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A 



T5L2L t q 

H 27 



JOHN HARE 



COMEDIAN 



A 



MR. JOHN HARE 

(Rtprsductii from Ike Portrait by Sir Join Eviritl 



JOHN HARE 



COMEDIAN 



1865-1895 



A BIOGRAPHY 



BY 



*■ T. EDGAR PEMBERTON 

AUTHOR OF " A MEMOIR OP E. A. SOTHERN," " THE LIPE AND WRITING 

OF T. W. ROBERTSON," ETC ETC. 



LONDON 
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS Limited 

BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL 

» 

MANCHESTER AND NEW YORK 

1895 



LONDON : 
BRADBURY, AGNBW, & CO. LD., PRINTERS, WHITBFRIARS. 



I 

I 



4 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

1865-1874. 

The Prince of Wales's Theatre. 

November 11, 1865: Prince of Wales's Theatre — Lord 
Ptarmigant in " Society " — The London Theatres of thirty 
years ago — Mr. John Hare's earlier stage experiences — 
As an Amateur, and at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, 
Liverpool —The pupil of Leigh Murray — Supporting 
J. L. Toole and E. A. Sothern — First London engagement, 
and first appearance in London — Lord Ptarmigant — An 
experience in burlesque — Fluker in "A Hundred Thousand 
Pounds J ' — Prince Perovsky in " Ours " — H.R.H.the Prince 
of Wales — Sam Gerridge in " Caste " — Mr. Nettletop in 
"How She Loves Him"— "Box and Cox"— The Hon. 
Bruce Fanquehere in "Play" — "Tame Cats" — Beau 
Farintosh in " School " — Dunscombe Dunscombe in " M.P." 
— Matinee at the Princess's — Sir Harcourt Courtley in 
" London Assurance " — Sir John Vesey in " Money " — Sir 
Patrick Lundie in " Man and Wife " — Sir Peter Teazle — 
Last appearance under the management of Mr. and Mrs. 
Bancroft 1 



iv CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER II. 

1875-1879- 
The Court Theatre. 

March 13, 1875 : Mr. Hare opens the Court Theatre — Mr. 
and Mrs. Kendal — Mr. Val Prinsep's act-drop — The Due 
de Chavannes in " Lady Flora "—Mr. Vavasour in " A Nine 
Days' Wonder »— Mr. W. S. Gilbert—" Broken Hearts "— 
Lord Kilclare in "A Quiet Rubber "—Archie Hamilton in 
"A Scrap of Paper"— Miss Ellen Terry— " Brothers "— 
" New Men and Old Acres "—"The House of Darnley "— 
« Victims »— " Olivia "—Mr. W. G. Wills— Mr. Hermann 
Vezin — Miss Ellen Terry leaves for the Lyceum — Mr. and 
Mrs. Kendal return to the Court — Revival of "A Scrap of 
Paper " and " A Quiet Rubber " — T. W. Robertson — 
Montrichard In " The Ladies' Battle " — Colonel Daunt in 
" The Queen's Shilling " — Farewell speech at the Court — 
Partnership with Mr. Kendal — A favourite in the English 
provinces . 51 

CHAPTER III. 

1879-1888. 

The St. James's Theatre. 

October 4, 1879 : Opening of the St James's Theatre under 
the management of Mr. Hare and Mr. Kendal — " Monsieur 
le Due" and "The Queen's Shilling"— "The Falcon"— 
Potter in " Still Waters Run Deep "— " William and Susan " 
— " Good Fortune "— Baron Croodle in " The Money 
Spinner" — Colonel Dam as in "The Lady of Lyons" — 
" Coralie " — Captain Mountraffe in "Home"—T. W. 
Robertson the younger — Mr. Clement Scott's " The Cape 
Mail"— Mr. A. W. Pinero's "The Squire"— Mr. Brandon 
Thomas — " Impulse ' — "Young Folks' Ways" — Dr.Penguin 



CONTENTS. v 

in "A Scrap of Paper "—"The Ironmaster "— " As You 
Like It" — The Dramatic and Musical Sick Fund — 
Nicholas Barrable in " Mayfair * — General de PreTond in 
" Antoinette Rigaud "— Mr. Drake in " The Wife's 
Sacrifice" — Spencer Jermyn in "The Hobby Horse" — 
"Lady Clancarty" — July 21, 1888: Termination of the 
partnership between Mr. Hare and Mr. Kendal — Farewell 
speeches — Members of the St. James's company under 
their management . . . . . -75 



CHAPTER IV. 

