor who speaks the English language,” said Mr.
Lewis Morrison. “I claim to know what good acting is. I have supported
Salvini, whom I regard as the greatest artist on the foreign stage, and
my preceptor was Edwin Booth. But even in Mr. Booth’s presence I must
say that I have been moved to-day as I never was before. I am not given
to gushing over an actor; but I never before saw a man’s soul, as I did
in King Louis this afternoon. It was simply perfection. It was not the
actor; it was Louis XI. that I saw. I must admit that I went to the
theatre with a little prejudice against Mr. Irving. I had never seen
him, and, from certain things which other actors had told me, I was
prepared to find an overrated man. But what a performance it was! It
was wonderful!—wonderful!”

Mr. W. A. McConnell, manager of Haverly’s Brooklyn Theatre, said: “He
is a great actor. I have never before seen such conscientious attention
to detail, such harmony in everything, from the people on the stage
with him, down to the smallest thing. It is a lesson for us all.”

“As a manager,” said Mr. Palmer, of the Union Square Theatre, “it was a
revelation to me to see such conscientious attention to detail. Every
little thing in which good stage management could have been exhibited
was shown by Mr. Irving’s company. They worked as one man. I have heard
but one opinion among members of our company,—everybody was delighted.”

“What can I say that is strong enough?” exclaimed Miss Cary, of the
Union Square Theatre Company. “I was delighted beyond measure. What
a wonderful teacher Irving must be, and what a master of his art in
every way! What impressed me particularly was the perfect harmony of
the entire performance. How carefully and patiently everybody must have
been drilled, and every detail which would add to the effect looked
after!”

Mr. Osmond Tearle said: “I had seen Mr. Irving in everything except
‘Louis XI.’ before to-day’s _matinée_, and I have always admired him
greatly as an actor. Now I have seen him as Louis XI. I admire him
still more. It is the greatest thing I have ever seen him do. His
business, as he warmed himself at the fire, was remarkable. When he
came on in the last act, he looked like one of the fine old royal
figures that stand outside Yorkminster in England; and when he took
his crown off he looked like the picture of Father Time. His facial
expression is astonishing, and in the wonderful death-scene his eyes
seem to have gone altogether. The whole performance was fine; there was
not a bad part in it.”

“I have only one word to say on this subject,” said Mr. John Gilbert,
“and that is, that it is wonderful; perhaps I, however, may supplement
that by saying that it is ‘extraordinary.’ I have seen Mr. Irving play
‘Louis XI.’ before to-day, and, in fact, I have attended nearly all
his performances at the Star Theatre; but this afternoon he exceeded
anything that he has done here before. He was clearly moved, in no
slight degree, by the almost incessant applause of his professional
brethren. I don’t know that I remember having seen a greater
performance by any actor, not even excepting Macready’s Werner. I am
not astonished at Mr. Irving’s great popularity in England. I am sure
he deserves it.”

“I had never seen Mr. Irving before this afternoon,” said Mr. James
Lewis, “and I was certainly not disappointed, although I had formed
the highest expectations of him as an actor. There was a young actor,
about nineteen years old, that sat by me, and he got on his seat
and yelled ‘Bravo!’ Now, I didn’t do that; but I was just as much
pleased and excited as the youngster. I think it was the greatest
performance I ever saw. You have, perhaps, heard the popular gag,
‘That man tires me.’ Well, that man, Mr. Irving, tired me; but it was
because he so wrought upon my feelings that when the play was over I
felt so exhausted I could hardly leave my seat. The stage setting and
management were good, but I have seen as good in this city before.”

Mrs. G. H. Gilbert, of Daly’s theatre, thought that it was the finest
performance within her experience. “In the confession scene,” she
said, “I thought him especially remarkable. I had seen him in ‘The
Lyons Mail’ in London, and, now that I have seen his ‘Louis XI.,’ I
want to see him in all his characters. The great applause that was
given him by the vast gathering of his profession was, I assure you,
not complimentary applause, but it was given in pure admiration of his
great achievements.”

“Mr. Irving’s Louis,” said Mr. Dan Frohman, “is a vivid and powerful
transcript from history. Once or twice, at the end of an act, he lapsed
into his natural voice; but this may be excused from the great draught
that such a character must make upon his strength. As a picture of
the subtle, crafty, and avaricious old monarch, his representation
was absolutely perfect. I think Mr. living’s ‘Louis XI.,’ in a word,
is a sort of dramatic liberal education. Every actor can learn
something from him. I wish our actors could keep the integrity of their
characters as perfectly as Mr. Irving does.”

“Mr. Irving is the greatest actor I have ever seen,” said Mr. Tony
Pastor. “I have been to see him several times, and this is my opinion.
It aint buncombe. It comes from the heart. I’ve seen all the greatest
actors, and have been a great deal to the theatres since I have
been in this business; but I have never seen any one as good as Mr.
Irving. This is a compliment I am paying to a man I am not personally
acquainted with, and perhaps we shall never meet. I don’t praise him so
because I had an invitation this afternoon; I would have admired and
applauded his performance just as much if I had paid a twenty-dollar
bill for it.”

“Mr. Irving’s Louis,” Mr. Colville said, “is superior beyond criticism.
It is the most perfect performance I have ever witnessed. I was acting
manager of the old Broadway Theatre when Charles Kean played there,
and, of course, saw him in the part.”


III.

“IF one had arranged events in America to one’s own liking one could
not have had them go along more pleasantly,” said Irving, one Sunday
afternoon, when he was giving me an account of his visit to Mr. Henry
Ward Beecher and Mrs. Beecher, at Brooklyn; “indeed, one would have
had to lay in a stock of vanity to even dream of such a reception as
we have had. It needs a little hostility here and there in the press
at home, and on this side, to give a wholesome flavor to the sweets.
It is a great reward, all this, for one’s labor. I was struck the
other day with some passages of Emerson, in his essay on Fate, where
he says, ‘Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war,
in trade; in short, in all management of human affairs.’ One of the
high anecdotes of the world is the reply of Newton to the inquiry, how
he had ‘been able to achieve his discoveries’: ‘By always intending
my mind.’ _Diligence passe sens_, Henry VIII. was wont to say, or,
Great is drill. John Kemble said that the worst provincial company of
actors would go through a play better than the best amateur company.
No genius can recite a ballad at first reading so well as mediocrity
can at the fifteenth or twentieth reading. A humorous friend of
mine thinks the reason Nature is so perfect in her art, and gets up
such inconceivably fine sunsets, is, that ‘she has learned at last
by dint of doing the same thing so very often.’ A wonderful writer,
Emerson! He gives the right cue to all stage-managers,—rehearsal!
rehearsal! Mr. Beecher has evidently been a hard-worker all his life,
a persistent man; and nothing is done without it. First lay down your
lines; settle what you mean to do, what you find you can do, and do
it; the greater the opposition the more courageous and persevering you
must be; and if you are right, and strength and life hold out, you
must win. But I want to tell you about the visit to Brooklyn. Miss
Terry and I were invited to visit Mr. Henry Ward Beecher. We went on
Sunday to his church. He preached a good, stirring sermon, full of
strong common-sense. It was what might, in some respects, be called
an old-fashioned sermon, though it was also exceedingly liberal.
The spirit of its teaching was the doctrine of brotherly love. The
preacher told his congregation that a man was not simply a follower
of Christ because he went to church on Sundays. A man could, he said,
be a follower of the Saviour without going to church at all. He could
also be a follower of Christ, if he wished, and belong to any church
he liked,—Baptist, Wesleyan, Lutheran. A Pagan could be a follower
of Christ if he lived up to His doctrine of charity. To do good is
the chief end and aim of a good life. It was an extemporaneous sermon
so far as the absence of manuscript or notes went, and was delivered
with masterful point and vigor, and with some touches of pure comedy;
Mr. Beecher is a great comedian. After the service Mr. Beecher came
to us, and offered his arm to Miss Terry. She took one arm, his wife
the other. I followed with his son, and several other relations. A few
members of the congregation joined the little procession. Following Mr.
Beecher with the ladies, we walked down the aisle and into the street,
to his house. There was something very simple and dignified about the
whole business, something that to me smacked of the primitive churches,
without their austerity. Mrs. Beecher is seventy-one years of age,—a
perfect gentlewoman, Quaker-like in her dress and manners, gentle of
speech, but with a certain suggestion of firmness of purpose. Beecher
struck me as a strong, robust, genial, human man, a broad, big fellow.
We had dinner,—the early dinner that was in vogue when I was a boy. It
was, I should say, a regular solid New England meal,—rich soup, plenty
of fish, a joint of beef; and some generous port was on the table. The
host was most pleasant and simple; the hostess, most unsophisticated
and kindly. She took greatly to Miss Terry, who also took greatly to
her.”

“Mr. Beecher had been at the theatre the night before?”

“Yes, to see ‘Louis XI.’”

“Did he talk much?”

“Oh, yes! and his conversation was most interesting. He related,
and very graphically, an incident of the troubled times before the
abolition of slavery. ‘One day in the pulpit,’ he said, ‘I asked my
people, suppose you had a sister, and she came to you and said, “I
would like to stay in your city of Brooklyn; I think I would be very
happy here; but I must go away, I cannot stay; I must depart, probably
to live with a reprobate, some hard, cruel man, who will lay claim
to me, body and soul.” You say, “Why, why must you go?” She answers,
“Because my body is worth so much, and I am to be sold; and my little
child, it, too, is of value in the same way; my child will be sold, and
we shall be separated.” There was a dead silence in the church. ‘My
friends,’ I said, ‘you have a sister in that position; and I want you
to buy that woman!’ “Come up here, Dinah Cullum” (or whatever her name
was), I said, and out of the congregation stepped a beautiful woman,
a mulatto, and I said, “Here she is; here is my sister, your sister!”
The collecting basket was sent around. More than enough was realized to
buy the woman. And I said to her, “Dinah Cullum, you are free.” Then
addressing my people again, I said, “Now you can buy the child”; and
they did, and we gave the child to its mother!’

“It used to be said of Lord Beaconsfield,” Irving continued, “that
his Oriental blood and his race instincts gave him his fondness for
jewels; but Beecher seems to have the same kind of taste. He brought
out from a cabinet a handful of rings, and asked me which I thought
Miss Terry would like best. Then he took them to her and she selected
an _aqua marina_, which he placed upon her finger, and begged her to
accept as a souvenir of her visit to Brooklyn. ‘May I?’ said Miss Terry
to Mrs. Beecher. ‘Yes, my dear, take it,’ said Mrs. Beecher; and she
did. It was quite touching to see the two women together, so different
in their stations, their years, their occupations. Miss Terry was the
first actress Mrs. Beecher had ever known. To begin with, she was very
courteous; her greeting was hospitable, but not cordial. The suggestion
of coldness in her demeanor gradually thawed, and at the close of the
visit she took Miss Terry into her arms, and the two women cried. ‘One
touch of nature makes the whole world kin.’ Human sympathy,—what a
fine thing it is! It is easy to understand how a woman of the training
and surroundings that belong to the class in which Mrs. Beecher has
lived might regard an actress, and especially one who has made a name,
and is therefore the object of gossip. All the more delightful is the
bit of womanly sympathy that can bind together two natures which the
austerity of professed religionists would keep asunder.”

“It is a greater triumph for the stage than you, perhaps, quite
appreciate,—this visit to the home of a popular preacher; for, however
liberal Mr. Beecher’s sentiments may be in regard to plays and players,
there are members of his congregation who will not approve of his going
to the theatre, and who will probably be horrified at his entertaining
you at his own home.”

“No doubt,” Irving replied. “Beecher said to me, ‘I wish you could come
and spend a week with me at my little country-house. You might leave
all the talking to me, if you liked. I would give you a bit of a sermon
now and then, and you in return should give me a bit of acting. Oh, we
should have a pleasant time! You could lie on your back and smoke and
rest. I suppose some day you will allow yourself a little rest.’”

“What was the Beecher home like? New or old,—characteristic of the
host or not?”

“Quite characteristic, I should say. It impressed me as a home that
had been gradually furnished over a period of many years. That was
particularly the case with regard to the library. Around the walls
were a series of cabinets, with old china and glass in them. The room
had an old English, or what I suppose would be called an old New
England, appearance. Books, pictures, china, and a wholesome perfume
of tobacco-smoke. Mr. Beecher does not smoke, but his sons do. ‘I
cannot pretend to put down these small vices,’ he said. ‘I once tried
to, I believe.’—‘Oh, yes,’ said one of his sons, a fine fellow,—‘the
only thrashing he ever gave me was for smoking a cigar; and when the
war broke out, and I went to the front, the first present I received
from home was a box of cigars, sent to me by my father.’ Altogether
I was deeply impressed with Beecher. A robust, fearless man, I can
quite understand how great he might be in face of opposition. Indeed,
I was witness of this on the occasion of his famous platform fight at
Manchester, during the war. I was acting in a stock company there at
the time, and either in the first or last piece, I forget which, I was
able to go and hear him speak. The incident, as you know, is historical
on this side of the Atlantic, and it created quite a sensation in
Manchester. The lecture-room was packed with secessionists. Beecher
was attacking the South, and upholding the Federal cause. The great,
surging crowd hooted and yelled at him. I fear I did not know much
about the rights or wrongs of the matter. I had my work to do, and,
though I watched the course of the American trouble, I had no very
definite views about it. But I admired the American preacher. He faced
his opponents with a calm, resolute face,—stood there like a rock.
Whenever there was a lull in this commotion he would speak, and his
words were defiant. There was the sound of the trumpet in them. We
English admire courage, worship pluck, and after a time the men who had
tried their hardest to shout Beecher down evidently felt ashamed. There
presently arose cries of ‘Hear him!’ and ‘Fair play!’ Beecher stood
there firm and defiant, and I felt my heart go out to him. Once more
he got a few words in. They bore upon the rights of free speech, and
in a little while he had the floor, as they say in America, and kept
it. It seemed as if he were inspired. He spoke with a fervid eloquence
I don’t think I have ever heard equalled. In the end he carried the
entire meeting with him. The crowd evidently knew no more about the
real merits of the quarrel between North and South than I did. They
entered the hall Confederates, and left it out-and-out Federals, if one
should judge by the thundering cheers that broke out every now and then
during the remainder of Beecher’s oration, and the unanimous applause
that marked the finish of it.”


IV.

AMONG the little suppers which Irving accepted after the play was
a cosey entertainment given by Major Frank Bond, at which a dozen
gentlemen of distinction in politics, science, and the army, were
present. Dr. Fordyce Barker, who was intimate with Dickens, during
that illustrious author’s visits to America, was one of the guests. He
started, among other subjects, a very interesting conversation.

“Have you ever made studies of deaths for stage purposes?” asked Dr.
Barker.

“No.”

“And yet your last moments of Mathias and of Louis XI. are perfectly
consistent and correct psychologically.”

“My idea is to make death in these cases a characteristic Nemesis; for
example, Mathias dies of the fear of discovery; he is fatally haunted
by the dread of being found out, and dies of it in a dream. Louis pulls
himself together by a great effort of will in his weakest physical
moment, to fall dead—struck as if by a thunderbolt—while giving an
arrogant command that is to control Heaven itself; and it seems to me
that he should collapse ignominiously, as I try to illustrate.”

“You succeed perfectly,” the doctor replied, “and from a physiological
point of view, too.”

“Hamlet’s death, on the other hand, I would try to make sweet and
gentle as the character, as if the ‘flights of angels winged him to his
rest.’”

“You seem to have a genius for fathoming the conceptions of your
authors, Mr. Irving,” said the doctor; “and it is, of course, very
important to the illusion of a scene that the reality of it should
be consistently maintained. Last night I went to see a play called
‘Moths,’ at Wallack’s. There is a young man in it who acts very well;
but he, probably by the fault of the author more than his own, commits
a grave error in the manner of his death. We are told that he is shot
through the lungs. This means almost immediate unconsciousness, and a
quick, painless death; yet the actor in question came upon the stage
after receiving this fatal wound, made a coherent speech, and died in a
peaceful attitude.”

“Talking of interesting psychological investigations,” said Irving, “I
came upon a curious story, the other day, of the execution of Dr. de la
Pommerais, in 1864. He was a poisoner, somewhat after the Palmer type.
I was present, then a boy, during the trial of the English murderer,
and was, therefore, all the more interested in the last hours of the
Frenchman. He was a skilled physician, it seems, and a surgeon named
Velpeau visited him in his prison, the night before his execution, in
the pure interest of physiological science. ‘I need not tell you,’ he
said to de la Pommerais, ‘that one of the most interesting questions in
this connection is, whether any ray of memory or sensibility survives
in the brain of a man after his head is severed from his body.’ The
condemned man turned a startled and anxious face to the surgeon. ‘You
are to die; nothing, it seems, can save you. Will you not, therefore,
utilize your death in the interest of science?’ Professional instinct
mastered physical fear, and de la Pommerais said, ‘I will, my friend;
I will.’ Velpeau then sat down, and the two discussed and arranged the
proposed experiment. ‘When the knife falls,’ said Velpeau, ‘I shall
be standing at your side, and your head will at once pass from the
executioner’s hands into mine. I will then cry distinctly into your
ear: “Count de la Pommerais, can you at this moment thrice lower the
lid of your right eye while the left remains open?“‘ The next day, when
the great surgeon reached the condemned cell, he found the doomed man
practising the sign agreed upon. A few minutes later the guillotine
had done its work,—the head was in Velpeau’s hands and the question
put. Familiar as he was with the most shocking scenes, it is said
that Velpeau was almost frozen with terror as he saw the right lid
fall, while the other eye looked fixedly at him. ‘Again,’ he cried
frantically. The lids moved, but they did not part. It was all over. A
ghastly story. One hopes it may not be true.”



VIII.

A QUIET EVENING.

 A First Visit behind the Scenes—Cooper and Kean—The University
 Club—A very Notable Dinner—Chief Justice Davis and Lord Chief
 Justice Coleridge—A Menu worth Discovering—Terrapin and Canvas-Back
 Duck—“A Little Family Party”—Florence’s Romance—Among the
 Lambs—The Fate of a Manuscript Speech—A Story of John Kemble—Words
 of Welcome—Last Night of the New York Engagement—_Au Revoir!_


I.

“TURN the gas down a little.”

“Yes, sir,” said the attentive Irish-American waiter at the Brevoort
House.

“And don’t let us be disturbed.”

“Very well, sir.”

“The fire-light glows on the walls as if the so-called volcanic sunset
had taken possession of the place,” said Irving, stretching his legs
upon the hearth; “what a rest it is to sit and talk to a friend and
look into the fire!”

“It is, indeed. Let us have a chat in that spirit, and call the chapter
‘A quiet evening.’”

“You mean a talk for the book?”

“Yes; one gets so few opportunities of this kind that it is worth while
to avail ourselves of the present one. I think you had better tell me
what you have done in New York, and I will chronicle it from your own
lips.”

“Do you mean generally, or in detail? There are some things that fix
themselves in one’s memory not to be forgotten. Of course, the first
night at the Star Theatre—one is not likely to forget that!”

“No, I shall always remember you standing in the door-way of the
burgomaster’s inn. It had seemed as if hours were passing between the
rise of the curtain and your appearance!”

“Ah! I dare say; we were all more or less anxious.”

“But let us get away from the theatre. What do you look back upon
so far, to remember with special pleasure, in the way of social
entertainment and American hospitalities?”

“It is difficult to select, is it not? It is bewildering to try to
select the incidents. The Lotos dinner,—that was glorious, eh! How
well Whitelaw Reid spoke! and Mr. Depew, Dr. Macdonald, General Porter,
Mr. Oakey Hall,—everybody, in fact. A great gift to be able to express
your thoughts well, standing up in the presence of others! Then the
Lambs Club. I felt their reception as a very pleasant thing, because
there were so many actors present. I think I got well out of the
speech-making there by adopting Florence’s written oration. That amused
me greatly, and I think Florence enjoyed it as much as the others.
Well, those are two of the New York events. I am endeavoring to think
of them in their order, categorically. The breakfast which Mr. Joseph
Harper gave me at the University Club,—what a rare lot of men! Mr.
George William Curtis[15] struck me as one who might be very eloquent
as a speaker.”

“He is.”

“So I should have thought, and he talks of the stage with the
unsophistication of one who knows nothing about it mechanically, but
is full of the romantic and poetic spirit of it. Let me see, it was at
Franklin square where we saw that modern Dutch interior.”

“The private room at Harper Brothers?”

“Yes, and where we again met Mr. Curtis, Mr. Alden, the editor of the
magazine, and Mr. Conant of “The Weekly,” I remember. Don’t you think
that when America once takes up the work of a complete representation
of legitimate and established plays she will go ahead at it as fast as
she has done in the production of book-engravings?”

“I do.”

“And they tell me—actors tell me—that they have never had Shakespeare
as completely and as worthily represented as at the Star this week. Mr.
Gilbert says it will work a revolution in dramatic art in this country.”

“The papers are beginning to say so all round.”

“I confess I am as surprised as I am delighted. I thought more had
been done in the way of harmonious representation, grouping, color,
painting, lighting, than is evidently the case. By the way, I heard a
good deal about this on the night of the Century Club reception.[16]
They were very like Garrick men, many of them. An excellent idea
having an exhibition of pictures at a club! I suppose it would
hardly do in London to allow members such a margin in regard to the
friends they introduce as in New York. I wish it could be done, and,
especially, that granting of the entire privileges of the club to the
stranger whom you invite to dinner. In case of transient membership,
the compliment we pay to a stranger at the Garrick does include all the
privileges of the club. The Manhattan is a cosey club. We got our first
canvas-back in New York there. It was a little too early in the season;
but in the way of a terrapin and canvas-back dinner the feast Buck gave
us at Sieghortner’s was a triumph.[17] It scored by its simplicity.
Let me see, I have the _menu_ here. Now to look at it in comparison
with what is called a swell dinner, some people would think its dishes
wanting in variety and number. Somebody, I remember, said at the time,
‘This is a man’s dinner! Let us dissect it!’”

He had fetched the _menu_ from his table, had returned to his seat by
the fire, and was holding the _carte_ before his face, partly to read
it, and partly to ward off the glow of the hot coals.

“Now, _first_, oysters on the half shell, and I noticed they were on
the half shell. That is the proper way to serve an oyster, and they
should be in their own liquor.[18] They were lying on a bed of crushed
ice,—did you notice? The dainty half of a lemon was placed in the
centre of them. Shall you include this conversation in the book?”

This last question he asked suddenly.

“Oh, yes! I think it will be very interesting.”

“Then they will say I am a gourmand.”[19]

“Who?”

“Some of our friends in London.”

He emphasized the word “friends.”

“They do now; you are reported as giving suppers and banquets in London
on a grander scale than ever Lucullus dreamed of?”

“Am I? Well, I like to have my friends around me; but I think they
appreciate a mutton-chop, a glass of fine wine, and a good cigar, as
much as we do, and, after all, Dr. Johnson says, “The man who can’t
take care of his stomach can’t take care of anything else.” If to
be a gourmand, or, rather, let us say _gourmet_,[20] is to enjoy a
well-cooked and elegantly served little dinner or supper, then I plead
guilty to the soft impeachment; so let us go on eating the Sieghortner
banquet over again, just as we shall, I hope, in future years sit
down and re-fight our American victories by an English fireside. To
return to the bill of fare. _Second_, soup. A vegetable soup, that
reminded me a little of the cock-a-lukie which is so well constructed
at the Garrick in London, only that the vegetable basis of it is in an
esculent we have not,—the gumbo, or okra, which is so delicious here.
Sauterne with the oysters, and a remarkably fine sherry with the soup.
_Third_, terrapin. I am told this came from Baltimore ready for the
cook.”

“They are celebrated at Baltimore for the three great American
dishes,—oysters, terrapin, and canvas-back ducks. Terrapin is prepared
there and shipped to all parts of the United States, and even to
Europe. I am told that a Baltimore firm sends in the season supplies
of terrapin and canvas-backs to England for the table of the Prince of
Wales.”

“Indeed,” he answered, “His Royal Highness knows what is good! I wish
he could have tasted the Baltimore terrapin at Sieghortner’s. Buck is
a friend of the Duke of Beaufort, and the duke, they say, is up to all
the luxurious tricks of American cooking.

“Now we are at the terrapin. It was handed round very hot, and, as your
plate was removed, a fresh supply, better still, it seemed to me, was
placed before you. It is polite to ask for terrapin twice; but, that no
one might be embarrassed, it was served twice. Champagne and Burgundy
with the terrapin. I prefer champagne. ‘Next to going to heaven,’ said
a friend near me, ‘is to go down to——, Baltimore, and eat terrapin.’
_Fourth_, canvas-back duck. An entire breast of the bird on each plate.
A chip-potato and a little celery; you should eat nothing else with
a canvas-back duck, though some persons, I observe, take currant or
cranberry jelly with it. As in the case of the terrapin, there were two
courses of duck,—the first, roast; the second, grilled and devilled.
An excellent notion this. A _soufflé_ followed; then cheese; then
coffee. That was the dinner; and it was one of the greatest successes I
remember, in the way of dining; though I do not forget how perfectly we
had terrapin and canvas-back cooked in our own humble little kitchen
at the Lyceum Theatre.”

“In responding to the toast of your health, you were very much moved.”

“I was. Chief Justice Davis supplemented the host’s words so
eloquently, and with so much heart and earnestness, that he touched me
deeply. Then his references to England,—to Lord Coleridge representing
the high estate of the Bench, and to myself as being considered worthy
in every way to represent my art, as he in his way is to represent his
high calling,—and his tender tributes to the old country, and to the
deep, sincere friendship that lies at the root of the relations between
England and America,—this was all so sympathetic. And when I knew that
many of the men around the board who cheered him so warmly had come as
far as a thousand miles to meet me, I could not have attempted to say
more than to try and thank them. There are occasions when silence is
the best, when ‘Gentlemen, I thank you; my heart is too full to say
more,’ is about the most eloquent speech you can make. Mr. John B.
Lyon came all the way from Chicago in response to Buck’s invitation;
Mr. John B. Carson came from Quincy,—a day’s journey further than
Chicago; he had been fifty-two hours on the train; Mr. Watterson,—what
a bright, witty fellow he is!—came almost as far, from Louisville in
the South.”


II.

“THE supper given to me by Mr. Florence, at the St. James Hotel, was
also an entertainment to remember. Quite a little family party, was
it not? Mr. Jerome—Larry, as his friends call him—was splendid; and
how many years of local dramatic history he had at his fingers’ ends!
We were quite a little family party; Gilbert, Edwards, Jefferson,—God
bless him!—they were among the guests. Florence, if you remember,
had after supper a great brass urn placed upon the table, sat before
it, and made whiskey toddy. How well actors understand the art of
sociability! ‘Now, friends, let us gather round the tea-table,’ said
Florence, ‘and try the brew!’ We pronounced it ‘nectar for the gods,’
and so it was. Do you remember the interesting episode of his boyish
days that Florence told us? I repeated it to some people who supped
here the other night. It is worth printing, with his permission.”

“And that of Mrs. Florence?” I suggest.

“Oh, yes, of course! I think I remember it. Florence was a very young
man, a boy, in fact, and was filling one of his first engagements on
any stage at the Bowery Theatre. A girl about his own age (who is now
a wife, and a woman of position, in New York) in the company, was his
first love. His adoration was mingled with the most gallant respect.
Their salaries were about ten to twelve dollars each a week. For a
time they only played in the first piece; for in those days two plays
a night were more popular on the American stage than they are now.
One evening, at about nine o’clock, after pulling himself together
for so daring an effort in his course of courtship, he asked her if
she would go to an adjacent restaurant and take something to eat. The
house was kept by a person of the name of Shields, or Shiells. The
supper-room was arranged something after the manner of the old London
coffee-houses. It had compartments divided off from each other. Into
one of these Florence escorted his sweetheart. He asked her what she
would take. After some hesitation, and a good deal of blushing (more
probably on his part than on hers), she said oyster-stew and lemonade.
He concluded to have the same,—an incongruous mixture, perhaps;
but they were boy and girl. Florence was more than once on the eve
of declaring his undying passion and asking her to name the day.
Presently, supper being ended, they rose to go, and Florence discovered
that he had come away without his purse, or, rather, his pocket-book,
as they call it here. He explained to the Irish waiter (and Florence,
I suspect, is himself of Irish descent), who cut him short by saying,
‘No money? Oh, that won’t do; you’re not going to damage the moral
character of the house, bringing of your girls here, and then say you
can’t pay the bill.’—‘How dare you, sir!’ exclaimed Florence, the
girl shrinking back. ‘Dare! Oh, bedad, if you put it that way, I’ll
just give you a piece of my mind!’ and he did. It was a dirty piece,
which hurt the poor young fellow. ‘Take me to your master,’ he said.
The girl was crying; Florence was heart-broken. The master was not
less rude than the man. ‘Very well,’ said the boy; ‘here’s my watch
and ring. I will call and redeem them in the morning with the money.
I am a member of the Bowery Company, and I will ask the manager to
call and see you also. Your conduct is shameful!’—‘By heaven, it is!’
exclaimed a stranger, who, with some others, was smoking near the desk
of the clerk, or landlord. ‘It is infamous! Cannot you understand that
this young gentleman is a good, honest young fellow? Damme! you ought
to apologize to him, and kick that waiter-fellow out. Don’t frown
at me, sir. Give the young gentleman his watch and ring. Here is a
fifty-dollar bill; take what he owes, and give me the change.’ The
stranger was a well-dressed gentleman, with white hair; not old, but of
a venerable appearance. They all went out together, Florence, the young
lady, and their benefactor. As they stepped into the street, Florence
said, ‘I cannot sufficiently thank you, sir. Where shall I call and
leave the money for you?’—‘Oh, don’t trouble yourself about it,’ said
the benevolent gentleman; ‘your surly friend won’t make much out of the
transaction,—it was a counterfeit bill that he changed for me.’”


III.

IRVING did not expect to be called upon for a set speech at the Lambs
Club. The President, Mr. Florence, did, and was prepared. He made no
secret of his nervousness, nor of his arrangements against failure. The
manuscript of his address was lying before him during the dinner. He
consulted it occasionally, to the amusement of his neighbors. When the
time came he rose, his speech in his hand, his heart in his mouth. The
most eminent of actors have felt similar sensations under the influence
of an exaggerated sense of the responsibility of making a public
speech. This banquet of the Lambs was not reported in the newspapers.
As in other instances where I have ventured to annex speeches and
incidents for these pages, I have done so with the full consent of all
the parties concerned.

“Gentlemen,” said President Florence, “we have met to-night to do
honor to a brother actor,—for in that character do we welcome the
distinguished guest of the evening,—an artist who has done more to
elevate and dignify our calling than any actor that ever trod the
stage.”

A ringing cheer greeted these few sentences. The applause evidently
disturbed the speaker’s memory. He consulted his MS. and could make
nothing of it. Throwing it upon the table, he continued his address.
The few unstudied sentences that followed came from the heart, and were
sufficiently effective. They commended Irving as an example to all of
them,—an example of work, of unostentation, of success worthily won
and worn, and expressed the gratification it afforded the Lambs—a club
largely composed of actors—to welcome him at their board.

“I’ll never make another speech as long as I live!” exclaimed the
president, as he resumed his seat.

“Give me the manuscript,” said Irving. “Do you mind my using it?”

“Not at all, my dear friend; do what you like with it.”

Irving, rising to reply, stood up with the president’s unspoken speech
in his hand. Referring to the difficulties actors often experience in
regard to public speaking, he said, “At Edinburgh, recently, looking
over the old ‘Courant,’ I came across an incident _apropos_ of the
present occasion. It was concerning a dinner given to John Kemble in
that city. ‘The chair was taken at six o’clock by Francis Jeffrey,
Esq., who was most ably assisted by the croupiers, John Wilson and
Walter Scott,’—the creator in fiction of poor, old, wretched King
Louis XI.—Walter Scott, the mighty master of romance, who also
proposed this night ‘The Memory of Burns.’ (Applause.) In reply to
the toast of his health, John Kemble said, ‘I am not successful in
extemporaneous delivery; actors are so much more in the habit of giving
utterance to the thoughts of others than in embodying their own, that
we are much in the same position with those animals who, subsisting
by the aid of others are completely lost when abandoned to their own
resources.’ Gentlemen, brother actors, I feel that I am in a similar
condition to-night. (Cries of ‘No! no!’ and laughter.) But my friend,
the president, has given me leave to avail myself of the eloquent
speech which he had written, but has not read to you.” (Laughter.)

Irving looked down at the president for his final consent.

“Certainly, go ahead,” was the response.

“The president,” said Irving, reading the MS. amidst shouts of
laughter and applause, “was anxious to tell you that ‘the efforts of
the guest of the evening have always been to make his dramatic work
in every way worthy the respect and admiration of those who honor our
art; and at the same time he has been none the less indefatigable in
promoting the social and intellectual standing of the profession; this
has been to him a labor of love.’”

Irving read these lines with mock-oratorical show; but when the
laughter of his hearers changed to loud applause, he laid aside the
written speech of his friend, and in a few simple words expressed
himself proud of the honor the club had done him, and grateful for the
cordiality of its welcome.

“There is one point, however, in that speech which I would like you to
hear,” said the president, rising again, “and it is this: ‘We are not
here to pass an opinion on Mr. Irving’s qualities as an actor,—the
critics have done that already; and, if you had at first any doubts as
to the high position he should occupy in our profession, the American
critics and your own judgment have removed them. Possibly it was just
as well that David Garrick did not live in the White Star epoch, for,
had he ever crossed the Atlantic ocean, his bones might not now be
reposing so peacefully under the ancient towers of Westminster Abbey.’”

During the evening Mr. Henry Edwards,[21] of Wallack’s, recited with
stirring effect the following:—


WELCOME TO HENRY IRVING.

  Round about the board of banquet
    Blazed the bright wits of the town:
  “A royal toast,” and well they drank it—
    “‘Tis for a king to wear the crown;
  Thrones may totter in the tempest,
    Empires, too, may rise and fall;
  But a king, by grace of genius,
    Sits secure above them all.”

  Thus, a grave and graceful poet,
    And his glowing glass uplifts
  With a warm eye-flash of welcome
    To the Man of Many Gifts;
  Then a clamor and kindly clinking
    Like sudden song breaks round the board,
  And the soul of the wine they’re drinking
    Seems into their own souls poured.

  And, “Huzza for our guest, King Irving;”
    From a hundred hearty throats,
  And the lovingly lengthened greeting,
    Like a chorused chime, up floats—
  When more swift than an earthly echo
    Bursts a sound over guest and hosts,
  Strangely shrill, yet faint and far off,—
    “Way there for the coming ghosts!”

  Into statued silence stricken,
    Stand and gaze the speechless throng,
  While the walls slide wide from side to side
    As if moved in grooves along,
  And a shadowy stage, whose foot-lights
    Loom white through a weirdly mist,
  Is peopled with phantoms of players
    Trooping in as if keeping a tryst.

  Then with buskined steps and soundless,
    Streaming forward as a tide,
  Surge the serried shades of actors
    Whose greatness time has testified;
  And their brows are bound with bay-leaves,
    And their garments’ phantomed fold
  Shape out the bygone costumes
    Of the parts they played of old.

  All the fine and famous faces
    In the records of the stage,
  Canonized in highest places
    On the drama’s brightest page!
  Their “brief hour” made eternal,
    Where the deathless laurel nods,
  And where Shakespeare reigns superral
    In the green-room of the gods!

  There, each grandly visioned visage,
    Looking through a mellow haze
  On the spell-bound reverent watchers
    With a long, fraternal gaze,
  Whose mute and mighty meaning
    Seem, like a benediction, cast
  O’er the promise of the present,
    By the high priests of the past!

  Then, at an unseen, silent signal,
    Given by some mystic chief,
  Each of the ghosts of great ones
    From his own wreath plucks a leaf,
  And fleeter than arrowed lightning
    Through space a chaplet’s sped!
  And the brow of the actor living
    Is laurelled by actors dead!

  And a sigh sweeps over the silence,
    And the walls are walls again,
  While the lights flash up to brightness,
    And sparkles the gold champagne;
  And the joyous voice of the poet
    Rings out the blended toasts,
  “Huzza for our good guest, Irving!”
    And “Huzza for our grand old ghosts!”


IV.

FOR the last night of the New York engagement programme was a novelty,
in every respect, to a New York audience. Custom confines the night’s
entertainment in American theatres to one piece. On occasion the
play-bill contained the first act of “Richard III.”; the Lyceum version
of “The Belle’s Stratagem”; the, in England, well-known recitation
“Eugene Aram”; and Irving was also expected to make a speech. The
programme was played to an enthusiastic audience; and, at the close of
“The Belle’s Stratagem,” Mr. Irving addressed them as follows:

 “_Ladies and Gentlemen,_—A month ago, standing before you for the
 first time, and stimulated by your most kind welcome, I expressed
 the hope that our loves might increase as our days did grow. You,
 for your part, have fulfilled my dearest wishes, and I can but
 hope that we have not disappointed you. On that same first night I
 bespoke your good-will for my sister artist, Ellen Terry. I felt
 sure that she would win hearts, and I believe she has. For her, for
 all comrades, and for myself, I thank you for your enthusiastic and
 generous indorsement of our work. I sorry that the time has come when
 I must leave you. I am glad that I have not yet to say ‘Good-by,’ but
 only ‘_Au revoir_.’ In April next we shall have the honor—if all be
 well—of appearing before you again, and I would propose to present
 to you ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and ‘Hamlet.’ In my old home, on the
 other side of the Atlantic, these plays are often performed by us;
 and I hope they will be welcome in—if I may say so—my new home on
 this side of the sea. And now, ladies and gentlemen, with a grateful
 remembrance of your kindness, I must say ‘_Au revoir_.’ I find no
 words to adequately express my gratitude to you; indeed, I would feel
 but little, if I could say how much.”

Retiring for a few minutes, Irving, in evening dress, returned to
the stage. A chair was placed in the centre of it. Now standing, now
sitting, he recited Hood’s dramatic poem. The audience sat spell-bound.
Even as Mathias, with the accessories of the mysterious court-scene,
Mr. Irving had not held New York play-goers with a firmer grip. They
followed the grim story almost in silence. The ancient mariner’s
narrative did not more impress the wedding-guest. I have seen all
kinds of audiences in both hemispheres, and under all sorts of
circumstances, and never saw a theatre full of people more under the
control of a story. At the end the applause was loud and continued
for some minutes, the reciter having to bow his acknowledgments again
and again. The next day a discriminating critic pointed out to one
of Irving’s few opponents, that “the _pseudo_ critic who pronounced
Irving’s ‘Bells’ a mere success of lime-lights, properties, scenery,
and stage-management,” had been quite extinguished “by the recitation
of Hood’s ‘Dream of Eugene Aram,’ delivered in evening dress, without
any lime-lights, properties, scenery, or stage-management.”

“And,” added a journalistic writer in the “Herald” “aside from the
artistic success Mr. Irving has made here the financial result should
be considered very satisfactory. The total amount received from
subscriptions and box-office sales for the four weeks’ engagement is
$75,687. The receipts for the first week were $15,772; for the second
week, $18,714; for the third week, $18,880, and for the week closing
last evening, $22,321. It has been estimated that the public paid
altogether, to speculators and to the box-office, upwards of $200,000.
Judged, therefore, by the financial standard of the box-office, as
well as by that of the highest criticism, New York’s answer to the
London “Standard” was a full and complete endorsement of the English
popularity of Henry Irving and Ellen Terry.”

But it remained for Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, to pronounce
upon them. The campaign was only in its infancy, though the first
stronghold had been won. An advance was made upon Philadelphia, on the
day following the recitation of “Eugene Aram.” The reader who follows
the fortunes of the campaigners in these pages will find the record
justified by independent pens, and supported by the current chronicles
of the entire Union.



IX.

AT PHILADELPHIA AND “IN CLOVER.”

 Rivalries of American Cities—Boston and Philadelphia—The
 Real and the Picturesque—Miss Terry’s Portia—“Three Kinds
 of Criticism”—First Appearance as Hamlet—Miss Terry’s
 Ophelia—Journalism and the Stage—Critics, Past and
 Present—Philadelphia and English Cities—A New Style of
 Newspaper—Bogus Reports and Interviews; an Example of Them—The
 Clover Club—A Letter from an Eminent American Tragedian—Presented
 with Forrest’s Watch—The Macready Trouble—Hamlet, and an Invitation
 from Guest to Hosts.


I.

“THE rivalries between American cities,” said Irving, “seem to take
a far more aggressive form than the rivalry between England and
America, or even between France and England; I mean in regard to their
criticisms of each other, and their hostile chaff or badinage in regard
to each other’s peculiarities.”

“Is it not very much the same in England?”

“Perhaps.”

“Sheffield scoffs at Birmingham, Liverpool sneers at Bristol,
Manchester is supercilious concerning London,” I said.

“And London mildly patronizes the whole of them. I think you are right;
but one does not notice the competition at home so much, perhaps, as
in America. Boston and Philadelphia seem to indulge in a good deal of
badinage at each other’s expense.”

“And they are both sarcastic about the morality of Chicago.”

“A Boston friend of ours,” said Irving, “was telling me yesterday of
a little war of words he had with a Philadelphian. Said Boston to
the Quaker, ‘Well, there is one thing in which you have the best of
us.’—‘Glad you admit one point in our favor anyhow; what is it?’—‘You
are nearer to New York than we are.’ Our Boston friend is fond of New
York, takes his holidays there; says he likes it nearly as well as
London. A less subtle, but more direct, hit at Philadelphia was that of
the Bostonian, who, in reply to the question of a Philadelphian, ‘Why
don’t you lay out your streets properly?’ said, ‘If they were as dead
as yours we would lay them out.’”

“Looked at from a balloon,” I said, “Philadelphia would have the
appearance of a checker-board. Boston, on the other hand, would present
many of the irregular features of an English city. Both cities are
eminently representative of American characteristics, and both are
possibly more English in their habits, manners, and customs, than any
other cities of the Union.”

“There is nothing dead about the Philadelphia streets, so far as I
have noticed them,” Irving replied. “This morning I walked along
Chestnut street, and thought it particularly lively and pleasant. The
absence of the elevated railroad struck me as an advantage. I felt that
when walking down Broadway, in New York. Then the cars in the street
itself did not rush along at the New York pace. These seem to me to be
advantages in their way on the side of life in Philadelphia. Perhaps
one feels the rest, too, of a calmer city, a quieter atmosphere.”

We are sitting near a front window at the Bellevue, looking out upon
Broad street. Presently we are joined by the interviewer, and Irving is
not long before he is engaged in a conversation about the actor’s art,
and his own methods.

“Every character,” he says, “has its proper place on the stage,
and each should be developed to its greatest excellence, without
unduly intruding upon another, or impairing the general harmony of
the picture. Nothing, perhaps, is more difficult in a play than to
determine the exact relation of the real, and what I may call the
picturesque. For instance, it is the custom in Alsatia for men to wear
their hats in a public room; but in a play located in that country it
would not do to have a room scene in which a number of men should sit
around on the stage with their hats on. There are reasons why they
should not do that. In the first place, their hats would hide their
faces from the audience. It is also an incongruity to see men sitting
in the presence of an audience with their heads covered. Then, again,
the attention of the audience would be distracted from the play by a
feeling of curiosity as to the reason why the hats were not removed.
These are little things that should be avoided; but in general they
are not likely to intrude themselves where proper regard is paid to
the general appearance of a scene. The make-up of the stage is exactly
like the drawing of a picture, in which lights and colors are studied,
with a view to their effect upon the whole. There is another feature.
I would not have the costume and general appearance of a company of
soldiers returning from a war exactly the same as they appeared when
the men were starting for the battle-field. I would have them dishevel
their hair and assume a careworn aspect, but yet appear in clean
clothes. Everything on the stage should always be clean and pleasant.”

The subject of realism being mentioned, he said his death in “The
Bells” had been called very realistic, whereas the entire story was
unrealistic, in the strict sense, particularly the trial and death.
“Dramatically poetic, if you like,” he said, “but not realistic.
There are so-called realisms on the stage that are no doubt
offensive,—overstrained illustrations of the pangs of death, physical
deformities, and such like. As for the interest of an audience in
the person who is acting, the knowledge that what they see is an
impersonation has its intellectual attractions for them. For instance,
it would not be satisfactory to see an old man of eighty play ‘King
Lear’; but it would be highly satisfactory to an audience to know that
the character was being portrayed by a man in the vigor of life. As
you look upon a picture you do not see something that is real, but
something that draws upon the imagination.

“Perhaps there is no character about which such a variety of opinions
has been expressed as that of Hamlet, and there is no book that will
give any one as much opportunity of understanding it as the ‘Variorum
Shakespeare’ of Mr. Horace Howard Furness. He is still a young man,—he
is not an old man,—and I trust that he will be able to complete the
whole of the work that he has begun, and I hope that some one will
follow in his footsteps. It was a labor of love, of most intense love
to him, and he has earned the gratitude of all readers of Shakespeare.
I hope I shall meet him.”


II.

THE Chestnut Street Theatre, where Irving appeared on November 28, is
a handsome brick building. The width of the stage at the proscenium is
thirty-three feet, depth forty feet, height of proscenium forty feet.
There are three tiers of seats, which will accommodate one thousand
five hundred people. The theatre was first opened in 1863, under the
management of William Wheatley, with Edwin Forrest as the leading
actor. The interior was reconstructed in 1874, and improved in 1875,
with results that make the house singularly elegant and comfortable.
Among the audience on the first night of Irving’s appearance were
his old friend Mr. McHenry, and a party of relatives and friends;
the latter including Lord and Lady Bury, whom he and Miss Terry, and
several of his fellow-travellers, met at a number of social receptions
during the week.

Irving’s Louis made just as profound an impression here as in New York.
“No finer performance has been seen on the Philadelphian stage for many
years,” said the “Ledger.”—“From his first appearance on the stage
to the moment when he falls dead upon the floor, he rose from climax
to climax, and held, not the hearts, but the minds, of his audience
captive,” said the “Inquirer”; and they give the cue to the general
criticisms. The other plays were equally well received. Shylock excited
the usual controversy as to Shakespeare’s intentions, but none as to
Irving’s interpretation of his own views. The critics, on the whole,
were the honest mouth-pieces of the audiences in regard to their
enjoyment of the entire play. A writer, who confessed to disappointment
in Miss Terry’s Portia, and who counted Shylock’s business as above his
elocution, had no words to express his admiration of the entire setting
of the piece, which he described as “a discovery and a conquest.” It
is no reflection upon the literary skill and critical powers of the
Philadelphia press, when it has to be admitted that here and there
the notices bore evidence of an influence preceding Mr. Irving’s
appearance, notably in their criticisms of Hamlet.

“There are three kinds of criticisms,” said Irving, when discussing
this point one evening after a quiet supper: “the criticism that is
written before the play; the criticism that is more or less under the
influence of the preconceived ideas that are associated with previous
representations by other actors; and the criticism that is _bona
fide_ a result of the night’s performance, and also, in a measure,
an interpretation of the opinions of the audience. What I mean by a
criticism written before the play is the notice that has been partially
prepared beforehand, in connection with the literature of the subject,
and the controversies as to the proper or improper views taken of the
character under discussion. These start in on one side or the other,
just as the writer feels about it, irrespective of the art that is
exercised by the actor. This is more particularly the case in regard
to Shylock and Hamlet. As to the latter character there is the natural
loyalty some writers feel towards what is called the established or
accepted Hamlet of the country. It is not given to all men to feel that
art is universal, and of no country. Don’t think I am complaining; I
am not. I am trying to justify some of the Philadelphian notices of
Hamlet, which were in opposition to the verdict of the audience before
whom I played it in America for the first time.”

“You were warned that Philadelphia claims to occupy the highest
critical chair in America; and that, of all other cities, it would be
the least likely to accept a new Hamlet, especially a Hamlet that aims
at being natural as against the artificial school; or, in better words,
an impersonation as opposed to the so-called traditional school of
declamation.”

“I think that decided me to play Hamlet for the first time in
Philadelphia; and I never played it to an audience that entered more
fully into the spirit of my work.”

“I have never,” said a Philadelphian, “seen an audience in this city
rise and cheer an actor as they cheered you when you took your call
after the play scene in Hamlet. Such enthusiasm is unknown here. Miss
Terry and yourself both might have had scene-calls of the most cordial
character. You both refused them; it is a rule, I understand, with you
to do so. The excitement of some audiences would have been dampened by
these checks. Not so yours,—the calls at the close of the play were
quite phenomenal for Philadelphia.”

A numerous company of critics and reporters came from New York, Boston,
and other cities, to be present at Irving’s first appearance in Hamlet.
Nowhere at any time during the tour were the influences of London so
apparent as in the criticisms of Hamlet at Philadelphia; most of them
entirely out of harmony with the warmly expressed satisfaction of
one of the most intellectual and high-class audiences ever gathered
together in the Chestnut Street Theatre.[22] For instance, the “Evening
Bulletin” found in the duelling scene reminiscences of “æsthetic
sketches from ‘Punch,’” and the “Press” said “It is unfortunate that
Du Maurier has taken Miss Terry as the model of the æsthetic set. The
curly blonde hair, delicate face, and soft, clinging robes reminded
one so often of ‘Punch’s’ caricature, that it was difficult to take
it seriously.” There is, in certain critical circles of Philadelphia,
the same kind of affectation of a knowledge of English thought, and a
following of London taste, as there is in London in regard to French
art and French criticism. The audience at the Chestnut Street Theatre
had no difficulty in taking Miss Terry’s Ophelia seriously. There was
hardly a dry eye in the house during her mad scene. The “Bulletin”
critic aired his knowledge of English affectation by associating her
with “Burns-Jonesism”; but the “Times” found “Miss Terry’s Ophelia
tender and beautiful, and pathetic beyond any Ophelia we have lately
seen.” The “Record” described it as “sweet and unartificial as the
innocent and demented maiden Shakespeare painted for us.” Said the
“Inquirer,” in a criticism of singular literary force:—

 In the play scene, in which he seemed to fill the whole stage, in
 which a real frenzy appeared to fall upon his mind, he justified by
 the greatness of his acting almost all that has been or could be said
 in praise of it. So grandly and impressively did he bring the scene
 to a close as to call down thunders of applause from an audience that
 he had thrilled and swayed by a power undeniably great. If that scene
 was ever before so nobly played we were not there to see it done. Mr.
 Irving rose to greater heights of excellence as the play proceeded.
 From the moment Miss Terry put her foot upon the scene she held and
 controlled her audience as she would. Never before upon our stage has
 there appeared an actress who played Ophelia with such lovely grace
 and piteous pathos. To all who saw this most perfect performance it
 was a revelation of a higher, purer, and nobler dramatic art than they
 had ever seen or dreamed. What she did just here or there, or how she
 did it, cannot be told. Over it all was cast the glamour of the genius
 in which this fine woman is so greatly blessed. She does not seem to
 act, but to do that which nature taught her.


III.

TALKING of criticism and the press, the press and the stage, one
evening, Irving expressed some views in regard to the influence
and relations of the newspaper and the theatre which are full of
suggestiveness and point.

“Journalism and the stage,” he said, “have always been more or less
in sympathy with each other. As they have progressed this sympathy
may be said to have grown into an alliance in the best interests of
civilization. As exponents of the highest thought of the greatest
writers, as educationists of the most comprehensive character, the
press and the stage are, I think, two of the most powerful institutions
for good in our times, and represent the greatest possibilities in the
future.

“It is interesting to contemplate how closely they are associated,
these two institutions, artistically and commercially. The
advertisements of the theatres represent a large revenue to the
newspapers; the employment of writers and reporters in chronicling
and commenting upon the work of the theatres represents, on the other
hand, an important outlay for the newspapers. The press is telling the
story of the theatre from day to day; and, while it extends an earnest
and honest sympathy to dramatic art in its highest aspirations of
excellence, I hope the time will come when the criticism of the work
of the stage will be considered one of the most serious features that
belong to the general and varied compositions of a newspaper.

“In the past we, in England, at all events, look upon but two men as
critics in the most complete sense,—men who, by thought and study,
feeling and knowledge, had the power to sympathize with the intention
of the artist, to enter into the motives of the actor himself,
criticising his conceptions according to his interpretation of that
which he desires to express. These two writers were Lamb and Hazlett.
But nowadays we have thousands of critics. Every newspaper in Great
Britain has its critic. Even the trade-journals, and some of the
professedly religious journals, have their critics, and some of them
speak with an emphasis and an authority on the most abstruse principles
of art which neither Lamb nor Hazlett would have dreamed of assuming. I
don’t know how this contrasts with America; but I am sure that when the
conductors of the great journals of the two worlds are fully convinced
of the deep interest and the friendly interest the people are taking
in the stage they will give increasing importance to the dramatic
departments of their papers.”

“You are going to a journalistic breakfast or supper one day this
week,” I said. “Is that your idea of the sort of speech you will
make to them?” I asked, for he expressed his opinions with more than
ordinary firmness, seeing that the topic was comparatively new.

“Well, I thought of saying something,” he replied, walking all the time
about his room. “Do you think the relations of the stage and the press
a good subject?”

“Excellent,” I said; “a text worthy of an essay in ‘The Fortnightly’ or
the ‘Edinburgh Review.’”


IV.

TAKING a quiet stroll along Broad street, and occasionally up and down
the thoroughfares right and left, on the first Sunday afternoon of our
arrival in Philadelphia, we paused once or twice to note the people
coming out of church and chapel.

“You know that part of Manchester called Hulme,” said Irving. “Is not
this quarter like that? Could you not fancy we were in almost any
suburban part of Manchester? And the people, do you see anything in
their appearance to denote that they are any other than English?”

“No; they might be a Birmingham, or a Manchester, or a Liverpool crowd.”

“Better dressed, perhaps, so far as the women go. This absence of
strong contrasts between American and English is often noticeable.
Nothing in that way struck me more forcibly than the Lotos-Club dinner
at New York. They might have been a gathering of London clubmen, only
that they all made such singularly humorous speeches. The English
after-dinner oratory is more solemn. And the audience here last
night,—I could not see their faces, of course; but I felt their
influence, and their response to various points was very English. I
am told that it is thoroughly American to hurry away the moment the
curtain falls on the last act.”

“It certainly is the general practice of American audiences. An English
friend of ours, and a popular comedian here, was only telling me
yesterday how the habit afflicts him and his company. ‘At first,’ he
said, ‘it was terrible. We thought we had utterly failed, and we shall
never get used to it.’ He asked me how it affected you. I would not
hurt his feelings, of course, by telling him that your audiences, so
far, had waited every night to applaud, and to call you and Miss Terry,
and frequently other members of your company. I said you seemed to drop
into the habits of the country easily.”

“It is very generous, is it not? And I know they are making an
exception with us, because my attention has been called to it so
often. I drove down Chestnut street yesterday. Have you noticed what
a picturesque effect, both in form and color, the signboards give to
Chestnut street? And there is something very clean and homelike about
the private houses,—red brick mostly, with white marble steps and
green blinds. The atmosphere of the place is calmer than New York. I
have been reading a new daily paper here, the ‘Evening Call,’—very
odd, clever kind of paper.”

“Yes,” I said; “it is a type of quite a new departure in daily
journalism. The ‘Morning Journal,’ in New York, and the ‘Evening
News,’ in Chicago, are examples in point. Akin to the first idea
of the ‘Figaro,’ in London, they are a little in the style of the
‘Cuckoo,’ which croaked in the London streets for a short time. They
may be considered as outside the competition of the regular high-class
daily journals. They occupy ground of their own. Their leading idea is
to amuse, rather than to instruct. They employ humorous versifiers,
story-tellers, jesters. They are the cap and bells in print, the
jester, or court-fool, in newspapers; and sometimes are as personal as
that very strange jester in the American play of ‘Francesca da Rimini.’
How this new form of daily journalism represents American civilization,
or what side of it, is a point which Mr. Arnold or Spencer may be left
to discuss. I am glad you have noticed it, because I have collected
a few Philadelphian examples of its style,—bright, easy, clever,
frivolous, perhaps, and sometimes a trifle broad, but full of go.”

We sat down at the hotel to look over my notes, and here are a few
items from them:—

 _Theatre-goer._—“I notice that a favorite device with Irving in a
 moment of deep feeling is for him to clutch and perhaps tear open the
 collar or loose scarf that is around his neck.”

 _Scarf Manufacturer._—“Well, I declare! That is the best news that I
 have heard for a long time. Three cheers for Irving!”

 _Theatre-goer._—“Why, man, are you demented?”

 _Scarf Manufacturer._—“Not at all. Can’t you see? The five hundred
 thousand amateur actors in this country will all be imitating Irving,
 and the result will be the biggest kind of a boom in scarfs.”

In the same column it is announced that “James Malley wants to go on
the stage,” and the editor adds, “We hope he will wait until eggs are
cheaper.” “You cannot convert 15,000 tons into 20,000 tons,” is quoted
as a remark of the late Lord Beaconsfield to accentuate the general
grievance about short weight in coals. “Dizzy’s remark clearly shows
that he knew nothing about the coal business.” Plumbers in America are
subjects of much newspaper sarcasm. “Three weeks ago,” says the “Lock
Haven Express” “the writer sent for a plumber, who never appeared,
but yesterday he sent in his bill.” The “Call” prints this to add,
“He must have been a poor sort of plumber to wait three weeks before
sending in a bill.” Chicago looks down upon some of the Eastern cities,
and there is a rivalry between the journals of Chicago and the cities
that are scorned, which is often amusing. “The only cure for love is
marriage,” says the “Call”; “the only cure for marriage, divorce.
Beware of imitations; none genuine without the word ‘Chicago’ blown on
the bottle.”

An imaginary description of Irving’s visit to the Rev. Ward Beecher,
with an account of the family dinner and conversation, was started by
one of these new daily papers, and it was repeated even by several of
the more serious journals in other cities as a genuine thing. It is
difficult sometimes to know when the news of some of these papers is
true. Ingenious readers will probably ask in what respect they thus
differ from other papers. But our satirical friends must always get in
their little joke. It strikes me as a weakness, in the programme of
some of the new sheets, that you should for a moment be left in doubt
as to when they are in earnest and when in fun; when they are recording
real events, or when they are chaffing history. Here is an extract from
the report of Irving’s visit to Beecher:—

 The party rested in the parlor until the dinner was ready. The
 conversation was of an every-day nature, and did not enter deeply
 either into theatricals or religion.

 The party filed into the dining-room, Mr. Beecher behind, turning
 his cuffs end for end as he walked. In this room was a palatable
 show,—a big, fat goose, entrenched in gravy, and flanked by all kinds
 of vegetables, slept the final sleep in the centre of the table.
 Everything necessary accompanied the star of the feast.

 “Dark meat, Miss Terry?” asked the reverend gentleman as he grasped
 the carver.

 “If you please, with plenty of stuffing,” returned the little lady.

 All were helped from the generous goose, and Mr. Beecher sat down to
 enjoy his reward. He is very fond of onion stuffing, and had taken
 care that it was not all gone before his turn came.

 “This goose,” began Mr. Beecher, the bird’s biographer, “has a
 history. She is the seventh goose of a seventh”—

 Just what the reverend gentleman was going to attribute to the goose
 will not be known, as just then he tasted the stuffing. There was
 no onion in it. A stern look came over his face, and he was on the
 point of saying something when he caught the warning glance from his
 wife’s eyes and kept quiet. Nothing was heard for ten minutes besides
 the tuneful play of knives, forks, and dishes. The dinner was topped
 off with mince and pumpkin pies, in whose favor the guests could not
 say too much. After dinner a quiet, enjoyable talk was indulged in.
 Mr. Beecher neglected his Sunday school to entertain the artists. He
 highly complimented Irving by telling him that he was a born preacher.

 “If I were not pastor of Plymouth Church, I would be Henry Irving,”
 said Mr. Beecher.

 “You are a born actor,” said Mr. Irving. “As for myself, there is no
 one I feel more inclined to envy than the pastor of Plymouth Church.”

