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Full text of "THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON"

92 Jli-52 



60-02371 



reference 
collection 
book 




kansas city 
public library 
kansas city, 
missouri 




THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 
OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 
OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 



THE CENTURY CO., NEW YORK 



Copyright, 1889, 1890, 1897, 
by JOSEPH JEFFERSON. 

(All rights reserved.) 



PREFACE. 

" Irishman once exclaimed that tte man should 
write his autobiography but himself. If Pat were 
not quite precise in his expression, still we can arrive at 
what he meant. 

One s own history will naturally be clearer when told by 
one s self than it could be if passed through the esteem of 
a friend or the prejudice of a foe ; besides a man can with 
impunity chastise his own acts in a manner that would 
look cruel in an enemy, and will naturally avoid that 
kind of praise a friend might lavish, knowing that he 
would only be ridiculed for vaunting his own merits. The 
curious memories that rush upon one when alone are fresher 
and more vital than those that are coldly drawn out by a 
succession of premeditated interviews. Thoughts, too, 
should be jotted down as quickly as they come, and are more 
vigorous if shaped by the simple language that usually ac 
companies them; labored alteration will sometimes rob 
them of their value, as a master stroke of the brush is 
often ruined by elaboratiom 

How often the painter, after having spoiled his first 
work by some intellectual modification, has said to himself, 
"Oh, how I wish I had let it alone" 



& 102:571 



The autobiographer, if he be not a literary man, first 
hesitates through sheer cowardice / know I did. He no 
sooner dips his pen than the thought at once rushes upon 
him that book-making is a trade like every other, and he is 
aghast at his own vanity which made him think for a 
moment that he could at once accomplish a task which men 
of learning, taste, and experience would hesitate to under 
take. The dread of censure, the fear of ridicule start up like 
specters, and he drops his pen in dismay. But let him reflect 

upon the real nature of his task and he will take courage, 

f ** 

for he will realize that what he has undertaken can be 
best done by himself. 

It is the loose and rugged style in which Tate Wilkin 
son s Memoirs are written that renders them so pleasing; 
fearlessly ungrammatical but extremely interesting; the 
man, the whole man, and nothing but the man from begin 
ning to end. The cdol effrontery and unruffled temper with 
which Jie bean the buffets of fortune and the abuse of his 
contemporaries prove him to have been inclosed in the hide 
of a rhinoceros, and the unblushing vanity with which he 
quotes Shakspere, line after line, apparently under the 
impression that it is entirely his own, is delightful, because 
it reveals the man. Of course no other kind of book could 
be tolerated if it were so crudely written. 

I do not mean by these remarks to bid for favor, or beg 
for mercy towards my own clumsiness ; I neither ask it nor 
expect it. 

So, as I now place my life in the hands of the public and 
the critic, I can exclaim with Touchstone, "An ill-favored 
thing, sir, but mine own 



CONTENTS 



I RECOLLECTIONS OF CHILDHOOD. 

My First Playhouse. Earliest Appearances. My Friend Mrs. 
Neal. First Appearance in New York. A Strange Playground. . i 

II BOYHOOD. 

Westward Ho ! Chicago in 1839. An Adventure in Springfield, 
Illinois. Hard Times. James Wallack, Sr. The Elder Booth. 
Macready. Our Voyage on a Flatboat 17 

III BARN-STORMING AND MEXICAN EPISODE. 

Barn-storming in Mississippi. Pudding Stanley. In Mexico. 
Mr. and Mrs. James W. Wallack, Jr. John E. Owens 51 

IV EARLY DAYS IN PHILADELPHIA AND NEW YORK. 
Crossing the Alleghanies. My Friend the Scene Painter. William 

E. Burton. An Effort in Greek Tragedy. Charles Burke 83 

V STOCK, STAR, AND STAGE MANAGEMENT. 

From Stock to Star. From Star to Stock. The Elder Booth as Sir 
Giles Overreach* The Southern Theatrical Circuit. A Wandering 
Star. The Balcony Scene. Julia Dean. Legitimate Comedy. 
James E. Murdoch. Henry Placide. A Play an Animated 
Picture. Edwin Forrest Ill 

VI FIRST VISIT TO EUROPE. 

From London to Paris. An Early Comedy. In the Second-hand 
Shops. Return to America .* 171 

VII WITH LAURA KEENE. 

"The Heir-at-Law." Dramatic Action. "Our American Cousin." 
A Theatrical Quarrel. Changes in Old Plays. "The Duchess,". 183 

VIII AT THE WINTER GARDEN; AND "Rip VAN WINKLE.* 
The Winter Garden. Caleb Plummer. I Receive Good Advice. 
The Octoroon." Some Remarks on Guying. The Comedian s 
Disadvantage. The First Successful Star Comedian. How I Came 

to Play "Rip Van Winkle." Failure in San Francisco. Harry Perry. 207 

ix 



x CONTENTS 

PAGE 

IX IN AUSTRALIA, VAN DIEMEN S LAND, AND NEW ZEALAND. 

From California to Australia. Sydney. Melbourne. The Skele 
ton Dance. The Shepherd. An Australian Tragedy. A Terrible 
Audience. The Keans. A Chinese Theater 231 

s X IN SOUTH AMERICA. 

Callao. Lima. A Midnight Funeral. A Beggar on Horseback. 
The Theater in Callao. A Religious Tableau. A Tropical City. 
Leaving South America. An Incident in Panama 275 

XI IN LONDON. 

The New * Rip Van Winkle." English Relatives. John Brougham. 
Tom Robertson. Artemus Ward 302 

XII EAST AND WEST. 

Edwin Adams. The Combination System. George D. Prentice. 
Tom Glessing again. George Holland. "The Little Church 
Around the Corner." Charles Fechter y& 

XIII SCENES AND THOUGHTS ABROAD. 

Once More in Paris. French Acting. French and English Paint 
ers, English Acquaintances. The Reverend Joseph Jefferson. 
Gainsborough. In Scotland. In Ireland 346 

XIV AT HOME AGAIN. 

Booth s Theater. Talks with Charles Mathews on Acting. John 
B. Rice. "The Rivals." William Warren 381 

XV SOME OLD FRIENDS. 

Mr. and Mrs. Barney Williams. John Drew. Charlotte Cush- 
man. Mrs. Drake. F. S. Chanfrau. John T. Raymond. John 
McCullough. The Lester Wallack Benefit. Actors of To-day and 
Yesterday 4 

XVI REFLECTIONS ON THE ART OF ACTING. 

The Dramatic Instinct. Spontaneity and Preparation. Rehearsals. 
A Warm, Heart and a Cool Head. Taking Time. Advice to 
Beginners. Remarks suggested by " Rip Van Winkle." Realism 
and Idealism. Dramatic Writing 425 

XVIJ IN LOUISIANA. 

The " Pirate of the Gulf. " Pierre Landry and his Wife. Under 
the Live-Oaks. Conclusion 464 

APPENDIX, SHAKSPERE vs. BACON 477 

INDEX 485 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



OPPOSITE PAGE. 

JOSEPH JEFFERSON. FRONTISPIECE , 

Engraved by G. Kruell, from a photograph by Pach Brothers. 
TYRONE POWER 4 

After the steel plate engraved by C. Turner, from the painting by 
John Simpson. Published by W. Kenneth. 

CHARLES BURKE 8 

From a painting in possession of the author. 
OLD JEWISH BURYING-GROUND, PEARL STREET, NEAR CHATHAM, 

NEW YORK CITY 16 

JOSEPH JEFFERSON (GRANDFATHER OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON) IN THE 

CHARACTER OF " SOLUS," IN THE COMEDY " EVERY ONE HAS 

His FAULTS." 22 

From the painting by Neagle. 
JOSEPH JEFFERSON (FATHER OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON) 36 

From a painting, artist unknown. 
PORTRAIT OF JAMES WALLACK 40 

From the collection of Thomas J. McKee. 
MACREADY AS WILLIAM TELL." 44 

After the painting by Henry Inman, owned by Joseph Jefterson. 

JAMES W. WALLACK, JR 72 

From a photograph by Gurney. 
MRS, JAMES W. WALLACK, JR 76 

From a photograph by Fredericks. 
JOHN E. OWENS 80 

From a photograph by Bachrach. 

JOHN E. OWENS AS " SOLON SHINGLE." 82 

WILLIAM E. BURTON AS " DOCTOR OLLAPOD." 96 

From the painting by Inm an, after an engraving by Sartain. 
xi 



xii ILLUSTRATIONS 

OPPOSITE PACK, 

WILLIAM E. BURTON AS " CAPTAIN CUTTLE." 100 

From a daguerreotype by Meade Brothers, after a lithograph by 
Sarony & Major. 

MR. C. BURKE, AMERICAN COMEDIAN. IN COMEDY, DRAMA, FARCE, 

AND BURLESQUE 108 

From a lithograph by J. L. Magee. 

CORNELIA JEFFERSON (MOTHER OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON) AS 

" JESSICA." nS 

After the painting by Neagle. 

JUNIUS BRUTUS BOOTH AS " RICHARD THE THIRD." 128 

From a copperplate engraving, after a drawing by C. Shoosmith. 
From the collection of Edwin Booth. 

THE SAVANNAH THEATER PREVIOUS TO 1884 133 

From a photograph lent by J. D. Johnson. 
SIR WILLIAM DON 136 

MRS. J. H. ALLEN 140 

Engraved by Charles State, from a photograph by Fredericks. 
From the collection of Thomas J. McKee. 

JULIA DEAN 146 

After a photograph by Bradley & Rulofson. 

HENRY PLACIDE 148 

From a photograph by Fredericks. 
CHESTNUT STREET THEATER, PHILADELPHIA 150 

From a print published by William Birch in 18123. 
JAMES E. MURDOCH 152 

EDWIN FORREST ABOUT 1835 156 

Drawn by S. Lawrence. Lithographed by E. Morton. 

EDWIN FORREST 160 

Photographed by Gutekunst. Engraved by T. Johnson. 

EDWIN FORREST AS "METAMORA." 164 

Photographed by Brady. Engraved by T. Johnson. 

EDWIN FORREST AS "KING LEAR." i6S 

Photographed by Brady. Engraved by T. Johnson. 

JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS DR. PANGLOSS." " PUT ALL THE HONORABLE 
MR. DOWLAS S CLOTHES AND LINEN INTO His FATHER S 

CHARIOT. " 184 

Engraved by Charles State. Photographed by Falk. 

JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS " DR. PANGLOSS, LL. D,, A. S. S.," IN "THE 
HEIR-AT-LAW." "DOCTOR PANGLOSS, THE PHILOSOPHER, 

TEACH DANCING I " i$8 

Engraved by R. G. Tietze. Photographed by Falk. 

LAURA KEENE Jg3 

Drawn from a lithograph lent by Thomas ]. McKee. 



. ILLUSTRATIONS 

OPPOSITE PAGE. 

"WAIT, I AIN T THROUGH YET." JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "As A 

TRENCHARD," IN * OUR AMERICAN COUSIN." 196 

From a photograph taken in 1858 by Meade Brothers. 
E. A. SOTHERN AS " LORD DUNDREARY," IN " OUR AMERICAN 

COUSIN." 200 

From a photograph by Sarony. 

W. R. BLAKE 204 

From an etching by H. B. Hall, lent by Thomas J. McKee. 
JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS " CALEB PLUMMER," IN "THE CRICKET ON 

THE HEARTH." 208 

Drawn from a photograph by Morrison, Chicago. 

JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "NEWMAN NOGGS," IN "NICHOLAS NICKLEBY." 212 
Engraved by R. G. Tietze. From a photograph formerly owned by 
John Brougham, lent by Peter Gilsey. 

"TAKE CARE, JACOB, DON T RILE ME!" JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS 

" SALEM SCUDDER," IN " THE OCTOROON." 216 

Engraved by H. Davidson. Photographed by Falk. 

TYRONE POWER AS " CORPORAL O CONOR." 220 

From the lithograph by Gooding & Gulliford, after the portrait by 
Wageman. 

BARNEY WILLIAMS 224 

From a photograph by Bogardus. 
HARRY A. PERRY 230 

From a print in the collection of Thomas J. McKee. 4 

MR. CHARLES KEAN AS " KING JOHN." 264 

Engraved by E. Clement, 

MRS. CHARLES KEAN AS " HERMIONE," 268 

Engraved by J. H. E. Whitney. 

PAUL BEDFORD 304 

From a photograph by Walker & Sons. 

BENJAMIN WEBSTER 308 

From a photograph by Elliott & Fry. 

JOHN BROUGHAM AS THE O*GRADY," IN "ARRAH NA POGUE" .. 312 
From a photograph by Chancellor, Dublin. From the collection of * 
Thomas J. McKee. 

T. W. ROBERTSON 316 

From a photograph by Walker & Sons. 

ARTEMUS WARD 320 

From a photograph by Walker & Sons. 

EDWIN ADAMS 324 

From a photograph by Gurney in the collection of Thomas J. Mo 
Kee. 

GEORGE HOLLAND 336 

From the collection of Thomas J. McKee. 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

OPPOSITE PAGE 

CHARLES FECHTER 34* 

From a photograph by Heath & Bean, of the lithograph by D AI- 
maine & Co. 

THE REVEREND JOSEPH JEFFERSON 3& 

From a photograph by Baker. 

AGNES ROBERTSON 36$ 

Engraved by R. G. Tietze, from a photograph by Fredericks. From 
the collection of Thomas J. McKee. 

BOOTH S THEATER, TWENTY-THIRD STREET AND SIXTH AVENUE, 

NEW YORK 3& 

JOHN GILBERT AS " SIR PETER TEAZLE." 384 

C. J. MATHEWS 38$ 

Engraved by R. G. Tietze, from a photograph by Mayall. 

CHARLES J. MATHEWS AS "TiM," IN "OLD AND YOUNG STAGER." 392 
From a sketch by R. J. Lane, published by J. Dickinson. 

JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS " BOB ACRES " 396 

Drawn by Otto H. Bacher, from a photograph by Sarony. 

JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS " BOB ACRES " 400 

Engraved by F. S. King, from a photograph by Sarony. 

WILLIAM WARREN AS " HERR WEIGEL," IN MY SON " 404 

Engraved by E. H. Delorme, from a photograph by C. F. Conly. 

WILLIAM WARREN AS "JEFFERSON SCATTERING BATKINS n 408 

Engraved by H. Velten, from a photograph by Notman. 

JOHN DREW AS HANDY ANDY." 412 

From a photograph. 
MRS. A. DRAKE 416 

From miniature in the possession of her granddaughter, Mrs. 

Blanche Ford. 
JOHN HOWARD PAYNE 4 X g 

From a daguerreotype. 
F. S. CHANFRAU ^ 

Engraved by W. J. Hirschman, after a colored lithograph in the 

collection of Thomas J. McKee. 
LESTER WALLACE ^ 2 

Engraved by D. Nichols, from a photograph by Fredericks taken in 

1856. From the collection of Thomas J. McKee. 
MRS. BARNEY WILLIAMS 424 

From a photograph by Mora. 
JOHN DREW AS THE IRISH EMIGRANT." 428 

Drawn by Otto H. Bacher, from a photograph. 
JOHN T. RAYMOND AS " COL. SELLERS " 4.12 

Engraved by A. H. Hutchins, from a photograph by Sarony. 
JOHN McCuLLouGH AS " VIRGINIUS " 43$ 

Engraved by T. Johnson, from a photograph by Conly. 



ILLUSTRATIONS xv 

OPPOSITE PAGE. 
J. B. BUCKSTONE 440 

From a photograph by Walker & Sons. 
SARAH STEVENS 444 

Engraved by A. H. Hutchins, from a photograph by Fredericks. 

From the collection of Thomas J. McKee. 
CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN 448 

From a photograph by Sarony. 
" I BELIEVE I VAS ! " JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS " RIP VAN WINKLE." 452 

Engraved by H. Davidson. Photographed by Sarony. 
" VERB is DAT VAT You READ ? " JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS " RIP VAN 

WINKLE." 456 

Engraved by J. H. E. Whitney. Photographed by Sarony. 
" Is DAT THE VILLAGE OF FALLING VATER." JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS 

" RIP VAN WINKLE. " 460 

Engraved by T. Johnson. Photographed by Walker & Sons. 
PIERRE LANDRY AND His WIFE 468 

Engraved by Henry Marsh, from a photograph. 
A MEMORY OF LOUISIANA 472 

Monotype by Joseph Jefferson. Photo-engraved reproduction of the 

wood-engraving by J. H. E. Whitney, 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 
JOSEPH JEFFERSON 



CHAPTER I 

RECOLLECTIONS OF CHILDHOOD 

My First Playhouse Earliest Appearances My 
Friend Mrs. Neal First Appearance in New 
York A Strange Playground 

I MAY almost say that I was born in a theater. 
.At all events, my earliest recollections are en 
tirely connected with one; it was a rickety 
old frame building with a broad gable, facing on a 
wide avenue, and situated in the city of Washing 
ton, The door from our back entry opened upon the 
stage, and as a toddling little chap in a short frock 
I was allowed full run of the place. So " behind 
the scenes " was my first playhouse. And what a 
playhouse it was, filled with all sorts of material 
for the exercise of my youthful imagination. At 
the back was the Bay of Naples, with its conven 
tional blue sky just faintly clouded with the distant 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

smoke of slumbering Vesuvius. Upon one side 
stood long and stately rows of Corinthian columns, 
a triumphal arch, and next to that a Roman palace. 
These marvels of ancient architecture were all lean 
ing up against the wall, not only in an uncomforta 
ble position, but at a dangerous angle, looking as 
though they had been toppled over during the last 
days of Pompeii. Upon the other side, heaped in a 
compact mass, were many scenes of various coun 
tries there a five-storied brownstone-front with 
modern improvements, and here a tiny thatched 
cottage of the eighteenth century, with a lovely lit 
tle door in it just large enough for me to go in and 
out of, slamming it after me and pretending it was 
mine. Then there was that dear little white paling 
fence, exactly two feet high : no legitimate theater 
of the old school could possibly be complete with 
out this curiosity, and nobody ever saw such a thing 
anywhere else. Then came the throne-steps, with 
two Gothic arm-chairs set thereon for the king and 
queen, and in front of these the old familiar green 
bank from which stray babies are usually stolen 
when left there by affectionate but careless mothers. 
Upon the top of this were two flat swans hitched in 
double harness to a shell for traveling fairy queens, 
A little farther down there stood a low and dismal 
vault having a square, dark opening with some 
mysterious letters painted over it, setting forth, as 
I learned in after years, that it was the private 
"Tomb of the Capulets." Close to this was an 
other piece of real estate belonging to the same 
family and known as " Juliet s balcony." In a dark 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 3 

corner stood a robbers cave with an opening 
through which old Ali Baba used to lug the bags 
of gold he had stolen from the Forty Thieves. 
Through the narrow and secluded pathways of 
"behind the scenes" I have often wandered out 
upon the open stage and wondered at this grove of 
wings and flats, and I could see that many ropes 
were hanging from above to which were fastened 
boats and baskets, tubs and chandeliers, and those 
sure tokens of bad weather, the thunder-drum and 
rain-box. 

Such were the objects that my childish eyes 
were wont to look upon, and in this huge and 
dusty toy-shop, made for children of a larger 
growth, I got my first experience. I had seen many 
rehearsals, and sometimes enjoyed a peep at the 
play, having been taken on "in arms" as a property 
child in groups of happy peasantry. Naturally, 
therefore, I was stage-struck at an early age ; and 
as I had a theater stocked with scenery and proper 
ties, I could indulge my passion at small expense, 
especially as my stock company were volunteers 
consisting of two little boys and their sister, who 
used to play with me" on Saturdays. This was 
before the star system had set in, and at a period 
when combinations were unknown. 

Of course I was stage-manager by the right of 
possession, and had to compile all of the plays. 
The plots were very simple and made to conform 
with what set pieces we could get at, or what prop 
erties we could secure and hide during the ab 
sence of the property man. If the set cottage 



4 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

was handy I would come out of the door as an old 
man (the age represented by a spinal affection) 
with a daughter and a market-basket: old man 
cross, daughter rebellious ; old man locks daughter 
in cottage, goes off to market shaking his fist (spine 
still weak). The favored lover enters, claps his 
hands three times ; daughter appears at window, 
kisses her hand ; old man coughs outside, favored 
lover conceals himself; enter old man with market- 
basket full of gilded pasteboard goblets, accom 
panied by unfavored -lover ; they sit down and drink 
wine out of goblets till overcome. Favored lover 
steals key from old man s pocket, releases rebel 
lious daughter ; the sleepers awaken, general pur 
suit; favored lover and rebellious daughter escape 
over bridge, old man and unfavored lover fall into 
the water. Curtain. 

Then there were the private boxes to play hide- 
and-seek in, with mysterious nooks and ample cur 
tains to creep into, and such chances to kiss the 
little girl in the dark. I am quite convinced that 
there is no such playground as a deserted theater 
in the daytime. 

In the greenroom there was a noble mirror. I 
loved to stand in front of it and act. But I was 
not alone in this. Many of the great players, long 
since passed away, have stood before this stately 
glass ;. and often in the evening, when clad in my 
night-gown, I have escaped from the nurse, and 
stealing on tip-toe to the greenroom door have 
peeped in and beheld these magnates with dignified 
satisfaction surveying themselves in their kingly 




TYRONE POWER. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 5 

robes : now a small man with piercing steel-gray 
eye, possibly the elder Booth; then a tall, gaunt 
figure, weird and majestic, Macready most likely ; 
at another time a young and beautiful queen in 
white satin this must have been Fanny Kemble; 
again a tall and graceful figure in a scarlet mili 
tary coat posing with an extravagant swagger and 
evidently admiring himself undoubtedly Tyrone 
Power, the great Irish comedian. 

As a matter of course, being the son of the 
manager, and almost living in the theater, I was 
always pressed into the dramatic service whenever 
a small child was wanted. Even before I can re 
member I was taken on to do duty in long clothes ; 
in fact, such was the histrionic ambition of my 
mother that I believe if Tilly Slowboy had existed 
in those days I should have been confided to her 
tender mercies at the risk of a collision between 
my head and the tea-kettle. 

The first dim recollection I have of a public ap 
pearance comes before me as a startled child in a 
white tunic beautifully striped with gold bands, and 
in the grasp and on the shoulders of an infuriated 
tragedian crossing a shaky bridge amid the deafen 
ing report of guns and pistols and in a blaze of 
fire and smoke. To me the situation seemed peril 
ous, and in order to render my position more 
secure I seized Rolla by the hair of his head. " Let 
go," he cried ; but I was obeying the first law of 
nature, not Rolla, so I tightened my grasp upon his 
tragic top-knot. The battle was short but decisive, 
for in the next moment I had pulled off his feather- 



6 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

duster head-dress, wig and all, thereby unintention 
ally scalping the enemy ; and, as he was past the 
prime of life, the noble Peruvian stood bald-headed 
in the middle of the bridge before an admiring 
audience. This story has the flavor of an old anec 
dote, but I am credibly informed that I was the 
original scalper. 

About this time I was three years old there 
dawned upon the public a new entertainment in 
the shape of the " Living Statues/ by a Mr. 
Fletcher. I was much taken with these novel 
tableaux, and became so statue-struck that I could 
do nothing but strike attitudes, now posing before 
the greenroom glass as " Ajax Defying the Light 
ning," or falling down in dark corners as the ** Dying 
Gladiator." These postures appear to have been 
so successful with the family that they were, as 
usual, tried upon the public. I am in the dark as 
to whether this entertainment was the " talk of the 
town " or not, but I fancy not: an attenuated child 
representing Hercules struggling with a lion could 
scarcely excite terror ; so I presume I did no harm 
if I did no good. 

To go from white to black, "Jim Crow," in the 
person of T. D. Rice, now burst upon the town. 
The legitimate drama has at all times been subject 
to startling innovations, and surely here was a 
great blow. The success of this the first and cer 
tainly the best knight of the burnt cork was quite 
marvelous; he drew more money than any star 
of the season* It is reported that his first hit in 
Washington was repeated in all the great cities 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 1 

of the country, and his advent in Europe even sur 
passed his career here. In London he acted in two 
theaters nightly, the same people in many instances 
following him from one theater to the other. 

Of course this fantastic figure had a great in 
fluence upon me, and I danced Jim Crow from the 
garret to the cellar. The comedian saw my imita 
tion of him, and insisted that I should appear for 
his benefit ; so on that occasion I was duly blacked 
up and dressed as a complete miniature likeness of 
the original. He put me in a bag, which almost 
smothered me, and carried me upon the stage on 
his shoulders. No word of this proceeding had 
been mentioned in the bills, so that, figuratively 
speaking, the public were as much in the dark as 
I was. After dancing and singing the first stanza 
he began the second, the following being the two 
lines which introduced me: 

O Ladies and Gentlemen, I 7 d have you for to know- 
That I ve got a little darky here that jumps Jim Crow; 

and turning the bag upside down he emptied me 
out fread first before the eyes of the astonished 
audience. The picture must have been a curious 
one ; it is as vividly before me now as any recol 
lection of my past life. 

Rice was considerably over six feet high, I was 
but four years old, and as we stood there, dressed 
exactly alike, the audience roared with laughter. 
Rice and I now sang alternate stanzas and the 
excitement increased; showers of -pennies, six 
pences, and shillings were tossed from the pit and 



8 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

thrown from the galleries upon the stage. I took 
no notice of this, but suddenly the clear, ringing 
sound of a dollar caught iny ear, and as the bright 
coin was rolling from the stage into the orchestra 
I darted forward and secured the prize. Holding 
it triumphantly between my finger and thumb I 
grinned at the leader of the orchestra as much as 
to say, "No, you don t/ This not only brought 
down the house, but many half-dollars and dollars 
besides. At the fall of the curtain twenty-four 
dollars were picked up and given into my de 
lighted hands. For years afterwards I was made 
to understand that this money was placed in bank 
to my credit, and I fear that I often borrowed small 
sums on the strength of my prospective wealth. 
Our family about this time consisted of father and 
mother, my half-brother, Charles Burke, and my 
self; but there was one other member of the house 
hold who deserves special mention. She was not 
one of the family, certainly, but the group would 
be very incomplete without her. Her name was 
Mary. She was that strange kind of woman who, 
while housekeeper, nurse, friend, and attendant, 
will never take any wages (which I think must 
have been rather fortunate in this case), and whom 
everybody depends upon. We would not have 
parted with her for all the world, and could not have 
driven her away if we had tried a faithful, loving, 
truthful friend, with no ambition or thought for her 
self; living only for us, and totally unconscious of 
her own existence. I have no doubt that there is 
some such being attached to many a family, but I 




CHARLES BURKE, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 9 

know that our family was just that queer sort of 
party that could not have done without one. This 
lady (for she was a lady) was my foster-mother 
dear Mary! always taking my faults on herself, 
finding excuses for my badness, and spoiling me, 
of course. 

A year or two rolled by and I find we were in 
Baltimore, where my sister was born. She divided 
the honors with me then, and I was, in consequence 
of this new arrival, not made quite so much of. I 
remember as a boy I was always being injured, 
at least, according to my account, so that people 
were rather suspicious of me ; and I find this theory 
holds good as we grow older : that whenever a man 
comes to us with a tale of his injuries we look on him 
with distrust, and as he recounts the details of his 
persecution the question revolves itself in our minds, 
" I wonder what rascality this fellow has been up 
to." The world has no time to injure any one; 
these unfortunate people injure themselves, and so 
turn into some other channel the current of happi 
ness that might have flowed to them. 

But to return to my early persecutions. A neigh 
bor, whose weak points I had discovered, bestowed 
on me one day a smooth sixpence. I showed it to my 
brother Charlie, who, looking at it with some dispar 
agement, said that in its present obliterated state it 
would pass for only about four cents, but that if I 
would bury it for an hour the original figures would 
show themselves and it would pass for its full value ; 
or, what would be better, let it remain in the ground 
for a day and it would grow to a shilling. This 



10 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



announcement struck me with wonder and delight, 
so off we started for the garden to plant this smooth 
sixpence. After making the interment and care 
fully marking it with a small headstone we de 
parted. I went back to the house and whispered 
the whole affair into the ears of Mary ; she de 
nounced the operation as a fraud, and bid me hurry 
and get my sixpence if I ever expected to see it 
again. I started off at a full run for the garden. 
The headstone was there, but the sixpence had 
gone. The body-snatcher had accomplished his 
cruel work. Throwing myself on my back and kick 
ing my heels in the air, I soon made the neighbor 
hood ring with my frantic yells. The fatally rushed 
out, and I detailed to them the dark plot of my guilty 
brother. I determined now that nothing short of a 
shilling should calm my feelings, and I yelled till 
I got it. 

I am not quite sure as to dates, and many inci 
dents come up before me in a confused form, while 
a number are traditional ; but there are certain facts 
connected with my early life about which there can 
be no mistake, and it is quite clear that I was what 
is understood to be a bad boy and hard to manage* 
If I heard an oath I cherished it as a newly found 
treasure, and would practice it in priyate. All this 
was no fault of my bringing up, for both father and 
mother were very particular and exacting in the 
conduct of home. I was made to say my prayers 
every night, a good example was always set before 
me, and sound moral principles were continually 
instilled into my youthful mind. The prayers I used 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 11 

to rattle off usually thinking of something else 
while I was saying them as quickly as religious 
decorum and my mother would permit, and the 
sound moral principles and good examples seemed 
to have the effect of making me the champion exe 
cutioner of all the stray cats in our neighborhood. 
The banging of a tin kettle tied to the tail of an 
unlucky dog was music to my childish ears ; and 
much as I love animals now, in the innocence of 
childhood I pursued them with such energy that 
had Mr. Bergh held his commission in those days 
I should have been seen oftener in the police court 
than at Sunday-school. 

My mother had a friend in Philadelphia, a Mrs. 
Neal, who kept a bookstore in Sixth street, near 
Chestnut; she was the mother of Joe Neal, the 
young author of the " Charcoal Sketches." I was 
a great favorite with her. She always wore a black 
dress with a white cap ; the cap had a little fluted 
frill around it, very prim, and very much starched. 
She was a dear old lady with a sweet smile and 
large, wide, blue eyes ; just the credulous and con 
fiding sort of person that a boy of seven could wind 
around his little finger. 

My imagination was wonderfully fertile : I could 
at the shortest notice get up a harrowing tale of 
woe that would make the stiff frills on her cap 
fairly tremble with benevolent agitation. Now it 
so happened about this time that I was in a state of 
insolvency, being heavily in debt at the candy-store, 
and sorely pressed by an exacting peanut-man at 
the corner. If I was short of a penny or two, T 



12 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

usually the case with me, I would dishevel my 
hair, rush through the store into the back room, 
and, sinking in an exhausted condition into the little 
chair by the fireplace, call for a glass of water. The 
startled old lady would jump up crying, " What s 
the matter, Joe?" " Don t ask me water, wa 
ter ! " " Yes, in a moment, my dear boy." Then, 
in a feeble voice, "Put some raspberry syrup in it, 
please, Mrs. Neal?" "Yes, my darling. 1 And 
now having been refreshed with this stimulant, I 
would in a tremulous voice, a little overacted, 
perhaps, relate some dire calamity I had just 
witnessed, giving the full particulars; in fact, the 
greater the fabrication the more minute I was as to 
the details. I would perhaps tell her that I had 
just seen a lovely little girl with blue eyes and 
golden hair run over by fire-engine No, 6 ; her 
head, severed from her body, had rolled from the 
middle of the street into the gutter, and lay smiling 
at my feet ; or perhaps I had pulled the little girl 
from under the wheels just previous to decapitation 
and saved her life refusing a large reward from 
her father. The shock had been so great that 
nothing short of an immediate supply of pepper 
mint drops would ever obliterate it from my mind 
and where was I to get them? I was in disgrace 
at the candy-store and had no money. " My dear 
child," the old soul would say, " there is a penny for 
you." "Oh, no, I could n t take it" knowing 
very well that she would force it upon me. " Ah, 
Mrs. Neal, I do not deserve all your kindness/ 
the only true words I had spoken to her, "indeed 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 13 

I don t." I m not at all sure that she swallowed 
all my romantic stories, and it is quite possible 
that she liked to draw me out just to enjoy. my 
exaggerations. 

I was one of those restless, peevish children who, 
no matter what they have, always want something 
else. The last new toy was always dissected to see 
what made it go, and the anticipated one kept me 
awake all night " When will it be sent home ? " 
" About two o clock." "Well, what time is it 
now?" and so on, musing, fretting, discontented, 
and rude. Mother said it was badness, Mary said 
affection. 

As I look back many strange images appear that 
puzzle me. Some of these scenes I know are real, 
and others appear to have been dreams. At times 
this confusion resolves itself into a chaos, and I 
fancy that I shall not be able to disintegrate the 
shadows from the realities. For instance, I perfectly 
well remember walking through the smoky ruins of 
New York with my father, after the great fire of 
1 83 5. While we were looking at this charred mass 
and watching the busy people hunting for half-con 
sumed treasures, and firemen pouring streams of 
water on the smoldering rafters, two Indians in 
theatrical costumes began dancing, a war dance 
which they terminated by tomahawking each other 
in the most friendly way, and then bowing to the 
people, who applauded them. Now I am quite 
sure that the first part of this recollection was a 
reality, and it seems pretty clear that the latter part 
of it was a dream. It is quite possible, therefore, 



14 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



that in relating many of my juvenile adventures 
I may be led, or misled, into some unintentional 
exaggerations. 

In referring to Ireland s <c Records of the New 
York Stage," I find the following notice of my first 
appearance in that city: 

Master Titus, whose songs and dances were much applauded, 
took a benefit on the 3oth, when he appeared with Master Joseph 
Jefferson in a celebrated combat, it being this lad s first appear 
ance out of the juvenile supernumerary ranks. This little fellow 
was the grandson of the great comedian of the same name, and is 
the third Joseph Jefferson known to our stage. He was born at 
Philadelphia, February 20, 1829. 

I remember this circumstance quite well not the 
birth, but the combat. Young Titus was attired as 
an American sailor, I being dressed to represent a 
Greek pirate. I was much smaller than my antag 
onist, but as the fight was for his benefit, good 
taste suggested that he should overcome and 
slay me, which he did, and as the curtain 
came down I was flat on my back, and the Ameri 
can sailor, waving a star-spangled banner over me, 
placed his foot magnanimously on the chest of the 
vanquished Greek. The fight was encored, so I 
had to come to life again quite a common thing 
for stage pirates and die twice. I rather delighted 
in being the vanquished foe : nothing could possibly 
be more manly than a slain pirate. Mr. Ireland 
mentions that the combat was "celebrated 7 *; for 
what, I am at a loss to conjecture. In the accounts 
of our last war with the Greeks there is no mention 
made of this circumstance. If, therefore, the com- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 15 

bat was "celebrated," it must have been for histori 
cal inaccuracy. I remembered this battle with pride 
for years. The beneficiary must have remembered 
it too, as it was traditional in our family that I came 
near cutting off a big toe of little Titus in the conflict. 

In New York we lived in the third story of No. 
26 James street, next to the Catholic church, and 
opposite to the " Bunch of Grapes," a hotel kept by 
one George Bickford. The second floor was occu 
pied by John Sefton, the comedian and manager, 
and the lower part of the house by a Mr. Titus and 
his family. Our fence in the rear separated us from 
an old graveyard. How this curious old cemetery 
ever got wedged in between the buildings that sur 
rounded it is a mystery. Perhaps in times gone 
by an old church may have stood at the outskirts of 
the little village of New York, and beneath these 
stones " the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep," 
Passing down the Bowery on the elevated railroad, 
by looking on the left-hand side, just after the train 
branches off towards Pearl street, this queer nook 
may be discovered, and if the inmates only had the 
power of noting the progress of the times, they would 
be considerably astonished to see their descend 
ants whirled over their heads on a railroad in the air. 

After school the boys with whom I fraternized 
would join me in this secluded spot for our evening 
games the high tombstones for "I spy/ and the 
flat ones to act on. The place had long since 
ceased to be used as a burial-ground, so our sports 
were uninterrupted. The boys in the neighbor 
hood were like all other boys in all neighborhoods 



16 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

mischievous. My arrival had given a fresh im 
petus in this respect, and the graveyard offered a fine 
field for the indulgence of sacrilegious amusements* 
Ornamenting the tombstones was quite a specialty 
with one of our playmates. He had, previous to 
my advent, already painted a large red face, in a 
broad grin, on a headstone erected to the memory 
of the Rev. Jacob Boul. After consultation with 
the artist, I cocked a battered hat, sidewise, on the 
top of the face, and drilling a hole in its mouth, 
stuck a pipe in it, thus giving a cheerful tone to the 
monument, and almost robbing de ath of its sting. 

Saturday, there being no school, was generally set 
apart as our " Decoration Day," and it was rare 
sport to get a marking-brush with a pot of black 
paint and embellish the virtues of the departed sin 
ners. We were astonishingly brave in the day 
light, even defying the dead bones to arise and face 
us if they dared, but as twilight set in our courage 
cooled, and we would talk lower. Sometimes, as 
one boy after another would scamper home, leaving 
the place "to darkness and to me," I would saunter 
slowly along with my hands in my pockets, whistling 
a nervous defiance to ghosts in general and these 
ghosts in particular, but taking care not to walk 
over the flat tombstones, upon which in the day 
light I would dance with impunity. Now, as the 
shadows of night gathered around me, I would 
increase my pace, scampering faster and faster 
through the tall grass, and rapidly climbing over 
the fence, fancying that the Rev. Mr, Boul would 
soon have me by the leg if I did not hurry. 




OLD JEWISH BURYING-GROUND, PEARL STREET, NEW YORK CITY. 



CHAPTER II 
BOYHOOD 

Westward Ho! Chicago in 1839 ^ n Adven 
ture in Springfield, Illinois Hard Times 
James Wallack, Sr. The Elder Booth Mac- 
ready Our Voyage on a Flatboat 

IN the year 1 838 the new town of Chicago had just 
turned from an Indian village into a thriving lit 
tle place, and my uncle had written to my father 
urging him to join in the management of the new 
theater which was then being built there. As each 
fresh venture presented itself my father s hopeful 
nature predicted immediate and successful results. 
He had scarcely finished the letter when he declared 
that our fortunes were made, so we turned our faces 
towards the setting sun. In those days a journey 
from Albany to Chicago was no small undertaking 
for a large family in straitened circumstances ; cer 
tain cherished articles had to be parted with to 
procure necessary comforts for the trip. I really 
do not know how, but we got from Albany to 
Schenectady, where we acted for a few nights with 

a 17 



18 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



a company that was playing there. Several of the 
actors, who had received no salary for some time, 
decided to accompany my father and seek their for 
tunes in the West 

As I remember it, our journey was long, but not 
tedious. We traveled part of the way in a fast- 
sailing packet-boat on the Erie Canal, the only 
smoke issuing from the caboose stove-pipe. I can 
remember our party admiring this craft with the 
same enthusiasm that we now express in looking 
at a fine ocean steamer. She was painted white 
and green and enlivened with blue window blinds, 
and a broad red stripe running from bow to stern. 
Her name was the Pioneer, which was to us most 
suggestive, as our little band was among the early 
dramatic emigrants to the far West The boat re 
sembled a Noah s ark with a flat roof, and my 
father, like the patriarch of old, took his entire 
family on board, with this difference, however 
he was required to pay his passage, it being under 
stood between him and the captain that he should 
stop a night in Utica and one in Syracuse, give 
a theatrical entertainment in each place, and hand 
over the receipts in payment of our fare. 

We acted in Utica for one night, and the receipts 
were quite good. My father and mother were in 
high spirits, and there is no doubt that the captain 
had hopes that the next night s entertainment 
in Syracuse would liquidate our liabilities, for 
there was a visible improvement in the coffee at 
breakfast, and an extra piece of pie all around for 
dinner. The next night, unfortunately, the ele- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 19 

ments were against us : it rained in torrents and 
the attendance was light, so that we were short of 
our passage money about ten dollars. 

The captain being a strict member of the 

Church could not attend either of the perform 
ances, and as he was in his heart most anxious to 
see what acting was like, he proposed that if the 
company would " cut up " for him and give him a 
private show in the cabin he would call it " square." 
Our actors, being highly legitimate, declined; but 
my mother, ever anxious to show off the histrionic 
qualities of her son, proposed that I should sing 
some comic songs for the captain, and so ransom 
the rest of the actors. The captain turned it over 
in his mind, being, I am afraid, a little suspicious 
of my genius, but after due consideration con 
sented. So he prepared himself for the entertain 
ment, the cook and my mother comprising the rest 
of the audience. The actors had wisely retired to 
the upper deck, as they had been afflicted on former 
occasions. I now began a dismal comic song 
called "The Devil and Little Mike." It consisted 
of some twenty-five stanzas, each one containing two 
lines with a large margin of " whack fol de riddle." 
It was never quite clear whether the captain en 
joyed this entertainment or not : my mother said he 
did, for, though the religious turn of his mind would 
naturally suppress any impulse to applaud, he said 
even before I had half finished that he was quite 
satisfied. 

On our arrival in Buffalo we found another 
pioneer company, under the management of Dean 



20 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

and McKenney. Here we staid over two or three 
days, waiting for the steamer to take us up the 
lakes. Marble was starring there ;. he was one of 
the first and best of the Yankee comedians. In 
those days the stage New Englander was acted 
and dressed in a most extravagant manner, I re 
member seeing Marble play, and his costume was 
much after the present caricature of Uncle Sam, 
minus the .stars but glorying in the stripes. 

In a few days we steamed up the beautiful lakes 
of Erie, Huron, and Michigan. The boat would 
stop sometimes for hours at one of the stations to 
take in wood, or a stray passenger, and then the 
Indians would paddle out to us in their canoes 
offering their beadwork and moccasins for sale. 
Sometimes we would go ashore and walk on the 
beach gathering pebbles, carnelians, and agates* I 
thought them of immense value, and kept my treas 
ures for years afterwards. What a lovely trip it 
was as I remember it ! Lake Huron at sunset is 
before me now a purple sky melting into a 
golden horizon ; rich green foliage on the banks ; 
yellow sand with many-colored pebbles making 
the beach of the lake ; the clear and glassy water ; 
groups of Indians lolling on the banks, smoking 
their pipes and making baskets; the hills dotted 
with their little villages with tents made of skins and 
painted canvas ; blue smoke curling slowly up in 
the calm summer air; and all the bright colors 
reflected in the lake. I stood there as a boy, skim 
ming flat stones over the surface of the water, and 
now as I write in the autumn of my life these once 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 21 

quiet shores are covered with busy cities ; the fur 
naces glow with melted iron, the locomotive 
screams and whistles along the road where once 
the ox-teams used to carry the mail, and corner 
lots and real-estate agents "fill the air." When 
we think that all these wonderful changes have 
taken place within the last fifty years, it is startling 
to speculate upon what the next half century may 
bring about 

So day by day passes, till one night a light is 
espied in the distance, then another, and then 
many more dance and reflect themselves in the 
water. It is too late to go ashore, so we drop 
anchor. At sunrise we are all on deck looking at 
the haven of our destination, and there in the 
morning light, on the shores of Lake Michigan, 
stands the little town of Chicago, containing two 
thousand inhabitants. Aunt, uncle, and their chil 
dren come to meet and welcome us. Then there 
is such a shaking of hands and a kiss all round, 
and "Why, how well you are looking!" and "Is 
this Charlie ? How he has grown ! " " Why, that s 
not Joe! Dear me, who d have believed it?" 
And then we all laugh again and have another 
kiss. 

The captain said he had enjoyed a splendid trip, 
such fun, such music and singing and dancing. 
" Well, good-bye all," " Good luck " ; and off we go 
ashore and walk through the busy little town, busy 
even then, people hurrying to and fro, frame build 
ings going up, board sidewalks going down, new 
hotels, new churches, new theaters, everything new. 



22 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Saw and hammer, saw, saw, bang, bang, look 
out for the drays ! bright and muddy streets, 
gaudy-colored calicos, blue and red flannels and 
striped ticking hanging outside the dry-goods 
stores, bar-rooms, real-estate offices, attor- 
neys-at-law oceans of them. 

And now for the new theater, newly painted 
canvas, tack-hammer at work on stuffed seats in 
the dress-circle, planing-boards . in the pit, new 
drop-curtain let down for inspection, u beautiful!" 
a medallion of Shakspere, suffering from a severe 
pain in his stomach, over the center, with " One touch 
of nature makes the whole world kin" written 
under him, and a large, painted, brick-red drapery 
looped up by Justice, with sword and scales, show 
ing an arena with a large number of gladiators 
hacking away at one another in the distance to a 
delighted Roman public ; though what Justice had 
to do with keeping these gladiators on exhibition 
was never clearly explained by the artist There 
were two private boxes with little white-and-gold 
balustrades and turkey-red curtains, over one box a 
portrait of Beethoven and over the other a portrait of 
Handel upon unfriendly terms, glaring at each 
other. The dome was pale blue, with pink-and- white 
clouds, on which reposed four ungraceful ballet girls 
representing the seasons, and apparently dropping 
flowers, snow, and grapes into the pit Over each 
season there floated four fat little cherubim " in 
various stages of spinal curvature." 

My father, being a scenic artist himself, was 
naturally disposed to be critical, and when the 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON (GRANDFATHER OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON). 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 23 

painter asked his opinion of the dome, he re 
plied : 

"Well, since you ask me, don t you think that 
your angels are a little stiff in their attitudes ? " 

"No, sir; not for angels. When I deal with 
mythological subjects I never put my figures in 
natural attitudes; it would be inharmonious. A 
natural angel would be out of keeping with the 
rest of the work." 

To which my father replied that it was quite 
likely that such would be the case. " But why 
have you made Handel and Beethoven frown at 
each other ? They are not mythological subjects." 

"No, no," said the painter. "But they are 
musicians, you know ; and great musicians always 
quarrel, eh? Ha, ha!" 

"Yes," said my father; "but as Handel died 
before Beethoven was born, I don t see how any 
coolness could have existed between them." 

The foregoing dialogue, while it may not be 
verbatim, is at least in the spirit of the original. I 
could not possibly remember the exact words of 
the different conversations that will naturally occur 
through these chapters ; but I have placed them in 
their present form> as I believe it is the clearest 
and most effective way to tell the story. Many of 
the conversations and incidents are traditional in 
my family ; I have good reason to take them for 
granted, and I must ask the reader to share my 
confidence. 

The greenroom was a perfect gem, with a 
three-foot wavy mirror and cushioned seats around 



24 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the wall traps under the stage so convenient 
that Ophelia could walk from her grave to her 
dressing-room with perfect ease. 

With what delight the actors looked forward to 
the opening of a new theater in a new town, where 
dramatic entertainments were still unknown re 
pairing their wardrobes, studying their new parts, 
and speculating on the laurels that were to be won ! 

After a short season in Chicago, with the vary 
ing success which in those days always attended 
the drama, the company went to Galena for a short 
season, traveling in open wagons over the prairie. 
Our seats were the trunks that contained the ward 
robe those old-fashioned hair trunks of a mottled 
and spotted character made from the skins of de 
funct circus horses: "To what base uses we may 
return!" These smooth hair trunks, with geo 
metrical problems in brass tacks ornamenting their 
surface, would have made slippery seats even on a 
macadamized road, so one may imagine the diffi 
culty we had in holding on while jolting over a 
rough prairie. Nothing short of a severe pressure 
on the brass tacks and a convulsive grip of the 
handles could have kept us in position ; and when 
ever a treacherous handle gave way our company 
was for the time being just one member short As 
we were not an express mail-train, of course we 
were allowed more than twenty minutes for refresh 
ments ; the only difficulty was the refreshments. We 
stopped at farm-houses on the way for this uncer 
tain necessity, and they were far apart If the 
roads were heavy and the horses jaded, those 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 25 

actors who had tender hearts and tough limbs 
jumped out and walked to ease the poor brutes. 
Often I have seen my father trudging along ahead 
of the wagon, smoking his pipe, and I have no 
doubt thin king of the large fortune he was going to 
make in the next town, now and then looking back 
with his light blue eyes, giving my mother a cheer 
ful nod which plainly said : " I *m all right. This 
is splendid ; nothing could be finer." If it rained 
he was glad it was not snowing ; if it snowed he 
was thankful it was not raining. This contented 
nature was his only inheritance ; but it was better 
than a fortune made in Galena or anywhere else, 
for nothing could rob him of it. 

We traveled from Galena to Dubuque on the 
frozen river in sleighs smoother work than the 
roughly rutted roads of the prairie ; but it was a 
perilous journey, for a warm spell had set in and 
made the ice sloppy and unsafe. We would some 
times hear it crack and see it bend under our 
horses feet : now a long-drawn breath of relief as 
we passed some dangerous spot, then a convulsive 
grasping of our nearest companion as the ice 
groaned and shook beneath us. Well, the passen 
gers arrived safe, but, horror to relate 1 the sleigh 
containing the baggage, private and public, with 
the scenery and properties, green curtain and drop, 
broke through the ice and tumbled into the Missis 
sippi. My poor mother was in tears, but my 
father was in high spirits at his good luck, as he 
called it because there was a sand-bar where the 
sleigh went in ! So the things were saved at last, 



26 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

though in a forlorn condition. The opening had 
to be delayed in order to dry the wardrobe and 
smooth the scenery. 

The halls of the hotel were strung with clothes 
lines, and the costumes of all nations festooned the 
doors of the bedrooms, so that when an unsuspi 
cious boarder came out suddenly into the entry he 
was likely to run his head into a damp " Roman " 
shirt, or perhaps have the legs of a soaking pair of 
red tights dangling round his neck. Mildew filled 
the air. The gilded pasteboard helmets fared the 
worst. They had succumbed to the softening in 
fluences of the Mississippi, and were as battered 
and out of shape as if they had gone through the 
pass of Thermopylae. Limp leggins of scale armor 
hung wet and dejected from the lines ; low-spirited 
cocked hats were piled up in a corner ; rough-dried 
court coats stretched their arms out as if in the agony 
of drowning, as though they would say, " Help me, 
Cassius, or I sink." Theatrical scenery at its best 
looks pale and shabby in the daytime, but a well- 
worn set after a six-hours* bath in a river presents 
the most woe-begone appearance that can well be 
imagined ; the sky and water of the marine had 
so mingled with each other that the horizon line 
had quite disappeared. My father had painted the 
scenery, and he was not a little crestfallen as he 
looked upon the ruins : a wood scene had amalga 
mated with a Roman street painted -on the back of 
it, and had so run into stains and winding streaks 
that he said it looked like a large map of South 
America ; and, pointing out the Andes with his cane, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 27 

he humorously traced the Amazon to its source. 
Of course this mishap on the river delayed the 
opening for a week. In the mean time the scenery 
had to be repainted and the wardrobe put in order: 
many of the things were ruined, and the helmets 
defied repair. 

After a short and, I think, a good season at Du- 
buque, we traveled along the river to the different 
towns just springing up in the West Burlington, 
Quincy, Peoria, Pekin, and Springfield. In those 
primitive days, I need scarcely say, we were often 
put to severe shifts for a theater. 

In Quincy the court-house was fitted up, and 
it answered admirably. In one town a large 
warehouse was utilized, but in Pekin we were 
reduced to the dire necessity of acting in a pork- 
house. This establishment was a large frame 
building, stilted up on piles about two feet from 
the ground, and situated in the open prairie just 
at the edge of the town. The pigs were banished 
from their comfortable quarters, and left to browse 
about on the common during the day, taking 
shelter under their former abode in the evening. 
After undergoing some slight repairs in the roof, 
and submitting to a thorough scouring and white 
washing, the building presented quite a respect 
able appearance. The opening play was " Clari, 
the Maid of Milan." This drama was written by 
John Howard Payne, and his song of " Home, 
Sweet Home "belongs to the play. My mother, 
on this occasion, played the part of Clari and sang 
the touching ballad. 



28 T^E AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



Now it is a pretty well established fact in theat 
rical history that if an infant has been smuggled 
into the theater under the shawl of its fond mother, 
however dormant it may have been during the 
unimportant scenes of the play, no sooner is an 
interesting point arrived at, where the most perfect 
stillness is required, than the " dear little innocent" 
will break forth in lamentation loud and deep. On 
this occasion no youthful humanity disturbed the 
peace, but the "animal kingdom," in the shape of the 
banished pigs, asserted its right to a public hearing. 
As soon as the song of " Home, Sweet Home" com 
menced they began by bumping their backs up 
against the beams, keeping anything but good time 
to the music ; and as my mother plaintively chanted 
the theme "Sweet, Sweet Home/ realizing their 
own cruel exile, the pigs squealed most dismally. 
Of course the song was ruined, and my mother 
was in tears at the failure. My father, however, 
consoled her by saying that though the grunting 
was not quite in harmony with the music, it was in 
perfect sympathy with the sentiment 

Springfield being the capital of Illinois, it was 
determined to devote the entire season to the en 
tertainment of the members of the legislature* 
Having made money for several weeks previous to 
our arrival here, the management resolved to hire 
a lot and build a theater. This sounds like a large 
undertaking, and perhaps with their limited means 
it was a rash step. I fancy that my father rather 
shrunk from this bold enterprise, but the senior 
partner (McKenzie) was made of sterner stuff, and, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 29 

his energy being quite equal to his ambition, the 
ground was broken and the temple erected. 

The building of a theater in those days did not 
require the amount of capital that it does now. 
Folding opera-chairs were unknown. Gas was an 
occult mystery, not yet acknowledged as a fact by 
the unscientific world in the West ; a second-class 
quality of sperm-oil was the height of any man 
ager s ambition. The footlights of the best thea 
ters in the Western country were composed of 
lamps set in a "float" with the counter- weights. 
When a dark stage was required, or the lamps 
needed trimming or refilling, this mechanical con 
trivance was made to sink under the stage. I be 
lieve if the theater, or " Devil s workshop/ as it 
was sometimes called, had suddenly been illumi 
nated with the same material now in use, its enemies 
would have declared that the light was furnished 
from the "Old Boy s" private gasometer. 
. The new theater, when completed, was about 
ninety feet deep and forty feet wide. No attempt 
was made at ornamentation; and as it was un- 
painted, the simple lines of architecture upon which 
it was constructed gave it the appearance of a large 
dry-goods box with a roof. I do not think my 
father, or McKenzie, ever owned anything with a 
roof until now, so they were naturally proud of 
their possession. 

In the midst of our rising fortunes a heavy 
blow fell upon us. A religious revival was in 
progress at the time, and the fathers of the church 
not only launched forth against us in their sermons, 



30 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

but by some political manceuver got the city to 
pass a new law enjoining a heavy license against 
our "unholy" calling; I forget the amount, but 
it- was large enough, to be prohibitory. Here 
was a terrible condition of affairs : all our avail 
able funds invested, the legislature in session, 
the town full of people, and we by a heavy 
license denied the privilege of opening the new 
theater ! 

In the midst of their trouble a young lawyer 
called on the managers. He had heard of the in 
justice, and offered, if they would place the matter 
in his hands, to have the license taken off, declaring 
that he only desired to see fair play, and he would 
accept no fee whether he failed or succeeded. The 
case was brought up before the council The 
young lawyer began his harangue. He handled 
the subject with tact, skill, and humor, tracing the 
history of the drama from the time when Thespis 
acted in a cart to the stage of to-day. He illus 
trated his speech with a number of anecdotes, and 
kept the council in a roar of laughter ; his good- 
humor prevailed, and the exorbitant tax was taken 
off. 

This young lawyer was very popular in Spring 
field, and was honored and beloved by all who 
knew him, and after the time of which I write he 
held rather an important position in the Govern 
ment of the United States. He now lies buried 
near Springfield, under a monument commemorat 
ing his greatness and his virtues and his name 
was Abraham Lincoln ! 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 31 

At the end of our Springfield season my father 
dissolved partnership with McKenzie, and my next 
remembrance finds us in the town of Memphis. 
Bad business had closed the -theater, and my father 
had turned from scene-painter to sign-painter. 

There had been an ordinance passed by the 
fathers of the city requiring that all carts, drays, and 
public vehicles should be numbered. By some ac 
cident I heard of this, and, as I was on the alert to 
get work for my father, I called at the mayor s 
office to apply for the contract. The mayor had 
seen me on the stage and, to my no small delight, 
recognized me. I explained to him that my father, 
was an artist as well as a comedian, and that, the 
theater being closed, he devoted his time to sign 
and ornamental painting; not, however, as an 
amusement It was natural that the mayor, a 
jovial, and possibly not a very dignified or dreadful 
person, should be interested in a youngster hav 
ing the promptness and the effrontery to be the 
first to apply for the contract. 

My interview with the mayor was a success, and 
ended in my getting the contract for my father to 
paint the numbers. How delightful it was to go 
home with such good news 1 Then the charm of 
unfolding such an agreeable surprise to the family 
what lovely revenge for the scolding my mother 
had given me the day before ; and, above all, the 
tremendous round of applause that such an achieve 
ment must bring down. 

My father was too sensitive -and retiring to have 
ever dreamed of doing such a thing, and perhaps 



32 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

when I arrived at his age I might, under the same 
circumstances, have shrunk from it myself. But I 
was young and rash, and perhaps desperate ,* for if 
I had not received many hard knocks myself, my 
family had, and, feeling the blows through them, I 
experienced a ferocious delight in doing battle with 
the world, and, as I was generally victorious, my 
success made me bold. The new industry fur 
nished my father and myself with a month s work, 
so that we were indebted to this stride in South 
western civilization for at least a small addition to 
our income. 

One of my father s ornamental signs, on which 
was painted an amiable tailor measuring a hand 
some young man for a fashionable suit of clothes, 
came under the notice of Mr. McAllister. This 
gentleman was the owner of a large billiard- 
. saloon and bar-room, to which was attached a mys 
terious apartment where late hours were kept A 
large mahogany table covered with a suspicious- 
looking green cloth gave evidence of the kind of 
trade that was plied in this exchange, and strongly 
corroborated the popular tradition that Mn Mc 
Allister s midnight visitors were " gentlemanly 
sports." The proprietor having, it seems, a turn for 
art, as well as for cards, arranged for my father to 
decorate his billiard-room first, and then his house. 
In the hall of the latter my father painted two 
landscapes from "The Lady of the Lake" one 
representing Loch Katrine, with her ladyship pad 
dling her own canoe in the distance, and a moun 
tain torrent in the foreground with the bridge made 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 33 

famous by the combat of Fitz-James and Roderick 
Dhu. The subjects had been chosen out of com 
pliment to Mr. McAllister, as he was of Scotch 
descent. 

The time was drawing near for our departure from 
Memphis, as the season in Mobile was to begin in 
November, and the money due for decorating McAl 
lister s house was necessary to defray the expenses 
of our journey down the river; but, to our great in 
convenience, it was not forthcoming. Whether the 
"gentlemanly sports" had been more fortunate 
than the proprietor or not I am unable to say, but 
my father had written twice without receiving an 
answer, and I had been dispatched to make a per 
sonal appeal to him. We delayed our departure 
for two weeks, hoping to get some satisfaction ; 
but, no notice being taken of our demands, it was 
decided to wait no longer. 

In our straitened circumstances we were forced 
to take a steerage passage on one of the steamboats 
between Memphis and New Orleans. This was 
both humiliating and inconvenient. But Mary was 
a host, and could, by her devotion and tact, have 
made us comfortable even under more trying condi 
tions. I know that my mother s pride was wounded, 
and that in her mortification she wondered that my 
father could face the degradation with such forti 
tude ; but from what I remember of him, and all that 
I have heard related in connection with his charac 
ter, nothing short of sickness or death in his family 
could induce him to complain. This kind of philoso 
phy can be learned neither from books nor from ex- 



34 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

perience ; it is a natural gift, and seems to come into 
the world hand in hand with the spirit that is to 
bear it company. No seed can sow it, and no soil 
can grow it ; the quality is inborn, and is so deeply 
rooted that it defies cultivation or extermination. 

After arranging ourselves as comfortably as we 
could, the mate gave notice that the boat would not 
start until late that evening. On hearing this my 
mother asked me some questions regarding Mrs. 
McAllister, whom, of course, I had seen and spoken 
with during the time we had been engaged in the 
decoration of her house. My report of the lady be 
ing quite favorable, my mother started in company 
with myself to make an appeal. Mrs. McAllister, 
who had been out driving with her children, met us 
at the door. On my presenting my mother, we were 
asked into the house and proceeded with her to the 
drawing-room. My mother after apologizing for 
our visit, explained the nature of it, calling the 
lady s attention to the hard and honest work of her 
artist husband, and contrasting the elegant sur 
roundings of the lady and her children with the 
poverty of her own. In an hour afterwards the 
lady left the house and returned with the money. 
Placing it in my mother s hand, she bade us God 
speed, and away we went with a heavier purse and 
lighter hearts. 

We hurried to the boat with our treasure, 
about two hundred dollars, I think, and my 
mother was both delighted and triumphant. When 
she placed the money in my father s hands he 
looked at it in amazement, and after declaring that 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 35 

his wife was the most wonderful woman in the 
world, suggested that we should at once adjourn to 
the cabin; but the most wonderful woman in the 
world would not hear of it, and urged my father to 
bear the discomfiture, so that we might arrive at 
our journey s end with some means of support 
dwelling upon the fact that otherwise he would 
have to draw an advance from the manager on our 
arrival in Mobile, which not only would be humili 
ating, but might weaken his position. Of course 
he saw the force and wisdom of his wife s counsel, 
and, I think rather reluctantly, consented. As I re 
flect upon this situation, it seems strange that my 
mother, who felt most keenly this humiliation, was 
content to bear it rather than lose the means that 
would render our future position more secure; 
while my father, who could smile serenely at our 
condition, would willingly have parted with all the 
money to have given us present comfort It can 
be accounted for only by the extreme contrast in 
their natures: he was hopeful, my mother was 
apprehensive. May not generosity spring from one 
of these causes, and caution from the other ? 

As usual, my father was soon contented. This 
novel and uncomfortable mode of traveling, instead 
of depressing him, seemed to raise his spirits ; for 
I can well remember that while the boat was 
steaming down the river he employed the time in 
studying some new parts that he was to act during 
the approaching season, and when it stopped to 
take in wood he would get out his tackle and fish 
from the stern of the vessel. One would suppose 



36 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

that this indifference to really serious inconvenience 
sprang from weakness, but this was not so; for, 
though there was nothing of the tyrant in him, 
when he felt that it was time to make a stand he 
made a bold one, and was as solid as a rock. 

We arrived at Mobile in October, 1842. The 
yellow fever was raging in the town, but we were 
forced to come before the rest of the company, as 
my father was the scenic artist as well as the come 
dian of the theater, and his presence was required 
at an early date as the scenery needed repainting. 

We had for years been traveling about the 
country, and my father and mother congratulated 
themselves upon this present permanent situation, 
as it afforded them not only rest, but an oppor 
tunity of sending my sister and myself to school. 
Sadly enough, the last desire of this hopeful man 
was shattered, for two weeks after our arrival he 
was stricken with yellow fever, and died on the 
24th of November, 1842. I will not describe the 
effect of this awful blow on our family, not desir 
ing to cloud the narrative of my life with the rela 
tion of domestic sorrow. It is sufficient to say that 
by this sad event we were deprived of a dear 
friend upon whom we depended for counsel and 
support. 

My sister and myself were now engaged at the 
theater to act such children s parts as our size and 
talent warranted the manager in casting us in ; 
appearing in fancy dances and comic duets, added 
to which I was to grind colors in the paint-room, 
assistant artist, I was called in the play-bill, and 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON (FATHER OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON). 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 37 

make myself generally useful, for which services 
we were each to receive six dollars a week. It was 
understood that this employment was given to us 
as a charity; but when I consider the numerous 
duties imposed upon us, and the small sum we 
received, my conscience acquits me of our being 
anything like an incubus upon the theater, and if 
there was any charity in the matter, I think it was 
on our side. 

One of the programmes, I find, announces that 
after the play Master and Miss Jefferson were to 
" execute a fancy dance." Now, as our terpsich- 
orean education had been rafher limited, it is quite 
likely that the execution was complete. 

It was soon apparent that our charity salary 
was not enough to support us, so my mother cast 
about for some means of increasing our income. 
She had no heart for acting now, and decided to 
open a boarding-house for the actors. From lead 
ing lady to landlady was rather a come-down for 
her ; but my mother was a brave woman and en 
dowed with the kind of pride that preferred the 
" degradation " of earning an honest living to the 
more elegant profession of getting in debt. A house 
had to be taken, a month s rent paid in advance, 
and furniture hired to fit up the establishment 
but where was the money to come from? 

It is said that in France, when the Government 
made a call on the people for a loan to pay off the 
war indemnity, thousands of patriotic Frenchwomen 
stood in line, a mile in length, at the Treasury, each 
bearing a long worsted stocking filled with gold, 



38 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



ready to assist their native land in its great finan 
cial emergency; and I am told that in Louisiana 
this domestic bank is used by many of the French 
inhabitants as a receptacle for both small and large 
hoardings. My mother was a Frenchwoman, at 
least by inheritance, and I have no doubt came 
honestly by this national characteristic ; for when 
matters were in a desperate condition the dear 
lady would mysteriously draw forth a long, dark- 
blue worsted stocking in which there was always 
"just one little gold piece left." 

Unfortunately for my mother s venture, the 
theatrical season following in the wake of all 
others I had as yet been familiar with was a 
failure. Naturally the settlement of the board 
bills was consequent upon the payment of the 
salaries ; and as the latter occurrence was fitful 
and uncertain, the bills of my mother s landlord 
and butcher were both subjected to the same 
intermittent conditions. 

At the time of which I write there lived in Mo 
bile a talented and beautiful lady by the name of 
Madame Le Vert. She was the belle of the city 
and courted by the first in the land ; her brilliancy 
and wit had placed her in the center of a rich set 
ting, of which she was the shining jewel. Added to 
her worth and elegance was a kind and beneficent 
nature, always seeking new objects to bestow its 
bounty upon. She was, moreover, a patroness of 
art and literature ; nothing was too high for her 
understanding, or too lowly for her kind considera 
tion. I think all who remember this fascinating 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 39 

woman will indorse my description of her character. 
It is natural that I should have a grateful remem 
brance of this lady, as what I shall relate will 
show. 

My father s death and the failure of the boarding- 
house had attracted Madame Le Vert s attention. 
She called on my mother, and hinted in the most 
delicate manner that as the season was about closed 
she would like to get up a complimentary benefit 
at the theater for her children (though I think the 
widow was uppermost in Madame Le Vert s mind). 
Now, as the " stocking" was on the eve of sus 
pension, my mother readily consented ; so the belle 
of Mobile aroused the enthusiasm of her many 
friends, the public caught fire, and the benefit was 
a success. 

In after years I remember to have seen Madame 
Le Vert surrounded by a circle of callers, enter 
taining them with wonderful grace and tact, always 
saying the right things to the right persons, and at 
the proper time a genius of society. But there 
came a day when this noble lady and her family 
were reduced in fortune ; she whom I as a boy had 
known young and beautiful, surrounded by wealth 
and friends, was now an old lady in the unhappy 
condition of "genteel poverty." I am proud to 
say we were friends to the last 

During the war, or at its close, Madame Le Vert 
had made some enemies. It would have been im 
possible for a person of her prominence and ability 
to have done otherwise. I am not sure now which 
cause she espoused, and, in her case, I do not care. 



40 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Her long and useful life has passed peacefully 
away, and her memory is honored by all who 
knew her. 

And now we lost poor, dear old Mary. It is 
perhaps vain for me to hope that I can interest the 
reader in any one of whom he knows so little ; but 
how can I, her foster-son, who owe so much to her 
loving care, pass by her death without some tribute 
of affection ? After sixteen years of disinterested 
domestic loyalty, attending us as friend, servant, 
and dear companion, this faithful creature died in 
my mother s arms. Who can say how high such a 
pure and loving spirit soars when it is released and 
takes its flight ? 

James Wallack, Sr., played an engagement in 
Mobile, and one little circumstance occurred in 
connection with it that I have always remembered 
most pleasantly. He was an actor at the head of 
his profession and in the height of his fame. I 
was only a boy holding a subordinate position in 
the theater. He heard some one call me by name 
at the rehearsal, and, turning around, asked me if 
I was related to Joseph Jefferson of the Chestnut 
Street Theater. I told him that I was a grandson 
of that gentleman. He said, " Let me shake you 
by the hand for the sake of my dear old friend." 
The remark was made with much feeling, and the 
remembrance of it has, I think, often prompted me 
to do the like for others. James Wallack, Sr., was 
an actor of rare attainments ; as a legitimate tra 
gedian and comedian he ranked very high. The 
parts that I remember him in are those of Ales- 



THE ATM ROYAL BMTOY 3LATSTE 




OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 41 

sandro Mazzaroni, in "The Brigand," and Don 
C&sar de Bazan. 

Mr. Macready and the elder Booth both acted in 
Mobile during this season ; and as the contrast be 
tween these tragedians was quite remarkable, I 
will introduce them here, although my judgment 
of them was formed upon a later experience. 

The methods by which actors arrive at great 
effects vary according to their own natures; this 
renders the teaching of the art by any strictly 
defined lines a difficult matter. Macready and 
the elder Booth offer striking examples of these 
distinctions. Macready depended upon the me 
chanical arrangement of the scene, while Booth 
relied almost entirely on the impulse of the 
moment, caring little for set rules. As soon as 
Macready entered the theater he began to assume 
the character he was going to enact. He would 
remain in his dressing-room absorbed with the 
play ; no one was permitted to enter ; his dresser 
was not allowed to speak to him 3 but stood outside 
ready to open the door just before it was time for 
the actor to go upon the stage. If the mechanism 
of the play remained intact, he became lost in his 
character and produced grand effects, but if by 
some carelessness he was recalled to himself, the 
chain was broken and he could not reunite it. He 
now realized that his acting would be tame, and 
then his rage knew no bounds ; he would seize the 
unlucky actor who had " ruined him," shake him, 
throw him aside, and rushing to his dressing-room 
fall exhausted upon the sofa. This was not affec- 



42 T^E AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



tation, it was real ; he could not conquer his unfor 
tunate temper. In my youthful days it was the 
fashion of thoughtless actors to ridicule these 
"Macready tantrums," and I regret to say I often 
joined in the sport ; but as I look back on his 
suffering and read the pages wherein he chastises 
himself for his ungovernable temper, and when I 
know how useful and benevolent he was in the 
closing scenes of his life, I feel a great sympathy 
for him. " He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my 
head once," but I forgive him. 

I acted with Macready and Booth during this 
season, and an anecdote of each will serve to 
illustrate their different characteristics. Macready 
was acting Werner. I was cast for a minor part. 
In one scene a number of characters had to rush 
off, bearing lighted torches, in search of some 
delinquent. At rehearsal the tragedian particularly 
requested that we should all be sure and make our 
exit at night at just the same time and place, so 
that we might not disturb the arrangement of the 
scene. All went well up to the time for making 
our hurried exit, when to my horror I found Wer 
ner standing exactly in line with the place of 
my exit at rehearsal. I presume that when he 
gave his directions in the morning he did not 
observe me. What was I to do? The cue was 
given, and there was no time for argument. I 
rushed past him, torch in hand. I heard his well- 
known groan; but as I flew by an unmistakable 
odor of burnt hair filled the atmosphere, and I knew 
that I had singed his wig. When the curtain fell 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 43 

I turned in horror to see the effect. The enraged 
Werner had torn his wig from his head, and stood 
gazing at it for a moment in helpless wonder. 
Suddenly he made a rush in my direction; I saw 
he was on the war-path, and that I was his game. 
And now the chase began. I dodged him up and 
down the stage ; then around the wings and over 
"set" rocks and gauze waters. He never would 
have caught me but that in my excitement I ran 
head first into the stomach of a fat stage-carpenter. 
Here I was seized. The enraged Macready was so 
full of anger and so out of breath that he could only 
gasp and shake his burnt wig at me. Of course I 
was disgraced and not allowed to act again during 
his engagement. To make matters worse the whole 
affair got into the papers, and the next morning one 
of the critics remarked that he had never seen Ma 
cready act with so much fire ! Now all of this could 
have been avoided if he had but moved six inches 
further up the stage when he saw me coming ; bu< 
no, he had never shifted from that spot before, wh> 
should he do so now? I believe if I had singed his 
very eyebrows he would have stood his ground. 

Booth s whole nature was the reverse of Ma- 
cready s. He would saunter into the theater just 
a few minutes before the play began ; robe himself, 
sometimes quite carelessly ; converse freely upon 
local matters in a plain, practical way, or per 
haps give some reminiscence of bygone years, 
his memory was wonderful, ending with an amus 
ing anecdote, and in the next moment walk upon 
the stage in the full assumption of his character, 



44 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



overawing the audience by the fire of his acting. 
The following incident will serve to show the won 
derful manner in which Booth could drop his char 
acter and instantly resume it. 

I was acting Sampson in " The Iron Chest " to 
his Sir Edward Mortimer. During the play he 
spoke to me of my grandfather s playing the same 
part with him when he (Booth) was a young man. 
"He used," said he, "to sing the original song; 
it ran thus"; and assuming a* comical expression 
he began to sing in an undertone : 

A traveler stopped at a widow s gate. 

At this moment his cue was given, and he rushed 
upon the stage, discovering Wilford at the chest 
The scene is here very powerful, and I never saw 
him act it with more power. The audience was 
most enthusiastic, and as he rushed from the stage 
amid a storm of applause he met me at the wing, 
and, reassuming the comic expression of his face, 
began the song just where he had left off, while the 
approbation of the audience was still ringing in 
his ears. 

It must not be understood by this that Booth 
never became absorbed in his character; on the 
contrary, he sometimes carried his intensity in 
this respect to an extreme. It is only meant to 
show that he had also the power of dropping his 
character in the midst of his concentration, resum 
ing it again at will. Macready had no such faculty 
whatever. The beam once kicked, the balance was 
destroyed beyond recovery. 




MACREADY AS "WILLIAM TELL." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 45 

In his private character Mr. Booth was simple, 
unostentatious, and benevolent. I know of an 
instance of a curious and somewhat eccentric kind 
ness that occurred many years ago in Baltimore. 

An old and retired actor and manager had been 
ill for some time, and as he was held in high esteerti 
his friends arranged for him a complimentary testi 
monial at the Holliday Street Theater. Mr. Booth 
was at that time manager of another theater, and, 
unsolicited, tendered a benefit at his establishment 
to the same gentleman. The house was crowded, 
Booth himself acting. After the performance he 
went to the box-office, collected the entire receipts, 
and, late as it was, took them to the house of the 
beneficiary, and spreading the money out on the 
table said to him, " There is your share." 

"But will you not deduct the expenses?" said 
his old friend. 

"The only expense incurred," said Booth, "has 
been the bringing of the money to you ; but, as I 
walked, the cost is merely shoe-leather, and I will 
not charge for that." So saying he turned on his 
heel and left the room before he could be thanked. 

From Mobile we went to Nashville, Tennessee, 
and after a short season traveled through the State. 
Business was bad, and on one occasion the gentle 
men of the company, myself included, walked from 
Gallatin to Lebanon not, however, for the exer 
cise. 

Upon our return to Nashville it was time to 
think of going South, as most of the company had 
engagements in New Orleans, Mobile, and Texas, 



46 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

but the Cumberland River had fallen so low that 
no steamboat could navigate it. In this dilemma 
there was but one course left : the company must 
come together, buy a barge, fit up a cabin, caboose, 
and sleeping-apartments. This was done. Where 
the money came from to pay for the boat and the 
lumber I cannot tell, but this floating camp was put 
together, and we all departed down the river in the 
queerest looking craft that ever carried a legitimate 
stock company of the old school. To a boy of my 
age this was heaven. To stand my watch at night 
gave me that manly feeling that a youngster, just 
before he grows his beard, enjoys beyond every 
thing. 

We stopped at Clarksville and gave one enter 
tainment, playing " The Lady of Lyons." I acted 
Glavis. This was another manly stride for me ; I 
was getting on. The whole of this trip was to me 
delightful. It was in that rich and mellow season 
when the foliage seems to change from day to day. 
The river was full of ducks, which I could some 
times shoot from the deck of the flatboat ; great 
flocks of wild pigeons filled the air for days to 
gether, so that I could supply our table well with 
game. There was a small set of scenery on board 
that had been brought in case of an emergency. 
We had used it only in Clarksville so far, but now 
the time came when it could be displayed and util 
ized in a manner " never before attempted in the 
annals of the stage/ When we reached the 
Ohio the river widened out, and some stretches 
were from five to six miles in length ; so, if we had 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 47 

a fair wind blowing downstream, by hoisting one 
of the scenes for a sail we could increase our speed 
from two to three miles an hour. A hickory pole 
was cut from the shore, and a drop-scene, with a 
wood painted on one side and a palace on the 
other, was unfurled to the breeze. The wonder- 
stricken farmers and their wives and children would 
run out of their log-cabins and, standing on the 
river bank, gaze with amazement at our curious 
craft. It was delightful to watch the steamboats 
as they went by. The passengers would crowd 
the deck and look with wonder at us. For a bit 
of sport the captain and I would vary the picture, 
and as a boat steamed past we would first show 
them the wood scene, and then suddenly swing 
the sail around, exhibiting the gorgeous palace. 
Adding to this sport, our leading man and the low 
comedian would sometimes get a couple of old- 
fashioned broadswords and fight a melodramatic 
combat on the deck. There is no doubt that at 
times our barge was taken for a floating lunatic 
asylum. 

We would often tie up the boat for a day and 
go fishing in some lake in the interior, stopping 
perhaps at a farm-house to replenish our stock of 
butter and eggs. Our voyage was continued to 
Cairo, where the Ohio River joins the Mississippi, 
and so on until we reached Memphis; here we 
deserted the barge and took a steamboat for New 
Orleans. 

This season I acted at the St. Charles, under 
the management of Ludlow & Smith. Mr. and 



48 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



Mrs. Charles Kean, Mrs. Anna Cora Mowatt, and 
James H. Hackett were among the stars. At the 
end of the season which does not seem to have 
been a very eventful one our company, under 
the same management, traveled up the Mississippi 
River to St. Louis, acting there during the summer. 
The only occurrence worth noting so far as I was 
concerned happened on the night of the Fourth of 
July, when the company was called on by the 
management to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." 
I was in a feverish state of excitement all day, 
having been selected to give the first stanza. I 
had studied it and restudied it so often that I knew 
it backwards ; and that is about the way I sung it. 
But I must not anticipate. The curtain rose upon 
the company partly attired in evening dress ; that 
is to say, "those who had swallow-tail coats wore 
them, and those who were not blessed with that 
graceful garment did the best they could. We 
were arranged in the old conventional half-circle, 
with the " Goddess of Liberty " in the center. The 
" Mother of her Country " had a Roman helmet 
pasteboard, I am afraid on her head, and was 
tastefully draped with the American flag. My 
heart was in my mouth as the music started up, 
but I stepped boldly forward to begin. I got as 
far as " Oh, say, can you see " and here the words 
left me. My mind was blank. I tried it again : 
"Oh, say, can you see " Whether they could 
see or not, I am quite sure that I could not. I was 
blind with fright ; the house swam before my eyes ; 
the thousand faces seemed to melt into one huge, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 49 

expressionless physiognomy. The audience be 
gan to hiss oh, that dreadful sound ! I love my 
country, and am, under ordinary circumstances, 
fairly patriotic ; but at that moment I cursed our 
national anthem from the bottom of my heart. I 
heard the gentle voice of the Goddess of Liberty 
say, "Poor fellow!" The remark was kind, but 
not encouraging. The hissing increased. Old 
Muller, the German leader, called out to me, " Go 
on, Yo!" But "Yo" could n t go on, so "Yo" 
thought he had better go off. I bowed, therefore, 
to the justice of this public rebuke, and made a 
graceful retreat. My poor mother stood at the 
wings in tears ; I threw myself into her arms, and 
we had it out together, 

Of course I intend this anecdote to illustrate one 
of my early professional distresses, but it has 
another and a more important side to it. The 
hissing and jeering that were so liberally bestowed 
upon me will never be vented again in this country 
for so slight an offense. The well-dressed, deco 
rous audience of to-day, when an accident occurs, 
sit quietly, bearing it with patience and considera 
tion, and when it is righted they break forth in 
encouraging applause. Look at the decorum 
observed by the vast assemblages that go to wit 
ness our national games. Disturbances are very 
rare. It would have been doubtful, if not dan 
gerous, when I was a boy, for ladies and gentle 
men to visit any public grounds containing such 
large masses of people, whereas .now they can do 
so with perfect safety. What lies at the foundation 



50 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

of this improvement? People went to church in 
those days as readily as they do now, and the laws 
were administered quite as rigidly. There is only 
one solution to this problem the free school has 
done this work. 



CHAPTER III 

BARN-STORMING AND MEXICAN EPISODE 

Barn-storming in Mississippi Pudding Stanley 
In Mexico Mr. and Mrs. James W. Wallack, 
Jr. John E. Owens 

IT is to be hoped for the credit of humanity that 
the philosopher was in error when he said 
that we feel a sad gratification even in the dis 
tress of our dearest friends. But, be that as it may, 
it is quite certain that those of our fellow-creatures 
whose lives have been burdened with sorrow com 
mand our respect and excite our interest more than 
the high and mighty. Belisarius, stricken blind, 
wandering a beggar in tattered rags, and asking 
alms of the people he once led to victory, presents 
a figure that calls for our deepest sympathy ; while 
we cannot shed tears over a dethroned monarch 
with a corner lot By these reflections I am 
strengthened in the hope that I may not be tiring 
my reader with the continuous recital of our mis 
fortunes, and that he will not grow as weary of 



52 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

them as we did. If he will but patiently wade a 
little farther through this "slough of despond," I 
promise in the latter part of my narrative to give 
some account of my less interesting success, 

Our disastrous seasons were not exceptions. 
The country had "been in a chronic state of the 
atrical bankruptcy since the panic of 1837, and 
continued in it for many years. Actors often had 
to turn their hands to something else for a liveli 
hood besides the profession. My father painted 
signs for a whole summer in Vicksburg, and our 
leading man manufactured genuine Havana cigars 
in the same studio. I often acted as " drummer," 
and when business was slow, would sally forth 
among the wharf boats to solicit orders. 

It is likely that some of the events I have re 
corded may not have followed in the order in 
which I have placed them, but I do not feel that 
this is of much importance. Accurate statistics, 
with dates, long rows of figures, and unimportant 
casts of plays, are somewhat tedious. Tony Liimp- 
kin says, with undoubted truth, that "the inside of 
a letter contains the cream of the correspondence." 
I must therefore crave your Honor s pardon for act 
ing on this hint by endeavoring to trace the inter 
esting portion of this history, if it has any interest, 
casting unimportant details into oblivion. 

Mary s death reduced our quartet to a trio, and 
I next found myself in the town of Grand Gulf, in 
the State of Mississippi, with my mother and sis 
ter. We were there awaiting the arrival of my 
half-brother, Charles Burke, who was somewhere 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 53 

in the interior of the State, with a small company 
of actors, struggling along from town to town. 
Our letters to him had crossed or miscarried; so 
we were obliged to remain there for several weeks 
until we could hunt him up. There was no tele 
graph in those days, and postal communication 
was uncertain. 

The money had run out, and we were in a strait 
ened condition, when, to our joy, my brother arrived. 
He burst like a ray of sunshine into the house, and 
we crowded about the dear fellow, smothering him 
with tears and kisses. It seems that his company 
was at Port Gibson, only eight miles away, where 
they had arrived the night before, and he had 
started at daylight, walking to Grand Gulf to 
meet us. After breakfast he went out for the 
purpose of hiring a wagon and team to take us 
on. This was soon done, and we started on our 
journey. We had got but four miles from the town 
when I observed my brother and the driver in close 
conversation. I saw that something was wrong. 
Presently the driver pulled up, and the wagon 
stopped. My brother turned round and said: 
"Mother, I have made a bargain with this man 
to take us to Port Gibson for ten dollars. I have 
no money, and expected to pay him out of to 
night s receipts after the play. He says this 
arrangement will not do for him ; he seems un 
willing to trust me, so he must be paid now or 
he will turn back." I looked at my mother and 
hinted that perhaps, if she searched hard, some 
thing might be found in the stocking. Her eyes 



54 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



filled with tears, and I saw by her face that the 
bank was broken. There was nothing left us but 
to get out of the wagon and remain by the road 
side until my brother should go back and make 
another trial. The rain came down, and we took 
shelter under a large tree, awaiting his return. 
My mother had once been one of the most attrac 
tive stars in America, the leading prima donna of 
the country, and now, from no fault of her own, 
was reduced to the humiliation of being put out of 
a wagon with her two children, in a lonely road in 
the far-off State of Mississippi, because she could 
not pay a wagoner the sum of ten dollars. 

This was so far the darkest hour we had passed. 
About noon the sun shone bright, and shortly after 
wards my brother appeared in sight, mounted on 
top of an ox-cart driven by an old negro. We 
were only four miles from Port Gibson, but it 
required as many hours to make the journey, so 
about sundown our party alighted at the hotel. 

We now entered upon a course of the most 
primitive acting, going from town to town and 
giving entertainments in the dining-rooms of the 
hotels. As there were no papers published in 
these small villages, there were no printing-offices, 
consequently no bills; so flaming announcements 
of our arrival in a bold handwriting were displayed 
in the three important points of the town, viz. : the 
hotel, the post-office, and the barber-shop. It fell 
to my duty, being an adept with the brush, to 
write, or rather paint, these advertisements. The 
plays were acted in costume, but without scenery 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 55 

or curtain. The nightly receipts were small just 
about enough to get us from place to place. 

Our objective point was the town of Liberty, 
Mississippi ; but there was some difficulty in get 
ting there, as the distance was greater than we 
could accomplish in a day. A farmer who had 
been to the theater the night before for the first 
time in his life was so struck by the performance 
that he proposed to have his teams brought in 
and take us to his farm-house, about twenty- five 
miles distant. According to his suggestion we 
were to rest for a day, give an entertainment in 
his barn, and so go on to Liberty. 

" But," said my brother, " you tell me there is no 
other house there but your own. What shall we do 
for an audience?" 

"Well," said the farmer, " all my family will 
come, to begin with, and there s a dozen or more 
on em; then there s eight or ten farm-houses 
close by, and if one of your men will drive there 
with my son and blow the horn they will all corne, 
for there ain t one on em ever seen a play before. 
I 11 insure you a full barn." 

So the matter was settled, and we actually 
played in a barn, the house that we staid in being 
the only one in sight. It seemed in vain to look 
for an audience in such a lonely place, but the 
farmer was right. Soon after the sun had gone 
down the full harvest moon rose, and by its dim 
light we could faintly see family groups of people, 
two and sometimes three on a horse, coming from 
all directions over the hill now a wagon with a 



56 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

great load. Some of them walked, but all were 
quiet and serious, and apparently wondering what 
they were going to see. 

Those who have traveled through the Southern 
States will perhaps remember the kind of barn we 
acted in: there were two log-houses joined to 
gether with an opening between them which was 
floored and covered in. The seats were arranged 
outside in the open air benches, chairs, and logs. 
The double barn on each side was used for dress 
ing-rooms and for making entrances and exits, 
while the opening was devoted to the stage. The 
open air was well filled, containing an audience 
of about sixty persons. Our enthusiastic admirer, 
the farmer, collected the admission fee, a dollar 
being charged and freely given. The plays were 
"The Lady of Lyons" and "The Spectre Bride 
groom." The farmer had supplied us liberally 
with candles, so that the early part of the enter 
tainment was brilliantly illuminated, but the even 
ing breeze had fanned the lights so fiercely that 
by the time the farce began the footlights were 
gone. The little " flaming ministers " had all 
sputtered out, so "The Spectre Bridegroom" was 
acted in the moonlight. 

It was curious to watch the effect of a strong 
emotional play like "The Lady of Lyons" upon 
an audience that had never seen a drama before : 
they not only were much interested, but they 
became excited over the trials of the hero and 
heroine; they talked freely among themselves, 
and, at times, to the actors. One old lady insisted 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 57 

that the lovers should be " allowed their own way," 
and a stalwart young farmer warned the villain 
not to interfere again "if he knew what was best 
for him." 

We continued traveling through the State of 
Mississippi, sometimes in wagons or on a stray 
stern-wheel steamer that was hailed from the 
bank of some little village where we had acted. 
As the spring opened the rainy season set in, and 
the roads became almost impassable. Fortunately 
at this time my mother received an offer for us to 
join the new theater in Galveston, to which place 
we proceeded, my brother and his wife going 
North to act under Mr. Burton s management at 
the Arch Street Theater, Philadelphia. 

At the termination of our Galveston season the 
company embarked on board a small stern-wheel 
steamer that wound its way through a narrow, 
crooked stream and landed us at the city of Hous 
ton. I say the company, but it was only a remnant 
of it, as most of its members, being weary of the 
hot weather and despairing of any more regular 
salary, days, had returned to the North. We acted 
for several weeks in Houston, but with a feeble 
kind of patronage that just enabled us to keep our 
heads above water ; still, the ever-hopeful disposi 
tion of the itinerant actor buoyed us up, and we 
struggled on in the anticipation of a reaction. 

We had by this time resolved ourselves into 
what was called a " sharing scheme," dividing 
the profits, when there were any, pro rata with 
our salaries. First the board was paid for, then the 



58 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



rent, then the printing, then the orchestra the 
latter always ready to strike at a bar s notice; 
the rest we shared. These uncertain dividends 
were looked forward to with much interest, for 
home was far away and difficult to reach. 

As the season approached its close and the dis 
banding of our company was under discussion, a 
new sensation occurred in the arrival of an old 
actor and ex-theatrical manager by the name of 
Stanley. This remnant of an earlier era had been 
upon the retired list for many years, and now 
suddenly burst upon us with enticing schemes to 
better our condition. I had never seen him before, 
but several of our company knew and recognized 
him as a veteran barn-stormer of the olden time. 
He had been living in San Antonio for many 
years, and having heard that a company of play 
ers were at Houston the slumbering old war-horse 
within him was awakened, and disdaining the dan 
gers of a long journey through the chaparral, 
for the country was at this time full of hostile 
Indians, he had ridden three hundred miles in 
the wild enthusiasm of an old manager-actor, 
thirsting for the revival of three-sheet posters and 
a high stool opposite that fascinating spot, the 
pigeon-hole of the box-office. Naturally, in the 
first flush of his arrival, laden as he was with flat 
tering promises of double salaries and clear third 
benefits, we were in a delightful flutter of anticipa 
tion. His accounts of San Antonio and the sur 
rounding country were dazzling. There had been 
no dramatic entertainment ever given there, the 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 59 

gold mines of Mexico were close at hand, and, in 
short, it seemed quite clear that our fortunes would 
be made if we concluded to embrace his offer. He 
further informed us that he was well known all 
through Texas, and that his popularity was second 
only to that of the late Davy Crockett ; that, under 
the very " shadow of the Alamo," as he poetically 
expressed it, he kept a bar-room in conjunction 
with a fandango, a keno-table, and a faro-bank 
by which means it seems he had endeavored to 
refine the depraved tastes of the citizens. Mr. 
Stanley s figure was portly, so that his friends, in 
order to distinguish him from the other and less 
important Stanleys in town, bestowed upon him 
the title of " Pudding Stanley," or " Pud," as he 
was more briefly and affectionately called. 