1889-1895. 

The Garrick Theatre, 

September 24, 1888 : Appearance as Jack Pontifex in "Mamma" 
at the New Court Theatre — April 24, 1889 : Opening of the 
Garrick Theatre under the management of Mr. John Hare 
— " The Profligate " — Farewell banquet to Mr. and Mrs. 
Kendal on their departure for America — " La Tosca" — 
Benjamin Goldfinch in "A Pair of Spectacles " — Mr. Charles 
Groves as Uncle Gregory — Mr. Gilbert Hare— Roderick 
Heron in Mr. Pinero's "Lady Bountiful" — Revival of 
" School "—Sir Peter Lund in Mr. Sydney Grundy's "A 
Fool's Paradise" — Mrs. Bancroft as an authoress — Valen- 
tine Barbrpok in Mr. R. C. Carton's " Robin Goodfellow * 
— Revival of" Diplomacy" — Mrs. Bancroft's reappearance 
on the stage — A remarkable cast — Julius Sterne in " An 
Old Jew " — Major Hardy in " Mrs. Lessingham "—Revival 
of" Caste " — Revival of " Money " — Mrs. Bancroft as Lady 
Franklin — The Earl of Ravenscroft in " Slaves of the 
Ring" — Revival of "A Pair of Spectacles" — The Duke of 
St. Olphert's in " The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith "—June 15, 
1895 : End of the Season at the Garrick Theatre — "A Pair 
of Spectacles " and " A Quiet Rubber " — Farewell speech 
prior to American engagements . . .112 



CHAPTER V. 

Personal. 

Curious mistakes with regard to Mr. Hare's age — Mr. Gladstone 
— Leigh Murray's anecdotes — Early friends — The Garrick 
Club — Its members— Anecdote of Charles Reade — Sir John 
Millais — The Daly Company entertained by Mr. Hare at 
the Garrick— The Arundel Club— "The Lambs"— "The 
Two Pins Club " — Sir Frank Lockwood — Mr. J. M. Levy — 
Appearance of Mr. Hare at Sandringham by the desire of 
the Prince of Wales— A Princely gift— Commanded by 
the Queen to appear at Windsor, and at Balmoral— Her 
Majesty's appreciation of good acting — The Empress 
Eugenie — The Queen's present — Anecdotes of Provincial 
tours — The Com6die Francaise — Actors' salaries thirty 
years ago — The raw amateurs of to-day — Mr. Hare's views 
on acting and the actor's qualifications— Letters to the 
writer from Madame de Navarro (Miss Mary Anderson) 
and Mr. Bret H arte— Conclusion . . . .149 



JOHN HARE 



COMEDIAN 



CHAPTER I. 



1865-1874. 

THE PRINCE OF WALES'S THEATRE. 

Now that the inevitable has happened, and 
following the example of his famous brother 
and sister artists, Mr. John Hare has deter- 
mined to cross the Atlantic and give American 
audiences a taste of his quality, the time has 
surely come when some record should be made 
of his thirty years' invaluable service to English 
dramatic art Writing in the fast shorten- 
ing days of 1895, m Y mind goes back to that 
memorable eleventh of November, 1865, when 
T. W. Robertson's often rejected comedy 
" Society " was, by those who believed in him, 



8 JOHN HARE, COM EDI Ah. 

pluckily produced at the old Prince of Wales's 
Theatre, and a new era in the history of the 
English stage dawned. 

All who take interest in things theatrical know 
the outcome of that famous first night. Let 
me, in connection with it, and as bearing 
directly on the leading figure in this little 
volume, quote the words of that true friend of 
the English stage, — Mr. Clement Scott, — at 
that time on the threshold of his distinguished 
career as a dramatic critic. 

" There was," he writes, " a great gathering 
of the light literary division at the little theatre 
in Tottenham Court Road on the first night 
of Tom Robertson's new play. It was dear 
old Tom Hood, who was our leader then, who 
sounded the bugle, and the boys of the light 
brigade cheerfully answered the call of their 
chief. I remember that on that memorable 
night I stood — for there was no sitting room for 
us on such a great occasion — by the side ot 
Tom Hood at the back of the dress circle. 
The days of stalls had not then arrived for 
me. Suddenly, as the play advanced, there 



