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Title: Nat Goodwin's Book

Author: Nat C. Goodwin

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Language: English

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NAT GOODWIN'S BOOK


Frontispiece
Nat C. Goodwin


NAT GOODWIN'S
BOOK


BY
NAT C. GOODWIN

ILLUSTRATED




BOSTON
RICHARD G. BADGER
THE GORHAM PRESS
TORONTO: COPP CLARK COMPANY LIMITED


Copyright, 1914
By Nat C. Goodwin and Richard G. Badger
All rights reserved

The Gorham Press, Boston, U.S.A.


[v]

PREFACE

In penning memoirs or autobiographing it is extremely difficult to avoid writing impersonally, yet I shall strive to avoid it as much as possible, not so much from a sense of duty as from a standpoint of mercy.

I have never enjoyed reading about myself and I am firmly convinced that there are few who have. Perhaps, if I am tempted during this review to give myself an opinion of myself, it may be received with favor even by those critics who have never agreed with any of my characterizations.

I started this little work with some degree of terror. I had such a poor background to frame my somewhat checkered career upon. I fully realized that a man must be a very great person, or at least imagine himself to be, to write an autobiography. But finally after listening to the advice of friends I approached myself, albeit surprised at my temerity. After having read many autobiographies I discovered that most nearly-great persons who indulge in the dissipation of giving to the world their opinions of themselves were either born in dilapidated garrets or on unproductive farms.

As there were no trees in my garden of youth nor a candle placed in an empty bottle to shed its effulgence upon my future life I wondered how I could diversify and be truthful, yet entertaining. A feeling of apprehension akin to that which always follows the first night of one of my productions took hold of me. I[vi] wondered how this little effort of mine would be received.

When reading a criticism the morning following a production I am always fearful of being found out. If I am condemned I know I have been! But after I have fully digested all the unkind criticisms, which are usually written by those who do not fancy me in any serious effort, I am in the end always superlatively happy in knowing that the critic has done his duty.

If I had my way, he would be doing TIME!

Generally he is so blissfully ignorant of what he prates about that I have a silent chuckle all to myself at the expositions of his glaring and blatant incompetency. Yet it has always been a question in my mind whether the public enjoys reading vituperative attacks upon its stage favorites particularly after it has been entertained and amused the previous evening. I think that it is thoroughly satisfied with its own verdict and resents another's antagonistic to it. It much more enjoys reading something of the actor's private life particularly when it can read something which exposes his or her particular vagaries. And the public is prone to believe everything the visionary gentlemen of the press chronicle. The more unwholesome it is the more it believes; the more suggestive, the more palatable.

You have only to put any sort of halo around an actor or a cigar, good or bad, to beget a following or a smoker!

Unfortunately the halo that the public has been kind enough to place above me will not bear minute inspection. It is opaque. However, being unable to escape it I have always been content to smile within and when the haloed one has been supposedly exposed I can do nothing but sit tight and accept the inevitable. At times it has been a bit harrowing to submit, yet it has taught me self-control which I will endeavor to exercise[vii] in this little work. If I am tempted to use the personal pronoun more frequently than necessary I shall deflect and command my thoughts, to wander among more agreeable persons. Having lived so long within the confines of my kindly bestowed halo I have become fully aware of my limitations. The agreeable personalities are easily found and I hope my readers will enjoy their companionship as much as I have enjoyed them.

Every reference made to these delightful people is inspired by the kindliest of feelings and if I have judged one or two more harshly than they seemingly deserve the error is of the head, not of the heart; for I loved, liked or admired them all and I am none too poor to do them reverence—even now.

While some may regard my opinions as impertinences none can convincingly deny my right to think, and as all is given impersonally I believe that none will doubt my motives.

Many will question the various attitudes in this book particularly regarding marriage and divorce. They will advance the theory that the bonds of matrimony must be welded more closely even when the participants find it difficult to live normally. I know that many who are incarcerated in the dungeons of matrimonial thraldom would not stop at murder to burst their bonds. It does not require the philosophy of a Bacon or an Emerson to prove that such incarceration is wrong. Why make martyrs of those forced to live together when hate supplants love, when bodies and thoughts play upon different instruments producing only discords? The laws of our country make it possible for us to file the bars of our unwholesome cells and suppress this monumental mockery. The views I have incorporated in this book, right or wrong, I stand by. All through my life I have never feared criticism for any of my[viii] acts. My moral or physical courage has never failed. I have been and always will be willing to stand by my guns and take my medicine.

Before completing this work I unfortunately submitted a few excerpts to a visionary representative of one of the Los Angeles papers. He immediately published broadcast what he had absorbed and very obligingly gave it the title of his own imagination, "Memoirs of Matrimony," thereby creating the impression that my book was to be devoted simply to my marital experiences. Such was never my intention, but as more than thirty years of my life have been devoted to matrimony naturally my autobiography demands mention of the women who have borne my name.

I have been censured sometimes harshly for my versatility in the selection of wives and many have marvelled at my fortunate (or unfortunate) selections. I have always been long on the market of home and wives.

I truly believe that no home is complete without a wife, providing she is of the kind that enjoys the company of intelligent, honest and clever people. Some men only lease their mates and then prate about their respectability. If I have decided at different times to tear down any of the Ephesian domes which I have erected, is the fact of my destroying them enough to warrant my being known, as was Alexander, as the fool that razed (or is it raised?) them?

While autobiography and a round up of memories will necessarily be conspicuous I shall endeavor also to make this book a medium of retrospective thoughts given to the many people, prominent and otherwise, with whom I have come in contact. As I have no notes I shall write purely from memory's tablets. If inaccuracies occur they will be unintentional.

Many of those dear friends have long since passed down the lonely mountain trail, but their sweet memories[ix] still linger by the roadside. If they but leave the perfume of their souls to mark the road for me to follow when I arrive at the corral nature has established in the valley I hope that we all shall meet and that they will elect me their callboy, that I may be privileged to ring up the curtain upon perpetual joy.

N. C. G.

Ocean Park, California.


[x]
[xi]

CONTENTS

ChapterPage
ICommencement Day17
IIMy Debut22
IIIStuart Robson26
IVJohn McCullough35
VSir Henry Irving38
VI"Barry" and Jefferson41
VIIA Sunny Son of Sometime49
VIIICharles Hoyt51
IXSir Charles Wyndham54
XCharles R. Thorne, Jr.56
XISol Smith Russell61
XIIRichard Mansfield67
XIIIIn Variety75
XIVEliza Weathersby80
XVSuccessful Failures89
XVIBack in the 'Eighties92
XVIIThe Halcyon Days of Union Square96
XVIIIThe Birth of the Syndicate101
XIXStars109
XXAtmospheric Plays115
XXIActors Past and Present118
XXIIMaude Adams121
XXIIITyrone Power126
XXIVAn Artistic Success!127
XXVThe Skating Rink131
XXVINumber Two134
XXVIIA Fight Won (?)140
XXVIIIJohn Chamberlain148
XXIXW. S. Gilbert152
XXXHenry E. Dixey153
XXXISwagger New Yorkers of Another Day155
XXXIIJames Whitcomb Riley157
XXXIIIDigby Bell and De Wolf Hopper159
XXXIVBlaine and Ingersoll162
XXXVJim Corbett in England164
XXXVIThe Cockney Cabby Comedian166
XXXVIIA Gilded Fool and Other Plays168
XXXVIIIGeorge M. Cohan177
XXXIXThoughts Vaudeville-Born179
XLJohn Drew181
XLIThe Rivals Revival182
XLIIWilton Lackaye185[xii]
XLIII"Young" Mansfield187
XLIVDavid Warfield190
XLVA Day at Reno192
XLVILillian Russell197
XLVIIDramatic Schools198
XLVIIINumber Three (Almost)201
XLIXThe Confessional207
LSan Francisco211
LIAntony (?) and Cleopatra216
LIIHonolulu and Samoa223
LIIIPublicity—Its Results230
LIVIn the Land of the Kangaroo233
LVWelcome(!) Home240
LVINumber Three243
LVIIWhen We Were Twenty-One and Other Plays248
LVIIIAt Jackwood254
LIX"Why Do Beautiful Women Marry Nat Goodwin?"262
LXBilly Thompson265
LXIThe Critics266
LXIIJames A. Hearne277
LXIIIEddie Foy279
LXIVWilliam Gillette280
LXVWilliam Brady, Esq.283
LXVIRobert Ford284
LXVIIMore Plays286
LXVIIIWillie Collier288
LXIXHenry Miller290
LXXWhat's in a Name?291
LXXII Try Being a Business Man293
LXXIIThe Five Fateful Fish Cakes and Number Four302
LXXIIISir Beerbohm Tree315
LXXIVThe Origin of the Stage317
LXXVMy Stage-Struck Valet321
LXXVIGeorge C. Tyler324
LXXVIII Find the Very Best Phyllis326
LXXVIIIThe Lambs Club329
LXXIXI "Come Back"332
LXXXI Go Back334
LXXXIDavid Belasco336
LXXXII"Author—Author"337
LXXXIIIMushroom Managers341
LXXXIV"Keep off the Grass"345
LXXXVCalifornia350
LXXXVII Become a Barnstormer352
LXXXVIINumber Five355
LXXXVIIIL'Envoie356
Index359

[xiii]

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Facing Page
Nat C. GoodwinFrontispiece
 
William Warren20
The greatest comedian that ever lived
 
Stuart Robson26
The best Shakespearean clown of modern times
 
Tony Hart30
He had the face of an Irish Apollo, did Tony Hart
 
John McCullough and Associate Players in the Dramatic Festival36
"Mr." McCullough and the rest of us
 
Sir Henry Irving40
An extraordinary man
 
Joseph Jefferson46
I firmly believe I improved his morals
 
Sir Charles Wyndham54
A remarkable man
 
Charles R. Thorne, Jr.60
A royal picture to contemplate
 
In the Little Rebel76
One of my first excursions into the legitimate
 
Eliza Weathersby80
The wife who mothered me
 
In Hobbies with Eliza Weathersby84
The play I won at faro
 
Lithograph of Goodwin's Froliques88
 
In Turned Up92
In the days when I was an imitator
 
Lotta98
In the days when work was play
 
Jack Haverly102
The man who conceived the syndicate
 
In the Gold Mine112
My get-up in The Gold Mine
 
Those Were the Happy Days118
 
Coquelin124
Would he have gone in vaudeville? I wonder[xiv]
 
Nella Baker Pease134
The best amateur piano player I ever heard
 
Nat C. Goodwin, III138
 
Pals150
Richard Carle, Fred G. Stanley, Nat Goodwin, Walter Jones, De Wolf Hopper
 
In Confusion160
Back in the eighties
 
Nat Goodwin and Company in In Mizzoura168
One of the best casts I ever saw
 
Ticket Sale for In Mizzoura176
 
Dick Golden182
We were pals for many years
 
David Warfield and Nat Goodwin190
I'm proud of the company
 
In Mizzoura200
One of the greatest of American plays
 
Mrs. N. C. Goodwin, Sr.210
A dear old lady living in Boston
 
How much a Lamb I was I didn't know—Then!216
 
An Australian Greeting Can't Touch its Farewell!220
 
In An American Citizen232
If we had been associated a few years longer my name would have been up as her leading support!
 
As Bob Acres240
I gave Bob a country dialect
 
Maxine Elliott246
Fate's partner
 
In When We were Twenty-One252
The biggest bit of any play I ever produced
 
In Nathan Hale258
"They hang Nat in the last act"
 
Wm. H. Thompson264
An artist to his finger tips
 
James A. Hearne278
He knew how poor Sol "fell"
 
Robert Ford284
"A cold-blooded, conscienceless murderer"
 
As Cameo Kirby294
I never played a character I liked so well
 
Edna Goodrich304
My young and handsome star[xv]
 
As Shylock310
One of my successful failures
 
In Hamlet320
It had always been my desire to appear in Shakespearean roles
 
Margaret Moreland326
The very best Phyllis
 
As Fagin in Oliver Twist330
"Fagin was a comedian"
 
David Belasco336
An intellectual giant
 
Drawn while We were "Barnstorming"344
 
The Ranch at San Jacinto, California350
A scene not equalled in the Austrian Tyrol

NAT GOODWIN'S BOOK


[17]

NAT GOODWIN'S BOOK

Chapter I

COMMENCEMENT DAY

One bright morning in June, 1872, the Little Blue Academy of old Farmington College, Maine, rang with the plaudits of an admiring throng of visitors. Some of them had come in their capacious coaches, lumbering and crushing their way through the streets of the usually quiet village, while others in good old Puritan fashion had come afoot and across fields and by-ways. Altogether the tumult was great both without and within and the Puritan housewives, their quiet thus sadly disturbed, devoutly offered up thanks that such affairs occurred but once in a twelvemonth. But the clatter of contending Jehus and vociferous villagers on the campus was nothing compared with the resounding clash of palms and other noisy demonstrations of approval within.

It was Commencement Day. Eager papas and mammas, sweet, admiring misses and anxious friends were there that neither valedictorian, salutatorian, orator nor poet might lack that proper sort of encouragement, without which any affair of this nature must necessarily be incomplete. They were to decide as well the winner of the prize in elocution. Truly it was a day of mighty portent.

[18]

Many had spoken their parts and the rafters and roof had given back the approving shouts in echoes almost as resounding as the words themselves. At length my name was announced by our preceptor and worthy master, Mr. Alden J. Blethen, the present manager and owner of the Seattle "Times."

With some timidity, but tremendous eagerness, I mounted the improvised rostrum and began my recitation of a poem called "The Uncle." As I began my eyes seemed to be swimming back and forth in my head. I saw nothing but birds floating into space. Then a death-like silence ensued and images usurped the place of birds. They assumed forms and through the mists came men and women and one by one they seemed to come before my vision until the room was filled. I finished, I thought, in a hush and was utterly oblivious to the great burst of applause which greeted my efforts. My seat-mate, poor Charlie Thomas who in after years was associated with Charles Hoyt, the writer and producer of many successful farce comedies, grabbed me by the arm and hurled me back upon the stage whispering, "Give them that 'Macbeth' speech!" Mechanically I acted upon his suggestion and began the soliloquy. I remembered nothing more until we left the hall. In fact I was in a comatose state until summoned that evening by Mr. Blethen to come into his library where, in the presence of the other scholars, I was presented with a set of Shakespeare's Complete Works.

As I went to my room that night I began to dream of the life to come. I saw myself startling the world as King Lear.

Two days after I received the first newspaper criticism of my work from the Portland papers. The notices pleased me beyond words and brought more joy to my young heart than any I ever received in after life. With pardonable pride, I trust, I set one forth here:—

[19]

"The little Academy had never known the delirium of applause until a slight, delicate youth, with peculiar flaxen hair, round blue eyes, and a complexion as fair as a girl's mounted the rostrum and spoke his lines. Such elocution must have awakened unusual interest, and so easy was the speaker, so perfect his actions and charming his intelligence, that the old dormitory shook with plaudits."

I was told twenty-five years later by a little Jew critic named Cohen that I lacked all these attributes, after I had devoted a quarter of a century in earnest endeavor to accentuate them! How I must have retrograded in all those years! Until he told me I thought I must have travelled ahead, for I could not possibly have gone back. But perhaps I never started! The notices in the Portland papers fanned the smoke into a flame and from that day I determined to become an actor. Some years before I had become imbued with the idea, the inspiration coming from my living in close proximity to an actors' boarding-house kept by a Mrs. Fisher at No. 3 Bulfinch Place, Boston. Many and many a time have I waited between school hours and play to catch a glimpse of the occupants of this celebrated yet modest hostelry, for here were housed many conspicuous actors of the day. Many a time I endeavored to touch the sleeve or any part of the garment of the players as they emerged from the house on their way to rehearsals and if I succeeded my mission was fulfilled for the day.

On one occasion William Warren's hat blew off. I rushed for it and rescued it from beneath a horse's hoofs. I returned it to the owner and he thanked me very graciously. The incident was too much for my young nerves. I played hookey that afternoon. School had no charms for me that day. An actor had spoken to me!

[20]

Years after I was privileged to meet this gentleman at a breakfast given in my honor by the Elks of Boston with Mayor O'Brien in the chair. I had been invited to appear at a charity benefit to be preceded by this breakfast. I was playing at the time at the Bijou Theatre, New York, but I arranged to leave on the midnight train, arriving in time for the breakfast at nine. Afterwards I appeared at eleven o'clock at the benefit, catching the one o'clock train back to New York.

Upon my arrival in Boston the Mayor met me at the train with a Committee which took me in charge. We drove straight to the breakfast room. There the first to greet me was dear old William Warren. A lump came up into my throat as big as a water melon. Think of it—that tall, big player to greet me! With out-stretched hand he bade me welcome home where, he said, all loved me. "Come and sit by me, my son," said he, and as I turned to answer him he looked to me like a god. I was privileged to sit by the genius whose coat hem I had in years gone by waited for hours to touch. He was unconsciously rewarding me for my boyish hero-worship. He was touching my heart strings and creating delightful memories to remain forever in my mind. No food passed my lips. I was above the clouds playing upon a golden harp! My blood flowed through my veins like lava! I was sitting by a great comedian and, believe me, I was glad, for I consider William Warren the greatest comedian that ever lived.

After the breakfast which was hurriedly eaten we started for the playhouse. I was so nervous that I could scarcely make up, but I knew that I had to do something as this great man was in the audience.

[back]

William Warren
The greatest comedian that ever lived

At length the moment came for me to make my entrance. Tremendous applause greeted me. I endeavored to play as I had never played before. My[21] inspiration was the gentle face in the right-hand box beaming upon my incompetency. I was dreadfully self conscious. I knew I was in the presence of a master and try as I would nothing seemed to get over the footlights as I wished. Every word seemed to stop dead at that right-hand box and would not go beyond. When the finish came I offered up a silent prayer of gratitude.

As I wended my way slowly to the dressing-room someone congratulated me upon my efforts. As I sank into my chair the stage manager opened the door, reiterating the congratulations. I simply asked, "How did Mr. Warren like me?" Before he could answer the tall figure of Warren appeared at the door and he said, "I couldn't have done it better myself, young man!" Then he patted me on the shoulder, saying, "Hurry, or you'll miss your train." He shook me by the hand, bade me good-bye and returned to the boarding-house where he had lived for many years, to his little back room. A few weeks later twelve men bore his body to Mt. Auburn Cemetery placing him among the roses.

Warren's Sir Peter Teazle, Jefferson Scattering Batkins, Jessie Rural, Tony Lumpkin, Bob Acres, Dr. Pangloss and about all of Shakespeare's clowns have never been equaled by any player of any age. He had all the humor and the pathos that comedy is heir to—a player of the old school, not the night school.


[22]

Chapter II

MY DEBUT

After leaving the Little Blue Academy of Old Farmington I returned to New York with my parents. We were there but a short time when we returned to Boston, where my father, one of those thoroughgoing Bostonians who intended me for the law, compromised by securing for me a position as an entry clerk in the counting-room of Wellington Bros. & Co., dry goods merchants. This did not appeal to me, and at stray intervals I found great pleasure in fraternizing with a few actors with whom I had become acquainted. I preferred play books to the ledgers and account books of Wellington Bros. They were my special delight, and I devoted all my spare time to committing the lines of the leading parts to memory. My father always allowed me money to attend the theatres. I was privileged to see all the great actors of my day, and every other night found me in either the front row of the balcony, or gallery of the local theatres. I would go over the lines as I had heard them, and in doing so found that I could reproduce the tones and gestures of the players I had seen. Thus I discovered that I had the gift of imitation. One by one I added to my parts until at length I found that I had a repertoire of seventeen. I would rehearse them with my only auditor, my mother, who considered them perfect.

Night usually found me at the back door of the Boston Theatre or Boston Museum importuning the Captain of the Supers to be allowed to carry a spear.[23] The major portion of my time was given to affairs theatrical until finally my employers decided to dispense with my valuable services, and much to my delight I was cast adrift.

My mother, who always had a great fondness for the stage and was always seeking the society of those connected with it, made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Thorne, Sr., the father and mother of Charles, Edwin and William Thorne, and persuaded them to take a suite of rooms at our house in Boston, situated at the corner of Bulfinch and Howard Streets, directly opposite the famous Mrs. Fisher's theatrical boarding-house. The Thornes were very delightful old people, and for hours I would sit and listen to them discussing the favorites of olden times, dating back to the advent of the Keans. Finally, they persuaded their son Edwin to come and live with us, and for the first time I found myself in the divine atmosphere of the players' life. Edwin was the leading man at the Howard Athenaeum, playing stock pieces and supporting travelling stars.

The Thornes were a great delight to me, as they had the entry to all the playhouses in Boston, and it was my joy to accompany dear Mrs. Thorne to every "first night."

Edwin Thorne finally left our house and became leading man at the Providence Opera House, under the management of William Henderson. I would often visit Providence, go behind the scenes and hold the book while Thorne was committing his various parts to memory. It is unnecessary to state that I was always enthralled at these golden opportunities. After repeated requests Thorne was persuaded to use his influence in procuring me an engagement. Finally I was offered the part of Sir George Hounslow in the old melodrama, "The Bottle." I fortified myself[24] with a blonde wig, never dreaming of using my own blonde locks. I thought every actor should wear a wig. From Thorne's wardrobe I selected clothing altogether too large for my slim proportions. I required inspiration and atmosphere and decided that in the wardrobe of the illustrious player I should find it. Bedecked in those ill-fitting garments I stood at the wings on the opening night waiting for my cue.

I was possessed of so much assurance at rehearsals that little attention had been paid to me regarding the details of stage business, the stage manager taking all for granted. I was the bad young man of the play, seeking to bring about the dishonor of the soubrette. I was supposed to have endeavored to embrace her down the road, she to have eluded my advances and broken away, rushing onto the stage, I following. Naturally she did not rehearse all she intended to do that evening, and while I was quietly talking with her in the entrance, the cue was given and she uttered a fearful shriek! I didn't know what had happened and looked around for the cause. Then I found she was in the center of the stage wildly beckoning me to come on and finish the scene that was supposed to have started down the road. Somebody shoved me on. The orchestra played chilly music suggestive of my base intentions. This took every line out of my head, and I simply stood there and gasped! Not a sound could I ejaculate! The young lady contemplated me for a moment and cried, "You shall not!" Then she rushed off, leaving me transfixed. From each side of the stage I could hear, "Come off! Come off!" but I seemed paralyzed and could not stir. At last the lights went out, the scene was changed and when I came to I found myself in the property room with two or three gentlemen in red flannel shirts throwing water into my face. They left me for an instant, and I ran[25] out of the stage door in all my makeup and Thorne's wardrobe (which he afterwards told me I failed to return). I waited until the train came through for Boston and boarded it, utterly oblivious of the sensation I was creating among the passengers by my painted face and penciled eyebrows. I jumped into a cab upon my arrival at the Boston station, drove home to my parents and threw myself into my mother's arms crying, "I cannot act! Get me a position in a shoe store!"

I was heartbroken for many weeks and firmly resolved never to become an actor; but gradually my mother, who always believed in my hidden histrionic powers, instilled some courage into my soul, I yielded to her sympathy and advice and determined to try once more.

Through my mother's influence my father bowed at last to what seemed the inevitable and consented to permit me to prepare myself for the stage, exacting from me a promise, however, that I would devote not less than five hours a day to my studies. Accordingly I was sent to Wyzeman Marshall, an old-school actor of some repute during the reign of Edwin Forrest, who undertook my training. I spent many happy hours with this charming old gentleman as he devoted most of his (and my) time to anecdotes and stories of the past. He taught me but little, apart from the scanning of Shakespeare, which he thoroughly instilled into my mind, so the few months which I spent under his tutelage did me much good. I had no thought of being a comedian and devoted all of my time to the study of serious rôles, from Douglas to the bloody Thane of Cawdor, and committed all those parts to memory.

Fortunately for me at this time I became acquainted with Stuart Robson.


[26]

Chapter III

STUART ROBSON

My meeting with Stuart Robson was brought about by the influence of Joseph Bradford, a clever playwright of the day. He had heard my imitations of actors and pronounced upon them favorably, "not only for their accuracy," as he put it, but the methods I employed reminded him of a dear friend of his who had passed away some years before—Robert Craig, to whom I was told I bore a striking resemblance.

Robert Craig was a clever player, playwright and wonderful mimic. He was for years leading comedian at Mrs. John Drew's Arch Street Theatre, Philadelphia. Had he lived he would certainly have made dramatic history for himself. I have only a faint recollection of him, but Bradford often told me of his many wonderful gifts and I have many times wished that I had been born earlier or he later.

Bradford was an extraordinary person. A most incompetent actor, which he often with great regret admitted, but one of the greatest geniuses that I have ever met—a master in all matters pertaining to the drama and literature of the theatre. Had he lived I feel certain that he would have become the Pinero of the American stage. Alas, he was given to conviviality and lived only for his friends.

[back]

Stuart Robson
The best Shakespearean clown of modern times

He possessed a splendid physique and was gifted with fine conversational power. His fund of humor was[27] excelled by none. He was liberal to a fault, devoid of egotism, with always a kindly word for those with whom he came in contact and possessed a brain as pyrotechnical as Paine's fireworks. You can imagine his influence upon those who were fortunate enough to be his associates. His knowledge of painting, drama, music, sculpture, literature, poetry, in fact all the arts, seemed unlimited. As a critic he had a style peculiarly his own, equalled only by Hazlitt, Lamb, Lewes and a few others. He was a graduate of Annapolis and left there with many honors. Very often we would sit in his rooms and he would read me his prose and poetry, which he never allowed to be published but which I think was as nearly unique as that of Edgar Allan Poe, to whom he bore a striking resemblance. He was a devotee at the shrine of Poe and often regretted the untimely end of America's greatest lyrical genius. Little did he imagine that his end would be the same. Burns, Poe and Bradford were the victims of their mastering passion—the loving cup.

Through his kindly interest and guidance I was enabled to secure my first real engagement and make the acquaintance of the best Shakespearean clown of modern times and one of the cleverest of modern comedians as well, Stuart Robson.

I remember the morning Bradford guided me behind the scenes of the old Howard Athenaeum to present me to Stuart Robson. As we entered we found that gentleman in the throes of a busy rehearsal of one of Bradford's plays. As I stood in the entrance faint from excitement Robson stopped, looked toward the entrance where I stood, transfixed, walked toward me and said, "My God, Brad! who is this young man?" Bradford answered, "A young friend of mine who wants to go on the stage. Of whom does he remind you, Rob?" Robson looked at me for a minute, and ejaculated, "Merciful[28] powers, Bob Craig!" After being introduced we shook hands and he said, "Come into my dressing-room, young man, and let me have a good look at you." As we entered the room he seated me upon a trunk, took both my hands in his and with the tears streaming down his face gasped, "Wonderful! Wonderful! I have never seen such a resemblance between two human beings!"

Within a few minutes the rehearsal was dismissed. Bradford and Robson took their seats in the front row of the parquet and I went through my repertoire of imitations. I rendered sixteen and Rob, bless him, always pronounced the last one the best. I was about to leave the stage when Brad insisted that I should give one of Robson. I put a veto upon that proposition and after about fifteen minutes of violent pleading Robson, who understood my feelings, sustained the veto.

Robson immediately offered me a part in the play which he was about to produce, and on the following Monday I appeared in Bradford's play, "Law in New York," as Ned the newsboy, and in the pier scene I first gave my imitations of celebrated actors on the stage of a theatre.

They told me that my stunt went remarkably well, but I have no recollection of what occurred. After I had responded to several encores someone in the gallery cried out, "Give us an imitation of Robson!" It took my breath away, but I stood still and calmly shook my head. I was recalled and still the cry came, "Robson! Robson!" He was standing in the wings and as I came off I said, "What can I do, Mr. Robson? They are clamoring for me to give an imitation of you!" "Do?" said he in that falsetto voice so well known to theatregoers of that period, "Go back and give the villains hell!" On the impulse of the moment I went through an entire scene which the audience had just witnessed between Robson and a favorite player named[29] Henry Bloodgood. As I assumed each voice, particularly Robson's, the applause was deafening, and at the finish, after repeated recalls, Robson was obliged to take me on and make a speech, thanking the audience in my behalf.

After the play Robson said to me, "Young Goodwin, you have done two things tonight that I shall never forget—halted the performance of a very good play and given a very bad imitation of me. I could have done it better myself."

Poor Rob, like all people possessed of conspicuous mannerisms, was never able to detect his even when emphasized by mimicry. One can never see himself in another.

I appreciated this in after life when I was seated in the private box of the Broadway Theatre, New York. A young man named Alf Hampton had given what I considered some remarkably clever imitations of leading actors. Having somewhat of a reputation at that time in this same line and being rather conspicuous that evening I gave vent to my pleasure by applauding most vociferously all of his efforts. To my horror he approached the footlights and announced an imitation of me! As he finished the applause from all over the house shook the rafters, but I could not discover one familiar tone. As he gave the imitation a friend of mine, seated in the front row, looked over and very audibly asked, "Well, what do you think of that, Nat?" I replied, "One of us is rotten."

Poor Bradford dissipated his genius, and died, twenty odd years ago, in penury. I was not present at his death, but fortunately I arrived in time to save him from a pauper's grave, and he now sleeps tranquilly in beautiful Mt. Auburn with his poems and other children of his brain—a happy family known only to the elect. Adieu, dear friend. "Though lost to sight, to memory dear."

[30]

Through all my theatrical career up to Robson's exit from life's theatre the closest association and dearest friendship existed between us. He was always my sponsor, my adviser; and what knowledge he bestowed relative to the ethics of our art! Analytically he was master of more of the fundamental rules of acting than even Lawrence Barrett who was an authority. While Robson was never able to convey a sentimental thought by any facial expression or delivery, he could point out correctly the methods required to convey them. Had he not been handicapped by a vocal organ that squeaked forth only fun, his pathos would have equalled John E. Owens' or Joe Jefferson's.

I shall never forget the time when Robson, Crane, and I appeared in an act of "Julius Caesar" at a benefit given to poor Tony Hart. Robson was the Cassius; Crane, Brutus, and I was cast for Antony. We gave the characters all the study and attention due to the great master and were firm in our resolution to play the respective rôles with proper reverence, to bestow upon them all the tragic force and power within our capacities; but the public took the idea in a spirit of jest and came prepared to see us burlesque the characters, never assuming that we were in earnest in our purpose.

The afternoon came. The theatre was packed. I was the first of the trio to make an entrance. Fortunately I came on with the mob and my few lines passed unnoticed, as none in front recognized me. To be sure I was denied the thrills of a reception, but I had the end of an act and was quite content to wait.

[back]

Tony Hart
He had the face of an Irish Apollo, did Tony Hart

The scene was soon over and the full stage of the old Academy of Music opened radiantly as Robson and Crane made their entrances as Cassius and Brutus. They came majestically forth and were greeted by applause that lasted fully a minute. They looked pictures. Forrest and Macready never looked more like[31] Roman senators than those two comedians as they acknowledged the plaudits with true tragic dignity. Then a hush, as the audience settled back for the expected travesty. It needed only the familiar notes of Rob's voice to reassure them that they were right in their conjectures and a shout of laughter went up as he began the speech, "That I do love you, Brutus," etc. The shrieks of laughter interrupted his long thought-out delivery. He paused. His face became livid even through his heavy make up. Then he began the speech again in a more modulated tone. The second time he got as far as "I do love you, Brutus," when another yell blared from the front. He again stopped, bit his lips with suppressed rage and waited a few seconds. It seemed an eternity to us in the entrance. Then Rob raised his hand and by a simple gesture commanded silence.

The laughter soon quieted down as it became apparent that Robson was endeavoring to play the part legitimately and a subdued silence greeted him as he began his speech for the third time. He started in even a lower key and continued the speech. As he got into it he began to feel the meaning of the words and tried to read them with true expression. As he gave them the necessary emphasis his voice, that most ready of organs, refused to obey the dictation of the brain and the gradual crescendo required for the delivery became a succession of Robsonian squeaks! The audience loyally tried to suppress its hilarity. At first it smiled, then giggled, then peals of laughter hurled themselves across the footlights like shots from a Gatling gun. All upon the stage, except poor Robson, heard the merry storm. He was now thoroughly engrossed and squeaked away to beat Gilmore's band, utterly oblivious of the fun he was creating. Thinner and thinner came Rob's squeak; louder and still louder[32] came the laughter until it became a veritable avalanche. As he reached the line,

"Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder the old Anchises bear"—

He realized that the audience was laughing at him and he continued,

"Did I, the tired Caesar, you blankety-blank, blankety-blank!", his added interpolation being really unfit for publication.

Fortunately the laughter drowned the words. Had the audience heard them the performance would have ended then and there. We all thought that it must have heard, that the end had come. I prayed fervently that it had, but no such luck! It gradually quieted down and the play proceeded. When my turn came to end the act some of my friends said I did very creditably. At all events I got through without a laugh. And that I considered a triumph. We often referred to it in after life and always with great pleasure.

Robson was a unique person, gifted with the most thorough sense of right and wrong of any man I ever knew. His word was a contract and with it went the liberality of a king. He absolutely refused to grow old and sought only the young. He tried to emulate the deeds of charity of the Good Samaritan and had a kind word for all humanity. He possessed the soul of a saint and the heart of a fawn. His motto was JUSTICE. He wrote the words and music of HONOR.

In a spirit of jest he once promised a coachman a gift of five thousand dollars if the coachman succeeded in winning the hand and heart of a certain lady. He gave him one dollar on account never dreaming that the man would woo and win successfully. Imagine his surprise when six years later the man turned up and informed him of the date of the wedding. I happened[33] to be present at the time at his summer place at Cohasset, Mass. The coachman went his way and Rob told me of his promise. I said, "Surely, you are not going to make good a promise made in jest?" He answered, "I am," went inside the house and in a few minutes came back on the veranda with the cheque for four thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars in his hand. He called his daughter and sent her down the road with the cheque in quest of the young coachman, with instructions to present it to him as a wedding gift "from S. Robson, Esquire," ordered a brandy and soda from his servant and rudely left me with instructions to "Go home!" Knowing dear Rob's proclivities for B and S's, I loitered about for a few hours and then returned to the house, but Rob had disappeared.

His daughter and I finally located him, with a few convivial friends in the hotel bar at Hingham. He called us to one side and quietly asked his daughter if she had performed the duty as requested. She answered, "Yes, papa, I gave him the cheque." Rob asked, "How did he take it?" His daughter replied, "Papa, he cried!" "How long did he cry?" asked Rob. "About a minute," she replied. "That's nothing," said Rob, "when I signed it I cried an hour!"

I could fill pages with such deeds of his as this one and I knew him, man and boy, for thirty years. The world never knew a better man than Stuart Robson; a loving father, a dutiful husband, a great comedian, an honest actor and an upright American citizen. To quote from one of Boucicault's plays in which he appeared, "He had the soul of a Romeo and the face of a comic singer."

God bless you, Rob, wherever you and our dear friend, Bob Ingersoll, are! Move over, and leave a place for me! If it's hell, I'll invoke a blizzard; if[34] Heaven, we shall need each other's companionship! We shall say that we were wrong down here and ask to be forgiven.

Shall we be?

I wonder!


[35]

Chapter IV

JOHN McCULLOUGH

At the end of the year 1882 I attracted the attention of the manager of the Dramatic Festival which was to be held at Cincinnati and was engaged to play the grave digger in "Hamlet" and Modus in "The Hunchback." Neither of these parts had ever been assumed by me prior to his engagement. It had always been my desire to appear in Shakespearean rôles and other legitimate characters.

The Dramatic Festival was a splendid success, artistically and financially. We began April 30, 1883, the first performance being "Julius Caesar." My associates were John McCullough, Lawrence Barrett, James E. Murdoch, Mary Anderson, Mlle. Rhea, Clara Morris and Kate Forsythe. The other plays given were "The Hunchback," "Much Ado About Nothing," "Othello," "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet." The enterprise was managed by R. E. J. Miles and stage-managed by William H. Daly. The receipts for the week were in the neighborhood of a hundred thousand dollars. It was a happy time, marred only by our discovering that poor John McCullough was a doomed man, his mind showing a gradual decay. It was the beginning of the end, for in a few months the curtain rang down on dear John and he walked the stage no more.

A great, big-hearted, genial soul was lovable John McCullough! Everybody loved him and who could help it? Broad-minded and equally broad-shouldered,[36] his companions ranged from prize-fighters to senators, wantons to duchesses. He was a splendid player and many suggestions have I received from him. He was a tragedian on the stage, a comedian off. I knew him for twenty years and in all that time, as intimate as we were, I always addressed him as "Mr." McCullough—and it annoyed him greatly.

One night at the old St. James (New York) bar I greeted him with the usual salutation. He replied, "Damn it, my name is John!" I answered, "I don't care whether it is or not, I can't say it"—and I never did. To me he was a Roman senator and oh, how simple, how kind! I was always awed when in his presence. When we met and he slapped me on the back by way of comradeship my spine would open and shut. Maybe it was the vehemence of the attack, but I always attributed it to my admiration of the man.

One noon I went into Delmonico's after a long siege of poker with the late Billy Scanlon, actor (and clever chap by the way), William Sinn, proprietor of the Park Theatre, Brooklyn, Billy Barry, Henry Watterson and John R. Fellows, District Attorney of New York City. I wanted a bracer badly, I can tell you, for we had participated in a very strenuous evening. As we entered, there was dear old McCullough having luncheon.

[back]

John McCullough and Associate Players in the Dramatic Festival
"Mr." McCullough and the rest of us

I stopped, transfixed. He saw me and beckoned me to a seat at the table. I was terribly self conscious. He said, "Son, have a drink." I replied, rather timidly, "No, thank you." (I was slowly passing away.) He continued, "Well, you do drink, don't you?" "Yes," I replied, "once in awhile." "I mean you get drunk!" he insisted. I replied in the affirmative. "Good for you! I wouldn't give a damn for a man who didn't, occasionally!" he commented. "Is that right?" I queried. "Certainly," he replied. "Well, then," and[37] I yelled to the waiter, "Give me an absinthe frappé!" "That's right, my boy; and, waiter, make it two," he quietly remarked.

We sat there for some time and soon I forgot all about my losses, listening to his fascinating stories of Edwin Forrest and the palmy days.

He was a most entertaining man and my memory often returns to the many happy hours passed in the company of my good friend, "Mr." McCullough—"John" for short—and sweet—now.


[38]

Chapter V

SIR HENRY IRVING

After the Dramatic Festival my wife and I embarked for Europe. It was during this time that I made the acquaintance of Henry Irving who was then managing successfully the Lyceum Theatre in London. Irving apparently took quite a fancy to me. He showed me many attentions and I was the recipient of many hospitalities at his hands.

Irving was an extraordinary man in many ways and considering what nature had denied him his achievements were little short of marvelous. Possessed of a voice of but little power, utterly lacking in grace, even ungainly and awkward in action, he was possessed of that occult power that made all those infirmities subservient to his fine intellect.

I think that Irving had a wider knowledge than any man whom I have ever met in the theatrical world. So much has been written by able writers regarding this remarkable man's abilities that anything that emanates from me will seem puerile in comparison.

Irving's humor always appealed to me, his sense of it ever being in evidence no matter how serious the surroundings. His utterances were subtly humorous and at times a little cynical, but never harsh, his gentleness of delivery always disguising the little cynicisms that might lurk beneath them.

I remember lunching with him one afternoon at the Garrick Club. An actor named Kemble came in, a[39] little under the influence of the succulent grape, and began bewailing the decline of the drama. He expatiated upon the downward trend of the player, expressing great dissatisfaction over the then present conditions and his desire to "chuck it." He preferred solitude, away from the incompetency that he was forced to witness. He would like to build a shack and relieve himself from all these humiliating associations on some desert island. Irving, calmly wiping his glasses, looked at him for a moment and asked, "Why not try one of the Scilly Islands?"

Another time an awful bore, one Fletcher, whom Irving detested, rushed up to him in a most affectionate manner, saying, "My dear Harry! whom do you suppose I met in Paris, last week?" Irving replied, "I have no idea. Paris is so filled with people." Fletcher continued, "I know, dear Harry, but it was our old friend Graham—Charlie! You remember him." Irving grunted, "Ah!" Fletcher rattled on. "Well, Harry, you know we had not met for years and he accosted me right in front of the Louvre and placing both hands upon my shoulders he said, 'Great God! is this really Fletcher?'" Irving quietly looked up and queried, "And was it?"

We passed many happy evenings, together with dear old Johnny Toole, at the Beefsteak Club. I look back with pleasure upon those improvised little suppers Irving used to bestow upon the visiting Americans and his fellow players upon the stage of the Lyceum after the evening performance. I have never seen such unostentatious, yet lavish, display as he exercised in those delightful hospitalities. They extended far into the night and many times the sun was up as he, Toole and I made the rounds of the Covent Garden Market where the butchers and fruit venders were as friendly disposed towards him as were the guests of the previous evening.

[40]

I never knew when Irving slept.

The last time we met was in his dressing-room at the Broadway Theatre, New York. I had just produced "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at a great outlay—a new experience for me at the time—investing a fortune on the production before receiving the verdict of the capricious public. It was an old story with Irving. As I shook hands with him he said, "Ah! Goodwin, my boy, I see you are indulging in a little Monte Carlo around the corner." I answered, "Yes, Sir Henry, I have a big bet down on the single 0." "Well," said he, "this business is a fascinating gamble no matter where the little ivory ball may land."

The little ivory ball proved in the end very disappointing to this splendid player who did so much to dignify our art. For when the ball fell into the single "0" Sir Henry's bet was on the black, No. 23. Had he lived he would have found it impossible to indulge again in the dissipation of costly productions.

[back]

Sir Henry Irving
An extraordinary man

[41]

Chapter VI

"BARRY" AND JEFFERSON

The world delights in sunny people."

I recall many.

Maurice Barrymore, actor, playwright, raconteur, gentleman, all-around athlete and man of the world, was the most effulgent man whom I have ever met. A brain that scintillated sparks of wit that Charles Lamb or Byron might envy, a tongue capable of lashing into obscurity any one who dared enter into verbal conflict with him (yet always merciful to his adversary), with the wit of Douglas Jerrold without the cynicism, the courage of a lion, the gentleness of a saint—there you have but a faint conception of the qualities of this child of Bohemia. I knew him for twenty-five years and in all the many hours that we spent together I never saw him out of temper, never heard him utter one unkind expression nor speak a cruel word. Even under the most trying conditions he seldom permitted himself to use his rapier. And his muscle and brawn were always subordinates, servants, never masters.

Fate hardly played fair with Barry. Perhaps the fickle jade was fearful to bestow her best upon one whom the gods had created so powerfully brilliant. She allowed his genius to run purposelessly upon the sands of time until, jealous of the admiration which he won from all, she robbed him of his chief asset and hurled his fine mind from the cliffs of reason.

[42]

I shall not dwell upon the passing away of this remarkable man—it is too terrible to recall—but I shall give the world a few of his quips and jibes, showing his brilliant wit.

He gave the world much—a powerful play, "Nadjesda," sunshine and happiness and a legacy of three brilliant children, whom I knew as Barry's babies, whom I love for their own and their father's and mother's sakes—

Ethel, John and Lionel—I greet you all!

Barry came into the Lambs Club one evening evidently much distressed. Asked the reason, he answered "I am terribly annoyed and excessively angry at the brutal treatment of Mrs. Bernard Beere by the press of New York."

Barry was the leading man of Mrs. Beere's organization, the recipient of three hundred dollars a week and, in the foreshadowing of that lady's failure in a rather risqué play, "As in a Looking Glass," felt his engagement trembling in the balance.

"Brutal!" quoth the loquacious and severe Lackaye. "It was thoroughly deserved! I was there and I never saw such an immoral play in my life before a civilized community!"

"Granted," replied Barrymore, "but why censure the lady personally, a foreigner as well? We can at least be courteous. Only the offensive theme of the play was dwelt on; no attention was paid to her finesse and subtle art. That was all lost, due to the huge playhouse in which we were forced to appear. Hammerstein's was never intended to house acting that requires such delicate treatment; it should be devoted to opera, or the circus. Nothing ever gets beyond the third of fourth row."

"Which is most fortunate," replied Lackaye. "You punish the musicians, and save the remaining rows, the suffering endured by those closer to the actors. I am[43] no prude, but I felt the blush of shame mounting to my cheeks as the terrible and unwholesome dialogue came over in chunks."

"My boy," said Barrymore, "you don't comprehend the theme of that play. Dialogue amounts to nothing when problems are to be solved. Maybe the language suffered in the adaption but that does not palliate the offense perpetrated upon the lady who was endeavoring to perform a duty and teach a lesson by her consummate art."

"You call that art," asked Lackaye, "a wanton, expounding her amorous successes? What edification can that give? I tell you, Barrymore, you may be all right in your argument but the performance was simply nauseating, nasty and suggestive. The whole thing reeked with filth!"

"I know," said Barrymore, quickly but quietly, "but you fail to realize, my dear Lackaye, that Hammerstein's is a theatre where one may be obscene and not heard."

Barry was chided by one of his friends for not going to see Sothern's "Hamlet" which he was playing for the first time at the Garden Theatre with mediocre success.

"Why don't you go and witness a performance?" asked a friend. "Go and sit out only one act."

Barrymore replied, "My boy, I never encourage vice."

Dear old Frank Mayo who was passionately fond of argument, after exchanging the usual greetings with Barrymore one afternoon, soon became engaged in a very heated controversy. Mayo would project an idea and before Barrymore could get breath enough to answer would spring another. Mayo had put several vital questions to Barry to his own entire satisfaction and answered them with equal satisfaction before Barry had a chance even to offer a reply.

"My dear Barry," said Mayo; "it is a pleasure[44] indeed to meet a man of your calibre—to interchange thoughts and ideas with one so brilliantly gifted as yourself."

"How do you know anything about my mental capacity?" asked Barry. "I never get any further with you than 'Yes, but'!"

Barry went home late, or rather early, one Sunday morning after a long session at the club. He met his wife on the stoop of their dwelling. She evidently was on her way to church. As Barry said afterwards, "She was made up for the part perfectly and had a prompt book with her." She simply bowed haughtily and was about to pass on when he apologized for being away all night, finishing with, "Oh, by the way, Georgie, dear, I was with Geoff Hawley last evening." "Indeed," said his wife, "I thought Hawley was a man!" This was a body blow to Barry but he took his punishment smilingly and as she disappeared down the steps shouted after her, "Where are you bound for, dearie?" To which, without turning, she replied, "I'm going to mass; you can go to ——!"

"Summer isn't as bad as it is painted," remarked Barrymore as he calmly contemplated a landscape picture, painted by Joseph Jefferson, hanging on the walls of the Lambs Club. This criticism came from one who knew whereof he spoke concerning the climatic conditions of the Rialto during the hot months when the thespian is prone to talk about the summer's adversity. Barrymore was equally conversant with the value of paintings. His remark fell like a bomb among the sycophants who were ever ready to praise even a chromo were it oiled over by the illustrious player they were pleased to call "The Dean of the Drama."

The adulation paid to Jefferson's landscape was but a reflex of the homage paid to this player by all those not "in the know."

[45]

Dear old Joseph Jefferson was loved by all those who came under his magnetic influence. A delightful, scintillating, keen, old man, possessed of rare technique, exquisite repose and the touch of a master (but always guarded as to the manner of touch!). He touched an effect but never assaulted it, as Mansfield did. Conscious of his limitations he never ventured upon dangerous ice and always left his auditors wishing that he might have been endowed with a more venturesome spirit. He always wisely refrained from pioneering upon original ground, quite content to pasture in the Sheridan and Boucicault downs.

For four weeks I studied this man when I appeared some years ago in an "all star" cast of "The Rivals." My associates were Julia Marlowe, William H. Crane, the Holland boys, Francis Wilson, Fanny Rice and Mrs. John Drew.

(What a performance Mrs. Drew gave! She put the play in her gown every night and took it home with her and the management told me that her salary for the tour was less than that paid to Francis Wilson! My weekly stipend was far in excess of hers and every night after viewing her performance I was really ashamed to take the money.)

During that artistic trip (five dollars a seat makes anything artistic) I watched Mr. Jefferson day and night. He was most kind to me and attentive (for reasons which he afterwards explained).

Some one had told him that I associated with his sons a great deal; consequently I was not a desirable person to have in any first class organization! He had given up all hope regarding his sons so he thought that he would have a try at my redemption. My conduct was so exemplary, however, that the third week he apologized to me and earnestly begged that during the rest of the tour I kindly look after him. As Willie, Joe and[46] Tom were really wielding a bad influence over the artistic congregation I took the job and firmly believe that I improved his morals to a great extent. (I tried to reform Wilson, too, but met with failure!).

I watched this charming man for days and parts of some nights. I never missed any of his scenes and during the performance when not concerned in the play I was always watching him from the entrance. I absorbed his methods in his interpretation of Bob Acres and while he was not my ideal I think that his interpretation was really better than the author intended. I used to shriek with laughter listening to his curtain speeches or, rather, his curtain speech. Like his performance it never varied—always the same, never a change, standing in the same position, no altering of intonation or gesture, everything given by rote, but always with fine effect.

[back]

Joseph Jefferson
I firmly believe I improved his morals

After those performances, I would walk to the private car, go over "The Rivals" as I had seen it performed and wonder if any of us, with the exception of Mrs. Drew, were anything like the characters of Sheridan's brain. I became firmly convinced that one was not—myself. Were the others? Was he, "The Dean," anything like what the author intended Bob Acres to be? Then I would ponder over the night speech of the dear old gentleman, remembering the homage that he paid to the author, his reference to the artistic rendering that they were giving his work, the extreme pleasure it afforded him and his comrades to have the privilege of acting such a comedy as this. Then with a five-dollar-trembling voice he would bewail the fact that Sheridan was not permitted to view this wonderful interpretation of his work. Choking with sobs that hardly gave his words utterance, he would refer to past performances by lamented actors and thank the audience for its attention. Concluding with a semi-congratulatory reference[47] to its being permitted to view this wonderfully artistic performance, the benign old gentleman would make his bow, deftly wiping away a tear, amid the plaudits of the throng.

After listening to all this, I became convinced that we were artistic. At least my associates were. (I was on to myself from the first night.) They must have been terribly artistic. The sprint from the theatre to the private car, participated in by Joseph Brooks, the Jefferson boys, and the dear old gentleman (with Charles Jefferson in the lead, with the nightly receipts), convinced me that they were! They would arrive at the car—panting—and falling into their seats prepare to divide the artistic spoils, "The Dean" taking fifty per cent. As I viewed this "Chimes of Normandy" episode my artistic side went to the winds and I knew that we were as commercial as Cohan and Harris are now.

Then I began, by comparison, to study this man, and wonder what he had accomplished for the drama. Had he built a playhouse, like the man of his hour and time, Edwin Booth? Had he produced any original plays, made any production, or even leased a theatre, like Mansfield, or Sothern, Irving, or Possart? Had he during the last decade created any characters? An echo answered "No!" Then what had he done from the time of his association with Laura Keene (at which time he was considered only a fair actor as compared with Charles Burke, John E. Owens, William E. Burton and William Blake) to the time of his becoming conspicuous in the eyes of the American public?

Briefly, he returned from London after a successful engagement, having previously occupied his time for three years in Australia producing successfully American plays; then launched forth in a revised edition of "Rip Van Winkle," a play previously performed with success by his half brother, Charles Burke. For thirty years[48] or more he presented Rip to the dear American public with intermittent changes to "The Rivals," "Caleb Plummer," Dr. Pangloss in "The Heir at Law" and "Lend me Five Shillings." The revival of these latter plays met with little pecuniary success unless he added names to the cast, featuring conspicuously such artists as William Florence or Mrs. John Drew. After a brief tour he would again drift back to dear old Rip and dear old scenery with some of the dear old gentleman's dear old family dominating the cast. Thus he went on for years, and posterity will say that he was "a great actor," "beloved by all."

Yet he lived among the great producers of his era—without producing!

Irving, who died almost penniless and who invested thousands of dollars in an earnest endeavor to uphold the drama, Lawrence Barrett and dear Edwin Booth, who lost a million in erecting a temple to Art only to see his name chiseled out by a dry goods establishment—these were truly great men.

I concede that Joseph Jefferson was "a great actor" as Rip—a most benign person, a charming companion. For this man I have the most profound respect; for what he did for the stage I have not. His performance of "Rip Van Winkle" was perhaps a very great one (I never saw Charles Burke). As for Bob Acres, I can only quote a really great actor, William Warren—"Jefferson played Bob in 'The Rivals' with Sheridan twenty miles away."

I have seen two men who are alive to-day play Sir Lucius O'Trigger in "The Joseph Jefferson Version of 'The Rivals'" and I have played it.

Which leaves me to imagine that all those who made a hit in the part are dead!


[49]

Chapter VII

A SUNNY SON OF SOMETIME

A sunny son of Sometime was Peter Dailey. When the Creator called him to join the merry throng that had passed before the world lost one of the sweetest characters that I have ever known. His memory will go laughing down the ages.

There were no clouds when Pete pranced among the men and women of the profession. He met you with the honest grip of a man and a smile that only the seraphs can appreciate. Never an unkind word left the brain that invented only sweet and wholesome sallies. The wit of a Sheridan and a repartee that made it an impertinence to attack made him impervious to all retort. As gentle as a fawn, as brave as a warrior, Pete Dailey was a man among men.

During a friendship of over twenty-five years I never heard him utter a profane word or use an obscene expression. No adjective was necessary to enhance a story of his, no preface to foretell the trend of his wit—which was as quick as the flight of a rifle ball.

When he was on tour with his own company some years ago he was chided for his familiarity with his company by a German comedian, Al Wilson. Wilson told him that he was losing his dignity by even associating with the members of his organization, following this by saying, "Why, Pete, I do not even speak to my[50] company!" Pete replied, "Well, if I had a company like yours, I would not speak to them either."

It was useless for any author to give Pete lines to speak, his interpretations were so much better than any lines the author could invent. I well remember one of the first nights at Weber and Field's Music Hall, New York. He had a scene with Charles Bigelow who had apparently given much thought and study to his part. Bigelow was a bald-headed, blatant, obvious comedian who was principally engaged to make children laugh or frighten them to death. They started in on the scene and after a few words of the text Dailey threw his lines to the winds and in a few moments had Bigelow tied into knots. Bigelow stood there, hopelessly fuzzled, while the audience yelled with delight at his discomfiture. Finally, enraged and mortified, the perspiration pouring off him, he removed his hat to mop his brow. Quick as a flash Pete said, "Put your hat on; you're naked!" This was too much for Bigelow and he rushed off the stage.

I could fill pages with a recital of this man's many gifts, his goodly deeds. Would there were more Pete Daileys! The world would be better, humanity more gentle, hypocrisy unknown; fewer tears would be shed and the journey through life made lighter.


[51]

Chapter VIII

CHARLES HOYT

During the early '80's a young man jumped into the theatrical arena, having previously graduated from the editorial rooms of the Boston "Post" where he had achieved some degree of success as a comic writer and dramatic critic. He was a man of considerable education with an absorbing insight into character. In this respect he was like the present George Cohan. But he had more refinement than Cohan and was more of a caricaturist than he. He had little charm but possessed a brand of cynical humor which appealed to men, seldom to women. All his characters were well defined. For about fifteen years his plays were received with much favor and had he lived I have no doubt that he would have proved a dangerous rival to the clever Cohan. His name was Charles Hoyt.

His financial partner, Charles Thomas, was my seat mate at the Little Blue Maine Academy and it was through him that I became acquainted with the versatile Hoyt. For whatever charm poor Hoyt lacked Charles Thomas made amends as he was one of the handsomest and most fascinating of men. He died very young. That cruel censor Death was the master that beckoned him to Phoenix, Arizona, where he passed away.