 Miss Terry was not slighted much in Mr. Beecher’s meed of praise. The
 topics of discussion momentarily changed from America to England and
 back again, both of the leading gentlemen having well-stored minds
 that relieved them from “talking shop.”

 At four o’clock the visitors departed, carrying and leaving delightful
 impressions.

“Newspapers are not allowed to be noisely hawked in the streets here,
I find,” said Irving; “and ticket speculators on the sidewalks are
also tabooed. A little newsboy offered me a paper yesterday quite
confidentially. By the way, you saw the military band belonging to
“The Evening Call.” It is composed of the _employés_ of the newspaper.
It looked like a band of French guides. It serenaded Miss Terry at
her hotel yesterday, and afterwards serenaded me at mine. I was just
getting up. It quite affected me to hear “God save the Queen” played
as finely almost as if the and of Her Majesty’s Guards were under my
window.[23]


V.

“IRVING in Clover,” was the journalistic title of a report of “a
notable breakfast given to the English tragedian,” which appeared in
the “Philadelphia Press.” “A gathering of distinguished men listen to
entertaining words by the famous actor; he is presented with the watch
of Edwin Forrest.”

The “Clover Club” is one of the pleasantest of Philadelphian
institutions. Its reception to Mr. Irving, and the Forrest incident,
which makes the day historical in the annals of the stage, calls for
a special record. As I was travelling at this time to another city,
I propose to repeat the chronicle of the local journalist, and Mr.
Irving’s own personal report of the interesting proceedings. Let
me say, then, in the language of the “Press,” that on the morning
of December 7 Mr. Irving broke his fast with the club that has a
four-leaved Shamrock on which to spread its bounty, _à votre santé_ for
its toast cry, and for its motto the quatrain,—

  “While we live,
    We live in clover;
  When we die,
    We die all over.”

The banqueting-room of the Hotel Bellevue, the scene of so many
memorable gatherings, and the shrine at which the quadrifoil devotees
ever worship, had been turned into a fairy bower. The regular clover
table had an addition in the shape of a crescent, spreading on
either side from the stem of the club’s emblem and from its centre,
and concealing a pillar supporting the floor above, arose what the
florist’s art made to appear a gigantic plant. Its branches, bearing
numerous camellias, reached to the ceiling. At its base, in a bed of
emerald moss, grew ferns and lilies. Smilax (a beautiful American
creeper), in graceful windings, covered the entire board, furnishing
a radiant green setting for dazzling glass and shining silver, and
handsome plaques of flowers and fruits. Directly in front of the
president of the club, and the guest of the occasion, was a handsome
floral structure, from which the modest clover grew around the name
“Henry Irving,” composed of radiant blossoms. On the emblematic
gridiron was placed the massive “loving-cup.” The walls of the room
were covered with precious works of art, and over all was shed the
mellow light of many wax candles, with their rays subdued by crimson
shades. The sunlight, so suggestive of business activity and all that
rebukes feasting and frivolity, was rigorously excluded from the scene
of pleasure. An English and American flag entwined draped one end of
the room.

Breakfast was served shortly, at noon, fifty-three gentlemen sitting
around the clover-leaf. Around the table, beside Mr. Irving and
twenty-three members of the club, were seated the following gentlemen:
Ex-Attorney-General MacVeagh, Charles Wyndham, the English comedian;
A. Loudon Snowden, Superintendent of the Mint; Charles Godfrey Leland
(Hans Breitman); Calvin Wells, of Pittsburg; Captain J. W. Shackford,
of the yacht Atlanta; Professor E. Coppee Mitchell, of the University;
James D. Fish, president of the Marine National Bank, New York, and
owner of the New York Casino; John B. Schoeffel, partner of Henry E.
Abbey; Morton McMichael, Jr., cashier of the First National Bank; A.
G. Hetherington, J. H. Copleston, James H. Alexander; Commodore James
M. Ferguson, President of the Board of Port Wardens; E. A. Perry, of
“The Boston Herald”; E. T. Steel, President of the Board of Education;
Thomas Hovenden, J. W. Bailey, Marcus Mayer, Peter A. B. Widener, Dr.
Alfred C. Lambdin; Henry Howe, the “first old man” of Mr. Irving’s
company; W. E. Littleton, J. M. White; Hon. Robert P. Porter, of New
York; Nathaniel Childs, the comedian; Charles A. Dougherty, J. Beaufoy
Lane, and J. H. Palser.

After the “Baby”[24] member, Colonel John A. McCaull, had descended
from the high-chair and been divested of his rattle, and the loving-cup
had been passed around, and the game on the bill of fare had been
reached, President M. P. Handy arose, and in a few fitting remarks
introduced Mr. Irving, reminding him, in conclusion, that “this
unconventionality is our conventionality,” and, further, that he was
expected “to stir up the animals.”

After the warm applause that greeted him had subsided, Mr. Irving, in a
conversational, unrestrained manner, spoke as follows:—

 “Gentlemen, I can never forget, so long as I live, the hearty welcome
 you have given me, coupled with such unusual and hearty hospitality.
 When it was first known that I was coming to Philadelphia, your
 club extended to me a most kind invitation,—the first invitation
 I received after my arrival in America, and one that will ever be
 memorable to me. Your great hospitality, and the gridiron there
 before me, has reminded me of an old organization of which I am a
 member,—the Beefsteak Club. I hope I shall have the pleasure of
 welcoming some of the members of this club whenever they cross the
 water. Should any of them come to London I will endeavor to make some
 return for this unexpected welcome. I hope by that time we will have
 some of your unconventional conventionalities of which you have,
 in such an excellent manner, given me a specimen. I am told that
 speech-making is not part of the programme. Therefore I can do no
 better than follow the suggestion of my friend Dougherty, and give you
 an experience of my early life. I don’t wish to do aught against the
 rules,—for I am a great stickler for rules,—which I see you carry
 out; but I will tell you a little story concerning my early life, or
 it may possibly be the story of the early life of several of us.”

And then Mr. Irving branched off into a recitation descriptive of how
“some vast amount of years ago” a precocious youth—one Tom by name,
and but eleven years of age—had a prematurely amorous longing for a
spinster of thirty-two, who finally married an elder, but hated, rival.
At the conclusion of the recitation, which was received with great
laughter, he continued his remarks, as follows:—

 “I feel most fondly unto you, O Clovers! Many of you, I believe, are
 associated with the press. Between journalism and the stage there has
 always been a great sympathy, and I fancy it will continue so until
 all things cease to exist. I have often thought that the stage is a
 sort of father of journalism,—it is a sort of Utopian idea,—but from
 the days of the Greek drama to the time of Shakespeare there was much
 news discussed at the theatres, such as we now find in the newspapers.
 Our interests are mixed. We represent much of the newspaper treasury I
 know, in England, and I fancy it is the same in this country. We are
 therefore interested, to a very large amount, in the newspapers, and
 I have found my friend, Charles Wyndham, whom I am glad to meet at
 this board, interested to the extent of anxiety concerning some of his
 large advertisements.

 “But this is not solely a gathering of journalists. I have to-day
 the honor of meeting many gentlemen who represent every class in
 Philadelphia,—every class of professional calling. I will say from
 my very heart that I thank you. I will remember, as long as I live,
 the courtesy that has supplemented this sumptuous banquet, and your
 kindness in calling me to meet such representative men. I am living
 next door to this room, and had I only heard that I was to meet such
 a distinguished gathering I am afraid I would have been deterred
 from facing you. Mr. Handy, your president, has told me that your
 conventionality consists in being unconventional, and I have tried to
 be as unconventional as I possibly can. I thank you with all my heart.”

       *       *       *       *       *

At the conclusion of Irving’s remarks Secretary Deacon read the
following letter from the eminent American tragedian, James E.
Murdoch:—

 Previous engagements of a domestic kind induce me to send “Regrets,”
 in reply to your invitation to breakfast with the members of the
 Clover Club and their distinguished guest, Mr. Henry Irving. In regard
 to certain “effects, defective” consequent upon the “feast of reason
 and the flow of soul,” I am constrained to say, in the language of
 Cassio [somewhat altered], “I have but a poor and unhappy stomach for
 feasting.” I am unfortunate in the infirmity, and dare not task my
 weakness with the tempting dishes of mind and matter so bountifully
 served up at complimentary festivals. I hope it will not be considered
 out of place for me to state that I have had the pleasure of meeting
 Mr. Irving socially, and of witnessing some of his performances. I
 esteem him as a man of gentle manners, and regard him as a dramatic
 genius. He appears to me to possess, in an eminent degree, all those
 qualities of thought and action which marked so strikingly the
 historical career of Macready and Charles Kean, and which established
 the reputation of those gentlemen for consummate skill in stage
 direction, and for exquisite portraiture of dramatic characters.
 Desiring to be excused for the obtrusion of my opinion, allow me to
 add: although I shall not have the pleasure of sitting down to your
 banquet, I take pleasure in saying:—

  “Now, good digestion wait on appetite and health on both”—
  ... “Come, love and health, to all”....

 I drink to the general joy of the whole table, and especially to the
 health and happiness of your accomplished and worthy guest.

  Yours, always, in the bonds of good-fellowship,

  JAMES E. MURDOCH.

The next episode of the memorable occasion was one that almost moved
Mr. Irving to tears. It was as great a surprise to many members of the
club as it was to the guest of the day. Thomas Donaldson, a well-known
Clover, after some remarks concerning the drama, in which he spoke of
the United States having 1,800 theatres, 20,000 actors and actresses,
and spending $40,000,000 for theatrical entertainment, said: “Mr.
Irving, I desire to present you with the watch of the greatest genius
America ever produced on the mimic stage,—Edwin Forrest.” Mr. Irving
clasped the relic extended to him and reverently kissed it. He remained
on his feet, having impulsively arisen, and in a voice deep with
feeling spoke again:—

 “You have bereft me of all words. My blood alone can speak for me
 in my face, and if my heart could tell it would describe to you my
 gratitude. This recalls so many memories that you will pardon me if I
 am not able to express my deep gratitude for this mark of affection.
 I say affection, for to receive here such a memento of your great
 country is more than I could have dreamt of. To think that to-day,
 before so many distinguished Americans, a watch could be given to me
 that belonged to Edwin Forrest! It recalls a most unfortunate affair;
 I refer to the _contretemps_ between Forrest and my countryman,
 Macready. That such a tribute should have been offered me shows how
 changed is your feeling towards art; shows how cosmopolitan art is
 in all its phases. I shall wear this watch, Mr. Donaldson, close to
 my heart. It will remind me of you all, and of your city and of your
 country,—not that I need anything to remind me,—but close to my
 heart it will remind me of your kind friendship. With all my heart I
 thank you.”

As Mr. Irving sat down he kissed the watch again, and then placed it
in the upper left-hand pocket of his vest. Accompanying the timepiece
which had been Mr. Donaldson’s private possession, were papers proving
the authenticity of its original ownership.[25]

Ex-Attorney-General MacVeagh was the next speaker, and he paid a very
graceful tribute to foreign theatrical and operatic artists, and the
welcome they receive in these days on the shores of America.

Mr. Henry Howe (a leading member of Mr. Irving’s company), who, for
forty consecutive years, was a member of the Haymarket Theatre Company,
made a warm defence of Macready anent the Forrest trouble. “I have
heard him say,” said Mr. Howe, “time and time again, ‘Never in my life
did I do anything that would prevent me from shaking Forrest by the
hand. I appreciate his genius, and that I could ever have been thought
mean enough to do anything against him is the greatest misfortune of my
life.’ And henceforth, gentlemen, I believe you will all be ready to
defend this man who has been unjustly assailed.”

After many other speeches, songs, and recitations Mr. Irving rose to
leave. He said:—

 “The welcome you have given me has surpassed my most ideal dream.
 I cannot describe my feelings. Such generosity, such welcome, such
 friendship, as I have met with here, no act of mine can repay. I hope
 to to be back here in the early part of the coming year, and I ask if
 you will not all at that time be my guests. If you will come you will
 only add to the greatness of my obligation.”

As Mr. Irving left the room he passed around the table and shook
hands warmly with each gentleman present. The breakfast party did
not arise until five o’clock. Among those, other than the gentlemen
mentioned, who contributed to the pleasure of the occasion, by speech,
song, or recitation, were Dr. Edward Bedloe, Rufus E. Shapley,
John B. Schoeffel, A. Loudon Snowden, Hon. Robert P. Porter, A. G.
Hetherington, British Consul Clipperton, and Nat. Childs. At the latter
part of the festivities Attorney-General Brewster entered the room and
expressed his regrets that he had been unable to be present in time
to shake hands with the Clover guest, and add his own to the club’s
welcome of England’s leading actor.



X.

BOSTON AND SHYLOCK.

 Rural Scenes on Both Sides of the Atlantic—First Impressions
 of Railway Travel—The Cars—One of the Largest Theatres in
 America—The Drama in Boston—Early Struggles to represent Plays
 in Public—“Moral Lectures”—Boston Criticisms—Shylock, Portia,
 Hamlet, and Ophelia—Different Readings of Shylock—Dressing-Room
 Criticism—Shylock considered—A Reminiscence of Tunis—How
 Shakespeare should be interpreted on the Stage—Two Methods
 illustrated—Shylock before the Court of Venice—How Actors should be
 judged.


I.

NOTHING in America is so unlike England as the desolate appearance
of the meadows in the fall and early winter months. From New York
to Boston, a journey of six hours, in the second week of December,
not a blade of green grass was to be seen. The train ran through a
wilderness of brown, burnt-up meadows. With a tinge of yellow in the
color of them, they would have resembled the late corn-stubbles of an
English landscape. But all were a dead, sombre brown, except once in
a way, where a clump of oaks still waved their russet leaves. Another
noticeable contrast to England is the wooden houses, that look so
temporary as compared with the brick and stone of the old country. The
absence of the trim gardens of English rural districts also strikes a
stranger, as do the curious and ragged fences that take the place of
the English hedge-rows. The New England homesteads are, however, more
like those of old England than are the farms of other States in the
Union.

The habit of letting out walls and buildings, roofs of barns, and sides
of houses, for the black and white advertisements of quack-medicine
venders and others, is a disfigurement of the land which every English
visitor notices with regret; and lovers of the picturesque, Americans
and English, grow positively angry over the disfigurement of the Hudson
by these money-making Goths and vandals.

A change of scene was promised for the Irving travellers on their
return to New York, over the same line. A cold wave from the West was
predicted. “We shall have snow before long,” said an American friend,
“and not unlikely a hard winter. I judge so from the fact that all the
great weather prophets say it will be a mild one. Your Canadian seer,
for instance, is dead on an exceptionally calm and warm winter. So let
us look out.”

Boston delighted the members of Irving’s company; all of them, except
Loveday, who contracted, on the way thither, an attack of malarial
fever. With true British pluck he fought his assailant until his first
spell of important work was over, and then he retreated. Medical
assistance, rest, and plenty of quinine, pulled him through. But the
company were destined later to sustain other climatic shocks; and they
all, more or less, had a dread of the threatened winter. Until Loveday
broke down everybody had stood the change of climate well. Reports
came from England that Miss Ellen Terry was ill in New York. On the
contrary, she had never been better than during these first weeks of
the tour. She suffered, as all English women do, from heated rooms.
“That is my only fear,” she said to me. “The climate!—I don’t object
to it. If they would only be content with it, I would. Some of the days
are gorgeous. The snap of cold, as they call it, was delightful to
me. But when I would be driving out in open carriages New York ladies
would be muffled up in close broughams. And, oh, the getting home
again!—to the hotel, I mean. An English hot-house, where they grow
pine-apples,—that is the only comparison I can think of. And their
private houses! How the dear people can stand the overwhelming heat of
them, I don’t know!”

The railway journey from Philadelphia to Boston was Irving’s first
experience of American travel.

“It is splendid,” he said, when I met him at his hotel, on the night of
his arrival. “Am I not tired? Not a bit. It has been a delightful rest.
I slept nearly the whole way, except once when going to the platform
and looking out. At a station a man asked me which was Irving, and I
pointed to Mead, who had been walking along the track, and was just
then getting into his car. No; I enjoyed the ride all the way; never
slept better; feel quite refreshed.”

Said Miss Terry, the next morning, when I saw her at the Tremont House,
“Oh, yes, I like the travelling! It did not tire me. Then we had such
lovely cars! But how different the stations are compared with ours!
No platforms!—you get down really upon the line. And how unfinished
it all looks,—except the cars, and they are perfect. Oh, yes! the
parlor-car beats our first-class carriage. I shall like Boston very
much,—though I never expect to like any place as well as New York.”


II.

THE Boston Theatre is the largest of the houses in which Irving has
played on this side of the Atlantic. It is claimed that it is the
largest in the Union, though many persons say that the Opera House at
the Rocky Mountain city of Denver is the handsomest of all the American
theatres. The main entrance to the Boston house is on Washington
street. It has not an imposing exterior. The front entrance is all that
is visible, the rest being filled up with stores; but the hall is very
spacious, and the vestibule, _foyer_, lobbies, and grand staircase
beyond, are worthy of the broad and well-appointed auditorium. The
promenade saloon is paved with marble, and is forty-six feet by
twenty-six feet, and proportionately high. Upon the walls, and here and
there on easels, are portraits of Irving, Booth, McCullough, Salvini,
and other notable persons. The promenade and entrance hall cover one
hundred feet from the doors to the auditorium, which, in its turn, is
ninety feet from the back row to the foot-lights. The stage is one
hundred feet wide and ninety feet deep; and the interior of the house
from front to back covers three hundred feet, the average width being
about one hundred feet. In addition to the parquette, which occupies
the entire floor (as the stalls do at the English Opera Comique,
and, by a recent change, also at the Haymarket), there are three
balconies, severally known as the dress circle, the family circle, and
the gallery. The house will seat three thousand people. It is built on
a series of arches, or supporting columns, leaving the basement quite
open, giving, so far as the stage is concerned, great facilities for
the manipulation of scenery and for storage, and allowing space for
offices, drill-rooms for supers, and other purposes.

“It is a magnificent theatre,” said Irving; “the auditorium superb, the
stage fine; the pitch of the auditorium in harmony with the stage, by
which I mean there is an artistic view of the stage from every seat;
the gas managements are perfect, and the system of general ventilation
unique; but the dressing-rooms are small and inconvenient. For anything
like quiet acting, for work in which detail of facial expression,
significant gesture, or delicate asides, are important, the theatre is
too large.”

“Are you acquainted with the history of the stage in Boston?” I asked
him, “or of this theatre in particular?”

“Only from what I have read or heard in a cursory way,” he said;
“but one can readily understand that our Puritan ancestors would
bring with them to these shores their hatred of plays and players.
The actors persevered in their terrible occupation in New England,
notwithstanding a local ordinance to prevent stage plays and other
theatrical entertainments, passed in 1750. Otway’s ‘Orphan’ was, I am
told, the first piece done in Boston. It was played at the British
Coffee-house, ‘by a company of gentlemen,’ and this gave rise to
the passing of the act in question. Some five or ten years later a
number of Tories got up an association to promote acting and defy this
statute. They revolted in favor of art; and in these days of political
tolerance that is a good thing to remember. The members of this society
were chiefly British officers, who, with their subalterns and private
soldiers, formed the acting company. I believe one of them wrote the
first piece they attempted to give in public. It was called ‘The
Blockade of Boston’; but the entertainment was stopped by a _ruse_,—a
sudden report that fighting had begun at Charlestown; a call to arms,
in fact. For many years no more efforts were made to amuse or instruct
the people with semi-theatrical entertainments or stage plays. The
next attempt was a theatre, or, more properly speaking, a variety
show, in disguise. The house was called ‘The New Exhibition Room,’
and the entertainment was announced as ‘a moral lecture.’ One Joseph
Harper was the manager. The programme of the first night included
tight-rope dancing, and various other athletic feats; ‘an introductory
address’; singing, by a Mr. Woods; tumbling, by Mr. Placide; and, in
the course of the evening, ‘will be delivered the Gallery of Portraits;
or, the World as it Goes, by Mr. Harper. Later, ‘Venice Preserved’
was announced as a moral lecture, ‘in which the dreadful effects of
conspiracy will be exemplified.’ Mr. Clapp’s book on Boston contains
several curious instances of this kind. Shakespeare, it seems, filled
the stage as ‘a moral lecturer’; and a familiar old English drama was
played as ‘a moral lecture, in five parts, wherein the pernicious
tendency of libertinism will be exemplified in the tragical history
of George Barnwell; or, the London Merchant.’ Eventually, in the year
1793, I think, or thereabouts, Harper was arrested on the stage while
playing Richard in one of Shakespeare’s moral illustrations of the
bane of ambition and the triumph of virtue over vice. The audience
protested, and destroyed a portrait of the governor of the city,
which hung over the stage-box. They also tore down the State arms,
and trampled upon them. At the hearing of the charge against Harper a
technical flaw in the indictment procured his discharge. After this,
however, the ‘Exhibition Room’ did not flourish; but a bold and earnest
movement, a year or two later, resulted in the building of the Federal
Street Theatre, sometimes also called the Boston, and sometimes Old
Drury, after the London house. From this time the stage in Boston is a
fact; and one feels at home in reading over the names of the actors who
have been well known here,—Macready, Charles Kemble and Fanny Kemble,
Charlotte Cushman, Ellen Tree, John Vandenhoff, Sheridan Knowles, John
Gilbert, Fanny Ellsler, the Booths, our friend Warren, and others. The
present theatre, the Boston,[26] in which we are acting, has been
built about thirty years. The grand ball given to the Prince of Wales
when he visited this country took place here, the auditorium being
boarded for the occasion.”


III.

“THE audience” on the first night of Irving’s appearance in Boston,
said the “Post,” on the following morning, “was not made up of average
theatre-goers; many regular ‘first-nighters’ were there, but a very
large majority of those present were people of wealth, who go to
the theatre comparatively little.”[27] The play was “Louis XI.” It
excited expressions of admiration in the audience, and was as warmly
praised in the press as at New York and Philadelphia. A fine theatre,
the scenery appeared almost to greater advantage than in the Lyceum
itself; and some of the readers of these pages will be surprised to
learn that much of the original scenery was dispensed with. Portions
of the sets, indeed, for all the pieces during the week, were painted
on the spot by Mr. Hall (a clever young artist, who is devoted to the
service of Mr. Irving), and Lyceum draperies, groupings, dresses, and
stage manipulation, did the rest. The usual orchestra of the theatre
was strengthened, as at New York and Philadelphia, and the conductor
had the satisfaction of a call for the repetition of some of the
_entr’acte_ music.

Among the most remarkable tributes to Irving’s genius as an actor
are the critical notices that appeared in the Boston newspapers the
next day; and the people of Boston gave practical evidence of their
satisfaction by attending the theatre in increasing numbers every
night. The fortnight’s work included, besides the opening play, “The
Merchant of Venice,” “The Lyons Mail,” “Charles I.,” “The Bells,”
“The Belle’s Stratagem,” and “Hamlet.” The old controversies as to
the characters of Hamlet and Shylock, and the interpretation of them,
cropped up in the press, and, as before, were entirely absent from
the audiences. They evidently had no doubts; they showed no desire to
discount their pleasure; they found themselves wrapped up in the stage
stories, rejoicing, sorrowing, weeping, laughing, with the varying
moods of poet and actor. They did not stop to analyze the reasons for
their motion; it was enough for them that they followed the fortunes of
the hero and heroine with absorbing interest. They had no preconceived
ideas to vindicate; they were happy in the enjoyment of the highest
form of dramatic entertainment which even those critics, that are
chary of their commendation of individual artists, say America has ever
seen. Said “The Boston Herald,” in its notice of “Hamlet”:—

 At the end of each act he received one or more calls before the
 curtain, and after the “play scene” the demonstrations were really
 enthusiastic; shouts of “Bravo!” mingling with the plaudits that
 summoned him to the foot-lights again and again. Miss Ellen Terry
 won all hearts by her exquisite embodiment of Ophelia. A better
 representative of this lovely character has not been, and is not
 likely to be, seen here by the present generation of play-goers.
 She received her full share of the honors of the evening, and her
 appearance before the curtain was often demanded, and hailed with
 delight, by the large audience present.

The “Advertiser,” “Traveller,” “Globe,” “Post,”—indeed all the Boston
daily press,—were unanimous in recognizing the merits of Irving and
his work. The “Transcript” was especially eulogistic in its treatment
of Hamlet. As a rule the criticisms were written with excellent
literary point. It will be interesting to give two brief examples of
this; one from the “Traveller”:—

 Of Mr. Irving’s performance of the part we can truthfully say that,
 while differing almost entirely from that of nearly every actor that
 we have seen in Hamlet, it abounded in beauties, in new conceptions of
 business, in new ideas of situation. It was scholarly and thoughtful,
 princely and dignified, tender yet passionate, revengeful yet human,
 filial yet manly. The Ophelia of Miss Ellen Terry was supremely
 delicious. In the early parts it was artless and girlish, yet womanly
 withal. It was sweet, tender, graceful, loving, and lovable. As a
 piece of acting, it was “stuff’d with all honorable virtues.” It was
 very powerful in the mad scene in the fourth act, and yet it was not
 more powerful than it was refined and intellectual; and while it may
 be looked upon in every respect as a perfect piece of dramatic art,
 it was yet faithful to life and true to the best instincts of womanly
 nature.

And another from the “Transcript”:—

 Last evening we found ourselves uncontrollably forced to admiration
 and enthusiasm. He manages by some magic to get the full meaning of
 almost every sentence, and the emphasis always falls upon the right
 word; withal, he has this great and rare merit, that whatever he
 says does not sound like a speech committed to memory beforehand. He
 always seems to be talking, and not declaiming. He made Hamlet more
 of a convincing reality to us than any actor we can remember. The
 greatness, the intellectual and the ethical force, above all, the
 charm and lovableness of the man, were shown as we have never seen
 them before. Miss Terry’s Ophelia is a revelation of poetic beauty.
 Here one has nothing to criticise, no one trait to praise more than
 another. Such a wonderful embodiment of the poet’s conception is
 quickly praised, but never to be forgotten.


IV.

ON the first night of the “Merchant of Venice” at Boston, Irving
played Shylock, I think, with more than ordinary thoughtfulness in
regard to his original treatment of the part. His New York method was,
to me, a little more vigorous than his London rendering of the part.
Considerations of the emphasis which actors have laid upon certain
scenes that are considered as especially favorable to the declamatory
methods possibly influenced him. His very marked success in Louis no
doubt led some of his admirers in America to expect in his Shylock a
very hard, grim, and cruel Jew. Many persons hinted as much to him
before they saw his impersonation of this much-discussed character. At
Boston I thought he was, if possible, over-conscientious in traversing
the lines he laid down for himself when he first decided to produce
the “Merchant” at the Lyceum. Singularly sensitive about the feelings
of his audiences, and accustomed to judge them as keenly as they judge
him, he fancied the Boston audience, which had been very enthusiastic
in their applause on the previous nights, were not stirred as they had
been by his other work in response to his efforts as Shylock. The play,
nevertheless, was received with the utmost cordiality, and the general
representation of it was admirable. I found a Londoner in front, who
was in raptures with it. “I think the carnival, Belmont, and court
scenes,” he said, “were never better done at the Lyceum.”

At the close of the piece, and after a double call for Irving and Miss
Terry, I went to his dressing-room.

“Yes,” he said, “the play has gone well, very well, indeed; but the
audience were not altogether with me. I always feel, in regard to this
play, that they do not quite understand what I am doing. They only
responded at all to-night where Shylock’s rage and mortification get
the better of his dignity.”

“They are accustomed to have the part of Shylock strongly declaimed;
indeed, all the English Shylocks, as well as American representatives
of the part, are very demonstrative in it. Phelps was, so was Charles
Kean; and I think American audiences look for the declamatory passages
in Shylock, to compare your rendering of them with the readings they
have previously heard. You omit much of what is considered great
business in Shylock, and American audiences are probably a little
disappointed that your view of the part forbids anything like what
may be called the strident characteristics of most other Shylocks.
Charles Kean ranted considerably in Shylock, and Phelps was decidedly
noisy,—both fine, no doubt, in their way. Nevertheless they made the
Jew a cruel butcher of a Jew. They filled the stage with his sordid
greed and malignant desire for vengeance on the Christian, from his
first entrance to his final exit.”

“I never saw Kean’s Shylock, nor Phelps’s, nor, indeed, any one’s. But
I am sure Shylock was not a low person; a miser and usurer, certainly,
but a very injured man,—at least he thought so. I felt that my
audience to-night had quite a different opinion, and I once wished the
house had been composed entirely of Jews. I would like to play Shylock
to a Jewish audience.”

Mr. Warren,[28] the famous Boston comedian, came into the
dressing-room while we were talking. He has been a favorite here for
thirty-six years.

“Not so long in one place as Mr. Howe,” he says, with a smile, “who
tells me he was a member of the Haymarket Company for forty years.”

“You know Mr. Toole well?” said Mr. Irving.

“Yes,” he replied; “it was a pleasure to meet him here.”

“He often talks of you.”

“I am glad to know it,” he replied; “I want to tell you how delighted I
have been to-night. It is the “Merchant of Venice,” for the first time.
I have never seen the casket scene played before, nor the last act for
twenty years. A great audience, and how thoroughly they enjoyed the
piece I need not tell you.”

“I don’t think they cared for me,” said Irving.

“Yes, yes, I am sure they did,” Mr. Warren replied, at which moment
an usher brought Miss Terry, to be introduced to him, and the subject
dropped, to be revived over a quiet cigar after supper.

“I look on Shylock,” says Irving, in response to an invitation to
talk about his work in that direction, “as the type of a persecuted
race; almost the only gentleman in the play, and most ill-used. He is
a merchant, who trades in the Rialto, and Bassanio and Antonio are
not ashamed to borrow money of him, nor to carry off his daughter. The
position of his child is, more or less, a key to his own. She is the
friend of Portia. Shylock was well-to-do—a Bible-read man, as his
readiness at quotation shows; and there is nothing in his language,
at any time, that indicates the snuffling usurer which some persons
regard him, and certainly nothing to justify the use the early actors
made of the part for the low comedian. He was a religious Jew; learned,
for he conducted his case with masterly skillfulness, and his speech
is always lofty, and full of dignity. Is there a finer language in
Shakespeare than Shylock’s defence of his race? ‘Hath not a Jew eyes;
hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions;
fed with the same food; hurt with the same weapons; subject to the
same diseases; healed by the same means; warmed and cooled by the same
winter and summer, as a Christian is?’ As to the manner of representing
Shylock, take the first part of the story; note his moods. He is, to
begin with, quiet, dignified, diplomatic; then satirical; and next,
somewhat light and airy in his manner, with a touch of hypocrisy in it.
Shakespeare does not indicate at what precise moment Shylock conceives
the idea of the bond; but he himself tells us of his anxiety to have
Antonio on the hip.

  “‘I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
  He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
  Even there where merchants most do congregate,
  On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
  Which he calls interest.’

“His first word is more or less fawning; but it breaks out into
reproach and satire when he recalls the insults that have been heaped
upon him. ‘Hath a dog money?’ and so on; still he is diplomatic, for he
wants to make reprisals upon Antonio: ‘Cursed be my tribe if I forgive
him!’ He is plausible, even jocular. He speaks of his bond of blood
as a merry sport. Do you think if he were strident or spiteful in his
manner here, loud of voice, bitter, they would consent to sign a bond
having in it such fatal possibilities? One of the interesting things
for an actor to do is to try to show when Shylock is inspired with
the idea of this bargain, and to work out by impersonation the Jew’s
thought in his actions. My view is, that from the moment Antonio turns
upon him, declaring he is ‘like to spit upon him again,’ and invites
him scornfully to lend the money, not as to his friend, but rather
to his enemy, who, if he break, he may with better force exact the
penalty,—from that moment I imagine Shylock resolving to propose his
pound of flesh, perhaps without any hope of getting it. Then he puts on
that hypocritical show of pleasantry which so far deceives them as to
elicit from Antonio the remark that ‘the Hebrew will turn Christian;
he grows kind.’ Well, the bond is to be sealed, and when next we meet
the Jew he is still brooding over his wrongs, and there is in his words
a constant, though vague, suggestion of a desire for revenge, nothing
definite or planned, but a continual sense of undeserved humiliation
and persecution:—

  “‘I am bid forth to supper, Jessica.
  There are my keys. But why should I go?
  I am not bid for love. They flatter me;
  But yet I’ll go in hate, to feed upon
  The prodigal Christian.’

“But one would have to write a book to go into these details, and tell
an actor’s story of Shylock.”

“We are not writing a book of Shylock now, but only chatting about your
purpose and intention generally in presenting to the public what is
literally to them a new Shylock, and answering, perhaps, a few points
of that conservative kind of criticism which preaches tradition and
custom. Come to the next phase of Shylock’s character, or, let us say,
his next dramatic mood.”

“Well, we get at it in the street scene: rage,—a confused passion; a
passion of rage and disappointment, never so confused and mixed; a man
beside himself with vexation and chagrin.

  “‘My daughter! Oh, my ducats! Oh, my daughter!
  Fled with a Christian! Oh, my Christian ducats!
  Justice! the law! my ducats and my daughter!’

“I saw a Jew once, in Tunis, tear his hair, his raiment, fling himself
in the sand, and writhe in a rage, about a question of money,—beside
himself with passion. I saw him again, self-possessed and fawning; and
again, expressing real gratitude for a trifling money courtesy. He was
never undignified until he tore at his hair and flung himself down,
and then he was picturesque; he was old, but erect, even stately, and
full of resource, and as he walked behind his team of mules he carried
himself with the lofty air of a king. He was a Spanish Jew,—Shylock
probably was of Frankfort; but Shakespeare’s Jew was a type, not
a mere individual: he was a type of the great, grand race,—not a
mere Hounsditch usurer. He was a man famous on the Rialto; probably
a foremost man in his synagogue; proud of his descent; conscious of
his moral superiority to many of the Christians who scoffed at him,
and fanatic enough, as a religionist, to believe that his vengeance
had in it the element of a godlike justice. Now, you say that some
of my critics evidently look for more fire in the delivery of the
speeches to Solanio, and I have heard friends say, that John Kemble
and the Keans brought down the house for the way they thundered out
the threats against Antonio, and the defence of the Jewish race. It is
in this scene that we realize, for the first time, that Shylock has
resolved to enforce his bond. Three times, during a very short speech,
he says, ‘Let him look to his bond!’ ‘A beggar that was used to come
so smug upon the mart; _let him look to his bond_; he was wont to
call me usurer; _let him look to his bond_; he was wont to lend money
for a Christian courtesy; _let him look to his bond_.’ Now, even an
ordinary man, who had made up his mind to ‘have the heart of him if he
forfeit,’ would not shout and rave and storm. My friend at Tunis tore
his hair at a trifling disappointment; if he had resolved to stab his
rival he would have muttered his intention between his teeth, not have
screeched it. How much less likely still would this bitterly persecuted
Jew merchant of Venice have given his resolve a loud and noisy
utterance! Would not his settled hate have been more likely to show
itself in the clinched hand, the firmly planted foot, the flashing eye,
and the deep undertones in which he would utter the closing threat:
_’Let him look to his bond’?_ I think so.”

“And so do the most thoughtful among your audiences. Now and then,
however, a critic shows himself so deeply concerned for what is called
tradition that he feels it incumbent upon him to protest against
a Shylock who is not, from first to last, a transparent and noisy
ruffian.”

“Tradition! One day we will talk of that. In Davenant’s time,—and
some dare to say he got his tradition from Shakespeare himself—they
played Shylock as a comic character, in a red wig; and to make it, as
they thought, consistent, they cut out the noblest lines the author had
put into his mouth, and added some of their own. We have no tradition
in the sense that those who would insist upon our observance of it
means; what we have is bad,—Garrick played Othello in a red coat and
epaulettes; and if we are to go back to Shakespeare’s days, some of
these sticklers for so-called tradition forget that the women were
played by boys. Shakespeare did the best he could in his day, and
he would do the best he could if he were living now. Tradition! It
is enough to make one sick to hear the pretentious nonsense that is
talked about the stage in the name of tradition. It seems to me that
there are two ways of representing Shakespeare. You have seen David’s
picture of Napoleon and that by Delaroche. The first is a heroic
figure,—head thrown back, arm extended, cloak flying,—on a white
horse of the most powerful, but unreal, character, which is rearing
up almost upon its haunches, its forelegs pawing the air. That is
Napoleon crossing the Alps. I think there is lightning in the clouds.
It is a picture calculated to terrify; a something so unearthly in its
suggestion of physical power as to cut it off from human comprehension.
Now, this represents to me one way of playing Shakespeare. The other
picture is still the same subject, ‘Napoleon crossing the Alps’; but in
this one we see a reflective, deep-browed man, enveloped in his cloak,
and sitting upon a sturdy mule, which, with a sure and steady foot, is
climbing the mountain, led by a peasant guide. This picture represents
to me the other way of playing Shakespeare. The question is, which is
right? I think the truer picture is _the right_ cue to the poet who
himself described the actor’s art as to hold, as it were, the mirror up
to nature.”

“Which should bring us very naturally back to Shylock. Let us return to
your brief dissertation at the point where he is meditating vengeance
in case of forfeiture of the bond.”

“Well, the latest mood of Shylock dates from this time,—it is one of
implacable _revenge_. Nothing shakes him. He thanks God for Antonio’s
ill-luck. There is in this darkness of his mind a tender recollection
of Leah. And then the calm command to Tubal, ‘Bespeak me an officer.’
What is a little odd is his request that Tubal shall meet him at the
synagogue. It might be that Shakespeare suggested here the idea of
a certain sacredness of justice in Shylock’s view of vengeance on
Antonio. Or it might be to accentuate the religious character of the
Jew’s habits; for Shylock was assuredly a religious Jew, strict in his
worship, and deeply read in his Bible,—no small thing, this latter
knowledge, in those days. I think this idea of something divine in
his act of vengeance is the key-note to the trial-scene, coupled, of
course, with the intense provocation he has received.

  “‘Thou calledst me dog before thou hadst a cause;
  But since I am a dog, beware my fangs!
  The duke shall grant me justice.
  ... Follow not,
  I’ll have no speaking; I will have my bond.’

“These are the words of a man of fixed, implacable purpose, and his
skilful defence of it shows him to be wise and capable. He is the most
self-possessed man in the court. Even the duke, in the judge’s seat, is
moved by the situation. What does he say to Antonio?

  “‘I am sorry for thee; thou art come to answer
  A stony adversary.’

“Everything indicates a stern, firm, persistent, implacable purpose,
which in all our experience of men is, as a rule, accompanied by an
apparently calm manner. A man’s passion which unpacks itself in oaths
and threats, which stamps and swears and shouts, may go out in tears,
but not in vengeance. On the other hand, there are those who argue that
Antonio’s reference to his own patience and to Shylock’s fury implies a
noisy passion on the part of the Jew; but, without taking advantage of
any question as to the meaning of ‘fury’ in this connection, it seems
to me that Shylock’s contempt for his enemies, his sneer at Gratiano:—

  “‘Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond,
  Thou but offend’st thy lungs to speak so loud’—

and his action throughout the court scene, quite outweigh any argument
in favor of a very demonstrative and furious representation of the
part. ‘I stand here for law!’ Then note when he realizes the force of
the technical flaws in his bond,—and there are lawyers who contend
the law was severely and unconstitutionally strained in this decision
of the court,—he is willing to take his bond paid thrice; he cannot
get that, he asks for the principal; when that is refused he loses
his temper, as it occurs to me, for the first time during the trial,
and in a rage exclaims, ‘Why, then, the devil give him good of it!’
There is a peculiar and special touch at the end of that scene which,
I think, is intended to mark and accentuate the crushing nature of the
blow which has fallen upon him. When Antonio stipulates that Shylock
shall become a Christian, and record a deed of gift to Lorenzo, the Jew
cannot speak. ‘He shall do this,’ says the duke, ‘or else I do recant
the pardon.’ Portia turns and questions him. He is hardly able to utter
a word. ‘I am content,’ is all he says; and what follows is as plain
an instruction as was ever written in regard to the conduct and manner
of the Jew. ‘Clerk, draw a deed of gift,’ says Portia. Note Shylock’s
reply, his last words, the answer of the defeated litigant, who is
utterly crushed and borne down:—

  “‘I pray you give me leave to go from hence;
  I am not well; send the deed after me,
  And I will sign it.’

“Is it possible to imagine anything more helpless than this final
condition of the Jew? ‘I am not well; give me leave to go from hence!’
How interesting it is to think this out! and how much we all learn from
the actors when, to the best of their ability, they give the characters
they assume as if they were really present, working out their studies,
in their own way, and endowing them with the characterization of their
own individuality! It is cruel to insist that one actor shall simply
follow in the footsteps of another; and it is unfair to judge an
actor’s interpretation of a character from the stand-point of another
actor; his intention should be considered, and he should be judged from
the point of how he succeeds or fails in carrying it out.”



XI.

A CITY OF SLEIGHS.

 Snow and Sleigh Bells—“Brooks of Sheffield”—In the Boston
 Suburbs—Smokeless Coal—At the Somerset Club—Miss Ellen Terry
 and the Papyrus—A Ladies’ Night—Club Literature—Curious
 Minutes—“Greeting to Ellen Terry”—St. Botolph—Oliver Wendell Holmes
 and Charles the First—“Good-by and a Merry Christmas.”


I.

“A TRANSFORMATION scene, indeed!” said Irving. “Yesterday, autumn
winds, bright streets, a rattle of traffic—to-day, snow and
sleigh-bells—yesterday, wheels—to-day, runners, as they call the
enormous skating-irons upon which they appear to have placed every
vehicle in the city. I have just returned from rehearsal, and find
everybody sleighing. The omnibuses are sleighs—the grocer’s cart is a
sleigh—the express-wagons are sleighs; it is a city of sleighs! The
snow began to fall in earnest yesterday. Last night it must have been a
foot deep. It would have ruined the business at a London theatre. Here
it made no difference. We had a splendid house.”

“As I walked to my hotel at midnight,” I replied, “snow-ploughs were
in the streets clearing the roads and scouring the car-tracks. Boston
tackles the snow in earnest. The trees on the Common were a marvel of
beauty. They looked like an orchard of the Hesperides, all in blossom,
and the electric lamps added to the fairy-like beauty of the scene.”

“A lovely city. Shall we take a sleigh-ride?”

“‘Why, certainly,’ as they say in ‘The Colonel,’ but rarely in America.”

Irving rings for his colored attendant. He has discovered that his
surname is Brooks, and takes a curious pleasure in addressing him as
Brooks, sometimes as “Brooks, of Sheffield!”

“Order me a sleigh, Brooks!”

“Yes, sah,” says Brooks, grinning.

“Two horses, Brooks!”

“Yes, sah,” says the attendant, preparing to go, not hurriedly, for
who ever saw a colored gentleman (they are all colored gentlemen) in a
hurry?

“And take my rugs down!”

“Yes, sah,” he says, marching slowly into the next room for the rugs.

“And, Brooks—”

“Yes, sah.”

“Would you like to go to the theatre one night?”

“Berry much, sah—yes, sah.”

“What play would you like to see?”

“Hamlet, sah!”

“Hamlet! Very good. Is there a Mrs. Brooks?”

“‘Deed there is, sah,” answers the darkey, grinning from ear to ear.

“And some little Brookses—of Sheffield?”

“Yes, sah; not ob Sheffield, ob Boston.”

“That’s all right. Mr. Stoker shall give all of you seats. See if he is
in the hotel.”

“Yes, sah.”

As he stalks to the door Stoker comes bounding in (Stoker is always on
the run), to the discomfiture of Brooks and his load of rugs.

Brooks picks himself up with dignity. Stoker assures his chief that
there is not a seat in the house for anybody.

“Then buy some for Brooks,” says Irving.

“Where?” asks Stoker, in amazement.

“Anywhere,” says Irving, adding, with a significant glance at
me,—“from the speculators.”

“Oh, very well, if you wish it,” says Stoker.

“And, Brooks”—

“Yes, sah.”

“Anybody else in the hotel like to go?”

“Oh, yes, indeed, sah!” says Brooks—“de cook, sah.”

“And what play would the cook like to see?”

“Hamlet, sah.”

“You’ve been paid to say this!” says Irving, quoting from Louis. “Who
bade you do it?”

But this was only whispered in a humorous “aside” for me, who know how
much he likes Hamlet, and how much he likes other people to like Hamlet.

At the door of the Brunswick we find a sleigh, pair of horses,
smart-looking driver, a heap of rugs and furs, under which we ensconce
ourselves. The weather is bitterly cold, the sky blue; the windows of
the houses in the fine streets of the Back Bay district flash icily;
the air is sharp, and the sleigh-bells ring out aggressively as the
horses go away.

The snow is too deep for rapid sleighing; there has been no time for it
to solidify. It is white and pure as it has fallen, and when we get out
into the suburbs it is dazzling to the eyes, almost painful. Crossing
the Charles river the scene is singularly picturesque: a cumbersome
old barge in the foreground; on the opposite shore a long stretch
of red-brick buildings, vanishing at the point where the heights of
Brookline climb away, in white and green and grey undulations, to the
bright blue sky. As we enter Cambridge there are fir-trees growing out
of the snow, their sombre greens all the darker for the white weight
that bows their branches down to the drifts that wrap their trunks high
up; for here and there the snow has drifted until there are banks of it
five and six feet deep.

“Very pretty, these villas; nearly all wood,—do you notice?—very
comfortable, I am sure; lined with brick, I am told, some of them.
Nearly all have balconies or verandas; and there are trees and
gardens everywhere,—must be lovely in summer; good enough now, for
that matter. One thing makes them look a trifle lonely,—no smoke
coming from the chimneys. They burn anthracite coal,—good for this
atmosphere,—excellent and clean; but how a bit of blue smoke curling
up among the trees finishes and gives poetry to a landscape,—suggests
home and cosey firesides, eh?”

“Yes. New York owes some of its clear atmosphere to its smokeless coal.”

“What a pity we don’t have it in London! Only fancy a smokeless
London,—what a lovely city!”

“It may come about one day, either by the adoption of smokeless coal
or the interposition of the electrician. Last summer I spent some time
in the Swansea Valley, England, not far from Craig-y-nos, the British
home of Patti. One day I suddenly noticed that there was no smoke over
the villages; none at some local ironworks, except occasional bursts
of white steam from the engine-houses; nothing to blemish the lovely
sky that just slightly touched the mountain-tops with a grey mist. I
was near Ynyscedwyn, the famous smokeless-coal district of South Wales.
London need not burn another ounce of bituminous coal; there is enough
anthracite in Wales to supply all England for a thousand years.”

“What a blessing it would be if London were to use nothing else!”

Through Cambridge, so intimately associated with Longfellow, past
its famous colleges, we skirted Brookline, and returned to our
head-quarters in Clarendon street, meeting on the way many stylish
sleighs and gay driving-parties.

On another day Irving took luncheon with a little party of
undergraduates in Common hall, was received by the President of the
college, inspected the gymnasium, saw the theatre, and had long talks
with several of the professors.

Perhaps from a literary and artistic stand-point the most interesting
social event among the many entertainments given to Irving was a
dinner given by Mr. Charles Fairchild and Mr. James R. Osgood, at
the Somerset Club. The company included Messrs. T. B. Aldrich, A. V.
S. Anthony, Francis Bartlett, William Bliss, George Baty Blake, S.
L. Clemens (“Mark Twain”), T. L. Higginson, W. D. Howells, Laurence
Hutton, W. M. Laffan, Francis A. Walker, George E. Waring, and William
Warren. After dinner the conversation was quite as brilliant as the
company—Mark Twain told some of his best stories in his best manner.
Mr. Howells and Mr. Aldrich in no wise fell short of their reputations
as conversationalists. There were no drinking of toasts, no formal
speeches, which enhanced the general joy of the whole company.

Driving homewards along the Common, Irving said, “By gas-light, and in
the snow, is not this a little like the Green park, with, yonder, the
clock-tower of the Houses of Parliament?”

“Do you wish it were?”

“I wouldn’t mind it for an hour or two, eh? Although one really
sometimes hardly feels that one is out of London.”


II.

“LADIES’ Night.—The Papyrus Club request the pleasure of the company
of Miss Ellen Terry at the Revere House, December 15th, at six o’clock.
Boston, 1883. Please reply to J. T. Wheelwright, 39 Court street.”[29]

Thus ran the invitation, which was adorned with a miniature view of
the Pyramids in a decorative setting of the reed that is familiar to
travellers in the Nile valley.

Miss Terry concluded to accept, and I had the honor of being her
escort. The handsome rooms of the Revere House that were devoted to
the service of the club on this occasion were crowded with ladies and
gentlemen when we arrived. Among the guests in whom Miss Terry was
especially interested were Mrs. Burnett, the author of “Joan” and other
remarkable novels; Miss Noble, the author of “A Reverend Idol”; Miss
Fay, Mrs. John Lillie, Mrs. Washburne, and other ladies known to the
world of letters. She was surrounded for a long time by changing groups
of ladies and gentlemen, who were presented in a pleasant, informal way
by Mr. Babbitt, the president of the club, and other of its officers.

The dinner was a dainty repast (one of the special dishes was a “baked
English turbot with brown sauce.”) The details of it were printed upon
a photographic card which represented the loving-cup, punch-bowl,
Papyrus’ manuscripts, gavel, pen and ink, and treasure-box of the
institution.

During dinner Miss Terry was called upon to sign scores of the
_menu_ cards with her autograph. Upon many of them she scribbled
poetic couplets, Shakespearian and otherwise, and on others quaint,
appropriate lines of her own. She captivated the women, all of them.
It is easier for a clever woman to excite the admiration of her sex
in America than in England. A woman who adorns and lifts the feminine
intellect into notice in America excites the admiration rather than the
jealousy of her sisters. American women seem to make a higher claims
upon the respect and attention of men than belongs to the ambitious
English women, and when one of them rises to distinction they all go
up with her. They share in her fame; they do not try to dispossess
her of the lofty place upon which she stands. There is a sort of
trades-unionism among the women of America in this respect. They hold
together in a ring against the so-called lords of creation; and the
men are content to accept what appears to be a happy form of petticoat
government. So the women of Boston took Ellen Terry to their arms and
made much of her.

After dinner the President expressed, in quaint terms, the club’s
welcome of its guests, and the Secretary read the following official
and authorized

 REPORT OF THE LAST MEETING.

 SCENE.—_The Banqueting Hall of the Papyrus Club. The members,
 reclining in the Roman fashion, sip the cool Falernian from
 richly-chased pateræ, while the noiseless attendants remove the wild
 Etrusian boar (the only one in the club). The President raps sharply
 upon the table with his gavel._

 SPURIUS LARTIUS (_a provincial guest from a hamlet called New
 York_).—Truly, Marcenas, the ruler of the feast is a goodly youth; a
 barbarian by his golden beard, I ween.

 MARCENAS (_a literary member of the club, who derives his income, in
 whole or in part, from the fact that his father is working_.)—“Non
 Anglus sed Angelus.” Perhaps, some day. But, mark, he is calling upon
 a player for a speech, one of a strolling band which hath of late
 amused the town.

 SPURIUS LARTIUS.—Me herculi. ‘Tis Wyndham. I have seen him oft in
 Terence’s comedy, “Pink Dominoes.”

 _Wyndham arises, pulls down his tunic, and makes a neat speech._
 (Cheers and applause.)

 The PRESIDENT.—Gentlemen, we have among us to-night an inspired
 Prophet; the Chronicler of the Gospel’s according to St. Benjamin.

 The Prophet arises, takes a stone tablet from his waistcoat-pocket,
 and reads


 _The Gospel according to St. Benjamin._

 CHAPTER XIV.

 1. And lo! it was the fall of the year, and the greatest fall was that
 of Benjamin.

 2. And his lyre was hushed.

 3. Yet he stretched his hand out unto the people and cried, “Lo,
 I like this! I would rather be put under the people, having the
 suffrages of a hundred and fifty thousand, than be put over them with
 the suffrages of a hundred and thirty-five thousand.”

 4. And the people smote their knees and laughed, and cried “If thou
 likest it, Benjamin, so we do, also. Go to, and write a Thanksgiving
 proclamation.”

 5. And he did.

 (_The stone tablet falls upon a finger-bowl with a crash, and the club
 votes that the Chronicles be printed at the Prophets expense._)

 SPURIUS LARTIUS.—But who is this man, that arises with flashing eye
 and curling lip? Mayhap he is a Kelt.

 MARCENAS.—He is a Kelt, from Keltville, and a poet to boot.

 The Poet arises and reads

  A BUNCH OF ROSES.

  Sweet rose! In thee the summer bides;
  Thy deep, red breast a secret hides,
  Which none may know but only she
  Whose eyes are stars lit up for me.

  Red rose! Unto her sweetly speak,
  And glow against her burning cheek;
  Ah! breathe this in her shell-like ear,—
  “Thou makest it summer all the year.”

 SPURIUS LARTIUS.—I should imagine the rose to be a waiter, from the
 instruction to “breathe in her shell-like ear.”

 POET.—A moment. There is a third stanza to this poem, written on
 receiving the florist’s bill:—

  Great Scott! List to my heart’s dull thud!
  Thou hast a dollar cost a bud.
  She is now my rival’s bride;
  Again I’ll wear that ulster tried.

 The PRESIDENT.—And now the gentleman at the end of the long table
 will tell one of his inimitable anecdotes.

 THE GENTLEMAN AT THE END OF THE LONG TABLE.—Trade is so dull now that
 the anecdote market is overstocked. The _bon-mot_ and jest mills are
 rolling up their products; but middlemen are cautious, and consumers
 wary. The stock of last year’s “chestnuts”[30] is being worked off;
 and I have one, a little shop-worn, which I have dusted for the
 occasion:—

 _The Fable of the Inquisitive old Broker and the Queer Bundle._

 An inquisitive old broker noticed a queer bundle upon the lap of a
 man sitting opposite him in the horse-car. He looked at the bundle,
 in wonder as to what it might contain, for some minutes; finally,
 overmastered by curiosity, he inquired:—

 “Excuse me, sir; but would you mind telling me what is in that
 extraordinary bundle?”

 “Certainly; a mongoose,” replied the man, who was reading “Don’t,” and
 learning how to be a real, true gentleman.

 “Ah, indeed!” ejaculated the broker, with unslacked curiosity.... “But
 what is a mongoose, pray?”

 “Something to kill snakes with.”

 “But why do you wish to kill snakes with a mongoose?” asked the broker.

 “My brother has the _delirum tremens_ and sees snakes all the time. I
 am going to fix ‘em.”

 “But, my dear sir, the snakes which your brother sees in his
 delirium are not real snakes, but the figments of his diseased
 imagination,—not real snakes, sir!”

 “Well! this is not a real mongoose.”—_Moral. Ask me no questions, and
 I’ll tell you no lies._

SPURIUS LARTIUS.—I always liked that story. My father used to tell it.

MARCENAS.—Hush, Spurius; the club _Vers de société_ writer is about to
favor us.

THE CLUB VERS DE SOCIÉTÉ WRITER.—I have, in my pocket, some dainty
verses. I have long written rondeaux, triolets, and pantouns.

I have, however, lately invented two new metres.

The first is called a “cabriolet,” and the other is a combination of a
pantoun and a triolet, called a pantalet.

I will read them to you if you will be very, very still, for they are
as delicate as porcelain:—

  A BRITON’S WAIL IN NEW YORK CITY.

  (_A Cabriolet._)

  I hired me a hack,
  I cried out “Alack!”
  I must dine upon bread;
  I gave up my purse.
  Never ride in a hack
  Unless you are dead;
  Then ride in a hearse,
  Lying flat on your back.
  I hired me a hack!
  I would I were dead!

  “PELLUCID HER EYE.”

  (_A Pantalet._)

  But, oh! I was dry,
  And the starved dancers crushed,
  Till my shirt-front was mushed.
  The champagne was dry—
  I cannot say why;
  But the night-bird was hushed,
  Yet the throstle-wits thrushed—
  I cannot say why;
  (The champagne was dry).

  Ah, pellucid her eye!
  And her oval cheek flushed
  Like a strawberry crushed.
  How pellucid her eye!
  I cannot say why—
  (The champagne was dry).
  I sighed, “Let us fly!”
  She smiled not nor gushed,
  But from me she rushed.
  Maphap I seemed “fly”
  The wine was quite dry.
  But pellucid her eye,
  I cannot say why.

This report having been voted correct, and ordered to be inscribed
on the minutes, Mr. Howard M. Ticknor then recited, with excellent
elocutionary point, the following “Greeting to Ellen Terry”:—

  “Honor,” said Cassius, “is my story’s theme.”
  Honor shall best my verse to-night beseem.

         *       *       *       *       *

  For some, how safe, how permanent, how sure!
  Written in characters that will endure,
  Until this world begins to melt away
  And crumble to its ultimate decay.
  The picture fades; but color still is there,
  Even in ruin is the statue fair;
  The province won, the city burnt or built,
  The inwrought consequence of good or guilt,
  Shape after epochs to time’s latest span,
  And link enduringly a man to man.

  But he who is himself artist and art,
  Whose greatest works are of himself a part;
  Who, sculptor, moulds his hand, his form, his face;
  Who, painter, on the air his lines must trace;
  Musician, make an instrument his voice,
  And tell, not write, the melody of his choice;
  Whose eloquence of gesture, pose and eye
  Flashes aglow, in instant dark to die;—
  Where are for him the honor and the fame?
  A face on canvas, and perhaps a name
  Extolled awhile, and then an empty word
  At sound of which no real thrill is stirred.
  What, then, shall recompense his loss? What make
  Atonement for the ignorant future’s sake?
  What but the tribute of his honor now,
  The native wreath to deck his living brow?

  Then, as he passes beyond the mortal ken,
  His glory shall go with him even then,
  Not as a hope, a doubt, and a desire,
  But as a spark of his own living fire,
  Of his eternal self a priceless part,
  Eternal witness to his mind and heart.
  And so, to-night, when she who comes from far
  To show in one what many women are,
  Sits at our board, and makes our evening shine,
  Breaks bread with us, and pledges in our wine,
  Let us be quick to honor in our guest
  So many a phase of life by her expressed.
  Portia’s most gracious, yet submissive word—
  “You are my king, my governor, my lord;”
  Her courage, dignity, and force,
  Warning the Jew that justice shall have course;
  The trenchant wit of Beatrice, and her pride,
  Her loyalty as friend, her faith as bride;
  Letitia’s stratagems; the tragic fate
  Of sweet Ophelia, crushed by madness’ weight.

  How many chords of happiness or woe,
  Her lips that quiver and her cheeks that glow;
  Her speech now clear, now clouded, and her eyes
  Filling by turns with anguish, mirth, surprise—
  Can wake to throb, again to rest can still—
  Potent her power as Prospero’s magic will!

  Present alone is hers—alone is ours,
  Now, while she plants, must we, too, cull the flowers?
  For future wreaths she has no time to wait;
  Unready now, they are for aye too late.
  Now is the moment our regard to show,
  Let every face with light of welcome glow;
  Let smiles shine forth, glad words be spoken;
  Formality for once be broken.
  Let hand strike hand, let kerchiefs wave,
  Keep not her laurels for her grave;
  Twine our proud chaplet for her fair, smooth brow,
  And bid her take our share of tribute now;
  Then shall it be a recollection dear,
  That we to-night greet Ellen Terry here!


III.