As I have said, we were at first overwhelmed 
with his amazing description of our future Eldo 
rado, but upon holding council to consider the 
situation dispassionately our ardor cooled. First 
came the dreaded journey of three hundred miles 
through a wilderness of chaparral inhabited only 
by jack-rabbits and hostile Indians. Our leading 
actor remarked that he did not mind jack-rabbits, 
but considered the Indians an impediment. He was 
a courageous man, too upon the stage. I had seen 
him play the Chief Osceola, and scalp one "super" 
after another with great nerve ; but now he seemed 
to think with King Lear that " Nature s above art 
in that respect "; and while he reveled in being the 
hero of an artistic assassination, realistic effects of 
this kind were not to be thought of. 



60 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Another reason for our not relishing the proposal 
was contained in the recollection of a really serious 
matter in connection with actors and Indians that 
had occurred in Florida during the Seminole war. 
It seems that a manager by the name of William 
C. Forbes had taken a theatrical company into the 
very jaws of the disturbance. The troupe acted at 
the different forts and garrisons along the line of 
battle, and on a certain occasion, while going from 
one military station to another without an escort, it 
was attacked and roughly handled by the savages. 
Forbes and most of his people escaped, but two 
unfortunate actors were captured and butchered. 
The theatrical wardrobe belonging to the company 
fell into the hands of the Indians, who, dressing 
themselves up as Romans, Highlanders, and Shak- 
sperean heroes, galloped about in front of the very 
fort, though well out of gunshot, where Forbes and 
the more fortunate members of his company had 
fled for safety. Several of the Indians were after 
wards taken, and as they were robed and decked 
in the habiliments of Othello, Hamlet, and a host 
of other Shaksperean characters, for Forbes was 
eminently legitimate, their identity as the mur 
derers was established, and they were hanged in 
front of the garrison. 

The recollection of this incident acted as any 
thing but a stimulus to our wavering courage, and 
we took the liberty of mentioning to the ex-ranger 
that it was within the bounds of possibility that the 
warlike Comanches of Texas might have no more 
respect for the legitimate drama than the Seminoles 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 61 

of Florida, in which case history would inconve 
niently repeat itself. 

The tempter ridiculed our fears, looking upon 
us, I think, with a rangers contempt. He said 
there were a few Indians here and there certainly, 
but they were cowardly, and generally kept them 
selves concealed in the chaparral. On being cross- 
questioned as to why they concealed themselves in 
the chaparral, he replied, " Well, possibly ambush ; 
but they are great cowards." He said the safest 
plan would be for the entire party to keep together ; 
going all in one wagon, we would then exhibit " the 
full strength of the company," and well armed with 
such theatrical weapons as we might possess, there 
would be no danger. Theatrical weapons just 
think of it ! The armory of a theater in those days 
consisted of two pairs of short broadswords, a half- 
dozen stuffed sticks, and a rusty flint-lock horse- 
pistol that always snapped once and generally 
twice before virtue felt itself secure. A cold shiver 
ran down my back as I imagined myself facing a 
Comanche with a weapon whose uncertainty had 
on more than one occasion compelled the heavy 
villain to commit suicide with a table-spoon. 

It is needless to say that I had inwardly resolved 
not to go, and I think the entire company were of 
my mind. Of course we laid it all on the leading 
man, who had at least been bold enough openly to 
express his fear ; but we decided not to go ! 

Stanley was of course disappointed, as he had 
looked forward, he said, not only to the renewal 
of managerial responsibility and importance, but to 



62 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

donning again the sock and buskin and acting with 
us. Upon this hint we suggested that if he really 
desired to act again, and would appear one night 
in Houston for our benefit, we should be proud to 
support him. If Richard III. could tempt him 
we knew this to be his weak point it was at his 
service. Of course at first he pretended to demur, 
saying that he had no wardrobe, and that it was so 
long since he had acted that he " really feared." 
But he could not conceal an undercurrent of secret 
delight at the thought of again striding the stage. 
He consented. He was so well known in Texas 
we felt quite sure that, in securing his services for 
a joint benefit to the company, our treasury would 
swell from its present slender dimensions and give 
us the means of returning to Galveston with flying 
colors. 

Stanley s professional and private histories were 
both interesting, as they covered a period when 
artistic, commercial, and military matters were 
curiously mingled. He had acted in the then 
far West under the management of Alexander 
Drake both in Louisville and in Cincinnati; he 
had then drifted off into Texas, joining the rangers 
against Santa Anna ; then back again to the Mis 
sissippi, where he encountered the celebrated Chap 
man company, who had ingeniously fitted up a 
steamboat and converted it into a floating theater. 
This huge dramatic barge used to ply from one 
town to another on the Ohio, Mississippi, and Mis 
souri rivers, giving theatrical entertainments at the 
various points where there were no theaters. The 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 63 

roving spirit again taking possession of him, he 
left the Chapmans and returned to Texas. 

The night was arranged for the benefit, and 
such was the popularity of the volunteer that 
tickets amounting to the capacity of the theater, 
and even beyond it, were sold without delay. As 
I before said, Richard III. was his pet part ; and 
while he considered himself unequaled in the char 
acter, he confided to me that he did not mind pri 
vately confessing that in the later scenes he drew 
his inspiration from the example of Edwin Forrest. 
Stanley now employed his mornings in walking as 
majestically as his ungainly figure would permit up 
and down the stage, gesticulating violently and 
roaring out the soliloquies of Richard ; and his 
afternoons in accumulating raw cotton, in order 
that the hump and the bandy-legs of the crook- 
backed tyrant might be properly deformed and 
traditionally disfigured. 

Our volunteer reminded me of an actor I once 
knew who used to wear upon the stage a red wig 
so like his own hair that whether he had it on 
or off there was no perceptible difference in his 
appearance. So with Stanley : his bandy-legs and 
round shoulders, even when unadorned, quite har 
monized with the accepted idea of Gloucester s 
deformity ; but, looking upon himself as an Apollo, 
our hero had piled such a mountain of cotton 
on his natural hump that it made " Ossa like a 



wart." 



On the auspicious night the house was packed 
to the doors. A few ladies came; but their 



64 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



escorts, seeing that the audience were disposed to 
be turbulent, took them away, so that the friends 
and admirers of the star were unchecked in their 
cat-calls and noisy demonstrations. Law, order, and 
decorum were set at defiance. The friends of the 
old ranger had come for a frolic and evidently 
intended to have it. The placard of " No smok 
ing" was totally disregarded. Pipes and cigars 
were vigorously puffed, and the house was so 
filled with smoke that one would have supposed 
that the battle of Bosworth Field had taken place 
before the opposing forces met. The weather was 
sultry, and the general heat, combined with the 
stifling atmosphere of a crowded house, ran the 
little box of a theater up to the temperature of an 
oven in full force. 

At the rise of the curtain the expectant audience 
were on tiptoe to greet their comrade. At the 
wing stood the sweltering Richard, absorbed in 
his character and embedded in cotton, and as he 
strode upon the stage the theater rang with 
applause and shouts of welcome. After bowing 
low his acknowledgments he began the famous 
soliloquy. The performance proceeded quietly for 
a time, the silence being broken now and then by 
expressions of approval in complimentary but 
rather familiar terms. During the love scene with 
Lady Anne, her ladyship was warned by some 
one in the audience, who claimed to have an 
intimate knowledge of Richard s private domestic 
affairs, that the tyrant had already two Mexican 
wives in San Antonio. Nothing daunted at this 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 65 

public accusation of polygamy, " Pud " pressed his 
suit with ardor. 

The retired actor had not forgotten some of the 
old-fashioned tricks of the art, and would take 
the stage with tremendous strides from the center 
to the extreme right or left after making a point, 
thereby signifying to the audience that if they 
desired to applaud t/tat was their time. " Off 
with his head ! so much for Buckingham ! " and 
away he would go. In one of these flights, being 
over-stimulated by excitement and applause, he 
nearly stumbled into the private box. Straight 
ening himself up, his ostrich plumes became 
entangled with a spermaceti chandelier and set 
him in a blaze of glory. He glared with indig 
nation at the convulsed audience, being himself 
entirely innocent of the illumination until the un 
mistakable odor 6f burnt feathers warned him that 
his diadem was in danger. In the death scene, 
just as Richard expired, a voice, signifying that 
the game was over, shouted "Keno!" This allu 
sion to " Pud s" commercial pursuits brought him 
to life, and as the curtain was descending he sat 
up and warned the interlocutor that he would 
"keno" him in the morning. 

The declaration of war with Mexico caused a 
great stir in Galveston; speculations were rife in 
all quarters as to the probable result from a com 
mercial point of view. Of course no doubt existed 
as to the ultimate success of our side; but the 
question as to how much was to be made out of it 
seemed to absorb the public mind. Our manager 



66 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



was a thrifty soul, and foresaw the prospect of 
good financial results by following up the army 
with his dramatic forces. My mother was con 
siderably alarmed lest I should be conscripted, and 
I was not a little uneasy on those grounds myself. 
In May, 1846, we embarked on board a con 
demned Mississippi steamer for Point Isabel. This 
leaky old boat, crowded with soldiers, gamblers, 
and a few actors, feebly wended its uncertain way 
along the coast and arrived at its destination in 
about four days. Luckily, the sea was as calm as 
a mill-pond ; for if one of those dreadful cyclones 
so frequent in the Gulf had overtaken us, many 
good soldiers, indifferent gamblers, and bad actors 
would have found their way to the bottom of the 
sea, and these important reinforcements to Gen 
eral Taylor never would have put in an appear 
ance. Point Isabel, on our arrival, was all bustle 
and activity. It was a flat, sandy, and uninterest 
ing place, covered with tents and boiling over 
with military preparations. The battle of Palo 
Alto was fought on the 8th of May: these were 
the first guns fired, and we could distinctly hear 
the booming sounds of opposing cannon ; it ended 
at sunset with victory for the American army. 
The next morning I saw the ambulance bringing" 
in the wounded form of Major Samuel Ringgold, 
who died soon after. This celebrated hero intro 
duced into this country the flying artillery, to the 
efficiency of which the success of the day was 
attributed. The Mexicans had retreated only a 
few miles, and, being reenforced, gave battle the 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 67 

next day, and the memorable engagement of 
Resaca de la Palma was won by the gallant 
charge of Captain May at the head of his dra 
goons. Then came the bombardment of Fort 
Brown, and on the i8th of May the city of Mata- 
moras was occupied by the United States army, 
with our gallant band of comedians bringing up 
the rear, elated at our military success. 

The manager took advantage of the distressed 
position of the town, and by permission of the 
American commandant occupied the old Spanish 
theater. Victory had crowned our arms; so the 
soldiers, settlers, gamblers, rag -tag and bob-tail 
crowd that always follow on in the train of an 
army, like " greedy crows " that hover over the 
heads of the defeated party, " impatient for their 
lean inheritance," were ready for amusement. 
Here we acted to the most motley group that 
ever filled a theater. But in the middle of Sep 
tember the trumpet blast sounded in our ears 
again ; the soldiers were ordered to march on to 
Monterey. The town was deserted and the theater 
closed. Our manager, seeing that all further 
hopes of their return had vanished, disbanded his 
company, and with all the cash he could collect, 
including our back salaries, " wandered away, no 
man knew whither." Here I was left with my 
mother and sister, thrown on our own resources, 
which were very small, in a strange country, and 
among a people not at all on good terms with us. 
The only member of the company left besides our 
selves was Edward Badger. He was my brother 



68 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



comedian and friend; his father was the well- 
known Alderman Badger of Philadelphia. Our 
situation was somewhat desperate; so we held a 
council of war to determine on our future move 
ments. The soldiers had gone, but the gamblers 
remained ; and the brilliant idea occurred to us that, 
as we could no longer minister to their intellectual 
entertainment, we might make something by fur 
nishing them with internal comforts. So we boldly 
resolved to open a coffee and cake stand in their 
interest We arranged to place the stand in a 
bar-room in the central part of Matamoras, the 
locality offering the best position for our commer 
cial enterprise. The establishment was dignified 
by the high-sounding title of "The Grand Span 
ish Saloon," and consisted of a long room, with a 
low ceiling, having a counter, or bar, running the 
full length on one side, and a row of gaming-tables 
on the other, where roulette, keno, chuck-a-luck, 
and faro were industriously pursued with the usual 
integrity which generally attaches itself to these 
pastimes. The walls were beautifully whitewashed 
and the floor was well sprinkled with sand. In 
front of the bar and at regular intervals were kegs 
cut into halves and filled with sawdust, these being 
the cuspidores of the pioneers. From the ceiling 
were suspended chandeliers made of barrel-hoops, 
tastily covered with pink, blue, and white paper, 
cut in different patterns, in which candles were 
placed to illuminate the cheerful and tragic scenes 
that alternately occurred in this fascinating but 
dangerous place. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 69 

Badger, after convincing the proprietor that the 
introduction of a stand for cake and hot coffee at 
one end of the room would not only add to the 
refinement of his establishment, but increase its 
custom by providing the patrons with refreshment 
during their hours of relaxation from business, 
came to terms with him. We were to furnish 
everything and give him ten per cent, of our 
gross receipts for rent, it being verbally under 
stood that if either Badger or myself came to an 
untimely death at the hands of any of his attaches 
the person so offending should be discharged from 
his service at once. 

Nothing could be more satisfactory than this 
arrangement, so I at once set about the decora 
tion of our cafe, while Badger went off in search 
of an old Mexican woman, said to be an expert in 
the manufacture of coffee and pies. The construc 
tion of our stand was simple and effective : a large 
dry-goods box on which two boards were placed so 
as to reach the bar-counter made a permanent and 
secure foundation for the reception of our viands. 
The boards were tastefully draped and masked 
with Turkey-red reaching to the floor. Broad 
sheets of white paper were spread over the top, 
and on the right, next the counter, stood a large 
and elaborate tin coffee-urn, and beneath it an 
alcohol lamp emitting a beautiful blue flame. This 
monument was surrounded by a dozen old cups 
and saucers, in which, placed at right angles, 
gleamed a corresponding number of shining 
spoons, giving a pure German - silver flavor to 

5* 



70 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

everything they touched. A fat sugar-bowl and 
an attenuated milk-pitcher completed the coffee 
service. Four flat pies, two pyramids of sand 
wiches, a box of cheap cigars tilted up on a brick, 
and a large plate of home-made Mexican cakes 
completed the assortment. Among the dainty 
articles which adorned our counter were some 
large, round, burnt-sienna-looking cakes called 
mandillos. I think they must have been indig 
enous to the soil of Mexico, for I rejoice to know 
that I never saw one anywhere else. They were 
sparingly sprinkled with dry currants, and glazed 
on top with some sticky stuff that never dried 
during the whole summer : if an unlucky fly lit on 
one of these delicacies his doom was sealed. I 
have no idea what they tasted like, for I never 
had the courage to try one; nor did I ever know 
a customer who ventured on one for the second 
time. One gentleman, an epicure from Texas, 
said that he would not mind giving one a trial if 
he could be sure which were the currants and 
which were the flies. This kind of pleasantry 
we could afford to smile at, but when a ranger 
remarked on one occasion that any man who 
would sell such things ought to be shot, we 
decided for the sake of our customers that 
we would remove this objectionable feature from 
our bill of fare; so the cakes were forthwith 
banished to the top shelf, well out of sight, and 
utilized as fly-traps for the rest of the season. 

When our arrangements were first completed 
Badger and I stood with folded arms at the far 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 71 

end of the long room, contemplating the effect 
with pride and satisfaction. It was now about 
time for the doors to open. We were quite nerv 
ous and excited ; for, in the innocence of our 
natures, we expected a great rush from the public. 
Our spirits were somewhat dampened, therefore, 
to find that no one seemed to know or care any 
thing about us or the new venture in which nearly 
all of our available cash was invested. 

As the day wore on, stragglers dropped in one 
by one ; blear-eyed gamblers, freshly shaved, with 
shaky hands and gloomy looks, called for their 
morning cocktail at the bar. Now and then we 
caught a stray customer: our coffee, clear and 
strong, was a great success; and the pies did 
pretty well, too, but the " Colorado Claros" were 
a dead failure. Our point now was to watch the 
public; if an article was not in demand we dis 
carded it at once, and offered another in its place. 
By these tactics, before the week was over, the 
cash returns were more than satisfactory. My 
partner and myself conformed to the regular busi 
ness hours of the establishment: at about three 
o clock A. M. the order to close was given, and 
"Vamoose!" was shouted by the stentorian lungs 
of the proprietor. The roulette ceased to revolve, 
the dice were discarded, the faro cloth was rolled 
up, and our alcohol lamp was extinguished. Those 
members of the sporting fraternity who could stand 
on their feet reeled home (?), and those who could 
not were dragged along the sanded floor and 
deposited on the sidewalk; the candles were 



72 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

blown out and the doors of "The Grand Span 
ish Saloon" were closed to the world. Badger 
and I would trudge to our room arm in arm, 
carrying our money in a shot-bag between us, 
and each armed with a Colt s patent " pepper- 



caster." 



The dwelling-houses in Matamoras were gen 
erally one story high, built of brick, plastered, and 
painted yellow ; one door and an iron-barred win 
dow in front on the street, and the same at the 
back, leading to a courtyard which was used in 
common by the occupants of the house for wash 
ing, ironing, cooking, and eating. We occupied 
one of these establishments. 

In. the morning little tables, with white cloths, 
were brought out and set for breakfast in the 
open air. The different families would sit at them 
and drink their hot coffee, eat their fruit and bread, 
smoke their cigarettes, and talk away as gaily as if 
no war were going on. The courtyards were en 
tered by a large gate, and hired out to passing 
caravans of muleteers or rancheros, who occupied 
the middle of the space. Here they also took their 
meals and sold their fruit, vegetables, chickens, 
and dry-goods of cheap and gaudy-colored stuffs, 
Mexican blankets, sombreros, and baskets. The 
courtyard at night was a lovely sight. The little 
houses surrounding it were all lighted up within, 
the doors wide open so that we could see the 
families, men, women, and children, knitting, 
smoking, dancing, singing, and playing cards 
always for money (everybody gambled in Mex- 




JAMES W. WALLACK, JR. 



OP JOSEPH JEFFERSON 73 

ico) ; and groups of muleteers in the center were 
seated around their camp-fire, which would blaze 
and shed its light over the scene. I had a great 
fondness for this locality, for here I met my first 
love. Her mother was a full-blooded Mexican, but 
her father must have been pure Castilian, for the 
girl was not only beautiful, but her features were 
aristocratic. She had the prettiest little feet and 
hands that could be imagined. Her merry black 
eyes fairly danced and sparkled with brilliancy, 
and when laughing she would throw her head 
back in ecstasy, showing two rows of pearly teeth. 
Metta that was her name was as wild and 
graceful as a deer. I was quite in love with her at 
first sight, and when she began to teach me to 
play the guitar and smoke cigarettes I was entirely 
captured. She had that rich, olive complexion that 
one sees in a pale Key West cigar, and, like that 
article, was about half Spanish. Her great delight 
was to make a full half-dozen of her Mexican 
sweethearts jealous by flirting with me; but as 
she spoke not a word of English, and I was en 
tirely ignorant of Spanish, we could only make 
eyes and smile at each other. Perhaps this was 
all for the best, because had it been otherwise I 
am afraid that, though I was only eighteen, my 
.mother would have been astonished with a Mexican 
daughter-in-law before we left the country. 

Our business aftairs were flourishing at the 
saloon, and but for a strong propensity that my 
speculative partner had for trying his luck at 
the side tables now and then, we should have 



74 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



made a small fortune. Of course there was a 
heavy risk of life and property in such a place, as 
the frequenters of the " Grand Spanish " were 
more numerous than select, and, to paraphrase 
an old saying, "when the rum was in, the knife 
was out." Several times the firm had dodged 
under the counter to escape contact with a stray 
bullet, and on one occasion the offending coffee- 
urn had been fatally shot 

I now divided my time between attention to 
commerce and learning the Spanish language 
from Metta, but I am afraid it was a case of 
pleasure before business. She was the most inno 
cent, simple child of nature that I ever saw, and 
yet, with all her modesty, a perfect miniature 
coquette. She would jump for joy and clap her 
little hands together if she only could contrive to 
make any of her lovers jealous. The scowling 
brows of one of her native admirers, together with 
the liberal display of a small arsenal of uncon 
cealed weapons encircling his waist, always gave 
me a disagreeable turn, and at these times I would 
insist on Metta s not lavishing so much public 
attention on me. I never saw the fellow s dark 
eyes glaring at me but there came up a vision of 
that old engraving of the Spanish lady on a moon 
light night smiling from her window on her favor 
ite lover, and a melodramatic-looking rival in the 
background peering around the corner and grasp 
ing a stiletto as big as a hand-saw, ready to stab 
the accepted lover in the back. 

A noted character on the border line in those 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 75 

days, one Buck Wallace, was a frequenter of this 
place a lump of good nature and kindness when 
unmolested, but the demon in him once aroused, 
a desperate and dangerous man. He was a 
Philadelphian by birth; and as that was my 
native city, Wallace and I struck up a great 
friendship, though he was full thirty years my 
senior. He was an interesting fellow, with a 
strange mixture of tenderness and ferocity. His 
life had been an adventurous and romantic one; 
as a boy, he had served under Captain James 
Bowie, after whom the famous bowie-knife is 
named, and was with Davy Crockett at the fall 
of the Alamo. After the assassination of Crockett 
and Bowie by the Mexicans, Wallace returned to 
Philadelphia, and, as extremes meet, strangely 
enough married a beautiful young Quakeress. 
He now resolved to settle down and lead a 
steady life, but the City of Brotherly Love was 
a trifle too peaceful for his belligerent nature ; so, 
taking his young wife on his arm, he again sought 
the border, squatting on a ranch in the heart of 
a wild and lonely spot on the banks of the Nueces. 
This river marked the fighting line between Mex 
ico and Texas, so it was congenial soil for "Bully 
Buck," as he was familiarly called, though I am 
afraid the friendly spirit of his gentle wife was 
often shocked by his deeds of daring. He used to 
talk to me of this sweet lady and their only child 
with tears in his eyes, for he was a loving savage. 
They had been cruelly murdered by the Comanche 
Indians during the absence of Wallace from his 



76 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

home. This crazed him for several months, and 
when he came to himself a morbid craving for 
revenge took possession of him. It is said that if 
Buck met a Comanche alone, it was all up with 
the redskin. His knowledge of the country made 
him of much importance at this time to the United 
States Government, by whom he was employed as 
spy, scout, ranger, and detective; his bold nature 
won for him the admiration of his friends and the 
fear of his enemies. He had in his way educated 
himself, and was very fond of quoting poetry of 
the morbid and romantic order. Byron s " Cor 
sair," Poe s " Raven," and Scott s Highland tales 
were special favorites with him; but he had a 
thorough contempt for Cooper s novels, and put 
no faith in the existence of " Boston Indians." 

One evening, the last on earth for him, poor 
fellow ! just as the candles were lighted and the 
games in the "Grand Saloon" were in full play, 
Wallace, without hat or coat and with his hair 
disheveled, rushed wildly into the room. He 
shouted to the crowd: "Give me a knife or a 
pistol, for God s sake, quick, or I m gone!" 
Everybody started to his feet; the man was so 
well known that the sound of his voice and his 
desperate appearance seemed to terrify the crowd. 
In the midst of the confusion three dark-looking 
Mexicans rushed into the room and began a furi 
ous attack upon Wallace. He was unarmed, and, 
seizing a chair, he fought desperately for his life. 
He felled the first man to the ground, but before 
he could turn he was stabbed to the heart by one 




MRS. JAMES W. WALLACK, JR. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 77 

of his other assailants and fell heavily to the floor ; 
the assassins, brandishing their knives, cleared a 
way through the crowd and escaped. This was 
the darkest tragedy I had yet seen, and that 
night, as I turned the matter over in my mind, 
I felt that, however congenial this atmosphere 
might be for a Texan ranger, it was no place for 
a legitimate comedian. So I proposed to Badger 
that we should at once hunt up some Mexican 
having a commercial turn of mind and sell out. 
This was easily done ; the business was a thriv 
ing one, and the death of poor Wallace seemed 
to have made the place more popular. So we sold 
the good-will, divided our capital, and dissolved. 

I had to break the dreadful tidings to Metta 
that I must go away. I do not think she cared 
half so much for me as I did for her; but when 
she realized the fact that I was about to " va 
moose " she got up quite a little scene. Through 
our interpreter I told her I should soon make 
my fortune and return to her to claim her as my 
bride, and bear her off with the whole family 
there were sixteen of them to my own country. 
It was pretty hard to make her understand that 
there was any other country but the one she was 
living in: she had often wondered where I and 
all the other cruel people had come from to make 
war on her family, and always fancied that the 
little town where she was born was the all and 
end of everything. In fact, Metta in Matamoras 
was like the minnow in the brook she " knew not 
of the sea to which the brook was flowing." 



78 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

The parting between Metta and myself was very 
affecting ; her mother and all her little barefooted 
brothers were weeping away in the Mexican 
tongue as I departed. In a month after that I 
had quite forgotten Metta, and the chances are 
that within a year she had allied herself to that 
animated arsenal, the dark-eyed rival. 

We had a permit to leave Matamoras in one of 
the Government boats that was taking back 
wounded soldiers to Brazos Santiago. Many of 
the poor fellows were on board, and, having left 
various members of their bodies on the battle-fields 
of Mexico, they were anxious to get what was 
left of them home as soon as possible. I was an 
eye-witness to much of the suffering ; the water, 
the climate, the blazing sun, and the drenching 
rain thinned their ranks with more effect than 
Mexican valor could have done. One by one they 
dropped off; and by the time we reached Brazos 
Santiago there were but few left alive. Here we 
left the Government steamer and took passage on 
a brig bound for New Orleans. 

I am not aware as to how attractive their places 
of business may be to the members of other pro 
fessions, but when I was a youth the first place 
an actor sought out when he arrived in town was 
the theater. Actors seemed to be in love with 
their vocation and fluttered about the footlights, . 
whether they had anything to do or not. I scarcely 
think that the attachment is so strong to-day, and 
there are many reasons, too, why it should not be 
so. At the time of which I write actors mixed 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 79 

but little with the public and seldom went into 
society. Salaries were small, so they could not 
afford expensive amusements, and I cannot call to 
mind that there was a dramatic club in America. 
Now they have their yachts, their horses, their 
clubs, and their country homes. Then their only 
place of rendezvous was the theater. 

It is not to be wondered at, then, that on our 
arrival in New Orleans the brig we came in had 
scarcely touched the wharf when I leaped ashore 
and bought a morning paper to see what theater 
was open. At the St. Charles still under the 
management of Ludlow & Smith there was 
announced the " Tragedy of King Richard III." 
from the original text, the stars being Mr. and 
Mrs. James W. Wallack, Jr., who appeared as 
the Duke of Gloster and Queen Elizabeth, the 
evening s entertainment concluding with the farce 
of "A Kiss in the Dark," with the then rising 
young comedian John E. Owens as Mr. Pitiibone. 
Of course I went at once to the theater. As I had 
acted there the season before, I knew all of the 
attaches and most of the company, and I naturally 
expected to be something of a lion, having just 
returned from the seat of war. In this, however, 
I was somewhat disappointed ; for as I had arrived 
in a sailing vessel, they knew more of the conflict 
than I did. That night I saw the performance. 
James W. Wallack, Jr., 1 was in those days at his 
best. Young, vigorous, and handsome, he was 

1 So called to distinguish him from his uncle, who was the 
father of Lester Wallack. 



80 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 

the most romantic-looking actor I ever saw ; there 
was a dash and spirit in his carriage, too, that was 
charming. I say he was at his best in those days, 
because in after years the acting of Macready, 
whom as an artist he idolized, had an unfortunate 
influence upon him, as he ultimately became im 
bued with the mannerisms of the English tragedian, 
which were so marked that they marred the nat 
ural grace of the imitator. All who remember 
Mrs. James W. Wallack, Jr., will attest the force 
of her tragic acting. In the quality of queenly 
dignity I think she even surpassed Charlotte 
Cushman, though she lacked perhaps the spirit 
and fire of the latter. War usually increases the 
nightly receipts of the theater, but the struggle 
with Mexico seemed to have a contrary effect. So 
I remember that, though the bill would have been 
considered an attractive one under the usual con 
dition of public affairs, the audience was small. 
The American Theater, then under the manage 
ment of James Place, was not open, but the com 
pany was still in town, and there were as many 
actors as citizens in front 

The play was finely acted but indifferently 
mounted, the armies of York and Lancaster 
being wretchedly equipped and quite limited as 
to quality and quantity. The faint and unmilitary 
efforts that they made to march with time and 
precision gave them anything but a warlike aspect. 
In keeping step there was a glaring difference of 
opinion, the pursuing army treading more upon 
their own heels than upon those of the enemy, 




JOHN E. OWENS. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 81 

and in the final collision there was a friendly 
tapping of tin spears on pasteboard helmets that 
told too plainly of a bloodless battle. 

But the really furious fight between Richard and 
Richmond made amends for the docility of the rank 
and file. Wallack was a superb swordsman, and I 
do not remember to have seen a stage combat fought 
with finer effect. 

I had for the last year at least been buffeting 
about in barns and tents, so that anything like a 
legitimate production was a great treat. But my 
chief interest on this occasion was centered in 
the farce, and my thoughts were dwelling on the 
approaching efforts of the rising young comedian 
and why not? Was I not a rising young com 
edian myself? I certainly had reached that height 
in my own estimation, at least, and I felt a burning 
desire that a time should come when some news 
paper would proclaim it for me as the New Orleans 
" Picayune " had that day announced it for Owens. 

At last he came, and certainly he conquered. 
As he entered briskly upon the stage, humming 
a sprightly song, I thought him the handsomest 
low comedian I had ever seen. He had a neat, 
dapper little figure, and a face full of lively expres 
sion. His audience was with him from first to last, 
his effective style and great flow of animal spirits 
capturing them and myself too though I must 
confess that I had a hard struggle even inwardly 
to acknowledge it. 

As I look back and call to mind the slight touch 
of envy that I felt that night, I am afraid that I had 



82 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

hoped to see something not quite so good, and was 
a little annoyed to find him such a capital actor; 
in short, I experienced those unpleasant twinges 
of jealousy that will creep over us during the 
moments when we are not at our best though 
these feelings may occasionally produce a good 
result. In me, I know, it stirred up the first great 
ambition that I remember ever to have felt, and 
from that night of pleasure and excitement I re 
solved to equal Owens some day, if I could. 




JOHN E. OWENS AS " SOLON SHINGLE." 



CHAPTER IV 

EARLY DAYS IN PHILADELPHIA AND NEW YORK 

Crossing the Alleghanies My Friend the Scene 
Painter William JS. Burton An Effort in 
Greek Tragedy Charles Burke 

IT was now decided that my mother and sister 
should remain in New Orleans with some old 
friends while I went to join my half-brother 
in Philadelphia. He had been urging us for some 
time to come to the North, writing that arrange 
ments were made for me to act the second comedy 
to himself and W. E. Burton, then manager of the 
Arch Street Theater. My mother was banker, and 
so had charge of the money. I took enough to 
see me to Philadelphia, supposing that no accident 
would happen; but before our steamer arrived at 
Wheeling the river was blocked with ice, and we 
were delayed over a week before we could reach 
the line of stages that crossed the Alleghany 
Mountains. 

83 



84 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Some of the old folks of to-day, who live only in 
the past and stolidly witness the improvements of 
the present, passing no remarks upon them except 
when there is an opportunity to condemn, are 
always preaching about the delights of the olden 
time and extolling the comforts of the stage-coach. 
I will describe, by way of contrast with travel of 
the present day, how the Alleghany Mountains 
were crossed in 1846. 

It was midwinter when we arrived at Wheeling. 
Our steamboat was tied to the wharf about three 
o clock in the morning, and as the stage-coach was 
to start at five no one thought of going to bed, so 
we wended our way along the frozen streets to 
secure through tickets to Philadelphia. The morn 
ing was pitch-dark and bitter cold that damp, 
penetrating weather piercing wraps and overcoats 
until it reaches the very marrow in one s bones. 

We got to the little den, by courtesy called the 
"office," where we found a half-dozen more passen 
gers equally damp, cold, and ill-natured with our 
selves. There was a handful of coal burning in a 
very small grate, about which were grouped the 
round-shouldered, unsympathetic people who were 
to be our fellow-travelers. They glanced at us as 
we entered, and, closing up all the open space near 
the fire, said as plainly as they could without speak 
ing : " You don t get in here, we can tell you. You 
have no right to travel in our coach, anyhow/ 

At one side there was a small table on which 
stood a large coffee-pot, some white cups and 
saucers, a plate of sausages, frozen stiff, and 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 85 

an unattractive loaf of bread; behind this ban 
quet was a tall darky, leaning against the wall 
and fast asleep. Here he remained undisturbed, 
not only because his refreshments were not tempt 
ing, but because we were given to understand 
that we could get a good breakfast twenty miles 
from Wheeling. At the appointed time the heavy 
old coach came up and we all climbed in. As 
our places were not designated on the ticket, we 
stowed ourselves in pell-mell, and I presume no 
one got the seat he wanted. 

A short way from town there was a long hill up 
which the horses toiled, so this gave the inmates 
of the coach time to settle themselves down for 
a quiet nap. One snore after another announced 
the accomplishment of this feat, and in a few 
minutes at least six out of the nine passengers 
were oblivious of their miserable condition. I 
never before had so fine an opportunity to study 
the philosophy of snoring. A large, fat man 
opposite me had a short, angry snore; at one 
time he snored so loudly that he woke himself 
up, and he had the impudence to glare about at 
the company as though he hoped they would not 
make that noise again. The old lady who was 
crushing me up in the corner snored deeply and 
contentedly. Some one off in a dark corner, whom 
I could not see, had a genial way of joining in, as 
though he snored merely to oblige the passen 
gers; but the grand, original musician of the 
party sat opposite me. I never heard anything 
approaching him, either for quality or for compass. 



6* 



86 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

It was a back-action snore that began in a bold 
agitato movement, suddenly brought up with a 
jerk, and terminated in a low whistle. As the 
coach steadily moved up the hill the band was in 
full play. The summit gained, there was a sharp 
crack of the whip, the horses started, and as every 
body was jerked violently backward, snoring gave 
place to oaths and pshaws and jolting about. ^ As 
soon, however, as we got used to this sensation, 
the chorus began again ; and as I was quite over 
come and tired, I joined in until the coach came to 
a full stop at the stable where the horses were to 
be changed. The sun now rose, and came in at 
all sorts of places, waking and blinding everybody. 
What a discontented and unhappy lot we were! 
and how we all hated one another ! 

Breakfast at last ! Ah, hot coffee, ham and eggs, 
and buckwheat cakes! The meal was not half 
over before we were a band of brothers. We could 
not do enough for one another, and all was har 
mony and peace. Of course, under these conditions, 
we became more familiar, and one vied with another 
in making the time pass agreeably. 

Two gentlemen pitted themselves against each 
other in telling funny stories. Their talents and 
qualities in this respect differed very widely : one 
invariably began his anecdotes by telling the joke 
first and then relating the story, whereas the other 
told his tale in a capital way until he came to the 
point, and that he never could remember. The 
fat man sang a sentimental song about " My 
Mother, Oh, my Mother." His voice was not bad 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 87 

if he had only kept in one key, but his natural inde 
pendence set all such trifles at defiance, and in his 
most extravagant wanderings he would look about 
with an expression of countenance which clearly ad 
monished us not to give him any advice in thematter. 

Of course I was expected to contribute my share 
of amusement, particularly as it leaked out that I 
was a young actor; in fact, I should have been 
offended if they had not pressed me. I sang a 
comic song about "The Good Old Days of Adam 
and Eve," the passengers liberally joining in the 
chorus. I followed this up with some bad imita 
tions of Forrest and Booth. These seemed to give 
great satisfaction, the old lady exclaiming that the 
imitations were wonderful; but as it afterwards 
turned out that she had never seen the originals, 
her criticism must be received with some caution. 
The day rolled slowly away, and as the darkness 
came on a mountain storm of snow and driving 
wind enveloped us. As we ascended the mountain 
the cold became intense. 

It was rather late in the night when we arrived 
at the supper station, as in consequence of the 
slippery state of the roads we were fully three 
hours behind time ; but the cheerful look of the 
dining-room, with its huge blazing fire of logs, 
repaid us for all the suffering we had endured. 
We found that a large pile of bricks was being 
heated for us in front of the fireplace : these com 
forting articles were intended for our feet in the 
coach, and nothing, not even the supper, could 
have been more welcome. 



88 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

The horses changed and the passengers aboard, 
we were again ready for our journey more peril 
ous now than ever, for as we reached the summit 
of the mountain the storm increased in its fury. 
At times we thought the stage would blow over ; 
the icy roads caused the horses to slip, and several 
times the leaders went down. It was a night to be 
remembered. A little after daylight we rolled into 
the town of Cumberland, the terminus of the stage 
line and the beginning of the railroad. Shivering 
and benumbed with cold, we alighted and sought 
the hotel for warmth and shelter. The driver of the 
coach was frozen stiff and had to be assisted down 
from the box. Another hour on the road would 
have been fatal to him. 

Twenty-four hours of suffering and peril took us 
from Wheeling to Cumberland -a journey now 
made in six, with a comfortable bed to lie on and 
a warm sleeping-car for shelter. 

A reunion with my brother was always delight 
ful. We took the greatest pleasure in each other s 
society, and he seemed never tired of making any 
sacrifices for my advancement, and, while we were 
both acting at the Arch, would often persuade Mr. 
Burton to cast me for parts far beyond my reach. 

At the end of the season Burke joined the Bow 
ery Theater in New York, and I was installed in 
his place at the Arch. I was destined to meet 
in this theater one of my oldest and dearest 
friends, Tom Glessing. Dear Tom ! as I write 
your name how my thoughts run back to the 
olden time not that we were happier then in 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 89 

each other s friendship, for it is a great comfort to 
reflect that throughout the many years we knew 
each other our affection never weakened. 

Tom was the scenic artist of the Arch Street 
Theater, and noted for great rapidity in the exe 
cution of his work. The same generous nature that 
prompted him to lavish all he had upon his friends 
rendered him equally prodigal in the use of paint; 
he wasted more than he used, and bespattered 
everything and everybody, himself included. Such 
was the generosity of his double-pound brush, that 
it scattered benevolence in all directions, and woe 
betide his dearest friend if ever he came within the 
circumference of its bounty ! His was the loudest 
and the heartiest laugh I ever heard. Nor had he 
any control over it, and often during the quiet 
scene of some play that was in preparation his 
boisterous roar of merriment would burst forth 
from the paint-room and, echoing through the 
theater, upset the serious business of the play. 
At such times the stage-manager would have to 
assert his authority, and demand of Glessing that 
he should stop that "dreadful roar" in order 
that the rehearsal might go on. If he had a fault 
it was that he was a trifle mischievous, and his 
enjoyment of a practical joke, played on any one of 
his companions, was delightful to behold: when 
he tried to tell of it he would laugh so immoder 
ately that one could never understand half he said. 
Fortunately, none of his pranks resulted seriously, 
except sometimes to himself; and when recounting 
some of the mishaps that had befallen him, in con- 



90 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

sequence of indulging too freely in his sport, he 
seemed to enjoy his own discomfiture quite as 
much as that of the other party. Practical jokers, 
like physicians, seldom take their own prescrip 
tions with pleasure; but Tom was an exception, 
and would even delight in being the victim of the 
game. 

I recall the first time we met in the paint-room : 
he was hard at work, splashing in a turbulent 
ocean with angry billows breaking upon the rocks. 
The storm was very severe, and the artist must 
have had a narrow escape, for he was so bespat 
tered with spray that he seemed to have been 
battling with the breakers. 

We were friends from the first moment. Sincere 
attachments usually begin at the beginning. He 
had but one sorrow it was a domestic one and 
he bore it nobly, never uttering a word against 
those who had caused his unhappiness. Years 
afterward he married again, and so happily that 
it repaid him for the trouble he had passed through 
in his youth. Gaiety became contagious in his 
presence, and cheerfulness followed in his wake. 
He dreaded to look upon the serious side of life, 
for his nature was so sympathetic that he suffered 
the pangs of others, and at the mere recital of 
human grief his eyes would fill with tears. He 
was fond of acting, and could n t act a bit, poor 
fellow ! but it was delicious to hear him recount 
his failures. 

Mr. Burton had married Tom s sister, and he 
and Glessing traveled together through the South 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 91 

on one of the comedian s starring trips. In Nat 
chez, Mississippi, the manager offered to give 
Tom a benefit if he could prevail upon Mr. Burton 
to play for him. This was arranged, and for two 
days he practiced the speech he intended to de 
liver in front of the curtain, as a tribute of grati 
tude to a generous public. He had written it out, 
and had sat up all the previous night to commit it 
to memory. It began, " Being totally unprepared 
for the honor you have done me." After rehearsal 
he walked out to the edge of the town, so that he 
could practice it in the open air, where he could 
elevate his voice without disturbing the citizens. 
On his way towards the woods he met a drunken 
Indian, who was staggering from side to side in 
the road, and flourishing an empty whisky-bottle 
at the white man in general and Glessing in par 
ticular. When any one is anxious to avoid a 
drunken man, by some strange fascination the 
intoxicated person invariably makes directly for 
him ; you may look the other way, or pretend to 
be unconscious of his existence, but it s of no 
use : he will introduce himself. The Indian was no 
exception ; for though poor Tom, who was fright 
ened to death, whistled a lively tune and looked up 
at the tops of the trees, the gentle savage would 
not be avoided. 

" Hey ! you white man, look me too. Me good 
Indian, good Indian. Yes, ah?" said the red 
man. 

To which Tom assented at once, most emphati 
cally : " Certainly, you are a splendid Injun; 



92 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



you re as good I may say you are the best 
Injun I ever saw." 

" You think me drunk, eh ? " 

" Drunk ! " said Tom. " No. Let me hear any 
one dare to say you re drunk, and I 11 kill him. 
Give me that bottle and I II kill him with that." 

"No; me am drunk," said the savage, glaring 
fiercely at Tom, 

"You may be a little drunk, but not much 
just enough, eh ? " said Tom, desirous of agreeing 
to anything under the circumstances. The Indian 
became sullen and moody, as if brooding on the 
wrongs that the white man had inflicted on 
his ancestors, when it suddenly occurred to Tom 
that the United States Government, when the In 
dians got troublesome, always softened their anger 
by the bestowal of costly presents ; so, offering a 
dollar to the chief, Tom bade him return to his 
wigwam and take some whisky home to his squaw 
and papoose. The offering was accepted, and had 
the desired effect. After two or three affectionate 
embraces they parted, and Tom got away in the 
opposite direction. 

Finding himself once more alone, and in a 
secluded spot, he began to go through his speech. 
He tried various methods, first the cheerful ; 
stepping forward with bright, jaunty manner, he 
raised his voice in a high key : " Ladies and gentle 
men, being totally unprepared for this honor." On 
second thought, it appeared to him that his manner 
was a little too free and undignified, so he now 
assumed the grave and thoughtful. Placing one 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 93 

hand in his breast, and pulling his hair over his 
eyes, to give him a poetic and dreamy air, he paced 
slowly forward, and in a solemn, deep voice began 
again : " Ladies and gentlemen, being totally un 
prepared" Just at this point he raised his eyes 
and observed the astonished heads of two farmers 
peering over the rails of a worm fence. He imme 
diately gathered up his hat and manuscripts and 
started for the town at a brisk pace ; but remem 
bering that the "good Injun" might be in ambush 
awaiting his return, he was forced to skirt the town 
for miles before he reached his hotel. 

He would go on by the hour and tell such stories, 
and was always the most pleased when he was the 
hero of them and placed in some absurd position. 

About this time I was haunted by a professional 
borrower. Just eighteen, and in the reteipt of 
what was considered in those days a fair salary, I 
was a shining mark for his skill, though I was such 
easy game that I think he held me in slight con 
tempt. But, for all this, he was crafty enough to 
impress me with the simplicity of his nature, and 
what a toy and plaything he had been for fortune s 
sport ! He was a dreadfully bad actor on the stage, 
but a star of the first magnitude in private life ; so 
much so that for many weeks he tortured and de 
frauded me with the ease and confidence of a 
master. 

Conventional beggars are as conventional as any 
other professionals. That time-honored custom of 
assuming a nervous and uncertain manner, as if this 
was the first time they were placed in such a posi- 



94 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

tion, is a favorite attitude with them ; while in 
reality they are cool and collected. My tormentor 
was an expert, and his costume quite a study for an 
amateur in the business. Although his ample shoes 
were full of gaping wounds, they shone with a high 
polish that any man might feel proud of; and if his 
tall hat was a trifle weak, it had a gloomy, ruined- 
tower look that won him respect from strangers ; 
and his clothes were of a shabby black, just " sick 
lied o er with the pale cast " of time. Sometimes 
he would meet me with a sad, sweet smile, clasping 
my hand warmly, and regarding me as if I was the 
one ray of light that illumined his gloomy path. I 
believe he once said these very words ; at all events 
he looked them, and at times I really thought I 
was. The first thing a sly old rascal like this does 
is to study the weak points of his victims ; and he 
knew mine better than I did. He had a large 
supply of tears that he could turn on at will, and 
after getting under a full headway of grief he 
would revolve slowly and dry his eyes with his 
back to me. I used to imagine that he did this so 
that I might not observe him weep; but since 
then I have thought differently of it. 

He knew perfectly well when salary day came, 
and would waylay me at the stage door. On these 
occasions he would assume a surprised and startled 
look, as if we had met quite by accident ; and then 
he would exclaim, in a half- retrospective tone, 
" Dear me ! dear me ! it must be nearly a week 
since we last met." It was just a week, to the 
minute, and he knew it, the villain ! At such times 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 95 

Tom Glessing would fairly revel in my discomfit 
ure. If he saw that my tormentor had button 
holed me on the corner, he would delight in passing 
close to us with an " Ah, how are you ? At it again, 
eh ? " And on he would go, fairly holding- his sides 
with laughter, while my " corkscrew," as Glessing 
used to call him, was drawing the dollar notes out 
of my pocket, one by one. The most provoking 
thing about the fellow was the air of patronage he 
assumed when negotiating a loan in our early 
transactions he used to make me feel that he was 
doing me an immense favor by levying these little 
drafts on my slender income. He would begin by 
saying that if it were not for the regard he had 
formerly felt for my father he would not demean 
himself by sinking so low. I put up with this for 
some time, not out of any charity, for I had gradu 
ally lost all respect or pity for him, but from a kind 
of fear. He had an overawing and at the same 
time despairing look that quite terrified me, and as 
lately he had hinted that the time was drawing near 
when he thought of trying his luck in the Delaware, 
I really feared he might commit suicide. 

I can hardly describe what I suffered from the 
persecutions of this man, and it was nothing but a 
sense of shame at being the dupe of such a low 
fellow that determined me to break my bondage 
and turn from him. When he saw that I made a 
bold stand against him he became abusive ; finding 
that this did not have the desired effect he lapsed 
into the dismal, whining and mourning over his 
crushed feelings and lamenting his personal degra- 



96 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

dation. But I had discovered his cloven foot, and 
it was too late for him to attempt further im 
posture. 

Such men are to be found in all grades of life, 
and they are usually adroit and cunning fellows, 
attacking their victims right and left, and using just 
the sort of weapons that are the most difficult to 
parry. They lie in ambush for the innocent trav 
eler, and suddenly pounce upon him with a well- 
told tale, so got by rote, and so often rehearsed, 
that they act the part of injured innocence to the 
life. If the victim be timid he is lost, for they 
recognize his nervousness at once, and browbeat 
him out of his benevolence. 

This vile weed the borrower grows and lux 
uriates in all the capitals of States and countries. 
The ever-changing soil of fresh visitation seems 
well adapted to nourish it. Sometimes women 
indulge in this practice, but not often ; you are at 
least safer with them than with the men, particu 
larly if they are old. A feeble old mendicant gen 
erally uses her collection for some purpose that 
gives her comfort at least. Coal, tea, and warm 
worsted stockings are necessary, and they must 
and should have them; but the man has many 
avenues through which he can filter your bounty 
the gaming-table, the bar-room, and worse. 

If Mr. Burton was not at this time a fixed star, 
he was certainly a managerial planet of the first 
magnitude, and in this position was naturally sur 
rounded by a number of small satellites that basked 
in the moonshine of his affection. These lesser 




WILLIAM E. BURTON AS "DOCTOR OLLAPOD." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 97 

lights seemed to gyrate in eccentric orbits, generally 
going out of their way to carry tales to their superior. 

Nothing is more distressing to the members of a 
stock company than to have spies set upon them 
who eavesdrop and report every little trifle to the 
manager. It is natural that the occupants of the 
dressing-room, and even of the greenroom, when 
the manager is not present, should now and then 
indulge in the harmless amusement of criticizing 
and even censuring the policy of the theater ; it 
serves to pass away the time between long waits, 
and, like Doctor Ollapod s small dose of magnesia, 
does " neither harm nor good." 

The tale-bearing element in Mr. Burton s the 
ater was fully organized under the generalship of 
one of the most ingenious informers that I have 
ever met with. If I do not speak affectionately of 
this gentleman, it is because I was at that time 
smarting under the effects of one of his secret- 
service reports to the Star-chamber, to which 
apartment I had been summoned on a charge of 
"contemplated desertion." It seems that I had 
been incautiously bragging among my comrades 
in the dressing-room of a large offer I had re 
ceived to leave the Arch and join Mr. Killmist 
at his theater in Washington, stating that I was 
shortly going to send in my resignation to Mr. 
Burton. I had also been abusing the manage 
ment, both criticizing and condemning its short 
sighted policy; and though there was no stated 
reward offered for the exposure of such offenses, 
the informer was anxious to get me out of the 



98 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

theater, looking for his compensation in being 
cast for some of the good parts that were already 
in my possession. 

I was ushered into the manager s office by the 
call-boy, and stood there like a prisoner ready to 
be sentenced to the rack for daring to express my 
opinion of the "powers that be." Mr. Burton sat 
in state at the farther end of a long table, sup 
ported on each side by his stage-manager and 
the prompter ; this august tribunal frowned on me 
with a most discharging countenance as I stood 
before it. The scene as I look back at it seems 
comical enough, but just at that time it was a seri 
ous matter for me, as my prospective engagement 
was not positively settled, and under the most fa 
vorable circumstances could not be entered upon 
short of two months, and a dismissal just at that 
time would have been financially inconvenient. 
The accusation of a " contemplated desertion " 
being made, I demanded the name of the informer. 
This being withheld, I declined to make any an 
swer to the charge. Those who remember Mr. 
Burton s face will recall its wonderfully comical 
expression, even when he was serious; but when 
he assumed a look of injured innocence the effect 
was irresistible. I did not dare laugh then, but 
I do enjoy it now when I think of it. The exami 
nation proceeded, and on the first question being 
again put I acknowledged the fact point-blank, 
stating also that being engaged for no stated 
length of time I intended to give the customary 
notice and to resign. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 99 

The manager demanded to know on what 
grounds I presumed to take such a step without 
first consulting him. I told him that I had been 
offered double the salary I was then receiving. 
Upon his asking who made me worth " double 
the salary," I replied that I was quite willing to 
admit that he did, and proposed that he should 
give it to me. At this rather impertinent remark 
lie waxed wroth, and said I was not worth it, and 
never would be worth it, but that I had been 
insubordinate and disloyal to him, and that he 
should take legal steps to prevent my appearing 
at any other theater if I left him. 

There is no doubt that Mr. Burton thought that 
his denunciation and threats of an action would 
crush me, but he knew little of human nature, for 
I now went up at least one hundred per cent, in my 
own estimation. The very thought of being threat 
ened with a lawsuit made me feel at least an inch 
taller. I, who up to the present time had thought 
myself of small consequence, threatened with an 
action for breach of contract ! It was delightful ; 
and I have no doubt that I drew myself up with 
much dignity as I informed him that he could pur 
sue whatever course he pleased in the matter 
swaggering out of the room with the defiant air of 
a " heavy villain." 

Of course quite a little knot of actors were wait 
ing at the back door to hear the result of the trial 
and learn the verdict of the judge. When I in 
formed them with a lofty pride that I presumed 
the affair would end in a lawsuit, they were 



100 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

amazed. If they had never envied me before, 
they certainly did now. It was not a hanging 
matter, and the most serious result could not go 
beyond " damages for the plaintiff"; and what 
actor of my position in those days could ever have 
afforded to pay damages ? We might have dreaded 
a long vacation in the summer, or quaked at the 
rebuke of a dramatic critic, but the law ! So far 
as damages were concerned, we defied it ! The 
case, however, never came to trial; for about a 
week after this the Washington theater was de 
stroyed by fire, and I was only too glad to remain 
where I was without double the salary. 

As an actor of the old broad farce-comedy Mr. 
Burton certainly had no equal in his day, and his 
dramatic pictures of the characters of Dickens 
would have amazed the author if he had been so 
fortunate as to see them. Captain Cuttle and 
Micawber were his greatest achievements ; his face 
was a huge map on which was written every emo 
tion that he felt ; there was no mistaking the 
meaning of each expression. His entrance as Van 
Dunder, in the drama of "The Dutch Governor; 
or, T would puzzle a Conjuror," was a comic pict 
ure so full of genius that it stamped itself indelibly 
on the mind, an effect never to be forgotten. The 
great stupid face was a blank. The heavy cheeks 
hung down stolidly on each side of a half-opened 
mouth ; the large, expressionless ej^es seemed to 
look hopelessly for some gleam of intelligence. 
There he stood, the incarnation of pompous igno 
rance, with an open letter in his hand. The audi- 




WILLIAM E. BURTON AS "CAPTAIN CUTTLE. 



102 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

only another way of having it out, and Burton 
must have spent a fortune in fees. His humor on 
the witness-stand was quite equal to that of Sam 
Weller. On one occasion, while the actor was 
going through bankruptcy, an eminent lawyer in 
Philadelphia thought he detected a desire on Bur 
ton s part to conceal some facts relative to a large 
sum of money that he had made during the pro 
duction of the " Naiad Queen." Rising with great 
dignity, and glaring fiercely at Burton, he de 
manded, " What became of that money, sir ? " The 
comedian looked him straight in the face; then 
rising in imitation of an attorney, he replied, " The 
lawyers got it." 

During the first season that I acted at the Arch 
great preparations were made for the production of 
a Greek tragedy, the "Antigone" of Sophocles. 
In a theater, as we have seen, there are apt to be 
two or three discordant spirits that criticize and con 
demn the course of the management, and I pre 
sume that most public institutions are honored by 
small private bands of conspirators ; so that on 
being confronted by this ancient drama in the green 
room we naturally shrugged our shoulders and 
wondered what Mr. Burton meant. by it. This 
same sublime tragedy of " Antigone " had been 
freely translated and acted in Dublin at the Theater 
Royal some forty years ago. The audience was 
quite bewildered by this performance, and at the close 
of the play called for the author ; whether to applaud 
or to chastise him does not appear. The manager 
came forward to apologize for the absence of Soph- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 103 

ocles, but promised faithfully to produce him if 
ever he allowed one of his plays to be acted under 
his management again. Notwithstanding that this 
Greek tragedy had always failed to attract public 
attention, our manager determined to revive this 
previously unfortunate drama. It has been said 
that Mr. Burton was classically educated; naturally 
he felt justly proud of his scholastic attainments, 
and, having a desire to display them, he selected 
the Greek tragedy as just the thing for its accom 
plishment. Apart from his undoubted claim to 
erudition, he had that wonderful stage tact and 
executive ability that thoroughly qualified him for 
the management of a theater ; so that whether he 
had drunk deep at the " Pierian spring " or not, he 
certainly had quenched his thirst at the public foun 
tains, and refreshed himself at all those little intel 
lectual brooks that flow along the roadside of an 
actor s life. This kind of knowledge may be super 
ficial, but it is most useful to an actor-manager. 

But to return to "Antigone." During its re 
hearsals a marked change came over our manager. 
In arranging the lighter and more colloquial plays 
he was accustomed to be cheerful, and rather 
inclined to intersperse his directions with anecdote ; 
but now he assumed a dignity strangely at vari 
ance with his usual manner, and we, the company, 
who had been in the habit of associating his comical 
figure with Paul Pry and Jem Baggs, could scarcely 
be expected at this short notice to receive this 
change of demeanor with the same solemnity with 
which it was given. Of course we did not dare 



104 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



exhibit our irreverent feelings, for there is no doubt 
that had Mr. Burton detected the slightest attempt 
to guy either him or his new venture an immediate 
discharge of the offending party would surely have 
followed. Tom Glessing, myself, and several minor 
members of the company had got hold of some 
Greek quotations, and would slyly salute one 
another in the classic tongue when we met at the 
theater in the morning, always, however, when the 
manager s back was turned ; for if in his presence 
we had dared talk Greek we should certainly have 
walked Spanish. 

I was cast for one of the unhappy Chorus, I 
think there were four of us, and when the curtain 
rose a more wretched looking quartet was never 
seen. I think the costume we wore was unfortunate, 
and added neither to our comfort nor to our per 
sonal appearance. We were crowned with four 
evergreen laurel wreaths, which sat unsteadily 
upon our heads, and were done up to the chin in 
white Grecian togas. Mr. and Mrs. James W. 
Wallack, Jr., were in the cast, and for their fine 
declamation and classic tableaux were much ap 
plauded ; but when we as the Chorus attempted to 
explain what it all meant, the effect upon the audi 
ence was dreadful. 

The failure of this sublime tragedy caused Mr. 
Burton to be seriously out of pocket, as well as 
out of temper. He blamed first the public, then 
the unfortunate Chorus, and, finally, himself. 

In domestic matters I had good opportunity of 
forming my judgment of Mr. Burton, as we were 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 105 

for some time quite intimate, and I often visited 
him at his house. The affection he lavished upon 
his children was almost feminine in its warmth and 
gentleness. He had three lovely little tyrants, who 
managed him quite as well as he managed his 
theater. They were extremely fond of their father, 
and he delighted to walk with his lovely daugh 
ters and show them off. I have often met the 
group strolling hand in hand in Franklin Square 
on a fine Sunday morning in the spring, the pretty 
little girls, tastefully dressed, tossing their heads 
and shaking their curls in childish vanity, with their 
portly parent looking proudly down upon them. 

The Arch, during the time I was under Mr. Bur 
ton s management, had met with many of those 
vicissitudes that were so prevalent in theatrical 
ventures when the production of the " Glance at 
New York " struck the popular taste of that curi 
ous and uncertain element known as the " public." 
The " public" means in reality nobody; it is an 
elastic term ; we are indeed prone to call every one 
the public but ourselves. We wonder that the pub 
lic can support this or that trashy entertainment, 
forgetting that we have been to see it once, and 
perhaps twice. "Life in London," upon which the 
"Glance at New York" was founded, ran for two 
seasons in London, when both lords and ladies 
went in crowds to witness the vulgarities of low 
life ; the knocking down of watchmen, the upset 
ting of an old woman s apple stall, and the dancing 
of Dusty Bob and African Sal occupied the atten 
tion and delighted the audience of seventy years ago. 



106 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Years before, Monk Lewis s melodrama of " Cas 
tle Spectre," a ghostly and ghastly piece of business, 
drew crowds of people, to the exclusion of the works 
of Shakspere, Sheridan, and Goldsmith. Nonde 
script actors, of the ranting and fantastic school, 
were in demand, while the Kembles and a host of 
great comedians were playing to empty benches. 
Likewise, we find Colley Gibber complaining that 
in his day the legitimate drama had fallen so low in 
the estimation of the public that he and his com 
pany of fine comedians were put aside and made 
subservient to the Italian singers and French ballet 
dancers that then flooded England. 

We must not always condemn the public of the 
present day for these curious characteristics which 
seem to have come to them by a legitimate inheri 
tance. Besides, there may be a necessity for this 
seeming inconstancy, and it is quite possible that 
the mind requires now and then a change of diet 
as the stomach does; the palate being satiated 
with rich and delicate viands often craves a little 
coarser food, if only to assist digestion. 

But to return to Mr. Burton and his new vent 
ure. The great success of the " Glance at New 
York" caused him to look in that direction him 
self. A full treasury had excited his ambition, so 
he proceeded to New York and purchased Palmo s 
Opera House for the purpose of opening it as a 
comedy theater. He was an early riser, very in 
dustrious, and extremely temperate. These qual 
ities, combined with energy and an inordinate 
ambition to lead, made him a formidable adver- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 107 

sary for Mr. Mitchell, who was then in the very 
height of prosperity at the Olympic. This latter 
gentleman, like Mr. Burton, was a comedian and 
a manager of rare ability; he had surrounded 
himself with an excellent company of actors and 
actresses, who were so quaint and so well chosen 
that the dramatic treats given at the " Little 
Olympic" became the rage and talk of the town. 
Mr. Burton saw this, and his desire for a dramatic 
battle urged him to oppose Mitchell, and this he 
did with much force and judgment, bringing to bear 
the heaviest theatrical artillery that New York had 
ever seen. When I say that these great guns con 
sisted of William Rufus Blake, Henry Placide, W. 
E. Burton, John Brougham, Lester Wallack, Oliver 
Raymond, Lysander Thompson, and Charles Burke, 
I think that those who remember these extraordi 
nary actors will fully agree with the statement. I 
do not think that Lysander Thompson and Charles 
Burke were with the company at this time, but 
they joined it afterward. In the midst of this 
conflict between the managers Mr. Mitchell was 
stricken with paralysis ; this rendered the contest 
still more unequal, and the " Little Olympic " 
surrendered. 

To give some idea of the excellence with which 
Mr. Burton s plays were cast, I may mention that 
I saw Shakspere s comedy of "Twelfth Night" 
produced at his theater with Blake as Malvolio, 
Placide as the Fool, Burton as Sir Toby Belch, 
Lester Wallack as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and 
Miss Weston as Viola. I do not believe that this 



108 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

play has been acted with greater skill since Shak- 
spere wrote it, although there is no denying that, 
with regard to scenic effects, costumes, ingenious 
stage-management, and elaborate ornamentation, 
the Shaksperean productions of our own time far 
exceed those of the earlier revivals. 

Burton s ambition to succeed in the various tasks 
he had set himself was strongly fortified by his 
quick apprehension and great versatility. He was 
at the same time managing the Arch Street Theater 
in Philadelphia, the Chambers Street Theater in 
New York, acting nightly, and studying new char 
acters as fast as they came out. In addition to 
these professional duties, he was building a country 
residence at Glen Cove, writing stories for the 
magazines, and taking prizes at the horticultural 
shows for hot-house grapes and flowers. If his 
success and happiness were marred, it can only be 
attributed to his too great ambition ; this trait led 
him to oppose everything that came within range, 
and at times he would even go out of his way to 
search for a new antagonist. In a fit of excitement, 
brought on by some domestic shock, he was sud 
denly stricken down, and never rose again. Dur 
ing his last hours he was lovingly attended by his 
daughters, who had grown up to womanhood, and 
I am told by one who was present that the parting 
with them touched the hearts of all who saw it. 

It was a rare treat to see Burton and Burke in 
the same play : they acted into each other s hands 
with the most perfect skill; there was no striving to 
outdo each other. If the scene required that for 




M? C.BUHKE. AMERICAN COMEDIAN. 

m Cmutyjrarrut,, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 109 

a time one should be prominent, the other would 
become the background of the picture, and so 
strengthen the general effect ; by this method they 
produced a perfectly harmonious work. For in 
stance, Burke would remain in repose, attentively 
listening while Burton was delivering some humor 
ous speech. This would naturally act as a spell 
upon the audience, who became by this treatment 
absorbed in what Burton was saying, and having 
got the full force of the effect, they would burst 
forth in laughter or applause ; then, by one accord, 
they became silent, intently listening to Burke s 
reply, which Burton was now strengthening by the 
same repose and attention. I have never seen this 
element in acting carried so far, or accomplished 
with such admirable results, not even upon the 
French stage, and I am convinced that the impor 
tance of it in reaching the best dramatic effects 
cannot be too highly estimated. 

It was this characteristic feature of the acting of 
these two great artists that always set the audience 
wondering which was the better. The truth is 
there was no "better" about the matter. They 
were not horses running a race, but artists painting 
a picture ; it was not in their minds which should 
win, but how they could, by their joint efforts, 
produce a perfect work. I profited very much by 
these early lessons. 

Dying at the age of thirty-two, it is wonderful 
that Charles Burke left such an enduring reputation 
as an actor. I do not mean that his fame lives with 
the general public, but his professional brethren 



110 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

accorded to him the rarest histrionic genius. I 
have sometimes heard comparisons made between 
Burton and Burke, but they were so widely differ 
ent in their natures and their artistic methods that 
no reasonable parallel could be drawn. Burton 
colored highly, and laid on the effects with a liberal 
brush, while Burke was subtle, incisive, and refined. 
Burton s features were strong and heavy, and his 
figure was portly and ungainly. Burke was lithe 
and graceful. His face was plain, but wonderfully 
expressive. The versatility of this rare actor was 
remarkable, his pathos being quite as striking a 
feature as his comedy. He had an eye and face 
that told their meaning before he spoke, a voice 
that, seemed to come from the heart itself, pene 
trating, but melodious. He sang with great taste, 
and was a perfect musician. His dramatic effects 
sprung more from intuition than from study ; and, 
as was said of Barton Booth, " the blind might 
have seen him in his voice, and the deaf have 
heard him in his visage." 

Although only a half-brother, he seemed like a 
father to me, and there was a deep and strange 
affection between us. As I look back I can recall 
many social and professional sacrifices that he made 
for me, and my love for him was so great that if 
we were absent from each other for any length of 
time my heart would beat with delight at his ap 
proach. It is scarcely fair to intrude upon the 
reader one s domestic affections, but I am irresist 
ibly impelled to write these words. And so they 
must stand. 



CHAPTER V 

STOCK, STAR, AND STAGE MANAGEMENT 

From Stock to Star From Star to Stock The 
Elder Booth as "Sir Giles Overreach" The 
Southern Theatrical Circuit A Wandering 
Star The Balcony Scene Julia Dean 
Legitimate Comedy James E. Murdoch 
Henry Placide A Play an Animated Pict 
ure Edwin Forrest 

THERE is nothing a young actor enjoys more 
than itinerant theatricals. It is so grand to 
break loose from a big tyrant manager in 
the city and become a small tyrant manager in the 
country. I was one of those juvenile theatrical 
anarchists who, after having stirred up a rebellion 
in the greenroom, would shout to my comrades, 
" Let s all be equal, and I 11 be king I " I had 
annual attacks of this revolutionary fever, and 
having saved up all my salary during the regular 
winter season would lose it patriotically in the 
summer. It was on the eve of one of these ex 
cursions that I received my first telegram. It came 
in "the form of a despatch from my partner, who 



112 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

was in Baltimore, I being in Cumberland. I could 
not believe it, but there it was; a reply to my 
letter of the day previous, which he could have 
received only an hour before the message was 
delivered to me. I called at the office to inquire if 
it were really so: yes, there could be no doubt 
about it. A small group of people had col 
lected about the operator, some having received 
messages of congratulation at the establishment of 
the line, others sending messages away to the same 
effect, and all wearing a look of surprise and 
incredulity. We began showing one another our 
despatches, and, looking with respectful awe at the 
mysterious little machine that was ticking away as 
if worked by some invisible spirit of the other 
world, wondered what they would do next. The 
whole town was greatly excited about it. People 
were running to and fro with little messages in their 
hands, and stopping one another in the street to 
talk and wonder over the new event. If I were 
now to receive a message from the planet Mars 
offering me a star engagement, I could not be 
more astonished than I was on that day. 

It is said that the man who invented spectacles 
was imprisoned for daring to improve on the eye 
sight that God had given us; and that these com 
forts of old age were called the " Devil s eyes." 
So, in the height of this telegraphic novelty, did 
many wise old Solons shake their solemn heads, 
declaring that the wrath of God would fall on 
those who dared to take a liberty with lightning. 
The people with universal consent made the occa- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 113 

sion a holiday, and as this was our opening, in the 
evening the hall was full. 

We should have considered it a good house if 
the receipts had reached forty dollars; but when 
I made up the account I found myself in posses 
sion of more than a hundred dollars, all in silver. 
Loaded down with this weighty fortune I started 
.after the play for the hotel, being supported on 
each side by the walking gentleman and the 
property man, utilizing them as a body-guard 
lest I should be waylaid and robbed. In this 
flush of fortune, and as a requital for their valua 
ble services, I stood treat to my escort and dis 
missed them for the night. My room was in the 
third story, so there was no fear of burglars from 
without; but as I fancied that every robber in 
town must by this time be in full possession of 
all the information concerning my acquisition, I 
ascended the stairs with a solitary tallow candle 
and a nervous step. The long, dark entry seemed 
so very favorable for an attack that at each land 
ing I imagined that I should be stabbed in the 
back. I thought it therefore just as well to hum 
a tune in a careless way, as though I was quite 
used to this sort of thing, and thoroughly prepared 
for any emergency. Sauntering slowly along to 
the tune of " My Pretty Jane," I reached the door 
of my room, which I entered as quickly as possible, 
locking it at once. The next thing was to dispose 
of my treasure, which I did by placing it between 
the mattresses of the bed. I spread it all out so as 
to make it look like a good deal when my partner 



114 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

arrived. One always takes delight in showing 
his partner how well things have gone during his 
absence; it is so delightful to make him feel that 
he is not of half so much importance as he thinks he 
is. Having placed the chair under the knob of the 
door, I could see no chance for a successful bur 
glary unless the operator came down the chimney. 
I confess this rather worried me, as I felt that 
in the, event of his making a descent upon me by 
the flue I could not possibly keep him out with 
the blower. I went to bed with the idea that I 
should be found murdered in the morning, and 
dropped off to sleep dreaming of Jack Sheppard. 

At daylight I was startled by a loud knock at 
the door. " Who s there ? " I said, still somewhat 
alarmed. "Sefton," said the voice of my partner. 
" Are you sure?" said I. " Of course I am," he re 
plied. I opened the door and admitted him. 
" How was the house? " was the first question. I 
made no reply, but turned down the mattress and 
displayed the full receipts to his astonished gaze. 

Now our managerial labors began in earnest. 
The town did not contain more than five hundred 
playgoers, so that we were obliged to change the 
performance nearly every night. After the play 
we would go out and, taking our property man 
with us as an assistant, put up our own bills. 
This we continued to do until at last our financial 
condition enabled us to afford the luxury of a bill 
poster. 

No one who has not passed through the actual 
experience of country management, combined with 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 115 

acting, can imagine the really hard work and anx 
iety of it daily rehearsals, constant change of 
performance, and the continual study of new parts; 
but, for all this, there was a fascination about the 
life so powerful that I have known but few that 
have ever abandoned it for any other. It had a 
roving, joyous, gipsy kind of attraction in it that 
was irresistible. Who would not rather play a 
good part to a bad house than a bad part to 
a good house? ay, even if he were the man 
ager ! Then just think of the eagerly looked-for 
criticism in the morning papers, of no consequence 
to the world at large, but of much importance to 
the actor : how anxious I used to be in the morn 
ing to see what the critic said, quickly scanning 
the article and skipping over the praise of 
the other actors, so as to get to what they said 
about me. Then after breakfast, sauntering down 
to the drug-store where the reserved seats were for 
sale : not to look at the diagram to see how the seats 
were selling certainly not, that would appear un 
dignified; but just to inquire if there were any letters. 
These were the delights that always sweetened the 
poverty that went hand in hand with country act 
ing. In the present instance we were in possession 
of a gold mine. We had captured the town, having 
been the first to attack it. 

It is seldom that partners in theatrical manage 
ment agree. Wood and Warren, of Philadelphia, 
were never on very friendly terms, and Ludlow 
and Smith were in partnership for many years 
without exchanging a word except on business. 



116 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

How they managed it, or rather mismanaged it, 
I can t tell. Sefton and I were but human beings, 
and this sudden success had the same demoralizing 
effect on my partner and myself. He was obstinate, 
and so was I. 

Dogberry says, "An two men ride of a horse, 
one must ride behind." Now as neither of us would 
consent to take this undignified seat, I sold Sefton 
my share of the animal and retired ; he vaulted into 
the vacant saddle and rode his charger to death. 
About three months afterward I received a letter 
from him business had been bad, and he was in 
great distress urging me to play a week with 
him. I did so, partly to help my old partner, and 
partly to see my name in large letters. This was 
the first time I had ever enjoyed that felicity, and 
it had a most soothing influence upon me. My 
hotel was just opposite the hall, and when I arose 
in the morning and looked across the street I gazed 
delightedly upon my name in bold " Roman caps.," 
though I was much annoyed at seeing the citizens 
pass by this important announcement without 
taking any notice of it ; and the conduct of two 
strangers who met precisely in front of the theater 
and began an earnest conversation, without deign 
ing to bestow a glance at the bill-board, was 
positively insulting. 

I had to contend on my opening night with a 
local favorite in the shape of a rival comedian. 
This was no easy matter, for not only was he a 
clever actor, but a feeling had been engendered 
among his many friends that I had entered into 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 117 

a dark conspiracy with the manager to dethrone 
him. I had acted here the season before, and was 
something of a favorite, so my reception was very 
cordial; but as soon as it ceased I was greeted 
with a storm of hisses. This sudden and unlooked- 
for demonstration took the audience and me by 
surprise, and of course checked the progress of the 
play. In the midst of this confusion my rival was 
loudly called for by his friends, at which the cur 
tains of a private box were violently shaken, then 
jerked apart, and in the opening appeared the 
form of my rival. He stepped unsteadily upon 
the stage ; one side of his trousers had crawled up 
his leg, revealing an untied shoe, the brim of his 
hat was slightly bent, and he swayed from side to 
side with folded arms and disheveled hair. There 
was a mingled air of defiance and melancholy in 
his looks, plainly showing that he was not only 
persecuted but intoxicated. The wild encourage 
ments from his friends clearly proved that they 
were in the same condition, indicating that the 
entire party had partaken freely of " Dutch cour 
age " in order to stimulate them for the fray. After 
a maudlin speech, which first amused and then bored 
the audience, he was led from the stage and the play 
proceeded. 

Actors in sickness or distress are proverbially 
kind to one another, but little professional mis 
understandings will take place now and then? 
Some overzealous defenders of our art have 
asserted, I think erroneously, that no true artist 
is jealous of another. This is going a little too far, 



8* 



118 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

and giving us credit for more virtue than we pos 
sess. Jealousy is unfortunately an inborn quality, 
entirely independent of art. If a man has this un 
fortunate passion he feels it whether he is a true 
artist or not. In this instance my rival was a good 
actor, but not too good to be jealous of me, and if 
our positions had been reversed the chances are that 
I would have been jealous of him. 

It was during this, my first star engagement, 
that I received a telegram announcing the sad 
intelligence of my mother s death. I started at 
once for Philadelphia, but by some accident was 
detained on the road for two days, arriving too 
late to look upon her face. My brother, my sister, 
and I passed a week^ together after the burial 
of my mother, and then separated, they returning 
to New York, whence they had been summoned, 
and I remaining in the city to look after an 
engagement. 

On the corner of Ninth and Chestnut streets 
stood the Amphitheater. At this establishment in 
the winter season the circus used to amalgamate 
with a dramatic company and make a joint appear 
ance in equestrian spectacles, which were produced 
under the stage management of Mr. Joseph Foster. 
This gentleman had studied in the best school of 
the highly colored melodrama Astley s, on the 
Surrey side of London. He came to America as 
property man with Cook s company somewhere 
about 1836; in this position he continued for some 
years, ultimately joining the Amphitheater in Phil 
adelphia. His industry, backed up by long experi- 




CORNELIA JEFFERSON (MOTHER OP JOSEPH JEFFERSON). 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 119 

ence, made him so valuable that he soon became 
stage-manager, and was holding this position when 
I called on him to apply for a situation as comedian. 
He had been prepared for the visit, having heard 
something to my advantage as an actor, but he 
was undoubtedly disappointed with me at first 
sight As I entered the managerial sanctum, he 
lowered his bushy eyebrows and scowled at me 
with anything but an engaging expression of 
face. 

" Humph!" was all I could catch of his first greet 
ing. Then, after a slight pause, he said, " Oh, you 
are the new young comedian, eh ? " 

" Yes, sir," I replied. " There is no doubt about 
my being young ; but how much of a comedian I 
am remains to be seen." 

"Humph! quite modest too. Modesty is a good 
thing if it is not carried too far," he said. "Humph! 
where have you been acting lately ? " 

I told him that I had just finished a starring 
engagement in Cumberland. 

" Starring, oh ! Then you are not so modest after 
all," he replied. " I suppose you have heard that 
my present comedian is a failure ? " 

I told him that the welcome news had reached 
me, and as I had also been informed that in con 
sequence of this the gentleman was about to retire 
from the Amphitheater, I made bold to apply for 
the vacancy. 

"Well," said Mr. Foster, "my funny man is cer 
tainly the most dismal piece of humanity I have ever 
met with. I engaged him on his face. I never saw 



120 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

such a comical outside belonging to such a serious 
inside. The man s mug is as funny as Liston s 
whom he resembles, too, very much; large, round 
eyes, fat chops, and a turned-up nose. I thought 
when I first saw him that, like the milkmaid, his 
face was his fortune; but no, as soon as he opens 
his mouth all the humor seems to vanish. But 
now about yourself. I suppose you know that 
our plays, such as Mazeppa/ Dick Turpin/ 
Timour the Tartar/ The Terror of the Road/ 
are not celebrated for good low comedy parts ; 
the actor has a great deal of hard work to do. It 
is what I call physical comedy ; and you are too 
light for that kind of business, I fancy." 

I told him that I regretted this, for if he engaged 
me by the pound, my salary would perhaps be as 
light as myself. 

" But you do not look like a comedian," said he 
to me. " You have a serious, melancholy expres 
sion ; you look more like an undertaker." 

This last remark was rather crushing, so I 
endeavored to put on a jovial, quizzical expres 
sion, and failed. In a short time we arranged 
terms twenty dollars a week, with a third-clear 
benefit The engagement being settled, he gave 
me a part to study for the next play. I acted all 
this season at the Amphitheater, and a curious 
experience it was. The low comedian of a melo 
dramatic theater is generally used as a stop-gap, 
and his artistic efforts are confined to going on 
in " front scenes" and amusing the audience, if 
he can, by speaking some long, dry speech, sup- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 121 

posed to be full of humor, while the carpenters are 
hammering away behind and noisily arranging an 
elaborate set. Under these conditions it is very 
difficult to gain the confidence of an audience, or 
to distract their attention away from the painful 
fact that there is a hitch in the scenery. They 
seem to know that something has gone wrong, 
and decline to be consoled by a feeble comic 
song. 

Upon the initial performance of the nautical 
drama of " Captain Kidd," Mr. Foster had given 
me a long, dismal ditty to sing, in order that I 
might divert the audience in case of an accident. 
It was privately understood between us that as 
soon as the scene was ready he would wave his 
hat at me from the wing as a sign that everything 
was right ; then I was to finish my song and make 
my exit. The much-dreaded accident occurred, 
and I was deputed to go on and distract the audi 
ence, which I certainly did. The lines of the song 

ran thus : 

My name is Captain Kidd, 

As I sailed, as I sailed, 

And wickedly I did, as I sailed, etc. 

There were just twenty-five of these stanzas, 
equally humorous and grammatical. The audi 
ence bore them patiently for the first time, but 
when I looked towards the wing for a comforting 
wave of Foster s hat, to my horror he was not 
there ; so I began again. It is said that republics 
will endure tyranny with more fortitude than 
empires, but it is possible that I had gone too far 



122 . THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



even for the forbearance of our free institutions, 
for many voices in the audience cried out: "No 
more ! We can t stand that again." Other re 
marks were made too numerous and uncompli 
mentary to mention. I still tried to get a 
hearing "as I sailed"; but, with the hammering 
behind the scenes and the hooting in front, my 
efforts failed to make any impression, so I retired 
amidst the confusion. 

Of all theatrical entertainments, the equestrian 
drama is perhaps the most absurd. The actor and 
the horse refuse to unite ; there is nothing of the 
centaur about them. I have seen the tyrant 
Timour the Tartar stride about the stage tem 
pestuously, inspiring the audience with the idea 
that nothing could daunt the imperious spirit 
within him, but as soon as he espied the prancing 
steed that was to bear him to victory his passion 
cooled, and with a lamb-like submission he would 
allow himself to be boosted up into the saddle, 
where he would sit unsteadily, looking the picture 
of misery. 

Foster was a short, stout man, but extremely 
active, and as alert as a lynx. Nothing escaped 
his quick eye. If the house was crowded and the 
drama going well, he was the personification of 
good-nature. At such times he would stand with 
his legs wide apart, his hands clasped behind 
him, his face beaming with smiles, and his eyes 
fairly glistening with delight ; but if the slightest 
hitch took place in the performance, he knew it 
in an instant. He would then jump as if he were 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 123 

shot, rush to the wing, shake his fist at the 
delinquent, and taking his high, black-silk hat 
off his head would trample it under his feet in 
frenzy. 

The grand spectacular drama of "Mazeppa" 
was announced for the Easter holidays, and was 
produced with great splendor. Charles Foster, a 
son of the manager, was cast for the hero. He 
was a handsome, dashing young fellow, possessed 
of considerable dramatic talent, and, added to this, 
was one of the finest riders I have ever seen : his 
graceful figure and youthful appearance fitted him 
perfectly for the romantic lover of the Princess. The 
announcement that this drama was to be produced 
caused a slight commotion in the theater, for there 
was attached to the company an old melodramatic 
actor by the name of Cartlidge ; he had been a 
leading man of Astley s Amphitheater in London 
during the days of the famous Ducrow, and was 
now seventy years of age. I met him at the 
greenroom door just as he came in to look at 
the cast. " I hear they are going to play Ma 
zeppa/" he said, with some, agitation. "Is this 
true?" "Yes," I said; "there is the cast." He 
went over to the cast-case and looked at it in mute 
bewilderment, and then, as if he could not believe 
his eyes, took out his spectacles, wiped the glasses, 
put them on, and stood for a long time gazing in 
blank amazement at the cast As he turned around 
I saw tears in his eyes. He walked slowly out 
of the greenroom, and, going into a dark corner of 
the stage, sat down despondently. I knew pretty 



124 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



well what was the matter with him, so I thought 
I would go up and comfort the old man, for he 
was usually cheerful, and it was sad to see him so 
dejected. 

I sat down beside him and asked him what was 
the matter. He took out a large handkerchief, 
and, burying his face in it, began to sob. After 
he had recovered himself he said, " Foster has cast 
me for the Khan Then turning on me with his 
eyes full of tears and a retrospective look in 
his face, he continued: " Young man, I was the 
original Mazeppa fifty years ago, and now I am 
cast for Mazeppa s father. Why should I not play 
Mazeppa still? I may be a little too old for it, 
but " Here he broke down again, and as he sat 
there with his eyes and his spectacles both full of 
tears he looked more like Mazeppa! s grandfather 
than like Mazeppa. The fact is, if he had been 
cast for the part he would have realized that the 
time had gone by for him to look or act it, and 
he would have declined: the self-inflicted blow 
would have fallen lightly on him; but to receive 
the stroke from another hand was more than he 
could bear. It made him feel that he had outlived 
his usefulness, and brought before his mind the 
glowing days of his youth when he had been 
the idol of Astley s. The painful truth that he 
was getting old and -was no longer wanted came 
suddenly upon him. 

It is natural that the world should smile at the 
old and senile as they are pushed aside, but no 
deposed emperor feels the force of compulsory 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 125 

abdication more than the stage king who has out 
lived the liking of the people. 

" St. George and the Dragon " was the grand 
final production of the season. I was not in the 
play, so I saw the first performance from the front 
of the theater. The opening act ends where the 
seven champions of Christendom assemble to have 
a conference, pledging themselves to stand by one 
another in any emergency. The glittering armor 
of the knights, and the prancing of the fiery steeds 
as the grooms led them on, stirred the audience to 
enthusiasm. 

Young Foster was a picture as the gallant St. 
George of England. His manly form was encased 
in a rather vulnerable armor of pure spangles, and 
he shone like a sheet of silver. At a given cue he 
vaults into the saddle, and waving his bright sword 
and throwing back his fine, classic head, he shouts, 
" Up, knights, and away ! " Now St. Denis of 
France, St. Patrick of Ireland, St. David of Wales, 
St. Andrew of Scotland, and one or two other 
knights mount their chargers and gallop away, 
following their leader, the gallant St. George, as 
the curtain falls upon the animated scene. It so 
happened that St. Denis of France and St. Andrew 
of Scotland had been cast to two actors who were 
not what would be called daring horsemen. All of 
the knights with the exception of these two mounted 
their horses and galloped off in the interest of Chris 
tendom with unmistakable ardor. But the steeds of 
St. Denis and St. Andrew had but little faith in 
their knights, and the knights seemed to have no 



126 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

faith in themselves. This timidity communicated 
itself from one to the other, and as the riders 
hopped about on one leg trying to mount, the 
horses kept going slowly round to avoid any fur 
ther intimacy. The audience was roaring with 
laughter, and I knew by this time that Foster was 
standing on his hat, if not on his head. At last 
the knights made a powerful effort to "bestride 
their foaming steeds." St. Denis, being very tall, 
scrambled up, but overshot the mark. " He o er- 
leaped his saddle," so that his head hung on one 
side and his heels on the other, while the horse 
kept going round with him in this dreadful posi 
tion. At this juncture the curtain came down, 
cutting off the other knight, St. Andrew, and shut 
ting him outside of it and close to the footlights. 
Unfortunately in the excitement of mounting this 
gentleman had got the wrong foot in the stirrup, 
so that the gallant Scotchman found himself in 
pursuit of glory with his face towards the horse s 
tail. Finding that he would make but little pro 
gress towards Christendom in this position, he slid 
gently off behind, still clinging to the bridle, while 
the horse dragged the unlucky warrior across the 
front of the stage. The audience shouted as 
the animal pulled his rider along. The horse 
now changed his tactics, and standing upon his 
hind legs came slowly but surely towards St. 
Andrew, who scrambled for protection into the 
nearest private box. The horse, still on his hind 
legs, looked down on the orchestra as if meditat 
ing a descent upon the musicians, at which the 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 127 

entire band fled " for safety and for succor," some 
of them retreating under the stage, while the 
majority scattered among the audience. The cur 
tain had to be raised and a groom sent on to take 
the poor frenzied animal in. There was now some 
anxiety to know what had become of St. Andrew. 
That gallant Highlander, seeing that the coast 
was clear, jumped out of the private box where 
he had been concealed behind the curtains, and, 
half denuded of his armor, rushed frantically across 
the stage and darted behind the curtain amid the 
unqualified approbation of the audience. 

I was not twenty-one at this time, but being an 
old young man, -and looking upon life perhaps 
more seriously than one should at my age, I 
bethought me that it was time to marry and settle 
down in life. My brother strongly objected to 
this ; he believed that I was too young, and I 
believed that he was jealous. The first serious 
words we ever had were in relation to my pros 
pective marriage, he insisting that my wife and 
I had not known each other long enough to form 
any estimate as to the strength of our attach 
ment; but I was obstinate, and the wedding 
came off. 

I wished this marriage to take place privately, 
well knowing that otherwise my friends of the 
company, from the leading man down, would be 
at the wedding in full force, not so much out of 
compliment, perhaps, as for the purpose of indulg 
ing in that passion for quizzing which seems to 
be so deeply planted in the histrionic breast My 



128 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

betrothed desired that the ceremony should be 
solemnized in church, fearing that ill-luck would 
follow if it came off at any other place. I con 
sented to this. Now I hate to be quizzed, and 
I think most people do ; particularly those who 
indulge in the habit of quizzing others. Revolving 
in my mind, therefore, the best method of avoid 
ing ridicule, I boldly told the company that I was 
to be married at church the following Sunday, . 
after the morning service, and, well knowing that 
they were coming, invited them to witness the 
ceremony. 

The important day arrived. My new lavender 
suit fitted me to perfection ; none of your ready- 
made affairs, but got up by a first-class Chatham 
street tailor, and embodying in its value the sav 
ings of two months salary. With a beating heart, 
and, if I remember rightly, a pair of tight boots, I 
led my young bride to the altar. The wedding 
took place at the old church in Oliver street ; Bar 
ney Williams and my sister acted as groomsman 
and bridesmaid. After the ceremony was over, 
Mr. and Mrs. Williams expressed their surprise at 
the extreme privacy of the whole affair. Williams 
hinted that he had understood that the whole com 
pany would be present in full force. "So they 
would have been, Barney," said I, "but I have sent 
them to the wrong church." 

I was at the time of my marriage acting at the 
Chatham Theater in New York. By my brother s 
influence I was put forward more rapidly than my 
merits deserved ; at least, I think so now, though 




," V" ^ ^ -"^ 
- - : : ;l/ ; 



JUNIUS BRUTUS BOOTH AS "RICHARD THE THIRD." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 129 

at that time I was quite confident that my ability 
was fully equal to the demands made upon it 

When but twenty-two years of age I was cast 
for Marrallm "A New Way to Pay Old Debts," 
the elder Booth playing Sir Giles Overreach. 
There can be no doubt about the fact that I was 
entirely unfit for so important a part ; it is a very 
difficult one, and to give it effect requires that an 
actor should be in his prime, both as to his age and 
his talent A mere boy, with but little physical or 
dramatic strength, coming upon the stage to re 
hearse so important a character, must have been 
rather a shock, and somewhat of a disappointment, 
to the great actor whom he was to support. But 
Mr. Booth wisely made the best of a bad bargain, 
and, instead of annihilating me with a look, took 
much pains to teach me the business of the part 
Surely this was better than disapproval or petu 
lance; for as it was I acquitted myself respect 
ably, whereas it is most likely that I should have 
done the reverse had I met with discouraging 
treatment 

The elder Booth s acting of Sir Giles was indeed 
something to be remembered. During the last 
scene he beats Marrall, who hides for protection 
behind Lord Lovell. Booth s face, when he found 
he could not reach his victim, had the look of an 
uncaged tiger. His eyes flashed and seemed to 
snap with fire ; his nostrils dilated ; his cheeks ap 
peared to quiver ; his half-opened mouth, with its 
thin lips pressed tightly against the white teeth, 
made a picture of anger fearful to look upon. At 



130 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the point where he is about to draw his sword his 
arm shakes, his right hand refuses to do its office, 
and, stricken with paralysis, he stands the embodi 
ment of despair; then come his terrible words of 
anguish and self-reproach : 

Some undone widow sits upon mine arm, 

my sword, 

Glued to my scabbard, with wronged orphans tears. 