Hoyt was noted for his pungent and satirical humor. When in his cups he was most poignant and insulting,[52] never sparing even his best friends. One night in a café adjoining the Bijou Theatre he was very rude to me. I realized his condition and was silent, but the first time I met him sober I demanded an apology, which he gave, but not with very good grace. A few months later Bert Dasher, one of his business friends, told me that Hoyt met him one cold, frosty night in January in front of the Hoffman House and after vainly endeavoring to explain our quarrel imparted the information that I had talked to him pretty roughly and he was determined to revenge himself. Hoyt had taken lessons in the manly art of self-defense.

"I realize that Nat is alert and dangerous," he told Bert, "so I am going to accost him unawares, feint him with my left hand and uppercut him on the point of the jaw." He accompanied the remark with a downward swing from the shoulder to the knee. The force of the swinging gesture hurled him into the middle of Broadway where he fell in a semi-conscious state until Bert came to his rescue and took him home.

The first night of my production of "Nathan Hale" Hoyt had assured me of his intention of being present with his wife. But when the time came she refused to accompany him. Charley, having purchased two tickets and not desiring to be alone, sought someone to go with him. He soon found a friend and invited him to come along. Much to Hoyt's astonishment his friend quietly but firmly refused the invitation. "Why not?" asked Hoyt. His friend replied, "I don't like Goodwin." "Well," said Charley, "you like him as an artist, don't you?" His friend replied, "No, I don't like him, on or off the stage." "Well," said Hoyt, "come along; you are sure to enjoy this play for they hang Nat in the last act."

"Have you any idea what the price of American beauties is?" asked a friend of Hoyt's one day, referring[53] to the exorbitant charges of the florists. "I ought to" answered the witty Hoyt, "I married one."

Years after I indulged in flowery dissipation for I married a bunch and yet there are some curious creatures who wondered why I was appearing in vaudeville while Hoyt was playing a harp.


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Chapter IX

SIR CHARLES WYNDHAM

Sir Charles Wyndham is a remarkable man in many ways, a delightful actor, a splendid manager and a most sagacious business man. Of prepossessing appearance, he is further blessed with a slight figure which he keeps even after passing the age of seventy. He still manages to win approval in jeune première rôles in spite of a most disagreeable, rasping voice. He is ably assisted, artistically and managerially, by Miss Mary Moore. He has won a place on the English stage second to none.

What a blessing to win fame on the English stage! No impertinent references to one's age; no vulgar inferences concerning the social position of any player! How like our own delightfully free country! (It's so different.)

One afternoon at the Green Room Club while actors of renown and some just budding were seated at the long table enjoying the "two and six" dinner, Sir Charles came in. He had just finished his matinee performance of "David Garrick" with which he was packing the Criterion Theatre. They have a chair in the club, supposed to have been the property of Garrick. Wyndham sank into it, seemingly overcome by his efforts of the afternoon. (Many of the poor devils dining would have liked to share his exhaustion.)

[back]

Sir Charles Wyndham
A remarkable man

A very clever dramatist named Hamilton, looking up, caught sight of him and in a quizzical tone remarked,[55] "Wyndham, you make rather a fetching picture, sitting in the original Garrick Chair—and, what is most remarkable, you are absolutely playing the character!"

Wyndham nodded back a mumbling and patronizing answer, evidently pleased with the interest that he was creating.

Hamilton studied his victim a moment and then said, "By Jove, Wyndham, do you know, you are more and more like Garrick every day and less and less like him every night!"


[56]

Chapter X

CHARLES R. THORNE, Jr.

What an extraordinary, complex creature was Charles R. Thorne, Jr.

Beginning a stage career under the management of his father, an actor of considerable repute in the '40's, young Charlie soon developed into a leading actor of the old school, a ranting, vigorous player, declamatory and thoroughly devoid of repose. He gradually drifted from California to the East and during the '60's became the leading man of the then well known Boston Theatre Stock Company. There he remained for several seasons supporting all the leading players then starring throughout the United States, including such celebrated artists as Edwin Forrest, Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett, Charlotte Cushman, Lotta, Edwin Adams and many others.

Of an extremely jovial disposition, never dissipated but fond of company, naturally witty and an extremely courageous man, he soon worked himself into the hearts of the Boston public. He was not particularly versatile, but had a splendid personality and a magnificent physique—marred only by a head too small for the quality of intelligence such a figure demanded. However, he was a royal picture to contemplate, particularly in romantic and Shakespearean rôles. In these he truly suggested the "Greek god." He gave his professional work little thought and was quite content to bask in the sunshine of the encomiums of press and friends until[57] Dion Boucicault discovered latent talents which even Thorne himself did not know he possessed.

Boucicault was about to produce one of his plays, "Led Astray," at the Union Square Theatre, New York, and selected Thorne to create the leading rôle. Taking him under his wing for a few months he succeeded in transforming the man. Under his able tutelage Thorne, discarding his ranting and mouthing methods, awoke the morning after the première of "Led Astray" to find himself famous. He became founder of the modern school of suppressed, natural acting and the most convincing actor of the American stage.

He was not a man easily handled and had no respect for the rules and regulations of any theatre. He was in constant difficulties with A. M. Palmer, manager of the Union Square, but Palmer realized Thorne's value and put up with many annoyances from him. Thorne held despotic sway, much to the amusement of his companion players who loved him as they loathed the management. Palmer exercised every means within his power to humiliate Thorne, casting him for leading heavies for instance, but Thorne's convincing methods always made the hero look ridiculous. In the play "False Shame," in which he was cast for the villain, he took all the sympathy from the hero and of course killed the property.

Palmer brought over the late Charles Coghlan at a salary of $1,000 a week—Thorne's salary had never gone beyond $125!—and cast them both to create simultaneously the leading rôle in "A Celebrated Case," giving Coghlan the quodus of the New York and Thorne the Pittsburgh opening. I saw Coghlan's opening. He gave a marvelously thought-out performance and made a tremendous hit. I saw Thorne some weeks after and told him of my impressions.

I remarked, "Charlie, I think that Palmer has got[58] you at last." He observed, "Yes, I hear that that chap Coghlan is an actor. I am up the spout as Palmer intends playing me at the Grand Opera House in two weeks and I guess the boys will get me as that English fellow has had the first whack at them and they will have the chance to compare us in the same rôle." I said, "Well, I am going in front to-night and I will tell you what I think." Before leaving his dressing-room I added, "Charlie, if you take my advice you won't go to New York. Be ill, and let your understudy go on." He laughed and, waving his hand, cried, "All right, sonny boy, I may take your advice!"

I went in front and after the performance I rushed back into his dressing-room and yelled, "For God's sake, don't get ill! Get to New York as soon as possible!"

I had never seen such a performance! While you admired Coghlan's technique and art, Thorne gave you no time to think of anything—he was so real, so convincing. He drowned all judgment with the tears his acting started. You simply sobbed your heart out.

In a few weeks Thorne went to New York and amazed the public. In a short time Coghlan's name headed the road company and Thorne was snugly housed again at the Union Square Theatre where he remained a Czar for many years, until John Stetson engaged him to star in "Monte Cristo," a play made famous by the French actor, Charles Fechter. He opened at Booth's Theatre to a $3,500 house. The streets were packed for blocks by a swaying, eager multitude ready to pay homage to an actor who for twenty years had been their idol and whose salary was never more than $150 a week at any time.

He was very ill on the opening night—in fact he was dying on the stage before his beloved public, but no one knew it. The fact that his performance was most[59] unsatisfactory gave no one an inkling of the truth. He was driven home after the play, and never appeared again, dying in a few weeks. Just as power was within his grasp, they rang the curtain down and poor Thorne's soul passed into the great beyond.

All of the Thorne family were possessed of a wonderful sense of humor. I, as I have said, knew them all—Charles, William and Edwin and their father and mother. Many happy evenings have I passed with this delightful family. They were truly, to quote from Dumas' "Three Guardsmen," "One for all, and all for one!" Charles had a much keener sense of the ridiculous than the others and he would exercise it even in a serious scene, if for no other reason than to break up the players.

One day at the old Niblo's Garden in New York, Charlie came to play a two weeks' starring engagement for his father who was at that time the lessee of the theatre. I was a member of the company playing general utility. Business was very, very bad and the advent of Charles did not enhance the exchequer of the theatre. We were playing a Scotch drama, "Roderick Dhu." Charles and his father had a powerful scene, ending an act. The old gentleman spoke the tag, saying to Charlie, "If you are King James of Scotland, I am Roderick Dhu!" Before the curtain fell upon the line Charlie, who had bribed the prompter to delay its coming down on the direct cue, took out a large document and said, "Yes, Mr. Thorne, and your rent is due."

When the curtain fell the old man chased his son out of the theatre and in a fit of passion swore he would not allow the play to continue. Charles came back, apologized and the play proceeded.

Boucicault took him and Stuart Robson to London to play in "Led Astray." Charlie made a great hit and poor Rob a dire failure. Robson's failure Charlie took to heart as his love for Rob was unbounded. After about[60] six weeks three gentlemen, the proprietors of the Drury Lane and Covent Garden theatres, called on Thorne and Robson at their chambers with a proposition to Thorne for a long engagement. He listened to their patronizing suggestions as to a consummation of the deal and, pointing to Rob, asked, "Is my pal included in this?" When told that their business was with him solely he cried, "Out upon ye for arrant knaves! I'll not play at Dreary's Lane nor at Covey's Garden either!" They thought he was mad and quickly withdrew.

[back]

Charles R. Thorne, Jr.
A royal picture to contemplate

[61]

Chapter XI

SOL SMITH RUSSELL

What a dear, delightful humbug was Sol Smith Russell. By humbug I mean nothing disparaging for Sol was one of the sweetest natures I have ever met. But he was a most eccentric person, a combination of good and a tiny bit of bad, with the aspect of a preacher and the inclination of a beau and man about town. If Sol had had the moral courage I am sure he would have turned out a roué. He worshipped the beautiful, particularly in woman, was passionately fond of gambling and loved the cup that soothes and comforts. Yet he indulged his foibles only in solitude. Very few knew the real man.

There was nothing vicious in his nature. He was merely alert, artistically inclined. He was a genius in his quiet and inoffensive dissipation. Of a frugal turn of mind, he became commercial when he loosed his mental bridle and gave himself his head.

Tommy Boylan of Guy's Hotel, Baltimore, told me that Sol, evidently contemplating a slight debauch, asked him in his bland way the price of gin cocktails. Tommy replied, "Fifteen cents per." "How much a dozen?" asked Sol. "To you," answered Tommy, "ten cents." "Two dozen to my room, please," said Sol. At the door he turned and added, "By the way, Tommy, ten per cent off for cash and thus enable me to reimburse the bell boy. And, Tommy, be sure and have them made separately and send six at a time when I ring the bell."

[62]

In this way Sol would have his little spree with only his mirror for a companion and emerge the next day spick and span with two bottles of an aperient water added to his account. By noon he would be found officiating at some church function or passing tea at some lady's seminary.

I never considered Sol a very great actor on the stage—but a marvel off. He was a splendid entertainer and sketch artist, but he had higher ambitions. His greatest was to wear the mantle of Jefferson whom he worshipped.

We three were supping one night at the Richelieu Hotel, Chicago. Jefferson had previously suggested to me the idea of my playing Doctor Pangloss in "The Heir at Law," endeavoring to point out the many benefits I would bestow by appearing in that character. I listened with much respect but refused, knowing how old fashioned were both the play and rôle. Sol, however, was not proof against the clever old gentleman's blandishments and fell for the suggestion. The fact of appearing in any character made famous by the astute old fox was enough for the guileless Sol. I knew Jefferson wanted some one to play the part only to court comparisons. To prove his interest in Sol's future, Jefferson presented him with his entire wardrobe, even to the shoes and awful wig. Sol was delighted at the prospect and accepted them readily. When told of this at the supper that evening, I turned to Sol and said, "Well, the press has been hurling Mr. Jefferson's mantle at me for years, but you have undressed him. I guess I'll have to wear my own."

Jefferson seemed to enjoy the sally but I'm afraid Sol failed to appreciate my remarks or gather my meaning. It would have been better for him if he had, for later he produced the play and met with instant failure.

[63]

While touring in the all star cast of "The Rivals" I called on an old and esteemed friend of mine at Chicago—the bar keeper at the Grand Pacific Hotel—who informed me that my friend Sol Smith Russell and he had spent a most enjoyable evening the night before. Sol had left him at about two a. m. saying he was looking forward to our appearing in "The Rivals" with joyous anticipation. I asked about Sol's health and capacity. The bar keeper replied, "He's fine. I have his tabs for sixty dollars." I gasped, "Not cocktails!" He replied, "No, pints."

The next afternoon at the matinee after the first act Sol's card came up to Mr. Jefferson's dressing-room (which I shared on tour). Of course he was admitted at once. Not appearing in the first act, I was preparing the finishing touches to my make-up in a remote corner of the room and was not seen by Sol. He rushed over to Jefferson who warmly greeted him. Sol was most enthusiastic over the performance of the first act. Standing in the center of the room, safely braced by both hands on a massive oak table he gushed forth as follows:

"My dear Joseph, I have never seen such acting, such art. Surely Sheridan in his grave must appreciate such artistic values as are being dealt with this afternoon, such—"

Then came a long pause and his eyes closed as if he were in deep meditation—I knew it was a hold over—then his lids started open and he gathered up the thread of his complimentary effusion:—

"Such superb treatment, delicacy, subtlety, and—" again a pause and the same closing of the eyes, the awakening and continuation:—

"Your work is a revelation and great object lesson to the students of the drama, the commingling of the older and younger elements only lends a charm to the works of the grand master and,"

[64]

Again the pause, and on his awakening after this last standing siesta, he discovered my presence.

"Ah, Nattie, I hear splendid reports of your Sir Lucius O'Trigger."

I inquired from whom as I had been kept in ignorance of any. He said from everyone.

"And now, my good friend," said Sol, addressing Jefferson, "I must leave you as I don't want to miss Nat's first scene, the opening of the second act."

Bowing, he made his exit, his left hand deftly placed upon the wall of the room as he guided himself in a somewhat circuitous way to the door. As he was bent directly opposite, I went to his assistance and led him outside, detecting a slight odor of what seemed to me gin fizzes. I bade him adieu and returned to my dressing table. Jefferson appeared much gratified.

"Sol is awfully pleased apparently and was most gracious," he said. I answered, "Yes, for a tired man, Sol spoke remarkably well." Jefferson, who was very literal, asked, "Is Sol tired?" I replied, "He ought to be with that load he is carrying."

Said Jefferson, "What load is he carrying?"

"A basket of lovely peaches," quoth I.

"I didn't notice he had a parcel with him," replied Jefferson.

"He is tanked up to the collar button," I said. "Oh, what a lovely skate he has!"

"Tanked up to the collar button and skate? What the devil are you talking about. You have a vernacular, my dear Nat, that requires translation. What are you talking about?"

"Didn't you notice his condition?" I asked. "He's loaded to the eyebrows."

"Tight?" asked Jefferson.

"As a new drum," I replied.

"I can't realize it," said Jefferson. "My eyesight[65] prevented my scanning his face as accurately as I could wish. I noticed his conversation was a bit measured, but very well expressed. I can't believe he was under the influence of liquor. Are you sure?"

I replied with much pride in my delivery, "You can't deceive an artist."

Jefferson simply screamed at this remark and during the afternoon repeated the incident several times to each and every member of the company. It met with so much favor and seemed to amuse the people to such an extent that for several years, by imitating both Sol and Jefferson, I made it one of the best stories of my repertoire.

I once told the story to a number of actors at the Green Room Club in London. At the finish, "You can't deceive an artist," it failed to provoke the laughter it always aroused in America and I thought I noticed a look of blank amazement on my auditors' faces. I paid no attention to it at the time, attributing their lack of appreciation to their density or their limited acquaintance with the mannerism of the gentlemen I was imitating. Three weeks later Fred Terry met me on the Strand and with much gravity apologized for the silent manner his confrères at the club had received my story.

"My dear Nat," said Terry, "the lads entirely mistook your meaning. They thought you were putting on a lot of side and when you pointed to yourself with that egotistical gesture and proclaimed yourself an artist, they thought it in exceedingly bad taste. I have been all this time taking each one aside and telling him that was not your meaning at all; that you were a very modest man for an American. You were simply telling your superior officer what a drunkard you were. Now they thoroughly understand the story and won't you please come to-night and tell the story over again?"

Which request I politely but firmly refused.

[66]

The last time I saw poor Sol was at a luncheon at the home of the late Stillson Hutchins given in our joint honor at Washington. Now both are gone. God bless their memory. Adieu, good friends.

A few nights after telling this story, I was relating the incident to Beerbohm Tree at a supper party. He agreed with me as to the density of the average Britisher so far as appreciating American humor is concerned. He told me he understood it thoroughly. As the supper progressed we were entertained by song and story, contributed by the guests. In my turn I told of an incident that happened in Denver.

I had come in from one of the clubs very late and directed the clerk at the hotel to call me at 5 a. m. sharp, impressing upon him that I was a very heavy sleeper. Having only a few hours to rest I wanted him to be sure to rap on the door as loudly as possible and not go away until he heard a response from me. It was vital I make the train for Leadville and it left at 6 o'clock.

An Irish porter standing near overheard my instructions and volunteered to assume the responsibility of awakening me on time. I handed him a dollar and retired to my room, a cold, bleak apartment, and was soon asleep between the icy sheets. It seemed but a few minutes until I was awakened by a most violent knocking on my door. I shouted, "What's the matter?"

"Are yez the man that left the call for the five o'clock train?" I answered, "Yes."

"Well," came the reply from outside, "go back to sleep. Your train's gone."

Several of the guests laughed loudly. Tree, however, looked blank and ejaculated, "The silly man should have been discharged for incompetency."

I hurriedly left the party and told no more stories that summer.


[67]

Chapter XII

RICHARD MANSFIELD

Had I known as much then as I do now or had my youthful obduracy been less pronounced the sudden rise to heights of fame which marked Richard Mansfield's career might never have happened—in any event it would have been postponed.

It was while I was rehearsing in "The Black Flag," a melodrama which won much success later, that a gifted journalist, A. R. Cazauran, who was then acting in the capacity of play reader, adapter and general factotum for Shook and Palmer, the lessees of the Union Square Theatre, came to see me. After watching the rehearsal Cazauran decided that I was sacrificing my time and talent with "such drivel as 'The Black Flag.'" When the rehearsal was finished he insisted upon my accompanying him to Mr. Palmer's office, as he had something of great importance to communicate to me. After seating ourselves at Mr. Palmer's desk, he said,

"Goodwin, I am now going to give you the opportunity of your life. We are going to produce a play called 'A Parisian Romance.' J. H. Stoddard has been rehearsing the part of the Baron, but he has decided not to play it, feeling that he does not suit the character."

Cazauran then continued in his delightfully broken English that that was the part he had in mind for me and it would suit me "down to the ground." The[68] character of Baron Chevreal was that of a man of middle age; but a young man, with virility, was necessary to act the death scene which required tremendous force. He brought out the manuscript and read me the entire play. When he had finished, I said,

"For the love of heaven, Cazauran, why did you select me to play that gruesome tragedy rôle?"

"Because I think you can play it," he replied.

I was dumbfounded. "Why, I am a comedian, and it looks to me as though that part were made to order for Stoddard."

Cazauran shrugged his shoulders and, placing both hands on mine, observed in a most impressive manner:

"Goodwin, you are a comedian and, I grant, a fine one. So was Garrick, but no one remembers Garrick in comedy."

How true that was, and how often that expression has come back to me in after life! They seldom remember those who make them laugh.

"You accept this part of the Baron," Cazauran continued, "give me three hours of your time each day for three weeks and I will guarantee that you will never play a comedy part again. I and the Baron will make you famous."

I sincerely thanked him, but firmly declined to be made famous in that particular line. We adjourned to his favorite restaurant, Solari's, in University Place, where for three hours he endeavored to persuade me to play the part. I was obdurate and would not listen to any of his suggestions.

"Well," he said at parting, "Stoddard cannot and will not play the part and I have resolved to try a young man we have in our company, selected from the Standard Theatre Company, where he was playing in a comic opera 'The Black Cloak.' He is now rehearsing the part of the ambassador in 'A Parisian Romance.'[69] He shall play the Baron. He is intelligent, knows French and I am convinced that I can coach him into a success."

In four weeks from that time the young man who was taken from the ranks to play the Baron awoke to find himself famous. His name was Richard Mansfield.

Philosophy, Thou Liest!

One night several years ago at the Garrick Club in London, Joseph Knight and I were discussing the American invasion of England by American artists. During the course of our conversation, Knight said:—

"My dear Goodwin, we had an extraordinary chap over here from your country some years ago. I can't recall him by name, but he was a most uncomfortable person to meet and an awful actor! He endeavored to play Richard the III and gave an awful performance! He followed this with a play, written by Robert Louis Stevenson in which he scratched the carpet and was somebody else! He was a boss-eyed chap, spoke several languages and was remarkably adept at the piano. I can't for the life of me recall his name."

From Knight's description I knew that he meant Mansfield and ventured to suggest that that might be the man to whom he referred.

"Mansfield! Yes, that's the chap! Is he still going strong in America?"

"Going strong!" I replied. "Why, he makes more money than all of us combined. He is called America's greatest player!"

"Really!" exclaimed the illustrious Knight. "What an extraordinary country!"

Mr. Knight unconsciously echoed my sentiments. We are an extraordinary people.

Think—and be called a fool. 'Tis better to realize a fact than agree with the majority.

Only a few weeks ago I was reading a biography of[70] the late Mr. Mansfield, written by one of his managers; another, by a notorious critic; and, believe me, Edmund Kean's biographers were amateurs compared with Mansfield's in their shamelessly abject adulation of that "genius." The fulsome flattery of the senile, undersized critic who pens his truckling screeds at so much a column (but never again in the paper from which he was dropped) and has been doing so to my certain knowledge for over thirty years, is but the vaporing of his infinitesimal soul.

For years this critic held the position of reviewer on one of the leading New York daily papers and was the recipient of a stipulated salary from the late Augustin Daly. He was also on the payroll of many of the successful stars of America and the recipient of many bounties at their hands. Thirty years ago I was standing in the lobby of the Tremont House in Boston talking with John McCullough, "the noblest Roman of them all," when this drunken critic, an "authority" on plays and players, reeled into our presence and in a thick voice asked John the number of his room. I shall never forget the look of disgust which McCullough bestowed upon this leech of the drama. As he shuffled to the elevator, mumbling incoherently, McCullough turned to Billy Conners, his manager, and in stentorian tones that could be heard a block away cried, "For God's sake, Billy how long am I to be annoyed by this drunken incubus?"

Years after this same critic came to my opening performance of "The Merchant of Venice" at the Knickerbocker Theatre, in New York, long after the curtain had been up. In fact my first scene was finished before he staggered down the center aisle to criticise my efforts. I knew that he contemplated treating me severely, irrespective of what I might be able to achieve. He did not consider it worthy of his attention and left[71] before the play was finished. The following morning his "criticism" appeared, containing over two columns of vituperative abuse of my work, deservedly, no doubt; but as the paper went to press at eleven thirty and our performance was finished precisely at that hour I wondered how so beautifully a worded review could have been composed or even dictated in so short a time. The article was evidently inspired by an imaginary production which he was privileged to witness before it was seen or heard.

Yet this man's adulation of Mansfield, patently written at so much a line, will be handed down to posterity and be believed and respected by the multitude! Truly, "What fools these mortals be!"

Mansfield, to me, was an enigma. Ask any worthy member of my profession to-day his opinion of Mansfield as an actor and he will, I am sure, agree with Joseph Knight. I am one of the few actors who made a study of Mr. Mansfield—for many reasons, the paramount one being that I considered that I was indirectly responsible for his amazing and sensational success in "A Parisian Romance."

I maintain that Mansfield was never a great actor, but a clever and gifted man—a dominant personality which asserted itself even when clothed in mediocrity.

I ask any fair-minded person if Mansfield ever moved him to tears, broke his throat and caused his heart to burst and sob his soul away, as did our beloved Booth. Did he ever cause a ripple of laughter to equal those ripples set running by delightful Willie Collier? Did he ever make you feel like bounding upon the stage and climbing up to Juliet's balcony, as one is prompted to do when witnessing E. H. Sothern pay tribute to Julia Marlowe? Did he ever make you start from your seat and thank God that the performance was over, as when listening to Edwin Booth's appeal to be allowed to enter[72] the banquet hall where his daughter is being held prisoner in "A Fool's Revenge"? Did he ever rivet you to the spot by pure, sweet, untheatric delivery of a speech without effort, as did Charles R. Thorne, in "The Banker's Daughter"? Did he ever hold you enthralled in a spell of reverence, as did Salvini or John McCullough in his address to the Senate in "Othello"? In a word did Mansfield ever make you really laugh or truly sob? Never? Then greatness was denied him.

I argue that if an actor cannot appeal to you through the emotions he should take down his sign. If an actor cannot make you laugh or cry; fails to impress by any method except that of physical force or personality; cannot make love, he fails to qualify. Mansfield's attempts to storm or win any of these emotions were as futile as they were absurd and when he ventured within the realms of Shakespeare he was atrocious or preposterous. With all his unquestionable intelligence, he was never able to master Shakespeare's rhythm or to scan correctly, as those who have witnessed his Richard, Henry the Fifth, and Shylock, will remember.

That is my opinion of his acting.

What he did for the American stage is a far different proposition. There is no denying the fact that he was quite as successful in elevating the drama in America as Irving was in England, but he suffered by comparison, as Irving was superior in knowledge of stage craft. He was not the equal of Irving, either as actor or stage manager. True, he was denied Irving's authorities and the assistance of technicians who lightened Irving's efforts and materially added to his fame. Neither were Mansfield's methods, employed to further his ends, as legitimate as Irving's. Irving never found it necessary to insult his audience for its lack of patronage, or failure of appreciation. Dear benign Henry Irving devoted as much time to beget a friend as Mansfield did[73] to destroy one. Had Mansfield studied his characters with the same amount of reverence which he bestowed upon his productions and attention to "detail" I might have agreed with his biographers; but I conscientiously say that I cannot. The mistakes he perpetrated were often misconstrued into perfections of art.

Mansfield, in my opinion, was an actor who selected the one art in which he was totally unfitted to shine and in which nature never intended him to soar. He did everything wrong, well.

Personally, I liked Mansfield. He was most companionable, full of anecdotes, a fine musician, sculptor, linguist, conversationist and could be most agreeable, particularly to those whom he cared to interest. I had several delightful chats and very often dined with him in his private car and always came away wishing he could be persuaded to send over his charm into some of the plays of his extensive repertoire. But no, his channels were in the deep, dark waters of the uncanny.

I have never left the playhouse, after witnessing one of his performances, with a sweet taste in my mouth or a wholesome thought. The trend of his characterizations was towards the cruelty in mankind. He catered to the morbid. There was little sunshine in his plays. They were as a rule overcast with the clouds of misery, crime, and the "Winter of our discontent!" In the words of Joseph Knight, "How Awful!" Yet what a true disciple of Cazauran he proved to be! No one remembers a laugh provoker, while even third rate "serious" actors win posthumous praise!

Mansfield was considered a great actor by the masses. But do the masses know? No! You will hear them prate about his "detail." I do not agree with the masses and never have agreed with them.

I do not enjoy a visit to the morgue.

I consider Mansfield's detail, as a rule, misapplied.[74] If sitting upon a great piece of scenery resembling an artichoke and stabbing himself with a huge Roman dagger without toppling over, as he did as Brutus, is detail, then I am wrong. When I saw him perform this piece of "business" I marvelled at the vitality of Brutus and the weight of his head for surgeons tell me that when one dies of a self-inflicted wound, particularly when administered by a cleaver, the head falls forward and naturally the body follows. Not so with Mr. Brutus as played by Mansfield! He appeared too busily engaged in counting the people in the gallery to allow any authority on self-inflicted wounds to interfere with his "detail."

Again take the death scene in "A Parisian Romance." He is supposed to die from a stroke of apoplexy, not a stroke of lightning. Mansfield flopped over as if hit on the head with a club. The original, Germaine, who played the part in Paris, received his stroke like a gentleman, sank into his chair, was carried into an ante-room and calmly passed away, a white hand appearing between the curtains as he endeavored to rejoin his disreputable friends. If one were privileged to read the original manuscript one would find that the Baron is supposed to faint as he has fainted many times before. The people carry him off and the party continues its revels until notified that its host has passed away in the adjacent room. Not so with Mansfield, catering to the masses, which enjoy "detail!" He got his stroke, dropped his glass upon the table, fell—tableau! All stand riveted. Someone cries, "The Baron is dead! Stop that music!" Curtain!

The American people not only fancy "detail"; they also want "ginger" and "the punch"! No pousse café for them! They want "the straight goods"—and Mansfield certainly handed them over!


[75]

Chapter XIII

IN VARIETY

After my engagement with Robson at the Howard Athenaeum, which lasted for only a week, my mind was fully made up to adopt the stage as my vocation. I went to New York and secured a position as utility man at Niblo's Garden, under the management of Charles R. Thorne, Sr., and Edwin Eddy. But this lasted for only a few weeks, the season proving a failure.

During the seasons of 1875 and 1876 I found it difficult to secure any employment whatever. The variety business, now called vaudeville, about this time had well-nigh supplanted the legitimate drama in the estimation of the masses and I, being rather an astute observer for a youngster, determined to turn my attention in that direction. The salaries offered were tempting and the opportunities of advertising one's ability much greater than in the legitimate. I persuaded my father to advance me enough money to have some costumes prepared and succeeded in inducing Bradford to prepare a sketch for me. It was called "His First Rehearsal," the receipt for which I take pleasure in submitting. You will see that sketches in those days cost small fortunes!

[76]

(Handwritten receipt from Joseph Bradford)

[back]

In the Little Rebel
One of my first excursions into the legitimate

I succeeded in procuring an opening at the Howard Athenaeum under the management of John Stetson. My associates appearing in the same programme were Gus Williams, Sol Smith Russell, Pat Rooney, Denman Thompson and several others who afterwards became famous players. I was handicapped to a great extent [77]by this competition and my success was not very flattering until about the end of the week when I gained more confidence and my methods were a bit surer. On the Saturday night of my engagement Bradford brought a friend of his, Clay Greene, to see his protegé. That evening, fortunately for me, my sketch went particularly well. Years after Mr. Greene wrote the following tribute:

THE LEGEND OF NATHANIEL

By Clay M. Greene

"Come thou with me, tonight, and sit awhile,
To see the mummers; not at the Museum:
'Tis laughter's Tomb. The Park's a dull Te Deum;
The Globe's a Morgue. Mayhap there be a smile
That lurketh somewhere in the dingy Athenaeum."
Thus spake my friend, Joe Bradford: Rest his soul!
I'd known him then a day, and we were chumming,
As though we'd been for years Love's lute-strings thumbing.
We'd told each other's lives; each ope'd his soul,
And drank the other's health 'till riotous becoming.
To his beloved Athenaeum, then,
We almost reeled, and in a trice were seated,
So close that we could scent the footlights heated.
We laughed indeed, again, again, again,
As clownish Mummers ancient songs and quips repeated.
Then came into the light a slender boy,
And Bradford yelled with lusty acclamation:
"That's Nat, God bless him!" Then, without cessation,
The stripling held each hearer like a toy,
And thrilled him now with song, then wondrous imitation.
First Farce, then Opera, now broad Burlesque,
Then e'en in tragic realms majestic soaring,
And each attempt success prodigious soaring;
(Be it pathetic, tuneful, or grotesque,)
Till every palm was bruised with ravenous encoring.
The youth had scarce outgrown his spelling book,
And yet tho' oft some honored name defaming,
By matchless ridicule, his pure declaiming
Came easily as ripples to a brook,
Or thrills to lover's souls when latest sweethearts naming.
[78]
"Who is this boy?" I cried. "He's clever, quite;
Whence came he? Where began his gentle schooling?
'Tis pity there's no art in such tomfooling,
And much I fear this youth I've seen, tonight,
Is but a clever clown! Alas! Such kindless ruling!"
"Then thou'rt a weakling Judge to so decide!"
Cried Joseph, redd'ning in his indignation.
"A clown? No art? Why 'tis no imitation
That we have heard; nor can it be denied
This callow boy is that one genius of a nation!"
"You smile; you purse your lips; and even doubt.
E'er I have drunk myself into perdition,
Nat Goodwin will have filled with inanition
The fame of every actor hereabout:—
For Nature gave him the Creator's tireless mission!"
He reproduced no song, no speech, no jest,
But it was lustered by some hidden power
That comes to Genius born with Fortune's dower.
Youth in his veins, ambition in his breast,
This boy will be one day the hero of his hour.
More than a decade passed. Unlike to me,
Joe lived not to fulfill that night's foretelling;
Yet oft adown the years there comes a welling
From that Somewhere, to green prophecy
Which in my doubting soul that night usurped a dwelling.
Today, I saw an eager, jostling throng,
Like some greed-laden human panorama,
Surround a playhouse door with vulgar clamour,
To honor Bradford's star. "Seats! Seats!" their song:—
To witness his, Nathaniel's, show of laurelled glamour.
Oh, gentle friend of mine, thou art no more;
But lend thy spirit ear while I am spinning
My admiration's tale of endless winning
Nat ever made. He never failed to score
Since we together saw his modest first beginning.
I hid thy prophecy within my breast,
And ever and anon its force recalling,
Watched Goodwin stride with speed that was appalling;
Till now his very foes proclaim him best
Amongst his votaries, thy very words forestalling.
And I am glad to know, my spirit chum,
That I long since let honest admiration
Be leavened by a Friendship's adulation
For him who in these decades hath become
No artless clown, but that one genius of a nation.
[79]
Drink deep with us, thou gentle Friendship's wraith;—
If thou hast aught to drink where thou'rt abiding,
And Nat and I'll recall thy stalwart faith
Which met my doubting with indignant chiding,
That night when you a new star's orbit were deciding.
"Come thou with me, tonight, and sit awhile,
To see the Mummers (not at the Museum.
'Tis laughter's tomb; the Park's a dull Te Deum;
The Globe's no more): for I would see thee smile,
While thousands laud the star of thy loved Athenaeum!"

After my run at the Howard Athenaeum Tony Pastor offered me an engagement at $50 a week to appear at his Variety theatre in New York. When I arrived I was terror stricken at the way in which he had announced me. I was advertised as "Actor, Author and Mimic." I remained with Tony several weeks and when I left Gotham my salary had grown to the sum of $500 a week, a tremendous salary in those days.

Variety was hardly to my liking as it gave me too much time to myself and I regret to say that I saved but little from my season's work.

Colonel Sinn of the Olympic Theatre, New York, made me alluring offers to continue on the variety stage, but I decided to enter the legitimate and accepted an engagement to appear as Captain Crosstree under the management of Matt Morgan, then the manager of the 14th Street Theatre in the burlesque of "Black-eyed Susan." It was there I met for the first time dainty little Minnie Palmer and we appeared together in two farces, "Sketches in India" and "The Little Rebel."

After a few weeks at the Fourteenth Street house we accepted an engagement to return to the Howard Athenaeum and we opened there at a joint salary of $750 a week. I was very proud of this, as I had previously left that theatre, not particularly successful, at a salary of only $15 a week.


[80]

Chapter XIV

ELIZA WEATHERSBY

Minnie and I determined to remain together and continue in vaudeville through the following year and made our arrangements accordingly. But these were vetoed by her mother who decided that we had better earn our respective livings apart.

The following summer (1876) I opened in the production of Rice and Goodwin's "Evangeline," words and lyrics by J. Cheever Goodwin, music by Edward E. Rice. I appeared in the character of Captain Dietrich. My associates in this production were William H. Crane, James Moffit, Harry Josephs, Veney Clancy, Lizzie Webster and Eliza Weathersby, one of the most famous beauties of the burlesque stage, who came to this country originally with Lydia Thompson.

A friendship sprang up between Miss Weathersby and me. It quickly ripened into love and at the close of our season we were married by the Rev. M. Kennedy of New Rochelle, New York, on the 24th day of June, 1877.

Eliza Weathersby proved a loving and lovable wife and was of great assistance to me in my profession, playing the principal female rôles in all my plays with great success until she was forced to retire from the stage because of the illness which gradually brought about her death.

[back]

Eliza Weathersby
The wife who mothered me

[81]

Eliza Weathersby was one of the most beautiful women whom I have ever known and one of the most self-sacrificing wives that ever blessed man with devotion and love.

Forced by circumstances, she left a position at the Haymarket Theatre, London, where she was considered the best soubrette since Mrs. Keely, and came to America with the celebrated Lydia Thompson's famous troupe of British blondes. Her environment was most distasteful to her as the women with whom she was forced to associate were not to her liking. Lydia Thompson, herself, was a most exemplary woman and as virtuous as Eliza. She, too, was a very clever actress even before entering the field of burlesque and a friendship sprang up between them which lasted for many years.

The reason for Eliza Weathersby's entry into the burlesque field was that the salary offered enabled her to support her widowed mother and five sisters who were left in want by the death of their father. She knew that no matter what her surroundings were she was proof against all temptations and her after life revealed how thoroughly she had diagnosed her character and future. Every week after our marriage a certain sum was sent across the ocean, out of our joint salary, to the widow and orphans left in London and, one by one, each succeeding year a sister would come over and join our happy family. Emmy, the most beautiful, our favorite sister, was taken away from us two years after she arrived. Contracting a severe cold she died of pneumonia and we sorrowfully put her away in Woodlawn. She was a charming girl. And she gave promise of becoming a splendid actress.

I was only a stripling when I married this beautiful creature. Moreover I was unreliable and, I confess, unappreciative of what the fates had been so kind as to bestow upon me. Many have accused me of "wanton[82] neglect." I may have neglected her, but only for the companionship of men. She never complained and during the ten years of our happy married life there was never one discordant note. She was ten years my senior and treated me more like a son than a husband, but, like the truant boy who runs away from school now and then, I was always glad to return and seek the forgiveness that an indulgent mother always gives a wayward child. Our own home near Boston was a little paradise. I was seldom away from it and together we spent many, many happy hours, surrounded by our little sisters and my friends—who were always her friends. She was domesticated to a degree and never cared for the theatre. A loving sister, a dutiful daughter, a loving wife, she is resting in Woodlawn and the daisies grow over her grave.

We remained with the "Evangeline" aggregation during the summer of 1876. This engagement was interrupted by my accepting another to appear at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia in conjunction with the famous John Brougham. This only lasted for two weeks when I rejoined Rice and continued with him until I was discharged for having a fistic encounter with the stage manager who was always making things particularly disagreeable for me. Eliza was offered an increase of salary to remain, but she preferred casting her lot with me.

We packed up our parcels and went to New York in search of an engagement. I succeeded in procuring an opening with Harrigan and Hart at the Theatre Comique where I remained for several weeks. Tony Hart and I were always like Damon and Pythias.

What a delightful character was Tony Hart!

"His face was a thanksgiving for his past life and a love letter to all mankind."

About 1872 a bright-eyed Irish-American lad named Anthony Cannon came over the theatrical horizon like[83] a burst of sunshine and it took but a few short years for him to establish himself in the hearts of the American public. I met him about 1874, before I went on the stage, and a friendship sprang up between us that terminated only when he was laid to rest in the Worcester graveyard.

Tony Hart was the name of the lad of melody, after he had fired the Cannon. From the time he became associated with Edward Harrigan until the name of Harrigan and Hart became famous from coast to coast, that boy caused more joy and sunshine by his delightful gifts than any artist of his time. To refer to him as talented was an insult. Genius was the only word that could be applied. He sang like a nightingale, danced like a fairy, and acted like a master comedian. No dialect was too difficult for him—Irish, Negro, Dutch, German, Italian became his own, and one lost sight of the individual in the truthfulness of portrayal. His magnetism was compelling, his personality charming. He had the face of an Irish Apollo. His eyes were liquid blue, almost feminine in their dove-like expression. His head was large and round and covered with a luxurious growth of brown curly hair which clustered in ringlets over a strong brow. His feet and hands were small, his smile almost pathetic. His disposition turned December into May. This was the lad who sang, danced and acted himself into the hearts of America during the seventies and early eighties.

Tony Hart was the friend of all mankind and my especial pal.

I have loved three men in my life, and he was two of them.

I miss him greatly, especially on the 25th of each July. We both were born on that day and during a period of twenty years we exchanged telegrams, letters or cables of loving friendship.

[84]

He went away many years ago, but his memory will always linger with me. We laughed and sang together for twenty years and when they took him away to join the seraphs, nature discarded the mold that fashioned him. She could find no one worthy to fill it. When poor Tony left us the stage was seen through tears; an artist had gone to join the past masters; the world had lost a man and I, man's greatest treasure—a friend.

After leaving Harrigan and Hart, Eliza and I made up our minds to go on our own. I knew my limitations and her reputation. She had previously made one or two journeys into stardom alone and I thought it would be a good idea to organize a company featuring her. I would be in her support.

Our finances prohibited a production sufficiently elaborate for a burlesque organization so we determined to have a play written on the lines of The Vokes Family skits and Salsbury's Troubadors which were then playing successfully throughout the country, I interested a ne'er-do-well playwright named George Murray. We collaborated and brought out a little play called "Cruets" into which we injected all the little stunts in which we excelled (and all others that we could crib!). Thus we started out on our first starring tour, her name heading the company.

We played through the New England circuit where we had previously appeared in "Evangeline." Our proceeds the first week went away beyond our most iridescent expectations. We cleared in the neighborhood of two thousand dollars profit.

[back]

In Hobbies with Eliza Weathersby
The play I won at faro

Out of the proceeds of our first week I paid a retainer to Benjamin Wolfe, a Boston journalist who had written "The Mighty Dollar" for W. J. Florence, to write us a play on the lines of the one we were then doing. Had I known what was in store for us I would not have [85]indulged in such extravagance. For the next five months we never saw a house of more than two hundred dollars at any performance and in a little while the remainder of our $2,000 had almost vanished. I had paid Wolfe a thousand dollars down as a retainer on his agreeing to deliver the manuscript in five months. We had been travelling through New York, Ohio and Illinois to gradually decreasing business. We always left a favorable impression, so much so that John Albaugh who was then managing the leading theatre at Albany wired me for a return date. I accepted with avidity, as it meant a week's rest and a possible relief from bad business.

Upon our arrival at Albany I received a telegram saying that Wolfe had sent his play, called "Hobbies" C. O. D. A thousand dollars was needed to get the manuscript from the confines of the post-office. A thousand dollars to me then looked like a million!

Poor Eliza had saved enough from her earnings to enable her to put aside ten one thousand dollar government bonds. These I insisted she lock up in a safe deposit box the day after our marriage with instructions to tell no one of her hidden fortune nor ever to molest it unless we were starving. When the telegram arrived she insisted upon going down to New York and taking out one of the bonds with which to release our play. I would not give my consent and started out to try to borrow the money. I knew few people in Albany, but had two friends in Troy whom I thought I could rely upon to come to my rescue. One was a judge, the other a gambler. I found them both financially embarrassed, but between them they dug up a hundred dollars which they presented to me.

My gambler friend suggested that I take the hundred dollars, go upstairs into a faro game in which he held a[86] slight interest and try to win out. I reasoned that the hundred was of no use to me and determined to take a chance. I went into the gambling room, and bet the hundred dollars on the high card. It won. I let it stay and it won again, giving me four hundred dollars. I asked for a chair then and sat down.

In ten minutes I had eleven hundred and fifty dollars! I immediately returned the hundred dollar loan, bought Eliza a bunch of lilacs, her favorite flower, went to the post-office and returned home with the much coveted manuscript.

I was ashamed to tell her how I "earned" the money, but I wouldn't tell her a falsehood and finally told her of my afternoon's experience. This worried her greatly as she never believed that any good results came from money obtained that way. I assuaged her grief and as usual was forgiven. We spent that night pondering over the manuscript and at the finish we both decided it was vastly inferior to our little play "Cruets." However, we announced a production for Friday night. This gave us only five days of preparation. We thought so little of it that we never gave any attention as to what we should wear, arriving at no definite conclusion until the night of the performance. So little did we think of the play that I offered Charles Bowser, my leading comedian, a half interest in it for five hundred dollars and a cancellation of the three hundred and fifty dollars I owed him for back salary.

"Natty," he said, "I haven't five hundred dollars and even if I had I wouldn't care to invest it in your property." How little did he know he was refusing a fortune!

When the curtain rang down on the finale of that play I would not have sold a half interest in it for fifty thousand dollars! It was a whirlwind of laughter from beginning to end. We were all dumbfounded and[87] could not understand why the play was received with such manifestations of delight. Everything was encored time and time again and the rafters shook with applause and laughter. The Saturday morning papers were most enthusiastic and in a few days I was besieged with offers from all over the country.

We performed this play successfully for four years, Eliza and I dividing a small fortune. Hers was put away in the safe deposit vault while most of mine went back into the coffers of the proprietors of various places of the same kind as that in which I won the original thousand dollars.

I really never knew how much we did make out of that play until Eliza died and willed me her share. It came in very handy at the time and was gratifying for two reasons—it eliminated all my debts and was a vindication for me, in a way, as I considered it proof that (since she left me every dollar she possessed, with the exception of the ten thousand dollars in bonds which she had earned before our marriage) I had not treated her as cruelly as my vilifiers would have the world believe.

We followed "Hobbies" with several other productions including "The Member for Slocum," "Sparks," "Ourselves," "The Ramblers" and one or two others. Then we associated ourselves with Edwin F. Thorne and produced a melodrama by Henry Pettit called "The Black Flag." I appeared as Sim Lazarus and Eliza as Ned the waif. We produced this play at the Union Square Theatre in September, 1882, and continued through that theatrical season with very gratifying success.

Our association with Edwin Thorne was a delightful one. Though only a mediocre actor, he was a charming companion and his personality was most attractive. It was a funny experience to be associated with Thorne as it seemed but a few short months since Frank Burbeck[88] and I would sneak into Thorne's bedroom at my mother's house, abscond with his sword and scabbard, adjourn to the back yard and indulge in a "duel" which we would continue until interrupted by the Thornes or other occupants of the dwelling.

Goodwin's Froliques

[back]

N.C. Goodwin Jr. in "Hobbies"
Lithograph of Goodwin's Froliques

[89]

Chapter XV

SUCCESSFUL FAILURES

Paradoxically my most conspicuous failures, barring one or two, have been my greatest successes notwithstanding the reports which perhaps will be handed down to posterity. The best instance of this is my production of "The Merchant of Venice." The critics condemned it harshly; some before they saw it and more cruelly after. Maybe it was deserved. I say maybe because against those cowardly assaults I have the comforting knowledge that there were a few, including myself, who disagreed with those enlightened gentlemen. Among the minority I might mention Henry Watterson, Mr. Clapp of the Boston "Advertiser," William Ball, Stillson Hutchins, George Riddel, George P. Goodale of the Detroit "Free Press" and a few actors of intelligence.

Many of the sapient censors of my work objected most strenuously to the disguising of my known methods and a loss of personality. I presume they would have preferred me to play Shylock as it was played by the predecessors of Macklin, but why should I copy "tradition" before tradition was born?

Nobody with human intelligence could ever discover humor in the dignified Shylock, a Jew, but, nevertheless, the only gentleman in the play. Possessed of subtlety? Yes. Humor? No. A THOUSAND TIMES, NO!

Had the learned critics who assailed my efforts known anything regarding the motives that prompted Shakespeare[90] to adapt the play from a Spanish source, written only to please the vagaries of the Elizabethan court, they might not have marvelled at my efforts to dignify the character of Shylock. I would not venture to assert how easy was the rendering after I had absorbed the character nor would I even dare whisper what the performances throughout the country yielded.

As a matter of fact history tells me that they were the largest returns, at the prices, of any series of performances ever given in America up to that time.

The same results marked my production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream"—which is written down as "another Goodwin failure." If more than five thousand dollars on the day (which were the receipts of the last Saturday at the New Amsterdam Theatre) spells failure, mine was unmitigated.

The same story of successful failure may be told of my production of "Nathan Hale." It was greeted by packed houses and condemned by the press for my "audacity." It was audacious to play characters in serious plays.

My performance of Nick Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was supposed to be funny, but Shakespeare's name was on the front door and "knocking" was forbidden until the door was opened. Then how the iconoclasts did knock! They even found fault with the anatomy of the ass's head! However, that is easily accounted for—one sees oneself reflected in a brook and an ass never looks down.

Two failures I concede—"Beauty and the Barge" and "Wolfville." The former, a splendid play, was inadequately cast. The other, a bad play, was perfectly cast. The net results—both hopeless. I knew that "Beauty and the Barge" was lost with all on board before I made my entrance. "Wolfville" was wiped off the map at the dress rehearsal. They met deserving ends but I[91] honestly believe that "Beauty and the Barge" could be resuscitated and, properly cast, run the allotted span.

So sanguine was I regarding the reception of those plays, barring "Wolfville," that I was fearful lest the critics would not be present.

I regret to say that they were!

They strangled my Shylock, crucified my Beauty, sank my Barge, burned my Wolfville, spanked my Bottom and relegated me to the sage brush of farce comedy, gaining their ends by withholding their praises—for business gradually decreased. Up to the period of my return to farce comedy I broke every record at the Knickerbocker Theatre with "Nathan Hale"—much to the discomfiture of "Willie" Winter and his satellites; and of course I was condemned by the critics who shine in the reflected light of that hypocritical, self-seeking Thersites.

Shortly after I appeared in a farce called "The Genius" at the Bijou Theatre, New York, and never in my life have I been the recipient of such commendatory notices for my work. I was "absolutely perfect" from the critics' point of view. Even the Hebraic gentleman who writes for the New York "American" was courteous—aye, even complimentary, as was also the dainty critic of the "Evening Sun"—and receipts never reached $4,000 during any given week!

Truly a wonderful picture is that painted by Reynolds of Garrick between the Muses, Tragedy and Comedy. To which does he turn?

I wonder!

Which leads me to remark—

Give the average American critic a mirror and a hammer and he will demonstrate his prowess as an iconoclast.


[92]

Chapter XVI

BACK IN THE EIGHTIES

My first trip to England resulted in my being able to add to my list of imitations a study of Sir Henry Irving. How it came about may be of interest. It followed my decision to produce "Confusion" and "Turned Up."

"Confusion" had previously been played by Henry E. Dixey and Florence Gerard with some degree of success. I think they would have made a great success had they not made the play subservient to a most wonderful imitation of Henry Irving and Ellen Terry in a travesty on "The Merchant of Venice." They performed this travesty delightfully, but as it lasted only about thirty minutes and was the feature of the entertainment the pièce de resistance naturally suffered.

I saw the possibilities of "Confusion" and made a deal with John Stetson for a road tour. I gave it a most excellent cast, including such names as John Mason, Robert Coote, Loie Fuller, Charles Bishop, Leila Farrell and others who were conspicuous at that time.

[back]

In Turned Up
In the days when I was an imitator

During this engagement I produced for the first time my burlesque of "The Bells," imitating Henry Irving as Mathias. It was a double bill and included "Turned Up." The performance made an instantaneous hit and I received much credit for what the press and public were pleased to call a most faithful reproduction of the great man. I was extremely nervous on the first night as I was following a magnificent imitation of Irving lately [93]given in the same theatre by Henry E. Dixey who had scored a tremendous success. He had a striking make up for his Irving, suggesting him in face and carriage, but his reproduction was more of a caricature than mine and I suffered little by comparison.

Later on, while producing "The Bells" in conjunction with "Confusion" at the Grand Opera House, one of the company whispered, "Irving's in the box!" I nearly fainted. However, I had only a few moments more in which to finish the performance so I gritted my teeth and went to it.

Irving visited me later on in my dressing-room and grasping me by the hand ejaculated, "My dear Goodwin, I congratulate you! I had no idea that 'The Bells' was such an interesting play!"

"My dear Irving," I said, "think of the man you saw play it!"

"Having played the part for over twenty years and having seen your wonderful reproduction of me, I can now see where I have been very much in error," he replied laughingly.

Some years after at a supper given in my honor he referred to my performance very graciously, pronouncing it the only true burlesque he had ever witnessed, with the possible exception of one by Frederick Robson, called The Great Robson. Robson was a wonderful player of the early sixties.

I followed "Confusion" with "Turned Up," preceding each play with "Lend Me Five Shillings" and an adaption from the French of a play called "Gringoire." I was enabled to show a good profit on the correct side of the ledger for the following two years.

On my next trip to Europe I succeeded in interesting William Yardley to write for me. With Leander Richardson he adapted a play from the French which was produced successfully in London by Charles Wyndham[94] and called "The Candidate." I returned to America that year with their adaption, calling it "The Nominee." I afterwards produced it for a limited run at the Bijou Theatre, New York.

Previously I had made several plunges into musical comedy and comic opera, producing with Edward E. Rice at the Boston Museum "Cinderella at School," "The Mascot" and "Pinafore." Those productions were given in a spirit of fun and as a relief from the more serious work which occupied my road tours. Irrespective of the profits which were made by these plunges into dissipation we always had a royal time.

It was here that I again resumed my delightful associations with dear old Ned Rice. What a misunderstood person is this happy-go-lucky ne'er-do-well who would spend his last twenty dollar bill to give a dinner to a pal! The sordid, practical manager of to-day would do well to emulate this self-sacrificing gentleman. Salaries meant nothing to him if he considered the actor necessary to enhance the artistic value of any of his magnificent productions. So thoughtful of his women and appreciative of his men was he as to make it a joy to be associated with him in the management of the classic Boston Museum. I was always fond of the comic opera style of entertainment and to be associated with Rice added greatly to my pleasure.

The extreme gratification of being for a time the lessee of a playhouse in which I had previously been conspicuous only as a spear carrier was joy indeed. To tear down the walls of respectability and storm the citadel of the legitimate; to make the sacred place a playground were dissipations which I enjoyed immensely. To surround myself with both principals and chorus after the matinee, have dinner served from the Parker House (and be able to liquidate from the profits of that matinée) in the greenroom, where the people were allowed[95] to talk to one another without being subject to a fine for their audacity; to have the exquisite power of bringing viands behind the scenes without fear of challenge or interruption; with the satisfaction of knowing that only we knew what was going on behind the scenes of this revered old playhouse—these were joys indeed!

It was very wrong, no doubt, but nevertheless a beatific revenge for the cuffs I had received in years gone by. Maybe it was only a mistake. Perhaps I should not have indulged in these sprees, but the engagement was in the summer, we paid large salaries, the theatre was packed at every performance, the dignified and austere management shut their eyes to our moods and tenses and, really, after all, it was but a little holiday and John Mason, Joseph Haworth, William J. LeMoyne, Fred Archer, Barney Nolan, my dear brother Edward, Sadie Martinot, Catherine Lewis, Belle Archer, Rice and I enjoyed the outing, or inning, immensely!


[96]

Chapter XVII

THE HALCYON DAYS OF UNION SQUARE

The early eighties were replete with much excitement and lucrative receipts. From '82 to '90 I made productions annually and nearly all, I am pleased to say, were successful. A half dozen worth naming were "Sparks," "A Gay Deceiver," "Col. Tom Bottom's Dream," "A Royal Revenge," "The Skating Rink" and "A Terrible Time." During these eight years I made many friends and always looked forward to the summer with much pleasure. The two months devoted to booking my tour for the coming season always afforded me unbounded joy.