IRVING, who could not be present at the Papyrus Club (it was one of
Miss Terry’s “off nights,” when either “The Bells” or “Louis XI.” was
performed), was received at the St. Botolph’s Club soon after the
Papyrus festivities closed. In the absence of the President, ex-Mayor
Green, the Vice-President, and Mr. Secretary Sullivan did the honors
of the evening. An interesting meeting on this occasion was the
introduction of Irving to Oliver Wendell Holmes, who later, at the
_matinée_ performance of “Charles the First,”[31] was quite overcome
with the pathos of the play. Apart from the number and enthusiasm of
his audiences, Mr. Irving’s personal reception by the leading men of
Boston—_littérateurs_, professors, and scholars—might well have given
point to the few eloquent words which he addressed to the house on the
closing performance of “The Bells” and “The Belle’s Stratagem.” He
said:—

Ladies and Gentlemen,—I have the privilege of thanking you, for
myself, and in behalf of my comrades, and especially in behalf of my
gifted sister, Miss Ellen Terry, for the way in which you have received
our tragedy, comedy, and melodrama. In coming to this country I have
often said that I felt I was coming among friends; and I have had
abundant and most touching proof that I was right. This I have never
felt more truly than in your historic city of New England, which seems
a veritable bit of old England. In this theatre we have been on classic
ground, and if we have, while upon these boards, accomplished anything
tending, in your opinion, to the advancement of a great art, in which
we are all deeply interested, we are more than repaid and more than
content. It affords me great pleasure to tell you that, if all be well,
we shall return to Boston in March, when I hope to present, for the
first time on our tour, “Much Ado About Nothing.” And now, ladies and
gentlemen, in the names of one and all, I gratefully thank you, and
respectfully wish you “Good-by, and a Merry Christmas.”



XII.

LOOKING FORWARD TO CHRISTMAS.

 Interviewing in England and America—Rehearsing Richard and Lady
 Ann—Reminiscences of a Christmas Dinner—A Homely Feast—Joe Robins
 and Guy Fawkes—He would be an Actor—The Luxury of Warmth—“One Touch
 of Nature.”


I.

THERE is interviewing and interviewing. How it comes out depends upon
the interviewer and the interviewed. Every phase of the difficult art
is shown in American journalism. Mr. Yates, in the “World,” has given
us the best modern form of interviewing in “Celebrities at Home.”
Mr. Blowitz, of the “Times,” and other foreign correspondents, have
frequently shown England how admirably the American system fits a
certain class of news. “The Pall Mall Gazette” has lately adopted the
method of our cousins more in detail than has been hitherto popular
with the London press. I have always held that interviewing, conducted
with discretion and a sense of journalistic responsibility, would be a
valuable and entertaining feature of English newspaper work.

I am prompted to these remarks by the contents of this chapter. Said
Mr. Stephen Fiske, the dramatic editor of “The Spirit of the Times,”
and the author of a clever book on England, “I am anxious to have Mr.
Irving write a short story for our Christmas number. Wilkie Collins,
as you know, is a constant contributor, and we have the assistance of
some of the best pens, English and American. Irving has written for
several English publications.”

“He has a wonderful amount of energy, and can do more mental work
in a given time than any man I know; but when he is going to get an
opportunity to sit down and write a Christmas story is more than I can
tell.”

“I only want a personal reminiscence, an anecdote or two,” said Fiske;
“but I must have him in the Christmas number.”

“Why don’t you interview him, with Christmas as the pivot of your
interrogations?” I asked.

“He has been interviewed almost to death, I should think.”[32]

“Oh, no; I believe he likes it! I am sure he does when a really bright,
clever fellow comes along and engages his attention. Though he does
not say so, and, perhaps, has not thought about it, he is doing good
every time he has a real earnest talk to a reporter about the stage
and its mission. No actor ever set people thinking so much in England,
and he is proving himself quite an art missionary on this side of the
Atlantic.”

“That’s true,” said the dramatic editor; “but for my purpose I only
want him to be simply entertaining,—a bit of personal history,
_apropos_ of Christmas.”

“Play the rôle of an interviewer, and write the stories yourself,” I
suggested.

“I will,” said Fiske. “Your plan has this advantage,—I shall get the
copy in proper time for the printer.”


II.

AND this Christmas chat is the result of the dramatic editor’s decision.

“It was a gloomy, rainy, miserable day. The theatre, always a dreary
place in the morning, seemed even more depressing than usual. Mr.
Irving was rehearsing the first act of ‘Richard III.,’ possibly with a
view to Baltimore or Chicago.

“With that infinite patience which some philosophers define as genius,
Mr. Irving went over and over the lines of Richard and Lady Ann, and
acted all the business of the scene. His street costume and tall silk
hat appeared ridiculously incongruous with his sword and his words.
He knelt upon the stage and showed Lady Ann how to take hold of the
weapon and threaten to kill him. He rose and repeated her speeches with
appropriate gestures. He knelt again, gave her the cues, and watched
her from under his heavy eyebrows, while she again rehearsed the scene.

“Repeated a dozen times, this performance became as monotonous as the
dripping of the rain without, or the slow motions of the cleaners in
the front of the theatre. At last, with a few final kindly words,
the Lady Ann was dismissed, and Mr. Irving sat down wearily at the
prompter’s table.

“‘Where shall you eat your Christmas dinner?’ I inquired.

“‘At Baltimore,’ replied Mr. Irving. ‘Several of my company have
brought their home-made Christmas puddings over with them, and are to
carry them about, with the rest of the luggage, until the day arrives.
I have determined to try the American Christmas puddings, which, I am
told, are very good indeed,—like most things American.’

“‘Oh, our people manufacture them by thousands! After all, a Christmas
pudding is only a mince-pie boiled.’

“Just so,’ said Mr. Irving, laughing in his silent, interior,
Leatherstocking manner. ‘I am thinking,’ he exclaimed, ‘of the
Christmas dinner I gave last year, in the room of the old Beefsteak
Club, which, you know, is now part of the Lyceum Theatre. We had talked
the matter over,—a few friends and myself,—and decided that we were
tired of professional cooks and conventional bills of fare, and that
the best stimulus for our jaded palates was a return to plain, homely
dishes.

“‘You can fancy Stoker saying that. He said it over and over for at
least a month, and kept humming, “There’s no place—or no dinner—like
home,” in the most disquieting way, whenever the matter was mentioned.
He also undertook to arrange the whole affair.

“‘Well, it was arranged. There were to be no professional caterers,
no professional waiters, no luxuries of any kind,—except the wines,
which I took under my own care, being cast for the part of the butler.
Stoker was to buy the material. The property-man’s wife was to roast
the beef and the turkey. The mistress of the wardrobe undertook to
boil the pudding. An usher, born with a genius for cookery, who was
discovered by Stoker, had charge of the soup, fish, and vegetables. We
were to wait upon ourselves,—a genuine family party. A suggestion to
order ices from Gunter’s, in case the pudding was a failure, was voted
down indignantly.

“‘As Christmas approached I became quite interested in this home
dinner,—hungry for it days in advance, as one may say. I began by
inviting one friend who had a reputation as an epicure; then another
asked to be allowed to share our homely feast. Presently our family
party grew to thirty. I began to have forebodings. You see, a small
family can wait upon themselves, but not a family of thirty.

“‘However, Stoker appeared cheerily satisfied and mysteriously
complacent, and seemed to think that our motto should be “The more
the merrier!” I imagined that he had secretly tested some of the home
cooking beforehand, and rather envied him his position as taster.

“‘The guests were met; the table set. I had made sure that the wines
were all right. As I looked along at the happy, friendly faces I felt
that a home dinner was the most pleasant, after all. The soup tureen
was before me, and I lifted the cover with the anxious pride of a
Wellington firing the first gun at Waterloo.

“‘The chance simile of a battle holds good; for the soup was awfully
smoky. Somebody said that it tasted like a chimney on fire. The fish
was worse. The roast beef was uneatable. Persistent as I naturally am,
I gave up the attempt to carve the turkey. The pudding was as hard as a
stone. What little appetite remained to us was lost while carving the
meats and passing the plates around. I had felt like Wellington before
Waterloo; but, when the dinner was over, I could appreciate the despair
of the defeated Napoleon.

“‘Had we been only a family party the fiasco would not have been so
fatal; but, as I told you, I had invited epicures; I had dragged my
friends from their comfortable homes on Christmas Day to partake of
this terrible repast. Some of them have never quite forgiven me. Some
have forgiven me, because I had a chance to take them aside and put
all the blame upon Stoker. But nobody who was present can ever have
forgotten it.

“‘Like Napoleon, I retreated to Fontainebleau,—I fell back upon the
wines. One of the guests won my heart by loudly eulogizing the cheese
and the crackers. They were not home-made. They had not been cooked in
the theatre!

“‘Here comes Stoker,’ continued Mr. Irving, relapsing into his curious
solemnity of manner; ‘let us ask him about it.

“‘I say, Stoker, do you remember the home dinner you gave us at the
Lyceum last Christmas?’

“Mr. Stoker stopped on his way across the stage, and stood like a
statue of amazement, of indignation, of outraged virtue. ‘The dinner
_I_ gave you?’ he at last exclaimed. Then his loyalty to his chief
triumphed, and he added, ‘Well, you may call it my dinner, if you
like; but I have the original copy of the bill of fare in your own
handwriting.’

“‘Ah!’ resumed Mr. Irving, quite placidly, as his acting manager dashed
away, ‘I thought Stoker would remember that dinner!’

“‘This Christmas you will dine upon roast canvas-backs, instead of
roast beef, and stewed terrapin, instead of smoked soup,’ I observed.

“‘Yes,’ replied the English actor; ‘I am told that Baltimore is the
best place for those delicacies. But they will not seem strange to me;
I have eaten canvas-backs at Christmas before.’

“‘In England?’

“‘Certainly. My first American manager—Papa Bateman you used to call
him—had many good friends in this country, who kept him liberally
supplied with almost all your American luxuries. Under his tuition I
learned to like the oysters, the terrapin, and canvas-backs, upon which
my generous hosts are feasting me now, long before I ever thought of
coming to America.

“‘But perhaps the most remarkable Christmas dinner at which I have
ever been present,’ continued Mr. Irving, after reflecting for a few
moments, ‘was the one at which we dined upon under-clothing.’

“‘Do you mean upon your under-clothing or in your under-clothing?’
queried the astonished ‘Spirit,’ conjuring up visions of Christmas
dinners on uninhabited islands, at which shipwrecked mariners had been
known to devour their apparel, and of the tropical Christmas dinners
in India and Australia, at which scanty costumes are appropriate to the
climate.

“‘Both!’ replied Mr. Irving. ‘It is not a story of wonderful adventure;
but I’ll tell it to you, if you have five minutes more to spare. Do you
remember Joe Robins,—a nice, genial fellow who played small parts in
provinces? Ah, no; that was before your time.

“‘Joe Robins was once in the gentleman’s furnishing business in London
city. I think that he had a wholesale trade, and was doing well.
However, he belonged to one of the semi-Bohemian clubs; associated
a great deal with actors and journalists, and, when an amateur
performance was organized for some charitable object, Joe was cast for
the clown in a burlesque called “Guy Fawkes.”

“‘Perhaps he played the part capitally; perhaps his friends were making
game of him when they loaded him with praises; perhaps the papers for
which his Bohemian associates wrote went rather too far when they
asserted that he was the artistic descendant and successor of Grimaldi.
At any rate, Joe believed all that was said to him and written about
him, and when some wit discovered that Grimaldi’s name was also Joe,
the fate of Joe Robins was sealed. He determined to go upon the stage
professionally and become a great actor.

“‘Fortunately Joe was able to dispose of his stock and good-will for
a few hundred pounds, which he invested so as to give him an income
sufficient to prevent the wolf from getting inside his door, in
case he did not eclipse Garrick, Kean, and Kemble. He also packed
up for himself a liberal supply of his wares, and started in the
profession with enough shirts, collars, handkerchiefs, stockings, and
under-clothing to equip him for several years.

“‘The amateur success of poor Joe was never repeated on the regular
stage. He did not make an absolute failure; no manager would entrust
him with parts big enough for him to fail in. But he drifted down to
general utility, and then out of London, and when I met him he was
engaged in a very small way, on a very small salary, at a Manchester
theatre.

“‘His income eked out his salary; but Joe was a generous, great-hearted
fellow, who liked everybody, and whom everybody liked, and when he had
money he was always glad to spend it upon a friend or give it away to
somebody more needy. So, piece by piece, as necessity demanded, his
princely supply of haberdashery had diminished, and now only a few
shirts and under-clothes remained to him.

“‘Christmas came in very bitter weather. Joe had a part in the
Christmas pantomime. He dressed with other poor actors, and he saw how
thinly some of them were clad when they stripped before him to put on
their stage costumes. For one poor fellow in especial his heart ached.
In the depth of a very cold winter he was shivering in a suit of very
light summer under-clothing, and whenever Joe looked at him the warm
flannel under-garments snugly packed away in an extra trunk weighed
heavily upon his mind.

“‘Joe thought the matter over, and determined to give the actors who
dressed with him a Christmas dinner. It was literally a dinner upon
under-clothing; for the most of the shirts and drawers which Joe had
cherished so long went to the pawnbroker’s, or the slop-shop, to
provide the money for the meal.

“‘The guests assembled promptly, for nobody else is ever so hungry as
a hungry actor. The dinner was to be served at Joe’s lodgings, and,
before it was placed on the table, Joe beckoned his friend with the
gauze under-clothes into a bedroom, and, pointing to a chair, silently
withdrew.

“‘On that chair hung a suit of under-wear which had been Joe’s pride.
It was of a comfortable scarlet color; it was thick, warm, and heavy;
it fitted the poor actor as if it had been manufactured especially to
his measure. He put it on, and, as the flaming flannels encased his
limbs, he felt his heart glowing within him with gratitude to dear Joe
Robins.

“‘That actor never knew—or, if he knew, he never could remember—what
he had for dinner on that Christmas afternoon. He revelled in
the luxury of warm garments. The roast beef was nothing to him
in comparison with the comfort of his undervest; he appreciated
the drawers more than the plum-pudding. Proud, happy, warm, and
comfortable, he felt little inclination to eat, but sat quietly, and
thanked Providence and Joe Robins with all his heart.’

“‘You seem to enter into that poor actor’s feelings very
sympathetically,’ I observed, as Mr. Irving paused.

“‘I have good reason to do so,’ replied Mr. Irving, with his gentle,
sunshiny smile; ‘for I was that poor actor!’”



XIII.

A WILD RAILWAY JOURNEY.

 A Great American Railway Station—Platforms and Waiting-Rooms—A
 Queer Night—“Snow is as Bad as Fog”—A Farmer who Suggests Mathias
 in “The Bells”—A Romance of the Hudson—Looking for the “Maryland”
 and Finding “The Danites”—Fighting a Snow-storm—“A Ministering
 Angel”—The Publicity of Private Cars—Mysterious Proceedings—Strange
 Lights—Snowed up—Digging out the Railway Points—A Good Samaritan
 Locomotive—Trains Ahead of Us, Trains Behind Us—Railway Lights and
 Bells—“What’s Going On?”


I.

“THE Irving train is expected to arrive at Jersey City from Boston at
about seven o’clock,” said a telegraphic dispatch which I received in
New York on Sunday. I had left the great New England city two days
before Irving’s special train, with the understanding that I should
join him at Jersey City, _en route_ for Baltimore.

At half-past six I was on the great steam ferry-boat that plies from
the bottom of Desbrosses street, New York, to the other side of the
river. A wintry wind was blowing up from the sea. I preferred the open
air to the artificial heat of the cabin. In ten minutes I was landed at
the station of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

“Inquire for the steamer ‘Maryland,’” continued that dispatch which
I have just quoted. “She conveys the train down the Harlem river to
connect on the Pennsylvania Road.”

The general waiting-room of the station, or depot, as our American
cousins call it, is a characteristic one. Seeing that I was allowed
plenty of time to observe it, I propose to describe it. A large
square hall, with a high-pitched roof, it has more of a Continental
than an English or American appearance. As you enter you find a
number of people waiting for the trains. They include a few colored
people and Chinamen. The centre of the room is filled with benches,
like the stalls of a London theatre. You wonder why two marble tombs
have been erected here. They turn out to be heat-distributers. The
hot air pours out from their grated sides. In case you should be in
danger of suffocation a drinking fountain is in handy proximity to
the blasts of heated air. The right-hand side of the hall is filled
with booking-offices, and a clock bell tolls, indicating the times
at which the various trains start. On the left is a _café_, and an
entrance from Jersey City. Opposite to you as you enter from the ferry
are two pairs of doors leading to the trains, and the space between
the portals is filled in with a handsome book-stall. The door-ways
here are jealously guarded by officials who announce the departure
of trains and examine your tickets. One of these guards sits near a
desk where a little library of city and State directories is placed
for the use of passengers. Each volume is chained to the wall. Near
the _café_ is a post-office box, and hanging hard by are the weather
bulletins of the day. A ladies’ waiting-room occupies a portion of the
hall on the booking-office side. The place is lighted with electric
lamps, which occasionally fiz and splutter, and once in a while go out
altogether. Nobody pays any attention to this. Everybody is used to the
eccentricities of the new and beautiful light.

Obtaining permission to pass the ticket portals, I reach the platform,
where I am to find the station-master. The outlook here reminds me of
the high-level station of the Crystal Palace. A dim gas-light exhibits
the outlines of a series of long cars, fenced in with gates, that are
every now and then thrown open to receive batches of passengers from
the waiting-room.

The Irving train has been delayed. She is reported “to arrive at the
Harlem river at half-past eight.” In that case she may be here at a
quarter to ten.

I return to the spluttering electric lamps and to the continually
coming and going multitudes of passengers. “No Smoking” is one of the
notices on the walls. Two men have lighted their cigars right under
it. They remind one of the duellists in “Marion de Lorme,” who fight
beneath the cardinal’s proclamation. The _café_ is bright and inviting,
and its chocolate is as comforting as the literature of the book-stall.
The novels of Howells and James and Braddon and Black are here, and the
Christmas numbers of the “Illustrated London News” and the “Graphic”;
so likewise are the Christmas and New Year’s cards of Marcus Ward, De
la Rue, and Lowell. I purchase the latest novelty in books, “John Bull
and His Island,” and try to read. I look up now and then to see the
crowd file off through the ticket-doors to go to Bethlehem, Catasauqua,
Lansdown, New Market, Bloomsbury, Waverly, Linden, Philadelphia, West
Point, Catskill, Albans, New Scotland, Port Jackson, Schenectady, and
other towns and cities, the names of which stir my thoughts into a
strange jumble of reflections, biblical, topographical, and otherwise.
Bethlehem and Bloomsbury! Were ever cues for fancy wider apart? “Over
here,” I read in “John Bull and His Island,” the writer referring to
London, “you are not locked up in a waiting-room until your train comes
in. You roam where you like about the station, and your friends may see
you off and give you a hand-shake as the train leaves the platform. The
functionary is scarcely known. There are more of them at the station of
_Fouilly les Epinards_ than in the most important station in London.
You see placards everywhere: ‘Beware of Pick-pockets’; ‘Ascertain
that your change is right before leaving the booking-desk.’ The
Englishman does not like being taken in hand like a baby.” Curiously
the American is treated on the railroads very much as in France. As to
placard-notices you see cautions against pick-pockets, and the London
warning as to change. Some of the other notifications in American
stations are curious: “No Loafing allowed in this Depot”; “Don’t Spit
on the Floor.” Douglas Jerrold’s joke about the two angry foreigners
who exclaimed, “I spit upon you!” has more point here than in England;
for no apartment is sacred enough in this free country to keep out
the spittoon, which, in some places, is designed in such a way as to
indicate a strong intention to make it ornamental as well as useful.

I seek the station-master again.

“Not sooner than a quarter to eleven,” he says.

“Does the weather obstruct the train?”

“Yes, it’s a queer night; snow falling very thickly; makes the river
journey slower than usual; snow is as bad as fog.”

The entire train of eight enormous cars, containing the Lyceum company
and their baggage, is transported by boat right down the Harlem river,
a distance of several miles, the raft and train being attached to a
tug-boat. The train is run upon the floating track at Harlem, and
connected with the main line again at Jersey City.

“I was to ask for the steamer ‘Maryland.’”

“Yes, her quay is outside the depot. I will let you know when she is
reported. You will hear her whistle.”

Trying to return to the waiting-room I find I am locked in. Presently
a good-natured official lets me out. In the meantime the _café_ has
closed, the book-stall has fastened its windows and put out its lights.
The waiters on trains have thinned in numbers. Two poor Chinamen who
have been here are talking pigeon English to a porter.

“You missed it at seven,” he says; “no more train till twelve.”

“Twelfy!” says John, calmly counting his fingers; “no morey go tilly
twelf.”

“That’s so,” says the porter.

The two celestials sit down quietly to wait; the ferry-boats give out
their hoarse signals, and presently a number of other people come in,
covered with snow, a bitter wind accompanying them, as the doors open
and shut. They stamp their feet and shake the snow from off their
garments, and you hear the jingle of sleigh-bells without. A farmer
whose dress suggests Mathias, in “The Bells,” comes in. He carries a
bundle. There is a slip of green laurel in his button-hole. I avail
myself of the supposed privilege of the country, and talk to him.

“Yes,” he says. “Christmas presents; I guess that’s what I’ve been to
New York for. I live at Katskill. No, not much in the way of farming.
My father had land in Yorkshire. Guess I am an Englishman, as one may
say, though born on the Hudson. Did I ever hear of Rip Van Winkle at
Katskill? I guess so. Live there now? No, sir; guess it’s a story, aint
it? But there was a sort of a hermit feller lived on the Hudson till a
year or two ago. He was English. A scholar, they said, and learned. His
grandchild, a girl, lived with him. Did nothing but read. Built the hut
hisself. Never seen except when he and the girl went to buy stores. It
was in the papers, when he died, a year or two back. Broke his heart,
‘cause his girl skipped.”

“‘Skipped!’ I repeated.

“You are fresh, sir, green; as you say in England, run away,—that’s
skipping. I bought one of his books when his things were sold, because
I have a grandchild, and know what it is. Good-night! A merry Christmas
to you!”

No other hint of Christmas in the depot, among the people, or on the
walls, except the cards and illustrated English papers inside the
book-stall windows. I turn to “John Bull and His Island,” and wonder
if any English writer will respond with “Jean Crapeaud and His City.”
No country is more open to satire than France; no people accept it with
so little patience. There are some wholesome truths in Max O’Rell’s
brochure. It is good to see ourselves as others see us.

A quarter to eleven. It is surely time to go forth in search of the
“Maryland.”

“Better have a guide,” says a courteous official; “you can’t find it
without; and, by thunder, how it snows! See ‘em?”

He points to several new-comers.

“Only a few feet from the ferry,—and they’re like walking snow-drifts.
See ‘em!”

The guide, as sturdy as a Derbyshire ploughboy, comes along with his
lantern.

“There are three ladies,” I tell him, “in the private waiting-room, who
are to come with us.”


II.

I AM taking my wife and two girls to Baltimore for the Christmas week.
Last year we had our Christmas dinner with Irving. This year he has
said, “Let us all sup together. The theatres are open on Christmas day;
we must, therefore, have our pudding for supper after we have seen the
last of poor old Louis.”

“Awkward night for ladies getting to the ‘Maryland,’” says the guide.

They are well provided with cloaks and furs and snow-boots, or rubbers
(an absolute necessity and a great comfort in America), and we all
push along after the guide, across the departure platform, into the
snowy night,—the flakes fall in blinding clouds; over railway tracks
which men are clearing,—the white carpet soft and yielding; between
freight-cars, through open sheds,—the girls enjoying it all, as only
young people can enjoy a snow-storm.

The flickering light of our guide’s lantern is at length eclipsed by
the radiance of a well-illuminated cabin.

“This is the office; you can wait here; they’ll tell you when the
‘Maryland’s’ reported.”

A snug room, with a great stove in the centre. The men who are sitting
around it move to make way for us. They do not disguise their surprise
at the arrivals: an English family (one of them very young, with her
hair blowing about her face), with snow enough falling from their
cloaks to supply material for a snow-balling match. We are evidently
regarded as novel visitors. Track laborers and others follow us in.
They carry lamps, and their general appearance recalls the mining scene
in “The Danites,” at the London Olympic. Our entrance seems as much of
a surprise to the others as the arrival of “the school-marm” was to the
men in the Californian bar-room.

Presently a smart official (not unlike a guard of the Midland Railway
in England as to his uniform) enters. There is a swing in his gait and
a lamp in his hand, as a smart writer might put it.

“That gentleman will tell you all about the train,” says one of the
Danites, speaking in the shadow of the stove.

“The ‘Maryland,’” I say, addressing the officer; “I want to get on
board her special train from Boston.”

“Guess I can’t help that! I want to get some cars off her, that’s all I
know,” is the response, the speaker eying me loftily, and then pushing
his way towards a lookout window on the other side of the cabin.

“Oh, thank you very much!” I say. “You are really too good. Is there
any other gentleman here who is anxious to tell me where I shall find
the ‘Maryland’s’ quay, and explain how I am to get on board the special
express, which takes a day to do a five hours’ journey?”

“I’ll show you,” says my surly friend, turning round upon me and
looking me all over. “I am the guard.”

“Thank you.”

“Here she comes!” he exclaims.

I forgive him, at once, his brusqueness. He, too, has, of course, been
waiting six hours for her.

A hoarse whistle is heard on the river. The guard opens the cabin-door.
In rushes the snow and the wind. The guard’s lantern casts a gleam of
light on the white way.

“Be careful here,” he says, assisting my girls over a rough plank road.

It is an open quay over which we are pushing along. The guard, now full
of kind attention, holds up his lamp for us, and indicates the best
paths, the snow filling our eyes and wetting our faces. Now we mount
a gangway. Then we struggle down a plank. There are bustle and noise
ahead of us, and the plash “of many waters.”

“Hatton!” shouts the familiar voice of Bram Stoker, through the
darkness.

“Here we are!” is the prompt reply.

A stalwart figure pushes through the snow, and the next moment my
wife is under the protection of a new guide. We feel our way along
mazy passages,—now upwards, now downwards,—that might be mysterious
corridors leading to “dungeons beneath the castle moat,” the darkness
made visible by primitive lamps. Presently we are on the floating raft,
and thence we mount the steps of a railway car.

What a change of scene it is!—from Arctic cold to summer heat; from
snow and rough ways to a dainty parlor, with velvet-pile carpets,
easy-chairs, and duplex lamps; and from the Danites to Irving, Abbey,
Loveday, and Miss Terry. They welcome us cheerily and with Christmas
greetings.

“Oh, don’t mind the snow; shake it off,—it will not hurt us! Come, let
me help you. Of course, you all wear snow-boots,—Arctic rubbers, eh?
That’s right; off with them first!” And before we have done shaking
hands she is disrobing the girls, and helping them off with their
wraps and shoes,—this heroine of the romantic and classic drama, this
favorite of English play-goers, who is now conquering the New World as
surely as she has conquered the Old.

Every one in the theatrical profession knows how kindly and natural
and human, as a rule, are, and have ever been, the great women of the
English stage. But the outside public has sometimes strange opinions
concerning the people of this other side of the curtain, this world
of art. Some of them would be surprised if they could see Ellen Terry
attending upon my three fellow-travellers; giving them refreshment,
and, later on, helping to put them to bed. They would be interested,
also, to have seen her dispensing tea to the members of the company, or
sitting chatting in their midst about the journey and its incidents.
Just as womanly and tender as is her Desdemona, her Portia, her
Ophelia; so is she off the stage,—full of sympathy, touched to the
quick by a tale of sorrow, excited to the utmost by a heroic story.
Hers is the true artistic temperament. She treads the path of the
highest comedy as easily and with the same natural grace, as she
manifests in helping these girls of mine, from New York, to remove
their snowy clothes, and as naturally as she sails through these very
practical American cars to make tea for her brother and sister players,
who love her, and are proud of her art.


III.

HAVING spent an hour in vainly trying to couple Irving’s private car
with another in the centre of the train, the guard decides to attach
it to the last one. In this position, which eventually proved an
interesting one, we trundle along through Jersey City, past rows of
shops and stores, on a level with the sidewalks, the snow falling all
the time. Here and there electric arcs are shedding weird illuminations
upon the unfamiliar scenes. By the lights in many of the houses we
can see that the window-panes are coated with a thick frost. Now and
then we stop without any apparent warning, certainly without any
explanation. During one of these intervals we take supper, those of us
who have not retired to seek such repose as may be found in a railroad
sleeping-car,—an institution which some American travellers prefer to
a regular bedroom. Irving, Abbey, Stoker, Loveday, and myself, we sit
down to a very excellent supper,—oyster-pie, cold beef, jelly, eggs,
coffee, cigars.

“It is too late to tell you of our adventures prior to your coming
upon the train,” says Irving. “We will have a long chat to-morrow.
Good-night; I am going to try and get a little rest.”

He lies down upon a couch adjacent to the apartment in which we have
supped. I draw a curtain over him, that shuts off his bunk from the
room and the general corridor of the car. You hear a good deal of talk
in America about “private cars.” Without disparaging the ingenuity and
comfort of the private-car system of American railroad travelling let
me say, once for all, that the term private applied to it in any sense
is a misnomer. There is no privacy about it,—nothing like as much as
you may have in an English carriage, to the sole occupancy of which you
have bought the right for a railway journey. On an American train there
is a conductor to each car. Then there are one or more guards to the
train. Add to these officials, baggage-men, who are entitled to come on
at various stations, and news-boys, who also appear to have special
claims on the railway company; and you count up quite a number of extra
passengers who may appear in your private room at any moment.

It is true that the guard of your car may exclude some of these
persons; but, as a rule, he does not. If he should be so inhospitable
to his fellow-man there are still left the conductors and guards, who
have business all over the train at all hours. There is a passage-way,
as you know, right through the train. On a special car there is a room
at each end; one is a smoking-room. This apartment, with or without
your permission, is occupied by the officials of the train; and on
a cold night not even the most exacting traveller would think of
objecting to the arrangement. But it is easy to see that this does away
with all ideas of privacy.

At 1.30 the train comes to a long stand-still. I am reading. The
colored waiter, a negro with a face given over to the permanent
expression of wonder, has taken a seat near me, in the opposite corner
of the car. The end of the car opens right upon the line; the door is
half glass, so that we can see out into the night and away down the
track. To keep the outlook clear I occasionally rub the frosty rime
from the glass, and now and then open the door and clear it from snow.
The negro contemplates me through his wide, staring eyes. He takes a
similar interest in the guards and other officers of the train, who
come through the cars at intervals, swinging, as they walk, lamps of
singularly artistic patterns when compared with the English railway
lanterns. These guardians of the train pass out of the door of the room
upon the line, and rarely reappear except when they come back again
right through the train, passing most of the would-be sleepers. Irving
does not, however, appear to be disturbed.

It is 2.35 when the train once more begins to move. For nearly an hour
both the colored servant and I have, off and on, been watching a number
of curious demonstrations of lights away down the line behind us. First
a white light would appear, then a red one, then a green light would
be flashed wildly up and down. The negro guesses we must be snowed up.
But he doesn’t know much of this line, he says, in a deprecatory tone;
only been on it once before; doesn’t take much stock in it. Then he
shakes his woolly head mysteriously; and what an air of mystery and
amazement is possible on some dark faces of this African race! We move
ahead for five minutes, and then we stop again. There is a clock on the
inlaid panel of the car over the negro’s head. The time is steadily
recorded on the dial. It is 2.45 when we advance once more. A hoarse
whistle, like a foghorn at sea, breaks upon the solemnity of the night;
then we pass a signal-box, and a patch of light falls upon our window.
This is evidently the signal for another pause. “2.50” says the clock.
The line behind us is now alive with lanterns. White lights are moving
about with singular eccentricity. With my face close against the glass
door-way I count six different lights. I also see dark forms moving
about. All the lights are suddenly stationary. One comes on towards
the train. Our guard frantically waves his light. Presently we stop
with a jerk. The lights we have left in the distance now gyrate with
the same inconsequential motion as the witch-fires of a fairy tale,
or the fiends’ lights in the opera of _Robert le Diable_. Then they
remain still again. I open the door. There is a foot of snow on the
platform, and the feathery flakes are steadily falling. A solitary
light comes towards us. The bearer of it gets upon the platform,—a
solitary sentinel. The negro looks up at me, and asks me in a gentle
kind of way, if I ever use sticking-plaster. “Yes,” I say, “sometimes.”
A strange question. My reply appears to be a relief to him. Do I ever
use sticking-plaster! There is a long pause outside and inside the
car, as if some mysterious conference were going on. “Was you ever on
the cars when they was robbed?” the negro asks. “No,” I say; “I was
not.”—“Been on when there was shooting?” he asks. “No.”—“Has you ever
heard of Jesse James and the book that was written about him?”—“Yes,”
I answer, “but never saw the book.”—“Dark night, eh?”—“Yes, pretty
dark.”—“They would stop de train, and get a shooting right away, would
dem James boys, I tell you! Perfeck terror dey was. No car was safe.
Ise believe dey was not killed at all, and is only waiting for nex’
chance.”—“You are not frightened?” I say. “Well, not zactly; but don’t
know who dis man is standing dere on de platform, and nebber was on any
train of cars dat stopped so much and in such lonely places; and don’t
like to be snowed up eider. I spoke to de brakesman about an hour ago;
but he don’t say much.” Thereupon he flattens his broad nose against
the window, and I take up “John Bull and His Island” at the description
of the Christmas pudding, which sets me thinking of all the gloomy
things that may and do happen between one Christmas Day and another;
and how once in most lifetimes some overwhelming calamity occurs that
makes you feel Fate has done its worst, and cannot hurt you more. This
thought is not _apropos_ of the present situation; for, of course,
there is nothing to fear in the direction suggested by the negro, who
has worked himself up into a condition of real alarm. At the same time
the dangers of snow-drifts are not always confined to mere delays. The
newspapers, on the day following our protracted journey for example,
chronicled the blowing up of a locomotive, and the death of driver and
stoker, through running into a snow-drift. The accident occurred not
far from the scene of one of our longest stoppages.

2.55. The man on the platform cries “Go ahead!” and as the car moves
he steps inside, literally covered with snow. He makes no apology, but
shivers and shakes his coat.

“What is wrong?” I ask.

“Train stuck in the snow ahead of us. It is an awful night.”

“What were those lights in our rear?—one in particular.”

“That was me. I have been out there an hour and a half.”

“You are very cold?”

“Frightful.”

“Have a little brandy?”

“Think I’ll break up if I don’t.”

I gave him some brandy. From the other end of the car comes the guard.

“Think we’ll get round her all right now?” he asks.

“Oh, yes,” says the conductor shaking his snowy clothes.

The guard goes out. He, too, carries a weight of snow on his coat.

Says the officer (whom I have just saved from “breaking up”), “I am the
conductor; but if anything went wrong they’d blame me, not him; am sent
on to this train,—a special job.”

“What were you doing out there so long?”

“Digging the points out of the snow, to push these cars on to another
track, and get round ahead of the train that’s broke down.”

“And have you done it?”

“Guess so.”

It is three o’clock as he steps once more upon the platform. At 3.5 the
train stops suddenly. I look out into the black and white night. It
still snows heavily. At 3.10 the conductor returns.

“When do you think we will get to Baltimore?”

“At about ten.”

“What is the difficulty?”

“Trains in front of us, trains behind us, too. You would be surprised
at the depth of the snow. A gang of men clearing the track ahead.”

At 3.10 he goes out again into the wild night; this time the snow on
the platform glows red under the light of his lamp, which exhibits the
danger signal. A distant whistle is heard. The conductor is pushing
the snow off the platform with his feet. He opens the door to tell
me it is drifting in places to “any height.” At 3.15 he says we have
taken _three_ hours to go _twenty_ miles. Looking back on the track
the rails show a black, deep line in the snow. Not a house or a sign
of life anywhere around us. “We are a heavy train, eight cars,” says
the conductor. The negro stares at us through his wide, great eyes.
“At Rahway we hope to get another engine,” says the guard. At 3.25 we
are really moving along steadily. “About twelve miles an hour,” says
the conductor. The negro smiles contentedly. “We have not met a single
train since we left Jersey City,” says the conductor; “must be trains
behind us,—not far away, either.” A signal station with green and
red lights slips by us. The swinging bell of an approaching train is
heard. The conductor stands on the platform and waves his lamp. Our
train stops. There looms suddenly out of the darkness behind us a vast
globe, white and glowing, like a sun. It comes on, growing larger,
and accompanying it is the bang, bang, bang of the engine’s bell, a
familiar, but uncanny, sound in America. A number of minor lights dance
about on either side of the approaching monster. It does not stop until
its great single blazing Cyclopean eye looks straight into our car.
Then a voice says, “Don’t you want some assistance?” The monster is a
good Samaritan. “A freight-train,” says the conductor, leaping down
upon the line. “Yes, push us along.” I follow him into the snow, up
to my knees, and the flakes are falling in blinding clouds. A man is
altering our signal light. “Are you going to give us another engine?”
I ask. “More than I can say,” he replies. “This buffer’s no good;
can’t push against that,” says the guard of the other train. Then our
conductor goes off with him into the rear. It is 3.40. I turn once
more to “John Bull and His Island.” The negro is asleep. We move on
again, and gradually leave the locomotive Cyclops behind, its great,
sun-like eye getting smaller. A few minutes more, and it follows us. We
pull up at a switch-station. There is some difficulty with the posts.
I go out and lend a hand at getting them clear of snow. Return very
cold and wet. Happily the car is kept at a standing heat of 80° to
90°. “This freight-train started an hour and a half behind us,” says
the conductor. “What about the train ahead?”—“Just got clear of it
at last,—switched us on to another line. Hope we’ll get on now.” At
3.50 we are really going ahead, quite at a brisk pace. Suddenly another
light behind us; suddenly that ominous bell. It reminds me of the
storm-bell off Whitby, that Irving and I sat listening to, one autumn
night, a year or two ago. The conductor has passed through the cars. Is
this new train going to run us down? It comes along swinging its bell.
Just as the possibility of a collision seems ominous the new-comer
veers to the left and passes us. We are evidently on a single line of
rails, with switch-stations at intervals for trains to pass and repass.
Our unhappy train stops once more. Another comes pounding along, with
its one blazing light and its tolling bell. Passes us defiantly, as
the other has done. The new-comer is, however, only an engine this
time. “Assistance, no doubt,” I say to myself. I open the door. The
snow beats in with a rush of wind. The glass is covered with ice. All
else is quiet,—everybody asleep in the train. The negro is dreaming;
he pulls ugly faces. I rub the ice off the window. The conductor is out
in the snow with several lamps, searching for points. He is kicking at
the rails with his boots. A man joins him, with a shovel. They work
away. At four o’clock our train groans and screams; it moves very
quietly. The conductor plods back through the snow. We stop. At 4.5
the conductor and several others are digging on the line. Clearing
points, no doubt. There are switch-lights right and left of them. Now
the conductor climbs once more upon the platform, leaving a red lamp
away on the track behind him. Another train is heard bellowing; another
bell following; another great lamp gleams along the track, smaller red
lights showing upon its white beam, over which the snow falls. This
other locomotive comes right into us, its great blinding eye blazing
like a furnace. The negro wakes up with a cry. “Ah, you fool!” exclaims
the conductor, “what’s the matter?”—“Got help now,” he says to me,
“at last; this will push, and there is another one in front.” The
rear engine pants and pushes, her cow-catcher literally covered with
a snow-bank. There is a great fuss about coupling our car upon this
panting assistant. “Is it only an engine, or has it cars to draw?”—“It
had a train of cars; we have left them on a siding. We shall be all
right now.”

“What’s going on?” is suddenly asked in words and tones not unlike a
voice in “The Bells,”—“what’s going on?”—“We are, I hope, soon,” I
reply to my friend, who has pushed aside his Astrachan cloak and the
car curtains, and is looking curiously at us. The negro attendant wakes
up and goes towards him. “What is it?”—“Oh, nothing, sah!” says the
colored gentleman. “Only getting another engine,” says the conductor.
“What for?” asks Irving (he has really been to sleep). “To check our
speed,” I say; “we have been going too fast.”—“Oh, you astonish me!”
says Irving. “Good-night, then!” The clock marks 4.30. “Good-night,
indeed!” I reply. “So say we all of us,” murmurs Loveday, as I pass his
bunk in search of my own; “what a time we are having!”



XIV.

CHRISTMAS, AND AN INCIDENT BY THE WAY.

 At Baltimore—Street Scenes—Christmas Wares—Pretty Women in “Rubber
 Cloaks”—Contrasts—Street Hawkers—Southern Blondes—Furs and
 Diamonds—Rehearsing under Difficulties—Blacks and Whites—Negro
 Philosophy—Honest Work—“The Best Company on its Legs I have
 ever seen”—Our Christmas Supper—“Absent Friends”—Pictures in
 the Fire and Afterwards—An Intercepted Contribution to Magazine
 Literature—Correcting a Falsehood—Honesty and Fair Play.


I.

BALTIMORE street is the Broadway of the Monumental City. It also
suggests Chestnut street in Philadelphia, more particularly in the
matter of signboards. A city of stores and offices, it proclaims its
various businesses in signs of every conceivable shape. They swing
from ornamental brackets over door-ways, and hang right across the
sidewalk. They are of many shapes, but as to color are invariably
black and gold. The inscriptions upon them are characteristic; some
of them are strange to the non-travelled Englishmen. I note a few of
them: “Gent’s Neck Wear,” “Fine Jewelry,” “Men’s Furnishing.” This
latter is the general sign of American hosiers and shirt-makers.
“Diamonds,” “Fine Shoes,” “Dry Goods,” “Imported Goods,” “Books,”
“Cheap Railroad Tickets,” “Cheap Tickets for Chicago,” “Saddlery,”
“Adams’ Express.” To these are added the names of the dealers. The
“Cheap Railroad Tickets” is a branch of the speculative operations in
theatrical admissions. “Adams’ Express” is a familiar sign everywhere.
It represents the great and universal system of baggage distribution.
Adams and other firms will take charge of a traveller’s luggage, or
any other kind of goods, and “check” it through to any part of the
United States, possibly to any corner of the world. To-day, in honor
of Christmas, the ordinary signs have been supplemented by such
attractive proclamations as “Holiday Presents,” “Toys for the Season,”
“For Christmas and New Year’s,” “Home-made Christmas Puddings.” At
the doors of tobacco stores the figure of a North American Indian,
in complete war-paint, offers you a bundle of the finest cigars, and
his tomahawk is poised for action in case you decline his invitation
to “Try them.” In New York this colored commercial statuary is varied
with an occasional “Punch,” and by many buxom ballet-girls in short
dresses and chignons. But the taste of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston,
and Chicago runs in the direction of the Indian. Nowhere do you see
the blackamoor, once popular at the door of English tobacconists; nor,
except at Brooklyn, have I seen on the American side of the Atlantic
the kilted Highlander, with his “mull” as a sign for the information
or temptation of snuff-takers. At Chicago there is a Scotch sculptor,
who has ornamented the exterior of more than one store with life-size
realizations of the heroes of some of Burns’s most popular poems.
Several of these are represented as snuff-takers; but the collection
includes a few really admirable studies. The city architect, by the
way, at Chicago, is a Scotchman, and he is responsible for the fine
designs of the chief public buildings. Baltimore is not singular in its
habit of pictorial signs, the origin of which may possibly be traced to
old English custom. The saddler exhibits the gilded head of a horse;
the watchmaker hangs out a clock; the glover a hand; the dry-goods
stores display bright rugs and carpets. Now and then the cabinet-makers
show their goods on the sidewalks. Many stores erect handsome outside
glass-case stands for exhibiting knick-knacks at their door-ways. The
fruit shops open their windows on the street. Itinerant dealers in
oranges, bananas, and grapes rig up tent-like houses of business under
the windows of established traders (for which heavy rents are paid,
notably “down-town” in New York), and all this gives a pleasant variety
of life and color to the street. One is everywhere reminded of the
excellence of English Manufactures, “English Tanned Gloves,” “English
Storm-coats,” “English Cloth”; and many other commercial compliments
are paid to “Imported Goods.”

It is three o’clock in the day, and while Irving, his lieutenant,
Loveday, and his able subalterns, Arnot and Allen, are getting
the stage of the Academy of Music into some kind of shape for the
Christmas-eve performance, I plod through the rain and slush to make
my first acquaintance with this chief street of Baltimore. It is
curiously picturesque, in spite of the weather and the dirty snow,
which is melting and freezing almost simultaneously. Here and there
the sidewalks are slabs of ice; here and there they are sloppy
snow-drifts. But a surging crowd covers every foot of them. The roadway
presents a continual block of tram-cars, buggies, wagons, carts, and
carriages. Women leaving and getting upon the cars plunge in and out
of snow-heaps and watery gutters. It is a very democratic institution,
the American car. The people crowd it as they please. There is no limit
to its capacity. It may carry as many persons as can get into it or
stand upon its platforms. This afternoon the cars are human hives on
wheels. One notices that the crowd chiefly consists of women. They fill
the sidewalks. All of them are shopping. They are all talking, and all
at the same time. This is a peculiarity of our charming cousins. Their
costume on this wet afternoon is a very sensible one. It might almost
be called a uniform. A black water-proof cloak and hood is all the
costume you can see. Often it is a pretty, bright face that the hood
encases. Now and then some woman, a trifle more vain or reckless than
her sisters, wears a hat and feathers with her water-proof cloak. This
incongruous arrangement, however, helps to give color to the crowd,—a
desirable point on so dull, grey, and cloudy a day as this. The men who
move about here are mostly smoking. They do not appear to have any hand
in the shopping. The ladies are evidently doing all that, and they are
very much in earnest. Not one of them but deigns to carry a parcel. The
children are evidently coming in for precious gifts. In one shop window
“Father Christmas” himself is busy showing his toys to a numerous
audience. He is made up with white flowing locks and beard, and ruddy,
though aged, features. His dress is an ermine tippet, scarlet frock
trimmed with gold, and top-boots of patent leather,—quite the nursery
ideal of his genial majesty. Another store has filled its window with a
skating scene. A company of gay dolls are sliding for their very lives.
They go through their lively work without any change of expression, and
their gyrations never alter; but the spectators change, and the store
within is full of bustle. I look around for the poor people we would
see in a London group of this character. I seek in vain for the Smikes
and Twists who would be feasting their sunken eyes on such a free show
in London. I try to find the slipshod women, with infants huddled to
their cold bosoms. They are not here. A boy of twelve, with a cigarette
in his hand, asks me for a light. Another “guesses” his “papa” will buy
“the whole concern” for him if he wants it. No poor people. The Irish
are a small community here. How one’s mind goes wandering to the West
End of London and to the Strand and Fleet street, to the Seven Dials
and to Ratcliffe highway, where (it is five hours later there than
here) Christmas eve is being celebrated with such contrasts of fortune
and variations of wealth and poverty, of joy and sorrow, as make the
heart ache to think upon! Not a single poor-looking person do I note
in this long, busy street of Baltimore. Nobody begs from me; and the
hawkers on the sidewalk offer me their wares with an air of almost
aggressive independence. “Japanese silk, ten cents,” one cries, with
a bundle of small handkerchiefs in his hand. “The magic mouse,” says
another, vending a mechanical toy. “Now, then, one dime a packet,” is
the proposal of a third, offering material for decorating Christmas
trees. “Try ‘em!” almost commands a fourth, as I pause opposite his
stand of peanuts. If you buy nobody thanks you, and if you thank
the vendor he is surprised, and will probably stammer out, “You’re
welcome.” Yet “this is the Cavalier city,” a friend reminds me, “and
aristocratic to the core.”

The fruit-stores are bright with tropical fruits; but not with the
roses, carnations, pinks, and smilax creeper, so plentiful in New York,
Boston, and Philadelphia. I pause to scan the faces of the crowd. It is
a popular fiction in England that the women of the South are brunettes.
The truth is, the further South you go, the fairer the women, and the
more delicate their complexions. On Baltimore street I observe quite
a number of ladies with red hair. Many of them are blondes, who might
have been natives of Lincolnshire. They are all pretty; some are
beautiful; and their charms certainly obtained no fictitious aid from
their dress or surroundings. Water-proof cloaks and a muddy street
could not help them. Baltimoreans may say I should look for beauty in
North Charles street, or Mount Vernon place, if I expect to see it
_en promenade_. But I am not looking for it. I find it in the great,
busy, Christmas crowd, tramping through the snow, and buying toys and
candies for the children. The “carriage ladies” wear furs, and those
everlasting diamond ear-rings, without which expensive ornament few
American women appear to consider themselves “real ladies.” New York
and Boston modify the fashion in this respect, though you may still see
women sitting down to breakfast at hotel restaurants in silks, satins,
and diamonds.


II.

WHILE I have been studying Baltimore street darkness has fallen upon
it. The gas-lamps and the electric arcs are beginning their nightly
competition as I retrace my steps to the Academy of Music. Irving, who
arrived in Baltimore at two, after a journey of forty-two hours, has
just left the stage, I am told,—“gone to get a little rest.”

“Have you had a rehearsal?”

“Oh, yes!” says Loveday, who is directing the last finishing touches to
the throne-room set for “Louis XI.” “Tight work, eh? Got into the town
at two—scenery to unpack—some of it is still on the train. But we
get through it. The chief has his rehearsal somehow—finished half an
hour ago—in two hours the curtain goes up. Had to do it all ourselves.
Shall have to turn Arnot’s men into Burgundians. No help to be had of
any kind. It is Christmas, you know, and Christmas comes but once a
year, thank goodness! The chief carpenter, who is also the gas-man, has
not turned up. Some of the other fellows are ‘Merrie-Christmasing,’
also. Tried to get some additional assistance in the way of labor.
Found a few chaps loafing; asked them if they wanted work. Said they
did not mind. Offered them good wages. ‘Oh, no,’ they said; ‘get
niggers to do that!’ They were above it. I acted on their advice.
The moment it was dark the ‘colored boys,’ as they call themselves,
knocked off. Said they never worked after dark. ‘Night is the time to
rest and sleep,’ they said. ‘For black men, perhaps,’ I said; ‘but not
for white.’ Seemed to me as if they said, ‘You had us for slaves a
good many years; it is our turn now.’ Funny, eh? They wouldn’t go on
working. However, we shall be all right. It’s a good thing I’m not the
only Mark Tapley in the company, don’t you know; and the governor, by
Jove! he stands it like,—well, like only Henry Irving can!”

Two hours later Irving is received with rapturous applause by a
comparatively small audience. “More power to them!” he says, “for they
have left cosey hearths to drive or tramp through the slush of the
first snow of the Baltimore winter.” And the company, all round, never
played with more spirit. “It is the only return we can make to those
who have come to see us on such a night,” said Irving to several of
them before the curtain went up, “to do our very best.” And they did.
Terriss was never more successful as Nemours. The audience was cold at
first, but as the dramatic story unravelled itself, under the grip of
the master, they caught the infection of its grim interest, and their
applause rung out heartily and long. Irving developed the leading
character with more than ordinary care, and was called and recalled
after every act,—a triple call at the close including Terriss, whose
manliness of gait and manner are peculiarly acceptable to every
audience.

“There is one thing I observe about this company,” said the Boston
manager: “it walks well; it is the best company on its legs I have ever
seen. Our young men, as a rule, particularly in costume, turn out their
toes too much, or are knock-kneed; all your people stand well on their
feet,—it is a treat to see them.”

“Yes,” says Irving, smiling, when this is reported to him. “I engaged
them to show me off. But did not Emerson say that the Englishman
is, of all other people, the man who stands firmest in his shoes?
There is one thing to be said about our cousins on this side,—they
do not stand still; they are like young Rapid in ‘A Cure for the
Heart-ache,’—always on the move. And when they are behind a
trotting-horse how they go! I am a little disappointed, so far, with
the sleighing as a matter of speed; but the snow was too soft when we
took our first drive at Boston.”


III.

IT is the custom in America to open the theatres on Christmas day.
The doors of the Baltimore house could not have been opened in more
wretched weather. The streets were impassable, except for carriages,
or for pedestrians in “Arctic rubbers,” or on stilts. The snow was
melting everywhere. Nothing had been done to clear the sidewalks. They
were full of treacherous puddles, or equally treacherous snow-drifts.
The Turks blow horns at certain periods of the year, to frighten
away evil spirits. I know of no explanation for the blowing of horns
at Baltimore; but the boys indulge themselves in this exercise to
a bewildering extent at Christmas. Carol-singing is evidently not a
custom there, nor “waits.” I heard a boy shouting at the top of his
voice the refrain of a popular ditty:—

  “In the morning, in the morning,
  When Gabriel blows his trumpet,
  In the morning.”

But I conclude that he had only adapted these modern words to what was
evidently an old custom at Baltimore; for he blew his horn vigorously
at the end of the refrain, as if competing for supremacy with Gabriel
himself.

“You are right; it does not seem like Christmas,” said Irving, as we
sat down to supper,—close upon midnight,—a section of that same party
which, a year previously, had gathered about the round table in the
host’s Beefsteak Club room at the Lyceum Theatre.

“It seems so strange,” said Ellen Terry, “to play on Christmas Day;
that, to me, makes the time wholly unlike Christmas. On the other hand,
there is the snow, and we shall have an English Christmas pudding,—I
brought it from home, and my mother made it.”

“Well done; bless her heart!” said Irving; “but I have played before
on Christmas Day. They open the theatres in Scotland on Christmas Day.
They don’t pay much attention, I am told, to church festivals in Boston
and New England; but one would have expected it in the South, where
they are observing the social character of Christmas, I learn, more
and more every year; and not alone to the snow, but to that fact, I
am told, we are to attribute the small houses we had last night and
to-night.”

“Small for America and for us,” chimed in Loveday; “but what we should,
after our experience, call bad business here would be very good in
England.”

“Yes, that’s true,” said Irving; “but here’s holly and
mistletoe,—where did they come from?”

He was looking at a very English decoration that swung from the
chandelier.

“From London, with the pudding,” said Miss Terry.

The colored attendants took great interest in our celebration of the
festival. If they could have put their thoughts into words they would
probably have expressed surprise that artists of whom they had heard so
much could entertain each other in so simple a fashion.

When the pudding came on the table it was not lighted.

“Who has had charge of this affair?” Irving asked, looking slyly at
everybody but Stoker.

“I have,” said the usual delinquent.

“That accounts for it,” said Irving. “Who ever heard of a Christmas
pudding without a blaze, except, perhaps, in Ireland?”

“Oh, we’ll soon light it up!” said Stoker. “Waiter, bring some brandy!”

Presently the pudding flamed up, to the delight of the African
gentlemen who served it.

“I fear there is no sauce,” said one of the ladies.

“No sauce! Christmas pudding and no sauce!” I exclaimed. “Here’s stage
management!”

“Sauce!” said Stoker,—“to plum pudding?”

“Yes, always in England,” said Loveday.

This kind of mild banter was checked by Irving filling his glass with
champagne, and observing, “After the experience of last year, of course
we ought not to have entrusted Stoker with the pudding. However, let us
make the best of it. It seems a very good pudding, after all. I want
you all to fill your glasses. Let us wish each other in the old way,
‘A merry Christmas and A happy New Year,’ and ‘God bless our absent
friends!’”

Some of us gulped the wine a little spasmodically, and some of us found
it hard to keep back our tears. Who can pledge that familiar toast,
and not think of the empty chairs that seem so very, very empty at
Christmas!

When the women and my girls had been escorted to their carriages, and
sent home to their hotel, with flowers and bon-bons on their laps,
we three men of the little party sat round the fire and talked of
old times. Irving had ordered the biggest logs the hotel’s wood-yard
afforded to be heaped into the grate. The fire cracked and spluttered
and blazed, and had in the lower bars of the grate a solid, steady glow
of white ash that was truly English; and I think we each looked into
it for a time, busy with our own individual thoughts and reflections.
Presently, under the more cheerful influences of the season, we talked
of many things, and finally drifted into “shop.” The chief subject was
started by Irving himself, and it dealt with the novel treatment of
the next Shakespeare play which he intends to produce at the Lyceum.
Irving looked into the fire and saw it there, scene by scene, act by
act. As he saw it, he described it.

It was in the glamour of his rosiest pictures that I said good-night,
to have the witchery of the fire-light dispelled by the outer
bitterness of the weather, and the lonely, desolate appearance of the
city. The streets were now as hard as they had been soft; the pools
were ice, the snow adamant; and icicles hung down from the eaves of
every house. The roadways glistened in the lamp-light. Not a soul was
abroad. It might have been a city of the dead. A strain of Christmas
music would have redeemed the situation. Even a London “waits” band at
its worst, such as one awakens to with a growl on cold nights at home,
would have been a God-send. Not a sound; not a footstep; no distant
jangle of car-bells; not even a policeman; only the winter night
itself, with a few chilly-looking stars above, and the cold, hard, icy
streets below.


IV.

IT is a long way from Baltimore to Brooklyn,—five or six hundred
miles,—still from Brooklyn to Chicago is over a thousand; yet these
were the journeys that followed each other. The company, as you already
know, travelled from Boston to Baltimore, close upon a thousand miles;
from Baltimore it went to Brooklyn; and from the city of churches its
next trip was to the great city on Lake Michigan. But, not to get
ahead of events, we will pause at Brooklyn[33]: first, to say that the
theatre was crowded there all the week; secondly, for Irving to relate
an incident by the way; and, thirdly, to introduce the succeeding
chapter, which will describe our departure therefrom.

Irving was a little ruffled during his journey from Baltimore by the
sting of one of those vagrant gadflies of the press that are not
confined to the American continent; but, as a matter of course, exist
in that broader field in large numbers, and are of greater variety than
in the narrower limits of Great Britain.

“I promised to write a little gossip of my experiences in America for
the—— magazine, and I think the Baltimore incident is a very good
subject, told as an episode of the trip, with just a few lines about my
reception. What do you think?”

“Very good, indeed,” I said.

“Ah! I’m glad you like the notion, because I have written it. Here it
is; I’ll read it to you.”

“The Baltimore man will feel flattered when he learns how much you have
taken his ‘Tribune’ despatch to heart,” I said.

“I don’t care for that at all; nor would I, as you know, have thought
of answering him, only that he put his falsehood into so ingeniously
damaging a shape. But no matter,—this is what I have written.


“AN INCIDENT OF MY AMERICAN TOUR.

“The Sunday newspapers of America are the largest and certainly the
most amusing of the week. They were especially welcome to me during
the railway journey between Baltimore and Brooklyn. The landscape was
striking now and then; but we were travelling literally through a snow
world, and the monotony of it was a trifle tedious.

“I turned to the New York papers, a bundle of which had been brought
‘on board’ (this term is applied to railway trains as to ships in
America), and was not long in coming upon a surprise. It was in
the shape of a special telegraphic despatch from Baltimore to the
‘Tribune,’ of December 30. I read that ‘Henry Irving closed a very
successful week at the Academy of Music’; that his ‘audiences were
large’; that ‘his success was due to curiosity’; that ’”Hamlet”
raised a storm of criticism about his new-fangled ideas, and when
the ghost appeared on the stage in a green gown the audience roared
at the strange sight, to the evident embarrassment of the ghost’;
that ‘individually, however, Henry Irving’s stay in Baltimore was of
the pleasantest nature’; and that ‘Dr. W. Crim,[34] the well-known
surgeon, gave him a reception, where he proved himself an entertaining
conversationalist. He was favorably impressed with Americans, but said
they were not yet fully educated to appreciate true artistic ability;
they were progressing.’

“As I had never remembered the closet scene in ‘Hamlet’ to have been
more impressive, and particularly as regarded the appearance of the
ghost; as the question of curiosity, _per se_, had never been raised by
the local press; as on our first two nights we had bad houses, and on
our last two the theatre was crowded; as the remark attributed to me at
Dr. Crim’s was a false report, calculated to injure me in the eyes of
the American people,—this newspaper despatch, I confess, annoyed me.

“I consulted my friends on the train as to the advisability of
contradicting the latter part of it.

“The general verdict was against me. Said an American journalistic
friend, ‘If you get into a controversy of that kind, it will be
never-ending.’

“‘But it is not a question for controversy; it is a question of fact.
If this man’s statement is allowed to go forth, I simply stand before
the American people as a downright prig.’

“‘If you take the trouble to contradict every misrepresentation of what
you say and do you will have no other occupation.’

“‘So far this is the only thing I have cared to contradict; for I
think the press, as a rule, has been generous to me, and to all of
us. As for the point about the “ghost,” that does not matter; it is a
lie, and, even if it be malicious, it will be corrected wherever we
play “Hamlet.” It is true, our friend of the “Standard” may publish
it; but truth will prevail even against his curiously persistent
misrepresentations.’