His whole frame, shaken with convulsions, seems 
to collapse, his head sinks upon his breast, his jaw 
drops, and the cruel man is dead. There was no 
applause the night I speak of; the acting was so 
intense and so natural that the mimic scene seemed 
really to have happened. 

Mr. Barton Hill related to me an incident that 
occurred during Mr. Booth s performance of this 
same part of Sir Giles Overreach. Mr. Hill was 
acting Lord Lovell, and in the scene where the 
crafty Sir Giles is endeavoring to court the favor 
of his lordship a large, white ostrich feather, which 
formed one of the plumes in LovelVs hat, became 
by some accident detached, and fell in the center 
of the stage. A conspicuous object like this, had 
it been allowed to remain where it fell, would have 
marred the effect of the scene. Booth, seeing the 
mishap, came quickly forward, and, raising th& 
feather from the floor, presented it with becoming 
humility to its owner. This admirable point not 
only removed the obstacle, but heightened the 
effect of the situation. Here was a display not 
merely of presence of mind, but of good taste. It 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 131 

is quite likely that the audience thought it a part 
of the play, and a good part of it too. 

After t.wo seasons of metropolitan stock acting, 
a restless desire for country management again 
seized me. These attacks seemed to have been 
periodical, resolving themselves into a sort of dra 
matic ague, breaking out at regular intervals. 
The fit at this time having laid violent hands upon 
me, I entered into partnership with Mr. John 
Ellsler, whose veins became infused with the virus 
of my managerial enthusiasm. The inoculation 
must have taken admirably too, for he has been in 
management ever since. 

I have seldom had an attack of the old com 
plaint. In fact, I may add that the symptoms 
have entirely disappeared, and in the present en 
joyment of my convalescence I do not see any 
likelihood of a relapse. I do not mean by these 
remarks to disparage theatrical management ; on 
the contrary, I look upon the manager of a stock 
theater, containing a stock company, as a hero 
and a public benefactor. To be successful, he 
must combine force of character and self-control 
with artistic taste and executive talent. He stands 
between the public and the actor, the actor and 
the author; he must judge them all, and unite 
them harmoniously. To contemplate the amount 
of skill and industry that is lavished on the splen 
did dramatic productions of to-day is appalling to 
a man who wishes to enjoy a good night s rest. 
If you have a passion for the dog, the rod, the 
gun, the yacht, or the country, don t think of en- 



132 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

tering into theatrical management. The eye of 
the master is absolutely imperative in the conduct 
of a theater, and only those succeed who give it 
their undivided attention. 

But to return to the managerial partnership 
between Mr. Ellsler and myself. The relations 
between us were very pleasant, for as our lines of 
business were quite distinct, there was no profes 
sional jealousy. Besides this, our duties in the 
management differed widely ; consequently we 
never clashed. He had full control of the front of 
the house, while I managed behind the curtain, 
and I think we enjoyed the fullest confidence in 
each other. 

Our season in Macon was quite good, but in 
Savannah our fortunes had a reverse. From some 
unknown cause the business here was very bad. 
I say "from some unknown cause," for it is charac 
teristic of the members of the theatrical profession 
to attribute their failures to anything or everything 
else but themselves. It is so disheartening to feel 
that we are responsible for the disaster. In mer 
cantile affairs, if losses are incurred, the loser can 
console himself with the fact that it is the merchan 
dise that is worthless ; if an artist s picture be re 
fused admittance to the gallery, it is his work that 
is disregarded ; but if an actor fails, it is himself 
who is neglected. The mortification of a personal 
and public slight is so hard to bear that he casts 
about for any excuse rather than lay the blame 
upon himself. This is unfortunate, for if we only 
had the courage to acknowledge that the fault lies 




THE SAVANNAH THEATER PREVIOUS TO 18! 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 133 

within ourselves, we could more speedily set it 
right ; but to go groping on in the dark, with the 
blind consolation that others are to blame, only re 
tards our advancement. 

As I had been married a year, and our first child 
had just been born, I was naturally beginning to 
feel the weight of a new responsibility. 

It has always been my habit, when anything im 
portant is to be thought over, to get off alone 
somewhere in the woods, or to lock myself up in a 
room, where I can turn the matter over quietly. 
I had left the theater after rehearsal and was walk 
ing along in search of some solitary place where I 
could ruminate. 

Savannah is a lovely city at all times, but in 
April it is like fairy-land. The beautiful Southern 
houses of semi-tropical architecture are surrounded 
with live-oak and magnolia shade-trees, and the 
gardens are laden^with flowers. The city was 
peaceful and quiet too much so for a manager in 
distress. The air was redolent of orange-blossoms 
and bad business. I was looking down one of the 
long, solitary avenues of trees for which this city is 
famous, when in the distance I espied the tall fig 
ure of a man walking leisurely towards me. His 
height was so enormous that I thought some opti 
cal illusion caused by the long vista through which 
I was looking had elongated the gentleman beyond 
his natural proportions. No ; as he came nearer 
he seemed to get taller and taller ; he was at least 
six feet six inches in height. He sauntered lei 
surely along with an elegant carriage and an aristo- 



134 T^E AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

cratic bearing, not assumed, but perfectly natural. 
I had never seen this man until now, but I imagined 
that I knew who he was, for if I was not mistaken 
in his height and appearance I had already heard 
of him. As we approached nearer, his ease and 
confident manner were almost impertinent. He 
had one hand in his pocket, and with the other 
slowly twirled a long, gold-headed cane. As we 
met, there was on his handsome face a self-sufficient 
smile, and he turned his large eyes from one side 
of the street to the other, with the air of a man 
who owned half of Savannah, and was contemplat 
ing the possibility of getting a mortgage on it with 
the ultimate view of purchasing the rest of the city. 
After we had passed I turned to look back, and 
found that he had done the same. We were both 
caught dead : there was no disguising it, so we ap 
proached each other. 

" Pardon me, sir," said I, " if I am mistaken, but* 
are you not Sir William Don ? " 

" Quite right, old chap. How are you ? " he re 
plied. We shook hands and there was a pause. 
He looked at me with a quizzical twinkle in his 
eye, and said : " Well, which is it Jefferson or 
Ellsler? You can t be both, you know." 

I laughed heartily at this ; not so much at what 
he said, which was commonplace enough, but at the 
way in which he said it. I thought to myself, 
"This must be a great comedian." He saw he 
had made a hit, and laughed in the enjoyment of it 

"My name is Jefferson," said I. " Mr. Ellsler 
is my partner." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 135 

" Well, Jeff, old fellow " (as if he had known me 
all his life), " I 11 be frank with you. Here I am, 
a star in search of a manager." 

" Well," I said, " I will be equally frank with 
you. I am a manager in search of a star." 

" Capital ! " said he. " Will I do ? " 

" Will you do ? You are the very man," I replied. 

"Hurrah! We will play Box and Cox to 
gether." Then throwing his arms around me, he 
quoted from the farce, " You are my long-lost 
brother! " 

" Sit down," said I, as we came to a bench, "and 
we will talk terms." 

"What are you going to offer me? Don t be 
modest put it high. Lay on, Macduff, and 
damned be him who first cries, Hold enough ! " 

In our present delightful frame of mind there was 
no difficulty in settling terms we both would have 
agreed to anything. I told him I would give him 
one-third of the gross receipts, with a half clear 
benefit at the end of the week. 

" Quite right ; anything you like. But will your 
partner ratify this ? " 

" Oh, yes," I said. " He attends to the financial 
part of the business, .leaving all matters connected 
with the stage to me ; though, of course, I must 
consult him before we consider the matter settled. 

We walked to the theater, and I introduced 
Ellsler to Don, telling my partner of the arrange 
ment we had made. He acquiesced at once, and 
seemed quite as much pleased at the prospect of 
the baronet s engagement as I was. 



136 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

" Stop," said Don ; " I have just thought of it. 
My wardrobe is in Charleston. Can we get it here 
by Monday ? " 

" Yes ; but we must send for it at once," said I. 

"All right," he replied. "Just let me have 
fifty dollars, and I will telegraph. It s in pawn, 
you know. 3 

" In pawn ? " said I. 

" Yes ; I lost a hundred dollars at poker (queer 
kind of game, is n t it?) on the steamer coming 
from New York ; so I was dead broke when I got 
to Charleston, and I left my traps at my uncle s 
for money to pay my bill at the hotel, you know 
the Charleston Hotel, is n t it ? Large columns 
outside tough steak inside/ 

Matters were all settled, and a bill for the first 
night was arranged " Used Up " and " The 
Rough Diamond." Sir William told me that he 
had a number of letters to the first people in 
Savannah. 

"Don t lose a moment," said I. "Deliver them 
at once. This will sound your arrival through the 
city." 

"All right" said he; "I m off. I wish you 
could go with me ; I should like you to see how 
I cultivate a new acquaintance. No ? Very well 
by-by." And away he went, taking such enor 
mous strides that he looked like the Colossus of 
Rhodes at the beginning of a walking-match. 

My partner and I, congratulating ourselves on 
this new treasure, began making preparations for 
the opening. As I had predicted, the quiet city 




SIR WILLIAM DON. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 137 

began to stir with an undercurrent of aristocratic 
emotion. As the week wore on the tide swelled, 
and by Monday had reached the high-water mark 
of excitement 

The theater on Sir William Don s opening night 
presented a picture of beauty and refinement. Fam 
ilies that seldom visited the house, except on the 
conventional Friday night, crowded the auditorium; 
costly silks and laces fluttered in the dress circle, and 
old-fashioned rose and table-cut diamonds glittered 
in the private boxes. Elderly dames with their white 
hair dressed a la pompadour^ and with long and 
brilliant pendants in their ears, nodded majestically 
to one another, and prim old gentlemen in stiffly 
starched cravats looked coldly on. A live baronet 
was on view! 

The curtain rose, and the play proceeded quietly 
until at last some action revealed that the new star 
was about to shine. The audience leaned forward 
as the center doors opened and the baronet stalked 
upon the stage. As he appeared the applause broke 
forth; fans and handkerchiefs were waved at him 
from all directions, and kid gloves were ruined in 
frantic enthusiasm. The audience at last quieted 
down and the scene proceeded. The people in 
front seemed anxious and nervous : I was in the 
same condition, for I saw that Don, with all his 
assurance, was suffering from stage fright. His 
face was pale as death, and he cast his eyes down 
on the stage. I knew the latter was a bad symp 
tom; he wanted encouragement. I was at the 
first wing, and catching his eye gave him an 



138 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

approving nod. He seemed to take courage, 
and, as the audience began to enjoy his acting, 
warmed up. He finished the great speech of the 
scene, ending with, "I have been to, the top of 
Vesuvius and looked down the crater; there is 
nothing in it." He did this admirably, receiving 
a tremendous round of approbation. As he saun 
tered up the stage he again caught my eye ; and 
giving me a comical wink as the applause was 
continued, he said, so that I could hear him, though 
the audience could not: "It s all right, old chap, 
I Ve got em." 

His engagement proved a great financial success. 
I was disappointed in his acting : he was amusing- 
and effective, but he was an amateur from head to 
foot, which in his case meant a good deal. I am 
of opinion that " once an amateur, always an ama 
teur." There are many good actors that have this 
peculiar, raw quality who have been on the stage 
for years ; and it is because they begin their careers 
by acting leading characters. Mrs. Mowatt and 
James H. Hackett were examples of many in our 
profession who have committed this fatal error. 
No matter how bold and dashing they may appear, 
there is a shyness and uncertainty about everything 
they do. It exhibits itself in the casting of the 
eyes down upon the stage in an embarrassed way 
just after they have made a point. This is very 
disastrous. When a strong effect is made the eye, 
the pose, the very feeling, should be, for an instant 
only, a picture, till the public digest it. If it is dis 
turbed by some unmeaning movement the strength 



GF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 139 

Is lost, and the audience will at once discover that 
they are not looking at a master. This character 
istic of the amateur may wear off in some instances, 
but I do not remember any. 

Sir William went with us to Wilmington, North 
Carolina, where we opened with the stock, he ap 
pearing at the beginning of the second week. The 
audience here did not like his acting ; they seemed 
to prefer our domestic goods to the imported arti 
cle. He saw this, but did not seem to mind it, and 
so bowed to the situation. He became very much 
attached to the company and remained with us 
some time, joining in our fishing and boating par 
ties. His animal spirits were contagious ; and as 
we had no rehearsals, the mornings at least were 
devoted to amusement. We would do the most 
boyish and ridiculous things. Three or four of us, 
himself the central figure, would go through ex 
travagant imitations of the circus and acrobatic 
feats that were then in vogue. "The Bounding 
Brothers of the Pyrenees " was a particular favorite 
with him. We would pretend to execute the most 
dangerous feats of strength lifting imaginary 
weights, climbing on one another s shoulders and 
then falling down in grotesque and awkward atti 
tudes, and suddenly straightening up and bowing 
with mock dignity to an imaginary audience. 
Once he did an act called the "Sprite of the Silver 
Shower," pretending to be a little girl, and tripping 
into the circus ring with a mincing step. Then, 
with a shy look, he would put his finger in his 
mouth, and mounting a table would go through a 



140 . THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

daring bareback feat. Nothing that I ever saw 
was more extravagant. 

While in New York during the next summer, I 
got the following note from Don: 

ST. NICHOLAS HOTEL, June 25, 1851. 

MY DEAR JEFF : I have just arrived from Boston, where I 
have been playing a bad engagement. The modern Athens was 
not overwhelmed by my nobility. The critics went so far as to 
say that I was anything but a good actor. What execrable taste ! 
Well, here I am at the St. Nicholas. Fine rooms, but abomi 
nable cooking; everything tastes alike. I am beginning to think 
that the Frenchman was right when he said that in America you 
had fifty religions but only one gravy. When shall I dine with 
you ? Make it early. I will drop in just as one of the family 
pot-luck, you know. Do not put yourself out for me ; a pair of 
canvasback ducks and a bottle of Johannisberg, or two ; am not 
particular. Yours, DON. 

The day for the dinner was arranged the 
Fourth of July; but as it would have needed a 
journey to the coast of Labrador to get a pair of 
canvasback ducks at that time of the year, I ordered 
roast beef and plum pudding instead. The occa 
sion being a patriotic one, as far as the date was 
concerned, it struck me that an English dinner 
would be in good taste for Sir William. But we 
were doomed to disappointment, for at ten o clock 
in the morning a strange man came to the door 
and gave me the following note from Don: 

LUDLOW STREET JAIL, July 4, 1851. 

MY DEAR JEFF : You will see by the heading of this that I 
have changed my hotel. Was it you or your father who wrote 
the Declaration of Independence ? If it was your ancestor, you 
are not responsible, and I have nothing to say; but if "in the 
course of human events " it was yourself, never hope to be for- 




MRS. J. H. ALLEN. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 141 

given. See what that absurd and unimportant document has 
brought me to. If America were still one of her Majesty s col 
onies, an English nobleman would not be treated with this dis 
respect. Here I am languishing in prison because some old Jew 
says I borrowed one hundred dollars from him on false pretenses. 
(He may think himself lucky that it was not a thousand.) I 
said that I would pay him out of the money I made in Boston. 
Well, I did not make any money in Boston, so I looked upon 
the matter as settled. Come and see me. If you have never 
been in this establishment it will be quite a treat for you. 

Yours, DON. 

Don was a singular character, at once generous 
and unjust, genial and slightly cruel. He would 
borrow from his friend for the purpose of lending 
to his enemy. His wit was charming and original, 
and he was quite unconscious of his own brilliancy, 
apparently setting no value on it. He had that 
thorough contempt for tradesmen which stamps 
this type of English aristocracy, and he would walk 
ten miles to help an old woman or to escape from 
a tailor. > 

The love of management still clung to me, and 
my partner sharing my enthusiasm, we resolved to 
make another trial of our fortunes in the Southern 
circuit. Our limited means compelled us to adopt 
the most economical mode of transportation for the 
company. It was settled, therefore, as it was nec 
essary, that we, the managers, should arrive at 
least a week in advance of the opening of the sea 
son : our passage must be made by rail, while the 
company were to proceed by sea. 

There was in those days a line of schooners that 
plied between Wilmington, N. C., and New York, 



142 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

The articles of transportation from the South con 
sisted mainly of yellow pine, tar, and resin, which 
cargo was denominated " naval stores." Feeling 
confident that we could procure cheap passages for 
our company by contracting with one of these ves 
sels to take them to Wilmington, we determined 
to conclude a bargain with the owners. 

The arrangement was made at a rate that suited 
all parties except, perhaps, the members of the 
company, who, I fear, had some slight misgivings 
lest they were to be conveyed to their destination 
as a kind of ballast. The day was fixed for their 
departure, and Mr. Ellsler and I went down to 
the wharf at Peck Slip to see them off. If we 
had felt any uneasiness before in the thoughts of 
sending our comrades off in this way, what was the 
depth of our remorse when we saw the dreadful 
old tub in which they were to depart. It was an 
ill-shapen hulk, with two great, badly repaired sails 
flapping against her clumsy and foreboding masts. 
The deck and sides were besmeared with the sticky 
remnants of her last importation, so that when our 
leading actor, who had been seated on the taffrail, 
arose to greet his managers, he was unavoidably 
detained. The ladies and gentlemen of the com 
pany were uncomfortably disposed about the ves 
sel, seated on their trunks and boxes that had riot 
yet been stowed away. There were handsome 
John Crocker, our juvenile actor, leaning with 
folded arms and a rueful face against an adhesive 
mast ; pretty Mrs, Allen, then only eighteen years 
old and just married, nestling upon the bosom of 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 143 

her husband, with her lovely dreaming eyes se 
renely wondering, not when they would start, but 
whether they ever would return; Mrs. Ray, the 
first old woman, with an umbrella in one hand and 
a late dramatic paper in the other, sitting on a coil 
of rope and unconsciously ruining her best black 
dress. It was a doleful picture. The captain, too, 
was anything but a skipper to inspire confidence. 
He had a glazed and disheveled look that told of 
last night s booze. Our second comedian, who 
was the reverse of being . droll on the stage, but 
who now and then ventured a grim joke off it with 
better success, told me in confidence that they all 
had been lamenting their ill-tarred fate. Ellsler 
and I bade our company as cheerful an adieu 
as we well could, but there must have been a tinge 
of remorse in our farewell, for, on talking the mat 
ter over as we watched the wretched old craft 
being towed away to sea, we concluded that we 
should not forgive ourselves if our comrades were 
never heard of again. 

On our arrival in Wilmington the days were 
spent in preparing the dusty old rat-trap of a 
theater for the opening, and our nights in wonder 
ing if our party were safe. The uneasiness was 
not lessened, either, by the news that there had 
been bad weather off Cape Hatteras. 

Within a week, however, they arrived, looking 
jaded and miserable. Another week for rest and 
rehearsal, and our labors began. It was custom 
ary in those days, particularly with provincial 
companies, to vary the dramatic bill of fare so as 



144 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

to suit the different tastes of the public. Comedy 
and tragedy were therefore dished up, and I may 
say hashed up, alternately, as for instance Mon 
day : Colman s comedy of "The Poor Gentleman," 
fancy dances by the soubrette, comic songs by the 
second comedian, concluding with the farce of 
"The Spectre Bridegroom." The next evening 
we gave " Romeo and Juliet." 

The name of this latter play calls to mind an 
anecdote connected with its performance in Wil 
mington that will not be amiss at this point. I 
have before said that a portion of my early theat 
rical education was drawn from hard work in the 
paint and property room of a theater, so that when 
I became a manager I delighted in the "get-up," 
as it was technically called, of plays, so far as our 
slender means would permit. To fashion and 
paint a rustic bridge, with a wide board behind it, 
set upon two shaky trestles, for Rob Roy to cross 
over, was a special privilege. A profile boat for 
the "Lady of the Lake" was another delight 
This perfectly unsafe-looking skiff was always set 
on a trunk mounted upon four little wooden 
wheels that no amount of black-lead could induce 
to keep from squeaking. The rope must be stead 
ily pulled the slightest jerk and over goes her 
ladyship into the gauze waters. But let us return 
to the story. 

"Romeo and Juliet" being announced, I felt 
that the balcony scene should have some atten 
tion, and I conceived a simple and economical idea 
that would enable me, at a day s notice, to produce 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 145 

the effect in a manner " hitherto unparalleled in 
the annalS of the stage." Skirmishing about the 
wharves and the ship-chandlers , I chanced to light 
upon a job lot of empty candle-boxes. By taking 
a quantity the cardboards were thrown in, and 
nothing makes a finer or more imposing but un 
substantial balustrade than cardboard. The boxes, 
placed one by one on top of each other and painted 
a neat stone color, formed a pleasing architectural 
pile. Before the play began I had cautioned Ju 
liet that when " she leaned her cheek upon her 
hand " she should let her elbow rest gracefully but 
lightly on the frail structure that was to support 
it. Romeo also had to be cautioned, for as the 
house of Capulet was already about his ears, it 
was necessary that at least his shins should es 
cape any contact with the foundation. The scene 
opened with a backing of something, supposed to 
represent the distant city of Verona, with my new 
balcony in the foreground. Romeo and Juliet 
were warm and energetic in their love passages, 
but still acted with becoming care and gentle con 
sideration for the balcony about which they flut 
tered. All seemed to be going well till presently 
there came the sound of half-suppressed laughter 
from the audience. "Crocker," said I from the 
wing, " are you shaking the balcony ? " " No/* he 
whispered; "I have n t touched it." "What are 
they laughing at, then ? " " Can t imagine," said 
he. The laughter increased, and it was quite evi 
dent that something not announced in the bills 
had gradually attracted the attention of the audi- 



146 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

ence till at last the whole house had discovered 
the mishap. Juliet retreated in amazement and 
Romeo rushed off in despair, and down came the 
curtain. 

I rushed upon the stage to find out what had 
occurred, when to my horror I discovered that one 
of the boxes had been placed with the unpainted 
side out, on which was emblazoned a semicircular 
trade-mark, setting forth that the very corner-stone 
of Juliet s balcony contained twenty pounds of the 
best " short sixes." 

From Wilmington we journeyed to Charleston, 
South Carolina, where, after three weeks of stock 
and star, we were joined by Julia Dean. Julia 
Dean and I had been in the utility ranks of the 
Mobile Theater during the management of Ludlow 
& Smith, and as this firm was noted for the econ 
omy of its organization, we were made good use 
of. In the various dramas produced during this 
season Julia and I had gone hand in hand, alter 
nately espousing the cause of tyranny and virtue 
for the small sum of six dollars a week. For this 
reward we were content to change our politics and 
our costumes at the will of the stage-manager. As 
brigands, gentle shepherds, or communists we 
gained our daily bread together. We changed 
our religion without the slightest compunction ; as 
Catholics we massacred the Huguenots, while as 
Pilgrims we bade a sad adieu to our native land, 
from which we had been driven by religious perse 
cution. Lay or secular, it mattered not to us. So 
we trudged on, with perhaps a lurking thought that 
some day we might lead to victory as we were then 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 147 

following to the death. Straightway comes a 
change; not for me, but for my gentle comrade. 
Let me recall the scene. The greenroom is in 
a high state of excitement ; a lady has fainted and 
is borne to her dressing-room "insensible"; the 
prompter, George Stanley, brings intelligence to 
the stage-manager that she is too ill to act. The 
play to be given is " Wives as They Were and 
Maids as They Are." The audience must be dis 
missed unless some one can be found to read the 
part. The economy before referred to has permit 
ted no overflow of genius to glut our dramatic corps, 
so that impromptu talent is a scarce commodity 
with us. Stanley suggests, " Perhaps Miss Dean 
can do it." " Oh, no, impossible ! " replies the man 
ager ; and then a gentle but clear and steady voice 
says, " I think I can, sir." What, quiet, shy, and 
modest Julia ! Whence comes the courage to avow 
all this ? It does not spring from vanity she has 
none ; it is begot of that honest confidence which 
often underlies ability; "it wins the manager, who 
in his dilemma clutches at a straw. While the 
sweet volunteer is robing herself in the dress of 
Lady Priory, left by the invalid, a friend reads the 
lines of the first scene to Julia, who drinks them 
in with eagerness ; and the audience are told that 
they must be charitable to the young novice. 

The play proceeds and Lady Priory enters ; we, 
her comrades, are standing at the wing. Take 
courage, girl! There beats not here one heart 
that envies you. The gentle eyes are raised, so 
full of innocence and truth, and now she speaks. 
Who ever thought that Julia harbored such a voice 



148 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

so low, so sweet, and yet so audible ! It sinks 
deep into the hearts of all who listen. They are 
spellbound by her beauty, and as she gives the 
lines with warm and honest power a murmur of de 
light runs through the house, and from that moment 
our lovely friend is famous. 

Just seven years after this I found myself mana 
ger in Charleston, and Julia Dean, then the lead 
ing juvenile actress of America, engaged to play a 
star engagement in my theater, I was rather proud 
to feel that while my young friend had in the mean 
time risen to be a brilliant star I was at least a 
manager, if not a successful one. On the morning 
of her arrival in Charleston I called at the hotel to 
pay my respects. I sent up my card. I knew she 
would smile at the very idea of my having a card ; 
so I wrote in pencil under my name, "All the util 
ity people wanted at ten for the country dance." 
As the door opened I entered her drawing-room. 
She burst out laughing, and, giving me both hands 
in the frankest way, said, " So here we are again." 
The tall lanky figure of a girl of sixteen, with deep 
blue eyes and golden hair, had rounded into the 
graceful figure of a charming woman. 

Mr. Ellsler and I had been struggling along 
in the old up-and-down way, but were looking for 
ward to an improvement in business as soon as our 
new star should shine and shine she did. The 
town fairly went wild with enthusiasm. The star 
was fted and entertained by those to whom she 
would vouchsafe her presence. All vied in paying 
homage to her beauty and her virtue. She received 
these attentions with simple dignity and grace un- 




HENRY PLACIDE. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 149 

spoiled by flattery or success, and in those days of 
her artistic splendor she delighted to laugh and 
chat over the olden time when we marched together 
in the glorious preparatory ranks. The success 
of this engagement was an event in the annals 
of Charleston theatricals. At the end of the first 
week we shared $900 each think of it, $900. 
My partner was more sedate than I, and I fancy 
took his good fortune with a quiet, philosophic air. 
But for me, I was in the clouds, a plutocratic com 
edian ! During the whole week I had been covet 
ously eying two watches in the jeweler s window 
of Hayden & Greg one a small, blue enameled 
one, having a real diamond in the center, with 
which I intended to, and did, surprise my wife ; 
the other a patent eighteen-carat lever, with which 
I was bent upon astonishing myself. These pur 
chases were eventually made, absorbing a large 
portion of our profits. 

I had my watch for many years. It was a 
true and valuable friend. I will not say that 
we never parted; there were moments of em 
barrassment when a temporary separation was 
imperative. 

The following season I was engaged to act the 
" first comedy " under the stage-management of 
Mr. John Gilbert, at the Chestnut Street Theater. 
This being a period when stars were rare and 
combinations unknown, the regular companies were 
fully commissioned, and generally supplied with 
excellent actors. 

At the Arch, Wheatley & Drew had a most 
popular stock company, and the ladies and gentle- 



10* 



150 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



men attached to it were undoubtedly the dramatic 
heroes of the city. 

Our company at the Chestnut Street was not 
quite so capable, but we produced the standard 
plays with considerable effect, and were thought, 
by ourselves at least, to be formidable rivals of 
the other actors. I had played Dr. Ollapod and 
Bob Acres before, so that in these characters I was 
comparatively at home ; but when the cast of the 
"Heir-at-Law" appeared in the greenroom I felt 
rather nervous, though, of course, I was delighted 
at the prospect of acting the important part of 
Dr. Pangloss. But now there came upon me a 
dreadful mortification. The speeches of the erudite 
doctor are filled with classical quotations, and as 
I knew but little of Latin and nothing of Greek 
there was only this course left me, I must go to 
Mr. Gilbert and confess my ignorance. That gen 
tleman kindly offered to assist me in mastering 
the classics, at least so far as the learned doctor 
was concerned. 

The first thing to be accomplished was to get 
at the exact meaning of the quotations, that they 
might be delivered with intelligence. And the 
next and really most important point was to 
familiarize myself with the correct pronunciation 
of them. In two or three days we accomplished 
this to our mutual satisfaction, and when acting 
the part I gave out the quotations with such gusto 
and confidence that I am quite sure the audience 
was convinced that it was listening to a very 
learned fellow. I do not feel any remorse, how 
ever, at the imposition, for I have no doubt that 




CHESTNUT STREET THEATER, PHILADELPHIA. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 151 

two-thirds of the spectators who applauded my 
pronunciation of Greek and Latin knew as little 
about the matter as I did. 

In 1853 I became stage-manager at the Balti 
more Museum for Henry C. Jarrett. He was 
known as the railroad manager, from a habit he 
had contracted of getting up excursions between 
Washington and Baltimore. These flying trips 
were both startling and inconvenient for nervous 
actors, as he would frequently arrange for one of 
his stars to play a short piece for the opening 
performance in Baltimore, and then hasten him, 
on a-mile-a-minute trip, to Washington, in a spe 
cial train, terminating the entertainment in the 
latter city with the same attraction. 

On one occasion he produced the " School for 
Scandal " at the capital with a cast so strong, 
including as it did the first comedians of the day, 
that some account of it here may be interesting. 
The characters were distributed as follows: 

Sir Peter Teazle MR. HENRY PLACIDE. 

Charles Surface MR. J. E. MURDOCH. 

Joseph Surface MR. J. W. WALLACK. 

Sir Benjamin Backbite MR. I. M. DAWSON. 

Crabtree MR. THOMAS PLACIDE. 

Sir Oliver Surface MR. GEORGE ANDREWS. 

Moses MR. JOSEPH JEFFERSON. 

Snake MR. EDWIN ADAMS. 

Careless, with song MR. A. H. DAVENPORT. 

Rowley . MR. ELLIS. 

Sir Harry Bumper MR. J. M. BARRON. 

Trip MR. J. B. HOWE. 

Lady Teazle Miss LIZZIE WESTON. 

Mrs. Candor Miss KATE HORN. 

Maria Miss MARY DEVLIN. 

Lady Sneerwell MRS. JANE GERMON. 



152 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Being stage-manager, of course I was delighted 
to have this vast array of talent under my direction. 
Naturally my position on this occasion was a sine 
cure, as there was but little to do in the way of 
management These great lights had been accus 
tomed to manage themselves, and were not likely 
to expect advice or to brook it from a young 
ster like me; so I was contented to get the 
credit of arranging the whole affair, which had 
really cost me but little thought or labor. I fancy 
though, from what I remember of myself about 
that time, that I went about with a wise and pro 
found look, as though the destiny of nations rested 
on my head. I have since seen older men than I was 
assume this importance. 

The undoubted hero of this occasion was Mur 
doch in the character of Charles Surface. James 
E. Murdoch, as an actor, was not only extremely 
versatile, but entirely original. Neither the popu 
larity of Forrest nor the fame of Booth could tempt 
him to an imitation of either of these tragedians, 
and his comedy was equally free from resembling 
the style of the Wallacks or that of Charles Kem- 
ble for the school of the latter was still lingering 
upon the stage. I do not mean to say that the 
traditions of these great actors were not worth 
preserving. On the contrary, they possessed, from 
all accounts, a dignity and finish that would be 
welcome at any time. I cite the fact to show that 
Mr. Murdoch, though I feel sure that he admired 
the great ones that had gone before and were sur 
rounding him, while he strove to emulate, dis- 




JAMES E. MURDOCH. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 153 

dained to imitate them. He stood alone, and I do 
not remember any actor who excelled him in those 
parts that he seemed to make especially his own. 
He was one of the few artists that I can call to 
mind who were both professed elocutionists and 
fine actors. 

There was a manliness about his light comedy 
that gave it more dignity than the flippant style in 
which it was usually played. This method ele 
vated the characters exceedingly. Charles Sur 
face, Major Oakly, and young Mirabel cannot be 
acted with the same free and easy manner that 
might be thrown into Richard Dazzle, Littleton 
Coke, or Mr. Golightly. I do not say this in con 
tempt of these latter characters ; they are natural 
pictures of modern men, but they are eccentric 
rather than elegant. I saw Charles Mathews in 
the part of Charles Surface, and it was a failure. 
He had been for years acting the London man- 
about- town style of character, and the modern air 
and rather trifling manners, which were admirable 
when introduced into those parts, were entirely 
out of place in old English comedy. The quaint- 
ness of the language and the fashion of the cos 
tume seemed to demand a courtly carriage, which 
a modern swagger, with one s hands thrust into 
one s breeches pockets, will fail to give. It was 
the finish and picturesque style of Murdoch s act 
ing that agreeably surprised the audience of the 
Haymarket Theater when this actor played there 
some forty years ago. The public was unprepared 
to see comely old English manners so conspicuous 



154 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

in an American actor, and he gained its sympathy 
at once. The modern light comedians, with a few 
exceptions, seem to have discarded the quaint 
manners of the stage, thinking them antiquated 
and pedantic. And so they were, for modern 
plays; but it is dangerous to engraft new fashions 
upon old forms. I should as soon expect to see 
Mercutio smoke a cigarette as to find him ambling 
about the stage with the mincing manners of a 
dude. 

And speaking of this very character, Charles 
Mathews told me that, during Macready s Shak- 
sperean revivals at Drury Lane Theater, he was 
engaged to play Roderigo, in which light and friv 
olous part he made such a hit that Macready tried 
to persuade him to act Mercutio. He was de 
lighted with the idea at first, but upon reading 
and pondering over the part he felt convinced 
that it was beyond him. Macready urged, but 
Mathews would not undertake the part. Some 
years afterward Charles Kemble returned to 
the stage for a short farewell engagement and 
acted Mercutio. " Oh," said Mathews, "when I 
saw this elegant and manly actor dash across the 
stage with the confident carriage of a prince, and 
heard him read the lines of Shakspere as though 
they had been written for him, I felt that I had 
made a fortunate escape in dodging this first gen 
tleman of Verona." 

The next important figure to James E. Mur 
doch, in the powerful cast of the " School for 
Scandal " just referred to, was the Sir Peter 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 155 

Teazle of Henry Placide. It was one of this act 
or s most striking characters. His style, during 
the latter part of his career, was said to have been 
founded on that of William Farren, the great Eng 
lish actor. If so, from all the accounts we get of 
Mr. Farren, the model was superb. Henry Pla 
cide was considered a finished artist, but somewhat 
cold and hard in his manner. These features, 
however, though they mar the more delicate points 
in acting, would be less objectionable in Sir Peter 
than in most of the old men in English comedy. 
Except in the scene where he speaks feelingly of 
his wife to Joseph Surface, the part is stiff, testy, 
and formal ; the humor is dry rather than unctu 
ous. The career of Henry Placide was long and 
brilliant. He was a strong feature of the old Park 
Theater for many seasons, and starred in the prin 
cipal cities of America with success. He was an 
acknowledged favorite, whose talents as an actor 
made him a valued member of the theatrical 
profession. 

I remember that during the rehearsal of the 
" School for Scandal " I was impressed with the 
idea that the performance would not go well. It 
is always a difficult matter to bring a company of 
great artists together for a night and have them 
act in unison with one another ; not from any ill- 
feeling, but from the fact that they are not accus 
tomed to play together. In a fine mechanical 
contrivance, the ease and perfection with which it 
works often depend upon the fact that the cog 
wheels have their different proportions. On this 



156 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

occasion they were all identical in size, highly pol 
ished, and well made, but not adapted to the same 
machinery. Seeing a hitch during the rehearsal 
in one of the important scenes, I ventured, in my 
official capacity, to make a suggestion to one of 
the old actors. He regarded me with a cold, 
stony gaze, as though I had been at a great dis 
tance, which I was, both in age and in experi 
ence, and gave me to understand that there was 
but one way to settle the matter, and that that was 
his way. Of course, as the company did not com 
prise the one regularly under my management, I 
felt that it would be becoming in me to yield ; 
which I did, not, however, without protesting that 
the position I took was the proper and only one 
under the circumstances; and when I saw the 
scene fail and virtually go to pieces at night, I 
confess that I felt some satisfaction in the know 
ledge that my judgment had been correct. In fact 
the whole entertainment, while it had been a finan 
cial success, was an artistic failure. People won 
dered how so many great actors could make a 
performance go off so tamely. 

Harmony is the most important element in a 
work of art. In this instance each piece of mosaic 
was perfect in form and beautiful in color, but 
when fitted together they matched badly and the 
effect was crude. An actor who has been for years 
the main attraction in his plays, and on all occa 
sions the central and conspicuous figure of the en 
tertainment, can scarcely be expected to adapt 
himself at once to being grouped with others in 




EDWIN FORREST ABOUT 1835. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 157 

one picture: having so long performed the solo, it 
is difficult to accompany the air. A play is like a 
picture : the actors are the colors, and they must 
blend with one another if a perfect work is to be 
produced Should they fail to agree as to the 
value and distribution of their talents, then, though 
they be ever so great, they must submit their case 
to the care and guidance of a master hand. 

In the year 1854 I became manager for John T. 
Ford of the theater in Richmond, Virginia. The 
romantic drama of " The Sea of Ice " was produced 
with splendid success, and was followed by "The 
Naiad Queen," which enjoyed equal popularity. 
The season was altogether quite a brilliant one, 
and included among its attractions some of the 
first stars of the country. Miss Agnes Robertson, 
known as the " Fairy Star," accompanied by her 
husband, Mr. Dion Boucicault, headed the list, 
which terminated with Edwin Forrest. This popu 
lar tragedian was then in his prime, and what a 
handsome fellow he was ! The form of an Apollo, 
with the strength of a Hercules : his deep, musical 
voice was under perfect control, and in the pathetic 
scenes of Cade and Virginius full of tears. As a 
melodramatic actor he stood ahead of all his com 
petitors. In Shaksperean characters he was con 
sidered too robust and extravagant. So far as 
matters relating to his own profession were con 
cerned, he was undoubtedly a student, his readings 
being faultless, and full of feeling. In private he 
could be very agreeable ; his conversation was both 
humorous and witty, and his anecdotes were told 



158 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

with excellent effect. During my long professional 
life I met him frequently, and I should say that 
much of his unhappiness for he was a very un 
happy man came from an irritable temper, under 
little control. His nature, unfortunately, was not 
softened by that sweet and gradual ascent to good 
fortune that is so humanizing. Happy are those 
who in the race for fame advance steadily and by 
degrees, making no hurried strides, but losing no 
ground; shaking hands with their competitors as 
they go by them, and making honest room for them 
to pass should they come up again. Forrest with 
one leap bounded to the front. No new triumphs 
awaited him, and as old age came on he could only 
witness younger and fleeter metal pass him by. 
During those fits of anger which came upon him 
from the inefficiency of his dramatic support he 
was childish and unreasonable having no power 
of recognizing the distinction between a man who 
tries his best and fails, and he who fails because he 
does not try at all. 

During the engagement of which I am about to 
speak, and on one occasion while we were rehears 
ing " Damon and Pythias," Edwin Adams, who 
was cast for Pythias, was going through the excit 
ing scene in which that character parts with Ca- 
lanthe. Forrest took exception to the business 
arrangements of the stage ; but as this was one of 
his quiet, dignified mornings, he made his objec 
tions with respectful deference, saying that if Mr. 
Adams would allow him he would suggest some 
new business that might improve the scene. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 159 

Adams expressed himself as quite willing to receive 
any instruction ; so Forrest went through the part 
ing with Calanthe, giving some new and very good 
suggestions. Adams tried but failed to catch For 
rest s idea. It was tried over and over till finally 
Forrest became impatient. Again taking Adams s 
place, he rushed towards the fainting form of Ca- 
lanthe, and as he dropped upon his knee, throwing 
his head tragically forward, his hat fell off. Now 
it is always a comical thing to see a man s high 
black-silk hat tumble from his head, but especially 
when he is going through a tragic scene. Forrest 
for a moment hesitated whether he should pause 
and pick up the hat or not ; at last he made a sav 
age grab for it, but it eluded his grasp, and, slip 
ping through his fingers, rolled round the stage, 
he pursuing it with tragic passion. The company, 
one by one, turned their heads away, quietly en 
joying his discomfiture, At last he secured it, and 
fixing it firmly on his head, he proceeded with the 
action of the scene. He felt we had been laughing 
at him, and became furious. Rushing upon Ca- 
lanthe, he embraced her again and again. "Fare 
well, my love," cried he in dire woe. He then 
tore himself from her embrace, and madly career 
ing up the stage ran head first into a scene that 
the carpenters were moving across the stage, 
mashing the unlucky hat over his eyes. He 
struggled manfully to get it off, but with no effect 
till Adams and I came to the rescue. We 
were now all in a roar of laughter. For a moment 
he looked bewildered and even angry, but as the 



160 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

absurdity of the scene dawned upon him he joined 
in the merriment, and declared it was the most 
ridiculous thing that had ever occurred. 

At the conclusion of the Richmond engagement 
the company journeyed to Washington, where we 
were to open with Forrest as Metamora a char 
acter that he detested, and one that the public ad 
mired. Forrest was always in a state of intense 
irritation during the rehearsal and performance of 
this drama. Irregularities that he would have 
overlooked under ordinary circumstances were 
now magnified to an enormous size, so that when 
he donned the buckskin shirt, and stuck the hunt 
ing-knife of the American savage in his wampum 
belt, he was ready to scalp any offending actor 
who dared to cross his path. The copper-colored 
liquid with which he stained his cheeks might 
literally have been called "war paint." 

At the rehearsal the poor property man, old 
Jake Search, got in a dreadful state of nervous 
ness, and everything went wrong. The tragedian 
naturally held me, as stage-manager, responsible 
for these accidents, particularly as the unlucky 
Jake would conceal himself behind set pieces, or 
mysteriously disappear through traps as each 
mishap occurred. In the midst of this dreadful 
confusion, principally brought about by his own 
ill humor, Forrest turned on me, saying he would 
not act that night, and strode out of the theater. 
I hurried through the front of the house, and 
heading him off in the alley addressed him, as 
nearly as I can remember, in the following words : 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 161 

" Mr. Forrest, before you decide upon this step 
let me state an important fact, that perhaps has 
not crossed your mind." He saw I was in earn 
est, and stopped short to listen, as I resumed: 
" Mr. Ford, the manager, is absent, so I must 
take his responsibility to the public on myself. 
The blunders on the stage this morning have been 
unfortunate, perhaps culpable, but you must par 
don me for saying that your excited manner and 
somewhat unreasonable demands have contributed 
not a little to confuse the company and bring 
about this disorder. But be that as it may, there 
is another and still more important matter to 
consider. Every seat in the theater is taken for 
to-night ; the audience will crowd the house in ex 
pectation of a great dramatic treat, to which they 
have been looking forward for some time. If 
you decline to act, and so break your contract 
with the public, what course is left for me? 
Why, only this: I must wait for the vast con 
course of people to assemble, and then go before 
them and explain the reason of your non-appear 
ance. I shall have to make a clear statement of 
the case, and say that you have refused to act 
because there were some slight discrepancies and 
irregularities in the rehearsal. The public are, 
you know, quite unreasonable when their diver 
sion is checked, and it is likely that they will be 
indignant at the disappointment, failing to see 
the reason as clearly as you may have done. 
Now consider for a moment : under these circum 
stances will it not be more magnanimous in 



162 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

you to overlook the shortcomings and go on 
with the rehearsal ? " 

He paused for a moment and said : " I will not 
go back to the rehearsal. I am too much excited, 
and my presence on the stage now will only make 
matters worse ; but if you will see that details are 
attended to, I will act to-night." 

I promised to do so, and we parted. I was 
only too glad to get rid of him on those terms, in 
his then intemperate state of mind. I went back 
to the stage and dismissed the rehearsal, caution 
ing the actors to do what they could to render the 
night s performance creditable. I now began to 
hunt up the delinquent and frightened property 
man, Jake Search, an appropriate name for a 
fellow who needed so much looking after, and 
discovered him hiding under a pile of old scenery. 
"Is he gone?" said Search. " Yes," I answered, 
"but he will return to-night; so see that your 
properties are in good condition, or he will be 
the death of you." 

The night came and matters progressed favor 
ably until the council scene. One of the char 
acters here, being overcome with nervousness, 
reversed his questions to Metamora, giving the 
wrong lines, and of course receiving an absurd an 
swer. The audience, recognizing the confusion 
of the dialogue, began to laugh, and of course this 
made matters worse. The act terminates with the 
Indian s great speech, " From the east to the west, 
from the north to the south, the loud cry of ven 
geance shall be heard," and here he hurls his knife 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 163 

into the center of the stage, where it quivers a de 
fiance as the curtain falls. In his anger and ex 
citement the blade failed to stick in the stage and 
bounded into the orchestra, the handle hitting the 
double-bass player on the top of his head, which 
was as innocent of hair as a billiard-ball, so as the 
curtain came down the old fellow was stamping 
about and rubbing his bald pate to the delight of 
the audience. 

I realized now that the storm had burst in 
earnest, and that a total wreck would soon follow. 
Knowing that I could not avert the catastrophe, 
and having no desire to face the tragedian s wrath, 
like a politic but disloyal captain I deserted the 
ship and went in front to see it go down. Byron 
says of a battle, "Oh, what a sight to him who 
has no friend or brother there ! " to which Prentice 
adds, "and is not there himself." The latter was 
now my case. I was not there myself, and I did 
not intend to be, so from the secure corner of an 
upper private box I watched the progress of the 
most disastrous performance I had ever seen. 

As the curtain rises on the last act the tribe of 
Metamora should rush through the woods as their 
leader calls them ; but by this time the braves 
were so frightened that they had become demoral 
ized, and as the foremost rushed through the 
opening in the woods his long bow got crosswise 
between two trees. This not only precipitated 
the redskin over it, but the entire tribe followed, 
tumbling head over heels into the middle of the 
stage. I trembled now lest the "big Injun " 



164 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



would refuse to put in an appearance. At last, 
to my relief, the audience quieted down, and 
Forrest strode upon the stage. If I remember 
the story, at this point Metamoras wife and chil 
dren had been stolen away and murdered. His 
pathos was fine, and by his magnificent acting 
he reduced his audience to attention and enthusi 
asm. All was now going well, and I looked 
forward to a happy termination of the play, which 
I was thankful to know had nearly reached its 
climax. 

A funeral pile of burning fagots was then brought 
on, at which some pale-face was to be sacrificed. 
The two Indians in charge of this mysterious- 
looking article set it down so unsteadily that a 
large sponge, saturated with flaming alcohol, tum 
bled off and rolled down the stage, leaving a track 
of fire in its wake. " Put it out ! " said Forrest, 
" put it out ! " whereupon the two Indians went 
down on their knees and began to blow alter 
nately in a seesaw way, singeing each other s 
eyebrows at every puff. The audience could not 
stand this comical picture, and began to break 
forth in laughter. " Let the theater burn ! " roared 
Forrest. At last one tall Indian, supposed to be 
second in command, majestically waved off the two 
who were blowing, and stamped his foot with force 
and- dignity upon the flaming sponge, at which a 
perfect fountain of burning alcohol spouted up 
his leather legs. He caught fire, tried to put 
himself out, rubbing and jumping about franti 
cally, and at last danced off the stage in the most 




FORREST AS "METAMORA," 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 165 

comical agony. Forrest made a furious exit ; the 
curtain was dropped, and the public, in perfect 
good nature, dispersed. I mingled with the crowd 
as it went forth, and I never saw the faces of an 
audience, at the end of a five- act comedy, wreathed 
in such smiles. 

Forrest s first dramatic career in London was 
undoubtedly a success, though " The Gladiator " 
was an unwise selection for the opening night 
It is a bloody piece of business altogether, and it 
is a play that could not fail to disgust the sensi 
bilities of a select audience. An actor visiting 
England, as Forrest did, not only with a great 
reputation, but as unquestionably at that time 
the representative tragedian of America, naturally 
drew the first people of the land to meet him. It 
must be borne in mind that a first night s audience 
never represents - the general public, particularly 
on an occasion of this kind. The event was an 
international one. It was the first dramatic chal 
lenge that America had ever given to England. 
The theater was filled with a critical audience. 
Statesmen and authors, with the nobility and gen 
try of the land, were assembled at Drury Lane to 
witness the debut. 

Upon an audience like this the most delicate 
coloring would have had its effect An artist 
could scarcely be too subtle before an array of 
such nice discrimination. When the American 
actor came upon the stage the symmetry of his 
form, his manly bearing, and the deep music of 
his voice produced a strong impression upon the 



166 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

house ; but as the play progressed, revealing only 
the tumult of brutal passions, disappointment fell 
upon the audience. This crude and extravagant 
drama ends with the central figure bathed in 
blood, biting the dust, and writhing in the agonies 
of death. Nothing but the fine acting of Forrest 
could have sustained this drama before such an 
audience. 

As an actor he was a success, and the play, that 
caught the public taste, if it failed to please the 
judicious, was acted for several nights. There can 
be no doubt that if he had played Lear or Othello 
before the rare audience that came to- witness his 
debut, and which he could not hope again to 
assemble in such force, his success as a Shak- 
sperean tragedian would have been pronounced. 

Forrest s second visit was full of tumult. Wil 
liam Macready, then the reigning favorite as a 
Shaksperean actor in England, was an intimate 
friend of Mr. Forster, the dramatic critic; and 
Forrest publicly declared that it was in conse 
quence of this intimacy that he had been abused 
in the papers, and more than hinted that Mac- 
ready was in a conspiracy with Forster to malign 
him. History will never join with Forrest in this 
belief, Macready s position was so well assured 
in London that he could not possibly fear a rival. 
And the lifelong record of Macready clearly 
shows that he was too honorable a man meanly 
to connive at another s downfall. 

After his engagement was over Forrest went to 
see his rival act, and because the latter introduced 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 167 

some business that Forrest disapproved of he 
hissed Macready from the front of the house. To 
say that this was in bad taste is to put too mild a 
disapproval upon such a rude and unprofessional 
act. It was the culmination of Forrest s wayward 
ness and ill temper. But the unfavorable notices 
in London had stung him to the quick. The virus 
of adverse criticism rankled in his veins. The 
eagle of the American stage was in a frenzy ; his 
plumage had been ruffled by the British lion. So 
giving that intolerant animal one tremendous 
peck, he spread his wings and sailed away. 

I have no doubt that he had often acted Othello, 
Lear, and perhaps Hamlet with all that care and 
study could compass, but the audience refused to 
respond ; and knowing that there was a " lurking 
devil" in him, they sat dumb and sullen until it 
was let loose. 

A dramatic critic told me that he was paid a 
stated sum of money to go to the theater regu 
larly every night during Forrest s engagements at 
the Broadway Theater in 1856, for the purpose of 
writing him down. This gentleman (?) had lately 
come from England, and until this time had 
scarcely seen a Shaksperean play. He was a 
fluent writer, but had not the remotest idea of the 
thought and philosophy contained in the plays of 
which he was to write. He said he would get a 
book of the tragedy that was to be acted at night, 
read it up, then form his own conception of how 
the character should be acted, and if Forrest did 
not render it to his way of thinking, which for- 



168 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

tunately for the public he never did, he, as the 
critic, would cut the actor all to pieces. These 
criticisms did more good to the actor than harm. 
Unjust abuse generally has this effect Feeling 
that these articles were actuated only by malice, 
the public came in crowds to indorse the actor. 
Unfortunately the tragedian lost his temper and 
addressed the audience from the stage, pleading 
his own case and hurling anathemas at "the irre 
sponsible assassins of the pen." There was no 
necessity for this. His friends had already taken 
up cudgels for him and rallied to his support. It 
was like a successful candidate asking his constitu 
ents, after they have elected him, to add to the 
obligation by throwing his unsuccessful rival out 
of the window. 

Edwin Forrest, with all his faults, had warm and 
generous impulses. I know of one instance where 
a poor, old actress went to him in distress. In 
former years he had known her father and respec 
ted him. Touched by her appeal for assistance, 
he lent her a large sum of money, with the almost 
certain knowledge that he would never get it back 
again. It was never made public; no one knew 
of it but the receiver and myself. The Forrest 
Home has done much good, and is likely to do 
more; and those actors who either by age or 
by infirmities have been debarred the privilege of 
following their profession will naturally be grateful 
for this rich legacy. 

Even in the days of his theatrical fame and pros 
perity Forrest was an austere man, and as he grew 




FORREST AS "KING LEAR." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 169 

older he became morbidly misanthropical, holding 
himself aloof from all but his most intimate friends. 
The latter part of his life was embittered, too, by 
illness and the loss of public favor. Until the clos 
ing years of his career he had been blessed with 
perfect health; this became suddenly shattered, 
and the unexpected attack wrecked his dramatic 
power. He might have borne the stroke of illness, 
but to one whose imperious nature could not brook 
the faintest slight the loss of public admiration was 
a heavy blow ; one, too, that would have shocked 
a wiser and more even-tempered man than Edwin 
Forrest. Still he toiled on, and was unjustly cen 
sured for acting past his powers. But what was 
he to do ? His physicians told him that he must 
act if he would live ; the wheel must be kept in 
motion or it would fall. His performances in the 
larger cities were given to empty houses, while 
bright and youthful aspirants were drawing from 
him all his old adherents. His former friends for 
sook him, and naturally, too ; they could not bear 
the pain of witnessing their favorite of other days 
declining night by night. No actor can hope to 
hold an interest in his audience merely by what he 
has done in years gone by ; in acting it is the pres 
ent that the public have to deal with, not the past. 
To witness age and decrepitude struggling to con 
ceal their weakness in the mimic scene is too pain 
ful. The greater our affection for the artist the 
less can we bear to see him suffer and go down. 

In the vain hope of struggling on, the old trage 
dian sought "the provinces*" Here the people 



170 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

flocked in crowds to see the great actor that they 
had heard of from their childhood ; not with the 
faintest hope that they would find the grandeur 
of the past, but from the curious desire to see a 
ruined tower just before it falls. 



CHAPTER VI 

, FIRST VISIT TO EUROPE 

From London to Paris An Early Comedy In 
the Second-hand Shops Return to America 

I SAILED for England in the clipper ship Nep 
tune, in June, 1856. This was my first visit to 
Europe, and London was a rare treat to me. 
It was rich in comedians and poor in tragedians. 
Robson and Wright were especially fine ; Comp- 
ton was quaint and legitimate, and. Buckstone 
funny. Mr. Phelps was an actor of such versatil 
ity that he could scarcely be called a tragedian. 
His range was wider than that of any other actor 
in England. Macbeth, Sir Pertinax McSyco- 
phant, Malvolio, King Lear, Sir Anthony Abso 
lute, and Bottom, take in the vast area of the 
legitimate drama. I saw him in two of these 
characters only, but it is generally conceded that 
he was equally fine in all of them. 



172 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

From London I went to France. My mother s 
parents were from this lovely country, and I 
longed to see it. We arrived quite early in the 
afternoon, and then I looked for the first time on 
the picturesque city of Dieppe. What a transfor 
mation had taken place in a few short hours from 
London 1 Why, if a hole could have been bored 
at Waterloo Bridge and I had dropped through 
the earth, coming out at China, the contrast would 
not have been greater! Climate, costume, archi 
tecture, and language the change was complete : 
eight-storied picturesque houses, with three-storied 
roofs, each story projecting a little beyond the 
other till at the top they almost meet, making it 
quite convenient for the occupants in the garret 
windows to shake hands with one another across 
the street ; all the windows filled with the excited 
inhabitants chatting to one another and violently 
gesticulating. The streets were thronged with 
people: women in wooden shoes, blue petticoats, 
and high, stiff, white caps, carrying baskets and 
generally doing all the work; lazy men in blue 
blouses, quietly submitting to it without a mur 
mur ; they were lolling on the piers, slyly laugh 
ing and winking at one another as they guyed the 
cockney and Yankee tourists. A swell table 
d h6te dinner, for swell tourists, was carefully 
avoided by myself and companion ; so we slipped 
around the corner and got a cheap repast, consol 
ing ourselves that by traveling economically you 
always have a better chance to study character. 
With this object partly in view, and with know- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 173 

ledge of our slender purse, we purchased second- 
class tickets on the train for Paris. It was 
midsummer, and as we started at 6 p. M. there 
were still three or four hours of golden twilight 
for us. What a panorama of beauty ! We saw 
the quaint French farms and picturesque chiteaux 
as we skirted along the lovely banks of the Seine ; 
Rouen with its majestic cathedral loomed up as the 
moon rose over the river. 

At eleven o clock we arrived in Paris. I drove 
to H6tel Byron in Rue Richelieu, and after supper 
determined to get a view that night of the church 
of Notre Dame. Past twelve o clock and the full 
moon high in the heavens ; it was just the time to 
see it. A cab had us there in twenty minutes. 
How grandly it stood out against the dark blue 
sky ! We recrossed the Seine, and I stopped the 
cab to get out on the bridge. Straight before me 
were the gloomy " towers in. which Marie Antoi 
nette was confined during the Reign of Terror. I 
almost fancied that I could see the pale face of the 
murdered queen gazing with anguish through the 
iron- grated windows. The French cabman did 
not quite get into his head what was the matter 
with me. I think my gloomy looks made him 
suspicious that I was contemplating suicide and 
had brought him there as an accessory ; for he got 
quite close to me, evidently intending to grab me 
by the collar and force me into the cab at the first 
hint of a plunge. He heaved a sigh of relief as I 
got into the cab, and drove away from the bridge 
much faster than he came to it. 



174 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

H6tel Byron was in the busy part of the city, so 
I was awakened at sunrise by a hum of voices and 
the rattle of cabs: bakers, milkmen, and venders 
of fruit and vegetables were trying to drown one 
another with their various cries. Perhaps a week 
later than this it would have been annoying, but 
now the sounds were so strange to my ears that I 
was only too delighted to be awakened by them. 
I had just finished dressing when I heard a fearful 
quarrel in the courtyard : looking out of the win 
dow I saw a most curious group of people. There 
was a fat man, in a white apron and cap, the 
cook, armed with a large wooden spoon, and a 
thin baker, with a long loaf of bread, measuring at 
least four feet, beating each other over the head 
and shoulders with these deadly weapons. The 
landlord had embraced the baker and was trying 
to tug him away; the landlady was endeavoring 
to do the same with the fat cook, but his dimen 
sions defied her ; a kindly milkman and two wait 
ers got in between the belligerents, and in so 
doing received most of the punishment. Nothing 
could be more comical than to watch this exciting 
but bloodless encounter the frantic yells of the 
landlord, the screams of the landlady, the milk 
man and the two waiters rubbing themselves as 
the spoon of the infuriated cook and the long loaf 
of the- angry baker descended upon their heads. 
In the midst of the encounter and the thickest of 
the fight a huge milk-can was kicked over, and a 
foaming white flood deluged the middle of the 
yard. This dreadful accident stopped the fray at 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 175 

once oil poured upon troubled water could not 
have been more effectual ; economy is a passion 
with the people of Paris. There was a groan of 
horror from the milkman, who stood with his 
shoulders shrugged up to his eyes, his arms stiff- 
. ened, his hands spread out, and his legs wide 
apart, surveying the disaster; his stock in trade, 
once pure and white as the driven snow, was 
slowly flowing down the middle of the yard, and 
as it "mixed with the baser matter" became a 
pearly gray, and so deepened into an inky hue as 
it reached the gutter of the street The poor 
fellow was now the center of attraction. The 
belligerents crowded around him offering their 
sympathy; if they could not restore his mer 
chandise, they could at least smother him with 
the milk of human kindness. The cook and the 
baker looked on in self-reproaching silence, the 
waiters assisted the unfortunate man to a chair, 
and the landlady soothed him with a glass of 
claret. Now a reaction set in. A faint smile 
mantled the milkman s face, then they all broke 
out into a roar of laughter as the comical side of 
the picture presented itself; the waiters fairly 
danced with merriment, the cook embraced the 
baker, who punched him in the stomach with de 
light, and so ended the first and only fight I ever 
saw in Paris. 

After breakfast I consulted my memorandum 
and guide-book. What a list of things to see! 
How could I get through it in the time ? Where 
should I go first? I have since seen my children 



176 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

in this urfcertain condition in a toy-shop, and have 
always felt for them as I remembered this eventful 
time ; for we are only children of a larger growth, 
and must have all felt this delightful torture. My 
guide was now engaged ; his name was Francois. 
He was a capital hand at business, so far as indus 
try was concerned ; his vitality, too, was wonderful. 
Quick, agile, witty, and vivacious, nothing was a 
trouble to him so long as it was to his taste ; but if 
I suggested some place to visit that he in his voca 
tion was tired of, the humbug of his nature came 
into full play, and he would disparage the proposal 
with the true tact of a Frenchman. Not that he 
was dishonest ; on the contrary, where money was 
concerned he was scrupulously particular, but the 
artistic side of his nature delighted to assert itself. 
On my second visit to Paris, twenty years after, 
I was struck with some curious incidents that illus 
trate the devotion of the French to art and their 
uncertain loyalty to the reigning government. 
Over their doors and on the cornices of their pub 
lic buildings the Republican motto " Liberty, Equal 
ity, and Fraternity" was painted ; but the prices of 
admission to the Grand Opera were carved in the 
stone, as though they plainly said : u We only 
paint our patriotism on the walls, so if we desire 
a change in the government we can wash it out ; 
but the price of admission to the grand opera can 
never be changed jamais / " Again : when the 
revolution was over, the names of many streets and 
buildings were changed, all references to royalty or 
the empire were swept away, till they came to the 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 177 

Palais Royal : this sacred title was not disturbed, 
as it was the name of the theater within its walls. 

How grand I felt on my first visit, to think that 
I was in Paris ; not the Paris of to-day, with its 
gilded domes and modern grandeur, but the old, 
quaint, dirty, gay, strange city in the early days of 
the Second Empire, with its high, toppling build 
ings, narrow streets, and lively people. What 
pride I should take, when I got back to America, 
in talking familiarly of well-known localities, and 
getting the French pronunciation pat and glib 
rattling off the names with an easy air as if I had 
lived there for years. What boyish delight I felt 
in walking through the streets and looking in at 
the shop windows. Socrates, I think it was, who 
said, as he walked through Athens, " How happy 
I am that there are so many things here I do 
not want." If his philosophy was correct and I 
have no doubt it was I must have been very un 
happy and very unlike Socrates, for there were so 
many things that I did want. Of course I could 
not get them, but could price and admire them. 
Now I must be careful ; the money had to be re 
counted, and there should be enough kept to get 
back with. I had been saving up two years salary 
for this trip, so there must be no undue extrava 
gance. This matter settled, I filled my purse with 
gold, hired a cab, and sallied forth with my guide 
to visit the theatrical wardrobe shops in the Tem 
ple. I shall never forget this lovely day, wander 
ing into the little dens, sometimes in the cellars, 
sometimes in the garrets of the queer old places, 



178 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

rummaging over quaint hats, square-toed shoes, 
character wigs, embroidered court suits, charming 
long silk stockings in all the magic colors of the 
rainbow, high boots, lovely gaiters, striped waist 
coats, and groves of old-fashioned liveries it was 
a dramatic fairy-land. 

The second-hand shops of Paris are very dif 
ferent from those of Chatham street and Petticoat 
Lane. In London and with us they are presided 
over by thrifty Jews, who glare at you with glit 
tering black eyes and thrust their eager noses in 
your face, almost imploring you to buy. Not so 
in France: quiet old women sit in the doorways 
of their shops, or just outside, sewing or knitting; 
no time is wasted by the women of France. They 
smile and nod as you pass by, but no rudeness, 
no urging you to buy ; in fact, they seem so per 
fectly self-satisfied that at times it is quite provok 
ing to the would-be purchaser. I was all eyes, 
and longing eyes at that. Now and then Francois 
would give me a gentle nudge and admonish me 
not to appear so anxious. At these times I would 
assume a careless manner as if such scenes were 
quite usual to me. At last Frangois stopped in front 
of one of these shops : taking a survey with the 
air of a connoisseur, and nodding a cold approval 
of its contents, he invited me to enter. An old 
woman, knitting, of course, the exact counter 
part of at least twenty we had already passed, 
followed us in. Here everything was in pictur 
esque and artistic confusion piles of curious 
costumes on the shelves, flowing scarfs, broad 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 179 

felt hats with ostrich feathers, russet boots, and 
big- hiked swords and rapiers arranged in a half- 
careless, half-methodical way. There was an inte 
rior room from which issued sounds of merriment 
and laughter. I hesitated to pass through, but 
the old woman smiled and bade us enter, shrug 
ging her shoulders and expressing in her way, 
" Only. young people; they will have their sport" 
And so it was. Here were two sprightly young 
Frenchmen, evidently actors, and a pretty coquette 
of a girl the daughter of madame having a 
royal time at flirting and acting. For a moment 
our entrance damped their ardor and the " sport," 
whatever it was, came to a standstill. Then came 
some pantomime from my guide, who introduced 
me to the trio as an actor from America, at which 
they assumed an extravagant air of wonder and 
amazement, evidently guying me. So feeling 
themselves quite at ease, the merriment again 
proceeded. It was quite evident to me that there 
was a love affair between the pretty girl and the 
handsomer of the young actors. He was a grace 
ful young fellow, with blond, curly hair and blue 
eyes, and I presumed he was the rising young 
lover of some small theater in the neighborhood. 
The other actor was undoubtedly a low comedian 
of the same establishment He was the reverse of 
the blond lover, hideously ugly, with a turned-up 
nose, and a wide gash in the middle of his face 
for a mouth. He looked like a monkey, and 
was quite as full of tricks. Assuming a gro 
tesquely tragic air, he grasped me by the hand 



180 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



as if I were his long-lost brother, then, pointing 
despairingly at the lovers, gave me to understand 
in pantomime that his life was blasted by unre 
quited affection. Then he fell upon his knees to 
the girl and implored her love; she laughed, of 
course. This started him to his feet, and with 
a sudden spring he picked up a Roman helmet, 
cocked it sidewise on his head, seized a poker, 
and rushed upon his rival- Then he paused, and, 
bursting into tears, relented. Now taking the 
lovers 7 hands he joined them in wedlock, invoked 
a blessing on them from Heaven, stabbed himself 
with the poker, and rushed out into the front shop 
amidst the laughter and merriment of his audi 
ence. To me this seemed a very happy party, 
and though I understood very little of what they 
were saying, it was quite enough to convince me 
that some of their fun was at my expense. The 
old woman now led the way up a dark, narrow 
staircase to a room of wonders above. The walls 
were hung with fantastic dresses, spears, shields, 
and masks with decidedly French expressions of 
countenance. She pointed quietly to all these 
things, but rather disparaged them. 

Now she came to a high, black leather trunk 
with a round top and clamped all over with iron 
bands and hinges. This contained glittering suits 
of Roman armor. A shining breastplate was dis 
played to tempt me. I explained that that style of 
thing was not in my line. So with a sweet smile, 
somewhat tinged with pity, I think, she shrugged 
her shoulders and passed on to a large, flat, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 181 

wooden box like a monster sea-chest with an 
old-fashioned padlock on it, big enough for the 
Bank of England. She pointed to the box with 
admiration, as though she would say, "Ah, you 
don t know what lovely things are stored there, 
and so cheap." She first displayed a black court 
suit with polished steel buttons, very fine, but too 
large and too somber. Next came a royal purple 
silk velvet one, embroidered with gold and foil- 
stones. I lost my heart to this at once, and the 
sly old woman knew it. I tried to look as if I 
did n t care for it, but failed. It would n t do 
with her. She saw through me, and began to fold 
it up with a loving hand, as though she could n t 
part with it for the world. She spoke no English ; 
and as I was equally skilled in French, we talked 
through my guide. He, of course, professed to be 
on my side, but, from certain suspicious intonations, 
I fancy he slightly favored the old woman. 

"Well, what is the price?" 

"Five hundred francs." She said this with an 
injured air, as if she hoped I would n t give it, but 
of course I did give it. 

One article after another was tried on; some 
reluctantly cast aside, others eagerly purchased. As 
each new treasure came into my possession it was 
placed in the cab by my guide. I did not want 
them sent home no, I would take them myself; 
then I had misgivings that the cabman might drive 
off with my booty. I must have made Frangois 
take his number three times at least, and put it 
in my different pockets, fearing I should lose it. 



IS* 



182 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

At last I had gone through all the shops in the 
Temple. The longing eyes of the old French 
woman followed me from door to door, the cab was 
full, the purse was empty, and now I had a feverish 
anxiety to get away. I was convinced I had bought 
these wonders at half their value, and I feared that 
the venders would regret having sold them, and 
before I could depart demand them back. So we 
jumped into the cab, gave the word, and drove to 
the hotel. 

Three lovely weeks in Paris ; it seemed like a 
dream. Then I awakened and sailed for home. 



CHAPTER VII 

WITH LAURA KEENE 

" The Heir-at-Law " Dramatic Action " Our 
American Cousin " A Theatrical Quarrel 
Changes in Old Plays " The Duchess " 

THE opening of Laura Keene s theater, in 
September, 1857, was an important event 
to me. I had been engaged for the leading 
comedy, and it was my first appearance on the 
western side of the city. Miss Keene had never 
seen me, either on or off the stage. It, was looked 
upon as a kind of presumption in those days for an 
American actor to intrude himself into a Broadway 
theater ; the domestic article seldom aspired to any 
thing higher than the Bowery ; consequently I was 
regarded as something of an interloper. I am afraid 
I rather gloried in this, for in my youth I was confi 
dent and self-asserting ; besides, there was a strong 
feeling among my artistic countrymen that the Eng 
lish managers had dealt unjustly with us, and I nat 
urally shared in this feeling. I have since come to 

183 



184 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the conclusion that the managers do not open the 
aters for the purpose of injuring any one. 

At all events, I was installed as the comedian at 
Laura Keene s theater, and opened in Colman s 
comedy of "The Heir-at-Law." One of the lead 
ing papers, in alluding to my performance, men 
tioned the fact that a " nervous, fidgety young 
man, by the name of Jefferson, appeared as Dr. 
Pangloss, into which character he infused a num 
ber of curious interpolations, occasionally using the 
text prepared by the author." 

The critic struck the keynote of a popular dra 
matic error that has existed through all time, and I 
shall make bold just here to call attention to it. 
Old plays, and particularly old comedies, are filled 
with traditional introductions, good and bad. If 
an actor, in exercising his taste and judgment, pre 
sumes to leave out any of these respectable antiq 
uities, he is, by the conventional critic, considered 
sacrilegious in ignoring them. And, on the other 
hand, if in amplifying the traditional business he 
introduces new 1 material, he is thought to be equally 
impertinent ; whereas the question as to the intro 
duction should be whether it is good or bad, not 
whether it is old or new. If there is any preference 
it should be given to the new, which must neces 
sarily be fresh and original, while the old is only a 
copy. 

Laura Keene s judgment in selecting plays was 
singularly bad ; she invariably allowed herself to 
be too much influenced by their literary merit or 
the delicacy of their treatment. If these features 
were prominent in any of the plays she read, her 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "DR. PANGLOSS." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 185 

naturally refined taste would cling to them with 
such tenacity that no argument but the potent one 
of public neglect could convince her that she had 
been misled in producing them. I do not say that 
polished dialogue or delicately drawn characters 
are detrimental to a play on the contrary, they 
assist it ; but if these qualities are not coupled with 
a sympathetic story, containing human interest, and 
told in action rather than in words, they seldom 
reach beyond the footlights. 

Perhaps it is well to define here, to the non-pro 
fessional reader, what is meant by dramatic action, 
as sometimes this term is mistaken for pantomime. 
Pantomime is action, certainly ; but not necessarily 
dramatic action, which is the most essential element 
in the construction of a play. A drama will often 
give one no idea of its strength in the reading of 
it; even in rehearsal it will sometimes fail to re 
veal its power. I have on several occasions seen 
even the author of a play surprised at the exhibition 
of its dramatic action on its first representation 
before an audience, he himself not being aware that 
his work contained the hidden treasure, until the 
sympathy of the public revealed it. Sometimes the 
point of unexpected interest consists in the relation 
ship between two characters, or the peculiar em 
phasis laid upon a single word that has been spoken 
in a previous act But to illustrate more fully what 
I desire to explain I will take two dramatic actions, 
one from comedy and the other from tragedy, to set 
forth the subject clearly. 

In one of Victorien Sardou s plays and this 
gentleman is perhaps the most ingenious playwright 



186 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



of our time the following incident occurs. The 
audience are first made fully aware that a lady in 
the play uses a certain kind of perfume. This is 
done casually, so that they do not suspect that the 
matter will again be brought to their notice. She 
abstracts some valuable papers from a cabinet, and 
when they are missed no one can tell who has taken 
them. The mystery is inexplicable. Suspicion 
falls upon an innocent person. The audience, who 
well know how the matter stands, are on tenter 
hooks of anxiety, fearing that the real culprit will 
not be detected. When this feeling is at white 
heat one of the characters finds a piece of paper in 
the desk and is attracted to it by the perfume. He 
puts it to his nose, sniffs it, and as a smile of triumph 
steals over his face the audience, without a word 
being spoken, realize that the thief is detected. 
Observe here, too, the ingenuity of the dramatist : 
the audience are in the secret with him ; they have 
seen the papers stolen ; it is no news to them ; but 
when the characters" in whom they are interested 
become as much enlightened as they are the climax 
is complete. 

For an illustration of this point, as applied to 
tragedy. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth, 
standing with his wife in a dark and gloomy hall, 
looks at his bloody hands and apostrophizes them 
in these terrible words: 

Will all great Neptune s ocean wash this blood 
Clean from my hand ? No, this my hand will rather 
The multitudinous seas incarnadine, 
Making the green one red. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 187 

Now there is a silence, and when he is alone there 
echoes through the castle a knocking at the gate. 
The friends of the murdered guest have come for 
him ; and they thunder at the portals, while the 
blood-stained host stands as if stricken down with 
terror and remorse. It is not the dialogue, as pow 
erful as it is, which strikes the audience with awe ; 
it is simply a stage direction of the great dramatic 
master a " knocking at the gate." It will, I think, 
be seen by these two illustrations that a fluent and 
imaginative writer may construct plots, create Char 
acters, and compose exquisite verse, and yet not 
succeed as a playwright unless he possesses the 
art or gift of creating dramatic action. 

As an actress and manager Laura Keene was 
both industrious and talented. If she could have 
afforded it, no expense would have been spared in 
the production of her plays ; but theatrical matters 
were at a low ebb during the early part of her ca 
reer, and the memorable panic of 1857 was almost 
fatal to her. In the midst of financial difficulties 
she displayed great taste and judgment in making 
cheap articles look like expensive ones, and both in 
her stage setting and costumes exhibited the most 
skillful and effective economy. She was a high- 
mettled lady, and could be alarmingly imperious to 
her subjects with but little trouble. 

I call the panic of 1857 "memorable," for surely 
the actors and managers who struggled through 
the vicissitudes of that season must have a vivid 
remembrance of the various shifts and economical 
devices of that disastrous time disastrous not 



188 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

only to theaters but to all kinds of commercial 
pursuits. Banks that had been thought impreg 
nable were swept out of existence. Long rows of 
despairing depositors stood in lines eagerly be 
sieging their delinquent trustees. One institution 
alone withstood the shock, the Chemical Bank, 
and naturally gained for itself a most enviable rep 
utation. Wall street was in a collapsed condition, 
and placards of "To Let" stood out in bold relief 
upon private residences, almost as numerous as 
the houses themselves. People who had lived be 
yond their means found their extravagance checked 
by an unlooked-for depression of their precarious 
incomes. Horses and carriages were sold for a 
song. That conventional army of gentlemen who 
are always selling their teams, because they and 
their families are about to go to Europe, increased 
so alarmingly that column after column of the 
daily papers were filled with announcements of 
their intended departures. 

Under such conditions naturally the theaters 
were great sufferers. Salary day that ever -wel 
come Monday was deferred first until Tuesday, 
then until Wednesday, then until Thursday and 
finally disappeared altogether. The bands struck 
with one accord, and as usual got their money; 
the actors revolted and as usual did not get 
it The public despondently staid at home, 
the theaters were * empty, the managers de 
pressed, and the actors jolly. This seems in 
credible, but the members of my profession, at 
least in the old time, were always in the best 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "DR. PANGLOSS." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 189 

of spirits when business was bad and salaries were 
uncertain. 

Just at this juncture Miss Keene produced a local 
farcical comedy called " Splendid Misery " a most 
appropriate title and well suited to the financial 
crisis through which the country was passing, and 
in keeping, too, with the straitened circum 
stances of many families that were suffering from 
their previous extravagance. There were several 
local hits in the play which pointed so plainly to 
the prevailing panic that they were much enjoyed 
by the slim audiences that beheld them. 

Business had fallen off and the theater was in a 
fair way to follow in the train of bankruptcy that 
was dragging everything after it, when I hit upon 
the idea of producing what was deemed a shock 
ing innovation in a legitimate Broadway theater. 
-Casting about for a novel that might be turned 
into a strong military drama, I came upon George 
Lepard s Revolutionary story entitled " Blanche 
of Brandywine." Battles, marches and counter 
marches, murders, abductions, hairbreadth es 
capes, militia trainings, and extravagant Yankee 
comicalities boiled over in every chapter. James 
G. Burnett, the stage-manager, and I soon con 
cocted a soul-stirring drama from this material and 
it was accepted by Miss Keene, the manageress. 

She was most indefatigable in her rehearsals 
and spared neither time nor pains in planning 
her effects, but was greatly deficient in system, 
and while acknowledging that Mr. Burnett 
and I had prepared at least an effective play, 



190 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

she insisted upon arranging the business and 
conducting the rehearsals. Of course we gave 
way, being only anxious that success should be 
achieved, and were quite willing to allow her 
the credit of its production. She possessed but 
slight experience in melodrama, as her previous 
schooling had been mostly gained from the light 
comedy productions of the London Lyceum, or 
the legitimate plays that were produced at Wai- 
lack s Theater while she was a member of the 
stock company ; so that when she got into the 
realm of red-hot conspiracies, blazing haystacks, 
and rifle-balls, she was quite at the mercy of the 
enemy. 

The second act of our play ended with the bat 
tle of Bunker Hill, which I had arranged should 
be given as a tableau rather than as an action, 
from Trumbull s picture of the "Death of War 
ren" or "The Battle of Bunker Hill." It was 
so well known, and its leading features presented 
such a fine opportunity for effective grouping, 
that we decided to have the stage raised to rep 
resent a mound covered with grass, and to ar 
range the figures in exactly the same manner 
as in the famous painting. On the morning 
the tableau was to be grouped, Miss Keene ap 
peared with the engraving, which she unrolled 
with a proud air and Sir Oracle demeanor that 
was all the more amusing to me as I knew she 
was in deep water, and likely to sink at the first 
plunge. We (the company) were assembled and 
the stage-manager eyed us with a sidelong look of 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 191 

anything but approval. After a preliminary cough 
or two Miss Keene charged up the hill and pre 
pared for action. 

Looking over the scroll, which every now and 
then would keep rolling itself up, much to her annoy 
ance and our smothered delight, she began to place 
us in our different and, I may say, difficult positions. 
One would be made to rest upon his elbow while 
another was arranged to stand over him with an 
uplifted gun. The next gentleman, a cruel British 
officer, was then told to be on the point of thrusting 
a bayonet into the vital regions of some American 
patriot. The wounded Warren was ordered to lie 
down in an uncomfortable position and be held by a 
friend. This was all very well, and for a brief period 
these attitudes could be maintained ; but by the time 
Miss Keene had got through the militia the regular 
army was completely worn out. Then she began 
to badger Warren, telling him to lie with his head a 
little more that way, or a trifle more the other way, 
besides requesting him to look exhausted which 
expression, however, under the circumstances, he 
had taken quite of his own accord. 

"You are out of position again," Miss Keene 
would say to some old soldier. "Now observe, I 
want you to stand well, look here," and away 
would go the scroll again as if it were on a spring 
roller. 

" General Warren, you have got your head all 
wrong again." 

" I cannot stand it/ said the hero ; " my head has 
been in that position for twenty minutes." 



192 T^E AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

I do not think that the original general could 
have suffered more than did his counterfeit on this 
occasion. By this time every one was exhausted, 
Miss Keene included, so there was nothing left 
but to dismiss the army and hold a council of 
war. 

I now saw that the arrangement of a tableau 
from a picture with so many figures was a more 
difficult matter than I had at first imagined. 
Miss Keene declared that it could not be done at 
all, and I was myself beginning to think we were 
nonplussed, when Burnett came to the rescue with 
a simple suggestion which made the way clear at 
once. His idea was that the characters in the en 
graving should be cast just as they would be in a 
play. Thus each figure in the picture was marked 
with the name of the actor who was to represent it. 
The engraving was then hung up in the greenroom 
where each one could look at it and so study the 
attitude he was to take. This was caught up at 
once ; their names were then marked upon the 
mound in chalk, and when the word was given to 
strike the tableau each one took the position, as 
sumed his attitude, and the picture was complete. 

I have alluded to this incident as I think it per 
haps worth while to record a simple manner of ar 
ranging characters for a tableau from a picture. 

Before concluding this incident I desire to pay 
my respects to Mr. James G. Burnett, as he was 
intimately connected with Laura Keene s theater 
both as an actor and stage-manager. Our friend 
ship extended over a term of many years, and 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 193 

I cannot call to mind one act of his that was 
not characterized by honesty and truth. In the 
earlier part of his life he was sorely tried by an 
accumulation of domestic ills, and I know that he 
bore his troubles with patience and dignity. As 
an actor, during the latter part of his life he im 
proved wonderfully; he acted Sir Anthony Ab 
solute and Lord D itber ly with me in St. Louis, and 
rendered them with fine effect. 

During the season of 1858-59 Miss Keene pro 
duced Tom Taylor s play of " Our American 
Cousin/ and as its success was remarkable and 
some noteworthy occurrences took place in con 
nection with it, a record of its career will perhaps 
be interesting. The play had been submitted by 
Mr. Taylor s agent to another theater, but the 
management failing to see anything striking in it, 
an adverse judgment was passed and the comedy 
rejected. It was next offered to Laura Keene, 
who also thought but little of the play, which 
remained neglected upon her desk for some time ; 
but it so chanced that the business manager of the 
theater, Mr. John Lutz, in turning over the leaves 
fancied that he detected something in the play of 
a novel character. Here was a rough man, hav 
ing no dramatic experience, but gifted with keen, 
practical sense, who discovered at a glance an 
effective play, the merits of which had escaped 
the vigilance of older and, one would have sup 
posed, better judges. He gave me the play to 
read. While it possessed but little literary merit, 
there was a fresh, breezy atmosphere about the 



194 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

characters and the story that attracted me very 
much. I saw, too, the chance of making a 
strong character of the leading part, and so I 
was quite selfish enough to recommend the play 
for production. 

The reading took place in the greenroom, at 
which the ladies and gentlemen of the company 
were assembled, and many furtive glances were 
cast at Mr. Couldock and me as the strength 
of Abel Murcott and Asa Trenchard were re 
vealed. Poor Sothern sat in the corner, looking 
quite disconsolate, fearing that there was nothing 
in the play that would suit him ; and as the dismal 
lines of Dundreary were read he glanced over 
at me with a forlorn expression, as much as to 
say, "I am cast for that dreadful part," little 
dreaming that the character of the imbecile lord 
would turn out to be the stepping-stone of his 
fortune. The success of the play proved the 
turning-point in the career of three persons 
Laura Keene, Sothern, and myself. 

As the treasury began to fill, Miss Keene began 
to twinkle with little brilliants ; gradually her splen 
dor increased, until at the end of three months she 
was ablaze with diamonds. Whether these were 
new additions to her impoverished stock of jew 
elry, or the return of old friends that had been 
parted with in adversity, old friends generally 
leave us under these circumstances, I cannot 
say, but possibly the latter. 

The dramatic situation that struck me as the 
most important one in this play was the love scene 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 195 

in the opening of the last act. It was altogether 
fresh, original, and perfectly natural, and I notice 
that in this important phase of dramatic composi 
tion authors are conspicuously weak. 

The love scenes in most all of our modern plays 
are badly constructed. In the English dramas 
they are sentimental and insipid, being filled with 
either flowery nonsense or an extravagance border 
ing upon burlesque ; while the love scenes in the 
French plays are coarse and disgusting. Sardou 
has written but few female characters for whom one 
can feel the slightest respect. For instance, which 
one would a man select to be his mother were he 
compelled to make a choice ? I think it would puz 
zle him. The love scenes between Alfred Evelyn 
and Clara Douglas, in Bulwer s play of "Money," 
are stilted, unnatural, and cold. The passages in 
tended to display affection in the " Lady of Lyons " 
are still further from "imitating humanity," and the 
speech of Claude to Pauline, beginning with 

In a deep vale shut out by alpine hills 

is so glaringly absurd that the audience invariably 
smile at the delivery of this soft extravagance. 

The greatest love scene that ever was or ever 
will be written is known as the balcony scene in 
"Romeo and Juliet." This is a perfect model, be 
ing full of the most exquisite humor. 

Natural love off the stage is almost invariably 
humorous, even comic not to the lovers minds ;. 
oh, no ! T is serious business to them, and that 
is just what makes it so delightful to look at The 



196 T^E AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

third party, when there is one, enjoys it highly. 
The principals do the most foolish things : the gen 
tleman cannot make up his mind what to do with 
his hat or with his hands, the lady is awkward and 
shy, and the more they love each other the more 
comical they are. They say stupid things, and 
agree with each other before they have half done 
expressing an opinion. 

It was the opportunity of developing this attitude 
of early love, particularly love at first sight, that 
attracted me to the " Cousin." Simple and trifling 
as it looks, Mr. Tom Taylor never drew a finer 
dramatic picture. The relation between the two 
characters was perfectly original. A shrewd, keen 
Yankee boy of twenty-five falls in love at first sight 
with a simple, loving, English dairymaid of eighteen. 
She innocently sits on the bench, close beside him ; 
he is fascinated and draws closer to her ; she raises 
her eyes in innocent wonder at this, and he glides 
gently to the farthest end of the bench. He never 
tells her of his love, nor does she in the faintest 
manner suggest her affection for him ; and though 
they persistently talk of other things, you see 
plainly how deeply they are in love. He relates 
the story of his uncle s death in America, and dur 
ing this recital asks her permission to smoke a 
cigar. With apparent carelessness he takes out a 
paper, a will made in his favor by the old man, 
which document disinherits the girl ; with this he 
lights his cigar, thereby destroying his rights and 
resigning them to her. The situation is strained, 
certainly, but it is very effective, and an audience 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS < ASA TRENCHARD." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 197 

will always pardon a slight extravagance if it 
charms while it surprises them. The cast was an 
exceedingly strong one Laura Keene as the re 
fined, rural belle, and Sara Stevens as the modest, 
loving, English dairymaid. Both looked and acted 
the parts perfectly. The Abel Murcott of Mr. 
Couldock was a gem, and the extravagant force 
and humor of Mr. Sothern s Dundreary, the fame 
of which afterwards resounded all over the English- 
speaking world, is too well known to need any 
comment, except perhaps to mention one or two 
matters connected with it of a curious nature. 

As I have before said, Sothern was much de 
jected at being compelled to play the part. He 
said he could do nothing with it, and certainly for 
the first two weeks it was a dull effort, and produced 
but little effect. So in despair he began to intro 
duce extravagant business into his character, skip 
ping about the stage, stammering and sneezing, 
and, in short, doing all he could to attract and dis 
tract the attention of the audience. To the surprise 
of every one, himself included, these antics, intended 
by him to injure the character, were received by 
the audience with delight. He was a shrewd man 
as well as an effective actor, and he saw at a glance 
that accident had revealed to him a golden oppor 
tunity. He took advantage of it, and with cautious 
steps increased his speed, feeling the ground well 
under him as he proceeded. Before the first month 
was over he stood side by side with any other char 
acter in the play ; and at the end of the run he was, 

in my opinion, considerably in advance of us all. 

13* 



198 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

And his success in London, in the same character, 
fully attests, whatever may be said to the contrary, 
that as an extravagant, eccentric comedian in the 
modern range of comedy he was quite without a 
rival. His performance of Sam which I saw at the 
Hay market Theater, in London, was a still finer 
piece of acting than his Dundreary. It was equally 
strong, and had the advantage of the other in not 
being overdrawn or extravagant. 

Miss Keene was undoubtedly delighted at Soth- 
ern s rising fame. I think she found that I was 
becoming too strong to manage, and naturally felt 
that his success in rivaling mine would answer as 
a curb, and so enable her to drive me with more 
ease and a tighter rein. I don t blame her for this : 
as an actor has a right to protect himself against 
the tyranny of a manager, the manager has an 
equal right to guard the discipline of the theater ; 
and I have no doubt that I perhaps unconsciously 
exhibited a confidence in my, growing strength that 
made her a little apprehensive lest I should try to 
manage her. In this she did me an injustice, which 
I am happy to say in after years the lady acknow 
ledged. The first rupture between us came about 
somewhat in this way : The Duchess as she was 
familiarly called by the actors, on the sly had ar 
ranged some new business with Mr. Sothern, neg 
lecting to inform me of it I got the regular cue 
for entering, and as I came upon the stage I natu 
rally, but unintentionally, interrupted their precon 
ceived arrangements. This threw matters into a 
confusion which was quite apparent to the audience. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 199 

Miss Keene, not stopping to consider that I had 
been kept in ignorance of her plan and that the 
fault was hers and not mine, turned suddenly on 
me, and speaking out so loudly and plainly that 
most of the audience could hear her, said, " Go off 
the stage, sir, till you get your cue for entering." 

I was thunderstruck. There was a dead silence 
for a moment, and in the same tone and with the 
same manner she had spoken to me, I replied : 
" It has been given, and I will not retire." 
We were both wrong. No actor has a right to 
show up to the audience an accident or a fault com 
mitted on the stage, or intrude upon them one s 
personal misunderstandings. As two wrongs can 
not make a right, it was clearly my duty to pass 
this by, so far as any public display of my temper 
was concerned, and then demand an explanation and 
an apology from her when the play was over. But 

Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, 
Loyal and neutral, in a moment ? 

Besides, I felt that no explanation of hers could set 
me right with the audience, and I was smarting 
under the injustice of her making me appear re 
sponsible for her own fault. 

When the curtain fell she was furious, and turn 
ing on me with flashing eyes and an imperious air 
discharged me then and there. I might leave now 
if I liked, and she would dismiss the audience 
rather than submit to such a public insult I told 
her that if she considered my conduct an insult to 
her, that it was a confession that she had insulted 



200 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



me first, as my words and manner were but a 
reflection of her own. This sort of logic only made 
matters worse. So I informed her that I could net 
take a discharge given in the heat of temper, and 
would remain. The play proceeded, but she was 
singularly adroit, and by her manner in turning her 
back on me through an entire scene, and assuming 
an air of injured innocence, undoubtedly made the 
audience believe that I was a cruel wretch to insult 
her in so public a way. She had the advantage 
of me all through, for when her temper was shown 
to me the play was proceeding, and I dare say 
that in the bustle and confusion of the scene very 
few of the audience could understand what she 
had done ; whereas when I retaliated there had 
been a pause, and they got the full force of what 
I said. 