What would I not give to swing back into time and have one brief yesterday; to stroll down Broadway and grasp the hands of long ago; to drop in at the old Hoffman House, stroll to the bar and be greeted by John McCullough, by Ned Buckley (he of the angelic voice and fist of a gladiator), by Johnny Mackie, the lovable cynic, Jim Collier, the uncle of our magnetic Willie, and Sam Piercy, of stentorian tones (who died ere he blossomed)!

What would I not give to continue down Broadway to Fourteenth Street; to stop and talk with the austere, but charming Barney Macauley; to be joined by Charlie Read, the delightful minstrel; the tall and well-groomed Charles R. Thorne, Jr., and his equally attractive brother, Ned, the handsome Fred Bryton, the scholarly Charles Coghlan, the fascinating Harry J. Montague,[97] clever George Knight, Billy Barry, Sol Smith Russell, James Lewis and John Drew! These gentlemen constituted America's "lowest and lightest," as I referred to them one spring morning as we exchanged salutations.

Anon come John Gilbert and the aggressive little John T. Raymond and, as you continue down, the distinguished members of Wallack's and the Union Square nod kindly recognition. Then you return on a journey to the St. James Hotel to be met graciously by its popular proprietor, Billy Conners, fascinating Henry Perry, the wit of Broadway, and divers other men about town, including "Plunger" Walton and the well-groomed John Daly. John Daly, the gambler? Yes, but only in the truest meaning of the word—not a corner lounger with dyed mustache, leering at the women as they passed, but a true gambler in every sense, of a type now extinct.

Those men were all "pals," men of the hour. Where they foregathered a perpetual loving cup was in evidence.

After passing the usual greetings one would take a stroll uptown as far as Thirty-fourth Street. That was as high as the afternoon professional pedestrian cared to ramble. If one were as favored as I was in those happy days one would be sure to be greeted by such beautiful and attractive women as Lillian Grubb, Marie Jansen, Kate Forsythe, Pauline Hall, Josie Hall and dainty Mollie Fuller, her chum, the Hanley sisters, the attractive Lillian Russell (almost as beautiful and radiant as now!), Marie Tempest, clever Minnie Maddern, the daughter of Tom Davey, now the talented Mrs. Fiske, the haughty Rose Eytinge, Ada Dyas and the regal Ada Rehan.

The brain grows giddy as my fancy wanders back to those beautiful autumnal days of twenty odd years ago when all was chaotic and congested, but nevertheless a delightful pot pourri of brilliancy, genius, talent and[98] beauty. Some, in fact a majority, have passed away, but to those who were privileged to enjoy the happy association of those clever men and women a memory remains that will only be obliterated when the bell that summoned King Duncan to his doom tells us that the time has come for us to join those gone before.

Shall we join them?

I wonder!

Life is a bridge of sighs, over which memory glides into a torrent of tears.

It was somewhere in the early eighties that I first heard of the existence of the Lambs Club, situated at that time somewhere near Union Square and suggested to me as a good one to join by Harry Becket, then the leading comedian of Wallack's Theatre. It was during those busy times when all of us were compelled to travel for the season of the then thirty-two weeks that we looked forward with greatest joy to meeting our pals on the glorious Rialto. It was bounded by Broadway and Fourth Avenue, Fourteenth and Seventeenth Streets with the attractive Union Square Park forming the center of rest. It was our busy playground after our toils of the road.

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Lotta
In the days when work was play

I always put up at the Union Square Hotel where, after a hurried bath and shave, I would rush down to the street below to be welcomed by my many friends. Ah! What times they were! I brush away a tear as the happy memories come upon my vision. I see the tall, commanding figure of Charlie Thorne come briskly across the pavement, switching his well-shaped limbs with a tiny cane as he rushes over with outstretched hands to bid me welcome and congratulate me upon my season's efforts. A slap on the back from clever Louis Harrison and an embrace—yes, even in the open!—from his talented sister Alice; a yell from dear old Matt Snyder, many times a member of my various [99]organizations, a grunt of welcome from the stoic, Sheridan Shook and an acknowledgment from the dignified Lawrence Barrett; a benign smile from Edwin Booth, salutations from the various members of my company, now disbanded, but only for a time! We generally kept our organizations intact for many seasons in those happy, golden yesterdays.

Often the ladies of our profession would wander downtown to meet their brothers and here and there one would come across a group of men and women in converse under the shady trees, comparing notes and making their arrangements for the following year. Dainty Kate Claxton, then the heroine of "The Two Orphans," would be seen in earnest conversation with A. M. Palmer in front of the Union Square Theatre. Maggie Mitchell would briskly acknowledge the respectful doffing of hats as she tripped across from the Morton House with sprightly Lotta as her one bright particular companion of that morning. Midway between the Morton House and the Union Square the fascinating Joe Emmett would chirp merrily on his way and hold those ladies enthralled until some other came along to interrupt their entertaining conversation.

In those days, no arbitrary booking organization held sway; no peeping Izzies or Sols had access to our books; we were all on our own, masters of our own enterprises. Like the brokers on the curb we arranged our bookings on the street. Hither and hither we flew, now procuring a week in Pittsburgh or a night in Dayton, crossing and recrossing from the Morton House to Union Square, corralling a manager for a two weeks' tour in the sunny South or four in the unattractive middle West, ever and anon stopping on our way to engage the services of some particular actor we desired for the new play. We made railroad rates with hustling agents, always on the lookout to do business with professionals.[100] There was no Interstate Commerce law in force at that time!

We made contracts with printers and appointments with authors simultaneously!

Thus the day was occupied from ten until three when all work was suspended. Then, though a bit fatigued, we would make a hasty recapitulation of what had been accomplished, select our own particular coterie of friends and adjourn to Charlie Collins' (known as "Dollar Five" Charlie) café where the balance of the day was devoted to food, drink, anecdote and song.

Managers, agents, printers, railroad agents, actors, singers (of obscurity and fame)—all were as one when the bell struck three. Perfect equality, unanimity, brotherly love and comradeship were the qualities in vogue on the Rialto in dear old New York during the early eighties. At that time I made the remark, "When you leave New York you're camping out."

I have been camping out since 1900.


[101]

Chapter XVIII

THE BIRTH OF THE SYNDICATE

Those were halcyon days on Union Square. The booking of tours was as attractive as it was uncertain, attractive because it was uncertain! Who does not find a hazardous game attractive?

One man I've not mentioned was in daily evidence on the Square. He was fair, always faultlessly dressed, in frock coat, soft black felt hat, low cut waistcoat (showing an abundance of pleated shirt front, ornamented in the center with a single, glittering, pure white diamond), peg top trousers tapering down to a pair of dainty feet encased in the latest Parisian patent leather boots. He was straight of figure and easy of carriage and affected a drooping mustache. Also he bowed pleasantly to everyone he met!

In make up he suggested the type of man drawn by Bret Harte in the "Outcasts of Poker Flat"—John Oakhurst, gambler.

Such was Jack Haverly, the originator of the scheme of forming a theatrical trust or, as it is now called, a syndicate.

The idea must have worked its way into the brain of a little, rotund, breezy chap who always accompanied the genial Haverly. He was ever at his side, taking notes, penciled and mental, running to the telegraph offices with instructions from his master, always returning for more, his little furtive eyes constantly wandering from one point to another, calling his master's attention[102] to matters of detail too complicated for the busy Haverly sometimes to consider. The little lieutenant never overlooked anything. Like a trusty sentinel was this little aide upon whom the mantle of the master was soon to fall.

Haverly neglected the business which formed the nucleus of his success and sought bigger and more alluring schemes only to encounter failure. He speculated in mines which soon brought about his ruin and he died, penniless and neglected, leaving only the legacy of an idea. But the little corporal who took advantage of the suggestions absorbed from Haverly soon arose from an obscurity as dense as that of his Corsican predecessor and Charles Frohman jumped over the horizon and in a short period amazed the theatrical world.

It was in the fall of 1878 that I chanced into Haverly's office in the Fifth Avenue Theatre building on a matter of business regarding my first trip to the Coast. In his employ at that time were Gustave, Daniel and Charles Frohman and Al Hayman. They were the representative staff, and Haverly, from out the quartette, selected Gustave as his chief, considering him the most brilliant of them all! Daniel, the present lessee of the Lyceum Theatre, confined himself to conservative lines and was quite satisfied to manage a first class stock company and one or two minor attractions. Charles was the Atlas destined to uphold the family name and make dramatic history.

While planning the scheme that has since made many men millionaires Haverly little dreamed that his rotund employee was also eagerly planning as he unfolded his plans to the others.

[back]

Jack Haverly
The man who conceived the syndicate

(If anyone doubts that Haverly was the first man who first thought of a theatrical trust, he need only refer to an old lithograph showing this astute gentleman on an elevation and in his hands various wires, to the [103]ends of which are attached ten theatres. Haverly controlled these houses and about six attractions. There he stands, smiling and manipulating the wires. This was the birth of the syndicate.)

In a few years Charles blossomed forth as a manager. I think his first winner was "Shenandoah," written by Bronson Howard. The world knows of his rapid ascent, so I won't dwell upon his wonderful and well deserved success. I write of the man as I know him and Charles Frohman is a man among men. Yet he is seldom seen among men! Only a few are privileged to enjoy his magnetic society. I have been one of these. I have met him in my own home, in England, in my dressing-room, at his office, on the stage, when he and I were producing plays, at dinners, supper parties—in fact under every circumstance and in all walks of life. And he is always the same urbane, kindly, patient creature. He laughs at failures and runs from success—runs, but only in quest of another! He is one of the most scintillating persons in the world. Geographical space means nothing to him. His word is a contract. I have never known such perseverance, industry and thought combined in one man.

I am one of the few who knew what he was up against when he began his American invasion of England. A conversation held in my presence in my home at Jackwood, England, between three men who have since been associated with him advised me of a conspiracy to ruin him. But Frohman overcame them all, beat them at their own game and his methods have been imitated broadcast throughout the British Empire. The little corporal has made himself a factor in London and his name as a rule spells success.

He has brought before the American public the most celebrated players of the day, made so only by his undying energy and patience. I have often regretted[104] that even after I had begun my career I had not started under his management, for notwithstanding his great business capabilities he has a naturally artistic temperament, combined with a wondrous sense of humor—splendid qualities in these days of commercialism.

One time, nearly twenty-three years ago, I sent for him to come to my residence on West End Avenue, New York, with a view of placing myself under his management. He listened very quietly as is his custom and when I had finished asked how remunerative the season I had just closed had been. I showed him my books thinking that disclosure might lead to results. After examining them most carefully he placed them gently upon the table and with that merry twinkle in his eyes his friends know so well said,

"My dear boy, you don't require a manager; you want a lawyer."

Later I played under his management in London and I am happy to say I caused him no loss. The engagement was a most happy one and I look back to the association with joy.

During my several engagements at his Knickerbocker Theatre he was seldom in evidence. The first night he would take his customary seat in the rear of the balcony and at the end of the play a slight knock would come at my dressing-room door. "Come in," I would say. The door would open and his bright, cheery face appear. "It's all right," would be the assurance and he would disappear as quickly as he came.

During the run of "Nathan Hale" I had not seen him for four or five weeks. One night I came into the dressing-room, turned on the electric light and there he sat in a corner, all huddled up. "What in the world are you doing there, Charley?" I asked. He quietly replied, "I am casting a new play and came here to get some inspiration. Good night." and away he went.

[105]

My next association with him was in the production of "Beauty and the Barge" at the Lyceum Theatre. I often regretted that I had not listened to his suggestions and gone on the road with the play, but the sting of defeat was too bitter and in a hysterical moment I decided to abandon it.

He offered no advice, but, as usual, when his stars are unhappy in their rôles, he left me to determine the fate of the play.

Charles Frohman is the most unselfish man whom I have ever met in the theatrical profession. A spendthrift, so far as productions are concerned, with no thought of pecuniary results, no sordid desires, a slave to his work, and with a thorough appreciation of an artist's value, he has done more to increase actors' salaries, he has produced more plays and received less reward than any manager in the world. The history of the American stage will be incomplete unless the name of Charles Frohman stands conspicuous among the many.

Will history do the little corporal justice?

I wonder!

About the time that the idea of Haverly's began scintillating along the horizon it became noised about that a theatrical syndicate was to be formed—to make the booking of tours less irksome; to guarantee continued time in the cities; to amalgamate forces which would lessen the burden of the actor-manager—in fact everything would be done to enhance the success of both player and producer.

The Napoleonic Erlanger was the instigator and promoter of the finally adopted scheme and he was aided by the subtle Klaw, whom I had previously known in Louisville as a reporter—a silent, but ever watchful person. Associated with these clever gentlemen were the elusive Al Hayman, then a wealthy and powerful[106] man; Rich and Harris, of Boston and Nixon and Zimmerman, of Philadelphia. This sextette made a very powerful organization.

Being possessed of a little business instinct I saw the danger, or rather the supposed danger, that lurked behind these samaritans of the drama, but not until I was approached by Mr. Rapley of Washington, Charlie Ford of Baltimore and one or two suburban managers did I realize what was in the power of this coterie if they succeeded in carrying out their schemes. Those managers realized their peril and were quietly soliciting the stars not to play at any other theatres save theirs, as they feared the Syndicate would book the then strong attractions at opposition houses, offering as an inducement better terms and time. Being loyal, as I have always tried to be, I assured them that I would stick. Then it occurred to me that if I could organize a syndicate of players we might be able to strangle the contemplated move at its very birth.

I succeeded in interesting Joseph Jefferson, William H. Crane, Stuart Robson, Sol Smith Russell, Richard Mansfield, Fanny Davenport, Francis Wilson, Modjeska, J. K. Emmet and four or five other leading players—and they all promised to stand by me. We were to elect A. M. Palmer president. I was to be the vice-president. We were all to form an incorporated company and play as one body. I even went so far as to have the papers drawn up. I worked incessantly night and day. I even had sites picked out and money guaranteed for theatres in Boston, New York, Chicago, Cleveland and St. Louis, providing I could guarantee the appearance of these players for five years.

Everything was going better than I anticipated when one day I received my first shock. The "dear old Dean," Mr. Jefferson, had reneged! He went back on every promise made to me in New Orleans. Crane,[107] after being my guest for a week in Baltimore, going over every detail and agreeing that it was "a great scheme," quietly and unknown to me signed a three-years' contract with Joseph Brooks, a representative of the Syndicate. One by one they all left me, with the single exception of Francis Wilson, who had to stay, as he had been blacklisted by Nixon and Zimmerman with whom he had quarreled.

I was disgusted and quietly folded my tent and departed for Europe to ponder over the ass I had made of myself and to wonder what the Syndicate would do to me by way of a punishment I so richly deserved.

Imagine my surprise when Abe Erlanger called me into his office one morning after my return from Europe and after greeting me most cordially said, "Well, my boy, you didn't pull that thing off." I answered, "No, but I tried hard, Abe, I can tell you." He said, "I know you did. Some of your companions have lied to me, and they will get their's, but you have told me the truth and the Syndicate will always be your friend; at least I'll be. Your terms will always be the same, no matter what you have to offer, your tours booked and all your business done through this office without charge."

The Syndicate has kept faith with me, with but one exception. Only one man out of the eight has broken faith with me. They are all, barring this particular one, my personal friends.

I would rather have Abe Erlanger's word than a contract from Rockefeller.

After all, what a silly fight I contemplated making and what a blessing it turned out that I did not consummate it. The theatrical syndicate has in fifteen years made more actors and managers rich, improved the drama to a greater extent, built more theatres and increased patronage more consistently than has been[108] accomplished by any other factor during the last century.

The only fault that I have to find with the Syndicate is that through its dignified and thorough business-like methods it has made the theatrical profession so alluring that unreliable imitations have broken through the windows of the drama and allowed the draughts of unsavory methods to permeate the stage.

Other so-called syndicates have sprung up and nauseated the thinking public with vulgar and obscene plays which, I am sorry to admit, some seem to fancy.

But everything will adjust itself in time and the theatrical syndicate, headed by the brainy Erlanger, will destroy all enemies of the drama. Honest plays and playwrights will receive their just dues, wholesome plays will be in vogue, and the names of Klaw and Erlanger will be synonyms for Honesty and Justice.


[109]

Chapter XIX

STARS

To be a star to-day an actor needs only to be featured in large type in all advertising matter. At least this is all that is necessary to win popular acceptance as a star. That such undeserved, misapplied, wrongful foistering of mediocre actors on a long suffering public is unwise is self-evident. The antagonism it provoked among authors and managers is quite justified.

All true artists object to the featuring of incompetency fostered by notoriety. The men and women of the stage who entered the profession through the small door and not the open broad window protest with much vehemence against the launching of a so-called "star" who, because of some act of violence, the singing of a rotten song with an attractive melody, a beautiful face, a German accent, becomes born over night. But the managers who are now objecting to this kind of starring system are the very ones who inaugurated the iniquity.

I maintain that when a man or woman has attained a position on the stage through honest endeavor, mental application, strict attention, conscientious study and practical experience, he should be rewarded and recompensed. And these gains should be conspicuous and financially worth while.

Among many of the so-called producers of to-day there seems a prevailing tendency to decry and belittle the starring system. This is all very well from their point[110] of view. If they succeed in making the star subservient to the author and to those who "present," they will add more to their respective coffers by confiscating the financial share of those men and women who have in the past made them rich.

They base their theories (that stars do not make successes) on the fact of the success of such plays as "The Lion and the Mouse," "Bought and Paid For," "The Heir to the Hoorah," "Seven Days," "Paid in Full" and a half dozen more. With the possible exception of "Bought and Paid For" most all of these so-called starless plays were accidental successes.

"The Lion and the Mouse" was turned down by several stars and as many managers and I consider rightly so. When the stars refused to accept it, the managers followed suit. Ethically, and in spite of its remarkably successful financial success, I consider it a most improbable play. I refused to play the leading part in London, predicting its failure. London can distinguish between a good and bad play. "The Lion and the Mouse" was a failure in London.

There are some plays in which the characters are so equal that it is unwise to feature any particular one, as the public expects too much from the one conspicuous in the billing and being disappointed—dislikes the play. Not only the play suffers but, when the unlooked for happens and some unknown person suddenly makes a hit in a play in which a star is featured, the star naturally suffers. The public never differentiates.

When "The Heir to the Hoorah" was submitted to me I told Paul Armstrong, the author, that it would be unwise to star any one in his plays and he took my advice. "Bought and Paid For" was written for a star, but the author unwittingly wrote another part that proved more acceptable to the public than the character he originally intended should be featured. The play[111] was eventually produced without a star and proved a success. Perhaps had a different star been selected at the beginning there would have been a different story told. In spite of the success of "Bought and Paid For" in New York, "Baby Mine" played a week in Los Angeles (with Marguerite Clarke featured) to more than two thousand dollars more than "Bought and Paid For."

The manuscript of "Paid in Full" kept the author warm for many nights as he slumbered on the benches of the parks in New York. And the stars refused to comfort him. "Paid in Full" was an accidental hit, but it created a star—Tully Marshall.

Clyde Fitch read "The Climbers" to me many years before Henry Harris decided to produce it. Almost every manager in New York had turned it down. The excellent acting of that play saved it. From the cast sprang such stars as Robert Edeson, Clara Bloodgood, Amelia Bingham and Minnie Dupree.

The average author and manager of to-day are prone to advertise themselves as conspicuously as the play (as if the public cared a snap who wrote the play or who "presents"!). I doubt if five per cent of the public know who wrote "The Second Mrs. Tanqueray," "In Mizzoura" or "Richelieu," but they know their stage favorites.

I wonder how many mantels are adorned with pictures of the successful dramatist and those who "present" and how many there are on which appear Maude Adams, Dave Warfield, Billie Burke, John Drew, Bernhardt, Duse and hundreds of other distinguished players.

No matter how hard you may strive to strangle the successful star player, Messrs. Author and Manager, you won't succeed. You may succeed in fostering a few more plays without a star but the clouds will surely come and, when they disburse, the accidents that caused them will give way before intelligence. The stars will twinkle again more resplendent than ever and light you once[112] more to the road that leads to permanent success. You may trade and barter but you will finally be made to understand that ours is a profession in which sentiment plays a most important part and when you insist on robbing the public of its favorite player, the disappointment will be as bitter as when the little boy is told there is no such thing as Santa Claus.

Now I'll take the commercial side of the question. I'll venture the opinion that Dave Warfield and Maude Adams play each season to double the receipts any play without a star ever earned. The Cincinnati Festival, composed only of stars, in one week played to more than one hundred thousand dollars. Booth and Barrett cleared over six hundred thousand dollars net in one season. Henry Irving took away from America in one season three hundred thousand, Bernhardt averages a quarter of a million net on every farewell tour. The average successful star up to five years ago (before the influx of the so-called producers, the authors who feature themselves and those who "present") counted it a bad year if his profits failed to reach a hundred thousand dollars.

I wonder how much Charles Frohman has made with his stars!

And now let us face a fact that is indisputable—business is very bad.

Ten years ago a ten thousand dollar week was considered only a good one. To-day it is an event. Even poor little I played to over fifteen thousand and no fuss was made about it. Let me hear the name of a single successful play without a star of to-day that averages eight thousand per week.

I wonder if people go to see clever George Cohan or George Cohan's play?

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In the Gold Mine
My get-up in The Gold Mine

I consider it an insult and audacity for any manager to, assert that the starring system is a menace to the [113]theatre when almost every leading theatre of Europe heads the cast with the name of a conspicuous player. Every first-class theatre in London for the last fifty years, from Kean to Irving, has owed its success to one bright particular star.

If any manager in America would like to try the experiment I would be willing to make a wager that I will take the most successful stock play now running in any city in the world, go to any town or city in America and with a star double, yes treble the receipts of the stock organization presenting the same play.

Again let me ask the author and those who "present" as to the longevity of a stock play as compared with that of the play in which a star appears. Also how about the returns from a revival of both? In the all star revival of "The Rivals" we averaged five thousand dollars a performance.

Did the public go to see the players or the play?

I wonder.

How many knew the author or Joseph Brooks who presented us?

I wonder!

Again let me ask the great author and those who "present," those commercial gentlemen who seek to crucify the star, what inducement they offer the young beginner in the way of a future. Are all the budding geniuses to be strangled at their birth, their dreams to be made delusions? Are they to have no chance to gratify their ambitions, only the remote possibility of being one of an ensemble? You are trying to rob the public of its favorite player, to destroy all individuality, to make us a melting-pot, a cesspool of ensemble, subject to your will and dictation. It is a pretty tall order, my friends, and be careful lest you who would destroy be not destroyed.

If the stars are forbidden to shine it is their own[114] fault. If only twenty would band themselves together (and it can be done) I'd guarantee to finance the scheme with half a million dollars. If they would form a syndicate, I would guarantee to drive these impertinent gentlemen into the clouds of oblivion from which they sprang and the little and big stars would form a constellation that would maintain the dignity of our glorious profession!


[115]

Chapter XX

ATMOSPHERIC PLAYS

It was some sage of long ago who wrote:

"The muse of painting should be, on the stage, the handmaid, not the sister nor rival of the drama."

I quite agree with the gentleman who penned those lines. I disagree with any suggestion or device that dwarfs the beauty and art of a play. That is why I strenuously object to the term "atmosphere" as applied to any of our present day productions. It is only a cloak and an excuse to conceal incompetency.

Let the scenery be well painted, attractive and fitted to the frame, but don't take off your roof to pile Pelion upon Ossa! Endeavor to please the eye—with processions and real running water, if you like, but keep all in due subordination to the acting. Realism was strangled after some ungodly years of struggling life. For a time acting became subservient to railroad trains, buzz saws and waterfalls. Ships were sunk in full view of the audience, ice floats cracked and dialogue was smothered in the dust of stage cloth and salt. Public opinion soon demonstrated this was wrong. "Bertha the Sewing Machine Girl" was relegated to the farm to ascertain "Why Women Sin" until laundered Hebraic managers rescued those ladies and atmospheric plays became the vogue.

During the year 1911 I had splendid opportunities for reflection, retrospect and thought, finding consolation in books pertaining to the drama of the past, present and[116] future. I have found great consolation in going over the theatrical situation under existing conditions. True, I note the devastating results of commercialism, the self-interested remarks regarding the welfare of the drama (and all concerned in it), the fact that too many theatres are being built by managers and stars (with disgusting flaunting of the means employed to construct these playhouses).

I have noticed this and I have marvelled. But I found relief in reviewing the conditions of long ago. More than three hundred years have played havoc with the theatres truly. The men of Shakespeare's time are no more—and few worthy successors have been born. That "inspired intellectual spendthrift," as Shakespeare was called by Robert Ingersoll, failed to measure the wonder of the journey to be traversed. I discover that we have gone back, artistically, in the last fifty years.

The only atmosphere in the theatre of Shakespeare was furnished by the hooting, jostling crowd as it wended its way over London bridge for a night at the Fox Under the Hill, to be joined later on by the "merry fellow" and his companions at the Falcon or Mermaid. No doubt they criticised his play to their own, if not his entire satisfaction. However, irrespective of any of their opinions and without "atmosphere," these criticisms apparently had the same value as the condemnations of the self-styled censors of our modern theatre and its players.

What does it matter after all? In the words of Ben Jonson, "Let them know the author defies them and their writing tables!"

One never heard of atmospheric plays in my early life. It is a delightful coinage. Personally I prefer the aeriform fluid in front of the curtain. I never discovered the intrinsic value of a painting in a fog, neither did a frame ever enhance its value. I want the playhouse to[117] furnish its own nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other organic matter before the play is produced. Then let the performance proceed on its merits, sans atmosphere.

Widen your stage to allow your forests to be seen; paint your oceans to flow into space, apparently interminable; dress your characters as befits the times, with corresponding architecture, but, for heaven's sake, don't add incense to injury! Let the play proceed and the dialogue be heard; let your ear as well as the eye, decide the verdict and devote whatever atmosphere you consider necessary to the Theatre proper, as did Irving, the colossal. When one entered the portals of the London Lyceum Theatre, as managed by Henry Irving, one felt that sense of intellectual environment and cultivating influence experienced on entering Notre Dame.

A theatre will lose its atmosphere when the lessee vacates the premises just as a small town will when the inhabitants leave it. We remember the cities that appealed to us in early life and note the changes that advancement and progress have made architecturally. Maybe we admire the improvements, but that charm of something has vanished. What is it? Some will answer, "Atmosphere." I say, "the people"—those who talked and invented the architecture and painting of the earlier day.

We want a Papin or a Newcombe to give us back the so-called atmosphere of our youth, but that kind of atmosphere talked and said something.


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Chapter XXI

ACTORS PAST AND PRESENT

In this era of dramatic chaos the question often arises, "How would the actors of the past compare with those of the present?"

It is a motley question, and one that requires careful consideration in the answer. In our youth, we are prone to worship those who occupy a sphere above us. Youth is always demonstrative and always partial. Therefore views formed at that time are apt to influence our opinions in after life. To be honest we must discard early impressions, accept existing conditions as they materialize and allow our judgment full sway only after a thorough retrospect and careful analysis of what we considered great in our youth.

I but mildly assert things, full realizing the status of the modern player, his wealth, position and social standing. I put him in comparison with the actors of other days carefully!

And I am convinced we have retrograded, so far as the serious and tragic are concerned. Also we have materially advanced in comedy and specialty work. The legitimate comedian of to-day I consider far in advance of his elder brother. He is cleaner, more human, of lighter touch and more subtle.

[back]

Those Were the Happy Days

We have advanced more rapidly from even my time than we did from the '30's to the '70's. From the days of William E. Burton and the Owens and Jefferson era [119]the advance has been most pronounced. Dialogue and stage business which were in vogue even as late as 1880 would not be tolerated now. They were not as particular regarding comedy as they were in the serious drama. The licentious portions of Shakespeare's plays were eliminated after (but long after!) the Elizabethan era. No doubt the serious dramatist and actor took their cues from that procedure and the result was clean and dignified performances. But comedy suffered.

I am sure a play like "The Easiest Way" would never have gone beyond the dress rehearsal, as much as they admired the serious drama.

The serious actor always held sway. He was the axle upon which the wheels of the theatre were put in motion. Consequently the goal of acting of the aspiring Alexanders was the realm of tragedy and the market was overrun. The result—a Garrick, a George Frederick Cooke, two Keans, a Macready, a Forrest, three Booths, a Gustavus Brooke, an Edwin Adams, a Davenport, a McCullough, an Irving, a Possart, a Salvini, a Phelps, a Rossi! And the words of William Shakespeare came down the years until comedy, properly portrayed, came gaily alongside the statelier craft and with laughter sank the ship of tears, leaving only one survivor—Robert Mantell!

(And, really, with all the respect that I have for Robert's miraculous art I must give my youth the benefit of the doubt and award the victory to those departed gentlemen who for one hundred and fifty years piloted the works of the immortal bard towards the shores of prosperity!)

If they failed to receive the compensation that is now conferred upon their comic (and comical) brothers they have at least the satisfaction of knowing that they brought their art up to the standard of the greatest.

Now this question arises: Has the comic (and comical)[120] brother kept faith with his dead sponsor while he has leaped over the form of his serious predecessor? Has he maintained the dignity of the drama? He will answer, "Of course! We are living in the era of progression. Comedy is a success! All the world is laughing! Success! Success! We are superior to those who have gone before! We make the world laugh!"

And the judicious grieve!

But Time looks sadly down upon the merry makers and the measured swing of the pendulum of thought and argument questions, "How long will it last?"

I wonder!


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Chapter XXII

MAUDE ADAMS

How fitting that it should have been Maude Adams to create the title rôle in "Peter Pan!" For, truly, here is the living personification of the human who will never "grow up." Because this is so I have no hesitancy in setting down here the fact that the first time I saw Miss Adams play a part was in 1887!

It was previous to my production of "The Nominee" while I was looking about for an adequate cast that I chanced to meet Charlie Hoyt one day. He was then successfully producing a new line of farce comedies and he asked me to witness the first production of one of his plays, "A Midnight Bell." In the cast were Isabel Coe, who afterwards became Mrs. Frank McKee, Paul Arthur and Maude Adams. With the exception of Paul Arthur no one in the cast was particularly notable.

Those three players appealed to me and I endeavored to secure their services, first ascertaining how long they were contracted for with Hoyt. I succeeded in procuring contracts with Miss Coe and Arthur, but failed in my endeavors to secure Miss Adams as she insisted upon her mother accompanying her. As Estelle Mortimer was engaged for the rôles of old women in my company I could not see my way clear and much to my regret I was forced to resign Miss Adams to other managers.

Arthur and Miss Coe appeared with me in "The Gold Mine," a play of which I had the splendid fortune to[122] get control on the death of Johnny Raymond, who produced it originally. Arthur is now spending his time racing in England, playing bridge and now and then appearing in light comedy rôles in London. I have always considered Paul a most agreeable player. Miss Coe has long since retired, Maude Adams still continues making history for herself and is to-day, as we all know, the most conspicuous actress in America, drawing the largest receipts of any actress in the world.

What a splendid little artist she is!

"You are missing the sweetest thing on earth—romance," said Maude Adams in Barrie's play "What Every Woman Knows."

With what significance did those lines strike me while watching that clever little woman one afternoon. The house was packed, women were weeping and laughing with her. At the fall of every curtain it was raised and raised again. The little artist would bow demurely, coyly acknowledge the compliments bestowed upon her work and then shuffle to her dressing-room. I found her there during one of the intermissions and chatted a few moments with her.

Eight years before we had met in Switzerland. While her figure and manner had changed but little I could not help but notice the sharpness of feature which the eight years had chiseled upon her face. The promissory note demanded by eight years of success must be liquidated and the principal paid. The law of compensation must be obeyed. The little furrows on her tiny face were accentuated by the lustre of her large, blue-gray eyes that looked into yours as though they could penetrate into the recesses of your very soul.

When she talked it was with a little jerky delivery that plainly showed she had herself under perfect control and knew whereof she spoke. The secluded life she leads, I am told, has given her much time to devote[123] to her art and study of the masters. One must do something besides act when not appearing in repertoire. The intelligence expressed in her work plainly indicates the thought she has bestowed upon it.

I consider Maude Adams one of the best English speaking actresses on the stage to-day. She has an appealing, modulated voice, is easy of carriage, graceful, has the power of expressing deep emotion and any quantity of comic power, combined with nice repose. These qualifications make an actress.

Miss Adams has enthralled the public of the United States; her name is a household word; she stands for all that represents true and virtuous womanhood; at the zenith of her fame she has woven her own mantle and placed it about the pedestal upon which she stands, alone. And yet as I looked into those fawn-like eyes I wondered! With all her powers, envied by the many, rich in worldly goods—did those searching liquid orbs denote complete happiness? I felt like taking those tiny little artistic hands in mine and saying, "Little woman, I fear you are unconsciously missing the sweetest thing in life—ROMANCE."

Would she exchange one for the other?

I wonder!

January, 1911     

What a commentary on the existing commercialism of our stage is the present performance of "Chantecler" at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York! What a farce is the selection of the dainty, clever Maude Adams as the scapegoat for the anticipated failure that is certain to ensue!

There is no gainsaying the fact that after the novelty of the production wore off "Chantecler" failed in Paris. London, after viewing it, said "Not for mine!"

Coquelin spoke of the play to me twelve years ago. Think of it! The play was in embryo then and Rostand[124] selected Coquelin to create the rôle later played by Maude Adams!

After Coquelin's death Guitry, that sterling French player, created the character. Notwithstanding even his tremendous abilities, Rostand and the critics discovered that he was not the man for the part. The underlying meaning of the part was sacrificed. Bombastic display usurped the subtle humor intended by the author. Cynical humor was stifled by the declamatory Guitry.

But waiving all criticism of Guitry, by what power of monstrous reasoning could any manager select Maude Adams to play a rôle acted by Guitry and written for Coquelin?

When London put "Chantecler" in the discard our own astute Charles Frohman—of whom I am very fond (and I assure my readers that I am not censuring him for he is quite right from his point of view) and who had an option on the play—realized he must produce it or incur the enmity of the entire French family of authors. He was bound to produce that play, submit to the exorbitant terms demanded by the author and make a production equal to the one in Paris or the Parisian theatre doors would be closed against him. He agreed to their demands, knowing that he was up against it and sure to come out a big loser. He doubtless ruminated, "I must produce it; but how?"

He was thoroughly assured that no man in America could play the part!

[back]

Coquelin
Would he have gone in vaudeville? I wonder

Then it was that this manager, after being drugged with the artistic incense of the Parisian stage, became suddenly inspired to Grape-Nut his property before the American public, Pear's Soap his Chantecler upon the cleanly critics, Mellin's Food the baby managers and put his one best bet down on Maude Adams, whose name is as familiar as any of these articles! [125]Was this fair to her? Was this fair to the public, to the author, to anyone? Of course not? Why be fair with anything or anybody? If you do, you're sure to be found out and the world will write you down an ass! No! Go on with the good work; don't stop, nor even hesitate! Everybody's rich! The dramatic merchants own all the moving picture shows, musical comedies, burlesques. They are spending their profits in automobiles! They are bedecked in sables! Commercialism is running amuck while the artistic foreigner cynically observes and stands amazed!

But fear not, gentle censors, the worst is yet to come! Maggie Cline is contemplating an appearance in "Hamlet" and Elsie Janis may yet be permitted to show us the humor of Dogberry!

Why not?

If the commercial gentlemen who wield the sceptre do but command submission what does it signify who pays the price of admission?


[126]

Chapter XXIII

TYRONE POWER

Gee! What a bully actor Tyrone Power is!

 


[127]

Chapter XXIV

AN ARTISTIC SUCCESS!

Just before producing "The Nominee" and "The Gold Mine" I made the acquaintance of a very fine fellow, James Piggott, a member of Mrs. Langtry's travelling company, who had adopted the stage as a livelihood, after having lost a fortune through the failure of a bank in Manchester, England.

Jimmie, as his friends were pleased to call him, was the personification of an English gentleman, always faultlessly dressed, gloved and caned at all hours. He would appear at the breakfast table in an immaculate get-up, including gloves, even in the dim recesses of one-night stands. He always gave the impression that he had slept in them. He had always a kind word and a smile even under such trying conditions as travelling in support of "The Jersey Lily" through the one-night stands of the country.

It was at this time we met. He was most unhappy. He had written a play which the managers to whom he had submitted it had failed to pass upon favorably. He read it to me and it appealed to me very much. I agreed to produce it and put it on for one week at Hooley's Theatre, Chicago, where it met with some degree of success. It had vivid local color, the story being English, the scene laid in England. It was called "The Bookmaker."

[128]

I produced it the following year at the Gaiety Theatre, London. This was in 1890, following "The Gold Mine." Both plays failed, but, personally, I made what they were pleased to call "an artistic success."

Judging from the receipts I would not enjoy an artistic failure!

Poor Piggott was much distressed at the reception of his play but was more than courteous to me—perhaps because of what he considered my unquestionable hit. The play was afterwards revived by Edward Terry and Arthur Williams, but "Sacred to its Memory" is inscribed over the tomb of the departed "The Bookmaker."

While acting in "The Gold Mine" and "The Nominee" I became thoroughly convinced that farce comedy was doomed, that frivolity was losing ground and that the public wanted comedies combining pathos with laughter. I found it was becoming easier for me to handle pathetic scenes and deliver serious passages. I had solved the problem. It was simply a change of method.

If I were compelled to make a sudden transition from gay to grave or vice versa the secret lay in assuming another tone, the discarding of a familiar gesture and allowing a certain time to elapse before expressing the emotion, if only for the infinitesimal part of a second. Thought travels quickly and the eyes work in unison. This must be studied, rehearsed and exemplified before any comedian can hope for a successful interpretation of rôles combining humor and pathos.

There are a few comedians of to-day who know the art. Were it not that I have no desire to be personal I could name names and make it clear to the public those who don't know how. Among the few who do (and there are only a few) I might mention David Warfield, William Thompson, John Mason, George Nash and Eddy Ables.

I was privileged to be one of a box party some years[129] ago witnessing the performance of a play which I very much desired. I had seen it perfectly performed in Paris by a man who knew everything pertaining to our art, whose pictures were painted with all the delightful lights and shadows that form a background for those capable of portraying comedy and pathos.

This play gave an actor every opportunity of portraying all the emotions—comedy, tragedy, farce and sentiment. The character ran the dramatic gamut, but it required most deft handling, the dividing lines being as fine as silken threads, the transitions requiring the art of a master. It was a great success in Paris, but failed both in London and New York. The Englishman and American to whom this character was entrusted were direct opposites in their respective qualifications, one being a pronounced low comedian, the other a character actor with little, if any idea of humor. The Frenchman combined all the gifts of these two men together with the versatility which this character required. His success was as pronounced as these gentlemen's failures.

As I sat in the box with the star's wife at my right I waited with some anxiety and fear the result of the performance. My forebodings became realized as the character assumed its first serious aspect. The audience failed to differentiate and a slight titter passed through the house as he arrived at his first dramatic, sentimental climax. As the play progressed I could see the audience manifest its displeasure and move uneasily as the plot developed. When the crucial moment came—the grand, tragic, culminating scene of the play in which the Frenchman held his audience as in a vise the American audience simply smiled, looked bored and relaxed. Instead of applause coming as it should have come at the end of the act, the curtain was raised only through the appreciation of the ushers at the back!

[130]

The star's wife turned to me and asked, "What is the matter? Why can't —— do this?"

"It is very simple, my dear friend," I replied. "He hasn't solved the problem. He has failed to change his method."


[131]

Chapter XXV

THE SKATING RINK

It was some time after, I forget the exact date, that I became associated with the late Frank Sanger in the production of a farcical comedy, called "The Skating Rink." We surrounded ourselves with a capable company, including Henry Donnelly, Fanny Rice, James Ratcliff, the Fletchers, a trio of trick skaters, Major Newall and others.

We opened in Buffalo (where I had the misfortune to meet the second lady who bore my name).

We opened to a packed house and when the curtain rang down I credited myself with another failure. I was amazed to ascertain the next morning that I had made another "artistic success." But this time the house sold out for that evening—also. I was far from being satisfied, but I was convinced that if the public fancied the material offered at our opening I could improve the entertainment very much. I so informed Sanger, suggesting that he book us for four weeks at Hooley's. I guaranteed to give him an entirely new and better interpretation of "The Skating Rink" for Chicago. He acquiesced and started the next day for New York.

I called the company together the following evening after the play for a rehearsal. My idea was to ascertain if any of the company had a specialty that could be interjected into this porous play. It permitted all sorts of pioneering. The plot stopped at eight thirty!

[132]

One gentleman proved capable of swallowing the butt of a lighted cigar during the rendering of the verse of a song, allowing it to reappear before finishing, and repeating the operation until his stomach rebelled. This appealed to me and was introduced the following evening with marked favor!

I resuscitated my imitations of famous actors which had been lying dormant for years.

Two or three of the young ladies interpolated some of the latest New York ditties, Fanny Rice and I cribbing the See-Saw duet. I also introduced an entire act of a play called "The Marionettes," assisted by one of the skating trio, an Irish song written by a Jew, "Since Maggie Learned to Skate," and a burlesque on "Camille." I appeared as the coughing heroine!

By the time we reached Chicago I had discarded all of the old manuscript. The plot stopped a few minutes earlier. But I kept my promise to Sanger!

I worked like a galley slave in this polyglot entertainment, making no less than fifteen changes. When not on the stage, which was but seldom, I was busy making my wardrobe shifts between scenes, my most trying effort being a very quick change from the ball gown (with all the female accessories, including corsets) of Camille to the apparel of an Irish hod-carrier. I made the latter change in less than a minute, disappearing as the dying lady on one side of the stage to return from the opposite as the Irishman in search of his daughter, Maggie. The company, I am pleased to say, made distinct successes and received great praise for their individual efforts.

A most amusing incident occurred during a performance of this play in Louisville. One of my staunchest admirers, named Eli Marks, who always regretted my turning aside from serious drama to embark upon the sands of farce, came one night much against his will to[133] witness the performance. I met him afterwards. While he was pleased with the efforts of the company he failed to bestow any particular praise upon my playing. In fact nothing I had done seemed to meet with his favor. Of course he liked my imitations, but he had seen them before.

"By the way, Nat," he said, "don't lose that Irishman! I think he is the best thing in the whole show. Nothing you did can compare with him!" I agreed and gravely assured him that it had caused me a lot of trouble to coach that man. "Well," he concluded, "you are rewarded and don't lose him!" I promised to keep him as long as he lived.

Marks was afterwards told that he was unconsciously paying me that compliment, but he refused to believe it! He made a wager with the friends who contradicted him and would not assume the responsibility of the debt until he had come behind the scenes and witnessed my change.

As I got into the overalls and hurriedly grabbed the dinner pail, he ejaculated, "Well, by golly, you fooled me, old man, but I am glad of it! Come and sup with us to-night at the club. If you take my advice you will have a play written around the plot of that song. You are the best hod-carrier I ever saw!"


[134]

Chapter XXVI

NUMBER TWO

About this time I began to weary of the solitude of single life. Living with dear old John Mason in our flat in Twenty-eighth Street did not appeal to me. We were very respectable persons at the time and led a most exemplary life, irrespective of the opinions in vogue concerning our little Haven of Unrest.

It was while enduring those disconsolate hours that I became interested in Mrs. Nella Baker Pease, wife of a dilettante, living in Buffalo. She made her appearance nightly at the playhouse where we were performing and made herself particularly conspicuous by effusive applause, generally bestowed when the other portions of the audience had finished theirs. It was evident that she was discovering hidden beauties in my artistic efforts. We were finally introduced and became steadfast friends.

It took me but a little while to discover that she was a gifted woman, possessed of many talents, her most conspicuous one being music. She was the best amateur piano player to whom I have ever listened.

During my week's sojourn in Buffalo I was presented to her mother, sister, brother and husband. Her sister was charming. I wish I could say the same of the rest of her family. The brother must have emanated from the same pod in which the husband, Pease, was conceived, or on some coral reef where sponges predominate. He proved a most absorbing person.

[back]

Nella Baker Pease
The best amateur piano player I ever heard

[135]

I invited him once to spend a few days with us in New York. He wired that he was coming for "a cup of tea"—and stopped for two years!

With my inherent divinatory gift it required but a short time for me to satisfy myself that the little home of sunshine occupied by the row of Pease was in reality a whitened sepulchre. I discovered that Nella loathed her husband, but with the other members of her proud family was content to live with him and upon the bounty supplied by the dilettante's father (her hubby's papa).

She bestowed no love, not even respect, upon that dilettante hubby. During one of our interviews the husband was sent down town, her family was called in to meet me and at the earnest solicitations of them all I promised to endeavor to aid her in severing her matrimonial bonds. I also promised to fit her for the stage and to enlist the assistance of Steele Mackaye who was then preparing pupils for artistic careers and sunning himself upon the porch of Delsarte. After binding myself with these obligations I took my departure.

In a few days I was besieged with letters from Mrs. Pease and the family, earnestly entreating me not to forget my promises. Finally an epistle came from the husband endeavoring to persuade me to do something for him!

I did, all right!

To gratify his wife's ambition would I secure her an opening on the stage or put her with some good tutor? He would pay all the expenses, etc. Unfortunately for me I assumed this responsibility and succeeded in interesting my mother in Mrs. Pease's behalf, informing her of the harrowing details. So interested did my mother become at the recital of the unhappiness of this young lady that she invited her to spend a few days at our Boston home. Mrs. Pease was also fond of tea![136] She accepted the invitation—and remained for several months. In fact during her visit at my mother's house I had resumed my tour on the road and even made a trip to Europe!

Upon my return I met her in our Boston domicile where we were thrown a great deal into each other's society. She proved very attractive, being well educated, a fine conversationist, with a most lovable disposition. Her compositions and execution upon the piano were remarkable for an amateur.

In the meantime I had succeeded in interesting Mackaye and was about to place her in his charge, when, one day, I was served with papers from the husband who charged me with alienating his wife's affections! This dropped like a bomb-shell into our little circle, as nothing was further from my thoughts than marriage.

When the summons came she took it as a joke, saying, "What a splendid release from the little incubus!" Being at the time interested in a certain prima donna known to fame (I might say rather seriously interested), I confessed to a non-appreciative state of mind regarding her idea of humor and mildly suggested that she furnish some solution as a means of escaping from this most embarrassing situation. I realized the publicity and scandal that must surely come.

"It is very simple," said she. "Go to Buffalo, buy him off, come back to Boston and marry me. Your mother is very fond of me and I love her and Dad immensely; I am passionately fond of art; I think you are one of the most charming men whom I have ever met, and I know I can make you superlatively happy!"

After that what could a true-born American do?

I went to Buffalo, saw this half a husband (good title, that!), paid him five thousand dollars, stopped off[137] in New York and explained the situation as best I could to my prima donna friend who tearfully told me that I was "doing the only thing a man could do."

I had "stolen the lady from her husband," "robbed his fireside," "broken up his home" and I "must necessarily abide the consequences."

"The world will condemn you, and it should, but she was certain, as was I, that my crime would be condoned and maybe in time forgiven."

The papers were beginning to hint at some unwholesome episode connected with our lives; accusations were being forged, ready to be hurled. I must marry at once and listen to her play the piano for the rest of my life! I was sure of one thing, however—she would never bore me and she never did. But, Gee Whiz! what a lot of things she did to equalize things.

Well, I kept my word. We were married and a beautiful boy came "to cement our union." From the time that that youngster, Nat C. Goodwin, III, came into the world until the law separated us, she was a changed woman. Up to that time we were happy. I purchased a fine residence on West End Avenue, New York, and our home was the rendezvous of some of the brightest lights of the artistic world.

And then she became insanely jealous of our darling boy and it is here that I drop the curtain upon our lives.

It is not my mission in this book to say anything unkind or harsh of any of the women who have married me. I wish to confine myself to speaking in terms of fullest appreciation of their virtues and merits, leaving it to wise censors to judge me. By some power of reasoning all men and women elect themselves the judges and juries of my actions. Their harsh criticisms I leave unanswered, being thoroughly satisfied in my own mind that I have committed no offense whatever[138] against humanity, knowing that I have treated honest women as they should be treated, with all due deference and respect to womankind.

Poor Nella Baker! She abandoned the glitter and glare of the world of fashion to seek refuge in the bosom of Bohemia. She extricated herself from the vortex of society to get a glimpse of Real Life! The pet of drawing rooms, she became the wife of a comedian. She sought the atmosphere of Henri Mürger, but, alas! found it not.

Marriages are made in Heaven—cancelled in Reno!

Perhaps some will object to a number of my attitudes in this book, particularly as regards my marital ventures. I have "no right to refer" to the sanctity of marriage—"a union of two souls," cemented by a (paid) preacher, "ordained by the Deity," etc! But these good people will mistake my attitudes. I do not recognize as sanctified any ceremony that can be annulled by a five-thousand-dollar-a-year judge.

Reno is known as the Mecca for vacillating souls. New York makes it look like thirty cents!

New York, by comparison, makes Reno look like a Mormon Mausoleum!

All you have to do in New York is to call at the Captain's office, behind closed doors, whisper "Guilty" and, presto, you go as free as the birds! If you are hoarse, send someone in your place, it's all the same. And yet people prate about "the holy bonds of matrimony!" Holy? Yes, with holes big enough to crawl through!

I leaped through my last one and had the aperture sewed behind me!

[back]

Nat C. Goodwin, III

I presume that I shall be terribly censured by those goody-goody persons who are constantly preaching their trust in all mankind and womankind and expatiating upon filial devotion and implicit faith in those they[139] profess to love. Bah! There is no perfect trust in perfect love.

Whenever I hear a man (or woman) express himself as being tremendously in love, combined with an abiding faith even if he and his mate are living in different zones, I always watch for the finale and generally read the epilogue in the Reno "Gazette." When married people are separated (this is from my point of view), unless he has misgivings when her name is mentioned and his pulse does not quicken, if he does not quiver when he is told that his wife was seen, beautifully arrayed, entertaining a party of friends at some particular garden party or golf club—the little messenger Cupid has taken wings. He may strut about like Chantecler, proclaiming that his crow awakens the slumbering embers of a dying passion, but he is only mesmerizing himself.

Married people should never be separated, not even by chamber doors. Our forefathers and mothers never occupied separate chambers when the time came for prayer and slumber. They were healthy people, if not fashionable. Canaries and monkeys provide the warmth and oils for their mates' bodies, but in this age of advancement and hypocrisy it is considered common to be human.

If mankind would study the ostrich and abide by its acts, morality would triumph and married people would always be together.

Distance lends enchantment only when the door of the cage is opened by mutual consent. When only one returns the door will be found rusty and difficult to close.


[140]

Chapter XXVII

A FIGHT WON (?)

MILES and BARTON, lessees of the Bijou Theatre, New York, took me under contract in 1886 and immediately I embarked for Europe in search of material. As I was scheduled to follow Henry E. Dixey, who had made himself famous at the time by his performance of Adonis, I realized that my task would be a heavy one. On my arrival in London I put myself in touch with several authors and succeeded in purchasing the rights of "Little Jack Shepard," "Erminie," "Turned Up" and a musical comedy called "Oliver Cromwell."

Armed with this material I returned to America with William Yardley, intending to open the season at the Bijou with the musical play "Little Jack Shepard" under his direction. We produced this play in the autumn, but did not realize our expectations. In the cast were Loie Fuller, who played the title rôle, Charles Bishop, Lelia Farrell and a prima donna whose name I forget. (She couldn't sing for nuts, but fortunately the first night she suffered from a severe cold which forced her to speak the lyrics.)

During the run of "Little Jack Shepard" I read the various librettos I had purchased abroad and while Miles (dear old Bob!) congratulated me on my perspicacity in procuring such material, Barton objected strenuously to one and all of them and advised me to dispose of them to the best advantage. I immediately[141] sought Frank Sanger and disposed of all my holdings to him at just what they had cost me. I had previously read the book of "Erminie." Gus Kerker played the score for us. Barton, with his usual capacity for doing the wrong thing, violently protested against "Erminie," saying it was a reflex of the old play "Robert Macaire" and vastly inferior!

When business dropped with "Little Jack Shepard," Miles and Barton were in a quandary as to what would follow it and came to me with a request that I put on one of the plays which I had brought over from Europe. I asked them which they preferred and they decided upon "Erminie." "Very well," I said, "I will see what I can do, but unfortunately I have disposed of the rights to Mr. Frank Sanger." We called him up on the telephone and found that he had left the office at the request of the management of the Casino, but would be back in half an hour. I jumped into a cab, went to the office and saw Frank. He informed me that he had just sold the American rights to Aronson, manager of the Casino, who had engaged Francis Wilson to play the leading part. Sanger was much distressed about this as he considered that the part would suit me "down to the ground." Everyone knows the history of "Erminie." It made everybody connected with it rich. Through Barton's dogmatic stupidity we all lost fortunes.

I asked Frank if he had disposed of all the material that I had sold him and discovered that "Turned Up" was still in the market. He very kindly offered it to us for a thousand dollars down (he had previously paid me five hundred cash for it) and only (!) ten per cent of the gross receipts. We were forced to accept the play upon those conditions. We opened with it, in conjunction with a burlesque on "The Bells" written for me by Sydney Rosenfeld. In this I appeared as Mathias, giving an imitation of Henry Irving. We retained most of the[142] cast that we had used in the previous bill with the exception of Robert Hilliard and Charlie Coote whom I engaged to play the two light comedy rôles.

I have never been associated with an entertainment which was received with such manifest appreciation as that double bill. We thought we were in for a run of at least one season and maybe two. So sanguine was Hilliard over the success of that evening that he spent two hundred dollars the following day in decorating his dressing-room. He was sure we had found our theatrical home for six months or a year.

Barton, one of the old-school managers, considered that the performance of "Turned Up," irrespective of its success, was destroying the policy of his little playhouse. The idea of Miles and Barton was to make the Bijou the home of burlesque and comic opera and while "Turned Up" was turning the people away Barton writhed under its success. It was produced without his sanction and success meant nothing to him when compared with his wounded vanity. The receipts went as high as nine thousand on the week and never dropped below six thousand during the entire run which was only eight weeks.

Much to our surprise, Barton one day insisted upon taking off "Turned Up." He figured that whenever the receipts fell below a certain figure (which should have been a sufficient profit for any playhouse), they were losing money and Miles discovered that instead of having the usual two weeks' clause in all of their contracts with the artists they were engaged for a stipulated number of weeks. This included even the ladies and gentlemen of the chorus. The result was that a salary list of about fourteen hundred dollars a week represented a company walking around doing nothing. There was no chorus in "Turned Up." I suggested that he sublet his people and not perform such a suicidal act as closing a[143] gold mine, but I was voted down. We then revived "The Skating Rink" and "The Mascot" to only mediocre business.

About this time a New York critic, A. C. Wheeler, submitted a manuscript entitled "Big Pony," music by Woolson Morse, a very clever composer whose "Cinderella at School" I had previously produced at the Boston Museum. We accepted this play and gave it a magnificent production. On the reading I thought that the first and third acts were exceptionally fine and the title rôle, Big Pony, I fancied too. I suggested that the second act might be improved. The dialogue referred to political issues that were long since dead. Wheeler insisted that the play should be performed as he had written it and would not permit one change. He proved very obdurate and we were finally compelled to either accept it as written or give it up. We finally decided to produce it and much to my dissatisfaction I was compelled to deliver supposedly funny lines which I knew were funereal.

The first act proved a sensational hit, my entrance receiving such a tumult of applause that it was fully a minute and a half before I was permitted to sing my first song. This was a most difficult composition. The lyrics were in the true Indian language, which made it very difficult for any of the cribbers of the time to hypothecate it. (I am sure that the champion purveyor of songs, Seymour Hicks, would have encountered a "water jump" had he tried to. Hicks has often been called "Steal More Tricks" on account of his fascinating and "taking" ways.) We had a very good third act, but the second act was so terrible that the play proved an unmitigated failure.