“‘Oh, but,’ said my adviser, and he was backed by others, ‘the London
“Standard” will not repeat such obvious nonsense, and the American
people will not believe a mere Baltimore correspondent. Take no notice
of it.’

“Thus the matter rested until the close of the journey. I hope I endure
criticism with becoming fortitude, but a wilful and malicious falsehood
reflecting upon my personal conduct frets me. I therefore resolved
to send the following letter to the editor of the ‘Tribune’ (who had
devoted much valuable space to my work, and whose personal courtesy I
shall always remember):—


 “‘SIR,—I value so highly the good opinion of the American people
 that it is painful to me to see any estimate of their education
 and culture misrepresented. In your journal of to-day a Baltimore
 despatch states that I have said: “The Americans are not yet fully
 educated to appreciate true artistic ability; they are progressing.”
 This statement is utterly untrue; and, while I take this opportunity
 to contradict it, I feel sure that America by this time knows me
 sufficiently well to believe that I am incapable of uttering such
 conceited nonsense, or of the bad taste and ingratitude which the
 correspondent desires to fix upon me.

  “‘Faithfully yours,
  “‘HENRY IRVING.’

Sometimes instinct is one’s best guide in dealing with mere personal
matters. The invidious character of the newspaper report in this case
is apparent, and my letter was, in many directions, referred to as
a well-advised and necessary rejoinder to a calumny. The ‘Tribune’
mentioned it in the following terms, a day or two afterwards:—

 “‘Mr. Irving’s recent card in the “Tribune,” concerning the absurd
 charge that he had disparaged American audiences, was graceful and
 manly. An imputation of invidious remarks to those persons who are
 prosperous in the public esteem is one of the commonest methods of
 malicious detraction. It has been used, of course, against Mr. Irving,
 who is altogether too fortunate a man for envy and malice to endure.
 An old remark, made by the poet Samuel Rogers, applies to this case:
 “To succeed is no little crime in the eyes of those who fail; and
 those who cannot climb will endeavor to pull you down by the skirts.“‘

“The ‘absurd charge’ was not too absurd, I learned later, for it
appeared in the cable correspondence of the ‘Standard.’ You ask me for
a few notes on my work in this great country. I hope you may consider
this personal matter of sufficient interest. From the first I have
been received with unbounded kindness; from the first I have played to
large and enthusiastic audiences. My most sanguine hopes never reached
so high as the success I have realized. Here and there, prompted,
possibly, by the preliminary appeal of the ‘Standard’ to the American
people ‘not to nail my ears to the pump’ (as the ‘Herald’ put it in
commenting upon the article), and, encouraged by a parchment pamphlet
circulated here, some few pressmen, of the Baltimore stamp, have had
their malicious fling at me; but I have reason to be deeply grateful to
the American critics and to the American people for judging me and my
work in a spirit of honesty and fair play. The study of a lifetime, and
the conscientious working out of my own convictions in regard to the
representation of stage stories in a natural manner, have been stamped
with the approval of the American people; and I shall return to my
native land very proud of their artistic endorsement and their personal
friendship.

  “HENRY IRVING.

“There! What do you think of it?”

“It is excellent,” I said, “and most interesting; but I would rather
see it in ‘Henry Irving’s Impressions of America’ than in the”——

And here it is accordingly, an intercepted contribution to an English
magazine.

“I thought,” he said, “the editor would publish it as a ‘P.S.,’ after
the manner of other contributions about the stage.”

“No doubt,” I replied; “but I think we will sandwich it between our
chapters on Baltimore and the trip to Chicago.”



XV.

FROM BROOKLYN TO CHICAGO.

 “Fussy”—The Brooklyn Ferry—Crossing the North River—A Picturesque
 Crowd—Brooklyn Bridge at Night—Warned against Chicago—Conservatism
 of American Critics—Dangers of the Road—Railway-Train Bandits—An
 Early Interviewer—A Reporter’s Story—Life on a Private Car—Miss
 Terry and her “Luck”—American Women.


I.

THE clocks are hammering out the midnight hour on Saturday, January
5th, as several carriages dash over the snowy streets of Brooklyn,
one of them made more conspicuous than the rest by the antics of an
attendant dog. It is a black and white fox terrier, with a suggestion
of the lurcher in its pedigree. Busy with many tram-cars and a variety
of other traffic, the streets are bright with gas and electric lamps.
“Fussy” is quite a foreigner in Brooklyn; carriage, horses, and driver
are strange to him. One looks out to see the sagacious animal leaping
along through the crowd, never heeding the calls of boys and men, now
making short cuts to head the vehicle, and now dropping behind.

“You will lose him one day,” I say to Fussy’s owner, by way of warning.

“Oh, no!” says Miss Terry. “He follows my carriage everywhere,
day or night, going to the theatre or leaving it, strange town or
otherwise. I have a small piece of carpet for him to lie upon in my
dressing-room. Sometimes, just as we are leaving for the theatre, my
maid pretends to forget it. But Fussy will dart back to my room and
bring it, dragging it downstairs into the street, and only dropping it
by the carriage-door. One day, at New York, he leaped into the hotel
elevator with it, and out again on the ground floor, as if he had been
accustomed to elevators all his life.”

We are three,—Miss Terry, Irving, and myself. We are making our way to
the Brooklyn ferry. The boat belonging to the Pennsylvania Railroad is
waiting to convey us across the North river to the Desbrosses-street
depot of that well-known corporation. “Fussy” is there as soon as
we are, and poor “Charlie,” who is getting blind, has to be carried
aboard. Nearly all the members of the company are here already. They
are a picturesque group in the somewhat uncertain light of distant
lamps, and a world of stars sparkling in a frosty sky that seems
further away from the earth than our English firmament. Mr. Terriss
looks like a dashing Capt. Hawksley on his travels,—fur coat, cap,
self-possessed air, and all. Mr. Tyars wears a “Tam O’Shanter” and
ulster. He might be the laird of a Scotch county, just come down from
the hills. The grey-haired, pale-faced gentleman, muffled to the
eyes in fur cap and comforter, is Mr. Mead, whose imperial stride
as “the buried majesty of Denmark” is repeated here in response to
the call of a friend in the cabin. Mr. Howe carries his years and
experience with an elastic gait, and a fresh, pleasant face. He is a
notable figure in the group, dressed in every respect like an English
gentleman,—overcoat, hat, gloves. He has a breezy country manner,
and, if one did not know him, one might say, “This is a Yorkshire man,
who farms his own land, going to the West to have a look at Kansas,
and perhaps at Manitoba.” Mr. Ball, the musical conductor, wears his
fur collar and spectacles with quite a professional air. Norman Forbes
brings with him ideas of Bond street, and Robertson, who sings “Hey,
Nonnie,” to the swells in Leonato’s garden, is wrapped up as a tenor
should be, though he has the carriage of an athlete. The American
winter lends itself to artistic considerations in the matter of cloaks,
coats, leggins, scarfs, and “head-gear.” The ladies of the company have
sought the hot shelter of the spacious saloon. Miss Terry pushes the
swinging-door.

“I shall be stifled in there,” she says, retreating before a blast of
hot air.

“And starved to death out here,” says Irving.

“Well, I prefer the latter,” she replies, taking her place among the
crowd on the outer platform.

“Our English friends would complain of heat at the North pole,” says an
American gentleman to another, as they push their way into the saloon.

It is an impressive sight, this great, rolling flood of the North river
at midnight. The reflection of the boat’s lights upon the tide give it
an oily appearance.

“Looks harmless enough, eh?” remarks an American friend, answering
his own question; “but it aint. The strongest swimmer might fail in
breasting the current at this state of the tide.”

Bright electric lamps mark out the graceful lines of the Brooklyn
bridge. The twinkling signals of river craft are seen afar off beneath
the span of the suspended roadway, along which gay-looking cars are
flashing their white and red and green lights. We pass and meet
gigantic ferry-boats, as large as the Terrace at Harley-on-Thames would
be if converted into a houseboat, but a thousand times brighter, with
tier upon tier of illuminated windows. Irving, in his great Astrachan
overcoat, contemplates the scene with deep interest.

“It is, indeed, very wonderful,” he says. “We could give an idea of the
bridge at night on the Lyceum stage; but these ferry-boats would bother
us, eh, Loveday?”

“Not more than they do now with their heat and cold. Don’t you think
Miss Terry ought to go inside? It is very bitter here.”

“No, I’ll die first!” says the lady, amidst a general laugh.


II.

PRESENTLY we run into dock, and are as firmly part of it as if the
two structures were one, and so we land and struggle along in groups
to the platform, where our special train is to start for Chicago,
a run of one thousand miles. Mr. Carpenter, the traffic manager of
this road, is here to receive us. He and Mr. Abbey exchange some not
unpleasant badinage about the tribulations of our previous journey from
Boston to Baltimore, and we get aboard. Mr. Blanchard, the president
of the Erie Railroad, has lent Mr. Irving his own parlor-car for the
journey, although it is necessary that the company shall travel over
the Pennsylvania road. He has provisioned it also. It contains a
private room for Miss Terry, a special room for Irving, and sections
for myself and other friends. There is also a smoking-room and little
parlor, besides, of course, a well-appointed kitchen. Mr. Blanchard’s
own _chef_ is in the car, with a couple of servants; they are colored
gentlemen, and very attentive to our wants. Miss Terry and her maid go
straight to bed; so likewise do the other occupants of the car, except
Irving and myself. We think there may be much rest for mind and body in
a quiet chat before turning in for the night.

“Besides,” says Irving, lighting a cigar, “we may not be in the humor
for such recreation after Monday night. I am to get it hot in Chicago,
they tell me.”

“I believe you will find the gate of the West wide open to receive you,
and the people of Chicago quick to recognize all that is good in your
work, and not a whit behind the other cities in its appreciation of it.”

“They can have no prejudices, at all events,” he replied; “there has
been no time for tradition to take root there. They will not be afraid
to say what they think, one way or the other. I would not feel anxious
at all if we had to stay there a month instead of a fortnight.”

“I should not wonder if reporters meet the train and ask for interviews
long before we arrive at Chicago.”

“Is it possible? Well, let them come. I am told that if we should be
snowed up, there are much worse persons to fear than our friends, the
reporters. Mr. Abbey carries pistols, and the conductors and guards are
armed. During the Bernhardt tour more than one plot to stop Abbey’s
special trains was discovered. A band of masked men were disappointed
at one place, and a company of desperadoes from a western camp at
another. One of Abbey’s agents was attacked in his sleeping-car, and
badly wounded, by men who sneaked on board during a stoppage near a
signal station; but he made a good fight, and the guard coming quickly
to his aid, the fellows got off. Travelling as we did, even from Boston
to Baltimore, pulling up at lonely and unpeopled points, one can
understand how easily a gang of reckless robbers might capture a train,
the facilities for getting aboard and walking right through the cars
being largely in favor of success. It was known, Mr. Abbey tells me,
that Madame Bernhardt carried her diamonds about with her; and, acting
on reliable information, he found it desirable to have a smart chief of
police on the train, who had each end of her car protected at night by
an armed guard. No such honor is, I suppose, provided for us; and then
we do not go so far West, nor so near the frontiers, as she and her
company went. I suppose Abbey is not chaffing us, as Raymond and those
other fellows tried to do in London?”[35]

“Oh, no; Abbey’s is a true bill. In the West a detective well known to
the thieves sat by Madame Bernhardt’s coachman whenever she went out,
to or from the theatre, or anywhere else; and, apart from the weapons
he carried, his courage and skill made him a terror to evil-doers. The
western bandit is singularly discreet when he knows the reputation of
the police is pledged against him in a public enterprise.


III.

THE Chicago press justified my forecast of its enterprise. The story of
one of its representatives (he was a baron, by the way, in his German
Fatherland, though content to be a reporter in Chicago) is best told in
his own way. He begins it with rather a series of “catching” titles,
thus:—

 A CHAT WITH MR. IRVING.

 _A Daily News Reporter climbs into the English Tragedian’s Special
 Train, and Interviews him._

 MISS ELLEN TERRY thinks her AMERICAN SISTERS “Very nice,” but she has
 not yet seen DAISY MILLER.

Then he goes on to narrate his own adventures, and the results, and
without much exaggeration, almost as follows:—

“Mr. Henry Irving, the notable English actor, is in Chicago now, and
so is the ‘Daily News’ man, who accompanied him part of the way. The
manner in which these two—the great representative of the British
stage and its latest and finest fruition, and the modest representative
of the ‘Daily News’—met was quite peculiar; and it may be amusing to
a discerning public to, for once, learn that the interviewer’s path is
not always strewn with roses when he sets out upon his way past the
thorny hedges that beset his road. Who doesn’t pity him in his various
plights, and concede that naught but the reputation of Chicago for
having the pluckiest and most irrepressible reporters did not make
him wilt long before accomplishing his task, must bear a stone in his
bosom, instead of the usual muscular fibre called a human heart.

“It is well known to the newspaper fraternity that Mr. Irving holds
the interviewer in dread, and that nearly all the so-called interviews
with him published in the American papers have been spurious. Duly
appreciating this fact, the ‘Daily News’ man had not only been
munificently fitted out with the requisite lucre by the business
department, but had furthermore been furnished with a letter of
introduction,—one of the combination sort,—addressed to both Mr.
Copleston, Manager Abbey’s representative, and to Mr. Palser,[36]
couched in terms to make the flintiest heart melt. Thus attired,
then, the emissary boarded at Fort Wayne the train which had carried
safely thus far Cæsar and his luck from Jersey City. Entry to the
cars was effected with difficulty, the rules proscribing any but the
theatrical company for whom the train was chartered from riding in
it. Perseverance and gall in equal doses prevailed, however, as they
usually do, and the drowsy Senegambian, who was doing the Cerberus
act, at the entrance of the car, yielded to an amount of eloquence
perhaps never before brought to bear upon his pachydermatous anatomy.
As soon as the train had started, a still-hunt was begun for the two
prospective victims, Miss Terry and Mr. Irving. Alas! they had both
obeyed nature’s call, and were at that moment sweetly slumbering,
oblivious even of the Chicago interviewer. Everybody else was likewise
sleeping, even unto the dusky porters. Passing up and down the train
from end to end, nothing but the cheerful and melodious British snore
greeted the attentive ear. Here, to the right, it was the wheezing note
of a snore combined with a cold; there, it was the thundering roll of
a _snoro basso profundo;_ across the aisle the gentler breathing of
some youthful British blonde, struck the expectant senses, and again a
confused jumble of snores, of all sexes and ages, would fall ‘with a
dull thud’ upon the tympanum of the investigator. It forced itself upon
the latter’s conviction that it would be a difficult matter to attain
the object for which he had been deputed. It was then after three
o’clock. The train was due in Chicago at eight, and it looked very
unlikely that Mr. Irving would overcome his aversion to interviewing
and grant audience to a stranger at such a time. This was a hiatus
which had not been thought of, and the ‘Daily News’ man sat down in an
abandoned chair (on which were peacefully reclining some articles of
feminine attire), and reflected. Reflecting, he caught himself in a
nap, and woke out of it with a slight shudder. He gave himself a poke
in the rib and muttered, in grave-like accents: ‘_Nil desperandum_.’

“The next move in the direction of the desired interview was a vigorous
rap administered to the saddle-colored individual who in that car
discharged the duties of collecting ‘50 cents all ‘round.’ When the
kicked one had gathered up his portly limbs he was sent on a search
for Mr. Palser first, and, that proving unavailing, on a hunt for Mr.
Copleston. The latter, after considerable energy had been expended by
the colored brother, awoke and gave vent to his indignation at having
been thus rudely snatched from Morpheus’s arms. He did so in rather
vigorous style and language, which, under the circumstances, was hardly
to be wondered at. He declined to come forth from under his blankets,
and not even the cutting repartee of the reporter could rouse him. He
said he had been but an hour and a half asleep, he and some friends in
another car having played poker till very late, and he, the speaker,
having lost quite heavily. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t get up and
wake Mr. Irving, and an interview, he concluded, on the train was an
impossibility.

“‘Here is a fix,’ was the mental commentary. Poking his hand in here
and there into berths, and being startled now by the apparition of a
female face, then by a powerful snort of defiance from some male actor,
the investigator finally groped his way back into the rear car, one of
the palace pattern, placed at Mr. Irving’s disposal by Mr. Blanchard
of the Erie road. And there he found, at last, Mr. Irving, who, being
duly apprised of the mission of his unwelcome visitor, and having a
bit of pasteboard with the latter’s address thrust into his unwilling
palm, murmured plaintively, but politely, that he would see him before
reaching Chicago. Later on, Mr. Abbey’s services were enlisted in
the same cause, and his promise to the same effect obtained. Wearily
the time dragged on, till but another twenty-five miles lay between
the train and its destination. Just at this opportune moment the
great actor’s friend, Mr. Joseph Hatton, stepped up and invited the
hungry, wild, and desperate minion of the press to partake of a cup
of coffee. Gladly this was accepted, and, being made aware of what
was wanted, he, with the sympathizing spirit of a brother journalist,
said he would try and have Mr. Irving appear. Mr. Hatton, by the way,
is the famous London correspondent of the ‘New York Times,’ and is
accompanying Mr. Irving for the purpose of gathering material for a
book, in which jointly the impressions of American travel of himself
and the eminent actor will be deposited. While he went off to wake Mr.
Irving, another trip was taken to Mr. Abbey’s room, in doing which,
both coming and returning, the reporter’s modesty underwent the severe
ordeal of passing in review a large array of British beauties, all in
different stages of evolution—as to dress—and all talking sauce in
choice Cockney English at him for his ‘shocking impropriety.’ When the
somewhat cowed Daily Newsian returned to his cup of coffee he found
not only Mr. Copleston, the surly bear of a few hours ago, transformed
into a most amiable gentleman, but also among the other gentlemen, Mr.
Irving himself.

“‘After the tedious business of introduction had been gone through
with all around; after it had been remarked that the trip had been a
trying one to them all, as not being used to these long journeys in
their tight little island, where a twelve hours’ ride was considered
the utmost,—after saying this, all felt broke up, and, expressing
anxiety as to the Siberian climate of Chicago, Mr. Irving took out his
cigar-case, invited his _vis-à-vis_ to light one of his choice weeds,
and then prepared himself for the torture to be inflicted.

“‘What is your opinion of dramatic art, especially when comparing the
English with the American, and both with the French tragedians?’ was
the first query.

“‘English dramatic art is improving, I think, and the prospects for it
are brightening,’ he said, slowly and reflectively. ‘I’ve seen fine
acting in some of your American theatres—very fine acting; very fine.’

“‘What do you think of the custom of mutilating and cutting up and
abbreviating the pieces of classical authors when presented on the
stage? In “The Merchant of Venice,” for instance, the last act is
omitted so as to give Shylock the exit. Do you approve of such methods,
Mr. Irving?’

“‘No, I do not; but the custom is such an old one it is very difficult
to alter it. The cause of it is, I suppose, that our forefathers didn’t
know so well, nor did they read Shakespeare much. It is but very
recently, for example, that “Romeo and Juliet,” “Richard III.,” and
“King Lear” have been spoken on the stage the way Shakespeare wrote
them. Of the last one Garrick’s version has been used for a century.
Yet I do not think it right. Shakespeare is difficult to improve upon.
Better let him alone.’

“‘How are you pleased with your reception in America?’

“‘Beyond all expectation and desert. I have been treated with a
kindness, courteousness, and hospitality that have been really touching
to me. And this, you know, has been done despite the fact that my
trip to America had not been indorsed by all. While on my way across
the Atlantic, for instance, a London daily paper published a leading
article on me, suggesting to the Americans not to receive me cordially;
and, not satisfied with this, the article was cabled over before our
arrival. I thought this unfair and ungenerous. I like America, of
course, though like is hardly the proper term. I feel deeply grateful
to the American people for the very kind manner in which they have
treated me. But you must come to the theatre to-night. I am sorry that
Miss Terry will not play to-night.’

“‘I noticed in the papers that you have always expressed yourself in a
very chivalrous spirit when speaking of Miss Terry, sir.’

“‘That is because I have the highest respect for the lady, both for her
character and her talents.’

“‘Now, Mr. Irving, shirking your modesty for a moment, and assuming as
a settled fact that you are one of the most eminent actors living, what
made you such? What cause or causes do you attribute your good acting
to?’

“‘To acting.’

“‘What do you mean by that? This answer is not quite clear to me.’

“‘I merely want to say that by incessant acting, and love and study of
my art, I have attained whatever position I hold in my profession. This
is a leading cause, as it is, I believe, in every other art.’

“‘What made you choose “Louis XI.” in preference to “The Bells” as your
first piece here, Mr. Irving?’

“‘Because it takes the least amount of stage preparation, that’s
all. That reminds me to say that the reports you have heard about my
gorgeous scenery, etc., you will find, I think, exaggerated. Our stage
decorations are quite simple, and their beauty consists merely in their
nice adjustment, and the scrupulous calculation of the effect produced
by them on the audience.’

“Meanwhile Miss Terry’s maid had been very busy preparing tea and
buttered toast for her mistress, taking out dainty little things for
wear out of a big lockbasket. Being repeatedly asked if Miss Terry
could not be seen a moment, the train meanwhile arrived in Chicago,
and most of the other actors and actresses having got off, she made
evasive answers. Suddenly, however, the door opened, and a very
pretty lady looked briskly around. This, then, was Miss Ellen Terry!
A beautiful woman, indeed! Lustrous eyes of rare azure; a profuseness
of wavy blonde hair, long and of a luminous shade and silky texture;
the form lithe, yet full, every motion of a natural supple grace. She
was shaking hands with the ‘Daily News’ man, even while Mr. Copleston
introduced him, and then scurried back into the dark depths of her
room, where she continued wailing: ‘I’ve lost my luck! I’ve lost my
luck,—my beautiful horseshoe brooch, which I wouldn’t have missed for
the world!’ And maid and mistress went down on their knees, peering
into every nook and cranny. While still thus employed: ‘You see, Miss
Terry, the Chicago reporter is the first introduced to give you a
hearty greeting to this city, and to hope you’ll like your stay here as
well as I am sure Chicago will like to hold you within her walls.’

“‘Thanks! thanks!’ said Miss Terry, and then continued her search for
that obstreperous brooch.

“‘And what do you think of America?’

“Miss Terry held up a round, well-shaped arm appealingly, and merely
said. ‘No, no. You mustn’t try to interview me. I won’t stumble into
that pitfall.’

“‘How do you like the American women, then?’

“‘Very nice and pretty they are,—those I’ve seen, at least. I think we
must say, in this regard, what Lord Coleridge did: ‘They can’t be all
so nice and pretty; I suppose I’ve only seen the nicest ones.’ And one
thing I’ll tell you which I have not seen; I’ve never set eyes on any
Daisy Millers.’

“‘Of course not,’ rejoined the reporter. ‘Who ever heard of or saw a
Daisy Miller outside of a book? That’s a character you’ll only find in
James’s novel,—not in America, Miss Terry.’

“And thus, still hunting for that unfortunate brooch, which she
plaintively called her ‘lost luck,’ and so apparently a kind of voodoo
or talisman, the reporter left her, momentarily feeling a ray out of
the sun of her glorious eyes lighting up his departure. It was a little
after eight o’clock then, and, while she soon after went by carriage to
the Leland Hotel, Mr. Irving put up at the Grand Pacific, and was, two
hours later, busily arranging things at Haverly’s Theatre.”



XVI.

THE PRAIRIE CITY.

 First Impressions of Chicago—A Bitter Winter—Great Storms—Thirty
 Degrees below Zero—On the Shores of Lake Michigan—Street
 Architecture—Pullman City—Western Journalism—Chicago
 Criticism—Notable Entertainments—At the Press Club—The Club Life of
 America—What America has done—Unfair Comparisons between the Great
 New World and the Older Civilizations of Europe—Mistaking Notoriety
 for Fame—A Speech of Thanks—Facts, Figures, and Tests of Popularity,
 Past and to Come.


I.

THROUGH piles of lumber, into back streets filled with liquor bars,
“side shows,” and decorated with flaming posters, into fine, stately
thoroughfares, crowded with people, past imposing buildings marked with
architectural dignity, to the Grand Pacific Hotel.

“It is as if Manchester had given Greenwich Fair a blow in the face,”
said Irving,—“that is my first impression of Chicago. ‘The Living
Skeleton,’ ‘The Tattooed Man,’ ‘The Heaviest Woman in the World,’
‘The Museum of Wonders,’ with the painted show-pictures of our youth;
public houses, old-clothes shops, picturesque squalor. And then great
warehouses, handsome shops, and magnificent civic buildings,—what a
change! There is something of the ‘go’ of Liverpool and Manchester
about it. If I was ever afraid of Chicago, I am afraid no longer. A
people that have rebuilt this city within a comparatively few years
must be great, broad-minded, and ready in appreciating what is good.
We have something to show them in the way of dramatic art,—they will
‘catch on,’ as they say on this side of the Atlantic, I am sure of it.”

The city was more or less snow-bound. Little or no effort had been made
to remove the white downfall, either from street or sidewalk. The sun
was shining. The air was, nevertheless, very cold. Within a few days
of our arrival the thermometer had fallen to twenty and thirty degrees
below zero. We had selected for our visit to America what was destined
to be the bitterest winter that had been known in the United States for
over twenty years. There were storms on sea and land; storms of rain,
and snow, and wind, followed by frosts that closed the great rivers,
and made even Lake Michigan solid for ice-boats a dozen or twenty miles
out. The South Jersey coast was strewn with wreckage. Railway tracks
were swept away. At Cape May the principal pier was destroyed. The
sea demolished the piles of Coney Island’s iron piers. At Long Branch
cottages were undermined by the water, and their contents carried out
to sea. The well-known dancing platform and piazza of the Grand Union
Hotel, on Rockaway Beach, were washed away. Terrific winds blew over
Boston and New England. A little fleet of schooners were driven ashore
at Portland. Vessels broke from their moorings in the adjacent harbors.
Atlantic City had boarding-houses, stores, and dwellings carried away
by high tides.

The mails were delayed for hours, and in some cases for days, on the
principal railroads. Where the obstacles were not rain and flood
they were wind and snow. Lockport, New York, reported that the snow
on that day was four feet on the level, and still falling. Bradford,
telegraphing for Pennsylvania generally, announced that fourteen inches
of snow had fallen within a few hours, the weight of it crushing in
many roofs and awnings. “The narrow-gauge railways,” ran the despatch,
“five in number, have been closed all day; the trains are stalled a
few miles from the city.” Even at Louisville, in Kentucky, navigation
was suspended, and floating ice-blocks were battering in the sides of
steamers lying at the wharves of Baltimore. On the Rappahannock river,
in Virginia, a ship laden with corn was cut down and sunk by floating
ice. These and kindred incidents occurred on or about the day of our
arrival in Chicago. The record of the few previous days, judged from
the official reports of Washington, and the ordinary chronicles of
the times, was a very remarkable one, even for the coldest States of
America. In some places the weather had been the coldest known for more
than fifty years. Canada had had the most extreme experiences in this
respect. At Winnipeg, Manitoba, the thermometer had fallen as low as
forty-five degrees below zero.

On the day we were travelling to the prairie city, while the
thermometer was rising in that section of the country, it was falling
in the eastern and southern States, registering thirty degrees below
zero at Whitehall, New York. The Straits of Mackinaw, connecting
Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, were navigable only on foot or runners.
We arrived in Chicago on Monday, Jan. 7. On the 6th the thermometer
registered twenty-two degrees below zero. Monday’s newspapers
congratulated their readers that, “the wave had passed over.” Incidents
of its severity were curious and numerous. Hundreds of hogs had been
frozen to death on freight-trains. The Terre Haute express from Chicago
was snowed up for thirty-one hours. At fires which had broken out,
water from the engines froze as it fell, and covered the buildings with
strange, fantastic shapes.

I had arranged to visit Gunnison (Colorado), and other mining cities,
within a reasonable distance from Chicago and St. Louis; but was
persuaded to postpone my trip by private and public reports of the
storm in those regions. One day’s newspaper (the “Daily-News-Democrat,”
of Gunnison) contained startling evidence of the difficulties I should
have had to encounter. Within a few days twenty-seven men had been
killed by snow-slides in the mountains between Ouray and Telluride.
A local mail-carrier was among the victims. All the available
snow-ploughs and engines of the various districts were at work on the
tracks. Engines were helplessly stuck in the snow on the Rio Grande.
“The miner,” remarked the “Daily News” editor, “who goes into the
mountains at this season takes his life in his hands.” I remained in
Chicago with Irving, and am spared to chronicle these things. The
weather was sufficiently cold for both of us in Chicago. It varied,
too, with a persistency of variation that is trying to the strongest
constitution. One hour the thermometer would be fairly above zero, the
next it would be far below it. Men went about the frozen streets in
fur coats and caps, carefully protecting their ears and hands. Along
the shores of Lake Michigan were barricades of ice; they looked like
solid palisades of marble. Here and there, where tiny icebergs had
been formed, the polar bear would not have looked out of place. It
was strange to see the ice-boats, with their bending sails, literally
flying along, while away out lay ships at anchor. Mr. Lyon took Miss
Terry, Irving, and myself sleighing along the lake shore and upon the
prairie beyond. My friends were delighted with the novel excursion,
astonished at the fine boulevards through which we passed, amazed at
the possibilities of Chicago, as they realized what had been done and
what space had been laid out for the future. A forty-mile drive through
great, wide boulevards designed to encompass the city, is the biggest
of the city’s schemes, and it is in vigorous course of formation.

“One is forced to admire the pluck of Chicago,” said Irving, after our
first drive. “Twice burnt down, twice built up, and laid out anew, on a
plan that is magnificent. Some of the houses along Prairie and Michigan
avenues are palaces.[37] The art revival in street architecture
and house decoration is as actively rife here as in London. And
what a superb stone they have for building purposes in their yellow
cream-colored marble! It is marvellous to see how they have taken hold
of the new ideas. The Calumet and the Chicago club-houses,—nothing
could be more chaste than their decorations.”

One day we went to Pullman City, an industrial town, akin to Saltaire,
near Bradford, in its scope and enterprise. We were invited and
accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Pullman, Miss Terry, Mr. and Mrs. Dexter,
Mr. and Mrs. James Runnion, and several other ladies and gentlemen.
Going out in Mr. Pullman’s private car, we lunched with him at the
pretty hotel of the novel city, and afterwards inspected the workshops
and principal buildings.

“The story of the conception and creation of this Pullman City,” said
Irving, “interested me very much, though I confess the method of it all
strikes me as somewhat like living by machinery: the private houses
being massed, as it were, _en bloc_; the shops collected together
like arcades; the whole place laid out with geometrical system; and
yet one feels that there are fine principles underlying it; that the
scheme is founded upon wise plans; and that, from a moral and sanitary
stand-point, the city is an ideal combination of work and rest, of
capital and labor. Pullman’s idea was a lofty one, and the result is
very remarkable: a centre of industry that should give to labor its
best chance, with capital taking its place on a platform as human as
labor. That is the notion, as Pullman explained it to me. What a
square, level head it is! Just the determined kind of man to be the
author of a new city on new lines. He told me that Charles Reade’s
novel, ‘Put Yourself in his Place,’ had influenced him greatly in his
ambition to found this place; that it has affected all his relations
towards the people under his direction. Politically, Pullman City
is a paradox. A despotism, it still is very democratic. It owes its
successful administration to what may be called a benevolent autocracy.
The theatre, I am told, is more prosperous than the church proper,
though religion is represented by several earnest communities. The idea
of giving the people a chance to buy land and build cottage homes for
themselves, at a reasonable distance beyond Pullman, appears to be a
good one. Pullman himself may well be proud of his work. It is worthy
of Chicago and the West.”


II.

IN spite of “wind and weather” the people of Chicago crowded Haverly’s
Theatre, where Irving and Miss Terry appeared, night after night,
for two weeks; and the critics of the great papers of the West, the
“Times,” “Tribune,” “Inter-Ocean,” and “Daily News,” were equal to the
occasion. They showed a knowledge of their work, and an appreciation
of dramatic art, as illustrated by Irving, quite in keeping with the
spirit and ambition of their new and wonderful city. A news-collector,
having in view the prejudices of New York and London, as to the
literary and journalistic cultivation of Chicago, selected an
enthusiastic line or two from the Chicago notices of Irving and Miss
Terry, with a view to cast ridicule upon western criticism. This kind
of thing is common to news-collectors on both sides of the Atlantic. A
reporter desires to please his editor, and to cater for his public. In
London, believing that New York will be stirred with the report of a
hostile demonstration against an American artist, he makes the most of
the working of a rival American clique there against Lotta. New York
looks down loftily upon the art culture of Chicago, and London chiefly
knows Chicago through its great fire, borne with so much fortitude, and
for its “corners in pork.” The local caterer for the news columns of
New York and London panders to these ideas. The best-educated writer,
the neatest essayist, might appear foolish by cutting unconnected
sentences out of his work, and printing them alone.

In the journalistic literature of modern criticism there is nothing
better than some of the essays on Irving and his art that appeared in
the papers of Chicago and the West. In this connection it is worth
while pointing out that the absence of an international copyright
between England and America forces native writers, who otherwise would
be writing books, into the press. So long as publishers can steal or
buy “for a mere song” the works of popular English authors they will
not give a remunerative wage to the comparatively unknown writers
of their own country. Therefore, busy thinkers,—men and women with
literary inspirations devote themselves to journalism. It would be
surprising if, under these circumstances, the western press should
not here and there entertain and instruct its readers with literary
and critical work as much entitled to respect, and as worthy to live,
as the more pretentious and more happily and fortunately placed
literature of London, Boston, and New York. The American authors best
known to-day, and most praised in both hemispheres, have written for
the newspapers, and some of them had their training on the press:
Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Howells, Aldrich, John Hay, James, Habberton,
Winter, Bryant, Artemus Ward (I leave the reader to complete the list,
for I mention these name _en passant_ and at random); and how many
others are coming on through the columns of the newspapers to take up
the running, who shall say? The Chicago press often sacrifices dignity
and good taste in the headings with which it seeks to surprise and
excite its readers. But this is a feature of Western journalism that
will go out with the disappearance of the lower civilization to which,
in covering the entire ground of its circulation, it unhesitatingly
appeals. The London press is not free from the charge of pandering
to depraved tastes in its reports of sensational murders and divorce
cases, though the great body of its writers and contributors no doubt
sit down to their work with a higher sense of their responsibility to
the public than is felt by their American contemporaries.

“Do you think that is so?” Irving asked, when I was propounding this
view to an American colleague.

“Yes,” said the journalist addressed; “but I think our newspapers are
far more interesting than yours. At the same time you beat us in
essay-writing, for that is what your editorials are,—they are essays.”

“That is true,” said Irving, “and very fine some of them are.”

But to return to Chicago criticism,—I repeat that among the best and
most appreciative and most scholarly of the criticisms upon Irving
and his art, in England and America, are the writings of the Chicago
journalists,—McPhelin, of the “Tribune,” Barron, of the “Inter-Ocean,”
McConnell, of the “Times,” and Pierce, of the “Daily News.” The two
first mentioned are quite young men, not either of them more than
twenty-five. I am tempted to quote, in justification of this opinion,
and as an example of Chicago work, the following extracts from one of
several equally well-written criticisms in the “Tribune”:—

 It is true that in every department of art the power of the
 imagination has declined with the advance of knowledge. The Greek
 actors went into convulsions through excess of passion. A Roman actor
 in the midst of frenzied recitation struck a slave dead. If we have
 not so much imagination as the ancients (a fact which we need not
 regret), we have finer sensibilities, more penetrating insight, and a
 truer consciousness of life’s mystery and meaning. The art of to-day,
 if less exuberant than that of yesterday, is more serene, and, above
 all, its methods are more truthful.

 They are the great actors who have kept pace with the most advanced
 thought, who have typified in their art the spirit of their age, who
 have inaugurated eras. Conservatism is stagnation. In its infancy
 the art of acting was monstrous exaggeration. This was natural, for
 it was fostered in the childhood of the world, and children love
 exaggeration. When, at last, the stilts and masks were thrown away,
 exaggeration of speech was preserved. Actors recited their lines
 in loud, monotonous sing-song. The ranters of our stage to-day are
 the lineal descendants of these men. Le Kain in France, and Garrick
 in England, made great strides towards natural methods in dramatic
 representation. The reflective genius of Kemble, at the beginning
 of this century, did much to complete the revolution in taste begun
 by Garrick. Kean was noted for the splendor and the volume of his
 power rather than for innovations in methods of expression. The
 actors who followed him prided themselves on their adherence to
 tradition,—tradition for which the rest of the world cared nothing.
 These artists were content to stand still while the culture of the
 century passed by them. At last there emerged out of obscurity, out of
 the jostling multitude of mediocrity, a man who drank in the spirit
 of his age,—a man who broke down the rotten barriers of tradition; a
 man who caught the intensity, the poetry, the artistic realism of his
 time; a man who inaugurated a new epoch in the art of acting. Final
 success was achieved only after a long and bitter struggle against
 conservative prejudices.

 This man was Henry Irving.

 In a broad and comprehensive way his position on the English stage has
 been defined above. After witnessing his impersonations of Louis XI.
 and Shylock, some conclusions may be drawn as to his genius and his
 methods.

 There is nothing phenomenal or meteoric about this new actor. Henry
 Irving is not what Diderot would have us believe a great actor should
 be, namely, a man without sensibility. Diderot said that sensibility
 was organic weakness; that it crippled the intelligence, rendering
 acting alternately warm and cold; and that the great actor should
 have penetration, without any sensibility whatever. But Talma called
 sensibility the faculty of exaltation which shakes an actor’s very
 soul and which enables him to enter into the most tragic situations
 and the most terrible of passions as if they were his own. In the
 discussion of these conflicting theories Henry Irving has always taken
 Talma’s view. He comes nearer realizing Diderot’s ideal of greatness
 than any other actor of whom we have record.

 His imagination is picturesque almost to the verge of sublimity. His
 fancy is lively and apparently inexhaustible. When he unrolls before
 us the varied-colored robe of life we look in vain to find one color
 missing. It is a fancy that is not only vivid, but that is most
 poetic. How touching is that return of Shylock to his lonely home,
 walking wearily over the deserted bridge,—the bridge that echoed only
 a moment before to the shouts and laughter of the merry maskers! The
 old man walks to the house from which his daughter has fled, knocks
 twice at the door, and looks up patiently and expectantly towards the
 casement. Then the curtain falls. The people who do not applaud such a
 tender touch as this should stop going to the theatre.

       *       *       *       *       *

 In saying that Irving is realistic, that word is not used in its
 grosser sense. Realism should be the union of the ideal and the true.
 There may be truth in Zola’s realism, but there is no ideality; for
 ideality rejects the trivial, the vulgar, the earthly, and grasps the
 essence. There may be ideality in Mrs. Burnett’s novels, but sentiment
 is substituted for truth. The realism of Howells, for instance, is
 a union of the ideal and the true. Irving’s ideals are in harmony
 with the realistic tendency of literary thought, because they are
 drawn from humanity, and not from Olympus. His are human, not heroic,
 ideals. His Louis XI. is as true to nature as any impersonation can
 be; and yet it is ideal, inasmuch as the essence of the character is
 incorporated in action, and the baseness, the cruelty, the bigotry,
 of the king are not repugnant. Here is the union of the ideal and the
 true. If a man like Zola were playing Louis XI. he would shock and
 disgust us by a portrayal not essential, but of superficial grossness.

 In attempting to estimate Irving’s genius one cannot catalogue
 qualities, but must indicate in a general way the nature of that
 genius as it is judged from its manifestations. Irving cannot be
 classified, for he is the leader of a new school of acting, as
 Tennyson is the leader of a new school of poetry. They who in the
 future will write of the great Victorian Era will find, perhaps, a
 resemblance between the actor and the poet, not only because both
 have opened up new fields of art, but because the chief characteristic
 of each is originality in form. If Tennyson is the poet who should be
 read by poets, Irving is the actor who should be studied by actors.
 The idea intended to be conveyed is, that both Tennyson and Irving
 excel in perfection of detail; in other words, of technique, or form.
 The great poet who wishes to be heard in the future must give us the
 polish and the intensity of Tennyson; the actor who would be great
 must give us the polish and the intensity of Irving.

 Any line in Irving’s acting will illustrate his intensity, by which is
 meant the grasping of a fuller meaning than appears on the surface.
 When Shylock is flattering Portia in the trial scene, exclaiming, “A
 Daniel come to judgment,” etc., it is startling, the manner in which
 he leans forward suddenly and whispers with venomous unction and
 cunning the insidious compliment, “How much more elder art thou than
 thy looks!” The words are very simple, but their effects depend on the
 intensity of meaning with which they are uttered.

 Praise has already been accorded Irving’s Shylock, because it is a
 type of the medieval Jew, interpreted, not according to the traditions
 of a bigoted age, but in the light of the liberality of the nineteenth
 century. This creation is, perhaps, the best proof of the assertion
 that Henry Irving has embodied in his art the spirit of his age, and
 therein lies his greatness.

 Several lessons American managers will draw from the success of
 the Irving engagement. One is that Shakespearian plays must not be
 mutilated to give prominence to one actor. Artistic harmony must not
 be sacrificed to personal ambition. Another lesson is that an actor
 must not undertake all alone to act a play; he must have a company
 of actors, not a company of incompetent amateurs. A third is that
 Shakespearian plays are the jewels of dramatic literature, and their
 setting should surely be as rich as that given to the extravagant
 productions that are doing so much to vitiate popular taste.

 In conclusion it may be remarked that it is gratifying that Henry
 Irving in his American tour has been regarded, not from a fashionable
 or a national, but from a purely artistic stand-point. In art the
 Spartan and the Athenian are brothers; the same love of beauty lives
 in Rome and in Geneva, in London and in New York. In the sunshine of
 art the national merges into the universal, and the mists of prejudice
 die away upon the horizon of the world.


III.

ALL the forecasts that warned Irving to expect in Chicago a coarse
fibre of civilization and an absence of artistic appreciation were
reversed in the Prairie city. Night after night great, generous,
enthusiastic audiences crowded Haverly’s Theatre. Quick of perception,
frank in their recognition of the best features of Irving’s work,
they were cordial in their applause, and hearty in their greetings
of the novelty of it. The critics interpreted the sentiments of the
audiences, and put their feelings into eloquent sentences. They showed
knowledge and sincerity of intention and purpose, and some of them
criticised severely the carping spirit in which one or two Eastern
contemporaries had dealt with the London actors. The hospitality of
Chicago is proverbial. It was made manifest in many ways,—in offers
of carriages for sleigh-riding, of ice-boats, of railway cars. Irving
and Miss Terry had to decline more invitations than they accepted.
Members of the company were also entertained at breakfasts and
suppers. After the first night, and the acceptation of Irving as a
reformer of the stage, and as the author of what to Chicago was a
new pleasure, the city literally opened its doors to Irving and his
friends. Among the receptions to Mr. Irving was a breakfast given
by Mr. John B. Carson,[38] at which the Mayor spoke of the pleasure
Chicago experienced in Irving’s visit, and upon which occasion Mr.
Joseph Medill, the editor of the “Tribune,” who had seen Irving in
London, as well as in Chicago, proclaimed him the one Shakespearian
actor who interprets and exhibits the conceptions of the poet with a
proper naturalness, and in such a manner as to make people regret that
Shakespeare could not revisit the world to see what had at last been
done for his plays. The health of Miss Terry was proposed and drunk
with all the honors; as it was, also, at a very dainty reception given
one night after the play to Miss Terry herself, at the Calumet Club,
by Mr. and Mrs. John B. Jeffery,[39] and, on a later occasion, at the
Leland Hotel, at a supper given by Mr. Emery A. Storrs[40] to Mr.
Irving. Professor Swing was among the speakers on this occasion, and
during the evening pleasant allusion was made to the visit of Lord
Chief Justice Coleridge, and to English writers who had not confined
their attention solely to the shortcomings of Chicago. Irving, in
responding to the toast of his health, described his sensations on
entering Chicago: “I came warned against you; but knowing your history.
When I saw your great city, and felt how much you had done, and how
much that was broad and generous and courageous belonged to such
enterprise and ambition, my instinct told me that you would be with me
in my work; that you would, at least, respect it; and that if you liked
it no jealousies, no prejudices, would stand in the way of your saying
so.”

The Press Club[41] “received” Irving and Miss Terry and several
members of the Lyceum company. “Nothing could have been conceived or
carried out in a more frank and friendly spirit than the Press Club
reception,” said Irving, on returning to his hotel; “no pretence, no
affectation, a hearty crowd. They treated us as if we had known each
other all our lives, and I begin to feel as if they were old friends.
It is the absence of caste in America, I conclude, that gives a meeting
of this kind its real cordiality. Nobody is afraid of anybody else;
there is an absence of self-restraint, and, at the same time, of
self-consciousness. I liked them, too, for not apologizing for their
very unpretentious rooms; and I think they are right in adhering to
the principles on which the club is founded, that it shall be purely
a press club. Do you remember the evening at the journalists’ club in
Philadelphia? But that was a man’s night only. Very delightful too,
eh? I thought so. Indeed, the club life of America, from the humblest
to the highest, is characterized by a cordiality and freedom that is
glorious; I think so. No nonsense, no unnecessary formality; they give
you the best, and make you at home at once. So nice to be introduced
straightway, and be on terms with all the fellows! I find, by one
of the newspapers, that I am keeping a scrap-book,—they have seen
Houson’s handiwork, I imagine. I was just thinking that if one indulged
in that sort of thing, what a collection of club cards and _menus_ one
would have! There is not a city we have visited where we have not been
made free of all the clubs, from Boston to Chicago. The Boston clubs
are very fine, English-like in many respects. But there is nothing, I
suppose, more gorgeous than the Union League, at New York. I’ll tell
you what strikes me most about America,—the immensity of the work it
has done in regard to the material welfare of its people; in building
up a new civilization; providing for the comforts of the thousands
who crowd into its ports from the Old World; taking care of them and
governing them, giving them a share of their wealth, and welding the
incongruous mass into one great people. I don’t wonder that young men
who have only their honest hands and hopes as legacies from parents
come here to make homes and names, to found families, and lay up for
their old age. It is a wonderful country; the thought of it almost
inspires me with eloquence, and I think on many a night it has given me
a new energy, and a new love for my own work. I notice, by the papers,
that some English visitor has been writing in one of the English
periodicals what is called ‘a slashing criticism’ upon American habits
and customs, and making unfair comparisons between the life objects of
the men and women of this great New World and the older civilizations
of Europe. This sort of criticism can only be mere surface work; it
does not consider and weigh results; it does not count how great a
thing has been done in a short time; it does not see how marvellously
successful this people has been in making a law unto itself, a
civilization unto itself, and how it has not yet had time to rest and
tack on to its great, sweeping garments the fringes and ribbons and
jewels that belong to an age of rest, and luxury, and art. They are
but small critics, and they are not respectfully conscious of the
possibilities of the close union of England and America, who discuss
America in a petty way, and do not give her the credit she deserves for
all she has done in the cause of freedom and of humanity.”

He paced the room as he talked, and I applauded his peroration.

“And you say you cannot ‘orate,’ to use a local phrase, except about
acting.”

“It is an easy thing to make a speech in one’s own room, but a
different thing standing up before an audience, eh?”

“Anyhow,” I said, “we will make a point about that hap-hazard criticism
of irresponsible persons, who do not consider either the truth, or the
feelings of a nation, so long as they can put together a few smart
things for their own glorification. Nobody ever heard of the writer you
mention until he abused America; and some men mistake notoriety for
fame.”


IV.

THE pieces produced during the two weeks of Irving’s stay in Chicago
were “Louis XI.,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “The Bells,” “The Belle’s
Stratagem,” and “The Lyons Mail.” On the last night, being called
before the curtain by one of the most crowded houses of the season, he
addressed the audience as follows:—

 “Ladies and Gentlemen,—It is my privilege to thank you for the hearty
 and enthusiastic welcome which you have given us during our too short
 stay amongst you. Many years ago, when a boy in England, I remember a
 song,—

  “‘To the West! to the West!
   To the land of the free!’

 “I little dreamed in those days I should ever see your fair city—the
 Queen of the West. For the welcome you have given my colleagues
 and myself I thank you,—especially I thank you on behalf of Miss
 Ellen Terry, whose indebtedness to you is equal to my own. I was
 good-humoredly told the other day that I was too pleased with America,
 especially with Chicago; and if I were to find some faults it might be
 a relief, and would vary the monotony a little. (Laughter.)

 “Well, I hope I am not naturally a fault-finder; but, if I were, you
 have afforded me no opening; for you have loaded us with gratitude,
 and extended to us a welcome as broad as the prairie upon which you
 stand. I cannot leave you without thanking the press of Chicago for
 its sympathy, its eloquent and its ungrudging recognition of at least
 a sincere, although incomplete, effort to bring the dramatic art
 abreast of the other arts, and not leave the art of the stage behind
 and out in the cold in the general march of progress.

 “I am very glad to tell you that we shall soon meet again; for we
 shall have the honor of appearing before you on the 11th of next
 month, when we shall have the gratification of spending another week
 amongst you. And now I beg to thank you again and again, and I can
 but hope that we may live in your memories as you will live in ours.”
 (Applause.)

The receipts for the first week in Chicago were $17,048, and for the
second, $19,117; making a total of $36,166. From a mere box-office
point of view the success of his visit is unprecedented; the increase
of the receipts at the close of the engagement dissipating the last
“weak invention of the enemy,” that Irving only excites curiosity.
If this shallow nonsense merited the smallest attention the figures
already quoted would be a sufficient answer. A truer test of the
genuineness of Irving’s popularity, and the hold his work has obtained
upon the intelligent and intellectual public of America, will be the
character of his reception when, in the course of the present tour,
he begins to pay return visits to Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and
New York; for he goes back to these cities when their enthusiasm may
be said to have cooled, and in the Lenten season, which is largely
observed in the chief cities of the United States.



XVII.

ST. LOUIS, CINCINNATI, INDIANAPOLIS, COLUMBUS.

 Sunshine and Snow—Wintry Landscapes—Fire and Frost—Picturesque
 St. Louis—“The Elks”—A Notable Reception—“Dime
 Shows”—Under-studies—Germany in America—“On the Ohio”—Printing
 under Difficulties—“Baggage-smashing”—Handsome Negroes and Sunday
 Papers—The Wonders of Chicago.


I.

THERE was a little crowd of friends at the railway station, to see us
take our leave of Chicago, at noon on Sunday, January 20, 1884. The
weather was cold, but there was a bright, sunny sky. Everybody was
in good spirits. The “Edwin Forrest” car, in which we travelled, had
now quite a familiar appearance. George, a colored attendant who had
charge of it, was there, with a merry grin upon his broad, intelligent
features. “A right good fellow, George,” said Irving. “Yes, that’s so,”
was George’s response, as he relieved him of his coat and stick, and
led the way to the pretty little suite of rooms on wheels allotted to
Irving and his friends. The other cars were also admirably appointed.
“This is something like a day for travelling,” said one member of
the company to another. The sun blazed down upon them as they walked
about, awaiting the signal for departure, but there appeared to be very
little warmth in it. The sunbeams were bright, but they seemed to have
contracted a chill as they fell. Every now and then a gust of icy wind
would come along, as if to put truth into this conclusion. Terriss and
Tyars, braving the weather without overcoats, as Englishmen delight to
do, soon discovered that, after all, the winter was still with us. As
the cry “All aboard,” followed by the clanging of the engine-bell, set
the train in motion, we entered once more upon severely wintry scenes
of ice and snow.

Within a very short time we found ourselves in the midst of
snow-drifts, out of which preceding trains had had to cut their way.
Gangs of men were clearing the track, flinging up the snow on both
sides of the road in solid shovelfuls. The white _débris_ was piled
up six and eight feet high, where the snow had settled down in great
drifts upon the line. “One train was stuck here five hours yesterday,”
said the guard. “It is the heaviest snow in my experience.”

Moving onwards once more, we travelled through a world of snow: through
prairie-lands, where the wind came tearing after us, waited upon by
scudding clouds of snow, that rose like spray, to fall in its wake as
if the prairie were a snow-sea; past forests of oak, with the brown
leaves clinging to the tough branches, that moved with a sturdy kind
of protest against the boisterous wind; across great rivers, that were
closed to navigation. Now and then skating-parties flitted by us in
sheltered bends of the great silent water-ways, and at intervals the
sun would burst out upon the white world and fill it with icy diamonds.

We met a train with five engines. It came plunging along,—a veritable
procession of locomotives. The foremost of them were mighty ploughs,
to charge the growing snow-drifts we had left behind us. By and by the
sun went down, and when our lamps were lighted, and it was night, as
we thought, we looked out to see one of the magnificent sunsets which
had been puzzling for many weeks the wise men of both worlds,—a wide
red glare in the sky, stretching away as far as the eye could see,
with a white foreground, the line of the horizon dotted with the dark
configuration of farm buildings and forest trees.

At three o’clock in the morning we arrived at St. Louis, and on the
next day I walked across the ice-locked Mississippi. In a street
adjacent to the wharves, where steamers and boats of all kinds were
frozen up, were the remains of an old hotel, that had been burnt out a
short time previously. The thermometer stood at twenty degrees below
zero. A first glance at the place, from a short distance, showed a
house with what looked like packs of wool thrust out at the windows,
and great bundles and entanglements of wool hanging down to the ground
from eaves and window-sills. On examination these strange appearances
turned out to be excrescences of ice,—part of the water that had
been poured upon the flames by the fire-brigades, whose engines had
literally been frozen up in the street. Inside the devastated buildings
the ruins were hung with icicles many feet in length, with others
rising to meet them, mimicking the stalactites and stalagmites of the
Cheddar caverns, in England, not to mention the more famous caves of
Kentucky.

A picturesque city, St. Louis, smoky and not overclean, but seated
grandly upon the broad river which local enterprise has spanned with
a roadway that is worthy of the engineering skill of the people whose
locomotives climb the Rocky Mountains, and whose bridges are the
admiration of the world. One of the picturesque memories of the tour,
that will reappear at odd times in “the magic lantern of the mental
vision,” will be the procession of carts and wagons drawn by teams of
mules, driven by colored drivers, that is continually passing over the
bridge, across the Mississippi, at St. Louis. The English government
have obtained a great many mules from this part of the United States.
There could be no finer breed of this useful animal than the examples
one saw at St. Louis. The drivers, almost to a man, appeared to be
wearing old army cloaks. The greyish-blue of the cloth and the red
linings, toned down to rare “symphonies” of worn color, were in perfect
harmony with the atmospheric and material surroundings. Smoke hanging
like a pall over the city; a wintry mist creeping along the icy river;
the approaches to the bridge lost in the local haze of smoke and snowy
clouds; the great mercantile procession of mules, and carelessly
laden wagons, bursting with cotton, corn, and hides, made a fine busy
foreground to a very novel scene.

St. Louis accepted the plays, the acting, the scenery, and the
stage management of the Lyceum with much of the earnest admiration
that had characterized the Chicago audiences. The “Republican,” the
“Globe-Democrat,” the “Post-Dispatch,” and the “Chronicle” had lengthy
and appreciative notices of “The Lyons Mail,” “The Bells,” and “The
Merchant of Venice.” The spirit of the criticism is crystallized
in the following remarks, which appeared as an editorial in the
“Post-Dispatch” of Jan. 22:—

 To the delighted audience which hung with rapt attention last night
 on each word and look, each tone and motion, of Henry Irving, there
 was only one element of disappointment. This was that they had not
 been prepared at all for any such magnificent revelation of dramatic
 genius.... As far as the people of St. Louis are concerned we have
 only to say that those who miss seeing him will sustain a loss that
 can never be made good.


II.

AMONG the social events of the visit to St. Louis was a reception given
in the lodge and club rooms of the “Elks.”[42] The event was regarded
as of so much interest and importance, and the Elks is so excellent an
institution, and the affair so different to anything associated with
the theatre in England, that it merits special attention. The local
reporter will not, I am sure, feel annoyed if I call in his aid to make
the record complete:—

The lodge and club rooms, the hall-ways and the corridors, were
decorated for the occasion. The lodge-room, where the formal
introductions took place, was festooned with flags and evergreens. The
yellow light of the chandeliers was in striking contrast with the white
rays of two Edison lamps, that were artistically hung at each end of
the hall. Two handsome crayon portraits of Irving and Miss Terry were
displayed above the platform at the east end of the room. Directly
above them was the coat-of-arms of England, draped with the English
flag and the Union Jack, while below and immediately over the lounge
was a bank of white immortelles, framed in flowers and evergreens,
and bearing in the centre the words, “Our Guests,” worked in purple
flowers. The platforms at either end of the hall were decorated with
rare plants and exotics, interspersed with evergreens.

In one corner of the main room supper was spread upon a table, the
decorations of which were very dainty flowers interspersed with
culinary trophies. About half-past nine o’clock the guests began to
arrive and disperse themselves here and there about the rooms. An
orchestra, under the direction of Professor Maddern, furnished the
music for promenading; and an agreeable little concert of instrumental
and vocal music led up to the entrance of the guests of the evening.
“About eleven,” says the local chronicler, “they arrived, and were
escorted to the lodge-room, where all the other guests had assembled
to receive them. Mr. Irving entered, escorting Mrs. John W. Norton,
while Miss Terry was escorted by Mr. John A. Dillon. As they strolled
here and there about the hall they were introduced to those present.
Mr. Irving’s countenance, when in repose, was rather inclined to be
sombre and solemn, but immediately assumed a pleasant expression when
he was introduced to the ladies and gentlemen who had assembled to do
him honor.” Mr. and Mrs. Howe, Mr. Wenman, and several other members of
Irving’s company, were present, and as one strolled through the rooms
there was something very homelike in these familiar faces intermingled
with the crowd. Says the local chronicler:—

 Miss Terry was the soul of life and animation. When she was not
 chatting gayly with some lady or gentleman, who had just been
 presented, she walked about with her escort, and commented in a bright
 and interesting way on the decorations, pictures, etc., that adorned
 the walls. She was becomingly dressed in white silk, trimmed with
 Spanish lace, flowing brocade train of white and crushed strawberry.
 Her only jewelry were gold bracelets and a pearl necklace. On her
 bosom she wore a bunch of natural flowers.

 After a half an hour or so spent in conversation and promenading the
 guests repaired to the club-room and partook of supper. Here the
 greatest sociability prevailed. Mr. Irving walked here and there, and
 conversed pleasantly and informally with all the people he met; while
 Miss Terry, seated in a large chair, was surrounded by a gay throng of
 young folk, and appeared the youngest and gayest of them all. A number
 of beautiful roses were taken from the table and presented to her by
 ardent admirers, for all of whom she had a pleasant word, and some
 little coquettish reply for their gallantry. About twelve o’clock they
 left the rooms, and the guests slowly dispersed.