When an actor shows his temper upon the stage 
the audience feel insulted that they should be 
called upon to sympathize with his private quar 
rels. The actor is the loser, depend upon it. 

Mr. Rufus Blake was attached to our company 
during this season, but in consequence of the great 
success of " Our American Cousin/ in which he 
was not cast, he had acted but little. He was a 
superior actor, with the disadvantage of small eyes, 
a fat, inexpressive face, and a heavy and unwieldy 
figure. There must be something in the spirit of 
an actor that is extremely powerful to delight an 
audience when he is hampered like this. Without 
seeming to change his face or alter the stolid look 
/from his eyes, Mr. Blake conveyed his meaning 




E. A. SOTHERN AS "LORD DUNDREARY." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 201 

with the most perfect effect. He was delicate and 
minute in his manner, which contrasted oddly 
enough with his ponderous form. We acted this 
one season together and were very good friends. 
On one occasion only was this harmony marred. 
He rated me for curtailing some of the speeches of 
a part in one of the old comedies. I told him that 
I had my own ideas on these matters, one of which 
was that the plays were written for a past age, 
that society had changed, and that it seemed to me 
good taste to alter the text, when it could be done 
without detriment, to suit the audience of the 
present day ; particularly when the lines were 
coarse, and unfit for ladies and gentlemen to speak 
or listen to. He gave me to understand that he 
considered it a liberty in any young man to set him 
self up as an authority in such matters, and that my 
course was a tacit reproach to older and better 
judges, and even hinted that some people did that 
sort of thing to make professional capital out of it. 
I thought this was going a little too far for friend 
ship. I therefore told him, with little reserve, that 
as he had taken the liberty to censure my course, 
I would make bold equally, and advise him, for, 
his own sake, to follow my example. 

I do not cite this quarrel as redounding to my 
credit Mr. Blake was a much older man" than 
I, and more than my peer as an actor be 
sides. It was not only my words ; I was angered, 
and doubtless my manner was more offensive than 
what I had said. I apologized, however, and we 
were friends. 



202 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

As Laura Keene s season drew to a close she 
and I had buried our differences and were com 
paratively good friends again ; so the lady was 
somewhat surprised to learn that I was not going 
to remain with her during the following season, 
and seemed to consider it unkind of me to with 
draw from the theater after she had done so much 
to advance my position. This is the somewhat 
unjust ground that managers often take when an 
actor desires to go to another house. This is un 
reasonable, for there must come a time when it will 
be for the interest of one or both parties that they 
should part ; and it would be just as wrong at one 
time as at another. If an actor, when the season 
is concluded and his obligations are at an end, sees 
an opportunity of increasing his salary or bettering 
his position by going to another establishment, it 
would be an injustice to himself and to those who 
depend upon him not to do so. And by the same 
reasoning, if a manager can secure better talent, at 
a more reasonable price, he has a perfect right to 
replace one actor by another, having fulfilled his 
engagement. I have never known any manager 
to hesitate in pursuing this course, unless he re 
tained the actor as an act of charity, and then, of 
course, the matter is a purely personal one. 

Miss Keene, taking the unfair view I have 
alluded to, was highly incensed at my proposed 
departure. She considered that, having been the 
first to bring me to New York, to her my loyalty 
was due, and in common gratitude I was bound not 
to desert the theater for the purpose, as she sup- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 203 

posed, of joining the opposition forces. I replied 
that, so far as my ingratitude was concerned, I 
failed to see in what way she had placed me under 
obligations ; that I presumed when she engaged 
me for her theater it was from a motive of profes 
sional interest, and I could scarcely think it was 
from any affection for me, as we had never met until 
the engagement was made. This kind of logic had 
anything but a conciliating effect. So I concluded 
by saying that I had no idea of casting my lot with 
the opposition, but that it was my intention to star. 
"Star! Oh, dear! Bless me! Indeed!" She did 
not say this, but she certainly looked it ; and as she 
turned her eyes heavenward there was a slight 
elevation in the tip of her beautiful nose that gave 
me no encouragement of an offer from her under 
these circumstances. With a slight tinge of con 
tempt she asked me with what I intended to star. 
I answered that, with her permission, I purposed 
to act " Our American Cousin." " Which I decline 
to give. The play is my property, and you shall 
not act it outside of this theater." And she swept 
from the greenroom with anything but the air of a 
comedienne. 

The houses were still overflowing, and there was 
every prospect that "Our American Cousin" would 
run through the season ; but Miss Keene was tired 
of acting her part in the comedy, and was deter 
mined to take the play off and produce " A Mid 
summer Night s Dream," which had been in 
preparation for some time, and in fact was now 
in readiness. The management was anxious that 



204 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Mr. Blake, who had been idle for some four 
months, should be in the cast, so that the play 
might contain the full strength of its expensive 
company. 

The Duchess, being in high dudgeon with me, 
deputed her business manager, Mr. Lutz, to 
approach me on the subject of the cast, propos 
ing that I should resign the part of Bottom to 
Mr. Blake, and at the same time requesting me 
to play Puck. This I positively refused to do. I 
told him plainly that Miss Keene had taken an 
antagonistic stand towards me, and that I felt that 
she would not appreciate a favor even if I might 
feel disposed to grant it, and would treat any con 
cession that I should make as weakness. He said 
that Miss Keene had begged him to urge the 
matter, as she did not know how else to get Mr. 
Blake and myself into the cast. " Very well," said 
I ; "if that is all, tell her I will play Bottom, and 
let Mr. Blake play Puck And so we parted. 
Of course I did not suppose that he would carry 
this absurd message, as Mr. Blake would have 
turned the scale at two hundred and fifty pounds, 
and looked about as much like Puck as he resem 
bled a fairy queen. But, not being familiar with 
Shakspere, and having no idea what the charac 
ters were like, he gave her my suggestion word 
for word. This put the fair lady in a high temper, 
and she did not speak to me for a week. But I 
stood on my rights, and was cast for Bottom^ 
Miss Keene essaying the part of Puck herself. 
After three or four rehearsals I discovered I 




W. K. BLAKE. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 205 

should fail in the part of Bottom, and therefore 
deemed it wise to make " discretion the better 
part of valor," and resign the character, which I 
did upon the condition that I might take the play 
of "Our American Cousin" upon a starring tour, 
and give the management one-half of the profits for 
the use of the play. 

I have thought that perhaps it is scarcely in 
good taste that I should touch upon the little mis 
understandings between myself and Miss Keene; 
but as these quarrels were not of a domestic or 
private nature, and as the public were made fully 
aware of them at the time, there is nothing sacred 
about them, and they may serve as lessons in the 
future to younger and as yet inexperienced actors. 
And then, too, Miss Keene and I were friends in 
after years ; we had long since shaken hands and 
buried the hatchet had talked and laughed over 
our rows and reconciliations, and had continued to 
get as much amusement out of the recollections as 
we had created trouble out of the realities. 

When I returned from Australia we met again. 
She had lost her theater, and was traveling and 
starring with only partial success. Her early 
popularity had waned, but she battled against 
adversity with great courage. At last her health 
gave way, and she retired, but still with the cling 
ing hope of returning to the stage again. She 
never did. The last letter she wrote was penned 
upon her death-bed, and was addressed to me. 
She sent me an ivory miniature of Madame Ves- 
tris, and a water-color drawing, by Hardy, of 



206 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

Edmund Kean as Richard III. Her letter was 
cheerful and full of hope ; she spoke of feeling 
better, and seemed confident that in a few months 
she would be in harness again. She died the day 
after this was written. 

She was esteemed a great beauty in her youth ; 
and even afterwards her rich and luxuriant auburn 
hair, clear complexion, and deep chestnut eyes, 
full of expression, were greatly praised ; but to me 
it was her style and carriage that commanded ad 
miration, and it was this quality that won her audi 
ence. She had, too, the rare power of varying her 
manner, assuming the rustic walk of a milkmaid or 
the dignified grace of a queen. In the drama of 
" The Sea of Ice " she displayed this versatile qual 
ity to its fullest extent. In the prologue she played 
the mother, in which her quiet and refined bearing 
told of a sad life ; in the next act, the daughter, 
a girl who had been brought up by savages, and 
who came bounding upon the stage with the wild 
grace of a startled doe. In the last act she is sup 
posed to have been sent to Paris and there edu 
cated. In this phase of the character she exhibited 
the wonderful art of showing the fire of the wild 
Indian girl through the culture of the French lady. 
I have never seen this transparency more perfectly 
acted. 

Laura Keene was in private life high tempered 
and imperious, but she had a good heart and was 
very charitable, I never heard her speak ill of any 
one but herself; and this she would sometimes do 
with a grim humor that was very entertaining. 



CHAPTER VIII 

AT THE WINTER GARDEN; AND "RIP VAN WINKLE" 

The Winter Garden " Caleb Plummer" I Re 
ceive Good Advice " The Octoroon" Some 
Remarks on Guying The Comedians Disad 
vantage The First Successful Star Come 
dian How I Came to Play "Rip Van Winkle " 
Failure in San Francisco Harry Perry 

MY starring venture was attended with what 
is termed qualified success ; not with what 
could be called positive failure ; still I felt 
that the time had not yet arrived for the continu 
ance of such a rash experiment. Just at this 
juncture William Stuart made me an offer of an 
engagement at his new theater, the Winter 
Garden, which place was to be under the direction 
of Dion Boucicault. I accepted the offer, at a much 
larger salary than I had ever received, and was 
enrolled as a member of the company. The title 
of " Winter Garden" had been adopted from a 
place of amusement in Paris, where plays were 
acted in a kind of conservatory filled with tropical 
plants. If I remember rightly, the treasury of the 

307 



208 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

management was not in what could be called an 
overflowing condition ; and although the actors 
whom they engaged were quite strong, the horti 
cultural display was comparatively weak. Some 
sharp-pointed tropical plants of an inhospitable and 
sticky character exuded their " medicinal gums " 
in the vestibule, and the dress circle was festooned 
with artificial flowers so rare that they must have 
been unknown to the science of botany. To give 
these delicate exotics a sweet and natural odor 
they were plentifully sprinkled with some perfume 
resembling closely the sweet scent of hair-oil, so 
that the audience as they were entering could 
" nose " them in the lobby. Take it altogether, 
the theater was a failure ; for, added to the meager 
decorations, the acoustics were inferior, and the 
views of the stage from the auditorium unpardon- 
ably bad. To make amends, however, for these 
shortcomings, Mr. Boucicault had secured a strong 
company ; not so far as great names were con 
cerned, but they had been carefully selected with 
regard to the plays that were to be produced. 
The opening piece was an adaptation of Dickens s 
" Cricket on the Hearth," and called "Dot." It 
was a hit The cast was as follows : 

John Peerybingle MR. HARRY PEARSON. 

Caleb Plummer MR. JOSEPH JEFFERSON. 

The Stranger MR. A. H. DAVENPORT. 

Tackleton MR. T. B. JOHNSON. 

Dot Miss AGNES ROBERTSON. 

May Fielding MRS. J. H. ALLEN. 

Bertha . . . Miss SARA STEVENS. 

Tittie Slowboy MRS. JOHN WOOD. 

Mrs. Fielding MRS. BLAKE. 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS " CALEB PLUMMEK." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 209 

The four ladies first named were the pictures of 
female grace and beauty. This season I acted 
Newman Noggs, Caleb Plummer, Salem Scudder, 
and several other characters ; but the latter were 
not very important. 

Previous to the commencement of the season, 
Mr. Boucicault and I had some conversation in 
relation to the opening bill. I told him I was 
rather apprehensive of my hitting the part of 
Caleb Plummer, as I had never acted a character 
requiring pathos, and, with the exception of the 
love scene in " Our American Cousin," as yet had 
not spoken a serious line upon the stage. He 
seemed to have more confidence in my powers than 
I had, and insisted that I could act the part with 
success. I agreed therefore to open in Caleb, with 
the understanding that I should finish the perform 
ance with a farce, so in the event of my failing in 
the first piece, I might save my reputation in the 
last. He assented to the arrangement, but warned 
me, however, that I would regret it; and he was 
right, for when the curtain fell upon " Dot," I 
should have much preferred not to have acted in 
the farce. So the little piece was taken off after 
the first night, as I was quite satisfied with Caleb 
alone. 

An incident occurred during the first rehearsal 
of "Dot" that may be worth relating, as it bears 
upon a theory in acting that I have established for 
myself ever since it took place. Mr. Boucicault, I 
think, understood me, and felt from what I had 
said to him on previous occasions that I was not 



210 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

averse to suggestions in the dramatic art, and was 
in the habit of listening to advice, though I always 
reserved to myself the right of acting on my own 
judgment as to whether the proffered counsel was 
good or bad. During my rehearsal of the first 
scene, which I went through just as I intended 
acting it at night, I saw by his manner that he 
was disappointed with my rendering of the part, 
and I asked him what was the matter. He replied, 
" If that is the way you intend to act the part I do 
not wonder you were afraid to undertake it." This 
was a crushing blow to a young man from one 
older in years and experience; but feeling that 
there was something to learn, I asked him to 
explain what he meant. "Why, you have acted 
your last scene first; if you begin in that solemn 
strain you have nothing left for the end of the 
play." This was his remark, or words to the same 
effect ; and I am certainly indebted to him, through 
this advice, for whatever success I achieved in the 
part. 

I am not sure whether Mr. Boucicault was aware 
of what a large field for dramatic thought he opened 
up, and if I did not clearly understand the impor 
tance of it then, I have found it out since, and so 
far as I have been able applied it as a general 
rule. These reflections taught me never to anti 
cipate a strong effect; in fact, to lead your audi 
ence by your manner, so that they shall scarcely 
suspect the character capable of such emotion; 
then, when some sudden blow has fallen, the terri 
ble shock prepares the audience for a new and 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 211 

striking phase in the character: they feel that 
under these new conditions you would naturally 
exhibit the passion which till then was not sus 
pected. 

Rising young actors usually guard their posi 
tions with a jealous eye, and, as I was no exception 
to this rule, it had been clearly understood between 
me and the management that my name should 
be as prominently set before the public as that of 
any other member of the company. This agreement 
was not carried out ; for, on the announcement in 
the papers of the play of "The Octoroon," my 
name did not appear. I was to act one of the 
principal parts in the drama. I felt that I was 
something of a favorite with the public, and natu 
rally became irate at this indignity ; so I sent my 
part, Salem Scudder, to the theater, with a note 
to Mr. Stuart, saying that I considered my engage 
ment canceled by my name being publicly ignored 
in the announcement of the play, and I concluded 
my resignation by saying that, as I had no wish to 
distress the management, if Mr. Stuart or Mr. 
Boucicault would call on me I would be pleased 
to enter into a new engagement with them when 
my claims should be written out to prevent any 
further misunderstanding; otherwise I must de 
cline to act again in the theater. As the play was 
ready and to be acted on the following Monday 
night, this being Saturday, I felt pretty sure that 
my note of resignation would act as a bombshell 
and explode with considerable force in the mana 
gerial office. And it did. 



212 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

But I must now digress in order to show the 
sequel of the story. I had been for some time 
suffering with an attack of dyspepsia, not a 
happy condition for an actor who is quarreling 
with the manager, and conceived the idea that 
gentle exercise in the way of boxing would relieve 
me. So I engaged a professor, in the shape of an 
old retired " champion of light-weights," to give me 
lessons in the manly art of self-defense for the sum 
of two dollars per lesson, in consideration of which 
he was to allow me to pommel him over the head 
with soft gloves ad libitum. In our contract it was 
understood that I was the party of the first part, 
and the party of the second part agreed, never, 
under any consideration, to counter on the party 
of the first part. These lessons had been going 
on in my drawing-room my teacher coming to 
the house for several weeks, and I fancied that 
I was improving ; certainly I was, so far as hitting- 
out went, for, as I observed before, according to the 
contract I had it all my own way. 

On the occasion I am now about to describe I 
had been perhaps taking unwarranted liberties 
with the " champion," who must have got a little 
excited, for before I knew where I was I found 
myself stretched full length under the piano. I 
expostulated with him, informing him solemnly 
that this was the second breach of contract I had 
suffered from him during the last two days, and 
.begged him in the future to subdue the old war- 
horse within him. In fact, I said that I would 
prefer to pay a little extra if he would conform to 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "NEWMAN NOflGS." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 213 

the contract more rigidly. We shook hands and 
began work again. My feelings were hurt, to say 
the least of it, and I was determined to get even 
with him. I now began to dance around my ad 
versary in the conventional style, and had just 
given him "one for his nob," when looking over 
his shoulders I discovered the amazed faces of Dion 
Boucicault and William Stuart. Against the dark 
background of the room the two heads of these 
gentlemen loomed up like another pair of boxing- 
gloves. They stood aghast at the scene, and I 
fancy it must naturally have entered their minds 
that I had invited them up to settle our difficulties 
by an appeal to science, and had secured the ser 
vices of a professional bruiser to assist me. But the 
record of these gentlemen, like my own, proves 
that we are, pugilistically speaking, men of peace ; 
so if they had any doubt, their alarm was soon set at 
rest by my dismissing the light-weight and politely 
begging them to be seated. 

We soon came to a more explicit understanding, 
and the matter was settled without any reference to 
the " Marquis of Queensberry." The truth of the 
matter is that they were very anxious for me to 
act the part, and I was equally anxious to play It. 
With these feelings underlying the difficulty, there 
was no occasion for arbitration. The quarrels 
between manager and actor are never very serious. 
As with loving couples, the slightest advance on 
either side soon brings about a reconciliation. 

The history of " The Octoroon " is well known. 
It dealt with the one absorbing subject of slavery,. 



14* 



214 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

and was produced at a dangerous time. The 
slightest allusion to this now-banished institution 
only served to inflame the country, which was 
already at a white heat. A drama told so well had 
a great effect on the audience, for there was at this 
time a divided feeling in New York with regard to 
the coming struggle. Some were in favor of war, 
others thought it best to delay, and, if possible, 
avert it ; and it was deemed unwise, if not culpable, 
by many for us to act " The Octoroon " at such 
a time. Then there were various opinions as 
to which way the play leaned whether it was 
Northern or Southern in its sympathy. The truth 
of the matter is, it was non-committal. The dia 
logue and characters of the play made one feel 
for the South, but the action proclaimed against 
slavery, and called loudly for its abolition. When 
the old negro, just before the slave sale, calls his 
colored "bredrin" around him and tells them they 
must look their best so as to bring a good price for 
the " missis," and then falling on his knees asks 
a blessing on the family who had been so kind to 
them, the language drew further sympathy for the 
loving hearts of the South ; but when they felt by 
the action of the play that the old darky who had 
made them weep was a slave, they became aboli 
tionists to a man. 

When Zoe, the loving octoroon, is offered to the 
highest bidder, and a warm-hearted Southern girl 
offers all her fortune to buy Zoe and release her 
from the threatened bondage awaiting her, the 
audience cheered for the South; but when again 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 215 

the action revealed that she could be bartered for, 
and was bought and sold, they cheered for the 
North as plainly as though they had said, " Down 
with slavery." This reveals at once how the power 
of dramatic action overwhelms the comparative 
impotency of the dialogue. 

Among the well-remembered characters of my 
dramatic life was an actor named Salisbury. The 
only influence that he exerted upon the stage dur 
ing his career was, I regret to say, anything but a 
good one. " Guying" was formerly a slang term, 
but it has of late years become a technical one for 
trifling with a part upon the stage. The art of 
guying was Mr. Salisbury s forte, and it was the 
only thing that he did well. Life was one huge 
joke to him : he treated nothing seriously. He was 
the delight of actors and the bane of managers. 
It is related of him that he once sent a telegram to 
Mr. Rice of the Chicago Theater applying for an 
engagement. The manager sent back this answer : 
" I would not engage you if you would come for 
nothing"; to which Salisbury replied: "Terms 
accepted. Will be with you to-morrow." 

This man s memory was so wonderful that it 
was almost impossible to ask him a question with 
out getting a Shaksperean quotation in reply. 
If he was imperfect in his part, which was gener 
ally the case with him, he would interpolate 
speeches from other characters, talking the most 
absurd nonsense, and turning a serious scene into 
ridicule. Sometimes the audience, detecting this 
impertinence, would hiss. This rebuke was the 



216 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

only thing that would check him, for any slight 
put upon himself was keenly felt; but the next 
night the chastisement would be forgotten, and he 
would repeat his indiscretion. It was said of him 
that he was generous to a fault; and I think he 
must have been, for he never paid his washerwoman. 
One morning the poor old laundress was dunning 
him for her hard earnings. He was standing at 
the stage door, surrounded by a circle of admirers, 
and turning furiously upon the old woman, he para 
phrased Macbeth s speech to the ghost of anguom 
the following words : " A vaunt, and quit my sight ! 
Thy tubs are marrowless ; there is no starch in 
my fine shirts that thou didst glare withal ! Ap 
proach thou like the Russian manager, the Hyrcan 
critic, or the c Old Rye whisky-us ; or, be alive 
again, and make it salary day. If, trembling then, 
I do inhibit thee, confess me but a babe of a Salis 
bury." The laundress fled in despair, only too glad 
to escape unpaid from the supposed lunatic. 

Innocent mirth is most desirable, but not mirth 
expended at the cost of another s feelings ; and 
Salisbury s unfortunate career, terminating as it 
did in sickness and poverty, is an example of a 
handsome man, possessed of fair ability, who, by 
utter disregard of loyalty to his manager and of 
respect for the public, gradually lost the confidence 
of all who knew him, and became a neglected 
wreck. The practice of guying is unpardonable, 
and the indulgence in it unworthy of an artist or a 
gentleman. The leisure hours passed in the dress 
ing-room or the greenroom afford ample time for an 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS " SALEM SCUDDER." 



218 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

v An actor, perhaps a good one, too, comes gaily 
on the stage. The audience like him and give him 
a hearty welcome ; an evening s enjoyment has 
been promised, and they are in high expectation 
of the compact being fulfilled. Ah ! who are those 
young fellows in the private box ? Quite a jolly 
party, I declare. They know the comedian, too; 
see, he recognizes them. Now the comedian 
just for fun, you know; he does n t mean any 
harm by it introduces some joke: foreign to 
the play, to be sure ; but then the private box 
recognize it at once as some allusion to their last 
merrymaking. How they do enjoy it! Now a 
friendly wink, they laugh again; it s delightful. 
But how about the audience all this time ? What 
are they doing while all this sport is going on ? 
I will tell you. They are not hissing, to be 
sure, well-bred American audiences seldom for 
get themselves so far, for they feel this breach 
of decorum would interfere with the enjoyment of 
others, but they are determining within their 
minds that they are insulted, and that they will 
never come again to see that actor. He has taken 
a liberty with them that they will neither forget 
nor forgive. 

I will not say that in my youth I never indulged 
in what I am now condemning. I did so, but I 
never obtained the position I coveted until I aban 
doned the pernicious habit There is no other 
profession in which honest and serious attention 
to the matter in hand is so promptly rewarded 
as ours. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 219 

Suppose, for an example of the harm that might 
be done, we take a case like this : An actor has 
worked for weeks patiently to study or perhaps 
create a character, and his success in it may prove 
the turning-point of his life. He is poor, and has 
a large family to support. If he but hit the part, 
his fortune is made, and he will not only serve the 
manager, the author, and the public, but be ena 
bled to provide comforts for his home and an 
education for his children. Now, with all this at 
stake, some wanton actor deliberately "guys" his 
part and overturns the patient care of his comrade, 
undermining the foundation and causing the whole 
structure to fall to the ground. See what a wreck 
we have here ! Think of a poor artist before a 
picture upon which he has spent days of toil and 
nights of thought. It is just ready for the Acad 
emy, and now some comrade steals up behind the 
easel and pours a pot of paint over the canvas, 
ruining the work. What shall be said of him ? 
And yet he may have done no more harm than 
the actor who has ruined the bright prospects of 
his brother actor. 

I do not say that guying is always the result of 
cruel mischief. A man may be really good-hearted 
and yet do all this damage ; but whether it be from 
design or thoughtlessness, the result is the same, 
and the habit should be frowned down and checked 
by every honest actor. In making these asser 
tions I do not put them forth as an argument. 
This subject does not admit of argument, for noth 
ing can be said in defense. There is no other side 



220 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

to the question. But the actor who guys is as much 
to be pitied as condemned, for the crime carries 
the punishment along with it. 

The repertory that naturally falls to a tragic 
actor gives him an immeasurable advantage over a 
comedian. Nearly all of the tragedies or serious 
plays, both of ancient and modern structure, have 
for their heroes one conspicuous and central figure, 
who is in a marked degree superior to the sur 
rounding characters that support him, whereas the 
comedies, with but few exceptions, have been con 
structed with the view of displaying a group of 
actors. 

If the starring system, as it is called, be an evil, 
then Shakspere is undoubtedly responsible for its 
existence, as his tragedies almost without exception 
contain one great character on whom the interest 
of the play turns, and upon whom the attention of 
the audience is centered. When he introduces two 
figures for this purpose, as shown in the attitudes 
of Othello and lago, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, 
they are so closely knit together that the double 
light shines only with a single ray. In the play of 
" Romeo and Juliet" it is supposed that Mercutio 
was killed early in the drama lest his brilliancy 
should dim the luster of the lovers. There are 
undoubtedly other splendid characters in the 
tragedies of Shakspere, but when brought in con 
trast with the magnitude of his heroes they are 
comparatively subordinate. In his comedies the 
characters are formed in groups, and are generally 
so arranged that they may be in some measure of 




TYRONE POWER AS "CORPORAL O CONOR." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 221 

equal value. Falstaff would seem to be an excep 
tion, yet even here the historical drama of ts Henry 
IV.," in which the fat knight figures so conspicu 
ously, is a play, not a comedy. Under these con 
ditions the comedians of the olden time, though 
great favorites with the public, and in many in 
stances superb actors, as individual attractions 
never drew large audiences. Possibly Sam Foote, 
who acted during Garrick s time, and later the 
elder Mathews, were notable exceptions ; but even 
these actors, the legitimate comedians, were forced 
to abandon the old comedies and arrange special 
entertainments of their own, in which they gave 
imitations of popular and easily recognized public 
characters. 

The first to command universal attention as a 
single magnet was Tyrone Power, Possibly he 
was no greater than the comedians that preceded 
him, but Irish comedy up to the time of his advent 
had been confined to characters that were less im 
portant. Fortunately for Power, a number of 
rollicking and effective plays were written for him, 
through which his own unique power shone with 
special brilliancy. Besides this, he was not a 
mushroom. His professional growth had .been 
gradual and healthy. As the leading juvenile 
actor and light comedian of the Theater Royal, 
Dublin, he had been for four years the prime 
favorite of the city, and afterwards, as a leader 
in legitimate plays at the Haymarket Theater, in 
London, he held a no less important position. 
This career was a firm foundation upon which to 



222 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

build his lighter, but to the public more valued, 
work ; so that his long theatrical experience, added 
to his new and effective repertory, ranked him as 
the greatest and most successful Irish comedian of 
his time. I am not aware what effect Power s suc 
cess as a star had upon the English stage, it is 
more conservative than our own, but his achieve 
ments here stirred up a new ambition among the 
comedians of America, and with national energy 
they immediately set to work developing their 
especial gifts ; and these in many instances quali 
fied them for becoming distinct features. Casting 
aside the old comedies, they came forward with 
novel and effective, if not legitimate plays. Dra 
matic portraits of Dutchmen, Yankees, French 
men, together with the Western and local char 
acters of our own country, were speedily and 
vigorously exhibited, many of them commanding 
immediate attention. Among the most success 
ful comedians may be mentioned Hackett, Hill, 
Marble, Burke, Chanfrau, Williams, and, later on, 
Owens, Sothern, Florence, Raymond, and a host 
of others. 

For myself, like some of those already mentioned, 
I had always been, more or less, a legitimate actor, 
and the hope of entering the race for dramatic fame 
as an individual and single attraction never came 
into my head until, in 1858, I acted Asa Tren- 
chard in " Our American Cousin " ; but as the 
curtain descended the first night on that remark 
ably successful play, visions of large type, foreign 
countries, and increased remuneration floated be- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 223 

fore me, and I resolved to be a star if I could. A 
resolution to this effect is easily made ; its accom 
plishment is quite another matter. 

Art has always been my sweetheart, and I have 
loved her for herself alone. I had fancied that our 
affection was mutual, so that when I failed as a 
star, which I certainly did, I thought she had 
jilted me. Not so. I wronged her. She only 
reminded me that I had taken too great a liberty, 
and that if I expected to win her I must press 
my suit with more patience. Checked, but un 
daunted in the resolve, my mind dwelt upon my 
vision, and I still indulged in day-dreams of the 
future. 

During these delightful reveries it came up 
before me -that in acting Asa Trenchard I had, 
for the first time in my life on the stage, spoken 
a pathetic speech ; and though I did not look at 
the audience during the time I was acting, for 
that is dreadful, I felt that they both laughed 
and cried. I had before this often made my audi 
ence smile, but never until now had I moved them 
to tears. This to me novel accomplishment was 
delightful, and in casting about for a new char 
acter my mind was ever dwelling on reproducing 
an effect where humor would be so closely allied 
to pathos that smiles and tears should mingle with 
each other. Where could I get one? There had 
been many written, and as I looked back into the 
dramatic history of the past a long line of lovely 
ghosts loomed up before me, passing as in a pro^ 
cession: Job Thornberry, Bob Tyke, Frank Oat- 



224 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

land, Zekiel Homespun, and a host of departed 
heroes "with martial stalk went by my watch." 
Charming fellows all, but not for me. I felt I 
could not do them justice. Besides, they were 
too human. I was looking for a myth some 
thing intangible and impossible. But he would 
not come. Time went on, and still with no 
result. 

During the summer of 1859 I arranged to board 
with my family at a queer old Dutch farm-house 
in Paradise Valley, at the foot of Pocono Moun 
tain, in Pennsylvania. A ridge of hills covered 
with tall hemlocks surrounds the vale, and numer 
ous trout-streams wind through the meadows and 
tumble over the rocks. Stray farms are scattered 
through the valley, and the few old Dutchmen and 
their families who till the soil were born upon it ; 
there and only there they have ever lived. The 
valley harmonized with me and our resources. 
The scene was wild, the air was fresh, and the 
board was cheap. What could the light heart and 
purse of a poor actor ask for more than this? 
j On one of those long rainy days that always 
render the country so dull I had climbed to the 
loft of the barn, and lying upon the hay was read 
ing that delightful book, "The Life and Letters 
of Washington Irving." I had gotten well into 
the volume, and was much interested in it when, 
to my surprise, I came upon a passage which said 
that he had seen me at Laura Keene s theater as 
Goldfinch in Holcroft s comedy of " The Road to 
Ruin," and that I reminded him of my father " in 




BARNEY WILLIAMS. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 225 

look, gesture, size, and make." Till then I was not 
aware that he had ever seen me. I was compara 
tively obscure, and to find myself remembered and 
written of by such a man gave me a thrill of pleas 
ure I can never forget. I put down the book, and 
lay there thinking how proud I was, and ought to 
be, at the revelation of this compliment What an 
incentive to a youngster like me to go on ! 

And so I thought to myself, "Washington Irving, 
the author of The Sketch-Book, in which is the 
quaint story of Rip Van Winkle." Rip Van Winkle ! 
There was to me magic in the sound of the name 
as I repeated it. Why, was not this the very char 
acter I wanted ? An American story by an Ameri 
can author was surely just the theme suited to an 
American actor. 

In ten minutes I had gone to the house and 
returned to the barn with "The Sketch-Book." 
I had not read the story since I was a boy. I was 
disappointed with it ; not as a story, of course, but 
the tale was purely a narrative. The theme was 
interesting, but not dramatic. The silver Hudson 
stretches out before you as you read, the quaint 
red roofs and queer gables of the old Dutch cot 
tages stand out against the mist upon the moun 
tains ; but all this is descriptive. The character of 
Rip does not speak ten lines. What could be done 
dramatically with so simple a sketch ? How could 
it be turned into an effective play ? 

Three or four bad dramatizations of the story 
had already been acted, but without marked suc 
cess. Yates of London had given one in which 



226 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the hero dies, one had been acted by my father, 
one by Hackett, and another by Burke. Some of 
these versions I had remembered when I was a 
boy, and I should say that Burke s play and 
performance were the best, but nothing that I 
remembered gave me the slightest encourage 
ment that I could get a good play out of any of 
the existing materials. Still I was so bent upon 
acting the part that I started for the city, and in 
less than a week, by industriously ransacking the 
theatrical wardrobe establishments for old leather 
and mildewed cloth, and by personally superin 
tending the making of the wigs, each article of 
my costume. was completed; and all this too be 
fore I had written a line of the play or studied a 
word of the part. 

This is working in an opposite direction from 
all the conventional methods in the study and 
elaboration of a dramatic character, and certainly 
not following the course I would advise any one 
to pursue. I merely mention the out-of-the-way, 
upside-down manner of going to work as an illus 
tration of the impatience and enthusiasm with 
which I entered upon the task. I can only account 
for my getting the dress ready before I studied 
the part to the vain desire I had of witnessing 
myself in the glass, decked out and equipped as 
the hero of the Catskills. 

I got together the three old printed versions of 
the drama and the story itself. The plays were all 
in two acts. I thought it would be an improve 
ment in the drama to arrange it in three, making 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 227 

the scene with the specter crew an act by itself. 
This would separate the poetical from the domestic 
side of the story. But by far the most important 
alteration was in the interview with the spirits. In 
the old versions they spoke and sang. I remem 
bered that the effect of this ghostly dialogue was 
dreadfully human, so I arranged that no voice but 
Rip s should be heard. This is the only act on the 
stage in which but one person speaks while all the 
others merely gesticulate, and I was quite sure 
that the silence of the crew would give a lonely 
and desolate character to the scene and add to its 
supernatural weirdness. By this means, too, a 
strong contrast with the single voice of Rip was 
obtained by the deathlike stillness of the " demons " 
as they glided about the stage in solemn silence. 
It required some thought to hit upon just the best 
questions that could be answered by a nod and 
shake of the head, and to arrange that at times even 
Rip should propound a query to himself and answer 
it ; but I had availed myself of so much of the old 
material that in .a few days after I had begun my 
work it was finished. 

In the seclusion of the barn I studied and re 
hearsed the part, and by the end of summer I was 
prepared to transplant it from the rustic realms of 
an old farm-house to a cosmopolitan audience in 
the city of Washington, where I opened at Carusi s 
Hall under the management of John T. Raymond. 
I had gone over the play so thoroughly that each 
situation was fairly engraved on my mind. The re 
hearsals were therefore not tedious to the actors * 



228 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

no one was delayed that I might consider how he 
or she should be disposed in the scene. I had by 
repeated experiments so saturated myself with the 
action of the play that a few days served to per 
fect the rehearsals. I acted on these occasions 
with all the point and feeling that I could muster. 
This answered the double purpose of giving me 
freedom and of observing the effect of what I was 
doing on the actors. They seemed to be watching 
me closely, and I could tell by little nods of ap 
proval where and when the points hit. 

I became each day more and more interested in 
the work ; there was in the subject and the part 
much scope for novel and fanciful treatment. If 
the sleep of twenty years was merely incongruous, 
there would be room for argument pro and con ; 
but as it is an impossibility, I felt that the audience 
would accept it at once, not because it was an im 
possibility, but from a desire to know in what con 
dition a man s mind would be if such an event 
could happen. Would he be thus changed ? His 
identity being denied both by strangers, friends, 
and family, would he at last almost accept the ver 
dict and exclaim, "Then I am dead, and that is a 
fact " ? This was the strange and original attitude 
of the character that attracted me. 

In acting such a part what to do was simple 
enough, but what not to do was the important 
and difficult point to determine. As the earlier 
scenes of the play were of a natural and domestic 
character, I had only to draw upon my experience 
for their effect, or employ such conventional 
metheds as myself and others had used before in 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 229 

characters of that sort. But from the moment Rip 
meets the spirits of Hendrik Hudson and his crew 
I felt that all colloquial dialogue and common 
place pantomime should cease. It is at this point in 
the story that the supernatural element begins, and 
henceforth the character must be raised from the 
domestic plane and lifted into the realms of the 
ideal. 

To be brief, the play was acted with a result 
that was to me both satisfactory and disappointing. 
I was quite sure that the character was what I had 
been seeking, and I was equally satisfied that the 
play was not. The action had neither the body 
nor the strength to carry the hero; the spiritual 
quality was there, but the human interest was 
wanting. The final alterations and additions were 
made five years later by Dion Boucicault, and will 
be referred to in their place. 

At the death of my wife, which occurred in 
March, 1861, I broke up my household in New 
York, and, leaving three of my children at school, 
left home with my eldest son for California. 

Through the act of an overzealous agent, my 
engagement in San Francisco was an unmistakable 
failure. Before my arrival I had been " over- 
billed," as it is technically termed. If a circus had 
been coming the placards could hardly have been 
more numerous. Those fatal documents known as 
the " opinions of the press " had been so freely cir 
culated that every one was aware not only of what 
I could do but what I had done, and must therefore 
take for granted what I was going to do. All 
power of judging for themselves had been denied 



IS* 



230 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

both to the public and the local press. I felt 
that I should fail, and I did fail. 

One of the first actors I met on my arrival was 
Harry Perry. I had known him years before, and 
we had acted together in our youth. He was 
standing in front of the theater reading, rather 
quizzically, I fancy, one of the many cards on which 
were printed the previously mentioned, and, I think, 
always to be avoided, "opinions of the press." 
After we had shaken hands, he looked at me with 
the same old twinkle of mischief in his eye that I 
had remembered years ago, and said, pointing to 
the " opinions," " You must have improved greatly 
since we last met." 

Harry Perry was one of the handsomest men on 
the stage, and a capital actor too. His animal 
spirits and personal magnetism, however, were the 
raw materials out of which his popularity was 
manufactured. In those parts that belonged to a 
farce light comedian he was quite unequaled. 
Youth, vivacity, and a ringing laugh made him 
altogether one of the most captivating fellows in 
his line. His figure was lithe and graceful, and, 
as was said of one of the old light comedians years 
ago, he had a five-act comedy in each eye. On the 
occasion I speak of he was quite intoxicated with 
happiness, being in the height of a honeymoon. 
His bride was Miss Agnes Land, now Mrs. Agnes 
Booth, a young lady who had lately arrived from 
Australia, and whose talent and beauty combined 
with his own made them valuable members of the 
theatrical profession. 




HARSY A. PERRY. 



CHAPTER IX 

IN AUSTRALIA, VAN DIEMEN s LAND, AND 
NEW ZEALAND 

From California to Australia Sydney Mel 
bourne The Skeleton Dance The Shepherd 
An A^lstralia1l Tragedy A Terrible Audience 
The Keans A Chinese Theater 

ON the loth of September, 1861, I sailed 
from San Francisco in the fine ship Nim- 
rod, bound for Port Phillip and the harbor 
of Sydney. I had only my son, my agent, and my 
agent s mother with me. There were two or three 
other passengers besides ourselves, of one of whom 
I must make special mention : he was a Catholic 
priest, a cheerful, pleasant man, named Father 
O Grady. 

From California to Australia is what the sailors 
call a fair-weather passage, most of it being made 
through the trade- winds. Our voyage was a pleas 
ant, uneventful trip of fifty-seven days. I passed 
most of the time in reading, sketching, and trying to 
divert Father O Grady from celibacy ; I told him 
he was altogether too good a fellow for a single 



232 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

man, and assured him that he would never know 
what true happiness was till he got a wife by his 
side and had half a dozen children on his knee. 
Our theological arguments on the quarter-deck 
were a source of great amusement to ourselves and 
the passengers. O Grady, when he became ex 
cited, would walk up and down the deck, tossing 
his long arms wildly about as if he were making 
signals of distress. 

We passed to the south, and just in sight of 
Norfolk Island, which is said to be the loveliest 
spot in the Pacific Ocean. It was formerly a con 
vict station, but the prisoners had been removed 
for many years, and the place was then, and I 
believe is now, occupied by a colony called the 
Pitcairn Islanders. The " mutiny of the Bounty" it 
will be remembered, occurred during the latter part 
of the last century, and the people now living on 
Norfolk Island are the descendants of the mu 
tineers. 

On the 4th of November the coast of Australia 
loomed up before us. A great wall of rocks rises 
almost perpendicularly from the ocean, and the 
narrow opening directly in front of us is called 
Sydney Heads. When a ship arrives in sight of 
this formidable place it is customary for the sailors 
to inform the passengers that this is the most dan 
gerous spot in the world. A thrilling story at this 
point of the voyage seems to be in order, and one 
of the crew is generally called upon to relate an 
awful catastrophe that once occurred in the very 
sight of the spot where the ship is sailing. We 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 233 

stood out well to sea that night, as the weather had 
a threatening aspect, and at daylight, the wind 
being fair, made again for the land. The pilot 
sighted us, and brought the ship safely over the 
treacherous shoals into the beautiful harbor of 
Sydney. Once inside, if the day be fine, what 
perfect fairyland is here : the rocks are of a beautiful 
siena tint, surmounted with rich foliage in every 
shade of green ; numerous little crescent bays edged 
with white sand curve in and out, meeting the deep 
blue water ; islands crowned with tall and graceful 
trees ; parrots in the gaudiest coats of plumage fly 
in flocks chattering and screaming through the air ; 
and the whole harbor is dotted with white sails and 
gaily colored streamers. In the middle distance 
is the beautiful city of Sydney : a long, low line 
of shipping stretches in front, and as the high 
bluff rises behind the tapering masts, the town, with 
its tall, white stone buildings and church spires, 
finishes the picture. As our ship sailed into this 
dreamland of beauty there was a rich purple haze 
veiling the scene ; the sun shone like gold in the 
far-off horizon, and as it sank behind the city the 
purple deepened into blue. We reached the town 
and dropped our anchor, the night came slowly on, 
the new constellations of stars (not seen in our fir 
mament) sparkled over our heads, myriads of lights 
in the city and the surrounding shipping were 
reflected in the water, and all these glittering gems 
twinkled and flickered like fireflies about us. 

The next morning I rose early, and rejoiced after 
fifty-seven days rolling about to get my feet once 



234 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

more upon land. As I stepped ashore I had that 
curious sensation which all must feel when for the 
first time they find themselves in a new country 
where, though they speak the same language, not 
a soul knows or has ever heard of them. I walked 
through the busy streets holding my son by the 
hand, and tightly too, for it was comfort to feel 
that there was some one near who knew and felt an 
interest in me. I seemed to regret that I had come 
so far from home, and wondered whether I should 
ever be able to raise any interest among the vast 
crowd of strangers that surrounded me. 

I met my agent by appointment at the little hotel 
where we stopped, and he handed me the money 
he had gone in quest of. The first thing to do now 
was to purchase new clothes, something that would 
at least faintly resemble the costumes of the people, 
which mine certainly did not in any degree. The 
hat is always the first thing to change ; everybody 
looks at your hat as soon as you arrive in a strange 
country. These little matters were soon amended, 
and in a short hour I looked quite like the people, 
but not a bit like myself. My agent had been a 
manager in Australia some years before, so he 
knew everybody. We went to the theater, where 
he introduced me. to the manager ; and as I shall 
have some little business relations with this gentle 
man of an interesting sort, perhaps it will be as well 
to describe him, he being almost an historical char 
acter. He was an under- sized, round-shouldered 
little cockney, named Rolamo. Where he got this 
remarkably Italian appellation I cannot say, but if 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 235 

his ancestors belonged to the "land of song" they 
must have strayed into the very heart of White- 
chapel just previous to the birth of their son and 
heir, as his dialect was strongly impregnated with 
the drawling twang of that locality. It is recorded 
of him that he never was known to put an h in the 
right place, and his talent for reversing the w and 
v almost amounted to genius. He had originally 
been lamplighter in the theater, but by his industry 
and intelligence he rose to be its manager, and he 
was in the zenith of his fame when I arrived in 
Australia. After my agent had introduced me to 
Mr. Rolamo as the coming man who was to make 
his (the manager s) fortune, that worthy cast a 
patronizing eye over me, but did not seem at all 
overwhelmed, taking my arrival with provoking 
coolness. This chilling atmosphere pervaded the 
office until my agent unrolled some highly inflam 
mable printed matter, the novel character of which 
seemed to attract the great man s attention, and 
condescending to address me, he said, " You see, 
Mr. Jeffries oh, beg pardon; Jimmison, I mean, 
with all due respect to you, there as been so 
many blawsted Yankee comics over ere that we 
are kind o sick on em. You may be a hextra good 
lot for all I know, but lately the queerest mummers 
we Ve ad ave come from Amerikee. This printed 
stuff you Ve got looks spicy, in fact, I don t know 
as I ever see spicier, but it don t prove nothink, 
does it?" 

My agent here broke in with the assurance that I 
was a legitimate actor and not a mummer. 



236 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

" Legitimate ! " said the manager. " Well, that s 
the worst rot of all. The legitimate would wenti- 
late my theeater on the first night ; and as for that 
dismal old guy Amlet, I would n t J ave im at no 
price." 

I told him that Hamlet was not upon my bill 
of characters, and that so far as I was con 
cerned the reputation of his theater would be in 
no way desecrated by any Shaksperean produc 
tions. Besides, I admitted his perfect right to 
protect himself against fraud, and, as I was a 
stranger, I proposed first to show him what my 
material consisted of, and wound up by offering to 
rent his theater and company, pay him a good 
bonus to relinquish the management into our 
hands for a month, and, if we could agree 
upon terms, give him his money in advance. 
At this proposal the hard features of Mr. Rolamo 
softened into an oily sweetness that was lovely to 
behold; he gently put out both hands to grasp 
mine, his eyes fairly beamed on me with affection, 
and his heart seemed so touched that it quite 
choked his utterance. 

" My dear lad," said he, " that s the way I likes 
to hear a cove talk; for I always believes in a cove 
wot believes in hisself." 

Terms were soon agreed upon, and it was settled 
that the contract should be signed that evening and 
the first advance paid. In due time our printing 
was posted on the walls, and the lithographs 
a novel feature in those days were placed in 
the shop windows. I passed my time in wan- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 237 

dering about the streets, observing the startled 
inhabitants as they scanned the pictures, stopping 
from time to time to listen to their remarks. 

Of course my first night in Sydney was spent at 
the theater, always an attractive point to the actor. 
It is said that few men are in love with their voca 
tion, but this remark cannot be applied with justice 
to members of the theatrical profession; some actors 
will play without salary rather than not act at all. 
On this occasion, however, it was more a matter 
of business than pleasure that took me to the play. 
I was anxious to see the kind of acting that was 
most effective here, and also to examine the qual 
ities of the company in reference to their fitness 
for the characters in my list of plays. I found 
the acting much better than I expected ; in fact, 
throughout the colonies I was invariably impressed 
by this dramatic excellence. The actors had orig 
inally come from England to Australia to star. 
Afterwards in many instances they had settled 
here, making it their home, and as their novelty 
wore off had dropped into the different stock com 
panies, and so had become admirable supporters 
to the stars that followed. I sat in front of the 
theater on the night referred to, and, as the actors 
came upon the stage one by one, I plainly saw that 
I had my work cut out if I expected to stand 
prominently forward amidst such surroundings. It 
was also quite evident that the delicate sensibilities 
of Mr. Rolamo had failed to appreciate the fine 
legitimate qualities of his company, and had more 
over underrated the taste of his patrons. In a few 



238 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

days it was settled that the company should assem 
ble in the greenroom, where I was to be formally 
introduced previous to reading my opening play 
to them. The introduction was given under the 
" auspices" of the manager, who performed the cere 
mony after the following manner : Ushering me 
into the presence of the company, he made an 
awkward bow, forgetting to take off his hat, a 
tall, black, semi-conical-shaped article with a large 
dent in it, and announced me as "Mr. Jimminson 
from Amerikee." 

I found the company obliging, and, as I expected, 
thoroughly competent. Matters progressed favor 
ably, the pieces for the first week were rehearsed, 
and all things were duly prepared for the opening. 
The house was quite good on that night, and the 
audience generous and sympathetic ; they seemed 
to appreciate what a thorough stranger I was, " and 
as a stranger gave me welcome. " 

When the curtain fell, I was congratulated by 
the company and Mr. Rolamo, who I fancied was 
a little annoyed to think that he had not made other 
terms with me, as his compliments were couched in 
the following remark: "I say, mister, I took you 
for a green un when I first see you ; you got a 
kind o innocent look about you, but you re sharp, 
do you know that?" I told him that I did not 
think I was particularly sagacious, but thanked him 
for the delicacy of his compliment, and hoped that 
I might live to deserve it. 

I was fortunate in bringing with me to Australia 
a large amount of new material in the matter of 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 239 

plays. "Rip Van Winkle/ "Our American 
Cousin," and "The Octoroon" were all novel, and 
their reception was most satisfactory. 

At the expiration of my Sydney engagement we 
took the steamer to Melbourne. Fawcett Rowe 
was the manager here of the Princess Theater, and 
the same arrangements were entered into with him 
that had been made at Sydney. Our success in 
Melbourne was even more flattering than it had 
been in Sydney, and it v#s quite evident from the 
impression made that we were likely to continue 
our season for some time. The audiences were 
numerous and fashionable, and the articles in the 
daily papers referring to our plays and acting were 
of the highest literary character; those in "The 
Argus," written by the accomplished critic James 
Smith, were models in style and strength. 

My engagement at the Princess extended to one 
hundred and sixty-four consecutive nights. At its 
conclusion my agent and I dissolved our temporary 
partnership, he assuming the management of the 
new Haymarket Theater, and I going into the small 
mining and provincial towns to reap the benefit of 
the reputation I had acquired in the two larger 
cities. Ballarat, Bendigo, and Adelaide had all 
good stock companies, and were visited in their turn, 
generally with pleasant and profitable results. 

During this provincial tour I was acting in one 
of the mining towns called Castlemaine, and after 
tea as I was strolling leisurely towards the theater 
my ears were suddenly saluted by the violent ring 
ing of a bell, and a sonorous bass voice roaring out 



240 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

my name in full. I looked in the direction of this 
unaccountable noise and saw a little fat man, in a 
high white hat and a seedy suit of black, standing 
on a barrel in front of the theater and surrounded 
by a crowd of boys. Gesticulating violently with 
his left hand, he swung in the right an enormous 
belL Now suddenly stopping, he seemed to swell 
and got red in the face as he delivered himself of 
the following: "Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Step 
up, ladies and gentlemqj ; now or never is your 
only chance to see the greatest living wonder of 
the age, Joseph Jefferson, the great hactor from 
Amerikee. His power of producing tears and 
smiles at vun and the same time is so great that 
he caused the Emperor of Roushia to weep on his 
weddin night, and made her gracious Majesty the 
Queen bu st out laughin at the funeral of Prince 
Albert. He is the bosom friend of the President 
of Amerikee and the hidol of is Royal Ighness the 
Prince of Wales." 

I always had a horror of orators. They are sel 
dom sincere, and never hesitate to say the wrong 
thing instead of the right one if they can say it 
best To most of them epigram is more sacred 
than truth, and we are often so fascinated with the 
manner that we forget somewhat the matter. It 
must have been the comical earnestness and bom 
bastic attitude of this extraordinary creature that 
had interested the crowd; certainly they did not 
believe what he was saying, for they were rearing 
with laughter at every word, while his face was as 
serious as the fifth act of a tragedy. At this junc- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 241 

ture I rushed into the theater and demanded that 
the manager should make the bellman stop. " Why, 
we always have it done here, and thought you d 
like it," replied the manager. 

" Like it ! " said I. " If he is not stopped at once 
I shall not act." So the little fat man was ordered 
to cease his harangue and come down from his 
barrel : but no, he said he would n t budge ; he 
was n t half through, and it would injure his business 
and ruin his reputation to be cut off "in the heye 
of the public," and he would "be blowed" if he 
stirred till he finished. The manager now appealed 
to me to let him go on. "Now, mark me," said I. 
"If he rings that bell again, or opens his mouth, 
I don t act." This settled it. The little fat man 
now stood with his arms folded, glaring defiance at 
the manager and his myrmidons, but they seized 
him and a tremendous struggle ensued. The tall 
white hat was completely mashed over his eyes, 
and in stamping violently with his rage the head 
of the barrel burst in, letting him through till only 
a fat head just appeared above the top. They 
tipped the barrel over and rolled him off inside, to 
the great amusement of the bystanders, who had 
been roaring with laughter all the time. 

After having been in the colonies about a year, 
during which time I had acted quite steadily, I de 
termined to take a long rest and see a little of the 
interior life of the country. At the invitation of 
the Winter brothers I visited their station, the 
land they owned, and the Government lease con 
trolled by them, extending over an area of seventy 

16 



242 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

miles in length and fifty in breadth. There are 
many such stations in Australia, but the pasturage 
was thin, and the interior of the country badly 
watered, so that these vast tracts of land would not 
support with much profit the large flocks of sheep 
that grazed upon them. My son and I lived with 
the Winter brothers several weeks. They placed 
their house, servants, and horses at our command, 
to which they added their own pleasant company 
and warm hospitality. I staid three weeks with 
these gentlemen, shooting, fishing, and riding. At 
the end of this time I sent my son back to Mel 
bourne to finish his term at the Scotch college, and 
having a desire to penetrate farther into the coun 
try, started for the Murray River, where I was told 
I could see a wild and interesting region. 

There are little settlements along the river to 
which the aborigines pay periodical visits to beg 
for ammunition and hold their "corrobories," as 
one of their mystic ceremonies is called. In a few 
days I reached the river, and, having a letter of in 
troduction to the owner of a large station, took up 
my abode there for a fortnight, meeting with the 
same kind welcome that I was assured would at 
tend my visit. 

A party of "blacks," as the natives are called, 
was encamped near here, so I had full time to wit 
ness their sports, if sports they can be called, for 
more dismal games can scarcely be imagined. One 
of the features of the "corrobory" is the "skeleton 
dance." I saw this weird performance, which is 
conducted in a curious way. A long row of fagots 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 243 

or broken sticks was stretched upon the ground for 
a distance of forty feet ; these were ignited, mak 
ing the footlights to illuminate the performance. 
The audience was made up of myself and a few 
visitors, paying what we chose to give the natives 
for their artistic display. We were seated on logs, 
stumps, and rudely made benches in front of this 
elongated fire, huge logs being arranged between 
us and the blaze, so as to shield the light from our 
eyes. The actors always select a dark and moon 
less night for this exhibition, so that before the per 
formance began all we saw was a dismal forest of 
tall, gaunt trees, faintly illuminated by the foot 
lights. Now far off a strange sound was heard, 
moaning and faint cries of distress ; then came the 
dismal beating of a drum, and in the distance, out 
of the darkness, appeared forty or fifty skeletons. 
They came forward slowly, hand in hand, with a 
strange halting gait, till they were close to the fire. 
There they paused, and for full ten minutes were 
as still as death. The effect is produced by paint 
ing their black bodies with white earth or chalk. 
The bones of the human anatomy are as perfectly 
marked out as if done by a surgeon and an artist 
attenuated white stripes down their legs, with 
bulging knee-caps and broad, white hips, the breast 
bone and ribs, shoulder-blades and arms, all clearly 
defined, and the long neck surmounted by a hideous 
skull. Their black bodies mingle with the dark 
ness that surrounds them, and the fire shining upon 
the white pigment makes the illusion quite com 
plete. Not a sound is heard for full ten minutes ; 



244 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

even the audience speak in whispers. At some 
mysterious signal, so arranged that no one can de 
tect it, every alternate skeleton begins to move 
slowly, the others remaining rigid, then they jerk 
violently and spasmodically, and suddenly stop 
ping, they become rigid ; then the alternate skele 
tons begin to move, and so go through the same 
fantastic actions. Now they all screech and dance 
together, and suddenly, turning their backs, plunge 
into the deep woods and disappear. The spectators 
seem to breathe more freely after they are gone, 
and, looking around on one another, exclaim 
that it is the strangest sight they have ever 
witnessed. 

The next morning I visited the camp, such as it 
was, for they seemed to have little or no shelter. 
The tribe numbered about sixty blacks, and a more 
miserable lot of human beings I never saw long, 
thin legs and arms, big stomachs, huge, fat heads 
covered with large shocks of unkempt hair. I no 
ticed there were only two or three children among 
them, which seemed rather curious in so large a 
tribe. I asked one of the women if that was her 
only child which she was holding by the hand, to 
which she replied, "Yes, me only keep dat one." 
On inquiry of the landlord of the little hotel what 
she meant by that, he explained that he supposed 
she had drowned all the other small members of 
the family. It seems that after a child is born, if it 
is of much trouble to the mother, she tosses it into 
the river. With these exhibitions of maternal af 
fection it is no wonder that the aborigines of the 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 245 

country are fast disappearing. I don t suppose 
that they make away with their children from 
cruelty, for they do not seem to possess either 
that quality or affection, but simply because they 
do not want to be troubled with the care of them. 
They do not appear to buy anything or to offer 
anything of consequence for sale, and as they wan 
der listlessly from town to town they are followed 
by the most dreadful lot of cur dogs of all sizes, 
sorts, and shapes, attenuated and half-starved ani 
mals, that look even more miserable than their 
wretched masters. 

One of their sports is the throwing of the boom 
erang. This instrument is made of hard wood and 
shaped somewhat like a carpenter s square. If they 
wish to strike an object, they hurl the boomerang 
in an opposite direction from the mark. It shoots 
forward at tremendous speed, and then suddenly 
stops for a moment, and, making a sharp turn, 
cpmes backward almost to the place it started 
from, and so strikes the object aimed at. Some 
people think that this eccentric movement is 
caused by the shape of the instrument; but be 
that as it may, no one can throw it with any preci 
sion but the native blacks. 

The scenery in the interior of Australia is in 
many respects uninteresting, having but little vari 
ety. The blue-gum tree, or eucalyptus, grows 
everywhere. This tree is said to have the virtue 
of absorbing malarious poisons from the air, and has 
been introduced in California and the Southern 
States with marked success. 



246 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

On one of my excursions, riding through the 
blue-gum forest, I had galloped about twenty 
miles from the home station ; dismounting from 
the horse, I sat down to rest and take a lunch. 
A large flock of cockatoos, those beautiful white 
parrots with yellow crests, came circling around 
and lighted in the trees overhead. I was watching 
the curious maneuvers of these birds as they were 
chattering and hopping about among the limbs, 
when they stopped suddenly as if alarmed. Some 
thing was evidently approaching of which they 
were in dread. They set up an awful scream, and 
with a tremendous flutter spread their white wings 
and sailed away. Just at this moment a large 
black collie dog came bounding out of the bushes 
and suddenly stopped in front of me. For a 
moment I was startled. The dog paused and 
eyed me keenly, then coming slowly up walked 
round me, and at last approached and licked my 
hand, which I had held out to him. In a moment 
more he bounded away, leaving me astonished at 
his strange conduct. I had never seen a dog act 
in so singular a manner, and was wondering what 
it could mean, when a sharp, joyful bark warned 
me that he was returning ; and, sure enough, he 
had come back wagging his tail and followed by 
a tall, gaunt figure of a man thinly clad, bare 
footed, and with a wide-brimmed, frayed straw 
hat on his head. He was about fifty years of age, 
and as he removed his hat and made me a well- 
mannered, dignified bow, I could see that, though 
he was undoubtedly a shepherd, he had once been 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 247 

a gentleman who had seen better days. As he 
stood bareheaded before me the wind blew his 
long, thin, sandy hair about his brow, and he re 
garded me with a strange, far-off look in his eyes, 
as if I had been miles away. I met several shep 
herds after this, and noticed that same strained 
expression. They live so much alone, sometimes 
being three and four months without seeing a 
human being, that they form this habit by looking 
over the plains, hoping that they may catch sight 
of some one to relieve the awful monotony of their 
lonely lives. " Thank God ! God bless you, sir ! 
I hope you are quite well," he said. There was 
not much expression in the man s face. I almost 
fancied that he looked like a sheep, but there was 
enough to prove that he was glad to see me ; and 
would have been to see any one else, for the mat* 
ter of that. " Sit down, my friend, and have some 
lunch with me," said I. "Thank you, I will," said 
he. "Well, Jack, you are right, quite right; you 
always are, old boy." This was said to the dog, 
who never once took his eye off his master, but 
stood in front of him wagging his affectionate tail, 
that expressed as much love for the poor, tattered, 
wasted shepherd as it could have done had he been 
an emperor in purple robes. " Yes, always right 
and true, eh, old boy?" The dog answered by 
lickiag the shepherd s hand and rubbing his head 
against his master s legs. 

" I knew you were here," said he. " You knew 
I was here? How could you tell that? What do 
you mean?" "Oh, when I say that I mean that 



248 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

I knew it was a friend, or at least not an enemy ; 
and Jack knew, if I did n t. About an hour ago, 
the dog began to get uneasy. He ran about sniff 
ing the air and giving little short barks ; then all 
of a sudden he broke away and left me. I thought 
he was on the lookout for something strange, so 
I just sat down among the sheep and waited for 
him. Presently he came back quite pleased at 
what he had discovered ; then he gave some more 
of those little short barks and ran off towards you 
and back again ; then wagged his tail impatiently. 
He could not have spoken plainer if he had been 
a Christian. The loving beast knows the lonely 
life I lead, and how I yearn sometimes for a human 
face to look at. That s why he went on so Gcd 
bless him ! It 11 be a shame for us to live in the 
other world if Jack don t go there. Look at him 
now ; can t you see in his face that he knows that 
I have been talking about him? and every word 
I Ve said, for the matter of that, I believe." And 
sure enough, the look in the dog s face was almost 
human. 

The man now sat down quietly beside me, and 
ate sparingly and rather mechanically of the lunch, 
always sharing his morsel with Jack. I took out 
a flask of whisky, and, pouring out some of it into 
a cup, offered my guest a drink. His eyes beamed 
with a longing look as he saw the liquor, and, turn 
ing on me a strange, frightened look, said : " No, 
none of that for me. Put it away, please ; I don t 
like the sight of it" It now dawned upon me that 
my friend was a reformed drunkard, who had come 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 249 

out to this lonely part of the world to avoid tempta 
tion. I had heard that there were many such in 
Australia, and that the shepherd s life was chosen 
as being the most isolated one that could be found. 
I rose to take my departure, when he put his hand 
gently on my arm, and with an appealing look 
said: "You won t go back to-night, will you? 
It s too late. I wish you d stay in my hut to 
night, it s so long since I Ve seen a human face 
over three months now. A man only conies once 
in a great while to bring provisions, and that s all 
we see of humanity from one year s end to another. 
Do stay to-night, won t you ? " " I d like to oblige 
you," I replied, "but they 11 be uneasy about me 
at the home station. I must be twenty miles from 
there now, and it will be long after dark before I 
get back, even at a smart gallop." " But are you 
sure you know the way? you might get lost," 
said he. " Oh, no ; I Ve only to keep on the 
banks of the Murray and I m all right." 

The poor fellow hung his head, looking the pic 
ture of despair. " Well," said I, I 11 stay." He 
brightened up at this. " How far is your hut from 
here?" I asked. " Not a mile, I assure you." So 
he started off at a good pace, fearing I might change 
my mind, I suppose. The dog bounded ahead, 
barking away, and I followed on horseback. We 
soon came upon his charge a large flock of sheep. 
As they heard the dog s bark the stupid creatures 
pricked up their ears and looked surprised, just as 
if they had never heard it before ; then they took 
to their heels and galloped off, with the dog in full 



250 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

pursuit, running first in front, and then at the side, 
as some stray wether showed a disposition to re 
bel, then circling round and round till he got the 
fold just where he wanted them. He now went in 
and out among the sheep as though giving orders 
that they were to put up for the night. They 
seemed quite to understand him, so they quietly 
lay down in little family groups. By this time we 
had reached the hut, and the dog came up wagging 
his tail, as much as to say, " It s all right; there s 
none of them missing/ The hut was built of mud, 
sticks, and straw, with the hard earth for a floor. 
I hobbled my horse so that he might browse about 
in safety, the shepherd prepared a cup of tea, the 
usual beverage of the bush, and the dog, not a 
whit tired, stood bolt upright overlooking his dis 
tant charge with the air of a general reviewing his 
army. 

The sun had gone down behind the low horizon 
with the same effect that it does at sea, and as we 
sat outside upon a couple of rude blocks of wood, 
drinking our refreshing tea, the moon rose up, shed 
ding its soft light over this mysterious scene; there 
was no sound but the distant tinkle of a sheep-bell 
and the crackling of the little fire that was boiling 
the tea. The smoke went straight and silently up 
into the still air ; the loneliness was bad enough 
with two men what must it have been with one ! 

I felt there was something more in my profound 
acquaintance than I had yet learned, so I lighted 
my pipe and began to draw him out. It is curious 
that a man being alone among dumb creatures loses 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 251 

after a time something of his human expression 
and acquires that of his dumb companions, and that 
a dog under the same circumstances retains his in 
dividuality. Here was a man \vho, to judge from 
his manner and speech, must have been tenderly 
reared and highly educated, and one too who had 
practiced the busy calling of the law ; yet in a few 
years of isolation the bright mind had become 
faded, and the human look of the face changed al 
most to the blank expression of a sheep, while a 
dog under the same circumstances had retained 
his perfect individuality. Jack s eyes sparkled like 
diamonds. His character was marked by intelli 
gence, faithfulness, and affection. He would lie 
with his head between his paws, and his sharp 
nose flat on the ground, turning up the whites of 
his eyes to watch us as we talked. Now and again 
he would heave a deep sigh of satisfaction, as much 
as to say, "The old man is all right to-night ; he s 
got some one that can talk to him." 

I questioned the shepherd about his past life. 
It seems he had been educated at Eton ; then became 
a fast youth in London, where he studied for the law, 
and in a short time rose to be a successful barrister. 
He had married early, and had one child, a daugh 
ter, born to him. After two years of wedded life 
he lost his wife and child. Despairingly he took 
to drink, and, being weak and desperate, went 
downhill and lost his position; that once lost in 
London is seldom regained. Not so in America. 
Here, when a man falls, if he has the strength to 
brace up again he goes to the West, and rubbing 



252 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

up against a new society absorbs fresh magnetism 
and recuperates at once : but London is compact ; 
the Englishman hates to leave his home ; his fail 
ings are known, and if he remains they are flung 
in his face. There is no escape for him ; and, as 
his friends shun him, he falls deeper into disgrace. 
This was the trouble that had beset the shepherd, 
who, having a- sensitive and perhaps weak mind, 
succumbed to the pressure that surrounded him. 
And so after a time, with a broken spirit, he left 
England and came to the colonies. He practiced 
law in Melbourne for some time successfully, but 
the old habit came back upon him, and, as he could 
not resist temptation, he buried himself on this sta 
tion. This was the tale he told me, and there 
could be no doubt of its truth. After he had fin 
ished he turned his strange, far-off look on me 
again, and said, " Are you superstitious ? " 

"Well, I think I am a little. Most people are, if 
they would own it," said I. " I did n t use to be/ 
he said with a sigh ; " but since I Ve lived here I 
seem to have become so, and it s all Jack s fault." 
The dog, not looking up, beat his tail on tjie ground 
gently, as if to say, " Yes, blame it all on me ; it s 
all my fault." 

" I have never seen anything ghostly or myste 
rious myself, but I think Jack does sometimes. 
When we Ve alone and God knows that s often 
enough he 11 start up and look around slowly as 
if his eyes were following something in the hut ; at 
these times he will give a low, strange kind of 
moan, and, putting his tail between his legs, seem 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 253 

to be frightened, peering up into my face with an 
inquiring stare, as if he said, Don t you see it, 
too? " The dog during this recital kept slowly 
beating time with his tail, as if he were endorsing 
every word his master said. " After noticing this 
with the dog," said the shepherd, " I called to mind 
the strange look I used to see in the beautiful face 
of my baby when she was only six months old. 
The little thing would sometimes stare at vacancy, 
and then smile sweetly and turn its head around as 
if it were following something just as that dog 
does. What s your opinion of this sort of thing ? 
Do you think the spirits of those we loved in life 
can return and stand beside us ? " 

I told him that his question was a difficult one 
to answer ; that different people held different opin 
ions on these mysterious matters, and the chances 
were that nobody had hit it quite right yet. " Well," 
said he, "if they can come, I know who it is that 
the dog sees when we Ye alone." 

It was now getting late, and the shepherd in 
sisted on my taking his couch, an old canvas cot 
with a plain gray blanket spread upon it ; so, as I 
was quite tired, I accepted the offer, and lay down 
for a night s rest. My companion stretched his tall 
figure on the grass outside. The dry climate of 
Australia admits of this ; there is no danger in sleep 
ing on the ground ; the chances are there would not 
be a drop of dew during the night, and that the 
grass in the morning would be as dry as hay. Jack 
lay down between us, and seemed, by one or two sat 
isfactory sighs that escaped him, to be quite happy. 



254 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

I was awake for some time, and happening to 
look towards my new acquaintance, found that he 
was lying upon his back with the moon shining full 
upon his pale face. I had heard that it was dan 
gerous in this climate to sleep in the moonlight. 
People have been known to go mad, or to have 
been struck with paralysis, for committing this in 
discretion. I called to him to move into the 
shadow, but he did not heed me ; so, thinking he 
had dozed off, I let him alone. 

The strangeness of the scene, together with the 
strong tea, seemed to banish sleep from me, and I 
must have been there an hour with my eyes closed, 
but quite awake, when presently I heard something 
stirring, and, opening my eyes, saw the shepherd 
sitting up in the doorway with his head resting in 
his hands. After a time he arose and went out 
into the night air. He seemed uneasy, and began 
restlessly to pace up and down in front of the hut. 
The dog remained still, but I felt that he was awake 
and watching his master, as he walked nervously 
backward and forward in the moonlight Presently 
the shepherd stopped in front of the hut, and came, 
with a hesitating and irresolute step, towards the 
door. He entered slowly, and, stooping down 
upon his hands and knees, crawled stealthily to the 
chair on which my coat was hanging; he put his 
hand in the breast pocket and drew forth the flask 
of liquor. And now he seemed bewildered, as if 
some strange emotion had seized upon him, and 
then fell upon his knees as if in prayer. Suddenly 
he seemed to rouse himself, and, instead of drink- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 255 

ing the liquor, placed the flask untouched back in 
the pocket of the coat ; then stretching himself on 
. the floor, with an apparent air of comfort and sat 
isfaction, went off to sleep. The whole proceeding 
so haunted me that it was broad daylight before I 
closed my eyes. When I awoke, the sun was high 
in the heavens. It must have been midday. My 
host had prepared breakfast some bread freshly 
baked, tea, and salt beef. He seemed quite calm, 
and had lost the nervous, wearied look that was 
noticeable the evening before. After our meal, 
he spoke freely of the night s proceedings to me. 
I told him I had seen all that had taken place. " I 
thought perhaps it might be so," said he. "The 
old craving came upon me again, so strong too, 
but if ever I prayed for strength it was then. Well, 
at that moment there was a hand laid on my head ; 
a calmness came over me that I had not felt for 
years ; and when I returned the flask to your pocket 
I knew then, as I know now, that another drop of 
liquor will never pass my lips ; and, as God is my 
judge, I believe it was the angel hand of my dead 
wife that rested on my feverish head. It s all over 
now, thank Heaven, and I can leave this lonely 
place and return to the world again with safety." 
I started to ride for the home station ; the shep 
herd walked some distance by the side of my horse, 
and at last we shook hands and parted. I looked 
back after a time, and in the distance saw his tall 
figure against the sky, waving his old straw hat to 
me, while the faithful dog by his side was looking 
up into his face and wagging that expressive tail 



256 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

I traveled still farther into the interior in fact, 
quite far enough for safety ; for not over one hun 
dred miles from where I now stopped there had 
been living in a stronghold in the mountains a 
band of desperate men, and though lately their 
career had been checked, I deemed it prudent to 
suppress any desire that I had for further explora 
tions. 

The bushranger of Australia is an offshoot of 
the highwayman of England. Convicts had been 
sent from the old country for this unlawful prac 
tice, and after finishing out their time, or being 
pardoned for good conduct, remained in the 
colonies, instead of returning to their native land. 
Gold had been discovered ; the country was grow 
ing rich, and offered a fine field fcr the " terror of 
the road. * In all new and thriving countries there 
is a class of lazy, cunning, and desperate men who 
prey upon society, looking upon honesty as weak 
ness, and society, by way of punishing these 
criminals, wastes a good deal of sympathy and 
sentimentality upon them. The villains know 
this, and enjoy the joke. Ladies, I regret to say, 
are especially attached to this kind of animal. 
The Claude Duvals, Jack Sheppards, Lafittes, 
and Massaronies of the past were just such cun 
ning sneaks. Their praises have been versed, and 
we are made to believe that they were a race of 
persecuted heroes. Byron well describes one 
of these miserable wretches as sitting in a grace 
ful attitude on the quarter-deck, with a thoughtful 
brow and a noble air, as if he were turning over 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 257 

in his mind how he could best benefit mankind. 
Our own Cooper describes the " noble red man" 
as only delaying his departure to the "happy 
hunting-grounds" in order that he may unburden 
himself of a large stock of ready-made gratitude 
which he constantly keeps on hand ; whereas it is 
well known that no Indian could possibly be happy 
in any hunting-ground unless it was on the reser 
vation of some other tribe. I .think we rather 
suspect the sincerity of the poets who dignify 
these rascals. 

Just such a worthy as one of the pirates re 
ferred to had been occupying the attention of 
Australia the year before I arrived. The ladies 
vowed that Morgan, the man s name, had the most 
manly form that ever was seen, surmounted by 
a perfectly classic head : the latter certainly ought 
to have been very fine, for the Government had 
offered a thousand pounds for it, but up to the 
present time Mr. Morgan had not offered it for 
sale. He evidently looked upon it as a cash article 
at any time, and determined that, as it was the 
only one he possessed, he would not force it on 
the market. "If they want it," said Morgan, play 
fully, "they must call for it" It seems that they 
had called for it on several occasions, but always 
failed to carry it away with them, for the bush 
ranger was a wary fellow, and had a head able to 
look after itself. 

The station where I was now staying had been, 
some time back, the scene of this fellow s exploits. 
He and his gang had " stuck up " the place. One 
17 



258 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

brave lad resisted, and was killed by Morgan. 
The sister of this unfortunate boy was concealed 
in the house, and witnessed from her hiding-place 
the cruel murder of her brother. The scene 
preyed upon the poor girl s mind, and the spirit 
of revenge took possession of her. Morgan, being 
quite a star in the bushranging firmament, paid 
annual visits to the profitable stations, and, hear 
ing that there was a fine race-horse on the place, 
thought he would call again and make an exchange 
for the worn-out beast he was then riding. After 
paralyzing the small community he took the horse, 
and just before his intended departure the girl pur 
posely threw herself in his way, offering to prepare 
a meal for him. Being good-looking, she attracted 
his attention, and with a full and aching heart the 
half-crazed creature made an assignation with him 
for that night, to be held at a secluded spot some 
distance from the house. The matter settled, the 
bushranger rode away to await the appointed 
hour. The desperate girl mounted a fleet horse 
and rode twelve miles to police quarters, giving 
the alarm, and telling what she had planned. An 
ambush was prepared that night, and as the girl 
approached the point of meeting she waved her 
handkerchief for Morgan to appear. The stealthy 
murderer approached, and at the next wave of the 
handkerchief fell dead, riddled with bullets. 

A large sum of money was subscribed by the 
wealthy people of the colony and given to the girl, 
besides half of the reward, which was divided be 
tween her and the captain of police; but the men- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 259 

tal strain told upon her, and she never recovered 
from the shock. 

Having had a long rest from acting, I returned 
to Melbourne to play a short engagement with my 
former partner at the Haymarket, and then sailed 
for Van Diemen s Land, now called Tasmania. 
This lovely island had formerly been a convict sta 
tion, where life-sentenced prisoners from England 
had been sent. There was at the time I speak of, and 
is now, a most refined society in Tasmania, though 
among the lower classes there was a strong flavor 
of the convict element. I acted "The Ticket-of- 
Leave Man " for the first time in Hobart Town, 
and there was much excitement in the city when 
the play was announced. At least one hundred 
ticket- of-leave men were in the pit on the first night 
of its production. Before the curtain rose, I looked 
through it at this terrible audience ; the faces in the 
pit were a study. Men with low foreheads and 
small, peering, ferret-looking eyes, some with flat 
noses, and square, cruel jaws, and sinister expres 
sions, leering, low, and cunning, all wearing a 
sullen, dogged look, as though they would tear the 
benches from the pit and gut the theater of its 
scenery if one of their kind was held up to public 
scorn upon the stage. This shows the power of 
the drama. An author might write an article 
abusing them, or an artist paint a picture showing 
up the hideous deformity of their features all this 
they could bear and even laugh at ; but put one of 
their sort upon the stage in a human form, surrounded 
by the sympathetic story of a play, and they would 



260 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

no more submit to an ill usage of him than they 
would to a personal attack upon themselves. 

The first act of the play progressed with but lit 
tle excitement. These men seemed to enjoy the 
humorous and pathetic side of the story with great 
relish ; but when I came upon the stage in the sec 
ond act, revealing the emaciated features of a re 
turned convict, with sunken eyes and a closely 
shaved head, there was a painful stillness in the 
house. The whole pit seemed to lean forward and 
strain their eager eyes upon the scene ; and as 
Bob Brierly revealed to his sweetheart" the secrets 
of the prison house/ there were little murmurs of 
recognition and shakings of the head, as though 
they fully recognized the local allusions that they 
so well remembered ; deep-drawn sighs for the 
sufferings that Bob had gone through, and little 
smothered laughs at some of the old, well-remem 
bered inconveniences of prison life; but then, Bob 
was a hero, and their sympathies were caught by 
the nobleness of his character and his innocence of 
crime, as though each one of these villains recog 
nized how persecuted he and Bob had been. 

As the play progressed, their enthusiasm in 
creased. Whenever Bob was hounded by a detec 
tive or ill-treated by the old Jew, they would howl 
their indignation at the actors ; and when he came 
out unscathed at the end of the play, a monument 
of persecuted innocence, they cheered to the very 
echo. This performance rendered me extremely 
popular with some of the old "lags" of Hobart 
Town ; and I was often accosted on the street by 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 261 

these worthies and told some touching tale of their 
early persecutions. In fact they quite looked on 
me as an old "pal." These courtesies were very 
flattering, but the inconvenience that I was caused 
by being poked in the ribs and winked at now and 
then, as much as to say, "All right, old boy, we 
know, you Ve been there," rendered my favor 
itism among these fellows rather irksome. 

An English audience is as loyal to an old fa 
vorite as the nation is to its queen. Therefore 
the visit of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kean to the col 
onies was hailed with delight by the public. 

Old Londoners who remembered young Charles 
Kean and Ellen Tree in the springtime of their 
lives were charmed to think that they would not 
only renew their acquaintance with these celebrated 
artists, but could take their children to see the fa 
vorite actors who had delighted their fathers and 
mothers in days gone by. The Keans on their 
opening night were welcomed with great warmth ; 
the audience rose from their seats and cheered 
them as they came upon the stage ; old ladies and 
gentlemen waved their handkerchiefs and stood up 
to applaud their former favorites as though they 
would have said, "Welcome, welcome to our new 
home. Age has dimmed our eyes and wrinkled 
our brows, but, thank Heaven, it has not weakened 
our affection/ 

The engagement was a financial success, for 
every one was anxious to see the Keans ; but time 
had told upon them, and there was a feeling of dis 
appointment in the audience that with all their 



262 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

kindness they could not shake off or conceal the 
veterans had tarried too long. Mr. Kean felt this, 
and regretted that he had come so far only to 
shatter his reputation. 

About a week after their appearance I was walk 
ing through St. Kilda Park, when I came sud 
denly upon an old gentleman sitting alone upon a 
bench ; he seemed to be looking out upon the bay 
with a sad and thoughtful expression. I had not 
seen Charles Kean upon the stage since I was a 
boy : he was then young, vigorous, and in the ze 
nith of his fame, full of hope and ambition, and just 
married to that gifted actress Ellen Tree ; and here 
he sat an old man, in a far-off land, and from the 
melancholy look upon his face was perhaps think 
ing that the closing scene of his career was near 
at hand. I had been regarding him for some 
time, when at last he looked up and caught my 
eye; he stared at me with no very pleased ex 
pression: my apparent rudeness had evidently 
offended him, so I at once told him who I was, 
and he seemed glad to see me. "Sit down" 
said he/ "I was just going to write you to call 
on me; you ought to have done so before: I 
am the last comer ; and, between you and me, 
I am sorry that I came." I told him that I had 
intended to call, but had heard that he was suf 
fering from dyspepsia, so I thought I would delay 
paying my respects to Mrs. Kean and himself 
until he had quite recovered. 

"Well," said he, " as I said, I was going to write 
you ; and, curiously enough, I believe I was think- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 263 

ing of you while you stood in front of me. By the 
way, what was I doing while you were looking 
at me? anything foolish; making faces or any 
nonsense of that kind, eh?" 

" Oh, no ! " said I, laughing at his anxiety. 
" You were quite correct, I assure you." 

" Well," said he, " you know an actor when alone 
is very apt, if he is thinking of his part, to frown 
and stare in a very unmeaning way. I remember 
once in London I had ordered lunch at Verey s in 
Regent street, and while I was waiting for it, be 
gan, in an abstracted kind of way, going over one 
of the scenes of Louis XL to myself. Suddenly 
I saw two young fellows talking to one of the wait 
ers and pointing at me ; then they passed out, ap 
parently laughing at something I had done. I was 
quite indignant, and called the waiter to ask what 
they said. Well, sir, it all came out : I had been 
frowning and staring, first one way and then another, 
going over my part, and those fellows thought I 
was mad " ; and here he burst out in an immoder 
ate fit of laughter. "Well, come," said he; "I 
have had a good laugh, at all events, and, as it is 
the first for a week, I have enjoyed it. Now, then, 
I wish to consult you on a matter of some impor 
tance ; and as it is in reference to our approaching 
visit to America, I am quite sure that you can, and 
will, give me all the information I require. I heard 
that you were in front several times during the last 
week : now tell me candidly, don t be afraid of 
giving offense, what do you think of our engage 
ment here ? " 



264 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

"Well, in the first place your reception was one 
of the warmest I ever remember to have seen/ I 
said. 

"Yes, yes," said he; "the reception was cor 
dial. But after that there was a coldness, a lack 
of enthusiasm; and this feeling has characterized 
the audience during the entire week: now don t 
you think so?" 

This question was rather a poser. I felt that 
every word he had spoken was true, but I knew 
he was ill and needed encouragement more than 
facts ; so I put a bold front on the matter, and told 
him that I thought he was oversensitive, and only 
fancied that the audience was cold, and that the 
crowded houses ought to convince him of this. 

" That is what my wife says," said he ; " but she 
is so full of hope and cheerfulness that nothing 
daunts her. Well, now then, to the point We 
go from here to California, and then to New York, 
Philadelphia, and so on. What play would you 
advise us to open in The Gamester ?" 

"By no means," I replied. 

" Why not? Don t you think it a good play ? " 
said he. 

" It was a good play fifty years ago," I replied, 
" but not now. It is old-fashioned and beyond en 
durance, and details the misery of a married couple 
in a most mournful way. Just think of sitting 
through five acts of woe unrelieved by one touch 
of humor. The theme is a gloomy one; and, be 
lieve me, when you lay it upon the shelf it will 
gather dust and mildew. I would suggest that 




MR. CHARLES KEAN AS "KING JOHN." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 265 

you open in Louis XL* Without Mrs. Kean your 
name will be sufficient to attract on the opening 
night ; then bring out your wife as Queen Catherine, 
yourself playing Wolsey / follow this with Macbeth 
and Lady Macbeth : in fact, I should not, if I were 
in your place, extend the repertory beyond these 
plays ; if you confine yourself to this prescription, 
your success is assured. * The Wife s Secret and 
The Gamester are all well enough here : your 
audience is largely made up of friends who remem 
ber you both with pleasure the plays, too, 
memories ; but you have been so long away from 
America that the present generation of playgoers 
will be new acquaintances, who have no former re 
membrance of you, and will only look at the en 
tertainment for just what it is, and not for what 
it was." 

" Humph ! " said Kean ; " that is rather a delicate 
way of hinting that Mrs. Kean and I should act 
parts better suited to our age." And here he eyed 
me with a sly, peering look. 

"Well," I replied, "you have asked me to be 
candid, and that is just what I mean." 

"And I believe that you are quite right," said 
he ; " but my wife will have it that we are as young 
and beautiful as ever. I believe that she would 
act Juliet now if I were fool enough to play Romeo 
with her." And here he had another good laugh. 

Although Charles Kean was irritable at times, 
he was delightful company, and told a good story 
with great glee. Some of his anecdotes of the 
London stage were most amusing. While we were 



266 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

chatting, a party of some three or four blacks came 
in sight. I hailed them, thinking that Kean might 
like to see the throwing of the boomerang. 

A tall, gaunt fellow, with scarcely a pound of 
flesh on his ungainly bones, and evidently the 
leader of the party, astonished us with his dexterity. 
He walked three or four paces forward with a 
swinging kind of gait, and, casting his eye behind, 
pointed to where he intended to make the weapon 
strike; now whirling it straight forward it shot 
into the air, and, making a sudden turn, came back 
and struck the spot he had indicated. 

" Ah," said Kean, "they may well call Australia 
the antipodes; when the natives want to hit a 
mark in the west, they hurl the weapon towards 
the east." 

The black came up for his exhibition money, 
and stood in front of us with his limp hand ex 
tended and an idiotic grin on his face ; and surely 
he was a sight to look at as lean as a skeleton, 
and as black and shining as a piece of polished 
ebony. His attenuated form was crowned with an 
ugly head, covered with a bushy shock of unkempt 
hair, and his face was blank and expressionless. 
What a contrast he made to the intellectual and 
thoughtful face of the tragedian ! Here was a 
Shaksperean scholar, who had been educated at 
Eton, standing side by side with this uncouth sav 
age, so low down in the scale of humanity that he 
was barely conscious of his own existence; and 
yet the actor was rewarding the black for the per 
formance of a dexterous feat that would have puz- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 267 

zled the old Eton boy to accomplish if he had tried 
it until doomsday. 

Nothing would do now but that I should join 
him at luncheon, so we walked to the hotel, where 
I was presented to Mrs. Kean, who was in a high 
state of anxiety at the prolonged absence of her 
husband. There was no affectation in her solici 
tude ; one could see at a glance that she was a 
noble companion for her liege lord, and full of care 
and affection for him. He at once turned the con 
versation on the disappointment he felt on the 
result of their first week s engagement ; his wife 
laughed at the idea, and I joined in with her. Af 
ter we had settled this matter, he detailed to her 
our late conversation in part, out of pure mischief, 
I believe, beginning somewhat in the following 
strain: "My dear, Mr. Jefferson thinks that it is 
high time for two such old fools as you and I to 
give up playing young parts and go into characters 
whose antiquity will be more suited to our dilapi 
dated appearance." I felt like throwing a loaf of 
bread at his head for daring to place me in such a 
false position, and endeavored to explain to Mrs. 
Kean how he had forced the whole affair upon me, 
while he was laughing immoderately and enjoying 
my discomfort However, she took the matter so 
good-naturedly that I felt satisfied that she under 
stood me in relation to his fabrication as well as 
she did her husband s exaggerations. As soon as 
my mortification was over I began to enjoy the 
joke. Kean was in high spirits, though now and 
then, in the midst of his hilarity, a sad and despair- 



268 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

ing expression would force itself into his face. He 
went out on the balcony to enjoy his cigar, leaving 
Mrs. Kean and me alone. During his absence her 
cheerful manner altered, and it was plain to me 
that she had taken in the situation of their engage 
ment more clearly than he had, for she said to me, 
with tears in her eyes, " Thank you for keeping up 
his spirits ; he needs it." 

Ten years after this, I met Mrs. Kean at a gar 
den party in London ; she was then a widow. This 
estimable lady has since that time passed away. 
Peace and happiness be with her ! As an actress, 
she was for years the delight of the public ; and as 
a wife, a comfort and an honor to her husband. 

During my visit to Australia I acted at Dayles- 
ford, and after the performance, by the invitation 
of a friend, I visited a Chinese theater. We rode 
through the woods for three miles to a camp or 
gold-diggings worked by the Chinese. There 
was a large population of them here about two 
thousand. It was past twelve o clock when we 
reached the theater, where the actors were hard 
at it, and had been from sundown. The theater 
was under a tent, looking like a small modern 
circus cut in two. The seats were arranged in 
a half-circle, the stage coming out well among 
the audience. The Chinese manager had been 
apprised of our visit, so he had reserved seats in 
the center of the tent, which was quite full of 
Chinamen. The orchestra was at the back, and 
the music if the hideous sounds they made can 
be dignified by that name was played at inter- 




MRS. CHARLES KEAN AS "HERMEONE," 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 269 

vals during the whole performance. I recognized 
the play by its action to be our old friend, "The 
Young Scamp." In French it is called "Le Gamin 
de Paris " ; in Chinese, " The Mother s Pet " ; and 
I suppose every nation in the world has a free 
translation of this universal piece of humanity. 
What on earth the music has to do with a Chinese 
play, I could never discover. The band will re 
main perfectly quiet for five or ten minutes, and 
then, apparently without the slightest provocation, 
burst forth upon the audience, splitting their ears 
with the most dreadful din the scraping of cat 
gut, the tooting of pipes, tinkling of triangles, and 
banging of gongs, altogether making a most dis 
cordant clatter. Now dead silence; then a long 
speech by some actor, punctuated by little taps on 
a small sheepskin drum, the catgut man now and 
then scraping a parenthesis. The musicians sit 
bolt upright, staring in front of them, without any 
movement or expression, looking like a lot of 
badly made wax-figures in a museum. Then, 
when all is quiet and you least expect it, they 
will bob their heads up and down, banging and 
tooting and scraping everything they can lay their 
hands upon. The interpreter tried to explain to 
me that this was done sometimes to attract the 
attention of the audience, but to me it would seem 
to have the contrary effect. 

The dialogue began to get monotonous, and I 
asked permission of the manager that I might go 
behind the scenes and see some of my Chinese 
brother actors. This, after some red tape, was 



270 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

allowed me. Instead of the actors getting them 
selves ready to go home, as I naturally supposed 
at this time of night, or rather morning, they would 
do, the entire company was preparing for another 
play enrobing themselves in richly embroidered 
costumes, and covering their faces with all the 
colors of the rainbow, which they got out of little 
round pots filled with oil paint. As the manager 
was given to understand that I was in my way 
a "star" from America, he insisted that I must 
only be introduced to his "star"; so I was ushered 
into a small tent set apart for that celebrity. 