Wheeler, known as Nym Crinkle, one of the cleverest critics of his time, was a most unscrupulous fellow and he took his medicine as such fellows usually take it. Instead of accepting the inevitable as a true sportsman[144] should, Wheeler attributed the play's failure to me and without my knowledge became my bitter foe. The papers were severe in their reviews of the play, but most gracious to all the players, particularly to me. This rankled in his diminutive heart. Having torn down so many houses, he could not stand having his own citadel stormed. While we often met in the private office and talked over the possibilities of resuscitation he would smilingly, yet stubbornly, refuse to alter a line or allow anyone to suggest changes. The play evidently appealed to his vanity. He never missed a performance, occupying a box with a lady who owned a half interest in the piece, a Miss Estelle Clayton.

We all knew that the play was doomed and knowing that it was shortly to be taken off many of us took liberties with the text and gagged whenever the opportunity presented itself. I remember a gambling scene that I had in the last act in which I threw dice with one of the characters, incidentally losing all my fortune and vast estates. One evening as my last dollar disappeared over the dice cloth I noticed Wheeler (as usual in the box) beaming at some of my sallies. I said to the opposite character, "Now, my friend, I will throw you for this play—manuscript, parts and all."

The players and the audience, knowing that the play was about to be withdrawn, screamed with laughter. Just as I was pondering over some other funny quip my heart came up into my throat as I saw the box party get up and file out, their backs expressing profound indignation. I said to myself, "My finish," and maudled through the rest of the performance. I had made an enemy for life of A. C. Wheeler and well he exercised his avenging powers. For years he assailed me from every angle, his vilifying articles never ceasing until his death. I was to blame, I presume, but I really intended no harm—only fun.

[145]

That same evening I unconsciously offended and made an enemy of another person, one of the box party, a Mr. Durant, a downtown broker who, I afterwards ascertained, shared half of Miss Clayton's interest in the play. Up to that time I had never heard of the gentleman and we never met until several weeks after. One day in Kirk's café on Broadway at Twenty-seventh Street I was approached by a half drunken individual who insultingly invited me to drink. I was seated at a table with dear old Anson Pond and politely refused several of his solicitations. He was most persistent, accompanying his requests with profane and obscene references to me and my work on the stage.

The place was packed with men who stopped and listened to the drunken tirade the stranger was heaping upon me. Pond, an athlete, calmly looked on and said nothing. One or two of the bartenders quietly signalled me to hit him on the head with something. I turned to Anson and said, "If this fellow doesn't stop it looks as if I must put one over." He smilingly approved. Then the drunken gentleman leered at me, again inviting me to drink. If that didn't appeal to me he was willing to accompany me to some adjacent room, lock the door and the one who survived would return the winner. Before I answered his belligerent request I swung my puny right which landed, fortunately, upon the point of his impertinent jaw and down he went in a heap.

This seemed to meet with the approval of the spectators and I calmly resumed my seat, thinking that he would take the count. Imagine my horror when I saw this huge man unravel himself, slowly rise and approach me with much ferocity. He was about six feet tall, and weighed in the neighborhood of two hundred pounds. That was the way he appeared to me, at all events. I naturally expected Pond or some of the on-lookers to interfere, but no such luck! As he viciously approached[146] me he swung his right very hard at my head. I ducked it, got to my feet, determined to find out if he knew anything about boxing. I feinted him and discovered that he was ignorant of everything pertaining to the noble art. I also realized that if he ever caught me in his embrace it was "Goodnight to home and mother" for "America's Foremost!" I jumped about and finally with good judgment and better luck, landed a punch on the identical chin, in the same place, and down went the part owner of "Big Pony," again.

Still no interference! The bartenders continued nonchalantly wiping the tumblers. Pond kept on complacently puffing his weed and the spectators obligingly formed an extemporaneous ring. I was standing, gasping, in the center of the room. My right hand was split and rapidly becoming the size of a cantaloupe.

The gentleman on the floor slowly uncoiled himself and came at me again, only to receive a blow on the same spot and go to the floor. This time I nearly went with him! Weighing about one hundred and thirty pounds my work upon the human punching bag was beginning to tell. This kept up for two more rounds and still no one interfered. The reason was afterwards explained to me. I was "winning so easily!"

Winning, indeed! I was slowly dying and had I been possessed of the necessary courage I would have solicited interference, realizing that I must stop or faint! I was slowly but surely passing away. I had enough strength left in my legs to back towards the lunch counter, knowing that there were missiles on the table. As he closed in on me, instead of endeavoring to avoid him, I clutched him in a fond, yet tenacious, embrace. As we went down I reached up on the table, endeavoring to grasp the first article on which my hand came in contact. I clutched something, which proved to be a caster filled with its usual bottles. I hadn't enough[147] strength left to lift the article but I dragged it casually down and let it fall gently upon the gentleman's forehead, which was beneath me. As the catsup, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar slowly trickled into his eyes he gently drew me towards him and whispered, "I've had enough."

He anticipated me by just a second!

I gallantly permitted him to rise, after gracefully tumbling off his stomach. Then in stentorian tones I said, "Get up, you loafer!" and walked majestically away. I pantomimed to Pond (I couldn't talk after that one burst of "Get up") to get me some brandy and water and under the pretext of fatigue I laid my head upon his shoulder—and passed away for about five minutes.

I explained this encounter to Ed. Buckley some weeks later and after receiving his congratulations, I queried, "Kindly tell me, Ned, how—when my antagonist was out the next day without a mark on him and I never left my bed for two weeks—how do you figure me the winner?"

Ned's silence was profound.


[148]

Chapter XXVIII

JOHN CHAMBERLAIN

For many years I always looked forward to my annual visit to Washington with a great deal of pleasure for two reasons—I was sure of magnificent results so far as my engagements were concerned and a jolly good time besides. I always arranged my tour so as to play one week there, followed by a week's vacation. It was a necessary precaution!

Often I omitted rest altogether, just continuing the round of pleasure without pause. Dinners were followed by suppers, suppers by breakfasts! After a night at John Chamberlain's famous hostelry one felt that one never wanted to go to bed.

At that time Chamberlain's was the best known and the most popular resort of the cleverest men in the United States. For here one was sure of the best food in the country. The wines were of the finest quality. It is little wonder that it was known as the rendezvous of the enlightened.

Generally after the matinée and always after the evening performance I would wend my way to Chamberlain's and bathe in the atmosphere of the clever men who were the habitués. Here were congregated such men as Roscoe Conklin, James G. Blaine, President Arthur, Senators Brice, Beck, Blackburne and Jones, Secretary of the Treasury John G. Carlisle, William Mahone of Virginia, Arthur Pugh Gorman, Grover[149] Cleveland, Speaker Crisp, Tom Reed of Maine, the first Czar of the Senate, John Allen, Lawrence Jerome, the witty father of William Travers Jerome later to become District Attorney of New York, Amos Cummings, Blakely Hall, Joe Howard, Jr.—but why enumerate all the leading characters of the United States? Men who were making American history congregated at this noted tavern and over a bottle of wine or an apple toddy discussed national affairs or the latest leg show. Chamberlain's was indeed the Hall of Fame.

For a period extending over twenty-five years John Chamberlain was as well known on the streets of Washington as any man occupying the executive chair. A portly man, weighing over two hundred pounds, his rotund figure was visible every pleasant afternoon as he strolled along Pennsylvania Avenue, always in company with some distinguished statesman. John was friendly with the mightiest.

John was one of the most affable of men. Never ruffled, he took the world for what it was worth and smiled with equal facility whatever came—whether failure or success (and he had his share of both). Beginning life as a roustabout on the Mississippi River he later blossomed forth as a professional gambler and soon was the most conspicuous member of that fraternity. It was in this way that he became immensely wealthy. But ill-luck overtook him as it chased him down the Road of Chance and Speculation and he landed on the rocks.

When men make fortunes by their wits, playing and preying upon the credulity of mankind, and misfortune overtakes them they are as a rule as helpless as children. Age has dulled their mentality. The charm that appeals to the gullible has vanished. Inventions to trap the credulous are more up to date and aged grafters must give way to the younger and more enlightened.

[150]

Poor John realized that his day had come, but taking advantage of the many friends he had made during the days of his prosperity and realizing that a spark of the old brilliancy yet remained he interested a few friends in a scheme to open a high-class restaurant, where the quality of wine and food could not be excelled in America and the prices prohibitive to any but those who could afford such luxuries. Having himself been a bon vivant for years John was of full form, "with good capon lined." No one was better fitted to cater to the tastes and inclinations of American statesmen. The Blaine residence was secured and Chamberlain was launched. It consisted of two houses thrown into one. We all met in one large room on the corner, a room about a hundred and fifty feet long and forty feet wide. In that room I have met the men as I have mentioned.

Many a night I have listened to dear William Mahone later known as "Little Billy," relate his experiences in the war. I have gone upstairs and watched the heavy play at poker (for stakes that would have amazed the many had they known the amount played for). I have watched the stolid Roscoe Conklin, as he came and went, recognizing hardly any one, majestic in demeanor, suggesting a proud turkey contemplating his barnyard companions. Then comes the magnetic James G. Blaine, in direct contrast to his adversary, Conklin, who cost him the Presidency of the United States. Blaine most often was listening to the caustic, rasping tones of Tom Reed who ordered his apple toddy in a voice another man would use to give an enemy the lie! I have hung on the words of brilliant Bob Ingersoll as they rolled from his colossal brain, gone from one table to another—to find each one more attractive than the last!

[back]

Pals
Richard Carle, Fred G. Stanley, Nat Goodwin, Walter Jones, De Wolf Hopper

It was like sitting at a dress rehearsal of a play where all the actors were stars. I was in a theatre, a truly[151] national playhouse, where plays were written every night. The plots of these dramas were so thrilling as to make their telling cause for envy! I count it one of the greatest privileges of my life to have seen these players as I saw and heard them.

Well, the hostelry is torn down, the landlord has paid his rent and sought a perpetual abode. All those whom I have mentioned are John's guests, wherever he is. He will meet them with a cold bottle and a hot bird and in some far off star I fancy I can see them all reunited, old Mammy, the cook, still quarreling with the head waiter as he communicates to Peter, "The season for canvas-back ducks is over, but Mr. John has just ordered some Philadelphia capon that he can highly recommend."

Chamberlain is now only a memory as far as Washington is concerned, but he has left a monument at Old Point Comfort where the hotel that bears his name now stands. It took him years to consummate the deal whereby the government gave him the concession that enabled his friends to advance the money to build that magnificent hotel. John never lived to see it succeed. Before he died the property went into the hands of a receiver and his friends lost their money. His grief undoubtedly hastened his end.

Which star do John and the brilliant men I have mentioned occupy?

I wonder!


[152]

Chapter XXIX

W. S. GILBERT

One of the most gifted men I have ever met was W. S. Gilbert, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. He was not a very pleasant companion socially as he was more of a cynic than a wit, but at intervals he would make his cynicism subservient and become most agreeable.

At the Crystal Palace one evening I had the pleasure of being seated next to him at a banquet, where, Bernand, Editor of "Punch," was chairman. Bernand, I was told, was very jealous of Gilbert, which became rather apparent as the banquet progressed, both he and Gilbert indulging in several combats of repartee.

Gilbert was telling us a rather amusing incident at which we were all laughing very decidedly, when Bernand shouted down the line of diners, "Are you chaps laughing at those funny sayings of Gilbert, which he sends to 'Punch' and never gets in?" Gilbert quickly replied, "I do not know who sends the funny things to 'Punch,' but I do know that they never get in."

Gilbert was once asked his opinion of Sir Herbert Tree's performance of "Hamlet." "Well," he said "it was very, very funny and not at all vulgar."


[153]

Chapter XXX

HENRY E. DIXEY

Equal if not superior to myself in the versatility of "ups" and "downs" in the theatrical firmament has been the career of Henry E. Dixey. Twenty-five years ago he was the toast of the Town. As Adonis his fame was heralded from coast to coast and even permeated across to England. His appearance on any stage was an event. When he appeared in Boston after a run of nearly two years in New York he stopped the traffic and multitudes swarmed the streets as he passed through the city on his way to the Adams House. He was finally forced to appear upon the balcony to acknowledge this tremendous reception. Ten years after I saw him smothered nearly into oblivion as one of the members of Weber & Field's burlesque company on Broadway, the scene of his former triumphs. My heart bled for him, as I had seen him previously give splendid character performances in the melodrama "Romany Rye." A few years after I saw him come forth again resplendent as David Garrick in Stuart Robson's play of "Oliver Goldsmith," only to disappear again as a legerdemain performer and in vaudeville. Then he scored a tremendous hit in one of Miss Amelia Bingham's plays. So it has gone on for over twenty-five years. Undaunted, the graceful Harry jumps over the rails of failure into the pastures of success. He is truly a wonderful man. We have known each other for many years appearing as long ago[154] as 1876 in Rice's "Evangeline" at the Boston Museum, when Dixey performed the character of the forelegs of the heifer not the hind ones, my dear pal, the late Dick Golden, performing that equally strenuous rôle. I doff my hat to Henry E. Dixey and wish him a long prosperous career on his journey down the other side of the mountain of life. He, like myself, has passed the fifty mark, and he tells me he is just learning how to act and Mr. Oliver Morosco tells the public he has no use for middle aged actors. Think it over Mr. Morosco. Dixey has just scored one of the hits of his life in young Mr. Mackaye's play of "A Thousand Years Ago." I'm glad and I congratulate my good friend, Henry E. Dixey.


[155]

Chapter XXXI

SWAGGER NEW YORKERS OF ANOTHER DAY

When I was quite a lad in New York I had the good fortune to mingle with some of the swagger men-about-town. They were the real society men of the time, not the milk sops of the present day. My acquaintances were men like Leonard Jerome, known as Larry among his intimates, William P. Travers, Wright Sanford, Cyrus Field, John Hoey, Neil O'Brien, whose sobriquet was "Oby," and many others. And they were all witty, clever men of the world. My talent for mimicry was the cause of my association with these charming men.

Among the wittiest of the lot was Mr. Travers, who was handicapped by an impediment of speech, a slight stammer, that was almost fascinating. One day, he asked me if I knew where he could purchase a good dog that could kill rats. A lady friend had commissioned him to purchase one. I took him to a dog fancier's in Houston Street and introduced him to the canine connoisseur.

In a few moments Travers was the possessor of as fine a looking terrier as I ever saw. When I told the proprietor who his customer was he was overwhelmed and, taking him to one side, said, "Mr. Travers, I want to give you a practical demonstration of what that dog can do with a rat."

[156]

"Ger-ger-a-go to it," replied Travers, "b-b-bring on your rer-rer-rat and I'll rer-rer-referee the ber-ber-battle."

In a few minutes the man returned and threw the largest rat I ever saw into the pit. It had flowing gray whiskers and looked every inch a fighter as it stood on its hind legs ready for battle. The dog looked at it for a moment as if in surprise at the bellicose attitude of the rodent. While the terrier hesitated the rat acted! With one flying leap Sir Rodent fastened his teeth upon the upper lip of the dog. Howling with pain the canine finally shook off the rat and with a yell jumped over the pit and ran yelping down the street.

The owner started after him, but Travers held him back, saying, "Nev-nev-never mind the d-d-dog, wha-wha-what'll you take for the rat?"

One day Travers was inspecting one of the palatial steamers that had been built by James Fisk, Jr., and Jay Gould. As he passed down to the main saloon, he was confronted by two huge medallions, painted in oil, of Fisk and Gould, on each side of the stairway. He looked at them for a moment, then turned to one of his companions, saying:

"Where is the per-per-picture of our Saviour?"


[157]

Chapter XXXII

JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

It was just after I had learned of the serious illness of that delightful poet and blessed friend, James Whitcomb Riley, the Bobby Burns of America, that I penned the following:

How cruel of Nature to take one of her favorite children if she decides to!

Why make humanity weep and chill our hearts?

Why cause the Indiana flowers to cry for a gardener—for who will sing their praises when dear Jim has gone?

Why clog "The Old Swimmin' Hole" with weeds? When our truant fancy wanders to "That Old Sweetheart of Mine," we won't purchase tickets for "Grigsby's Station" for "The Latch String" will have been severed. No coffee will be served "Like Mother Used to Make" for "Dat Leedle Boy of Mine."

Only the barren, dusty road of decay will mark the meadows of melody that Riley has planted with the seeds of song and when Dame Nature commands his spirit to join the other singers in the celestial choir we who are left saddened can only kneel upon the sod made fragrant by his presence and entreat the messengers to bear him gently over the hills out to "Old Aunt Mary's" where the "Raggerty" man will whisper "Good-bye, Jim; take care of Yourself."

[158]

As events transpired it was I who nearly started on the last long journey—and Jim recovered. And one day in 1912 came this message to ease my bed of pain:—

Indianapolis Ind Oct 9 Via Long Beach Calif Oct 10th 12

Nat Goodwin,

Ocean Park Calif.

Heartiest appreciation for your good birthday greetings and all best wishes for your speedy recovery Loyally as ever.

    9 28 a. m.

James Whitcomb Riley    


[159]

Chapter XXXIII

DIGBY BELL AND DE WOLF HOPPER

It is a supreme satisfaction to look back over a period of 25 years, and realize one has retained the friendship of even one man. I have been successful with a few, but the most gratifying has been the continued friendship between Digby Bell, De Wolf Hopper and myself. We began our respective careers in the seventies, at about the same time, and have appeared often in the same characterizations, principally in comic and light opera, and always enjoyed the other's performances much better than our own. We have frequently appeared at benefit performances and always enjoyed ourselves immensely, irrespective of the pleasure we were contributing to others.

Bell and Hopper, are directly opposite to one another in make up and manner, although both are gifted with conspicuous personalities, particularly Hopper. They gave a keen sense of humor accompanied with much gray matter, and I consider them two of the most intelligent men on our stage to-day. Both are gifted with the power to amuse off the stage as well as on, being splendid raconteurs. Hopper is particularly happy as an after-dinner talker and before the curtain speech-maker, and his Casey at the Bat, has become an American classic.

Bell and Hopper, make charming companions and one never regrets an hour or two spent in their society.

[160]

They say the only true way to know a man is to travel with him, or be associated with him in business. I had the privilege many years ago to spend many happy days in the society of Hopper, enjoying a holiday spent abroad. We intended making a journey over the Continent, but London proved so attractive that we remained there most of our time.

I had the pleasure of introducing Hopper to my English friends and some of the London clubs, and he very soon made a host of friends.

Rather a funny incident happened during our stay in London. A Miss Bessie Bellewood had made a tremendous hit in the music halls at this time, and I was particularly anxious that Hopper should witness one of her performances, as I considered her one of the cleverest vaudeville artists I had ever seen. Hopper was doomed to disappointment, however, as he had tried several times to witness her acting, but on these various occasions, something happened which prevented the clever Bessie from turning up at the hour she was advertised to appear, and when her turn came, instead of her name being pushed into the receptacle which announces the respective performers, they would shove in a sign which read, "Extra Turn," and somebody would take her place.

[back]

In Confusion
Back in the eighties

One afternoon I met Hopper and told him that I had made arrangements for us to accept invitations to luncheon, dinner and supper, but I, not feeling well, decided I would only accept the latter, and intended to go to my hotel preparatory to joining him at supper. He condoled with me and we parted, I ostensibly to go home and secure my much needed rest, Hopper determining to accept all three of the invitations. As he was returning from his dinner engagement, he noticed Bessie Bellewood was to appear that afternoon at the London Tivoli Music Hall, Hopper determined to take [161]another chance, his seventh, at seeing the elusive Bessie, purchased a ticket after inquiring the time which she was to appear that evening, and went, full of expectations. When the time came for Bessie's appearance, to Hopper's horror, again was the card thrust into the aperture saying, "Extra Turn." He arose and went into the street filled with rage, and meeting a friend, he said that he did not believe any such artist lived as Bessie Bellewood. The friend assured him there was, and if he would take time to cross over and look into Romonas' Restaurant, he would find the festive Bessie, with his friend Nat Goodwin, at a sumptuous repast, where they have been sojourning since two o'clock that afternoon. Hopper came over, his massive form appearing at our table and said, "I thought you were home in bed," to which I replied, "I was on my way my dear 'Willie,' but meeting my friend Miss Bellewood, we came in for a quiet tête-à-tête, and have been tête-à-têting all the afternoon."

I apologized for interfering with Bessie's professional duties, but told Hopper that if he would accompany us upstairs, Miss Bellewood would volunteer to sing three of her latest songs. We adjourned to one of Romonas' private music rooms where Bessie regaled us with song and anecdote, which caused us both to miss our supper appointment. He agreed with me that Bessie Bellewood was the best music hall artist he had ever had the pleasure of witnessing.


[162]

Chapter XXXIV

BLAINE AND INGERSOLL

"Eddie" sothern, De Wolf Hopper and I were returning to America after a most delightful trip abroad when we suddenly decided to stop off at Queenstown and take a drive through Ireland in a jaunting car.

The driver of the vehicle proved a most loquacious fellow who bubbled over with Irish humor. It took him but a very short time to set us down as Americans.

Hopper and I actually are!

I took a seat beside him and began to question him about the possibilities of Home Rule. He evaded my questions for a time, but presently in a spirit of confidence told me that he was convinced that the time was ripe for the freeing of Ireland. He even gave me a date when they would be relieved from thraldom. He leaned quietly forward and imparted the information, under promise of profound secrecy, that there were ninety thousand men hiding in the County of Kildare, 110,000 in Tipperary and among the hills, rocks and caves of Killarney, 200,000 on the outskirts of Dublin and an equal number distributed through County Cork, combined with several secret organizations throughout Ireland numbering more than 600,000! The hills were well stocked with dynamite and Winchester rifles, sent from America and closely guarded. He further assured me that when the "head-centre" was satisfied all the forces would be concentrated and Ireland would be free.

[163]

"Why don't you do it at once?" I asked.

"Begorra, the police won't let us!" he replied.

On my arrival home I told this story to Robert G. Ingersoll and James G. Blaine at a luncheon given me at the former's residence in Washington. They were very much interested in my narrative. In fact they took it seriously, Blaine being particularly impressed with the amalgamation of the Irish forces and in their serious intentions. As I went on, repeating the number of troops that were supposed to be in hiding I noticed a twinkle in Ingersoll's eyes. Blaine looked somewhat surprised, but credulous.

As coffee was being served, I sprang the climax of my story with the result that the coffee spread its course over the damask table cloth. They must have laughed for five minutes.

I always knew that Ingersoll had a tremendous sense of humor, but I never credited Blaine with any. Whenever we met in after life, he never failed to refer to my jaunting car story.


[164]

Chapter XXXV

JIM CORBETT IN ENGLAND

Some years ago James J. Corbett, the ex-champion pugilist of the world, was appearing at Drury Lane Theatre in London much to the dissatisfaction of the resident actors, authors and managers. They considered it in the light of a sacrilege for a prize fighter to desecrate the boards which a Kean and a Macready had trod.

One night at the Green Room Club I was taken to task by that clever dramatist Hamilton for allowing my countryman and fellow player, as he sarcastically put it, to appear upon London's sacred stages. I disclaimed all responsibility.

"I know, my dear boy," he insisted, "but you Americans should not allow one of your countrymen to take such liberties with the drama; you should take the necessary means to prevent such acts of vandalism!" He continued with a tirade of abuse, accusing me of being a party to Corbett's appearance. He finished his remarks with, "Do you and your enlightened countrymen consider Mr. Corbett a good actor?"

By this time I had become very much angered at his many impertinent remarks and I said, "No, but he can whip any man in the world and that's why we worship him—not as an actor, but as a representative of the manly art of self-defense!"

As I warmed to my argument I went on to extol the man's gifts that have made him famous in Fistiana,[165] using terms and expressions utterly unknown to Hamilton who was aghast at the adulation and adjectives I applied to Corbett.

"This man not only combines the prowess of the average heavy-weight," I explained, "but he can counter, side-step and swing! In avoiding punishment he has the agility of a feather-weight! In fact," I concluded, "you can't hit Corbett with a bullet!"

"What a pity!" said Hamilton.


[166]

Chapter XXXVI

THE COCKNEY CABBY COMEDIAN

I was returning from the Newmarket races in England after a very poor day, having failed to back a winner. Arriving at Waterloo station I found it was raining in torrents. Not fancying hansom cabs in that kind of weather I permitted the crowd to rush along the platform in a frantic endeavor to secure a cab, having made up my mind to content myself with a four wheeler. It is not a particularly attractive vehicle (four wheelers are generally in use all night and retain a stuffy and most uncomfortable aroma therefore), but it is safe!

At the station there is an opening of about fifty feet from one platform to another, unsheltered and roofless. I looked across and discovered a solitary cab with an old man holding the ribbons listlessly. The downpour fell about his narrow shoulders which were meagerly protected by the thinnest of rubber covering. After I had shouted several times for him to come over and get me he slowly turned around and replied:—

"You come over here; my beast is a bit weary."

I dug my head into my coat and waded across the street, drenching myself to the skin in that short interval. I quickly opened the cab door, fell upon the damp cushions and gasped, "Carleton Hotel."

"Righto, Governor," came the response from the all but drowned cabby and the vehicle began its weary journey, fairly crawling down Waterloo Hill. Having[167] a very important dinner party on hand and realizing it was late I became somewhat anxious. Leaning out of the window I shouted:—

"My good man, send your horse along. I am in great haste."

"He's doing his level, governor," he replied. "I can't shove him. He's human as we are and besides he's been out all night."

I sank back onto the cushions biting my nails in sheer desperation as the cab moved even more slowly. Again indulging myself in a shower bath from the open window, I looked out and pleaded.

"For heaven's sake, driver, send that horse along; he's simply crawling."

"He's striving 'ard, governor," came back the reply, "but he's no sprinter at his best. I'll get you to the Carleton, never fear."

By this time I was frantic. I opened the door and stood on the step disregarding the rain and shouted:—

"You fool, I'm not going to a funeral."

"Nor me to no bloomin' fire, neither," replied the cabby cheerfully!


[168]

Chapter XXXVII

A GILDED FOOL AND OTHER PLAYS

In looking about for an author capable of writing me a play wherein I could endeavor to exploit comedy and pathos I met with much opposition until I finally ran across Henry Guy Carlton. Carlton was living in Boston, financially on his uppers. He had just indulged in the dissipation of writing two tragedies, "Memnon" and "The Lion's Mouth" and when I approached him with this idea of mine he quite agreed with me.

I invited him to be my guest for a few weeks and during that time we evolved the plot of "A Gilded Fool." I produced it that spring at the Providence Opera House with a carefully selected cast, including Clarence Holt, Theodore Babcock, Arthur Hoops, Louis Barrett, John Brown, Robert Wilson, Mabel Amber, Minnie Dupree, Estelle Mortimer and Jeane Claire Walters. Five of this cast have joined the vast majority.

We spent but little time in preparation and after only three weeks' rehearsals produced it at the Providence Opera House. I was not particularly hopeful as to the result. In fact a few days before its production I became somewhat depressed and sent for my dear old mother to run down from Boston to join me. I needed her consoling words, to hear her tell me once more what a great actor I was. She "always knew" I was "a genius." Of course the dear old lady came and after witnessing one rehearsal pronounced it "absolutely perfect."

[back]

Nat Goodwin and Company in In Mizzoura
One of the best casts I ever saw

[169]

At the last rehearsal I became very pessimistic. We rehearsed from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon and then we hadn't reached the last act, so I dismissed the rehearsal, mother and I went to dinner, which was followed by a short siesta. I went to sleep predicting all sorts of failure.

Before going to the theatre that night my old dad came down. He had witnessed one rehearsal a few days before and gone home disgusted. We both predicted defeat. I really could see nothing in my part. He shared this opinion with me. (I regret to say he never thought me great in anything. There you have a discerning old gentleman!)

Night came and much to my surprise my first line provoked great laughter. As it had some reference to drink perhaps that was the cause! It always seems to appeal to an audience! Each scene seemed to go better than the preceding one and when we got to the poor, despised and neglected last act it proved to be the most agreeable one of the lot. That night we knew that we had a success.

Charles Frohman who came out from New York to witness the production said, "You have made a great hit to-night, Nat, and I only wish that John Drew, whom I contemplate starring next year, had so good a vehicle."

The following year John began his starring tour with a play equally as strong, by the same author, called "The Butterflies." In this play Maude Adams sprang into fame.

"The Fool" made a great metropolitan success and I still play it in repertoire.

Carlton was a most amusing and unique man, although a bit uncomfortable to associate with. He was cursed with an awful impediment, a stammer. With a keen sense of humor and an unusual amount of funny[170] stories at his command, his ability to lampoon you made an afternoon spent in his society somewhat trying. He was fully cognizant of his infirmity, but seemed to revel in it and in the discomfiture it caused his friends. One day he called me up over the 'phone and after vainly endeavoring to say "Hello" took one long breath (he generally spoke inhaling and coughing his sentences, reminding you of a person endeavoring to speak through a thunderstorm, while on horseback, jumping hurdles) and, after a paroxysm, said, "Nat, have you half an hour to spare?" I replied, "Yes." He coughed his reply back through the instrument, "Well, if you have half an hour to spare, I want five minutes conversation with you!"

I once complimented him upon some medals which he wore. They bore inscriptions for bravery displayed in an Indian war. He said he was never entitled to receive them. "Why not?" I asked.

"Well," he answered, "I was leading some troops down a ravine when we were suddenly surrounded by the Indians, lying in ambush. I was frightened stiff and tried to give the order to retreat. For the life of me I couldn't say it. All I could get out of my throat was 'Charge! charge! charge!' and the more terrified I became the louder became the commands! The result was we turned defeat into a victory and I became a hero!"

When I was firmly convinced that I had put the pathos of "A Gilded Fool" over I at once looked about to secure a play where the comedy was subordinate to the pathos, as I was determined to launch an ultra-serious play—not that the latter is more difficult; on the contrary, I consider that it is harder to make people laugh than to cry (when the humor is applied legitimately)—but the old precept of Cazauran was forever singing in my ears:—"Remember, no one remembers a laugh."[171] I was determined to obliterate if possible the memories of my preceding laughter epoch.

I imparted my views to Augustus Thomas who had just successfully produced "Alabama" and he fell in with my ideas. We at once arranged the terms for an original play.

The following June I met Maurice Barrymore who told me that he had just come from the reading of my new play by Thomas. I had no idea that the play was finished nor what it was about. Thomas had not even sent me a scenario for which I was most grateful (I hate scenarios; they are always so misleading.) I asked Barry what he thought about the play.

"Well, I like it immensely," he said, "but I don't know how it will strike you, my boy. It is out of the common and most original. All the parts are exceptionally well placed."

"What kind of a part is mine?" I asked.

"You play a Missouri Sheriff," he replied.

"Great Scott!" I thought, as visions of a low-browed, black mustached, heavily armed gentleman appeared before me. I could see myself coming on and saving the heroine, frustrating the plans of the villain and arresting everybody at the end of the play.

Barrymore was most reticent concerning the play and non-committal as to what he thought it would yield, or how he thought the character would suit me. He simply said, "Go and hear Gus read it."

That evening, a sultry night in June, I called on the author, who was just preparing to leave for a holiday in the country. The room was in disorder; in fact, there was nothing for me to do but sit on a huge Taylor trunk. I settled back as best I could as Gus quietly unfolded the script.

I listened intently through the first act and was spell-bound. At the end of every act I simply said, "Go[172] on," and at the finish, "When do we produce that play?" I wished it were the next day. "I am ready whenever you are," he answered. We got together in a few days and selected one of the best casts with which it has ever been my good fortune to be associated, including Jeane Claire Walters, Minnie Dupree, Mabel Amber, Burr McIntosh, Frank Carlisle, Neil O'Brien, Louis Payne (now the husband of Mrs. Leslie Carter), Arthur Hoops, Louis Barrett and Robert Wilson.

We produced it at Hooley's Theatre, Chicago, in September, 1893, and I added one more success to my list and pegged another pin in my crib board of pathos as "In Mizzoura" was born.

The simple little sheriff Jim Radburn I adored. He was so true, so lovable, so honest! I never have grown weary of Little Jim. I have seen two or three actors play him, but—whisper—I really like my performance the best!

The rehearsals of "In Mizzoura" were replete with incident. It was the first time that I had placed myself in absolute charge of a stage manager and it proved a most delightful experience for one who had always borne the weight of a production to become an automaton, moved here and there under the guidance of Thomas who proved an excellent stage director. My! How we all put our shoulders to the wheel after Thomas had made clear the many hidden meanings that were not apparent at the reading! The play as read did not appeal to many of the company. Some even condoled with me. But I knew we were right and we went ahead. We called the company together on a Thursday, the opening being set a week from the following Monday. We rehearsed the entire play Friday, called the first act perfect Saturday, two acts perfect Monday and the entire play perfect Tuesday, when everyone came dead-letter-perfect, as it is called. Thomas in the meantime[173] had written in two new scenes. After the opening we never called a rehearsal during the entire season.

We played to capacity business for four weeks, then foolishly went to New York, opening at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, where the play failed to draw. It received splendid praise, particularly in the magazines. Even the daily papers praised the play, but condemned my daring to rob them of their little funny man. I am sure, however, that I pleased the few who were courageous enough to come and have a cry with me. The play met with unqualified success throughout the country, with the exception of New York and San Francisco, the latter city condemning both the play and yours truly. The press was most severe, with the single exception of that gifted critic, Ashton Stevens, who had the courage of his convictions and whose praise of both play and star was as sweeping as the others' roasts were severe.

"In Mizzoura" was the only hit of my disastrous Australian tour.

I consider "In Mizzoura" one of the greatest of American plays.

It has inspired many authors, particularly David Belasco, author of "The Girl of the Golden West."

Wilton Lackaye met Sydney Rosenfeld, the author, on the grounds at the Chicago World's Fair. Lackaye said, "Where are you going to-night, Sydney?" Sydney replied, "I'm going to Thomas' opening, at Hooley's." Lackaye said, "Well, I'll see you there as I'm going to Nat's opening."

How clannish we actors and authors are!

During one of the rehearsals of "Mizzoura," Burr McIntosh and I had a scene that sadly bothered poor Burr. He fancied that he must be a trifle more pathetic than I. His speeches should have been given in a simple, matter-of-fact manner, but as I used a low tone[174] Burr would go me one better until we were both down in the sub-cellar of the drama! We went over the scene many times but, try as he might, McIntosh failed to understand the meaning or motive of the scene. Thomas would go over the scene with me and place Burr in front to watch it to endeavor to make him comprehend the author's meaning. Then Burr would try and try, always forcing me to the basement. Finally, after hours of rehearsing this scene, Thomas said, "Burr, stop. The trouble is you're thinking when I wrote this part I had you in my mind. I did—but I wrote it for your feet, not your head."

After "A Gilded Fool" was launched I at once made a contract with Carlton for another play and in a few weeks he submitted a scenario to me which I accepted. This play was to follow "In Mizzoura." During the interim between "A Gilded Fool" and "In Mizzoura" Carlton wholly evolved the plot of "Ambition." In time he submitted two acts. I was more than pleased as the character of Senator Beck appealed to me. It had a fine story and all the parts were unique and full of character. After receiving the two acts I looked about for adequate people for the rôles and was fortunate enough to secure the services of Annie Russell, Henry Bergman and Clarence Montaine and with the other members of my company, I considered it a perfect cast. Later I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by such players as George Fawcett, Louis Payne, John Saville, Estelle Mortimer and Jeane Claire Walters.

I arranged to open my season early in September at Miner's Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York, and called my company for rehearsals of "David Garrick." I was anxious to appear in that rôle in New York, having previously performed it on the road with some degree of success. My idea was to put on "Garrick" for one week and follow with "Ambition." I still had only two acts[175] of the Carlton play. I had been trying for weeks to get possession of the last act, having some anxiety as to how Carlton intended ending the play, but it was impossible to locate him.

He turned up on the first night of "Garrick," promising me my last act of "Ambition" on the following day, assuring me it was finished. I waited until Wednesday, but he failed to keep his word. I knew he was unreliable, but never thought him ungrateful. Through his negligence we were forced to announce "Garrick" for a second week. This was asking the public to accept a pretty tall order, but there was no alternative. One Friday, too late for rehearsal, I took it home with me and read it most carefully and was very much disappointed. It plainly showed the earmarks of hasty composition. However, there was no choice and I produced it as quickly as possible.

On the first night we were all extremely nervous and up to the ending of the second act I thought we had a failure. That ending, however, gave me a splendid moment and I received several curtain calls. The papers were very kind on the following morning, more so, I considered, than we deserved. I played it two weeks to gradually decreasing business, the last week being simply ghastly!

I honestly believe that I could have drawn more money alone, with a desk and a glass of water. I had no faith in the play and after the first performance began rehearsals of another called "A House of Cards" by Sydney Rosenfeld. Previously I had sent it into the discard after three rehearsals. It proved worthy of its title and tumbled down shortly after at the Garden Theatre.

The manager of a Philadelphia theatre, where I was to open after the engagement at the Fifth Avenue, came over and saw our performance of "Ambition" (to a $90[176] house) and entered a most violent objection to my appearing at his theatre in that play. I informed him that I had nothing which I could substitute and that it would take me at least two weeks to prepare any of the plays in my repertoire with the exception of "David Garrick." There was no alternative; he must accept "Ambition" or close his theatre. He concluded to take a chance and one of those psychological events which shapes the destinies of players took place.

We opened to nearly twelve hundred dollars—and that was the lightest house of the engagement! We played to capacity business there and everywhere all through that season. It proved to be one of my greatest successes.

I never understood Carlton's failure to furnish the play as he had agreed until a few days after I opened in Philadelphia I read the announcement of the production of a new play of his by a manager who had previously refused to give him a hearing. He forgot (!) I had lifted him from the streets of Boston, clothed him, loaned him money, and taken him to my mother's home. He forgot (!) that when he became suddenly ill it was my mother who nursed him back to health as if he were one of her own children!

The last time that I saw this gifted but ungrateful man was a few years ago at Atlantic City. He was a physical wreck, but mentally a giant still. He had invented some new electric appliance and his mind scintillated as I had never known it to scintillate before. I knew he was doomed and felt grieved. I left his chamber with a heavy heart.

Since writing this poor Carlton has joined the majority.

[back]

Ticket Sale for In Mizzoura

[177]

Chapter XXXVIII

GEORGE M. COHAN

What an extraordinary person is sunny George Cohan!

Fancy a young man, in the early thirties, owning his own playhouse, performing there in the leading rôles, the author of his play and lyrics, the composer of the music, associate manager of two New York theatres, of another in Chicago, and with a chain of suburban houses!

This is making history with a vengeance. The position he occupies in the theatrical world has never been duplicated and I doubt if it ever will be. With all his well-deserved success he bears himself with the modesty of a well-bred boy. To be privileged to meet him in private life is a joy and delight. You will find him never obtrusive and always gentle and respectful to his elders. One would never imagine him a being of so much power. He fascinates me every time I meet him and I always feel an inclination to put my hands upon his shoulders and just listen to him talk. His keen sense of humor, combined with his calm demeanor, always appeals to me.

How proud his parents must feel to be the authors of such a fascinating book as Georgie Cohan! (I always call him Georgie. I can't help it. I love the lad for his wonderful versatility.)

How I enjoy the attempts of some of the critics, in their futile efforts to slur this man of success and to[178] destroy the affection the public has for him! Some even accuse him of being "common." Good! Bring on some more commoners! We need them!

But nature is most discerning in bestowing her mantle of genius. She weaves carefully and adroitly and is conservative with her gifts. She wove her finest for clever Georgie and then destroyed the pattern. She has no more to give.

Mr. and Mrs. Cohan, I congratulate you! You have given the world a genius!

Hats off to Georgie Cohan!

It was while I was appearing at Ford's Theatre in Baltimore in 1911 that Georgie sent me a message which read as follows:—

"I am giving a supper in your honor next Wednesday night at Friars Club House. Wire me that you will be there."

Immediately I replied. This is what I wrote:—

"I am there now, my dear Hector, and will eat nothing until I meet you Wednesday at the Friars Club House. Have invited my audience to join me. He seems an awfully nice chap. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, but don't you dare wish me one, believe me always thine,

Ralph Goodwin."    

Georgie insisted on addressing me as Mr. Goodwin for years after he had reached a star's zenith. When I asked him to drop the formality he said he simply could not do it. Thereupon I suggested we get around it. If he couldn't call me Nat maybe he wouldn't stick on Ralph. And I in turn have ever since dubbed him Hector—when we meet!


[179]

Chapter XXXIX

THOUGHTS VAUDEVILLE-BORN

How miserable are they who live in the past, who imagine when the sun sinks behind their horizon it will never rise again! To be sure, it is not pleasant to realize one is retrograding, yet it is better to forget the errors of the past, realize the advantages of mistakes and benefit by them "than, by opposing, end them."

During a short tour in vaudeville I had many opportunities for serious thought, particularly when I visited the various cities where I previously had been a conspicuous factor in my profession. As I contemplated my name upon the illuminated signs in front of the vaudeville theatres I also strolled through the streets and gazed at the names emblazoned in front of the various legitimate theatres. Many had played in support of me. Now they had usurped my place in the standard playhouses. I was "in vaudeville!"

I reflected upon my companion players—the trained seals, the amusing monkey, the docile elephant! As I wended my way through the sawdust path that led to my dressing-room I wondered what my mission on earth really was. Then philosophy took possession of me and convinced me that we were all performing our respective duties in different environments. It was just a case of "all hands 'round and change your partners!"

In vaudeville I was never happy. I was rather self-conscious, for when salary day came around I felt as if[180] I were cheating to take the magnificent sum I was receiving for my twenty-seven minutes' work twice a day. Then again I wondered if dear old Richard Hooley, in whose theatre in Chicago I had played successfully for twenty years, knew of the evolution that had placed his boy, as he always called me, among the pot pourri of vaudeville. What would my good friend, Bob Miles of Cincinnati, and John Norton of St. Louis, have said had they seen my name as a head-liner in those cities where I had packed their respective houses?

As I strolled by the theatres managed by those dear, departed friends my truant thoughts, much as I antagonized them, would fly back to the past. Once again I would go to the Theatre of Variety in quest of "Five Shillings" and visions of a new and successful play for the next year or the one after would come with the rising sun! When the clouds came to obscure the sky of hope I would darken my chamber, bury the past and wait for the morrow and accompanying sunshine to light my future down the path of middle age.

In this precarious profession of ours we must accept defeat with courage. It should stir us to higher aims, braver deeds, stronger motives, inclinations and honesty of purpose. Never give up the fight so long as you have the capacity to hit out.

Even a dying mule always has a kick up his leg.

If he has his health and mentality any actor under seventy has one punch left.

I simply underwent a course of training in vaudeville, conditioning myself for a fight to a finish. I am ready at any time during the next ten years to produce a play that will appeal to the public. If I fail to secure one—back to the ranch and simple life!

Which will it be?

I wonder!


[181]

Chapter XL

JOHN DREW

I have always had a profound respect and liking for John Drew's art and I have witnessed his performances of many variegated rôles. True, the man's personality always transcends the characterization, but isn't that true of all great actors? Those who talk about Drew being always the same in every part are unconsciously paying him great homage.

For the benefit of the younger members of my profession I want to state that the most difficult rôles to play are those that fall to the light comedian. He must be naturally human and true, for he is portraying the character one meets in every-day life and, to quote from one of Boucicault's plays, "The apparatus can't lie!"

Drew has been amusing the American public for about thirty-five years, playing himself, I will admit. But the man's personality has made him a conspicuous and an agreeable player. He has also been the means of introducing not a few actresses to the world who have become famous.

Drew is a gentleman, on or off the stage, and while many of the play-folk do not consider him a great actor, they must admit that John is clean and that his father and mother were geniuses, which is something of which to be proud.


[182]

Chapter XLI

"THE RIVALS" REVIVAL

Ambition, like an early friend, throws back the curtain with an eager hand, o'erjoyed to tell me what I dreamt is true."

It was with happy anticipation that I signed a contract with Joseph Brooks to appear as one of the supporting cast with Joseph Jefferson in an all-star revival of "The Rivals." The tour was suggested by a performance in which I had appeared for a benefit given to that sterling old player, William Couldock, by Mr. Jefferson and a number of other well known players, including Henry Miller, William H. Crane, Viola Allen and De Wolf Hopper. This performance met with so much approval and gave such unqualified satisfaction that the charity bestowed upon Couldock suggested a commercial enterprise and the business instincts of Charley Jefferson and Joseph Brooks suggested a tour that took place the following spring.

[back]

Dick Golden
We were pals for many years

We visited all the principal cities, never playing over two nights in one place. Business was enormous, the management clearing many thousands of dollars during the four weeks' tour. We were the recipients of many attentions, our time being spent driving, dining, and visiting various public institutions and colleges. We held impromptu receptions nightly behind the scenes. A large table was always spread on the stage laden with [183]viands and many distinguished people partook of our hospitalities. Our happiest times were spent in the private car where we would congregate after the play and spend a few hours in anecdote and song. My contribution was an imitation of dear old Sol Smith Russell—a great favorite of Mr. Jefferson's.

My friend, Fred Stanley, now passed away, always proved a delightful companion. He accompanied us on the entire trip. I really don't know when Freddie slept on that trip. When I inquired how many hours of sleep he averaged out of the twenty-four he replied, "I don't want to go to bed. When you all retire that nigger porter and I swap stories and he is funnier than the whole troupe! He has decided to remain awake the entire tour and I promised to keep him company." And I really believe he did.

Every man on the trip became very fond of Fred. He was a source of great amusement. Poor Fred "went the pace" and finally the end came in 1903. We were pals for many years. I am the only one of the original quartette left—Tony Hart, Dick Golden, Fred Stanley. They are all gone and there is none to take their place. Only a memory remains, a sweet one and yet how sad! Be patient, dear friends, and wait for me! God bless you all!

What a bright and effervescent man was Fred Stanley! Among the congratulatory messages that I received while playing in Australia, upon the announcement of my engagement to Miss Maxine Elliott, was one from Fred. It read:—

"Congratulations, old man. Pick one out for me."

A variety man, with whom I had performed years ago, casually remarked to Fred, "Goodwin! Where does he come in? I started with him!"

"Indeed," replied Fred, "somebody must have tied you!"

[184]

We closed "The Rivals" tour in one of the New England towns, coming direct to New York to attend an informal banquet given to me at the Lambs Club by some of my friends previous to my departure for Australia where I had determined to go for reasons which will be explained later.

My star of destiny was leading me to the other end of the world. I sat down to the banquet filled with forebodings. It was not the terror of the journey. It was a premonition that it was the wrong thing to do, but Fate peeped in and said, "Go on!"

After a night spent in song, readings, speeches, etc., the familiar drab dawn suggested that the time for parting had arrived. The boys followed me to the door and as I started down the steps they sang "Auld Lang Syne" and I drove off into the day.


[185]

Chapter XLII

WILTON LACKAYE

Of all the players now members of the Lambs Will Lackaye is the most pronounced.

I am very fond of him and I think he likes me although he has never expressed himself particularly in my favor. We were never pals, as the word is now applied, but in all our friendly contests of badinage we have always endeavored to play fair with one another.

Lackaye has a splendid brain, but he does not always use it kindly. In this he has no hidden motive, but it acts quickly and his tongue responds not always pleasantly. His wit savors more of the cynic than the humorist. He always assails a citadel, however, never a snow fort, and while his quick sallies many times provoke pain, as a rule they are given with a knowledge that they were well deserved, at least from his point of view. What I most admire about Lackaye is his honesty of purpose and his unflinching courage. In debate he shows no mercy and expects no quarter. He has all the instincts of the old school. He believes in upholding the dignity of the player and will not pander to the ephemeral parasites who have lately attached themselves to the fringe of the drama, the managers "who present."

If there were more Lackayes and fewer Cranes the actor would soon be in a position to assert his rights and maintain them.

[186]

I love some of Lackaye's remarks, particularly when he is annoyed. The last one I heard appealed to me. It seems he approached a very conspicuous actor who is now at his zenith with a request to join the Lambs in their forthcoming gambol on tour. Lackaye suggested that it would be quite a novelty for this player to revert to one of his old-time specialties and present a short monologue as a Baxter Street Jew, which once had made this particular actor famous. The actor who was packing a New York theatre in a serious rôle replied:—

"My dear Will, your request is preposterous! I could not possibly consider such an act! It would be suicide for me after struggling all these years to make my public weep to return to a vulgar monologue and make people laugh! Absurd, my boy, absurd! It would be fatal!"

Lackaye contemplated him for a minute, and remarked:—

"My dear ——, an onion will make anybody cry, but I have yet failed to discover a vegetable that will make people laugh."

Oh! how true this is! And yet people will come out of a theatre with swollen lids, expressing their delight at being privileged to cry! If they only knew how easy is the one and how difficult the other, they would pay more attention to the God-gifted one, appreciating the comic player who kisses away the tear that flows.

My opinion of Lackaye's acting is only equaled by his of mine. Lackaye has published his through the press. I have kept mine to myself. Neither of us is particularly complimentary. We agree on art with reference to ourselves.

Neither of us can act!


[187]

Chapter XLIII

"YOUNG" MANSFIELD

I once had a very dear friend, a young man of splendid dramatic ability with a likable but erratic nature. He is constantly falling in love. As a rule his heart petals fall to those of the opposite sex far beneath him intellectually. This young man has a most impressive and artistic temperament and has absorbed not a little knowledge of his art from the masters.

He has blazoned this superficial knowledge to such an extent that he has grown to believe that he is a most important and necessary adjunct to his profession. If he were possessed of the knowledge he imagines he has he would be a genius!

As it is he is a nuisance!

He has succeeded in making many enemies by his aggressive and argumentative manner in which only a genius can indulge. He has never annoyed me for I love his spontaneity and his youth. He has emulated the acts of several stars and, like the aspiring pugilist who is ever ready to assume the name of a champion older in experience, such as "Young" Corbett or "Young" Fitzsimmons, he delights in being known as "Young" Mansfield. He has some charm and is most convincing to those who are not conversant with his methods.

He has succeeded in interesting several conspicuous people—millionaires and prominent theatrical and operatic[188] stars, including a prima donna known to fame. The latter became interested in him to such an extent that an amour sprang up and they disappeared for a time (that is they imagined they had, but delightful Paris, which always treats such vagaries as they deserve, was fully cognizant of the situation, looked on and smiled).

I was ignorant of their rendezvous. I never imagined that the lady whom he had mentioned to me as being mildly interested in him was in the same country until one day during a visit to a nerve specialist, to whom this young man had recommended me, the man of medicine remarked:—

"I was at the Opera last night and bowed to your young friend——but he failed to acknowledge the salutation. He concealed himself behind the curtains of the box he was occupying, evidently not seeking recognition. That was unnecessary as I am on the board of directors at the Grand Opera House and sent the box to Madam —— whose guest your young friend was. Why should he disguise the fact that he was her friend?"

"Is that known in Paris?" I gasped.

"Certainly," he answered.

"And does it not affect the lady's social and professional standing?" I queried.

"My friend," replied the doctor, "we love artists; we question not the motives that make them artists, be it illicit love or sanctioned. It's all the same; they are creatures of caprice and have many nests."

"Does that apply to private life in Paris?" I asked.

"Certainly," quoth the Philosopher of Nerves. "Why, it is most difficult to give a dinner party these days. One cannot invite the husband without first ascertaining the name of his affinity, nor the wife without knowing the name of her sweetheart. My[189] wife always arranges the table to avoid awkward complications."

I thought how delightfully naïve and completely perfect was their understanding. That splendid point of view was unlike the ostrich methods in vogue in London and insular New York.

No wonder my young friend and his prima donna met with disaster when they crossed the Channel!

But I admire him and his audacity.


[190]

Chapter XLIV

DAVID WARFIELD

Many years ago while I was playing at the Bush Street Theatre, San Francisco, a lad of about twenty, of Hebraic appearance, was constantly seated on the left-hand aisle watching each performance with evident delight. As I would come from the theatre he would follow me, on the other side of the street, now and then stopping to point me out to some boy friend.

One day I smiled at him and his face beamed with apparent pleasure. After that I often watched for my silent admirer.

Many years after I backed an enterprise in which he was featured—and lost ten thousand dollars! Later he became a leading fixture at Weber and Fields' Music Hall and made a pronounced success.

During my second engagement at the Knickerbocker Theatre he was always a visitor. He no longer sat on the aisle, however. I always sent him a private box. My youthful admirer who had blossomed forth as a star in the Weber and Fields' aggregation is now one of the most famous of American actors. His name is David Warfield.

After witnessing Warfield's great portrayal in "The Music Master" I began to believe in the star of destiny. I saw a man give a performance worthy of a master.

And he was without even the fundamental knowledge of his art!

[back]

David Warfield and Nat Goodwin
I'm proud of the company

[191]

Springing from obscure parents, with not an ounce of hereditary theatrical blood in his veins, naturally reticent, with a face not particularly attractive, save for a searching and penetrating eye, a mind alert, a shuffling gait—this is the man who on the stage is able to transform himself into one of the most sympathetic beings that I ever saw.

With a move of the hand he is grace itself. His delivery of lines bespeaks him a scholar. His face shines like one sent from the Deity!

The various emotions through which he passed in the sweetly harrowing (but inferior!) play, from gay to grave, from pathos to comedy and from that to tragedy, were expressed with a deftness and surety of touch—why, he sailed along with the assurance of a bird in its flight! Every effect he handled like a master! And when he made his exit up the miserable staircase, you realized that you had been entertained by an artist!

It is a pleasure to write about such a man, particularly one who wears the wreath of laurel so modestly, who apparently realizes so fully the kindness of the gods! And the gods help only those who help themselves.

Dear David, you deserve all that has been bestowed! Friend, I congratulate you, am proud to know you and feel privileged to call you by that much abused name.


[192]

Chapter XLV

A DAY AT RENO

Imagine over sixteen thousand human beings filing slowly from a cemetery where departed heroes have been put away from earthly cares! Imagine their conversation in hushed whispers, their bowed heads, smothered ejaculations! Hear the mumbled accusations emanating from a few of the unpleasant! So you will have a faint idea of the feelings of that motley, silent crowd which wended its way home after the Johnson-Jeffries contest at Reno, July 4, 1910.

When that human statue sank into obscurity through the center ropes, half of the huge bulk hanging listlessly on the outside, with the little Spartan, Abe Attell, vainly endeavoring to push the great wreck back into the arena (while the magnificent grinning piece of ebony was standing with clenched fists and wicked expression ready to administer the quietus that was within his power), a hush fell upon the assemblage.

All turned their heads as the inanimate fighter showed signs of returning consciousness. The ponderous Jeff with the aid of Attell and others slowly unwound himself from the meshes of rope and regained his equilibrium, only to be crushed again to the boards by the powerful fists of his adversary. Then a smothered cry from the spectators and all was over. The mangled gladiator was carried bleeding and bruised to his corner and another champion was heralded throughout the world.

[193]

I have never witnessed such a spectacle. What a hollow victory! What a disgraceful defeat! It was a defeat without pity, success without compliment! And yet it was a battle fought by two of the most magnificent specimens of humanity ever chiseled by nature's journeymen!

At the beginning they were magnificent—from the throat down! Their faces were not in harmony with their bodies. As each of these warriors stood in his corner ready for the fray I looked from one to the other and as my eye travelled from their feet to their heads I was dumbfounded at what their faces depicted.