 Upwards of five hundred hosts and guests were present. Among those
 present[43] were Mr. and Mrs. Wm. H. Thomson, Mr. and Mrs. Albert
 Todd, Mr. and Mrs. Gus. Ewing, Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Whitney, Mr. and
 Mrs. J. W. Norton, Mr. and Mrs. Jos. F. Foy, Mr. and Mrs. A. S.
 Aloe, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Walsh, Judge McKeighan and wife, Mr. and Mrs.
 Geo. H. Small, Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Cooper, Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Leigh,
 Mr. and Mrs. H. Clay Pierce, Miss Alice B. Hart, Mr. and Mrs. R.
 B. Dakin, Mr. and Mrs. T. W. Wood, Mrs. R. E. Collins, Mrs. C. H.
 Tyler, Mrs. Bradford Allen, Judge W. C. Jones and wife, Mrs. and Mrs.
 A. A. Mermod, Mrs. Garlick, of Galveston, Rev. John Snyder, Rev.
 Father Betts, Mr. and Mrs. Home, Mr. and Mrs. E. R. Norris, Rev. Dr.
 Sonneschein, Mr. and Mrs. G. Lamar Collins, Mr. and Mrs. H. Clay
 Sexton, Miss Georgiana MacKenzie, Miss Florence Bevis, Miss Lizzie
 Bautz, Miss Julia Dean, Miss Kimball, Miss Bogy, Miss Lizzie Reed,
 Miss Adele Picot, Miss Waples, of Alton, Miss Francis, Miss Roland,
 of Danville, Ky., Miss Pallen, Miss Olive Harding, Miss Agnes Farrar,
 Miss Wagstaff, of Kansas City, Miss Ione Aglar, Mr. and Mrs. Blachly,
 Mr. and Mrs. D. B. Taylor, Miss Bissell, Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Coulter,
 Miss Fairchild, Mrs. Cramer, Miss Ettie Isaacs, Mr. and Mrs. J. N.
 Norris, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schnaider, Mrs. and Mrs. J. W. Paramore,
 and Messrs. John A. Dillon, John M. Harney, Charles R. Pope, Dr. P.
 S. O’Reilly, D. R. Francis Fred Schmiding, John H. Overall, P. Short,
 B. H. Engelke, R. Maddern, A. F. Shapleigh, Jr., A. C. Bernays, J. J.
 Kerns, R. W. Humes, H. A. Diamant, W. C. Steigers, John G. Chandler,
 R. D. Delano, C. M. Napton, W. C. Jones, L. A. Clark, C. D. Colman, L.
 D. Picot, H. L. Haydel, I. R. Adams, F. A. Beusberg, C. R. Chambers,
 W. C. Coppleston, John P. Ellis, E. P. Andrews, Louis H. Jones, James
 H. Palser, Geo. R. Kirgin, Gideon Bantz, John McHenry, Chas. E. Ware,
 N. M. Ludlow, A. G. Thompson, Col. John M. Bacon, J. L. Isaacs, T. J.
 Bartholow, Philip Brockman, R. Harbison, A. L. Berry, David Davison,
 F. W. Humphrey, Chas. F. Joy, E. V. Walsh, G. W. Blachly, John J.
 Meeker, Atwood Vane, David Prince, A. C. Stocking, H. D. Wilson, C.
 P. Mason, Henry Ames, H. J. McKellops, J. N. Norris, M. J. Steinberg,
 C. H. Buck, Jr., D. B. Dakin, Gaston Meslier, E. W. Lansing, Estill
 McHenry, Dr. T. E. Holland, R. W. Goisan, W. H. Horner, R. J. Delano,
 Ernest Albert, John J. Pierson, E. B. Leigh, D. H. Stelgers, John A.
 Scholten, Mr. Sands and ladies, A. C. Bernays and lady, C. D. Johnson,
 Louis McCall, Arthur H. Merrill, R. W. Shapleigh, D. R. Francis,
 Charles Wezler, James Hopkins, F. L. Ridgely, J. B. Greensfelder,
 Meyer Goldsmith, Henry W. Moore.

A newspaper correspondent telegraphed to a Chicago journal the
startling information that Irving was dissatisfied with this
entertainment, and left early. This was probably the reporter’s sly way
of complimenting Chicago. The rivalry between these two cities is often
humorously illustrated in the press. St. Louis is the elder and most
historical city of the two: but Chicago is the most prosperous, and
has, no doubt, the greatest future. St. Louis, nevertheless, claims to
have a population of nearly 500,000; it boasts double the park area of
New York, and stands “second only to Philadelphia in point of territory
devoted to public recreation.”


III.

TWO weeks were spent between St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and
Columbus. The New York _repertoire_ was played with excellent results
in every way.

“Indianapolis and Columbus,” said Irving, “are evidently behind St.
Louis and Cincinnati in their appreciation of the arts; though I have
no reason to complain, nor has Miss Terry. They came to the theatre
in large numbers, were most excellent audiences, cordial in their
reception of us, and flattering in their applause; but in walking
through their streets one could not help seeing that there was a
good deal too much of the ‘Dime-Museum’ business in these places for
art generally to flourish liberally at present. ‘The Fat Lady,’ ‘The
Two-headed Pig,’ ‘The Tattooed Man,’ and ‘The Wild Men of the Woods,’
appear to have a great hold on Indianapolis and Columbus. Indeed,
they make a fight for it against the theatres, even in St. Louis and
Cincinnati. You remember the great wide street, in Birmingham, called
the Bull ring? Well, the show-streets of these cities remind me of a
concentrated Bull ring in Birmingham, where ‘Living Wonders,’ ‘The
Wizard of the North,’ and ‘The Fortune-Telling Pony,’ are always, more
or less, challenging public attention. I believe Ball, the leader
of our orchestra, had some special trouble at Indianapolis. The
violoncello, for example, had only two strings. Ball, on the second
night, chaffingly said, ‘I suppose you will consider two strings
sufficient for to-night?’—‘No,’ was the reply; ‘I stick to three, on
principle.’”

“Did you hear about the manager who gave the extra musicians in his
orchestra something less than usual,” I asked, “because, as he said,
they would see you for nothing, and that should be considered when
every seat was taken? At night they complained; they said, ‘You have
swindled us; we have not seen Irving act at all; we have only seen him
at rehearsal. We have been playing under the stage, at the back of it,
behind flats, or smothered up at the wings, where we could see nothing,
and you have got to give us our full pay.’”

It is quite new in American theatres for the orchestra to be put into
such frequent requisition behind the scenes, as is the case in Irving’s
representations. The special engagement of a tenor (Mr. J. Robertson)
to sing the ballad in “Much Ado” is an unheard-of extravagance. Mr.
Robertson also gave very valuable assistance in the quartettes and
choruses introduced with fine effect in “The Merchant,” “The Bells,”
and other plays; which reminds me that among the saddening incidents
of the tour were the sudden recall to England of Mr. Johnson, the low
comedian, to the sick-bed of his wife; and the withdrawal of Mr. Norman
Forbes from the cast of “The Merchant,” through illness. We left Forbes
at one of the cities, with a serious attack of rheumatic fever. The
“under-studies” had to be employed, necessitating many new rehearsals.
Mr. Howe, at a moment’s notice, undertook the part of Dogberry, and
played it admirably; while Mr. Carter took the part of Richard in
“Louis XI.,” and Mr. Harbury gave extra and efficient service in the
graveyard scene in “Hamlet.” Mr. Andrews was cast for the part of
Lancelot in “The Merchant,” replacing Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Lyndal
played Claudio in “Much Ado” in such a way as to entitle him to the
compliments of Irving, which were generously and ungrudgingly given.

“Cincinnati,” said Irving, “has great aims in the direction of art. It
has a grand public hall, endowed by a local philanthropist, in which it
gives musical, operatic, and dramatic festivals. This year the opera
occupies its enormous stage. The Festival Committee gave me a dinner
at the Queen City Club. It was a most interesting reunion.[44] The
city is very picturesque, I should say, if one could only have seen
it; but it was choked with snow, and in a continual mist or fog. The
ice in the river broke up before we left,—a wonderful sight it was:
a great rising flood, filled with ice and snow,—along the wharves
silent ships, and steamers,—surprising to look down upon from the
hills. As the city has grown the people have had to build on the
heights, and the street-cars are hauled up on elevators—you drive your
carriage upon these platforms and are raised to the roads above,—it
is something like going up in a balloon. A mist hung over the river,
the water was rising rapidly, and people were expressing fears that the
place would be flooded, as it had been a year or two previously.[45]
There is a German quarter. It is called ‘Germany,’ and has all the
characteristics of the Fatherland in its beer-gardens, concert-rooms,
theatres, and general mode of life. Next to the native Americans the
Germans are the most influential people. They have several newspapers
printed in their own language, and in the regular German type.[46]
The sudden rises of the Ohio appear to be the chief drawback. They
are very philosophical about it, and try to console themselves on the
ground that, if they suffer from water, they have not been burned out,
as some other cities have. Cincinnati has a noble ambition: it aims
at becoming a great centre of culture, more particularly in art and
science. It is making a magnificent start in its Schools of Design,
its art leagues, its University, and the Museum which is being built
in Eden Park. I was struck with an incident related to me by a friend
of yours. One of the newspaper offices was burned down. The fire took
place while the paper was at press. Seeing that it was impossible to
save the machinery they put on the highest speed and worked off the
sheets until the place was too hot to hold them; and the men stepped
out with the printed sheets almost as the ceiling fell in upon the
machinery. By the aid of a neighbor, and the presses of a rival who had
failed, they came out the next day with a full report of the calamity,
in which, I believe, some lives were lost. An example of American
enterprise that, eh?

“At Columbus I went to the State House,[47] while the General
Assembly and Senate were sitting. If one were a politician, I can
imagine nothing more interesting than to study the details of the
American system of government, the question of State rights, and
other features of the general administration. Each State seems very
distinct and independent of the other. For instance, some States
and cities have special laws of their own, and many complications
which seem inexplicable would be more easily explained if this were
more understood. It is not the government of the United States which
can control all matters; it is the State which sometimes plays the
principal part. I did not quite understand that until recently. For
instance, in New York city or State there is a law giving certain
privileges to ticket-speculators; while at Philadelphia, and at Boston,
I believe, there is a law against speculators selling tickets on the
sidewalks. Talking upon this subject to a lawyer in Baltimore, he told
me that baggage-smashing on the railroads had reached such a pitch
that a State law had been passed in Maryland making it a misdemeanor.
English, and indeed European, travellers generally, who have had no
experience of America, can have no conception of the way in which
baggage is treated; it seems to me as if the intention often is really
to stave in trunks and boxes. The credulous Britisher, who should put
on his trunk, ‘This side up, with care,’ would have a fit if he saw
the porter throw it down with a crash on the other side, and then
pile a ton or two of the heaviest kind of merchandise upon it. When
you think of the respect with which a traveller’s trunks are treated
on European railways, it is startling to encounter a general sort of
conspiracy here to break them up, and in a country which has invented
the best system of ‘expressing’ and delivering baggage known to modern
travel,—to me this is incomprehensible.

“From Columbus we went back to Chicago, the first of our return
visits. I felt quite at home again at the Grand Pacific Hotel,—one
of the finest and most comfortable houses of the entire tour. The
colored attendant, Walter, who is told off for my service, is the
most intelligent and courteous fellow I have ever met in the position
he holds. Singularly handsome, too, is he not? Indeed one is struck
with the physical beauty of some of these half-breeds, mulattoes,
Creoles—wonderful fellows! I remember that Sala describes the Grand
Pacific as ‘Wonder Number One’ among the marvels of Chicago, and
the newspaper press as ‘Wonder Number Two.’ I should put the press
first,—did you ever see such papers as the Sunday journals? Sixteen
to twenty and twenty-four pages,—why, it’s marvellous how they get
the matter for them together! One of the St. Louis papers I noticed
was also a very large one. What a deftness of allusion and adaptation
of events to personal criticism there is in these western journals!
The Standard oil affair,—I don’t know the merits of it; but charges
of unfairness in connection with the enterprise are before the public.
Somebody has sent me this paragraph about it, from the ‘Columbus
Times’:—

 “The members of the General Assembly who looked upon the Standard oil,
 when it flowed with unction in the recent senatorial struggle, might
 get a few points on the effects of the remorse of conscience by seeing
 Henry Irving in ‘The Bells.’

“Flattering, eh?”



XVIII.

CHIEFLY CONCERNING A HOLIDAY AT NIAGARA.

 The Return Visit to Chicago—Welcomed Back again—Farewell
 Speech—Niagara in the Winter—A Sensation at the
 Hotel—Requisitioning adjacent Towns for Chickens and Turkeys—Ira
 Aldridge and a Colored Dramatic Club—A Blizzard from the
 North-west—The Scene of Webb’s Death—“A great Stage-manager,
 Nature”—Life and Death of “The Hermit of Niagara”—A Fatal
 Picnic—The Lyceum Company at Dinner—Mr. Howe proposes a
 Toast—Terriss meets with an Accident that recalls a Romantic Tragedy.


I.

“THE fact of Mr. Irving and Miss Terry and their company attracting an
audience to fill Haverly’s Theatre on so speedy a return after leaving
us, and that, too, following a rugged strain of grand opera,” said the
“Chicago Inter-Ocean,” of February 12, “may be accepted as conclusive
evidence of genuine appreciation and admiration of their worth. This
testimony is much strengthened by the fact that the plays presented
were those most frequently seen during the original engagements,—‘The
Bells,’ and ‘The Belle’s Stratagem,’—for, though it is thought Mr.
Irving is seen to exceptional advantage as Mathias, mere curiosity
would have held off to see him in a new character. It was a generous
and highly gratifying welcome back; and it is certainly a great
pleasure, as well as an artistic privilege worthy to be acknowledged,
that we have Mr. Irving and his superb surroundings again before us. We
are in no danger of seeing too much of this sort of work.”

“Hamlet” and “Much Ado” were produced for the first time at Chicago
during this second season. Both excited genuine interest, and were
received with as much favor by audiences and critics as his previous
work. Only two weeks had intervened between his first and second visit.
More money was paid at the doors of Haverly’s during the week than had
gone into the treasury for a week of grand opera. The programme for the
last night was “Much Ado,” and the recitation of Hood’s “Eugene Aram.”
After enthusiastic calls for Irving and Miss Terry, at the close of
the comedy, there were cries of “Speech! Speech!” Irving, in evening
dress for the recitation, presently responded to the wishes of his
audience. He said he would be made of sterner stuff—and he was glad
that such was not the case—if he failed to feel profoundly the welcome
that had been accorded him in Chicago. Not one shadow had fallen
across the brightness of that welcome; there was not a jarring note
in the generous applause that had greeted the company’s efforts. The
encouragement had been most grateful, and it had urged himself and his
associates to do their best work. He thanked the press of the city for
overlooking shortcomings, and for recognizing so generously what they
found to be good. The notices had been most eloquent and sympathetic.
He wished to thank the audience on behalf of his associates, and
particularly on behalf of Miss Ellen Terry, whose great gifts had been
so quickly recognized. If he might be permitted to say so in public,
he himself heartily joined in their appreciation of Miss Terry’s work.
Parting was “a sweet sorrow,” and the sweet part of his leave-taking
was in expressing his deep sense of Chicago’s great welcome. Again he
would say good-by to every one; but he hoped circumstances would make
it possible to meet a Chicago audience in the future, and he trusted
that “you will remember us as we will surely remember you.”

“The speaker,” says the “Tribune,” “was frequently interrupted by
applause, his reference to Miss Terry especially awakening enthusiasm.
He then recited ‘Eugene Aram’s Dream’ with fine effect, and after
inducing him to respond to a fifth and last recall the audience
dispersed.”


II.

ON the following Monday and Tuesday the company appeared for two nights
at Detroit,[48] the chief city of Michigan, to large and most friendly
audiences. I was in New York at this time, and had arranged to meet
Irving, Miss Terry, and a few friends, at Niagara, on Wednesday. “If
Abbey is agreeable, I shall give the company a holiday, so that they
can go to Niagara,[49] spend the day, and sleep in Toronto at night. It
will do us all good.” Abbey was agreeable, and Wednesday, February 20,
was one of the most memorable days of the tour.

I travelled from New York by the West Shore road, an admirably equipped
railway (and having at Syracuse the most picturesque and one of the
finest stations in America), to meet my friends at the Falls. At two
o’clock, on Tuesday, I arrived on the Canadian side of the river.
The country was covered with snow, but a thaw had set in during the
morning. Driving from the railway station the scene was wild, weird,
and impressive. The steep banks of the Niagara river were seamed
and furrowed with ice and snow. The American side of the ravine was
ploughed by the weather into ridges. One might say the river banks were
corrugated, cracked, grooved into strange lines, every channel ribbed
with ice. Here and there tiny falls, that had mimicked the colossal
ones beyond, were frozen into columns. Others had been converted into
pillars that seemed to be supporting white, ghost-like figures. Further
on there was a cluster of fountains gushing out of the rocks beneath a
number of mills, the wheels of which they had turned on their way to
the river. These waters leaped down some fifty or sixty feet into great
ice-bowls. You would think they had found an outlet other than the
river but for its discoloration at the base of the great natural urns,
or bowls, into which they fell. There were ponderous heaps of ice at
the bed of the American falls. A section of them was literally frozen
into a curious mass of icicles. The ice was not bright, but had a dull,
woolly appearance. Coming upon the two great falls at a slight bend
of the river you see them both at once. On this day they were almost
enveloped in spray. Our horses splashed through thawing snow, and
picked their way over a road broken up with scoriated ice and flooded
with water. A strong, but not a cold, wind blew in our faces, and
covered us with spray. The water was pouring down the abyss in greater
masses it seemed to me than usual; and this was my third visit to
Niagara. I had seen the falls in summer and autumn. Their winter aspect
had not the fascinating charm of the softer periods of the year, when
the banks are green, and the leaves are rustling on the trees of the
islands. The Clifton House was closed. The balconies, upon which merry
parties are sitting and chatting in summer evenings, were empty. Even
the Prospect House looked chilly. The flood fell into its awful gulf
with a dull, thudding boom, and the rapids above were white and angry.

I wondered what Irving would think of the scene. Some people profess
that they are disappointed with the first sight of Niagara. There are
also people who look upon the ocean without surprise; and some who see
the curtain go up on a great play, or a grand opera, for the first
time in their lives, without experiencing one throb of the sensation
which Bulwer, in one of his novels, describes with pathetic eloquence.
The Rev. Dr. Thomas, a popular preacher in the Prairie city, went to
his first play while Irving was at Chicago, and was greatly impressed;
although he half confessed that, on the whole, he liked a good lecture
quite as well. A colored man and his wife, at Philadelphia, told me
they had always considered the play wicked, and would never have
thought to go to a theatre had not one of their clergymen done so.
“But,” said the husband, “I see noffin’ wicked nor wrong, and it did my
heart good to see all dem white folk bowing to de colored gentleman and
making much of him.” It was the casket scene in “The Merchant” that had
most delighted these people.

Almost the first thing I did on arriving at Niagara was to send Irving
a telegram, asking if he had settled where to stay, advising him that
for a brief visit the Prospect House was most conveniently placed
for seeing the falls. My response was a request for rooms. This was
followed by an inquiry if the house could provide a dinner for seventy;
and from that moment I found myself actively engaged, not in reviving
my former recollections of Niagara, but in preparing to receive the
Irving Company. The landlord of the Prospect House is a land-owner in
Manitoba. He was looking after his interests in those distant regions.
The landlady, a bright, clever woman of business, however, undertook to
“run the dinner.”

“The house is partially closed, as you know,” she said, “and it is
small. We have only a few servants during the winter, and it is
difficult to get provisions at short notice. But we have the Western
Union telegraph in the house, and a telephone. We will do our best.”

The intelligent colored waiter found it impossible to seat seventy
persons in the dining-room.

“They must dine at twice,” he said; “that’s the only chance; no help
for it.”

It was night before the order for dinner was really closed and settled,
many telegrams passing between Detroit and Niagara; and, as I found to
my consternation, between Niagara and many adjacent towns.

“Not a turkey nor a chicken to be got for love or money,” said
the landlady. “I have telegraphed and telephoned the whole
neighborhood,—just going to try Buffalo, as a last resort. You see the
hotels here are closed, and it is very quiet in the winter.”

“As good a dinner as can be provided,” was one of Stoker’s latest
telegrams, “and it must be ready at half-past three to the minute.”

The excitement at the Prospect House was tremendous. The falls were
quite discounted. They were of no moment for the time being, compared
with the question of turkeys and the seating of the coming guests.

“You have beef, mutton, ham, you say?”

“Yes, and we can make some excellent soup,—a nice lot of fish has come
in from Toronto, lake fish,—but turkeys, no; chickens, no; though I
have telegraphed everywhere and offered any price for them. Ah, if we
had only known two days ago!” said the landlady.

“Never mind, let it be a plain English dinner, horseradish sauce with
the beef,—can you manage that?”

“Yes! Oh, yes!”

“And boiled legs of mutton, eh?”

“Yes, with caper-sauce.”

“Capital. And what do you say to plum-pudding?”

“I fear there will not be time to stone the raisins; but I’ll telephone
into the town at once and see.”

While she was gone I surveyed the dining-room once more. “If you moved
the stove, and placed forms against the walls, instead of chairs, how
would that be?” I asked.

It was a great problem, this. My colored ally and his two assistants
set to measuring with a foot-rule. They had their woolly heads together
when I looked in upon them an hour later.

“Yes, I believe it can be done,” said the chief waiter; and before
midnight the tables were arranged, the stove cleared out, and the room
almost ready for the feasters. As he was leaving for the night he said,
“The people of my race honor Mr. Irving. He knew our great actor, Ira
Aldridge. There was a letter from Mr. Irving about him, and a Dramatic
Club started by our folk in the New York papers. Rely on me, sir, to
have this dinner a success.”[50]


III.

WEDNESDAY morning was ushered in with a blizzard from the north-west.
The roads that had been slushy the day before were hard as adamant.
There was ice in the wind. The air was keen as a knife. A traveller who
had come in from Manitoba said that during the night it was “as much as
your life was worth to pass from one car to another.” Towards noon the
weather moderated. The sun came out, the wind changed, the spray from
the falls fell into the river. A rainbow stretched its luminous arch
over the American falls.

“I have often thought,” I said to Irving, “during this tour, how
surprised any English traveller who knew London well would be, if he
encountered the Lyceum Company by accident at some wayside American
depot, not knowing of this visit to the States.”

“Yes,” he said, “do you remember the people at Amsterdam, in Holland,
who followed us in amazement to the hotel there, one of them, a German,
making a bet about us, the others ridiculing the idea that I could be
out of London, when he had seen me acting there a few days before?”

We were on our way to the falls, driving in a close carriage, Irving,
Miss Terry, and myself, and I think we talked on general topics a
little, while they were trying to take in the approaches to the great
scene of all.

“Toole and his dear boy, Frank, lost their way, one night, about
here,” said Irving. “I remember his telling me of it—couldn’t get a
carriage—were belated, I remember. There was no fence to the river
then, I expect,—a dangerous place to lose your way in. How weird it
looks!”

“Oh, there are the falls!” Miss Terry exclaimed, looking through the
glass window in front of us. “Surely! Yes, indeed! There they are! How
wonderful!”

I had told the driver to pull up at the bend of the river, where we
should get the first view of them. Irving turned to look.

“Drive on,” I said, and in a few minutes we pulled up in full view of
both falls.

“Very marvellous!” said Irving. “Do you see those gulls sailing through
the spray? How regularly the water comes over! It hardly looks like
water,—there seems to be no variety in its grand, solid-like roll;
and, do you notice, in parts it curls like long, broken ringlets, curls
and ripples, but is always the same? What a power it suggests! Of
course, the color will vary in the light. It is blue and green in the
summer, I suppose; now it is yellowish here and there, and grey. There
have been great floods above,—yonder are the rapids above the falls, I
suppose? How wonderfully the waters come leaping along,—like an angry
sea!”

He stood for some time watching the scene, and noting everything that
struck him. Miss Terry joined some members of the company, and went
driving. Later a party of us went to the rapids and the whirlpool,
where Webb was drowned. Irving discussed the fatal feat, for a long
time, with one of the men who saw the swimmer take his courageous
header and go bounding through the rapids.

“It was there where he disappeared,” said the man, pointing to a spot
where the waters appeared to leap as if clearing an obstruction; “he
dived, intending to go through that wave, and never was seen again
alive. It is believed his head struck a sunken rock there, which
stunned him.”

Irving stood for a long time looking at this part of the river,
discussing the various theories as to its depth. “A bold fellow!”
he exclaimed, as he left the place; “he deserved to get through it.
Imagine the coolness, the daring of it! He takes a quiet dinner, it
seems, at his hotel, rests a little, then hires a boat, rows to the
place where the rapids fairly begin, strips and dives into this awful
torrent,—a great soul, sir, any man who has the nerve for such an
enterprise!”

We walked back to the falls, and on our return observed a great change
in the color of the scene.

“Quite a transformation in its way, is it not?” said Irving; “let us
take in the picture, as a painter might. The horizon, you see, is a
bluish-purple; the Canadian falls have a grayish-blue tint, except
where the positive golden yellow of the water comes in; then, as it
plunges below, the foam is of a creamy whiteness; the mist and spray
rise up a warmish-gray in the half-shaded sunlight; the snowy rocks
are white against it. The sun is about to set, I suppose, and these
are some of its premonitory colors. The river, you see, is now a deep
blue,—it was muddy-looking this morning,—and the trees on the banks
are a warm greyish-brown. Beyond the American falls, above there,
where it is like a lake, the white houses are whiter still, the red
ones redder, and the country looks as if it had quite changed its
atmosphere. A great stage-manager, Nature! What wonders can be done
with effective lighting!”

Then, turning away to go into the house, he said, “Do you remember the
lighting of the garden scene in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’—the change from
sunset to night, from sunset to moonlight, from moonlight to morning,
and the motion of the sunlit trees, as if a zephyr had touched them?”

“I do, indeed!”

“Well, let us talk of something else. Niagara must offer to artist or
poet a continual study. Did you notice how the fir-trees on the little
island close to the Canadian falls are twisted and warped, as if they
had tried to turn away from the tempest, and had been beaten down
with the wind and snow? You were telling me one day about a scholarly
hermit, who had spent his life at a lonely place on the Hudson. That
is also a curious story,—the life and death of Francis Abbott, ‘the
hermit of Niagara,’ as they call him in one of the old guide-books.
He first appeared here, it seems, on a summer day in 1839,—a young
man, tall, well-built, but pale and haggard. He carried a bundle
of blankets, a portfolio, a book, and a flute; went to a little
out-of-the-way inn and took a room; visited the local library; played
his flute, and rambled about the country; got permission to live in
a deserted log-house near the head of Goat Island; lived there in a
strange seclusion during two winters, then built himself a cabin at
Point View, near the American falls, and did not appear to shun his
fellow-man so much as formerly. A local judge became quite friendly
with him; they would meet and have long talks. Sometimes, too, he
would enter into conversation with the villagers, and others whom he
encountered on his rambles. He talked well, they say; spoke of Asia and
Greece with familiarity, and liked to discuss theological questions.
His religious views were akin to quakerism. He was a fine figure, had a
sorrowful face, and was attended by a dog, which trotted at his heels
always. During the summer he lived in his cabin at Point View; he went
down the ferry-steps and bathed in the river, and, on June 10, 1841,
he lost his life there,—after two years of this strange solitude. The
body had been in the water ten days before it was found at the outlet
of the river. The villagers brought it back and buried it. They went
to his cabin. His dog guarded the door, a cat lay asleep on his rough
sofa, books and music scattered about. There was no writing to be
found, though the local judge said he wrote a great deal, chiefly in
Latin, and, as a rule, burned his work, whatever it was. In later days
friends and relatives of the poor young fellow came to Niagara, and
identified him as the son of a Quaker gentleman of Plymouth. Rather a
sad story, eh?”

“Yes, very, and there are others, less romantic, but more tragic, in
connection with the falls.”

“None more sad, after all, than the death of poor Webb. It is true, he
deliberately risked his life. I have seen it stated that the rapids
where he dived are by some persons estimated as only twenty or thirty
feet deep. Of course nothing can be more absurd. The channel is only
three hundred feet wide, and through this gorge rush the waters of five
great lakes. Calculating the volume of water, and the velocity of it,
the scientists who estimate the depth at two hundred and fifty feet
are nearer the mark. The most surprising thing to me about Niagara is
the fact—it must be a fact—that this mighty torrent, after falling
into the river, ploughs its way along the bottom,—the surface being
comparatively calm,—drives along for two miles, and then leaps up from
its imprisonment, as it were, into the general view, a wild, fierce
torrent, with, further down, that awful whirlpool. Webb knew the force
of it all; he had surveyed it,—the cruellest stretch of waters in the
world, I suppose,—and yet he took that header, and went along with it
hand-over-hand, as the man told us, and with an easy confidence that
was heroic,—one would have thought the water would have beaten the
life out of him before he had time to rise and fight it!”

“Not long since,” I said, “there was a picnic party on Goat Island.
A young fellow, I think the father of the child itself, picked up a
little girl, and in fun held it over the rapids above the falls. The
child struggled and fell; he leaped in after it, caught it, struggled
gallantly in presence of the child’s mother and the distracted
friends, but went over the falls. I read the incident in a newspaper
chronicle, and have it put away at home with many other notes about
the falls, which I hoped to use in this book. Our critics will, of
course, recognize the difficulties attending the preparation of these
Impressions. We have worked at them in odd places, and at curious
times. One wonders how they will come out.”

“Oh, all right, I am sure!” Irving replied: “they are quite
unpretentious, and it is delightful to note how they grow up and assume
shape and form. I think it was a happy idea.”


IV.

BUT nobody will ever know, except those who took part in the work, how
much ingenuity, patience, and enterprise were expended on that dinner.
It was ready to the minute. The guests all sat down together. There
were turkeys and there were chickens, too. Horsemen had ridden hard
half the night to bring them in. There were plum-puddings, also. Lovely
maidens at Buffalo and Niagara, had been pressed into the service of
stoning them. When Stoker, at midnight, in order to smooth the way, had
telegraphed that “rare flowers and hot-house fruits can be dispensed
with” (he was thinking of New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia),
the landlady had looked at me in dismay. “There isn’t a flower in the
whole neighborhood! I’m afraid they are expecting too much,” she said.
“Not at all; it is only Mr. Stoker’s little joke,” I replied, fearing
that at the last moment the entire business might fall through. As
the reader already understands, it did not fall through; but, on the
contrary, was a great and surprising success; for, when Mr. Howe got
up to propose the health of the founder of the feast, he said, “This
has been the first English dinner we have had since we left home, and,
what is more, we have eaten it off English plates,—not those little
dishes and saucers they give us everywhere in America. Not, ladies and
gentlemen, that I have a word to say against the American food,—not
I,—because it is good and abundant; but I do like large plates, and
I love to see the joints on the table and carved before our eyes.”
Everybody laughed at this and applauded; but the cheering increased,
and was followed by “three times three” and the chorus, “He’s a jolly
good fellow!” when Mr. Howe thanked their “host and chief, Mr. Irving,
for his hospitality and kindness that day, and for his energy and
courage in bringing them all from the old country on a tour in the New
World.”

It was nearly six when we left Niagara for the railway station, in
every kind of vehicle, omnibus, buggy, brougham, and carriage. Mr.
McHenry and a party of ladies and gentlemen came to see us off. The
members of the company were loud in their expressions of wonder at
the falls. “So strange,” said one, “to be sitting down to dinner in
view of them.” “What a day to remember!” exclaimed another. Tyars,
Andrews, Terriss, Arnot, and some others, had donned the water-proof
dress, known to every visitor, and explored the regions below the
falls. Terriss had a narrow escape. There were special dangers to be
encountered, owing to the accumulations of ice; and, at the hands of a
party of Englishmen, the dangers were of course duly attacked. Terriss
slipped upon an icy descent, and saved himself from going headlong
into the torrent by clutching a jagged rock, which severely lacerated
his right hand. He played with his arm in a sling for several nights
afterwards.

One of the saddest stories of the falls is the history of a calamity
that occurred almost at this very spot, in the autumn of 1875. Miss
Philpott, her two brothers, a sister-in-law, and Miss Philpott’s lover,
Ethelbert Parsons, went through the Cave of the Winds, and climbed over
the rocks towards the American falls. They were residents of Niagara,
and knew the ground. The sheltered eddies in the lighter currents
under the falls are pleasant bathing-places. The Philpott party took
advantage of them. Miss Philpott was venturesome. She bathed near one
of the strongest currents. Mr. Parsons, seeing her in danger, went to
her rescue. Seeking for a firm foothold for both of them, the girl
slipped and fell. Parsons sprang for her, and both were carried into
the current. He caught her around the waist. The young lady could swim,
and Parsons was an expert; they struck out for the rocks on the other
side of the current. The torrent carried them out. By and by Parsons
swam on his back, the girl cleverly supporting herself with her hand
upon his shoulder. Then she suddenly pushed him away from her,—the
inference being that she discovered the impossibility of both being
saved,—flung up her arms and sank. Parsons turned and dived after her.
They were seen no more until some days afterwards, when the bodies were
recovered at the whirlpool.

Terriss and his friends had more reason than they quite realized
to congratulate themselves upon the fact that they were enabled to
comply with the kindly and considerate programme of the holiday, which
arranged that they should sleep that night in Toronto.



XIX.

FROM TORONTO TO BOSTON.

 Lake Ontario—Canadian Pastimes—Tobogganing—On an Ice
 Slide—“Shooting Niagara, and After”—Toronto Students—Dressing for
 the Theatre—“God Save the Queen”—Incidents of Travel—Locomotive
 Vagaries—Stopping the Train—“Fined One Hundred Dollars”—The Hotels
 and the Poor—Tenement Houses—The Stage and the Pulpit—Actors,
 Past and Present—The Stage and the Bar-room—The Second Visit to
 Boston—Enormous Receipts—A Glance at the Financial Results of the
 Tour.


I.

THE blizzard was in full possession of Toronto, but the air was dry,
the sky blue and sunny. There was a brief interval for a snow-storm.
But it came in a bright, frosty fashion. The sidewalks were hard.
Sleighs dashed along the leading thoroughfares. Lake Ontario was a vast
plain, upon which disported skaters, walkers, riders, drivers, and that
most fairy-like of “white-wings,” the ice-boat. Did you ever fly across
the silvery ice on runners, with sails bending before the wind? It is
an experience. You may spin along at sixty miles an hour, or more. If
you are not wrapped to the eyes in fur you may also freeze to death.
The sensation of wild, unchecked motion is intensely exhilarating; but,
if you are a novice, want of care or lack of grip may send you flying
into space, or scudding over the ice on your own account. A secure
seat is only obtained by accommodating yourself all the time to the
motion of your most frail, but elegant, arrangement of timbers and
skating-irons.

The leading characteristic winter sport of Canada is Tobogganing.
The word “toboggan” is Indian for “sled.” The French call it _Traine
sauvage_. Two or three light boards deftly fastened together, a
mattress laid upon them, a sort of hollow prow in front, into which a
lady thrusts her feet,—that is a “toboggan.” It is like a toy canoe,
or boat, with a flat bottom and no sides. The lady passenger sits in
front; the gentleman behind. He trails his legs upon the ice-slide, and
thus guides the machine. It is not necessary, of course, that there
should be two passengers; nor, being two, that one of them should be a
lady. The contrivance was invented by the North American Indians. They
used it for the transportation of burdens. The squaws sometimes made
it available for hauling along their children. The pioneer troops of
Courcelles, Tracy, and Montcalm, made a kit carriage of it.

There is a famous Tobogganing Club at Toronto. It has a slide of half
a mile in length, down the side of a hill in a picturesque suburban
valley. The slide starts at an angle of about forty-five degrees; then
it runs along a short flat; then it drops, as if going over a frozen
Niagara, to shoot out along a great incline, that might be the frozen
rapids. To stand at the summit and watch the gay toboggans slip away,
and then disappear down the Niagara-like precipice, to shoot out as
a bolt from a gun along the remainder of the pass, is to realize the
possible terrors of a first trip.

Miss Terry watched the wild-looking business with amazement, and built
up her courage on the experiences of the ladies who took the flying
leap with delight. They were dressed in pretty flannel costumes, and
their faces glowed with healthful excitement. But they were practised
tobogganers. Some of them could not remember when they took their first
slide. A sturdy officer of the club explained the simplicity of the
sport to the famous actress, and offered to let her try half the slide,
beginning at the section below Niagara.

“I ought to have made my will first; but you can give my diamond ring
to your wife,” she exclaimed, waving her hand to me, as she drew her
cloak about her shoulders and stepped into the frail-looking sled.

As she and her stalwart cavalier, in his Canadian flannels, flew safely
along the slide, her young English friend and admirer followed. They
had not been upon the wintry scene ten minutes, in fact, before both of
them were to be seen skimming the mountain-slide at the speed of the
Flying Dutchman of the Midland Railway, and at one point, much faster,
I expect.

“Oh, it was awful—wonderful—magnificent!” Miss Terry exclaimed, when
she had mounted the hill again, ready for a second flight. “I have
never experienced anything so surprising,—it is like flying; for a
moment you cannot breathe!”

And away she went again, followed at respectful distances, to avoid
collision, by other excursionists, the slide fairly flashing with the
bright flannels and gay head-dresses of the merry tobogganers.

“Yes,” she said, on her return, “it is a splendid pastime. The
Canadians are quite right,—it beats skating, ice-boating, trotting,
everything in the way of locomotion; what matters the cold, with such
exercise as tobogganing?”[51]

“The Montreal Daily Star,” during this Toronto week, had a brief
description of tobogganing, _apropos_ of the winter carnival that was
being held in the neighboring city, during our too brief visit to
Canada. A proper slide is constructed on “scientific principles, and
blends a maximum of enjoyment with a minimum of danger.” “The Star”
has a picture of the enjoyment and the danger. It depicts an enormous
mountain slide by torchlight. Many sleds are coming down in fine,
picturesque style. There are wayside incidents of spills, however,
which suggest a good deal of possible discomfort. “Try your luck on one
of these sleds,” says the descriptive text. “Take two or three girls
with you. That is indispensable; and there is a shrewd suspicion that
much of the popularity of tobogganing comes from its almost essential
admission of ladies. Let them be well wrapped up. Take a firm seat
on the cushions, never stir an inch, and all will be right. They may
shut their eyes and utter their little shrieks; but, at their peril,
they must not move. You occupy your station at the rear. The position
is optional. The general mode is to lie on the left side, propped on
one arm, with right leg extended; but some sit, others kneel, and
on short, easy inclines some venture to stand. One invariable rule
is to hold on to your girl; an occasional squeeze may be allowed;
indeed, there are critical moments when it cannot be helped. All is
ready; the signal is given, and the descent begins. At first it is
gradual, and one might fancy that he could regulate it; but, like a
flash, the grand propulsion is given; like an arrow’s, the speed is
instantaneous and resistless. A film passes before your eyes; your
breath is caught. One moment you feel yourself thrown into space; the
next you hear the welcome crunch of the firm snow, and then comes the
final tumble, topsy-turvy, higgledy-piggledy, in the fleecy bank at
the foot. There is the crisis of the fun, and you must take particular
care of the girls just then. The weary ascent next begins, to be
followed by another vertiginous descent, and still another, till the
whole afternoon, or the whole of the starry evening, is spent in this
exquisite amusement.”


II.

THE short season at Toronto was very successful, in every way. A great
body of students filled the gallery of the Opera House every night.
Stalls, boxes, and dress-circle were crowded, the audience being in
full evening dress. The house looked like a London theatre on a first
night. Boston and Philadelphia were the only cities that had shown
anything like an approach to uniformity in dressing for the theatre
in America, though New York made a good deal of display in regard to
bonnets, costumes, and diamonds. New York copies the French more than
the English in the matter of dressing for the theatre, consulting
convenience rather than style,—a very sensible plan.

On the Saturday night, after repeated calls and loud requests for
a speech, Irving, in his “Louis XI.” robes, stepped down to the
foot-lights, amidst thunders of applause.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I regret that I have to appear before
you as somebody else, though I feel quite incompetent in my own person
to respond to your kindness at all as I could wish, or in such a way
as to make you understand how keenly I feel the compliment of your
enthusiastic welcome. I thank you with all my heart for myself and
comrades, and more especially for my co-worker, Miss Terry, for the
right-royal Canadian, I will say British, welcome you have given us.
I can only regret that the arrangements of this present tour do not
enable me to extend my personal knowledge of Canada beyond Toronto.”

“Come again!” shouted a voice from the gallery, quite after the manner
of the London gods; “come again, sir!”

“Thank you very much,” Irving replied, amidst shouts of laughter and
applause. “I will accept your invitation.”

“Hurrah!” shouted the gallery; and the house generally applauded Mr.
Irving’s prompt and gratifying repartee.

“I would have liked,” said Irving, pulling his “Louis XI.” robes around
him, “to have travelled right through the Dominion, and have shaken
hands with your neighbors of Montreal, Quebec, and Ottawa. That,
however, is only a pleasure deferred. In the Indian language, I am
told, Toronto means ‘The place of meeting.’ To you and me, ladies and
gentlemen, brother and sister subjects of the English throne”—

A burst of applause compelled the speaker to pause for some seconds.

“To us, ladies and gentlemen, to you before the curtain, to us behind
it, I hope Toronto may mean ‘The place of meeting again and again.’”

His last words of thanks were drowned in applause. The students tried
to recall him again, even after he had spoken. The band struck up “God
save the Queen,” and a few minutes later the audience was on its way
home, and Irving was conducting a rehearsal of scenes in “Much Ado,”
and “The Merchant of Venice,” rendered necessary by the illnesses which
are referred to in another chapter.


III.

TWO hours after midnight we were once more on the cars, bound for
Boston.[52]

“These long journeys,” said Irving, “are most distressing. I wonder
what sort of a trip this will be. We ought to arrive at Boston, on
Sunday, at about six, they say.”

“The agent of the road,” replied Mr. Palser, “tells me he hopes to
make good time. But I told him that the only occasion when we have
done a long journey on time has been when we had no railroad agent to
take care of us. They are very good fellows, and anxious to help us,
but they have been unfortunate. Our flat baggage car is a trouble. You
will remember that the Erie could not take it, and some of the other
companies consider it an extra risk. It affords an excuse for not
exceeding a certain speed. Besides this, we have not had so much snow
in America for over twenty years as this winter. Our trains have been
snowed up, and this has occasioned all sorts of delays, as you know.
But I hope we will get through to Boston in good time.”

We did not, “by a large majority,” as Bardwell Slote says. It was
a tedious and unsatisfactory journey. So soon as we left the West
Shore line we began to have trouble. It was on a short section of an
unimportant road that we encountered most delay, the character of which
will be best illustrated by a brief conversation between Irving and
several other persons:—

“Well, what is the matter now, George?” Irving asked the colored
conductor of the private car.

“Oh, this is the third time he’s stopped in the woods to tinker up his
darned old engine,” said George; “seems it needs it!”

Everybody laughed at this rough criticism of the engineer and his
locomotive.

“Stops in the woods, eh?” says Irving,—“that nobody may see him? But
suppose another train comes along?”

“If the brakeman should neglect to go back and flag it, there might be
no performance at the Boston Theatre on Monday,” said Palser. “That is
how Wagner, the car-builder, lost his life. He was killed in one of
his own cars, on the New York Central. The train stopped suddenly,—it
is said somebody on board pulled the check-string in joke,[53]—and an
oncoming train, not being warned, ran into them, and Mr. Wagner was
killed.”

“Ah,” Irving replied, “there must have been a good deal of
flag-signalling done on this journey of ours, seeing how often we have
stopped.”

“Yes, that’s so; yah, yah!” remarks the privileged colored servant.

“I don’t think any of the tracks we have crossed are as good as the
Pennsylvania,” said Irving; “they are certainly not as good as the
Midland or Great Western in England. The West Shore road is evidently
a fine one; but I have more than once during our travels been reminded
of a story I came across recently, relating to a passenger’s question:
‘We’ve struck a smoother strip of road, have we not?’ The Arkansas
railway conductor replied, ‘No, we’ve only run off the track.’”

“Yah! yah!” shouted George, as he disappeared to tell the story to
Peter in the kitchen.

“The newspaper that told the story added, as American journals are
apt to do, a line or two of its own, to the effect that the Arkansas
conductor’s reply was almost as uncomplimentary as that of an Eastern
conductor, who, upon being discharged, said, ‘Well, I was intending to
quit anyway, for there is nothing left of your old road but two streaks
of iron rust and a right of way.’”


IV.

DURING one of the very long delays in question Irving and I talked of
many things.

“You were speaking of the waste of food at hotels and restaurants one
day,” Irving remarked. “I am told that at some of the best houses
in Chicago the clean scraps that are left on dishes after each meal
are collected and given to poor families every day. Children with
large baskets call for them. Another class of scraps go to charitable
institutions, more particularly Roman Catholic establishments. These
are the leavings of the carver’s tables in the kitchens. One is glad to
know this, for I, too, have often been struck with the abundance that
is taken away untouched from tables where I have dined; though I have
seen nothing of the public breakfast and dining rooms. It is quite a
system in England, I believe, the collection of food for the humbler
‘homes’ and charities; but one does not see in America any poor of the
abject, poverty-stricken class that is familiar at home. Life to many
must, nevertheless, be a bitter struggle.

“There are many who are well off; thousands who would be happier even
in the most wretched districts of Ireland. An Irish friend of mine, in
New York, said to me only the other day, ‘The worst hut in Connemara is
a palace to some of the tenement-house dens where my countrymen herd
together in New York.’”

“They don’t go West, I am told, as the Germans and Swedes and
Norwegians do. It is a little odd that they do not take full advantage
of the unrestricted freedom of the West, and the gift of land which can
be obtained from the American government. Sixty acres, is it not?”

“Yes, that is the endowment America offers to settlers in some of her
finest territory; and it is true that, as a rule, the Irish do not
become farmers on this side of the Atlantic. They prefer city life,
even with its disabilities. When I was in America one hot summer, two
years ago, children of the poor, who live in the common tenement-houses
down-town in New York, were dying of the heat at the rate of hundreds
a day. In her most crowded alleys London has nothing to compare with
the lodging-houses in the poorer districts of New York for squalor and
misery. But human nature is alike all the world over; more than one
rich man collects heavy rents from these death-traps.”

“Just as a few of our fellow-countrymen in London supplement their
rents by the contributions of infamous tenants. I dare say some of
these hypocrites make speeches against the stage, and go ostentatiously
to church; otherwise they would be found out by their associates.
Religion is, indeed, a useful cloak for these gentry. It is gratifying
to find that in some American cities, that are noted for their church
discipline, the preachers are not afraid to tell their flocks that,
properly used, the stage, as a moral teacher, is not unworthy of
alliance with the pulpit.

“Did Mr. Beecher talk about the morality of the stage, or its relations
to the public?”

“No, but one of the writers for a Brooklyn journal asked me some
questions on the subject. I told him that the world has found out
that they live just like other people, and that, as a rule, they are
observant of all that makes for the sweet sanctities of life, and they
are as readily recognized and welcomed in the social circle as the
members of any other profession. The stage has literally lived down the
rebuke and reproach under which it formerly cowered, and actors and
actresses receive in society, as do the members of other professions,
exactly the treatment which is earned by their personal conduct. He
asked me about the morality of attending the theatre, and I said I
should think the worst performances seen on any of our stages cannot
be so bad as drinking for a corresponding time in what you call here a
bar-room, and what we term a gin-palace. The drinking is usually done
in bad company, and is often accompanied by obscenity. Where drink and
low people come together these things must be. The worst that can come
of stage pandering to the corrupt tastes of its basest patrons cannot
be anything like this, and, as a rule, the stage holds out long against
the invitation to pander; and such invitations, from the publicity and
decorum that attend the whole matter, are neither frequent nor eager.
He informed me that the clergy, as a rule,—he used the term dissenting
clergy, I suppose, as an explanation to me to denote the class who
are not Episcopalians, that I might the better compare them with the
ministers at home,—he told me that they are opposed to theatres.
He asked me what I felt about this. I told him I thought that both
here and in England the clerical profession are becoming more liberal
in their views. Some people think they can live and bring up their
children in such a way as to avoid all temptation of body and mind, and
be saved nine-tenths of the responsibility of self-control. But that
seems to me to be a foolish notion. You must be in the world, though
you need not be of it. The best way for the clergy to make the theatre
better is not to stay away from it, and shun the people who play in
it, but to bring public opinion to bear upon it,—to denounce what is
bad and to encourage what is good. When I was a boy I never went to
the theatre except to see a Shakespearian play, and I endeavored to
make my theatrical experiences not only a source of amusement, but of
instruction.’”


V.

“IT was a glorious audience,” said the “Boston Daily Globe,” of
February 26, “that welcomed Irving and Terry back to Boston last
evening. No better evidence of the great popularity of the English
artists could have been given than that which was implied in the
presence of such an assemblage. The Boston was thronged, and the
gathering represented the best class of our play-goers,—a company that
accorded the stars a cordial greeting both, and that was appreciative
of all the excellences that marked the entertainment.”

The theatre was crowded in all parts. “Louis XI.” and “The Belle’s
Stratagem” were played. “Much Ado” closed the engagement. It was
received by the audience as if it were a revelation of stage work, and
criticised in the press in a similar spirit. At the end of the play
the audience summoned the leading actors before the curtain over and
over again. It was a scene of the most unaffected excitement. At last
there arose cries of “A speech!” “A speech!” to which Irving responded,
visibly moved by the enthusiasm of his Boston admirers and friends. He
said:—

 “Gentlemen and Ladies,—I have no words in which to express my
 thanks for your kindness; ‘only my blood speaks to you in my veins.’
 A few weeks since we came here, and you received us with unbounded
 hospitality, and gave us a welcome that touched us deeply,—a true
 Boston welcome. (Applause.) We come back, and you treat us not as
 strangers, but as old friends. (Applause.) Again, I say, I can find
 no words adequately to convey our thanks. I need not tell you that
 this is to us a matter of the deepest gratitude and pleasure, for it
 is a proof that we have perhaps realized some of your expectations,
 and have not absolutely disappointed you. (Applause.) I say ‘we,’
 because I speak in behalf of all,—not for myself alone, but for
 my comrades, and especially for one who has, I am sure, won golden
 opinions; you know to whom I allude (Applause, and cries of ‘Yes!’
 ‘Yes!’)—my friend, and fellow-artist, Miss Ellen Terry. (Applause and
 cheers.) When we have recrossed the Atlantic, and are in our homes,
 we shall ever bear you in our kindliest memories. I hope to be here
 again. (Applause, cheers, and shouts, ‘Come again!’ ‘That’s right!’)
 Even before the present year closes I hope to be with you. (Cheers.)
 Once more I thank you with all my heart, and bid you good-night, only
 hoping that your memories of us may be as agreeable as those we shall
 cherish of you.” (Applause and cheers.)

This second visit, it is agreed on all hands, brought more money into
the treasury of the Boston than had ever before been taken during one
week at that or any other theatre in the city, namely, $24,087,—and
this was the largest sum that had been received during any previous
week of the Irving engagement.

It will be interesting, at this period of the tour, to glance at its
financial results. The following figures are taken from the cash-book
of Mr. J. H. Palser, the business manager and treasurer, who
supplied them to the “Boston Herald,” and “vouched for their absolute
accuracy”:—

  New York—first week                            $15,772 00
  New York—second week                            18,714 00
  New York—third week                             18,880 00
  New York—fourth week                            22,321 50
  Philadelphia—first week                         16,128 50
  Philadelphia—second week                        16,780 50
  Boston—first week                               18,845 50
  Boston—second week                              16,885 00
  Baltimore—one week                               9,952 00
  Brooklyn—one week                               12,468 00
  Chicago—first week                              17,048 75
  Chicago—second week                             19,117 50
  St. Louis—one week                              13,719 00
  Cincinnati—one week                             11,412 00
  Indianapolis (4 nights) and Columbus (2 nights)  8,700 50
  Chicago (return)—one week                       18,308 75
  Detroit (2 nights) and Toronto (3 nights)[54]   13,430 50
  Boston (return)—one week                        24,087 00

The total receipts in cities where Mr. Irving has played more than one
week were as follows:—

  New York—four weeks                            $75,687 50
  Boston—three weeks                              59,817 50
  Chicago—three weeks                             54,475 00
  Philadelphia—two weeks                          32,909 00

The total receipts of the tour, thus far, have been $292,571.



XX.

WASHINGTON, NEW ENGLAND, AND SOME “RETURN VISITS.”

 From Rail to River.—Once more on Board the “Maryland.”—Recollections
 of President Arthur.—At the White House.—Washington Society.—An Apt
 Shakespearian Quotation.—Distinguished People.—“Hamlet.”—A Council
 of War.—Making Out the Route of a New Tour.—A Week in New England
 Cities.—Brooklyn and Philadelphia Revisited.


I.

WE left Boston at about two o’clock in the morning of the 3d of March,
and after breakfast, at half-past ten, some of us turn out to stretch
our legs on the railroad track by the side of the Harlem river. Once
more we are shunted on board the “Maryland,” that is to convey us
“down stream, to connect with the Pennsylvania road.” At about eleven
o’clock we are afloat. Presently we pass Blackwell’s Island. The pretty
villas on the opposite bank are in notable contrast with the hard,
prosaic buildings of the island. The morning is grey and cold. The
snow is falling lightly and is full of crystals. Most of the company
are on deck, which stretches right over the snow-covered cars. Some
are promenading and enjoying the change from railway to river travel.
Others are breakfasting in the steamer’s spacious saloon. Howe and his
wife; Terriss (his hand in a sling); Tyars (in his long Scotch ulster,
which was evidently new to the gamins of Philadelphia, where they
said, as he passed, “Here’s a dude!”); Mrs. Pauncefort, and others,
are defying the sharp weather at the bows of the vessel, which, with
its freight, is a continual surprise to them. Miss Millward, the
picturesque Jessica of “The Merchant,” is romping merrily with the
children of the company, who are quite a feature in the garden and
church scenes of “Much Ado.”

We steal quietly along the river without noise, but with a steady
progression. Blackwell’s Island prisons are enlivened in color by a
little company of women, who are being marched into the penitentiary.
They turn to look at the “Maryland” as they enter the stony portals.
As we creep along, villas on our left give place to lumber-yards, with
coasting-vessels lying alongside. Leaving Blackwell’s on the right, the
shore breaks up into picturesque wharfage, backed, in the distance,
by the first of the steeples of Fifth avenue. The eye follows them
along; wharves and river-craft in front; the spires against the grey
sky, until they are repeated, as it were, by forests of masts,—first
a few, and then a cluster. We meet another train coming up the river,
then another; and now we get glimpses, through the haze, of distant
ferry-boats ahead. There is a dull mist on the river, and here and
there it hangs about in clouds. We pass Long Island railroad pier. It
is very cold; but the children of the company still trot about, ruddy
and merry.

“You don’t say so!” exclaims somebody. “Is it true, the train we saw at
Harlem, which we thought full of poor emigrants, was the Opera Company
on their way to Boston,—the chorus?”

“Quite true.”

“Then I can now understand,” is the rejoinder, “that the passengers
on board the ‘Rome,’ when we came out, thought us a most respectable
crowd.”

“That has been remarked before,” says the buxom Martha of “Louis XI,”
“and in far more complimentary terms.”

Presently, through the mist on the larboard side, we catch a glimpse of
the Brooklyn bridge. A few gulls are sweeping down the river before us.
On both banks there are wharves and ships. One of the vessels flies the
British flag, which is greeted with a cheer from some of our people. On
the left bank of the river is a great sugar factory, with a picturesque
red brick tower. We have now left the Harlem river, and for some little
time have been steaming down the East towards the North river, with
Bedloe’s island—a dot in the distant Sound—and Sandy Hook somewhere
in the mist beyond. We now pass Hunter’s Point, and slue gradually
round towards the North river. We glide along beneath the wonderful
bridge, and look up among its net-work of roads and rails; past Piers
50 and 51 on our right, with freight-cars and steamers ready for the
river; past the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railway quays,
hugging the South-street docks and ship-repairing yards, Governor’s
Island at our bow. Ships and steamers stretch along to Battery Point,
which we round into the North river, and pass Castle Garden. It is here
that we catch sight of Bedloe’s and other distant islands, and look far
in the direction of Sandy Hook, whence fierce tug-boats are steaming
along, with great barges in tow. Now we cross the river to Jersey City.
It is two o’clock. Our cars are once more on the rails, and, at about
nine o’clock that night, we ran into Washington.


II.

“YOU know the President,” said Irving, while we were travelling from
Boston to Washington.

“Yes; I met him once or twice during the contest when he was ultimately
returned as Vice-President with General Garfield. His likeness had
become very familiar to me before I saw him. Candidates for the high
offices of state are not only photographed, but their pictures are
painted in heroic proportions. You see them everywhere,—on flags and
banners, in shop-windows, in the newspapers. But you will be in the
thick of it next autumn, since you have really decided to return this
year.”

“Oh, yes!—but tell me about your meeting with the President,—what is
he like?”

“Tall and handsome; frank and genial in manner; an excellent
conversationalist; well read,—a gentleman. I became acquainted with
him on the eve of his election to the vice-presidential chair. At his
installation hundreds of his personal friends and admirers from eastern
and western cities made ‘high festival,’ in his honor at Washington.
Two years later I saw him, with sorrowful face and head bowed down,
start for the capital, to stand by the bedside of the dying President,
with whom he had been elected. Soon afterwards the friends, who had
metaphorically flung up their caps for him on the merry day of his
installation with Garfield, went, ‘with solemn tread and slow,’ to
assist at his inauguration into the chair which, for a second time,
the hand of the assassin had rendered vacant. My recollection of Mr.
Arthur pictured a stout, ruddy-complexioned man, with dark hair and
whiskers, and a certain elasticity in his gait that betokened strong
physical health. I remember that we sat together by the taffrail
of a Sound steamer, and talked of the vicissitudes of life and its
uncertainties, and that I was deeply moved with sympathy for him in
regard to the death of his most accomplished and amiable wife, of whom
he spoke (_apropos_ of some remark that led up to his bereavement) with
a quivering lip and a moistened eye. The day had been a very pleasant
one; the bay of New York was sleeping in the sun; the air was balmy;
the time gracious in all respects; but, while doing his best to enliven
the passing hour, Arthur’s thoughts had wandered to the grave of his
wife. She was a very accomplished woman, I am told; musical, a sweet
disposition, refined and cultivated in her tastes. Friends of mine
who knew her say that she, above all others, would have rejoiced in
her husband’s victory; and, while inspiring him with fortitude under
the calamity that lay beyond, would have lent a grace to his reign
at the White House that alone was necessary to complete the simple
dignity of his administration, social and otherwise, which will always
be remembered at Washington in connection with the presidentship of
Chester A. Arthur.”

“I have letters to the President, which I shall certainly take the
first opportunity to deliver,” said Irving.

When I met Mr. Arthur again in his own room, at the Executive Mansion,
I was struck with the change which the anxieties and responsibilities
of office, entered upon under circumstances of the most painful
character, had wrought upon him. His face was careworn; his hair white;
his manner subdued. He stooped in his gait; the old brightness had
gone out of his eyes, and there was what seemed to be a permanently
saddened expression about the corners of his mouth. He did not look
sick; there was nothing in his face or figure denoting ill-health or
physical weakness; but in the course of four years he appeared to me to
have aged twenty. I had not been in Washington a day before he sent for
me and my family, with a pleasant reference to the time when last we
met. Looking back over these four years, and considering its record of
trouble and anxiety, I could well have forgiven him if he had forgotten
my very existence. That he recalled the occasion of our meeting, and
was still touched with the spirit of it, I mention to do him honor, not
myself; though, had it pleased Providence not to have afflicted me with
a never-ending sorrow, I could have felt a high sense of personal pride
in the homelike reception which the President of the United States gave
to me and my family, in his own room at the Executive Mansion, sitting
down with us and chatting in a pleasant, unconstrained, familiar way,
that is characteristic of American manners, and eminently becomes the
chief of a great republic.

Were this book only intended for English readers I would hesitate (even
with the friendly approval of my collaborator) about publishing these
few sentences, so personal to myself, lest it should be thought I might
be “airing my connections”; but a President _per se_ is not held in
such profound estimation or reverence in America as in England, where
we rank him with the most powerful of reigning monarchs, and give
him a royal personality. Moreover, I should be ungrateful did I not
take the best possible opportunity to acknowledge a conspicuous act
of kindliness and grace on the part of one who, since I last met him,
had stepped from the private station of mere citizenship to the chief
office of state over fifty millions of people, wielding an individual
power in their government that belongs to no constitutional sovereign,
nor to any prince or minister in the most despotic courts or cabinets
of Europe.


III.