This person seemed to have got through with 
his portion of the entertainment before I came. 
Of course we could only talk through our inter 
preter, who seemed to have the faculty of explain 
ing everything the wrong way. I understood, 
however, that it would give the great actor much 
pleasure if I would have a little gin and smoke 
a pipe of opium with him. Upon my declining 
these delicacies, he faintly smiled on me in a pity 
ing and sympathizing way, as much as to say, 
"Ah, these barbaric Americans; they have no 
idea of comfort or refinement." He was himself 
already well under the influence of the fatal drug, 
and, whatever the end might produce, was cer 
tainly now on good terms with himself and all 
the world. I could not help thinking what a 
curious incident this was to be here at the 
antipodes, sitting in the dressing-room of a Chi 
nese tragedian. I looked at his fat and inexpres 
sive face, and wondered if he had even heard of 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 271 

Shakspere. He sat there in front of me nodding 
his head as if he were answering my question and 
saying : " Oh, yes, young man. Shakspere ? Oh, 
yes, very often ; but he s quite a mistake, I assure 
you." 

My friend now entered the tent, and admonished 
me that it was near daylight and time to go home. 
As I went out, I turned back for a last look at my 
Oriental companion, who had by this time entirely 
succumbed to the influence of the narcotic. He 
was stretched out in a chair, his smooth yellow 
face widened out with an imbecile smile of idiotic 
bliss, and his two conventional Chinese eyes ele 
vated at an angle of forty-five degrees. The fresh 
air revived me ; so we mounted our horses and rode 
away just as the day was dawning, while the gongs 
and the tooting and the scraping were going on in 
the distance. 

In April, 1864, I took a steamer from Melbourne 
to New Zealand. This was a rough and treacher 
ous voyage. The great island has an iron-bound 
coast, and the ragged rocks were horrible to look 
at as we approached the harbor of Dunedin. 

On my arrival I found the theater in which I 
was to act doing a great business with some novel 
attraction that had just hit the public taste. 
Clarence Holt, the manager, requested me, in 
consequence of the sudden and unexpected success 
that had attended his new enterprise, to delay my 
opening for two weeks. As time was no great 
object to me, I consented, deciding to spend the 
interim at a Maori village on the coast called Wik- 



272 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

awite, where there was good fishing and shooting ; 
and, as I had been quite ill for the month previous 
to leaving Melbourne, I felt that the rest and sea 
bathing would strengthen me, and perhaps assist 
to fill out my attenuated form ; so I took up my 
abode for a week at a little hotel at this place, sur 
rounded by the native Maoris. Of course these 
people were in a semi-civilized state, though they 
had formerly been cannibals, and when out fishing 
with them I could not help smiling at Sydney 
Smith s description of a New Zealand lunch, " with 
cold missionary on the sideboard/ and his solemn 
farewell to the minister who was leaving Eng 
land for the purpose of christianizing the Maoris. 
" Good-by, my reverend friend," said he; "and if 
they eat you, I hope you 11 disagree with them." 
I felt quite safe among them, however, for, as I was 
very thin, I presented anything but a tempting 
morsel to these voracious warriors. The Maoris 
are said to be the finest race of savages in the 
world. They are giants in size and strength, 
and their symmetrical bodies are tattooed in 
grotesque figures and patterns, sometimes from 
head to foot. 

I saw a party of them act in a play that had 
been written to show off their sports and ceremo 
nies, and in one of the scenes where they were 
tracking an enemy the grace and earnestness with 
which they moved were surprising. 

My engagement in New Zealand was quite suc 
cessful, the old comedies, strange to say, being pre 
ferred. I now returned to act in Sydney, from 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 273 

which place I had been absent nearly three years. 
On my arrival Father O Grady called on me, and, 
to my surprise, introduced me to his wife. He was 
still faithful to his Church, but had given up his 
orders and had married. I did not blame myself 
for making him an apostate; for it was evident, 
from the beauty of the lady, that not my advice, 
but her black eyes, had been too much for the 
"good St. Anthony." 

From Sydney I returned to Melbourne, to play 
my farewell engagement in the colonies and bid 
adieu to the many friends I had made. And as I 
look back upon the four years I passed in Aus 
tralia I can only recall a dear remembrance of the 
kindness that was shown to me by the refined and 
hospitable people of that country. For a long time 
after I left there I contemplated paying it another 
visit, but year after year rolled on, and now I fear 
it is too late. To wander through the streets that 
I so well remember and find them altered would 
be nothing; we are too used to these changes 
in our own country to be affected by the wonder 
ful growth of cities and the sudden shifting of 
localities ; but I should feel lonely indeed to miss 
the faces that were so familiar, and to think 
over the olden time when I was young and full 
of hope surrounded by loving companions who 
had gathered around me when I was a stranger 
among them. It is a quarter of a century 
since I left that distant land and those dear 
friends, but I have never forgotten them, and I 
am told that there are many who still remember 



274 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

me. And now farewell, Australia ! I have no 
feeling but loving gratitude for you, and should 
these pages meet the eye of some old friend, let us 
feel that we have come once more together upon 
this earth and shaken hands. 



CHAPTER X 

IN SOUTH AMERICA 

Callao Lima A Midnight Funeral A Beg 
gar on Horseback The Theater in Callao A 
Religious Tableau A Tropical City Leav 
ing South America An Incident in Panama 

I LEFT Melbourne in a sailing vessel in the 
month of April, 1865, bound for South Amer 
ica on my way to England. We were fifty- 
seven days at sea a long and dreary voyage. 
During the whole passage we saw but one vessel. 
This portion of the Pacific is a waste of water, 
unbroken by land or any moving object, save the 
flight of the lonely albatross. This large bird 
sometimes measures ten feet from tip to tip of its 
wings, and as it sails around the ship it turns its 
head slowly from side to side with a wise and dig 
nified look. The flight is graceful and mysterious. 
At times it will poise itself in the air, seemingly 
without motion. We caught several of these birds 
with a hook and a piece of meat. When seen 
closely they lose much of their mysterious beauty. 

275 



276 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



They are not good sailors, and their sea-legs are 
treacherous. As soon as they stand on deck they 
become seasick and disgorge their food. As few 
ships cross the track of vessels in this region, the 
dreary waste is called by the sailors "the wilder 
ness " ; and the thought will force itself upon one 
that, if an accident should occur here, and the 
crew and passengers be compelled to take to the 
open boats, there would be but a slight chance of 
being picked up for many days. 

We had several passengers, two of whom enliv 
ened the trip with their political arguments. One 
was from South Carolina, the other from Massa 
chusetts, and their disputes were quite violent. I 
was a kind of mediator between these hostile par 
ties, and helped to settle some of their quarrels. 
At times they were the best of friends, and really 
liked each other very much. We would often see 
them walking up and down the deck, almost affec 
tionate in their manner towards each other; sud 
denly a chance shot would be fired, and then their 
feelings would burst forth in a blaze of excitement. 
They would break away and stride furiously from 
one end of the ship to the other, and when they 
met would face- each other like a pair of bantam 
fighting-cocks, with their arms akimbo and their 
heads violently wagging away until one would 
think they must soon come to blows. 

On the fifty-seventh day we dropped anchor in 
the bay of Callao, six miles from the beautiful city 
of Lima, on the coast of Peru. A heavy fog set 
tled over the town just as we arrived, and all sur- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 277 

rounding objects were quite invisible : not even the 
lights of the place could be seen, and we only knew 
our position in relation to the town by the howl 
ing of innumerable dogs on shore ; one of the pas 
sengers facetiously remarking at breakfast that he 
had- been kept awake all night by the heaviest dose 
of Peruvian bark he had ever taken. In the morn 
ing the fog was still heavy and impenetrable, and we 
were waiting for it to clear off so that we could 
land and get some news. The two belligerents 
were uneasy and restless, eagerly desiring some 
bulletins of the war. Presently we heard the plash 
of oars, and a boat darted suddenly out of the mist, 
stopping close beside the hull of our vessel. It 
was rowed by two swarthy looking Peruvians, and 
in the stern there sat, or rather leaned lazily back, 
a tall, thin man with his legs wrapped round each 
other and a cigar tilted up so high in his mouth 
that it must have scorched the wide rim of his Pan 
ama hat. He was unmistakably my countryman, 
and if there had been any doubt of this he soon set 
it at rest by exclaiming as he caught sight of my 
face, " Joe Jefferson, by thunder ! " There was a 
general surprise at this unexpected remark, and 
I was quite startled, though I confess somewhat 
pleased, at a recognition in this strange land. Of 
course I rose to a high premium now in the eyes 
of the passengers, and was deputed to interrogate 
my friend as to the latert news from the seat of 
war; but, like a true Yankee, he was n t to be 
pumped without filling his own bucket at the 
same time. 

18* 



278 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

" My friend," said I, " as you seem to recognize 
me, perhaps you will kindly give us some news of 
the war." He answered this question by asking 
me how long it was since he saw me act in New 
York with Laura Keene. I told him about six 
years, but that I would be very much obliged if 
he would give me the latest news concerning 
Richmond. 

" Where s old Ned Sothern now ? " said he to 
me. I was between the two belligerents, who were 
both writhing in agony at the cool delay of my 
new-found acquaintance. I told him that Mr. 
Sothern was in England, but that I really could 
not answer any more questions until he told me 
something about the war. 

"Is he actin old Dundreary now before the 
Britishers ? " said he. Finding I could get no sat 
isfaction from him, I turned to the captain and 
said: "You had better interrogate this man your 
self. Perhaps you will be more fortunate than I 
have been." 

Here the captain broke in, hailing him with, 
" My friend, I am the captain of this ship, and 
would like to get a paper from you concerning the 
war, as you don t seem to be very communicative 
yourself." 

"Will your ship want calkin , Captain, before 
she loads?" said the impenetrable calker for 
that, it seemed, was his profession. 

" You don t calk my ship, or have anything to 
do with her, until you answer my question," said 
the captain. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 279 

The man now became thoughtful, and, I pre 
sume, turning over in his mind that he might 
lose a job if he did not comply, said, " Oh ! the 
war that s all over; the South caved in, and 
Richmond is took." 

The crestfallen gentleman from South Carolina 
sank upon a stool in the middle of the deck, and 
the lively gentleman from Massachusetts danced a 
hornpipe over him, whistling " The Star-spangled 
Banner" as an accompaniment. 

That part of the Pacific coast that borders on 
South America is an interesting region, though the 
title of Pacific is somewhat of a misnomer, for the 
locality is in a continual state of commotion, both 
civil and military ; and when the occasional visita 
tions of tidal waves and earthquakes are added to 
the human, or rather inhuman, turmoil that con 
stantly rages through this feverish land, the trav 
eler is more anxious to bid it farewell than ever 
again to tax its hospitality. 

The town of Callao has always been singularly 
unfortunate during these external and internal dis 
turbances. Situated in a somewhat exposed har 
bor, it presents a fine mark for bombardment in 
times of war, and a convenient spot for the passage 
of a tidal wave in times of peace. It is said that 
on a quiet moonlight night some hundred years 
ago, while the inhabitants were innocently slumber 
ing and not dreaming of disaster, one half the 
town, having no desire to disturb the repose of the 
other half, slipped quietly away from its foundation 
and slid gently into the bay. I was told that some 



280 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

distance out in the harbor, when the tides were ex 
tremely low, the roofs of the submerged houses 
and the spires of the old Spanish cathedral could 
be seen beneath the clear waters of the bay. We 
got into the boat of the custom-house officer, who 
directed the men to row us to the shore, and as we 
landed we discovered that the town was in a wild 
state of commotion. Soldiers and policemen hurry 
ing from the barracks and station-houses, broken- 
pated rioters under the escort of guards, and a 
general stampede of frightened women and children, 
made up an animated but rather unattractive picture 
for the entertainment of peaceful strangers. In the 
midst of this excitement there appeared upon the 
scene an old man in his shirt sleeves, attended and 
arrested by at least a good half-dozen policemen, 
who were hurrying him along to prison. 

I was afterwards told that the disturbance and 
arrest had grown out of an attack upon two Chil 
ians by some Peruvians, and that the former had 
fled to the house of the French consul, M. Valrie, 
who had protected them and offered the defense 
less parties a sanctuary on his premises. A mob 
had collected about the place, and when the consul 
came out to ask their patience till a proper inquiry 
could be made, the rioters became incensed ; and 
at his offering protection to the Chilians the unruly 
crowd attacked the old man, who, seeing himself 
dangerously surrounded, snatched a sword from 
the hand of one of his assailants, and clearing a 
circle in the midst of the crowd fought his way out 
amid a shower of stones and sticks. The scene as 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 281 

it stood when we came upon the ground was ani 
mated and dramatic. 

As we arrived in front of the jail, the policemen 
had unloosened their tight hold on the consul, who 
stood calm and unruffled, with his arms folded and 
with a look of utter contempt at the mob ; the 
blood streaming from an ugly gash in his fore 
head had stained his white hair, which seemed to 
stand up defiantly. The expressive features of the 
old man had a fine aristocratic cut, and contrasted 
strongly with the low-browed, swarthy Peruvians 
who surrounded him. They hissed their anger at 
him and brandished their sticks and knives about 
his head ; but the resolute look from his clear blue 
eye, and the quiet smile on his pale face, told of 
the supreme satisfaction he felt as he gazed in 
triumph at the well-battered heads of the enemy, 
and, old as he was, but few would have liked to 
trifle with him upon even ground. 

I have mentioned this little incident as I after 
wards became intimate with this interesting old 
gentleman, and had some curious experiences with 
him. 

I consulted the list of departures, and found 
that I could not possibly leave for Panama inside 
of ten days ; so, with the rest of the passengers, 
I determined to spend that time in Lima. This 
city was founded by Pizarro in the year 1535, and 
a magnificent cathedral built by him still stands in 
the center of the plaza. Through each one of the 
principal streets of Lima flows a clear stream of 
water. Pizarro had viaducts constructed from the 



282 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

foot of the Andes for the purpose of running these 
useful sewers through the city. It is a bright and 
sparkling place. The ladies are considered the 
most beautiful in the world, while the men are 
the most insignificant; My South Carolina friend 
was particularly susceptible to female beauty, and, 
being unable to restrain his enthusiasm, would 
start back as every new and beautiful face pre 
sented itself: pausing suddenly and grasping me 
by the arm, he would point at some lovely 
beauty, and go off into an ecstasy of delight. 
Many of them would veil their faces, while their 
cavaliers would look stilettos at my enthusiastic 
friend. 

The South American cities are extravagant in 
the use of gas, and Lima at night is brilliantly 
illuminated. There was a French comic-opera 
troupe at the theater, so we wended our way in 
that direction. The crowd was great, and we 
had difficulty in procuring seats, which at last we 
accomplished by paying high prices to the spec 
ulators. The dress circle is reserved entirely for 
ladies, who have their open private boxes which 
encircle the whole tier. They never go into the 
parquet, so that part of the house was filled with 
gentlemen, and, as the curtain fell, they all got 
out their opera -glasses, and, turning around, began 
surveying the beauties in the circle. This is the 
custom; it is not considered rude; on the con 
trary, the fair ones expect it, and prepare their 
toilets to meet the demands of this masculine 
scrutiny. If we ^were struck with the handsome 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 283 

ladies on the plaza in the daytime, what was our 
amazement at the fascinating- scene before us as 
we stood with our backs to the curtain and gazed 
in wonder at the audience ! The circle was ablaze 
with beauty, the black eyes of the senoras and the 
senoritas vying- in brilliancy with the diamonds in 
their raven hair. Their toilets were exquisite 
flowing, gauzy silks in pale pink, blue, white, and 
amber ; light and delicate fans waved with a grace 
only to be accomplished by those who have Cas- 
tilian blood in their veins. A Frenchwoman is 
graceful and knows it, but a Spanish woman 
is graceful and does n t know it. There is such 
a difference in the effect of this ! The extraor 
dinary part of the sight was, that hunt where 
you would, there was no discovering a plain 
f ace nothing but beauty. These bewitching 
sirens have a lovely olive complexion, tinged 
with deep carmine, singularly white, pearly teeth, 
and eyes so deep and black that I said to myself: 
" Oh, Father O Grady, it was lucky for the little 
Sydney maiden that you did n t stop in Lima on 
your way to Australia." The good St. Anthony 
himself could never have withstood such glances 
as were here revealed. 

Just before the end of the opera it is customary 
for the senors to vacate the parquet and station 
themselves in a long line to watch these lovely 
creatures pass out; and as they move slowly 
through the line of admiring gentlemen they 
begin to undulate those fascinating fans that 
almost speak, and bow and smile so sweetly 



284 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



that everybody seems to be making love to 
everybody else. 

After the opera we walked through the Grand 
Plaza. The majestic old cathedral of San Fran 
cisco loomed up grandly in the dark night The 
rich stained-glass windows were illuminated, and 
a dismal peal from the organ, accompanied by a 
low, wailing chant from the monks, told that 
a midnight funeral service was being held. The 
body was laid out in front of the altar, with kneel 
ing friends and relatives about it. The dirge was 
in Latin, and was chanted in a minor key, pro 
ducing an awful effect, and one that I should think 
would be anything but consoling to those who are 
left to mourn the dead. I never saw a funeral 
service at night before, and the contrast just after 
the merriment of the opera was very striking. 
In the morning (it being a fast day) \ve went to 
the same church to hear mass. The outside of 
the cathedral had a cheap and tawdry appear 
ance in the daylight, resembling theatrical scenery 
under the same circumstances. The plastering, 
broken and decayed, was painted a pinkish yel 
low; the doors and windows blue and green; the 
ironwork and figures were gilded with cheap Dutch 
metal giving the whole building the tone of a 
decomposed Christmas cake. 

On entering the church our ears were saluted 
by a magnificent orchestra playing the overture to 
" Masaniello." There are no pews in this cathe 
dral ; the great open space in the center is flagged 
with stones, and hundreds of people were on their 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 285 

knees at prayer ; a motley group composed of all 
grades of society native Peruvians, half-castes, 
and pure Spanish, all mixed together. A lame old 
mendicant, with his feet swathed in bandages and 
his crutches by his side, was groveling on the pave 
ment, possibly asking relief from agonizing pain ; 
farther on was a little market girl with a basket of 
flowers in her hand ; between these knelt a stately 
and beautiful sefiora in rich and costly black lace, 
her raven hair done up with a jeweled comb, and 
sparkling gems in her ears and upon her fingers. 
This seemed to me the pure democracy of religion. 
Out of the church these people had their different 
spheres ; their roads in life were widely separated ; 
but here, where they prayed to God, they seemed 
to be upon a common level, and the lady and the 
beggar offered up devotions side by side. 

After breakfast we walked out into the court 
yard, and there I saw, for the first time in my life, 
a beggar on horseback not the proverbial fellow 
who, having suddenly come into a fortune, bestrides 
a prancing steed and goes galloping over the 
heads of his old comrades, but a beggar mounted 
on his own charger. He got down from his sad 
dle, and, taking off his sombrero, walked slowly 
and in a cringing sort of way from one point to 
another, asking alms. He had a villainous walk, 
and shambled along with a halt first in one leg and 
then in the other, almost dragging his unshapely 
limbs after him, his shoulders dropped and his face 
turned up with a hypocritical smirk upon it; but 
with all his fawning, his snake-like eyes had a 



286 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

searching, eager look that seemed to charm the 
unwilling charity out of the guests, and upon 
receiving each donation he would roll up his eyes 
and invoke a benediction on the giver. Nobody 
wanted to give him anything, yet most of them 
did ; our group was disgusted, and declined to be 
blessed on this fellow s terms, at which he gave us 
a look not at all resembling a prayer, and most 
threatening in its aspect. After browbeating most 
of the bystanders out of their money he coolly sat 
down to count it, and then, without the slightest 
look of gratitude, lighted his cigarette, mounted 
his horse, and rode leisurely away. 

I was naturally curious to find out something 
about this fellow, and in a conversation with the 
landlord learned that there were many of his class 
living on the outskirts of Lima. It seems they are 
a kind of half-beggar and half-brigand people, and 
prowl about at night in the dark streets near the 
edge of the town, begging from strangers. They 
seldom commit murder, but have a way of terrify 
ing their prey into submission; the one we saw 
was especially bold, plying his trade in the open 
day. Their victims generally think it better to give 
something and so quietly get rid of them. 

After I had been about a week here my old New 
York friend, the calker, who had hailed me on my 
arrival, called on me, as he said, to talk over old 
times ; not that we had ever met in America, but, 
as he put it : 

"Don t you know when a fellow in a foreign land 
sees another fellow from the same place he s from, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 287 

he kinder wants to pump him out, don t you 
know?" 

" Pump him out" I naturally presumed was a 
technical phrase of his profession, being an opera 
tion to which a ship is subjected previous to calk 
ing. I asked him if I was right in my surmise. 
"Quite," said he; "you are watertight on that 
point." 

"Have you been long in South America?" I 
said. 

" What s become of Laura Keene ? " he replied. 

From my past experience I saw that he was go 
ing to do all the pumping, so I quietly submitted. 
He began asking the whereabouts of the actors 
that had played in " Our American Cousin." He 
seemed to have treasured their names as if they 
had been old friends. I wondered at this, and 
thinking I might venture on a question, asked him 
why he was so anxious to know all about them. 

"Well," said he, "the actors a fellow sees in his 
young days, don t you know, he never forgets, 
though he has never spoken to em. He seems to 
kinder know em. Why, I could go on and tell you 
the names of all the old companies for years back 

at Wallack s, Burton s, and even way off in the 
days of Mitchell s Olympic. Blake, Chanfrau, 
Mr. and Mrs. Barney Williams, Charles Walcott 

yes, and a hundred more. They seem like old 
friends to me." Here he paused for a moment, as 
if calling up some old theatrical memories. At last 
he seemed to wake up, and said, in a mysterious 
way, "Did you ever see a fandango ?" 



288 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

"No," I said; "what is it?" 

" Well, it s a place where Spanish girls sing and 
dance, and play the guitars and castanets. The 
company is kinder mixed, and it s a leetle danger 
ous sometimes." 

I told him the latter part of the programme 
would certainly have no attraction for me. 

" Well," said he, " there s one thing in Callao I 
want you to see ; it s the Spanish theater. I shan t 
tell you what it s like ; but you won t regret go 
ing, for it s the darnedest, queerest theatrical per 
formance you ever saw or ever will see." 

I was now, naturally, interested, and went with 
him that evening to Callao, six miles from Lima, 
to visit the Spanish theater. We got seats in the 
dress circle, where we could have a good look at 
the entertainment and the audience. The cheap 
part of the house was quite full. In the pit there 
were entire families of men, women, and half-grown 
children. They appeared to be quite respectable, 
but very hilarious. The place was filled with 
smoke, the cigarettes being plied with great vigor 
in every direction. The performance opened with 
a farce. There was little or no dialogue, but plenty 
of practical fun. The characters seemed to be in 
a continual state of excitement, suffering, and ter 
ror. A man with a white face would go up the 
chimney and come down black, a baby was thrown 
out of a window, and an old lady burned her hus 
band with a red-hot poker. The audience were 
very much amused at this, and I noticed that their 
glee was at its height when any one suffered physi- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 289 

cal pain. After this performance came Spanish 
dancing of an excellent kind, full of graceful poses 
and not at all vulgar. The dancing was followed 
by instrumental music and singing. 

As I traced the plot of the next play through the 
action I discovered it to be "The Prodigal Son," 
illustrated by dialogues and tableaux. The parting 
of the father with his boy was exceedingly well 
done, and many of the audience were in tears. 
The temptation scene at Memphis, where the 
prodigal gambles and is lured away by beautiful 
women, was well acted and realistic. Then came 
the return of the prodigal, which ended the play. 

I fancied that now the entertainment was over, 
but the alert calker laid his hand on my arm, say 
ing with earnest meaning, "Wait a minute." 

The theater was darkened, the cigarettes were 
put out, and a solemn hush went up from the audi 
ence. The place was as still as death. The peo 
ple almost stopped breathing. I seemed to be the 
only one who did not know what was coming. 
Now there came a low moan of anguish, as if from 
a great distance ; so expressive of sorrow, and yet 
so gentle we could scarcely hear it. An invisible 
organ began a solemn dirge, and as the curtain 
rose there before me was Mount Calvary with a 
complete tableau of the crucifixion, the whole scene 
represented by living figures Christ upon the 
cross, the two thieves, and a group of female figures 
kneeling upon the ground. I was startled at this 
unexpected sight, but I saw at once by the rever 
ence of the audience, and the earnest manner in 



290 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

which the tableau was given and received, that no 
sacrilege was intended. On the contrary, the be 
holders were devout : some were on their knees ; 
men were praying, women were weeping, and 
nearly all made the sign of the cross and bowed 
their heads. I was transfixed with wonder as I 
looked upon the scene. In the distance there were 
dark and ominous clouds, streaked at the horizon 
line with a blood-red color as the sun was going 
down. The walls of the distant city were dimly 
visible, and against this dark mass the three weird 
crosses stood out with a bright light shining upon 
them. The patient anguish of Christ was wonder 
fully represented in the upturned face, while the 
heads of the two thieves hung down in abject, grov 
eling misery. The contrast was marvelous, and 
the terrible grief of the women stretched out in 
agony upon the ground was full of reality. The 
curtain slowly fell as the organ pealed out a solemn 
hymn, and the audience rose and left the theater 
with a quiet, noiseless step, as if they were going 
from church. 

Here is a subject that at once opens up a field 
for thought and discussion. The religious tableau 
that I saw in Callao is, undoubtedly, the same one 
given at the close of the Passion Play in Ober-Am- 
mergau, which thousands of devout Christians as 
semble to witness. They pay for their admission, 
and look upon the exhibition with no other feeling 
than that of reverence ; yet if the same picture were 
presented here by the same people the audience 
would be shocked and distressed. And this is be- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 291 

cause, in the first place, we naturally feel the influ 
ence of the country we happen to be in, and imbibe 
sympathetically the sensations of those who sur 
round us. In the foreign lands we know that time 
and custom have made it with them a sincere and 
holy illusion ; whereas if this entertainment were 
sprung suddenly upon us here it would give great 
offense, because we should recognize that the sub 
ject was merely a catchpenny. It is the motive, 
therefore, which renders the same act religious or 
sacrilegious ; and what is perfectly right in Bavaria 
or South America would not be tolerated in Eng 
land nor in the United States. But I saw, from 

* 
witnessing the impression of this performance on 

the ignorant minds of people who could neither 
read nor write, how effectively the Church in the 
old en time must have used the drama as a mode 
of illustrating religious history. 

No rain ever falls in Lima. A heavy mist settles 
upon the city just before daylight and hangs like a 
pall over the place. About ten o clock the sun 
breaks forth, quickly dispelling the misty veil as 
if touched by a fairy wand. The sky in an instant 
becomes azure blue, and the atmosphere so bright 
and transparent that, as you look at the far-off 
Andes, the crevices of the mountains are as clearly 
defined as if you were viewing them through an 
opera-glass. The gaudily painted shops and 
dwelling-houses, and, above all, the bright-colored 
walls and steeples of the churches, are crude and 
offensive when you are close to them, but viewed 
in the distance the effect is very different 



292 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



There is an antique bridge of quaint Spanish 
architecture some three miles from the city, 
through which falls, or rather tumbles, a cataract 
of foaming water. Standing on this structure and 
looking back on the city at sunset, the rich colors 
melt into each other with the most ravishing gra 
dations. Above the red-tiled roofs of the old 
houses rise the innumerable tall, gray towers and 
gilded spires of the different churches. They 
seem to flash in the sunlight and stand out clearly 
against the deep-green background of tropical 
foliage that skirts the base of the Andes. These 
lovely mountains rise one above another, melting 
from deep green to blue and purple* The peaks, 
full six thousand feet above the level of the sea, are 
capped with snow, glowing pink and golden against 
the clear blue sky. 

Nothing can exceed the brilliancy of this tropi 
cal city. The costumes of the people are very 
picturesque. The ladies wear no hats, but wind 
about their heads and shoulders a graceful scarf 
called the rebozo. This is passed across the face, 
leaving only one eye of the lady exposed. Whether 
this is done to preserve the complexion, or to give 
a coquettish air to the wearer, I do not know, but 
the effect is full of mystery and romance. The 
children dress precisely like the grown people. 
Little senoritas six or eight years old wear the 
",rebozo," and peep their one little eye out in quite 
a comical way, and the boys go about in black 
swallow-tail coats and high silk hats, looking like 
so many General Tom Thumbs. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 293 

The streets swarm with lottery offices, and the 
hawkers stop you in the plaza, or waylay you at 
the corners, offering tickets for sale. Gambling 
is the besetting sin of the country. Men, women, 
and children of all grades indulge in this passion. 
In the quiet summer evenings it was delightful to 
walk by the dwellings and pause to look in at 
the courtyards. Many of these are illuminated 
and decorated with fountains and with orange 
trees bearing fruit and blossom at the same time ; 
senors and sefioritas swinging in hammocks, smok 
ing cigarettes, and playing their guitars. It was a 
very dreamland of romance. 

Since I was there this lovely city has been 
desolated by war. The majestic churches and 
beautiful homes have been battered down by 
the armies of Chili, the p roud people subjugated, 
and the whole country of Peru laid in waste and 
ruin. 

We sailed from the port for Panama early in 
August. On our second day out I recognized the 
old French consul at Callao. He and his wife 
were promenading the deck arm in arm, their 
little son clinging affectionately to his father s 
hand. To my surprise the consul stopped me, 
and, offering me his hand, exclaimed : " Ah, Mon 
sieur Jefferson, permettez-moi. I have &nown you 
exceedingly very often. I was been consul in 
Sydney when you arrive zer four times a year 
ago ! " He introduced me to his wife, who was an 
exceedingly bright, witty little lady, and as my 
agent spoke French fluently, we made the trip 



294 T^E AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



through the tropics the more agreeable by an in 
terchange of civilities and ideas. 

It was fortunate that my agent was a good 
interpreter, for if in his fracas with the Peruvians 
M. Valrie s head had been as badly broken as his 
English, he never would have left South America 
alive. He and his wife and his son were bound up 
in one another s love.. The lad was not more than 
twelve years of age, quite young to be the son of 
such an elderly couple, and he seemed to be the 
sunlight of their lives. He would often pat his 
father s hand and kiss his mothers cheek in 
the warmth of his affection, and at such times the 
old people would glance first at the child and then 
at each other, as though they were saying, " Was 
there ever such a boy as ours ? " One could not 
look at this Arcadian trio without shuddering at 
the thought that their happiness came so near 
being destroyed by a ruthless mob of South 
American ruffians, whose whole lives were not 
worth one drop of the blood they would have shed. 
M. Valrie, like all his countrymen, was devoted 
to the drama and the opera. As I had been in 
France, and was familiar with the acting of the 
favorite comedians, we would compare notes as to 
our opinion of the reigning favorites of the French 
stage. H delighted in these conversations, some 
times wandering off in imagination to the Opera 
Comique, singing the overtures to "Zampa" and 
" Fra Diavolo " all out of tune, and giving imita 
tions of some of the noted actors, shrugging his 
shoulders and grimacing to the delight of us all. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 295 

At such times it was curious to contrast this inno 
cent, vivacious little man with the calm and digni 
fied consul whom I had seen behave so courageously 
when in the hands of the rioters, and difficult to 
realize that it was the same person. 

The moon shines with great brilliancy in the 
tropics, and when the Pacific is on its good behav 
ior the long, low swells, as smooth as glass, reflect 
great streaks of light in fantastic shapes across 
their surface with splendid effect. During these 
glorious nights our little party would sit out on 
the deck of the steamer, humming old tunes and 
keeping time with the beat of the machinery, and 
generally finishing the evening with a game of 
whist, the agent and Madame against the consul 
and me. The French are bad whist-players, and 
surely M. Valrie was a champion in this respect ; 
he never would return my lead, and whenever I 
took a trick he would trump it triumphantly if he 
could. 

"My dear M. Valrie," I would say, "why trump 
it? the trick was already ours." 

" Ah, mon Dieu ! " he would exclaim ; " how 
treacherous I am ! Ah, well ! we bos take him ter- 
gezzar, so we make sure of him, eh ? it is always 
ze same t ing." 

A singularly interesting old gentleman called to 
see me while I was acting in Australia. He had 
been in the colonies for a number of years. His 
early life had been passed in the society of actors, 
and his memory of the celebrities of the theatrical 
profession was quite remarkable. He knew the 



296 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Kembles, Mrs. Siddons, Jack Bannister, and Ellis- 
ton intimately. He had witnessed the O . P. riots 
and Kean s first night in London. As he had a 
rich fund of theatrical anecdotes, I was charmed to 
cultivate his acquaintance. We passed many hours 
together, walking and chatting in the Botanical 
Gardens, and in these rambles I gleaned from him 
much of the unwritten history of the English stage 
during the reign of George the Fourth. 

I mentioned to him that I was about to visit 
England by way of South America. " Then/ 
said he, "you will pass through Panama?" I told 
him that I should do so. He became very much 
agitated, and said : " My young friend, I have a 
dear daughter living in that city. She is the wife 
of an English merchant. I have not seen her for 
fifteen years. My only child ! God knows how I 
have longed to look upon her dear face again. 
Will you not see her, and tell her that we have 
met ? I know that she will feel anxious to hear of 
her old father. We are separated by thousands of 
miles, and shall never meet again upon this earth, 
but it will be a great comfort to me if you will let 
me know that you will bear her this message." 

He gave me the name and direction of the mer 
chant, and I promised him faithfully that I would 
see the old man s daughter when I passed through 
Panama. 

On my arrival there I felt much pleased to think 
that I should possibly see the daughter of my old 
Tasmanian friend and bear to her the loving mes 
sage of her father. I detest the tropical cities, and 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 297 

have always been miserable until I could get out 
of them, with the single exception of Lima. The 
humid atmosphere, filled with the rank odor of 
vegetation, the sweltering heat, the lazy and inan 
imate inhabitants all combine to make one 
restless and unhappy. So it was a comfort to con 
template an approaching sensation of a domestic 
character. Besides, there was a touch of the dra 
matic in the prospect of telling a long-lost daughter 
of her long-lost father, and I quite felt my heart 
beat as I approached the house of the English mer 
chant. The name on the door was quite correct, 
and, in accordance with the old gentleman s direc 
tion, I rang the bell and sent in my card by a warm, 
red-faced footman, who returned and ushered me 
into the presence of his master. The gentleman 
remained seated as I entered, and seemed to be 
looking directly over my head. The day was broil 
ing hot, but the coolness of this reception seemed 
to lower the temperature at least twenty degrees. 
I had entered the house with some agitation, so I 
confess that this unexpected freezing rather discon 
certed me. The man sat bolt upright in his chair 
at a writing-desk. The conventional English frock- 
coat was conventionally buttoned from the waist 
to the breast (and that, too, with the thermometer 
at a hundred) ; a starched white cravat (nothing 
could have melted on this gentleman), a great par 
rot nose, drooping eyelids, together with a crisp 
and bristling head of gray hair, completed the pic 
ture of the stiffest piece of humanity I had ever 
seen. There was a pause. 



298 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

"Well," said he, "what is it ? I don t know 
you ? " 

I was so enraged at the whole proceeding that 
I was going to reply that if he kept on looking 
two feet over my head the probability was that he 
never would know me ; but I restrained myself, and 
merely replied that I had a message for his wife 
from her father in Tasmania. He looked as dead 
and unmoved at this as if he had not heard me at 
all, and apparently addressing the footman, but 
with his eyes still directed over my head, said, 
"Show this person up-stairs and inform your 
mistress." 

He took his eyes from the wall and began to 
examine some papers with that kind of earnestness 
that seemed to say, " I don t want any remarks 
from any one on any subject whatever ; go away 
at once, and oblige me by not returning." His 
manner admitted of no appeal, so I followed the 
man, and was ushered into a large, gloomy apart 
ment where he left me to announce my visit to her 
ladyship. In the tropics all the dwellings are closed 
tightly against the light, so as to render them cool 
during the heat of the day ; but surely this was 
the darkest room that I had ever seen, and when 
I entered, having just come out of the bright 
glare of the street, the objects in it were 
scarcely visible, and only revealed themselves one 
by one. Little sharp streaks of yellow sunlight 
forced themselves through the closed window- 
blinds, and gradually I discovered that the walls 
were dead white; not a picture or ornament of 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 299 

any kind hung upon them ; there was no carpet on 
the floor, and the only articles for use were a half- 
dozen of those uncomfortable and inhospitable 
mahogany chairs covered with dismal black hair 
cloth, and a long sofa made of the same mournful 
material. The high backs of this unfriendly furni 
ture were stiff and straight, or perhaps inclined a 
little forward, as though they were designed to tip 
the visitor gently out, the smooth hair-seats 
rather assisting in the process. I fancied that the 
grizzly ogre of this gloomy place kept his young 
and lovely wife a kind of prisoner here, and tor 
tured her with these unsympathetic surroundings ; 
and if this were so, I thought how her heart would 
beat and her eyes fill with tears as she listened to 
one who bore a father s blessing to his child, and I 
blamed myself for not having written just a line to 
prepare her for my visit that she might have time 
to recover from the shock, for I felt now that the 
meeting might be embarrassing to both parties. I 
was working these thoughts in my mind when the 
door of the adjoining room opened slowly and her 
ladyship appeared. 

She was dressed in white, and as she glided 
slowly into the dark room one would almost have 
fancied she was a ghost. Her figure was tall and 
graceful, and her bearing aristocratic and self- 
possessed. 

I was standing when she entered, and as she 
seated herself upon the sofa she motioned me to a 
chair without speaking a word. I was disappointed 
in her cold and stately manner, for her temperature 



300 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

was quite as low as her husband s, and she received 
me if possible a trifle more frigidly. Her face was 
very beautiful, but so cold and quiet that I felt 
nothing short of a domestic communication could 
melt such a piece of marble. 

In a few words for I was really anxious to get 
out of the place I told her that I bore an affec 
tionate message to her from her father. 

" Oh, indeed. Poor father ! I hope he is quite 
well ? May I offer you some luncheon ? " 

I could no more have swallowed a morsel in that 
house than I could have embraced the master of it. 
The face of her father rose up before me. I called 
to mind the tears in his eyes and the trembling 
emotion of his voice when he spoke of his only 
daughter, and I thought how years ago that fond 
old man had perhaps looked forward to the birth 
of his child, and when it came into the world how 
he had taken it in his arms with loving care and 
attended its early life; and now, in his old age, 
thousands of miles away, with his heart still yearn 
ing to see her, she sat there, cold and impassive, 
receiving his loving message with chilling indiffer 
ence. I could stay no longer, and rose to depart. 

" Madam," I said, " I came here to deliver a mes 
sage with which I was charged, and fancied that 
the nature of it might give you some pleasure; 
but I feel satisfied that I have unintentionally been 
intruding." 

" No," she replied ; but it sounded so much like 
" yes " that I took up my hat and bowed myself 
out. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 301 

The hot and narrow streets of the town were an 
agreeable change after the freezing I had just gone 
through, and I was only too glad to get out of this 
charnel-house. I do not know nor can I tell to 
this day the cause of my unlooked-for reception. 
At first it crossed me that perhaps the father had 
committed some crime, and that they were ashamed 
of him ; but when I recalled his simple, honest face 
I felt how unjust were my suspicions ; so I could 
therefore only conclude that it was the natural aus 
terity of the merchant and his wife. 

It is over twenty years since the little incident I 
have just narrated took place, and if this cheerful 
couple are still alive I do not envy them the many 
hours of stately misery they must have passed in 
each other s society. 

I was glad to get out of Panama. Our party, 
consisting of my son, a friend from Australia who 
was now acting as my agent, and mygelf, crossed 
the Isthmus, and took an English mail steamer from 
Colon to Southampton, passing through the group 
of West India Islands, touching at St. Thomas and 
Jamaica, and arriving in London about the middle 
of June, 1865. 



CHAPTER XI 

IN LONDON 

The New "Rip Van Winkle" English Rela 
tives John Brougham Tom Robertson 
Artemus Ward 

ON my arrival in London I met Dion Bouci- 
cault. He asked me if I intended to act ; 
I told him that I certainly did if I saw an 
opening offering a fair chance of success. 

" What material have you got ? " said he. 

I replied that I had a great part in an indiffer 
ent play, " Rip Van Winkle." 

Boucicault did not seem to fancy the selection, 
thinking the subject stale, but we talked the mat 
ter over and soon came to terms. He undertook 
to rewrite the drama for a consideration agreed 
upon between us. - He never seemed to think 
much of his own labor in this play ; but I did, and 
do still, with good reason. 

While the work was in progress I made an en 
gagement with Benjamin Webster to act the part 
at his theater, the Adelphi. I sent to America for 

308 



JOSEPH JEFFERSON 303 

my three other children to join me in London, and 
took up my abode at No. 5 Hanover Street, Han 
over Square. It was generally supposed that four 
years of success in Australia had enabled me to 
return home a millionaire. Quite a mistake, I as 
sure you. Not poor, certainly, but not rich ; just 
in the condition that is most desirable for all ; 
neither too poor nor too rich, with something to 
give one security in case of accident, constant em 
ployment, and a moderate income. Less than this 
may be inconvenient at times ; more than this is 
a nuisance. But I must stop writing speculative 
philosophy and stick to facts, or I shall turn from a 
biographer into a lecturer. 

The play was finished in due time, and a day 
was set for reading it to the company. The time 
arrived, and I hastened to the theater with some 
anxiety, for I am always attacked with a nervous 
fit when I am to meet a new assemblage of actors 
and actresses. I cannot get over the feeling, and 
to this day it is the same. I of course had expected 
both Boucicault, the author, and Webster, the man 
ager, to meet and assist at the reading, but when 
I got to the theater I found letters from both, say 
ing that they could not attend. There seems to 
have been an old feud between Webster and Bouci 
cault, and I presume they did not desire to meet ; 
so I read the play. Among the actors who were 
present at the reading was Paul Bedford. The 
name of this cheery old man is scarcely known in 
this country except among professionals who have 
been abroad, but in England it is cherished with 



304 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

much affection. He had been a member of the 
Adelphi company for forty years, perhaps longer; 
he sat opposite to me during the reading, and was 
an attentive and sympathetic listener. 

When I came to the entrance of Nick Vedder in 
the opening scene, " Ah, that s me, my lad; that s 
me," said he. 

He chuckled over the humor of the play, and at 
times he wiped the tears from his eyes as the pathos 
of the language moved him. " I say, my lad," 
said he, " I m told there is twenty years to elapse 
between the third and fourth acts?" "Yes," I re 
plied. "Well, I ain t alive then, am I?" "No, 
Mr. Bedford," said I ; " you are cut off in the flower 
of your youth." "What, die in the first act? 
Good ! " And so he went on with a running fire of 
fun altogether at variance with good discipline. 

Mr. Billington, who was to act in the play, and 
who was considered an authority in such matters, 
said, "There s a hundred nights in that play; am 
I right, Paul ? " To which Bedford replied, quot 
ing from his old character of Jack Gong, " I believe 
you, my boy " ; and then, taking me by the hand, 
he said with marked solemnity, " My transatlantic 
kid, I welcome you to the classic precincts of the 
royal Adelphi." 

While the play was in rehearsal I was desirous 
that Boucicault should see how I had arranged the 
business of the scene, as I knew that his judgment 
and opinion upon what I had done would be of 
value, and would serve to strengthen the effects. 
So it was arranged that a full rehearsal of the play 




PAUL BEDFORD. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 305 

and the scenery should take place on the Monday 
preceding its production, and that he was to be 
present. 

With my portion of the work he seemed well 
pleased, but during the setting of the scenery some 
thing went wrong ; nothing of very great impor 
tance, I fancy, or I think I should remember the 
details of it. It was, however, enough to start him 
off, and in a rage he roundly abused the theater 
and its manager. As I before mentioned, he and 
Mr. Webster had been at variance for some months. 
The latter gentleman was hot-tempered arid highly 
sensitive. Previous to my arrival in London he 
and the author had been quarreling and wrangling 
over their respective rights and wrongs. Mr. Bouci- 
cault, now that an opportunity offered of his speak 
ing his mind before Mr. Webster s company, 
launched forth against the manager, the theater, 
and its misrule with great energy. He denounced 
the whole establishment, spoke of his own experi 
ence on that stage, and likened the present to the 
former imbecility of management to which he had 
been subjected, and so revenged himself on the 
absent manager by holding him up to scorn before 
the actors. After the rehearsal \vas over, and the 
enraged author had departed, I found that the com 
pany were very indignant at Boucicault s abuse of 
their absent chief. Mr. Phillips, the stage-mana 
ger, took me aside and told me that he feared 
much trouble would arise from the scene that had 
just taken place ; and to my surprise informed me 
that Webster, knowing that Boucicault would .be 



306 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

present, was there himself, concealed behind the 
curtains of a private box, where he had heard the 
whole affair. Webster was very bitter when trans 
formed into an enemy ; and I can imagine the 
furious glare that must have been in his fierce eyes 
as he listened to the abuse of Boucicault, who, 
quite innocent of his presence, had been thus de 
nouncing him. If ever there was an occasion 
when listeners heard no good of themselves, surely 
it was on that memorable morning. I was about 
leaving the theater in quest of Mr. Webster when 
the call boy handed me a note from him. It was 
short, but entirely to the point ; it referred in no 
very complimentary terms to the scene that had 
just taken place and to the author of it, and con 
cluded by saying that he could not allow any play 
of Mr. Boucicaulfs to be acted in his theater. 
Here was an unexpected check. I at once asked 
where I could find Mr. Webster, and was told that 
he had gone home. I got the address and jumped 
into a cab, making a hot pursuit after the irate man 
ager. Mr. Webster lived upon the Surrey side, I 
think ; I know that we passed the celebrated old 
madhouse of Bedlam on our way. But bridges, 
steeples, and madhouses almost merged into one 
during this exciting ride, so far as my mind was con 
cerned; for I had looked upon the approaching Mon 
day night as the most important professional one of 
my life, and I was not going to have my golden op 
portunity snatched from me without a struggle. 

As I turned the corner of the street in which he 
lived, I saw that the old manager had arrived and 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 307 

was striding up the steps of his house ; his hat was 
firmly set on his head, and the very back of his 
coat seemed to be in a rage. He entered, and I 
followed close upon him. The old housekeeper 
admitted me and took my card. She said that her 
master had just gone up-stairs ; and at that moment 
I heard a door bang with an angry thud that 
echoed through the old house like the ominous 
thunder that precedes a storm. The place had a 
bare and lonely look, being scantily furnished and 
very dusty. The old housekeeper, who was scant 
of breath, came to the head of the stairs and beck 
oned me up. When I reached the landing she 
pointed rather timidly towards a side door, and 
said to me cautiously and in an undertone, " That s 
his den, as he calls it." I thought the name most 
appropriate just at the present time ; I felt there 
would be a scene, but there was nothing left except 
to have it out. I knocked at the den, and the lion 
growled, " Come in ! " I opened the door, and 
enter Daniel. The old manager was quite pale, 
and if he were then not in a towering rage, the 
effects of one were plainly visible upon his angry 
face. His gray eyes, wonderfully expressive, 
snapped with the reaction of temper ; and his black 
wig one of those unmistakable articles with a 
hard parting on one side and a strong tendency to 
get away from the back of the head had got 
awry, and this gave him anything but a reconcili- 
atory appearance. We had a long and stormy 
scene. Of course he was not unreasonable enough 
to blame me, but his opinion of the whole affair was 



308 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

delivered in language more tinged with billingsgate 
than " choice Italian." I told him that any inter 
ruption of my opening would be very injurious to 
me ; that the play, scenery, and actors were even 
now fully prepared for action ; that I felt quite sure 
of myself in the part, as I had already played it 
with success in the old version ; and that to inter 
rupt the present arrangement was to imperil my 
future. He suggested that we should discard 
Boucicault s play and substitute the old version. 
To this I answered nay, explaining to him that not 
only was Boucicault s play infinitely superior to the 
old one, but that I had made my agreement with 
the author, and it must be kept. I insisted that I 
would not submit to act the Mercutio in the matter, 
and so fall because of a quarrel between the Mon 
tagues and the Capulets, and finished by showing 
him that it might be disastrous to his season to 
throw aside a good play ready for production and 
trust to chance to fill up the vacancy. He began 
at last to see the matter in the light in which I had 
placed it, and withdrew his objections, though with 
much reluctance. 

My approaching appearance was the important 
dramatic event of my life. I had been five years 
from America, and was on my way home, and I 
felt satisfied that if this new version of " Rip Van 
Winkle" succeeded in London, my way was quite 
clear when I returned to the United States. 

On Sunday evening, being alone in my lodg 
ings, I got out for my own admiration my new 
wig and beard the pride of my heart which 
I was to use in the last act I could not resist 




BENJAMIN WEBSTER. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 309 

trying them on for the twentieth time, I think; 
so I got in front of the glass and adjusted them 
to my perfect satisfaction. I soon became en 
thused, and began acting and posing in front of 
the mirror. In about twenty minutes there came 
a knock at the door. 

"Who s there? "said I. 

" It s me, if you please," said the gentle but agi 
tated voice of the chambermaid. " May I come in ? " 

" Certainly not," I replied ; for I had no desire to 
be seen in my present make-up. 

"Is there anything wrong in the room, sir?" 
said she. 

" Nothing at all. Go away," I replied. 

"Well, sir," she continued, "there s a police 
man at the door, and he says as ow there s a 
crazy old man in your room, a-flingin of his arnds 
and a-goin j on hawful, and there J s a crowd of 
people across the street a-blockin up the way." 

I turned towards the window, and to my horror 
I found that I had forgotten to put down the 
curtain, and, as it seemed to me, the entire popu 
lation of London was taking in my first night. 
I had been unconsciously acting with the lights 
full up, to an astonished audience who had not 
paid for their admission. As I tore off my wig 
and beard a shout went up. Quickly pulling down 
the curtain, I threw myself in a chair, overcome 
with mortification at the occurrence. In a few 
minutes the comical side of the picture presented 
itself, and I must have laughed for half an hour. I 
had been suffering from an attack of nervous dys 
pepsia, consequent upon the excitement of the past 



20* 



310 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

week, and I firmly believe that this continuous fit 
of laughter cured me. 

On Monday, September 5, I made my first 
appearance before a London audience, and was 
received with a cordial welcome. The play of 
" Rip Van Winkle " was entirely new to the 
English public, and its success secured for it 
a run of one hundred and seventy nights. The 
company worked with a good will and never 
flagged in their energy. 

After I had been acting a short time in London 
I received, to my surprise, the following letter : 

HACKNEY, September 30, 1865. 

DEAR SIR: Somewhere about the year 1801 an uncle of 
mine, bearing your name and belonging to your profession, 
went to America. 

On seeing the announcement of your appearance at the 
Adelphi I was naturally curious to know if you were a distant 
relative of mine or not. My wife and I sat in the front of the 
theater last night, and when you came upon the stage we were 
quite certain that you had the honor of being my first cousin. 
My father, Lieutenant Frank Jefferson, commanded the queen s 
yacht at Virginia Water you may have heard of him. I am 
the father of an English family, in comfortable circumstances, so 
you need not be alarmed lest you should have stumbled upon 
a batch of poor relations, and if you will dine with us next 
Sunday we shall be glad to give our Yankee cousin a hearty 
cockney welcome. Under any circumstances let me say that 
it gave me great pleasure to see a face from a far-off country so 
unmistakably like the Jeffersons. 

My wife and children join me in hoping that you will come. 

The inclosed diagram and address will show you how to find 
us. We dine at three (not fashionable people, you see), and I shall 
be at the gate on the lookout for you. Yours truly, 

TOM JEFFERSON. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 311 

I was much pleased at the tone of this letter, 
and replied that I was undoubtedly a cousin of 
his, but a second one, as his uncle was not my 
father, but my grandfather; writing him also that 
I would join his family party on the following 
Sunday. 

Sure enough, he was at the gate; and as he 
gave me a hearty shake of the hand I looked in 
his face, and it seemed to me as though my father 
stood before me : the likeness was indeed wonder 
ful. His wife and a host of children were waiting 
inside, and they received me right royally. 

We all sat down to dinner roast beef and 
plum pudding. My cousin said that they did not 
usually have the latter dish till Christmas, remark 
ing that he looked upon it as a national institution, 
not to be trifled with, and that I must feel myself 
highly complimented at being treated to this formi 
dable article; but as he knew that I never got 
anything so delicate in America, my enjoyment of 
it would console him for leaving the beaten track. , 

In ten minutes the ice was broken, and I was 
one of the family. Of course I had a thousand 
questions to answer about America, and my glow 
ing accounts of the New World filled the boys 
with a desire to emigrate at once. Tom was a 
wag, and told the youngsters that he had heard 
when I first arrived that I was quite black ; but a 
few months* sojourn in the clear atmosphere of 
London had restored me to the natural color of my 
ancestors, at which the little ones wondered and 
the big ones laughed. 



312 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

We had another family reunion at Christmas, 
when all the Jeffersons we could hunt up dined 
with me at Verey s. In the afternoon the whole 
party went to Astley s to see the pantomime. Of 
course there was the usual crowd about the doors 
that always assembled during this festive season at 
the theater. I was elbowing my way to the box 
office for the purpose of purchasing tickets, when I 
was accosted by E. T. Smith, the manager. 

" I cannot allow you to buy tickets," said he. 

" I am obliged to you," said I ; " but I have my 
family with me, and could not think of intruding 
them on your good nature." 

" Your family take my box," said he. " You 
are quite welcome. Where are they ? " 

"There," I replied, pointing to the group. 
" Twenty-four of them." 

" Twenty-four ! " said he, aghast. 

"Yes," said I, "and as they are not profes 
sionals, I must insist on buying the tickets. All I 
ask is your good offices in getting us seats together." 

This was done, and in the center of the theater 
sat four-and-twenty Jeffersons " all in a row." 

If there is one thing more amusing than an Eng 
lish pantomime, it is the English audience that go 
to see it. Men, women, and children who are 
intelligent enough on ordinary occasions seem, 
under the influence of this potent spell, to lose all 
control of themselves. Before the curtain rose, the 
faces in front were expressive and even thoughtful. 
But when the entertainment was in full swing, 
all sense of propriety was thrown off. 




f BROUGHAM AS THE "o GRADY" IN "ARRAH NA POG0E." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 313 

The audience were carried away and delighted 
beyond measure, and swallowed the most idiotic 
nonsense with one broad grin that seemed to 
mantle the face of the whole house. Shout after 
shout went up when the clown sat on the baby ; 
and as the cockney swell appeared, extravagantly 
conscious of his own dignity and charmed by the 
effect of his personal appearance, the heartless 
public sat in eager expectancy, well knowing that 
some disaster was about to befall him ; and when a 
half-barrel of flour was poured upon his devoted 
head they would burst forth in the most boisterous 
manner/ Any catastrophe that occurred to the 
police was always hailed with delight. Why is it 
that these guardians of our safety are held in such 
contempt theatrically ? When a double-dyed vil 
lain gets his quietus, and the innocent heroine is 
restored to the arms of the first walking gentle 
man, we applaud with delight. Surely under 
these circumstances one would suppose it to be our 
duty to resent any affront offered to the "force " ; 
but no, the slightest indignity bestowed upon a 
virtuous policeman, such as the emptying of a 
bucket of water over his helmet, seems to give us 
joy. 

It was very pleasant to meet with some of the 
artists, actors, and men of letters in London. To 
sit and chat with renowned people that I had heard 
of from boyhood to have the erratic and domi 
neering advice of hot-headed, kind-hearted Charles 
Reade pounded into one ; to be patted on the back 
by dear old Planch^ ; and to be glared at through 



314 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the fierce but honest spectacles of Anthony Trol- 
lope, was a treat indeed. I had come unheralded 
and unexpectedly among them, and they made me 
very welcome. 

At this time (1865-66) Boucicault s play of 
" Arrah na Pogue" was in the height of its well- 
merited success at the Princess s Theater. It is 
one of the best of the Irish sensational dramas, as 
they are styled, though to my mind this play de 
serves a higher title. I had been three or four 
months on the ocean, and it was a treat to see a 
play again, particularly so good a one, and one 
mounted with such excellent taste and acted so ad 
mirably. The O Grady played by John Brougham 
was certainly the best piece of acting I had ever 
seen at the hands of this comedian. The character 
is that of a gay, graceful Hibernian gentleman, 
full of wit, good spirits, and geniality ; in short, it 
was John Brougham. He threw a jaunty air into 
the part that gave it the flavor of an Irish soldier 
of the last century. The cunning author had taken 
the just measure of the actor and fitted him with a 
character that the artist could scarcely get out of. 
I have never thought that Brougham was a great 
actor ; that he was a pleasing one and a great fa 
vorite with the public there can be no doubt, but 
he never seemed in earnest. He invariably acted 
a part as though it were a joke. But his handsome 
face and winning manner made him hosts of friends, 
and they liked him too well to pass critical judg 
ment upon his performances. As a writer he made 
some pleasing additions to the light dramatic liter- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 315 

ature of his time. " Pocahontas" is certainly the 
wittiest American burlesque that has been written. 
His table-talk and after-dinner speeches were ever 
welcome, and his presence at convivial meetings 
was much enjoyed. No one was more desired at 
the festive board than " Genial John." He partic 
ularly shone in addressing the audience on " bene 
fit" occasions, or in making an apology to them 
for some unavoidable accident that had occurred 
during the performance. He assuredly had much 
experience in these matters, for during his manage 
ment of Brougham s Lyceum, afterwards Wallace s, 
the mishaps were quite frequent. His easy good 
nature entirely unfitted him for the duties of a the 
atrical conductor. Discipline and order were not 
among his virtues ; he lacked the forethought, too, 
that might prevent catastrophe, and the firmness 
that sets things right when they happen to go 
wrong. If, however, he was deficient in discipline, 
his ready wit was more than a match for the negli 
gence of his company. And it was once surely put 
to the test during the performance of " Pocahon 
tas." I think, however, that the matter I shall 
speak of took place after his theater had fallen into 
the hands of the elder Wallack. The actress who 
had been playing the leading part suddenly left the 
city, having accepted an engagement in Baltimore 
without giving notice to the management. No 
word of this proceeding reached the theater till a 
few minutes before the curtain was to rise on the 
performance. Of course for some minutes there 
was a deadlock. No one could suggest the faint- 



316 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

est remedy, and Brougham was nonplussed. At 
last he went in front of the curtain and explained 
the situation. He confessed he was at his wit s 
end, a long distance for him to travel, and 
really did not know what to do unless the audience 
felt disposed to accept the burlesque of " Pocahon- 
tas " with the gentle savage omitted. He said there 
was an old theatrical anecdote setting forth that 
on one occasion the character of Hamlet had been 
so wretchedly acted that on its next representation 
that part had been omitted by particular request 
"Now if Hamlet* can be acted without the hero, 
why may not * Pocahontas be played without the 
heroine? You all know that Pocahontas is a 
much finer play than Hamlet ; and if you do not, 
I do, for I wrote it myself. Will you permit us to 
make the experiment? " The cries of " Certainly," * 
" Go on ! " were so encouraging that Brougham 
retired amidst applause and the curtain was rung 
up. The burlesque proceeded admirably until the 
music was played for the entrance of the absent 
squaw. The audience wondered what Brougham 
could possibly do. He was acting the father, Pow- 
hatan, and was on the stage awaiting the approach 
of his daughter. He immediately addressed the 
audience somewhat in the following words : " Ladies 
and gentlemen, that is the sweet strain which is 
supposed to bring Pocahontas on the stage ; you 
are aware that she is at present in Baltimore, and 
the law of the land will not permit a Christian, 
much less a savage, to be in two places at once. 
You can yourselves vouch for the alibi ; but if she 




T. W. ROBERTSON. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 317 

were here she would say " and here assuming 
the look and tones of the absentee, Brougham spoke 
her part first, then assumed his own character, and 
so kept up the dialogue. The audience were con 
vulsed with laughter at the admirable imitation, 
and by their applause acknowledged that Brougham 
had outdone himself through the wit with which 
he had mastered the difficulty. 

Among the many new friends I made in Lon 
don none was more delightful to meet than Tom 
Robertson. During my engagement at the Adel- 
phi he was writing his domestic comedies for the 
Prince of Wales s Theater, then under the manage 
ment of that vivacious actress and industrious little 
manager Marie Wilton. 

Robertson s plays were nearly all successful, and 
deservedly so too, for they contained original char 
acters, bright and witty dialogue, and were entirely 
free from the French coarseness that had character 
ized so many of their predecessors. All honor to 
the memory of Tom Robertson, who was at least 
among the pioneers in working this reformation ; 
and to his successors too, who following in his 
wake gave to the public musical extravaganzas 
more humorous and melodious than the Parisian 
burlesques, without one tinge of their impertinent 
vulgarity ; proving incontestably that wit and 
harmony in comic opera need not depend for 
their effects upon sensual music and licentious 
libretto. 

Tom Robertson was of all the men I have ever 
talked with the most entertaining. His descrip- 



318 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

tions of people, performances, and incidents that 
had passed before him during the early portion of 
his life were exceedingly brilliant. Events that 
would have been commonplace when described in 
an ordinary way were so colored and illumined by 
his vivid imagination that they became intensely 
interesting. At No. 5 Hanover Street, Hanover 
Square, Tom usually dined with me once a week. 
He was perfectly familiar with dramatic literature 
and discoursed delightfully upon the plays of the 
past. Goldsmith was his favorite author, whom 
he considered the very finest and purest writer of 
English comedy that had lived during the last 
century; and though I did not quite agree with 
him in this idea, he said much that strength 
ened his argument, pointing out the ingenious 
construction of his plots, the unstrained wit of his 
dialogue, and the natural conduct of his characters. 
Robertson came to my dressing-room one night 
just as I had finished acting, and asked me to 
go with him to Drury Lane to see the last two 
acts of " Macbeth," then being played at that 
house. We arrived at the theater just at the 
opening of the fourth act, and ensconced ourselves 
snugly in a private box. It seemed that matters 
had gone wrong during the whole play, and when 
mishaps do occur in the earlier scenes of a drama, 
particularly a Shaksperean one, they are apt to 
continue to the end. We were se.ated well back 
in the private box and could enjoy the tragedy 
without being observed which as it happened 
was quite fortunate. The solemn cave scene 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 319 

opened with the three witches at their ghastly 
work about the caldron. Mr. Phelps, as Mac- 
beth, came upon the stage with the martial 
stride and dignity that characterized this excel 
lent actor, and the weird sisters summoned their 
phantom confederates to appear. At last one of 
the apparitions slowly rose to the surface only 
to disappear suddenly without giving Macbeth 
warning or receiving any himself; there was a 
slight crash, but nobody was hurt. Next came 
the passing by of the six ghostly kings, the first 
one of whom lost his crown, and in stopping to 
recover it was run down by the other five mon- 
archs, who came so rapidly upon the heels of 
their leader that the several dynasties were all 
in a heap, creating a spiritual revolution that fairly 
convulsed the audience. 

In the last scene, just as Mr. Phelps had given 
orders to have his banners hung on the outer wall, 
that frail edifice gave way before it was besieged, 
and tumbled the king of Scotland into the middle 
of the stage, where, with uplifted claymore and in 
a sitting posture, he presented a sight of harmless 
indignation that would have revenged Macdufffor 
the murder of his entire family. 

I have no idea what ever became of the tyrant 
after this, for Tom and I were compelled to flee 
from the theater and seek some dark alley in Drury 
Lane, where we pounded each other in the exuber 
ance of our mirth. Nothing could exceed the 
drollery of what we had witnessed except Tom s 
description of it the next day. 



320 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



Artemus Ward arrived in London just as I was 
leaving it He brought me a letter of introduction 
from my cousin William Warren. I was much im 
pressed by Ward s genial manner. He was not in. 
good health, and I advised him to be careful lest 
the kindness of London should kill him. I had 
never seen his entertainment, but I was quite sure 
from what I had heard of it that he would be suc 
cessful, and told him so, cautioning him to give only 
his Sunday evenings to his friends, and on no 
account, in his delicate state of health, to expose 
himself after his entertainment to the pernicious 
effects of a London fog. But he was weak, and 
yielded to the influence of his many admirers, so 
his career was brilliant but short. He had that 
unfortunate desire for the second round of applause 
that is so fatal to the health and position of an actor. 

See how unfair you gentlemen are whp fancy 
that you are the friends of the actor. You sit quietly 
among the audience during the whole evening, 
enjoying an actor s performance and resting your 
self at the expense of his labon When this is over 
you are thoroughly recuperated and he is weary ; 
yet you ask him now, when he needs the rest that 
he has given you, to sit up till daylight for 
what? To amuse you again. 

Artemus Ward died not many months after his 
London debut, attended to the last by Tom Robert 
son. A strong attachment had sprung up between 
them, and the devotion of his new-found English 
friend was touching in the extreme and character 
istic of Robertson s noble nature. Just before 




ARTEMUS WARD. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 321 

Ward s death Robertson poured out some medicine 
in a glass and offered it to his friend. Ward said, 
11 My dear Tom, I can t take that dreadful stuff." 

" Come, come," said Robertson, urging him to 
swallow the nauseous drug ; " there s a dear fellow. 
Do now, for my sake ; you know I would do any 
thing for you." 

" Would you ? " said Ward, feebly stretching out 
his hand to grasp his friend s, perhaps Tor the 
last time. 

"I would, indeed," said Robertson. 

" Then you take it," said Ward. 

The humorist passed away but a few hours 
afterwards. 

At the conclusion of my London engagement I 
acted in Manchester, playing Rip Van Winkle and 
a new part in " The Parish Clerk," a beautiful little 
drama written by Dion Boucicault The piece did 
not succeed ; partly because it weakened after the 
second act, and partly in consequence of my failing 
to hit the leading character. I then acted in Liver 
pool, and at the end of my engagement took a sail 
ing vessel (the Sunrise) and embarked for New 
York. This was considered rather a romantic idea 
by my friends ; but if one has the time, I do not 
know anything pleasanter than a clipper-ship voy 
age across the Atlantic in July. 



CHAPTER XII 

EAST AND WEST 

Edwin Adams The Combination System 
George D. Prentice Tom Glessing again 
George Holland " The Little Church Around 
the Corner " Charles Fechter 

ONE of the first to call on and welcome me 
on my return to America was Edwin 
Adams. He had acted under my stage 
management at Baltimore many years before : he 
first came to me almost as an apprentice ; step by 
step he rose from the ranks, and before we parted 
he was playing the heroes of the stage with much 
promise. During the time I had been in Australia 
and England he had become, as he expressed it, a 
" war star." This was the technical term given by 
the old legitimate stars and actors to satirize those 
self-lighted luminaries who had flickered during 
the national strife and who had gone out after the 
cessation of hostilities. The claim of Adams, how 
ever, to a prominent artistic position was sufficiently 
strong to retain its hold, and I found him enjoying 

322 



JOSEPH JEFFERSON 323 

his well-earned success among other fine actors of 
the day. The animation of his face, the grace of 
his person, and, above all, the melody of his voice, 
well fitted him for the stage. While he could not 
be fairly called a great artist, he was something 
often more highly prized a born actor, a child 
of nature if not of art, swayed by warm impulse 
rather than by premeditation. His Enoch Arden, 
so far as the character is related to the stage, was 
a creation entirely his own, and one, too, that 
touched the sympathy of his audience. As a man 
he was loving and beloved, and his honest hand 
was ever ready with its charity. I regarded him 
with something more than friendship ; and this was 
natural, for I had known him when he was a youth, 
and his likeness to my brother in character, ex 
pression, and voice was quite remarkable. Their 
careers, too, were singularly alike brilliant, but 
brief. Those who remember them both will recall 
the strange resemblance that existed between 
Charles Burke and Edwin Adams. They never 
met. 

On the 2Oth of December, 1867, and in the city 
of Chicago, I was married to my second wife, then 
Miss Sarah Warren. I fancy now that my reader 
is somewhat alarmed lest I should pour upon his 
devoted head a heavy shower of matrimonial intel 
ligence ; but he may breathe freely, for I have no 
intention of committing such an impertinent intru 
sion. But as reticence upon this subject may be 
misconstrued, I must crave permission to express 
my reasons for sparing him the infliction. 



324 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

If I dwell lightly upon domestic matters, I do so, 
not from any want of reverence for them, but from 
a conviction that the details of one s family affairs 
are tiresome and uninteresting. I shall endeavor, 
therefore, to subdue any rising desire I may feel to 
descant upon the wonderful talents of our children, 
as it is quite possible that we may take more inter 
est in them than the public do. We fond parents 
are in the habit not only of overrating the intelli 
gence of our offspring, but also of recounting to 
strangers the wonderful remarks that " so astonish 
a mother," and in our innocence fancy that those to 
whom we relate these marvels are as much inter 
ested in them as ourselves, when in truth they care 
little about them, and are generally bored by the re 
cital of such trifles. Repeating this nonsense not 
only renders us ridiculous, but it is unfair to others, 
who, out of mere civility, are obliged to look amazed 
and to appear to be entertained. 

After finishing an engagement in Chicago, I 
decided to play in Detroit and other cities through 
out Michigan where opera houses had lately been 
built; but as there were no stock companies at 
tached to these new places, I engaged one for a 
short season to travel with me. In Detroit I met 
Mr. Windham, who was acting a play called "The 
Lancers " there, with a company of his own. These 
were the first two combinations that I remember : 
there may have been others before, but not to my 
knowledge; so if this system is as pernicious as 
its enemies say that it is, I fear I am responsible 
for assisting in this new departure which seems to 




EDWIN* ADAMS. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 325 

have worked such a revolution in theatrical mat 
ters. Whether the present system will be hurtful 
or beneficial, time alone can tell ; I think it will be 
beneficial. I am tolerably conservative, but when 
I cling to an old custom it is not for the reason 
that it is old, but because I think it is good. Any 
change that offers an improvement and there are 
few that do not we gladly welcome. This so- 
called combination system has occupied so much 
attention lately, and, rightly or wrongly, has given 
rise to so many professional discussions, that I may 
be pardoned for desiring a hearing on the subject. 
I do not lay claim to having been the first to ex 
plode this theatrical bombshell ; but certainly if any 
harm comes of it I should bear some of the blame, 
for I was at least among the pioneers. It is 
natural, then, that I should desire to defend it ; but 
in so doing I shall lay bare both sides of the ques 
tion, and the reader must judge for himself, as I 
fancy most readers generally do. 

The conservative element within us always ar 
rays itself against any fresh movement, seldom 
stopping to consider whether the new departure is 
beneficial or hurtful. I remember when my father 
had his flint-lock gun altered to the new percussion 
system that serious-looking, iron-gray old sports 
men shook their wise and melancholy heads, and 
hinted that they had thought better of him. One 
ancient Nimrod scratched his perfectly round con 
ventional pate, saying, " What will you do if you 
get out of caps ? " This intelligent question rather 
nonplussed my father; and the old sports seemed 



326 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

relieved to think that the punishment for his rash 
step would soon follow the crime, forgetting that 
as the demand was made for the gun, the supply 
of caps would follow it up. The breech-loader met 
with the same prejudice; and ever since Galileo 
made the world move, discoverers and inventors 
have been persecuted. It was quite reasonable, 
therefore, that when the tide of the "combination 
system" set in condemnation of it should naturally 
follow. That there are two serious objections to 
the new departure must be admitted. 

First, the necessity for constant travel keeps the 
actor away from his home and family the greater 
portion of the yean This is a domestic incon 
venience that is to be regretted. The second ob 
jectionable feature is, that as in many cases an ac 
tor plays only one part in a year, he gets no varied 
experience in his profession, and is apt to grow 
careless in his performance by constant repetition. 
But, apart from this consideration, the system has 
been an artistic and commercial success beyond all 
doubt; and the agreeable result to the public, at 
least is so evident that it seems quite unnecessary 
to argue in favor of it. I will, therefore, only point 
out a few of its advantages. 

The old stock companies had to be limited to a 
certain number of actors, who were compelled to 
perform in a multitude of plays the whole round 
of the Shakspereari drama, old English comedies, 
Yankee farces, nautical pieces, and pantomime ; 
and at times the cracked voices of " respectable 
utility " and second old men " in dismal discord 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 327 

sang." I myself well remember leading the 
choruses for the Seguin company; where I led 
them to I have not the slightest idea. It is unrea 
sonable to suppose that any stock company could 
do full justice to this varied bill of fare, no mat 
ter how efficient. The actors were in many in 
stances among the best I ever saw, but they were 
very often not adapted to the parts for which the 
manager was compelled to cast them. Under the 
new regime a Shaksperean company are selected 
with special reference to the plays for which they 
are required. Thus an old English comedy may be 
cast to actors whose early training fits them to 
the task. For domestic dramas, comic operas, and 
sensational plays actors are selected whose talents 
not only suit the particular characters for which they 
are engaged, but whose temperament and personal 
appearance harmonize with them. The performers 
themselves are no better than those who acted 
under the old form of dramatic government, but on 
the principle of " selection " a more perfect unity 
has been evolved. And further, the vast continent 
of America, with its wonderful and progressive 
cities thousands of miles apart, seems to have de 
manded the establishment of this important insti 
tution. The inhabitants of these distant places, 
having fine opera houses, enjoy the advantages of 
seeing the same plays acted by the same compa- , 
nies as those of the larger cities. If they can afford 
and appreciate it, then they deserve it, and these 
entertainments can only be administered by the 
combination system. The theatrical profession is, 



328 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

and always has been, in a transient state, but it is 
progressive ; it does not retrograde. Actors may 
not be any greater now than they were a hundred 
years ago, but the systems by which their talents 
become distributed are adapted to the growth of 
the country. What new invention has been cast 
aside, after once having been fully approved, to 
return to an old one? I cannot remember any. 
The old-fashioned tinder-box is used now only 
as a curiosity. We prefer matches. What mid 
night student, however poetic, would return to 
the penny dip after he had once tasted the delights 
of his first gas jet? We do not ride in a stage 
coach in preference to a modern drawing-room 
car, and when the first balloon express bears us 
across the continent we shall look down upon the 
locomotive. 

In Louisville I was introduced to the editor of 
the "Louisville Journal," George D. Prentice, 
poet, satirist, journalist, and wit, whose caustic par 
agraphs and frequent serious encounters with po 
litical enemies had made him a man of mark in 
more than one sense. 

When I met Mr. Prentice his fame and health 
were both declining, and he was just on the eve of 
resigning his control of the " Journal" into, as he 
said himself, younger and abler hands. His recep 
tion of me was cold and formal ; but I had already 
been warned that it was his way, so of course I was 
prepared not to take offense. Besides I felt, as I 
had no business matters to speak of, that my visit 
was somewhat of an intrusion. Curiosity to see 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 329 

and talk to a remarkable man is not an exceedingly 
high motive, and I deserved no warmer greeting 
than I received. 

As my friend and I entered the sanctum Mr. 
Prentice was seated at his desk. He had an ab 
stracted look, and scarcely moved his position 
till I was introduced. He then slowly turned his 
head, and regarded me without an expression on 
his face that denoted the slightest interest. He 
looked a picture of careworn loneliness that might 
awaken the sympathy of any considerate man a 
tall, gaunt figure wrapped in a faded calico dress 
ing-gown ; thin black hair, streaked with gray, and 
straggling over a high forehead ; black, bushy eye 
brows, shading a pair of dull, dreamy eyes, that 
seemed to have lost their fire. I found afterwards, 
however, that they could be rekindled at the short 
est notice. 

After a few frigid civilities, my friend suggested 
that perhaps Mr. Prentice might enjcy an evening 
at the theater during the week that I was to act. 
He replied that he seldom went to the theater, and 
that acting, unless it were extremely fine, always 
bored him. This was not a cheering remark, cer 
tainly, but it left me in no doubt as to the justice 
of his reputation as a satirist. With a hopeless 
endeavor to thaw him out and return good for evil, 
I ventured to remark that some two weeks since I 
had dined with General Hancock in Washington, 
and that the general had, during the evening, 
highly entertained us by reading some of his (Mr. 
Prentice s) poetry ; to which he replied, " I am 



330 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

glad that you were so easily pleased." This seemed 
to make matters a little worse; so our common 
friend, with admirable tact, came to the rescue, and 
changed the subject by launching into politics. 
Here the old war-horse was at home; and he 
brightened up wonderfully, being much more inter 
ested in such matters than he could possibly be in 
me, and taking no pains to conceal it Before tak 
ing our departure Mr. Prentice brought up the 
subject of the theater, and reluctantly, I think, 
requested a seat to witness the performance on the 
following evening. I told him that I would have 
a private box placed at his service. He said he 
would prefer this arrangement, so that if he felt 
wearied during the performance he could with 
draw without attracting attention. I was naturally 
grateful for this consideration, but I could not 
quite see the compliment of it. 

In my brief acquaintance with Mr. Prentice I 
could scarcely judge of the true quality of his 
humor, but to me it seemed grim rather than gen 
ial. His skill in journalism was exhibited in his 
epigrammatic style of paragraphing, rather than in 
a knowledge of political economy. The journalist 
of a quarter of a century ago was a slow, old-fash 
ioned gentleman, who would look like a curious 
piece of bric-a-brac in an editorial room of to-day. 
But Mr. Prentice was a man possessed of rare lit 
erary skill, and must have felt the necessity of his 
abdication very keenly. His sad face told that he 
plainly recognized that his day of usefulness was 
over. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 331 

He came to see the play, and I fancied that 
the desolation of Rip must have reminded him 
of his own loneliness, for when the curtain fell 
upon the last act he came to the door of my 
dressing-room, and, giving me his hand, thanked 
me for a pleasant evening. I was on the point of 
retorting that I was glad he was so easily pleased, 
but I did not. This kind of resistance is always 
best, for one seldom regrets one s silence upon 
any subject. 

During the season of 1868 and 1869, while I 
was acting through the Western country, I met 
my old friend and companion Tom Glessing; 
we had not seen each other for about eighteen 
years. He lived in Indianapolis, where, by hard 
work, he had managed to buy a lovely little 
cottage, in which his widow afterwards lived. 
The house was surrounded by and covered with 
roses, all of which had been planted by his own 
hand; among them were many choice varieties 
for which he had sent to England. He had great 
knowledge of plants, and for the warmth and 
growth of his pets had built a little greenhouse 
close to the kitchen, through which he had cut 
a hole to let in the heat, and so economize in 
fuel. He told me that, knowing it was neces 
sary for ventilation that an opening should be 
made to let the hot air out again, he cut another 
hole back into the kitchen; and he said he never 
could tell which way the hot air came in or which 
way it went out 

Glessing had a most ingenious way of arguing, 



332 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

and would turn a misfortune into a blessing with 
a few words. It so chanced that the management 
of the theater at which he painted was seized 
with a sudden desire to economize, and proposed, 
among other methods, to reduce Tom s salary. 
He acceded to the proposition without the slight 
est demur, and told me of it in the most cheerful 
way; in fact, one would have supposed, by his 
manner, that his income had been increased by 
the reduction. I was about to sympathize with 
him, but he would only treat the matter in an easy 
and delightful way, assuring me that he considered 
himself the gainer by the new arrangement. 

He explained that he always fidgeted during 
his summer vacation, and that while he was en 
joying himself at the old farm-house, down by 
the seaside, his pleasure was often spoiled by the 
knowledge that he was sacrificing so much time 
and money there, when he might have been at 
work and under salary. " You see then I got $75 
a week," said he; "now I only get $50, so it is 
a clear gain of $25 a week in my favor, at least 
during the vacation." 

As I have before said, the attachment between 
Tom Glessing and me was warm and sincere ; 
he would have been as welcome to a share in 
my worldly goods as he was to a large corner 
of my heart ; and I am quite confident that he felt 
the same affection for me that I did for him. . 

When he decided to leave his old home in 
Indianapolis he determined to take with him as 
many little remembrances of it as he could con- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 333 

veniently carry, among which was a moss-rose 
bush that he had sent to England for, and had 
tended for years in his garden. He asked me 
to keep it and have it cared for, as he now had 
no place to shelter it ; so it was left with me. 
From the time he parted with it the plant 
drooped ; this, of course, I considered *due to 
changing it from its old home to a new one, or 
perhaps from some lack of nutriment to which 
it had been accustomed. For seven years it lan 
guished in my garden, and during all that time 
never bloomed. Its position was shifted each year, 
our gardener using all his care and judgment, but 
it did not thrive. 

About this time it was decided that Tom with 
his family should pay us a visit : this was in April, 
just seven years since he had left the plant with 
me. From this time it began to revive, and in 
June, when he arrived, it was in full bloom, as 
though to welcome him. Of course this may have 
been a mere coincidence, but it is an interesting 
one, and bears out the old superstition that a tree 
or plant which has been reared by a loving hand 
will wither and die when its owner passes away. 
Since Tom s death the rose has languished again, 
and is now dying away. 

There are many causes for such matters without 
attributing them to supernatural agencies ; but to 
me there is something so pleasant in believing 
them to be mysterious that I am afraid I often 
cherish the idea that they are the offspring of a 
spiritual growth rather than a real one. My friend 



334 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

says, "What good can such things do?" I can 
only answer, " What harm can they do ? " 

The calm and happy life of Glessing seemed 
not only to grow out of a naturally contented 
nature, but from a love of retirement. I have 
scarcely ever seen true happiness except in one 
who wls comparatively obscure. An insatiate am 
bition that craves for notoriety is always in a 
distressed condition. It feeds on adulation, and 
starves unless the appetite is continually fed with 
praise. There is an excitement and a kind of 
false grandeur about this existence that may de 
light the idol ; but such a position is only reached 
at the expense of never knowing who are your 
friends, and a dread of the time that must come 
when the dream will be dispelled. No man 
need be envied who is the center of a group 
by whom he is flattered and petted, for even 
while such adulation lasts it is not strength 
ening; it only stimulates. There can be no 
healthy nourishment in such poor stuff, and 
gradually the very sight of those who admin 
ister it becomes as sickening as the diet itself. 
They know this, too, and when the time comes 
for their idol to topple over they wink and nudge 
each other as he falls, 

In strong contrast to Glessing, I will relate a 
melancholy instance of a fallen man that once 
came under my notice. We were not only ac 
quaintances, but friends. He was both genial and 
hospitable, and entertained with grace and splen 
dor. Upon his walls hung costly pictures, and 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 335 

his cellar was filled with rare wines. At his board 
one always met interesting people wits, states 
men, belles, and beaux. If not the most refined, it 
was at least the gayest house, when his various 
guests were assembled, that I can remember. He 
was a man of culture and taste, and one who, I 
would have supposed, could never have borne the 
shock of a fallen estate. His extravagance was 
boundless, and I think that this passion grew out 
of another the desire of making a display and 
posing as an important central figure. 

I knew this hollow splendor could not last, and 
one day told him so. He laughed, " Oh, yes, it is 
all right." His hope was large, and his nature so 
buoyant that he felt confident of pulling through. 
The storm was coming, but he would not see it. 
At last it burst. The entertainment had been 
superb ; I was the last guest. Just as I was going 
out he had been merrier that night than usual 
he detained me for a moment, and, taking my hand, 
said with a cheerful smile: "Well, old chap, you 
were right; it s come. This is my last Sunday 
here; everything will be sold out on Saturday 
next." I asked if his wife and daughter knew it. 
"No, not yet; they will in the morning" with a 
smile. "Good night." When the door of this 
dazzling and ill-fated house closed on me I stood 
in the dark street and wondered what would be 
the sad fate of this butterfly of a man ; and I felt 
that under the genial and hospitable garb he wore 
for the world there must be a cold and stony heart 
that could be so gay while knowing that in a 



336 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

few hours his wife and child would feel a shock 
that would break their hearts. 

The blow came, the house was sold, and all the 
pictures and the costly furniture were sacrificed un 
der the hammer of an auctioneer. The women 
bore it bravely, and set to work in good earnest 
to retrieve their fallen fortunes. The mother took 
boarders, the daughter taught music ; but the ex 
travagance of a selfish man was too great a drain 
on their slender earnings, and so they dropped 
down, down, from bad to worse. What eventually 
became of the family I never knew, but the man 
dwindled into a mere hanger-on of society, watch 
ing the arrivals at the hotels in the hope of catching 
some old acquaintance. He is living still, and his 
attenuated figure may be seen gliding in and out 
of the different hotels, or lounging in the reading- 
room, where he pretends to look over the papers, 
while the eyes in his gaunt, wan face search eagerly 
for some familiar friend of whom to ask a loan. Now 
and then he meets an acquaintance who, for the 
sake of "auld lang syne/* has not the heart to 
refuse him. Then his face lights up with the old 
selfish smile, and he will chuckle with delight as 
he talks of bygone merrymakings, just as though 
he had enjoyed one yesterday and would have an 
other to-morrow. Hope, eternal hope, has kept 
him up all through, and will do so to the last. He 
still thinks that his troubles will soon end ; and so 
they will, poor fellow ! in a pauper s grave. 

George Holland was distinctly an actor of the old 
school, invariably introducing even into modern 




GEORGE HOLLAND 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 337 

characters its traditions and conventionalties ; his 
effects were broadly given, and his personality was 
essentially comic. He was quite an old man when 
I first knew him, and I had serious doubts as to 
whether our acquaintance in the theater would be 
an agreeable one ; for by the terms of my engage 
ment I was to hold a leading part as the comedian 
of the company, and he, who had always occupied 
that station, was placed as second to me. I natu 
rally thought that feeling himself comparatively 
subordinate, and that I, a younger man, was to 
outrank him, he would, by his manner at least, re 
sent my intrusion upon his former ground. I was, 
however, agreeably mistaken ; for I found him 
too generous a man to harbor any jealous feel 
ings, and to my gratification we were friends from 
our first meeting. It is pleasant also to know that 
this relationship extended over many years, and up 
to the day of his death. 

The useful career and unblemished character of 
George Holland will be recalled by all who knew 
him. He lived, a bright and cheerful spirit, in this 
world for eighty years, for time could not age his 
youthful heart. He was the merriest man I ever 
knew. Practical joking was a passion with him, and 
though his pranks were numerous, by some good 
fortune they always ended innocently and w r ith 
harmless mirth. I remember that on one occasion, 
when some goldfish had been placed in the orna 
mental fountain in Union Square, Holland dressed 
himself in a full sporting suit, and with a fish-bas 
ket strapped upon his shoulder, a broad-brimmed 



338 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

hat upon his head, and a rod in his hand, he un 
folded a camp-stool, and quietly seating himself in 
front of the fountain began to fish, with such a pa 
tient and earnest look in his face that no one could 
have supposed that it was intended as a practical 
joke. This strange spectacle soon attracted a cu 
rious crowd about the sportsman, who, with a 
vacant and idiotic smile, sat there quietly awaiting 
a nibble. A policeman soon forced his way through 
the crowd and arrested Holland, who explained 
with a bewildered look that he was fishing in his 
own private grounds. The policeman naturally 
concluded that the intruder was some harmless 
lunatic, and, patting him kindly on the shoulder, 
bade him go home to his friends. Holland burst 
into a flood of tears, and while affectionately em 
bracing the guardian of the law contrived to fasten 
the fish-hook into the collar of the policeman s coat, 
who walked slowly and sympathetically away, un 
consciously dragging the line and rod after him. 
The crowd, seeing the joke, roared with laughter 
as Holland quickly made his way to the nearest 
omnibus, which he reached before the infuriated 
policeman could catch him. 

Upon the announcement of the death of George 
Holland, I called at the house of his family, and 
found them in great grief. The sister of Mrs. 
Holland informed me that they desired the fu 
neral to take place from the church, as many 
of Mr. Holland s friends would like to mark their 
love and respect for him by their attendance, 
and that the house in which the family lived 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 339 

was too small to receive the large gathering of 
people that would be likely to assemble. The 
}ady desired me to call upon the pastor of her 
own church, and request him to officiate at the 
service. I at once started in quest of the minister, 
taking one of the sons of Mr. Holland with me. 
On arriving at the house I explained to the 
reverend gentleman the nature of my visit, and 
the arrangements were made for the time and place 
at which the funeral was to be held. Something, 
I can scarcely say what, gave me the impression 
that I had best mention that Mr. Holland was 
an acton I did so in a few words, and concluded 
by presuming that probably this fact would make 
no difference. I saw, however, by the restrained 
manner of the minister and an unmistakable 
change in the expression of his face that it would 
make, at least to him, a great deal of difference. 
After some hesitation he said that he would be 
compelled, if Mr. Holland had been an actor, to 
decline holding the service at the church. 

While his refusal to perform the funeral rites for 
my old friend would have shocked under ordinary 
circumstances, the fact that it was made in the 
presence of the dead man s son was more painful 
than I can describe. I turned to look at the youth, 
and saw that his eyes were filled with tears. He 
stood as one dazed with a blow just realized ; as 
if he felt the terrible injustice of a reproach upon 
the kind and loving father who had often kissed 
him in his sleep, and had taken him on his knee 
when the boy was old enough to know the mean- 



340 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

ing of the words, and told him to grow up to be 
an honest man. I was hurt for my young friend, 
and indignant with the man too much so to 
reply; and I rose to leave the room with a mor 
tification that I cannot remember to have felt before 
or since. I paused at the door and said : 

"Well, sir, in this dilemma is there no other 
church to which you can direct me, from which 
my friend can be buried?" 

He replied that " there was a little church around 
the corner " where I might get it done ; to which I 
answered : 

" Then, if this be so, God bless the little church 
around the corner ; " and so I left the house. 

The minister had unwittingly performed an 
important christening, and his baptismal name of 
" The Little Church around the Corner " clings to 
it to this day. 

While acting my first engagement at the Boston 
Theater I met Charles Fechter. By the terms of 
my agreement it was arranged that I should give 
five nights performance and a matinee each week, 
Fechter playing only on Saturday night I had 
not seen him act since my visit to France in 1855, 
so that I had an opportunity of witnessing his 
performance here some three or four times. His 
Claude Melnotte and Don Cesar were unquestion 
ably the best I had ever seen. The arrange 
ment of his dramatic pictures was graceful and 
unconventional. 

William Warren, Charles Fechter, and I were 
living at the same house during my engagement 




CHARLES FECHTER. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 341 

in Boston, and usually met at supper after the 
play. This is not only the witching time of night 
for an actor, but it affords a golden hour for 
theatrical chat Charles Fechter was a most 
agreeable and entertaining man. He had a rich 
fund of theatrical anecdotes relating to the French 
stage and told them with excellent dramatic effect. 
Frederick Lemattre was an especial favorite with 
him, and it struck me from what he said in relation 
to him that his own style of acting was founded 
upon that of his idol. 