Both had the expression of the craven! On each was the apprehension of impending danger accurately defined; alarm, dread, terror were imprinted indelibly upon each countenance, the negro trying to force saliva into a mouth as dry as an oven, endeavoring to smile while his jaws worked like the jaws of a hyena. Poor Jeff stood up, but only for a second. His ponderous legs refused to bear his weight of worry! They trembled so perceptibly that he was forced to seek his chair when his knees began to knock against each other in angry protests at what they were expected to perform.

It was past belief—strong men, equally capable of performing any feat of physical prowess, whose brains refused to obey their wills! Each knew his terrible responsibility, but the gray matter refused to supply the necessary oil to put the engines to work. Millions were waiting to hear the result.

I don't accuse either of abject cowardice. I believe that at that moment Jeffries would have faced a cannon and awaited the result as befits a soldier in battle. His trouble was that he was not the man of brain who could assume a responsibility.

Grant sacrificed thousands of men to attain a result. He would willingly have given his life if necessary a[194] thousand times, but he was man enough to live for a cause, not die for it! Jeff, having a little more brain than his aboriginal antagonist, suffered more, hence his greater terror.

As the bell rang for the commencement of hostilities Jeffries, instead of rushing at his dusky opponent, assumed a defensive attitude, disobeying all instructions, all thought-out intentions. He had planned his battle as every general does, the night before, but in the ring he threw away all his plans and obeyed the dictation of a puny, tired, unresponsive brain. With every step he retreated the negro's courage gained and as the round progressed his assurance became more manifest. Confidence took the place of fear and as the bell rang to signify the end of the round victory shone in the negro's face and the knell of defeat had sounded for Jeff.

The king was dying, but not the death of a courageous man. He was dying, retreating, not advancing. The body was willing, but the brain was dead. Responsibility was the referee that counted out Jeff! That is the truth of this, the greatest and yet the weakest battle ever fought.

Let us draw a curtain over the Reno desert and be charitable to Jeff. God gave him brawn, but denied him the necessary brain to equalize it all.

Perhaps it's all for the best. There's a cloud on the horizon of Fistiana. Perhaps a bright young American may burst through, the sun may shine once more and a white American, impervious to mental collapse, may wear the laurel of champion.

Let us hope so.

I had taken a party of friends from New York to see the fight. We had travelled in a private car—and the return trip had been paid for in advance! As we left the arena and headed back to town not one of us,[195] hardened sports as we all were, not one of us remembered that we had a fleet of automobiles waiting to take us to our car. We walked right by them! It was the longest, hottest, dustiest tramp I ever took.

Arrived in the car someone broke the silence with the suggestion that the first man who referred to the fight be thrown off the car. Our silence gave assent. As there was nothing else in the world to talk about—we kept still, how long I don't know, but it seemed hours.

Finally big George Considine realized his throat was parched and he pushed a button. Up to that moment the summons had never failed to produce our grinning porter from the little buffet instantly. This time there was no response. George pressed the button a second time. We all heard the bell distinctly. All of us had his gaze fixed on the buffet door. Again George rang the bell and this time he kept his thumb jammed against the button. Then he got to his feet and declared himself.

"If that nigger is in that buffet he'll never come out now—alive!" And with that he started.

We all sat tight and waited. In less than a minute George reappeared—laughing hysterically. For an instant I thought the terrible shock of the afternoon had affected his mind.

"Is he dead?" someone gasped.

"Nearly so," replied George, choking with glee. "You know I went in there firmly determined to kill him. But the minute he saw me he covered his face with both hands and said, 'Fo' Gawd's sake, Mr. Gawge, don' hit me. I'm good for nothin'. I caint lift a glass, let alone serve a drink. I'm so weak.' I asked him why. 'Well, you see, Mr. Gawge, I've been savin' and savin' fo' a year evah dollah I could scrap together; borrowed from my wife and soaked my watch at Chicawgo. I had six hunderd dollahs on my pusson[196] when I got heah and it was all goin' on Mr. Johnson. But on this trip, listenin' to all you gemmen talk I got so I couldn't see Mr. Johnson nohow and switched and my money all went on Mr. Jeff'ies. When Mr. Jeff'ies received that awful wallop in the second round I said goodbye, wife and chillen, and when he was knocked out—I went with him! And I haven't come to yet!'"

We finally managed to induce him to come out of the buffet and told him we'd try to make him a little less miserable by chipping in on a purse for him. Somebody passed the hat. I threw in all I had in cash and I imagine every one else did. The total count was $51.25!

I thought we ought to cheer him up further and told him I would give him a good thing on the next fight. He just looked at me a minute, his black eyes nearly popping out of his head, then indicating the bills and silver in his hand said solemnly, "Me? ME, bet on a prize fight? Why guv'nor, I wouldn't bet this money that Mr. Johnson has licked Mr. Jeff'ies."


[197]

Chapter XLVI

LILLIAN RUSSELL

What a beautiful and misunderstood woman is Lillian Russell!

One reads only of her wondrous beauty, her splendid preservation and her marriages—seldom of her talents!

Possessing the soul of a saint, the true spirit of comedy, the repose of a Siddons, she must see all these splendid gifts made subservient to vulgar allusions regarding her private life, all cruel and absolutely false!

All through life she has endeavored to obtain only a home to enable her to bring her child up an honest woman. She has tried only to make her hand strong enough to keep and guide her. And these efforts have been as futile as her success as an artiste has been assured. Who shall say it is not the fault of those who have pointed the finger of scorn at a woman seeking only to do right?

Lillian Russell is first and always an artiste; honest to those who can appreciate trust and fidelity; never a knocker; the fairest actress and singer that ever shared applause with a brother or sister artist; without a desire to dissipate; a true companion and possessor of all the attributes that make a true woman.

Miss Russell, I kiss your hand.


[198]

Chapter XLVII

DRAMATIC SCHOOLS

I always lacked the moral courage to ask any member of my organization to resign, no matter what provocation I might have. In my entire experience I have discharged two actors—both actresses!

One of these was hardly more than a girl, most intelligent and rather pretty, who was sent to me highly recommended and said to possess marked histrionic abilities. She had appeared successfully in amateur performances of Shakespearean rôles and taken first prize at one of the modern schools of acting.

I cast her for a very minor rôle in one of my plays. In one scene where she had to criticize a picture of a celebrated artist in a speech of about fifteen lines (which required an intelligent rendering and a delivery which demanded at least elocutionary ability) she floundered about in a most incoherent and jumbling manner. And when she came to the particular speech for which I was sure she was qualified, the amateur Juliet fell, balcony and all!

I never saw such an exemplification of incapacity! It was a verification of what I have always felt regarding "schools of acting." There have been a few, a very few, graduates of the supposed academies of acting who have made successes on the legitimate stage. But it was brought about only by discarding the methods of these bunco professors, who dare to teach an art of which they know not.

[199]

The so-called professors of these schools as a rule have had their fundamental knowledge of the theatre only through books, and if an actor hangs out his sign you will find that his career has spelt failure or that he has become so pedantic that all theories of modern acting have been swept past his horizon.

I maintain that acting, if it can be taught at all, should be taught by an actor. Elocution and emphasis can be taught by a plumber or a gunman with the requisite authorities at hand. But even when those qualities are mastered they belong to the rostrum, not to the playhouse.

Acting is elementary and can be taught only by suggestion. Emotions can be transmitted only through psychological channels and facial expression. They cannot be taught. They are absorbed by those born with the talent for acting. Unless one is blessed with this talent all the professors of elocution or so-called "teachers of dramatic art" cannot make an actor or actress.

Granting that once in a while a budding genius has blossomed forth from one of these academies it is the exception that proves the rule. And even those who have graduated find it difficult to unlearn all that they have been taught. A school of acting, properly organized, would do no harm, but the student should be given his little speech to speak, then directed as to what not to do and the process of elimination continued until such times as he becomes at least an intelligent interpreter of what he is supposed to perform. For all of the arts acting most requires practical demonstration. And that can be taught only by professional tutors.

And how few are qualified to teach! One may have the power to portray without the ability to impart. That is why the stage manager is in such demand. So much more is demanded of the actor and actress[200] than the mere delivery of lines. It would take many pages to illustrate what I mean, but as a rule in all these schools that dot the country very little attention is given to the technique of stagecraft. It is always lines, lines, lines, emphasis, intonation, etc. The system of Delsarte which devotes most time to the manner of making an entrance or an exit is of little value for fitting a student for the stage.

There are a few dramatic schools in Europe. In France they have the conservatories, the professors of which have either graduated from the Théâtre Française or are men of letters, qualified to teach. They are subsidized by the government and no one is allowed a course of learning unless he passes a rigid examination. If the ambitious show no qualifications they are not admitted. In this country they come from Haberdashers' County, the salesroom or bankers' homes. It is only a question of money. If they have the necessary wherewithal it's an open sesame. I maintain that it is all wrong and the "professors" who are opening the doors of dramatic art to the incompetent at so much a quarter are obtaining money under false pretenses.

[back]

In Mizzoura
One of the greatest of American plays

[201]

Chapter XLVIII

NUMBER THREE (ALMOST)

A long, long time ago, while I was playing in Paris (Kentucky!) a party of ladies and gentlemen came down from Mount Sterling to witness our performance thinking they could leave Paris and get to Lexington the same evening. Unfortunately the railroad had changed its schedule and there was no train out until the following morning. My private car was waiting for me and I had taken the precaution to charter an engine to take me back to Lexington after the performance. When I arrived at the station I found the party very much disturbed at the prospect of having to remain in Paris over night.

I sent my secretary to them and he placed my car at their disposal. He told them that there was a nice supper prepared and that they were welcome to whatever the chef could furnish. I would remain in my stateroom and not interfere with their party. They accepted the invitation, but insisted that I join their party which consisted of three men and three women.

One young lady in particular attracted my attention with her radiant beauty. She was a magnificent creature, blonde and erect, possessing the complexion given only to those living in the Blue Grass country. During the journey I had little time to talk with her as one of the other young ladies who came from Boston usurped all my time discussing the drama and other topics equally uninteresting to me.

[202]

The beautiful blonde lady told the manager of the theatre at Lexington (he was a friend of hers, as well as of mine) that she considered me a very dull person. The manager defended me as best he could and told her that I was to dine with his family that night and he would be pleased to have her do likewise. She consented and that evening we met and had a jolly time.

I found her most intelligent and so far as my career on and off the stage was concerned she was a walking encyclopedia. In fact she knew more about my vagaries than I did myself, but as we progressed along lines of casual conversation I thought that I discovered a little scepticism relative to my supposed proclivities for wrong-doing. She asked me if I desired any beverage and I, trying to display proper gallantry, suggested the cool and refreshing draught, the wine of the country, Kentucky Bourbon.

As she poured out a small glass of the liquor she remarked, "I really thought that you were going to ask for a glass of metheglin."

"I have been drinking the ingredients which form that compound the entire evening," I replied.

She looked at me very intently as I swallowed the whiskey, then suddenly wheeled about and with a half hysterical note in her voice, said, "I don't believe it!"

Not having the remotest idea as to what she had reference I answered, "No more do I!"

She then said, "You don't understand!" I gasped, "Quite right!" She gently took my hand in hers and in a sweet, sad voice said:—

"You need a friend. Let me be your little friend. I know all about you. For years you have been my favorite player and I have read all the uncomplimentary articles written about you. Your gambling escapades, your supposed capacity for drink, your amours, scandals,[203] in fact everything pertaining to your private life have interested me for years. But as I have read and re-read these accusations, which I know now to be absolutely false, I fail to discover where you had wronged anybody but yourself!"

It was the first time that anyone had spoken to me like that, with the exception of my little mother, and her words sank 'way down deep into my heart. We talked for several hours, in fact, until the dawn approached, but we interested each other to such an extent that neither was conscious of the departing night until we were rudely told by our hostess that our conduct was most disreputable and that the best place for me was a berth in my private car. During our conversation I had tried to convince her that I was pretty bad, but not so bad as Joe Jefferson painted.

After leaving Lexington I corresponded with her for some little time. Finally I heard that her parents were objecting and I told her that we must discontinue our correspondence. She refused to act upon my advice and insisted upon communicating with me once or twice a week. I answered her letters with the result that we became engaged. But my friend Fate again came upon the scene and exercised his authority.

I left "The Rivals" tour with a heavy heart, for several reasons. I had signed a contract for a sixteen weeks' tour in Australia. Many wondered why. I sent out the rumor that it was to see the country and to further my artistic desires.

The real reason? I was running away from a woman.

Cowardly? Well, let's reason it out.

Briefly the young lady from Kentucky and I met many times after our first interview and a friendship sprang up that soon ripened into love. I saw a way of releasing myself from my second marriage. The lady who bore my name accepted a large sum of money and[204] allowed me to procede. My plans were all laid. I brought suit in a town in lower California.

But now a friend of the Kentucky young lady warned me against proceeding and met me in Louisville. She told me that my fiancee had informed her parents of her intentions and they were furious, had entered all sorts of protests and threatened even violence. I listened very quietly, waiting to learn my fiancee's attitude. She was determined and defiant and meant to go through.

I told her friend that I could readily understand the attitude of the young lady's family and endorsed it. What did they know of me except through the newspapers? I should not care to entrust my daughter or sister to the keeping of a man with my unsavory reputation. I promised then and there that I would endeavor to break the engagement and her friend left very much delighted. I took the matter up with the young lady, but she refused absolutely to annul the agreement. She even threatened to leave her home and join me. Of course I soon argued her out of that determination. But the most she agreed to was to wait until such time as I should be free.

I had determined upon my course. By various means I had fathomed the whole situation. She was the favorite daughter of a very large family. Her father, passed beyond the eighties, fairly worshipped her. Her brother simply idolized her. Was it fair to break up this happy home? I could only answer my own question negatively. I sent for one of the members of the family. He came, unknown to her, and I suggested that I go at once to Europe and remain there for a year.

"That won't do," he said. "She will follow you. We can do nothing with her at home; she is a determined woman and has made up her mind."

While talking I thought of an offer I had received [205] for an Australian tour and excusing myself I went to the telegraph office. Presently I came back with a copy of a wire to George Musgrove which I had just sent to New York. It read:

"Accept Australian terms. Open June twenty-fifth. If successful will continue to India, South Africa and London."

"Will that satisfy you and the members of your family?" I asked.

"Come and have a drink!" he replied and over an apple toddy informed me that I was a good fellow. He took the next train for Lexington leaving me alone at the Galt House bar with my thoughts and an apple toddy!

Ahead I saw only a trip of ten thousand miles to an unknown country, which I had no desire to visit, and a divorce procedure under way that had cost me thousands to bring about. I was about to leave friends, family and a woman who was sure to loathe my name when she heard of my act—and all for what?

It was simply to appease the transient sorrow of a family too selfish to allow their offspring to obey the dictates of her own honest heart. They had no thought of her anguish, her future and as for me—of what matter my end? The profligate could go on his way destroying more homes to build one of his own, take a journey into other lands in quest of more victims, etc!

If I had only been more selfish, what a different life mine would have been! Not that I am ashamed of any act of my past, but the impressions I have unwittingly made would never have been made; my inclinations would have been established; my true motives known to the world, and children, perhaps, be born to endorse my attitude toward mankind!

Fate said "No," and I began my journey to the Antipodes, leaving as a legacy to the Kentucky woman—a lie!

[206]

Fifteen years later we met in New York. We drove through Central Park and I told her the truth. When I had finished she said nothing; for almost an hour we drove in silence. She then turned to me and simply replied, "Well I've waited all these years to prove what I thought was true. It is over now and I presume we both are happy."

Are we? I wonder!

It was Poe who wrote Annabel Lee:—

The moon never beams
Without bringing me dreams
Of my beautiful Annabel Lee.

It is a strange world. The young lady married some few years ago. I hope she is happy; she deserves to be.


[207]

Chapter XLIX

THE CONFESSIONAL

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call to-day his own;
He, who, secure within, can say:
"Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have lived to-day!"
Come fair or foul, or rain or shine.
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine!
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been,
And I have had my hour.—John Dryden

I have

been addicted to the use of alcoholic stimulants—but always with distinguished and worthy companions;

deserted home and fireside, always by request, bought and dearly paid for;

lied—to myself—for recreation;

cheated—the undertaker;

deceived—only "yours truly;"

been a reveler—during the day, always too busy at night;

been a gambler—on the green;

a rambler—on the nod;

an actor—on the job;

a hypocrite?—no, by God!


The Shubert theatres and Carnegie libraries are running a dead heat in an earnest endeavor to perpetuate their respective names.

What sublime egotism and how humorous! A race between a Scotchman and a Jew!

[208]

Now if only a New England Yankee could be persuaded to enter the race I would back him to win! He would be sure to erect against every library and theatre a soup house in which to feed the inartistic hungry—and he would get the money, too.


I have been accused by many of my reviewers of being a casual person, with no reverence for my art; a trifler, unreliable, never taking myself seriously. To all of which I plead guilty. I am casual; I never found it necessary to plod. I have little reverence for the art that has never played fair with me.

I had to play in London to discover that I was an artist.

A trifler? Yes—when circumstances compelled me to associate with pin-headed critics.

And why should I take myself seriously when nobody else does?

Mind you, when I say I plead guilty that does not signify that I am. Many a man has pleaded guilty to save himself from the hangman's noose, being assured that by so doing he will receive life imprisonment. If after a perusal of the itinerary that I have written in this book of thirty-nine years before the public, in which I prove that I have run the gamut from an end man in a minstrel show to Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" anyone pronounces me guilty I am willing to abide by his verdict.

But none will deny that I have worked—worked hard—and enjoyed it!


The three saddest events in my life:—

The burial of my son.

The death of Eliza Weathersby.

Inspecting Her Majesty's Theatre, London, with Sir Henry Irving under the guidance of Beerbohm Tree, then the lessee and manager!

[209]


The three happiest events:—

The birth of my son.

The presentation of a loving cup to me by the Lambs Club.

My first performance in "The Merchant of Venice."


I earnestly beseech my readers, particularly the professional critics to whom I pay my respects later, not to misconstrue my motives nor consider any of my references as personal. They are simply mild protests at the methods employed of featuring my professional and private lives, particularly the latter.

For years I have been misrepresented, at times assailed, brutally assaulted. I am not defending any real act that has ever been exploited; my principal objection is that the real bad in me has never been discovered! Only the supposed errors and little idiosyncrasies are all they have endeavored to circulate.

What has been printed is puerile and worthy only of contempt. I am really capable of far more devilish accomplishments than those with which they have credited me, but they are apparent only to my intimate friends who know my tremendous capacity for wrong-doing!

Conscious of my alleged proclivities I find supreme consolation in knowing a dear old lady living in Boston who is proof against the accusations made against me. Really she does not believe them. For years I have been the recipient twice a week of just such epistles as this, my latest love letter:—

My own darling Son:

We were both very very happy to get your dear letter this morning, yet sorry to hear you are suffering with Sciatica and Rheumatism, I do hope the next letter we get, you will be able to walk with a Cane; very thankful you are not having but very little pain in the back. I know dear that you dont believe in[210] Christian Science yet I feel it is helping us all and if mother is happy in that belief, I know you wont mind me writing this to you. I've prayed night and day your Back would heal and your legs would grow Stronger every day, and I really believe my prayers have helped you; now I am going to work hard night and day for you to get rid of Sciatica and Rheumatism, and tell me in your next letter if you are getting all over your illness, and those weak nerves, even if you dont believe in C. S. I've just read this to Dad, he says, tell Nat his mother is crazy. Give Miss Moreland my fond love and all good wishes for her kindness to our darling, God bless her, tell her I often think of her and hope I may see her Soon, and tell her how very grateful I am and thank her over and over again, dont know what you would have done without her, through all your terrible Sufferings. Dad has written you all the news which isn't very much. I am able to get around and waiting to get Stronger to go out. Dad joins in sending our fond love with kisses God bless you may you improve every day rapidly, and soon be ready for business and enjoy perfect health and great Success in your new part—with all the happiness there is, is ever my constant and Silent prayers always for our Darling Son. From your ever loving and affectionate mother

C. R. Goodwin      

[back]

Mrs. N. C. Goodwin, Sr.
A dear old lady living in Boston

[211]

Chapter L

SAN FRANCISCO

After touring the rural towns in "In Mizzoura," I opened at the Baldwin Theatre, San Francisco, June, 1896. It was then that I discovered that San Francisco stands alone among the cities of the world. It is indeed a strange place. The coolest time of the year and by far the pleasantest is during the summer months and yet many of the inhabitants go East, to swelter in New York or at the hotter sea shores.

I know of no more delightful city in America during June, July and August than San Francisco. But everyone who can afford it packs up and leaves! This of course has a tendency to affect the business of the theatres, particularly the high-priced ones.

Dear old "Mizzoura!" How I love the play and my character, Jim Radburn! My company, organized for Australia, comprised the following people:—William Ingersoll, Fraser Coulter, Clarence Handysides, Neil O'Brien, H. C. Woodthorp, Louis Payne (whom I predict will become an excellent character actor some day), Arthur Hoops, Blanche Walsh, Estelle Mortimer, Emily Melville and the Misses Usner and Browning. The play went exceedingly well and it was pronounced a big hit. We retired from our labors quite contented for it was really a meritorious performance. Barring a little nervousness on the part of some of the ladies and gentlemen who were new in their characters we gave a splendid ensemble.

[212]

By the way, what an awful thing is this nervousness on the first night! The older the artist the more intense is the suffering. You, dear public, who sit in silent judgment upon the poor player on his initial performance, know nothing of the anguish going on behind the curtain. You do not see the blanched faces that no grease-paint yet invented can conceal nor hear the whispered ejaculations of us all, fearful of our finish and sick with anxiety for our brothers and sisters in art who are experiencing the same torture! Everything is forgotten save the result of those awful three or four hours. If you only knew what your verdict meant I tell you, gentle reader, you would be less harsh in your judgment of us. Think of the many, many people who are interested in your verdict, the many whose very life and sustenance depend upon your words. Think of the amount of toil involved in the production of a new play.

First comes the evolution of a plot. And this is but the beginning of the author's work. For him it is toil, toil, toil. Then comes his fearful ordeal of reading his work to the actor-manager for whom it was written. Perhaps his future depends upon it—his destiny!

Next comes the selection of the cast to perform the work. I regret to state that in this era versatility is lacking because of the absence of fine stock companies. We actor-managers are forced to select actors and actresses who are fitted only physically, mentally (and sometimes socially) for the respective rôles. This is shocking when one considers the art seriously. However, such is the case, and we "luxuries" must accept the inevitable.

After the cast has been selected comes another reading of the play—another ordeal for the author. Then begin the rehearsals which last for many weeks and the invention of stage business, a technical term which means pantomime, facial expression, gesticulation, everything[213] pertaining to the performance save the speaking of lines. This is a very powerful, if not the factor in the success of a play. During the long hours of rehearsal one must be on the alert for everything, constantly changing here and there, putting new lines in, cutting others out, changing business (stage managers as a rule are most vacillating and unless particularly gifted prone to forget to-day what they invented yesterday).

At the finish we go home and study! It is generally midnight before the actor gets this opportunity! He studies his lines, say, until four. Then he retires and sleeps until about nine, if he can! He must be in the theatre for the ten o'clock call to rehearse what he has studied at home. I do not believe in studying one's part during waits at a rehearsal. Your lines lose their value unless you understand the meaning that prompts the speaking. Hang around the wings during your waits, you young Thespian. Watch the older ones and you will absorb more knowledge of your profession in one week than in a season of studying during rehearsal.

After the company is perfect in lines, business, etc., the announcement is made for the first night's performance. I have not mentioned the mechanical portion of the enterprise and I wish that I could skip it, but I must not. I am against all realism and mechanism in art, but as some of our worthy English cousins have inaugurated these so-called attributes I accept them.

This, gentle reader, is part of what a first night means. Think of what we all go through. Think of the many anxious hearts that are waiting at home for your verdict—the mother, brother, sister, sweetheart, wife, friend. Think of this, you men-about-town, who, when an act is over, confuse it with your bad dinner. Think of it, gentle (?) critic, and if you can't speak well of us at least be courteous. Think of it, you, who have no comprehension beyond the roof gardens of New York![214] What devastators of art! Think of it, you, who consider the theatre a place for mere diversion! Think of it, you, who never divorce the actor from his character! Be kind and patient. So much depends upon you. Remember we are doing our best. Don't shatter our little houses or our hopes! To do so is so easy!


But we were speaking of San Francisco!

From the opening performance of "Mizzoura" the manager of the theatre, Mr. Bauvier, was delighted. He told my representative that it was a great success and said, "Why, by Thursday Goodwin won't be able to get them in!"

He was quite right—I wasn't! Thursday night a tranquil mob avoided the Baldwin Theatre. Rows of red plush chairs yawned eloquently. Perhaps yours truly was the cause of this. Something was the cause. Maybe the transition from broadcloth to homespun shocked the San Francisco public! It could not have been the play.

Ruskin classified paintings into three orders and ranks least of all those which represent the passions and events of ordinary life. Perhaps the enlightened public of San Francisco agrees with Ruskin. I don't. I want the mirror held up to Nature even though it is bespattered with a little wholesome mud.

Jim Radburn is a little man with red hair. He is dramatic, not theatrical. But San Francisco asked, "How can a man be a hero and have red hair?"

The public will never divorce the individual from the character portrayed. It has been my great battle for years to endeavor to persuade the public to realize that it must disassociate the two. Banish the man and woman artist you meet in every day life and absorb the characters of the parts which they are portraying. Then we shall stand side by side in art with any country.[215] I am very glad to say that I see development every day in the right direction, particularly in my own little efforts. If I succeed in piercing the tissue that separates laughter from tears who is so narrow as to grudge me the modest rank I hope to attain in the realms of dramatic art?

This talk of mediocre business in San Francisco recalls a story told of the late William Manning, one of the cleverest of all Ethiopian comedians. He had arrived at the most critical period in his career, poor and in ill health. But he procured a backer and took out a company of minstrels. The trip proved disastrous and they were about to close. But Manning bore his losses with great fortitude and humorous philosophy.

One morning, after a wretched house the previous evening, he chanced to run across a professional rival of his, but socially a great friend, Billy Emerson. They exchanged salutations. Emerson at this time was at the zenith of his fame and quite wealthy. It took but a few moments for the epigrammatic Manning to acquaint the successful African Impresario, Emerson, of his financial condition. To quote a Rialto expression, "he touched and fetched!"—meaning, he solicited financial aid and his request was granted.

As Manning stalked away, his face wreathed in smiles, which actually seemed to reflect their rays on the tall silk hat which always adorned the minstrel irrespective of his bank account, Emerson called after him, "Say, by the way, Bill, where do you play to-night?" Manning, after feeling in his vest pocket to reassure himself that Emerson had really given him $500, replied:

"Now we play Albany. If I had not met you we should have spent the summer here!" "We play there two nights after you," said Emerson. "Will you announce us to the public from the stage?" "Yes, I will—if he stays," replied Manning.


[216]

Chapter LI

ANTONY (?) AND CLEOPATRA

San Francisco visitors must be very careful never by any chance to abbreviate and call the city 'Frisco. The inhabitants object most strenuously if you take such a liberty.

We were treated royally in a social way in San Francisco. Our performance never received such praise, press and public being alike most gracious. We were fêted, banqueted, ridden, driven, etc. In fact, those who knew of our presence made ample amends for those who knew not where we were! That small part of the public which came to see us seemed aware of our loneliness, and endeavored to lighten our heavy hearts by hearty manifestations of approval!

I had the pleasure of being the honored guest at a supper given to me by that group of variously gifted men who have banded together and call themselves the Bohemian Club. What a royal set! How clever! One must ever be ready with a quick reply or chaos will surely follow. Mr. Peter Robinson of "The Chronicle" was the chairman on this occasion and with the assistance of sixty or seventy gentlemen did much toward alleviating the sorrow I naturally felt at leaving my country and my friends for the wilds of Australia.

They presented me with a water-colored caricature of myself with the body of a lamb (the lamb symbolizing the Lambs Club). I was being entertained by a huge owl (the symbol of the Bohemian Club). It was a very quaint and most artistic picture and I prize it highly.

[back]

How much a Lamb I was I didn't knowThen!

[217]

Mr. Tim Frawley, once a member of my company and at that time a most successful manager, also was most kind and generous to me. He gave me a supper at the same club the Tuesday previous to my sailing. The table was magnificently arranged. Huge banks of sweet peas adorned the center of the table. Intermingled were variously colored carnations and California wild flowers. Toy balloons were suspended. They were hung with red tape to which were attached little American flags, the whole held in place on the table by a delicate bronze anchor suggesting hope (I suppose). These decorations shown in a soft red light made a picture as perfect as it was harmonious.

At Mr. Frawley's left sat the stately, majestic, Juno-like Maxine Elliott, one of the most beautiful women whom I had ever seen, her raven black hair and eyes in delightful contrast to the red hues that formed an aureole, as it were, above her head. There she sat, totally unconscious of the appetites she was destroying, absorbing the delicate little compliments paid her by that prince of good fellows, John Drew.

How I chafed at the etiquette which prohibited my being at her side!

Next to her sat the tranquil Herbert Kelcey and the dainty piece of bisque, Effie Shannon. Down the line sat the radiant and sunny Gladys Wallis, near her the gracious and emotional Blanche Bates, farther down the sweet and winsome Gertrude Elliott. It was a bevy of beauty one rarely sees.

At my right sat one of the brightest women I have ever met and as beautiful as she is talented (a rare combination). She had first come to my attention a few weeks previous while I was on my way to San Francisco, the other members of my company who had been engaged by my manager, Mr. George B. McClellan, having preceded me. My strenuous tour with the[218] "All Rivals" cast had been too much for me. I think I was suffering from fatty degeneration of the art! In any event I found my only amusement in the local dailies along the line and when the Denver "Post" came aboard the train I fairly devoured it.

On the page devoted to the theatres I was amazed to find a roast of Maxine Elliott (whom I had met casually three years before). It was written in a most artistic manner in excellent English. It was unkind and cruel—but clever. Altogether it was one of the most scathing denunciations I ever saw in print. It was signed Alice Rix.

She was my dinner companion. I noticed that she and Maxine exchanged more than one sharp glance but neither one showed any outward signs of having anything more in common than superficial things. Once or twice Maxine even smiled in her direction! Clever Maxine, tactful even in her respectable poverty!

Jimmie Swinnerton, the cartoonist, presented me with a quaint drawing of a kangaroo on its hind legs, beaming with laughter and bidding me "Welcome to Australia." I value this picture very highly—and the autographs which were written on it that night.

Another newspaper man, Ashton Stevens, afforded us a treat in the shape of producing music out of a banjo! The way he played classical music on that instrument was marvelous. This came at the tail end of the evening and much to my sorrow the party broke up then and there—at 3 a. m.

Thursday, June 25, 1896, marked our start for Australia on the good ship Alameda, Captain Van Otterendorf commanding. At the pier to bid us bon voyage were all those who had been at the supper on Tuesday, all of the Frawley company, several personal friends and many of my professional brothers and sisters who were employed at the various theatres (or[219] were willing to be!). They had prepared a surprise which quite unnerved me. They all bade me goodby and said all manner of nice things. As one by one they grasped my hand and said farewell a great lump jumped up into my throat and it would have taken but a slight suggestion or urging on anybody's part for me to have followed them all back down the gang-plank! I bit my lips to keep back the tears.

For the first time I realized what a bold responsibility I had assumed in taking a company of players ten thousand miles away from home! Besides, I was leaving all that was near and dear to me behind. "Would we ever meet again?" I wondered. But this was no time for pessimism. So I parted from my dear friends and determined to accept whatever fate had in store for me.

My depression was soon turned to great joy. The boys had chartered a tug, quietly trailed behind us and after we had gone out into the bay for about half a mile they suddenly appeared on the port side only a few feet from us. We could easily talk to one another from our respective decks. On the side of the tug was suddenly hung a huge canvas on which were painted in large, black letters the words, "GOOD LUCK TO NAT!"

It made me feel proud and happy, I can tell you!

They cheered and chattered and we followed suit. The little craft kept up with us until the sea and wind prohibited their going further. Then, with a pipe from the little whistle of the tug, to which the captain of the Alameda responded, she turned her bow towards the city as we sped silently and swiftly toward the Antipodes.

My leading lady at this time was Miss Blanche Walsh who was engaged only for the Australian tour. While contemplating the fair Maxine the evening of the[220] banquet it suddenly struck me what a fine leading woman she would be for my organization! Everybody told me she was an extremely poor actress, but I made up my mind to find out for myself.

As I looked at her I thought that surely a woman of so much charm and beauty who spoke English so purely could be taught.

That evening I went home and told my business manager, McClellan, of my determination.

"Why, you're crazy!" he shouted. "She's beautiful to look at, but she can't act; she hasn't the emotion of an oyster! Blanche Bates is playing rings around her in Frawley's company! Get Bates if you can, but pass up Elliott! Read what the San Francisco papers say about her! Go to sleep and in the morning I'll try to engage Blanche Bates for you!"

I only wish I had followed his advice, but Fate was peeping over my ramparts! And he caused me to pass a very restless night!

Dressing in my best regalia the next morning I called upon Miss Elliott at the Baldwin Hotel. In a few moments I was ushered into her presence and quickly told her of my purpose. It appeared to appeal to her, but there were several barriers in the way. She was about to sign with Harry Miner and Joseph Brooks for the following season. I soon learned that that part of it could be easily arranged as no documents were signed nor material secured. Her little sister Gertrude must also be looked after. I said I would engage her whole family if she so desired.

As I look back to that little impromptu business talk I can see the demure, simple, intelligent Gertrude Elliott, whose fawn-like, penetrating eyes and shell-like ears drank in every word of our conversation. I recall the awe with which she reviewed every act and speech of her beautiful sister!

[back]

An Australian Greeting Can't Touch its Farewell!

[221]

Best of all I can realize, irrespective of all the sorrow which that interview cost me in after years, that it was the cause of presenting to the American and English public one of the sweetest actresses that the world has ever known and the bringing into the world three of the most beautiful children with which a mother was ever blessed! Had it not been for that interview Gertrude would never have met Forbes-Robertson, whose marriage to Gertrude Elliott has proven a blessing to both and caused the sun to shine resplendently when focused upon those two loving hearts.

Fate plays pranks with us all and shifts about to suit its pleasure. Why did he concentrate his force upon one sister at that interview and demand obedience?

There were two prizes in that room for me to select. As usual I drew the blank!

It took me but a short time to consummate my arrangements and at three o'clock I returned with the contracts. One was for $150 and one for $75 a week. Thus Maxine and Gertrude Elliott were engaged for three years as members of my organization.

I had seen neither on the stage. I simply took a chance, despite all the uncomplimentary expressions I had heard regarding their want of abilities, especially Maxine's. That night I saw them act and I never was more surprised in my life. I saw and heard two women with so much culture that they were lost in their environment. No attention was paid to their superb diction nor to the refinement of their manner. All of it was lost upon the insular, low-browed audience to which they were playing and of course it was overlooked by the management!

I came home in ecstasy and told McClellan that I had found a gold mine. When I told him of part of what I had accomplished he sat bolt upright in bed and [222]upbraided me unmercifully, ending with, "You —— —— fool! You're going away from one woman only to fall in love with another! You haven't a chance, though, for she and Frank Worthing are head over heels in love with each other!"

"I don't give a d—n," I replied cheerfully. "I will engage him too if he'll come to Australia! He's a fine actor!"

"What?" yelled Mac. "You haven't engaged her for Australia, have you?"

"Sure, Mike," I replied.

"Well," said he, "I always thought you were crazy; now I know it! I'll bet you a thousand dollars that neither of them will come!"

"You're on," I said. "That is, I'll bet you one will come. Gertrude gave me her word."

"Oh go have your head examined," growled Mac as he covered his face and rolled over into slumberland, leaving me alone.

And all night long Fate paced up and down outside my door in the Palace Hotel plotting my future!

Had I not made those two engagements the pages of history would have been greatly changed. Had the little Kentucky family held aloof there would have been no Maxine Elliott Theatre in New York; Forbes-Robertson would never have met the sweet Gertrude; the latter would never have been launched as a star; Maxine would not now be a retired actress, rich and famous; Clyde Fitch's career would have been postponed and the avenues of my poor life would have been broader and less clogged with weeds.


[223]

Chapter LII

HONOLULU AND SAMOA

After my friends had left me I gave one last longing look at the Cliff House, the scene of many happy hours, and wended my way to the stateroom which I was to occupy for the next four weeks. I loathe ocean travel and did not look forward to my trip with much pleasure. The company came to me after a bit and we passed the afternoon planning what we would do to while away the hours of the voyage.

Louis Payne had ingratiated himself with a confiding young lady who was on her way to Honolulu to join her fiancee. Before 6 p. m. it looked bad for the waiting-to-be-bridegroom. Payne was reading her sonnets which evidently appealed to her. Neil O'Brien, dear old Neil, wrote a poem suggestive of the flirtation. Aside from this diversion the first few days were a trifle monotonous after the strenuous events of the preceding five weeks. But then came a splendid contrast.

As we entered Honolulu harbor a new colored water seemed to greet us. A softer sky than I had ever seen hung over the little picturesque city. The sea resembled a huge flat sapphire. To the right was a range of devastated mountains, the remnants of pre-historic days. The little city is a veritable paradise and as one rides into the country it seems to grow more and more beautiful.

We rode seven miles to the summit of Mt. Pali (meaning precipice). We could see about and down for[224] miles. It was a most uncanny sight. The Brocken scene in Faust and Yellowstone Park pale into insignificance by comparison. Relics of volcanoes, thousands and thousands of years old, cliffs, mountains of rocks, precipices and barren tracts of land meet you on every side. This spot is quite interesting in a historical way. For here it was that King Kamehameha came over from Oahu and conquered the Hawaiians. Then he depopulated the island.

He landed at the entrance to the harbor and drove the natives on and on until they reached Mt. Pali. Rather than surrender or through fear they jumped into the horrible abyss.

He must have been some fighter.

We remained at Honolulu about sixteen hours, rode all about the town and dined at the Sans Souci, a delightful little place about four miles out. Before dining we enjoyed a bath in the sea. The temperature of the water ranges all the year round from seventy-five to eighty. We also enjoyed shooting the rapids, a most fascinating sport. You wade and swim out against the tide for five hundred yards. A stalwart native pushes your tiny canoe in front of him. When you arrive at a given point you get into the canoe, head toward the shore and the terrific current hurls you back to the beach. It is exciting. Very often you are pitched into the sea but you don't mind as the water is shallow and you are in your bathing suit.

When I look back on Honolulu after all these years I know it is one of the most glorious spots on earth; but had I penned these lines on the ground I'm afraid I'd have been less complimentary. Not that the harbor and landscape were not wondrous in their beauty in every direction as far as one could see, but—before we ever reached our hotel we encountered myriads of mosquitoes, all of which pests seemed to be bent on the[225] destruction of my left eye! In no time it was swollen tight shut.

A native doctor attended me, pouring something suggesting vitriol—into the wrong eye!

"Great Scott!" I yelled. "There goes my good eye. Why didn't you put it in the bad eye? You know that's gone for good anyway."

The Hawaiian physician only smiled, charged me ten dollars and went his way after assuring me that I'd be "all right in no time." Before I did recover Arthur Hoops came along. "Governor," said he, "why don't you write about this beautiful place in your new book?"

"How can I write about a place when I can't see?" I queried indignantly.

It's great to leave Honolulu. The whole city bids you goodby. We were covered with flowers when we reached the deck of our ship the next day and as we backed out of the dock their band played Aloha, their goodby song.

Seven days later, July 10, to be exact, land appeared on the horizon which the skipper informed us was Apia, Samoa. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when I was awakened from my slumbers to catch a view of the coveted land. My attention was divided contemplating the horizon and looking back at the wake of the steamer. As we approached the entrance to the harbor we were reminded very much of Honolulu. Samoa however, is protected on each side by two peninsulas projecting far out into the sea.

As one approaches land one notices the ground is covered with much vegetation. Cocoanut trees are in abundance. Tiny specks appear as one draws nearer. These soon develop into delightful little huts and homes of modern architecture, occupied by consuls and men with diplomatic positions. This harbor has a history.

[226]

Once it was the scene of a tremendous hurricane which caught several ships at anchor in the bay and blew them on the rocks. One English ship perished with all on board as she vainly endeavored to turn her bow towards the storm. The crew went down to Davy Jones's locker with the ship's band playing Rule, Britannia! On the rocks we saw a monument to the lost of this catastrophe in the shape of a wrecked German man-of-war.

As we approached the shore swarms of natives came rowing out to meet us. What splendid specimens of manhood they were! Perfectly formed they were apparently quite unconscious of their power and as gentle as they were strong. I noticed one strapping fellow standing in the bow of his boat beckoning me to join him. As the sun shone upon his copper colored skin he seemed a monarch even in his semi-nudity and in barbaric splendor he suggested Othello. With the aid of two assistants Othello soon landed us on the sands of sunny Samoa. Here we were at once surrounded by a swarm of natives who persuaded us to purchase fans, beads, rings, wooden canoes, corals, shells and a score of other things in which the island abounds. These articles are secured with the least possible labor for the true Samoan considers it infra dig to labor long and is firmly convinced that it is a very poor world that won't support one race of gentlemen.

I am sorry to say the women do not appeal to one as much as the men. They are small of stature and run to fat. They take but little time in arranging their toilet for the day and seldom keep their men friends waiting when asked to a party or a ball, their raiment consisting mostly of beads!

We spent but little time among the natives as we were anxious to visit the home of Robert Louis Stevenson. We finally succeeded in procuring a conveyance, a small[227] cart and pony, and were soon on our way to his home. After two miles the road turned into a smaller one and there a sign board, cleanly white-washed, told us in the Samoan tongue that we were nearing the abode of the great romancer. The sign, translated, told all travellers that the road was built by the Samoans as a monument to their beloved friend. At the end of the road we came upon a locked gate. We vaulted over and in a few minutes we came upon a house, flat, but of rather huge dimensions.

As we approached the veranda a lady, of small stature, dressed in a Mother Hubbard, in bare feet, came graciously forward to meet us. In a moment I recognized her. Her face was keen and intelligent and once must have been beautiful. She was pale, thoughtful, dignified and sad. Hers was the right kind of face! It stamped her as the wife of the man who has made the world marvel at his wondrous imagination. We made ourselves known and were received most hospitably. She seemed glad to welcome Anglo-Saxons.

I told her the news of McKinley's nomination and the sad tidings of the death of Kate Field, her life-long friend.

She prepared a luncheon for us (which did not quite suit my fancy, but I was too polite to refuse it). It was some kind of a mushy mixture, requiring the use of a mortar and pestle, which the natives manipulate quite skillfully. It consisted of several ingredients, one of which I thought was——never mind! That was soon over, thank the Lord, and Mrs. Stevenson showed us the house. We reveled in R. L.'s study which was filled with many original prints, books, emblems and gifts of every description.

In this room he passed away one afternoon while giving a reception to the natives who loved him dearly. While bestowing his hospitality he complained of a pain[228] in his side and, excusing himself to his guests, started for his chamber. His wife, noticing his deathly pallor, rushed to his assistance. (Mrs. Stevenson was explicit in her description.) "Give them my compliments," he said to her as she half carried him toward his bedroom. "Tell them I'm a trifle ill, but we will all be together a week from to-night." And he waved an adieu and tried to hide the pain that racked his body. "It's nothing," he kept repeating to his wife, "it will soon pass away." But just as he entered his bedroom words failed him; he could only smile, grasp her hand and sink back onto the bed.

Thus passed the soul of one of the dearest men and one of the most brilliant. He suffered but he uttered no complaint. He had a kindly word even for savages. Now his body lies at the top of a huge mountain and if you look steadily you can almost outline the form as if it were lying on some great catafalque. It is most difficult of access; it took the natives two days and nights to place him on his bed of flowers. But to this day many of the sturdier ones make the toilsome climb and pay homage to the man they call their "dear master."

There alone he lies, as far as possible away from this plaything called earth. Huge trees stand like silent sentinels sheltering him from wind and rain. His companions are the little birds who sing his praises through all the hours of the day and night. Above the moon and stars dance with joy and I can fairly hear the jolly old moon say, "Bobby, we've got you at last!" And each star is whispering as it twinkles along, "Bobby has come, Bobby has come!"

Rest on, Robert, until eternity has grown gray. If we worshipped you down here, what must they be doing for you now? The world is jealous. We have only your memory. They have your soul.

[229]

Tears streamed down my face as I bade goodby to Mrs. Stevenson. It was all very sad, but I wouldn't have missed it for the crown the Bourbons lost.

By midnight we were back on board and off to Auckland. We arrived seven days later after a most perilous journey. I have never seen such storms as we encountered. The Pacific can pick up more trouble than two Atlantic oceans. During the entire seven days we were thrown from one side of the ship to the other with our trunks, hat boxes and valises. We finally had to tie them down. It took two "ordinary" seamen to open a handbag!

Captain Van Otterendorf, who apparently had taken a fancy to me, one day after we were compelled to heave to and lie in the trough of the sea, called me to his chart room.

"My tear Goodvin," he said, "ve are in a most precarious position. Ve haf no more coal in de bunkers and ve are quietly drifting on to de rocks vich are only about two hundred miles to de Vest. I vish ve were farder avay from de land." I said, "I don't." He said, "Vell, I am now burning de live stock for fuel and we vill put out de fires in about an hour and hoist de mainsail." "Why didn't you do this two days ago and save the coal?" I asked. "I didn't know how much ve started away from Samoa vith until the purser yust told me," he replied. I looked at him. "What do you tell me all this for? Don't you think I am frightened enough without this information?" He replied, "Vell, I like you. No one yet knows vat vill take place on de ocean and ve can only hope for de best."

He pulled out a huge bottle of Scotch whiskey from somewhere and I drank a goblet and in about an hour I didn't care whether the ship sank or not. Luckily the next day the storm abated. We arrived at harbor of Sydney.


[230]

Chapter LIII

PUBLICITY—ITS RESULTS

Before arranging my Australian tour (while I was engaged to the Kentucky lady) I had planned to obtain a divorce in California by an understanding with the second Mrs. Goodwin from whom I was then legally separated. She gave her consent for a cash payment of twenty thousand dollars. (Wives came high even in those days!)

When I decided to call off the engagement with the Kentucky lady the divorce was nearly consummated and on my arrival at San Francisco my attorneys informed me that everything was "O. K." If I came through with the twenty thousand I would be free in forty-eight hours!

I was so dejected I did not care whether I was free or not and so informed my lawyers. They told me that they had worked hard over the case, that there would be no publicity (the suit was brought in a remote town in lower California) and that I would better pay the money and get it over. I complied with their arguments and sailed away feeling as blue as the waters beneath me.

Again Fate was quietly weaving his web. At the very moment that I had secured my freedom, after months of preparation, Maxine Elliott filed a suit for her divorce. Neither of us knew of the other's intention until the American papers came, eight weeks later, with pages, not columns, devoted to the arch-conspiracy formed by us at San Francisco! I had "stolen" Miss[231] Elliott away from Frawley, "deserted" my poor, confiding (twenty-thousand-dollar) wife. Miss Elliott and I had obtained our divorces in order to marry in Australia!

It was very difficult to inform the world ten thousand miles away that we very innocently signed a business contract without any thought of matrimony. But the fact of our obtaining divorces at the same time, hers following mine by only four weeks, was proof positive!

I shall never forget the day Max and Gertrude came to my room in the hotel in Sydney with tears streaming down their faces. They were literally buried in newspapers which they threw on the tables, chairs and bed. In them were pictures of us all and glaring headlines of a most sensational character. The girls upbraided me for not telling them that I was seeking a divorce. I told them I had forgotten all about it until my arrival in San Francisco and in my turn asked Max why she didn't let me know that she was endeavoring to secure her freedom? She answered that it was nobody's business, particularly not mine. I agreed with her and suggested that the best thing to do was to say nothing and let matters take their course.

I succeeded in assuaging her grief and we confined ourselves to writing denials to our friends in America. As for our contemplated plunge into matrimony Gertrude asked, "Why deny that? One never knows what may occur and you two do certainly seem to get along together." That got a laugh and we decided not to deny the possibility.

During our Australian tour we were very much together, the three of us, but only in a professional and social way. Expressions of love never passed between Maxine and me then—and very few in after life!

Well, we finished the Australian tour and came back to America, only to be met with more severe and even[232] more vilifying articles. They were so cruel, untrue and personal that I very foolishly replied to one or two of the scorpion writers, which resulted in the article I shall quote later on written by the Hon. Henry Watterson, and published in the Louisville "Courier Journal."

I think that even then we would not have married if it had not been for the reports circulated by three female members of my Australian company; one, an old lady who had once been a prima donna in an opera company, another, a young lady whom I discharged in Australia for being photographed nude and another lady who considered that Miss Elliott had usurped her position in my company. Two of these ladies perjured themselves in affidavits. One of them swore that Miss Elliott and I had communicating cabins on the ship coming back, also communicating rooms at Honolulu.

The columns of most of the dailies contained articles not quite as flagrant as the above accusations, but enough to establish a liaison between us and to ruin the reputation of any woman. Having dear Gertrude to prove our alibis we were conscious of having committed no crime and still allowed matters to take their course.

I always had great respect for Maxine's brain and her splendid opinions regarding untried plays. Had it not been for her superlative judgment I should never have produced "An American Citizen" or "Nathan Hale."

Perhaps she discovered that my rôles in both plays were subservient to hers. I later found that the lady was as discerning as she was discriminating. However, both plays were produced with much success. We both scored, I making base hits, she, home runs. I first printed her name featured as supporting me, but as I became enamoured of her charms her type gradually became larger until it equaled mine.

I think if we had been associated a few years longer my name would have been up as her leading support!

[back]

In An American Citizen
If we had been associated a few years longer my name would have been up as her leading support!

[233]

Chapter LIV

IN THE LAND OF THE KANGAROO

We were to have opened our Australian engagement in Sydney—but we didn't. At the dock, awaiting us, was James C. Williamson, then and until his death the magnate of the Antipodes in theatrical affairs. I had known him back in New York in the eighties when he was just "Jimmy." I had played under his management and had always found him a likable, fair-minded man. We were to play in Australia under the management of Williamson and Musgrove. Mr. George Musgrove had made the contract with me before we started.

Well, as soon as I landed Williamson informed me we were not to open in Sydney but must go through to Melbourne that very night.

The sting of this disappointment was largely lessened by our finding on the pier, ready to greet us, two American girls, one of them little Sadie McDonald whom we all loved. Poor little Sadie McDonald! How she wanted to go back to God's country! She died before we finished our engagement in Australia.

That night we went to Melbourne was the coldest I ever lived through. It was like a December blizzard without the snow. And the date was July 24!

Forgetting that we were going to a land where the seasons are upside down I had no heavy clothing with me and almost froze.

We were billed to open the night of our arrival. In the forenoon I drove about trying to discover some[234] announcements of the fact. What I found would have done injustice to a high school's graduating exercises. Then I remembered that Williamson had been opposed to my coming. I found him and asked why our attraction had not been billed.

"Well," replied Williamson, "Musgrove cabled me to announce you modestly and quietly."

"You've complied with the request," I said. "Why didn't you say Johnny Jones was coming? It would have meant just as much. Considering the years we've known each other I consider your treatment of me most unfair."

Musgrove's idea had been that I open in "The Prisoner of Zenda" and when he found Maxine and Gertrude Elliott were to be in my company he had wired instructions to San Francisco to have them measured for costumes and the figures were sent to him in London. Williamson consistently objected to my playing "Zenda." He thought the play strong enough to do without a star. So it happened, one night in Chicago where I was playing "David Garrick," that Musgrove changed his mind about our opening bill. I held out for "Zenda" firmly. But Musgrove insisted that no matter what my vehicle I was sure to be a success in Australia. In the week he watched my work I put on six different plays and after each one he was more enthusiastic. I couldn't make him realize that I was playing before a public I had grown up with, who came to see me in any play.

"In Australia," I argued with him, "I shall be a cold proposition hurled at them and I must have the best play possible for my introduction. As the prince in 'Zenda' I'm only part of the ensemble surrounded by beautifully gowned women, with splendid male opposing parts, playing a character almost any good actor would succeed in. After 'Zenda' I can spring my repertoire with some chance."

[235]

"You're the best actor I ever saw," replied Musgrove. "I know Australian audiences and you'll knock 'em dead."

I disagreed with him! Therefore I changed the terms of our agreement and instead of taking a gamble took fifteen per cent of the gross receipts and a guarantee of so much money weekly. McClellan signed the documents for me.

Our opening bill was "A Gilded Fool." You may imagine my amazement when I found we had a packed house. And it was a most kindly-disposed audience too. Every member of the company got a reception on his entrance and I came in for an ovation. The play went especially well, I thought. We went home assured we had made a hit. The papers the next day were fairly enthusiastic, with one exception, and that one criticized us unmercifully. The opening occurred on Saturday.

Monday night's house was $120 in our money—and that was the best we did any night in the week until Saturday when a change of bill drew another capacity audience. Williamson's local manager told me after this second Saturday night that we were "all right now." But Monday night came and with it a $150 house. Not until the next Saturday night and a change of bill did we do any business, then it was capacity again. I came to the conclusion that Melbourne was a one-night stand, to be played only on Saturday!

This was the story of the whole sixteen weeks I played in Australia. The last week in Sydney, however, we did do a trifle over $5,000 with "An American Citizen," its first production on any stage.

Personally I had a bully time, particularly on the race courses where I spent most of my time.

We played only Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Our business in Adelaide was wretched but the weather was worse! It was as hot as Melbourne was cold. I[236] never suffered so with the heat. I am told that Australia has improved. There was plenty of room for improvement! Had it not been for the generosity of several bookies I certainly would have had an unhappy four months.

Williamson was heartless in his treatment of us. I learned from one of his staff that after our first week Musgrove cabled, "Put Goodwin on immediately in 'Zenda.'" Williamson stalled with Musgrove for almost the whole four months. Finally when Musgrove's ire had been aroused he expressed himself so emphatically in his cables that Williamson came to me and asked that I remain an additional ten weeks, appearing in "Zenda." Before this he had hardly spoken to me. And that very day I had sent dear old George Appleton, my personal manager at the time, on a steamship for America to book a tour for me opening in San Francisco in November. I listened to Williamson's proposition and made no reply.

"Shall I send you the script to read?" he asked.

"Jimmie," I replied, "we've been friends a great many years. There was no cause for your brutality towards my company and me. Now back of you is the Bank of Australia. For all the gold that bank contains you couldn't keep me here ten more weeks and I sail for America four weeks from to-day. Good afternoon. Kindly excuse me. I'm going to the races."

And that was the last conversation I ever had with James C. Williamson, Esquire.

An incident of our stay in Adelaide may serve to show the mental attitude of your average Antipodean. The local manager, one Goodi, was very friendly with me and I liked him immensely. He worried over our failure more than I did. One night he met me in the lobby of the theatre almost distracted.

"Think of these people!" he exclaimed. "They liked[237] Mrs. Brown Potter and Kyrle Bellew! See what 'A Trip to Chinatown' is doing, packing 'em in! And an artist like you doing nothing! It's a blooming shame. We haven't a seat sold in advance for to-night's performance. Now, don't you think it's wise for me to paper the house?" (To "paper" is to give away tickets.)

"Do what you like, Goodi," I replied. "I'm satisfied."

Directly opposite the theatre lounging in chairs on the sidewalk was a gang of men, about sixty I should say. They were rather a rough looking lot but I thought they might be human. I suggested we invite them in. Goodi approached them. After a moment they silently slouched out of their chairs and shuffled into the lobby in a body. Here they gathered into little groups and held a consultation. Finally one of them approached Goodi and pulling off his cap asked, "It's all right, guv'nor, but what do we get for our time?"