“AND I can only say,” remarked Irving, as we left the White House
together, after his first interview with the President, “that, if his
reëlection depended on my vote, he should have it. I know nothing about
the political situation; but the man we have just left has evidently
several qualities that I should say fit him for his office,—foremost
among them is patience. I would also say that he has the virtue of
self-denial, and he is certainly not impulsive. A kind-hearted man, I
am sure, capable of the highest sentiment of friendship, of a gentle
disposition, and with great repose of character.”

“You have made quite a study of him,” I said; “and I am glad you like
him, for I am sure he likes you.”

They had had a long chat at the White House. Mr. Congressman Phelps
accompanied Irving, and introduced him to the Secretary of the Navy,
and to other ministers who came and went during the first part of
the informal reception. The President talked of plays and general
literature; regretted that Washington, which had so many fine
buildings, did not yet possess a theatre worthy of the city.

“A beautiful city, Mr. President,” said Irving. “I had heard much of
Washington, but am agreeably surprised at its fine buildings, its
handsome houses, its splendid proportions; and the plan of it seems to
be unique.”

“The original design was the work of a French engineer,” said the
President, “who served under Washington. His idea, evidently, was that
a republic would have continually to contend with revolutions at the
capital. He, therefore, kept in view the military exigencies of the
government. The main streets of the city radiate upon a centre that is
occupied by the legislative and executive buildings, like the spokes
of a wheel, so that they could be dominated by artillery. This was
the French idea of the dangers and duties of that republican form of
government, which has never been contested here, nor is ever likely
to be. While but a village Washington was laid out for a great city,
and, without any seeming prospect of the grand idea being realized, the
original lines have, nevertheless, always been adhered to.”

“And with glorious results,” said Irving. “Washington is one of the
most beautiful cities I have ever seen. There is no reason why the
highest architectural ambition should not be realized in such broad
avenues and boulevards, and with such a site.”


IV.

“MANY Americans underrate the beauty of Washington,” I said.
“Comparatively few of them have seen it, and hundreds who criticise it
have not been south for a number of years. The growth of Washington
is not only modern, it is of yesterday. The city was really little
more than a village up to the date of the late war; and it was only
in 1871 that the impetus was given to the public enterprise that has
covered it with palaces, private and public. It is the only city of
America in which the streets are kept as cleanly and as orderly as
London and Paris. The streets are asphalted, and you may drive over
them everywhere without inconvenience or obstruction. There is an
individuality about the houses that is one of Washington’s most notable
architectural characteristics.”

“Yes,” said Irving, “that is a great point. New York is lacking in
that respect, the reason being, I suppose, its want of space. Some of
the houses in Washington suggest Bedford Park, Fitzjohn’s avenue,
and the street of artists’ houses at Kensington. The same may be said
of portions of Chicago and Boston. The so-called Queen Anne order
of architecture is very prevalent in Washington,—take Pennsylvania
avenue, for instance. On a fine summer’s day it must be a picture, with
its trees in leaf and its gardens in bloom.”

Irving went more than once to the White House, and was greatly
impressed with the dignified informality of one of its evening
receptions.

“No ceremonious pomp, no show, and yet an air of conscious power,” he
said; “the house might be the modest country-seat of an English noble,
or wealthy commoner, the President the host receiving his intimate
friends. No formal announcements; presentations made just as if we
were in a quiet country-house. Soon after supper, when the ladies
took their leave, and most of the gentlemen with them, I and one or
two others went into the President’s room, and chatted, I fear, until
morning. It was to me very enjoyable. President Arthur would shine in
any society. He has a large acquaintance with the best literature,
dramatic and general, is apt at quotation, an excellent storyteller, a
gentleman, and a good fellow. When I had said good-night, and was on
my way to the hotel, I could not help my own thoughts wandering back
to thoughts of Lincoln and Garfield, whose portraits I had noticed in
prominent positions on the walls of the executive mansion. I remember
Mr. Noah Brooks, of New York, telling us the story of Lincoln’s death,
and how he was to have been in the box with him at the theatre that
same night, and how vividly he recounted the chief incidents of the
tragedy. And Garfield,—I can quite understand that terrible business
making his successor prematurely old, called as he was into office
under such painful circumstances, and with so great a responsibility.
A distinguished American was telling me yesterday that only the wisest
discretion and personal self-denial in regard to the filling of offices
saved America from the possibilities of riot and bloodshed. He said
Arthur’s singularly quiet administration of affairs—the one necessity
of the time—would be taken into account at the polls, if he is
nominated for reëlection.”


V.

WASHINGTON society made itself most agreeable to both Irving and Miss
Terry, though “Portia, on a trip from the Venetian seas,” to quote the
New York reporter, made her visit to the capital an opportunity for
rest. Electing this city for a holiday, being relieved of a week’s
journey through New England, she remained at the capital on a visit
to her friend, Miss Olive Seward, the adopted daughter of the famous
minister of Lincoln’s administration.

Among the social entertainments given in Irving’s honor were two
notable little suppers,—one at the Metropolitan Club, by Mr. H. L.
Nelson, Secretary to the Speaker, and a journalist of well-won renown.
There were present, the Speaker (the Hon. John G. Carlisle), Senator
Bayard, Representatives Dorsheimer (ex.-Lieut. Governor of the State
of New York), T. B. Reed, Dr. George B. Loring (Commissioner of
Agriculture), and Messrs. John Davis (Assistant Secretary of State),
and F. E. Leupp. The other “evening after the play” was spent at Mr.
Dorsheimer’s house, in Connecticut avenue, where the guests included
several distinguished judges, senators, and government officials.
The conversation on both occasions was chiefly about plays. It was a
great relief from law and politics, one of the learned judges said,
to discuss Shakespeare and the stage. They all talked well upon the
drama; some of them had known Forrest; others, the elder Booth. Irving
was more than usually talkative in such congenial company. He related
many reminiscences of the English stage, none of which interested
his Washington friends more than his anecdotes of Macready. Several
instances of apt Shakespearian quotations were given; but they were
all capped by a story which Nelson told of Judge Jeremiah S. Black,
Mr. Buchanan’s Attorney-General and Secretary of State. Judge Black
was holding court at Chambersburgh, Pa., when he was on the circuit in
that State, forty years or more ago. His manners were rough, but more
from absent-mindedness than any other cause, for he was one of the
kindest of men. He would almost invariably find the strong point in a
cause that was on trial before him, and go on thinking about it without
reference to the point which counsel might be considering; so that
his questions often seemed impertinent to the bar. One of the lawyers
of Chambersburgh was a man of the name of Chambers, a soft-spoken,
mild-mannered kind of man. Chambers suffered especially from what he
supposed was Black’s intentional rudeness to him, and, one day, he
came to the conclusion that his burdens were intolerable; therefore he
stopped in the midst of his argument, and expostulated with the judge,
telling him that he always tried to treat the court deferentially, but
the judge did not reciprocate. The judge sat smiling through Chambers’s
long reproof, and briefly answered:—

               “Haply, for I am _black,_
  And have not those soft parts of conversation
  That _chamberers_ have.”

During the week Irving visited the capitol, and was introduced to the
highest officers of state. He heard debates in both houses, visited the
law courts, and received many kindly attentions, public and private.
The theatre was crowded every night. On the first night the President
sat in the stalls, and the Russian ambassador contented himself with
quite a back seat. Mr. Bancroft, the white-haired historian, was a
constant attendant. Mr. Charles Nordhoff (whose graphic stories are not
sufficiently well known) was in the stalls; so, also, were the authors
of “Democracy.” (It is rumored that they are a society syndicate; but
there is more authority in the statement that they are two, and I could
give their names. I forbear, for the sake of the American lady who was
pointed out to me in London, last year, as the undoubted author of
the “scurrilous burlesque”). Mr. Blaine (one of the most famous and
learned of American statesmen) was also present, and he was one of the
prominent men who showed Irving much social attention.[55] A list of
the distinguished people present, would include a majority of the great
personages at Washington during the season of 1884. All the plays were
enthusiastically received.[56]

Called on, as usual, to speak when the curtain had gone down for the
last time (after three recalls), Irving thanked the audience for the
kind reception and liberal patronage which had been accorded himself
and his company. They had during the past few months appeared in all
the leading cities of the country, and he felt that this cordial
welcome in the beautiful capital of the Union might fairly be regarded
as the crowning engagement of a most happy and prosperous tour. He
returned heartfelt thanks, not alone for himself, but for his company;
and especially for his fair comrade and friend, Miss Ellen Terry, of
whom he felt he could heartily say: “She came, she saw, she conquered.”
He said farewell with the greater ease in the expectation of having the
privilege of again appearing in Washington early in the coming season.
Again returning thanks, and saying good-by, Mr. Irving bowed himself
off the stage amid very demonstrative applause.


VI.

IT was quite like a council of war to see Irving, Loveday, Palser, and
Stoker, bending over a map of the United States, during the journey
from Washington to New York, _en route_ for several New England cities.
The chart was scanned with careful interest, Irving passing his finger
over it here and there, not with the intensity of the overthrown
monarch in “Charles the First,” but with a close scrutiny of routes.
The chief was sketching out his next tour in America.

“No more long journeys,” he said.

“They are not necessary,” Loveday replied.

“No jumping from Brooklyn to Chicago, and from Chicago to Boston. This
sort of thing may have been necessary by our relinquishment of the
one-night places set down for us in the original plan of the tour; but
we’ll reform that altogether.”

Then all the heads went down upon the chart; and pencil-marks begin to
appear, dotting out a route which began at Quebec, and traversed, by
easy stages, Canada and the United States,—from Quebec to Toronto,
from Toronto to New York, and thence to Chicago, and, by easy calls,
back again to the Empire city.

An hour or two later and the route was settled, Palser remarking, “It
is the most complete and easiest tour that has ever been mapped out.”

“And we will begin it in the autumn of this year. We have sowed the
seed; we are entitled to reap the harvest. All my American friends say
so; and the great American play-going public would like me to do so. I
am sure of it. My pulses quickened at the great cheer that went up at
Boston when I said I hoped to come back this year. Let us consider it
settled. We will come in September.”

The map was folded up, and the work of organizing the next tour was
at once commenced. Telegraphic “feelers,” in regard to “dates,” had
already been sent to the leading theatres. The best of them were ready
to accept for the time proposed; and a week or so later the business
was settled.

Meanwhile we arrived at New York (the trees in Washington and Union
squares, and Fifth avenue were crystal trees; every house was coated
with ice that sparkled under the electric lamps), and the next day
“Louis XI.” was given at New Haven. The week was spent between this
picturesque city and Worcester, Springfield, Hartford, and Providence.
Only “Louis XI.” and “The Bells” were played, Miss Terry taking a
week’s rest at Washington. The New England audiences were as cordial
at these cities as they had been at Boston; the critics interpreted
their sentiments. At Hartford, Mark Twain (S. L. Clemens) entertained
Irving under his hospitable roof, and at Springfield there was a
memorable gathering at the Springfield Club,—in fact, Irving was
welcomed everywhere with tokens of respect and esteem. One regrets that
these pages and the time of the patient reader are not sufficiently
elastic to allow of one devoting a volume to the New England cities, so
interesting as they are, historically and otherwise, from American as
well as English points of view.


VII.

FOLLOWING the New England cities come the last of the return
visits,—Philadelphia, Brooklyn,[57] New York. They reindorsed the
previous successes, and fully justified the decision of a second visit
next season.

One of the most interesting incidents of the second visit to
Philadelphia was Irving’s entertainment in the new rooms of the
“Clover Club.”[58] Accustomed to play the host, the club found itself
in a novel position when it accepted that of guest. The occasion was
one not likely to be forgotten in the annals of an institution which
interprets the best and highest social instincts of an eminently
hospitable city. The club-room was decorated with its characteristic
taste.

Mr. Dion Boucicault, in a brief address, spoke of the beneficent change
which Irving had wrought in the methods of the English stage; Mr.
McClure, the popular and powerful director of the “Times,” thanked him,
in the name of all lovers of art, for extending that reformation to the
American stage; Col. Snowden depicted his high place in the history
of the best civilization of America; and Irving, while accepting
with pride the honors which had been conferred upon him, defended
the great actors of America’s past and present from the criticism of
several speakers, who complained of their adherence to what Boucicault
called “the pedestal style” of acting Shakespeare. Irving described
to them how, in years gone by, both England and America had possessed
provincial schools of acting, in the stock companies that had
flourished in such cities as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago,
and other cities on one side of the Atlantic, and Bristol, Bath,
Manchester, Birmingham on the other; how these had been broken up by
“combinations” in travelling companies; and how the leading actors of
America had thus been disabled from presenting the dramas of the great
masters in a manner they would, no doubt, have desired to present them.
He said he had found similar difficulties in his own country; but,
actuated by the resolute purpose of a sense of duty to his art, and a
devoted love for it, he had overcome them. For some eight or ten years
he had worked with a company, trained with the object of interpreting,
to the best of their ability, the work of the dramatist. They
subordinated themselves to the objects and intentions of the play they
had to illustrate, and only by such self-abnegations to the harmony of
the entire play, he said, could anything like an approach be made to
the realization of a dramatic theme. He disclaimed any such ambition
as to be ranked foremost among the great actors whose names had been
mentioned; but he confessed to a feeling of intense satisfaction
that America should have accepted with a generous, and he must say a
remarkable, spontaneity, the methods which he had inaugurated at the
Lyceum Theatre.

Among other “sight-seeing” and calls which we made together in
Philadelphia was a visit to Mr. Childs, at the “Ledger” office, and
an hour or two spent at Independence Hall. Irving was much interested
in the new private office of Mr. Childs. Decorated in the so-called
style of Queen Anne, it is a fine example of the progress in art which
America has made within the past few years. “It contains many precious
reminiscences of the Centennial Exhibition. A screen in front of the
street windows is not the least artistic feature of the apartment. It
is formed by six square pillars, with arched openings, which, save
the centre, are closed to the height of three feet from the floor,
the space between the back of these and the windows forming a kind
of recess, where have been gathered some very valuable specimens of
plastic and mechanical art. Over the screen, or arcade, are ten painted
glass panels; the centre one contains the portraits of Gutenberg,
Faust, and Sch[oe]ffer, inventors of the art of printing with type;
the other four contain figures representing the art of bookmaking.
The left-hand panel contains a sitting figure, intently engaged on an
article for the press, which, with two figures, a man and a boy, the
latter of singularly fine action, forms the second panel. Passing over
the centre, the story is continued by the proofreader, and concluded
in the last panel, which represents a standing figure perusing the
finished book in the shape of a Bible, chained to a lectern. The centre
panel of five smaller panels, over those just mentioned, exhibits Mr.
Childs’s motto, ‘_Nihil sine labore_,’ and on the remaining four, in
old English, is painted the command, ‘Let there be light, and there was
light.’”

Mr. Childs is one of the best-known and one of the most popular
journalists in the United States. His name is familiar to the newspaper
men of England, and his offices are models, both as regards the
mechanical departments and the rooms set apart for his editorial
associates and writers. Mr. Cooke, the able and trusted correspondent
of the “London Times,” is the financial editor of the “Ledger.”

The porter at Independence Hall was glad to get the English actor’s
signature in the visitor’s book. From the moment that Irving entered
the place he attracted more attention than even “the bell of liberty”
itself. Long before American independence was even dreamed of, this
bell (originally cast at Whitechapel, London, and afterwards recast in
Philadelphia) bore the inscription, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all
the Land, to all the Inhabitants thereof!” Having taken in the historic
room which was formerly the Judicial Hall of the English colony of
Pennsylvania, Irving said, “How English it all is! how typical of the
revolt the portraits of these great fellows who headed it!” Then he
traced likeness to living Englishmen in several of the pictures. “One
hundred and thirty portraits by one artist!” he exclaimed. “He has done
wonderfully, I think, to get such variety of style, and yet so much
individuality.” In modern days this chamber has been the scene of the
lying-in-state of several prominent statesmen, on the way to burial.
Among them were John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln.

American history proudly recalls that “here, on the 3d of November,
1781, twenty-four British standards and colors, taken from the army
under Cornwallis, which had surrendered at Yorktown, were laid at
the feet of Congress, amidst the shouts of the people and volleys of
musketry, for they had been escorted to the door of the State-House
by the volunteer cavalry of the city, and greeted by the huzzas of the
people.” “But let us not forget,” said an American speaker, discoursing
on this theme at an Irving entertainment, “that we were all British
until we had signed that Declaration of Independence!”



XXI.

“BY THE WAY.”

 “My Name is Mulldoon, I live in the Twenty-fourth Ward”—Protective
 Duties and the Fine Arts—“The General Muster”—A Message from Kansas
 City—American Cabmen—Alarming Notices in Hotels—The Chicago Fire
 Service—What a Fire Patrol can do in a few Seconds—Marshalling the
 Fire Brigades—William Winter—“Office Rules”—The Reform Club and
 Politics—Enterprising Reporters—International Satire—How a Man of
 “Simple and Regular Habits” Lives—Secretaries in Waiting—The Bisbee
 Murders—“Hunted Down”—Outside Civilization—“The Bazoo”—The Story
 of a Failure—A Texan Tragedy—Shooting in a Theatre—Evolutions of
 Towns.


I.

“YES,” said Irving, “I, too, have made a few notes of ‘things to be
remembered,’ as we passed together some of the last proofs of these
chronicles and impressions. For instance, here is a memorandum,
‘Politics’; and it refers to General Horace Porter’s anecdotical
illustration of ward politics, and to Mr. Millett’s letter on art and
tariffs.”

“Let us take the story first,” I suggested.

We both remembered it; so, likewise, will several American friends of
that excellent _raconteur_, Horace Porter, one of New York’s brightest
post-prandial orators.

Irving had been making inquiries about the city government of New York,
and remarking upon the curious little wooden houses away up at the
further end of New York city.

“Oh,” said Porter, “those places belong to the last of the Manhattan
squatters. Most of them are occupied by families, who, as a rule, pay
little or no rent at all. They are on the outskirts of progress. As
the city extends into their district they disappear, seeking ‘fresh
woods and pastures new.’ Nevertheless some of them become quite firmly
established there. They are included, for voting purposes, in the
Twenty-fourth ward of the city. The houses, as you have observed,
are not architecturally beautiful. All the inhabitants keep fowls
and animals in their basements or cellars. As a rule nobody repairs
or attends to their abodes. Occasionally in wet weather they could
bathe in their cellars. Recently one of the most important men in
the district was a Mr. Mulldoon, whose very practical views of city
politics will be gathered by the story I am going to tell you, which
also illustrates the local troubles from a sanitary point of view.
Mulldoon’s premises were flooded. He was advised to apply to the
Commissioner of Public Works on the subject, and to use his political
influence in the matter; and he did. Entering the office of the
commissioner, he said:—

“‘My name is Mulldoon. I live in the Twenty-fourth ward; I conthrol
forty votes there; I kape hens; the wather has inundated my cellar, and
I want it pumped out at the public expinse.’

“‘We have no machinery to do that kind of work; it does not belong to
our department,’ said the officer.

“‘And be jabers if I don’t get that wather removed it will go hard wid
the party. I’ll cast thim forty votes for a Dutchman.’

“‘You had better go to the fire department.’

“‘Divil a bit; it’s the wather department I’m afther.’

“‘The fire department have appliances for pumping, we have not; I
recommend you to see the fire department.’

“He does so.

“Arrived at the proper officer’s desk, he says, ‘My name is Mulldoon;
I live in the Twenty-fourth ward; I conthrol forty votes there; I kape
hens; the wather has inundated my cellar, and I want it pumped out at
the public expinse.’

“‘The work does not belong to this department, Mr. Mulldoon; we put out
fires, not water. I’—

“‘Indade,’ said Mulldoon, calmly; “thin let the party look to it, for
I’ll rather cast thim forty votes for a nigger than Tammany Hall shall
get wan o’ them.’

“‘I was going to say, when you interrupted me, that you had better
see the mayor, and get an appropriation for the sum necessary to be
expended, and then you’ll have the business done right away.’

“‘An appropriation, is it? Thank ye! I’ve niver gone ag’in’ my party;
but I object to having my hens drowned under my very roof.’

“Going straight for the mayor, he said, ‘Mr. Mayor, sorr, my name is
Mulldoon; I live in the Twenty-fourth ward; I conthrol forty votes
there; I kape hens; the wather has inundated my cellar, and I want it
pumped out at the public expinse.’

“‘I am sorry I cannot help you, Mr. Mulldoon; but’—

“‘Not help me!’ exclaimed the chief of the little caucus in the
Twenty-fourth ward; ‘then, by my soul, I’ll cast them forty votes for a
hathen Chinee’—

“‘If you had not interrupted me, I was going to say that’—

“‘Oh, then, I beg Your Honor’s pardon; it is only just my bare rights
that I am saking.’

“‘If you go to the Board of Aldermen and get an appropriation, and
bring it to me, I will see that the work you claim shall be done.’

“‘Very well, then, and thank Your Honor,’ said Mulldoon, who in due
course presented himself before the principal officer of the board, an
Irishman like himself, and having considerable power.

“‘My name is Mulldoon; I live in the Twenty-fourth ward; I conthrol
forty votes there; I kape hens; my cellar is inundated, and I want
it pumped out at the public expinse. The mayor’s sent me to you for
an appropriation, and, by St. Patrick! if you refuse it, divil a wan
o’ them votes will ye ever get. I’ll cast them for a native American
first!’

“‘I don’t see how I can get you an appropriation, Mr. Mulldoon.’

“‘You don’t; well, then, the party may go to the divil, and Tammany
Hall wid it! I’m ag’in’ the lot o’ ye!’

“‘Don’t lose your temper, Mr. Mulldoon, I’ll see what can be done for
you; but, in the meantime, will you allow me to suggest that it would
be less dangerous for the party, considering the situation of your
residence, if, in the future, _you would arrange to keep ducks_!’”


II.

“WE have not talked much about politics, eh? And a good thing, too.
One only got really well into the atmosphere of political life at
Washington; and then, after all, one heard more about literary
copyright than anything else. I find I have made a note of a letter I
read somewhere recently from an American painter, in support of taxing
importations of fine art, more particularly pictures. It seems to
me this is a grave mistake. I had no idea that protection, as it is
called, existed so generally in America.”

“You have here,” I said, “the extreme of protective duties, as we in
England have the other extreme of an unreciprocal free trade.”

“I can understand a reasonable protective tariff for a commercial
industry; but art should surely go free. For a country that as yet
possesses no great school of painting nor sculpture of her own, to
obstruct, nay, almost prohibit, the entry of foreign work, must be to
handicap her own rising genius. The examples of the famous masters of
Greece and Rome, of France, and Holland, and England, are necessary for
the American student, and free traffic in the works of great modern
artists would have an elevating tendency on public taste.”

“As a rule American artists are favorable to the free importation
of foreign pictures. They favor it from your own stand-point, the
educational point of view,” I said.

“Moreover, I can quite imagine American artists who are permitted all
the privileges of the art schools and galleries of Europe, and who sell
their pictures in the Old World without let or hindrance, being annoyed
at the inhospitality of their own country in this respect,” he replied;
“Boughton, Bierstadt, Whistler, and other well-known American painters,
for example.”

“And so they are, no doubt.”

“As a matter of fact public opinion in the United States, if it could
be tested, would, I imagine, be on the side of admitting pictures,
_bric-à-brac_, and books without duty; though the progress of what is
called the modern free-trade movement is likely rather to retard than
advance the interests of a free importation of fine-art productions.”

“In what way?” he asked. “The leading idea of a great reduction of
tariffs is in the direction of abolition for protective purposes, a
tariff for revenue only. In that case luxuries only would be heavily
taxed, and the so-called free-traders, who support this view, would
probably count in pictures and _bric-à-brac_ with luxuries.”

“I should call them necessities,” Irving replied; “for the mind and
the imagination require feeding just as much as the body. Besides, how
are the Americans going to judge of the work of their own painters
without comparison, and current daily comparison too, with foreign
artists? The stage is as much of a luxury as paintings. Why let the
English actor and his artistic baggage and belongings come in? It is a
pleasant thing to remember that, under all circumstances, whatever the
troubles between the two countries, America has always welcomed English
players, and that has given her some of the best theatrical families
she has,—the Booths, Jeffersons, Wallacks, and others. If the same
enlightened policy in regard to painting, pottery, and _bric-à-brac_
had been carried out in the matter of the stage, we should have seen
just as fine an art appreciation applied to pictures as to plays and
players. I am sure of it. If the musician and his works, if the opera,
had been handicapped as art in other directions is, would America hold
her high place in respect of choral societies, orchestral bands? And
would she enjoy, as she does, the grand operas that are now produced in
all her great cities? No. While, as you know, I claim no other credit
for my method of presenting Shakespeare and the legitimate drama upon
the stage than a performance of managerial duty, I am quite sure that,
had European stage-art and artists been hampered for twenty years by
restrictive taxes and other fiscal obstructions, the Lyceum Company and
work would not have been welcomed as they have been, wherever we have
pitched our tent. The same freedom for paintings would have made Watts,
Millais, Tadema, Leighton, Pettie, Leader, Cole, Long, not to mention
the works of earlier masters, as familiar here as at home, and would
have crowded American homes with examples, original and copies, of the
best schools of Europe. Would not that have helped American painters?
Of course it would.”


III.

“YOUR work among New England cities,” I said, on his return visit to
Brooklyn, “should impress upon you the grim quaintness of the story
Mr. Emery Storrs told you concerning the annual festival called the
‘General Muster.’”

“Yes; a queer story, was it not? And, no doubt, characteristic of some
of the more remote little towns.”

This is the story:—

The militia muster, once a year, is a celebration peculiar more
particularly to New England. It is called the “General Muster.” Each
little town comes in with its quota of militia; the bands as numerous
as the troops. They make a holiday of it. One afternoon an old couple
on the hill-side of the little town go out to catch a glimpse of
the festivities. They are old and alone, managing to drag a mere
subsistence out of the sour soil. Their children have gone West,—a
son here, a daughter there. They are content to spend the winter of
their days in the old, hard nest where they have reared their young;
old folks, so old!—parchment faces, bony hands. They totter to the
town, and rest on the way in the cemetery, or church-yard, and look at
the graves as such grizzly veterans will. One of the militia fellows,
going home,—he had got fuddled rather earlier than usual,—sees them.
“Hello!” he shouts. “Go right back, right back, my friends; _this is
not the general resurrection, it is the general muster_!”

“By the way,” said Irving, “did I tell you of the amusing incident
that occurred at Philadelphia? It was on the last night of the first
visit. We were playing ‘The Belle’s Stratagem.’ You know how difficult
it is sometimes to keep the wings clear of people,—goodness knows who
they are! Well, my way was continually blocked by a strange-looking
crowd. I remonstrated with them once, and they moved; but they were
back again. The cue for my entrance during the mad scene was at hand,
as I said to these fellows, ‘Who are you? What do you want?’ ‘Baggage!’
exclaimed two of them, both in a breath. I did not know what the deuce
baggage meant; whether the reply was a piece of information or a piece
of impertinence; so I thought I would astonish them a little. Getting
my cue on the instant, I stepped back a yard or two, and dashed in
among them, yelling my entrance line, ‘Bring me a pickled elephant!’
They scattered right and left, and fell over each other; but before
they had time to defend themselves from what they evidently thought was
a furious attack I was on the stage.”


IV.

I HAVE referred to the “theatre parties” of ladies and gentlemen
who travelled many miles by railway to be present at the Irving
performances. Several invitations to visit distant cities were also
given, with guarantees of financial profit. Among these the most
interesting and complimentary was a requisition from Kansas City, which
is worth printing. I append it, with Irving’s reply:—

  WARWICK CLUB, KANSAS CITY, MO., Jan. 4, 1884.

 MR. HENRY IRVING:—

 _Dear Sir_,—We, the citizens of Kansas City, respectfully request
 that you honor this city and the West with a professional visit before
 your return to London. We hold in profound admiration your great
 histrionic ability and success in the legitimate drama, and your
 reputation as the leading representative of the English stage.

 We will endeavor to make the season both pleasant and profitable to
 yourself and Miss Terry, the brilliant and accomplished tragedienne.
 On behalf of one hundred members of the Warwick Club,

  Yours, respectfully,

  T. C. TRUEBLOOD, _President._

 F. E. HOLLAND, _Secretary_.

 Alden J. Buthen, “Kansas City Journal”; Morrison Mumford, “Kansas
 City Times”; George W. Warder, John Taylor, Smith & Rieger, Holman &
 French, Robert Keith, Cady & Olmstead, D. Austin, George H. Conover,
 M. H. Shepard, W. B. Wright, John H. Worth, Woolf Bros., C. J. Waples,
 John Cutt, John Walmsley, John Sorg, J. V. C. Kames, Jos. Cahn, H. N.
 Eps, Milton Moore, R. O. Boggers, Gardiner Lathrop, B. R. Conklin, W.
 R. Nelson, Homer Reed, Albert C. Hasty, L. E. Irwin, The Irwin & Eaton
 Ckg. Co., Meyer Bros. Drug Co., Charles L. Dobson, Fred Howard, James
 Scammon, A. Holland, H. T. Wright, Jr., N. W. McLain, W. B. Grimes
 and W. B. Grimes Dry Goods Co., Charles S. Wheeler & F. H. Underwood,
 Merchants’ Nat’l Bank, A. W. Atmour, W. H. Winants, Henry J. Lotshaw,
 Web. Withers, W. A. M. Vaughan, B. O. Christakker, F. B. Nopinger,
 John W. Moore, W. H. Miller, Charles E. Hasbrook, H. H. Craige, Levi
 Hammersleigh, B. R. Bacon, Morse Bros. & Co.

 MY DEAR SIR,—Your invitation, on behalf of one hundred members of
 the Warwick Club, is one of the most gratifying incidents of a very
 pleasant tour. I cannot sufficiently thank you for the compliment it
 conveys to myself, to my sister in art, Miss Terry, and to my entire
 company. We shall all of us treasure it as a delightful memory of
 the West, and, for my own part, I shall never be content until I can
 respond to it as I wish. I hope the day is not far distant when I may
 be able to visit you and your interesting city. I regret, however,
 that, so far as the present tour is concerned, Mr. Abbey finds it
 impossible to change our programme so as to make it fit your most kind
 and hospitable invitation.

 With sincere thanks and good wishes, in which Miss Terry joins,

 I am,

 HENRY IRVING.

 ST. LOUIS, January 7.


V.

“ONE thing I notice about the American cabmen and drivers generally,”
said Irving,—“they do not chaff each other as the London men in the
same positions do. They don’t appear to be cheerful; don’t discuss
among themselves the news of the day; they treat each other as if they
were strangers. English people, as a rule, complain of the cab-fares
here; but they forget, on the other hand, to say that the cabs, or
_coupés_, as they call them, are beautifully appointed vehicles;
private broughams, in fact. The only inconvenience is, that unless you
make a bargain with a driver beforehand he may charge you, it seems,
what he likes. Against that, again, is this set-off: you can order your
cab at your hotel, or your club, and have it charged in your bill, and
in that case there is no extortion. Each leading hotel and club has
telephonic communication with livery stables; and what a comfort that
is! Then the messenger system,—one almost wonders how we do without
it in London. If London can give New York ‘points’ in some things, New
York can certainly return the compliment.”

Asked by a Boston journalist “how he considered he had been treated by
his American critics,” Irving said, “I am exceedingly gratified by the
intelligent and fair manner in which I have been treated by the press
wherever I have gone. The Boston critics have been just and generous
to me. Of course I read what the press has to say of my work, and,
while I think it is not the proper province of an actor to criticise
his critics, I will say generally that I have been pleased to note in
how very few instances I have had to encounter on this side of the
Atlantic anything in the nature of personal or petty feeling. I have
been struck, too, by the power, vigor, and critical acumen which your
leading papers, both here and elsewhere, have displayed in passing
judgment upon my work and that of my company. I have a feeling that an
actor should be content with what he gets, and that it is his duty to
accept patiently any reproach, and to profit by it if he can. After
all, criticism, if unjust, never harms a man; because any final appeal
is always to the public, and, if any wrong is done, their ultimate
judgment invariably corrects it.”


VI.

THE “Southern Hotel,” at St. Louis, displayed prominently engraven
upon a tablet, near the principal staircase, the dates when it had
been burned down and rebuilt. The “Tremont,” at Chicago, recorded on
its handsome new building the fact that it had been destroyed by fire,
Oct. 27, 1839; July 9, 1849; and Oct. 9, 1871. “Having dwelt upon these
dates with a little misgiving,” said a member of Mr. Irving’s company,
“some of us felt almost alarmed when, on closing our bedroom doors, a
card headed ‘Fire!’ printed in red ink, attracted our attention. I have
asked permission to carry one of them away with me, thinking you would
like to have it.” The notice is as follows:—

  _FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!_

 There have been placed in the halls of the Tremont House GONGS, which
 will be rung by electricity, as an

  ALARM IN CASE OF FIRE.

 They are under control of the office, and will be set going INSTANTLY,
 on the slightest alarm, and continue to ring.

 This ringing, with the system of calling each room by watchmen
 stationed on the floors, will insure the speediest alarm to guests it
 is possible to give in case of accident.

 On being awakened, guests and employés will protect themselves, each
 other, and property, to the greatest possible extent.

 There are four RED LANTERNS in each hall, at the corners, showing the
 Stairways, and at the End of every Corridor outside the building there
 are IRON LADDER FIRE-ESCAPES to the ground.

 Passage along the halls and corridors, if dark and filled with smoke,
 can be made by crawling close to the floor with the face covered, to
 prevent the inhalation of smoke and consequent suffocation.

 From the Roof and the three stories below it there is access from the
 service stairs to the tops of the adjoining buildings, making a Way of
 Escape over the roofs, from Dearborn to State street,—a full block.

  JOHN A. RICE & Co.


The fire service at Chicago is, no doubt, the finest and most complete
organization in the world. Situated as the city is, on a vast plain,
with prairie winds and lake winds that sweep the entire country for
hundreds of miles without obstruction, the fire department has to
consider, not only the question of extinguishing a conflagration, but
protecting the property adjacent to a fire from ignition, in regard to
which it has a series of wise precautionary measures. In former days
Chicago, like many other American cities, was largely built of wood,
and there are still outlying districts of timber houses. There are also
enormous lumber-yards in Chicago, which are a source of danger during
fires that rage when a high wind is blowing. Not long since Capt.
Shaw gave an exhibition to a royal party in London, demonstrating how
quickly the engines and fire-escapes can be signalled and despatched
to a fire. So far as I remember the time was about fifteen minutes.
In Chicago they take less than as many seconds to complete a similar
operation. The system of fire-alarms in all American cities is superior
to ours, and the arrangements for starting ensure far more expedition.
We have a less number of fires in England, many conflagrations taking
place in America through carelessness in connection with the furnaces
that are used for heating the houses; then shingle roofs are not
uncommon in America; and in England the party-walls that separate
houses are, as a rule, thicker and higher. This was the explanation
which the American consul gave me at Birmingham, England, recently,
for the fact that during a whole year in Birmingham (with a population
equal to Chicago) every fire that had occurred had been extinguished
with a hand-engine and hose; it had not been necessary in a single
case to use the steam-engines. In Chicago and other cities the electric
signal announcing a fire at the same time releases the horses that
are tethered close to the engines, alarms the reclining (sometimes
sleeping) firemen in their bunks above, withdraws the bolts of
trap-doors in the floor; and by the time the horses are in the shafts
and harnessed the men drop from their bunks upon the engine. From a
calm interior, occupied by an engine with its fire banked up, and one
attendant officer, to a scene of bustle and excitement with an engine,
fully equipped, dashing out into the street, is a transformation
sufficiently theatrical in its effect to make the fortune of an Adelphi
drama.

I once engaged to time the operation with a stopwatch, and before I
was fairly ready to count the seconds the engine was in the street and
away. These exhibitions of skill, speed, and mechanical contrivance can
be seen every day at the quarters of the Fire Insurance Patrol. Chief
Bulwinkle is one of the most obliging of officers, and many a famous
English name has been inscribed in his visitor’s book.[59]

The method of marshalling the forces of the various brigades in case
of a serious fire is interesting. Marshal Swenie explains it in a few
words, in answer to a journalistic inquiry:—

“‘There is at each fire-station a running-card in connection with a
particular fire-alarm box. All these brigades act on the first alarm.
If the fire is in the crowded and costly part of the city not only
do the nearest companies go to the fire, but the companies farther
off move up. Suppose, for instance, that there is a fire at State and
Madison streets, and there are four engine-houses in a straight line,
extending in any direction to the city limits, and a mile apart. We
will call the company nearest the fire No. 1, the next, No. 2, the
next, No. 3, and the one farthest away, No. 4. Now, when No. 1 goes to
the fire, No. 2 goes to the engine-house of No. 1 and takes possession;
No. 3, in like manner, takes possession of No. 2’s house, and No. 4
of No. 3’s house. If there is a second alarm, No. 2 goes to the fire;
No. 3 takes No. 1’s house, and No. 4 takes No. 3’s house. If there
is a third alarm, No. 3 goes to the fire, and No. 4 takes No. 1’s
house. Moreover, what is done in that one direction is done in every
direction.”

“‘What is the object of this?’ asks the interviewing reporter from whom
I borrow Marshal Swenie’s information.

“‘The object is to watch most closely the most valuable part of the
city. A fire in the heart of the city destroys a hundred times as much
property in a given time as a fire in the outskirts; therefore we
arrange things so that if any part is to be left without protection it
shall be the sparsely settled part.’

“‘Who directs the operation of extinguishing a fire?’

“‘The captain of the company that arrives first on the ground takes
command of all the companies that arrive after his until a chief of a
battalion arrives; and the chief takes command until the marshal or
assistant marshal arrives.’

“‘What is the position of the commanding officer at a fire?’

“‘In front of the fire. By the front I mean to the leeward. A fire is
always driven by the wind in one particular direction, and the marshal
or commanding officer will always be found, therefore, where the fire
is the hottest.’

“‘How do you communicate your orders in such a noise and excitement as
there were, for instance, at the Bradner Smith & Co. fire?’

“‘Partly by messengers and partly by signals. The signals, however,
are very few, and are made with a lantern. If the lantern is moved up
and down it means that more pressure is needed on the stream; if it is
moved horizontally it means that less is needed; and if it is swung
around in a circle it means “take up,” or stop work altogether.’

“‘What does the whistling of the engine mean?’

“‘It means that they need more coal. They take with them fuel enough to
last them half an hour, and by that time the coal-wagons are due.’

“‘Do you ever have any difficulty with your men on the score of
cowardice?’

“‘Not any; but I have a world of difficulty in the other direction. The
ambition, rivalry, and _esprit du corps_ of the force are so great that
I have the greatest difficulty in restraining the men from throwing
away their lives in the most reckless manner. If I ever need to have
a man go into a very dangerous position all I have to do is to send
two there. As soon as they start each one insists on going a few feet
farther than the other, and the result is that both of them become
willing to walk into the fire. There is also very little shirking in
the force. Once in a long time a man gets suspected of shirking, and
the way that is cured is, he is given the pipe to hold at every fire,
and four men are put behind him to shove him in.’

“‘What are the greatest obstacles to be overcome in extinguishing a
fire?’

“‘Smoke and hot air. I have known the air in burning buildings to get
so hot that two inhalations of it would kill a man. As to smoke, we use
a kind of respirator; but it doesn’t do a great deal of good. Our main
hope is in ventilating the premises and letting out the smoke. If it
wasn’t for the smoke it would be very easy to put out fires.’

“‘Do you find that a fireman is short-lived?’

“‘I can’t say I do. So far as I can see they are a healthy, long-lived
class, when they don’t get mangled and killed at their work.’”


VII.

“DO you remember the poetic speech, in verse and prose, that William
Winter[60] made at the banquet in Lafayette place?” I asked.

“Yes, indeed,” Irving replied. “The two stanzas with which he
introduced it were singularly musical, I thought.”

“Here they are. I wanted him to write out the heads of his speech for
me; but he had only written down his verses, and here they are, as
dainty as they are fraternal.

  I.

  “‘If we could win from Shakespeare’s river
    The music of its murmuring flow,
  With all the wild-bird notes that quiver
    Where Avon’s scarlet meadows glow;
  If we could twine with joy at meeting
    Their prayers who lately grieved to part,
  Ah, then, indeed, our song of greeting
    Might find an echo in his heart!

   II.

  “‘But since we cannot in our singing
    That music and those prayers entwine,
  At least, we’ll set our blue-bells ringing,
    And he shall hear our whispering pine;
  And there shall breathe a welcome royal,
    In accents tender, sweet, and kind,
  From lips as fond and hearts as loyal
    As any that he left behind.’”

Among the curious notices, serious and humorous, which were posted in
the offices and dressing-rooms of the various theatres, the following
satirical regulations are somewhat incongruous when considered with
the handsome furniture which generally belongs to managerial rooms in
America:—

 OFFICE RULES.

 1. Gentlemen entering this office will please leave the door open.

 2. Those having no business should remain as long as possible, take a
 chair and lean against the wall,—it will prevent it falling upon us.

 3. Gentlemen are requested to smoke, particularly during office hours.
 Tobacco and cigars will be furnished.

 4. Spit on the floor,—the spittoons are merely for ornament.

 5. Talk loud or whistle, particularly when we are engaged; if this
 does not have the desired effect, SING.

 6. Put your feet on the table, or lean against the desk; it will be a
 great benefit to those who are using it.

 7. Persons having no business with this office will please call again
 when they can’t stay so long.


VIII.

“WILL you please tell me about the report, cabled from London to the
American press, that you propose to stand for Parliament, in the
Liberal interest, on your return to England?” asked a journalistic
interviewer, at Boston.

“I can only say that the report is entirely unfounded. It arose,
I imagine, from my election to the Reform Club. You know they do
occasionally elect out-of-the-way fellows, such as I am, in the matter
of politics. The welcome news reached me last night in my dressing-room
at the theatre. To be elected in my absence adds to the pleasure of
the thing. I have only that interest in politics which all honest
men should have, but it exists only under my own roof. I do not think
artists should mix up in politics. Art is my vocation, and I confine
myself to it.”

“Then, I assume, you have never cherished political aspirations.”

“Oh, no, never! In fact I should be totally unfit for Parliament. I
am not eloquent, and should be unfit in other ways. We do not look
upon politics in England as you do here. Here political life is an
avenue to office and to emoluments, in a broader and deeper sense
than is possible in England, and many choose the law as a profession
with a view to politics. Do they not? It is not so with us. A seat
in the House of Commons, as a rule, involves great expense, as well
as a claim upon a man’s time; and he may sit there all his life, if
he is returned often enough, and spend every year a large income,
socially in London, and locally on charities, hospitals, reading-rooms,
churches and chapels, among his constituents. We do not pay our
representatives salaries; and I believe, particularly in the country,
the constituencies watch with the greatest jealousy every vote a member
records. The House of Commons is not a bed of roses.”

I have said, in a previous chapter, that the trouble in respect to
the new form of journalism in some of the cities of the United States
is, that the reader is left too much in doubt as to the truth of the
daily chronicles. The Chicago reporter, who held up the “interviews”
of other journals as more or less “bogus,” would himself have found it
difficult in this respect to winnow the chaff from the wheat. At St.
Louis a reporter professed to have taken an engagement as a “super” in
the Irving Company. He wrote a description of “behind the scenes” in
that capacity, but “gave himself away,” by making all the company, from
the leading actor down to the call-boy, drop their h’s. The American
reporter’s leading idea when burlesquing the English is to take every
_h_ out of a Britisher’s conversation, and even to make the Queen
herself drop the aspirate or misuse it; for instance, here is a summary
of the royal speech on the opening of Parliament, which appeared in a
Philadelphia journal: “We’re pretty well, I thank you, and we ‘opes
to remain so, we does.” If in our stage and journalistic satire we
make Jonathan “guess,” “calkalate,” and “lick all creation, you bet,”
he “gets even” with “yahs, deah boy,” and “‘ow bar’ you,” and “‘pon
my ‘onor, don’t cher know?” But, referring back to the many imaginary
interviews and fictitious sketches of Irving and his life behind
the scenes, here is an extract from an account of “Irving’s day,”
which appeared in one of the light-headed dailies, that is, in some
respects, truer than I dare say any of its readers believed it to be.
The introduction of “the secretaries” is worthy of “Punch,” and in its
earnestness funnier than some of the great humorist’s sketches of the
Irving tour in America. Here are the leading points of the article:—

 THE METHODICAL WAY IN WHICH IRVING PASSES HIS TIME.

 Henry Irving is a man of simple, but regular, habits. He has gained
 the hearts of everybody in the Bellevue, from the proprietor to the
 bell-boy, by his courteous demeanor and his desire to give as little
 trouble as possible. He rises at nine o’clock, and drinks a cup of
 coffee with milk. Breakfast is served in his private sitting-room at
 ten o’clock, consisting of tea, boiled eggs, and some other simple
 dish. The eggs he cooks himself in a little spirit-lamp arrangement
 of his own. He eats the meal alone, and glances at his mail while
 at table. The budget of correspondence is usually large, and
 includes letters from all over the world. After breakfast one or two
 secretaries pay their respects to him, and receive his instructions
 in regard to the replies to the missives. The daily papers are then
 carefully read, and any visitors who call are received.

 Between twelve and one he leaves the hotel, generally in a carriage,
 and always accompanied by a secretary. The theatre is the first
 destination. In everything concerning the stage arrangements, indeed,
 even the most minute details, Mr. Irving is consulted. A skye-terrier
 is also a persistent companion of the English actor, and follows
 wherever he goes.

 Mr. Irving dines at 3.30. A course-dinner is served,—oysters, soup,
 fish, a cutlet, and a bird. Canvas-back duck has a preference among
 the feathery food. He dines by himself, does his own carving, and
 dismisses the servants as soon as the dishes are placed in front of
 him. From the dinner hour until he goes to the theatre he is denied to
 everybody. No matter whose card arrives for him there is no passport
 for the pasteboard through the portals of the actor’s apartments. The
 interval after dinner is passed in study and meditation. Mr. Irving
 is, above all, a student, and every gesture and motion he makes on
 the stage have been previously considered, and a reason found for the
 change of position or features.

 After the theatre Mr. Irving throws off the restraint of the day,
 and sups at his ease with some of his friends. A secretary or two
 are included in the party. Supper lasts sometimes until two or three
 in the morning. Last Sunday, when Attorney-General Brewster was Mr.
 Irving’s guest, it was three A.M., before the party exchanged adieux.

 Among the visitors who have called on Mr. Irving, Viscount Bury,
 James McHenry, and General Collis were among the favored ones who
 were admitted to audience. Scores of invitations for every kind of
 entertainment have overwhelmed him, keeping three or four of his
 secretaries busy with writing his expression of regrets.

When Irving was at Philadelphia he had a young English friend visiting
him. The waiter (who was evidently in the confidence of the local
reporter, or might have been the reporter himself masquerading as a
waiter) pressed him in as a secretary. Abbey’s manager, Mr. Palser, Mr.
Stoker, Mr. Loveday, and another friend, a resident of Philadelphia,
were all promoted to the secretarial office. There is a sublime touch
of unconscious satire in this staff of secretaries, engaged upon
the work of answering Irving’s letters, which will be particularly
appreciated in London, where that one special sin of his—neglecting
to answer letters—is even commented upon in learned reviews. The
after-dinner “study and meditations” is “Jeames’s” view of the
siesta, which is a needful incident of every actor’s day. The data
of the sketch being fairly correct, the _bona fides_ of it, from the
reporter’s point of view, make it interesting as well as characteristic
of the “personal” character of some of the clever news journals of the
day.


IX.

ONE day, during “this interval after dinner,” which is “passed in study
and meditation,” Irving said, “Have you followed out all the story of
the Bisbee murderers?”

“Yes,” I said. “It is one of those strange cases of lawlessness, that
I have taken out of the newspapers for my scrap-book. Charles Reade[61]
would have been interested in it. Have you ever seen his scrap-books?”

“No,” said Irving; “are they very remarkable?”

“Yes, and in my slovenly attempts to save newspaper cuttings I often
think of him. I once spent a whole day with him, looking over his
journalistic extracts, and he was lamenting all the time the trouble
involved in their arrangement and indexing. He subscribed to many odd
out-of-the-way newspapers for his collections. If he had ever visited
America he would have been tempted to make a very formidable addition
to his list.

“Do you know the beginning of the Bisbee business? I have only seen
the account of the hunting down of one of the murderers, which has
interested me tremendously. Have you seen any accounts of the capture?”

“No.”

“Well, then, curiously enough I have received a San Francisco
‘Chronicle,’ with the entire story of it, and I believe it is worth
putting into the book. Can you tell me the nature of this crime?”

“Yes. One day several strangers arrived suddenly in the little town of
Bisbee, on the outskirts of Western civilization. They went into the
principal store, shot down the owner of it, fired at anybody they saw
on the street, killed a woman who was passing the store, and, having
generally, as it were, bombarded the little town, left as mysteriously
as they came. That is briefly the story, as it was repeated to me a
week ago by Dr. Gilman, of Chicago, who has recently returned from the
scene of the tragedy, and other mining camps and towns, about which he
entertained me with a dozen almost equally startling stories.”

“Well,” said Irving, “the hunt after these Bisbee ruffians is about
as dramatic an episode of police work as I ever came across. A reward
being offered for the chief of the gang who raided Bisbee, it was soon
discovered that ‘Big Dan,’ a notorious ruffian, was the criminal. The
entire business was after his most approved method, and it was finally
proved, beyond doubt, that this was the latest of ‘Big Dan Dowd’s’
crimes. On the 6th of January, Deputy Sheriff Daniels brought him in
custody into Tombstone, and this is the story of the capture:—

“‘On December 23, Daniels learned in Bisbee, from some Mexicans just in
from Sonora, that two men, answering the description of ‘Big Dan’ and
Billy Delaney, were in Bavispe, Sonora. This place will be remembered
as the point from which Crook started on his trip into the defiles
of the Sierra Madre, and lies on the western slope of that range.
Satisfying himself that the information furnished by the Mexicans was
correct, Daniels communicated with the sheriff’s office, and, after
making all necessary arrangements, started, on the morning of December
26, for that place. Accompanying the officer was a Mexican named
Lucero, on whom Daniels knew he could rely as a guide and a fighter.
On the morning of the 30th, after a ride of about two hundred miles,
Daniels and his two companions (he having picked up another Mexican at
Frontera) reached Bavispe. Here it was learned that Delaney and Dowd
had separated five days previously, Dowd remaining in Bavispe, which
point he had left that morning, about an hour prior to the arrival of
Daniels and his posse. Additional inquiries elicited the information
that Dowd had struck across the Sierra Madre for Janos, in the State of
Chihuahua, distant about seventy-five miles. After taking a short rest,
and perfecting plans for the capture of Delaney, the officer started in
pursuit of the other bandit.

“The route of travel led through the defiles of the Sierra Madre, by
rocks and precipitous trails, and it was not until the morning of
January 1 that Daniels reached Janos, where he learned, as at Bavispe,
that the bird had flown, having left Janos a few hours ahead of him for
Coralitos, distant about twenty-seven miles. Procuring fresh horses,
the posse started at once for Coralitos, which place was reached
about eight o’clock that evening. The town is in the centre of a
mining country, and is composed principally of Mexicans, there being
but half-a-dozen Americans in the place. The whole neighborhood, as
described by Daniels, seems to belong to the Coralitos Mining Company,
of which Ad Menzenberger is superintendent. Daniels went at once to
him, and communicating the object of his visit, learned that ‘Big Dan’
had arrived a short time previously, and was then in what was known
as the house of the Americans. The superintendent, having learned the
character of Dowd, was only too willing to assist in his capture, and,
under the cover of darkness, he and Daniels proceeded to the house.
Prior to reaching it, it was agreed that the superintendent should
enter in advance of Daniels, in order to prevent any interference by
the Americans who were in his employ, in the capture of Dowd.

“‘As agreed the superintendent entered the room first, with Daniels at
his heels. Dowd was sitting on a table facing the fire, and the rest
of the party were scattered about the room. On the table was standing,
also, a bottle of whiskey, which had not been uncorked. Everything
indicated that Dowd had no idea of the presence of an officer, and was
preparing for a jolly night with his companions. He did not even look
around when the men entered the room, and his first knowledge that he
was in the clutches of the law was when Menzenberger, who had reached
his side, caught hold of his arms, and throwing them above his head,
said, ‘Throw up your hands.’ Daniels, at the same time, with a cocked
pistol in each hand, made the demand to surrender. A word from the
superintendent to the Americans present showed Dowd, who was unarmed
at the time, that he was powerless to escape, and he quietly submitted
to being manacled. Daniels remained until the following morning, when
he was furnished with an ambulance and escort by the superintendent,
and driven to San José station, on the line of the Mexican Central
Railroad, one hundred and ten miles distant, and about ninety miles
south of El Paso del Norte. Here he telegraphed to Sheriff Ward of
the capture, and, putting his prisoner on board the train, started
for home. Upon nearing Paso del Norte, he feared that Dowd might
raise a question of extradition, and put him to much trouble; so he
made arrangements with the railroad officials, and, together with his
prisoner, was locked in the express car until reaching the American
line.’”

Irving recited most of the “Chronicle’s “narrative. The close, terse
particulars of its details leave sufficient color of surroundings to
the imagination of the reader.


X.

“TOMBSTONE,” he said presently, “is a curious name for a town.”

“Some friends of mine,” I said, “have business interests there. It got
its name in this way: a party of young pioneers decided to go there
on a prospecting expedition. They were ridiculed, and told by another
party, who had refused to join them, that all they would find would
be a tomb. The adventurers, however, discovered mineral treasures, of
enormous extent, started a town, and, as a derisive answer to their
prophetic friend, called it Tombstone. This is the story of only a few
years. Tombstone is now a prosperous community, and has a daily paper.
What do you think its title is?”

“I cannot guess.”

“Eugene Field, a journalist whose name is well-known throughout the
West, gave me a copy of it only yesterday.”

I went to my room and brought down a well-printed four-page paper,
entitled “The Tombstone Epitaph.”

“And not a funny paper at all,” said Irving, examining it; “a regular
business-like paper, newsy and prosaic, except for the short literary
story and the poem that begin its pages.”

“Mr. Field gave me some remarkable newspaper trophies of these mining
towns, that may be said to grow up outside the pale of civilization, to
be eventually incorporated into the world of law and order. Here, for
instance, is a placard issued by ‘The Bazoo,’ a newspaper published at
the little town of Sedalia:—

  BAZOO NEWS TRAIN!
  —to—
  NEVADA, MO.,

  FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1883.

  _BILL FOX’S PUBLIC EXECUTION_
  For the murder of Tom Howard, at Nevada, Mo., May 20,1883.

The “Sedalia Bazoo” has chartered a special train, which will run to
Nevada from Joplin on that day. Leaving Jopling at 8.10 o’clock A.M.,
and returning in thirty minutes after the death-scene at the gallows.

                                        Rate of Fare for
  TIME-TABLE.                              Round Trip.

  Leave Joplin,       8.10 A.M.              $2.00
    ”   Webb City,    8.25  ”                 1.75
    ”   Edwin,        8.43  ”                 1.50
    ”   Carthage,     8.53  ”                 1.45
    ”   Carey,        9.05  ”                 1.25
    ”   Jasper,       9.15  ”                 1.10
    ”   Carleton,     9.27  ”                  .95
    ”   Lamar,        9.40  ”                  .75
    ”   Irwin,        9.57  ”                  .60
    ”   Sheldon,     10.07  ”                  .50
    ”   Milo,        10.20  ”                  .25
  Arrive Nevada,     10.35

  [finger]Tickets for Sale at the Depot.[finger]

Returning, the train will leave Nevada thirty minutes after the
execution, giving plenty of time for all to get to the train. Tickets
sold for this train will not be good on any other but the “Bazoo” News
Train, this day only.

        _THE BAZOO!_
  Is a Daily and Weekly newspaper published at
         SEDALIA, MO.,
  For the People now on Earth.

  TERMS.

  Daily,  per Annum            $10.00
  Sunday,     ”                  2.50
  Weekly,     ”                  1.00

[finger]Subscriptions will be received on the Train by a
Solicitor.[finger]

The “Sedalia Morning Bazoo” of Dec. 29 will contain a picture of FOX,
who is to be executed, with a full history of his crime, his trial, and
the last words of the dying man on the gallows.

Secure a copy of the news agent on the train, or of your news-dealer,
for FIVE CENTS.

“And here is the free pass (printed on a mourning card) which
accompanied the announcement that was sent to Mr. Field in his
journalistic capacity:—

                        THE BAZOO NEWS TRAIN,
  Good for Special          On the occasion of the
  News Train only.   PUBLIC EXECUTION OF BILL FOX.
                          Pass Miss Eugenia Field,
                          Acc’t of Boss Bog,

                          TO NEVADA AND RETURN,
                                 Dec. 28, 1883.
                                          J. WEST GOODWIN.

“Bill Fox, I understood, was a noted criminal, and everybody was glad
to have him hanged out of the way.”


XI.

“IT is a lesson in the evolution of towns, these incidents of the
pushing out of the frontiers of a great country,” said Irving. “I dare
say Denver began its career as a mining-camp.”

“It did; and only a few years ago.”

“And now they tell me it is a beautiful and well-ordered city, with the
finest opera-house in all America.”

“That is so; and one day you ought to play there.”

“I hope I may; I would like it very much. By the way, your bill about
‘The Bazoo’ excursion reminds me of two curious placards which the
manager of Haverly’s gave me. They tell the story of the fate of a
new play that was once produced at his theatre. It was called ‘Hix’s
Fix,’ and was a terrible failure. The theatre had been engaged for a
short season for ‘Hix’s Fix,’ and the proprietors of it were at their
wits’ ends to know what to do. They were not prepared to play any other
piece; so they hit upon the expedient of ‘pushing the failure.’ They
printed half a million handbills, and circulated them diligently. This
is one of them; it reads as follows:—

  HAVERLY’S THEATRE.

  In obedience to the Unanimous Opinion of the Daily Press

  MESTAYER & BARTON

  Seriously think of Changing the name of their Play,

  HIX’S FIX, to ROT.

  In sober truth, this is about the right thing

  [hand symbol] BUT [hand symbol]

  It is the funniest rot you have ever seen, and stands preeminent
  and alone the

  WORST PLAY OF THE AGE.


  OPINIONS OP THE PRESS:

  Hix’s Fix is bad enough, but think of the poor audience.—_News._

  All that is not idiotic is vile.—_Tribune._

  The piece is sheer nonsense, to speak mildly.—_Times._

  The most painful dramatic infliction we have suffered this
  season.—_Evening News._

  EVERYBODY’S JUDGMENT WANTED.

  TURN OUT AND JOIN THE MOURNERS.

  Every Night this Week and Wednesday and Saturday
  Matinées.

“Under the influence of this extraordinary announcement, the business
improved, stimulated by which cheering result the managers issued a new
proclamation, to this effect:—

  HAVERLY’S THEATRE.

  Every Night this Week and usual Matinées.

  HIX’S FIX

  Is unquestionably the worst Play ever produced.

  It is so much worse that no one should miss it!

  THIS IS CONFIDENTIAL (?)

  To illustrate how good people will sometimes go wrong, read
  the list of talent engaged in playing this vile trash.

  WILLIAM A. MESTAYER,
  The heaviest of heavy Tragedians.

  ROB’T E. GRAHAM,
  Unequalled in Character Impersonations.

  HARRY BLOODGOOD, FRED. TURNER, CHAS. A. STEDMAN,
  H. A. CRIPPS.
  MISS KATE FOLEY,
  As bright as a sunbeam,
  SOPHIE HUMMELL, HELEN LOWEL, LISLE RIDDELL, with
  JAMES BARTON, as Manager.

  Here you have the novelty of a very Good Company in an
  unpardonably Bad Play.

  AND THEY KNOW IT!

  You must admire their Candor, if you will condemn the Play.

“Many curious people were drawn to the theatre in this way; but the
attraction of failure only lasted a few nights. The invitation to turn
out and join the mourners strikes one as funny. ‘It helped them to pay
expenses,’ said the manager; ‘but it is the most novel effort to “turn
diseases to commodities,” as Falstaff says, that ever came under my
notice.’”