I think Fechter was less greedy of public 
approbation than he was of the applause of his 
brother actors ; he seemed to delight in portray 
ing scenes from his different characters before 
them. William Warren and I made an excellent 
audience on such occasions, as we not only 
thought highly of his artistic qualities, but were 
naturally interested in the great actors of the 
French stage, of whom we had heard so much and 
seen comparatively so little. His description of 
Lemaftre in the character of Belphegor was won 
derfully graphic. I think Warren and I were 
the only ones present on the occasion of this 
illustration. He acted it to the life. We were 
deeply interested; and he, catching, I suppose, 
the spirit of our appreciation, became enthusiastic. 
The art was so fine and the feeling so intense that 
we seemed to be looking at the scene. The gar 
dens of the chiteau, the fine company supposed to 
be assembled, were not required to give life to the 
acting. He addressed the imaginary guests with 



342 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

such force that they seemed to stand before us. 
As the mountebank, with his starving child cling 
ing to him, weakened from the want of food, with 
tears choking his utterance, he carried us com 
pletely away. And when in a burst of grief he 
caught his fainting boy in his arms, I think we 
were both in tears. 

In this respect Fechter seems to have somewhat 
resembled Garrick, who, we are told, was as en 
tertaining off the stage as he was on it. This 
peculiar faculty has given rise to the rather unjust 
suspicion that Garrick was not so great an actor 
as his biographers would make us believe. 

There is no doubt that many great actors are 
unable to become sufficiently enthused to act well 
off the stage, and there are some very indifferent 
ones who can entertain privately with considerable 
effect ; but there is no reason why artists may not 
possess both faculties. 

Mr. Fechter was thought to be somewhat erratic 
both as a manager and in the conduct of his private 
business ; he certainly failed in both England and 
America in the former character. His directorship 
at the Lyceum in London and his managerial 
career in New York and Boston were not suc 
cessful. 

There are two striking instances of Mr. Fechter s 
benevolence that I think were not made generally 
public, and which I shall take the liberty of men 
tioning. He retired from the directorship of the 
Globe Theater in Boston in consequence of some 
disagreement with the proprietor. The public, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 343 

considering him the injured party, tendered him a 
benefit, which I believe netted him something like 
five thousand dollars. He accepted the compli 
ment but declined to receive the money, requesting 
the committee who had been most active in the 
movement to name five public charities of Boston 
to which he might give the proceeds. His request 
was complied with, and he gave the five thousand 
in accordance with the committee s selection. This 
was certainly a generous gift, particularly as Mr. 
Fechter was not a rich man, and as there can be no 
doubt that at that time the money would have been 
most useful to him. 

Just previous to this occurrence a company of 
French actors had been playing in Boston with 
ill success, and had gradually fallen into financial 
trouble. In their distress Fechter came to the 
rescue. He was at that time a drawing card, and 
his name announced for the benefit of his national 
brother artists drew a crowded house, the proceeds 
of which relieved them from their embarrassment. 
Shortly after this a committee of actors from the 
relieved company called on their generous comrade 
and presented him with a testimonial of their 
gratitude and a silver cup upon which was the 
following inscription : 

A Charles Fechter, 

les artistes frangais de New York, 

Boston, 1 6 Avril, 1870. 

This same cup was discovered in a pawnbroker s 
shop in New York several years after Mr. Fechter s 
death, and was rescued by William Warren from 



344 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the destruction to which the unrelenting crucible 
would have condemned it. Warren presented it 
to me, and I have it still 

Much comment has been made on the usual 
reception given to an American actor in England, 
and vice versa. London and New York are naturally 
selected as the initial points for the appearance of 
plays and players, and it is reasonable to suppose 
that in such large communities, containing, as they 
do, thousands of actors and hundreds of critics, 
there should be a small band of histrionic and 
literary assassins, whose natures are embittered by 
their lifelong failures. But the great public of 
both hemispheres have no spleen to exercise ; they 
welcome a new entertainment with the heartiest 
warmth, if it affords them gratification. They have 
neither the time nor the inclination to persecute 
strangers. Of course if some element of national 
pride is wounded there are always enough turbu 
lent spirits to begin a disturbance, as was the case 
with the Forrest and Macready riots in 1849 5 but 
these occurrences are exceptional, and at no time 
are they approved by public opinion. The spirit 
of fair play circulates freely in Anglo-Saxon blood 
on both sides of the Atlantic. 

An excellent English actor may visit us, the 
local features of whose performance are not under 
stood; or an American will perhaps take an in 
different play to London, and the public decline 
to receive it not because it is American, but 
because it is bad. As soon as these weak spots 
appear the assassination begins the churlish actors 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 345 

wag their tongues, and splenetic critics draw their 
pens points envenomed, too. The unfortunate 
victim returns home in either case under the natu 
ral, but erroneous, impression that the country has 
been up in arms against him. 

With these convictions and the agreeable re 
membrance of my professional success in 1865, I 
had no apprehensions of failure when I visited 
London ten years later. Shortly after our arrival 
in London I entered into an engagement with Mr. 
Chatterton to appear at the Princess s Theater in 
November, and straightway proceeded with my 
family to France, where we passed the summer 



CHAPTER XIII 

SCENES AND THOUGHTS ABROAD 

Once More in Paris French Acting French 
and English Painters English Acquaintances 
The Reverend Joseph Jefferson Gainsbor 
ough In Scotland In Ireland 

IN Paris we were delightfully situated, having 
apartments at the H6tel Mirabeau, which 
looked out upon a quaint and pretty court 
yard, filled with plants, birds, flowers, and 
fountains. Our party consisted of nine. This 
was altogether too large a family to secure any 
privacy for ourselves; and it is quite likely that 
our four children did not secure privacy to any 
one else. We were therefore delighted to get away 
from this charming place, and I have no doubt 
that the remaining guests shared our pleasure. 
We took a furnished flat in Avenue d Eylau, 
where we could study French in sight of the 
Arc de Triomphe; and for this laudable purpose 
I engaged a celebrated teacher, Madame Some 
body, who would have talked us to death if we 
could ever have understood what she said. 

34 6 



JOSEPH JEFFERSON 347 

She was a great character fat, fair, and fifty, 
I should say; always dressed in the extremes of 
tawdry fashion, full of flounces and frills, with a 
large head decked out in an enormous bonnet 
and smothered with a flower-garden in full bloom. 
Under her left arm she hugged three or four big 
books, and with her right hand she flourished a 
formidable blue cotton umbrella. She usually 
came about ten in the morning, entering the 
room all radiant with smiles and good humor, 
making an extravagant courtesy, and saluting the 
assembled family with, " Bon jour, mes chers 
amis! She would then pause for an instant, with 
her head on one side, as much as to say, " You 
see I address you in French always ; we must lose 



no time." 



After seating ourselves around a large center- 
table Madame would adjust her spectacles, and, 
looking over the top of them, begin to hurl her 
terrible verbs at our heads. My children, who 
were well versed in French, received and caught 
them neatly, but they seldom struck me. She 
promised to teach us in three months ; but I think, 
from what I remember of her pronunciation of 
our own language, that we could not have taught 
her English in as many centuries. However, we 
had all pledged ourselves to stick to it and master 
the language at once : none of your reading, and 
writing, and translating oh, no! that would n t 
do for us; it was to be practical, the pure solid 
mother tongue, with a full Parisian accent. My 
progress was of so wonderful a character that at 



348 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the end of the first month, by hard study and 
close application, I knew less about it than I did 
when I began. The verbs became denser and 
denser; so I retired from the academy, and, like 
an indulgent father, abdicated in favor of my 
children. 

The villages near Paris are most attractive for 
sketching, being full of glimpses of beautiful 
scenes : through the trees some old chiteau or 
French cottage, with those tall poplars so full of 
character stretching out in the distance or reflected 
in a stream. In this artistic atmosphere one who is 
fond of painting feels a mysterious craving for his 
canvas. I painted pictures all day and dreamed of 
them all night 

Madame Vert, the lady to whom the property 
belonged, was a widow. M. Vert, it seems, had 
bequeathed her the estate just previous to his death 
on the dog-in-the-manger condition that she would 
remain single for the rest of her life, it being 
understood that in the event of her proving false 
to this one-sided bargain the property was to 
revert to his family. It is presumable that this 
liberal-minded gentleman fancied that he would 
slumber more peacefully in Pre La Chaise if he 
were sure that his widow, after wearing out a long 
life of single misery, would join him there unaccom 
panied by another husband. 

The man who took the inventory of the furniture 
confided to me the strange and selfish conditions of 
the will, and told me, moreover, that Madame Vert 
was extremely unhappy under its restraint; and, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 349 

as she was quite young and very beautiful, I have 
no doubt that he told the truth, particularly as the 
matter had nothing to do with his business, in 
which latter department his veracity was more 
than questionable. 

The morning we took possession of the apart 
ments Madame dropped in by the merest chance, 
of course. She stood for a moment in the door 
way, a lovely picture of insincerity, regarding us 
(the agent included) with her beautiful shoulders 
and eyebrows elevated, and in an attitude of sweet 
but melancholy surprise, just as if she did n t 
know all about it, and then the agent explained 
it to her just as if he had n t done so the day 
before. The charming widow was tastefully 
arrayed in half mourning, that non-committal 
gray check trimmed with deep purple, a sort of 
compromise between grief and cheerfulness, cut 
and fitted in so stylish and graceful a fashion that 
I wondered whether these becoming weeds were 
worn out of respect for the lost one, or with a 
design of capturing the next one except that 
the fatal clause in her husband s testament made 
the latter quite impossible. 

Madame regarded us with a sad smile, also in 
half mourning, and was so charmed that her old 
home was to be occupied by my family that we 
felt much complimented; and when she departed 
I think we were under the impression that our 
landlady would have been distressed if any 
other party had been before us in securing the 
place. 



350 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

I had just been displaying to my family my last 
picture in the shape of a landscape. I know now, 
as I did not know then, how vain I was of the 
miserable work, and call to mind the adroitness of 
our new landlady in discovering my weakness at a 
glance. She went into ecstasies over my daub of a 
picture. This captured me at once, and when she 
said that the style reminded her of Corot s I would 
not have rented a house of any other lady in Paris 
for the world. 

She stood in the center of the drawing-room, 
pointing to the different articles of comfort and 
beauty that surrounded her, and gave us to under 
stand that all belonged to my family and myself: 
for her they possessed no further interest ; use or 
destroy them, if we liked, she cared not. In fact, 
I think she rather preferred the latter treatment, as, 
when we gave up the place, we w r ere charged 
double for every scratch or spot that could be found 
by the innocent agent. The whole house appeared 
to have been arranged so that it would fall to pieces 
on the slightest provocation. Expensive bits of 
bric-a-brac had been so ingeniously poised upon 
inadequate brackets that the vibration of a passing 
cab made us tremble together. Dents, scratches, 
and stains that were quite invisible when the in 
ventory had been taken broke out in the parlor 
furniture, and soon became contagious. Fire- 
tongs, that had apparently been on friendly terms 
when we first came, refused to unite ; annoying little 
bits of inlaid marquetry had fallen out with the old 
veneering, and defied our ingenuity to match them 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 351 

back again. An arm-chair with a compound frac 
ture in the right leg had let me down in a most 
inhospitable manner, and when the French cook 
appeared, displaying some damaged long-handled 
copper utensils, I felt that the epidemic had reached 
the kitchen. 

The letting of furnished houses in Paris and 
London should be classed as one of the black arts. 
There is no necromancy equal to it. The so-called 
smart American is an imbecile in their crafty hands. 
" Will you walk into my parlor? said a spider to 
a fly"; and when you are once in the web nothing 
can extricate you but your check-book. Don t 
attempt to struggle ; you will only entangle your 
self the more. 

London is worse, if possible, than Paris. During 
the two years I was in the former city I rented two 
furnished houses. I told the agent of the first one 
how I had been treated in Paris. " Ah, yes, yes ! 
those fellows are dreadfully treacherous ; but did 
you have no one to represent you ? No ! Now see 
how differently we manage these matters. Here 
we have a man to take an inventory, with a list of 
whatever damages have already been sustained; 
you have your own man to do the same ; they 
perform this work together, so there can be no 
mistake or fraud." This seemed quite fair. The 
agent recommends me to a man who will work in 
my interest, which of course he does not. The 
end is 50 damages for two months. My next 
landlord was a private gentleman who was so 
confiding that he would not dream of taking an 



352 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

inventory ; it would imply a suspicion j$ dam 
ages for three months. No appeal except to the 
law : oh, no ! keep clear of that in London ; it is 
worse than house agents. 

But while I am telling these tricks of the French 
and British spiders which I do in hopes of warn 
ing some tourist fly let me say a word in favor of 
honest Scotland. I lived with my family for six 
months at " Morningside," near Edinburgh, in a 
finely furnished old mansion, and the damages were 
placed at the moderate sum of five pounds. 

Art is so sacred in Paris that its conventionalities 
once established no change of government could 
affect them. Whether the country be imperial, 
republican, or monarchical, the subsidies of the 
Grand Op6ra and the Theitre Franjais remain 
unaltered. In our own country the amount of sub 
sidy would possibly fluctuate according to the 
artistic views of the " present Administration." 
The leading man might be discharged if it were 
discovered that he had voted for the unsuccessful 
candidate. 

The admirable acting at the Theatre Frangais, 
though highly finished, is not without conventional 
faults. The actors often address themselves to the 
audience, particularly in soliloquy. No matter how 
great an actor may be, he weakens his effect when 
he does this. It is foreign to nature, and away 
"from the purpose of playing." It jars upon an 
audience ; and, be it ever so well done, it looks as 
if a beautiful piece of mosaic had fallen out of the 
picture. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 353 

I saw "L Ami Fritz" at the Theatre Frangais, 
and in this play there occurs one of the sweetest 
scenes in domestic drama. It is between the young 
village maiden and the Jewish rabbi. They are 
seated by a spring, and the innocent girl is relat 
ing to the old man the story of her love. He leans 
forward, attentively listening to every word. She, 
with her low, sweet voice, murmurs forth her 
bashful confession, and with downcast eyes grace 
fully moves her hand round and round in the 
water, as though she were tracing her story in the 
pool. When she has finished her head is bowed 
down, and her tears seem to be mingling with the 
brook. The rabbi sits regarding her in silent 
admiration, and then suddenly bursts forth with 
the exclamation, "She is charming!" In speaking 
these words the actor, instead of looking intently 
at the girl, addressed them directly to the audience. 
The chain was broken as soon as he committed 
this error. And yet he was one of the finest 
artists of this the most important theater in France. 
The same fault occurred several times during the 
play, but at this particular point it was glaring and 
offensive. 

An intimate friend was at the theater with me, 
and as he was an admirable art critic, and had been 
, born in Paris, I questioned him after the play on 
this subject. I mentioned that nowhere in France 
was the fault more common than at the very theater 
where one would have least expected to find it; 
and in fact at the Palais Royal, and at several of 
the minor theaters, I had not noticed it at all. He 



354 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

agreed with me that it was a glaring defect, and 
that it was a common occurrence at the Frangais, 
but was passed by unnoticed, or rather accepted as 
one of the conventionalities of the theater. 

The next morning we met at breakfast, and he 
told me that he could hardly sleep all night for 
thinking of what I had said about stepping outside 
of the dramatic picture, and that he fancied he had 
hit upon the reason for this error having crept into 
the drama of the night before. 

It seems that the comedies of Moltere are acted 
only at this house, and in these plays the characters 
are often required to address the audience directly, 
like the chorus in the old Greek plays, and also, 
as in some of the plays of Shakspere, inform the 
audience of what has taken place between the acts. 
Therefore, addressing the audience was, under these 
conditions, a feature of the play, and it became as 
imperative that an actor should study how to step 
out of the picture and return to it again gracefully 
as it was to perfect himself in any other detail of 
his art And so the custom sometimes intruded 
itself into domestic drama from the mere force of 
habit. Of course this is some excuse, but it does 
not wholly pardon the offense, and certainly cannot" 
undo the mischief. 

At the Theatre Fran?ais we are accustomed to 
see the most finished acting that is given in Paris. 
I confess I have been there but seldom, for, though 
I admit the importance of a scholastic dramatic in 
stitution, it does not afford me the pleasure that I 
get from the less polished but fresher acting of some 



. OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 355 

of the other theaters. Its influence, however, on 
actors is unquestionably a good one ; the discipline 
of the stage, the refined style of its professors, and 
the strict adherence to the rules of grammar and 
methods of pronunciation, keep it aloof and above 
all other theaters. It acts, too, as a check upon 
actors at other establishments who would perhaps 
run riot with their successes, and it enables the 
managers to point to this legitimate temple as a 
model. But I enjoyed the little comedies at the 
Palais Royal, and the productions at the Opera 
and the Opera Comique, beyond all the theatrical 
entertainments that I saw in Paris. 

In wandering through the art galleries I looked 
one day upon a domestic picture by Millet that 
filled me with a sad kind of pleasure. The subject 
and treatment were simple and masterly two 
women sewing upon a shroud ; it is a shroud, too, 
of some one they both loved ; for, while they ply 
their needles with care and earnestness, they 
seem stunned by a sudden blow some recent 
affliction : it would seem as if the two figures were 
the mother and sister of the lost one. The har 
mony of color made the little canvas glow with 
beauty, and the composition was perfect. These 
qualities are, of course, important, but the inde 
scribable mystery of feeling that filled the picture 
was its great charm : one could not look at the 
work without wondering at the deep emotion of 
the painter while he was lost in this subject. 
Gentle and tender-hearted Millet, you will never 
die ! When we think that the power and creative- 



356 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

ness of this artist were subjected for years to the 
cold judgment of unsympathetic professors, and by 
them treated with scorn and refused their rightful 
place upon the walls of the Salon, it makes us 
wonder where the law of compensation begins. 
The pretty painters of the ruling school were 
shocked at the bold treatment of the peasant 
painter, and one of them wondered why so good 
a draftsman did not put more beauty into the faces 
of his country girls; to which Millet replied, "The 
beauty of a peasant is in the earnestness with 
which he does his work." Had such an answer 
been given to me it would have rung in my ears 
till the crack of doom. 

The French school of landscape painting at 
tracted me very much, and after carefully studying 
its philosophy I am of the opinion that the greatest 
landscapes are works of the imagination rather than 
transcripts of realities. Nature refuses to be imi 
tated, but invariably rewards the artist who has the 
modesty to suggest her. The painter who attempts 
to give an exact picture of a natural scene will 
find himself surrounded by insurmountable difficul 
ties. As an example let us suppose that he takes 
for his subject a certain view with which we are 
familiar ; the sky, water, the foreground, trees, and 
distance may be painted in the exact form, color, 
and perspective proportions of the original, and 
yet fail to give one an idea of the spot. What 
is the reason of this non-resemblance when all the 
details have been so carefully mitated? What 
is it that has no existence in the picture, and 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 357 

that so pervades nature ? Where are the sweet 
sounds of the woods? Where is the singing of 
the birds, the hum of busy insects, and the mur 
mur of the brooks ? Where is the movement 
of the clouds, the graceful bending of the trees, 
and the perfume of the pines and woodland 
flowers? He cannot paint these, and so his real 
istic work is cold and lifeless. But if in modest 
truth he suggest his work, omitting hard details 
and impertinent finish, the simple picture will lead 
us in our imagination to supply the artistic im 
possibilities of sound and movement. 

When I first saw the works of Constable and 
Corot I did not like them. They seemed to be 
devoid of subject, and there was an unfinished look 
about them that gave me the idea of mere sketches 
carelessly painted. But as I became familiar with 
these pictures I gradually began to understand 
what they meant. I then discovered tljat it was I 
who was at fault, not the artists, and I felt ashamed 
to think that I had seen so much and knew so 
little. Such painters as Corot, Millet, Daubigny, 
Diaz, Constable, and Rousseau approached nature 
in a spirit of reverence; they dared not imitate 
her. That they studied minutely there is no doubt, 
because it was necessary to be familiar with and 
imitate all the details of nature, that they might 
suggest her in their pictures, like the elaborate 
rehearsal of a part previous to its free and sponta 
neous performance. But this care belongs to the 
study, not the picture, just as it does to the re 
hearsal and not to the performance. And those 
23* 



358 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

landscapes are the most pleasing that have form 
without hardness, strength without blackness, sug 
gestion without vagueness, and delicacy without 
weakness. 

The early works of Turner seem to be more 
highly esteemed than his later ones, but to me 
they have nothing like the charm of the pictures 
painted near the close of his life. They are finished 
and scholarly, but so carefully painted that they 
fail to produce an absorbing effect. We should, 
however, feel grateful for these, as they un 
doubtedly led the way to the masterly works that 
followed. I do not mean that all art should be 
treated in a merely suggestive way, but that I 
enjoy it best when it is so rendered. For as tastes 
vary, so should there be different methods to meet 
each desire. We are generally too dogmatic, and 
praise only those works that chime with our own 
fancy, forgetting that all artists are laboring for 
the public. Each painter exerts his own peculiar 
style to please his own particular audience. To 
toil for critics only would leave the workman in a 
sorry plight. 

Censuring a chromo because we do not enjoy it 
is as narrow and illiberal as it would be to con 
demn the publication of a poem because we would 
prefer to read it in the author s handwriting ; for 
it is only another form of publishing the works of 
great masters, so that those who cannot afford the 
originals may i-elish and be educated by the copies. 
If farmers are too poor to buy pictures, give 
them cheap and inferior art rather than no art at 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 359 

all, and so let them have their chromes as broad 
cast as their barley. Besides, to one who is devoid 
of imagination a pre-Raphaelite work, where each 
detail is clearly defined, is more agreeable than a 
suggestive one; therefore he should have it. The 
discordant scraping of a Chinese orchestra is 
dreadful to us, but if it falls harmoniously on the 
ear of a Chinaman it is useless to recommend 
Beethoven to him. The Christian and the pagan 
are alike infidels to each other, and it is this very 
kind of intolerance that begets half of the turmoil 
in the world. So long as the art diverts and does 
not degrade we should be lenient, and remember, 
as Dogberry says, that " All men are not alike, 
good neighbor." 

After leaving Paris I returned to London, where 
I played a long engagement at the Princess s 
Theater. Here I renewed an acquaintance with 
some of my old friends, and made a few new ones. 
Dinner-giving in London is almost a fine art. I do 
not mean as to the quality of the viands or the dec 
oration of the table, these matters are, of course, 
quite perfect, but in the nice judgment of the host 
in the selection of his guests. I have seen a scien 
tist, a statesman, a painter, a composer, an actor, 
and a divine at the same table each one a leading 
light in his profession. Not only is this varied talent 
selected for its brilliancy, but for the harmony with 
which it will unite. In the assembling of such an 
intellectual group the next care is to dispose them 
at the table. People who have never met before 
are cunningly placed side by side that they may 



360 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

converse together for the first time; and I have 
often seen the host and hostess nervously watching 
the effect of their preconceived arrangements. 
Sometimes the party at a London dinner will con 
sist chiefly of actors and dramatic authors. Such 
guests generally know each other, and as there is 
no ice to break, the spirit and enjoyment are en 
tered into at once. 

I had a memorable lunch at the Star and Gar 
ter, that lovely spot on the banks of the silver 
Thames. Charles Kingsley, Robert Browning, 
and George Augustus Sala w r ere of the party. 
Mr. Browning surprised and delighted me. I was 
surprised because he displayed a faculty I was not 
prepared for. His mind seemed to be stored with 
that useful and practical kind of knowledge one 
would scarcely expect to find in a poet. If any 
of the company opened a subject, Mr. Browning 
knew more about it than anybody else. Not 
that he intruded his information; on the con 
trary, it was given with so much modesty and 
good taste that we were only too glad to be 
enlightened from such a well-spring of learning. 
One of the guests, whose mind seemed to be 
stored with misinformation, and who was not so 
retiring as the great poet, seeing that he himself 
was falling behind and losing ground, sprang to 
the front with his adventures in Italy. He endeav 
ored to take us through the picture galleries and 
describe their wonders ; but while descanting upon 
the great painters of the past, he got the company 
tangled up in such a labyrinth of mistakes that 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 361 

he had to appeal to the poet to get us out. The 
latter came cheerfully to the rescue, and in doing 
this had to set our guide straight in so many mat 
ters in which he had gone astray that he retired in 
confusion and did not appear again upon the con 
versational platform during the evening. 

I was fortunate in being placed next to Mr. 
Browning, and it was delightful to talk to him, or 
rather have him talk to me. I asked him how 
he could manage to go so frequently into com 
pany and yet preserve his health and spirits. He 
told me that he made it a rule to drink only one 
kind of wine at dinner ; if he began with sherry, he 
kept to it. "And then/ said he, "I retire early, and 
always get a good night s rest. Sleep is the great 
doctor, young man " patting me gently on the 
back. I don t know which I enjoyed most, the pat 
from the poet or his calling me a young man, for I 
was verging upon fifty ; however, that is a young 
man in London. 

A few days after this I received a letter from 
Mr. Browning, inviting me to lunch with Lord 

C , his lordship s sister, and himself. I replied 

that I would be glad to accompany him, and the 
next day we met by appointment and sallied forth 

to call on Lord Q and his sister. On the way 

he gave me an account of his meeting with Long 
fellow and the pleasant intimacy that had existed 
between them. I listened with national pride to 
the encomiums he passed on the v/ritings and 
character of the American poet These wise 
and loving gentlemen had walked arm in arm 



362 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

through the quaint and sacred old haunts of 
London ; and while Mr. Browning recounted their 
various rambles I thought as they elbowed 
their way through the streets how many citizens 
of crowded London had jostled up against them 
unaware of the wisdom and learning that was 
possessed by this gentle pair of poets in double 
harness. He told me that on one occasion they 
were walking together, and, being overtaken by 
a summer shower, got into a cab. The rain began 
to beat down heavily, and Longfellow insisted on 
handing his umbrella out of the window to the 
driven Browning told him that he. thought it was 
very kind and thoughtful of him, but quite unneces 
sary, as it would be harder to find a dry cabman in 
London than a wet one. 

The quiet simplicity of Lord C seemed to 

extend itself to the entire household. The very 
butler was devoid of pomposity. The fine old 
mansion in which this aristocratic family resided 
was homelike and cheerful. The host and hostess 
gave Mr. Browning and me an unostentatious 
welcome. 

The clubs of London I know but little of, having 
visited only the Garrick and the Savage. The 
pictures at the Garrick attracted me very much ; 
a fine example by David Roberts and a vigorous 
marine by Stanfield both scenic artists hang 
on the walls, and character portraits of Garrick, 
Munden, Knight, and a host of theatrical celeb 
rities make the rooms exceedingly interesting. 

Many of the actors, authors, and painters of 
London have, I think unwisely, expended their 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 363 

earnings in building costly residences, where they 
entertain their guests most sumptuously. They 
seem blind to the fact that they must, now and 
forever, toil on that they may keep up this gen 
erous hospitality. Of course they naturally con 
sole themselves with that old-fashioned and 
conventional comfort, that should matters go a 
little wrong they will cut off that expense, and 
- curtail this little elegant bit of extravagance, 
and so set themselves right again ; but it is more 
difficult to retrench than they seem to realize. 

In a great city one would suppose that the 
absence of details, should one desire to economize, 
would pass unnoticed; but this is a mistake. 
London society moves in little cliques, whose eyes 
are vigilant and notice at once the slightest varia 
tion in social entertainments. The flavor of the 
cigars, the brand of the wines, the appearance of 
the butler, the ornamental decorations of the table, 
and above all the cuisine, are rigidly criticized, and 
the least retrenchment is fatal to one s social 
reputation. 

We seldom stop to consider how hollow and 
what a sham it is to entertain those whom we do 
not care for, and who do not care for us. Is this 
artificial nonsense so much coveted that we are to 
sacrifice the comforts of our lives to obtain it? 
What ! live in fear and anxiety that we may outdo 
our neighbor by patting a more costly pair of boot- 
tops on our coachman ? Burden ourselves with a 
life of toil simply to increase the pomposity of 
our butler ? I am satisfied that domestic melan 
choly sets in with the butler. He is the melo- 



364 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

dramatic villain of society. Give me a tidy girl, 
with a clean calico frock and a neat little white cap 
that s the height of my ambition ! Look at 
her ! there she stands with a cheerful smile and a 
willing hand, ready to administer to your comfort 
and laugh at your old jokes aye, though she has 
heard them fifty times. What a delightful audi 
ence ! I am satisfied that no butler ever laughs at 
the same joke twice : I have tried it. 

To see one s own name on a card belonging to 
another person gives one quite a start. While liv 
ing in Belsize Avenue a card was brought to me 
by the maid, with the following inscription in 
pencil: "Rev. Joseph Jefferson and wife." I remem 
bered having heard that there was a first cousin 
of my father s who was a clergyman living in 
Yorkshire. I at once went out to receive them. 
Seated on the hall-chair was the old clergyman, 
and by his side stood his loving helpmate. I say 
loving, for the attitude of this, to me, very interest 
ing couple revealed the wife s solicitude for her 
husband. He was seated ; she was standing. In 
one hand she had a large umbrella and her hus 
band s broad-brimmed hat; the other she rested 
gently on his shoulder while she regarded him with 
a respectful affection. It seemed to me that just a 
moment before she must have said to him, " Now, 
Joseph dear, give me your hat and do just sit 
down, if only for a moment ; it will rest you, and I 
am not a bit tired." She was dressed in a plain 
black silk gown, with no superfluous material in 
the skirt, and had on a simple straw bonnet 




THE REVEREND JOSEPH JEFFERSON. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 365 

about as unfashionable in shape as it well could 
be ; he, with his quaint-cut suit of black, his soft, 
unstarched, and amiable-looking white cravat 
the group making as complete a picture of an 
old English clergyman and his wife as ever David 
Wilkie could have- painted. They had been 
married many years, but I fancy that his bent 
figure had in her eyes the grace of youth, and 
the wrinkles in her loving face were as dimples 
to him. They had lived so long together that 
they seemed "to resemble each other. His face 
was like my father s, and reminded me of my 
own. Surely his features were cast in the classical 
mold of the Jeffersons not the noble Roman or 
the simple Grecian, but the pure nut-cracker; or 
as Sheridan says, when he traces the resemblance 
of a certain lady s face to a congress at the close 
of a general war, "where the nose and chin were 
the only parties likely to join issue." 

I do not quite remember whether the old clergy 
man and his wife had come up to London especially 
to see me or not, but they had certainly made it a 
point not to go back to Yorkshire without carrying 
with them some remembrance of their " American 
cousin." 

The old gentleman asked me many questions 
regarding our family, and seemed much interested 
in what I told him of it. I gave him an abridged 
account of our pioneer wanderings in the West 
and our early struggles connected with it, and in 
return he told me of his life in Yorkshire and 
described the simple routine of an English clergy- 



366 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

man s life, referring now and again to the labors of 
himself and helpmate among their poor parishion 
ers ; and when he spoke of his wife he would take 
her hand and look kindly in her face. And she too, 
I remember, asked me to allow her to close the win 
dow, lest the draft might affect dear Joseph s voice, 
as he had to preach upon the next Sunday. I 
thought at times that they looked at me as though 
they were ashamed of showing so much solicitude 
for each other. It was a pleasant sight, and made 
one think of what a long life of quiet happiness 
this cozy couple must have passed together. 

After an introduction to my wife and grown-up 
children, of course the most wonderful baby in the 
world was brought down for the inspection of its 
new relatives. They seemed to take special interest 
in this particular cousin, it having been born in 
England, and rather chuckled over the fact that 
America did not have it all its own way, as their 
little third cousin was a "John Bull"; and curious 
ly enough they treated the matter with the utmost 
seriousness, insisting upon it that the baby was a 
British subject, and that we could not get over that, 
do what we would. We laughed at this, but the 
old man in his great loyalty waxed quite warm 
over the matter. " No, sir, you cannot alter it ; 
he s an Englishman ; for instance, now, he could 
not be President of the United States, could he?" 
"No," said I, " I am afraid that in coming to 
England previous to the child s birth we did 
perhaps display great lack of forethought in de 
priving him of that privilege." " Still he could 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 367 

be Prime Minister of England, could he not?" 
Of course I could not deny this, and mentioned 
that perhaps we might console ourselves in future 
years that though we had lost for him one 
distinguished honor we had gained for him 
another. 

Our reunion was very pleasant, and we quite 
regretted it when the time came for them to go. 
It was a warm July day, and the sun was shining 
with great heat upon them as they passed down 
the avenue ; but the careful wife, ever mindful of 
her husband s comfort, raised the huge umbrella 
over his head. I had no idea of its ample size 
until I saw it expanded ; it quite extinguished 
them, and was large enough not only to shield the 
clergyman and his wife from the sun, but to have 
put his entire congregation into the shade. 

The celebrated portrait of the Duchess of 
Devonshire painted by Gainsborough was at 
this time attracting much attention in London. 
It had lately been sold under the hammer to the 
Messrs. Agnew. These gentlemen were promi 
nent dealers in art, and had paid 10,000 guineas 
for the picture. Mr. Frith, who always delighted 
in giving pleasure to his friends, sent me a line 
to say that if I would meet him at Agnews s he 
would show me the picture, which, it seems, he 
had already seen. I was only too glad to accept 
the invitation to look upon the painting of a 
master; and to have as a companion a distin 
guished artist of the modern school was a privilege 
not to be lost 



368 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

I had before this seen several paintings by 
Gainsborough. At the Loan Exhibition held at 
the rooms of the Royal Academy, in this same 
year, there were two lovely portraits of departed 
female royalty that breathed refinement. Close to 
these aristocratic beauties, and in strong contrast 
with them, was a rustic picture by the same artist 
called " Going to the Spring" a barefooted 
peasant girl crossing a brook, with a pitcher in 
her hand and a young puppy hugged tightly 
to her heart. Gainsborough s portrait of Garrick 
which I saw at Stratford was not so pleasing. 
The eyes of the great actor sparkle with a dia 
mond fire, but the attitude is affected, and the 
patronizing air with which he leans against 
the pedestal is scarcely in good taste. He really 
looks as though he monopolized the bard entirely, 
and this was too near the truth to be pleasant for 
other members of the theatrical profession ; for in 
Garrick s day Shakspere was only permitted upon 
the stage of the patent theaters, the minor ones 
not being allowed to act his plays. Now it is 
otherwise, and Hamlet can be seen upon the Sur 
rey side and at the East End; and Richard III. 
can ride about Bosworth Field on horseback at 
Astley s Circus. 

I am here reminded of an anecdote of a gifted 
tragedian playing the crook-backed tyrant and 
bestriding White Surrey at the battle. In the 
excitement of the fight in the last scene he forgot 
to dismount at the proper time, and came prancing 
upon the stage shouting, " A horse, a horse, my 
kingdom for a horse!" 




AGNES ROBERTSON. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 369 

The Duke of Gloucester has made me ungallant 
enough to forget the Duchess of Devonshire ; so, 
asking her Ladyship s pardon and my readers for 
the digression, I will return to the picture. 

It was a half-length figure of a perfect English 
beauty in the full bloom of youth and health, with 
violet eyes, and looking like a June rose. The 
broad hat with feathers that takes its name from 
the picture made an effective background for such 
a face. The cherry lips, half open as if about to 
speak to think that those lovely lips once kissed 
the butcher! The story runs that her Ladyship 
was so anxious for the election of Fox that she 
canvassed the county in person, and on the trip 
met with a refractory butcher who swore he d 
ne er vote for Fox unless her Ladyship would 
give him a kiss. Whereupon her Ladyship jumped 
from her carriage, and gave him a bouncing buss. 
Happy butcher! who would not have envied thy 
chops ? The resolute look of the lady told of one 
who would kiss the butcher, the baker, and the 
candlestick-maker if she once had a mind. The 
picture was removed that day to some gallery 
where it was to be exhibited to the public, as a 
desire to see the famous duchess was universal. 

The next morning at breakfast I was startled 
by an announcement in "The Telegraph" that 
the picture had been stolen. Some thief or mad 
man, it is supposed, had concealed himself in the 
gallery during the day, and in the night had cut 
the picture from the frame, and he and it were 
gone forever. I say forever, for, though it is now 
fifteen years since it disappeared, no trace of it has 



370 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

been found ; and I don t believe that the death of 
the real duchess, when she was gathered to her 
illustrious ancestors, caused more stir in London 
than the loss of her picture. 

Lord owned a princely estate in Scotland, 

a domain containing, I think, some ten thousand 
acres of land, situated amidst the most pictur 
esque scenery of. the Highlands. Lord and 

Lady had invited me to stay a fortnight, 

but I found on my arrival that the castle was quite 
filled with guests, so I made my excuses and only 
stopped a week. The whole of this time was 
passed in a round of sporting excursions and pic 
nics, grouse-shooting and salmon -fishing. 

As Lord came out in the spacious hall to 

welcome me he was a picture six feet in height, 
with a florid complexion and light blue eyes full of 
expression, his hair and beard of a golden red ; 
and being in complete Highland costume he looked 
like a Scottish chief of the olden time. The warm 
greeting given me by this frank and stately High 
lander was so hearty, and so full of unaffected 
hospitality, that I felt quite at home with him at 
once. In half an hour I joined the company 
at dinner. 

The routine of high life in the country was 
quite new to me, and I felt interested in observing 
its comforts and its cares. Of course the donors 
of the feast get some pleasure in welcoming their 
friends and relatives; but many strangers must 
be entertained in whom the host and hostess take 
but little interest, and they are often obliged to 
show civilities to people whom they have met in 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 371 

the city or at foreign courts diplomats and titled 
persons. 

His Lordship was fond of farming, and I walked 
with him over the land to see his imported Ameri 
can machinery shear the fields of their golden 
grain. He was a capital shot, and, as his domain 
was well preserved, we had good sport with the 
grouse. Among the guests there was a remark 
ably interesting lady, a daughter of an earl. She 
was a queenly beauty of the Diana type witty, 
aristocratic, haughty, and satirical ; of course she 
was surrounded by several butterflies, who vied 
with one another in paying her court And I do 
not wonder at it, for she was radiant with all those 
attractive qualities that are bewitching to young 
men. 

I suppose there must have been a homespun 
flavor in my American manner that amused her, 
for she made a dead set at quizzing me. I did 
not detect it at first, and answered some of her 
absurd questions about America quite innocently. 
She kept her face so well that I might never have 
discovered this but for the idiotic grin upon the 
smooth face of one of her boyish admirers ; and 
then I felt, for the honor of my country, that if she 
ever made another thrust at me I would parry it if 
I could. I had not long to wait; for, emboldened 
by her late success, she turned upon me and said, 
" By the by, have you met the queen lately ?" 

"No, madam," I replied with perfect serious 
ness; "I was out when her Majesty called on 



me." 



372 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

She colored slightly and then turned away, and 
never spoke to me again ; but I was revenged. 

At Glasgow I acted at the Theater Royal. This 
place was once under the management of a Mr. 
Alexander, who, I believe, built the theater, and 
his admiration for Shakspere and Scott was 
exhibited by placing their statues on the sides of 
the proscenium arch ; but, as self-esteem is a noble 
quality in human nature, the modest manager 
displayed this virtue by placing a statue of him 
self in the middle. 

I visited the churchyard of St. Mungo, where 
the grave of the lamented Mr. Alexander was 
pointed out to me. The original tomb was invented 
by himself as a modest and appropriate tribute 
to his own memory. It represents the proscenium 
of a theater; the curtain has fallen: this, of course, 
is a delicate suggestion that the life of Alexander 
the Great has ended ; or it might have a more 
sweeping meaning, and one of grander signifi 
cance, by inferring that in his dissolution the cur 
tain had fallen on the dramatic world and closed 
its career forever. Hamlet says, " Alexander 
died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth 
to dust." Of course this allusion is to another 
gentleman, inasmuch as the indestructibility of 
matter is in this instance traced till we find it 
" stopping a bung- hole " and of course this latter 
indignity could never have happened to our Alex 
ander of Glasgow. 

During the following summer I lived at Morn- 
ingside, just a mile from " Edinboro Town/ in the 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 373 

mansion-house erected by one Dr. John Gregory 
about one hundred and fifty years ago. This 
quaint old building was, at the time I occupied it, 
in the possession of Miss Gregory, a granddaughter 
of the original owner. The house contained about 
twenty rooms, rambling and irregular in their con 
struction, and filled with antique furniture and pic 
tures ; some of the latter were very fine portraits 
of the family painted by Sir Henry Raeburn. The 
library contained many rare works, and upon tak 
ing possession of the house I insisted that this 
valuable collection should be sealed up. The 
grounds contained about six acres, and were sur 
rounded by a high stone wall ; all of the old 
residences at Morningside, where this mansion was 
situated, are environed by these prison-like inclo- 
sures. In the days when they were built there is 
no doubt that this security was necessary ; and it 
is a comforting sign of the times, and an unmis 
takable evidence of the improvement in the con 
duct of the world, that the homes in the suburbs of 
our great cities of to-day have in many instances 
scarcely more than a low curbstone to separate 
them from the highway. 

The Gregory mansion was an interesting old 
house; the ivy had covered the walls long ago, 
and was now climbing upon the roof. The lawn 
was shaded with fine old oaks, planted by the 
original owner, and the grounds were tastefully 
laid out and kept in trim by an interesting Scotch 
gardener. His father and grandfather had been 
servants in the same house ; and he himself, then 



374 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

past seventy years of age, told me of many in 
teresting events that had happened in the auld 
Jang syne. 

Dr. John Gregory had entertained within these 
walls many of the celebrities of his time. Byron, 
Jeffrey, John Wilson, and Burns had all dined and 
slept under this roof, and in the after-time his son 
had feasted Sydney Smith, Thackeray, Dickens, 
and Washington Irving. Upon a moonlight night 
I have sat in the shadow of a weird old oak and 
tried to fancy the forms of these departed heroes 
roaming, as they must have done in life, about 
this mysterious place. 

Our surroundings have much to do with en 
larging our thoughts: just as when standing on 
an eminence we have a more extended view, so will 
some hallowed spot, filled with the associations of 
great men and their noble work, inspire us with 
a deep reverence ; and when I look back upon the 
time I lived at Morningside I feel that I did not 
fully appreciate the privilege of it, and wasted 
much time in commonplace affairs that I could 
have used to a better purpose. 

The old Scotch gardener was an exception to 
his class ; they are generally reticent, but he was 
proud of the Gregory family, and only too glad 
to talk of the wonders they had accomplished, 
the honors they had gained, and the great men 
whom they had known and entertained. The 
traditions of the family had come down to him 
through several generations of gardeners, and he 
would recount the great learning and the almost 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 375 

sacrilegious knowledge of one of the Gregorys, 
who, it seems, was a great astronomer: " He 
kenned a thegither too muclj," said the old man. 
" He was on familiar terms wi the very stars 
themsePs, and could ca them by their ain names 
Jupiter, and Venus, and Cupid, and the whole 
clan o them ; he kenned jeist how fast they were 
ganging, and where they were ganging to: it is 
awful to think how a great mon like that could 
dare to go pryin into the private affairs o the Laird 
himsel ." 

While the old fellow delighted to chatter about 
the public career of the Gregorys, he was truly 
loyal to his clan, and as dumb as an oyster upon 
all private matters relating to them, following the 
advice of Burns to his friend : 

But still keep something to yourseF 
Ye scarcely tell to ony. 

The ivy vine in England, Ireland, and Scotland 
adds materially to the beauty of the scenery ; all 
of the sharp corners and straight lines of the old 
buildings are softened by its luxurious growth; 
it piles itself up over the walls of the castles and 
churches like rich green velvet, preserving the form 
of the architecture, while it conceals the harder 
lines beneath ; but its beauty is often enjoyed at 
the expense of health. The house at Morningside 
was damp; the sun scarcely ever shone upon it; 
and often during the warmest days in summer a 
cold chill would fall upon us as we came out of 
the sunlight into the gloom of the house. 



376 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

My wife had been ill for some days, and we 
were alarmed at her low condition. One evening 
I was sitting by her bedside reading when my son 
came to look for some article in one of the closets 
at the far end of the room ; he had a candle in his 
hand, and was peering at something that had 
attracted his attention on the top shelf. Sud 
denly he gave a start and a half- suppressed cry 
of fear, and as he turned his face towards me I 
saw that he had grown quite pale, while his hair 
seemed to stand on end with fright. I was about 
to ask him what had shocked him, when he made 
a nervous motion for me to be quiet, and leaving 
the room hurriedly beckoned me to follow him. 
It was quite evident that something in the closet 
had startled him, and that he did not wish my wife 
to know what it was. When we were alone in 
the entry he gave me the light, saying, " Go back, 
and look on the top shelf of the closet." I took the 
candle from him, and, returning to the room, sat 
down to read, so as not to attract my wife s atten 
tion. She asked me what had startled Tom, to 
which I replied, " Oh, nothing ; it was only some 
of his nonsense." I waited anxiously until my 
wife dropped off to sleep. She was in a critical 
state of health, and the least excitement or shock 
might have killed her; so I took up a light, and 
standing upon a chair saw, to my horror and sur 
prise, a child s coffin. It had been put far back 
and well out of sight, which accounted for no one 
of the family having seen it before, 

I took it down, and walked stealthily out of 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 377 

the room with the burden under my arm. I went 
directly to the library with it, and calling my son 
and a friend who was staying in the house with 
me I locked the door, and called a council as to 
what course it was best to pursue. The coffin 
was something over two feet long, just about 
the size of one that would contain a new-born 
infant. We were somewhat puzzled, and many 
plans were discussed. I thought over the reti 
cence of the Scotch gardener in all matters 
connected with the family, conjuring up a suspi 
cion that some dark mystery surrounded the house. 
We next thought of sending for the coroner, and 
placing the matter in the hands of the authorities. 
At last I determined on opening the coffin myself, 
rather than make any stir before I was sure that 
the case was one needing public attention. We 
got a screw-driver, and with some considerable 
agitation we began to open the lid, and as we 
removed it we discovered the dead body of a 
large poll-parrot. We were all dreadfully sold, 
and burst out laughing at the mystery and pre 
caution in which we had been lately indulging. 
It all came out the next day : it was a favored pet 
of Miss Gregory, and the gardener was to have 
buried it in her absence, but had forgotten it. 

From Edinburgh I went to Dublin, where I 
acted under the management of John and Michael 
Gunn, two brothers who were jointly lessees of the 
Gaiety Theater. My reception in Ireland was not 
flattering. The attendance was slight, and the 
applause delicate. Many American actors have 



378 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

been cordially received here, meeting with great 
success; but from that " unknown cause" which 
I have before mentioned, the Dublin audience 
either did not understand or did not care for my 
acting. One of the managers ( I think it was Mr. 
Michael Gunn) seemed to have a presentiment 
of my failure ; for, after witnessing the rehearsal, 
he asked my agent if he thought I could be pre 
vailed upon to make Rip Van Winkle an Irishman. 
I thought at first that this suggestion was meant 
as a joke ; but upon asking Mr. Gunn if he were 
serious he assured me that he was, adding that he 
was quite certain that the audience would under 
stand and appreciate the character more fully if I 
would give the performance a Hibernian coloring 
instead of a Dutch one. I told him that if I did 
this, in order to make an harmonious entertain 
ment it would be necessary to alter the entire 
play lay the scene in Ireland, and change the 
names of all the characters ; that poor Rip 
would have to be called Misther O Winkle; and 
to me these alterations would be very absurd. 
The manager argued that such violent changes 
were not necessary, and he only suggested that I 
should act the part with just a "shlight taste of 
the brogue." I told him that a taste of my brogue 
would be so slight that the audience would never 
recognize the flavor. 

After rehearsal, as I came from the stage-door 
into the street, I was hailed in the richest Irish 
accents I ever heard by a bustling, energetic man 
whose manner, dress, and figure were particularly 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 379 

striking. The whole appearance of this person 
was the embodiment of what is erroneously known 
as the "shabby genteel." That he was shabby 
there could be no doubt, but his gentility seemed 
to be questionable, for he had that self-satisfied 
and confident bearing which rarely shows itself 
in a gentleman. My new acquaintance was gotten 
up in the most elaborate style. He wore a faded 
black dress-coat, buttoned up to the chin, and a 
black silk handkerchief wrapped high about his 
throat, while his head was covered with a drab 
hat, jauntily cocked on one side and dented in 
various directions. His nether garments consisted 
of a pair of light buff-colored trousers, worn 
threadbare, and strapped underneath a loose pair 
of slippers. On his hands were a pair of soiled 
yellow kid gloves ; and with a bright, fresh rose 
in his buttonhole, and a light bamboo cane under 
his arm, one would have supposed that he was an 
eccentric comedian of a theatrical company, in the 
costume of a dilapidated swell. He welcomed 
me to Dublin with the patronizing air of an ex- 
governor-general, giving me to understand that my 
fame had even reached him. He admonished me 
to be on my "mettle," and gave me to understand 
that a Dublin audience was a rare one and was 
considered the most critical tribunal before which 
an actor could be tried; assuring me that if I 
once passed unscathed through the fiery ordeal of 
their judgment I might defy the opinion of the 
civilized world, and wound up his speech with 
a modest request that I should favor him with 



380 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

free admission tickets for himself and family during 
my engagement. If I had needed any further 
assurance that the Dublin audience was a "rare 
one," the scarcity of that article during my entire 
engagement would have convinced me of that fact; 
Mr. Gunn s prophetic sagacity had discovered at 
the rehearsal that I would fail. 

Belfast was our next point, and here, strange to 
say, the character made a decided hit. Dublin 
and Belfast are only a few hours distant from each 
other, yet the same entertainment that failed dis 
mally in one place succeeded admirably in the 
other. What was the cause of this ? I had been 
only ten days in Ireland, and in that time I could 
not have unconsciously acquired a brogue. I have 
concluded, therefore, that I was paralyzed by the 
wet blanket that Mr. Gunn threw over me ; and 
my modesty will not allow me to account for the 
Dublin failure in any other way. 




BOOTH S THEATER. 



CHAPTER XIV 

AT HOME AGAIN 

Booth s Theater Talks with Charles Matkews 
on Acting John B. Rice " The Rivals" 
William Warren 

[RETURNED to America in October, 1876, and 
began an engagement under the management 
of Augustin Daly at Booth s Theater. This 
was my fourth and last engagement in this superb 
house, which was demolished a few years after 
wards. Unfortunately, Booth s Theater, after it 
passed from the hands of its original owner, did 
not fall into the possession of artistic people. I say 
unfortunately, because as a place for public amuse 
ment it was quite perfect ; no expense had been 
spared to make it safe for the audience and com 
fortable for the actors. 

I cannot endure destruction of any kind, and it 
was a sorry sight to me when one day I stood by 
and saw its downfall and its ruins. Busy men, in 
a cloud of lime dust, were gutting the building of 



382 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

its costly decorations, and the noble structure, 
which should have remained as a monument to the 
distinguished actor who sacrificed a fortune in build 
ing it, was being pulled down. In a few months it 
gave place to the most unsightly dry-goods box of 
a store that could well be imagined. It is a great 
pity that it could not have been rescued. 

My first engagement in St. Louis, since the 
memorable season when as a youth I was hissed 
from the stage, was played at Deagle s Theater. 
The stage- manager was my old friend James Bur 
nett. We had acted together as far back as 1854 
at the Museum in Baltimore, and afterwards, as I 
have said before, we were in the stock company 
of Laura Keene during the panic of 1857. 

Overtures were made to me from the directors of 
the Cincinnati Dramatic Festival to appear with 
my company in the comedy of " The Rivals." I 
declined, without giving my reasons for so doing ; 
for I knew that any explanation I could make 
would be unsatisfactory to the committee, as my 
objections pointed to the immense size of the hall 
in which the entertainment was given, and the 
affair had progressed so far that it was too late for 
argument, or the adoption of any suggestions that 
would conflict with the ideas of the committee. I 
was not present at the Festival, but I am told 
that there were many mishaps, both of a serious 
and a comic nature, during the week s entertain 
ment. Unforeseen accidents would naturally occur 
in so extensive an enterprise in which numerous 
actors and auxiliaries were brought together and 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 383 

marshaled with but little discipline and under 
inexperienced management. It is reported that 
during the performance of " Julius Caesar" matters 
went fearfully astray, and were in one instance 
literally wrong end foremost, so that when Mark 
Antotiyhent forward to uncover the serene features 
of the departed general he discovered only the 
turned-up toes of " Imperious Caesar" to the as 
tonished gaze of his constituents. 

Grand operas, or spectacular plays, where cho 
ruses, marches, and ballets are prominent fea 
tures of the entertainment, require a large theater 
to give them full effect; but a comedy, wherein 
wit and subtle action are combined, must lose 
force in a wilderness of space. A theater of great 
magnitude may permit a prima-donna to chant 
her woes, or a fat basso to bellow forth remorse, 
or a long line of cotton-velvet lords and ladies to 
attend a forced marriage ceremony, with consid 
erable effect Richmond could overcome Richard, 
Mark Antony harangue the citizens of Rome, or 
even Hamlet exhibit terror at the appearance of 
his father s ghost, and suffer but little by the 
dimensions, but Benedick and Beatrice must be 
cheek by jowl with the audience as well as with 
each other. If one is obliged by circumstances 
to act in a larger theater than one is accustomed 
to, the volume of the performance should be 
proportionately increased. 

Charles Mathews once told me that he was 
charmed to act in the Madison Square Theater 
(then called the Fifth Avenue), as the stage was 



384 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

so constructed that he felt as if he were playing 
in a drawing room all his lines told. He said 
that the slightest twinkle in his eye seemed to 
make a point. "I acted at the Boston Theater 
one engagement," he said, "and I never will 
again. Why, I might just as well have played 
on the Common for all the effect I created. You 
have just finished an engagement in that grave 
yard of comedies, and do you mean to tell me 
that the delicate points of the characters hit with 
the same force as they do in a small theater?" 

" Certainly not," said I; "they lose much 
strength, but by enlarging the execution the same 
effect is almost accomplished." 

" What do you mean by enlarging the execu 
tion?" he inquired. 

"I mean," I replied, "that a portrait may be 
painted the exact size of life if it is to hang in a 
drawing-room, where it will be nearly on a line 
with the people who will look at it; but when 
designed for a panel to be set in the walls of a 
large hall, or to be placed at an extra height, 
the artist should increase the size in accordance 
with the distance from which it is to be viewed ; 
and though he must preserve the proportions, the 
details should be suppressed, and the strong and 
simple lines that give character should be brought 
out with perfect clearness." 

If in a picture gallery we see a work that attracts 
us we can move forward or backward so as to 
reach the point from which the artist intended his 
picture to be viewed : if it is broadly painted, we 




JOHN GILBERT AS " SIR PETER TEAZLE." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 385 

retreat; if, on the other hand, the treatment is 
minute and delicate, we examine it closely. 

Millet and Meissonier should be locked at from 
two different points ; but in a theater the audience 
cannot shift their positions. The actor therefore 
must go to them ; and, moreover, he should average 
his strength so that while it is sufficiently powerful 
to reach those who are distant it must not be for 
cible enough to offend those who are near. He 
should take sufficient time to allow those who are 
slow of apprehension to digest his work, and while 
so doing be careful to interest others who catch the 
point at once, else the latter will be wearied by the 
delay. 

Again the painter, the musician, and the writer 
have a direct following, generally from a class 
whose taste and understanding are pretty evenly 
balanced, whereas a theater is divided into three 
and sometimes four classes, the prices of admission 
to a certain extent indicating their intelligence ; 
consequently the law of average must be well con 
sidered, so that the entertainment shall strike a bal 
ance and hit with equal force the different grades 
that confront it. 

But to return to Mathews. He took great en 
joyment in what might be called intellectual trifles, 
particularly those of his own creation, and had 
much talent in sketching grotesque faces, and 
writing chatty letters and comic verses ; and as he 
would spend days together in scribbling his amus 
ing nonsense, the knack for this kind of light 
literature was always in a high state of cultivation. 



386 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

I once traveled with him from London to Edin 
burgh on the lightning express train called the 
" Flying Scotchman." He had supplied himself 
with pencils and paper, and as soon as the train 
started began sketching away with all the delight 
of an enthusiastic young artist, though he was at 
this time over seventy years of age. He became 
absorbed in his work, which he continued for some 
time, interrupted only by an occasional delicate bit 
of profanity at the jolting of the " Scotchman," 
which, he said, seemed to be dancing a Highland 
reel over the rails. After he became weary of 
drawing he applied himself to the writing of a 
comic song, the theme of which, he said, had 
haunted him all the night before. He called it 
the "Mad Arithmetician," and it was filled with 
an absurd mixture of addition, multiplication, and 
the Rule of Three. As each verse was finished 
he would insist upon my laying down the book 
I was interested in to listen to his rhyme. Then, 
of course, I had to give him a round of applause, 
and off he would go again, perfectly delighted 
with what he .had done and I had praised. In 
fact, I think he craved the approbation of his 
friends more than he did that of the public. 

I once dined with him in London with Mr. Planche 
and Harry J. Byron, two favorite burlesque writers, 
and certainly I never listened to brighter conversa 
tion than I did on that occasion. I wish I could 
remember one-half of it, or, what would have been 
still better, that I had put it down in writing, 
though to have done so I must have been an 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 387 

accomplished stenographer. At one time I re 
member the conversation turned upon the novel of 
" Adam Bede." Mathevvs said it had no attraction 
for him, for it was not possible that he could feel 
interested in a virtuous carpenter. " Perhaps," 
said Byron, "you have more admiration for the 
virtue of the opposite sex." "What do you call 
the opposite sex to a carpenter?" said Mathews. 
"A joiner," said Planche before Byron had time 
to reply. 

Charles Mathews was a natural-born philos 
opher; he looked upon life in a plain, practical, 
and cheerful way, always making the best of the 
worst, having no regrets for the past and great 
hopes for the future. By many he was thought 
to be cold and selfish ; I do not think he was so. 
His cool, gay manner, which was perfectly natural 
to him, gave one the idea that he was devoid of 
feeling ; but a circumstance that occurred in con 
nection with myself proves quite the contrary. 

It was arranged that he should spend a week 
with me in the country for the purpose of trout- 
fishing, sketching, and chatting over matters con 
nected with art ; our conversations upon this latter 
subject usually ended in highly exciting arguments, 
for we seldom agreed in our ideas of the stage. 
Well, he arrived in due time, and we spent the 
first morning on the banks of a trout-stream 
pleasantly enough except that there was a cloud 
hanging over my head that made me rather dull ; 
he noticed this, and asked me what was the matter 
and why I was more serious than usual. I told 



388 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

him that the. next day was to be an eventful one 
to rne, and that he would have to excuse my 
absence for a week, as I should be imprisoned 
in a dark room and denied communication with 
any one. Of course he was surprised at this, so 
I explained that I was threatened with blindness, 
and that an oculist would arrive on the following 
day for the purpose of performing an operation on 
one of my eyes. For a moment he seemed horror- 
stricken, and was as pale as death. "What," said 
he, "and have you invited me here to enjoy my 
self, knowing that you were to undergo a surgical 
operation ? " 

Of course I told him that when the invitation 
was made I had no idea of the impending trouble, 
but had refrained from making any alteration in 
the date of his visit, thinking that he would 
amuse himself about the place till I could join him. 

" My dear boy," said he, taking my hand, while 
the tears stood in his eyes, "you can t imagine 
how you have shocked me. Let me go at once ; 
I could not stay under this roof while you were 
being cut and maimed; it is too dreadful to 
think of." 

His manner was perfectly sincere. There was 
not the slightest suspicion of sham in it, nor 
was it only the horror of the idea, though, of 
course, this affected him, but a sincere sym 
pathy for me ; so within an hour he had departed. 
I may mention here that the operation, under 
the skillful hands of Dr. Reuling, was entirely 
successful, and that I have never had any trouble 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 389 

with my sight since that, to me, most eventful 
time. 

I have often been taxed with idleness for not 
studying new parts and adding them to my reper 
toire. The list of plays that I have acted of late 
years is certainly a very short one, and the critic 
who becomes weary of witnessing them over and 
over again naturally protests against their con 
stant repetition. Setting aside the fact that every 
one must be the best judge of how to conduct his 
own affairs, there are other matters connected with 
the course I have pursued that may have escaped 
the attention of those who have rated me for my 
lack of versatility ; and reference to a conversation 
between Charles Mathews and myself on this very 
subject may serve to illustrate what I mean. We 
were good-humoredly quizzing each other about 
our different styles of acting, when he rallied me 
somewhat after this fashion: 

" You call yourself a comedian," said he. " Why, 
you can only play one part You are the prince 
of dramatic carpet-baggers, and carry all your 
wardrobe in a gripsack. Look at that huge pile 
of trunks mine, sir, mine ! Examine my list 
of parts! Count them half a hundred, at the 
very least; you ought to be ashamed of your 
self. Where is your versatility?" 

"My dear Charlie," said I, "you are confound 
ing wardrobe with talent. What is the value of 
a long bill of fare if the stuff is badly cooked ? 
You change your hat, and fancy you are playing 

another character. Believe me, it requires more 

25* 



390 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

skill to act one part fifty different ways than to 
act fifty parts all the same way." And here we 
ended our rather comical argument 

Charles Mathews was playing an unsuccessful 
engagement, so far as numbers were concerned, 
at the Boston Theater. He was a guest at No. 2 
Bulfinch Place; and, being quaint and old fash 
ioned in his tastes, relished with many of us 
our late suppers in the old kitchen. One evening 
after the performance, with all that light and brisk 
manner which was so characteristic of this antique 
youth, he exclaimed to us who were already attack 
ing the supper, "Waiting for me, I see. Well, 
that is kind. What a magnificent pile of lobsters ! 
Looks like one of the pyramids. Rather fresher. 
Touched up for the occasion, I dare say." If ever 
there was an aristocratic democrat it was this 
merry, irreverent, elegant man. He could shake 
hands with a prince and crack jokes with a butler 
at the same moment, while the potentate and the 
servant would both think him quite on their own 
level. After he had seated himself the usual query 
that one actor generally puts to another after the 
play : " Well, and how was the house to-night, 
Mr. Mathews?" "Splendid, splendid! I don t 
think I ever saw a finer house, only there was 
nobody in it Well, when I say nobody, I don t 
quite mean that. Of course there was well, 
myself for instance, and the ladies and gentlemen 
of the company (the old man did n t know a line, 
by the by) ; and then there were the gentlemen of 
the orchestra; and then the ushers too ; I must n t 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 391 

forget them, though they really had done nothing 
worth remembering. Oh, there may have been, 
just here and there, you know, a few dismal indi 
viduals, but they were so far apart that it was quite 
impossible to count them. I verily believe that if 
I had fired off a cannon, loaded to the muzzle with 
grape-shot, point-blank at the middle of the par 
quet I should not have wounded a critic ; and that 
would have been hardly fair, considering how often 
they have wounded me." 

There was a ripple of laughter all through this 
speech, which was given with superb gravity till 
the end, when there was a round of applause such 
as I believe he had not received during his whole 
engagement. From what I remember of Mathews 
I feel quite sure that he enjoyed making such a 
speech and receiving the approbation of his com 
rades more than he would have done in acting a 
fine part to a crowded house. "Hello!" he ex 
claimed, " there s some one missing. Where s 
Povey?" Mr. John Povey, I should mention, was 
the agent of Mathews, and came over from London 
with that gentleman ostensibly to look after the 
financial affairs of the star. " I hope you have n t 
poisoned him in my absence," said he ; " for he s 
the best-natured, kindest-hearted, useless old fellow 
that ever lived. It s his business to look after the 
money matters in front of the house, but during 
the time he ought to be there I find him asleep in 
my dressing-room. I do hope you have n t poisoned 
him." While he was discussing the merits and 
demerits of his agent there came a ring at the 



392 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

t 

door-bell. "That s John now. Don t say I m 
here ; just draw him out for me." And in a moment 
Mathews had opened the door that led to the cellar 
and disappeared. Enter Povey. " Hello!" said 
John. "Has n t Mathews come yet?" looking 
round the table. " Well, you see he is not here," 
said one of the party. " Ah ! just like him. He 
sent me in front to count up the house and promised 
to wait for me. Then he pops off. I thought 
certainly to find him here. I shall go back 
to England; I won t be bothered in this way 
looking after him." Then came the old question, 
"How was the house, Povey?" "Oh, bad, bad! 
Wretched ! They don t want him at all. He s 
too old fashioned. All very well twenty years ago. 
There s no fun left in him." Whereupon Mathews 
popped his head out of the door, and glaring 
comically at Povey exclaimed, "Is n t there, John? 
Well, what do you think of this for a bit of fun, 
eh?" If there had been a trap in the kitchen 
floor I think we should have found Povey at the 
bottom of the cellar the next minute. It certainly 
was the most cruel joke that ever was perpetrated. 
Povey was overcome with mortification, and 
Mathews made the very cups and saucers on the 
mantelpiece vibrate with his laughter. 

John B. Rice was a connection of mine by 
marriage, having been united to my cousin Miss 
Mary Anne Warren, sister of William Warren, the 
comedian, and of Harry Warren, the theatrical - 
manager of Buffalo. Mr. Rice was a prominent 
citizen of Chicago, having been at one time its 




CHARLES J. MATHEWS AS "TIM." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 393 

theatrical manager, its mayor, and afterwards a 
Representative in Congress. Those who remem 
ber this wise and honorable man, whose life was 
devoted to usefulness, will recall the valuable 
services he rendered to his adopted State and 
city, and to those by whom he was surrounded. 
The conduct of his life was simple and dignified, 
and he received the smiles and frowns of fortune 
with an equal bearing, and was ever ready to 
assist the needy with either his purse or counsel. 
Contented and cheerful, I scarcely ever saw him look 
grave except when contemplating the prospect of 
another one s misfortune. He was liberal, but wisely 
prudent, and often rated me for my extravagance. 
He once said to me, " You re a young man now, 
with an extra large family, and it behooves you as 
a duty to that family to save some of your earn 
ings; and I don t believe you do." I told him that 
I thought he did me an injustice. I acknowledged 
that I was making money, but I contended that I 
had invested it " Listen to this young man talk. 
He buys a large plantation in the South with 
nothing left of the sugar-house but the chimney, 
all the fences and everything in a dilapidated 
condition, takes his family down to this wonderful 
place, isolates them from the world, lives in a 
tumble-down house that he has to prop up with 
logs, shoots half a dozen wild ducks, fancies that 
he s enjoying himself, and then calls it an invest 
ment." I ventured to suggest that perhaps the 
orange groves in time might " Orange groves ! 
What do you know about orange groves? The 



394 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

negroes steal your oranges, don t they?" I could 
not help admitting that a few had been missed. 
" Ah! quite likely. You had better buy United 
States 4 s registered, and get out of those orange 
groves as soon as possible. You 11 make more 
money by acting than you will by oranges." 

When, some years afterwards, my son informed 
me that he received from St. Louis for a large 
shipment of this delicious fruit, after deducting 
expenses, three two-cent postage stamps, I con 
cluded that Uncle John was about right. I recall 
his smile and what a smile it was ! when I 
told him of this disastrous commercial transaction. 

John Rice and Edwin Forrest had been friends 
for many years, but their intimacy had been 
broken off by the frankness of one and the ill 
temper of the other. Forrest, it seems, wanted 
some information or assistance from Rice in 
connection with a lawsuit that was at one time 
creating much annoyance to the tragedian. Rice 
declined to give it or to meddle in the matter, as 
he deemed Forrest in some respects at fault and 
had the courage to tell him so. This annoyed 
the old actor, who never forgave an affront. To 
differ with him as to the lawsuit was to make an 
enemy of him; but when a matter of right and 
wrong was to be considered John Rice was a 
Brutus, and would decide the matter according 
to his honest belief, regardless of the opinion of 
friend or foe. 

Among Rice s old acquaintances was a leader 
of the orchestra, one John C . Quite a 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 395 

musical genius was C , and a great char 
acter. He was a perfect know-all ; no subject, 
either artistic, musical, or scientific, could be 
broached in his presence on which he did not at 
once present himself as an authority. If a fast 

horse was mentioned C had a father or an 

uncle who owned one that could distance the 
animal in question with ease. Should any one 
venture to give an account of a remarkable storm 
where the hailstones were as large as hens eggs, 
the old leader was down on him with goose eggs 
at once. On a certain Sunday afternoon John 
Rice and a party of his friends were sitting on the 
back porch of his house, listening to some of the 

marvelous experiences of C , when the host, 

getting a little tired of these wonders, exclaimed : 

C , you seem to be an authority on most 

matters; now I want your solution of a curious 
fact that is staring us in the face. Look at that 
apple tree over the fence" pointing to one in 
the orchard at the back of the house. " You see 
it has no apples on it, and all the rest of the trees 
are full of fruit; now how do you account for 

that ? " C ran his eye over the orchard with 

a profound look, and rising slowly from his seat 
mounted the fence, let himself down upon the 
other side with as scientific an air as the per 
formance would admit of, and going down upon 
his knees began to examine the roots of the bar 
ren tree. The company during all this time were 
watching the proceeding with becoming gravity. 
C , having cut off a piece of the bark from 



396 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the tree, wiped his eye-glasses and examined the 
specimen with great care. At last he smiled with 
a placid kind of triumph and exclaimed, "Ah! I 
thought so." Again climbing the fence, he re 
turned to the group who had been watching him 
and said: "Now observe. You see that gray 
color on the edge of the bark?" They did. 
1 Well, that is called fungi mortem, and when 
ever that deadly sign appears at the root of an 
apple tree it never bears fruit." 

" I don t think you are quite right about it," 
said Rice ; "for that tree was full of apples yester 
day, but the owner came this morning and gathered 
them." 

There was a shout of laughter, and C was 

dumfounded. It was a dreadful blow, and it had 
the effect of curtailing the scientific discourses of 
C for some time. 

For many years I had remarked a growing 
disinclination on the part of the general public 
to listen to dialogue unless it revealed the plot of 
the play or abounded in easily understood wit. 
The question may be asked, Why should this be ? 
Is not the audience of to-day as intelligent as 
that of a hundred years ago? This may be so, 
but by degrees it has been accustomed to a supply 
of entertainments for the eye rather than for the 
ear, and like a child who has been lately fed upon 
sugar-plums, it has lost its taste for daintier mor 
sels. Our modern theatrical managers have 
recognized this demand, and embellish even their 
most classical productions with splendid scenery, 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "BOB ACRES." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 397 

magnificent costumes, and mechanical contri 
vances. Dramatic authors are alive to it also, 
and seldom introduce poetical speeches or philo 
sophical discussions into their works, confining 
themselves to action or to the realistic representa 
tion of local pictures with which the public eye 
is familiar. The monthly magazines and journals 
are filled with splendid illustrations, and even the 
daily papers crowd into their columns crude and 
hastily drawn pictures of current events. It is no 
disparagement to say this ; on the contrary the 
supply is in legitimate accordance with the de 
mand, for it is both wise and useful to minister to 
pronounced if not immoral public desire. 

With these facts clearly before me I set about 
altering and condensing Sheridan s comedy of 
"The Rivals." "The School for Scandal" has 
always been considered the finer play of the two, 
and in many respects it is- so, but I felt that there 
was no character in this play to which I could 
do justice ; and though as a literary work " The 
School for Scandal " is undoubtedly superior to 
its companion, I consider "The Rivals" to be the 
more effective dramatic production. 

That two such comedies should have been 
produced within a couple of years by a mere 
youngster must always remain among the won 
ders of dramatic composition. As "The Rivals" 
bears the fresh impress of youth, one can com 
prehend the fact that it was written by a mere 
boy; but the "School for Scandal" smacks of 
matured age and ripe experience, dealing as it does 



398 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

with intrigue, worldliness, and almost actionable 
defamation of character. Yet these two prodigies 
were born but a short time apart, and were the 
offspring of the same parent The greatest won 
der is that being almost twins there should be 
such a slight resemblance between them. 

The artificial quality of "The School for Scan 
dal " has been complained of by some critics, but 
it should be remembered that the scene of the 
comedy is laid in town and takes place during the 
season of fashionable entertainment; the quaint 
society of high life during the middle of the last 
century was, according to the history and pictures 
of the period, extravagantly artificial, Hogarth s 
belles t and beaux strut through the Strand with 
dainty step and arms akimbo ; the old fop takes his 
pinch of snuff with the grotesque air of a dancing- 
master. If in the play, therefore, the characters 
remind us of figures in Dresden china, they are 
poised with such grace that we pardon their lack 
of warmth; for if actors are the " abstract and 
brief chronicles of the time," an artificial period 
could not be depicted if this quality were wanting. 
The play does not seem to be intended to excite 
our sympathies, but rather to challenge our intel 
ligence. We must enjoy the quarrels of Lady 
Teazle and Sir Peter Teazle, though we may not 
care who gets the better of it. 

It has been objected also that many of the 
characters talk too brilliantly, the servants particu 
larly, their wit being beyond their station, But 
an author can easily bear the censure that taxes 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 399 

him with having written too well. " The School 
for Scandal" at the time in which it \vas written 
must have been quite perfect ; its fault now grows 
out of the fact that the present taste considers it 
too coarse to be acted in its original form. The 
theme itself, too, is somewhat indelicate. An 
intrigue runs through the plot, and, though it 
terminates innocently, while it is in progress it has 
an unpleasant suggestion, so that however much 
of the language may be omitted it can have but 
little effect upon the action. No such charge can 
be laid to "The Rivals," for after the excision of 
a dozen lines there remains a pure dramatic 
production. There is a rural flavor about it too, 
imparted by the introduction of Bob Acres and 
his old and attached servant David, that warms 
the wit with a glow of humor. 

This comedy kept running in my head of late 
years with almost the same persistence that " Rip 
Van Winkle" had done in the olden time. Bob, too, 
was an attractive fellow to contemplate. Sheridan 
had filled him with such quaintness and eccentri 
city that he became to me irresistible. I would 
often think of him in the middle of the night At 
odd times, when there was apparently no reason 
for him to call, he would pop up before me like 
an old acquaintance, for I had acted him years 
before, but always with a new expression on his 
face. The variety of situations in which the author 
had placed him; his arrival in town with his 
shallow head full of nonsense and curl papers, 
and his warm heart overflowing with love for an 



400 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

heiress who could not endure him in the country 
because he used to dress so badly ; a nature soft 
and vain, with a strong mixture of goose and 
peacock; his aping of the fashion of the town, 
with an unmistakable survival of rural manners ; 
his swagger and braggadocio while writing a 
challenge ; and above all the abject fright that falls 
upon him when he realizes what he has done 
could the exacting heart of a comedian ask for 
more than these? Surely here was the best 
material to work out that I could desire. I had 
acted the part a quarter of a century before, and 
possibly I may have blundered by a kind of in 
tuition into some of the effects which now occur 
to me, but I am quite sure that at that time I 
could not have reproduced them from night to 
night with any certainty. I will not say that the 
methods by which I treated the various phases 
of the character were all thought out previous to 
its revival. Some of them came to me after, and 
many at the time of their representation; for 
during the late run of the comedy I had acted 
Acres at least a dozen times before I had hit 
upon a satisfactory effect with which to end the 
second act, and even then it did not strike me 
until the very moment of its execution. 

During our first rehearsal of the comedy in 
Philadelphia, Mrs. John Drew, who had evidently 
been considering the part of Mrs. Malaprop with 
great care, introduced some novel business in her 
first scene with Captain Absolute that struck me 
as one of the finest points I had ever seen made. 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON: AS "BOB ACRES." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 401 

When Mrs. Malaprop hands the letter for the 
Captain to read, by accident she gives him her 
own love-letter lately received by her from Sir 
Litcius & Trigger. As the Captain reads the 
first line, which betrays the secret, Mrs. Drew 
starts, blushes, and simperingly explains that there 
is a slight mistake." Her manner during this 
situation was the perfection of comedy. She asked 
me if I thought that the introduction was ad 
missible. I replied that I not only thought it 
admissible, but believed that Sheridan himself 
would have introduced it if the idea had happened 
to occur to him. It would have been curious if I 
had not acquiesced in this original business after 
the liberties I had myself taken with the comedy. 
I had not only condensed the play from five acts 
into three, but I had cut several of the characters 
entirely out of it, brought down the curtain on 
the first and second acts with terminations not 
intended by the author, and concluded by having 
the courage to write an epilogue. It must be 
admitted that these were sweeping alterations, 
and in the event of their failure they were likely 
to endanger whatever reputation I had acquired 
as a legitimate comedian. They succeeded, how 
ever, and I was only subjected to some slight 
critical censure from the press and a little quizzing 
from a few old school members of the profession, 
who were naturally and honestly shocked at my 
having taken such unwarrantable liberties with their 
past heroes. Some of the satirical remarks made 
at my expense deserve mention. 



402 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

William Warren on leaving the theater one 
evening after seeing the play was asked what he 
thought of the alterations. He replied, "It re 
minded me of that line in Buchanan Read s poem, 
And Sheridan twenty miles away/" This was 
not quite original with him ; it had been said before 
by one of my own company, but I heard that it 
was given with that quizzical humor which be 
longed only to William Warren. 

John Gilbert said that it was sacrilegious, and it 
would serve me right if the shade of Sheridan 
should haunt me. 

One Christmas Eve during the run of the revived 
comedy a merry meeting of the company was 
arranged after the play; a Christmas tree had 
been erected, and it was understood that each one 
should hang a present for the other on it, and that 
no one should know the donor. A gentleman was 
selected to take down the different parcels from the 
tree and present them. The choice proved an ex 
cellent one, as he bestowed the various gifts with wit 
and humor. His opportunity was exceedingly good, 
however, as many of the presents were suggestive 
of our weak points and our various positions. Our 
manager, for instance, received a bundle of railway 
guides, the advance agent a paste-pot and brush, 
and I a book of "The Rivals" with all the parts 
cut out of it but my own. 

But, seriously, if I needed any excuse for my 
emendations of "The Rivals," I have discovered 
one lately in Doran s "Annals of the English Stage," 
wherein it is recorded that Sheridan altered Sir 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 403 

John Vanbrugh s comedy of " The Relapse " and 
entitled his play " A Trip to Scarborough." Ap 
parently as an excuse for this liberty he makes one 
of his characters say, " It would surely be a pity to 
exclude the productions of some of our best writers 
for the want of a little wholesome pruning, which 
might be effected by any one who possessed 
modesty enough to believe that we should preserve 
all we can of our deceased authors, at least till they 
are outdone by the living ones." Here is a confes 
sion that he not only sanctioned the liberty, but 
that he took it himself; so that should the shade 
of Sheridan ever rebuke me, I shall defend myself 
by confronting him with his own words. 

A monumental figure in Boston, and one whose 
vacant place upon the stage has not been filled, 
was William Warren. The humorous characters 
presented by this gifted actor covered the entire 
range of legitimate comedy, and from the great 
length of time that he performed at the Museum, 
and the constant change of entertainment that was 
a prominent feature of this establishment, it is safe 
to conclude that this versatile comedian studied 
and created more parts than any other actor of his 
day. The great respect of the public, and the 
warm affection of his personal friends, was recipro 
cated by his loyalty to the city that by universal 
consent made him its dramatic ideal. For years 
his benefits were the events of the season ; and the 
last testimonial of public favor, upon his fiftieth 
anniversary upon the stage, given just previous 
to his final retirement, was marked by a depth of 



404 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

feeling that neither the recipient nor the donors 
could ever forget. 

His career as a stock actor was a most remark 
able one. I say a stock actor in. no disparagement 
of his ability to be the leading feature of a theatri 
cal entertainment. On the contrary, there were 
during his day few, if any, of those who traveled 
as stars who were superior to him as a comedian. 
He was offered many inducements to star, but 
it was only for one season -that he could be 
prevailed upon to give up his regular engage 
ment. He soon wearied of the constant change of 
scene, and, longing for the quiet and domestic com 
fort that could not be obtained while constantly 
moving about, he returned to his old position and 
to the audience whom he had missed and who had 
missed him. His welcome on his re- appearance, 
and his own delight at receiving it, proved that 
the affection between him and his audience was 
mutual. He had entered the Boston Museum 
during its early struggles, and became from the 
first the foundation upon which its prosperity was 
built, as he remained to the last the pillar which 
supported its dome. His talent as an actor, his 
sacred duty to the public, and his loyalty to his 
temple, were the principal causes of the success that 
for so many years attended the dramatic produc 
tions of the Boston Museum. While he was 
undoubtedly the principal feature of the company, 
he never presumed upon the strength of his posi 
tion, nor at any time during his lifelong service did 
he offer the slightest obstruction to any change in 




WILLIAM WARREN AS "HERR WEIGEL." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 405 

the managerial policy of his dramatic home. If it 
was found necessary to bring forward one of those 
sensational or catchpenny actors who sometimes 
hold for a brief period the esteem of the public to 
the exclusion of better stuff, he never complained ; 
but, yielding to the decision of his manager and the 
caprice of the public, he would step gracefully aside 
and make place for the ruling mushroom, and so 
allow some new-fledged and popular buffoon to be 
sandwiched between his legitimate efforts. He 
seemed to have that gallant confidence in his own 
worth that made him soar above the pangs of petty 
jealousy. 

There are few living who remember William 
Warren so far back in the past as I do. I was 
about ten years old when I first saw him. He was 
attached to my father s company, sharing in all our 
fortunes and misfortunes in the far West. He was 
then a tall, handsome young man about twenty-five 
years of age. He had fine, expressive eyes> a 
graceful figure, and a head of black, curly hair that 
must have been the envy of our juvenile tragedian, 
who was himself quite bald. William was at that 
time what is technically called a heavy actor, and 
played such parts as Rashleigh Osbaldistone in 
Scott s "Rob Roy," and Beauseant in Bulwer s 
" Lady of Lyons." My father s comedian disap 
pointing him, Warren was cast in that line of char 
acters known as low comedy. He had been highly 
educated in his youth, and having a mind that 
applied itself diligently to whatever it undertook, 
he soon became famous as an actor. Always 

86" 



406 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

modest, and not endowed with an abundance of 
self-reliance, it was to his talent rather than to any 
particular energy that he owed his advancement in 
the dramatic art. Conscientious to an inordinate 
degree, he neglected nothing in the preparation of 
costumes or the study of his characters to render 
his acting worthy of his audiences. He was uni 
versally acknowledged to be one of the most finished 
artists of his time. It was the pride he took in his 
profession and the wisdom which characterized the 
important actions of his life that warned him not 
to return to the stage after he had bid it farewell. 
Once having made this resolution nothing could 
tempt him to venture again before an audience. 
He was a veteran, certainly, when he retired, but 
he had not staid too long, and if there was any 
vague suspicion that his powers had weakened, it 
was in his own mind, and his conscientious nature 
would not permit him to linger before the public 
when he felt that he could no longer do his duty ; 
so that up to his final exit from the stage his audi 
ence retained the best impression of his acting. 

I recall him in the very prime of his life when I 
went to Boston first to join the stock company at 
the Howard Athenaeum. He was the reigning 
favorite of the town, and all who remember him 
well know that he remained so to the end. 

Again I went this time to play a star engage 
ment, when I had the not very cheering assurance 
of the manager that I was the only one by whom 
he had lost money during that season. This would 
have been a crushing blow indeed, but I had the 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 407 

consolation of knowing that, when he could get 
away from the Museum, Warren came to see me 
act if no one else did. 

At this time we lived at the same house in Bui- 
finch Place. There was a grand old kitchen here 
where, in company with many passing stars, we 
supped together after the play. Warren always 
sat at the head of the table, and was usually con 
cealed behind a huge pile of lobsters, and as he 
served them liberally the scarlet edifice would 
slowly sink as if it were going through the stage 
in pantomime, revealing as it descended the fine 
face of the genius of the feast. For many seasons 
after this, when I came to act in Boston, our 
suppers in the old kitchen were among the agree 
able features of the engagement 

James Wallack, Charles Mathews, Fechter, 
Walter Montgomery, Peter Richings (dear me, I 
am the only one left!), and many others. Such 
jokes, old and new ; such reminiscences, foreign 
and domestic ; tales of the Drury Lane, legends 
of the Th6itre Frangais, and romances of the 
old Bowery; then the discussion as to whether 
the actors of the past were better than those of 
the present all of the old actors insisting on it 
that they were, and all the young ones insisting on 
it that they were not. 

Again I recall Warren as one of the bright 
features of a memorable feast Mrs. James T. 
Fields at one end of the table and her husband 
at the other. Beside William Warren sat Dr. 
Oliver Wendell Holmes, while Mr. Longfellow 



408 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

sat facing me I the youngest man of those as 
sembled, and greatly pleased to be one of such a 
group. Here was table-talk indeed a feast of 
wit as well as viands. As I think now of that 
interesting day I seem to listen to the brilliancy of 
Fields, the wisdom of Longfellow, and the wit of 
Holmes. Then Warren modestly joins in the con 
versation, planning his words to the theme under 
discussion so adroitly too, that no joke is sus 
pected until the climax. This is indeed the very 
art and perfection of an anecdote. 

Time rolled on and we met quite often, always 
in the summer. To sit and talk with Warren 
under the trees was ever a treat to me. He had 
known me when I was but a boy, and now he 
knew me as a grandfather. No lack of retro 
spect and reminiscence with such acquaintances! 

Then came the fiftieth anniversary of his dbut 
I was not there to see it, but I know of it as 
though the scene had passed before me. Thou 
sands flocked to witness it. Gray-haired men who 
had been taken to see him when they were boys, 
hurried to bid for places that they might do him 
honor. There was a loving-cup from those who 
cherished him ; flowers from a whole city ; a 
token of affection from his old comrades. I saw 
him shortly after this, and there was a shade of 
sadness in his face. He seemed to feel that all 
was over. A laurel wreath will cheer its wearer 
when it is bestowed on one who is in the zenith 
of his victory, but it weighs heavily upon a retired 
head. 




WILLIAM WARREN* AS "jEFFKRSOX SCATTERING BATKINS." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 409 

William Warren bore up bravely under the 
burden of seclusion ; but time, and the loss of that 
more than magnetism which is imbibed by an actor 
from the warm appreciation of his audience, and 
which had stimulated him for so many years, 
gradually told upon his health, and then his bright 
mind faded and he passed away. Boston s best 
sons arid daughters were present to witness the 
ceremonies that attended upon his final rest. 
Those who had lived and wept with him in his art 
showed, by their presence and unsuppressed emo 
tion, how they were saddened by so great a loss. 

Relatives and friends, who stood in groups about 
the tomb, were overcome with sorrow. John Gil 
bert stood gazing into the grave with streaming 
eyes and a dazed look. He felt that the time was 
fast approaching when he would join his comrade. 



CHAPTER XV 

SOME OLD FRIENDS 

Mr. and Mrs. Barney Williams John Drew 

Charlotte Cushman Mrs. Drake F. S. Chan- 

frau John T. Raymond John McCullough 

The Lester Wallack Benefit Actors of To- 

Day and Yesterday 



M 



R. AND MRS. BARNEY WILLIAMS attracted 
much attention, shortly after their mar 
riage, as American stars. The associa 
tion of the Irish boy and the Yankee girl was a 
novelty, and as a dramatic feature strong in 
contrast 

Williams had been quite popular even before 
his marriage, and his union with Mrs. Charles 
Mestayer (also very popular), and their joint 
appearance in Irish drama and musical farce was 
at once a success and placed them among the 
theatrical attractions of the day. The laugh of 
Mrs. Williams was infectious, and her droll sing 
ing of " Independence Day" made it the favorite 
local song of the time. Williams was an effective 

410 



JOSEPH JEFFERSON 411 

actor, and his graceful figure and attractive face 
made him always welcome to his audiences. 

Barney and I were once walking together in 
a heavy shower of rain, and were near his own 
house, where dinner was awaiting us. As we 
reached the gate the Irish girl was discovered 
watering the flower-beds in the garden. She, 
like ourselves, was sheltered from the storm by 
an ample umbrella, but a high wind was blowing 
at a terrible rate, and had turned her protector 
inside out With the now useless shelter in one 
hand and the watering-pot in the other she was 
whirled about like a weather-cock in a stiff breeze, 
and in this helpless condition was pouring an aux 
iliary shower on the already drenched and drip 
ping plants. Barney hailed her reprovingly, and 
demanded to know why she was doing such a 
stupid thing. " Sure, sir, ye told me to be after 
watering the flowers every day." "Yes, but not 
on a rainy day," said the master. " Sure, sir," 
said Biddy, "I thought a rainy day was every 
day as well as any other day. 1 " Why, you are 
drenched with the rain," said Barney; "go into 
the house." "I will, sir, indeed," said she; "for 
if the posies have had enough of it, I am sure I 
have." 

It is said that John Brougham, who wrote the 
domestic drama of "The -Irish Emigrant," and 
had acted the hero with some success, declared 
upon seeing John Drew play the part that he 
would never attempt it again. I have myself a 
most vivid remembrance of Drew in this character. 



412 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

(This gentleman was the father of the present 
John Drew and the husband of the distinguished 
actress who now bears his name.) He acted a 
star engagement under my management in Rich 
mond, Virginia, in 1856, appearing in a round of 
Irish characters with marked success. I saw him 
in Handy Andy, O* Flanaghan, and the Emi 
grant, and his entrance in the latter character 
was one of those simple, bold, and unconven 
tional effects that invariably command recognition 
from an audience, be they high or low, rich or 
poor, intelligent or ignorant. A figure passes an 
open window and pauses for an instant to look 
into the room ; then a timid knock. " Come 
in ! " The door slowly opens, and upon the 
threshold stands a half-starved man, hunger in 
his gaunt form and hollow cheeks, but kind 
ness and honesty in his gentle eyes. What a 
pathetic sight is this ! As the character is devel 
oped through the incidents surrounding it, you 
see always the same man, changed only as he 
would be by the circumstances through which 
he passes. 

There is a sincerity in this kind of artistic treat 
ment that wins for it a lasting remembrance in 
the minds of those who have witnessed it. To 
do bright and sparkling things that for a moment 
trick an audience of its applause, though they 
be entirely out of keeping with a character, is a 
grave error. With whatever variety a character 
may be treated, the audience should feel that 
it is the same man whose different moods are 




JOHN DREW AS "HANDY ANDY," 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 413 

developed by the change of his position in the 
story. I think it has been generally conceded 
that since Tyrone Power there has been no 
Irish comedian equal to. John Drew. Power, as 
a light and brilliant actor, with piercing eyes, 
elegant carriage, and polished " school," daz 
zling his audiences like a comet, was undoubt 
edly unparalleled in his line, but I doubt if 
he could touch the heart as deeply as did John 
Drew. 

We were afterwards together in Philadelphia; 
he played Sir Lucius O Trigger -with me in "The 
Rivals," Mrs. Drew appearing as Lydia Languish. 
There was one part that he acted during this brief 
engagement which made a strong impression upon 
me and revealed his versatility perhaps more than 
any other character I had seen him in. It was that 
of a young English squire, gay and desperate, 
warm-hearted and profligate, whose condition 
changed from wealth and station to poverty and 
almost degradation, from the bowling green of the 
quiet village to the gambling hell of a great city 
these vicissitudes of fortune being brought upon 
him by his own careless nature, which p assed from 
gay to grave, deeply touched by the misfortunes 
of others and reckless of his own. Drew s treat 
ment of this character, while it was not widely 
known, won for him great admiration from his 
artistic comrades. 