One other incident of that Australian visit was not so humorous. It happened early in our stay. I had noticed for several days that McClellan was nervous and ill at ease. Finally I asked him to explain.

"Well," he began haltingly, "I guess I've got to tell you. It'll come out soon enough. I'm broke."

"That's all right, George. My guarantee of $1500 a week gives us a profit of $600. And you have the tickets back to San Francisco."

"That's it," wailed McClellan. "I haven't! I haven't even paid for the tickets that brought us over."

"How did you get them then?" I asked.

"I went to Adolph Spreckles," he replied, "and on the strength of your name got him to lend me the money and I signed notes for it. And the first one is due to-morrow."

I felt like pitching him out of the window. The[238] tickets cost almost $9,000! And I was stung for it! That was the end of George B. McClellan so far as I was concerned, at least for many years. (Finally I made it up with him at a supper in London given by the Savage Club to the Lambs.) I never have thought George meant to do wrong. He simply took a gamble and lost out. It was fortunate for the company that it was I who was the goat. Had it not been so most of them would have been stranded in that awful land! As it was I got them all back to San Francisco.

In the previous chapter I referred casually to my becoming engaged to Maxine. It may be well to enlarge a bit. The divorce proceedings instituted by my attorneys against Nella Baker Pease had been quite forgotten by me. It was not until we had been in Australia four weeks that it was called to my attention and then as I have already described. The day it happened had been an especially profitable one for me at the track and I came back to the hotel buoyant and full of good spirits. I remember detached bits of our conversation following the hysterical entrance of Maxine and Gertrude.

"I'll never go back to that beastly country," wailed Maxine. "Just see what they say about you and me," and she thrust an armful of newspapers at me. "Never mind me," I replied. "Think of yourself." And when I discovered that that attempt at consolation was no go I added, "Why, it will all be dead by the time we get back." Maxine was not to be comforted, however. She was sure our arrival in America would result in a fresh outburst of scandal. "Maybe it will," I agreed, "but we haven't done any wrong, any harm, so why should we worry?" Maxine wrung her hands and sobbed. "We know our behavior has been absolutely right," I urged. "We know," said Maxine, "but the world doesn't know." And I confess I could find nothing[239] to say to that. I was rattled. A chicken I had bought on my way home from the track and had put on a spit to roast over my grate fire was a mass of charcoal when I finally discovered it. At dinner I upset a bottle of claret all over the table cloth and spilled a pot of hot tea into Gertrude's lap. It was the most inharmonious meal I ever ate. I was rattled!

And all the time Gertrude said nothing. That is up to the moment that scalding tea hit her. Then she let go!

"You two people are acting like a couple of fools," she began—succinctly. "There's only one way out of it and you've got to take it."

"What is it?" Maxine and I asked.

"Cable America you're engaged and are to be married some time next season."

I left the room. At the theatre Maxine and I made no reference to Gertrude's suggestion. On our return to the hotel I tried to excuse myself from our usual supper. But Max, with a merry little twinkle in her eyes, said, "Oh come on."

"What do you think of Gertrude's suggestion?" asked Max.

"What do you think of it?" I parried.

"I'm game," said Max.

"You're on," said I.

And thus began my "romance."


[240]

Chapter LV

WELCOME (!) HOME

The Australian sense of humor is peculiar. My last night at Sydney, at the end of the five-thousand-dollar-week, I interpolated in my speech of farewell a line from Shakespeare, "Parting is such sweet sorrow." The audience applauded vociferously!

We packed with joyous anticipation. We were going home!

After we got out of the theatre I made straight for a little hotel run by a New England woman and gorged myself on baked beans! On the way I ran across Arthur Hoops and Louis Payne.

"Governor," said Payne, "if we turn up aboard the ship to-morrow a bit squiffy or with a hold-over, you won't mind, will you?" "Go to it," responded I. "I may turn up that way myself." They kept their promise and I nearly kept mine!

There were hundreds of people at the pier to see us off. I wondered if they were inspired by feelings of gratitude! It sounded like a courteous farewell but I was never sure.

At Honolulu we had our first taste of the "Welcome home" we were all so fondly counting on. A new theatre had just been finished and a Mr. Marks, now one of the lessees of the Columbia Theatre in San Francisco, was on the ground making arrangements for its formal opening as agent for the Frawley company.

[back]

As Bob Acres
I gave Bob a country dialect

[241]

Almost as soon as we docked a dozen gentlemen approached me and asked that I give a performance that night in the new playhouse. I told them it was impossible; our wardrobes and scenery were packed in the hold of the ship; it would be out of the question.

"Never mind," said they, "go on in your street clothes!"

I explained we had no make-up even. My company was scattered all over the island, sight-seeing.

"We'll send out a posse and corral them," they insisted.

"But how will anyone know we're going to play?" I asked.

"We'll call everybody in town on the telephone and tell them," they replied.

And they did. And that night, in our street clothes and without make-up, we gave a performance that took in $1100, of which I got ninety per cent! It was a nice bit of spending money on the way to San Francisco.

Marks was very indignant. But the gentlemen told him that if he tried to prevent the performance they would cancel the contract with Frawley.

Altogether that stop at Honolulu was joyous. And as we sailed out of the harbor the next morning, followed by the strains of Aloha from the native band, we were a very happy lot.

We were amazed to find a solid jam of humanity waiting on the pier in San Francisco. Such a greeting had never entered our minds! When we opened the newspapers we found the reason. They were teeming with the most sensational matter concerning our goings on in Australia. It was indeed a "welcome home!"

We paid as little attention to the scurrilous slanders as possible and prepared for our opening at the Baldwin Theatre in "An American Citizen." As a measure of safety I announced "The Rivals" as the bill for the[242] second half of the week. But capacity audiences was the rule during the whole engagement.

I was very nervous about doing "The Rivals." I knew comparison with Jefferson was inevitable. I had caught it in Australia for daring to play a rôle made classic by the "dean of the drama" and I feared for my presumption in invading his own bailiwick. I was afraid I could never avoid using Jefferson's methods as I had played with him so many times; but I finally hit on the plan of giving Bob a country dialect and this made him a very different characterization from Jefferson's. I received splendid reviews and one editorial.


[243]

Chapter LVI

NUMBER THREE

The series of malicious falsehoods concerning Maxine and me which were being published daily would have made us fit subjects for the penitentiary had they been true. Articles, hideous in their construction, were sent broadcast throughout the country purporting to picture our lives and conduct in the Antipodes. (And with what zest did the press of America copy them!)

By the time our opening in "An American Citizen" arrived we were so nervous we gave a performance fifty per cent below our best. But the next morning we were amazed to discover that we were a great aggregation of actors—Maxine and I scoring tremendously! The papers expressed much surprise that she had "improved" so much during her short association with me.

Poor, deluded critics! Never by any possible chance do you differentiate. Never do you disassociate the player from his part. A genius playing Osric would vanish into obscurity if a duffer were playing Hamlet. Maxine Elliott, be she good or bad, was quite as clever when I first saw her act as the night she opened with me in San Francisco. But now she was appearing in a star part, surrounded by a clever company, beautifully gowned and (pardon a little pride) very carefully edited! She had left a dollar aggregation, an extremely good competitor, Miss Blanche Bates (whose acting eclipsed Maxine's beauty), and a company of players all acting[244] for individual hits irrespective of the ensemble. She returned a member of an organization noted for its team work whose motto was "One for all and all for one"—and that particular one Maxine! She appeared in a character molded to her charm and beauty and supported (!) by a star of twenty years' standing!

Naturally she scored in such an environment! She would have done as well months before under the same conditions, but the ever wise critic saw an "improvement."

Was it her acting or the unwholesome notoriety that preceded us that had opened his discerning eyes?

I wonder.

I sandwiched in "The Rivals" with "An American Citizen" as a matter of self-protection. Max was fairly smothering me in most of the cities we visited! I was shining in a reflected light, her effulgence forcing me back into the shadows. Also, and equally annoying to me, questions were beginning to be asked as to our marital intentions. Allusions to "Beauty and the Beast" were not infrequent. Happily a few of the critics were respectful and while none could pay homage to my beauty a few allowed that I had not lost the art of acting! This was encouraging and I endeavored to win the fair Maxine along those lines.

I finally succeeded!

But it was some endeavor!

I don't remember the date of the marriage. It is extremely difficult for me to remember dates. I know the place, however! It was the Hollenden Hotel in Cleveland. And I know I spent the previous evening with dear Dick Golden and Walter Jones and we three jolly bachelors had a bully time! It was a lucky thing that the marriage ceremony was only recovery for me! The boys had put me in no condition to learn a new part!

[245]

Max received two wedding presents—a diamond ring from me and an anonymous letter from some "Christian lady" warning her against the "Monster" who had lured her into "Holy Matrimony!"

We were very happy—at least I was—for a few months. I made the mistake of introducing her to a few conspicuous, powerful financiers who gave her tips on the stock market (and casual luncheons!). They also gave me tips. Mine lost invariably. Hers always won. How very strange!

As we toured through the country to splendid business I discovered her authority was growing. I was constantly being censured for my grammar. She began to stage-manage my productions without waiting for my suggestions. She complained of my companions whom she found "common." My previous marriages came in for a share of her disapproval.

I found this amusing inasmuch as she herself had made a previous plunge; as I had taken one of her family out of a lumber yard and tried to make him an actor; as I had taken a cousin from a picture gallery in Boston where she was going blind trying to copy miniatures and made her an actress, and as another member of her family had committed suicide in a disreputable place in San Francisco. With this genealogical tree waving in the background she still had the courage to pluck my friends from my garden and call them "vulgar."

Perhaps they were and are, but they all continue to be my friends!

It was during the run of "An American Citizen" that the first thought of the disruption of my union with Maxine clouded my mind. It is seldom I care to refer to the dead except in a kindly way, but her attitude and that of Clyde Fitch is sufficient provocation.

Fitch at this time (in 1897) was not especially prosperous.[246] Two years earlier he had come to me with an idea of making a play out of the story of Nathan Hale's life. I had told him I thought it an excellent subject and to go ahead. When he finished the play he decided it was beyond my capabilities and submitted it instead to E. H. Sothern—who turned it down! Then he went to Mansfield with the script and again met with no encouragement. From Mansfield he peddled "Nathan Hale" to each of the three Frohmans—and they unanimously voted it no good.

Thus it transpired that I was in no friendly mood when I received the following letter:—

154, West Fifty-Seventh St.
Oct. 24, 1897.        

My dear Mr. Goodwin,

I am just returned to N.Y. & I am glad to find you here, at least I shall be glad if you let me read you my new play—"Nathan Hale"—& dont escape me as you did so successfully in London. If you liked the scheme & story at all, I feel pretty sure you will like the play itself twice as well, & if you had been at the new Columbia College the other day when they unveiled a bas relief of Knowlton—one of my characters—& heard the tremendous enthusiasm at the slightest mention of Hale, I think your interest in the play & subject would have immensely increased.

I can read it in two hours—or less, you can send me away as soon after I start as you like, if you dont care about it. I've no desire to choke the play down yr throat. All I want you to do is take one chance in it! & right away, as I am back here to sell this play to somebody & dont want to waste time. Wont you give me an appointment tomorrow? or the next day? or the next? (Any hour you like.) Go on! Do!

Yours,

Clyde Fitch    

I must tell you the girl's part comes out rather important, but I hope you won't mind that.


[back]

Maxine Elliott
Fate's partner

And this is the gentleman who, a few years later, insisted on the transportation of an entire company from Philadelphia to New York because he was too [247]weary to make the trip himself. (The company was rehearsing one of his plays and he insisted on personally supervising it.)

Even after his supplicating letter I dodged Fitch. I didn't like him in the first place and his shabby behavior with "Nathan Hale" made me disgusted with him. I broke a dozen appointments with him, but finally he cornered me and I had to hear the play. While I knew I could neither look nor suggest the character I did see possibilities for acting and I was sure the rôle of Alice Adams would fit Maxine down to the ground. For these reasons I agreed to produce the play.

From that day forward Clyde Fitch and my wife conspired against me. They exchanged endearing expressions through the mail—aided and abetted by the wife of a Chicago dentist who had committed suicide after one of his "best friends" had stolen his wife (who deserted her child to come to New York and aid other women with affinities!). Fancy, killing one's self! Why not kill her and her paramour?

They made a worthy trio! And they finally succeeded in hatching a scheme which developed in Maxine's starring alone in a play written for her by Fitch called "Her Own Way"—an appropriate title cunningly selected. They launched her as a star (on my money!) and broke up my home! They had to come to me to obtain bookings for a road tour. For putting up the cash I was to get one third of the profits. Abe Erlanger refused to go in with me for one dollar, insisting that Maxine would be an awful flivver on her own. But the play made an instant hit and her success was just as big.

Could I have possessed even a little bit of clairvoyance I should have then and there bought a ticket to Reno!


[248]

Chapter LVII

WHEN WE WERE TWENTY-ONE AND OTHER PLAYS

Our success with "Nathan Hale" was tremendous. For Maxine it was nothing short of a triumph. And during the season I signed a contract with Fitch for another play to follow it. He turned out "The Cowboy and the Lady." Neither Max nor I fancied our characters and although we did big business with the play we were most uncomfortable in our rôles. It failed miserably in London—where they recognize the real value of plays!

I think it was the summer of 1898 (but what difference does it make?) that I met Henry V. Esmond, the author-actor and a very clever young man. In any event it was in London and at the time of the failure of "The Cowboy and the Lady." He asked me how I would like a play founded on Thackery's poem "When We Were Twenty-One." I thought the idea immense and told him so. We made a contract for the play on the spot and six weeks later he delivered the manuscript!

Max and I were both delighted with it. We brought it back with us in the Fall but instead of producing it in New York immediately we revived "The Cowboy and the Lady." Poor as that play was it absolutely refused to play to bad business! I kept it on until about the middle of the season and took it off with a nineteen-hundred-dollar-house begging me to keep it going!

[249]

"When We Were Twenty-One" made the biggest and the most nearly instantaneous hit of any play I ever produced. It was a gold mine for me. But there is little I could say about it that any of you, dear readers, can't anticipate. I might say only that I never played the rôle I liked best in the play!

It was along about this time that I made a production of "The Merchant of Venice." And it was a production! And, although it was not so advertised, it was as nearly an "all-star" cast as many of the revivals of late years have been—if not more so! For four weeks my characterization of Shylock seemed to please the public and certainly attracted large audiences in spite of the fact that the critics in New York roasted my performance to a fare-ye-well. For one reason or another the critics have always resented me except as a comedian!

My next production was "The Altar of Friendship" which had been a failure with John Mason in the leading rôle. He had made a great personal success and the play had received splendid notices but the public stayed away. When the late Jacob Litt consigned the production to the storehouse I opened negotiations with him, bought the property and put it on. It proved to be one of the biggest money-makers Maxine and I ever had! But Maxine's bee for starring alone came buzzing by and deafened her to the tinkle of the box office receipts. It finally stung me and our professional partnership came to an end. "The Altar of Friendship" was our last joint vehicle.

"The Usurper" was my first production after our separation. It made a big hit on the road but failed in New York. I left Gotham at the end of two weeks and went to Boston where we did a tremendous week, continuing on for the rest of the season to splendid business.

It was during this time that Klaw & Erlanger approached me with an offer to open their new New[250] Amsterdam Theatre. The bill was to be "A Midsummer Night's Dream," my rôle Bottom. It sounded good to me and I accepted. Erlanger gave it a most lavish production and announced it for a long run. The opening house was $2700! But the next night the receipts dropped to $1100. I have always believed it was due to insufficient advertising and to the fact that the theatre was new and in a strange locality (in those days Forty-second Street west of Seventh Avenue was strange—theatrically!).

Erlanger was much annoyed. He was not very keen for Shakespeare anyway. In his disappointment he rashly determined to end our engagement in three weeks. I argued and pleaded in vain. I could not make him see it was madness deliberately to kill all chances of our making any money on the road. And to quit in three weeks in New York was admission of failure beyond dispute.

It didn't take long for the trouble to start. Within a fortnight Alan Dale got in his choicest work. An illustrated page in the Hearst Sunday paper showed Maxine, costumed to represent Florence Nightingale, standing Juno-like with outstretched hands as if she might be Charity—or perhaps Hope! Below her was a caricature of Arthur Byron who had just failed in a play called "Major André." Maxine had moved into the Savoy Theatre as Byron was forced out. He was pictured running up a hill with a valise in his hand, saying, "She saved me, Nat!" I was down in the lower left hand corner at the back door of a theatre in a beseeching attitude. Out of my mouth issued these words: "Won't you please come in, Max?"

That alleged comic picture settled our road business once and for all. To make matters worse, if that were possible, Klaw & Erlanger acted on Dale's suggestion and insisted on Maxine's following my engagement at[251] the New Amsterdam. I knew this was the last straw and fatal to whatever chances we might have had otherwise and I asked to be let out then and there. But Erlanger insisted that we go to Boston.

Our company numbered one hundred and fifty people! Our weekly expenses were $6,000!

Arrived in Boston I strolled into the Hollis Street Theatre where we were to open. There wasn't a soul on Hollis Street as I turned the corner from Washington Street. It was noon and I had expected to see a line extending half way to the corner. I found the treasurer in the box office smoking a cigarette. After the usual salutations I inquired casually if we were sold out.

"Pipe that rack," quoth the treasurer laconically as he indicated a forest of tickets arranged on a board.

"Are all those tickets for to-night?" I asked.

"Uh huh," grunted the treasurer and took a deep inhale of his cigarette.

We opened to less than $600. The performance made such a tremendous hit that we were sold out the last three performances of the week and the following week saw never an empty seat at any performance—and for all that we made no money! From Boston we went to Brooklyn where our opening house was $400. (Florence Nightingale was working her influence!) We played to gradually increasing business—but not enough to cover expenses—during the rest of the week. The next (and last) stand was Newark where we opened to $200! Again business increased with every performance but again we had a losing week. Then it was I insisted on closing. Florence Nightingale was an advance agent no attraction could hope to win out against. Thus Newark saw the last of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

And this is the record of a play which drew in two performances in one day more than $5,000! The day[252] was the last Saturday of our three-weeks' run at the New Amsterdam!

Following this fiasco I entered into a contract with Charles Frohman under which we produced "Beauty and the Barge," by Jacobs, the English playwright. It should have run a year. It failed dismally. I knew it would after witnessing the dress rehearsal. David Warfield, Frohman and I sat out front at that rehearsal, my part being read so I could get an idea of the ensembles. I discovered my two ingenues might have been taken from the Forest Home! My two light comedians were so light I am sure they could have walked on water! An old man character insisted on hitting the hard stage with his cane—supposed to be a garden! I begged Frohman to postpone the opening. These five people had a twenty-two-minute scene before I came on. Warfield agreed with me.

A friend of Frohman's had come in meantime. He insisted that my "marvelous" acting would carry the play.

"Marvelous acting be damned!" I cried. "No human being could succeed with such incompetent surroundings."

I was voted down, however, and the next night we opened at the Lyceum Theatre. The play was dead before I made my entrance, a score of men leaving the house in the first fifteen minutes. My dressing-room was within five feet of the stage and I could hear every sound, from front and back. It wrung my heart as I heard the delicate, pretty little scenes I had worshipped when I had seen Cyril Maude's company play it in London just torn all to pieces! Point after point went for nothing. All the humor disappeared. It was awful!

[back]

In When We Were Twenty-One
The biggest bit of any play I ever produced

Finally came my cue and I went on. My reception was vociferous and brought me out of my slough of [253]despair. I even got a scene call after I made my exit. But the play was doomed. Afterwards I commiserated with Mr. Jacobs in London and told him it was only the acting that was to blame for its failure to run two years. It ran two weeks.

"Wolfville," Clyde Fitch's dramatization of those excellent short stories by Alfred Henry Lewis, was my next production. This time it was not the fault of the actors. Fitch was to blame. He had taken all of Lewis' characters and then tried to write an original story around them. Fitch couldn't touch Lewis when it came to Western types—or stories. Again, before the first performance, I told Frohman we would fail—and we did, the piece dying at the end of six weeks.

Frohman was at a loss to provide me with another play. He suggested that I take a steamship and see the first performances of two plays which he controlled, "Dr. Quick's Patient" and "The Alabaster Staircase." The latter was written by Captain Marshall of England who wrote "The Second in Command." John Hare was to enact the leading rôle. It looked good to me and I jumped across. My trip saved me two more failures as each of this pair of plays lasted just one week. Instead of either of them I brought back a manuscript of a comedy called "What Would a Gentleman Do?"—which proved as big a failure as any I ever had! Next I produced "The Master Hand" by a Mr. Fleming—whew! what a flivver! (The play, of course!)

But before I increase this list further let me hark back to matters more personal if no less gloomy!


[254]

Chapter LVIII

AT JACKWOOD

During the early days at Jackwood when I was busily engaged in hiring guests to come and partake of my board and rooms (I mean the professional diners out) I found great difficulty in securing patrons. I had plenty at my command so far as professional friends and visiting Americans were concerned, but the fair Maxine had the English bee in her American bonnet and insisted that we try to get together some of the impecunious nobility and army men as guests.

I knew of no one who represented those particular branches and had no desire to know any, but being under her hypnotic influence I sought a woman, the wife of a friend of mine, an American mining man, who knew all the swagger members of "the Guards." Through her influence one of these sapheads was persuaded to visit our humble home from Saturday to Monday. He came, accompanied by one of the present Dukes of England (whose father, by the way, died owing me a paltry two thousand dollars, borrowed on the race course at Deauville, France). They came down with Mme. Melba and Haddon Chambers.

We had a lovely time (that is, I presume they had). Max insisted on my entertaining the guests between courses with my supposedly funny stories. Generally after the telling of each one, which occupied some little time, my portion of the feast was either cold or confiscated by the butler. Very little attention was paid[255] to me anyway except when I was telling anecdotes (and on the first of every month when the bills became due!).

On this particular Sunday evening the guests sauntered into the drawing room expecting to hear Melba sing. She didn't even talk!

Then the party, in couples, sauntered through the house and inspected the grounds.

Being on particularly good terms with the butler I selected him for my companion and we quietly strolled through the upper rose terrace discussing a menu that might appeal to the next influx of England's dilettantes. By this time all my American friends were barred. Max considered them "extremely common" by now.

The butler and I were figuring out the expenses of the previous month as the pale moon cast its rays over my book of memoranda. Inadvertently we stopped before an open window of the drawing room. As we stood there I chanced to overhear this remark:

"How could you possibly have married such a vulgar little person?"

Being terribly self conscious at all times I said to my butler, "Luic, I am the v. l. p. to whom that chocolate soldier is referring. Listen, and we'll have a Warrior's opinion of a Thespian!"

Then ensued the following dialogue:—

She: Do you think him vulgar?

He: Not necessarily vulgar, but an awful accent!

She: Well, no one ever accused him of an American accent. He was educated in Boston. Don't you think him rather amusing?

He: In what way?

She: By way of anecdotes and funny stories?

He: Were those stories he told at dinner supposed to be funny?

She: Of course; didn't you hear the guests laugh?

He: Yes; so did I, but simply in a spirit of compliment.[256] Is he supposed to be a comic man in your country?

She: Extremely so.

He: Really?

She: And he talks remarkably well.

He: Did he talk remarkably well to-night?

She: I thought so.

He: Well, maybe, but I was deafened by your beauty. I saw nothing but those beauteous eyes of yours, my dear Mrs. Goodwin and everything else was a blank. Really, I—

She: Now don't pay me silly compliments, Lord Algy; it isn't nice.

He: I beg your pardon; but please tell me how did you happen to marry that funny little man.

She: Now don't ask impertinent questions; one has to get married and, really, when he talks he says something.

He: Does he—really?

The butler and I resumed our stroll.

Some time after I met this Grenadier, talked—and said something! (My editor refuses even to edit it.)

Jackwood proved a lovely summer abode for me. It cost me fifty thousand dollars to get it and fifteen thousand a "year" to keep it up (we were there about ten weeks every season). It cost me twenty-five thousand dollars to lose it!

During our lives at Jackwood incident followed incident, each of which convinced me the autumn leaves were falling that would soon bury me. I discovered the fair Maxine was being bored save when the house was filled with English guests. Americans bored her even more than I did! My repertoire palled and the anecdotes she screamed at when we first were wed met with but little response and that only when the dinner table was filled with English guests who found it quite as difficult to fathom my wit as Maxine.

[257]

Life at Jackwood was beginning to pall on me. Many Sundays found me a lonely host. Max was constantly accepting invitations to meet people at country houses, spending the usual Saturday to Monday outing away from her own fireside.

These Saturday to Monday gatherings as a rule were the rendezvous for unblushing husbands and wives whose mates were enjoying the hospitality of opposite houses of intrigue. Generally no husband is ever invited to these meetings accompanied by his own wife, the husband always accepting invitations to the house party of his friend's wife—and thus the silly and unwholesome game goes on.

In nine weeks my wife made nine trips of from two to six days' duration each. These outings included a visit to one of England's ex-Prime Minister's country house, a Member of Parliament's yacht and a society lady's home at Doncaster.

Being very respectable at the time, I was never invited to any of these functions.

During my entire occupancy of Jackwood I accepted just one such invitation. And then I was bored stiff. Of all the asinine, vacant, vapid lot of people I ever saw commend me to the polyglot mob one meets at the average Saturday to Monday gathering. Even the few actors and actresses who were present seemed to absorb the atmosphere and became deadly dull.

You must understand the guests are invited from some ulterior motive—women to meet men for every kind of purpose, men to mingle with men for financial reasons, from a tip on the race course to the promotion of a South African mining scheme, women to meet women to plot and intrigue and make trouble for either of the sexes. It is a sort of clearing-house for the sale of souls and the ruin of women's morals. At these gatherings more plots are schemed, more sins consummated, more[258] crimes committed than at Whitechapel during a busy Sunday! When one stops to consider what can be accomplished by a bunch of these parasites in forty-eight hours it is appalling. I leave it to your imagination—what can be consummated in a week at these places—where statesmen and financiers lend themselves to such intrigues—on yachts, in closed stone castles and concealed hunting lodges!

At first I mildly protested against my wife's accepting these invitations and was always met with mild acquiescence and a desire to do what I demanded. If it were distasteful to me she would not accept and, like a dutiful wife, remain at home with me from Saturday to Monday. For two Sundays we sat in the drawing room with each other twirling our thumbs! It was a day of eloquent silence—each of those Sundays! At first I tried to think up stories to amuse her but she would look up from her book with those dreamy, cruel eyes, listen for a moment and in sweet dulcet tones remark:—

"Very clever, my dear, and most amusing, but you told me that some time ago at Seattle!" Then she would resume the reading of her engagement book for the following week.

I soon grew tired of our Saturday-to-Monday tête-à-têtes and let her go on her own as they say in England. We gave a few parties, but as I found it difficult to separate my friends from their wives I gave it up—and usually spent my forty-eight hours going to Paris to see a play or to Ostend to indulge in it.

[back]

In Nathan Hale
"They hang Nat in the last act"

It took me but a short time to become disgusted with our mode of living and alarmed at the expense involved. My clever wife adroitly managed to avoid all expense (although we had agreed to share it equally). Once in a while she would accidentally leave her check book where I could see it and the stubs convinced me she was not [259]paying any of the household bills. Large sums were artfully arranged in a cipher which a Philadelphia lawyer or a writing expert could not fathom.

"Cigarette case for A" might mean Arthur or Alice; "Luncheon to N" might be Nellie or Ned; "Sundries for M" might mean Mike or Mabel—and there you are. Wherever her money went she was contributing nothing to the maintenance of the home (which included the services of sixteen servants)!

I made up my mind to bring things to an issue—to use a slang expression, to vamp. Ugly rumors were rife concerning the attentions of the ex-Prime Minister, the Member of Parliament, two American millionaires, an English Lord and the leading man of Maxine's company. I put Jackwood on the books of a real estate firm and placed my furniture in a storehouse together with the contents of my wine cellar (only to see them again, alas, adorning the home of my wife on Duke Street, London, a residence purchased during our marriage, to which I was never invited!).

After I had tried so hard to entertain her at Jackwood I think her conduct most discourteous.

Our life was very tranquil at Jackwood so far as we were personally concerned. Things went along pretty smoothly until we made a trip to Trouville for a holiday. I was privileged to enjoy myself alone most of the time as the fair Maxine would leave me early in the morning returning in time for dinner after a day's outing on the golf links accompanied by some English admirer. I spent most of my time gambling at the Casino, where I managed to lose thirty thousand dollars! And some ass has written:—

"Unlucky in love, lucky at cards!"

Up to this time I considered my wife thoughtless and fond of admiration as all women are—but not worse than that. The only time she failed to exercise her[260] diplomacy and splendid tact was during our sojourn at this French watering place. Perhaps my constant presence irritated her. There is nothing that so gets on one's nerves as the presence of someone who is a bore. I don't blame any woman for wanting to jump the traces under these conditions. The only thing I hold against her is that she never told me. It would have been very easy and I would willingly have released her from her misery, but to inform people by inference—to make a boob of me—was unkind, unjust and cruel.

It never occurred to me that I was boring her until I came across a letter which fell into my hands quite by accident. My servant mistook it for a note addressed to me and placed it with several others he had previously opened for my perusal. It furnished one of my reasons for divorcing the most beautiful woman in the world. Here it is:—

Wednesday    

Dear Lord ——

You see I don't quite dare say "——" yet but you wait till we take our next walk together and I shall practice it every minute. You nice thing! I am delighted with the photograph—it stands before me as I write giving the modest room an air of fashion and I shall always keep it among my treasures.

Aren't you lucky to be at —— with that blessed —— and as many attractive people; this place would bore you to death I think—the gaiety seems such hollow, tinsel-ly sort; if it were not for golf I should find it intolerable. Unless one is filled with sporting blood and goes in for gambling at the races, one has a pretty dull time but then, England is the only place for me and my dolly is always stuffed with sawdust when I am away from it. Perhaps I shall have the good luck to see you in London. I get back Sept. 1st but only as a bird of passage; probably we can't stay there even one night for I must go at once to the country to see my sister and stay with Lady —— from Sat. to Monday and sail the 7th which means Tuesday would be our only day in town I suppose. Alas! My love to you and don't forget me. I am filled with the most affectionate thoughts of you all at ——

Maxine    

[261]

Any man who could live with a woman who wrote such a letter does not deserve the name of man. I made up my mind to quit then and there and told her so. I gave her my reason, kept the letter and took the train for London and the boat for America—thirty thousand loser!

Gee! but I had a bully summer!

Maxine Elliott is a variously gifted woman. With the ambition of a Cleopatra she used me as a ladder to reach her goal and found her crowning glory in the blinding glare of a myriad incandescent lights which spell her name over the portals of a New York theatre. She is one of the cleverest women I ever met. Her dignity is that of a Joan of Arc, her demeanor Nero-like in its assertive quality and yet she has channels of emotion that manifest womanhood in the truest sense of the word.


[262]

Chapter LIX

"WHY DO BEAUTIFUL WOMEN MARRY NAT GOODWIN"?

Why, oh why, do beautiful women marry Nat Goodwin?"

I shall endeavor to answer that query so frequently put to me by the newspapers, not from any sense of obligation but simply in the spirit of anecdote.

Time and again impertinent printed remarks have been made about my plunging into matrimony and there have appeared flaming headlines such as, "Bluebeard Goodwin Anticipates a Marriage" (or divorce!), "Red Headed Nat Contemplates Matrimony!" etc.

These polite and complimentary references in the yellow journals appear as a rule annually. Generally they occupy half a page and are illustrated with pictures of the poor misguided creatures who had the misfortune to bear my name with my photograph stuck up in one corner (with a countenance suggesting more the physiognomy of a Bill Sykes than a Romeo!). Then some extremely clever reviewer of prize fights comes forth with this headline:—

"Why do Beautiful Women Shake Nat Goodwin?"

The scoffers, the envious, who know nothing about me except the fact that I have furnished paragraphers much material anent my "matrimonial forays," are inclined to credit my succession of beautiful wives for any success that I have attained. Matrimony may[263] and often does breed notoriety and an actor's record may excite comment upon its endurance, but neither personal antics nor long service ever won a man genuine fame.

Is it a crime to be respectable? Is it a crime to have an honest fireside?

I never stole any of my wives, neither were they ever forced into matrimony—with me.

My friends who have been privileged to visit any home of mine will tell you that it was the abode of a lady and gentleman!

This will jar my vilifiers. I have no right to be respectable and have a home. I am a brawler and a reveler, a drunkard and a gambler. Maybe. Yet with all these alleged vagaries I fail to remember any time when I dined a mistress at the same table with my wife and children—an incident in the career of a most conspicuous member of our profession who has the reputation of being possessed of supreme chastity. He prefers marshmallows to champagne—stick licorice to Havana cigars. He married at the beginning of his career and is quite content to stand pat—with his head in the sand.

I have often wondered if these self-elected critics of my actions would have refused any of the women whom I have had the privilege of marrying!

Does it ever occur to them that a woman must first be interested in a man (in some little degree!) before allowing him the privilege of taking her hand in marriage? If she has a brain she understands his motives and even if moved by other reasons than that of affection it is still she who decides to meet the issue.

The women who married me had the reputation of being possessed of brain as well as beauty and all of them had tasted the sweets of matrimony before I came along. I wonder what these ebony-tipped-fingered gentlemen[264] who have marvelled at my success in the matrimonial field would say if they were privileged to glance at my visitors' book in use at Jackwood or in my West End Avenue home in New York! It would convince them that they never could have passed the butler!

It has never been chronicled that the heads of the theatrical profession were my constant visitors. Statesmen, diplomats, lawyers, conspicuous public men from abroad, multi-millionaires (not forgetting one President) and some of the nobility have graced my board. This may have been the reason why one of the beautiful women married me!

Fancy any of my critics writing that Lord —— had visited me, Senator —— dined with me, Marchioness —— accompanied me on a hunting trip! That would not be news—it's too clean! But they do cable to the remotest corner of the globe my presence at a prize fight. That is interesting matter—and news! How considerate of the feelings of one's aged parents who are forced to bear the brunt of their unwholesome lies! How I loathe these mephitic hounds who burglarize men's firesides, the pestilential pirates of women's homes who invade the sanctity of loving hearts, who write with pens steeped in venom!

[back]

Wm. H. Thompson
An artist to his finger tips

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Chapter LX

BILLY THOMPSON

What a splendid player is William H. Thompson—Bill as he is known to his friends!

I have known him for over thirty years and have admired him in many rôles. An artist to his finger tips, he is obliged by existing conditions to fritter away his time in vaudeville instead of heading his own company or occupying a theatre as the bright particular star.

While the Favershams, Millers and Skinners are starring through the country at the head of their own companies this grand artist is compelled to stifle his ambitions in playhouses which feature performing elephants, negroes and monkeys!

He tells me he is acting now only to gather enough shekels to make his passing down the other side of the mountain of life be unincumbered by financial difficulties. This is a sad situation—an actor willing and capable forced to humiliate himself while ignorant German comedians, song and dance men and incompetent leading men foster their wares before a vacillating public.

Well, perhaps things may change, but I fear not in dear Bill's day. The moving pictures reign supreme! Pantomime seems to gratify the multitude!

Let the incense burn low and as it disappears let memories of the work of a master like Thompson cast its shadow on the pathway of the time to come!


[266]

Chapter LXI

THE CRITICS

Praise is the best diet after all."

In an address before the National Press Club on November 17, 1909, the Hon. Henry Watterson had this to say:

"Pretending to be the especial defenders of liberty we are becoming the invaders of private rights. No household seems any longer safe against intrusion. Our reporters are being turned into detectives. As surely as this is not checked, we shall grow to be the objects of fear and hatred, instead of trust and respect."

"Shall grow!" As if you have not already grown, decayed and gone to seed, once more to be transplanted and again born, to invade the sanctity of homes and become the invaders of private rights! "Detectives" indeed! As a rule you are not even common cops!

No wonder public men look upon such "journalists" with aversion and contempt and liken them to the police and the scavenger! No wonder honest journalists, like Watterson, antagonize such methods as are employed by the emissaries who represent the yellow journalism of our delightfully free country!

Very often after reading one of the vilifying attacks made upon me (for no apparent reason other than to vent the writer's spleen or for lack of other material) I have wondered what effect it has had upon my associates, my audiences and my friends. It is wonderful how little the power of will asserts itself. Falsehood[267] and scandal seldom concern any except those personally negligent. It is a pity that a critic who has so much power to do good and make happy the artist by a few kind words will use the weapon of the wood chopper. Fortunately you cannot make or unmake the artist of to-day. You may flaunt your accusations regarding his private life, but after all the good remains.

I honestly believe that a true American man or woman derives more pleasure from reading an account of the happy marriage of Ethel Barrymore and the delightful coming of her first born than from the lurid announcement that Mary Mannering has at last secured her permanent release from the bonds of her unhappy alliance with James K. Hackett. It has taken me many years to come to this conclusion, and it was only after two years passed in silent retrospect among the flowers, hand in hand with nature in glorious California, that I determined to don again the sock and buskin. But I went back to my professional work with a clearer conscience, a lighter heart, a determination to pay little heed to the scoffers and a resolve to try to make the world laugh once more.

He who rises above mediocrity is sure to incur the envy and hatred of the mediocre. I am astounded that I among so many should be selected as a perpetual target. Were I as egotistical as some of my critics say, the published reports of my vagaries and dissipations would have been as Balm in Gilead to my immoral soul! But such balm is far from any desire of mine. The unwholesome notoriety that I received during my absence in Australia shocked and grieved me and had it not been for the few good friends who gallantly came to my assistance with cheery words of encouragement my burden would have been too heavy to bear.

With the greatest indignation I read the truly astonishing articles written about me during my exile. Away[268] from home as we had been for months and always looking forward eagerly to the arrival of the American mail, it was a shock indeed to be deluged with highly sensational accounts of my divorce suit, a shock all the more disagreeable for the wholly unwarrantable dragging in of the name of one as completely ignorant of the entire matter as any one of you who may read this.

For years I have been brutally assailed by certain members of our press who have disliked the color of my hair or the shape of my nose. As I alone have been the victim of these assaults, I have not wearied the public with constant denials, realizing the futility of the "apology" our great dailies vouchsafe when they are proven to be in the wrong. This generous "apology" may be found in an obscure corner of the paper, in very small print, weeks after columns and columns have spicily set forth the details of one's supposed wrong doings. And this is all we get by way of reparation from our traducers.

Here is the article, written by the Hon. Henry Watterson in the Louisville "Courier Journal," January 10, 1895, to which I have referred:

"In the course of an interview with one of our local contemporaries Mr. Nat C. Goodwin, the eminent comedian, takes occasion to correct some recent stories circulated to his disadvantage and to protest against that species of journalism which seeks to enrich itself by the heedless sacrifice of private character.

"Since no one has suffered more in this regard than Mr. Goodwin himself he has certainly the right to speak in his own behalf and at the same time he has a claim upon the consideration of a public which owes so great a debt to his genius. As a matter of fact, however, Mr. Goodwin is just beginning to realize the seriousness of life and the importance of his own relation to the art of which he has long been an unconscious master.

[269]

"With an exuberance of talent rivaled only by his buoyancy of spirit, uniting to extraordinary conversational resources a personal charm unequaled on or off the stage, he has scattered his benefactions of all kinds with a lavish disregard of consequences and that disdain for appearances which emanates, in his case, from a frank nature, incapable of intentional wrong and unconscious of giving cause for evil report.

"He is still a very young man, but he has been and is a great, over-grown boy; fearless and loyal; as open as the day; enjoying the abundance which nature gave him at his birth, which his professional duties have created so profusely around about him and seeking to have others enjoy it with him. But, before all else, it ought to be known by the public that he amply provides for those having the best claim upon his bounty; that he is not merely one of the most generous of friends, but one of the most devoted of sons, and that it can be truly said that no one ever suffered through any act of his.

"To a man of so many gifts and such real merits the press and the public might be more indulgent even if Mr. Goodwin were as erratic as it is sometimes said he is. But he is not so in the sense sought to be ascribed to him. He never could have reached the results, which each season we see re-enforced by new creations, except at the cost of infinite painstaking, conscientious toil; for, exquisite and apparently spontaneous as his art is, he is pre-eminently an intellectual actor and it is preposterous to suppose that he has not been a thoughtful, laborious student, finding his relief in moments of relaxation, which may too often have lapsed into unguarded gayety, but which never degenerated into vulgarity or wantonness. Indeed the warp and woof of Mr. Goodwin's character are wholly serious.

[270]

"He is a most unaffected, affectionate man and with the recognition which the world is giving him as the foremost comedian of his time, the inevitable and natural successor to the great Jefferson, it is safe to predict that he will fall into his place with the ready grace that sits upon all he says and does.

"Meanwhile the boys in the City Editor's Room ought to use more blue and less red in pencilling the coming and going of one so brilliant and so gentle and, in all that they have a right to take note of, so unoffending."

God bless you, Marse Henry!

The avidity with which the average penny-a-liners scent failure is only equaled by the blatant exposition of their reviews. They are like a lot of sheep huddled together, vainly endeavoring to emerge from the perfume of their own manure to flaunt their individual opinions before the garrulous public which itself is only too willing to proclaim "the king is dead!"

Senator Arthur Pugh Gorman once told me that failures were a good remedy for success and brought people to a realization of their own unimportance. Granted, if failure were individual, but as failure does not as a rule affect only one's self it is hard to administer the doses of the plural to mitigate the humiliation of the singular.

Has it ever occurred to the average critic that when a play fails not only the author and the leading artist are submerged in the vortex of despair, but all the tributaries of the enterprise go down with the ship? But what do they care—when many of the successful actors proclaim to the world that they enjoy their "art"—succeeding or failing!—and respect the reviewers of their work? I regret that many of them are only too willing to assist the critics in tearing down the structure of the successful player.

[271]

Some time ago I had a long talk with a comedian, short and very funny, on and off the stage. He is a true artist, a wit, gentle in his methods and a truly legitimate comedian. He was complaining of the existing conditions of the stage and assured me that it was only the lack of funds which compelled him to remain upon the boards to make the public laugh; that he was praying for the time when he could forget his gifts and leave the stage forever.

The little chap has worked like a galley slave for years. I know of one period in his career when he produced three consecutive failures in an equal number of weeks in a New York theatre; produced them and incurred all the risks—and finally landed the fourth a winner. He is constantly producing new material and to-day a New York playhouse displays an electric sign which spells his name. Yet he desires to leave the stage forever! Of course, he does! What honest actor does not?

Another artist, a friend of mine who has played to the largest receipts ever known in the history of the stage, told me recently that he was going to give it up, imparting to me the fact that he could no longer stand the humiliation and the heartaches he was forced to endure!

The attitude of these gifted players is as an oasis in the desert of incompetency and convinces me that irrespective of the type that spells inadequacy and commercial success for a few of the ephemeral stars there are some self-respecting actors left who refuse to accompany these unworthy disciples down the narrow path that must lead to an eventual eclipse.

What an unthinking person is the average front-of-the-curtain speech maker! Fancy thanking an audience for the privilege of entertaining it! It has always struck me as being ludicrous. But I can sympathize[272] with an actor thanking an audience for sitting out a failure!

I believe it was Charles Lamb or someone equally clever who remarked, "Apprentices are required for every trade, save that of critic; he is ready-made."

How true!

Critics—what a queer lot!—are generally foes to art—from Dr. Johnson down to those of the present day. Seldom sponsors, always antagonistic, jealous and even venomous, they are eager to tear down citadels of honest thought and houses of worthy purpose! They remain hostile until the continued success of their victim compels a truce. And how cravenly they acknowledge defeat! Like the shot coyote they will only fight when wounded.

The reviewer of a prize fight will comment upon a picture; criticize sculpture, literature, acting!

Why should the average critic know anything about acting when his horizon does not extend beyond the ill-ventilated room containing his trunk filled with the manuscripts which he has not succeeded in having produced? Conscious of the revenues of the successful playwrights of the day he criticizes with venom in his drab heart and vitriol in his ink-bottle! No wonder he enjoys storming the forts of prosperity!

But what gets on my nerves is the attention given some of these penny-a-liners by the average American manager-producer who cull the complimentary expressions of these incompetents and print them conspicuously upon their posters. To add further insult to the honest player most of the yellow journals photograph these critics, heading the columns of their uninstructive matter with their faces!

Shades of Lamb, Hazlitt, and George Henry Lewes!

I wonder how many readers cut out the pictures of those little cherubs, "Alan Dale" and "Vance" Thompson,[273] and paste them in their scrap books? I utilized their pictures beautifying (!) two cuspidors in my home—and they are always in constant use!

My antagonism to the critics is not sweeping. I have the most supreme respect for the memory of such critics as the late Mr. Clapp of Boston, Mr. McPhelim of Chicago, Clement Scott and Joseph Knight of London, Mr. Wiliard of Providence, "Brick" Pomeroy, Joseph Bradford and Frank Hatton. I have the same regard for some of the living critics including, the Hon. Henry Watterson, Arthur Warren, James O'Donnell Bennett, Philip Hale, Blakely Hall, Amy Leslie, George Goodale, Ashton Stevens, Lyman P. Glover, Lawrence Reamer, Elwyn Barron, Stilson Hutchins, Marion Reedy and many others. These gentlemen know whereof they write and never allow personalities to enter their critical views. But for those effeminate, puerile, sycophantic, dogmatic parasites who live from hand to mouth, who bite the hands that feed them, whose exposed palms are always in evidence (to receive the stipends that warp their supposed knowledge of the art)—I have an equal amount of disgust.

"Alan Dale" whose real name is Cohen called on me some years ago in Paris with instructions from his master, Mr. Hearst, to interview me.

I sent my servant to tell him to come up and arranged the furniture for his reception (I did not care to pay for breakage and I was afraid his thick skull might destroy some of the bric-a-brac if he fell where I intended he should fall!). I set the scene for him, but when he entered and I contemplated this little, self-opinionated, arrogant, subservient, and grovelling person I asked myself "What's the use?"—gave him an interview and dismissed him.

I felt only pity for the poor, little, puny hireling!

(Since the above was penned I have read a most[274] complimentary criticism of my Fagin in "Oliver Twist" written by "Alan Dale." Consequently the above remarks "don't go!")

An astute gentleman on one of the Chicago papers, gushing over "the great art of Mr. John Hare" as old Eccles in "Caste," wrote:

"What a remarkable metamorphosis it was to see Mr. Hare, the quiet, dignified man of the world, in his dressing-room discussing his profession when, a few moments before, he had been depicting the drunken sot with shaggy eyebrows, dishevelled hair, unkempt beard and filthy clothes!"

This he considered the art of acting. I call it the art of make-up. He further annoyed me by saying, "This should be a lesson to some of our comedians, who fancy themselves actors, who simply come on the stage, speak fat lines and have only to appear natural."

"Only to appear natural!" I happen to know the critic who wrote the above article. He is a remarkably graceful man and a most proficient golf player. Now taking him at his word I should like to place that gentleman in a conspicuous place on my stage, in evening dress, and have him rise, walk across the stage, ask the servant to assist him on with his coat, bid the other characters good night and make an exit. He would, I am sure, cease chiding any actor for being "natural." It is far easier to be somebody else on the stage, with the aid of wig and grease paint, than to appear as one's self.

No one fails to recognize Bernhardt or Duse. Neither did Booth nor Forrest sink his individuality or hide his face, like the ancient Greeks, behind a mask. I'll wager that if Mr. Hare had been an American the hound would have objected to the Hare's disguise!

One of the most natural actors whom I ever saw on any stage and who never by any possible chance endeavored[275] to destroy his identity was William Warren. He was and is considered by the elect the finest comedian that American has ever produced. I wish my golf player could have enjoyed the privilege of seeing that grand old man play Eccles!

Every great actor that we have sent abroad for the past fifty years has signally failed (with one single exception and he assured me that his largest house was a trifle over $600 and he had a play written or rather re-written by one of the most popular of English authors). With three exceptions no one has ever failed, man or woman, who has come to us from foreign shores.

It is "the thing" to applaud the efforts of all European actors. It is far different in England. I am certain there is no prevailing antagonism because of the fact that we are Americans, but the public as a rule does not understand our methods and is quite content with its own. I only wish that we could absorb its temperament. It does get on my nerves, though, when shiploads of English actors visit America, simply to enable them to replenish their impoverished bank accounts at home.

How long will it last?

I wonder!

However, when any foreigner visits our country with a determination to make it his permanent abode and does so I always wish him well. Take for instance Edward H. Sothern. If ever a man deserved the position he has attained Sothern does, if only for his energy and tenacity of purpose.

Of course, in any other country than America, he could never have succeeded.

Even in this country, surrounded as he is by an over production of filth, to make Shakespeare a paying investment is an achievement of which to be proud.

[276]

I am not airing any opinion of his artistic work, as I have been privileged to witness only his performance of "Hamlet." I have also seen Charles Fechter, E. L. Davenport and Edwin Booth as the Dane, which naturally prejudices me in my criticism of Sothern's performance! But any man who has the courage to announce his intention of playing "Macbeth" for one week (and does it!) deserves a place in the Hall of Fame!

Mr. Sothern deserves the congratulations of the American public—for getting away with it!

And for all I've written in this chapter I must confess that—

Observation makes critics of us all!

Also—

While I have confined my attention to the so-called critics I have not forgotten that there are other men engaged in the newspaper business and of these—

The average reporter reminds me of the little boy with a pea shooter. He bears malice towards no one in particular but—he's got a pea shooter!


[277]

Chapter LXII

JAMES A. HEARNE

At the time James A. Hearne gave me the photograph which accompanies this chapter he was one of the best actors, if not the best actor who spoke any language—in my estimation. He was then well into the fifties and for two score years had run the gamut from Bill Sykes (and he was king in that rôle) to the tender Nathan'l in that best of American plays, "Shore Acres."

The reproduction of the inscription which Hearne wrote on the back of his photograph shows that the old gentleman was not without a keen sense of humor.

I knew him all my stage life and in my eyes he was always a most wonderful person. In his early days he was prone to much dissipation, even to ruffianism; but he always drank and fought before the world. He was honest even when violently inclined. He never sneaked up back alleys to fight a foe, but met him in the open—no hiring of rooms in which to get drunk but at the open door where all could see him. And even in those days everybody loved the man.

In his later life he used his great mentality and became a real man, a beatific creature.

He married three times.

His first wife was the distinguished Lucille Western, a most wonderful natural, emotional actress. It is said she has made more money in a single season than any other star of any time. Her first husband, James[278] Meade, a New York gambler, told me he handed her personally more than $600,000 in forty-two weeks! This was during the Civil War.

And she died in poverty!

Herself a spendthrift, she was ably assisted in dissipating her fortune by both Meade and Hearne. Her death followed her marriage to William Whalley, a ne'er-do-well but clever actor and at that time a great Bowery favorite.

After Lucille's death Hearne married her sister Helen, one of the most beautiful women ever born. They were very unhappy and a divorce speedily ended their union.

From this time Hearne's career showed a marked change. He died nearly a Christian!

Behind him he left his third wife, a most brilliant, clever woman who helped to bring about his regeneration, several successful plays and two talented daughters, Julie and Chrystal Hearne.


It is just as natural for two human beings, brought constantly in contact with each other, to mate as it is for birds and animals.


A man of genius, if he marries at all, should marry a peasant.

[back]

James A. Hearne
He knew how poor Sol "fell"

[279]

Chapter LXIII

EDDIE FOY

Fancy a man's being father of six or seven or eight children—and then adopting an additional brace! What a heart, what a great, big, fine heart has a man like that!

And this is what Eddie Foy has done.

Eddie Foy is a unique character in the American drama. Aside from his prowess as a disciple of that theory which measures patriotism by infants he is the greatest clown our stage has ever known. And he takes his clowning very seriously.

I always like to hear Eddie Foy talk. I enjoy being with him. He is a true comedian.

It happened I was his fellow voyager on his first passage across the Atlantic. He was on his way to meet his bride, an Italian woman. (Fancy my listening to rhapsodies about a bride—not my own!)

They are a numerous family—and as happy as numerous. He is a most generous and home-loving person for all his fondness for his clubs.

I love to hear him talk about playing Hamlet.

He really thinks he can!

Perhaps he's right.

I wonder.


[280]

Chapter LXIV

WILLIAM GILLETTE

I was standing, many years ago, in the lobby of the Parker House, Boston, speaking to the late Louis Aldrich, an old and esteemed friend of mine, who had just made a tremendous success in a play written by the late Bartley Campbell, called "My Partner," when a gaunt, thin and anaemic person suddenly approached us and grasping Louis by the arm said, "I saw your play last night, great house, splendid performance, bad play," and left us as quickly as he came. "Who is that chap?" I asked.—"Oh, he is a young crank," said Aldrich, "who has written a play he wants me to produce called 'The Professor,' not a bad play, but he insists upon playing the leading rôle." "He looks more like a chemist than an actor," I replied.

Several years after I was negotiating with the late A. M. Palmer, to produce a play called "The Private Secretary," but, unfortunately, strolling into the Boston Museum pending the negotiations, I witnessed an adaptation of "The Private Secretary," taken from the German I believe, called "Nunky," excellently played by the Stock Company. Having four weeks booking at the Park Theatre in Boston the ensuing season, where I intended playing "The Private Secretary," if my negotiations with Palmer proved successful, I called everything off, as I did not desire to enter into competition with Ian Robertson, who was scoring immensely in the[281] character of "The Private Secretary," which I contemplated doing.

Shortly after Palmer secured an injunction against "Nunky," and I witnessed the performance of "The Private Secretary," at the Madison Square Theatre in New York, to a packed house, and the so-called crank I had previously met with Aldrich at the Parker House, in Boston, was playing the leading rôle. His name was William Gillette.

William is a very quaint person, and even to this day, many people call him a crank. He may be eccentric, all geniuses are, but he is a very able man, one of the best American dramatists, and a most excellent actor, particularly when playing the hero of one of his own plays. He has no natural repose and is possessed of very little magnetism. He certainly has a personality however and has solved the problem of standing still like the center pole of a merry-go-around in all his plays, successfully contriving to arrange his scenes so that his characters rush around him, while he stands motionless in the center, giving the impression of great repose. This is a splendid trick but only permissible to actors who pay themselves their own author's fees.

I once saw Gillette play a character I had previously seen Guitry perform in Paris, and I must confess that Gillette suffered by comparison. In this play he had to move and he proved he was no sprinter. An English critic, a friend of mine who had witnessed the performance of Gillette in "Too Much Johnson" and "Held by the Enemy" remarked, "This man Gillette is a most confusing person. If I did not know the plot of his plays, I could not tell whether he was playing the villain or hero."

I do not know if Gillette ever realized his limitations, but I fancy he did, for he succeeded unquestionably in cultivating a pose, an air of, 'please don't approach me,[282] I am too much absorbed,' etc. I have seen him enter a drawing room in London, and by his presence stop all conversation. Apparently oblivious to his surroundings, he would enter, stop at the door, locate his host or hostess, say a few epigrammatic things in a hard rasping nasal voice, acknowledge the presence of a few friends by a casual nod and quickly take his leave. The conversation for the next hour would be devoted to the man who had entered and left so unceremoniously. "What an eccentric person," "how unique," "what personality," "splendid presence," would be heard from all sides.

This pose, eccentricity, or whatever you call it, may be assumed or natural, I do not know which, but it is effective if you can get away with it. Mansfield did it successfully, Barrett and Arnold Daly tried it and failed, Booth had the gift.