XII.

“AND now,” continued Irving, “to go back to your opening, where we
rather discount Raymond’s stories of the wild life of Texas. Have you
seen the ‘Herald’s’ latest sensation?”

“No.”

“Not the Texan tragedy?”

“No.”

“Here it is, then; listen to the heads of it: ‘Two Crime-stained
Ruffians die with their Boots on—Pistol Shots in a Theatre—Killed
in Self-defence by Men whose Lives they sought—The Heroes of many
Murders!’”

He handed me the paper, saying, “Read that! And yet we chaffed poor
Raymond!”

I read a “special telegram” to the “Herald” (and verified the report at
a later day by the records of other journals, local, and of the “Empire
city”), reporting that on the 11th of March, between ten and twelve at
night, San Antonio, Texas, was “thrown into a state of wild excitement,
by the report that Ben Thompson and King Fisher had been shot and
killed at the Vaudeville Theatre. An immense crowd thronged around the
doors of the theatre, but were denied admission by the officers who had
taken possession of the building.

“It seems that Ben Thompson, who is noted throughout Texas as one of
the most reckless and desperate characters in the State, and King
Fisher, who also had the reputation of a desperado, arrived at San
Antonio together, from Austin, by the International train. After
enjoying the performance at Turner Hall for a time, they left before
the curtain fell, and went to the Vaudeville Theatre, in company
with another person. As soon as it became known that Thompson was in
the city the police were on the alert, expecting trouble. Fisher and
Thompson entered the Vaudeville, and, after taking a drink at the bar,
went upstairs and took seats. They engaged in a brief conversation with
Simms, one of the proprietors, and the whole party took drinks and
cigars together. Thompson and Fisher then rose, and, in company with
Simms and Coy, a special policeman at the theatre, started downstairs.

“The party was joined by Joe Foster, another of the Vaudeville
proprietors, and an excited and heated conversation followed, during
which Thompson called Foster a liar, a thief, and other vile names.
Firing then commenced, and some ten or twelve shots were heard in
rapid succession. Police Captain Shardein and another officer rushed
upstairs, to find Ben Thompson and King Fisher weltering in their blood
in the corner of a room near the door leading downstairs. Joe Foster
was badly wounded in the leg, and Officer Coy slightly grazed on the
shin.

“A scene of the wildest confusion ensued as soon as the shooting
commenced. All who were in the theatre knew of the presence of
Thompson and Fisher, and were well acquainted with their desperate
character. When the first shot was fired the whole crowd seemed to be
panic-stricken. The dress circle was quickly cleared, the occupants
jumping into the parquet below and through the side-windows into the
street. No one seems to know who fired the first shot, or how many were
engaged in the shooting. Before the theatre was fairly cleared of its
occupants fifteen hundred persons on the outside were clamoring at the
closed doors for admittance, which was resolutely denied by the police,
who had taken possession of the building. Subsequently the dead bodies
of Thompson and Fisher were removed to the City Jail, where they were
washed and laid out.

“Bill Thompson, the brother of Ben, was at the White Elephant at the
time of the shooting, waiting for Ben to return from Turner Hall. He
rushed out as soon as he saw that there was some trouble; but, as
he was unarmed, he was stopped at the entrance to the Vaudeville by
Captain Shardien, and kept outside the building.

“An immense crowd followed the remains of the two desperadoes when
they were carried to the jail, and this morning the plaza around the
building was thronged.

“From the statements of those connected with the theatre the killing
was unavoidable, as it seemed to be understood when Thompson entered
the house that his purpose was to raise a disturbance; but whether King
Fisher shared in this design is not known.

“A coroner’s jury was summoned at once. They viewed the bodies, and
the inquest was held the next morning. After hearing the testimony of
eye-witnesses and others a verdict was returned to the effect that
Ben Thompson and J. King Fisher came to their deaths by means of
pistol-bullets fired from weapons in the hands of W. Simms, Joseph C.
Foster, and Jacob Coy; and, further, that the killing was justifiable,
being done in self-defence. Coy, the special policeman on duty at
the theatre, testified that Thompson drew his weapon first; but it
was seized by witness, who held it in his grasp during the affray.
Thompson, however, fired four shots, one of which took effect in
Foster’s leg.

“Foster’s leg has been amputated, and there are no hopes of his
recovery.”

The newspaper man gives “Thompson’s antecedents” and “Fisher’s record,”
as follows:—

 Ben Thompson was born in Knottingley, a town in Yorkshire, England, in
 1844. His father was a sea-captain. Ben leaves a wife and two children
 in Austin,—a bright boy of fourteen years and a girl of eleven. He
 has a brother here, who took charge of his body, and carried it to
 Austin to-day. Thompson’s record is a bloody one. He is said to have
 slain probably twenty men. His last victim was Jack Harris, proprietor
 of the Vaudeville, whom he shot in June, 1882, in the same house in
 which he himself was slain last night. His death is little regretted
 here.

 King Fisher was a young man of some twenty-eight years, and his record
 was, if possible, more bloody than Thompson’s. For years he was feared
 as a frontier desperado, and killed Mexicans almost for pastime. Of
 late he had reformed a little, and when killed was deputy sheriff of
 Walde county. Both men were strikingly handsome, and noted as quick
 dead-shots with six-shooters, or Winchesters. Fisher’s remains were
 shipped home to-night.

The reporter adds: “The city is now quiet, though the death of two
such notorious desperadoes is still a topic of conversation.”

“Thompson was an Englishman, you see,” remarked Irving, “which
verifies to some extent what I have often been told, that England has
to answer for a full share of the ruffianly element of the States.
The mining regions of California at one time were crowded with
English adventurers. What a vast country it is that encircles in its
territories every climate,—tropical heat and arctic cold! To-day,
while we are ice-bound, a journey of two or three days would take us
to Florida and orange-groves, and a day’s travel from the heart of a
highly civilized city, of refined cultivation and well-ordered society,
would carry us into a region where men live in primitive state, so far
as the law is concerned, and yet are the pioneers of a great empire.
What a story, the history of America, when somebody tells it from its
picturesque and romantic side!”



XXII.

“THE LONGEST JOURNEY COMES TO AN END.”

 “Our Closing Month in New York”—Lent—At Rehearsal—Finishing
 Touches—Behind the Scenes at the Lyceum and the Star—The Story of
 the Production of “Much Ado” in New York—Scenery and Properties
 on the Tour—Tone—Surprises for Agents in Advance—Interesting
 Technicalities—An Incident of the Mounting of “Much Ado”—The Tomb
 Scene—A Great Achievement—The End.


I.

“IT is almost like getting home again,” said Irving, “to find one’s
self in New York once more. The first place one stops at in a new
country always impresses the imagination and lives in the memory. I
should say that is so with pioneers; and more particularly when your
first resting-place has been pleasant. Let us get Monday night well
over, and we may look for something like a little leisure during our
closing month in New York. We shall produce “Much Ado” as completely
as it is possible for us to do it, outside of our own theatre. If no
hitch occurs I think we will run it for two, Palser even proposes
three, weeks. If we have been complimented upon our scenic and
stage-managerial work on the other pieces, what may we expect for
‘Much Ado’? Lent is severely kept in New York, I am told; Holy Week
being among the churches, if not a fast in regard to food, a fast from
amusements. We must therefore be content, I suppose, to let ‘Much Ado’
grow, in time for the restoration of social pleasures at Easter.”[62]

On Monday, at a quarter to eleven, Irving was at his post, on the stage
of the Star Theatre, for a complete rehearsal. Scenery, properties,
lighting, grouping of supernumeraries, the entire business of the
piece, was gone through. Not a detail was overlooked, not a set but was
viewed as completely from the stalls as from the stage.

“Pardon me,” says Irving to Claudio; “if you get your hand above your
head in that position, you will never get it down again. Suppose you
adopt this idea, eh? What do you think?”

“Certainly, it is better,” says Claudio.

Irving, as he speaks, illustrates his own view of the scene.

“Then we will try it again.”

The scene is repeated.

“Yes, very good, that will do.”

The rehearsal goes on.

“No, no,” says Irving, “there must be no wait; the second procession
must come on promptly at the cue. Try it again. And hold your halberd
like this, my boy; not as if you were afraid of it. There, that’s it.”

The supernumerary accepts his lesson; the music cue is repeated; the
halberdiers file in; the military strains cease, the organ peals out,
the wedding procession comes on.

“Bow, bow,—don’t nod,” says Irving, stepping forward to instruct a
subordinate in the scene; “that’s better—go on.”

The solemn voice of Mead opens the scene, and as it proceeds, Irving
calls Loveday aside.

“Too much light at the back there, eh?”

“Do you think so?” says Loveday. “Lower the light there,—the blue
medium.”

Steps have been placed as a way from the stage to the stalls. Irving
(“Charlie” following at his heels) goes into the third row, Loveday
watching and waiting.

“Yes, that will do,” says Irving, at the same time turning to me
to remark, “do you see what a difference that makes? You have
no difficulty now in imagining the distance the subdued light
suggests,—chapels, vestries, dim cathedral vistas. Do you notice what
a last touch of reality to the scene the hurried entrance of the pages
give?—they break up the measured solemnity of the processions with a
different step, a lighter manner, the carelessness of youth; they have
no censers to carry, no ecclesiastical robes to wear.”

As he is speaking he strides up the steps and upon the stage once more.

“Mr. Ball! Call Mr. Ball, please.”

The musical director appears.

“The basses are too loud; they spoil the closing movement, which is too
quick altogether. Come into the stalls and hear it.”

“Howson!” says Ball, “please give them the time.”

Ball goes into the stalls. The movement is repeated and repeated again,
the last time entirely to Irving’s satisfaction.

In these passing notes I merely desire to give the reader a hint
at the kind of work which was done at rehearsal on the Monday of
the production of “Much Ado.” It lasted until a quarter-past five.
Irving was there until the end. Out of sight of the audience he had
done enough work to entitle him to a night’s rest; but, so far as
the critics and the public were concerned, his labors were only just
beginning. Shortly after seven he was on the stage again, and when the
play began he was never more heartily engaged in his rôle as actor.

“Yes, I am rather tired,” he said, in his quiet way, when I spoke to
him at the wing; “feel inclined to sit down,—hard work, standing about
all day,—but this is the reward.”

He pointed to the setting of the garden scene, which was progressing
quite smoothly.

“If we pull through with the cathedral set all right, one will not mind
being a little tired.”

I waited to see the work done, and, though I am familiar with the
business behind the scenes, I was glad to escape from the “rush and
tumble” of it on this occasion. At the Lyceum every man knows the
piece, or flat, for the position of which he is responsible. He goes
about his work silently, and in list slippers; he fetches and carries
without hurry; nothing seems more simple; you see the scene grow into
completeness, silently but surely. At the Star, on this first night,
it was, to all appearance, chaos. Wings were slid about; curtains
unrolled; tapestries hauled up by unseen strings; great pillars were
pushed here and there; images of saints were launched into space from
the flies, to be checked by ropes, just as you might think they were
coming to grief; a massive altar-piece was being railed in, while a
painted canopy was hoisted over it; a company of musicians were led
out of the way of falling scenes to join a chorus party of ladies and
gentlemen, who were gradually losing themselves among a picturesque
crowd of halberdiers. Everybody seemed to be in everybody’s way; it
looked like a general scramble. Irving, with “Less noise, my boys—less
noise!” continually on his lips, moved about among the throng; and
as Ball, who had made a third and last effort to find a prominent
position from which to conduct his band, stepped upon a bench, which
was instantly drawn from under him by the stage hands who had it in
charge, I went to the front of the house. Ball’s musicians struck up
their impressive strains of the “Gloria,” and the curtain slowly rose
upon the cathedral at Messina, as if it had been there all the time,
only waiting the prompter’s signal. Pandemonium behind the curtain had
given place to Paradise in front. It was a triumph of willing hands
under intelligent and earnest direction.


II.

NEXT day, when the success of the night had been duly chronicled in
the press,[63] I suggested to Irving that we should place on record
some account of the manner in which the Lyceum scenery, dresses,
and properties had been dealt with on the tour; to what extent the
equipment with which he had set out had been used; and, as a concluding
chapter, that we should tell the story of the production of “Much Ado”
in New York. After a consultation with Loveday, and the verification
of some necessary statistics, Irving exhausted the subject in a
very pleasant and instructive chat, the points of which are not too
technical to mislead the general reader, while they are sufficiently
technical to be of special interest to actors and managers.

“After the Philadelphia engagement,” said Irving, “I discussed the
question of scenery with Loveday, and we found that it was impossible
to carry or to use many of our largest set-pieces. Even if we could
have carried them conveniently we would not have got them into many of
the theatres. Loveday, therefore, packed a mass of it up and sent it
back to New York. What we had left was enormous in its bulk, filling
two 62-feet cars, and one huge gondola-car, which was made to carry
all the flat scenery. We took on with us, however, all the cloths for
our entire _repertoire_, and many of the small practical set-pieces.
We carried every property of the entire _repertoire_,—the bedstead
of ‘The Belle’s Stratagem,’ the altar of ‘Much Ado,’ the horse of
‘The Bells,’ down to Cattermole’s picture of Letitia Hardy, some
Chippendale furniture of the period, and other minor things, that are
characteristic or useful decoration in the furnishing of interiors
and exteriors. All our dresses were included,—principals and supers.
Loveday tells me they filled one hundred and twenty great baskets,
the properties being packed in thirty baskets, making a total of one
hundred and fifty.

“We took everything to Boston and Philadelphia. It was at the latter
city that, as I say, we decided to modify our arrangements. We sent
back to New York twenty-seven cloths, eighty flats, sixty wings,
ninety set pieces, and twelve framed cloths; so that we had to adapt
our requirements to the local situation.

“As regards such of our scenery as is painted in tone, you know that
one of the most remarkable we have is the frescoed interior of the
hall of justice in ‘The Merchant of Venice,’—a complete reproduction
of the period. I had the portraits of the Doges painted by White
and Cattermole. I think it is one of the most superb pictures ever
seen upon the stage. I understand that some people thought it worn,
mistaking the tone for dirt. Here and there, I think we found the
tapestries, which we used instead of the frescoes, more acceptable.

“Some of the scenes in ‘Hamlet,’ ‘The Bells,’ and ‘Much Ado,’ we had
specially reproduced ahead of us. Indeed, the companies following us
will find portions of the cathedral of Messina around the walls of
many an American theatre; and in every house where we have played,
travelling stage-managers, asking for a cottage scene, will find a
reminiscence of ‘The Lyons Mail’ in the inn at Lieursaint. We have left
one in each town. As they are fac-similes, they will, I should think,
bewilder some of the agents in advance.

“As to our full Lyceum scenery, and what may be called the
administration of it, we achieved our greatest triumph this week,
presenting ‘Much Ado’ as nearly like the Lyceum production as the space
at our disposal would permit. Our stage at home, including the scene
dock, which we always use, is seventy feet long, measuring from the
foot-lights; the Star-stage is fifty feet. We took possession of the
theatre on Sunday morning, March 30, the stage having been occupied
until Saturday night. A small army of men, besides our own, aided by
the heads of departments in Mr. Wallack’s employment, began work, under
Loveday’s direction, at seven o’clock A.M., and by four o’clock on
Monday morning every scene had been set, lighted, and rehearsed three
times over. At four they adjourned, and came on again to meet me at a
quarter to eleven, when we had a full rehearsal of scenery, properties,
lighting, and of the entire company. I was impressed and delighted with
the earnestness of everybody employed in the work, Wallack’s people
showing as great a desire as our own to do their best to achieve the
success we were all striving for. This is very gratifying; and it has
been our experience, wherever we have reappeared, that the employés
have thoroughly entered into our work, and shown something like pride
in being associated with us. Our experience was not as pleasant at
first. Here and there they thought our labors affected, and considered
that we gave them unnecessary trouble. In one or two instances they put
great and serious difficulties in our way. When, however, they saw the
results of our labors they became more amenable to orders; and when we
returned to Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and now to New York, there
was no trouble too great for them to undertake for us. I thank all
these good fellows heartily.”


III.

“BUT to return to ‘Much Ado,’” I said; “let us go a little into
detail as to the number of scenes, cloths, flats, properties, and
changes there are in the work. To have got through the piece, without
a hitch, within three hours on the first night, is a very remarkable
performance.”

“Well, then, there are five acts in the play, thirteen scenes. Every
scene is a set, except two, and they are front cloths; there is not a
carpenter’s scene proper in the entire representation. To begin with,
there is the opening scene,—the bay, with Leonatas’ palace, built
out twenty-four feet high,—a solid-looking piece, that has all the
appearance of real masonry. I am giving you these details now from a
cold, practical stage-manager’s point of view,—fact without color.
Well, this scene—the outside of Leonatas’ house—has to be closed in,
in two minutes and a half, discovering the inside,—the ball-room,
which extends right round the walls of the theatre. This finishes the
first act.

“Now, the second act was rung up in eight minutes, showing Craven’s
beautiful garden scene,—terraces, glades, and arbors,—in which set
the business of the entire act occurs.

“The next act opens in front of Craven’s cloth,—the terrace, which
changes to the morning view of the garden, which, in its turn, is
covered with the cedar cloth; thus accounting for three scenes. After
the last one, in two minutes the change was made to the effective
representation of the town at night; the riverside street; the quay
with its boats moored; the houses on the other side of the river
illuminated, Leonatas’ palace among them. This closes the second act.

“Our great anxiety, as you know, centred in the cathedral set. We
calculated that a wait of eighteen to twenty minutes would be required
to send the curtain up on that, no doubt, very remarkable scene. It
was rung up in fifteen minutes, displaying Telbin’s masterpiece,—the
cathedral at Messina, with its real, built-out, round pillars, thirty
feet high; its canopied roof of crimson plush, from which hung the
golden lamps universally used in Italian cathedrals; its painted canopy
overhanging the altar; its great iron-work gates (fac-similes of the
originals); its altar, with vases of flowers and flaming candles,
rising to a height of eighteen feet; its stained-glass windows and
statues of saints; its carved stalls, and all the other details that
are now almost as well known in New York as in London. What a fine,
impressive effect is the entrance of the vergers!”

“Yes, you were telling me once, when we were interrupted, how you came
to introduce this body of men into the scene; it might be worth while
to mention the incident along with these practical details of the
working of the piece.”

“It came about in this wise. I went into Quaritch’s bookstore one day,
and among other curious books I picked up an old, black-letter volume.
It was a work on ‘Ceremonies,’ with four large illustrations. I went
into the shop to spend four or five pounds; I spent eighty-four or
five, and carried off the black-letter book on ‘Ceremonies,’—all
Italian. I was at the time preparing ‘Much Ado’ for the Lyceum. In
the picture of a wedding ceremony I saw what struck me at once as a
wonderful effect, and of the period too,—the Shakespeare period. The
effect was a mass of vergers, or javelin men,—officers of the church,
I should imagine. They were dressed in long robes, and each carried a
halberd. I pressed these men at once into the service of Shakespeare
and his cathedral scene at Messina, and got that impressive effect of
their entrance and the background of sombre color they formed for the
dresses of the bridal party. And it is right too,—that’s the best of
it. Not long ago I was at Seville, and saw a church ceremony there,
where the various parties came on in something like the fashion of our
people on the stage; but we never did anything so fine in that way as
the entrances of the visitors at the Capulets in ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Do
you remember the different companies of maskers, with their separate
retainers and torch-bearers? But I see you are about to suggest that we
get back to the stage of the Star Theatre; and so we will.

“The last act of ‘Much Ado’ was rung up in seven minutes, disclosing
the scene where Dogberry holds his court; this is withdrawn upon the
garden scene. Then we come to the tomb of Hero, never before presented,
except by us, I believe, since Shakespeare’s own time. This scene,
with its processions of monks, vergers, and mourners, and the few
lines that are spoken, gives us four minutes to make a remarkable
change, back to the ball-room in Leonatas’ house, where the story is
concluded. As you say, to have moved all this scenery, and represented
the piece with its many characters, smoothly and without a blemish, in
the various pictures,—and when you think what trifling mistakes will
upset the effect of the finest scenes,—to have done all this within
three hours is a great achievement. The theatre was handed over to us
on Sunday morning; on Monday night at a quarter-past eight the curtain
rose on ‘Much Ado,’ mounted and set with our Lyceum effects,—scenery,
properties, company,—and fell at twelve minutes past eleven.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“And the longest journey comes to an end,” said Irving.


                                FINIS.



                              FOOTNOTES:


[1] John Henry Brodripp Irving was born at Keinton, near Glastonbury
(the scene of the tradition of the sacred thorn), February 6, 1838.
In 1849 his father sent him to the private school of Dr. Pinches, in
George Yard, Lombard street, London. During his school days he evinced
a taste for dramatic poetry. He was placed in the office of an East
India house, and might, had he liked his occupation, have become a
prosperous merchant; but his ambition gravitated towards the stage.
He made personal sacrifices in many ways to educate himself in the
direction of his taste for dramatic work. He read plays, studied the
theatre and dramatic literature, became an expert fencer, practised
elocution with a famous actor, and in 1855 left London and obtained
an engagement in a provincial theatre. An earnest student always, he
fought his way through a world of troubles, and made his first success
at the St. James Theatre, London, October 6, 1866, as Doricourt in
“The Belle’s Stratagem.” He afterwards played in eccentric comedy with
Toole; made a hit in melodrama at the now defunct Queen’s Theatre; then
went to Paris with Sothern, and played Abel Murcot in “Our American
Cousin.” Returning to London, he filled important engagements at the
Gaiety and Vaudeville Theatres. His appearance at the Lyceum Theatre,
London, followed. Here, after his friend, Manager Bateman, had staked
and lost everything on “Fanchette,” Mr. Irving advised the production
of “The Bells,” which restored the fortunes of the house, and was the
beginning of a series of artistic and financial successes, both for
the management and the leading actor. On the death of Mr. Bateman, and
the withdrawal of his widow from the lesseeship of the theatre, Mr.
Irving entered upon management. One day I hope to tell the story of his
life and adventures. Placidly as the river of his fortunes may seem to
have flowed since he became lessee of the Lyceum, in October, 1878,
the incidents of his early struggles are not more interesting than
his managerial battles and victories in these latter days of London.
Pending a more complete biography, the sketch entitled “Henry Irving,”
by Austin Brereton, may be consulted with advantage; its data are well
founded, and its figures are correct.

[2] The following cablegram appeared in the “Herald,” on October the
18th, and it was alluded to in the editorial columns as “a hint” which
“will not be lost upon the theatrical critics”:—

“LONDON, Oct. 17, 1883.

“The ‘Standard,’ in an editorial this morning, thus appeals to America
for a dispassionate judgment of Henry Irving:—

“American audiences have a favorable opportunity of showing that they
can think for themselves, and do not slavishly echo the criticisms
of the English press. We confess that, though one has read many
eulogistic notices of Mr. Irving and listened in private to opinions
of different complexions, it is difficult to find anything written
respecting him that deserves to be dignified with the description of
serious criticisms. Cannot New York, Boston, and Chicago supply us with
a little of this material? Are we indulging vain imaginings if we hope
that our cousins across the water will forget all that has been said
or written about Irving and the Lyceum company this side of the ocean,
and will go to see him in his chief performances with unprejudiced eyes
and ears, and send us, at any rate, a true, independent, inconventional
account of his gifts and graces, or the reverse?

“Most Englishmen naturally will be gratified if the people of the
United States find Irving as tragic, and Miss Terry as charming, as
so many people in this country consider them. But the gratification
will be increased should it be made apparent that a similar conclusion
has been arrived at by the exercise of independent judgment, and if
in pronouncing it fresh light is thrown upon the disputed points of
theatrical controversy.”

[3] The “Tribune’s” reporter drew Miss Terry’s picture with studied
elaboration:—

“As she stepped with a pretty little shudder over the swaying plank
upon the yacht she showed herself possessed of a marked individuality.
Her dress consisted of a dark greenish-brown cloth wrap, lined
inside with a peculiar shade of red; the inner dress, girt at the
waist with a red, loosely folded sash, seemed a reminiscence of some
eighteenth-century portrait, while the delicate complexion caught a
rosy reflection from the loose flame-colored red scarf tied in a bow
at the neck. The face itself is a peculiar one. Though not by ordinary
canons beautiful, it is nevertheless one to be remembered, and seems to
have been modelled on that of some pre-Raphaelitish saint,—an effect
heightened by the aureole of soft golden hair escaping from under the
plain brown straw and brown velvet hat.”

[4] These simple facts prove that, aside from his acting, with which
it is not our duty to deal at present, Mr. Irving is one of the most
remarkable men of this or any other age. But he is unquestionably right
when he asserts that he owes his success to his acting alone. It has
been said that the splendid manner in which he puts his plays upon the
stage is the secret of his popularity; but he first became popular in
plays which were not splendidly mounted, and his greatest financial and
artistic successes have been made in pieces upon which he expended no
unusual decorations. It has been said that Manager Bateman made Irving;
but, as we shall presently prove, Irving made Manager Bateman in
London, and has been doubly successful since Manager Bateman’s death.
It has been said that his leading lady, Ellen Terry, is the Mascot
of Irving’s career; but his fame was established before Miss Terry
joined his company, and he has won his proudest laurels in the plays in
which Miss Terry has not appeared. It has been said that the financial
backing of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts gave Irving his opportunity; but
he had been overcrowding the London Lyceum for years before he made
the acquaintance of the Baroness. No; the unprecedented and unrivalled
success of Mr. Irving has been made by himself alone. He became popular
as an actor in a stock company; his popularity transformed him into
a star and a manager; and, as a star and a manager, he has widened,
deepened, and improved his popularity. He has won his position fairly,
by his own talents and exertions, against overwhelming odds, and he has
nobody to thank for it but himself, in spite of the theories which we
have exploded.—_Spirit of the Times, New York, Oct. 27, 1883._

[5] Speculation in theatre tickets seems now to have reached its
height. Folks thought it had come to a lively pass when Sarah Bernhardt
was here and some $23,000 worth of seats were disposed of for her
engagement on the opening day of the sale. But, bless you, that was
a mere drop in the bucket. A man named McBride, who has from keeping
a small news-stand gradually come forward until he is now one of the
richest of the ticket speculators, “got left,” as he picturesquely
observed, on the Bernhardt affair. In other words, rival speculators
got all the best seats. So McBride put twelve men on duty in front of
the Star Theatre box-office three days before the Irving sales were to
open, and there they stayed on duty day and night, until the window
was finally thrown open. Each one of these men got ten season-tickets
for the Irving engagement, which is to last four weeks. In other
words, every one of these men bought two hundred and eighty tickets
of admission to the Star Theatre, so that McBride now holds for the
Irving season a neat little pile of three thousand three hundred and
sixty tickets. They were bought at season-ticket prices of $60 per
set of twenty-eight, and, therefore, cost the speculator the sum of
$7,200. Now you will see how the speculator happens to have the bulge
on the Irving management. The box-office price of a ticket for a single
performance is $3, and even if the demand should not happen to be as
immense as to warrant a long advance on the box-office tariff, McBride
can sell his tickets at the regular price of $3 apiece and get the sum
of $10,080 for them, which will leave him a profit of nearly $3,000
upon his short investment. There is, however, little or no likelihood
that he will be obliged to resort to this manner of doing business.
For the first night he has already sold seats for $10 and $15 each,
and it is quite reasonable to suppose that as the time approaches,
and tickets become scarce, he can advance to a still higher price.
These ticket-speculators have regular customers, who willingly pay
them the ordinary price they ask rather than bother about going to the
box-office. When Anna Dickinson wants to visit a theatre in New York
she invariably buys her tickets of Tyson, who charges her $2 for a
$1.50 seat. So it is with a good many other people, particularly the
rich and reckless down-town brokers, who purchase their tickets during
the day, and who, rather than take the trouble to send a messenger away
up to the theatre they intend to visit, go to the speculator’s branch
office and pay the advance demanded for whatever they want. There are
only a few regular ticket-speculators in New York. Old Fred Rullman, a
Dutchman, was for a long time the chief operator in theatre tickets,
but he seldom appears nowadays in any of the big deals. He works mostly
in opera tickets, and is contented not to take heavy risks. McBride is
the longest chance-taker of the lot. Tyson is not a risky buyer, but
confines his purchases pretty closely to the demands of his regular
customers.—_New York Correspondent of St. Louis Spectator._

[6] This story was reprinted in several American papers. A dentist of
some note in a leading city, not appreciating its satire, wrote a long
letter to Mr. Irving, offering to make him a new set of teeth, on a
patented system of his own, which had given great pleasure to a number
of eminent American ladies and gentlemen. He enclosed a list of his
clients, and the price of their teeth. As an inducement for Irving to
accept his proposals, he quoted “very moderate terms,” on condition
that “if satisfactory” he should “have the use of his name” in public,
thus “acting up to the liberal principles of the English practitioner.”

[7] The misunderstanding between Forrest and Macready has been
canvassed and discussed in most histories of the modern stage. Forrest
believed that his ill-success in London was the result of a plot on the
part of Macready to write him down. So fixed in his mind was this view
of his failure, that brooding over it evidently unmanned him. He went
to the Edinburgh Theatre (shortly before he left England for America)
and hissed Macready in Hamlet. In a letter to the _Pennsylvanian_, Nov.
22, 1848, he wrote:—

“On the occasion alluded to, Mr. Macready introduced a fancy dance into
his performance of Hamlet, which I designated as a _pas de mouchoir_,
and which I hissed, for I thought it a desecration of the scene; and
the audience thought so, too; for, a few nights afterwards, when Mr.
Macready repeated the part of Hamlet with the same ‘tomfoolery,’ the
intelligent audience greeted it with a universal hiss.

“Mr. Macready is stated to have said last night that he ‘had never
entertained towards me a feeling of unkindness.’ I unhesitatingly
pronounce this to be a wilful and unblushing falsehood. I most solemnly
aver, and do believe, that Mr. Macready, instigated by his narrow,
envious mind and selfish fears, did secretly—not openly—suborn
several writers for the English press to write me down. Among them was
one Forster, a ‘toady’ of the eminent tragedian,—one who is ever ready
to do his dirty work; and this Forster, at the bidding of his patron,
attacked me in print, even before I had appeared upon the London
boards, and continued to abuse me at every opportunity afterwards.

“I assert also, and solemnly believe, that Mr. Macready connived, when
his friends went to the theatre in London, to hiss me, and did hiss me,
with the purpose of driving me from the stage; and all this happened
many months before the affair at Edinburgh, to which Mr. Macready
refers, and in relation to which he jesuitically remarked, that ‘until
that act he never entertained towards me a feeling of unkindness.’”

It is worth while adding in this place the following interesting
account of the fatal riot, which is extracted from Barrett’s life of
Edwin Forrest published by Jas. R. Osgood & Co., in 1881:—

“On the 7th of May, 1848, Macready began an engagement at the Astor
Place Opera House, under the management of J. H. Hackett. The theatre
was packed by his enemies, and he was hooted from the stage. He
prepared to return to his own country, but was persuaded by his friends
to remain, in order that he might see how far the public indorsed the
opposition against him. An invitation to this effect, signed by many of
the best citizens of New York, was taken as a defiance by the admirers
of Forrest, who prepared to meet the issue. Forrest was playing at the
Broadway Theatre, and on the 16th of May, Macready, at the Astor Place
house, was announced to reappear as Macbeth. The authorities had been
called to the aid of the signers of the call, and when the doors were
opened the theatre was instantly filled by a crowd of persons favorable
to the actor, while the great mass of his enemies were excluded. These
filled the street, however, while the few who did gain admission showed
their opposition upon the appearance of Macready. At the first attempt
the assailants were confronted by a body of Macready’s friends within
the theatre too powerful to be resisted; but the majority without added
a threatening reinforcement when the decisive moment for violence
should arrive.

“The play was stopped. Macready, hustled from the back door in the
cloak of a friend, barely escaped with his life, and the mimic tragedy
within doors gave way to the approaching real tragedy without. The
theatre was attacked on all sides by the mob, and its destruction
seemed inevitable. Troops were called out; the order was given to
disperse. The angry crowd only hooted a reply of derision. The riot
act was read amid the yells and oaths of the blood-seeking rabble;
stones and missiles were hurled at the Seventh Regiment; the police
gave way before the overpowering numbers of the mob, and at last,
the soldiers, sore pressed, wounded, and nearly demoralized by the
assaults which they were not allowed to repulse, were called upon to
fire. They responded with blank cartridges, which only increased the
fury of the crowd. A pause, and then the order was given to load with
balls. A volley was fired: the cries were hushed; the smoke cleared
away; the ground was red with the blood of some thirty unfortunate men;
the rioters vanished into the darkness before that hail of wrath, and
the stain of blood was upon that quarrel which began far away in Old
England and ended so tragically here.”

[8] Among the audience (says the “Tribune”) were Miss Ellen Terry
herself, accompanied by an elderly gentleman, with gray hair, who to
some was known to be Felix Moscheles, Mendelssohn’s godson, with his
wife, and a young man of boyish appearance, known to many as the son
of Lord Coleridge. In the other boxes were W. H. Vanderbilt, Chauncey
M. Depew, Judge Brady, Augustus Schell, Algernon S. Sullivan, John
H. Starin and Mrs. Starin, Howard Carroll and Mrs. Carroll, Madame
Nilsson, Dr. Doremus and Mrs. Doremus, Mrs. Lester Wallack and Mrs.
Arthur Wallack, Mr. and Mrs. William Bond, Mr. and Mrs. John Foord,
Mrs. Charles Leland, Henry Rosener and Mrs. Rosener, and Mr. and Mrs.
Theodore Moss. Among other well-known faces in the audience were
noticed those of ex-Judge Horace Russell, General Horace Porter,
Colonel and Mrs. Tobias, of Philadelphia; General Winslow, Dr. Fordyce
Barker, George J. Gould, John Gilbert, Rafael Joseffy, Dr. Robert Laird
Collier, of Chicago; Oscar Meyer and Mrs. Meyer, Mrs. John T. Raymond,
Harry Edwards, Daniel Bixby, Charles Dudley Warner, John H. Bird, Mrs.
John Nesbitt, Miss Jeffrey Lewis, Laurence Hutton, Mr. E. A. Buck, Mr.
Whitelaw Reid, Colonel Knox, ex-Governor Dorsheimer, William Winter,
and Dr. Macdonald.

[9] “Twelve Americans,” a graphic series of biographical sketches,
by Howard Carroll, devotes some interesting pages to the story of
John Gilbert’s life and work. For upwards of fifty years an actor,
this veteran of the American stage was born on the 27th of February,
1810, at Boston, in a house “adjoining that in which Miss Cushman,
the greatest of American actresses, first saw the light.” His parents
were in a good position, and while they were not bigots, they did not
altogether hold the theatrical profession as a highly reputable one.
Young Gilbert was head of his class in declamation at the Boston High
School. When he left school he was sent into a commercial house with a
view to his becoming a dry-goods merchant. He disliked business, and
after reciting Jaffer, in “Venice Preserved,” to the manager of the
Tremont Theatre, he was granted an appearance. After opening the store
where he was engaged he read with delight in the newspaper, that in
the evening “a young gentleman of Boston” would make his _début_ in
the play of “Venice Preserved.” He appeared and “did well,” in spite
of his uncle (who was his master), scowling at him in front. “O John!
what have you done?” was the broken-hearted exclamation of his mother
the next day. John had not dared to go to the store, and felt himself
quite an outcast. He was forgiven, however, in due course, and made a
second appearance as Sir Edward Mortimer, in “The Iron Chest.” He was
successful beyond his expectations, and as “a boy actor” was praised
as a phenomenon. Later he joined the stock company, and was reduced to
“speaking utility” parts. Though disliking the drudgery of his place,
he grew up with his work, and with the physical capacity for leading
business he showed that he had also the mental strength for it. He
played with Macready and Charlotte Cushman at the Princess’s Theatre,
London. At the close of his engagement there he attended the leading
English theatres to study actors and their methods. Thence he went
to Paris to complete his studies. On his return to America he filled
important engagements for some years at the old Park Theatre; then he
went for a time to Boston, where he was a great favorite; and finally
he joined the Wallacks, in New York, where he has familiarized the
Empire city with the best interpretations of Sir Peter Teazle, old
Dornton, old Hardy, Sir Anthony Absolute, Major Oakley, Master Walter,
Hardcastle, Sir Harcourt Courtley, Adams, and other high-class comedy
characters of the century. He is still to New York what the Elder
Farren was to London.

[10] This statement and question were founded upon “The Standard’s”
message, previously referred to; but which Mr. Irving himself neither
saw nor heard of until within a few days of the close of his New York
engagement.

[11] In “Charles the First” Irving confirmed the good impression he
had made. Miss Terry received a most cordial reception, and made
so excellent an impression upon the audience, both by her charming
personality and admirable acting, that long before the evening was
over she had firmly established herself in the good graces of her new
public, who more than once, at the fall of the curtain, invited her,
with every enthusiastic mark of approbation, to come before the house
to receive in person its acknowledgments and congratulations. Her
success was unquestionable. In the second act the curtain fell on the
conclusion of one of the grandest results that any actor has achieved
in New York for years. A continued succession of plaudits came from all
parts of the house. The performance was profoundly conceived, acted
out with infinite care, elaborated with rare skill, and invested with
naturalness that deserved all praise. Irving, in his finale, merited
fully every word that has been written of his power, intensity, and
dramatic excellence; and he was enthusiastically called before the
curtain, in order that the audience might assure him of that verdict.
Miss Terry made the impression of a charming actress. There was
something very captivating in the sweetness of her manner, the grace
of her movements, and the musical quality of her tones. In acting, her
points were made with remarkable ease and naturalness. There was an
entire absence of theatrical effect, there was a simplicity of style
in everything she did, a directness of method and sincerity of feeling
that, as we have said, was the simplicity of true art, and yet not the
exaggeration of the simplicity of nature.—_New York Herald._

[12] Miss Terry was born at Coventry, Feb. 27, 1848. Her parents
were members of the theatrical profession. Her first appearances on
the stage were in “The Winter’s Tale” and “King John” (Mamillius and
Arthur), during the Shakespearian revivals of Charles Kean, in 1858. As
Prince Arthur she had repeated the success of her eldest sister Kate,
who had made her first appearance in the part six years previously.
Mr. Irving, during his conversations and speeches in this book of
“Impressions,” has referred to the stock companies which, at one time,
were the provincial schools which supplied London with its principal
actors. When Ellen Terry was a girl, the late Mr. Chute presided over
the fortunes of two of the best stock companies in the country. He was
the lessee of the Bristol and Bath theatres, and he played his Bristol
company at Bath once or twice a week. Some twenty years ago, I remember
a stock company at the Bristol theatre, which included Marie Wilton,
Miss Cleveland (Mrs. Arthur Sterling) Miss Mandelbert, Madge Robertson
(Mrs. Kendall), and her mother, Arthur Sterling, George Rignold,
William Rignold, Arthur Wood, Fosbroke, and the fathers, respectively,
of Marie Wilton and Madge Robertson. At that time Kate Terry and Ellen
Terry had left for London, Ellen having joined the Bristol company at
the close of Charles Kean’s management of the Princess’s. She played
Cupid to her sister Kate’s Diana in Brough’s extravaganza of “Endymion”
at Bristol, in 1862. She made her _début_ in London, March, 1863, as
Gertrude, in the “Little Treasure.” The critics of the time recognized
in her art “an absence of conventionality and affectation,” and they
look back now to trace in her interpretations of “the buoyant spirits,
kindly heart, and impulsive emotions” of Gertrude for the undoubted
forecast of her present success, more particularly in those characters
which give full play to the natural sympathetic and womanly spirit of
her art. From March, 1863, till January, 1864, she played Hero, in
“Much Ado About Nothing,” Mary Meredith, in “The American Cousin,” and
other secondary parts. She married and left the stage while still a
mere child, and was not yet twenty when she made her reappearance at
the end of October, 1867, in “The Double Marriage,” adapted from the
French by Charles Reade for the New Queen’s Theatre, London. She also
played Mrs. Mildmay, in “Still Waters,” and Katharine in the ordinary
stage version of the “Taming of the Shrew,” known as “Katharine and
Petruchio.” It was in this comedy, on the 26th of December, 1867,
that she and Mr. Irving first acted together. She left the theatre in
January, 1868, and did not reappear on the London stage until 1874,
when she succeeded Mrs. John Wood in the part of Phillippa Chester, in
Charles Reade’s “Wandering Heir,” which was produced under the author’s
management at the Queen’s Theatre. She afterwards joined Mr. and Mrs.
Bancroft’s company at the Prince of Wales’s, and was the Portia to Mr.
Coughlan’s Shylock, in the ambitious production of “The Merchant of
Venice,” which was to be a new departure in the history of the famous
little house near Tottenham Court Road. Shakespeare did not prosper,
however, at the Prince of Wales’s, though his great comedy was daintily
mounted, and Miss Terry’s Portia was as sweet and gracious as the art
of the actress could make that sweet and gracious heroine. From the
Bancrofts, Miss Terry went to their rivals (Mr. Hare and the Kendalls),
at the Court Theatre. The sterling natural qualities which some critics
noted in her method when a child, were abundantly apparent in her
Olivia, a fresh, graceful, touching performance, of which “Punch” said,
January 11,1879, “If anything more intellectually conceived or more
exquisitely wrought out than Miss Terry’s Ophelia has been seen on the
English stage in this generation, it has not been within ‘Punch’s’
memory.” She closed her engagement at the Court Theatre on the offer of
Mr. Irving to take the position of leading lady at the Lyceum Theatre,
where she made her first appearance, December 30, 1878, and since which
time she has shared with him the honors of a series of such successes
as are unparalleled in the history of the stage. They include the
longest runs ever known of “Hamlet,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “Romeo
and Juliet,” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” This is not the place to do
more than give these brief, biographic notes of a brilliant career.
But one is tempted to quote a singularly happy sketch of Miss Ellen
Terry which appeared on the eve of her departure for America in the
“St. Stephen’s Review,” July, 1883: “It is well for the stage that
it possesses such a gift as Ellen Terry. The age is, on the whole,
terribly unromantic and commonplace; it deals in realism of a very
uncompromising form; it calls a spade a spade, and considers sentiment
an unpardonable affectation. But Ellen Terry is the one anachronism
that the age forgives; she is the one living instance of an ideal
being that the purists pardon. As she stands before these cold critics
in her classical robes as Camma; as she drags at their heartstrings
as the forlorn and abandoned Olivia; as she trips upon the stage as
Beatrice; as she appears in a wondrous robe of shot-red and gold, or
clothed ‘in white samite, mystic, wonderful,’ as Ophelia, or, as she
falls a-weeping as the heart-broken queen on the breast of Charles the
First, even these well-balanced natures pronounce her inexplicable but
charming. She is the one actress who cannot be criticised; for is she
not Ellen Terry?”

[13] All that has been said in recognition of Mr. Irving’s intellectual
leadership, and of his puissant genius and beautiful and thorough
method of dramatic art, was more than justified by his impersonation
of Louis XI., given, yesterday afternoon, before an audience mainly
composed of actors, at the Star Theatre. He has not, since the
remarkable occasion of his first advent in America, acted with such a
noble affluence of power as he displayed in this splendid and wonderful
effort. It was not only an expression, most vivid and profound, of
the intricate, grisly, and terrible nature of King Louis; it was a
disclosure of the manifold artistic resources, the fine intuition,
the repose, and the commanding intellectual energy of the actor
himself. An intellectual audience—eager, alert, responsive, quick to
see the intention almost before it was suggested, and to recognize
each and every point, however subtle and delicate, of the actor’s
art—seemed to awaken all his latent fire, and nerve him to a free and
bounteous utterance of his own spirit; and every sensitive mind in
that numerous and brilliant throng most assuredly felt the presence
of a royal nature, and a great artist in acting. Upon Mr. Irving’s
first entrance the applause of welcome was prodigious, and it was
long before it died away. More than one scene was interrupted by the
uncontrollable enthusiasm of the house, and eight times in the course
of the performance Mr. Irving was called back upon the scene. A kindred
enthusiasm was communicated to the other actors, and an unusual spirit
of emulation pervaded the entire company and representation.... At the
close there was a tumult of applause, and the expectation seemed eager
and general that Mr. Irving would personally address the assembly. He
retired, however, with a bow of farewell. “Louis XI.” will be repeated
to-night.—_The Tribune, November 21._

[14] Henry Edwards was born at Ross, Herefordshire, England, August,
1831. He finished his education under the Rev. Abraham Lander, son of
the friend of Robert Burns, and studied for the law in his father’s
office. In 1848 he became a member of the Western Dramatic Amateur
Society. In 1853 he emigrated to Australia, passed three years in the
bush, and went on the stage professionally, at the Queen’s Theatre,
Melbourne, under the management of Charles Young, then the husband
of Mrs. Herman Vezin, who was the leading lady. After supporting the
late Gustavus V. Brooke, he went, as leading man, to Tasmania, under
the management of Charles Poole. He again joined Brooke, and for six
or seven years was his second, playing Iago, Macduff, De Maupry,
Icilius, etc., becoming manager of Theatre Royal, Melbourne, for G.
V. Brooke, in 1861. He afterwards travelled with Mr. and Mrs. Charles
Kean, playing Falconbridge, Henry VIII., Coitier, etc. In 1865 he went
to New Zealand, and managed theatres in Auckland and Hokitiki. He
left the colonies early in 1866, passed four months in Lima, giving,
in all, thirty-three performances in the Peruvian capital, aided by
a small company. He also gave entertainments in Panama. Arrived in
San Francisco, October, 1866, under an engagement to Thomas Maguire,
opened in that city as Othello to the Iago of John McCullough, and
afterwards played Pythias, Sir Anthony Absolute, Sir Peter Teazle,
Marc Anthony, and Sir John Falstaff. At the opening of the California
Theatre he joined Barrett and McCullough’s company, and remained to
the close of the latter’s management. He went to New York in 1879,
and opened at Wallack’s Theatre (now the Star), in Byron’s comedy of
“Our Girls,” and has been ever since a member of Wallack’s company,
of which he is now Stage Director. He is an earnest entomologist, and
has one of the largest private collections of insects in the world,
numbering over 260,000 specimens. Has written much on his favorite
study, as well as many magazine and other articles; is the author of
“Pacific Coast Lepidoptera,” and a volume of sketches called “A Mingled
Yarn”; is engaged to write the article on “Butterflies,” for Kingsley’s
Standard Natural History, in association with Asa Gray, Prof. Baird,
Prof. Packard, A. Agassiz, and other distinguished naturalists; and was
five years President of the Bohemian Club, San Francisco, three years
Vice-President of the California Academy of Sciences, and one year
President of the Lambs Club, New York.

[15] On a later occasion Mr. Curtis (whose eloquence on the platform
and in the press, and whose independent career in politics, are
familiar to all Americans and to many English) and Mr. Joseph Harper
had a box to see “The Merchant of Venice.” Irving invited them to go
behind the scenes, and afterwards to join him at supper in his room
at the Brevoort. Mr. Curtis said it was the first time he had been on
that side of the foot-lights. “I am not sure whether I regret it or
not; I think I am sorry to have the illusion of that last lovely scene
at Belmont set aside even for a moment.” While he was talking to Miss
Terry in her dress as the Lady of Belmont, Loveday’s men were bringing
on some of the scenery of “The Lyons Mail.” Said Harper, “Behind the
scenes is always to me a good deal like the ‘tween decks of a ship; the
discipline is just as strict, too.” During the evening after supper
Mr. Curtis discussed with his host the question of how much an actor
may lose himself in a part, and still have full control over it and
himself. Irving said circumstances sometimes influenced an actor. An
event which had disturbed him during the day might give extra color to
his acting at night. In fact an actor is influenced by all sorts of
causes,—as all other people are in their daily work,—by health or
weather. Sometimes the presence of a friend in front, or some current
occurrence of the moment, or piece of bad or good news, might influence
him; but, as a rule, after an actor had played a particular part for
a long time, he generally played it very much in the same way every
night. “There is a story,” he said, “of Kean and Cooper which is to the
purpose. A friend met Kean, and told him that on a particular night he
was at the theatre, and thought that Kean played Othello better than
ever he had seen him play it. ‘Gad, sir,’ he said,’ I thought you would
have strangled Iago outright!’ Now we come to the solution of this
extra energy which had impressed Kean’s friend. ‘Oh, yes,’ said Kean;
‘it was a Tuesday night, I remember; Cooper tried to get me out of the
focus!’ In those days the theatre was lighted with oil lamps, and only
at one particular place on the stage could the actors be seen. To be in
the light was to be in the focus; and that accounts for the old habit
they had of getting into a line along the foot-lights.”

[16] Among the gentlemen present on this occasion were Messrs. Daniel
Huntington (the president), Gilbert M. Speir (vice-president), A. R.
MacDonough (secretary), Henry A. Oakey (treasurer), F. A. P. Barnard
(President of Columbia College), Albert Bierstadt (the artist), Noah
Brooks (journalist and author), L. P. di Cesnola, S. S. Conant; Profs.
Botta, Dwight, Flint, Alexander, and Lusk; Judges Choate, Brown, and
Daily; Bishop Potter, the Rev. Dr. Rylance, the Rev. Dr. Storrs, the
Rev. Dr. Brooks; the Honorables John Bigelow, John Hay, J. G. Forrest,
and Edward Mitchell; Mr. Joseph Drexel (the banker), ex-Governor
William Dorsheimer, ex-Mayor Edward Cooper, Col. Goddard, Gen. Cullum
and Gen. Horace Porter, Dr. George Otis, and Messrs. W. Dodge, Wm. M.
Evarts, Cyrus W. Field, Swain Gifford, Richard W. Gilder, Quincy A.
Gillmore, Parke Godwin, H. H. Gorringe, I. H. Gourlie, G. S. Greene,
M. K. Jessup, S. E. Lane, Francis F. Marbury, C. H. Marshall, H. D.
Noyes, O. Ottendorfer, H. E. Pellew, Whitelaw Reid, Jas. Renouck, R.
G. Remson, A. Thorndike Rice, William Bond, J. F. Ruggles, John O.
Sargent, W. Satterlee, Clarence A. Seward, R. H. Stoddard, H. C. Van
Vorst, Theodore Weston, Alfred Wilkinson, and many other well-known
members of the club and their friends.

[17] This was a very notable gathering on November 18. In nearly
every case the guests came from long distances. They were all men of
distinction in their several walks of life. Among them were, James
H. Rutter, President New York Central & Hudson River Railway; Hon.
Noah Davis, Chief Justice Supreme Court, State of New York; Geo. R.
Blanchard, Vice-President New York, Lake Erie, & Western Railway; Gen.
Horace Porter, President New York, West Shore, & Buffalo Railway; John
B. Carson, Vice-President and General Manager Hannibal & St. Joseph
Railway, Hannibal, Mo.; Col. P. S. Michie, U.S. Army, West Point; Hon.
A. J. Vanderpoel, New York; Hon. Wm. Dorsheimer, Member of Congress and
ex-Lieut.-Governor New York; Col. L. M. Dayton, Gen. Sherman’s Chief
of Staff during the war, Cincinnati, O.; Jas. N. Matthews, Proprietor
Buffalo “Express,” Buffalo, N.Y.; Hon. Henry Watterson, ex-M.C. and
editor “Courier Journal,” Louisville, Ky.; Col. Wm. V. Hutchings,
Governor’s Staff, Boston, Mass.; Col. H. G. Parker, Proprietor
“Saturday Evening Gazette,” Boston, Mass.; Col. Wm. Edwards, Cleveland,
O.; Hon. L. J. Powers, Springfield, Mass.; Hon. M. P. Bush, Buffalo,
N.Y.; John B. Lyon, Chicago, Ill.; Hon. A. Oakey Hall, ex-Mayor of New
York City; Lord Bury, W. J. Florence, William Winter, Stephen Fiske, J.
H. French, and Chas. Wyndham. The dinner was not reported in the press;
nor were several other entertainments which are briefly sketched in the
pages of these “Impressions.”

The Chief Justice spoke in eloquent terms of Lord Coleridge, whom the
American bar and bench had been proud to honor, and who, in his private
and public life, realized the highest ideal of the American people. “It
is our desire,” he said, “the sincerest wish of America, to like the
English people. We are always afraid that our visitors from the old
country will not let us like them. When they do, and we can honestly
respond, we are glad.” Presently, alluding to Irving, he said, “We
have watched your career over a long period of time, through the New
York papers. We were prepared to be interested in you, and to bid you
welcome. No people are more moved than ours to exercise their free
and unbiased judgment. We have done so in your case, and are proud to
acknowledge the greatness of the work you have done; to welcome you and
to take your hand, not only for what you have achieved in England, but
for what you have done for us in America.”

Ex-Mayor Oakey Hall, in the course of some remarks supplementary of
the speech of the Lord Chief Justice, said, “A morning cable despatch
informs me that the Millais portrait of our guest was yesterday added
to the walls of the Garrick Club, in completion of its gallery of David
Garrick’s legitimate successors. But on the walls of our memories
to-night has been hung the original,—impressive features, poetic
eyes and hair, and a face so bright that it this moment reflects
our looks of personal affection. I have had the personal felicity,
thrice within the past fortnight, of seeing our guest in the serenity
of private life. Friends knowing this have said to me, ‘How did you
like Henry Irving on the stage?’ And I have answered, ‘I have not
yet seen Mr. Irving act.’ True, I had seen on the stage of the Star
Theatre, Mathias, and Charles the First, and Louis the Eleventh, and
Shylock, and Duboscq and Lesergne, and against these characters I had
seen printed on the bills of the play the name of Henry Irving; but
never had it otherwise occurred to me, as an auditor, that the guest
now before us,—original of the Millais picture,—and whom I saw
at the banquets of the Lotos and Manhattan clubs, was representing
these characters. On the contrary, I cannot connect Henry Irving, the
gentleman of private life, with the actor. If you say he is the same,
I must believe you. Indeed, I am now conscious of having lived in the
seventeenth century, and of having beheld the veritable Charles as a
man caressing his children and his Henrietta Maria,—a wife rather than
a queen,—on the banks of the Thames, at Hampton Court, or as Majesty
rebuking Oliver Cromwell. Nay, I have stood with Charles himself in
the Whitehall Chamber of Death, and with my own streaming eyes I have
witnessed his touching farewell of home and earth. I have forgotten
the merchants of New York in the boxes, and I have really seen
Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. I have seen the dreaming victim of
remorse. I have lived in the war-rent realms of France, while Louis the
Eleventh infected his court with his own moral leprosy. I have known
in ‘The Lyons Mail,’ the self-respecting and shrinking merchant, and I
have known his double, the besotted brute of a murderer. They are all
realities to me at this moment. If you again tell me one man personated
all these, and that this one man was the original yonder of the Millais
portrait, I must believe you, for your honor’s sake. During an active
career of a quarter century I never had seen an approach to such a
surrender of personal identity in an actor, nor such a surrender of the
peculiarities of one representation when the actor grasped another. How
all this contradicts a lively writer in the current (November) number
of Clement Scott’s ‘Theatre,’ who declares that every great success of
the stage is due to a correspondence of the natural peculiarities of an
actor with the fictional peculiarities of the character portrayed! Is
yonder gentleman a victim to remorse? Is he a Shylock? Is he a Duboscq?
Has he the soul of a Charles? Least of all, has he one peculiarity of
Louis? No. Then these great successes are won—if yonder guest be the
actor—by a destruction of personal peculiarities and by portraying
his own precise opposites, in his human nature. You have all seen
these recently enacted characters. You now—some of you for the first
time—behold the man Henry Irving, and hear him converse. To you as
a jury, then, I appeal. Am I not right? Is not my experience yours?”
(Aye!—Yes!—Yes!—and great applause.)

[18] “Bathed in their own liquor.”—_Sir Henry Thompson._

[19] In case this charge against Irving should be exploited by the
“little English correspondent” who undertakes to describe his “Palace
on the Thames,” let me say that for one who talks so well about
eating, Irving—next to a great authority on gourmandize—recently
dead, alas!—is the most moderate diner I know. He discourses of
dishes with the eloquence of Brillat Savarin, and eats as frugally as
the “Original Walker” did, and is as easily contented as was my late
friend, Blanchard Jerrold (“Fin-Bec”), who wrote so much, and always so
well, about the art of dining, that those who did not know him might
naturally have regarded him as a gourmand. He knew the literature of
“the table” thoroughly, but lived as simply as Irving does. It will be
noted that it is the simplicity of the dinner under notice that awakens
Irving’s enthusiasm. New York, by the way, has many restaurants,
in addition to its most famous one (Delmonico’s) and the house in
Lafayette place. The Hoffman House and the Brunswick are well-known
for their excellent _cuisine_. Among the hotels that are equally
famous for their _chefs_ are the Everett House, the Windsor, the St.
James, the Victoria, and the Clarendon. The latter is to New York what
such establishments as Morley’s and the oldest West End hotels are to
London. It is one of the pleasantest, and certainly the quietest, of
New York houses. There are very bad hotels in the United States, and
very good ones; dear hotels, and hotels where the charges are fair;
but the general idea of uniform excellence and uniform dearness which
obtains in England is incorrect. One class of houses which the English
traveller misses is the comfortable family inn or tavern (where the
landlord and landlady are in evidence all the time), common in England,
France, and Germany; and the other absent luxuries, for the lack of
which oysters and canvas-back ducks do not altogether compensate him,
are the mutton-chop, the beefsteak, the ham and bacon, the sole,
salmon, and bloaters of his own country.

[20] “The difference between a _gourmet_ and gourmand we take to
be this: a _gourmet_ is he who selects, for his nice and learned
delectation, the most choice delicacies, prepared in the most
scientific manner; whereas the gourmand bears a closer analogy to that
class of great eaters, ill-naturedly (we dare say) denominated or
classed with aldermen.”—_Haywood’s Art of Dining._

[21] These lines were written by Mrs. Marion Fortescue, a lady well
known in New York society.

[22] Mr. Irving presented a Hamlet last evening that was entirely
consistent with itself and with the play, and the most virile,
picturesque, and lovable Hamlet that has been seen on the stage. There
was great variety in his moods and manners. He realized Goethe’s idea
of a born prince,—gentle, thoughtful, and of most moral nature,
without the strength of nerve to make a hero, and overcome by the
responsibility put upon him by a vision whose message he alternately
accepts and doubts. There was, indeed, the fullest variety given to
the part; it was dramatically interesting, and a clearly marked,
intelligent study that more than realized the expectations that had
been formed of the personation.—_Philadelphia Ledger._

[23] DISTINGUISHED VISITORS.—The “Evening Call” band of fifty-one
pieces and the “Evening Call” flute and drum corps, numbering
thirty-five pieces, making a total of eighty-six performers, formed
before the Union League building this morning, and proceeded down Broad
street a few yards, to the Hotel Bellevue, and tendered a complimentary
serenade to the distinguished English actor, Henry Irving. Several
delightful airs, including “God Save the Queen,” were rendered with
fine effect. Mr. J. H. Coplestone, Mr. Abbey’s manager for Mr. Irving,
acknowledged the compliment on behalf of the eminent tragedian. The
band then proceeded to the Aldine Hotel, where Miss Ellen Terry, Mr.
Irving’s leading lady, was serenaded, following which the musicians
gave a short street parade. At the conclusion of the serenade Mr.
Irving sent the following pleasant little note to the office of the
“Evening Call”:—

“HOTEL BELLEVUE, PHILADELPHIA, 29th November (‘Thanksgiving Day’), 1883.

“_To the Editor of the Evening Call:—_

“MY DEAR SIR,—Upon this day of universal thankfulness allow me to
add a personal item. My thanks to you and your magnificent band for
the honor done to me this morning by their serenade. I enjoyed the
music much, and beg to add my tribute of praise to the worth of your
band which, to my mind, is amongst the best I have heard. To hear the
strains of the national anthem of my own dear land here and on such
a day touched me much, and assures me again in a forcible manner of
the strength of the affection between the two countries, America and
England.