Charlotte Cushman was a prominent figure in 
the dramatic history of her day tall and com 
manding in person, with an expressive face, whose 



414 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

features might have been called plain but for the 
strength and character in them. She was self- 
educated, and had consequently stored her mind 
with just that sort of material that would serve to 
develop it. The most cultivated society of Eng 
land and America delighted to entertain her, and 
her hospitality and kindness to Americans who 
visited this lady during her sojourn in Italy won 
for her the esteem and gratitude of many rising 
young artists, whom she took great pleasure in 
bringing into notice. Her dramatic career was a 
long and brilliant one ; and in the legitimate drama 
she was more prominent than any other actress of 
her time. 

Mrs. Warner was the nearest approach to Miss 
Cushman. Her face was classic, and there was a 
grace and majesty in her presence that was very 
charming ; but in force and fire Miss Cushman far 
outshone her English rival. She had great tact in 
society, being perfectly at ease and making every 
one else so. Her faculty for either entertaining or 
being entertained was remarkable. She could do 
all the listening or all the talking, whichever was 
the most agreeable to her guest. As Lady Macbeth 
and as Queen Catherine she was regal from head 
to foot ; but her most popular character with the 
public was Meg Merrilies, in " Guy Mannering." 
As Scott s heroine, critics objected to her extrava 
gant acting and the liberty she took in standing 
aloof from the novel, and in her re-creation of the 
character. As I have been guilty of the same 
thing, it will not do for me to complain. But be 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 415 

this as it may, her acting was amazingly effective, 
and that quality covers a multitude of dramatic 
sins. She was witty and agreeable, with an im 
mense flow of animal spirits, and I never met her 
without having a good laugh, either at our own 
expense or that of somebody else. She had a 
warm heart, and her charities were very numerous. 

Before Charlotte Cushman reached the height 
of her popularity the leading tragic actress of 
America was Mrs. A. Drake. She was an accom 
plished lady, and during her whole life held an 
enviable position both on and off the stage. When 
a boy of sixteen I acted with her the page Cyprian 
Gossamer in " Adrian and Orrilla." She taught 
me the business of the part with great care, com 
ing to the theater an hour before the rehearsal so 
as to go over the scenes with me before the actors 
assembled. She had a queenly bearing, and was, 
during her dramatic reign, undoubtedly the tragic 
muse of America. 

Her son, some years ago, knowing that I had 
a great regard for his mother, gave me three let 
ters which relate to theatrical matters in general, 
and to Mrs. Drake in particular. I shall there 
fore take the liberty of inserting them here. They 
have never been published before, and as two of 
them are from John Howard Payne, the author 
of " Home, Sweet Home," and the other is from 
Washington Irving, they cannot fail to be inter 
esting. One of Mr. Payne s letters is to Daniel 
O Connell, the great Irish statesman, introducing 
Mrs. Drake to his notice. 



416 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, Sept. 4, 1832. 
JOHN MILLER, ESQ., 

Agent for the American Legation, London. 

MY DEAR SIR : As you are well versed in theatrical affairs, I 
would ask your advice and services for Mrs. Drake, an American 
lady, who is about to try her fortunes on the London boards. 
You may already have heard of her success in the United States. 
I have merely had the pleasure of witnessing her powers one 
evening, in the Widow Cheerly ("The Soldier s Daughter"), and 
the part of Mary in the " Maid of the Inn"; but from those speci 
mens am led to form a very high opinion of her talents both in 
the serious and comic lines of the drama. I cannot but think 
that, if she has a fair chance, she will make a very favorable im 
pression on the London public. 

A personal acquaintance with Mrs. Drake has still more inter 
ested me in herself and her fortune; and I shall feel it as a kind 
ness to myself if you would do anything in your power to 
facilitate her views in England. 

With kindest remembrances to Mrs. Miller, 

Yours very truly, 

WASHINGTON IRVING. 

NEW YORK, May 20, 1833. 
DAN L O CONNELL, Esq., M. P., London. 
(Hand by Mrs. Drake.) 

MY DEAR SIR: A lady of the highest standing both as a 
gentlewoman and an actress Mrs. Drake of the Western region 
of our Western World visits Europe and intends to make a 
professional experiment in London. I have thought I could 
greatly serve her and gratify you by making you known to each 
other ; and as Mrs. Drake will probably visit Ireland, I shall con 
sider any attention she may receive there through you as a com 
pliment from you to our republic, as will my countrymen. Mrs. 
Drake is one of the few among us who are allowed by Mrs. 
Trollope to possess first-rate talent ; and the Duke of Saxe- Wei 
mar, in his Travels, speaks of her with more enthusiasm than even 
Mrs. Trollope. I prefer, for reasons which I need not name, 
giving you upon this subject the opinions of foreigners, espe 
cially of such as are supposed to be rather prejudiced against us. 

I write in great haste, being apprised of the departure of Mrs. 




MRS. A. DRAKE, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 417 

Drake for England only as I am myself departing for the South 
ern States of America. I can only add how infinitely I shall feel 
obliged by any attention it may be in your power to offer Mrs. 
Drake. She travels in company with a particular friend of hers, 
Mrs. White, who (with her husband, a member of the United 
States Congress for Florida, Colonel White) is desirous of seeing 
Europe. Should you meet them you may wonder a little that a 
part of the world so recently a wilderness should produce such 
poor specimens of savageness and unrefinement. 

With best and most grateful remembrances to Mrs. O Connell 
and all your family who may still bear me in recollection, believe 
me, my dear sir, with great respect, 

Your obliged and faithful friend and servant, 

Dan l O Connell, Esq., M. P. J. HOWARD PAYNE. 

NEW YORK, 67 Varick St., 
Hudson Square, Oct. 20, 1833. 

MY DEAR MRS. DRAKE: You will doubtless think me most 
ungallant in having so long omitted to answer your kind letter of 
July r. But be assured the neglect has not been of the mind, for 
I have often thought and spoken of you and always intended to 
write to you to-morrow; the to-morrow is now here; but 
whether it will guide my remembrance to you is a question which 
it would delight me to find answered speedily in the affirmative 
by your own fair hand. 

My attention since I heard from you has been entirely taken 
up by the project of a new periodical I am preparing Mr. 
Hyde, of Schenectady, obliges me by conveying you a pros 
pectus. I must have five thousand subscribers before I can start, 
and as yet the names come in slowly. People seem astonished by 
the plan and still more by giving two guineas for literature ! I 
have only about 230 of the five thousand as yet, but I mean to 
persevere. I have great hopes from the Western States, and 
should be most happy to confer with you upon some plan for 
taking the warm hearts you tell me of there by storm. The 
scheme is one I am much devoted to, and surely a nation like 
this ought to yield from her whole population five thousand sup 
porters for such a project. I mean to travel through the United 
States myself, and in each place send out a person to solicit 



418 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

names. It is humiliating enough to have to solicit even by a 
second person but if no other names offer I will do it by myself 
rather than fail. I shall take Albany, of course, on the way; but 
when, is yet uncertain. I am very desirous, however, of ascer 
taining as early as may be what chance that good city offers me; 
and Mr. Hyde, who is a worthy and enthusiastic young man, a 
student of Union College and the editor of a magazine published 
there, has most handsomely undertaken to try what he can do 
towards the increase of my list. I have desired him to see you, 
and to get your advice. The ladies are the best friends after all, 
and not only know how these things ought to be managed, but 
can point out the readiest way of giving their knowledge effect. 

May I hope you will favor me with a line very soon, mention 
ing what you are about and whether I can be of any use to you 
in return for the commission with which I am troubling you. 
Yours in haste, 

Most faithfully, 

Mrs. Drake. J. HOWARD PAYNE. 

These simple letters from two gifted and delight 
ful men attest not only Mrs. Drake s dramatic quali 
ties but her private worth. And it is a pleasure and 
a privilege to publish them, and so revive the mem 
ory of an honorable and talented lady. Had they 
been commonplace letters of introduction from un 
known people I should not have intruded them on 
the reader ; but as it is I feel sure that no apology 
is needed for their insertion. 

A little incident connected with the meeting of 
Mrs. Drake in Louisville has been brought to my 
recollection while I have been writing of her. 
There is nothing particularly interesting about it 
except that it has a humorous side, and I cannot 
resist the temptation of noticing it here. 

We had, at that time, a lady attached to our 
company who was a great character. Her thirst 




JOHN HOWARD PAYNE. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 419 

for autographs was unquenchable, and I have never 
seen a more perfect specimen of the female lion- 
hunter. She knew most of the celebrities in the 
country, and always kept on hand a large assort 
ment of introductory letters ready for presentation 
at the shortest notice. This is an innocent kind 
of pastime, and if it does no good it certainly 
does no harm. This lady had a weakness for not 
remembering names. This was singular, too, as 
half her time was employed in collecting them ; 
but they seemed to revenge themselves for their 
imprisonment in her album by escaping from her 
memory ; and it was comical to observe the woe 
begone expression of her face when she related 
some of her unfortunate mistakes. 

" It is so dreadful, my dear/ she would say, "to 
commit these blunders, and there is no excuse for 
them. Just imagine my being introduced to a gen 
tleman by the name of Smith and calling him Mr. 
Montgomery five minutes afterwards." 

Of course she was anxious to meet an interesting 
lady like Mrs. Drake, and, armed with an intro 
duction which I gave her, called on the retired 
actress, hoping that she would be able to collect 
some theatrical matter for a book that she was 
writing, and desiring to get the much-prized, but 
rather conventional, actor s autograph with a 
Shaksperean quotation. 

In due time Mrs. Drake returned the call and 
was ushered into the vast parlor of the Gait House, 
where a number of ladies and gentlemen were 
assembled to pay their respects to the lion-hunter. 



420 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Mrs. Drake was distinguished for a majestic bear 
ing at all times, and any ceremonious occasion 
would naturally intensify her dignity. The tragedy 
queen was therefore with more than usual loftiness 
led into the center of the apartment and introduced 
by her hostess as Mrs. Duck. A slight titter of 
quiet mirth rippled over the assembled company 
as Mrs. Drake glared with a reproving Lady 
Macbeth eye at the nervous little hostess, who 
was so overcome with mortification that she burst 
forth with, " Oh, I beg your pardon, I mean Mrs. 
Goose." This of course settled it. 

F. S. Chanfrau, while he acted a vast number of 
characters with success, will be best remembered 
by those who go back some thirty years ago, as 
" Mose," the fire boy. He was the talk of the 
town for two seasons or more when I first saw 
him he was extremely handsome. He was modest, 
too, and manly. These qualities are so rarely allied 
to beauty that Chanfrau comes back to my remem 
brance as quite a novelty. He had success enough 
to have turned his head, but he bore it bravely, so 
that he must have been as well poised in his mind 
as he was in his person. His imitations of For 
rest, the elder Booth, Macready, and Burton won 
him hosts of admirers. 

John T. Raymond, like Florence, J. S. Clarke, 
Owens, and myself, was known as a legitimate 
comedian. This is a somewhat technical term, 
usually applied to those actors who confine them 
selves as strictly as possible to the acting of char 
acters in old English and Shaksperean comedies. 




F. S. CHAN FRAU. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 421 

Raymond was also, like those actors previously 
mentioned, a creator of American characters. He 
appeared as Ichabod Crane in a dramatization 
of Washington Irving s "Wolfert s Roost," and 
also as Col. Sellers in Mark Twain s " Gilded 
Age." The latter character he acted with great 
success for many seasons in this country, though 
the play failed to create any enthusiasm in Eng 
land. 

I preferred him in his acting of Ichabod Crane. 
It was a quaint and strong performance ; his love 
scene with Katrina was acted in the best spirit of 
comedy; the serio-comic expression that he threw 
into this woe-begone, love-sick swain was irresist 
ibly droll. Raymond was energetic and industri 
ous, acting up to the very night before his death. 

I saw McCuIlough act but once, and then he was 
ill, so that I could scarcely give a fair judgment of 
his talent He was undoubtedly a great favorite 
with the public, and much admired by his friends 
both as a man and an acton The loss of his mind 
in the very prime of his life was a mystery that 
medical skill was unable to account for* From a 
gentle, yielding nature he changed completely, and 
at times became quite violent. His career as a 
tragedian was most prosperous, and he died leav 
ing hosts of friends and admirers. 

The Lester Wallack Testimonial, which was 
given at the Metropolitan Opera House on the 
evening of Monday, May 21, 1888, brought 
together a number of actors so celebrated that I 

desire to chronicle the cast in these pages. The 

27 * 



422 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

play on this occasion was " Hamlet," and the 
distribution of characters was as follows : 

Hamlet EDWIN BOOTH. 

Ghost LAWRENCE BARRETT. 

King Claudius FRANK MAYO. 

Polonius JOHN GILBERT. 

Laertes EBEN PLYMPTON. 

Horatio JOHN A. LANE. 

Rosencrantz CHARLES HANFORD. 

Guildenstern LAWRENCE HANLEY. 

Osric CHARLES KOEHLER. 

Marcellus EDWIN H. VANDERFELT. 

Bernardo HERBERT KELCEY. 

Francisco FRANK MORDAUNT. 

ist Actor JOSEPH WHEELOCK. 

id " MILNES LEVICK. 

is? Gravedigger JOSEPH JEFFERSON. 

2d " W. J. FLORENCE. 

Priest HARRY EDWARDS. 

Ophelia HELENA MODJESKA. 

Queen GERTRUDE KELLOGG. 

Player Queen ROSE COGHLAN. 

On the bill of the play were printed the names 
of about one hundred and forty actors and actresses 
who volunteered as auxiliaries. 

The reception to those who volunteered to act 
was most cordial ; and when Mr. Wallack re 
sponded to a universal call he did so in well- 
chosen words ; and as he retired from the stage 
his audience, who seemed to be composed of old 
friends, applauded as though they were bidding 
him adieu for the last time; and so, indeed, it 
turned out to be. 

In dealing freely, and I hope fairly, with the 
players of the past, I have, for obvious reasons, 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 423 

refrained from passing judgment on the actors of 
the present I belong to the latter group, and have 
therefore no right to criticize it. There are many 
both in England and America that I would be 
pleased to praise and praise highly, but in doing 
this I should tacitly censure others, and this is not 
my mission. The first group have passed by, but 
we are before the public, which alone has the right 
to pass judgment. Besides, actors are not by any 
means the best judges of acting; we have our 
prejudices, which naturally bias fair criticism ; and, 
in referring to the past history of the stage, I find 
that all actors of genius and originality have given 
great offense to the conventional school that their 
brilliancy disturbed. Quin said of Garrick, " If 
he is right, then we are all wrong"; the Kembles 
were shocked at the fire of Edmund Kean ; and so 
it has gone on, and ever will. 

Original painters seem to suffer still more than 
actors, and I honestly believe it is because artists 
are at the heads of the academies, where they sit 
in judgment and at times denounce the work of an 
original painter, refusing to hang his picture be 
cause he has had the courage to be unconventional. 
Corot and Millet were for years refused admittance 
to the Salon, and are striking proofs of the unfair 
ness or prejudice of their brother artists ; and it is 
quite likely if actors and authors sat in judgment 
on their kind that many original actors and authors 
would be tabooed ; but fortunately the great public 
gets at them first and praises or condemns un 
biased by professional jealousies. The painter has 



424 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

no such advantage ; before his work can reach the 
public it must be filtered through the judgment of 
his brother artists of the Academy; -if they are 
conventional (as they generally are), he is doomed 
to obscurity. Corot was fifty years old before his 
work was honored by a place in the Salon, and he 
did not sell a picture until he was past that age. 
After the first sale had been made, the dear old 
man said to his friends, "Well, I have sold a 
picture ; but I am sorry for it, for now my collec 
tion is incomplete." 

We have, I think, a natural tendency to dignify 
the events of the past beyond their deserts, and 
so we often throw a glamour of excellence over 
departed actors which we would not accord to 
them if they were here. This, of course, is 
erring upon the safe side. The only danger is 
that our reverence may at times cause us to dis 
parage the good qualities of those who are among 
us. Dramatic affairs, too, have undergone a 
change that renders a fair judgment almost im 
possible. For instance, the actors of, say, forty 
years ago rarely visited the smaller cities: they 
were concentrated in the larger ones; but now 
the demand for dramatic excellence is so great, 
and the facilities for travel are so extended, that 
the same amount of talent is diffused all over the 
world; so we are apt to fancy that it does not 
exist because it is not with us. If all the great 
actors of to-day were concentrated into a few 
companies as was formerly the case, we would be 
amazed at the entertainment they would give us. 




MRS. BARNEY WILLIAMS 



CHAPTER XVI 

REFLECTIONS ON THE ART OF ACTING 

The Dramatic Instinct Spontaneity and Prepara 
tion Rehearsals A Warm Heart and a Cool 
Head Taking Time Advice to Beginners 
Remarks suggested by "Rip Van Winkle" 
Realism and Idealism Dramatic Writing 

DRAMATIC instinct is inherent throughout the 
human family. Savages, even of the low 
est type, are never so enthusiastic as when 
they indulge in ceremonies representing death and 
destruction. They will start upon an ideal warpath, 
suddenly stopping to scalp an imaginary enemy. 
The New Zealanders, who both physically and 
intellectually are far above the ordinary savage, are 
excellent in pantomimic action. They will even 
act scenes and crudely represent historical tradi 
tions of their tribe. 

Watch the little boy in frocks not two years 
old. If you would delight him, fold a piece of 
paper in the shape of a cocked hat, pop it on his 
head, then give him a stick, and in a moment the 

425 



426 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

little fellow will straighten up and begin to march 
about, pretending that he is a soldier. If in 
another year you supply him with shovel and 
wheelbarrow you will see him trudge off, joining 
others of his own age who are building embank 
ments or digging canals, and calling one another 
by names that do not belong to them, acting and 
pretending that they are somebody else. A group 
of little girls will not have been in the room to 
gether twenty minutes before one will play lady, as 
if she had just called, and another pretend she is 
the hostess, and the smallest of all act mother, and 
nurse her doll with loving care. After a time the 
grown-up people in the room will draw one an 
other s attention to this little drama, and, not wish 
ing to interrupt the play, will quietly nudge their 
neighbors and nod approvingly. 

The lawyer often clears his guilty client by de 
picting the sorrow of a family who will be stricken 
with grief if the jury should convict. The influ 
ence of the stage has crept into the pulpit, which 
to-day contains some of the finest actors of our 
time. 

Here then we have evidence not only that this 
dramatic instinct pervades all classes of humanity, 
but that its possessors insist upon displaying their 
artistic qualities. And the encouragement of this 
desire is as universal as the gift; for theaters, 
opera-houses, lecture-rooms, and churches all over 
the world are filled with eager audiences anxious 
to witness any and all brilliant dramatic achieve 
ments. The demand, too, is increasing. Half a 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 427 

century ago there were but few good theaters in 
America, and even these were badly lighted, poorly 
heated, and indifferently appointed. In many of 
the small towns the only places used for dramatic 
entertainments were the dining-rooms of the hotels, 
from which, after tea, the tables were removed and 
the chairs set back that the play might be acted. 
Now, in nearly all of the new and rising cities, the 
theater or the opera-house is centrally located ; and 
it is generally the finest building, both in point of 
size and architecture, to be seen heated with 
steam, lighted by electricity, and provided with 
every comfort. Within these temples, actors, 
opera-singers, minstrels, and ministers hold forth, 
and the same audience goes to hear them all. The 
desire for dramatic entertainment has resolved 
itself into a tidal wave that nothing can stop, par 
ticularly as there is no desire to impede it. It has 
not the fleeting character of a political movement 
that might change with the new influence of the 
next Administration; it belongs to no party; it 
is born of no sect ; but it is the outcome of a uni 
versal passion. 

Naturally, other members of my profession have 
given as much consideration to matters connected 
with their art as I have perhaps more. It is 
therefore likely that a few may think as I do, 
many may differ with me, though possibly some 
may not have thought about the matter at all. 

If I err I shall be glad to throw off my pre 
conceived ideas and adopt other, better, and 
newer methods. In fact, I have already dis- 



428 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

carded many pet theories, and, as I have grown 
older and more experienced, have been taught 
by my own observations and the successful 
achievements of others that there is always 
room for reform. 

Acting has been so much a part of my life 
that my autobiography could scarcely be written 
without jotting down my reflections upon it, and 
I merely make this little preparatory explanation 
to apologize for any dogmatic tone that they may 
possess, and to say that I present them merely as 
a seeker after truth in the domain of art. 

In admitting the analogy that undoubtedly 
exists between the arts of painting, poetry, music, 
and acting, it should be remembered that the 
three former are opposed to the latter, in at 
least the one quality of permanence. The pic 
ture, oratorio, or book must bear the test of 
calculating criticism, whereas the work of an 
actor is fleeting: it not only dies with him, but, 
through his different moods, may vary from night 
to night. If the performance be indifferent it is 
no consolation for the audience to hear that the 
player acted well last night, or to be told that he 
will act better to-morrow night; it is this night 
that the public has to deal with, and the impression 
the actor has made, good or bad, remains as such 
upon the mind of that particular audience. 

The author, painter, or musician, if he be dis 
satisfied with his work, may alter and perfect it 
before giving it publicity, but an actor cannot 
rub out; he ought, therefore, in justice to his 




JOHN DREW AS "THE IRISH EMIGRANT." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 429 

audience, to be sure of what he is going to 
place before it. Should a picture in an art gal 
lery be carelessly painted we can pass on to 
another, or if a book fails to please us we can 
put it down. An escape from this kind of dullness 
is easily made, but in a theater the auditor is 
imprisoned. If the acting be indifferent, he must 
endure it, at least for a time. He cannot with 
draw without making himself conspicuous; so he 
remains, hoping that there may be some im 
provement as the play proceeds, or perhaps from 
consideration for the company he is in. It is this 
helpless condition that renders careless acting so 
offensive. 

The supremacy in both the writing and acting of 
comedy has been for many years accorded to the 
French stage. My opinion upon this subject will 
be of little value. An American comedian acting 
only in the English language could scarcely speak 
with confidence on this subject unless he under 
stood and spoke the French language as well as the 
French actors themselves. In tragedy the matter 
would be quite different. The expressions of love, 
jealousy, hate, revenge, pride, madness, or despair 
are so pronounced in tragedy that we can judge of 
their intensity and effect in any language. Com 
edy has but little to do with the violent exhibition 
of these passions. Its effects are more subtile and 
depend much upon minute detail accompanied by 
slight but most important inflections of the voice, 
and by delicate pantomime. No one not thoroughly 
and practically acquainted with the French Ian- 



430 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

guage could offer a fair opinion upon French act 
ing. I can only say that I saw much of French 
comedy in France and was delighted with it. Its 
grace and finish were quite perfect, and in acting 
their own comedy I should say that the comedians 
were exceptionally fine ; but, with all their excel 
lence, there is one glaring fault which I think I 
may venture to express condemnation of, no mat 
ter in what language it occurs, and which I think 
they themselves could hardly defend I mean the 
unnatural trick of speaking soliloquy and side 
speeches directly to the audience. We should act 
for the audience, not to the audience. 

To appeal every now and then to the front of the 
theater for recognition is an exhibition of weakness. 
An actor who cannot speak a speech with his 
back to the audience when the situation demands 
it has much to learn. As soon as we acknowledge 
the presence of the public we dispel its attention 
and ruin its enjoyment. We were forced to do 
this in the days when we were his Majesty s ser 
vants, and when it was considered disrespectful to 
turn our backs on royalty. How absurd to see a 
courtier present a document at the foot of the 
throne in the play and sidle up the stage with his 
back to the mimic king because the real article is 
in the royal box ! 

I have seen impulsive actors who were so confi 
dent of their power that they left all to chance. 
This is a dangerous course, especially when acting 
a new character. I will admit that there are many 
instances where great effects have been produced 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 431 

that were entirely spontaneous, and were as much 
a surprise to the actors who made them as they 
were to the audience that witnessed them ; but just 
as individuals who have exuberant spirits are at 
times dreadfully depressed, so when an impulsive 
actor fails to receive his inspiration he is dull 
indeed, and is the more disappointing because of 
his former brilliant achievements. 

In the stage-management of a play, or in the act 
ing of a part, nothing should be left to chance, and 
for the reason that spontaneity, inspiration, or what 
ever this -strange and delightful quality may be 
called, is not to be commanded, or we should give 
it some other name. It is, therefore, better that a 
clear and unmistakable outline of a character should 
be drawn before an actor undertakes a new part. 
If he has a well-ordered and an artistic mind it 
is likely that he will give at least a symmetrical 
and effective performance; but should he make 
no definite* arrangement, and depend upon our 
ghostly friends Spontaneity and Inspiration to 
pay him a visit, and should they decline to call, 
the actor will be in a maze and his audience in 
a muddle. 

Besides, why not prepare to receive our mys 
terious friends whether they come or not ? If they 
fail on such an invitation we can at least entertain 
our other guests without them ; and if they do ap 
pear, our preconceived arrangements will give them 
a better welcome and put them more at ease. 

Acting under these purely artificial conditions 
will necessarily be cold, but the care with which 



432 T^E AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

the part is given will at least render it inoffensive ; 
they are, therefore, primary considerations, and not 
to be despised. The exhibition of artistic care, how 
ever, does not alone constitute great acting. The 
inspired warmth of passion in tragedy and the 
sudden glow of humor in comedy cover the artifi 
cial framework with an impenetrable veil: this is 
the very climax of great art, for which there seems 
to be no other name but genius. It is then, and 
then only, that an audience feels that it is in the 
presence of a reality rather than a fiction. To an 
audience an ounce of genius has more weight than 
a ton of talent ; for though it respects the latter, it 
reverences the former. But the creative power, 
divine as it may be, should in common gratitude 
pay due regard to the reflective ; for Art is the 
handmaid of Genius, and only asks the modest 
wages of respectful consideration in payment for 
her valuable services. A splendid torrent of genius 
ought never to be checked, but it should be wisely 
guided into the deep channel of the stream from 
whose surface it will then reflect Nature without a 
ripple. Genius dyes the hues that resemble those 
of the rainbow ; Art fixes the colors that they may 
stand. In the race for fame purely artificial actors 
cannot hope to win against those whose genius is 
guided by their art; and, on the other hand, Intui 
tion must not complain if, unbridled or with too 
loose a rein, it stumbles on the course, and so al 
lows a well-ridden hack to distance it. 

Very numerous rehearsals are not always neces 
sary to attain perfection ; on the contrary, it is the 




JOHN T. RAYMOND AS < COL. SELLERS." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 433 

quality, not the quantity, that is important. Tedious 
preparation day after day will sometimes pall upon 
a company of actors, who, wearied by constant repe 
tition, lose the freshness with which their perform 
ance should be given ; and that quality once lost is 
seldom regained. It is vain for a manager to argue 
that he pays the actor for his time and attention. He 
has a perfect right to these, certainly ; but the feel 
ing and enthusiasm with which the time and atten 
tion should be given he can no more command than 
he can alter the human nature of his company. 

Just as an early impression is the most indelible, 
so the first rehearsal is the most important, and 
being so should never be called until the author 
and stage-manager shall have fully digested their 
plans and thoroughly understand what they intend 
to do. This course not only saves labor but begets 
the respect of the company, who feel that their 
time will not be wasted and that they are in the 
hands of patient and conscientious directors. 

It is the time-honored excuse of some actors 
that they cannot study a part until they have 
rehearsed it, forgetting that it is not possible to 
rehearse properly until they are perfect in the 
words. A part is more easily studied after a 
rehearsal of it, certainly ; but I am not discussing 
ease, remember, but propriety. How can we 
watch the action and progress of the play if 
our eyes are bent upon the book? It is merely 
a bad habit, and one that has grown out of a 
desire that some people have to shirk their duty; 
being naturally inclined to procrastination they 
28 



434 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

shelter themselves under this weak and conven 
tional excuse. 

Usually the scenery and properties of a play are 
brought into requisition during the later rehearsals, 
and increased in detail till they culminate at the 
last rehearsal. 

This is working from the wrong direction. It is 
at the first rehearsal that these adjuncts should 
be used, and if they are not ready substitutes 
should be put in their places; for if the set of 
the scene, the chairs, tables, and other mechanical 
arrangements are placed upon the stage for an 
initial rehearsal, the manager and the actors 
know then and ever afterwards where to find 
them and how to arrange their groupings, exits, 
entrances, and stage business in accordance with 
the position of these useful materials ; but if, after 
all the stage business has been arranged, the 
company suddenly find at the last rehearsal that 
chairs, tables, seats, etc. are met upon the stage 
in unexpected places, they become obstacles to the 
actors instead of adjuncts, 

I do not mean to say that the entire business of 
a play can be arranged at the first rehearsal. New 
ideas continually crop up during the early stages 
of preparation which upon consideration may be 
more valuable than the original ones, and actors 
may have suggestions to make, the effect of which 
had not struck the author. But while a good 
general shows his genius best when dealing with 
an emergency, he does not disdain to plan the 
battle before the action takes place. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 435 

Better have no rehearsal at all than one that is 
long, rambling, and careless: a clearly cut and 
perfectly defined outline gives precision and finish 
to the work. If it were possible the pantomime 
and action of a play should reveal its meaning to 
an audience without the aid of dialogue; this 
would give force to the language and enable those 
who do not catch all the words fully to comprehend 
their meaning. 

An audience should understand what the actors 
are doing if it does not hear all that they are 
saying. It is eager to do this, and quite competent, 
if we only give it a fair opportunity ; but inartic 
ulate delivery and careless pantomime will not 
suffice. 

We must not mistake vagueness for suggestion, 
and imagine that because we understand the mat 
ter we are necessarily conveying it to others. 
Sheridan, in his extravaganza of " The Critic ; or, 
a Tragedy Rehearsed," gives a humorous illustra 
tion of this error. During the rehearsal of Mr. 
Puff s play the character of Lord Burleigh enters, 
walking slowly and majestically down to the foot 
lights. The noble knight folds his arms, shakes 
his head solemnly, and then makes his exit without 
saying a word. 

"What does he mean by shaking his head in 
that manner?" asks Mr. Dangle, a theatrical 
critic. 

To which Mr. Puff replies : " Don t you know ? 
Why, by that shake of the head he gave you to 
understand that even though they had more jus- 



436 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

tice in their cause and more wisdom in their 
measures, yet, if there was not a greater spirit 
shown on the part of the people, the country 
would at last fall a sacrifice to the hostile ambition 
of the Spanish monarchy." 

"Did he mean all that by shaking his head?" 
asks Mr. Dangle. 

To which Mr. Puff replies, "Yes, sir; if he 
shook it as I told him." 

As this satire was written over a hundred years 
ago, it is quite evident that the vanity of vagueness 
is not a new histrionic development. 

And here the quality of permanence as allied to 
the other arts and not to acting presents itself. If 
we do not at first understand a great picture, a fine 
piece of music, or a poem, each of these, being tan 
gible, still remains ; so, should we desire it, we can 
familiarize ourselves with it, and as we grow older 
and become more highly cultivated we will under 
stand a school of art that was at first obscure. But 
there must be no vagueness in acting. The sug 
gestion should be unmistakable ; it must be leveled 
at the whole audience, and reach with unerring aim 
the boy in the gallery and the statesman in the 
stalls. 

A reminiscence of some forty years ago will 
serve to illustrate the value of careful preparation 
at rehearsal. 

The production at Burton s Theater of "Dombey 
and Son," dramatized by Mr. Brougham, was a curi 
ous combination of failure and success. Much was 
expected of Burton s Captain Cuttle, and to the 




JOHN* MCCULLOL GH AS " YIRGI XIUS." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 437 

surprise of the expectant critics and of Burton 
himself he did nothing with it. Brougham was 
equally dull as the two B s, Bunsby and Bagstock ; 
the hit of the piece, at least on its first production, 
was made by Oliver Raymond as Toots. This 
gentleman had been previously an obscure actor, 
but on making a success in a play wherein Burton 
had failed, he came to the front at once and was 
the lion of the hour. 

Burton s failure as Cuttle was easily accounted 
for. He had studied the character carelessly, and 
not only was imperfect in the text but had been 
absent from many of the rehearsals, relying too 
much upon his great powers and the spontaneity 
of his dramatic resources. He was usually able to 
command them, but during the first run of this piece 
they played him truant. Dismayed at his own 
failure and mortified at young Raymond s success, 
the manager took the drama from the bills and 
substituted another programme. Not satisfied with 
Brougham s adaptation, for the novel had been 
badly dramatized, he and the adapter worked 
together to reconstruct the play. 

The great comedian now set himself seriously to 
work on the character, perfecting himself in the 
words, and amplifying the .part by the introduction 
of stage-business and by-play. In this kind of in 
genious elaboration he was a master, and clearly 
proved it on the revival of the discarded play. His 
performance was in magnificent condition when I 
witnessed it, and who that ever saw Burton as 
Captain Cuttle, Mariner^ can ever forget it ? What 



438 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

expression ! what breadth ! what humor ! and what 
tenderness ! 

In the scene with Florence Dombey where he is 
trying to reveal to her that her lover, supposed to 
be drowned, was rescued, he sits awkwardly shift 
ing his position from side to side, puffs his pipe, and 
tells his tale, letting the story go from him little by 
little and hauling it back lest the joyful tidings 
should be too great a shock, his fat face drawn 
down with serio-comic emotion, his eyes protruding 
in a solemn, stupid stare, and his utterance choked 
with tears that seem to force themselves out and 
mingle with the smoke. As the door bursts open 
and the returned lover clasps his sweetheart in 
his arms, the captain jumps from his seat, cocks 
his tarpaulin hat over his eyes, folds his arms 
tightly, and, trying to whistle a tune, bursts into 
tears and dances a sailor s hornpipe around the 
loving couple. I had heard of his missing the 
part at first ; but he was in the height of his triumph 
when I saw the performance, and it was amazing to 
see into what a superb success he had elaborated 
a failure. 

If any proofs were wanting that an actor, no 
matter how great, should arrange the mechanical 
details of his work before he presents It to the 
public, the failure and ultimate success of Burton s 
Captain Cuttle offer sufficient evidence. Here 
stood an actor to whom dramatic genius was 
universally accorded. Yet even he had been 
taught a lesson, and learned not to place too 
much confidence in the spur of the moment. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 439 

Much has been written upon the question as to 
whether an actor ought to feel the character he acts 
or be dead to any sensations in this direction. Ex 
cellent artists differ in their opinions on this impor 
tant point. In discussing it I must refer to some 
words I wrote in one of the early chapters of this 
book: 

The methods by which actors arrive at great effects vary ac 
cording to their own natures ; this renders the teaching of the 
art by any strictly defined lines a difficult matter. 

There has lately been a discussion on the sub 
ject, in which many have taken part, and one quite 
notable debate between two distinguished actors, 
one of the English and the other of the French 
stage. These gentlemen, though they differ en 
tirely in their ideas, are, nevertheless, equally right. 
The method of one, I have no doubt, is the best he 
could possibly devise for himself; and the same 
may be said of the rules of the other as applied to 
himself. But they must work with their own tools; 
if they had to adopt each other s they would be as 
much confused as if compelled to exchange lan 
guages. One believes that he must feel the char 
acter he plays, even to the shedding of real tears, 
while the other prefers never to lose himself for 
an instant, and there is no doubt that they both 
act with more effect by adhering to their own 
dogmas. 

For myself, I know that I act best when the 
heart is warm and the head is cool. In observing 
the works of great painters I find that they have 



440 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

no conventionalities except their own ; hence they 
are masters, and each is at the head of his own 
school. They are original, and could not imitate 
even if they would. 

So with acting, no master-hand can prescribe 
rules for the head of another school. If, then, I 
appear bold in putting forth my suggestions, I de 
sire it to be clearly understood that I do not present 
them to original or experienced artists who have 
formed their school, but to the student who may 
have a temperament akin to my own, and who 
could, therefore, blend my methods with his pre 
conceived ideas. 

I think it is generally conceded that imitators 
are seldom fine actors, though they are usually 
great favorites with the public. I confess that I 
enjoy the exhibitions of this kind of talent exceed 
ingly. There is something very attractive and 
even strange to see one man display the voice, 
manner, and expression of another particularly 
if that other be not yourself. We may enjoy the 
imitation of our dearest friends, but our smiles 
vanish and our faces elongate if the mimic attempts 
to give "a counterfeit presentment" of the party 
of the first part. I have heroically tried on sev 
eral occasions to enjoy imitations of myself, but 
have never succeeded. These ingenious tran 
scripts contain a slight touch of ridicule that always 
offends the original. An anecdote of Mr. Buck- 
stone, the English comedian, will serve to illustrate 
what I have said. He was an actor whose man 
nerisms were so marked that they infused them- 




J. B. BUCKSTONE. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 441 

selves through all the characters he played. He 
was undoubtedly humorous, or, more properly 
speaking, funny; but whether he acted Sir An 
drew Aguecheek or Cousin Joe he seemed to have 
no power of embodying the character rendering 
each of them with the same voice, manner, and 
attitude ; consequently, he was an admirable sub 
ject for imitation. 

At the close of a dinner party he had been 
given to understand that there was a person 
present who gave an excellent imitation of him 
self. Buckstone at once desired the gentleman 
to let the company have a test of his quality. 
The gentleman politely declined, saying that he 
might give offense ; but the comedian would not 
let him off, insisted on the exhibition, and, rubbing 
his hands together with great glee, settled him 
self down for unlimited enjoyment The imitator, 
seeing that there was no escape, arose, and amid 
breathless silence began. His hit was immense, 
and as he sat down the guests broke forth in loud 
laughter and applause : the whole table was in a 
roar of merriment; every one was in ecstasy 
except Buckstone, who looked the picture of 
misery. 

" Well, Mr. Buckstone," exclaimed a wag % who 
was quietly enjoying the comedian s discomfiture, 
" don t you think the imitation very fine ? " 

" It may be," he replied, "but I think I could do 
it better myself." 

Acting is more a gift than an art. I have seen a 
child impress an audience by its natural grace and 



442 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

magnetism. The little creature was too young to 
know what art meant, but it had the gift of acting. 
The great value of art when applied to the stage 
is that it enables the performer to reproduce the 
gift, and so move his audience night after night, 
even though he has acted the same character a 
thousand times. In fact, we cannot act a character 
too often, if we do not lose interest in it. But 
when its constant repetition palls on the actor it 
will as surely weary his audience. When you 
lose interest stop acting. 

This loss of interest on the part of the actor may 
not be visible in the action or pantomime ; but 
unless care and judgment are observed it will 
assuredly betray itself in the delivery of the lan 
guage, and more particularly in the long speeches 
and soliloquies. In dialogue the spirit of the other 
actors serves to stimulate and keep him up ; but 
when alone, and unaided by the eye and presence 
of a companion, the old story fails to kindle the 
fire. An anecdote of Macready that I heard many 
years ago throws a flood of light upon this subject; 
and as I think it too important a one to remain 
in obscurity I will relate it as I got it from Mr. 
Couldock, and then refer to its influence upon 
myself and the means I used to profit by it. The 
incident occurred in Birmingham, England, some 
forty years ago* The narrator was present and 
naturally listened with interest to a conversation 
upon art between two such able exponents of it 
as Mr. Macready and Mrs. Warner. What they 
said referred to an important scene in the tragedy 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 443 

of "Werner/ 1 which had been acted the evening 
before. 

Mr. Macready, it seems, had much respect for 
Mrs. Warner s judgment in matters relating to the 
stage, and desired to consult her on the merits and 
demerits of the preceding evening s performance. 
As nearly as can be remembered, his question and 
her reply were as follows : 

"My dear madam," said Macready, "you have 
acted with me in the tragedy of * Werner ? for many 
years, and naturally must be very familiar with it 
and with my manner of acting that character. I 
have noticed lately, and more particularly last 
evening, that some of the passages in the play do 
not produce the effect that they formerly did. 
There is a certain speech especially that seems to 
have lost its power. I refer to the one wherein 
Werner excuses himself to his son for the petty 
plunder of Stralenkeim s gold. In our earlier 
performances, if you remember, this apology was 
received with marked favor, and, as you must have 
observed, last evening it produced no apparent 
effect ; can you form any idea why this should be ? 
Is it that the audience has grown too familiar with 
the story? I must beg you to be candid with me. 
I shall not be offended by any adverse criticism you 
may make, should you say that the fault is with me." 

"Well, Mr. Macready, since you desire that I 
should speak plainly," said Mrs. Warner, "I do 
not think it is because your audience is too fa 
miliar with the story, but because you are too 
familiar with it yourself." 



444 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

"I thank you, madam," said Macready ; "but 
how does this mar the effect of the speech ? " 

"Thus," said Mrs. Warner. "When you spoke 
that speech ten years ago there was a surprise 
in your face as though you then only realized 
what you had done. You looked shocked and 
bewildered, and in a forlorn way seemed to cast 
about for words that would excuse the crime ; 
and all this with a depth of feeling and sincerity 
that would naturally come from an honest man who 
had been for the first time in his life accused of 
theft." 

" That is as it should be given," said Macready. 
" And now, madam ? " 

"You speak it," said his frank critic, "like one 
who has committed a great many thefts in his life, 
and whose glib excuses are so pat and frequent 
that he is neither shocked, surprised, nor abashed 
at the accusation." 

" I thank you, madam," said the old actor. " The 
distinction may appear at first as a nice one, but 
there is much in it." 

When I heard the story from Mr. Couldock it 
struck me with much force. I knew then that I 
had been unconsciously falling into the same error, 
and I felt that the fault would increase rather than 
diminish with time if I could not hit upon some 
method to check it. I began by listening to each 
important question as though it had been given 
for the first time, turning the query over in my 
mind and then answering it, even at times hesi 
tating as if for want of words to frame the reply. 




SARAH STEVENS. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 445 

I will admit that this is dangerous ground and apt 
to render one slow and prosy ; in fact, I was 
accused, and I dare say quite justly, of pausing 
too long. This, of course, was the other extreme 
and had to be looked to, so that it became neces 
sary that the pauses should, by the manner and 
pantomime, be made sufficiently interesting not to 
weary an audience ; so I summed it up somewhat 
after the advice of Mr. Lewes to take time with 
out appearing to take time. 

It is the freshness, the spontaneity, of acting that 
charms. How can a weary brain produce this 
quality? Show me a tired actor and I will show 
you a dull audience. They may go in crowds to 
see him, and sit patiently through his perform 
ance. They have heard that he is great, they 
may even know it from past experience; so they 
accept the indifferent art, thinking, perhaps, that 
they are to blame for a lack of enthusiasm. 

Pantomimic action, unless it is in perfect har 
mony with the scene, is fatal to the effect of a deli 
cate point If the situation be a violent one, such 
as the preparation for battle in " Richard," or where 
Hamlet s uncle rises from his seat in the play 
scene, dismissing the audience, the situation 
being pronounced and the action strong, indiffer 
ent pantomime upon the part of the actors might 
not be noticed in the bustle and excitement. 
But, to exemplify my meaning, let us take a point 
where the audience is called upon, not for enthusi 
astic applause but for rapt attention ; where the 
situation is so subtile that the head bowed slowly 



446 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

down, or a movement of the eye, will reveal the 
meaning. Now, at this critical point, if one of 
the actors should even remove his hat, or unmean 
ingly shift his position, he will destroy the effect. 
The finer the acting the more easily the effect is 
destroyed, just as a scratch will disfigure a polished 
surface that would not show on the face of a cob 
blestone. 

The audience cannot look in two places at once ; 
the eye is such a tyrant that it distracts from the 
subject "then necessary to be considered," direct 
ing the attention to a useless and intrusive move 
ment The value of repose is so great that it is 
difficult to estimate it. 

At rehearsal the amateur having finished his 
speech invariably asks the stage-manager what 
he should do next. As soon as he ceases to be the 
interesting figure he should observe the action of 
the other characters ; this is the most natural by 
play and the least likely to do harm. It acts like 
the distance in a picture, which, by being subdued, 
gives strength to the foreground. But the tyro is 
generally fearful that he will fail to attract atten 
tion, whereas obscurity instead of prominence may 
at that time be the most desirable. To do nothing 
upon the stage seems quite simple, but some people 
never acquire this negative capacity. 

It is David s speech (in " The Rivals ") that terri 
fies Acres. How could an audience get the full value 
of what David says if they were looking at the face 
of Acres? The two characters would conflict with 
each other, and so rob the picture of clearness. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 447 

But if Acres here will subdue his personality and 
sink, as it were, into the background, the audience 
will get the full force of what David says, and 
become as perfectly saturated with its meaning 
as Acres himself. Now see how fully they are 
prepared to receive the expression of fear from 
the latter. After David s scene is over, Acres 
has the audience at his full command the slight 
est suggestion from him is taken up at once. 
They know his character and realize his position as 
vividly as he does himself; it is because they have 
had the full and uninterrupted benefit of the previous 
scene. If, during David s speech, I, as Acres, show 
my face to the audience or pull out my handker 
chief and weep, I might gain a temporary advan 
tage, but I should weaken David, and in the end 
mar the effect of my own character ; and, believe 
me, an audience is always grateful to an actor who 
directs its attention the right way. The traveler 
thanks the truthful finger-post, but never forgives 
the rascal who has misdirected him. 

Nothing in art is more distressing than to see 
an actor attract the attention of the audience, 
from an interesting point in the performance, by 
the introduction of some unimportant by -play. 
At times this is done from ignorance, but, I 
regret to say, often through jealousy. This un 
fair spirit reflects back upon the guilty party, 
for the public resent it quietly while the offender 
least suspects it : their enjoyment has been marred, 
and the obnoxious cause of it has only consoled 
them by a display of unmeaning activity; they 



448 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

refuse this rubbish and inwardly mark the indi 
vidual who has had the impertinence to offer it. 
But as two pigs under a gate make more noise 
than one, it is still worse to see a pair of ranters 
or a couple of buffoons trying to outdo each other. 
There is but one recompense ; they are both 
self-slaughtered in the conflict, 

As two spent swimmers, that do cling together, 
And choke their art. 

Many instructors in the dramatic art fall into 
the error of teaching too much. The pupil should 
first be allowed to exhibit his quality, and so teach 
the teacher what to teach. This course would 
answer the double purpose of first revealing how 
much the pupil is capable of learning, and, what is 
still more important, of permitting him to display 
his powers untrammeled. Whereas, if the master 
begins by pounding his dogmas into the student, 
the latter becomes environed by a foreign influence 
which, if repugnant to his nature, may smother 
his ability. 

It is necessary to be cautious in studying elocu 
tion and gesticulation, lest they become our masters 
instead of our servants. These necessary but dan 
gerous ingredients must be administered and taken 
in homeopathic doses, or the patient may die by 
being over-stimulated. But even at the risk 
of being artificial, it is better to have studied 
these arbitrary rules than to enter a profession 
with no knowledge whatever of its mechanism. 
Dramatic instinct is so implanted in humanity 




CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 449 

that it sometimes misleads us, fostering the idea 
that because we have the natural talent within, 
we are equally endowed with the power of 
bringing it out. This is the common error, the 
rock on which the histrionic aspirant is oftenest 
wrecked. Very few actors succeed who crawl into 
the service through "the cabin windows"; and 
if they do it is a lifelong regret with them that 
they did not exert their courage and sail at first 
" before the mast." 

Many of the shining lights who now occupy the 
highest positions on the stage, and whom the public 
voice delights to praise, have often appeared in the 
dreaded character of "omnes," marched in proces 
sions, sung out of tune in choruses, and shouted 
themselves hoarse for Briitus and Mark Antony. 

If necessity is the mother of invention, she is 
the foster-mother of art, for the greatest actors 
that ever lived have drawn their early nourish 
ment from her breast. We learn our profession 
by the mortifications we are compelled to go 
through in order to get a living. The sons and 
daughters of wealthy parents who have money 
at their command, and can settle their weekly 
expenses without the assistance of the box-office, 
indignantly refuse to lower themselves by assum 
ing some subordinate character for which they are 
cast, and march home because their fathers and 
mothers will take care of them. Well, they had 
better stay there! 

If Edmund Kean had been wealthy the chances 
are that he never would have submitted to the 



450 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

insults of the manager and some of the actors 
during the memorable rehearsal at Drury Lane 
Theater. He perhaps would have broken his 
engagement and retired from the stage in dis 
gust; but half-starved and threadbare, his loved 
wife and child living in a garret, he had a noble 
motive to stimulate his power, and I believe that 
Kean on the night of his first appearance in 
London was a greater actor than he had ever 
been before. His situation was desperate, and 
aroused the slumbering genius within him. The 
whole history of that eventful night impresses 
one with the idea that he himself was surprised 
at what he did. 

Fitzgerald, in his admirable " Romance of the 
English Stage," says that " Kean had a gallant 
confidence in himself all through." There is 
nothing in the story that implies this. He had 
courage, no doubt, or he could not have made 
the effort; but it was fitful and uncertain. Genius 
is seldom confident. Fitzgerald himself quotes 
the last words Kean said as he left his house 
for the theater. " He kissed his wife and infant 
son, and muttered, I wish I were going to be 
shot. " There is no confidence in these terrible 
words. They show the brave nature of the man 
because he was not confident Who can say how 
fervently he may have prayed as he trudged 
through the dark, wet streets, with a beating 
heart and a nervous foreboding of disaster in 
the approaching trial. His hit was tremendous, 
and, when the manager congratulated him on 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 451 

his wonderful success, in Kean s own description 
of the event he said, "The pit rose at me." This 
sounds confident, I admit; but the remark was made 
after the battle was won. 

The whole picture is more interesting and truth 
ful when we view the man as being fully alive to the 
danger of the situation and apprehensive lest the 
invisible genius within him should fail to appear. 
When this mysterious influence, which comes un 
bidden, burst forth at the theater that night, the 
public were amazed, the critics stunned, and Kean 
himself was surprised. No intellectual effort could 
have created this effect The source of genius 
is in the soul ; it seldom aims at the brains of 
the audience, but oftener shoots at their hearts 
through its own. It shrinks from assuming the 
arrogance that commands attention, and modestly 
invites it. 

But whether you are rich or poor, if you would 
be an actor begin at the beginning. This is the 
old conventional advice, and is as good now in its 
old age as it was in its youth. All actors will 
agree in this, and as Puff says, in " The Critic," 
"When they do agree on the stage the unanimity 
is wonderful." Enroll yourself as a " super" in 
some first-class theater, where there is a stock 
company and likely to be a periodical change of 
programme, so that even in your low degree the 
practice will be varied. After having posed a 
month as an innocent English rustic, you may, in 
the next play, have an opportunity of being a noble 
Roman, Do the little you have to do as well as 



452 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

you can ; if you are in earnest the stage-mana 
ger will soon notice it, and your advancement will 
begin at once. You have now made the plunge, 
the ice is broken ; there is no more degradation 
for you, and every step you take is forward. 

A great American statesman said, "There is 
always plenty of room at the top." So there is, 
Mr. Webster, after you get there. But we must 
climb, and climb slowly too, so that we can look 
back without any unpleasant sensations ; for if we 
are cast suddenly upon the giddy height, our heads 
will swim and down we go. Look also at the diffi 
culties that will beset you by beginning "at the 
top." In the first place, no manager in his senses 
will permit it ; and if he did, your failure which is 
almost inevitable not only will mortify you, but 
your future course for some time to come will be 
on the downward path. Then, in disgust, sore and 
disheartened, you will retire from the profession 
which perhaps your talents might have ornamented 
if they had been properly developed. 

While acting once in Boston I received a note 
from the publisher of "The Atlantic Monthly," to 
know if I would call at the publishing house to 
meet Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe. It seems the 
lady had been at the theater where I had acted the 
night before, and in a note to the publisher had 
expressed a desire to see me. We had a long and, 
to me, a very pleasant chat. In speaking of her 
visit to the theater she said she was struck by the 
scene in which Rip meets with his daughter, and 
that it reminded her of the situation between Lear 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "*R!P VAN WINKLE. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 453 

and Cordelia. I told her that the scene was un 
doubtedly modeled on the one from Shakspere, and 
perhaps the white hair and beard floating about 
the head of the old Knickerbocker had some share 
in this likeness. She said she was sure that I 
could play Lear. I was sorry to differ with a lady, 
but I told her I was quite sure that I could not. 

Shortly after this I met another lady of equal 
intelligence, who seemed much interested in Rip 
Van Winkle. Among the many questions she 
asked of me was how I could act the character 
so often and not tire of it. I told her that I had 
always been strangely interested in the part, and 
fearing that I might eventually grow weary of it, 
I had of late years so arranged my seasons that I 
played only a few months and took long spells 
of rest between them, but that my great stimulus, of 
course, was public approval, and the knowledge 
that it must cease if I flagged in my interest or 
neglected to give my entire attention to the work 
while it was progressing. 

"Another question, please. Why don t you have 
a dog in the play ? " 

I replied that I disliked realism in art, and realism 
alive, with a tail to wag at the wrong time, would 
be abominable. 

" But don t you think that the public would like 
to see Schneider? " 

"The public could not pay him a higher compli 
ment, for it shows how great an interest they take 
in an animal that has never been exhibited. No, 
no ; hold the mirror up to nature* if you like, but 



454 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

don t hold nature up a reflection of the thing, but 
not the thing itself. How badly would a drunken 
man give an exhibition of intoxication on the stage! 
Who shall act a madman but one who is perfectly 
sane? We must not be natural but appear to 
be "so." 

One question more, and I have done. Why 
do you not refuse the cup that Gretcken offers 
you at the end of the play ?" 

To which I replied : " Should Rip refuse the cup 
the drama would become at once a temperance 
play. This subject has both its adherents and its 
opponents, and has, moreover, of late become a 
political question. The action would have a local 
and even a modern flavor. I should as soon expect 
to hear of Cinderella striking for high wages or of 
a speech on woman s rights from old Mother Hub- 
bard as to listen to a temperance lecture from Rip 
Van Winkle ; it would take all the poetry and 
fairy-tale element completely out of it. I would 
prefer that the impression on the audience as the 
curtain falls should be suggestive, so that they 
might terminate it in a manner most agreeable to 
themselves. Let us not suppose in, the end that 
Rip and his wife get ill, send for the doctor, take 
pills, and die, but that they sit like Darby and Joan 
by the fireside and eventually go up the chimney 
in the smoke. If " Rip Van Winkle " had been 
treated in a realistic manner it never would have 
lived so long." 

What is called the moral drama is artificial and 
insincere, and I doubt if it ever taught a whole- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 455 

some lesson. Mr. Gough s mission was a different 
one from mine. In his entertainment he announced 
himself as a temperance lecturer. The audience 
were prepared to hear and approve of his views* 
In my case it would be a deception to announce a 
play and preach a sermon, and the very people 
who ask for it would consider it an impertinence 
if it had been gratuitously offered. 

The beautiful lessons contained in many of the 
plays of Shakspere are not thrust upon the 
audience. They are so delicately suggested that 
the listener takes the splendid truths and hugs 
them to his heart The great dramatist does not 
stand forth and dogmatically expound his views on 
acting, but mark with what modesty he shows us 
the way to tread. One of his characters, Ham 
let, has a play, and with kind consideration takes 
aside the actors who are to perform it and tells 
them how he would have his play delivered. 
These simple instructions, of not more than a 
dozen lines, contain the whole art of acting ; the 
player need go no further for instruction ; those 
who entangle themselves in a labyrinth of argu 
ments over the proper or improper way of 
rendering plays or characters can settle all their 
disputes by this little speech. 

Again, Polonius does not sermonize his audience. 
As his only son is leaving home, the youth kneels 
at his father s feet and asks a blessing: who 
would not wish that his boy should go through 
life freighted with such precepts ? These are the 
lessons that Shakspere has taught us, and this 



456 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

must surely be the way to teach them. So it 
would seem that Shakspere, in giving his lessons 
to the world, is like a kind father who when his 
son has been guilty of a grave offense, instead of 
storming at him in a temper, waits until the wrong 
is half forgotten, and then when they are the best of 
friends takes the little fellow on his knee and tells 
him for his own sake what he would have him do. 

Realism and idealism are important factors in 
the dramatic art. No one, I think, will question 
the fact that imagination has given us the highest 
dramatic compositions, and that it enters largely 
into the best form of acting ; and there is a strong 
belief that the introduction of realism in plays of a 
highly poetical character often goes far to weaken 
their effect. 

We are told by an authority that no one seems 
inclined to dispute that the judgments of the judi 
cious " should outweigh a whole theater of others "; 
but then who are in this case the " judicious " 
may it not be the many instead of the few ? 

That manager is unquestionably the most useful 
who entertains the greatest number when he does 
not degrade them, and certainly there is no degra 
dation in the realistic productions in question. So 
the matter stands just where it did ; the audience 
must decide which it prefers, and the actor must 
consider how far these introductions may assist or 
mar his work. 

It was my good fortune during the earlier part 
of my dramatic career to add the romantic story 
of "Rip Van Winkle" to my repertory, under 




J!..SEPH JEFFERSdN AS "KIP VAN WINKLE. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 457 

circumstances elsewhere related. I was attracted 
by the poetic nature of the legend, and en 
deavored to treat it in harmony with that feature. 
After acting it for many years I had various sug 
gestions made to me for elaborating the spectacular 
and scenic effects of the play, among which were 
the introduction of several fat old Knickerbockers 
smoking their long pipes and quarreling in Dutch, 
a large windmill with the sails to work, dairy 
maids with real cows, mechanical effects for the 
sudden and mysterious appearance and disappear 
ance of Hendrik Hudson s crew, and in the last 
act the Continental army with drums and fifes, a 
militia training, and the further introduction of 
patriotic speeches about American independence. 
So unreal a theme could not have been inter 
woven with all this realism without marring the 
play. If I were a stage-manager and were 
producing a plain, matter-of-fact nautical drama, 
where the characters are mere commonplace every 
day people, I would exert all my ingenuity in the 
invention of realistic effects. The ship should be 
perfectly modeled, the masts round, the sails can 
vas, and the coils of rope of undoubted veracity. 
On the village green I would place cottages built 
out and thatched with veritable straw, and the 
garlands of roses that hung from the May-pole 
should perfume the auditorium, if Lubin s extract 
of new mown hay could do the business ; but I 
should hesitate before I placed smoking hot joints 
on the banquet tables of "Macbeth." It does 
seem out of place that the audience should have 



458 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

their nostrils saluted with the odor of baked meat 
while they are gazing at the awful ghost of "the 
blood-boltered Banquo." According to this view 
of the subject, realism should halt before it 
trenches upon or vulgarizes the effect of a poeti 
cal play. 

A curious incident occurs to me that is con 
nected with the play of " Rip Van Winkle " ; let 
me put it down and I have done. 

There is in the village of Catskill a Rip Van 
Winkle Club. This society did me the honor to 
invite me to act the character in their town. I 
accepted, and when I arrived was met by the 
worthy president and other members of the club, 
among whom was young Nicholas Vedder, who 
claimed to be a lineal descendant of the original 
"old Nick." Emulating the spirit of evolution, 
the citizens had turned the skating-rink into a 
theater, and a very respectable-looking establish 
ment it made, though in its transition state the 
marks of rollers did " cling to it still." I was tak 
ing a cup of tea at the table in the hotel, when I 
was attracted to the colored waiter, who was giv 
ing a graphic and detailed account of this legend 
of the Catskill Mountains to one of the boarders 
who sat nearly opposite to me. 

" Yes, sah," he continued, " Rip went up into de 
mountains, slep for twenty years, and when he 
came back hyar in dis berry town his own folks 
did n t know him." 

"Why," said his listener, "you don t believe the 
story *s true ? " 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 459 

" True ? Ob course it is ; why/ pointing at me, 
" dat s de man." 

The town was filled with farmers and their wives 
who had come from far and near to see the open 
ing of the new theater, and also, I think I may say, 
to see for the first time on the stage the story 
which Washington Irving had laid almost at their 
very doors. 

As I drove to the theater the rain came down 
in torrents, the thunder rolled and the lightning 
played around the peaks of the distant mountains 
under the very shadow of which I was to act the 
play. It gave me a very strange sensation. When 
I got to the theater I could scarcely get in, the 
crowd was so great about the door countrymen 
trying to get into the ticket office instead of the 
proper entrance, and anxious and incredulous old 
ladies endeavoring to squeeze past the doorkeeper 
but refusing to give up their tickets. The rush 
over, the play began. The audience was intent on 
the scene as it progressed, and seemed anxious not 
to lose a word. During the scene in the last act 
where Rip inquires of the inn-keeper, " Is this the 
village of Falling Water?" I altered the text and 
substituted the correct name, " Is this the village 
of Catskill ? " The crowded house almost held its 
breath. The name of the village seemed to bring 
the scene home to every man, woman, and child 
that was looking at it From this time on the 
interest was at its full tension. Surely I had 
never seen an audience so struck with the play 
before. 



460 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

There was a reception held at the club after the 
play, and the worthy president in introducing me 
to the company was so nervous that he announced 
me as "Mr. Washington Irving." 

If I dwell at length upon so old a subject as this 
well-worn drama it is not only because the play 
and its hero were important to me, but for the 
reason that there are incidents connected with its 
career from which a lesson may be drawn ; and 
while I do not aspire to be a teacher of Art or set 
myself up as a Sir Oracle, or a finger-post to point 
out the road to dramatic success, I cannot resist 
the desire I have to give some of my young friends 
on the stage a few hints in relation to the conduct 
of their professional lives that may be useful even 
if they are dry and uninteresting. 

The rules that would seem to promote success 
upon the stage are so shifting and at times so 
inscrutable that the most diligent and experienced 
actors often stand amazed at the disappointing re 
sults which have attended honest and intelligent 
labor. I have known members of the theatrical 
profession who, though possessed of great ability 
and an untiring industry, have never met with one 
cheering success, and I have seen novices come 
upon the stage knowing nothing of dramatic art 
and possessed of no talent whatever, startle the 
public and command its attention at once, and all 
this from the mere exhibition of youth, beauty, 
and confidence. This latter kind of popularity, 
however, is not lasting, nor does it ever revive 
after it has once lost its power, and here is just 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "RIP VAN WINKLE." 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 461 

the point in question: an ephemeral success is 
worse than no success at all, for all the feverish 
flattery and hollow applause that may have at 
tended it in the beginning cannot atone for the 
disappointment that follows upon neglect. The 
once petted favorite sinks under the desolation 
which comes from public indifference. A legiti 
mate and well-earned success is almost perennial, 
if pursued by the artist to the end with the same 
love of his work that characterized its beginning. 
"Rip Van Winkle" was not a sudden success. 
It did not burst upon the public like a torrent. 
Its flow was gradual, and its source sprang from 
the Harz Mountains, an old German legend, 
called " Carl the Shepherd," being the name of the 
original story. The genius of Washington Irving 
transplanted the tale to our own Catskills, The 
grace with which he paints the scene, and, still 
more, the quaintness of the story, placed it far 
above the original. Yates, Hackett, and Burke 
had separate dramas written upon this scene and 
acted the hero, leaving their traditions one to the 
other. I now came forth, and saying, "Give me 
leave," set to work, using some of the before- 
mentioned tradition, mark you. Added to this, 
Dion Boucicault brought his dramatic skill to bear, 
and by important additions made a better play and 
a more interesting character of the hero than had 
as yet been reached. This adaptation, in my turn, 
I interpreted and enlarged upon. It is thus evi 
dent .that while I may have done much to render 
the character and play popular, it has not been the 



462 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

work of one mind, but both as to its narrative 
and its dramatic form has been often molded and 
by many skillful hands. So it would seem that 
those dramatic successes that "come like shadows, 
so depart," and those that are lasting, have ability 
for their foundation and industry for their super 
structure. I speak now of the former and the 
present condition of the drama. What the future 
may bring forth it is difficult to determine, The 
histrionic kaleidoscope revolves more rapidly than 
of yore, and the fantastic shapes that it exhibits 
are brilliant and confusing; but under all circum 
stances I should be loath to believe that any con 
ditions will render the appearance of frivolous 
novices more potent than the earnest design of 
legitimate professors. 

One word on dramatic writing: On the dis 
covery of a mysterious murder, when all are at loss 
as to who has committed the deed, the first thing 
the detective searches for is motive. If the mur 
derer be not insane a motive must exist ; and as 
the actions of our lives, when we are in a state of 
reflection and cool deliberation, spring from this 
cause, so must the playwright, in the construction 
of his plot and the action of his characters, give 
us motive. 

Again, an audience should never be kept in the 
dark as to the true state of all matters connected 
with the play, particularly in comedy. Let the 
characters be deceived and entangled in a perfect 
labyrinth of difficulties if you will, but the audience 
must know just how the matter stands, or they 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 463 

cannot enjoy the confusion of the actors. For ex 
ample, in "She Stoops to Conquer," when young 
Marlow makes love to Miss Hardcastle he thinks 
that she is the barmaid, but the audience know 
perfectly well that she is not; hence they enjoy 
his mistake. If they had not been let into the se 
cret the effect would be lost ; but an " equivoke " 
scene, wherein both characters are deceived as to 
each other s identity, is the most enjoyable and 
requires perhaps more ingenuity in its construction 
than any other branch of writing in comedy. Such 
a scene, too, must be rendered with great skill and 
the most perfect seriousness; if a smile should 
steal over the actor s face, showing that he inwardly 
sees the humor of the situation, the whole effect 
will be lost. The bewilderment of the characters 
must be supreme, and as the scene progresses 
and they become more and more entangled, their 
blank looks of amazement delight the audience, 
who alone are in the secret 



CHAPTER XVII 

IN LOUISIANA 

The "Pirate of the Gulf" Pierre Landry and 
his Wife Under the Live- Oaks Conclusion 

THE plantation I purchased in Louisiana was 
at one time the property of a prominent 
Spaniard named Carline, to whom it had 
been granted when the State was under the 
dominion of Spain. He had made his selection 
with considerable judgment, as the large tract 
that had been ceded to him contained an island 
of two hundred acres, which stood at an eleva 
tion of about ninety feet above the sea, and was 
covered with grand live-oak and magnolia trees. 
When it passed from Carline it fell into the hands 
of an old Scotchman named Randolph, who was, 
from all accounts, as sagacious as the Spaniard. 
He added to the beauty of the island by planting 
it with pecan and orange trees, which were in full 
bearing when I purchased the place. 

It is currently reported by the peasantry of 
this region that Captain Lafitte, who was also 

464 



JOSEPH JEFFERSON 465 

*k 

celebrated under the high-sounding title of the 
" Pirate of the Gulf/ often visited the island. 
This hero s virtues have been extolled in a roman 
tic novel, several love songs, and a bad nautical 
drama ; and history has in some measure tried to 
elevate him beyond the average of mankind be 
cause he refused the overtures of General Pak- 
enham and joined the forces of General Jackson 
at the battle of New Orleans. But the truth is, 
that the captain had plenty of money ; the British 
bribe possessed no fascination for him, as the 
United States Government had set a price upon 
his head; and there is consequently a slight 
suspicion that self-preservation and not patriot 
ism induced him to cast in his lot with America. 
He was undoubtedly a highly cultivated buca- 
neer ; and having with care and industry amassed 
a large fortune by robbing his fellow-men, he 
retired from business in the prime of life and 
secluded his virtues under the shade of Mr. 
Randolph s peaceful orange groves. It is said 
that he became so stung with remorse at the 
retrospect of his piratical career that he even 
tually atoned for his crimes by going into the 
slave trade. It is further hinted that the gal 
lant captain made this place his headquarters in 
the summer. 

The cares of piracy and slave stealing would 
naturally, in time, undermine the constitution of 
a sensitive nature, and it was therefore necessary 
that during the heated term an unpleasant sea 
son for the latter business he should require 



466 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

time for recuperation, and an opportunity to hide 
his treasures. It is said that he generally per 
formed this ceremony in the moonlight assisted 
by his gallant band, who were sworn to secrecy, 
and, being men of honor, could of course be 
depended upon. It being a foregone conclusion 
that this story is true, it was natural that I should 
have been warmly congratulated when I became 
the rightful owner of all this ill-gotten gold that 
is, if we ever find it I have never looked for it 
myself. In the first place I have never had time, 
and in the next I really am afraid that I should 
not find it. I wish the rest of the community 
were as skeptical of its presence as I am, for 
then they would stop disfiguring the shore 
around the lake and digging holes under every 
tree upon which some mischievous fellow has cut 
a cross. Nothing has been discovered so far ex 
cept an old long-bladed knife, of a size and shape 
quite convenient for pirating, and a silver dollar; 
but as the latter was coined in 1829, it is quite 
evident that Lafitte was buried first, so it could 
not have been his property. 

These treasure-seekers have periodical attacks 
of this insanity, like the same class of idiots who 
ruin the clam business on Long Island by digging 
up the shore in hopes of discovering the treasures 
of the late lamented Captain Kidd. 

The scenery and villages along the Bayou 
Teche have for years been famous for their ro 
mantic beauty, and the fine islands on one of 
which we live are still a mystery to the geolo- 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 467 

gists who have examined them. Of course they 
all have their theories, but I fancy that they differ 
in their opinions. One of these beautiful spots 
is called Salt Island, and is owned and occupied 
by the Averys, a charming and hospitable family, 
who have lived there for many years, and who 
are the owners of the celebrated salt mine which 
the place contains. It is a weird and beautiful 
cavern. Arch after arch stretches far away ; look 
ing down the dark and gloomy avenues one is 
amazed at the inexhaustible deposit, and when it 
is artificially lighted up millions of crystals flash 
and sparkle with wondrous splendor. 

Five miles from this charming place is our island. 
During the first eight years of our southern jour 
neys the beaten track of commonplace travel 
ended at Brashear, which was then the terminus 
of the railroad. Here we used to get on board of 
a little stern-wheel boat, so small that, contrasted 
with the leviathan Texas steamers anchored in the 
bay, it looked like a toy. Our route lay westward 
up the Bayou Atchafalaya to where it met the 
Bayou Teche. This is the point where Gabriel 
and Evangeline are separated in Longfellow s 
poem. 

Our passage up the Teche was extremely pic 
turesque. The stream is narrow, and the live-oak 
and cypress trees stretch their branches over it till 
in places they fairly meet and interlock. When 
the darkness came on pine knots were burned in 
the bow of the boat, and as she steamed up the 
narrow river a strong light fell on the gaunt trees 



468 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

that suddenly started out of the black night like 
weird specters. The negro deck-hands, some bare 
to the waist and others in red and blue shirts, 
would sit in lazy groups chanting their plantation 
songs, keeping perfect time with the beat of the 
engine. It was delightful to light a pipe and sit 
on the deck, to look upon the novel scene and 
listen to these strange sounds; to feel that the 
season had closed, and to anticipate three months 
of perfect rest no letters to write, no engagement 
to keep, no dreadful appointments hanging over 
one s head ! 

As I have been living here for the past eighteen 
winters there is naturally some curiosity among 
the peasantry, both white and black, as to the pre 
cise nature of my vocation. The town near us 
has had no theater or hall of any kind until lately, 
so that the only public amusements with which 
they are familiar have been confined to the circus. 

The country people know me very well, and it 
is a mystery to them what I can possibly do in a 
"show," as they call it. I had been out duck 
shooting and was being paddled slowly along the 
bayou in a canoe by my " man Friday," a colored 
boy about eighteen years of age. As a rider of 
buck-jumping ponies he was a wonder either with 
or without a saddle, and the perfect ease with 
which he handled a canoe made him invaluable as 
a guide ; he would dip the paddle deep into the 
stream and with a firm and steady hand move the 
boat with great speed, and yet with such skill and 
so silently that he made no splash or ripple in the 




PIERRE LANDRY AND HIS WIFE. 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 469 

water. I have often sat with my back to him in 
the quiet of a sunset evening and listened if I 
could catch the slightest sound ; but no ; though 
we glided along the water like an arrow, John s 
paddle was quiet as a mouse. 

On the excursion referred to the silence was 
broken by John s voice. " Mr. Joe, will you be 
mad if I ax you somefen ? " " No, John ; what is 
it ? " There was a pause, then calling up all his 
courage he broke forth with a question which I 
have no doubt he had meditated upon and could 
contain no longer. "What does you do in a 
show ? " I told him that it would be rather diffi 
cult for me to explain to him what my peculiar line 
of business was. "Well/ 1 said John, "does you 
swallow knives ? " I told hirti that I had no talent 
whatever in that way. "Well, your son told me 
that you swallowed knives, and forks, and fire, and 
de Lord knows what -all, and I believe he was just 
foolin me." I agreed with him, saying that he 
was quite capable of it " Well, dere s one thing 
certain," said John; "you don t act in the circus," 
I asked him how he could be sure of that Here 
he burst into an immoderate fit of laughter, almost 
tipping the canoe over in his violent mirth, " Oh, no 
oh, no, sah ; you can t fool me on dat. I Ve seen 
you get on your horse ; you ain t no circus actor." 

Near our plantation lived a famed Acadian 
named Pierre Landry. When he was a boy he 
had seen Lafitte, the "Pirate of the Gulf," and 
many tales of this bold bucaneer were traditional 
in his family. I had heard much of this old man;. 



470 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

and being curious to see him, set out with the 
intention of taking a photograph of him and his 
family, and of getting perhaps some interesting 
matter relating to Lafitte. About three miles from 
the entrance gate of our plantation runs the Bayou 
Petite Anse. Its low banks are fringed with tall, 
gaunt cypress trees, hung with tangled vines and 
drooping moss. It would have had a mysterious 
and even dismal look but for the few quaint little 
houses scattered throughout the woods ; some of 
these are painted with faded pink wash, others are 
colored yellow, with blue and green window- 
shutters, and some are white, giving the place a 
more cheerful look. The little salmon-colored 
store and post-office is situated near a long and 
rambling bridge, mafle of cypress logs and earth 
embankments. 

Strung along this crossing on a Sunday are to be 
seen from ten to a dozen negro women and children 
fishing in the bayou. This is a holiday for them 
and they are dressed in their best attire clean 
blue cotton jean in various faded shades, according 
to the age of the material ; some in deep sun- 
bonnets, and others, generally the older branches 
of the family, with their heads done up in gaudy 
colored bandanas. Upon the western side of this 
bayou stands a picturesque cottage with a high 
gabled roof, and on its wide porch, covered with 
rose vines and honeysuckle, sat Pierre Landry and 
his wife and daughter. 

The old man could not walk, and had been 
wheeled out in his chair to enjoy the lovely spring 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 471 

morning. He was a fine specimen of an Acadian 
patriarch ; his complexion was of a rich brown, and 
his snow-white hair floated about his reverend 
brow. He had been for years the arbitrator in 
all questions of importance among his people a 
grand old peacemaker, whose wisdom and justice 
settled the petty and important quarrels of his 
more irritable neighbors with unerring justice ; and 
many misunderstandings that would have lapsed 
into ruinous lawsuits were arranged by him with 
out a murmur from either plaintiffs or defendants, so 
that the attorney of the village looked upon him as 
a mortal foe, and on one occasion threatened to sue 
him for damages. 

There was a cheerful aspect about the place : the 
birds were singing, the bees were buzzing amid 
the flowers, and the whirl of a spinning-wheel 
upon the porch, turned by old Landry s daughter, 
gave the spot a homelike look that told of love 
and peace. As we entered the little garden gate, 
Madame rose from her chair, and with rustic French 
politeness invited us to enter. " Entrez, monsieur," 
she said, in kindly tones. I told her the intention 
of our visit : she seemed pleased, and said, through 
our overseer, that she had been informed of it, 
and was quite ready. She then began arranging 
her husband, her daughter, and herself into what 
would have been, I am afraid, a rather stiff family 
group. I told her there was no hurry, and that I 
preferred she should take her former position; 
and that I would wait until some fitting picture 
presented itself. 



472 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

I asked the driver to tell her that my visit was 
not one of mere idle curiosity, but that I had heard 
what an interesting character her husband was, and 
that, as the house was so quaint and pretty, I had 
taken a fancy to photograph it and give the picture 
to some magazine for illustration, and that then 
they would become quite famous. 

She laughed at this, and whispered something 
to her husband, who looked at us in a dazed and 
bewildered kind of way as if he did not quite un 
derstand what was going on ; she patted him cheer 
fully on the back and seemed quite childlike in 
her joy at the prospect of becoming historical. 
In chatting about various matters I asked if her 
husband were ill. "Oh, no," said she; "but old, 
very old not able to walk now." And the tears 
came into her honest eyes. Her daughter knelt 
upon the steps and looked up into her father s 
face. " My darling husband," the wife continued ; 
"we have been married many years. He has 
been all his life so good, so brave, so noble my 
own dear Pierre." She laid her hand upon his 
shoulder, and, half-turning her head from me, 
looked down upon him with as much affection as 
she could have done upon her wedding-day. Now 
was the time. "Stay that way for a moment," I 
said and the picture was taken. 

She could scarcely believe it was over, never 
having seen the operation before, and wanted to 
look at the picture at once. I told her that she 
must wait, and that I would bring the picture at 
some future time; and so we parted. Just one 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 473 

year after this my wife and I, driven by our 
overseer, stopped at the garden gate in front of 
this same cottage. How glad I was that I had 
taken the picture and could give it into the hands 
of Pierre Landry s widow; for in the mean time 
he had been called away to plead his own cause 
in another world, and if virtue and honesty be 
weighed in the balance there, the chances are 
that he has been acquitted. The place looked 
much the same, but there was a curious stillness 
about it that seemed almost sacred, or I fancied 
so. The roses and honeysuckles of the year before 
had gone, like him whose hand had reared the 
vines ; but new ones were in their place, and old 
Madame Landry sat in her husband s chair upon 
the porch. Coming down to greet us with some 
flowers in her hand to give my wife for the 
driver had told her we were coming she was 
about to hand them when I gave her the picture. 
The dear old woman for a moment seemed bewil 
dered, the freshly gathered flowers fell unheeded 
at her feet, and, gently kissing the likeness of 
her husband, she burst into tears and sank upon 
her knees ; then clasping the picture closely to her 
bosom she cried out, "O, my darling, my own, 
my noble Pierre ! you have come back to me." 
My wife and I looked into each other s faces with 
moistened eyes, and, respecting her sacred sorrow, 
stepped quietly into the carriage and drove away. 
As I glanced back I saw the dear old woman had 
risen from the ground, and was tottering towards 
the gate. With one hand she clasped the picture 



474 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

to her heart, waving the other almost wildly over 
head in an ecstasy of grief and joy. 

As we passed the corner of the field the driver 
pointed to a mound marked by a simple cross and 
covered with blooming roses. 

AND now I must end my life, not " with a bare 
bodkin," but with a harmless goose quill; and how 
ever painful the suicide may be to me, it is a satis 
faction to know that with the same blow I have put 
an end to the sufferings of my readers. Besides, 
an extended sojourn here, either in a literary or a 
personal state, may after all be of little moment. 
Seneca says, when writing to his friend Lucilius on 
this matter, " Life is like a play upon the stage ; 
it signifies not how long it lasts, but how well it is 
acted. Die when or where you will, think only on 
making a good exit." 

In Louisiana the live-oak is the king of the 
forest, and the magnolia is its queen ; and there is 
nothing more delightful to one who is fond of the 
country than to sit under them on a clear, calm 
spring morning like this. The old limbs twine 
themselves in fantastic forms, the rich yellow foli 
age mantles the trees with a sheen of gold, and 
from beneath the leaves the gray moss is draped, 
hanging in graceful festoons and swaying slowly 
in the gentle air. I am listening to the merry chirp 
of the tuneful cardinal as he sparkles like a ruby 
amid the green boughs, and to the more glorious 
melody of the mocking-bird. Now in the distance 
comes the solemn cawing of two crafty crows ; they 



OF JOSEPH JEFFERSON 475 

are far apart ; one sits on the high branch of a dead 
cypress, while his cautious mate is hidden away in 
some secluded spot: they jabber to each other as 
though they held a conference of deep importance ; 
he on the high limb gives a croak as though he 
made a signal to his distant mate, and here she 
comes out of the dense wood and lights quite near 
him on the cypress branch : they sidle up to each 
other and lay their wise old heads together, now 
seeming to agree upon a plan of action : with one 
accord they flutter from the limb and slowly flap 
themselves away. 

I am sitting here upon the fragment of a broken 
wheel ; the wood is fast decaying, and the iron cogs 
are rusting in their age. It is as old as I am, but 
will last much longer. Most likely it belonged 
to some old mill, and has been here in idleness 
through generations of the crows ; it must have 
done good service in its day, and if it were a sen 
tient wheel perhaps would feel the comfort in old 
age of having done its duty. 

Over my head the gray arms of two live-oaks 
stretch their limbs, and looking down into the 
ravine I see the trees are arched as though they 
canopied the aisle of a cathedral ; and doubtless 
they stood here before the builder of the mill was 
bora. Behind a fallen tree there stands another; 
and on the trunk, from where I sit, I plainly see 
the initials of my wife s name, cut there by me 
on some romantic birthday many years ago. We 
live here still, and it is legally recorded in the 
archives of the parish that this place belongs to 



476 JOSEPH JEFFERSON 

us ; and so it does, just as it did to the man that 
built the mill. 

And yet we are but tenants. Let us assure our 
selves of this, and then it will not be so hard to 
make room for the new administration ; for shortly 
the great Landlord will give us notice that our 
lease has expired 



SHAKSPERE vs. BACON 

THE FOLLOWING LINES WERE WRITTEN AND DELIVERED 

BY MR. JEFFERSON BEFORE THE PROFESSORS OF 

YALE UNIVERSITY, IN REPLY TO IGNATIUS 

DONNELLY S CRYPTOGRAM 



SHAKSPERE vs. BACON. 

RESPECTED member of the Bar and State: 
In Law and Literature profoundly great ; 
As you have thrust at an immortal name, 
I claim the right of parrying the same. 
For though I m neither skilled in Law or Science, 
The gauntlet you Ve thrown down in bold defiance, 
(Espousing Bacon s cause armed cap-a-pie,) 
I here take up to have a tilt with thee. 
You pose before me as the great " I am," 
And flourish forth that deadly Cryptogram ; 
That curious volume, mystic and misleading, 
Co-jointly with your case of special pleading. 
But I defy them both, for good or ill, 
And stand the champion of " immortal Will." 
So shall my sword upon thine own impinge, 
"The croaking Raven bellows forth Revenge/" 
The Actor doth the Lawyer here oppose, 
The sock and buskin for the woolsack goes. 
Lay on, MacD., 

With all your legal stuff, 
And damned be he 

Who first cries, " Hold ! enough." 
Stay : Ere we come to blows, with main and might, 

479 



480 SHAKSPERE VS. BACON 

I beg to scan the ground on which we fight. 
The question s this, if I am not mistaken, 
" Did William Shakspere or did Francis Bacon, 
Inspired by genius and by learning too, 
Compose the wondrous works we have in view ? " 
The scholar Bacon was a man of knowledge, 
But inspiration is n t taught at college. 
With all the varied gifts in Will s possession 
The wondering world asks, "What was his profes 
sion?" 

He must have been a lawyer, says the lawyer ; 
He surely was a sawyer, says the sawyer ; 
The druggist says, of course he was a chemist ; 
The skilled mechanic dubs him a machinist ; 
The thoughtful sage declares him but a thinker, 
And every tinman swears he was a tinker. 
And so he s claimed by every trade and factor; 
Your pardon, gentlemen, he was an actor ! 
And if you deem that I speak not aright, 
I 11 prove it to you here in black and white, 
Not by the ink of modern scribes, you know, 
But by the print of centuries ago ; 
For he was cast in Jonson s famous play, 
And acted Knowell on its first essay. 
The buried King of Denmark at the Globe 
He played with Burbage in his sable robe, 
And good old Adam must not be forgot 
In " As You Like It," yes, or " as you like it not." 
If Bacon wrote the plays, pray, tell me then 
Were all the wondrous sonnets from his pen ? 
Did Bacon, he himself a versifier, 
Resign these lovely lays and not aspire 



SHAKSPERE VS. BACON 481 

To be their author ? Lay them on the shelf 
And only keep the bad ones for himself? 

The argument against us most in vogue 

Is this, that William Shakspere was a rogue, 

His character assailed, his worth belied, 

And every little foible magnified. 

We know that William, one night after dark, 

Went stealing deer in lonely Lucy Park, 

We also know Lord Bacon oft was prone 

To take another s money for his own. 

Now come, deal fairly, tell me which is worse, 

To poach a stag or steal another s purse ? 

Lord Bacon did confess to his superiors 

That he had taken bribes from his inferiors. 

From his own showing, then, it will be seen 

That he both robbed his country and his queen ? 

A kind of aldermanic Yankee Doodle, 

Who cherished what we understand as boodle. 

So if good character is to be the test of it, 

It seems to me that William has the best of it. 

If Shakspere was so poor a piece of stuff, 
How is it Bacon trusted him enough 
To throw these valued treasures at his feet 
And not so much as ask for a receipt ? 
Such confidence is almost a monstrosity, 
And speaks of unexampled generosity. 
Oh, liberal Francis, tell us why we find 
Pope calling thee the " meanest of mankind"? 

But now to Shakspere let us turn, I pray, 
And hear what his companions have to say. 

31 



482 SHAKSPERE VS. BACON 

First, then, Ben Jonson, jealous of Will s wit, 

Paid tribute when his epitaph he writ. 

If other proofs are wanting than Rare Ben s 

We will consult forthwith a group of friends. 

Awake ! Beaumont and Fletcher, Spenser, Rowe, 

Arise ! and tell us, for you surely know : 

Was, or was not, my client the great poet ? 

And if he was n t, don t you think you d know it? 

These, his companions, brother playwrights, mind, 

Could they be hoodwinked ? Were they deaf or 

blind ? 

I find it stated, to our bard s discredit 
The author of the Cryptogram has said it 
That Shakspere s tastes were vulgar and besotted, 
And all his family have been allotted 
To herd and consort with the low and squalid ; 
But whence the proof to make this statement valid? 
They even say his daughter could not read ; 
Of such a statement I can take no heed, 
Except to marvel at the logic of the slight : 
So, if she could n t read he could n t write ? 
Your statements are confusing, and as such 
You ve only proved that you have proved too much. 
The details of three hundred years ago 
We can t accept, because we do not know. 
The general facts we are prepared to swallow, 
While unimportant trifles beat us hollow. 

We know full well 

That Nero was a sinner, 

But we can t tell 

What Nero had for dinner. 
Now, prithee, take my hand, and come with me 



SHAKSPERE YS. BACON 483 

To where once stood the famous mulberry tree. 
Then on to Stratford Church, here take a peep 
At where the " fathers of the hamlet sleep." 
They hold the place of honor for the dead, 
The family of Shakspere at the head* 
Before the altar of the sacred place 
They have been given burial and grace. 
Your vague tradition is but a surmise ; 
The proof I offer is before your eyes. 

And oh, ye actors, brothers all in Art, 
Permit me just one moment to depart 
From this, my subject, urging you some day 
To seek this sacred spot, and humbly pray 
That Shakspere s rage toward us will kindly soften, 
Because, you know, we ve murdered him so often. 
I ask this for myself, a poor comedian : 
What should I do had I been a tragedian ? 

I could pile up a lot of other stuff, 
But I have taxed your patience quite enough ; 
In turning o er the matter in my mind, 
This is the plain solution that I find: 

It surely is "whoe er the cap may fit" 
Conceded that these wondrous plays were writ 
So if my Shakspere s not the very same, 
It must have been another of that name. 



INDEX 



INDEX 

Abel Murcott, Charles W. Couldock as, Adelaide, S. A., appear in, 329. 

194, 197. Adelphi Theater, London, " Rip Van 

Acadian home, an, 470, 471. Winkle " at, 302-310. 

Acting, harmony in, 108, 109 ; artistic, " Adrian and Orrilla," Mrs. Drake in, 

109,412,413; intense, 129, 130; 415; play Cyprian Gossamer in, 

combined with elocution, 153; com- 415. 

pared with a picture, 157,428,429; Adversity, parting with old friends 

a model of, 355; reflections on, in, 194; sweet uses of, 449, 450. 

425-463 ; analogy between paint- Adulation, sorry food, 334. 

ing, poetry, music, and, 428; offen- Affection, Australian maternal, 244; 

siveness of careless, 429; thorough parental and filial contrasted, 296- 

preparation in, 431; a child s, 441, 301. 

442; a gift, 441, 442; tharm of, AfricanSal, success in London, 105. 

445. Age, effect of, on an actor, 261, 262, 

Action, dramatic. See Dramatic ac- 265, 267, 268, 408, 409. 

tion. Agnew, Messrs., purchasers of Gains- 

Actor, commercial career of a retired, borough s " Duchess of Devon- 

59 ; compared with musician, 157, shire," 367 ; their loss, 369, 370. 

385; effect of combination system Ague, dramatic, 131. 

on, 326-328 ; contrasted with paint- " Ajax Defying the Lightning," 6. 

er and writer, 385; relations of Alamo, fall of the, 75. 

audience and, 385 ; work of, fleet- Albatross, the, 275, 276. 

ing, changeable, and ineffaceable, Alessandro Afazsaroni, James Wal- 

428; proper preparation due to lack, Sr., as, 40, 41. 

his audience, 428, 429 ; should he Alexander, Mr., manager of Theater 

feel a part ? 439, 440 ; a tired, 445 ; Royal, Glasgow, 372 ; modesty 

how to become an, 451, 452; of, 372; tomb, 372. 

compared with temperance lee- Alfred jEvefyn, scene between Clara 

turer, 455. Douglas and, 195. 

Actors, pursuits in hard times, 52 ; Alleghany Mountains, crossing the, 

love for the theater and their vo- 84-88. 

cation, 78, 237 ; generosity, 45, Allen, Mrs., 142 ; as May Fielding, 

117, 343; personal vanity, I}2; 208; beauty of, 209. 

elastic spirits, 188, 189; draw- Amateur, signs of an, 138, 139. 

backs to health of, 320; capabih- Ambition, ill effects of too much, 

ties on and off the stage, 342; 108. 

extravagance of some in London, American sailor and Greek pirate, 14, 

362, 363; impulsive, 430, 431. 15. 

Adams, Edwin, as Snake, 151; as American Theater, New Orleans, 

Pythias, 158; career, personal ap- closed, 80. 

pearance, and character, 322, 323 ; Amphitheater, Philadelphia, union of 

as Enoch Arden, 323; likeness to drama and circus at, 118; "Cap- 

Charles Burke, 323. tain Kidd" at, 121 ; Mazeppa-" 

487 



488 



INDEX 



at, 123; "St. George and the 
Dragon " at, 125-127. 

Andes, the, 292. 

Andrews, George, as Sir Oliver Sur 
face, 151. 

Animals, cruelty to, n. 

"Annals of the English Stage," 402, 

43- 

" Amigone," at Arch Street Theater, 
102; at Theater Royal, Dublin, 
102 ; appear in the chorus, 104. 

Apple-tree, a barren, 395, 396. 

Arch Street Theater, Philadelphia, 
managed by W. E. Burton, 57, 
83, 108; take Charles Burke s 
place at, 88; "Antigone" at, 102- 
104; w A Glance at New York" at, 
105, 1 06 ; managed by Wheatley 
& Drew, 149, 150. 

"Arrah na Pogue," success at Prin 
cess s Theater, 314. 