Perhaps the cause of Gillette's eccentricity is his liver, a successful man with a poor digestion can do most anything out of the ordinary, if he has courage and money. The rush of blood to the head causing a twitching of the lips when observed, may mean to the on-looker the concentration of thought; a scowl brought about by a pain in the abdominal cavity may suggest the villain of the yet to be born play contemplating the ruin of the heroine, and there you are. Every act, every suggestion, every attitude of the successful author or actor has a hidden meaning.

The gyrations of the successful Gillette proved so effective, I am told, that he has invested part of his fortune in a headache powder.

I have known Mr. Gillette, thirty years, not intimately; there are few who enjoy that privilege. He is a reticent person, very difficult to fathom, easy of manner, courteous and refined, a gentleman at all times, splendid playwright, a fine exponent of character in all his plays, and a man of whom America should be proud.


[283]

Chapter LXV

WILLIAM BRADY, ESQ.

From a vendor of peanuts on the Southern Pacific Railroad, to the owner of two New York playhouses, and the manager of more than a dozen theatrical enterprises in twenty-five years, is the history of "Bill" Brady, the man who made James Corbett the champion pugilist of the world.

Brady is a man with the courage of his own convictions. He will stand by any production he finances in the face of overwhelming defeat, and cease to present it only when the managers refuse to give him time. No matter what the box office returns are, the play remains on if Brady fancies it.

He is an excellent judge of untried plays and seldom produces a failure. Being a very good actor, irrespective of his managerial capacity, he will jump in and play any part at a moment's notice if necessary. He has done this many times during his career and thus saved the closing of the theatre.

His married life is most happy, Grace George and two splendid children, together with a charming residence on Riverside Drive, New York, make a peaceful fireside and a haven for the tired "Billie," when worn out by worries of office life and travel.

We have been friends for many years and I always enjoy his society immensely.

May good luck and well deserved success attend you, William Brady, Esq.


[284]

Chapter LXVI

ROBERT FORD

I have as little patience with the theory that one's character is patently defined in one's physiognomy as with that other sophism concerning the leaking out of truth as wine "leaks in." Look at the accompanying photograph. Is there anything in that frank, boyish countenance which even suggests a cold blooded, conscienceless murderer? Yet the young gentleman was not only a murderer, he was that most despicable of human hounds—the betrayer of his friend.

It was one night many years ago in Kansas City, in a pool parlor to be exact, that I first saw this young scoundrel. I was playing pool with a stranger who had been introduced as "Mr. Hunter." My attention was directed toward the boy by the singular behavior of my friendly antagonist. No matter where "Mr. Hunter" had to go around the table to make a shot he never allowed his back to be turned toward the door nor toward the young man who sat peacefully in one corner of the smoke-filled room and gazed benignly, if steadily, at "Mr. Hunter." Intuitively I knew questions would not be welcomed and I stilled my curiosity.

The next day I joined the throngs which travelled over to St. Joe to see the remains of the notorious Jesse James who had been shot dead in his own home. There, lying on a bed, was all that was left of my "Mr. Hunter!"

[back]

Robert Ford
"A cold-blooded, conscienceless murderer"

Two weeks later in a Turkish bath I recognized my [285]young gentleman of the pool parlor. He was not averse to talking and presently informed me that he was Robert Ford, murderer of Jesse James. This explanation followed my expression of surprise on discovering that he had a villainous-looking revolver in his hand—in the steam room! He explained his life was not worth a cent because of his murder of James and he was taking no chances of being caught unarmed.

We chatted for two hours—agreeably! After a bit he told me all about his life with Jesse James—how he had been befriended by the bandit. Casually he described the killing and laughed as if it were a great joke that he had had to wait eighteen months for James to turn his back toward him!

"That is," he added, "long enough for me to get out my gun and kill him."

He admitted readily that had it not been for the fact that James grew to have a positive affection for and belief in him he never would have succeeded in his murderous scheme.

"But finally," he concluded laughingly, "he fell for me—whole—and I got my chance."

I asked him how he could bring himself to do such a foul murder.

"Well," he replied thoughtfully, as if wishing to be literally truthful, "the Governor offered a reward for him dead or alive—and I needed the money."

Not excepting even Benedict Arnold this boy was the most universally despised individual this country ever produced. He drifted further West after the murder and became one of the most desperate characters those lawless days ever knew. He met his end in a bar room in Cripple Creek. That time he tried to shoot a man whose back was not turned!

Yet what physiognomist could read in this boyish face such dastardy as Robert Ford delighted in?


[286]

Chapter LXVII

MORE PLAYS

If George Broadhurst had not promised me the first call on his play "Bought and Paid For" I should have been saved another failure. It was on the strength of his promise that I should be the first to read the manuscript of what was destined to become his biggest money-making success that I agreed to produce "The Captain." I kept my agreement and scored up against myself a costly fizzle. Broadhurst broke his word—and I never saw "Bought and Paid For" until I bought and paid for a seat!

And this in face of the fact that Broadhurst spent most of his time with me at my house on the beach in California while he was working out the plot of the play! (And I later discovered he had not refused to take advantage of at least one of my freely offered suggestions—to make the biggest climactic moment of the action!)

Failures were becoming not only frequent, they were getting to be a habit!

"A Native Son" was my next venture. It was written by James Montgomery, author of "Ready Money," and it was as perfect a failure as "Ready Money" was a success! It was an awful thing. I wonder that I ever produced it.

At last I had had my fill of trying to discover the great American play—and headed for my California home to rest—and think!

[287]

That period didn't last long. It never has.

Presently George C. Tyler (who is Liebler & Company) got in touch with me, the outcome of it being that I signed a three-years' contract with him on the understanding that I should get as my first vehicle under his management an original play by Booth Tarkington.

In due course Tarkington completed "Cameo Kirby." In my thirty-nine years of experience on the stage I never played a character I liked so well as this delightful, urbane, Southern gentleman-gambler. I gave him a Southern dialect and the production all the touches of the real South of that early era I could invent. The audiences seemed to like my interpretation; but the press was divided. Sensing what would happen to me in New York I refused to go into that city and surrendered the rôle to Mr. Dustin Farnum.

With Farnum in the title rôle "Cameo Kirby" failed in New York exactly as I had it predicted. Farnum made a success with the play on the road, however. His youth, beauty and simple delivery were the opposites of my characterization—and he succeeded where I failed!

I was delighted to hear of Dustin's success. I am very fond of him and of his brother Bill and I consider them both excellent players.


[288]

Chapter LXVIII

WILLIE COLLIER

What a quaint, clever, original comedian is Willie Collier!

He is as companionable with those he likes as are flowers in a meadow. His meadow is very limited, however, as he likes but few. He believes, as I do, that the environment of friends should be narrow.

Willie insists upon being addressed as William by the majority. Only the few, among whom I am a privileged member, may call him Willie!

His wit scintillates like forked lightning and he possesses sarcasm equal to that of a Douglas Jerrold. Many authors can attribute "their" success to Willie's wit. His personality off the stage is rather stern for a comedian—in the opinion of the majority. But his acting has conquered three countries—America, Australia and England!

I could fill pages with his wit, but the one first to come to my mind must suffice.

For some reason Willie dislikes the Players Club. (Perhaps it is because one sees so few actors there!) It was during the first all-star gambol of the Lambs Club that Willie sprang a joke at the Players' expense—a joke that has since come to be a classic.

We travelled palatially on this Lambs tour, in fine, private cars, magnificently fitted, and with our every comfort catered to. As we were pulling out of Syracuse in our train de luxe, a dingy engine pulling a dirty[289] caboose passed us on the other track. We were at dinner. Willie wiped his lips with his napkin and remarked quietly:

"Boys, there goes the Players Club back to New York."

I have known him for more than twenty years. His late partner, Charlie Reed, was as dear to me as Willie is. We three had many good times. Poor Charlie passed away years ago and Willie, left alone, has struggled bravely to earn his now well-merited success.

I have known him to produce three successive failures in as many weeks—and come forth smiling!

After the second failure I suggested that he come down to the footlights the night of his third première and salute his audience with, "Well, here I am again."

Willie Collier asked the volatile Hopper why he had failed to invite him to one of his weddings. Hopper promised him that he would—to his next!

A few of those who pose as my critics might do worse than to marry—once in a while. It would at least save expense!

The world is better with such men as Charlie Reed and Willie Collier as occupants. I hope that Willie will come dancing down the sun, casting his wit and humor to all the pessimistic censors of the drama for years to come.


[290]

Chapter LXIX

HENRY MILLER

A wholesome and natural actor is Henry Miller with all the technique of our art at his finger tips, he is a splendid stage manager. Had he the facilities at his command I am sure he would rank equally with David Belasco and the late Henry Irving—as a master producer.

What I like about Miller's acting is his exquisite touch and splendid repose. I have known him for more than twenty years and have followed his career steadily—from the days of the old Empire Stock Company (where he was surrounded by such artists as Billy Thompson, Viola Allen and William Faversham) down to his most recent vehicle, "The Rainbow." And always he has proved equal to his task.

I may be prejudiced in his favor because I am so fond of him personally. He has exquisite charm off the stage as well as on. I always anticipate joyfully meeting him and indulging in our little dressing-room chats.

Miller is an artist and a gentleman and an ornament to the American stage.


[291]

Chapter LXX

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

My memory was never my strong point. As I approach maturity (!) I find to my surprise that it is growing better rather than worse. But perhaps it couldn't grow worse!

Nevertheless the time I won the world's championship as the prize forgetter I really didn't deserve it. It happened early in the divorce proceedings I had instituted at Reno against Maxine Elliott.

Pardon an interjection; but I must express my surprise here that so many men and women I meet are all laboring under the delusion that I have always been on the receiving end of divorce actions! No less recently than June, 1913, I had the pleasure of reading in the New York "Evening World" a very clever article concerning my kinship with Bluebeard, and Solomon, and Henry the Eighth in the course of which the young woman who wrote the article declared I was "more divorced against than divorcing!" The truth is quite the reverse of this and it seems to me should be so easy of confirmation as to admit of no uncertainty in anyone's mind, however much my reputation makes it seem as if I should be the "divorced against" half of any match! Three divorces have marked my matrimonial experiences. I obtained two and by dint of hard work and much skirmishing (and for purely business reasons) managed to help my fourth wife obtain her freedom from me!

[292]

Before the thought of divorcing Maxine had entered my head, in fact while we were still living at Jackwood, I had become interested in the mining game and after the dénouement at Trouville I headed straight for Reno. Even then I think it was rather my purpose to get into the mining gamble head over heels than to make the divorce center of America my "legal residence" that led me to Nevada. I'll admit that my establishing my business headquarters at Reno proved a great convenience!

The proceedings were well under way and I was on the stand as a witness when the judge asked me the name of my wife before I married her. I told him it was Hall.

"That's not what she says," replied the judge severely.

And then it developed that when her answer to my complaint had been returned to the court she signed herself McDermott.

"But that is the name of her first husband," I explained. "Her maiden name is Hall."

"She swears her maiden name is McDermott," quoth the judge.

"Well, her brother's name is Hall," I insisted. "I always supposed it was her name too."

"Great Scott!" thundered the judge. "Don't you know your own wife's name?"

"No, not if it isn't Hall," I responded.

Then it developed that Maxine's maiden name was McDermott, sure enough. The McDermott she married was no relation. Her brother had assumed the name of Hall.

But after all—what's in a name?


[293]

Chapter LXXI

I TRY BEING A BUSINESS MAN

While spending a holiday at Glenwood Springs, Colorado, I met a man from Goldfield, Nevada. He was fresh from the mining camp then just blossoming into great public notice and he knew in detail all the stories of its vast mineral products. His name was Brewer, not that it matters, and he had all the swagger and bluster of a mining magnate. In no time at all he had convinced everyone in the hotel, including me, that he was one of the lucky ones who had struck it rich in that land of gold!

He literally threw money broadcast. Bell boys sprinted in a continuous marathon to and from the telegraph office with voluminous messages Brewer sent and received. The guests spent most of their time admiring and envying this Croesus. For my part I found my gambling blood becoming aroused at his wondrous recitals of the possibilities of this strange country. When he invited me to attend the Gans-Nelson prize fight at Goldfield I accepted with alacrity.

At Reno we found a private car awaiting us and we were conveyed the remaining two hundred miles to the scene of the fistic encounter in royal state. What an exciting two hundred miles they were! Brewer, who had proved a most hospitable gentleman, planned our having the car for our exclusive use, but before we had journeyed half the distance from Reno to Goldfield that car was crowded to suffocation! His impromptu guests[294] included gamblers, fighters, thieves, soubrettes, merchants, miners, lawyers! It was a conclave as interesting as it was motley.

Thus, sans sleep, we rolled into Goldfield.

What an exciting place it was! It reminded me of another primitive community in Nevada, Virginia City, which I had visited twenty years earlier. Here were the same lack of civilization, utter abandon, tent houses by the hundreds, a few straggling brick and adobe buildings and the inevitable long street running from end to end of the town. On this occasion the street was filled with a howling mob of men and women—rabid fight fans.

Scores of derricks and piles and piles of ore dumped on the sides of operating mines, not to mention hundreds of prospects and claims, told the veriest stranger that here was a mining town. Every other door led into a gambling house or a saloon.

As you contemplated the arid desert utterly devoid of vegetation, hemmed in by huge mountains themselves great uplifts of barren rock, you marvelled at the courage of the first man who made bold to enter that land of devastation and dust. To see that transplanted Brocken scene trodden by people from every part of the globe made me stop and ponder. What will man not do for gold? To be sure a greater part of this mob was attracted to Goldfield by the fight; but the aftermath was horrible to contemplate, the time when only those remained who gambled on what they hoped to find under the crust called earth. I realized that truly this was the country of the survival of the fittest.

[back]

As Cameo Kirby
I never played a character I liked so well

A mining camp is a cesspool in which the unfortunate ones wish for death and a mecca for a certain type of speculators, the latter almost as numerous as the former. A poor man has a better chance on Broadway! The desert is no place for him. A practical miner can [295]earn a fair living, but invariably he squanders it all on the green cloth. The wanderer has an ephemeral existence living upon the bounty of the workman who never refuses him a drink or a stack of white chips—if he is winning. As he seldom wins the wanderer (under this caption I include all those outcasts who form a veritable scum in mining camps) finds little chance to recoup his fortunes at the gambling table. The desert for such as these is a prison difficult to escape from.

After the fight Brewer persuaded me to remain as his guest for a few days. He had a pretentious dwelling, as dwellings in Goldfield went, and continued to fill the rôle of host admirably. I was already seized with a spirit of speculation and shortly had become launched with Brewer and an Englishman named Kennedy on a big deal which ended in our securing an option on a prospect known as the Triangle. It was situated about a mile from town at Diamond Fields (why the diamond no one seemed to know!).

Everybody was most courteous to me. (I can't imagine why!)

One night, in Casey's Hotel, I almost made a fortune. One always "almost" makes a fortune in a mining camp. On this occasion I was playing roulette when a Chicago capitalist approached me and suggested that I join a syndicate which was about to lease a property of great potential value. To get in would cost me $5,000. Just as I was about to pay down the money Brewer arrived on the scene and dragged me away unceremoniously. He told me more than $40,000 had already been sunk in the property and although they had gone down to a depth of nearly one thousand feet they had not discovered even a tomato can.

"Do you expect to find tomato cans as far down in the bowels of the earth as that?" I am afraid Brewer[296] doubted the ingenuousness of my credulity as I asked this question—blandly.

Brewer persuaded me to keep out of the syndicate. The Chicago capitalist and his few associates in the succeeding nine months each took $1,250,000 out of this property and the price of the stock rose from $2 to $20 a share!

I put my all into Triangle. We bought a controlling interest for fifteen cents a share and then bulled the stock on the Goldfield exchange until it sold at more than one dollar a share. This was making money fairly fast. The whole thing was accomplished in about four months! I journeyed back to New York and quickly told all my friends to get aboard. Expert engineers had told me that at the one-hundred-foot level they had struck ore averaging $40 a ton. When the public received this illuminating bit of information the stock rose to $1.50.

I bought some at that price!

Previously I had bought more than 100,000 shares with my partners and as many more on my own account at varying prices from fifteen cents up.

The engineers were strictly truthful. They had found forty-dollar ore all right. But my partners neglected to inform me that they had carefully placed it where it was found! That was my introduction to the gentle art of "salting" a mine. Ever since, at the mere mention of the word mine there comes a brackish taste in my mouth.

They had taken their profits when the stock was selling at one dollar and had gone short 100,000 shares above this price; in fact they were the sellers of all the stock I purchased above the dollar price! Happily they were unable to control the upward trend of the market. As fast as they sold short I bought. Their stock got away from them. When they were called on[297] to deliver what they had sold they had not one share and were forced to call upon me for help. Thinking they were in a hole merely because of innocent blunders I loaned them 100,000 shares for $4,000.

That block of stock they sent to my own brokers for my own account in Goldfield! My brokers confiscated all of it to satisfy a loan they had extended to this pair of partners of mine! Thus was I robbed of stock worth in the open market $150,000. When I was fully awake I sold the remainder of my holdings, realizing about 60 cents a share. In all I cleared about $20,000 in this first adventure into the mining game—although many of my friends still believe I made a half million out of Triangle.

Meantime I had endorsed Brewer's notes for $10,000 taking as security stock in another property he controlled. When the notes fell due I had to pay them as by that time everybody had discovered Brewer's specialty and was demanding liquidation. By threatening to send him to the penitentiary I succeeded in regaining part of the $10,000 and erased his name from my visiting list.

Brewer is now playing the tambourine in the Salvation Army. At the last reports he was trying to trade that instrument for a harp, with which to pick his way into heaven—undoubtedly. He was a failure with the pick in Nevada. Perhaps he will be more successful in heaven. If he succeeds in gaining admission (and I ever get there) I'll try to steal his harp!

Although I made but little money at Goldfield I was very greatly attracted by its life; the utter abandon, the manhood, the disregard of municipal laws, the semblance of honor which fooled so many, the codes of right and wrong, the tremendous chances that were taken with a dice box. It was as exciting as being a member of a suicide club!

[298]

Why do we court conflict with Fate when we know Fate is merciless?

I wonder.

Immediately after my unfortunate alliance with Brewer I formed an association with two men who, with me, believed in going at the mining game legitimately. By this I mean it is legitimate to buy options on prospects and properties which look good and place them on the market after they have been carefully examined by mining experts. Placing them on the market involves forming stock companies in each of which we must have the controlling interest. If the properties turn out well we continue to develop them and work them for all they're worth. This was the general idea of our new association.

I was the financial backer. One of my partners was a practical miner who knew nothing about publicity work nor the art of promotion. The other was a young man who had gone stranded in Reno and whom I had known slightly in Goldfield as one of the boldest operators in that roaring camp. He had failed for $3,000,000 in Goldfield (mentioned by way of corroboration of this young gentleman's boldness!), and then paid his creditors 100 cents on the dollar, quitting the camp broke.

In due time and with no little formality was launched the Nat C. Goodwin Company, mine operators with headquarters in Reno. Presently we secured control of a valuable property in the new mining town Rawhide. The stock was worth most in Rawhide itself. All the mining experts there knew the property. Thousands of shares were sold to the inhabitants of the new mining camp who were loudest in their boasts that we would soon prove that our property was the peer of the great Goldfield consolidated.

So confident were we that we had a really valuable property that we determined to go to New York and[299] let the public in on the ground floor. With no difficulty at all we listed our stock on the New York Curb and with no manipulation that stock soared from 25 cents to $1.50 per share, almost over night. All we had to do with it was publishing the mining experts' reports.

The gentlemen who call themselves brokers on the Curb banded themselves together and conspired to work our ruin. In the end they succeeded.

But before they did we managed to mount fairly high in the business; our legitimate methods and the unflagging industry of my partners resulting in nine months in our acquiring the controlling interest in Rawhide Coalition, owning outright another property in Rawhide, one in Bovard, one in Fairview, one in Goldfield and the Ely Central. The purchase price of Rawhide Coalition was $700,000 and of Ely Central, $1,075,000. We had fine offices in New York in which we employed one hundred and twenty-five stenographers! There we edited and published a weekly newspaper, not to mention a daily and weekly market letter. Each had a circulation of 60,000 copies weekly.

This was the time that the big promoters of Wall Street decided we had been prosperous long enough. They "raided" our stocks—an interesting process for which there is not room here. Their raids were followed by the publication in two of the daily newspapers of the fact that one of my partners had a Past. It was a youthful past—the event happened back in 1894, just sixteen years before—but they dug it up to bludgeon the market with.

What of it? In Nevada it's what a man is—not what he was—that counts.

They said our "mines" and "prospects" were fakes, my partners impostors and I a willing tool. A burly police captain came to my apartments and threatened me with all sorts of punishments unless I agreed to pay[300] for "protection." I was fearfully upset and insisted that my attorney examine the books of the company to assure me that everything was being conducted honestly. I knew the properties in Nevada were all we claimed for them. I had spent months there and had panned gold on every yard of these properties. My attorney made a rigid examination of the books and assured me that everything was strictly legitimate.

Then it was I determined to continue for I knew we had the goods and had been "on the level." But the market looters were inexorable and showed no mercy. They broke our stock in one day from $1.50 to 60 cents. My partner, the man with a youthful Past, stood by his guns. Instead of allowing the stock to tumble and against my advice, he bought every share as fast as it was offered with the result that we found ourselves owners of hundreds of thousands of shares of stock bought at prices ranging from $1.50 downwards which we could not readily dispose of again, because of the slanderous utterances of the destroyers.

This sportsmanlike act of my partner was repeated on another occasion, a few months later, during the marketing of Ely Central stock. The conspirators finally used a "pull" in Washington and succeeded in getting the Federal authorities to close-up the business. Rawhide Coalition, according to latest information, is earning $200,000 a year now (1913-14). Ely Central has been "grabbed" and will be merged with the Rockefeller-Cole-Ryan owned Giroux, its neighbor.

I had learned months previously that there was a plot on foot to put our firm out of business and the identity of the big interests behind this scheme thoroughly impressed me. The suggestion that I "get out" while the getting was good appealed to me strongly. But first I acquainted my partners with the facts. The man with the past was as stubborn as he was[301] honest. He knew we were dealing honestly with the public and he was bent on standing by his guns and proving it. I knew the sword of Damocles was hanging by the slenderest of threads—and resigned.

Eighteen months later the offices were the scene of a sure-enough, wild-Western raid. All the staff was placed under arrest and indicted by the grand jury. It cost the government several hundred thousands of dollars to put that partner of mine in jail for six months, but they did it by main force and broke him first. The combat was an uneven one, and the "government" practically confessed before the trial was finished that they had been unwittingly used to do a "job" for Wall Street. The only crime my partner was guilty of was telling the truth and trying to protect his customers.

I have set this down, not so much as autobiography as a vindication for a man who insisted on being an honest man, no matter what the cost! Also I have wished to disabuse some of my friends of an impression that I made a fortune out of my adventure into the mining game. I didn't make a fortune. I lost one!


[302]

Chapter LXXII

THE FIVE FATEFUL FISH CAKES AND NUMBER FOUR

Marriage for me had become an incident, not a conquest, now that I had tried and tried again—three times! Ever since my earliest youth I had loved the beautiful in nature. But I never sought these beautiful creatures who sooner or later took my name. On the contrary, as I have shown, my second and third wives were thrust upon me by force of circumstances. Being human I allowed my bark of irresponsibility to sail tranquilly into the harbor of intrigue.

If these two marriages were errors my fourth venture into matrimony was a catastrophe! I fled from a Cleopatra to meet a Borgia.

And a dish of fish cakes proved my undoing!

I am passionately fond of the mixture of salt fish and potato—at least I had been for twenty-five years. Now, for some reason, the mention of the aforetime delicacy makes me shudder.

It was early one morning that I was hurrying to the ferry on my way to Washington when I caught the indescribable odor of fish cakes wafted toward me from the open door of the old Metropole Hotel. Instantly I forgot everything. Fish cakes appealed to me more then than anything in all the world—except only a cup of Child's "surpassing" and a plate of butter cakes, colloquially known as "sinkers." Into the Metropole I went and sat me down to await the execution of my order.

[303]

Hardly had I taken my seat when an ex-manager of an ex-champion prize fighter approached me with a proposition which reduced to its simplest terms meant that I become angel for a theatrical troupe. I had little confidence in his managerial ability and knew enough of his past environment to convince me that he was not the man to handle any part of my money. When he told me the enterprise had already been launched and had met with failure after a disastrous tour I was positive I should never be induced to act as its reviver.

I arrived at this sane conclusion, however, before the fish cakes were set before me!

The scenery, it seemed, was held by the sheriff in Jersey City for unpaid debts. The young and handsome woman star was lying in hiding in an apartment house nearby—in a hysterical condition promoted by her discovery of the perfidy of her manager and of the syndicate of backers who had "backed" with spontaneous unanimity at the crucial moment. These gentlemen, my informer continued, had not only refused to rescue the scenery from the vulgar Jersey sheriff, but had also refused to redeem $20,000 worth of jewels which the young and handsome star had pawned in Louisville that the attraction might remain on tour.

Before I had finished the first fish cake I discovered with mild surprise that the ex-champion prize fighter's ex-manager had a hitherto concealed attractive manner of speech and was altogether a magnetic sort of chap. As my digestive processes began work on that first fish cake I found myself interested not a little in this recital of the young woman's sufferings. I must have shown it for my companion waxed more and more enthusiastic and concluded an especially colorful description of her anguish with the whispered statement that she had been ruined!

[304]

In response to my sympathetic query he replied that he had intended to qualify the remark with the word financially!

In order further to test the truthfulness of his tale I asked the names of the syndicate of backers. They included a notorious roué, a wealthy stock broker and the ex-champion prize fighter—a versatile trio. It took but a short time for me to discover also the name of the attraction and of the young and handsome star. Fate was again at my elbow. I had heard of both play and player weeks before. The play had been suggested to me for my own use. I had refused to negotiate for it as I was then under the management of Charles Frohman and had no wish to make a change. But I knew that it was a very clever farce. Its failure, I was convinced, was the fault of inadequate acting and bad booking.

This conclusion was not reached until I had masticated five fish cakes!

By the time I had finished the fifth my blood was fairly boiling and the whole universe seemed to me to be calling aloud for a man to step forward and right the wrongs the young and handsome star had suffered. The treatment she had received was inhuman, I was sure of it!

Impulsively I telegraphed the young lady in Washington on whom I had started to call that I was detained in New York on most important business. Then we jumped into a cab and were on our way to the abode of the young and handsome (not to forget hysterical) star.

Oh why did I not go to Washington? Why, oh why, did my mad passion for fish cakes cause me to tarry at the Metropole? Perhaps Demon Fate will answer that when posterity turns gray.

[back]

Edna Goodrich
My young and handsome star

Arrived at our destination we were first, and speedily, ushered into the presence of the mother of our heroine-in-distress.[305] She was a middle aged woman of the modern, alert type—who enjoyed cigarettes when her dear daughter was not in evidence. As we chatted inconsequentially I fancied I had seen her somewhere previously; but as she launched forth on her distracted tale of her daughter's ruin (she did not qualify it!) my truant thoughts were squelched.

Then came radiantly the daughter. She was submerged in sables! Resplendent jewels covered her! Evidently the aspiring Juliet had not left everything in Louisville. I was sure I had to deal with a very thrifty and provident, yes, and young and handsome star!

All the ex-manager had told me was quickly verified by the daughter and her astute mama. As was to be expected I let all my doubts dissolve in pity. Also I felt a combined desire to be philanthropic and heroic. I was almost as quick a thinker in those days as I was rapid as a spender. I was 47 years old! Perhaps, gentle reader, you know how susceptible are we clever men at that time of life, how tranquilly we sit back on the cushions of our thoughts and say to ourselves we are proof against the blandishments of women. We are sure that all the favors we bestow emanate from the bigness of our hearts! We are proof against all temptation. We know that December and May can not mate!

Believe me, my dear reader, I was convinced when I made up my mind that I would assist this young woman I was doing an act of simple charity, combined with a little business tact. It was to be merely a business transaction. Fate might have nudged my elbow, at least once, that I might have foreseen the cost of my vanity.

Within four hours from the moment the young and handsome star appeared on my horizon I had financed this worthy trio to the extent of releasing the scenery and redeeming the jewels. Also and by way of security (!) I found myself owner of the play.

[306]

Oh I was some business man in those days!

Five days later I sailed for London.

Alone?

Oh no.

With me I took the just-released scenery, the play (which I had never read but which I "knew" was a clever farce) and a promise from the young and handsome star that she would follow on a steamship three weeks later.

Before I sailed, with what seemed to me unnecessary foresight I cabled Tom Ryley, then lessee of the Shaftesbury Theatre, announcing my coming and asking that he prepare for the opening of my young and handsome star and me in "The Genius." When I reached London I found Ryley had obtained the rights to "The Lion and the Mouse" and was enthusiastic over its production. Charles Frohman had cabled him to endeavor to induce me to play the leading rôle. But I never for one moment believed London would accept "The Lion and the Mouse" and refused to appear in it. (My opinion of London's acceptance of "The Genius"—now that I had read it—was not much more optimistic!) We compromised on a production of "A Gilded Fool." This ran one week. Ryley again approached me with the leading part in "The Lion and the Mouse" and again I refused. And now I urged him to put on "The Genius."

Ryley, ordinarily a brainy chap, showed unexpected lack of appreciation of talent and refused point blank to produce the farce if the young woman from America appeared in it. He seemed not at all impressed by my eloquent description of her ability as an actress. (Later he told me he had seen her on the stage!) (Much later I confided to him that I never had!)

Back I came to New York—bringing with me a young woman I had discovered in London. (I am always "discovering" young women. It's a habit.)[307] This young woman, however, has since made history for herself. The wife of an automobile salesman and earning pin money as an "extra woman" at the Shaftesbury Theatre, she volunteered one day to type extra copies of "A Gilded Fool" which were needed quickly. She did the work so well I engaged her as my secretary. One day she read me a speech from the play and so impressed me with her intelligence I gave her the leading parts in both "A Gilded Fool" and "An American Citizen" to study. Her readings of these two parts led me to engage her then and there as my leading lady—in place of the young and handsome star whom Ryley couldn't "see." (In passing I may say I paid her five pounds per week!) After the opening night's performance I engaged her for three years at a salary of $150 per week!

Thus began the career of Alexandra Carlisle, to-day the highest salaried leading lady in London!

I had a most trying experience with Miss Carlisle. On the railway trip from London to Southampton we had as fellow travellers her father and mother and husband—and we made a very happy quintette. But directly we were aboard the ship Miss Carlisle fell victim to an attack of homesickness. Perhaps it was her sense of loss of her husband, perhaps mal de mer was at the bottom of it. In any event she spent the entire trip in tears and in borrowing all my spare cash to send love messages, via wireless, to the husband for whom she had shown no affection at all—up to the time of our leaving. Of course all the old lady passengers glared at me the first day out! The rumor literally flew all over that ship that I was either abducting the young woman—or, equally heinous offense, was neglecting her!

But to return to the mundane fish cakes—and the consequences thereof!

The ex-champion's ex-manager had remained in London after the departure of the discomfited young and[308] handsome star and her mama—to watch over me! Instructions had been cabled to him later to be especially watchful now that I was at my old game of "discovering" leading ladies. The trio of conspirators were very, very busy those days! The purpose of the ex-manager's presence at my elbow, constantly shown, was to have me land in New York fancy free. In spite of my susceptible nature there was no cause for alarm this time! I was intensely respectable! As yet I had not even thought of divorcing Maxine Elliott.

My idea was to combine two types of beauty, English and American, and with good press work make both my leading women popular favorites. But the hopeless state of mind of Miss Carlisle put rather a damper on my plan. I turned her over to the care of the ex-manager and remained in my stateroom during the entire trip. On our arrival in New York I loaned Miss Carlisle the cost of her passage home and the following week she started back to London—much to the satisfaction of my American beauty, pardon, my young and handsome star.

It struck me as an odd coincidence that on the same ship with Miss Carlisle, also bound for London, was Miss Maxine—who always found it convenient to go to England within a day or two of my arrival in America!

Fate was a busy bee these days, I can tell you. He was weaving his net well—and tightly.

Of course the young and handsome star and her mama met me at the pier. They drove me to a most luxurious flat in Twenty-sixth Street—in a landau drawn by two spanking bays. Truly my young and handsome star was going some! After a hearty luncheon prepared by Martin I went to my hotel and spent the evening with my friends, who were, are and always have been—men!

The next day I arranged a tour for "The Genius."

[309]

The less said about that tour—

With my marriage to Edna Goodrich, the young and handsome star, forsooth, the mere mention of fish cakes caused me to shudder!

At the end of that first tour I knew that the end was at hand. Perhaps I was influenced by the fact that my friends told me at every conceivable opportunity of the record of the young woman and her mama. Of course I indignantly refused to listen to these allegations; but the fact that there existed grounds for such allegations may possibly have disturbed me. However, we went along, producing "When We Were Twenty-One," "An American Citizen," one act of "The Merchant of Venice" (thank God it was only one act!) and an original play written by George Broadhurst, which made a tremendous hit in the South but was a failure in the East.

My star-wife complained of being ill at the end of the season and I sent her to a famous specialist in Minnesota for a series of treatments. Her recovery was almost instantaneous! In five days, from the day she left me, she wired me in California that she was in New York about to start for Europe! She asked that I follow her. I replied I had just reached Los Angeles and had business that would keep me there—at least over night.

This was the beginning of the end indeed.

One night at dinner, a month or so later, I received an anonymous letter containing charges against my absent bride. These general allegations interested me less than the statement that the writer could show me a watch which I had mourned as lost for many months. You see I wanted the watch!

I arranged for an interview with my unknown correspondent, by putting a club in the pocket of my dressing gown. Two men appeared. One, a very common sort[310] of person, I kept in my drawing room and the other, a young, respectable looking chap I took into my den. There I began my cross-examination. After promising to show me the long-lost watch the following morning he called in his companion who proved to be a waiter in a café in which my wife had enjoyed her clandestine meetings. His description of the man immediately served to identify him as one of my wife's former admirers—a gentleman-about-town who had squandered $20,000 on her, proposed and been accepted (before our marriage) and, fortunately, gone broke before the ceremony could be performed! My discovery that he was the gentleman in the case made me wonder. I had not heard that his fortunes had been repaired—before this!

The following morning we visited a pawn broker's shop and there in the window, hanging on a line, was my watch. I recognized it, not only from its engraved initials but also because it was one of three which were never duplicated. I had bought all three in Paris years before and given two of them to my two best friends. When it disappeared I was sure it had been stolen and did my best to trace it with the aid of the police. I did not suspect my wife!

The young man had discovered the facts when the man-about-town in a moment of drunken braggadocio boasted of his friendship with my wife and displayed my watch as proof of it!

[back]

As Shylock
One of my successful failures

In the frenzy of the moment my impulse was to drop all else and find this whelp—to drive him at the point of a revolver into that pawn shop and there make him redeem and return to me the property which I could not accuse him of stealing! On second thought I realized that if I ever laid eyes on him I could never refrain from taking just one pop at him—and if the sound appealed to me I was afraid I might continue popping. [311]So I counted ten and my reason returned. To be locked up for murder even if for only a few minutes is not a thing to be courted. Besides there were always my mother and father to consider. Altogether it would have been the act of a fool and for once I determined to play another rôle. In following out this resolve I hastily left Los Angeles and started for London.

Loving wife and fond mama had no intimation of my discovery. They were awaiting me at the station and never did a husband get a warmer greeting! Why, even mama seemed to have absorbed much of loving daughter's excess of affection for me! And thus they conducted me to a snug apartment in the Savoy Hotel. To interrupt such tender solicitude for my well being by vulgar references to other men who yesterday had been the recipients of all I was getting then would have put me too far out of the picture! So I sat tight and waited for morning.

After breakfast the next day I opened the ball by remarking that I had finally come across the trail of the thief who had stolen my watch. Also I added with seeming irrelevancy that I had heard about the clandestine meetings my wife had been indulging in with a gentleman I named.

Her denials were not only positive; they were indignant. The fact that I had absolute proof of all I had thus far said was the only thing that saved me from becoming thoroughly convinced that I was mistaken.

Why is it so many women are such consummate actresses off the stage and such impossible amateurs on?

I did a little acting on my own account, however, and evidenced complete belief in all my wife's denials. She was sure I would eventually find my watch in the top tray of a trunk which had lain in storage in New York for months. I let it go at that. I had acquired all the[312] proof I wanted, in other directions, and was satisfied. Besides, all this happened during the month of June, 1910, and I was in a great hurry to get back to America.

The contest for the heavy-weight pugilistic championship of the world was scheduled to be held July 4, 1910!

My wife remained abroad that summer but the Jeffries-Johnson-fight-disappointment almost offset that benediction.

Preparatory to my going back into my profession I bought a play from George Broadhurst who for some inconceivable (!) reason refused to let me produce it if I allowed my wife to appear in it. This was quite a shock to me but I set it down to the well-known eccentricity of authors. Present in a box at the opening performance of the play was my quondam "young and handsome star" who returned to New York just in time to grace the occasion. Later she descended on our little organization while we were playing in Toronto and this time she hurled accusations of all kinds at my head—any one of which would have enabled her to divorce me even in England! When the trial of her divorce action came along all these charges were disproven—but that one session in Toronto was not conducted along Parliamentary lines, so far as she was concerned.

That she had instituted the proceedings didn't bother me at all. Having done all the affirmative work in two other divorce actions I thought I might as well take it easy this time and let her do it! But I had forgotten all about a certain deed of trust I had made in Paris some time before.

During my mining activities I foresaw the calamity that was inevitable and acting on the advice of an incompetent attorney I foolishly entered into a trust agreement with my wife under the terms of which I placed all my property in the hands of a trustee. In[313] avoiding a possible loss I ran headfirst into a dead sure steal!

As soon as I had been served in the divorce action I began suit on my own account to cancel this trust agreement. It had always been a nuisance even in the days when wife and fond mama were at their loving-est! Now it was imperative that I be allowed to handle my own property alone. The settlement of that action was a long, drawn-out affair as compared with the divorce action. During the several months before my wife finally won (?) her case the newspapers were filled daily with sensational articles about my affairs with women I had never even seen! It seemed to me as if the gentlemen of the press just published any and every photograph of a pretty woman they could find and named her as one of the unfortunate objects of my attentions. In spite of this my wife's able counsel had been able to present no facts to the Referee that could justify him in recommending a decree in her favor—up to the Tuesday before the Saturday on which he was to render his decision.

It never dawned on me that this was the case until my dear old friend, Jim Killduff, who had been following the suit more closely than I had came to me that Tuesday night and congratulated me! "You're winning so easily, it's a laugh," he exclaimed. "Winning?" I echoed feebly. "Do you mean she isn't going to get her divorce?" "She hasn't a chance on earth," replied Jim gleefully. "Every charge she has made against you has been stricken from the Referee's record." "Good Lord," I gasped, "she's got to win! It's the only way I can ever get this trust agreement busted!"

The result of our conversation I can not set forth in detail. The fact remains, however, that before that next Saturday the Referee had presented to him the[314] evidence necessary to make his course of duty plain—and once again the newspapers had grounds (?) for proclaiming me a disciple of Solomon!

Between you and me, gentle reader, Justice must have had to tighten that bandage about her eyes when she learned of that decree! She surely must have loosened it laughing!

I can say, however, that it is a most expensive luxury—being divorced! It's much cheaper to use the active voice of that verb!


Marriages are made in heaven—canceled in Reno.


I have had many sweethearts, but only one survives—my mother.


If a man steal your wife don't kill him—caution him!


[315]

Chapter LXXIII

SIR BEERBOHM TREE

A most extraordinary man is Beerbohm Tree. Refined, almost aesthetic in manner yet as worldly and practical as the most prosaic merchant. His humor is human if a bit cynical. He has the manner of a dreamer and an eye like a City man or an American gambler. Among those he loves he is nothing but a boy with a boyish simplicity but when he is surrounded by uninteresting acquaintances he suggests a German philosopher or Danish poet—in his impenetrable reserve!

A clever man is Beerbohm Tree and I like him.

As is the case with all successful players especially if they have the good sense and good taste to present refined art he has many enemies. And most of these are members of his own profession! These malcontents have the effrontery to discuss a genius who has so far distanced them by his indefatigable industry, mentality and application as to leave them nowhere. He has succeeded in producing dignified plays in a dignified manner and his success has not been only "artistic." He makes enough to be able to pay $50,000 per annum for one of the prettiest playhouses in the world!

I smile with you at your scoffers, Mr. Tree (I can't say Sir Beerbohm!). My hat's off to you.

Here is a little anecdote of the man they say is characteristic.

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He had been dining quite late—yes, and well. When the party broke up Tree hailed a cab and jumped in with the one word, "Home," addressed toward the cabby. That artful individual saw his chance for a fat fare and drove off without inquiring for more explicit instructions. After he had let his horse wander about London all night—with Tree in peaceful slumber inside—the cabby peeked in through his little aperture in the roof and awoke the sleeping player.

"Where shall I drive you to now, sir?" queried the cabby.

"Home, I say," replied Tree angrily.

"I beg pardon, guv'nor," replied the cabby, "but where is your 'ome, sir?"

Tree opened one eye long enough to direct a look full of reproach at the cabby.

"You don't imagine I'm going to tell every common cabman my private address, do you?"


[317]

Chapter LXXIV

THE ORIGIN OF THE STAGE

Far be it from me to be a dusty delver into dates! But a word as to the origin of the profession in which so many of us have toiled so many years may not be amiss, especially if it point the moral or adorn the tale I have in mind. And that is not so much a tale as a protest against the customary reverence the public has for the actor who dares essay the classic rôles. It's not only not difficult to play a classic rôle. It's fifty per cent easier than to play a modern part!

But to be historical!

It was almost 350 (or only, as you please) years ago that the first properly licensed theatre was built in London. The exact date was 1570. It was called the Black Friars Theatre.

(And to-day, 1913, there are a dozen or so on one block, on one side of one block in Forty-second street, New York!)

On the other hand it is marvelous to consider the amount of discussion one causes when one announces a forth-coming production of a classic play. By common impulse the critics sharpen their quills and prepare for the onslaught! How dare men and women who have been known to wear modern garments attractively and in style even attempt to enter into competition with past or present "masters"? By what right has the modern actor forsaken his frock coat for the sock and buskin?

[318]

But again, the first religious spectacle was probably "St. Catherine," a miracle play mentioned by Mattheu Paris as having been written by Geoffrey, a Norman, afterwards Abbot of St. Albans, and played at Dunstable Abbey in 1110. In the "Description of the most noble city of London" by Fitz Stephen, a monk, in treating of the diversions of the inhabitants of the metropolis in 1174, says that while the plays all dealt with holy subjects the methods of the merchants who "presented" the attractions were anything but that. The gentle art of the ballyhoo was evidently well known even in those days for they used jugglers and buffoons and minstrels to draw the crowds up to the box office window. When the clergy awoke to what was going on they promptly put their sandaled feet down and stopped the money-making! Monks took the place of the unfrocked actors and the box offices and theatres all disappeared. Thereafter the miracle plays were enacted in the cathedrals and there was no way to check the gross receipts!

According to the critics the classic comedy should never be played by an actor who has not arrived at an age that physically incapacitates him from not only looking the part but acting it! It is no different with classic tragedy. And this is based, perhaps, on the absurd fallacy that the classic drama is most difficult to portray. In fact it is the easiest. It is easily proved.

Take any one of the old comedies. In the first place they create their own atmosphere, an atmosphere unknown to nine hundred and ninety-nine out of one thousand. The costumes are of brilliant coloring and in exquisite taste and a novelty in themselves. Nine-tenths of the idioms are not understood by the audience—and that is always most attractive! The methods of provoking laughter are uncommon, hence sure-fire! The play is a classic, therefore beyond criticism! No one is[319] alive to-day who can judge of its accuracy—so it must be perfect! And, best of all, it is guaranteed to be in conformance with all the best standards—by tradition!

A tramp could make a success with a modern play with half this much in its favor!

On the other hand take the modern play. You know the atmosphere. You live in it. None is created. It is just there. Consequently the critics wail the lack of it! The costumes are simply the dull prosaic garments of the day. There isn't any novelty to be found there. The language is understandable—perilous fault! The fun is provoked by well-known, legitimate methods and is accordingly "stupid." The comedian is a human being—and "tiresome" therefore!

Mind you, dear reader, I would not be of those who wail about the decline of the drama and the ascendency of the movies. But I can't escape the facts. And here is another angle of the situation which perhaps is too often overlooked.

There is no question that the actor of to-day is living in a more agreeable environment than his brother of a hundred years ago. He is accepted now socially. He was a gypsy then. His opportunity to annex a large share of the world's goods is larger to-day than ever it was. Yet in his artistic life he is less fortunate than his confreres of even twenty-five years ago.

Why?

Simply because we have lifted the curtain, let loose the secrets of our little house, discussed our art with the gambler and the janitor!

It is a difficult job to convince a friend with whom you're dining that you are capable of playing Hamlet. He can't disassociate you from the evening clothes you wear!

Abroad the man and the actor are separate beings. Here, through our own fault, we are always ourselves.

[320]

And so it must continue to be until the old back door keeper is reinstated, the green room refurbished and—the curtain dropped! Let the janitor be silenced and the stage door barred and securely fastened! Then and not until then may we hope to attain truly artistic results.

[back]

In Hamlet
It had always been my desire to appear in Shakespearean roles

[321]

Chapter LXXV

MY STAGE-STRUCK VALET

It was back in the early nineties that an invitation was extended to me to appear in an all-star performance of "Richard the Third" in a monster benefit for some charitable institution. (My friends, the critics, permit me to play tragedy—for charity!) With my acceptance of the invitation I also sent word I should appreciate it if a "bit" (a small part) were given to my valet to play. This valet of mine was the most woefully stage-struck individual I ever saw. It was his only fault. Otherwise he was without a blemish as a valet. He had begged me for months to let him go on in one of my productions but I had never had an opportunity until now.

The messenger sent from Richmond through Lord Stanley to Richard on the field of battle was the part my valet was to play and his line was "A gentleman called Stanley desires admittance from the Earl of Richmond." For weeks prior to the benefit matinee that valet repeated his line aloud! If I asked for my slippers he brought them mumbling, "A gentleman called Stanley desires admittance from the Earl of Richmond." No matter what I said to him he prefaced his answer with this line. It got on my nerves to such an extent I told him I'd dismiss him if he said it again in my hearing. It was no use. Every time I turned my head I saw my valet repeating "A gentleman called Stanley desires admittance from the Earl of Richmond."

[322]

We put in a long rehearsal session the morning of the matinee. I was so much occupied with my own performance I paid no attention to the valet. I forgot even to inform him about the costume he should wear. As I was finishing my make-up and within a moment or two of the rise of the curtain my valet appeared in the doorway of my dressing-room with a request that I look him over. What I saw sent me into a paroxysm of laughter. There he was, 250 pounds of him, in a green hauberk extending only to the top of his stomach! (It should have covered him to his knees.) Blue tights pulled over the generous paunch met the lingering and deficient hauberk. Scarlet boots were fitted with spurs so huge as to stagger any tragedian! The helmet whose side chains should have touched his shoulders sat atop his head like a chestnut on an apple with the side chains tickling the tops of his ears! As a finish he had the largest sword I ever saw strapped to his side!

There was no time to change so I suppressed my laughter and told him for the fiftieth time to go to the left first entrance and when he saw my back toward him and heard me say, "Off with his head, so much for Buckingham," to rush on and with all his vigor shout his line. The valet promptly began, "A gentleman called—" but I stopped him and he started off as proud as a peacock and as confident as possible.

The moment came. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the valet waiting in his place. In his eagerness he was like a tiger ready to spring on his prey. I gave the cue. On came the valet! Then I turned and with all the force at my command snarled, "How now?"

The valet began to fall backwards! Nearer and nearer the footlights he tottered until his feet became entangled in the spurs—and down he went flat on his back! Picking himself up he managed to rescue the funny little helmet from the footlights trough, put it on[323] his head, look for the exact center of the stage, reach it carefully, face the audience (with his back toward me!) and shouted, "A lady named Stanley is downstairs!"

Of course everybody died! It was really my fault. I had omitted telling him that in tragedy actors save their voices at rehearsal and of course my rage was altogether unexpected by him as I had previously said "How now?" in a conversational tone. Of course every one of my friends insisted my valet was not to blame inasmuch as he had been making just announcements every day of his life to either John Mason or me in our little flat in the West thirties! But I always set it down as the best proof in the world that valets are born and not made.


Tragedy is the husband of humor; comedy the child.


Many comedians either make you laugh or frighten you to death.


[324]

Chapter LXXVI

GEORGE C. TYLER

Of all the managers now producing plays in America there is one who stands like Caesar alone, looking down upon the victorious battle field of success. If there are any laurel wreaths for sale in your neighborhood, gentle reader, buy one and bestow it upon the brow of George C. Tyler. Patient, keen, gentle and aggressive, he merits it. He has more artistic blood coursing through his veins than any man I know and, better still, he knows how to exude it. Courageous even to being stubborn he never allows anyone to rob him of his convictions. Once he embarks on any project he is as unmovable as the Sphinx whose counterpart appears in his spectacular triumph, "The Garden of Allah."

Although he owns wonderful business ability he never allows commercialism to influence him in the production of a play. His knowledge of the ethics of the theatre equals the masters' and he can fly with the speed of a bird from tragedy to comedy. Here is no purveyor of established successes but a discoverer of them! He is truly a servant of the masses. And with all his success he remains as urbane as when he began. He has fought his battles alone and unaided; borne his failures with fortitude; accepted defeat with the same equanimity as success. And now he stands one of the representative producing managers of the world!

I have been associated with him only once and it was one of the most delightful experiences of my career.

[325]

Shall I ever again enjoy that pleasure?

I wonder.

August, 1913    

It was a long time ago I wrote the preceding encomium. To-day I am suing Mr. Tyler for a large sum of money for breach of contract! But I meant it when I wrote it and I mean it still! And it goes as it stands!


[326]

Chapter LXXVII

I FIND THE VERY BEST PHYLLIS

Fate in the person of George Broadhurst may seem incongruous to those who know that dramatist—but Fate is not to be held accountable for his guises! And it was through Broadhurst that Fate brought onto my horizon a young woman who presently was to save my life—and that is the least of countless benefits she has bestowed upon me!

Broadhurst spent most of his time in Southern California from 1907 to 1909 and not a little of it at my beach home. After my long run of failures I hoped I had landed a winner in his new play "The Captain" which I took to New York for production there. He accompanied me and undertook to select the cast. It was he who engaged as my leading woman Miss Margaret Moreland.

The play was a fizzle as complete as any of the others. Until it proved a disastrous failure I never knew it was not all Broadhurst's. He told me afterwards he had written it in collaboration with some "unknown!"

[back]

Margaret Moreland
The very best Phyllis

To round out my season I revived several of my tried and trusted old plays and did fairly good business on the road. If I accomplished nothing else that season could be set down by me as a success inasmuch as I discovered in Miss Moreland's acting of Phyllis in [327]"When We were Twenty-One," the finest performance that rôle ever received—and I knew that in her lay the ability to become a really great emotional actress—a distinct discovery in these days.

When I received an offer at the close of the season to go to Los Angeles and appear in a repertoire of my plays at the Auditorium Theatre where a new stock company was being formed, I accepted. On my arrival there I found the whole city wildly excited over this first attempt at opposition which the Emperor of Stage Land in Southern California, Oliver Morosco, had ever been called upon to throttle. It was a battle royal while it lasted. The Auditorium, which seats 3500, was packed at every performance—at very cheap prices. During the several months of my engagement Morosco spent many thousands of dollars tying up all the plays available for stock performances he could lay his hands on. Also my engagement served to increase the salaries of a number of Morosco's actors who he feared were about to desert him. For me it was a brief holiday and amusing.

I recruited a company in Los Angeles following this engagement, engaging Miss Moreland as my leading woman, and opened in Phoenix, Arizona, playing my way across the country and arriving in New York in the holiday season in 1911. It was during this cross-country tour that I received a telegram from George C. Tyler which resulted in my proving to not a few doubting Thomases that I could "come back."

I have constantly referred to Fate taking my cue from Homer. Now I learn he used this word simply to save time! It seems it is "the fates" who have directed my course through life. With those three little maids from school, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos leading me along with their silken threads through my nose, allowing me to go on and on and then reeling me[328] back again as one toys with a yellowtail, is it any wonder I've made so many failures? Had I only known I should have given up long ago!

Young ladies, you've certainly made it warm for me!


A love scene on the stage, properly played, leads to recriminations—if an explanation is demanded by the one left at home.


An "American beauty" is a flower which seeks to adorn a coronet. Wear one as a boutonnière—but never, never marry one!


Marriage in the profession should be made obligatory.


[329]

Chapter LXXVIII

THE LAMBS CLUB

What a remarkable institution is the Lambs Club!

I say institution because in its development during the past twenty years it has grown from a cozy little rendezvous for the tired actors after their night's work to a clearing house for plays, sketches and engagements of artists.

To visit that beautiful home on Forty-fourth Street between the hours of one and two o'clock is to imagine you are in a business man's luncheon club down town.

As I look back upon the many years when, of a cold winter's night, I would wander into the little Twenty-sixth Street home of the Lambs—I sigh deeply! Then I was sure to find a greeting from dear old Clay Greene, from that budding genius Gus Thomas. There were there to welcome me also the erratic Sydney Rosenfeldt, suave Frank Carlisle, dominant Wilton Lackaye, brilliant Maurice Barrymore, dear old Lincoln (now passed away) and countless others, including clever Henry Dixey, then at the zenith of his success, the Holland boys and—but then why continue?

It was then we knew how to spend the time, how to regale ourselves and how to pass many, many happy hours with anecdote and song. All the members knew each other in those days. I, among many others, never entered the club without embracing that dearest of men, George Fawcett. There were no favored few in[330] those days. It was one for all and all for one. Clever John Mason and that equally talented artist, George Nash, were the staunchest upholders of this slogan.

How different now!

As I enter the Lambs Club today I scarcely know a member. Almost all of the old guard have passed away. As I look into the faces of the many unknown to me it seems almost impossible that I have not wandered into the wrong building! But presently I find Gus Thomas and a few remaining members of the old flock—and then all is well once more.

Thomas has developed into the greatest American dramatist—as I knew he would. To be sure now and then one of his plays fails to meet with favor while perhaps one of the anaemic Broadhurst's sensual plays is meeting with success, but Thomas's plays will live and be in the libraries of America when the products of these ephemeral writers have been consigned to the waste baskets of obscurity.

I consider Thomas not only a great dramatist but a great American. I am sure if he had entered politics the world would have recognized him as a great statesman. With a suavity of manner, full of repose and a geniality which few possess, Thomas exerts on an audience a combined feeling of restfulness and awe. I never heard him utter an unkind word to anybody nor discuss an actor's or author's ability with anything approaching antagonism. He goes along quietly and unassumingly, writes a couple of failures and then—bang!—he hits you in the eye with a play that has a knock-out punch.

Such plays as "The Witching Hour" and "As a Man Thinks" will be acted when he and his many admirers shall have long since passed into the great beyond.

Augustus Thomas I count the Pinero of America—and a true American gentleman. We have been friends for twenty years and I am proud of that friendship.

[back]

As Fagin in Oliver Twist
"Fagin was a comedian"

[331]

In the same spirit of thanksgiving I may mention my friendship for John Mason. Surely the American public must be proud of this splendid player. John and I were very dear pals in our younger days and we have kept up the friendship to date. In those days John was prone to indulgence in all the existing vagaries of the moment and never took himself seriously until recently. But now he has settled down and showed his real merits as an actor.