“Believe me to be, dear sir, yours very faithfully,

“HENRY IRVING.” —_Evening Call._


[24] The youngest member, who is provided with a tall chair, a rattle,
and other things indicative of his “clover” childhood.

[25] The documentary evidence handed to Irving as establishing the
identity of the watch are, (1.) a copy of the catalogue of the sale by
auction of “the estate of Edwin Forrest, deceased,” at Davis & Harvey’s
Art Galleries, No. 1212 Chestnut street, Philadelphia, on Feb. 4, 1883.
(2.) A copy of the Supplementary catalogue of “the personal effects of
Edwin Forrest,” which sets forth twenty-eight articles, including a
silver watch. (3.) The auctioneer’s receipt for “One silver watch, the
property of Edwin Forrest,” and (4.) a voucher from Mr. Donaldson, in
which he states that, until he presented it to Mr. Irving, the watch
had never been out of his possession from the time that he bought
it. Mr. Donaldson is a collector of _bric-à-brac_, and possesses
many interesting relics of the stage. On Irving’s second visit to
Philadelphia we called upon him and inspected some of his miscellaneous
treasures. They covered a wide range of interest,—antiquarian,
geological, historical, artistic, and literary. A white-haired,
picturesque-looking old gentleman was there to meet us. “How like
Tennyson!” exclaimed Irving. The interesting visitor was Walt Whitman.
He expressed great satisfaction on being told that he was well known in
England, and, in an amused way, he stood up, that Irving might judge if
he was as tall as Tennyson. It is a milder face, and less rugged in its
lines, than the face of the great English poet; but, in other respects,
suggests the author of “In Memoriam.”

[26] The Boston was built in 1854 by a stock company. It was opened
on the 11th September in that year, under the management of the late
Thomas Barry, and for some time was in the hands of Junius Brutus
Booth. After a time the company gave up the theatre, and it was
acquired by Messrs. Thayer and Tompkins. On the death of Mr. Thayer,
Mr. Tompkins associated with himself Mr. Hill, who had been a prominent
stockholder, and they have since continued as proprietors. Mr. Eugene
Tompkins, son of the chief proprietor, is the general manager.—_King’s
Boston._

[27] Mr. Oliver Ditson, General Blackmar and party, Mr. Joseph Thorpe,
and Mrs. Ole Bull. In the body of the house were seen General Devens,
Colonel Henry Lee, Mr. J. R. Osgood, Colonel Fairchild, Mr. T. B.
Aldrich, Mr. Boyle O’Reilly, Mr. Robert Treat Paine, Professor Pierce,
of Cambridge, Mr. S. H. Russell, Mr. Charles F. Sherwin, Mr. Thomas G.
Appleton, Mr. Hamilton Wild, Mr. B. C. Porter, ex-Mayor Green, Colonel
W. V. Hutchins, General Whittier, Mr. A. V. S. Anthony, Mr. Arthur
Dexter, Mr. George H. Chickering, Mr. Curtis Guild, Colonel H. G.
Parker, Hon. R. M. Morse, Jr., Mr. H. M. Ticknor, Colonel W. W. Clapp,
Mr. Martin Brimmer, Signor Ventura, Mr. T. R. Sullivan, Mr. Higginson,
Mr. Hemenway, Mr. Matt. Luce, Hon. W. D. Davis, of Plymouth, Mr. George
Riddle, Mr. Henry M. Rogers, Mr. Edes, Mr. Ellerton Pratt, Mr. Arthur
Dodd, Mr. Alanson Bigelow, and many others of eminent social, literary,
and artistic position. William Warren, with many professionals, was
present, while, of course, Mr. Henry E. Abbey and his staff, as well as
city managers and theatre folk, were represented. Most of the gentlemen
who attended were accompanied by ladies, and the house, as seen from
the stage, presented a very brilliant appearance.—_The Globe._

[28] As the position which Mr. John Gilbert holds in New York is
akin to that which the elder Farren held in London, so the position
which Mr. William Warren occupies in Boston is akin to that which Mr.
Buckstone (“Bucky,” as his particular friends called him) held in the
English metropolis. Mr. Warren’s Dogberry and Paul Pry are among the
pleasantest reminiscences of Boston play-goers. It fell to Irving’s
lot to meet Mr. Warren frequently, and perhaps no actor ever received
greater compliments from two veterans of his craft than Irving received
from Gilbert and Warren. While the favorite of New York never missed
an Irving performance at the Star Theatre, his famous contemporary
of Boston not only attended all the Lyceum performances at Boston,
but later, when Irving went to Chicago, Mr. Warren paid his relatives
a visit in the western city, and was as constant an attendant at
Haverly’s during the Irving engagement as he was at the Boston Theatre.

[29] LADIES’ NIGHT AT THE PAPYRUS.—The Ladies’ Night entertainment of
the Papyrus Club, which has come to be accepted as one of the annual
features of that organization, took place at the Revere House last
night, and the occasion proved to be one of exceptional interest and
brilliancy. The Papyrus includes in its membership a large number
of clever men, and, with their guests who assembled last evening
to partake of the club’s hospitality, the company made up a most
delightful and distinguished gathering. The after-dinner exercises,
which were not permitted to be reported in full, were of a most
entertaining character; the speeches of the distinguished gentlemen
guests, and the contributions in prose and verse by some of the members
of the club, being very bright and enjoyable. The members and their
guests assembled in the hotel parlors at six o’clock, where they were
received by the president of the club, Mr. George F. Babbitt, assisted
by Miss Fay. Music was furnished by the Germania Orchestra, and, after
an hour spent in introductory ceremonies, the members and their guests,
numbering altogether one hundred and twenty ladies and gentlemen,
proceeded to the dining-hall and sat down to the dinner-table, which
was arranged in horseshoe form. The tables were artistically decorated
with flowers, and at each plate was placed a dinner-card, bearing the
name of each guest, and a _menu_ of an exceedingly artistic design,
the front cover bearing a photograph of the club paraphernalia, very
cleverly grouped, and bearing the inscription: “Papyrus, Ladies’ Night.
December 15th, MDCCCLXXXIII.” President Babbitt sat in the centre,
with Miss Fay at his right and Miss Ellen Terry at his left. On either
side of the president were seated Miss Alcott, Mr. Joseph Hatton,
Dr. Burnett and Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett, Gen. Francis A. Walker
and Mrs. Walker, Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge, Captain Story, U.S.A.; Mr.
Guy Carleton, of New York, editor of “Life,” and Mr. J. A. Mitchell,
assistant editor; Rev. and Mrs. Brooke Hereford, Dr. John G. Blake
and Mrs. Blake, Mr. W. H. Rideing and Mrs. John Lillie, the author of
“Prudence,” and Rev. and Mrs. H. B. Carpenter. Among the other members
and guests present were Miss Nora Perry and Miss Noble, the author
of “A Reverend Idol”; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Grant, Mr. F. J. Stimson,
the author of “Guerndale,” and Mrs. Stimson; Dr. Harold Williams,
the author of “Mr. and Mrs. Morton”; Mr. Arthur Rotch and Mrs. Van
Renssellaer, Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Apthorp, Mr. A. H. Dodd, Mrs. Dodd,
and Miss Dodd; Mr. Henry M. Rogers and Mr. George Abbot James; Miss
Gage, Mr. and Mrs. Howard M. Ticknor, and Mrs. S. A. Bigelow; Mrs. C.
H. Washburne, Mr. George Snell, Mrs. Bacon, and Mrs. Charles Whitmore;
Mr. Alexander Young, Mr. George Roberts, Mr. John T. Wheelwright, Mr.
L. S. Ipsen, Mr. Alexander Browne and Miss Edmundson, Mr. Frank Hill
Smith, and Mrs. Henry Fay; Mr. Arlo Bates, Dr. and Mrs. James Chadwick,
Colonel Theodore A. Dodge, and Mrs. Crowninshield; Mr. and Mrs. F. P.
Vinton, Mr Francis Peabody, Jr.; Mr. Russell Sullivan, Mr. and Mrs.
Charles Albert Prince, Miss Minot, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Prince, Mr. and
Mrs. F. V. Parker, Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Osgood, Mr. and Mrs. George M.
Towle, Mr. H. G. Pickering, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Sayward, and Mrs. R. G.
Shaw; Mr. T. O. Langerfelt, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Foote, Mr. Sigourney
Butler, Miss Butler, and Miss Shimmin; Mr. and Mrs. R. G. Fitch, Mr.
and Mrs. George B. Goodwin, Mr. W. B. Clarke, Mr. and Mrs. C. A.
Campbell, Mr. G. W. Chadwick, Mr. Preston, Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Wright,
Mrs. G. A. Gibson, Mr. and Mrs. L. L. Scaife, and Mr. and Mrs. J. E.
Woods. At the conclusion of the dinner the president proposed the
health of the assembled company in the loving-cup, in accordance with a
time-honored custom of the Papyrus, the cup passing from guest to guest
until it had made the rounds of the tables. Many of the gentlemen were
merrily cheered as they rose to drink from the cup, as were many of the
distinguished ladies, who, without rising, simply touched the cup to
their lips. After this interesting ceremony had been gone through with,
the president welcomed the company in a brief speech, concluding with
a toast to the lady guests, which was drunk standing by the gentlemen
present. Rev. H. Bernard Carpenter was called upon to respond to the
toast, which he did in a neat speech, in which pleasant allusions were
made to the distinguished ladies of the company and their work. He was
followed by Mr. John T. Wheelwright, the secretary of the club, who
gave a very bright burlesque report of the proceedings of the monthly
Papyrus meetings. It was made up of clever imitations of the poetic
and prose contributions of the more active members of the Papyrus,
and its numerous hits were received with shouts of laughter. Mr. T.
R. Sullivan then read a charming bit of prose; and then came a bright
and humorous contribution from Mr. Robert Grant, who described, in a
very funny way, his experiences as a member of the committee on ladies’
night some years ago. It abounded in witty allusions to the antics
of some of the members of the club, and, although the names of the
characters who figured in the sketch were assumed for the occasion,
the references to the members of the club were readily recognized.
Mr. Howard M. Ticknor was then introduced, and read a poem addressed
to Miss Terry, concluding with a toast in honor of the distinguished
lady, the mention of whose name elicited enthusiastic applause. Mr.
Joseph Hatton responded handsomely for Miss Terry, thanking the company
for their very cordial welcome, and the Papyrus for their elegant
hospitality. Mr. Arlo Bates read some very pretty songs, and Mr. Guy
Carleton responded to a toast in honor of “Life,” the clever New York
paper. Mr. W. H Sayward gave one of his excellent imitations, and the
entertainment concluded with the performance of “a burlesque operatic
monodrama,” entitled “Titi.” The sole _dramatis persona_, Titi, was
assumed by Mr. Wm. F. Apthorp, who sang and recited the monodrama
in costume, being accompanied on the piano by Mr. Arthur Foote. The
performance of this bright musical composition occupied nearly half
an hour, and it was acted and sung by Mr. Apthorp with exquisite
_chic_ and drollery, serving as a fitting finale to the very pleasant
after-dinner entertainment. The company arose from the tables at about
half-past ten o’clock, and soon after separated, many of the gentlemen
going to the St. Botolph Club reception to Mr. Irving, which was
appointed for eleven o’clock.—_Boston Saturday Evening Gazette._

[30] In America “chestnut” is a slang phrase for an old story.

[31] In the second act there were occasionally passages where Mr.
Irving spoke one or more lines in a manner which so nearly touched
the heart with sadness, so closely appealed to the feelings, that
nothing but the brilliancy of his art stood between. His interview with
Cromwell was something grand. The patience shown could hardly belong
to anything less than royalty, and the majestic tone thrown into the
line, “Uncover in the presence of your king,” indicated a conception
of conscious authority which could hardly be improved. But by far the
greatest artistic triumph was his delivery of the short speech at the
close of the third act. The tone in which the lines were spoken was
simply grand, and when they were finished the pity of the audience was
instinctively bestowed upon the betrayer rather than the betrayed.
Miss Terry as the queen won a considerable success. Her sincere love
and devotion to the king and her children were exhibited by the finest
tokens, and with a simplicity which would not admit the thought of
extravagance or affection. Her appeal to Cromwell for the life of the
king was well worthy a queen; but her disdainful refusal of the offer
to release him in case he would abdicate was something remarkable and
unique. But her brightest laurel was won in the final parting with
the king as he went to the execution. The little shriek she utters at
the king when he breaks the embrace in which she holds him, appealed
directly to the emotions, and seemed to be the cry of a heart that was
breaking.—_Boston Post._

[32] The trouble touching some of the “Interviews” that appeared in the
journals was that they were not all genuine. Fiske suggested this fact
as discounting a “Christmas chat”; but I undertook to endorse his work
by “annexing” his “interview” to these pages, and I have to thank him
for his bright contribution.

[33] A very large delegation of the members of the Hamilton Club
received Mr. Henry Irving in the rooms of the club last night, after
the close of the performance at Haverly’s. The honors of the club were
done by its President, Mr. Samuel McLean, and Mr. Irving was introduced
by him to the members present. Among those who attended to do honor to
the great actor were the Rev. Dr. Putman, the Rev. C. Cuthbert Hall,
the Rev. Harry Lacy, Judge Van Cott, Henry E. Pierrepont, H. E. Sanger,
S. B. Duryea, Dr. Kissam, Howard Van Sinderen, J. S. T. Stranahan,
Gordon L. Ford, Professor West, Alfred C. Barnes, Dr. McCorkle, E. A.
Packard, Amos Robbins, J. Spencer Turner, Alex. Cameron, Edward Barr,
Colonel Partridge, John Notman, J. S. Noyes, H. E. Ide, Clinton Tucker,
Ernest Jackson, Raymond Jenkins, F. Abbott Ingalls, W. T. Lawrence,
Frank Hines, Arnold Hastings, Gus. Recknagel, A. Van Sinderen, Joseph
Youmans, H. E. Dodge, Dr. Burge, Robert Ogden, Leander Waterbury, Wm.
Sanger, Dr. Colton, John King, H. D. Atwater, and John Foord. The
reception was arranged for at twenty-four hours’ notice, Mr. Irving’s
ability to attend not being known to most of the members of the club
before yesterday morning. Mr. Irving, who was accompanied by his
stage-manager, Mr. Loveday, and by Mr. Joseph Hatton, expressed himself
as extremely gratified by the cordiality of his reception.—_Brooklyn
Union, Jan. 4, 1884._

[34] A reception was given to Mr. Henry Irving, the distinguished
English actor, by Dr. Wm. H. Crim, at his residence, 185 W. Fayette
street, last evening. At the close of the performance at the Academy,
Mr. Irving, accompanied by his stage-manager, H. J. Loveday;
acting manager, Bram Stoker; J. H. Copleston, and James H. Plaser,
representing Manager Abbey, of New York, and Mr. Joseph Hatton, the
English author, drove to Dr. Crim’s residence, where they were received
by the host, and presented to a number of journalists, representing
the city press, and other gentlemen. Among those present were Messrs.
John W. McCoy, Wm. T. Croasdale, John V. Hood, Innes Randolph, Harry J.
Ford, Henry D. Beall, C. M. Fairbanks, E. N. Vallandigham, Frederick
L. Holmes, Prof. Charles G. Edwards, Samuel W. Fort, Manager of the
Academy; Harry P. Wilson, Harry F. Powell, Harry J. Conway, Charles
F. Meany, John W. Albaugh, of Holliday-street Theatre; Chas. Reynolds
and W. I. Cook. The affair was wholly informal, but was apparently
all the more agreeable on that account. Mr. Irving, upon being
presented, expressed his gratification at meeting the representatives
of the Baltimore press, and during the evening manifested the utmost
cordiality of manner. He is a delightful conversationalist, and for
a couple of hours entertained groups of attentive listeners. His
impressions of Baltimore, as far as he had seen, were very favorable,
and he was much pleased with the audiences that had greeted him during
the week at the Academy. Speaking of the Academy, he remarked that its
acoustic properties—a rare quality in a theatre of that size—were
among the very best he had ever known. About midnight the visitors
repaired to the dining-room, where a tempting repast, with choice
wines, was enjoyed. Adjourning thence to the library, the guests
indulged in a fragrant Havana, and another hour slipped by almost
unconsciously in pleasant social intercourse. During the evening Mr.
Irving appeared much interested in the rare collection of antiques,
art-works, _bric-à-brac_, and articles of _virtu_ that adorn the parlor
and library of the genial host, and in the collection of which he has
spent much time and labor.—_The Day (Baltimore), Dec. 28, 1883._

[35] The colored gentleman who asked me, during the “wild railway
journey” of a previous chapter, if I used “sticking plaster,” referred
to the exploits of the James boys. Their murderous adventures, I find,
cover a period of over twenty years, beginning, some people allege,
with a sort of guerilla warfare during the war. A reward was offered
a few years ago for the capture of the leader, Jesse James, dead or
alive, and he was treacherously murdered by one of his confederates,
who, being tried and sentenced to death, was reprieved and rewarded in
accordance with the State proclamation. He and several other members
of the gang are still occasionally before the courts, I believe, on
various charges; some appealing to the superior power of the law,
others working out their various sentences, and some of them free.
One of their most daring adventures is a tragedy that is not likely
to be forgotten in the criminal history of America. The story is to
railway travel, so far as the mere robbery itself is concerned, what
the robbery of “The Lyons Mail” is to the history of posting in France
and England a century ago. It is a truly dramatic story, in two acts.
The first scene discovers the postmaster and two or three friends of
the village of Glendale, at a flag station on the Kansas City branch of
the Chicago & Alton Railway. It is a pleasant October evening. Suddenly
they are made prisoners by a band of twelve masked and heavily-armed
men. They are marched to the little railway station, where the
telegraph-operator, an old woman, and the railway auditor, are added to
the number. They comprise the entire population of the very picturesque
and romantic station. The telegraphic instrument is destroyed, and
the station-master compelled to lower his signal lights and stop the
mail then due. This ends the first act. The second is the arrival of
the train, the sudden and expert seizure of engine-driver and guard
(the latter battered almost to death with the but-end of a pistol),
the overawing of the passengers with revolvers, and the plunder of the
mails. Horses are then brought up to the track, the men mount with
their booty, and order the train to proceed. As the cars move away,
the robbers write a despatch that the telegraph-operator is directed
to send off as soon as his instrument is in order:—“We are the boys
who are hard to handle, and we will make it hot for the boys who try to
take us. Signed, Jesse and Frank James, Jack Bishop, Irwin Cohens, Cool
Carter,” etc. The plunder was thirty thousand dollars in gold.

[36] Mr. Abbey’s excellent business manager and treasurer.

[37] Miss Ellen Terry is said to have a broad knowledge and high
appreciation of decorative art. During the past two or three days
she has been doing Michigan and Prairie avenues in this city with a
critical eye. “I noticed a good many houses,” she says, “that I did
not like at all, but many others that are truly beautiful. The red
brick ones and the yellow marble fronts are mostly exquisite in design
and color. Here and there Michigan avenue reminds me of Brighton in
England.”—_Daily News._

[38] The company included His Worship the Mayor of Chicago (the Hon.
Carter Harrison); G. M. Pullman (of Pullman City); J. Medill (editor
of the “Tribune”); Murray Nelson; Mr. Gage (banker); Major-General
Schofield; Marshall Field; Mr. Dexter; George Dunlap; C. R. Cummings;
General A. Stager, and J. B. Lyon. The _menu_ was remarkable for its
luxurious elegance, and the speaking, though informal, and in no
sense prearranged, was notable for being chiefly confined to the arts
and their influences on civilization. Mr. John B. Carson proposed
“Health and continued success to Henry Irving,” and welcomed him to
the West in terms of hearty friendship. “And I only hope,” he said,
“you will one day come to Quincy, which is my head-quarters; we are
not a very great population, but we have a fine theatre, and we enjoy
a good play.” Quincy has a population of twenty-five thousand, is
beautifully situated on a limestone bluff, one hundred and twenty-five
feet above the Mississippi river. Mr. Carson and his friends at
Quincy sent Mr. Abbey a guarantee of $4,000, for one night’s visit
of the Irving Company. It will be interesting to add, in this place,
that many “theatre parties” came to Chicago, from distant cities,
to see Irving. Some of them travelled all day, and several of their
newspapers contained reports and criticisms of the performances.
The Rockford “Register,” for example, printed the following in its
leading columns: “Remarkable success has attended the performances of
Henry Irving, the celebrated English actor, during the present week,
at Haverly’s Theatre, Chicago. For once the severest critics in the
country have their scalpels blunted and dulled by the perfection of
his work combined with the exactness of the stage-setting. There has
never appeared an actor on the boards of Chicago who has received
such lavish, unreserved praise from the critics and the press. It
is doubtless true that there is no other actor in the world who has
studied so thoroughly all the minor details of every play, arranging
every bit of scenery, every position of the most unimportant member
of the cast. Nor has there been such an outlay of money elsewhere by
any one to secure the completest perfection of every surrounding.
The result is, that every play to which this student-actor lends his
attention becomes correct and faithful, historically and artistically.
He remains in Chicago for another week, and those of our citizens
who love art in its highest sense have now an opportunity that is
not likely to be offered again for studying the man whose name is a
household word in England, and whose fame is world-renowned. Miss Terry
likewise is winning well-earned laurels, while the entire company
of English actors are Mr. Irving’s continuous and carefully chosen
support, and rank high in their respective rôles. A party of prominent
citizens to attend in a body one night next week has been formed.
In that event, Mr. Perkins states that the North-western road would
probably make special rates.

[39] The _menu cards_ on this occasion were gems in the way of printing
and binding. They were exquisitely encased in alligator-leather and
silver. With each of them was a guest-card, on which was written
a poetic welcome, couched in bright, humorous, and complimentary
terms—the work of the hostess. Many ladies and gentlemen of position
were present, and the affair was one of the pleasantest in the history
of the Calumet Club.

[40] At eleven o’clock last evening Mr. Emery A. Storrs gave a supper
in honor of Mr. Henry Irving, at the Leland Hotel, and pleasantly
entertained thirty-five well-known gentlemen. The guests assembled
about ten o’clock, in room twenty, and shortly afterward adjourned
to Mr. Storrs’ suite of parlors on the Michigan-avenue front of the
hotel. Mr. Irving and Mr. Hatton arrived soon after eleven o’clock,
and, after a few minutes’ social chat, the party proceeded to the small
dining-hall. The arrangements were elaborate and perfect, and the
decorations were very handsome. Lines of flags of all nations extended
from the four corners of the room, crossing one another just under the
dome in the centre. Hanging by an invisible wire from the electric
light in the dome was a double-faced floral circle, edged with smilax,
through the centre of which was a floral bar. On one side of this was
the name “Irving,” and on the other side “Terry,” in red carnations
upon a white ground. The walls were hung with the English and American
colors, and directly behind the guest’s seat was a bust of Shakespeare,
over which was looped the English flag, caught up by a shield, bearing
the arms of Great Britain and Ireland. Above this was a banner bearing
the following inscription: “‘One touch of nature makes the whole world
kin’—Irving and Booth.” At the opposite end of the room, just above
the door, was a similar banner, inscribed as follows: “‘To hold, as
‘twere, the mirror up to nature’—Ellen Terry and Mary Anderson.”
Immediately opposite the entrance to the room was the inscription,
“Greeting and Welcome,” and over the entrance was inscribed, “Not that
we think us worthy such a guest, but that your worth will dignify
our feast.” To the left of this was a banner, bearing the following:
“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with the special
observation that you overstep not the modesty of Nature.” And to the
right was a banner, inscribed as follows: “All the world’s a stage, and
all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their
entrances.” The table was arranged in the shape of a “T,” with the
host, the guest of the evening, and a few of the more favored sitting
at the cross of the “T.” Immediately in front of the seats of Mr.
Irving and Mr. Storrs was an immense basket of flowers,—which was sent
later in the evening to Miss Terry, with Mr. Storrs’ compliments,—and
to the right and left of this was a floral bell, suggesting the actor’s
favorite play, “The Bells.” In the body of the “T” was a huge _épergne_
of fruit and flowers, and trails of smilax were laid the length of the
cloth. In front of each one of the thirty-five plates was a fragrant
_boutonnière_, and a satin-covered card bearing the name of the guest
diagonally across a marine scene. Delicate-tinted glasses to the right
of each plate suggested liquid enjoyment to follow. The following is
a list of the guests as they sat at table:—Emery A. Storrs, Henry
Irving, Joseph Hatton, General Schofield, Professor Swing, Perry H.
Smith, Professor Fraser, William Balcom, F. B. Wilkie, F. H. Winston,
J. D. Harvey, M. E. Stone, Alfred Cowles, D. B. Shipman, W. C. D.
Grannis, W. P. Nixon, W. S. Walker, Dr. Jackson, Mr. Phinney, Leonard
Hodges, Canon Knowles, A. F. Seeberger, Louis Wahl, S. D. Kimbark, C.
P. Kimball, J. L. High, Mr. Clement, Washington Hesing, J. M. Dandy,
Mr. Lewis, Mr. Griswold, Mr. Harper, Mr. Dewey, Mr. Thayer, Mr. Hord,
Mr. Bacon. After supper Mr. Storrs, in a witty prelude, explaining that
there were to be no speeches, proposed the health of Mr. Irving. The
famous actor having responded, Joseph Hatton, who, by his works and
in his own person, is well known in Chicago, was toasted. Miss Terry
was not forgotten during the unstudied and informal eloquence of the
evening. A magnificent basket of flowers was sent to her, with the
respectful compliments of the host and his friends.—_Tribune and other
newspaper reports._

[41] The reception to Henry Irving and Miss Ellen Terry, by the Chicago
Press Club last evening, was a brilliant social and professional event.
It was a graceful recognition of Great Britain’s greatest histrionic
stars. Many professional people, including Mlle. Rhea, Mrs. Jessie
Bartlett-Davis, and others of note on the dramatic and operatic stage,
were present, and were presented to the distinguished guests of the
evening, together with a large number of _litérateurs_, journalists,
and members of the bar. Miss Terry came in shortly after eleven
o’clock. She was presented to Mlle. Rhea, and the two artists who had
thus met in conversation for the first time chatted pleasantly while
the other guests gathered about them, and were introduced as occasion
permitted. Miss Terry said she had witnessed Mlle. Rhea’s acting in
London, when the latter first began to speak English. Miss Terry talked
pleasantly to several ladies, who expressed great delight at the
opportunity thus afforded them to form the acquaintance of so excellent
a woman, and so talented a member of the dramatic profession.

Mr. Irving came in shortly after Miss Terry arrived, accompanied by
Joseph Hatton and an escort from the Press Club. The great actor was
a centre of attraction, and he submitted in the most kindly manner to
the ordeal of introductions and the pressing multitude of guests who
moved about the rooms. About midnight lunch was served. It was nearly
one o’clock when Mr. Irving, Miss Terry, and Mr. Terriss departed.
Most of the company remained, and listened to some fine singing by
George Sweet and Miss Lena Hastreiter. It was nearly two o’clock
before the other guests dispersed. Among the many present were the
following: Mr. and Mrs. Will. J. Davis, Miss Grace Cartland, Mr. and
Mrs. James W. Scott, Mr. and Mrs. Franc B. Wilkie, Miss Ada M. Dunne,
Mr. and Mrs. Leo Canman, Mr. and Mrs. George Broderick, Professor
Swing, Emery A. Storrs, Miss May Waldren, C. P. Dresser, W. D. Eaton,
Walter Meadowcroft, E. A. Barron, Elliott Durand, Mr. and Mrs. C. H.
McConnell, R. J. Murphy, Judge and Mrs. Bradwell, Mr. and Mrs. John
B. Jeffery, John M. Ayer, Professor Bastin, Col. and Mrs. Nat. Reed,
John A. Hamlin, John Hambline, Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Rice, Mr. and Mrs.
Frank C. Cooper, E. P. Hall, Professor R. Welsh and Mrs. Welsh, Miss
Bessie Bradwell, Henry W. Thomson, Miss Kate McPhelin, Mrs. McPhelin,
Mr. and Mrs. Wash. Hesing, Miss Gertie Buckley, Miss Lillian Powell,
Miss Clark, Al. Clark, H. D. Russell, Mr. and Mrs. F. G. Logan,
Miss Van Inwegan, Mr. and Mrs. T. Z. Cowles, J. M. Dandy, and T. C.
MacMillan.—_Morning News._

[42] The institution of “The Elks” is one of great influence and
importance. Its objects are to promote and advance the material and
social interests of the theatrical profession, and to give mutual aid
and assistance to the members in case of pecuniary need. Candidates for
admission to the order must be “proposed and vouched for” by existing
members; and before election they must pass through the ordeal of the
ballot “after an investigation as to character by a committee of the
lodge.” Membership is a title to relief in distress wherever there is a
lodge; but a “Black Book” is kept and circulated containing the names
of members who have proved unworthy of their privileges. Members need
not necessarily be actors. Many lawyers and journalists are Elks. The
charity of the order is secretly dispensed by an executive committee,
sworn not to divulge the channels into which it flows, or the names
of those who request assistance. Annual performances in aid of the
“charity fund” are given at the theatres. One of these “benefits”
occurred during Mr. Irving’s first visit to New York. Irving, finding
it impossible to accept an invitation to be present, either as a
performer or a spectator, sent a donation; and this was acknowledged
by a formal resolution of thanks, which, beautifully illuminated and
framed, was presented to Irving at the Brevoort House by a deputation
of the members, headed by A. C. Morland, Exalted Ruler and Secretary of
the lodge; A. L. Heckler, I. Steinfeld, George Clarke, J. W. Hamilton,
and James W. Collier, chairman of the Committee of Arrangements. New
York City is the head-quarters of the Elks. The New York lodge is No.
1 on the list of lodges, each of them, as in Masonry, being numbered;
though practically, I understand, the lodges in the other States are
considered to be branches in association with No. 1. Their club-houses
in many States and cities are handsome and well-appointed buildings.
Among the anecdotes which Mr. Morland related to Irving was the story
of an “advance theatrical agent” dying suddenly in a strange place, and
his body being laid away in the local morgue. Some persons happening
to hear that the only sign of identification found on the body was a
bronze badge, with “P.B.O.E.” and an elk’s head upon it, the fact came
to the knowledge of a brother Elk, who at once discovered the number
of the man’s lodge, the officers of which identified him by name; and,
instead of lying in a nameless grave, the poor fellow was conveyed to
his home, in a far-distant State, and given “Christian burial” in the
presence of his family and friends.

[43] The Irving-Terry reception, by the Elks, “Wednesday evening, was a
notable social event. The Elks were there, of course; but it is worthy
of notice that, at this testimonial offered to two eminent members of
the dramatic profession, the attendance of ladies represented the most
exclusive and aristocratic circles of St. Louis society; and quite a
number of the most liberal and eminent of the clergymen were there
also. “Society” in St. Louis has more good common-sense than in any
other city in the Union.—_Post-Dispatch, Jan. 26._

[44] The Dramatic Festival Association tendered a dinner to Mr. Henry
Irving, at the Queen City Club-rooms, last evening, after the great
actor’s final performance at the Grand Opera House. There were present,
besides the distinguished guest, Governor Noyes, ex-president of the
association: Manager Henry E. Abbey; Colonel Miles, city dramatic
director; Secretary Hall, Mr. Halstead, Judge Force, Colonel Dayton,
Mr. Alter, Mr. Huntington, Mr. J. W. Miller, Mr. Nat. H. Davis, Mr.
Devereux, Mr. Chatfield, Mr. Bram Stoker, manager for Mr. Irving; Mr.
Wetherby, Mr. Stevens, Copleston, agent of Mr. Abbey; Mr. Charles Taft,
Mr. Leonard, Colonel Markbreit, Mr. Will. Carlisle, Mr. Frank Alter,
and others, to the number of thirty or more. The tables were elegantly
decorated, and the _menu_ was, of course, of the choicest and most
fastidious description. Governor Noyes introduced Mr. Irving to those
present in his usual happy manner, alluded to the great pleasure and
benefit the “Paris of America” had enjoyed from his brief sojourn among
us, and significantly expressed the hope that he might soon return to
us. Mr. Irving responded to the enthusiastic greeting which followed
Governor Noyes’s introduction in a manner which won all hearts, by its
sensible and modest sincerity. He had been most favorably impressed
by his audiences in Cincinnati, finding them keenly responsive and
deeply attentive. Allusion had been made to the operatic and other
festivals; but he was not yet persuaded that the emulation excited
between the artists taking part in them might not have a flavor of the
cockpit about it. He was much more inclined to believe in the benefit
of sound, permanent dramatic enterprise here, a school of the drama,
with a theatre and stock company attached, whence might originate
influences of deep and permanent good to the community and country. He
paid a high compliment to the quickness and ready grasp of an idea by
Americans, and concluded with a graceful acknowledgment of the general
and particular courtesies he had met with in Cincinnati, not forgetting
the press. Remarks were also made by Judge Force and Mr. Halstead, the
latter alluding, with much feeling, to some of Cincinnati’s peculiar
claims to the title of “Paris of America.”—_Cincinnati News-Journal,
Feb. 3, 1884._

[45] Irving saw the beginning of one of the periodical disasters to
which Cincinnati is subjected,—the overflowing of the Ohio. “Within a
few days after his visit the city was inundated, thousands of people
were homeless, entire families flying from their homes, their houses
wrecked, their property floating down the river. Many lives were lost
up and down stream. Great floods occurred in other districts, the busy
manufacturing city of Pittsburg being among the most serious sufferers.
Cincinnati had hardly recovered from the floods, and thought out new
devices for dealing with any future trouble of the kind, when she was
visited with another disaster,—a great and fatal riot. All countries
have their public abuses, their governmental shortcomings. England
has plenty of them; the administration of the law in America is far
from perfect. As long as judges are elected by popular vote so long
will there be serious miscarriages of justice; so long as juries can
be packed, intimidated, and bribed, so long will the jury system be
found defective. Such glaring instances of malfeasance and failure
in the administration of justice had, from time to time, occurred at
Cincinnati that (upon the principle that it is the last straw that
breaks the camel’s back), when “another notorious murderer was let
off,” the populace arose, attacked the jail where a company of other
ruffians were imprisoned, with a view to taking the law into their own
hands. The militia were called out, and fired into the rioters. Many
persons were killed and wounded before order could be restored. The
press of the country, while regretting the breach of the peace and the
loss of life, generally insist upon the moral that governments must not
look for people to respect the law in face of corruption in high places
and notorious compromises with thieves and murderers. “The objective
point of the mob,” wrote the special correspondent of the “New York
Sun,” “was the jail, and the murderers it contained, whom they meant to
hang. Twenty-three murderers are in that jail, none of whom have had a
trial, except William Hugh, who is to be hanged; and Emil Trompeter,
who has had two trials, and is to have a third. In the list are William
Hartnett, who murdered his wife with an axe; Joe Palmer, the negro
confederate of William Berner in murdering William Kirk, and Allen
Ingalls and Ben Johnson, the Avondale negro burkers. In addition to
these there are several murderers out on bail and walking the streets.
They have not been tried, though the murders for which they were
indicted were committed months ago.” The “New York Herald,” editorially
discussing “the results of the riot,” says that, in the first place,
“no jury in that city for some time to come will outrage justice and
public decency by making a mockery of murder trials,” and that, “in the
next place, the people of Cincinnati have become deeply impressed with
the importance of divorcing partisan politics from the administration
of justice and municipal affairs generally. Before the echoes of the
riot have died away they have started a citizens’ movement, with the
determination to put in the field and elect at the coming municipal
election candidates not identified with either party machine, but
representative of the highest order of citizenship. When this is done
there will be a more effective administration of law and justice and a
reform of abuses which contributed, directly or indirectly, in no small
degree, to the disastrous events of the past few days.”

[46] “Louis XI.,” “Charles the First,” “The Merchant of Venice,”
“The Bells,” and “The Lyons Mail,” drew great and fashionable houses
at Cincinnati, and the criticisms in the native press and in the
German newspapers were written in a spirit of cordiality, much of it
descriptive, and all of it recognizing the possibilities of a speedy
reformation in the existing method of representing the classic drama
in the West. The following translation of some of the most prominent
passages in a lengthy criticism of “The Merchant of Venice” is from
“Tagliches Cincinnati Volksblatt,” one of the principal German
newspapers of the district:—

“The court-scene is a masterpiece, and is filled with so many
details that the spectator follows the action with lively interest,
and imagines himself in a real court of law. The decoration of the
last act, a wonderful park scene, with moonlight, was ravishing,
and the madrigals behind the scene were charmingly melodious, and
were also excellently sung; in a word, one saw a great performance
of ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ and not only Mr. Irving, as Shylock,
or Miss Terry, as Portia. By that we do not mean to say that Henry
Irving’s performance was less great; on the contrary, he confirmed and
fortified, through his Shylock, the judgment we pronounced upon his
‘Louis XI.’ His reading is entirely the same as Döring’s, who ranked
as the best Shylock in Germany, and who has not yet found a successor.
It is the covetous, vindictive Jew; but he is rather an object of
pity than of scorn. It was the Jew whose passionate temperament and
inexorable vengeance naturally seized upon the first opportunity of
gratifying his hatred towards the Christians, who heaped mockeries,
insults, and injustice upon him, particularly Antonio, who treated him
with the utmost scorn. This was the Jew Shakespeare drew, played by Mr.
Irving with the refinement of an artist and the sharp observance of a
philologist.... His facial expression is mobile and most expressive ...
and his speech has only just the accent by which the Jews of that class
are known. His acting in the first scene, in the scene with Tubal, and,
above all, in the court-scene (particularly the passing from cruel,
passionate joy to the consciousness of his own torpid despair), was
the true work of a great actor.... Miss Ellen Terry, who plays Portia,
was reported from other towns where she had appeared to be a great
actress: the audience was, therefore, highly expectant.... She took
the public from first to last by storm.... She is one of those endowed
actresses, who shine so completely in the character they represent that
the spectator forgets the actress, and only sees the person represented
in the piece.”

[47] Mr. Henry Irving, in remembrance of distinguished courtesies
shown him while in the East by the Hon. Thomas Donaldson, called upon
his father, Major Donaldson, to-day. During the afternoon, in company
with Mr. Donaldson, Mr. Irving called upon various gentlemen, and was
introduced to a great many members of the General Assembly in the House
and Senate. He received many warm expressions touching the pleasure he
gave our citizens in “The Bells,” at Comstock’s Opera House. During
their stay in the State House Mr. Irving was introduced to Governor
Hoadly and the State officers.—_Columbus Dispatch, Feb. 5._

[48] Detroit is a handsome and populous city on the banks of a noble
river that connects Lake Erie and St. Clair. The company gave two
performances at Whitney’s Opera House, to large audiences, by whom
they were heartily received. The “Post and Tribune” contained long
and complimentary notices of the plays and the actors, with lists of
the principal people in the audiences. “The coming of Mr. Irving and
Miss Terry,” it says, “was a great event in dramatic circles here, and
has long been looked forward to with expectancy. The audience that
greeted them completely filled the house, every seat being occupied,
while many were content to stand during the entire performance. It was
also a fashionable audience, in the fullest sense of the word, all of
Detroit’s most pronounced society people being there.”

[49] The “Niagara Falls Courier” has an interesting article on the
many orthographical changes of the name of Niagara. In 1687 it was
written Oniogoragn. In 1686 Gov. Dongan appeared uncertain about it
and spelled it Onniagero, Onyagara, and Onyagro. The French, in 1638
to 1709, wrote it Niaguro, Onyagare, Onyagra and Oneygra. Philip
Livingston wrote in 1720 to 1730 Octjagara, Jagera, and Yagerah, and
Schuyler and Livingston, Commissioners of Indian Affairs, wrote it
in 1720 Onjagerae, Ocniagara, etc. In 1721 it was written Onjagora,
Oniagara, and accidentally, probably, Niagara, as at present. Lieut.
Lindsay wrote it Niagara in 1751. So did Capt. De Lancey (son of Gov.
De Lancey), who was an officer in the English army that captured Fort
Niagara from the French in 1759. “These pioneers,” says the local
journalist, “may, however, be excused in view of the fact—as will be
attested by post-masters—that some letter-writers of to-day seem quite
as undecided about the orthography of this world-wide familiar name.”

[50] The following is the correspondence alluded to:—

“NEW YORK, Jan. 20, 1884.

“MR. IRVING:—

“_Dear Sir_,—The creation and development of a taste for true dramatic
art among the colored citizens of culture in New York city, having been
long regarded as a necessity to their intellectual growth, a number of
ladies and gentlemen, selected for their evidences of dramatic ability,
which they have shown from time to time, met on the evening of January
7, and perfected the organization of the ‘Irving Dramatic Club.’ In
apprising you of this fact we beg leave to assure you, sir, that, in
selecting your name for the title of our club, we did not choose it
because we felt we were conferring an honor,—far from it,—for we
well know that the mere naming of an amateur club could add nothing to
the lustre of the laurels so deservedly won by one who so fittingly
represents as yourself all that is noble and grand in dramatic art.
But, having in our mind the record of past events, we could not fail to
recognize that the English stage and its representatives were but the
synonyms of equity and justice.

“Thus, in searching for a patron, we naturally reverted to that source
from which our efforts were mostly to be regarded with favor; and,
acting upon this impulse, we could think of no name that would be a
greater incentive to conscientious and praiseworthy effort than that of
Irving.

“Hoping that this action will meet with your approval, we remain, with
best wishes for your health and prosperity, respectfully yours,

“IRVING DRAMATIC CLUB. “CHARLES G. BOWSER, _Pres’t_. “W. H. A. MOORE,
_Sec’y_.”

“ST. LOUIS, Jan. 26, 1884.

“DEAR SIR,—I have received your letter of the 20th, and it gives
me great pleasure to have my name associated with so gratifying an
intellectual movement among the colored citizens of New York as the
establishment of a Dramatic Club. Art is of no country, and has no
nationality. Europe is deeply indebted to the artistic culture of
the great colored people of the Eastern World, and there is promise
of a future for your race, in the fact that you have ceased to
feel the disabilities of color in your association with your white
fellow-citizens. I once had the pleasure of knowing a very famous actor
of your race,—Ira Aldridge. I wish for your club a prosperous career,
and beg to subscribe myself,

“Yours truly, HENRY IRVING.”


[51] TOBOGGANING.—Saturday, February 24th, was a gala day in the
annals of the Toronto Toboggan Club. The slide was in perfect
condition,—glare ice from top to bottom. About eighty members were out
with their toboggans, enjoying the slide, the only fault of which is
that it is too fast for the length of run at the bottom. The committee
are, however, making arrangements to overcome this defect. During the
latter part of the afternoon several members of Mr. Irving’s company
and friends were present by invitation, escorted by Mr. Bram Stoker.
Miss Terry drove a young friend, Miss Helen H. Hatton (who is visiting
Toronto with her father), out to the grounds, and they were both
initiated into the Canadian winter sport. Miss Terry was completely
captivated by this entirely new sensation, and only regretted that she
was unable to enjoy it longer. She entered into it with the greatest
zest. The ladies and gentlemen of the club gave her a very hearty
welcome.—_Newspaper Reports._

[52] Mr. Henry Irving, Miss Ellen Terry, and their company left for
Boston early in the morning, by special train, over the “West Shore
route.” The train consisted of Mr. Irving’s private car, two Pullmans,
and three baggage-cars. The Pullmans, two of those in ordinary use
on the West Shore road, are simply magnificent in their internal
arrangements, possessing the latest improvements, and affording to the
traveller the greatest possible comfort. Among the innovations not
found in the ordinary “sleepers” are the racks on which clothes may be
deposited; electric call-bells attached to each berth, communicating
with the porter’s berth; a small kitchen, where light refreshments may
be prepared, and the whole structure running on paper wheels, so that
the rattle and jar of the ordinary car is entirely abolished. The train
was in charge of Mr. G. J. Weeks, of Buffalo, northern passenger agent
of the company, who accompanied the party to Boston.—_Toronto Mail._

[53] During the journey from Boston to Baltimore an inquiring member
of Mr. Irving’s company pulled the check-string, “just to see what
the thing was.” There was great consternation on board, neither guard
nor driver knowing what had happened. The inquiring gentleman offered
a frank explanation, and the train went on again; but the monotony
of the remainder of the journey was relieved by a little practical
joke at our friend’s expense. An official was introduced into the
conspiracy, and the delinquent was formally fined a hundred dollars.
The rules of the company and the law of the land were quoted against
him. Irving explained to him the enormity of his offence, and, after
a little outburst against the tyranny of American laws as compared
with those of England, the defendant paid twenty dollars on account,
and a subscription was started to raise the remainder. “I am glad the
affair occurred,” said the offender, an hour or two later, “if only
for the pleasure it has given me to find how well I stand with my
colleagues; it is quite touching the way they have stood by me in purse
and in friendly words.” Alas for the sentiment of the thing!—most of
the subscribers were in the secret. At Baltimore imaginary despatches
passed between Mr. Abbey and the railway authorities, and the fine was
withdrawn, the President, at New York, being satisfied that there was
no malice in Mr. ——’s strange interference with the working of the
train. The victim thereupon wrote a letter of thanks to Mr. Abbey, had
quite a pathetic interview with Irving on the happy termination of
the _contretemps_, and insisted upon treating the chief subscribers
to champagne, over which he made so cordial and excellent a speech
that everybody shook hands with him, and said he was “a real good
fellow,”—which is perfectly true, and a good actor to boot. I would
not have mentioned this incident but that the opportunity of an
appropriate foot-note overbears my self-denial; and, after all, it was
a very harmless piece of fun.

[54] One day’s rest was taken at Niagara Falls.

[55] The President went last evening to witness the final performance
of Mr. Henry Irving and his company at the National Theatre, in “Louis
XI.” and “The Belle’s Stratagem.” Mrs. McElroy and Miss Nellie Arthur
were with him in the box. Subsequently he entertained at the White
House, Mr. Irving, the members of the President’s cabinet and the
ladies of their families; Mrs. McElroy and Miss McElroy, the sister
and niece of the President; Colonel and Mrs. Bonaparte; General and
Mrs. P. H. Sheridan, United States Army; General E. F. Beale; Mr. and
Mrs. Marcellus Bailey; Mr. Walker Blaine; Mr. and Mrs. N. L. Anderson;
Lieut. T. B. M. Mason, United States Navy, and Mrs. Mason; Commissioner
of Agriculture George B. Loring, Mrs. and Miss Loring; Assistant
Attorney-General William A. Maury, Mrs. and Miss Maury; Assistant
Secretary of State John Davis and Mrs. Davis; John P. Jones, United
States Senate, and Mrs. Jones, Nevada; Senator M. C. Butler, South
Carolina; Senator Aldrich, Rhode Island; Mr. and Mrs. H. S. Sanford;
Mr. John Field; Mr. F. J. Phillips, secretary to the President; Senator
and Mrs. John F. Miller, California; Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Lyman, of
Massachusetts, House of Representatives; Mr. and Mrs. William Walter
Phelps, New Jersey; House of Representatives; Mr. Clayton McMichael,
United States Marshal, and Mrs. McMichael; Mr. and Mrs. Charles
Nordhoff, “New York Herald”; Mr. Stillson Hutchings, “Washington Post”;
Mr. Albert Pulitzer, “New York Journal”; Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Bell, of
New York; Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Hatton, of England.—No actor was ever so
entertained in Washington as Mr. Irving has been. He attended a supper
at the Metropolitan Club on Wednesday evening; a breakfast given by Mr.
Bayard on Thursday; gave a supper to Mr. Blaine and a party of friends
on Thursday evening, after the play; was the guest of Mr. William
Walter Phelps on Friday morning; attended a supper given to him by Mr.
Dorsheimer on Friday evening; and last night was the President’s guest,
as stated. Miss Terry has received more social attentions here than in
any other American city.—_The Capital, March 9._

[56] We thoroughly believe that the time will never come when any actor
can present a Hamlet that will be universally regarded as a correct
interpretation of the master poet’s sublime creation. Mr. Irving’s
impersonation was brilliantly bold in execution, replete with new
readings and stage business, and magnificent bursts of feeling, arising
from his changeableness of moods. There does not seem to be a scene in
the entire tragedy which he has not touched with his own subtle and
delicate refinement, and removed far above the conventionalities of
other actors whom we have seen. His first soliloquy, “Oh, that this
too, too solid flesh would melt!” was rendered as though it were the
unconscious utterance of a thought. He displayed but little interest
in the return to earth of his father’s spirit until he met it face to
face; and then he surrounded himself with a solemn supernaturalism,
tinged with glow of superb filial affection. This, in turn, seemed
to give way to a sort of nervous terror, and he became hysterical,
which presented to the oath of secrecy an added reverential awe.
The first long interview between Hamlet and Ophelia was played with
splendid dramatic force and fire. His simulation of passion, his
deep longing for its gratification, and his recklessness consequent
upon his recollection of the stern duty to which he had devoted
himself,—alternately flying from her, and then returning,—was a part
of the performance which created a most profound impression upon our
mind.—_The National Republican, March 6._

[57] Mr. Henry Irving and Miss Terry were tendered a reception by the
Hamilton Club yesterday afternoon. The quaint old mansion on Clinton
street was filled between the hours of three and five. The reception,
which was informal, was held in the library on the second floor, an
inviting apartment papered in old gold, with a frieze of olive-green
with conventionalized flowers. The walls are lined with mahogany
bookcases filled with well-bound books, largely historical. An oil
painting of Alexander Hamilton, in an old-fashioned frame, hangs on
the west hall, where it is lighted by the flickering gleams of the
wood-fire in a tiled fireplace opposite. An antique chandelier, with
imitation candles, completes the effect.

At half-past three Mr. Irving and Miss Terry were found in opposite
corners of the room, each surrounded by an animated group. Miss Terry,
over whom some of the younger ladies were mad with curiosity, was
completely hemmed in, and was given no opportunity to move about, as
Irving did. She sat during intervals in an old arm-chair, covered
with red plush. She wore an artistic gown, with a Watteau plait. Her
fair hair curled from beneath a round French hat, covered with brown
velvet, and with a dark feather. At her neck was an eccentric scarf
of orange-colored satin. Prior to the reception Mr. Irving and Miss
Terry lunched with Mr. Samuel McLean, President of the club, at his
residence, 47 Pierrepoint street; among his fourteen guests being
Mrs. Buckstone (his sister), Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, and Mr.
and Mrs. John Foord. Those present at the club reception included Mr.
and Mrs. Bryan H. Smith, Mrs. George Prentiss, Mr. and Mrs. Crowell
Hadden, Mrs. S. C. Lynes, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Ide, Mr. and Mrs. S. B.
Chittenden, Captain McKenzie, Alex. Forman, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Turner,
Mr. and Mrs. Alex. Cameron, Mrs. F. P. Bellamy, Mr. and Mrs. William C.
De Witt, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Yeoman, Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Robbins,
Mrs. Hattie Otis, Amos Robbins, A. F. Goodnow, Mr. and Mrs. John T.
Howard, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sheldon, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Phelps, Mrs.
Washington A. Roebling, Mrs. Packer, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. T. Stranahan,
Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Low, John Winslow, Mrs. P. Lynch, Mrs. Callender,
Adrian Van Sinderen, John N. Peet, Mr. Bram Stoker and Mr. H. J.
Loveday (of Mr. Irving’s company), Mrs. Joseph Hatton and Miss Helen
H. Hatton (of London), Miss Abbie O. Nichols, Mrs. John A. Buckingham,
Mrs. Birch, Mr. and Mrs. N. W. C. Hatch, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon L. Ford,
the Rev. Dr. Hutton, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. W. Mead and daughter, Mr. and
Mrs. McKean, Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Morse, Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Turle,
Mr. and Mrs. Mackie, Charles Bill, Mrs. Ropes, Mr. and Mrs. John Foord,
Mr. Samuel McLean, and Mr. and Mrs. Rodman.—_Brooklyn Times, and
Brooklyn Union, March 30._

[58] When Henry Irving was here, in December last, the “Clover Club”
tendered him a breakfast, and at that time he stated that when he
returned to the city he hoped again to meet his genial hosts. Last
night he kept his promise. Upwards of sixty gentlemen, members of
the club, and friends whom he had met elsewhere, were invited to
take supper with him at the Bellevue, after the performance at the
Chestnut-street Opera House, and the occasion was a most delightful
one. The celebrated table of the club, in the shape of a four-leaved
clover, was spread in the banqueting-hall. On it were two lofty forms
of flowers, in the midst of which rose two fountains, throwing up
crystal streams of water, which fell in spray over the blossoms.
There were also several little plots of growing clover, shaped in the
form of the quadrifoliate. The company did not assemble until after
the performance of “Much Ado About Nothing.” It was 11.30 when they
were seated at the table, with Mr. Irving at the head. Among the many
present were Ex-Gov. Hoyt, Dion Boucicault, Attorney-General Cassidy,
Col. A. Loudon Snowden, A. K. McClure, M. P. Handy, J. H. Heverin,
Mr. Joseph Hatton and Mr. Montague Marks, from New York. The occasion
was one long to be remembered. Mr. Irving, in proposing the toast
of the “Clover Club,” thanked the members for their hospitality,
and Philadelphia for its welcome of him, and, with characteristic
modesty, spoke of his tour through the country, the welcome which he
had everywhere received, and the love of dramatic art which he found
among the people. Mr. Handy replied for the “Clover Club,” with his
customary felicitous eloquence, and concluded by informing Mr. Irving
of his election as an honorary member of the club. While Mr. Irving
was bowing his thanks Mr. Handy decorated him with the jewelled badge
of membership. Dion Boucicault told how Mr. Irving, to his mind, had
banished the pedestal actor from the stage, and presented Shakespeare
as the dramatist himself would have wished to see his works given. Mr.
A. K. McClure pointed out how the dramatic art had knit the Anglo-Saxon
race in a close bond of union. Mr. Howe, the “old man” of Mr. Irving’s
company, gave some interesting reminiscences of how he, as a Quaker
boy, and dressed in a Quaker garb, applied to Edmund Kean to be allowed
to go on the stage. Mr. Terriss, the leading man, gave a recitation.
Dr. Bedloe offered a new version of Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages,” and
before the close Miss Terry was toasted in a bumper of three times
three. Seldom has such a merry party sat down to supper, and the
evening, when it is brought to mind, will never call up any but the
most delightful recollections.—_The Day, Baltimore, and The Call,
Philadelphia, March 20, 1884._

[59] The head-quarters of the Fire-Insurance Patrol, are eighty-five
feet wide and one hundred feet long. The first floor or room is sixteen
feet eight inches high, with black walnut and maple wainscoting. In
the front of the room there are two pairs of stairs, one each side.
Under these are the horses’ stalls. Between the stairs and stalls is
the patrol-wagon, the pole of which is ten feet from the front doors,
which open out in a vestibule by electricity, and are held by weights.
On the right of the room, as you enter, are all the telegraphic
instruments connected with the patrol, with no wires visible; a raised
panelled black-walnut wall, consisting of the Electric Mercurial
Fire-Alarm, which is connected with seventy different business
buildings, concealing the wires. This is a system which gives the alarm
automatically, giving the exact location of the fire in any building.
Over this annunciator is a large clock. On panels, on the right and
left of the above, are two gongs, one giving the fire-alarms from the
city, the other connected with the Mercurial Fire-Alarm Annunciator.
Under one gong there are three small gongs, one connecting directly
with the Western Union Telegraph Office, one with Marshall, Field,
& Co.’s retail store, and the other with the City Fire Department.
In another panel are the American District Telegraph connections. In
the ceiling over the wagon is a large reflecting gas-light, which
shines directly over the horses when hitching. Just in the rear of
the reflector are three traps, that work automatically when an alarm
is received, opening the floors on the second story, and ceiling of
the first, to enable the driver and assistants to have easy access to
their seats; two other members, who sleep on the second floor, make use
of the same means of ready exit. The same telegraphic instrument sets
in motion appliances which take off the bed-clothing from ten beds on
the second floor, and four berths on the first, relieving the men from
all incumbrances in an instant. On the second floor is the dormitory
for the men, which is carpeted with English body Brussels. There are
heavy black-walnut bedsteads, with F. I. P. carved in headboard,
inlaid with gold. The front part of this room is partitioned off
and used as Captain Bulwinkle’s room, which is carpeted with Wilton
carpet, bordered with white, papered and frescoed on all sides in
handsome style. Conspicuous here are white marble mantels and grates.
On a table in the centre of this room is an album, with autographs of
noted people from all parts of the world who have been visitors, and
left their names as a testimonial of the excellent qualities of this
department. The time required by this patrol to get out of bed, dress,
hitch the horses, and get out of the building, is four and one-half
seconds.—_Stranger’s Guide to the Garden City._

[60] William Winter is probably best known in America and England as
the accomplished and scholarly critic of the “New York Tribune.” As
an authority on the drama he holds in New York a similar position to
that which the late John Oxenford held on the “Times.” While there are
other professional critics in the Empire city who write admirably,
and with the authority of knowledge and experience about the stage,
William Winter is the only one among them who has made for himself a
prominent name apart from the paper with which he is associated. There
is no other critic sufficiently well-known to be entitled to have his
name mentioned in news cables or telegrams aside from the journal which
engages his pen. Winter has broken through the anonymous character
of his journalistic work as successfully as Oxenford and Sala. He is
the author of several volumes of lyrics; he is the biographer of the
Jeffersons; and since Washington Irving nothing more charming has been
written about “the old country” than his “Trip to England.”

[61] Among the cablegrams that cast English shadows upon the tour
was the announcement of Charles Reade’s death. This had already been
preceded by obituary notices of Blanchard Jerrold. It was followed, at
a later date, by the chronicle that Henry J. Byron had also “joined the
majority.” The sudden death of the Duke of Albany was chronicled by the
leading American newspapers, with touching sentiments of sympathy for
the Queen of England.

[62] “Much Ado” did “grow,” and was played for three weeks, a “mixed
bill” closing the last six nights. The receipts during Lent were
unprecedentedly large in the history of New York theatres. These pages
go to press before the financial returns are completely made up; but
it is known to-day (April 25), that the receipts for the entire tour
will be more than $400,000. The social hospitalities in honor of Irving
and Miss Terry, which characterized their first visit to New York,
were continued on their return. Among the notable breakfasts of the
time was one given to Irving by Edwin Booth, at Delmonico’s, on April
14. The “Times,” in chronicling it, says: “Mr. Booth sat at the head
of the table, with Mr. Irving on his right, and Chief-Justice Charles
P. Daly on his left. John McCullough knocked elbows with Parke Godwin.
The other guests included Jervis McEntee, Launt Thompson, Charles E.
Carryl, Richard Henry Stoddard, William Bispham, Eastman Johnson,
William Winter, Bram Stoker, Lawrence Hutton, Frank P. Millett, Junius
Henri Browne, H. J. Loveday, and E. C. Benedict. No speeches were
made, but in the course of an informal chat Mr. Irving was asked about
‘Hamlet.’ He said that he hardly thought it policy to produce the play
for three or four nights at the end of a season, and on the eve of his
departure, particularly as he contemplated so speedy a return.”

[63] The excitement of that cheerful October evening, last year, when
Henry Irving made his first appearance in New York, was repeated
last night, at the Star Theatre, where “Much Ado About Nothing”
was presented, and where Mr. Irving and Miss Terry effected their
reëntrance, and were welcomed by a great and brilliant company, with
acclamations, with floral tributes, and in a charmingly manifest
spirit of the heartiest admiration and good-will. The scene,
indeed, was one of unusual brightness, kindliness, and enjoyment,
both before the curtain and upon the stage. The applause, upon
the entrance of Beatrice,—a rare vision of imperial yet gentle
beauty!—broke forth impetuously and continued long; and, upon the
subsequent entrance of Benedick, it rose into a storm of gladness and
welcome.—_Tribune._—The performance at the Star Theatre last evening
was one of remarkable interest. “Much Ado About Nothing” was produced,
and Mr. Irving and his company furnished a dramatic representation more
complete and artistic, and in every way more admirable, than any that
has been seen upon our stage. The audience was large and brilliant, and
the reappearance of Mr. Irving and Miss Ellen Terry was greeted with
every demonstration of pleasure.—_Sun._





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