Art, devotion of French to, contrasted 
with their loyalty, 176, 177; com 
bination of nature and, 208; an 
actor s sweetheart, 223 ; probable 
result of mingling American poli 
tics with, 352; sacred in Paris, 
352; cheap better than none, 
358, 359 ; the handmaid of Genius, 
432 ; foster-mother of, 449, 

Art and literature, powers compared 
with drama, 259. 

Art criticism, 22, 23. 

Art galleries of Paris, 355. 

Art gallery and theater compared, 429. 

Artist, assistant, am billed as, 36. 

Artistic work in acting, 109, 412, 

4I3* 

Artists, prejudiced at hands of breth 
ren, 42;,, 424. 

Asa TrencJiard, in character of, 194, 

222, 223. 

Assassins of the pen, 168, 344, 345. 

Assignation, a deadly, 258. 

Astley s Circus, London, 118, 124; 
a family party at, 312. 

Astronomer, a Scotch gardener s 
opinion of an, 374, 375. 

Audience, distracting an, 121, 122; 
an aristocratic, 137; danger of dis 
appointing an, 161 ; a pleased, 
165; insulting an, 217, 218; a sym 
pathetic, 259-261 ; a select, 341, 
342 ; addressing the, in acting, 
352-354, 430; a delightful, 364; a 
rare, 379, 380 ; playing to different 
classes of, 385 ; relations of actor 
and, 385 ; proper preparation by 
actor due to, 428, 429 ; virtual im 
prisonment of, 429 ; a dull, 445 ; 



ocular attention of, 446, 447 ; ob 
servant critics, 447, 448; judg 
ment of the, 456; must possess 
secret of the play, 462, 463. 

Australia, stock companies in, 237; 
skeleton dance, 242-244; scenery 
of the interior, 245 ; a strange 
meeting in, 246 ; bushrangers in, 
256; reminiscences of, 273, 274. 

Australian black contrasted with 
Charles Kean, 266, 267. 

Australian station, an, 241, 242. 

Author compared with actor, 428. 

Authors, extravagance of some in 
London, 362, 363. 

Authorship, first attempts at, 3, 4. 

Autograph -hunter, an, 419. 

Avery family, 467. 

Badger, Edward, comedian, 67 ; part 
nership with, 68-74, 77. 

Ballarat, Victoria, appear in, 239. 

Baltimore, birth of sister in, 9 ; estab 
lishment of telegraph line from 
Cumberland to, in, 112. 

Baltimore Museum, become stage- 
manager at, 151. 

Bannister, Jack, 296. 

Barn-storming, 54-57. 

Barrett, Lawrence, as The Ghost, 422. 

Barron, J. M., as Sir Harry Biimper, 

151- 
Battles: Palo Alto, 66; Resaca de la 

Palma, 67 ; Fort Brown, 67. 
Bavaria, contrast of religious tone of 

England and United States with 

that of, 291. 

Bayou Atchafalaya, romance of, 467. 
Bayou Petite Anse, 470. 
Bayou Teche, 466-468; 
Beauseant, William Warren as, 405. 
Bedford, Paul, geniality, 303, 304 ; ns 

Jack Gong t 304; as Nick Vedder, 

3?4- 

Beggar on horseback, a, 285, 286. 

Beggars, conventional, 93 ; in Lima, 
285, 286. 

Belfast, success in, 380. 

Bellman of Castlemaine, the, 239-241. 

Bendigo, Viet., appear in, 239. 

Bernardo, Herbert Kelcey as, 422. 

Bertha, Sara Stevens as, 208. 

Bickford, George, 15. 

Billington, Mr,, opinion of "Rip Van 
Winkle," 304. 

Birth, date of my, 14. 

Black arts, one of the, 351. 

Blacks, Australian, sports and cere 
monies of, 242-245 ; maternal af 
fection among, 244. 



INDEX 



489 



Blake, Mrs., as Mrs. Fielding, 208. 

Blake, William Rufus, as Malvolio, 
107; personal appearance, 200, 
204; friendship for, 201 ; difference 
with, 201; a curious figure for 
Puck, 204. 

" Blanche of Brandywine," produced 
by Laura Keene, 189-192. 

Blindness, threatened, 388 ; operation 
for, 388. 

Blue- gum tree, virtues of, 245. 

Bob Acres, in character of, 150; char 
acteristics of, 399, 400; evolution 
of the part, 400 ; notes on scene be 
tween David and, 446, 447. 

Bob Brierly, in character of, 260; 
sympathetic audience for, 260. 

Bob Tyke, 223. 

Boomerang, throwing the, 245, 266. 

Booth, Agnes, 230. 

Booth, Barton, apothegm on, no. 

Booth, Edwin, as Hamlet, 422. 

Booth, Junius Brutus, early recollec 
tions of, 5 ; in Mobile, 41 ; char 
acter, 41, 43-45; versatility, 44; 
generosity, 45; imitations of, 87, 
420 ; kindness of, 129 ; as Sir Giles 
Overreach, 129-131 ; wonderful 
acting, 129, 130; presence of mind 
and good taste, 130. 

Booth s Theater, appear at, under 
Augustin Daly, 381 ; pulled down, 
381, 382. 

Borrower, a professional, 93-96. 

Boston Indians, Buck Wallace s opin 
ion of, 76. 

Boston Museum, William Warren s 
connection with, 404, 405. 

Boston Theater, first engagement at, 
340; Fechter at, 340; Charles 
Mathews s dislike of, 384. 

Bottom, Samuel Phelps as, 171; pro 
pose to play, 204, 205. 

Boucicault, Dion, at Ford s Theater, 
Richmond, 157; manager at Win 
ter Garden, 207; valuable advice 
from, 209-211 ; difference with,, 
211-213; rewrites "Rip Van 
Winkle," 302 ; feud with Webster, 
303, 305-308 ; judgment, 304 ; tem 
per, 304, 305; author of "The 
Parish Clerk," 321. 

" Bounding Brothers of the Pyrenees, * 
the, 139. 

Bounty, mutiny of the, 232. 

Bowie, Capt. James, inventor of the 
bowie knife, 75 ; assassination of, 

Boxing, take lessons in, 212, 213. 
Boyhood, 



Brashear, 467. 

Brazos Santiago, voyage from Mata- 
moras to, 78. 

Breakfast, a coach-office, 84, 85 ; sooth 
ing influences of a good, 86. 

" Brigand, The," James Wallack, Sr., 
in, 40, 41. 

Brogue, Rip with a " shlight taste " 
of the, 378. 

Brother Sam, E. A. Sothern as, 198. 

Brougham, John, at Palmo s Theater, 
107; as CfGrady, 314; character 
and ability, 314-317; author of 
" Pocahontas," 315, 316; manager 
of the Lyceum, 315 ; as Powhatan, 
316; as Pocahontas, 317; author 
of "The Irish Emigrant," 411; 
dramatizer of ** Dombey and Son," 
436; as Captain Buns by, 437; as 
Major Bagstock, 437. 

Browning, Robert, meetings with, 360- 
362; character and talents, 360, 

361 ; lunch at Lord C s with, 

361, 362; intimacy with Longfel 
low, 361, 362. 

Buckstone, J. B., 171; imitation of, 
440, 441; as Sir Andrew Ague- 
cheek, 441 ; as Cousin Joe, 441. 

Buffalo, 19 ; Harry Warren, manager 
at, 392. 

Bulfinch Place, Boston, suppers in the 
old kitchen in, 390,407; William 
Warren s home in, 407. 

Bulwer, Edward, Lord Lytton, author 
of" Money" and" Lady of Lyons," 
195. 

Bunker Hill, tableau of the battle of, 
190-192. 

Burke, Charles, my half brother, 8 ; 
with company in Mississippi, 52, 
53; engagement at Arch Street 
Theater, 57; invites me to Phila 
delphia, 83 ; meets me in Philadel 
phia, 88; affection, 88; joins the 
Bowery Theater, bS; at Palmo s 
Theater, 107; harmony in acting 
with Burton, 108, 109; short life 
of, 109; reputation, 109 ; contrasted 
with Burton, no; character, style, 
genius, personal appearance, and 
domestic traits, no ; objects to my 
marriage, 127; uses influence in 
my behalf, 128; successful come 
dian, 222 ; plays early version of 
Rip Van Winkle," 226, 461. 

Burlington, la., 27. 

Burnett, James G., joint adapter of 
"Blanche of Brandywine, 189; 
arranges a tableau, 192 ; our friend 
ship, 192; character, 193; as Sir 



490 



INDEX 



Anthony Absolute, 193; as Lord 
Duberly, 193; manager of Deagle s 
Theater, 382; plays at Baltimore 
Museum, 382; in Laura Keene s 
stock company, 382. 
Burns, Robert, good advice from, 

Burnt-cork knight, the first, 6. 

Burton, W. E., manager at Arch 
Street Theater, 57, 83 ; married to 
Tom Glessing s sifter, 90; prom 
inence, 96, 97; character, style, and 
genius, 100-110; as Captain Cuttle, 
loo, 436-438; as Micawber, 100; 
as Van Dunder, 100; literary tal 
ents, loi ; editor of the " Gentle 
man s Magazine," 101 ; fondness 
for lawsuits, 101, 102; humor on 
the witness stand, 102; success 
with "The Naiad Queen," 102; 
produces "Antigone" at Arch 
Street Theater, 102-104; apolo 
gizes for Sophocles s non-appear 
ance before the curtain, 102, 103 ; 
loss on " Antigone," 104 ; domes 
tic happiness, 104, 105 ; produces 
" A Glance at New York " at Arch 
Street Theater, 105, 106; success, 
106; purchases Palmo s Theater, 
106; successfully opposes Mitch- 
ell of the Olympic Theater, 107; 
as Sir 7o&y elch, 107; death, 
108; harmony inacting with Burke, 

| 108, 109; contrasted with Burke, 
no; personal appearance, no; 
Chanfrau s imitations of, 420; 
reasons for failure in Captain Cut- 
fo* 43 7> 438 ; ultimate success, 437, 
438. 

Burton s Theater, " Dombey and 
Son " at, 436-438. 

Bushrangers, origin of, 256 ; Morgan, 

257. 258- 

Butcher s lucky chops, a, 369. 

Butler, the melodramatic villain of so 
ciety, 363, 364; superiority of 
handmaid over, 364. 

By-play, compared to distance in pic 
ture^ 446; natural, 446; proper 
and improper use of, 446-44.8. 

Byron, Henry J., dinner with Planche", 
Mathews, and, 386, 387. 

Byron, Lord, comment on a battle, 
163 ; sentimentality of, 256. 

C , John, character and genius of, 

394, 395; marvelous experiences, 
395 ; diagnoses the case of an ap 
ple-tree, 395, 396; scientific dis 
courses curtailed, 396. 



C , Lord, lunch with, 361, 362; 

simplicity of life, 362. 
Cabin windows, through the, 449. 
Cairo, 111., 47. 
Calanthe, Edwin Forrest s parting 

with, 158-160. 
Caleb Plummer, in character of, 208- 

210. 

California, start for, 229. 

Calker, an imperturbable, 278, 286, 
287. 

Callao, from Melbourne to, 275, 276 ; 
arrival at, 276; unfortunate situa 
tion and history, 279, 280 ; riot in, 
280, 281 ; incident in life of French 
consul at, 280, 281 ; Spanish theater 
in, 288-290 ; religious tableau con 
trasted with Passion Play at Ober- 
Ammergau, 290, 291 ; leave for 
Panama, 293. 

Calvary, the scene on, 289-291. 

Camp, a floating, 62 

Candle-boxes, a new use for, 145, 
146. 

Candor, Mrs,, Kate Horn as, 151. 

Captain Absolute, 400, 401. 

Captain Bunsby, John Brougham as, 

437- 
Captain Cuttle, W. E. Burton as, 100, 

436-438. 
"Captain Kidd," engagement in, at 

Amphitheater, Philadelphia, 121, 

122. 

Cardinal Wolsey,2&$. 

Careless, A. H. Davenport as, 151. 

" Carl the Shepherd," origin of " Rip 
Van Winkle," 461. 

Carpenter, the opposite sex to a, 387. 

Cartlidge, John, leading man at Ast- 
ley s Circus, 123; cast for The 
Kkan at the Amphitheater, Phila 
delphia, 123, 124; grief at deposi 
tion, 123, 124. 

Carusi s Hall, Washington, first per 
formance of " Rip Van Winkle " 
at, 227-229. 

Castlemaine, the bellman of, 239-241. 

" Castle Spectre," success of, 106. 

Cathedral and theater by daylight 
compared, 284. 

Catskill, N. Y., Rip Van Winkle 
Club in, 458; play "Rip Van 
Winkle" in, 458, 459; waiter 
identifies me as the original Rip, 
458, 459; reception at the club, 
460. 

Cemetery, my early playground in 
New York, 15, 1 6. 

Chambers Street Theater, New York, 
managed by W. E. Burton, 108. 



INDEX 



491 



Chanfrau, F. S., successful comedian, 
222,420; personality, 420; imi 
tations of Booth, 420 ; as M0se, 420. 

Chapman company, floating theater 
of, 62. 

"Charcoal Sketches," 11. 

Charity, a doubtful, 37. 

Charles Surf ace t J. E. Murdoch as, 
15 1-154 ; criticism of the character, 
153 ; Charles Mathews as, 153. 

Charleston, season at, 146-149. 

Charleston Hotel, description of, 136. 

Chatham Theater, New York, engage 
ment at, 128, 129. 

Chemical Bank, New York, in panic 
of 1857, 188. 

Chestnut Street Theater, Philadelphia, 
under management of John Gil 
bert, 149 ; appearance at, 149,150. 

Chicago, rise of, 17; first visit to, 
21 ; theater at, 22; married in, 
323 ; appear in, 324 ; connection of 
John B. Rice with, 392, 393. 

Chief Osceola, a valiant, 59. 

Childhood, my, 1-16. 

Children, dramaticinstinct in, 425,426. 

Child s acting, a, 441, 442. 

Chili and Peru, war between, 293. 

Chinese orchestra, a, 268, 269 ; value 
in its place, 359. 

Chinese theater, visit to a, 268-271. 

Chinese tragedian, a, 270, 271. 

Chorus, function of the Greek, 354. 

Choruses, requirement of space for, 

383- 
Christ, in religious tableau at Callao, 

289, 290. 

Christmas tree, a theatrical, 402. 
Chromos, place in education, 358, 

359- 

Church, the, use of drama by, 291. 
Gibber, Colley, complains of degen 
eracy of the stage, 106. 
Cincinnati, O., Alexander Drake 

manager in, 62. 
Cincinnati Dramatic Festival, invited 

to produce " The Rivals " at, 382 ; 

mishaps at, 382, 383. 
Circus, union of drama with, 118. 
Clairvoyant dog, a, 252, 253. 
Clara Douglas, scene between Alfred 

Evelyn and, 195. 
* Clari, the Maid of Milan," 27. 
Clarke, J. S., 420. 
Clarksville, Tenn., a night at, 46. 
Classics, mastering the, 150. 
Claude Melnotte, absurd speech for, 

195 ; Fechter as, 340. 
Clergyman, life of an English, 365, 

366. 



Coach-office breakfast, a, 84, 85. 

Coffin, a mystery in a, 376, 377. 

Coghlan, Rose, as The Player Queen, 
422. 

Colman, George, author of "The 
Heir at Law," 184. 

Colonel Sellers, John T. Raymond as, 
421. 

Combination, with Windham, 324; 
the system discussed, 324-328. 

Comedian, hiring by weight, 120; 
tragedian s advantage over, 220; 
must preserve gravity, 463. 

Comedians, two great, 108, 109; 
dangerous innovations by modern, 
154 ; excellence and fault of French, 
43 J legitimate, 420. 

Comedy, physical, 120; James E. 
Murdoch s style in light, 153, 154; 
compared with tragedy, 220, 429 ; 
fine details of, 429; work of the 
French Stage in, 429, 430 ; the 
life of, 432 ; important for audience 
to possess secret of, 462, 463. 

Competition and opposition" con 
trasted, 101. 

Compton, Henry, 171. 

Conservatism, 325. 

Constable, John, nature of his work, 

357- 
Conventionality, violation of, 226,423, 

^ I 24 

Cool reception, a, 297-301. 

Cooper, James Fenimore, Buck Wal 
lace s opinion of his novels, 76; 
sentimentality of, 257. 

Cordelia, 453. 

Corot, Jean B. C, a rival to, 350; 
nature of his work, 357; tardy ad 
mittance to the Salon, 423, 424. 

Corrobories, Australian, 242. 

Costume, in Lima, 283, 292 ; increased 
magnificence of, 397. 

Couldock, Charles \V., with Laura 
Keene s company, 194; as Abel 
Murcott, 194, 197; anecdote of 
Macready, 442-444. 

Country management, trials and fas 
cinations of, 114, 115, 131. 

Courage and self-confidence con 
trasted, 450. 

Cousin Joe, J. B. Buckstone as, 441. 

Craotree, Thomas Placide as, 151. 

* Cricket on the Hearth, The," 208. 

Critic, The; or, A Tragedy Re- 
hearsed," illustrations from, 435, 

Criticism, remarkable, 87; in the 
dressing-room, 97 ; newspaper, 
importance to an actor, 115; one 



492 



INDEX 



way of writing, 167, 168 ; effect of 
selfishness on, 194; of acting at 
Theatre Fraiisais, 352-355 J d g- 
matism in, 358, 359 ; just and un 
just, 422-424; of tragedy, 429; 
conditions for, of French comedy, 
429, 430. 

Crocker, John, goes to Wilmington 
by schooner, 142 ; as Romeo, 145, 
146. 

Crockett, Davy, 75. 

Crucifixion, tableau of the, 289-291. 

Culinary odors, incongruity of ghosts 
and, 457, 453. 

Cumberland, Md., terminus of stage- 
road across the Alleghanies, 88; 
opening of telegraph line from 
Baltimore to, in, 112; a good 
house in, 113; hard work in, 114, 

"5- 

Cumberland River, down the, 46. 

Cushman, Charlotte, compared with 
Mrs. James W. Wallack, Jr., So ; 
personal appearance, career, and 
kindness, 413, 414; compared 
with Mrs. Warner, 414; as Lady 
Macbeth, 414; as Queen Catherine 9 
414 ; as Meg Merrittes, 414. 

Cyprian Gossamer, in character of, 
415- 

Daly, Augustin, manager of Booth s 

Theater, 381. 
"Damon and Pythias," at Ford s 

Theater, Richmond, 158. 
Dance, Australian skeleton, 242-244. 



angi^Mr., 435*436- 
bigny, Charles F., 



nature of his 



Daubigny, 
work, 357. 

Davenport, A. H., as Careless, 151 ; 
as The Stranger, 208. 

David, 399; notes on scene between 
Bob Acres and, 446, 447. 

Dawson, I. M., as Sir Benjamin 
Backbite, 151. 

Daylesford, Australia, visit a Chinese 
theater in, 268-271. 

Deagle s Theater, St. Louis, appear at, 
382; under management of James 
Burnett, 382. 

Dean, Julia, at the Mobile Theater, 
146-148; versatility, 146; a step 
to fame, 147, 148 ; as Lady Priory, 
147, 148; appearance in Charles 
ton, 148, 149; brings success to 
Ellsler and myself, 148, 149. 

Dean & McKenney, managers of 
company in Buffalo, 19, 20. 

Desertion, trial on a charge of con 
templated, 97-100. 



Detroit, play in, 324; form combina 
tion with Windham in, 324. 

" Devil and Little Mike, The," 19. 

Devlin, Mary, as Maria, 151. 

Dialogue, effect of action compared 
with, 214, 215 ; decline in public 
favor, 396; supplemented by action, 

435 436- 

Diaz, N. V., nature of his work, 357. 

Dickens, Charles, Burton s portrayal 
of his characters, 100 ; author of 
"The Cricket on the Hearth," 
_ 208. 

Dieppe, 172. 

Discipline of a theater, 198-200. 

Distance in picture compared to by 
play in acting, 446. 

Doctor Ollapod, his harmless prescrip 
tion, 97 ; in character of, 150. 

Doctor Pangloss, in character of, 150, 
184. 

Dog, an intelligent, 246-253, 255 ; ab 
sence of, in " Rip Van Winkle," 

453- 

Dogberry, wisdom of, 116, 359. 
" Dombey and Son," at Burton s 

Theater, 436-438 ; reconstruction 

of, 437- 

Don, Sir William, first meeting with, 
133-136; engagement of, 135; in 
"Used Up" and "The Rough 
Diamond," 136; stage fright, 137, 
138; engagement a financial suc 
cess, 138 ; character of his acting, 
138, 139 ; unappreciated at Wil 
mington, 139; animal spirits of, 
139 ; in " The Bounding Brothers 
of the Pyrenees," 139; in "The 
Sprite of the Silver Shower," 
139 ; letters from, 140, 141 ; criti 
cized in Boston, 140; in Ludlow 
Street jail, 140, 141. 

Don Casar de Bazan, James Wallack, 
Sr., as, 41 ; Fechter as, 340. 

Doran, John, ** Annals of the English 
Stage," 402, 403. 

" Dot," at Winter Garden, 208, 209. 

Dot, Agnes Robertson as, 208. 

Drake, Alexander, manager in Louis 
ville and Cincinnati, 62. 

Drake, Mrs. A., personal character 
istics and ability, 415, 416, 418; 
in " Adrian and Orrilla," 415 ; let 
ters relating to, 415-418; as Widow 
Cheerly, 416 ; as Mary, 416 ; Mrs. 
Trollope s opinion of, 416; Duke 
of Saxe-Weimar s opinion of, 416; 
letter from John Howard Payne 
to, 417, 418; ludicrous incident 
in Louisville, 418-420. 



INDEX 493 

Drama, a rustic patron of the, 55 ; Duke of Gloucester ; James \V. Wai- 
union of circus with, 118 ; power lack, Jr., as, 79-81. 

of the, 259-261 ; used by early Duncan, 186. 

Church, 291 ; character of moral, Dunedin, N. Z., horrors of the coast, 

454,455; what will be the future 271. 

of the ? 462. Dusty Bob, success in London, 105. 

Dramatic action, definition of, 185- " Dutch Governor, The," \V. E. 

187 ; distinguished from panto- Burton in, 100. 

mime, 185-187; effect of, in com- Dying Gladiator, The, 6. 

edy, 185, 186 ; in " Macbeth," 186, Dyspepsia, treatment for, 212 ; a cure 

187; preferable to words, 185-187; for, 309, 310. 

compared with dialogue, 214, 215. 

Dramatic ague, 131. Earliest appearances, my, 3, 5-8. 

Dramatic author, duties as to rehear- Eavesdroppers, 97, 98. 

sa -l 433- Economy, practising, 141 ; a passion 
Dramatic company, likened to a ma- in Paris, 175. 

chine, 155, 156; to a piece of Editor, an old-time, 328-331. 

mosaic, 156. Education,place of chromos ^1,358,359. 

Dramatic effects, way to attain the Edwards, Harry, as The Priest, 422. 

best, 108, 109. Ellis, Mr., as Rowley, 151. 

Dramatic instinct, 425-427. Elliston, Robert W., 296. 

Dramatic picture, stepping out of the, EUsler, John, partnership with, 131- 

354. 149. 

Dramatic scene spoiled, a, 297-301. Elocution, combined with fine act- 
Dramatic success, hints on, 460-462 ; ing, 153 ; study of, 448. 

ephemeral and legitimate con- Emigrant, The, John Drew as, 411, 

trasted, 460, 461 ; foundation and 412. 

superstructure of, 462. Emulation and imitation contrasted, 
Dramatic writing, importance of mo- 152, 153. 

tive in, 462. England, America s first dramatic 
Drew, John, as The Emigrant, 411, challenge to, 165; sail for, 171; 

412 ; plays in Richmond, Va., contrasted with France, 172 ; reli- 

412; as Handy Andy, 412; as gious tone of Bavaria contrasted 

O Flanaghan, 412; ability, 412, with that of, 291; reception of 

413 ; as Sir Lucius O 1 Trigger, 413 ; American actors in, 344, 345. 

compared with Tyrone Power, English drama, love scenes in, 195. 

413 ; versatility, 413. English people, loyalty of, 261. 

Drew, Mrs. John, 41 2 ; as Mrs. Mala- Enoch Arden, Edwin Adams as, 323. 

prop, 400, 401; success of, 400, Enthusiasm, professional, 308, 309; 

401 ; as Lydia Langzdsh, 413. influence of, as compared with 

Drop curtain, a wonderful, 22. money, 433. 

Drumming in Vicksburg, 52. Equestrian drama, 122. 

Drunkard, a reformed, 24^-255. Equivoke scene, enjoyability of 3^463. 

Drury Lane Theater, London, Mac- Erie, Lake, 20. 

ready s Shaksperean revivals at, Erie Canal, traveling on the, 18. 

154; **The Gladiator" at, 165, Error, a popular dramatic, 184. 

166; mishaps in performance of Ethics of the stage, 199-203. 

Macbeth," 318, 319. Eucalyptus, virtues of, 245. 

Dublin, play at Gaiety Theater, 377, Europe, first visit to, 171-182. ^ 

378 ; poor success, 377, 378, 380. Evangdine and Gabriel, parting of, 
Dubuque, la., good season at, 27. 46 7- 

Duchess, The, 198, 204. Execution, enlarging the, 384, 385. 

Duchess of Devonshire, Gainsbor- Exit, importance of making a good, 

ough s portrait of, 367, 369; a 474- 

good canvasser, 369 ; kissing the Extravagance, sad results of, 334-3S 6 - 

butcher,309; theft of the portrait, Eye, growing preference for appeals 

369, 370. to the, 396, 397. 

Duck, Mrs., 420. 

Duck-shooting on the Cumberland Fair play, 344. 

River, 46. Fairyland, a dramatic, 1 77-182. 



494 



INDEX 



Fairy Star, The, 157. 

Falling \Yater, identifying with Cats- 

kill, 459. 

Fame, 277 ; on the road to, 225. 
Family reunion, a, 311, 312. 
Fandango, a, 287, 288. 
Farmers as patrons of the drama, 55- 

Farren, William, 155. 

Fechter, Charles, meeting with, 340; 
plays at Boston Theater, 340 ; as 
Claude Melnotte, 340 ; as Don Ca- 
sar de Bazan, 340 ; friendship with 
William Warren, 340, 341 ; plays 
to a select audience, 341 ; personal 
qualities and talents, 341-343 ; im 
itation of Lemaitre as Belpke gor, 
341 ; resemblance to Garrick, 342; 
failures as manager, 342; generosity 
of, 342, 343 ; retirement from Globe 
Theater, 342, 343 ; benefit, and 
disposition of its funds, 343 ; cup 
presented to, its fate and rescue, 
343, 344; in the Bulnnch Place 
kitchen, 407. 

Feeling a part, 439, 440. 

Fielding^ Mrs., Mrs. Blake as, 208. 

Fields, Mr. and Mrs. James T., at a 
memorable feast, 407, 408. 

Fifth Avenue Theater, New York, 



Fight, a Paris, 174, 175. 

First Actor, Joseph Wheelock as, 422. 

First Gravedigger, in character of, 422. 

First love, my, 73. 

First night s audience, nature of, 165. 

Fitzgerald, Percy, author of "Romance 

of the English Stage," 450 ; story 

of Edmund Kean, 450. 
Flatboat, down the Cumberland River 

on a, 46. 

Flattery, effect of, 350. 
Fletcher, John, 6. 
Florence, W. J., 222, 420; as Second 

Gravedigger, 422. 
Florence Dombey, 438. 
Florida, murder of actors by Indians 

in, 60. 

Fly, the sjnder and the, 351. 
Flying artillery in Mexican War, 66. 
Fool, The, Placide as, 107. 
Foote, Sam, character of his work, 221. 
Forbes, William C., company attacked 

by Indians in Florida, 60. 
Ford, John T., 157. 
Ford s Theater, Richmond, become 

manager at, 157; "The Sea of 

Ice at, 157 ; The Naiad Queen 

at, 157: "Damon and Pythias" 

at, 158, 



Forrest, Edwin, imitations of, 87, 420 5 
at Ford s Theater, Richmond, 157- 
160; personal appearance, acting, 
and character, 157-170; as Jack 
Cade, 157; as Virginius* 157; as 
Metamora, 1 60 ; laughable mishap 
at rehearsal, 158-160; series of 
mishaps in Metamora, 160-165; 
my ultimatum to, 161 ; career in 
London, 165-167; appearance in 
"The Gladiator," 165 ; second visit 
to England, 166; jealousy of Mac- 
ready, 166, 167; as Othello, 167; 
as King Lear, 167; as Hamlet, 
167; attempted persecution of, 167, 
168; violent temper, 168; gener 
osity, 1 68; decline, 168-170; quar 
rel with John B. Rice, 394. 

Forrest and Macready riots, 344. 

Forrest Home, the, 168. 

Forster, John, English dramatic critic, 
166. 

Fort Brown, bombardment of, 67. 

Fortune, guarding a, 113, 114. 

Foster, Charles, as Mazeppa, 123; as 
St. George, 125, 126. 

Foster, Joseph, stage-manager at Phila 
delphia Amphitheater, 118; career 
and abilities, 118, 119, 122, 123; 
gives me an engagement, 119, 120. 

Foster-mother, my, 8-10. 

Fox, Charles James, an eager canvas 
ser for, 369. 

" Fra Diavolo," 294. 

France, first visit to, 1725 contrasted 
with England, 172; spend summer 
in, 345 ; contrasted with United 
States, 352. 

Francisco, Frank Mordaunt as, 422. 

Frank Oatland, 223. 

French and Spanish women con 
trasted, 283. 

French comedians, glaring fault in, 

43- 

French comedy, 179, 180, 429, 430; 
conditions for criticism of, 429, 

430- 

French consul at Callao, incident in 
life of, 280, 281. 

French drama, love scenes in, 195. 

French loyalty and art contrasted, 176, 
177. 

French teacher, our, 346, 347. 

French thrift, 37, 38. 

Frith, W. P., invitation from, 367. 

Funeral, a midnight, 284. 

Fungi mortem, the deadly apple-tree 
disease, 396. 

Furnished houses, drawbacks in hir 
ing, 350-352. 



INDEX 



495 



Gabriel and Evangeline, parting of, 
467. 

Gaiety Theater, Dublin, play with 
poor success at, 377, 378, 380. 

Gainsborough, Thomas, portrait of 
Duchess of Devonshire, 367, 369, 
370; " Going to the Spring," 368; 
portrait of Garrick, 368 ; other 
paintings, 368. 

Galena, 111., 24; perilous journey to 
Dubuque from, 25. 

Gallatin to Lebanon, walking from, 45. 

Galveston, Tex., engagement in, 57; 
feeling about Mexican War in, 65. 

Gambling in Lima, 293. 

" Gamester, The," in Charles Kean s 
repertory, 264 ; criticized, 264, 265. 

u Gamin de Paris, Le," in a Chinese 
theater, 269. 

Gardener, an old Scotch, 373-375. 

Garrick, David, contemporary of 
Foote, 221 ; resemblance of Fech- 
ter to, 342; portrait at the Garrick 
Club, 362 ; portrait by Gainsbor 
ough, 368 ; criticized by Quin, 
4?3. 

Garrick Club, London, pictures at, 
362. 

Generosity compared with caution, 

35- 

Genius, 432, 450, 451 ; Art the hand 
maid of, 432 ; compared with talent, 

432 ; source of, 451. 
"Gentleman s Magazine, The," 

edited by W. E. Burton, 101 ; 

contributed to by Poe, 101. 
Germon, Jane, as Lady Sneerwell, 

151. 

Gesticulation, study of, 448. 
Ghost, The, Lawrence Barrett as, 422?. 
Ghosts, incongruity of culinary odors 

and, 45 7, 45& 
Gilbert, John, manager of Chestnut 

Street Theater, 149; criticism on 

my changes in " The Rivals," 402 ; 

at William Warren s grave, 409; 

as Polonius, 422. 
" Gilded Age, The," John T. Ray- 

mond in, 421. 
" Gladiator, The," Edwin Forrest in, 

165. 
" Glance at New York, A," at Arch 

Street Theater, 105, 106. 
Glasgow, appear at Theater Royal, 

37 2 - 

Glavis, 46. 
Glen Cove, "W. E. Burton builds 

country house at, 108. 
Glessiug, Tom, scenic artist at Arch 

Street Theater, 88-93 > our friend 



ship, 88-90, 332 ; adventure with 
an Indian, 91, 92; rehearsing a 
speech, 91-93; re-meeting with, 
331; his roses, 331; ingenuity, 
mechanical and argumental, 331, 

33 2 - 

Globe Theater, Boston, Fechter s re 
tirement from, 342, 343. 

" Going to the Spring," picture by 
Gainsborough, 368. 

Goldfinch, in character of, 224. 

Goldsmith, Oliver, works of, some 
times overshadowed by inferior 
plays, 106; Robertson s estimate 
of, 318. 

Golightly, Mr., criticism of the char 
acter, 153. 

" Good Old Days of Adam and Eve, 
The, "87. 

Goose, Mrs., 420. 

Gough, John B., his mission con 
trasted with mine, 455. 

Grand Gulf, Miss,, experiences in, 

5 2 - 

Grand Opera, Paris, 176. 

Grand operas, requirement of space 

for, 383. 
Grand Spanish Saloon, Matamoras, 

in refreshment business in, 68; 

murder in, 76, 77. 
Greek pirate and American sailor, 14, 

*5- 

Greek tragedy, W. E. Burton s pre 
dilection for, 102, 104. 

Greenroom, early recollections of the, 
4, 5 ; a perfect gem, 23. 

Gregory, Dr. John, 373. 

Gregory mansion, 373~375> celeb 
rities entertained in, 374. 

Gregory, Miss, 373; favorite parrot, 

Greuhen, 454- 

Guide, a Paris, 176-179, 181, 182; 
a misleading, 360, 361 ; an invalu 
able, 468, 469. 

Guildenstern, Lawrence Hanley as, 
422. 

Gunnjohn, 377. 

Gunn, Michael, 377; suggests mak 
ing Rip Van VVinkU an Irishman, 

378. 
Guying, 215-220. 

Hackett, James H., in New Orleans, 
48; defects in his acting, 138; a 
successful comedian, 222; plays 
early version of ** Rip Van Win 
kle/ 226, 461. 

Hamlet, 445; Edwin Forrest as, 167; 
an Australian manager s opinion 



496 



INDEX 



of, 236 ; adapted for large theaters, 
383 ; Edwin Booth as, 422 ; sim 
plicity of instructions to the Play 
ers, 455. 

" Hamlet," a finer play than, 316; 
Lester Wallack testimonial, 422. 

Hancock, Gen. W. S., dine with, 329. 

Handy Andy, John Drew as, 412. 

Hanford, Charles, as Rosencrantz, 
422. 

Hanley, Lawrence, as Guildenstern 9 
422. 

Hardcastle, Miss, 463. 

Harmony, in acting, 108, 109; im 
portance in works of art, 156. 

Hartz Mountains, source of legend of 
" Rip Van Winkle," 461. 

Havana cigars made in Vicksburg, 
52- 

Haymarket Theater, London, J. E. 
Murdoch at, 153, 154; Tyrone 
Power at, 221. 

Haymarket Theater, Melbourne, 239 ; 
appear at, 259. 

Heart and head in acting, 439. 

"Heir at Law, The," at Chestnut 
Street Theater, 150; at Laura 
Keene s Theater, 184. 

"Henry IV.," 221. 

Hercules and the Lion, 6. 

Hidden treasure, 466. 

Highland castle, a, 370. 

High life in the country, 370, 371. 

Hill, George H., 222. 

Hill, Barton, as Lord Lowell, 130. 

Hissing, decline of, 49, 50; rare in 
America, 218. 

HobartTown, Tasmania, "The Ticket- 
of- Leave Man" in, 259-261; a 
sympathetic audience, 259-261 ; 
triumphant success in, 260. 

Hogarth, William, artificiality of char 
acters, 398. 

Holcroft, Thomas, author of "The 
Road to Ruin," 224. 

Holland, George, 336 ; friendship 
with, 337-340 ; character and 
practical jokes, 337, 338; death 
and funeral of, 338-340. 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, at a memo 
rable feast, 407, 408. 

Holt, Clarence, manager of Dunedin 
Theater, 271. 

" Home, Sweet Home," under diffi 
culties, 27. 

Hope, 35, 336. 

Horatio, John A. Lane as, 422. 

Horn, Kate, as Mrs. Candor, 151. 

Horsemanship, a ludicrous exhibition 
of poor, 125-127. 



Hotels, playing in, 54, 427. 

Houston, Tex. , playing in, 5 7 ; " Rich 
ard III." in, 62-65. 

Howard Athenaeum, Boston, in stock 
company at, 406. 

Howe, J. B., as Trip, 151. 

Huron, Lake, sunset on, 20. 

lago, 220. 

Ichabod Crane, John T. Raymond as, 

421. 
Idealism, important factor in dramatic 

art, 456. 
Illustration, increase of, in magazines 

and newspapers, 397. 
Imagination, fertile, II, 12; influence 

of, 456. 
Imitation and emulation contrasted, 

152, 153- 
Imitators, 87, 420, 440 ; anecdote of 

Buckstone, 440, 441. 
"Independence Day," Mrs. Barney 

Williams s song, 410. 
Indian, Tom Glessing s adventure 

with an, 91, 92. 
Indianapolis, Tom Glessing s cottage 

at, 331. 332. 

Indians, the stage variety contrasted 
with the genuine, 59; murder, 
actors in Florida, 60 ; in the toggery 
of the legitimate drama, 60 ; hung 
for murder, 60 ; their respect for the 
drama distrusted, 60; theatrical 
weapons against, 61 ; murder Buck 
Wallace s wife and child, 75 ; 
Wallace s opinion of " Boston 
Indians," 76; how to deal with, 
92; Cooper s erroneous descrip 
tion of, 257. 

Industry the superstructure of dra 
matic success, 462. 

Informers, theatrical, 97, 98. 

Ingenuity, dramatic, 1 86, 463. 

Inspiration, 431, 432. 

Instinct, dramatic, 425-427. 

Instruction in the dramatic art, 448, 
449. 

Interest in character, importance of 
actor feeling, 442-445. 

Introductions (interpolations), actor s 
right to make, 184; in "The Ri 
vals," 401. 

Intuition, 432. 

Inventors, fate of, 112, 326. 

Investments, dubious, 393, 304. 

Ireland, Joseph N., " Records of the 
New York Stage," 14. 

Irish blood, an attribute of, 101. 

" Irish Emigrant, The," John Drew 
in, 41 1, 412. 



INDEX 



497 



Irish servant girl, Barney Williams s, 
411. 

"Iron Chest, The, " 44. 

Irving, Washington, * Life and Let 
ters of, " 224 ; am complimented 
by, 225; "The Sketch Book," 
225; "Rip Van "Winkle," 225; 
letter to John Miller, 415, 410; 
author of b * Wolfert s Roost," 421 ; 
am introduced as, 460 ; exaltation 
of " Carl the Shepherd " into " Rip 
Van Winkle," 461. 

Itinerant actor, hopeful disposition of, 

Itinerant theatricals, pleasures of, ill. 
Ivy, beauty and ill effects of, 375. 

Jack Cade, Edwin Forrest as, 157. 

Jack Gong, Paul Bedford as, 304. 

Jarrett, Henry C., the railroad mana 
ger, 151; produces "The School 
for Scandal" in Washington, 151, 
152, 154-156- 

Jealousy, sometimes useful, 82 ; pro 
fessional, 1 1 6-1 1 8, 211, 447. 

Jefferson, Joseph (my father), hope 
ful nature, 17; death, 36. 

Jefferson, Margaret C., death of, 229. 

Jefferson, Sarah, sickness of, 376. 

Jefferson, Cornelia F. T., as Clari, 27 ; 
keeps boarding-house, 37; vicissi 
tudes in life of, 54; death, 118. 

Jefferson, Cornelia, acts as bridesmaid 
at my wedding, 128. 

Jefferson, Lieut Frank, commander 
of Queen Victoria s yacht, 310. 

Jefferson,_ Rev. Joseph, visit from, 
364-367. 

Jefferson, Tom, letter from, and hos 
pitality of, 310, 311. 

Jefferson features, 365. 

Jem Baggs, 103. 

"Jim Crow," 6-8. 

Job Thomberry, 223. 

John, my Man Friday, 469. 
ohn Bull, a little, 366. 

John Peerybingle, Harry Pearson as, 
208. 

Johnson, T. B., as Tackleion, 208. 

Joke, a cruel, 391, 392. 

Joseph Surface, J. W. Wallack, Jr., as, 
151. 

Juliet, 265 ; playing under difficulties, 
145, 146. 

"Julius Caesar," mishaps in, at Cin 
cinnati Dramatic Festival, 383. 

Katrina, 421. 

Kean, Charles, in New Orleans, 47, 
48; in the English colonies, 261 ; 



success of, 261 ; effects of age on, 

261, 262, 265, 267, 268; character, 
265-268 ; comment on the boome 
rang, 266; contrasted with Aus 
tralian black, 266, 267. 

Kean, Mrs. Charles, in New Orleans, 
48; in the English colonies, 261, 

262, 265, 267, 268 ; character, 267, 
268. 

Kean, Edmund, as Richard ///., 
drawing of, 205, 206 ; offends the 
Kembles, 423 ; early trials of, 449, 
450; success on first appearance in 
London, 450, 451. 

Keene, Laura, opens theater in New 
York, 183 ; engages me for leading 
comedy, 183; judgment in regard 
to plays, 184, 185; ability and in 
dustry, 187, 189-191, 205; pro 
duces "Splendid Misery," 189; 
produces "Blanche of Brandy- 
wine," 189-192; earlier experi 
ence, 190; arranging a tableau, 
190-192; produces " Our American 
Cousin," 193; her diamonds, 194; 
in "Our American Cousin," 197; 
misunderstandings with, 198-200, 
202-204; produces "A Midsum 
mer Night s Dream," 203-205 ; as 
Puck, 204; last days of, 205 ; part 
ing gifts from, 205, 206 ; death , 206 ; 
personal appearance, versatility, 
and character, 206; in "The Sea 
of Ice," 206. 

Kelcey, Herbert, as Bernardo, 422. 

Kellogg, Gertrude, as The Queen, 
422. 

Kemble, Charles, traces of his school 
of acting, 152; as Mercutio, 154. 

Kemble, Fanny, early recollections 
of, 5. 

Khan, The, John Cartlidge cast for, 
123, 124. 

Kidd, Captain, 466. 

Kidd, Captain," at the Amphitheater, 
Philadelphia, 121, 122. 

Killmist, Mr., offers me place at 
Washington Theater, 97; theater 
burned, 100. 

King, the mimic before the real, 
430. 

King Claudius, Frank Mayo as, 422. 

King Lear, Edwin Forrest as, 167; 
Samuel Phelps as, 171 ; compared 
with Rip Van Winkle, 452, 453. 

Kingsley, Charles, meeting with, 
360. 

Kiss in the Dark, A," at St. Charles 
Theater, 79. 

Koehler, Charles, as Osric, 422. 



498 



INDEX 



Lady Anne, warned to beware of a 
bigamist, 64. 

Lady Macbeth, 220, 265 ; Charlotte 
Cushman as, 414. 

"Lady of Lyons, The," at Clarks- 
ville, Tenn., 46 ; in Mississippi, 56 ; 
love scenes in, 195 ; William War 
ren in, 405. 

Lady Priory, Julia Dean as, 147, 148. 

Lady Sneerwell, JaneGermon as, 151. 

Lady Teazle, 398; Lizzie Weston as, 

151- 

Laertes, Eben Plympton as, 422. 

Lafitte, Captain, buccaneer and slave- 
trader, 464-466, 469 ; at battle of 
New Orleans, 465. 

L J Ami Fritz," at the Theatre Fran- 
$ais,35 3 . 

Land, Agnes, 230. 

Landry, Pierre, an Acadian patriarch, 
469-474; as peacemaker, 471; 
grave of, 474. 

Landscape painting, French school of, 
35 6 .357; difficulties of, 356, 357; 
secret of, 356, 357. 

Landslip, a great, 279, 280. 

Lane;, John A., as Horatio, 422. 

Language and action compared, 214, 
215. 

Laughter a cure for dyspepsia, 309, 310. 

Laurel wreath, pleasure and pain with 
a, 408. 

Lawsuit, exhilarating effects of a 
threatened, 99. 

Lawyer meets his match, 102. 

Lawyers, dramatic wiles of, 426. 

Legitimate comedians, 420. 

Lemaitre, Frederic, Fechter s admira 
tion for, 341; imitation of, 341, 
342. 

Lepard, George, 189. 

Le Vert, Madame, 38-40. 

Levick, Milnes, as Second Actor, 422. 

Lewis, Monk, au thor of** Casde Spec 
tre," ic6. 

"Life in London," 105. 

likeness, family, 310, 311. 

Lima, Peru, visit to, 281-293; se , w - 
erage, 281, 282 ; beauty of ladies, 
282, 283 ; cavaliers, 282, 283 ; use 
of gas, 282 ; theater, 282 ; manners 
and customs of the theater, 283, 
284 ; costume, 283, 292 ; the Grand 
Plaza, 284; the cathedral, 284, 
285 ; beggars, 285, 286; lack of rain, 
291 ; scenery, 291-293 ; gambling, 

293- 
Lincoln, Abraham, in defense of the 

drama, 30. 
Lion-hunter, a female, 419. 



Listeners, the usual fate of, 306. 

Literature and art, powers compared 
with drama, 259. 

Lithographs, early use of, 236, 237. 

Little Church Around the Corner, 
christening the, 340. 

Littleton Coke, criticism of the charac 
ter, 153. 

Liverpool, appear in, 321. 

* Living Statues, The," 6. 

London, first visit to, 1 71 ; arrive in, 
301 ; settle in, 303 ; first appear 
ance in, 310; remarkable effects 
of its atmosphere, 311; pleasant 
society in, 313 ; reception of Ameri 
can actors in, 344-345 ; revisit in 
1875, 345 J engagement with Mr. 
Chatterton, 345 ; letting furnished 
houses in, 351, 352; return from 



Paris to, 359 ; play long engage 
ment at Princess s Theater, 359; 
dinner-giving in, 359, 360; clubs 



of, 362; critical society of, 363; 
live on Belsize Avenue, 304." 

Longfellow, Henry Wads worth, in 
timacy with Browning, 361, 362; 
kindness of, 362 ; at a memorable 
feast, 407, 408; scene from " Evan- 
geline," 467. 

Lord JBurZeigk, 435, 436. 

Lord Duberly, James G. Burnett as, 

193- 

Lord Dundreary, Sothern s early 
dread of the character, 194; Soth- 
ern as, 197, 198. 

Lord Lovett, Barton Hill as, 130. 

Louisiana, my plantation in, 393, 464 
476. 

Louisville, Alexander Drake manager 
in, 62 ; meet George D. Prentice 
in, 328. 

"Louis XL," a private rehearsal in a 
public place, 263; in Charles 
Kean s repertory, 265. 

Love scenes, general weakness of 
dramatic, 195 ; English and French 
compared, 195; Sardou s, 195; 
Bulwer s, 195 ; " Romeo and Ju 
liet," 195. 

Loving couple, a, 364-367. 

Loyalty, of French contrasted with 
their devotion to art, 176, 177; of 
English people, 261. 

Lucilius, Seneca s advice to, 474. 

Ludlow & Smith, managers of St 
Charles Theater, 47, 79; theatri 
cal partnership, 115 ; managers of 
Mobile Theater, 146. 

Ludlow Street Jail, Sir William Don 
in, 140; an invitation to, 141. 



INDEX 



499 



Lunatic asylum, a floating, 47. 

Lutz, John, recognizes merits of 
"Our American Cousin," 193; 
manager for Laura Keene, 204. 

Lyceum, New York, under manage 
ment of Brougham, 315; under 
James Wallack, 315. 

Lyceum Theater, London, Fechter s 
failure at, 342. 

Lydia Languish, Mrs. John Drew as, 
4I3. 

McAllister, keeper of billiard saloon in 
Memphis, 32. 

McAllister, Mrs., an appeal by one 
woman to another, 34. 

Macbeth, 186, 187, 220, 265 ; Samuel 
Phelpsas, 171, 319. 

"Macbeth," dramatic action in, 186, 
187; mishaps in, at Drury Lane 
Theater, 318, 319; impropriety of 
realism in, 457, 458. 

McCullough, John, 421. 

McKenzie & Jefferson, build theater 
in Springfield, 111., 28, 29 ; dissolu 
tion of partnership, 31. 

Macon, Ga., successful season in, 132. 

Macready, William, early recollec 
tions of, 5 ; in Mobile, 41 ; char 
acter, 41-44; singeing his wig, 
42; as Werner, 42,442-444; on 
the war-path, 43 ; influence of his 
style upon James W. Wallack, Jr., 
80 ; Snaksperean revivals at Drury 
Lane Theater, 154; troubles with 
Forrest, 166, 167 ; Chanfrau s imi 
tations of, 420; Mrs. Warner s 
criticism of, 442-444. 

Macready and Forrest riots, 344. 

"Mad Arithmetician, The," by 
Charles Mathews,386. 

Madison Square Theater, New York, 
Charles Mathews s fondness for, 



Maid of the Inn, The," Mrs. Drake 

in, 416. 
Major Bagstock, John Brougham as, 

437- 

Major Oakly, criticism of the charac 
ter, 153. 

Malaprop, Mrs., Mrs. John Drew as, 
400, 401. 

Malvolw,^, R. Blake as, 107; Sam 
uel Phelps as, 171. 

Management, love for, 141. 

Manager, enthusiasm of a, 58, 59; 
qualities of a successful, 131, 132; 
a star in search of a, 135 ; from 
lamplighter to, 235 ; the most use- 
fol, 456. 



Managers, a word as to, 183, 184. 

Manchester, play " Rip Van Winkle " 
and "The Parish Clerk" in, 321. 

Mandillos, 70. 

Maoris, physical features of, 272. 

Marble, Danford, 20, 222. 

Marcellus, Edwin H. Vanderfelt as, 
422. 

Maria, Mary Devlin as, 151. 

Marie Antoinette, thoughts of, 173. 

Mark Antony, 383; in a queer pre 
dicament, 383. 

Marfow, 463. 

Marrall, cast for, 129. 

Marriage, my first, 127, 128; my sec 
ond, 323. 

Mary, my foster-mother, 8-1 o; death, 
40. 

Mary, Mrs. Drake as, 416. 

" Masaniello," overture in Lima Ca 
thedral, 284. 

Massachusetts vs. South Carolina, 
276, 278, 279. 

Matamoras, Mex., occupied by United 
States army, 67 ; reopening old 
Spanish theater in, 67; close of 
theater, default of manager, ^and 
dissolution of company, 67 ; open 
coffee and cake stand, 68? j>en- 
alty for murder, 69 ; early closing; 
71, 72; houses and life in, 72; 
voyage to Brazos Santiago from, 
78. 

Maternal affection in Australia, 7.44. 

Mathews, Charles (the elder), char 
acter of his work, 221. 

Mathews, Charles, as Charles Surf off, 
153; as Roderigo, 154; on the 
character of Mercutio, 154; fond 
ness for Madison Square Theater, 
383* 384; character, talents, and 
humor, 385-392; trip on Flying 
Scotchman with, 386; dinner with 
Byron, Planche, and, 386, 387; 
philosophy of, 387 ; sympathy and 
affection, 387, 388; repertory of, 
389; unsuccessful engagement at 
Boston Theater, 390 ; jokes on the 
subject, 390-392 ; in the Bulftnch 
Place kitchen, 407. 

May, Capt Charles A., charge of, at 
batde of Resaca de la Palma, 67. 

May Fielding, Mrs. J. H. Allen as, 
208. 

Mayo, Frank, as King Claudius, 422. 

" Mazeppa," at Amphitheater, Phila 
delphia, 123. 

Mechanical contrivances, increase in 
use of, 397. 

Mechanical ingenuity, 144. 



500 INDEX 

Millies, Charlotte Cushmanas, 
MeLtier contrasted with Millet, 



Melbourne, Viet., from Sydney to, as They Were and Maids as They 

239, 273; successful season at Are, at, 147, 140- 

Princess s Theater, 239; Hay- Modjeska, Helena, as Ophelm^. 

market Theater, 239; return to, Moliere, comedies of, at the Theatre 

259; play at Haymarket Theater, trancais, 354. 

259; voyigeto New Zealand from, " Money," love scenes in, 195. 

271 ; to Callao from, 275, 276. Monterey, march on, 67. 

Melbourne Argus, excellence of criti- Montgomery, Walter, in the Bulfinch 

cisms in 2?g Pla . ce kitchen, 407. 

Melodrama, duties of low comedian in, Moonlight, acting by, 56; musings by, 

I20 121 173*374; sleeping in the, 254. 

Memphis, 47 ; first visit to, 31 5 inter- Moral drama, character of, 454, 455- 

view with mayor of, 31 ; passage to Mordaunt Frank, as ifranasco, 422. 

Mobile from, 33-36. Morgan, Australian bushranger, 25 7, 



Scotland, residence at, 

lS Charles, marries Mw*\ F. 3 S?*Chanfrau as, 420. 
illiams 410. Moses, appearance as, 151. 

as, 160; "Mother? Pet, The," in a Chinese 



mishaps to Forrest in, 

Metropolitan Opera House, New writing, 462. 

York, Lester Wallack s testimonial Mowatt, Anna Cora, m New Orleans, 

at 421, 422 : cast, 422. 4 ; defects in her acting, 138. 

Mette W 77 78 Munden, Joseph S., portrait of, at 

E^V^^ut^akof, 6 5 . ^ Garrick ciA, 362. 

Mexico life in 72. Murdoch, James E., as Charles Star- 

$3i?w! f Burton as, loo. >ta, 151-154; ^T^n^hi 

Michigan, Lake, 21. ginality of, 152-154; style in light 

"Midfummer Night s Dream," pro- comedy, 153, 54; at Haymarket 

duced by Laura Keene, 203-205. Theater, London, 153, 154- 

Miller, John, letter from Washington Murray River, visit to region of, 

Millet! F.! 5 afld*picture by, 355; Myft^ryfpieasure in, 333; a dark, 

apostrophe to, 355 ; treatment by 376, 377- 



SiedM "Naiad Queen, <Hie,at Ford s The- 

Tonier, 385. ater Richmond, 157. 

Mirabel, criticism of the character, Nashville, Tenn., 45. 

jt 3 . Natchez, Miss., Tom Glessmg s ad- 
Missionary, New Zealand use for, venture at, 91-93* . . . , 

272> J * Nature, resentment of imitation, 356, 
Mississippi, Charles Burke with com- 357; on the stage, 453, 454- 

pany in, 52, 53 ; barn-storming Nautical drama, propriety of realism 

in, 54-57; traveling through, 57. in, 457- 

Mississippi River, scenery in the, 25; Neal, Joe, n. 

fishing in, 35; up the, 48; float- Neal, Mrs., 11-13- , , ^ 

ing theater on, 62. Necessity the foster-mother of art, 
Missouri River, floating theater on, 449- ^ .. _ .., . , . 

6 2 . Neptune, The, sail for England in, 

Misiher O* Winkle, 378. I7*- 

Mitchell, William, manager of the Nervousness at meeting new corn- 

Olympic Theater, 107; conflict pany, 303. . 

with W. E. Burton, 107; stricken New Englander, how depicted, 20. 

with paralysis, 107. Newman ftoggs, in character of, 209, 



INDEX 



501 



New Orleans, voyage from Brazos 
Santiago, to, 78 ; American Thea 
ter closed, 80; Lafitte at battle of, 

465- 

Newspaper controversies, 101. 
Newspaper criticism, importance of, 

to an actor, 115. 
Newspapers, increase of illustration 

"NTw Way to Pay Old Debts, A," 
play Marrall in, 129. 

New York, great fire of 1835, 13; 
first appearance in, 14, 15 ; early 
residence in James Street, 15 ; my 
cemetery playground in, 15, 16 ; 
marriage at old church in Oliver 
Street, 128; shipping actors to 
Wilmington by schooner from, 
141-143 ; fishing in Union Square, 
337, 338 ; Fechter s failure in, 342 ; 
reception of English actors in, 344, 

345- 

New Zealand, from Melbourne to, 
271; .success in, 272; use for 
missionaries in, 272; to Sydney 
from, 272. 

New Zealanders, dramatic instinct in, 
425. 

Nick Vedder, Paul Bedford as, 
304. 

Nimrod, The, embark from San Fran 
cisco for Sydney on, 231. 

Norfolk Island, 232. 

North vs. South, on the stage, 213- 
215. 

Notoriety, evil effects of desire for, 

334* 
Notre Dame, Paris, moonlight view 

of, 173- 

Novices, ephemeral success of some, 
460, 461. 

Ober-Ammergau, religious tableau at 
Callao contrasted with the Passion 
Play at, 290, 291. 

O Connell, Daniel, letter from John 
Howard Payne to, 416, 417. 

" Octoroon, The," difficulty with the 
management in, 211-213; power 
ful influence of, 213-215 j produced 
in Sydney, 239. 

O 1 Flanaghan, John Drew as, 412. 

O Grafyj John Brougham as, 314. 

O Grady, Father, fellow-passenger on 
the Nimrod, 231; calls on me in 
Sydney, with his wife, 273 ; apos 
trophe" to, 283. 

Ohio River, down the, 46, 47; float 
ing theater on, 62. 

Old friends, disloyalty of, 194. 



Olympic Theater, New York, man 
aged by William Mitchell, 107 ; end 
of conflict between Burton and, 
107. 

O. P. riots, 296. 

Opera, the, Paris, 355. 

Opera Comique, the, Paris, 294, 355. 

Operas, grand, requirement of space 
for, 383. 

Ophelia, Helena Modjeska as, 422. 

Opposition and competition contrasted, 
101. 

Orange groves, profits from, 394. 

Oratorio compared with acting, 428. 

Orchestra, a panic-stricken, 126, 127; 
a Chinese, 268; perils surround 
ing an, 163. 

Originality in acting, 152, 153. 

Osric, Charles Koehler as, 422. 

Othello^ 220 ; Edwin Forrest as, 167. 

" Our American Cousin," early rejec 
tion of, 193; produced by Laura 
Keene, 193; success of, 193, 194, 
196-198, 200, 203; value of the 
love scene in, 194-196; strong cast 
in, 197; secure right of starring 
with, 205 ; results, 207 ; my first 
serious work in, 209; as Asa 
Trenchard in, 222 ; produced in 
Sydney, 239. 

Overtoiling, evil effects of, 229. 

Owens, John E., 222, 420; as Mr. Pit- 
tibone, 79, Si, 82 ; his fine acting, 
8x, 82. 

Pacific coast, a misnomer, 279, 280. 

Pacific Ocean, 275, 276. 

Painters, extravagances of some in 
London, 362, 363 ; subject to bias 
at hands of brother artists,423, 424. 

Painting, 348, 350; secret of land 
scape, 356, 357; compared with 
acting, 384, 385, 428 ; analogy be 
tween poetry, music, and, 428. 

Pakenham, General, 465. 

Palais Royal, Paris, 177, 353, 355. 

Palmo s Theater, New York, pur 
chased by W. E. Burton, 1 06; 
strength of company at, 107. 

Palo Alto, Mex., battle of, 66. 

Panama, voyage from Callao to, 293- 
295 ; cool reception in, 297-301 ; 
leave for England, 301. 

Panic of 1837, effects on theatrical 
matters, 52. 

Panic of 1857, 187-189. 

Pantomime, distinguished from dra 
matic action, 185-187; English, 
312, 313; value of, 435, 436; ne 
cessity of harmony with scene, 445. 



502 INDEX 

Paradise Valley, Pa., summering at, Philosophical discussions, decline of, 

224. in modern plays, 397. 

Paris, first visit to, 173; Hotel Byron, Philosophy, inborn, 33, 34. 

173; a terrible fight at, 174; econ- Physiognomy, a curious fact about, 

omy in, 175; second visit to, 176, 250,251. 

177; a guide in, 176-179, 181, Pigs and "Home, Sweet Home," 27, 

182; theatrical wardrobe shops in, 28. 

177-182; guyed in, 179, 180; re- Pioneer, The, canal-boat, 1 8. 

turn to America from, 182 ; third Pirate of the Gulf, the, 465, 469. 

visit to, 346 ; Hotel Mirabeau, Pitcairn Islanders, 232. 

346; our flat in Avenue d Eylau, Pittibone, Mr,, John E. Owens as, 

346, 348-351 ; engage French 79, 81, 82. 

teacher in, 346, 347 ; scenery Pizarro, 281. 

around, 348; furnished houses in, Placide, Henry, as The Fool, 107; as 

351; sacrednessofartin,352; art Sir Peter Teazle, 151, 154, 155; 

galleries of, 355. follows style of Farren, 155; his 

" Parish Clerk, The," play in Man- career, 155. 

Chester in, 321. Placide, Thomas, as Crabtree, 151. 

Parrot s coffin, a, 376, 377. Planche", James R., 313 ; dinner with 

Partnerships, theatrical, 115, 116. Mathews, Byron, and, 386, 387. 

Passion Play at Ober-Ammergau con- Plantation songs, 468. 

trasted with religious tableau at Play, community that never saw a, 

Callao, 290, 291. 55-57; likened to a picture, 157; 

Past vs. Present, 422-424. on altering text of, 201. 

Patent theaters, privileges of, 368. Player Queen, The, Rose Coghlan as, 
Patriarch, an Acadian, 469-474- 4*2. _ 

Pauline, 195. Players, The, simplicity of Hamlet s 

Path Pry, 103. instructions to, 455. 

Pawn, getting an actor s wardrobe out Playground, a strange, 15, 1 6. 

of, 136. Playhouse, my first, 1-5. 

Pavne, John Howard, author of "Clari, Plays, literary merit of, 184, 185 ; old- 
"the Maid of Milan," and of fashioned, 264, 265. 

" Home, Sweet Home," 27 ; letter Plympton, Eben, as Laertes, 422. 

to Daniel O Connell, 415-41 7; let- " Pocahontas," written by John 

ter to Mrs. Drake, 417, 418; Brougham, 3 15, 316; played under 

scheme for periodical, 41 7. difficulties, 315-31 7- 

Pearson, Harry, as John Peerybingle, Pocahontas. John Brougham as, 317. 

208. Pocono Mountain, Pa., summering 

Pedestrian exercise, 45. near, 224. 

Peldn, 111., play in a pork house in, 27. Poe, Edgar Allan, contributes to the 
Peoria, 111., 27. " Gentleman s Magazine," 101 ; 

Perry, Harry, 230. quarrels with Burton, 101. 

Persecutions, early, 9, 10. Poetical speeches, decline of, in 

Peru and Chili, war between, 293. modern plays, 397. 

Peruvian, scalping a, 5, 6. Poetry, analogy bet ween music, acting, 

Peruvian bark, a heavy dose of, 277. painting, and, 428. 

Phelps, Samuel, versatility of, 171 ; as Point Isabel, Tex., voyage to, 66. 

Macbeth, 171, 319 ; as SirPtrtinax Point of view to be regarded in paint- 

McSycophant, 171; as Maholio, ing and acting, 384, 385. 

171; as Xing Lear f iji; as Sir Poker, a British estimate of, 136. 

Anthony Absolute, 171 ; as Bottom, Police, theatrical contempt for, 313. 

171. Policeman, hooking a, 338. 

Philadelphia, myplace of birth, 14; Politics and art, 352. 

Arch Street Theater managed by Poloniw, John Gilbert as, 422 ; sim- 

W. E. Burton, 57, 83 ; a desperado plicity of advice to his son, 455. 

from, 75; death and burial of Pork-house, playing in, 27. 

my mother at, 118; the Amphi- Port Gibson, Miss., Charles Burke s 

theater-at, 118. company in, 53 ; arrival at, 54. 

Phillips, Mr., stage-manager at Adel- Posturing, 6. 

phi Theater, 305. Pot-luck, definition of, 140. 



INDEX 



503 



Povey, John, agent for Charles Ma- 
thews, 391 ; cruel joke on, 391, 
392. 

Power, Tyrone, early recollections of, 
5 ; an early star, 22 1 ; ability and 
success of, 221, 222; at Theater 
Royal, Dublin, and Haymarket 
Theater, London, 221; influence 
on the American stage, 222 ; com 
pared with John Drew, 413. 

Powhatan, John Brougham as, 316, 

3 1 7- 

Practical joker, a, 337, 338. 

Prairie, a journey over, 24, 25. 

Prejudice in criticism, 423, 424. 

Prentice, George D., editor of " Louis 
ville Journal," 328 ; manner, per 
sonal appearance, and talents, 328- 

331- 

Preparation in acting, 431. 
Pre-Raphaelite work, value of, 359. 
Present vs. Past, 422-424. 
Priest, Harry Edwards as, 422. 
Prince of Wales s Theater, under 

Marie Wilton, 317. 
Princess s Theater, London, " Arrah 

na Pogue," at, 314; engagement 

at, 345, 359- 

Princess s Theater, Melbourne, suc 
cessful season at, 239. 

Private rehearsal, 308, 309; in a pub 
lic place, 263. 

Procrastination, 433. 

" Prodigal Son, The," at Spanish 
Theater, Callao, 289. 

Profit-sharing in early days, 57, 50. 

Properties, drying out, 26; use of, at 
rehearsal, 434. 

Provincial companies, customs of, 143, 

144- 

Pruning, value of, 403. 
Public, the, 105, 106; fair play of, 



Queen s yacht, commanded by Lieu 
tenant Frank Jefferson, 310. 

Quin, James, criticism on Garrick, 
423- 

Quincy, 111., playing in court house, 
27. 

Quizzing, an actor s fondness for, 127, 
128. 

Raeburn, Sir Henry, portraits by, in 
Gregory mansion, 373. 

Railroad manager, the, 151. 

Raskleigh Osbaldistone, William War 
ren as, 405. 

Ray, Mrs., 143. 

Raymond, John T., a successful co 
median, 222 ; manages " Rip Van 
Winkle " at Carusi s Hall, Wash 
ington, 227 ; a legitimate comedian, 
420; as Ichabod Crane, 421; as 
Colonel Sellers, 421 ; ability, 421. 

Raymond, Oliver, at Palmo s Theater, 
107; as Mr. Toots, 437; sudden 
rise, 437. 

Reade, Charles, 313. 

Realism, in art, 453, 454; important 
factor in dramatic art, 456 -458; 
out of place in Rip Van Winkle," 
457 J propriety of, in nautical drama 
and rural scenes, 45 7. 

Rebozo, the, 292. 

Reception, a cool, 297-301. 

Records of the New York Stage," 
14. 

Re-creation of characters, 414. 

Rehearsal, a private, in a public place, 
263 ; private, 308, 309 ; quality, not 
quantity, 432, 433 ; importance of 
the first, 433; stage-manager s, 
author s, and actor s duties as to, 
433 ; use of scenery and proper 
ties at, 434; importance of thnr- 
oughness in, 435 ; value of careful 



9AA UUJ^UUCaa III, ^J^ , vo.im_ v* wi 

Public approval, a great stimulus, preparation at, 436-43?- 
4 e, rr Rehearsing under difficulties, 89, 



453- 
Puck, refuse to play, 204; Laura 

Keene as, 204. 

Puff, Mr,, 435,436; wisdom of, 451. 
Pulpit, actors in the, 426 
Pumping, 277, 278, 286, 287 
Pythias, Edwin Adams a>, I 8 

Quarrels between actor and iranager, 

213. 
Queen* The, Gertrude Kellogg as, 

422. 
Qite n Catherine, 265 j Or rlotte CiiFh- 

man as, 414. 
Qiteen Elizabeth, Mrs J. W. Wa.lack, 

Jr., as, 79, 80. 



Reign of Terror, thoughts of the, 173. 

" Relapse, The," 402, 403. 

Religion, the drama and, 29, 30; de 
mocracy of, 285. 

Religious tableau, a, 289-291. 

Repose, value of, 446. 

Resaca de la Palma, battle of, 67. 

Reuling, Dr., oculist, 388. 

Reunions, family, 311, ^12. 

Revenue, a sister s, 258 

Rice. John B., Salisbury s telegram to, 
215 ; married to Mary Anne War 
ren, 392; theatrical manager in 
Chicago* 393 ; mayor of Chicago, 
393; member of Congress, 393; 



504 



INDEX 



character, 393-395 ; ridicules my 
investments, 393, 394 ; quarrel with 
Edwin Forrest, 394; dumfounds a 
scientist, 394-39* 

Rice, T. D., 6-8. 

jRichard Dazzle, criticism of the char 
acter, 153. 

Richard ///, Pudding Stanley as, 
62-65; dt awing of Edmund Kean 
as, 205, 206 ; ludicrous blunder in 
playing, 368. 

Richard III," 445; at St. Charles 
Theater, 79-81. 

Riches, philosophizing on, 303. 

Richings, Peter, in the Bulfi nch Place 
kitchen, 407. 

Richmond, Va., become manager of 
Ford s Theater, at, 157; in search 
of news from, 278,279; season in, 
412. 

Ringgold, Major Samuel, wounded at 
battle of Palo Alto, 66. 

Rip Van Winkle, monologue for, 22 7; 
strikes a sympathetic chord in G. 
D. Prentice, 33 1; suggested change 
to an Irishman, 378; compared 
with King Lear, 452, 453 ; not a 
temperance lecturer, 4=4; am iden 
tified as the original, 458, 459. 

"Rip Van Winkle," evolution of, 
223-229, 302,456,461, 462; early 
dramatizations of, 225, 461; first 
rehearsals of, 227, 228 ; analysis of 
the long sleep in, 228 ; results of 
first presentation of, 229 ; remod 
eled, 229 ; produced in Sydney, 
239; re written by Boucicault, 302, 
461 ; engage to play at Adelphi 
Theater, 302; reading, 303 ; re 
hearsal, 304-306; an important 
production of, 308; first produc 
tion in London, 310 ; success of, 
310, 380, 458, 459: appear in Man 
chester in, 321 ; success in Belfast, 
380 ; not a temperance play, 454 ; 
poetic element in, 454; suggested 
end of characters in, 454 ; impro 
priety of realism in, 457; play in 
Catskill, 458, 459 ; a new reading 
in, 459 ; lessons to be drawn from 
its career, 460-462. 
Rivalry, 1 16- 1 r 8. 

" Rivals, The," am invited to produce 
at Cincinnati Dramatic Festival, 
382 ; compared with, " The School 
for Scandal,* 397-399; altering 
and condensing, 397~4 3> purity 
of, 399 ; introduction by Mrs. John 
Drew, 401 ; epilogue, 401 ; criti 
cism of my changes in, 401, 402, 



justification of changes, 402, 403 ; in 
Philadelphia, 413 ; effects in, 446, 
447. 

"Road to Ruin, The," at Laura 
Keene s Theater, 224. 

Robbers, in dread of, 113, 114. 

Roberts, David, picture by, at the Gar- 
rick Club, 362. 

Robertson, Agnes, at Ford s Theater, 
Richmond, 157; as Dot, 208; 
beauty of, 209. 

Robertson, Tom, meeting with, 317; 
writing comedies for Marie Wil 
ton, 317 ; success and good qual 
ities of his plays, 317; character 
and genius, 317-319; as racon 
teur, 317, 31$; views of Gold 
smith, 318 ; sense of humor, 319 ; 
attachment for Artemus Ward, 
320, 321. 

" Rob Roy," 405. 

Robson, Mr., 171. 

Roderigo, Charles Mathews as, 154. 

Rolamo, Mr., manager of theater at 
Sydney, 234; cockney tongue of, 
235 ; industry and success of, 235 ; 
estimation of Yankee comics, 235 ; 
opinion of "the legitimate," 236. 

Rolla, 5. 

Romance, a dreamland of, 293. 

" Romance of the English Stage, The," 
450. 

Romee>) playing, under difficulties, 145, 
146. 

"Romeo and Juliet, ^ 220; in Wil 
mington, 144; ludicrous accident 
in, 144-146; perfection of love 
scene in, 195. 

Rosebush, a sympathetic, 333. 

RosencrantZy Charles Han ford as, 422. 

Roses, Tom Glessing s, 331, 333. 

Rouen, 173. 
Rough Diamond, The," produced in 



, , 

Savannah, 136-138. 
Rousseau, T., nature of his work, 

Rowe, George Fawcett, manager of 
Princess s Theater, M elbourne, 

f; contract with, 239. 
, Mr. Ellis as, 151. 
Academy, Loan Exhibition at, 
308. 

Sf. Andrew, ludicrous mishap of, 125- 

127. 

St. Anthony, a modern, 273, 283. 
St. Charles Theater, New Orleans, 
acting in, 47; "Richard III" at, 
Si ; under management of Lud- 
& Smith, 79 ; "A Kiss in the 



INDEX sos 

Dark " at, 79; James W. Wallack, Search, Jake, property man at Ford s 
Jr., Mrs. Wallack, and John E. Theater, 1 60 ; hides from Forrest s 
Owens at, 79-82. wrath, 160, 162. 

St. David, 125. Second Actor, Mimes Levick as, 422. 

St. Denis, ludicrous mishap of, 125, 126. Second Gravedigger, W. J. Florence 

St. George, Charles Foster as, 125, 126. as, 422. 

" St. George and the Dragon " at Am- Second-hand shops of Paris and Lon- 
phitheater, Philadelphia, 125-127. don contrasted, 178. 

St. Louis, Mo., a summer s acting in, Sefton, John, 15; partnership with, 
48, 49 ; hissed off the stage at, 49, 1 1 1-1 16. 

382 ; play with Burnett in, 193. Seguin company, as leader of chorus 

St. Patrick, 125. in, 327. 

Sala, George Augustus, meeting with, Seine, scenery of the, 173. 

360. Self-confidence and courage contrasted, 

Salem Scudder, in character of, 209 ; 450. 

resign part, 211. Self-defense, take lessons in, 212, 

Salisbury, Charles, guying tendency, 213. 

215, 216; telegram to Rice, 215 ; Selfishness, incentive to favorable cnt- 

wonderful memory, 215 ; dunned icism, 194. 

by laundress, 2 1 6. Seminole War, murder of actors dur- 

Salon, Paris, treatment of Millet, 356 ; ing, 60. 

prejudice in admitting members, Seneca s advice to Lucilius, 474- 

423, 424. Shabby gentility, 378-380. 

Salt Island, 467. Shakspere, William, works sometimes 

Sampson, in character of, 44. overshadowed by inferior plays, 

San Antonio, Tex., offer to play in, 106; starring system attributable 
5$, 59. to, 220 ; magnitude of his heroes, 

San Francisco, Cal., failure in, 229; 220; characters in his comedies, 
sail for Sydney from, 23 1. 220, 221; former restrictions re- 

San Francisco cathedral at Lima, 284, garding his plays, 368; simplicity 
285. of presentation of His lessons, 455, 

Sardou, Victorien, estimate of, 185 ; 456. 

dramatic action in one of his com- Shaksperean productions, improve- 
edies, 185, 186 ; coarseness of, 195. ment in modern, 108. 

Savage Club, London, 362. Shaksperean revivals, at Drury Lane 

Savannah, Ga., ill success in, 132, 133 ; Theater, Macready s, 154. 

its beauty, 133. Sharing scheme, a, 57, 58. 

Saxe- Weimar, Duke of, opinion of Sheep-farming in Australia, 242. 

Mrs. Drake, 416. Shepherds, Australian, 247. 

Scenery, dipped in the Mississippi Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, works 
River, 25 ; a new use for, 46, 47; sometimes overshadowed by infe- 
acting without, 54; increased rior plays, 106 ; description of a 
splendor of, 396; use of, at re- lady s face, 365 ; alters The Re 
hearsals, 434. lapse" to "A Trip to Scarbor- 

Schenectady, playing in, 17, 18. ough," 402, 403. 

Schneider, public interest in, 453. Sheridan twenty miles away, 402. 

Scholastic dramatic institution, im- " She Stoops to Conquer," deception 
portance of, 354, 355. of characters in, 463. 

School, influence of the free, 50. Siddons, Mrs., 296. 

" School for Scandal, The," produced Sign -painting, from scene-painting to, 
by Jarrett at Washington, 151, 31, 52. 

152, 154-156; artificiality, 398; Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Lester Wai- 
indelicacy, 399; compared with lack as, 107; J. B. Buckstone as, 
"The Rivals, "397-399. 441- , , , 

Scotland, honesty in, 352; sport in, Sir Anthony Absolute, Samuel Phelps 
37 o, 371. as, 171 ; James Burnett as, 193. 

Scottish chief, a, 370. Sir Benjamin Backbite, I, M. Dawson 

"Sea of Ice, The," at Ford s Theater, as, 151. T t. 

Richmond, 157; Laura Keene in, Sir Edward Mortimer, J- B. Booth 
206. as, 44. 



506 



INDEX 



Sir Giles Overreach, J. B. Booth as, 

129-131. 
Sir Harry Bumper, J. M. Barren as, 

151. 

Sir John Fahtaff, 221. 
Sir Lucius O Trigger, 401 ; John 

Drew as, 413. 
Sir Oliver Surface, George Andrews 

as, 151. 
Sir Pertinax McSycophant, Samuel 

Phelps as, 171. 
Sir Peter Teazle, Henry Placide as, 

IS** *54 155- 

Sir Toby Belch, W. E. Burton as, 
107. 

Sister s revenge, a, 258. 

Skeleton dance, Australian, 242-244. 

Slavery question, the, 213-215. 

Slave-stealer, a, 465. 

Sleep, the great doctor, 361. 

Smith, E. T., manager of Astley s 
Circus, 312. 

Smith, James, theatrical critic of Mel 
bourne "Argus," 239. 

Smith, Rev. Sydney, description of a 
New Zealand lunch, 272 ; earnest 
wish of, 272. 



Snake, Edwin Adams as, 15 ! 
Snoring, the philosophy of, 85, 



86. 



Social position in England and America 
contrasted, 251, 252. 

"Soldier s Daughter, The," Mrs. 
Drake in, 416. 

Soldiers, United States, sufferings in 
Mexico, 78. 

Soliloquy, addressed to audience, 430 ; 
importance of keeping up interest 
in, 442. 

Sophocles, "Antigone," 102-104; 
called before the curtain by a Phil 
adelphia audience, 102, 103. 

Sothern, E. A., early dread of charac 
ter of I^ord Dundreary, 194, 197; 
plays the part with success, 197, 
198 ; as Brother Sam, 198 ; a suc 
cessful comedian, 222. 

South vs. North, on the stage, 213- 
21$. 

South Carolina vs. Massachusetts, 276, 
278, 279. 

Southern circuit, 132-149. 

Spanish, learning, 74. 

Spanish and French women contrasted, 
283. 

Spectacles, fate of their inventor, 
112. 

Spectacular plays, requirement of 
space for, 383. 

Spectre Bridegroom, The," by moon 
light, 56. 



Speech, rehearsing a, 91-93. 
Spider and the fly, the, 351. 
Spiritualism, 252, 253, 255. 
"Splendid Misery," produced by 

Laura Keene, 189. 
Spontaneity, 431, 432, 437, 445. 
Sports, Australian, 242-245. 
Springfield, 111., 275 building a theater 

in, 28. 
" Sprite of the Silver Shower, The," 

139. 

Stage, tricks of the, 65 ; complaints of 
degeneracy of, 106; ethics of, 
199-203 ; nature on, 453, 454. 

Stage-coach traveling in 1846, 84-88. 

Stage direction, importance of a, 187. 

Stage fright, 48, 137, 138. 

Stage-management, thorough prepa 
ration in, 431. 

Stage-manager, duties as to rehearsal, 

Stanfield, Clarkson, marine picture by, 
at Garrick Club, 362. 

Stanley, George, prompter at Mobile 
Theater, 147. 

Stanley, Pudding, 58-65 ; as Richard 
III, 62-65 ; his career, 62, 63. 

Star, in search of a manager, 135 ; 
advertising a, 136 ; a war, defined, 
322. 

Star and Garter, Richmond, a memor 
able lunch at, 360, 361. 

Star chamber, a theatrical, 97-99. 

Starring, my first thoughts of, 222, 
223. 

Starring system attributable to Shak- 
spere, 220. 

" Star-Spangled Banner, The," given 
under difficulties, 48. 

Stevens, Sara, in "Our American 
Cousin," 197; as Bertha, 208; 
beauty, 209. 

Stiff piece of humanity, a, 297. 

Stimulus, a noble, 450; public ap 
proval, a great, 453. 

Stock companies, character of Aus 
tralian, 237; contrasted with com 
binations, 326, 327. 

Stock company, my first, 3, 4. 

Stock theater, qualities of successful 
manager of, 131, 132. 

Stowe, Harriet Beecher, meeting with, 
452, 453; comments on resem 
blance between Rip Van Winkle 
and King Lear, 452, 453. 

Stranger, The, A. H. Davenport as, 



Stuart, William, engage with at Win 
ter Garden, 207; difference with, 
211-213. 



INDEX 



507 



Success, ephemeral and legitimate 
contrasted, 460, 461 ; the founda 
tion of, 462. 

Suggestion compared with vagueness, 
435, 436. 

Sunrise, The, sail from Liverpool to 
New York on, 321. 

Super, beginning as a, 451, 452. 

Superstition, 252, 253, 255, 333. 

Supper time, the actor s golden hour, 

341- 

Swordsmanship, James W. Wallack, 
Jr. s, superb, 81. 

Sydney, N.S.W., sail from San Fran 
cisco for, 231 ; beauties of the har 
bor and city, 233; character of 
company in, 237; introduction to 
company, 238 ; first appearance in, 
238 ; success, 238 ; leave for Mel 
bourne, 239; from New Zealand 
to, 272 ; meet Father O Grady in, 
273 ; to Melbourne from, 273. 

Sydney Heads, terrors of, 232. 

Syracuse, playing in, 18. 

Tableau, arranging a, 190-192; a re 
ligious, 289-291. 

Tackleton, T. B. Johnson as, 208. 

Talebearing, 97, 98. 

Talent, confounded with wardrobe, 
389 ; compared with genius, 432. 

Tasmania, from Melbourne to, 259; 
convict element in, 259-261. 

Taylor, Tom, author of " Our Ameri 
can Cousin," 193, 196. 

Tea, the beverage of the Australian 
bush, 250. 

Telegram, my first, in, 112. 

Temperance lecturer compared with 
actor, 455. 

Temperance play, a, 454. 

Temptation, a terrible, 248, 254, 255. 

Tennessee, traveling through, 45. 

Texans, refining depraved tastes of, 

59- 

Text of play, on altering, 201. 
Thames River, 360. 
Theater, lighting a, fifty years ago, 29 ; 

an improvised, 56 ; a floating, 62 ; 

discipline of a, 198-200; attraction 

for actors, 78, 237; daylight effects 

on cathedral and, compared, 284 ; 

playing to different classes in, 385 ; 

compared with art gallery, 429. 
Theater Royal, Dublin, "Antigone" 

at, 102; Tyrone Power at, 221. 
Theater Royal, Glasgow, appear at, 

372; its modest manager, J* 72. 
Theater Royal, London, Edmund 

Kean s tnals at, 449, 450. 



Theaters, infants in, 28; large and 
small contrasted, 383, 384; in 
crease of, and improvement in, 427. 

Theatre Francais, Paris, criticism of 
acting at, 352-355; "L Ami 
Fritz " at, 353 ; comedies of Mo- 
liere at, 354. 

Theatrical profession, progressive na 
ture of, 328. 

Thompson, Lysander, at Palmo s The 
ater, 107. 

" Ticket-of-Leave Man, The," at Ho- 
bart Town, 259-261. 

Tillie Slowboy, Mrs. John Wood as, 
208. 

Timour the Tartar, a daunted, 122. 

Titus, Master, 14. 

Tony Lumpkin, wisdom of, 52. 

Toots, Mr., Oliver Raymond as, 437. 

Tragedian, advantage over comedian, 
220; compared with savage, 266, 
267 ; a Chinese, 270, 271. 

Tragedy, compared with comedy, 220, 
429 ; criticizing, 429. 

Training, natural talent aided by, 448, 

449- 

Treasure, hidden, 466. 
Tree, Ellen, 261, 262. 
Tnp, J. B. Howe as, 151. 
"Trip to Scarborough, A," altered 

from The Relapse," 402, 403. 
Troll ope, Anthony, 314. 
Trollope, Mrs., opinion of Mrs. Drake, 

416. 

Tropics, discomforts of the, 297. 
Trumbull, John, 190. 
Turner, J. M. W., early and later 

works estimated, 358. 
Twain, Mark, author of " The Gilded 

Age," 421. 

Twelfth Night " at Palmo s Theater, 
I 107, 108. 

United States, first dramatic challenge 
to England, 165 ; hissing rare in, 
218; religious tone of, contrasted 
with that of Bavaria, 291 ; reception 
of English actors in, 344, 345 ; con 
trasted with France, 352. 

" Used Up," produced in Savannah, 
136-138. 

Urica, playing in, 18. 

Vagueness, compared with suggestion, 
435, 436; illustration from "The 
Critic," 435, 436. 

Valrie, M., French consul at Callao, 
280. 281 ; meeting with, on voyage 
from Callao to Panama, 293; 
broken English, 294; domestic 



508 



INDEX 



happiness, 294; fondness for drama Warner, Mrs., compared with Char- 
ana opera, 294; as a whist-player, lotte Cushman, 414; criticism on 
295. Macready, 442-444; in** Werner," 

Vanbrugh, Sir John, author of " The 442-444. 

Relapse," 402, 403. Warren, General, sufferings of, 191, 

Vanderfelt, Edwin H., as Marcellus, 192. 

422. Warren, Harry, theatrical manager in 

Van Diemen s Land, from Melbourne Buffalo, 392. 

to j 2 59; convict element in, 259- Warren, Mary Anne, married to John 

261. B. Rice, 392. 

Van Dunder, W. E. Burton as, 100. Warren, Sarah, my marriage to, 

Vanity, 1 16, 226, 308, 309. 323. 

Vedder, Nicholas, 45*8. 

Verey s, London, family reunion at, 
312. 

Versatility, lack of, 389; of actors, 
146. 

Vert, Mme., 348-351. 



Vestris, Mme., 205. 

Vicksburg, Miss., drumming in, 52; 

Havana cigars made in, 52. 
Viola, Lizzie Weston as, 107. 
Virginia Water, Queen s yacht on, 310. 
Virginius, Edwin Forrest as, 157. 

Walcott, Charles, 287. 
Wallace, Buck, adventures of, 75, 76; 
b 



Warren, William, introduces Artemus 
Ward, 320 ; friendship with Fech- 
ter, 340, 341 ; rescues Fechter s cup 
from the crucible, 343, 344; criti 
cism on my changes in * The 
Rivals," 402; prominence in Bos 
ton, 403, 404; versatility, 403; 
character, talents, and career, 403- 
409; fiftieth anniversary of his 
debut, 403-408; as a star, 404; 
connection with the Boston Mu 
seum, 404, 405; early recollec 
tions of, 405, 406; personal 
appearance, 405 ; as Rashleigh 
Osbaldistone, 405; as Beauseant, 
405 ; retirement of, 406, 408, 
409; at a memorable feast, 407, 
408 ; last days, death, and burial, 
409. 



wife and child murdered by Co- 

manches, 75; murdered, 70, 77; 

opinion of Cooper s novels, 76. 
Wallack, James, Sr., in Mobile, 40 ; 

character, 40 ; in "The Brigand," War star defined, 322. 

40, 41 ; succeeds Brougham at Washington, D. C., early recollections 

the Lyceum, 315; in the Bulfinch of, I; T. D. Rice in, 6; Killmist s 

Place kitchen, 407. theater burned, 100; with Ford s 

Wallack, James W., Jr., personal ap- company at, 160 ; open with " Rip 

pearance and acting of, 79-81; Van Winkle" at Carusi s Hall, 

swordsmanship, 81 ; as Duke of 227-229. 

Gloucester, 79-81 ; influence of Watches, purchasing, for self and wife, 

Macready s style upon, 80; in 149; value of mine, 149. 

"Antigone," 104; as Joseph Sur- Webster, Benjamin, engagement for 

face, 151. + "Rip Van Winkle" with, 302; 

Wallack, Lester, cousin of James W. feud with Boucicault, 303, 305-308; 

Wallack, Jr., 79, note ; as Sir An- temper, 305-308. 

drew Aguecheek, 107; testimonial Werner, Macready as, 42, 442-444. 

at Metropolitan Opera House, 421, West, power of recovering lost posi- 

422. tion in the, 251, 252. 

Wallack, Mrs. James W., Jr.,as(?z/w* Weston, Lizzie, as Viola, 107; as 

Elizabeth, 79, So; her acting, 80; Lady Teazle, 151. 

compared with Charlotte Cushman, Wheatley & Drew, managers of Arch 

80; in "Antigone," 104. Street Theater, 149, 150. 

Wall Street, in panic of 1857, 188. Wheeling, W. Va., coach office at, 
War, effect upon theatrical finances, 84. 

80. Wheelock, Joseph, as First Actor, 

Ward, Artemus, in London, 320; char- 422. 

acter and humor, 320, 321 ; death, Whist, a queer idea of, 295. 

320, 321 ; attachment for Tom Rob- White, Col., 417. 
T ertson,320,32i. White, Mrs. 417. 

Wardrobe, confounded with talent, Widow Cheerly, Mrs. Drake as, 416. 

389. Wife, a loving, 364~3 6 7 47^, 473- 



INDEX 509 

"Wife s Secret, The," 265. Wives as They Were, and Maids as 
Wikawite, N. Z., Maori village, 271, They Are, "at Mobile Theater, 147, 

272. 148. 

Wilderness, a marine, 276. "Wolfert s Roost," John T. Ray. 
Wilford, 44. mond in, 421. 

Wilkie, David, 365. Wood, Mrs. John, as Tillie Sbwloy, 
Williams, Barney, acts as my grooms- 208 ; beauty of, 209. 

man, 128 ; a successful comedian, Wood & Warren, theatrical partner- 

222; marries Mrs. Charles Mes- ship, 115. 

^tayer, 410 ; popularity of, 410. Wrecked life, a, 251. 

Williams, Mrs. Barney, popularity of, Wright, Mr., 171. 

410. 

Wilmington, N. C., playing at, 139, Yankee, characteristics of a, 277-279. 

143. Yates, Frederick H., plays early ver- 
Wilton, Marie, manages Prince of sion of "Kip Van Winkle," 225, 

Wales s Theater, 317. 461. 

Windham, Charles, form combination Young man, a London idea of a, 361. 

with, 324. " Young Scamp, The," in a Chinese 
Winter, Messrs., hospitality of, 241, Theater, 269 

242. 

Winter Garden, engagement at, 207 ; " Zampa," 294. 

a combination of nature and art, Zekiel Homespun^ 224. 

208 ; " Dot " at, 208, 209. Zoe, 214, 215. 



106239