The fact that he is a great favorite in London speaks volumes for his capability.

I sincerely hope that John Mason may be spared for many years to show this great American public that there are a few American artists still capable of delivering the goods.

John! I wish you continued success, for you deserve it!


In casting a play nowadays, never seek ability, seek only "personality."


The true philosophy of life is to try to achieve something and when you have—forget it.


Put a uniform on the average middle class "American" and you make of him a vulgar despot.


[332]

Chapter LXXIX

I "COME BACK"

Tyler's telegram contained an offer to play Fagin in an all-star production of "Oliver Twist" to be produced in February, 1912, on the occasion of the Dickens' centenary celebration. It had been a long time, the longest time in my entire stage career, that I had been without a successful characterization in New York—and the thought of giving my interpretation of the famous Jew appealed to me. I accepted.

The production was very good. The company was quite capable. Associated with me were Constance Collier, Lyn Harding, Marie Doro and other equally well-known and finished artists. Fuller Mellish's performance of Mr. Grimwig was one of the most delightful bits of character acting I ever saw.

We opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre to a capacity audience and tremendous business was the rule during the entire engagement. It was a fine playhouse in which to stage such a pretentious production as Tyler had given the play. There is little doubt that "Oliver Twist" might have remained at the New Amsterdam almost indefinitely had it not been that other, earlier bookings compelled us to move out. The demand for seats was so great, however, that Charles Frohman welcomed us at the Empire Theatre where, much to my surprise (for it is altogether too small and "intimate" a place for such a production as this), it continued to "turn 'em away."

[333]

The critics were all very enthusiastic. It amused me not a little to detect in several of the reviews expressions of surprise that I was able to portray Fagin to the reviewer's satisfaction. Of course I knew all along that the Rialto and Park Row were a unit in declaring that I could never "come back." I think perhaps the simple fact that I made Fagin a humorous old codger instead of the sinister object our very best tragedians have always painted him may account for the laudatory notices my work received.

But there can't be any question about Fagin. He was a comedian—positively! Think of his telling Charlie Bates he would give "dear little Oliver a treat"—by letting him sleep in that awful, awful bed of his! Oh yes, Fagin never stopped having silent laughs. And I liked him for it.

While we were playing to packed houses at every performance at the Empire Tyler sailed for Europe assuring us he would send us out on tour after the Empire Theatre engagement. He said we were to go to the Coast and continue the tour throughout the following season. As a result I turned down a very flattering offer to appear in New York that fall. Had he not failed to keep his promise I should have been spared a year of physical suffering!

But he did break his promise. A week after the Titanic disaster we received notice that the season was at an end so far as "Oliver Twist" was concerned.

And now, having "come back" I foolishly determined to go back—and I started for California once more. I've always thought Greeley's advice should have read, "Go West, old man!"


[334]

Chapter LXXX

I "GO BACK"

The summer of 1912 proved very eventful!

Closing the "Oliver Twist" season early in May I headed for California to superintend the development of my ranch at San Jacinto. Immediately on my arrival I began the laying out and planting of a hundred acres of oranges, lemons and grape fruit. It proved most fascinating work.

During the three months I put in at the ranch I lived in a big tent with a party of friends including Miss Moreland and her married sister. I was up with the birds and in bed by 9 o'clock every night. Employing as I was twenty men and ten six-horse teams, ten four-horse and three ten-horse, my job of supervision was necessarily a big one. I would go from one gang to another climbing hills which in a few days would be levelled! Oh it was big work—adjusting the miles of pipe lines and cement flumes which we manufactured ourselves during the process of grading, preparing the holes to receive the trees which were being prepared and nourished at the nursery of a Mr. Wilson of Hemet, two miles away, seeing that the hot ground was properly cooled by the water I had developed from a concealed spring in the mountains and doing the thousand and one other things necessary to insure the successful development of an orange grove.

[335]

I had previously given the work a great deal of thought and study. It requires a great deal. The average orange grower neglects the study of the planting and rearing of the trees and the result is more often failure than success. An orange tree will not nourish alone and neglected any more than a baby and it is in its early life, like the infant, that it must be watched. The young tree should first be carefully examined as to its vigor and stamina; next its foundation or roots must be well looked after and handled tenderly in its uprooting in the nursery; extreme care expressed in the removal and transplanting. It should be transported, if the weather be hot, during the early morning hours, packed in manure, well watered and the roots covered by canvas or burlap. The holes should be kept moist all the previous evening to cool the earth and in the planting all the roots should be carefully separated and spread out. Directly a row is planted it should be deluged with water for six to eight hours or longer. Once a week for ten years the ground should be cultivated and disturbed and every year, unless the soil is very rich, the trees should be fertilized. An orchard should be gone over at least every other day for three years when by that time it can take care of itself with a little attention and be made a most profitable investment. But it won't thrive on its own and you can't run an orange grove living three thousand miles away nor intrust it to the management of the average care taker. Go to it personally and it will prove a winner with a chance of clearing one thousand dollars an acre annually.


Faith is the harbor of the unwary into which the ship of ignorance tranquilly sails.


[336]

Chapter LXXXI

DAVID BELASCO

What an intellectual giant is David Belasco! The most conspicuous man associated with the American stage to-day. His accomplishments have been colossal. Even Irving, Pouissard, Charles Keane and many other artists of their day, who have devoted their lives to Art, bow in obeisance to the modern David.

Think what this gentleman has accomplished! He has given to the world David Warfield and made him a master; Blanche Bates, Mrs. Carter and many others of equal talent. Produced plays that will go down in history among the classics; modernized stagecraft to the extent that one never realizes they are in a theatre when privileged to witness one of the Belasco productions. Yet, with all his wondrous powers and attainments, he is never in evidence, only his handiwork. He has built the only playhouse worthy the name in America. It suggests the old Irving Lyceum in London, and one approaches the portals of the Belasco Theatre with awe and reverence.

I have known him for over thirty years, and he is as modest as he is clever: every angle of our Art at his finger tips. A gentleman, scholar and Artist! A Man, is David Belasco, Dean of the American Drama.

[back]

David Belasco
An intellectual giant

[337]

Chapter LXXXII

"AUTHOR—AUTHOR"

Not so long ago I was present at the first performance of a play, and during its presentation I was shocked beyond my power to describe by an incident at the same time disgusting and inconceivably vulgar. The play itself—a wearisome thing—was crude and altogether impossible.

At the end of the second act, a half dozen paid ushers applauded valiantly. Before they could become wearied by their difficult task, a huge, bulky man appeared before the curtain. He ambled slowly to the center of the stage where he stood still for perhaps fifteen seconds as if to enable the audience to contemplate him in repose.

Then this individual shifted his weight from one leg to the other, still keeping silent. There he stood, a sneer distorting his features, poised on one leg, the left foot pointing toward the right. He wore an ill-fitting evening suit with an abundance of shirt front, very much mussed, protruding from the confines of the waistcoat. His face, unwashed, suggested a cross between a Bill Sykes and a Caliban. Oblique, thin slits concealed a pair of green-white eyes. A strong, wide jaw that opened and shut like the snap of an alligator's was tilted forward and upward at the puzzled spectators.

Finally the person, the author of the drivel we had patiently listened to, leaned over the footlights and casting a look toward the woman for whom he had[338] deserted home, wife and children, literally snarled at the audience.

"I wrote this play for the elect," he declared ferociously.

A perceptible shudder ran through the house. Many men and women rose from their seats and left the theatre, refusing to remain to hear the incoherent and egotistical remarks of this revolting person.

I have known this brute for twenty years, and in all that time I have never heard one human being speak anything except ill of him. Managers avoid him. Artists loathe him. Authors despise him. A moral and physical coward, this man without a friend, wanders from East to West, vulgarly attempting to foist upon a long-suffering and all-too-easily deceived public, the woman whose chief claim to public notice is the fact that she was named as co-respondent in the divorce action obtained by his wife.

He continues to write plays of the underworld with inspirations obtained in the sewers of humanity and founded on ideas purloined from departed authors or stolen from the living too weak to protect themselves.

His blustering, bullying tactics have enabled him to push his way upwards to some success—but no one envies him. All who know him "have his number."

I have often wondered how he has escaped bodily injury. No woman is safe from his insults. I know one young woman who went to him in search of an engagement. His first question was so dastardly as to cause her to burst into tears, and she ran from his presence in hysterics. When this young woman's uncle learned of it he loaded a revolver and started on this playwright's track. But the tears and entreaties of his wife and his niece stopped him.

Will the world ever be rid of this form of human parasite?

[339]

I wonder.

The antithesis of this person is another author equally despised. He is a little, pale person who writes problem plays and has met with much success. He never drinks or smokes. In fact he poses as a paragon of all the virtues.

He once wrote me an insulting letter accusing me of uttering profane remarks concerning a certain business transaction between us. I never answered it, but have it in my possession. It may prove useful some day.

This beauty, who also has a wife and children, came West some few years ago accompanied by a woman whom he introduced to many persons as his wife. I knew she was not, but kept my counsel. One day we were discussing a play which he had promised to write for me. I asked him why he did not divorce his wife or insist on her divorcing him. He blandly replied: "Great Scott, I've tried everything to induce her to do so, but she doesn't believe in divorce. Besides, she is a Christian."

Fancy this pious little man saying this.

He goes merrily on his way, living a dual life—the woman of his easy choice provided for far better than his wife and children. And he writes plays dealing with moral problems! He receives very large royalties and basks in the sunshine of his own hypocrisy.

And this individual has had the audacity to criticise my actions and elect himself the censor of my various attitudes.

Well, let him. I would not exchange my conscience for his for all his affluence. And yet, from his point of view, he is right. The world applauds his plays. No one seems to interfere with his private affairs. He is received by all his fellow club members with impersonal respect. The wide white way is always open to him and the woman. There no one ever pushes them[340] aside. The legal wife and children are unknown to cruel, gay Broadway. The narrow paths of the meadows and lanes of the suburban retreat in which this successful author has his family housed are their only byways. Through them they slowly tread—to the little church and beyond it to the graveyard, towards which the wife and mother ever sets her gaze—as if in prayerful hope.

And the author of successful plays is content.

He knows his wife is a Christian.

What is he?

I wonder.


I would rather sell fresh eggs from the end of my private car in one-night stands—than barter impure ones on the stage of a leading New York playhouse.


An agnostic objects to salaries for draped preachers and to temples whose roofs prohibit thought from permeating the realm of inspiration.


Fact is the whiplash that scourges faith.


[341]

Chapter LXXXIII

MUSHROOM MANAGERS

The past year has been an appalling one for the mushroom producing manager. I mean those insolent young men nearing the thirties, who by accident or some unknown reason secure control of musical comedies written by some obscure author and after interesting friends to the extent of investing capital enough to enable them to produce the aforesaid comedies, they launch their productions and sometimes get them over.

They look about for the best available talent, establish salaries that make it prohibitive for legitimate producers to sustain, and calmly go on their way. If they fail they can assign the production to the storehouse and leave their artists in any town or city where they come a cropper. If they succeed with their first venture they at once organize two or three road companies and go through the country circusing their first accidental success. They establish themselves in expensive offices; engage a staff and go at once into the producing game seriously, seeking the best authors and composers and outbidding managers of standing, and endeavor to secure prevailing European successes, or produce original plays of their own. Naturally, their lack of training and experience is a handicap and their first success is seldom followed by another. Two or three successive failures soon put them on the shelf and they seek the Bankruptcy Court to avoid their[342] creditors. Artists are left stranded with an inflated idea of their respective values and generally indulge in a well merited vacation.

They have no sense of honor and their idea of speculation is to invest a shoe string with an idea of securing a tannery.

One of these producers was standing in the lobby of a New York theatre, last season, on the eve of one of his $30,000.00 productions, when he was approached by one of the leading actors of the past winter, to whom he owed several thousand dollars back salary. The actor offered to compromise for a thousand. The manager looked at him and replied: "My boy, where could I get the thousand?" These are the methods that are destroying the theatrical game.

Irresponsible managers have only to enter the office of these syndicates, assure the gentleman in charge that they have a production ready costing many thousands of dollars, and the booking agent at once arranges a tour, throwing aside standard attractions who have not invested quite as much money as the new producer, and the older attraction must take what is given him or leave it alone. If he objects, he is told that the Mushroom Manager has invested from $20,000 to $50,000 in his enterprise and his capital must be protected and the terms made accordingly. In other words, the booking agents gamble with them and allow them a percentage of the gross receipts according to the amount of his investment. I consider this all wrong and one of the reasons of the unsuccessful theatres of the present day.

Men who have judgment and talent should be protected. If they draw the money, what matter to the booking agent what amount of money has been invested?

Three or four of these Mushroom Managers have gone into bankruptcy this season and they can be[343] found every evening at present, tangoing on the various roof gardens, where they belong.

There is no denying the fact that as a nation we prate about patriotism that does not exist. Every foreign artist who visits our shores finds us ready to bow down and pay homage, be it the Mistress of a dethroned king, a bare-legged Countess or an anemic tragedian. I have no desire to be personal; but the adulation, attention and grovelling at the feet of Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson is to me, as an American actor, simply disgusting; not that Sir John is not a good actor, or even a great actor, but I have memories of a departed actor named Edwin Booth, who lost a million dollars in an honest endeavor to perpetuate his art by erecting a playhouse which bore his name. Now, this foreigner who has done absolutely nothing to advance the art of acting, advertises his farewell to a public who are as fickle as they are undiscriminating and packs the theatres, giving his last performance in New York to receipts that dear Edwin Booth never dreamed of playing to; conspicuous citizens pay him tribute, and go forth proclaiming his performance of Hamlet superior to that of Booth. How we Americans forget and fawn. One of our best known and oldest comedians at present appearing before the public, had the extreme bad taste after witnessing the performance of Robertson's Hamlet, to enter the Players Club, which Edwin Booth presented to the profession, and pronounce Robertson's Hamlet superior to Booth's. As a boy I had the pleasure of witnessing Booth play Hamlet; I saw a prince to his finger tips looking the character of a philosopher of thirty, and playing it to perfection. Now an anemic old gentleman past sixty, with a supporting company of which Corse Payton would be ashamed, is packing the playhouses of America, bidding farewell to a public that has long since forgotten Edwin Booth and his[344] supporting company, which included such actors as Edwin Adams, John McCullough, Milnes Levick and divers others of equal talents. One never heard of E. L. Davenport's farewell nor Edwin Forrest's, another actor who left a home for actors incapacitated for work; they are in the grave, forgotten. Actors are walking Broadway seeking employment, others are travelling seeking to earn a livelihood, while an anemic old gentleman is calmly gathering in the American dollars to build his English palace.


How unfortunate to grow up with one's Country! Far better to burst suddenly upon it—unknown—but heralded!


One failure in America will blot out the memory of a score of successes. Here art is sold by the yard.


To realize the unimportance of art, read the average critical review of it.


Acting is now a matter of geography.


America is the English actor's Mecca; England is our cemetery.

[back]

Drawn while We were "Barnstorming"

[345]

Chapter LXXXIV

"KEEP OFF THE GRASS"

I wonder if the average American citizen, particularly that type of long-haired reformer whom the middle west sends to Southern California, ever stops to seek the reason for the annual exodus abroad of so many of us. In these annual trips to Europe we leave millions of dollars earned in this country to add to the coffers of those who understand the broad principles and liberal ideas of government.

It is for freedom! Free thought! Free inclinations! Free expenditures! Masters of themselves, they go where they please, eat and drink what they desire at any hour, time and place. There they are not subservient to the prying eyes of long-haired men and short-haired women. There they find a patch of green for rest and recreation without a sign reading "Keep off the Grass."

The majority of the law-makers of our supposedly free country are not legislators. They are either school-teachers or policemen or hypocritical saints who eat cold food on Sunday and prate from their platform of platitudes their plenary inspirations with a desire that all mankind do likewise. If you fail to live up to their doctrines you are a heretic. If you desire to live among them with free instincts you write yourself down an anchorite. Personally, I would rather be a Hyperborean and subsist on icicles than be compelled to live subject to the insular municipal laws of this[346] boasted free country. Were I personally denied the opportunity of visiting the various capitals of Europe at intervals and watching and enjoying results of modern civilization and really free government, I might be converted and agree with some of the ignorant and incompetent law-makers of our so-called free country.

Come, oh, come with me, some of you moralists who consider it a crime to take a cocktail on the Sabbath, and visit Berlin, the best governed city in the world, where life begins at midnight and continues for twenty-four hours. Then let us on to Paris and Vienna and St. Petersburg, with a stop at Rome. Gaze upon the many happy faces, a large per cent truant, free American citizens enjoying themselves like school children at recess, finding a respite from the puritanical laws of their own country. No arbitrary ordinances forbid their ordering wine, visiting the race courses, playing at baccarat, spending an evening at the opera, and there are no policemen to tell them "Keep off the grass."

And all this enjoyment on the Lord's Day! Fancy! How horrible! What blasphemy! Truly shocking! It is enough to make John Calvin ask his neighbor to turn over.

Does it ever occur to these psalm singers that people do this of their own volition? There are as many Cathedrals as there are restaurants, but there is no law that compels you to patronize either.

We are denied the sport of Kings—horse racing. In England racing is upheld by royalty and the House of Lords. Here it is decried by disloyalty and a house of cards.

It would be amusing to the native American who has travelled throughout the world and watched the growth of really free and sensible governments, were it not so humiliating, to regard this wave of morality that is sweeping the country like a forest fire.

[347]

That bewhiskered gentleman in New York, who wielded his scepter of cant from the governor's chair, confessed he had never attended a theatre or seen a horse race. I can well believe it. I presume when he was at college the pantry attracted him more than the foot ball field. He chooses to disfigure his face with a square cut beard. Therefore from his point of view barbers are unnecessary! Why didn't he shut up all the barber shops and revoke the Gillette Safety Razor patent? He has just as much authority, morally, to shut up all the restaurants and bars because he never tasted wine. A good tonsorial spree and a cocktail would benefit this disciple of John Knox, I am sure.

Fancy an ordinance in this free country forbidding wine at restaurants on Sundays unless a meal is ordered and that hot! Can you imagine anything more ludicrous than these psalm singers making arbitrary laws about the temperature of our food? No prize fights are allowed nor even pictures of the manly art of self-defense to be shown. What a rebuke to American manhood! What a future for our sons to contemplate!

Boys in time to come will settle their disputes crocheting and knitting instead of in a good stand up fight as in the days of old.

You won't take your son to witness the pictures of the Jeffries-Johnson fight, but you will accompany your daughter to view an amorous picture.

Gambling of every description is debarred and all the public parks feature "Keep off the Grass!" No wonder we are known as a nation of travellers. How different it is abroad. Frenchmen never leave France, Germans, Germany and the average Londoner seldom gets beyond the sound of Bow Bells. Yet true born Americans will go anywhere to escape the thraldom of the insular laws of this supposedly free country, only returning to gather enough shekels to enable them to buy more freedom.

[348]

I learn from a banker of Los Angeles that more than $700,000 was drawn from the city banks one summer in cheques and letters of credit on European houses. Imagine anyone leaving the gorgeous city of Los Angeles. And yet there is a reason—less climate, more freedom.

I predict ere long if the present conditions continue everyone who can afford it and who has red corpuscles flowing through his veins will spend his holidays abroad. Ten times $700,000 will be drawn from the banks of Los Angeles annually unless some live one is put at the helm of that grand ship—Los Angeles.

Contrast the seaside resorts of Ostend, Aix-les-Bains, Trouville and Dieppe with our Coney Island, Atlantic City and Ocean Park, California. At Ocean Park we have the same sunshine and sea as the Mediterranean, with a few mountains thrown in. God gave us the best of it—man the worst.

At the seashore in foreign countries are beautiful hotels, delightful promenades and a Casino where one is allowed to gamble. Fancy gambling by the sea and the government permitting it! And why not? Part of the revenue goes toward maintaining its charities and churches. The government realizes it is the duty of every municipality to enhance its treasury for the benefit of its institutions and the poor. Ten per cent of the revenues of the race tracks in France the government confiscates—and quite right. I would rather contribute to the church from my winnings, racing, than pay a like amount into the poor box listening to a stupid sermon in a poorly ventilated church.

One can be ten times more devout paying admission into Heaven with another fellow's money!

These far sighted foreigners have taken advantage of our insular laws with the result that they have attracted the rich of the universe who desire to spend their money[349] as they wish. They prefer Casinos to shacks—people to peanuts.

Here are we in beautiful Los Angeles with laws as arbitrary as Salem a hundred years ago. No wines are served on the Sabbath; a race course is going to decay; wantons and women of the street are compelled to move on. In all the European cities the poor wanderers are protected by the laws and placed within the jurisdiction of the medical fraternity and housed instead of hounded. Necessary evils must be protected for the sake of humanity.

If we would only open the flood-gates of progress, batter down the doors of dogmatism, take off the lid that suffocates the rich and strangle the cant and hypocrisy of these modern reformers—the Magdalenes would have shelter; race tracks would be permitted to give enjoyment to those who appreciate the sport of Kings; prohibition would cease to make drunkards; freedom would run amuck; turnpikes would be established from coast to coast; the incense of orange blossoms would permeate to the Atlantic—and California become the rendezvous of the world.


A hypocrite is one who emerges from his own shadow and apologizes to the sun for asking it to shine.


Idle gossip is a busy bee.


The astronomers who almost opened the gate of heaven crucified the souls of those who held tickets of admission.


[350]

Chapter LXXXV

CALIFORNIA

What a royal country is California!

I am the happy possessor of an alfalfa and orange ranch in San Jacinto county. How beautiful it is! As I stand under the trees at sunset I contemplate a scene not equaled even in the beautiful Austrian Tyrol!

Down from the mountain top, furrowed with many natural terraces from the base to the crest, trimmed by gradually receding rows of full grown orange trees to the infant ones, just planted, I look with reverence upon the valley. I see the bovine and the hog bow as the Angelus is heard. The lilac and the rose hold converse and whisper to the sun to shed less light that they may embrace and sink into the night. The chug of the practical water pump gives demonstration that it must nourish the alfalfa's life, only to destroy it, to give added life to the tenants of the velvety carpet.

All is hushed, the fowls bidden hence by the watchman, Chanticleer, to their respective homes, Mistress Hen to quench the fires and prepare for dawn. The stately Eucalyptus nods his head signifying that time is done. The sun apologetically starts away to make his daily run. The vegetables prepare themselves for the noonday meal, the barley and the oats keep tune to the zephyr's lullaby as they sink gracefully into slumberland.

[back]

The Ranch at San Jacinto, California
A scene not equalled in the Austrian Tyrol

[351]

From the East the gentleman called Moon appears and smilingly bids all good cheer, for, when he's on the watch, care vanishes.

All is hushed.

The twinkling of the stars seems to make a melody as they hit and strike each other down the heavens. Something moves, as if to destroy the harmony of thought. An Indian glides by with just a sign of recognition as he passes on to the adjacent mountain, which the government is pleased to call a reservation.

A limpid, casual stream flows slyly down as if fearful of discovery. The shrill, demoniac bark of the coyote gives the chickens and the goats warning that the scavenger of the desert is near, seeking to destroy. Then all is hushed again and a luminous silence known only to the few imparts to us the fact that a day has died. But another and another will yet be born—and thus they'll come and go until eternity.


Life is a bridge of sighs over which memory glides into a torrent of tears.


There is nothing so serious as fun.


I have never known a true comedian who was not a master of sentiment.


All the tragedians whom I have ever known were never more tragic than when they tried to be comic.


[352]

Chapter LXXXVI

I BECOME A BARNSTORMER!

While I was at work on my ranch, disgusted with the methods of New York managers, I received a proposition from Oliver Morosco to appear in New York under his management in a new play which I was first to try out with one of his stock companies in Los Angeles. If that play proved a failure Morosco agreed to submit others to me until we finally succeeded in finding a success. Evidently my short season with the opposition stock company had given Morosco pause!

It looked like an advantageous offer and I accepted, consenting to appear in "Oliver Twist" in one of his stock houses—among other plays. We had just begun rehearsals of "Oliver Twist" when an accident laid me low.

Morosco, who was in New York at the time, sent two of his employees to my house within an hour after I had been carried in and from them and from him, by telegrams, I received repeated assurances that I need not worry, that the contract would continue in force indefinitely. As soon as I should be able to appear on the stage Morosco promised to carry out his part of the agreement to the letter.

I was sufficiently recovered in February, 1913, to appear as Fagin. The play ran three weeks at the stock house in Los Angeles and then I found myself wondering what was to become of me! The great Morosco was[353] "back East" somewhere. No one seemed to be able to locate him or to get word to him. So I waited about four or five weeks on the pleasure of this magnate! Finally came word that we were to organize a company on the spot and make a tour of the Coast in "Oliver Twist," extending it to Canada and continuing in it for the remainder of the season.

I had heard of but had never known what "barnstorming" meant before.

I know now!

The production which Morosco sent out with me was the thrown-together junk which had been used in the stock production. It was never intended to last more than a few weeks or to be moved! It was quite the worst collection of moth-eaten scenery and "properties" I ever saw. The company, with a very few exceptions, was recruited from the members of the Morosco stock companies who chanced to be idle at the moment. Some of the men, driven desperate by the nature of the backwoods country through which our route lay, were thoroughly intoxicated (and not infrequently blind drunk!) most of the time—and I for one had no heart to reprove them!

Some of the towns we played are not on any map—the map could never survive it! From pillar to post we were yanked along over single-track railroads—with bits of our scenery falling out through open baggage doors all along the line! How that scenery ever managed to hang together as long as it did has always puzzled me. Finally we had to eliminate the London bridge scene. The platforms were so insecure it was positively dangerous for the actors to stand on them. This was one of the greatest and most effective scenes in the New York production and gave my leading woman, Miss Moreland, as Nancy, one of her biggest moments.

[354]

The night before we took it off, in one of the smaller Coast towns, some of the gallery boys, noticing the stone (!) steps and huge pillars of granite (God save the mark!) wabbling to and fro, began to whistle "London Bridge is falling down"—and in a moment the whole house had taken it up!

That was enough for me. After five weeks of miserable business we closed in Victoria and I returned to my beach home outside Los Angeles to the far more congenial task of completing this book. I sincerely hope you, dear reader, will find as much pleasure in reading what I've written as I have found in its composition. I have striven to be kind to everyone in these pages and if any of my criticisms appear harsh or my views on various subjects be considered arrogant, pray accept my apologies. I have written as I think and whatever the verdict I stand by my guns.

What will the verdict be?

I wonder.

I say I returned to my home to complete this book. I did—and I thank the gods that Fate stepped in and for once was kindly enough disposed to permit me to write the most appropriate and happy finis any book of mine could have!


Fact and unconsecrated fields oppose faith and architecture.


[355]

Chapter LXXXVII

NUMBER FIVE

The day (a beautiful day in May, 1913, such a day as only Southern California at its happiest moment knows), I made Margaret Moreland my wife I once again set the buzzards and the gossips to wagging their ears and tongues and lashing their tails (I have always been sure both HAVE tails!).


My first (wife) was an angel;

My second a silly woman;

My third a Roman Senator;

My fourth a pretty little thing;

My fifth—all woman!

My whole (desire) was by repetition to prove that hope can conquer experience!


[356]

Chapter LXXXVIII

L'ENVOI

I am sorry for the poor American who deserts this sun-kissed California country for worn-out Europe. I am enjoying the breezes and ozone wafted from the great Pacific while poor deluded Eastern folk are festering in heat and humidity, varied only by an occasional murky thunderstorm.

I face the sea and at my back are roses! On either side the blue-brown mountains hold converse with the sun and stars and dip their august heads in silent acquiescence to the others' whispers. At night massive Mars, always on duty, ever luminous, sternly bids them silence and the world to "go to" while he blinks a patronizing approval upon those "beneath" him. He has much of cynicism in his blinking as he contemplates this tiny carbon, Earth, for all his constant attendance.

Mars is my companion, ever peering through my casement. Only our sex and distance prevent a silent flirtation! I am sometimes tempted to address him anyhow, but his majesty always awes me. Still, I find consolation communing with the waves that lull me to sleep as they embrace the sandy shore. The consolation is all too brief, the sleep intermittent, and I awake to fly back to the companionship of Mars.

He is such a splendid officer! Always on guard—at sea and over the desert. He seldom shows himself resplendent in crowded cities. He dislikes company and turmoil. He is always alone, now and then racing[357] with the moon and always leaving that gentleman to the left as he smilingly beckons the wary miner of the desert and the patient mariner of the sea to the right. Mars knows the road—a magnificent, reticent soldier—and I pray ere long my friend Tesla will make him better known.

The drab morning is approaching o'er the mountain tops. A sea gull of corresponding color is on the sand, seeking what it may devour. The color of the bird and atmosphere are not to my fancy.

I am going to beg a favor of sleep and awake when the colors are more radiant, when the sunbeams glisten and dance from sky to wave, when the white clouds meet and kiss the shadow that lets fall diamond drops of crystal that quench the thirst of the flowers and give them life.

My home is by the sea. My lot is one hundred feet wide. Its height is interminable. It is a thousand fathoms deep! My front yard extends to the Antipodes.

Am I not to be envied?

I wonder?


[358]
[359]

INDEX


Ables, Eddy, 128

Academy of Music, 30

Adams, Edwin, 56, 119, 344

Adams House, 153

Adams, Maude, 111, 112, 121, 125, 169

"Alabama," 171

"Alabaster Staircase, The," 253

Albaugh, John, 85

Aldrich, Louis, 280

Allen, John, 149

Allen, Viola, 182, 290

"Altar of Friendship, The," 249

Amber, Mabel, 172

"Ambition," 174-176

"American Citizen, An," 232, 235, 241, 243-245, 307, 309

Anderson, Mary, 35

"André, Major," 250

"Antony, Mark," 30

Appleton, George, 236

Archer, Belle, 95

Archer, Fred, 95

Arch Street Theatre, 26

Armstrong, Paul, 110

Arthur, Chester, 148

Arthur, Paul, 121, 122

"As a Man Thinks," 330

"As in a Looking Glass," 42

Attell, Abe, 192

Auditorium Theatre, 327


Babcock, Theodore, 168

"Baby Mine," 111

Baldwin's Theatre, 211, 214, 241

Ball, William, 89

"Banker's Daughter, The," 72

Barrett, Lawrence, 30, 35, 48, 56, 99, 112, 282

Barrett, Louis, 168, 172

Barron, Elwyn, 273

Barry, Billy, 36, 97

Barrymore, Ethel, 42, 267

Barrymore, Georgie Drew, 44

Barrymore, John, 42

Barrymore, Lionel, 42

Barrymore, Maurice, 41-44, 171, 329

Bates, Blanche, 217, 220, 243, 336

"Beauty and the Barge," 90, 105, 252

Beck, Senator, 148

Becket, Harry, 98

Beefsteak Club, 39

Beere, Mrs. Bernard, 42

Belasco, David, 173, 290, 336

Belasco Theatre, 336

Bell, Digby, 159, 161

Bellew, Kyrle, 237

Bellewood, Bessie, 160, 161

"Bells, The," 92, 141

Bennett, James O'Donnell, 273

Bergman, Henry, 174

Bernand, 152

Bernhardt, Sarah, 111, 112, 274

"Bertha, the Sewing Machine Girl," 115

Bigelow, Charles, 50

Bijou Theatre, 52, 91, 94, 140

Bingham, Amelia, 111

Bishop, Charles, 92, 140

Blackburne, Senator, 148

"Black Cloak, The," 68

"Black Flag, The," 67

Blake, William, 47

Blethen, Alden J., 18

Blaine, James G., 148, 150, 163

Bloodgood, Clara, 111

Bloodgood, Henry, 29

Bohemian Club, 216

"Bookmaker, The," 127, 128

Booth, Edwin, 47, 48, 56, 71, 99, 112, 119, 226, 274, 282, 343

Booth's Theatre, 58

Boston "Advertiser," 89

Boston Museum, 22, 94, 143, 154, 280

Boston "Post," 51

Boston Theatre, 22

[360]Boston Theatre Stock Company, 56

"Bottle, The," 23

"Bottom, Nick," 90

"Bottom's Dream, Col. Tom," 96

Boucicault, Dion, 57, 59

"Bought and Paid For," 110, 111, 286

Bowser, Charles, 86

Boylan, Tommy, 61

Bradford, Joseph, 26-29, 75, 273

Brady, William, 283

Brewer, 293-298

Brice, Senator, 148

Broadhurst, George, 286, 309, 312, 320

Broadway Theatre, 29, 40

Brooke, Gustavus, 119

Brooks, Joseph, 47, 107, 113, 182, 220

Brougham, John, 82

Browning, Miss, 211

Bryton, Fred, 96

Buckley, Ned, 96, 147

Burbeck, Frank, 87

Burk, Charles, 47

Burke, Billie, 111

Burton, William E., 47

Bush Street Theatre, 190

"Butterflies, The," 169

Byron, Arthur, 250


"Camille," 132

Campbell, Bartley, 280

"Candidate, The," 94

Cannon, Anthony, 82

"Captain, The," 287, 326

Carlisle, Alexandra, 307, 308

Carlisle, Frank, 172, 329

Carlisle, John G., 148

Carlton, Henry Guy, 168-170, 174-176

Carter, Mrs. Leslie, 172, 336

Casino, 141

"Caste," 274

Cazauran, A. R., 67, 68, 73

"Celebrated Case, A," 57

Chamberlain, John, 148, 151

Chambers, Haddon, 254

"Chantecler," 123

Cincinnati Festival, 112

"Cinderella at School," 94, 143

Clancy, Veney, 80

Clapp, Henry A., 89, 273

Clarke, Marguerite, 111

Clayton, Estelle, 144, 145

Claxton, Kate, 99

Cleveland, Grover, 149

Cliff House, 223

"Climbers, The," 111

Cline, Maggie, 125

Coe, Isabel, 121, 122

Coghlan, Charles, 57, 58, 96

Cohan, George, 51, 112, 177, 178

Collier, Jim, 96

Collier, Willie, 71, 288-289

Collins, Charlie, 100

Collins, Constance, 332

"Confusion," 92

Conklin, Roscoe, 148, 150

Conners, Billy, 70, 97

Considine, George, 195

Cooke, George Frederick, 119

Coote, Charlie, 142

Coote, Robert, 92

Coquelin, 123

Corbett, James J., 164-165, 283

Couldock, William, 182

Coulter, Fraser, 211

Covent Garden, 60

"Cowboy and the Lady, The," 248

Craig, Robert, 26

Crane, William II., 30, 45, 80, 106, 182

Crinkle, Nym, 143

Crisp, Speaker, 149

Criterion Theatre, 54

"Cromwell, Oliver," 140

"Crosstree, Captain," 79

"Cruets," 84, 86

Crystal Palace, 152

Cummings, Amos, 149

Cushman, Charlotte, 56


Dailey, Peter, 49, 50

Dale, Alan, 250

Daly, Arnold, 282

Daly, Augustin, 70

Daly, John, 97

Daly, William H., 35

Dasher, Bert, 52

Davenport, E. L., 119, 276, 344

Davenport, Fanny, 106

Davey, Tom, 97

Denver "Post," 218

Detroit "Free Press," 89

"Dietrich, Captain," 80

[361]Dixey, Henry E., 92, 93, 140, 153-154, 329

Donnelly, Henry, 131

Doro, Marie, 332

Dramatic Schools, 198

Drew, John, 97, 111, 169, 181, 217

Drew, Mrs. John, 45, 46, 48

Drury Lane Theatre, 60, 164

Dupree, Minnie, 111, 168, 172

Duse, Eleanora, 111, 274

Dyas, Ada, 97


"Easiest Way, The," 119

Edeson, Robert, 111

Edwin, Eddy, 75

Elliott, Gertrude, 217, 220-222, 231-232, 234, 238-239

Elliott, Maxine, 183, 217-222, 230-232, 234, 238-239, 243-248,
250, 254-261, 290, 308

Elliott Theatre, Maxine, 222

Ely Central, 299

Emerson, Billy, 215

Emmet, J. K., 99, 106

Empire Stock Company, 290

Empire Theatre, 332

Erlanger, Abe, 105, 107, 108, 247, 250

"Erminie," 140, 141

Esmond, Henry V., 248

"Evangeline," 80, 82, 154

"Evening Sun," 91

Eytinge, Rose, 97


"Fagin," 274, 332, 333, 352

"False Shame," 57

Farnum, Bill, 287

Farnum, Dustin, 287

Farrell, Leila, 92, 140

Faversham, William, 290

Fawcett, George, 174, 329

Fechter, Charles, 58, 276

Fellows, John R., 36

Field, Cyrus, 155

Field, Kate, 227

Fifth Avenue Theatre, 173

Fisher's, Mrs., Boarding House, 22

Fiske, James, Jr., 156

Fiske, Minnie Maddern, 97

Fitch, Clyde, 111, 222, 245-247, 253

Flemming, Mr., 253

Fletchers, The, 131

Florence, W. J., 48, 84

"Fool's Revenge, A," 72

Forbes-Robertson, 221, 343

Ford, Charlie, 106

Ford, Robert, 284, 285

Ford's Theatre, 178

Forrest, Edwin, 56, 119, 274, 344

Forsythe, Kate, 35, 97

Fourteenth Street Theatre, 79

Foy, Eddie, 279

Frawley, Tim, 217, 231

Friars Club House, 178

Frohman, Charles, 102-105, 112, 124, 169, 252-253, 304, 332

Frohman, Daniel, 102

Frohman, Gustave, 102

Fuller, Loie, 92, 140

Fuller, Mollie, 97


Gaiety Theatre, 128

Galt House, 205

Gans-Nelson Fight, 293

"Garden of Allah, The," 324

Garden Theatre, 43, 175

Garrick Club, 38, 69

Garrick, David, 91, 119

"Garrick, David," 54, 174-176, 234

"Gay Deceiver, A," 96

"Genius, The," 91, 306, 308

George, Grace, 287

Gerard, Florence, 92

Germaine, 75

Gilbert, John, 97

Gilbert, W. S., 152

"Gilded Fool, A," 168, 174, 235, 306, 307

Gillette, William, 281, 282

"Girl of the Golden West, The," 173

Golden, Dick, 154, 183, 244

Goldfield, 294

"Gold Mine, The," 121, 127, 128

"Goldsmith, Oliver," 153

Goodale, George P., 89, 273

Goodi, 236, 237

Goodrich, Edna, 309

Goodwin Company, Nat C., 298

Goodwin, Edward, 95

Goodwin, J. Cheever, 80

Goodwin, Nat C., as
Camille, 132
Captain Crosstree, 79
Captain Dietrich, 80
[362]Fagin, 274, 332, 333, 352
Grave Digger, The, 35
Jim Radburn, 172, 211, 214
Mark Antony, 30
Mathias, 141
Modus, 35
Ned, the Newsboy, 28
Nick Bottom, 90
Shylock, 90, 249
Sim Lazarus, 87
Sir George Hounslow, 23
Sir Lucius O'Trigger, 48, 64

Goodwin, Nat C., III, 137

Gorman, Arthur Pugh, 270

Gould, Jay, 156

Grand Opera House, 58, 93

Grand Pacific Hotel, 63

"Grave Digger, The," 35

Greene, Clay M., 77, 329

Greenroom Club, 54, 65, 164

"Gringoire," 93

Grubb, Lillian, 97

Guitry, 124, 281

Guy's Hotel, 61


Hackett, James K., 267

"Hale, Nathan," 52, 90, 104, 232, 246-248

Hale, Philip, 273

Hall, Blakely, 149, 273

Hall, Josie, 97

Hall, Pauline, 97

Hamilton, Mr., 54, 55, 164, 165

"Hamlet," 35, 276

Hammerstein's, 43

Hampton, Alf, 29

Handysides, Clarence, 211

Harley Sisters, 97

Harding, Lyn, 332

Hare, John, 253, 274

Harrigan, Edward, 83

Harrigan and Hart, 82

Harris, Henry, 111

Harrison, Alice, 98

Harrison, Louis, 98

Hart, Tony, 30, 82, 83, 183

Hatton, Frank, 273

Haverly, Jack, 101

Haworth, Joseph, 95

Hayman, Al, 102, 105

Haymarket Theatre, 81

Hearne, Chrystal, 278

Hearne, James A., 277, 278

Hearne, Julie, 278

"Heir at Law, The," 48, 62

"Heir to the Hoorah, The," 110

"Held by the Enemy," 281

Henderson, William, 23

"Her Own Way," 247

Hicks, Seymour, 143

Hilliard, Robert, 142

"His First Rehearsal," 75

"Hobbies," 86, 87

Hoffman House, 96

Holland Brothers, 45, 329

Hollenden Hotel, 244

Hollis Street Theatre, 251

Holt, Clarence, 168

Holy, John, 155

Hooley, Richard, 180

Hooley's Theatre, 127, 172

Hoops, Arthur, 168, 172, 211, 225, 240

Hopper, De Wolfe, 159, 161, 162, 182

"Hounslow, Sir George," 23

"House of Cards, A," 175

Howard Athenaeum, 23, 27, 75, 79

Howard, Bronson, 103

Howard, Joe, Jr., 149

Hoyt, Charles, 51-53, 121

"Hunchback, The," 35

Hutchins, Stillson, 66, 89, 273


Ingersoll, Robert, 33, 116, 150, 163, 211

"In Mizzoura," 111, 172, 211, 214

Irving, Henry, 38-40, 47, 48, 72, 92, 93, 112, 117, 119, 290, 330


Jackwood, 103, 255, 264

Jacob, L. H., 249

Jacobs, W. W., 252, 253

James, Jesse, 284, 285

Janis, Elsie, 125

Jansen, Marie, 97

Jefferson, Charley, 182

Jefferson, Joseph, 44-48, 62-64, 182

Jefferson, Thomas, 30

Jeffries-Johnson Fight, 192, 312

Jerome, Lawrence, 149

Jerome, Leonard, 155

Jerome, William Travers, 149

Jones, Senator, 148

[363]Jones, Walter, 244

Jonson, Ben, 116

Josephs, Harry, 80

"Julius Caesar," 30, 35


Kean, 119

Keane, Charles, 336

Keene, Laura, 47

Kelcey, Herbert, 217

Killduff, Jim, 313

"Kirby, Cameo," 287

Klaw, Marc, 105

Klaw and Erlanger, 108, 249

Knickerbocker Theatre, 70, 91, 104, 123

Knight, George, 97

Knight, Joseph, 69


Lackaye, Wilton, 42, 173, 185, 329

Lamb, Charles, 272

Lambs Club, 42, 44, 98, 184, 216, 238, 288, 329, 330

Langtry, Lilly, 127

"Law in New York," 28

"Lazarus, Sim," 87

"Led Astray," 57, 59

LeMoyne, William J., 95

"Lend Me Five Shillings," 48, 93

Leslie, Amy, 273

Levick, Milnes, 344

Lewis, Alfred Henry, 253

Lewis, Catherine, 95

Lewis, James, 97

Liebler & Co., 287

"Lion and the Mouse, The," 110, 306

"Lion's Mouth, The," 168

"Little Jack Shepard," 140, 141

"Little Rebel, The," 79

Lotta, 99

Lyceum Theatre, 102, 105, 252, 336

Lyceum Theatre, London, 38, 117


"Macaire, Robert," 141

Macauley, Barney, 96

"Macbeth," 276

Mackaye, Steele, 135, 136

Mackie, Johnny, 96

Macklin, 89

Macready, 119

Madison Square Theatre, 281

Mahone, William, 148, 150

Mannering, Mary, 267

Manning, William, 215

Mansfield, Richard, 67-74, 106, 246, 282

Mantell, Robert, 119

"Marionettes, The," 132

Marks, Eli, 132, 133, 240, 241

Marlowe, Julia, 45, 71

Marshall, Captain, 253

Marshall, Tully, 111

Marshall, Wyzeman, 25

Martinot, Sadie, 95

"Mascot, The," 94, 143

Mason, John, 92, 95, 128, 134, 249, 323, 330, 331

"Master Hand, The," 253

"Mathias," 141

Maude, Cyril, 252

Mayo, Frank, 43

McClellan, George B., 217, 221, 222, 235, 237, 238

McCullough, John, 35-37, 70, 72, 96, 119, 344

McDonald, Sadie, 233

McIntosh, Burr, 172-174

McKee, Mrs. Frank, 121

McPhelim, Mr., of Chicago, 273

Meade, James, 278

Melba, Nellie, 254, 255

Mellish, Fuller, 332

Melville, Emily, 211

"Member for Slocum, The," 87

"Memnon," 168

"Merchant of Venice, The," 70, 89, 92, 249, 309

Metropole Hotel, 302

"Midnight Bell, A," 121

"Midsummer Night's Dream," 40, 90, 250, 251

"Mighty Dollar, The," 84

Miles, Bob, 180

Miles, R. E. J., 35

Miles and Barton, 140-142

Miller, Henry, 182, 290

Miner, Harry, 220

Miner's Fifth Avenue Theatre, 174

Mitchell, Maggie, 99

Modjeska, 106

"Modus," 35

Moffit, James, 80

Montague, Harry J., 96

Montaine, Clarence, 174

[364]"Monte Cristo," 58

Montgomery, James, 286

Moore, Mary, 54

Moreland, Margaret, 210, 326, 327, 334, 353, 355

Morgan, Matt, 79

Morosco, Oliver, 154, 327, 352, 353

Morris, Clara, 35

Morse, Woolson, 143

Mortimer, Estelle, 121, 168, 174

Morton House, 99

"Much Ado About Nothing," 35

Murdock, James E., 35

Murray, George, 84

Musgrove, George, 205, 233, 234, 236

"Music Master, The," 190

"My Partner," 280


"Nadjesda," 42

Nash, George, 128, 330

National Press Club, 266

"Native Son, A," 286

"Ned, the Newsboy," 28

Newall, Major, 131

New Amsterdam Theatre, 90, 250, 252

Newcombe, 117

New York "American," 91

Niblo's Garden, 59, 75

Nixon and Zimmerman, 106, 107

"Nominee, The," 94, 121, 127, 128

Norton, John, 180

"Nunky," 280, 281


O'Brien, Mayor, 20

O'Brien, Neil, 155, 172, 211, 223

"Oliver Twist," 274, 332-334, 352-353

Olympic Theatre, 79

"Othello," 35

"O'Trigger, Sir Lucius," 48, 64

"Ourselves," 87

Owens, John E., 30, 47


"Paid in Full," 110

Palmer, A. M., 57, 58, 99, 106, 280, 281

Palmer, Minnie, 79

Papin, 117

"Parisian Romance, A," 67, 68, 70, 74

Parker House, 94, 280

Park Theatre, Brooklyn, 36, 280

Pastor, Tony, 79

Payne, Louis, 172, 174, 211, 223, 240

Payton, Corse, 343

Pease, Nella Baker, 131, 134, 139, 230, 238

Perry, Henry, 97

"Peter Pan," 121

Pettit, Henry, 87

Phelps, 119

Piercy, Sam, 96

Piggott, James, 127, 128

"Pinafore," 94

Players Club, 288, 289

"Plummer, Caleb," 48

Pomeroy, "Brick," 273

Pond, Anson, 145, 147

"Pony, Big," 143

Possart, 47, 119

Potter, Mrs. Brown, 237

Pouissard, 336

Power, Tyrone, 126

"Prisoner of Zenda, The," 224

"Private Secretary, The," 280, 281

"Professor, The," 280

"Providence Opera House," 23, 168

"Punch," 152


"Quick's Patient, Dr.," 253


"Radburn, Jim," 172, 211, 214

"Rainbow, The," 290

"Ramblers, The," 87

Rapley, 106

Ratcliff, James, 131

Raymond, John T., 97, 122

Rawhide Coalition, 299

Read, Charlie, 96, 289

"Ready Money," 286

Reed, Tom, 149, 150

Reedy, Marion, 273

Rehan, Ada, 97

Rhea, Mlle, 35

Rice, Edward E., 80, 82, 94

Rice, Fannie, 45, 131, 132

Rich and Harris, 106

"Richard the Third," 321

"Richelieu," 111

Richelieu Hotel, Chicago, 62

Riddel, George, 89

Riley, James Whitcomb, 157

"Rip Van Winkle," 47, 48

[365]"Rivals, The," 45, 46, 48, 63, 113, 182, 184, 203, 241, 242, 244

Rix, Alice, 218

Robertson, Ian, 280

Robinson, Peter, 216

Robson, Frederick, 93

Robson, Stuart, 25, 26-34, 59, 75, 106

"Roderick Dhu," 59

"Romany Rye," 153

"Romeo and Juliet," 35

Romona's Restaurant, 161

Rooney, Pat, 75

Rosenfeld, Sydney, 141, 173, 175, 329

Rossi, 119

Rostand, 124

"Royal Revenge, A.," 96

Russell, Annie, 174

Russell, Lillian, 97, 197

Russell, Sol Smith, 61-66, 75, 97, 106, 183

Ryley, Tom, 306


"St. Catherine," 318

St. James Hotel, 97

Salsbury's Troubadors, 84

Salvini, 72, 119

Sanford, Wright, 155

San Francisco "Chronicle," 216

Sanger, Frank, 131, 132, 141

Savage Club, 238

Saville, John, 174

Scanlon, Billy, 36

Scott, Clement, 273

"Second in Command, The," 253

"Second Mrs. Tanqueray, The," 111

"Seven Days," 110

Shakespeare, 116

Shakespeare's Plays, 119

Shannon, Effie, 217

"Shenandoah," 103

Shook, Sheridan, 99

Shook and Palmer, 67

"Shore Acres," 279

"Shylock," 90, 249

Sinn, Col., 79

Sinn, William, 36

"Skating Rink, The," 96, 131, 143

"Sketches in India," 79

Snyder, Matt, 98

Solari's, 68

Sothern, E. H., 47, 71, 162, 246, 275

"Sparks," 87, 96

Spreckles, Adolph, 237

Standard Theatre Company, 68

Stanley, Fred, 183

Stetson, John, 58, 75, 92

Stevens, Ashton, 173, 218

Stevenson, Robert Louis, 226-228

Stevenson, Mrs. Robert Louis, 227-229

Stoddard, J. H., 67

Swinnerton, Jimmie, 218


Tarkington, Booth, 287

Tempest, Marie, 97

"Terrible Time, A," 96

Terry, Edward, 128

Terry, Ellen, 92

Terry, Fred, 65

Theatre Comique, 82

Thomas, Augustus, 171-174, 329, 330

Thomas, Charlie, 18, 51

Thompson, Denman, 75

Thompson, Lydia, 80, 81

Thompson, William H., 128, 265, 290

Thorne, Charles R., Jr., 56-60, 72, 96

Thorne, Charles R., Sr., 75, 98

Thorne, Edwin, 23, 87, 96

Thornes, The, 23, 59

"Thousand Years Ago, A," 154

Toole, Johnny, 39

"Too Much Johnson," 281

Tree, Sir Beerbohm, 66, 152, 315, 316

Tree, Sir Herbert, 152

Tremont House, 70

Triangle, 296

"Trip to Chinatown, A," 237

"Turned Up," 92, 140-142

"Two Orphans, The," 99

Tyler, George C., 287, 324, 325, 327, 332, 333


Union Square, 97

Union Square Hotel, 98

Union Square Theatre, 57, 87, 99

Usner, Miss, 211

"Usurper, The," 249


Van Otterendorf, Capt., 229

Vokes Family, 84


Wallack's Theatre, 97, 98

Wallis, Gladys, 217

Walnut Street Theatre, 82

[366]Walsh, Blanche, 211, 219

Walton, "Plunger," 97

Warfield, David, 111, 112, 128, 168, 172, 174, 190, 252

Warren, Arthur, 273

Warren, William, 19-21, 48, 275

Watterson, Henry, 36, 89, 266, 268, 273

Weathersby, Emmy, 81

Weathersby, Eliza, 80-87

Weber and Field's, 153

Weber and Field's Music Hall, 50, 190

Webster, Lizzie, 80

Western, Helen, 278

Western, Lucille, 277, 278

Whalley, William, 278

"What Every Woman Knows," 122

"What Would a Gentleman Do?", 253

Wheeler, A. C., 143, 144

"When We Were Twenty-One," 248, 249, 309, 327

"Why Women Sin," 115

Wiliard, 273

Williams, Arthur, 128

Williams, Gus, 75

Williamson, James C., 233, 234, 236

Wilson, Al, 49

Wilson, Francis, 45, 106, 107, 141

Wilson, Robert, 172

Winter, William, 91

"Witching Hour, The," 330

Wolfe, Benjamin, 84, 85

"Wolfville," 90, 253

Woodthorp, H. C., 211

Worthing, Frank, 222

Wyndham, Sir Charles 54, 55, 93


Yardley, William, 93, 140


TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES

Obvious typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within the text and consultation of external sources.

Inconsistent spelling of a word or word-pair within the text has been retained, except for those changes noted below. For example: goodby good-bye; make up make-up; role rôle; to-night tonight.

Spelling has been left as found in the text, except for those changes noted below.

These changes are identified in the text with a dotted blue underline, and a mouse-hover popup:—


Page xii 'FISHCAKES' changed to 'FISH CAKES'.
Page xi and Page xiv 'DeWolf' changed to 'De Wolf'.
Page 30 'sponser' changed to 'sponsor'.
Page 31 and Page 57 'thoughtout' changed to 'thought-out'.
Page 31 'Robsoneyn' changed to 'Robsonian'.
Page 57 'quodus retained; probably 'kudos'.
Page 64 'every one' changed to 'everyone'.
Page 68 'grewsome' changed to 'gruesome'.
Page 70 'be to annoyed' changed to 'to be annoyed'.
Page 77 'magestic' changed to 'majestic'.
Page 81 'afterlife' changed to 'after life'.
Page 87 'beseiged' changed to 'besieged'.
Page 116 'devasting' changed to 'devastating'.
Page 129 'deferentiate' changed to 'differentiate'.
Page 143 'exceptionaly' changed to 'exceptionally'.
Page 146 'castor' changed to 'caster'.
Page 159 'recontours' changed to raconteurs'.
Page 160 'ostensively' changed to 'ostensibly'.
Page 161 'illusive' changed to 'elusive'.
Page 181 'varigated' changed to 'variegated'.
Page 183 A duplicated line "Congratulations ... for me." was removed.
Page 221 'ecstacy' changed to 'ecstasy'.
Page 224 'Oaui' changed to 'Oahu'.
Page 233 'likeable' changed to 'likable'.
Page 233 'go' inserted into phrase 'must through to Melbourne'.
Page 255 'any way' changed to 'anyway'.
Page 258 'accidently' changed to 'accidentally'.
Page 311 'think to be' changed to 'thing to be'.
Page 336 'conspicious' changed to 'conspicuous'.
Page 336 'will down to history' changed to 'will go down in history'.
Page 340 'one night' changed to 'one-night'.

Changes made to Index entries are noted below.

Page 359 'Andre' changed to 'André'.
Page 359 'Looking-Glass' changed to 'Looking Glass'.
Page 360 'Bouser' changed to 'Bowser'.
Page 360 'Cazuran' changed to 'Cazauran'.
Page 361 'Forsyth' changed to 'Forsythe'.
Page 363 'Kilduff' changed to 'Killduff'.
Page 363 'Levick, Mulner' changed to 'Levick, Milnes'.
Page 363 'Lyceum Theatre': '226' corrected to '336'.
Page 364 'Morne' changed to 'Morse'
Page 364 'Poussard' changed to 'Pouissard'.
Page 364 'Ratcliffe' changed to 'Ratcliff'.






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