MR. JOHN HARE 

AS " LORP PTARMIGAN! " IN "SO 
(Fran a pkalografk h Matt. WinOtn 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 9 

appeared on the stage what was then an ap- 
parition. Bancroft had delighted us with his 
cheery enthusiasm and boyish manner, for he 
was the lover in this simple little play, well 
dressed, and, for a wonder, natural. Think 
what it was to see a bright, cheery, pleasant 
young fellow playing the lover to a pretty girl 
at the time when stage lovers were nearly all 
sixty, and dressed like waiters at a penny ice 
shop. But what astonished us even more than 
the success of young Bancroft w as the a P" 
parition that I spoke of just now. A little, 
delightful old gentleman came upon the stage 
dressed in a long, beautifully-cut frock-coat, 
bright-eyed, intelligent, with white hair that 
seemed to grow naturally on the head — no 
common clumsy wig with a black forehead 
line — and with a voice so refined, so aristocratic, 
that it was music to our ears. The part played 
by Mr. Hare was, as we all know, insignificant. 
All he had to do was to say nothing, and to go 
perpetually to sleep. But how well he said 
nothing ; how naturally he went to sleep ! We 
could not analyse our youthful impression at the 



io JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

time, but we knew instinctively that John Hare 
was an artist." 

Those who remember the London stage in 
the early sixties will recognise that Mr. Scott's 
strictures concerning the penny ice shop waiter 
stage lovers were not one jot too severe. At 
the time when " Society " was produced, the 
English theatrical world, — a much smaller world 
than that of to-day, — was in a parlous state, 
and stood in as urgent need of reform as the 
great world outside it stood, as it stands to- 
day, and, I suppose, ever will stand. The 
smaller theatrical world is an easier thing to 
put in order, and that we may see how its 
mending came about, I may, perhaps, be 
permitted to point out what was being done 
at the other London theatres at the date of the 
production. Standing " Under the Clock" of 
the trustworthy " Times " I note that at Drury 
Lane Mr. Phelps, supported by Mr. S win- 
bourne, Mr. James Anderson, Miss Atkinson, 
Miss Rose Leclercq, and the now forgotten 
" Master Percy Roselle," were appearing in a 
destined to be short-lived production of 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 11 

Shakespeare's €< King John " ; Sotherti (who 
exactly four years previously, to the very day 
of the month, had made his London reputation 
as Lord Dundreary) was temporarily away 
from the Hay market, and Mr. and Mrs. 
Charles Mathews were playing there with a 
company that included Mr. W. Farren, Mr. 
Chippendale, Mr. Compton, Mr. Charles 
Leclercq, Mr. Howe, Miss Nellie Moore, 
Miss Snowden (Mrs. Chippendale), Mrs. E. 
Fitzwilliam, Miss Louise Keeley and Miss 
Fanny Wright. At the Princess's Mr. 
Vining, Mr. G. Melville, Mr. T. Meade, Mr. 
Dominick Murray, Mr. S. Calhaem, Mr. J. 
G. Shore, Mr. G. Murray, Mr. R. Cathcart, 
Miss L. Moore, and Miss Katherine Rodgers 
were to be seen in Charles Reade's perennial 
"It's Never Too Late To Mend." At the 
Adelphi (here truly was a brilliant and 
exceptional attraction) America's great actor, 
Joseph Jefferson, was giving his inimitable 
impersonation of Rip Van Winkle, supported 
by an English company that included Mr. 
and Mrs. Billington, Mrs. Alfred Mellon, and 



12 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

Mr. Paul Bedford At the Lyceum, F^chter, 
with Mr. H. Widdicomb, Mr. S. Emery, Mr. 
C. Horsman, and Miss Elsworthy for his 
helpmates, was to be seen in a now forgotten 
drama called "The Watch Cry." The 
Olympic could boast of the services of Mr. 
Henry Neville, Mr. Horace Wigan, Mr. F. 
Younge, Mr. H. J. Montague, Mr. J. Maclean, 
Mr. R. Soutar, Miss Kate Terry, and Miss 
E. Farren; Miss Herbert, Mr. and Mrs. 
Frank Matthews, and Mr. Walter Lacy figured 
in the bills at the St. James's ; and there were 
excellent burlesque companies at the Strand 
and the Royalty, the former boasting of such 
accomplished and popular comedians as Mr. 
J. D. Stoyle, Mr. David James, and Mr. 
Thomas Thorne. By the way, London's 
favourite comedian, Mr. J. L. Toole, must 
have been touring in the country, for his name 
is out of the programmes. Sir Henry Irving^ 
it may be noted, was hard at work in provincial 
stock companies, preparing himself for his first 
London success, which was to be accomplished 
in 1866. No doubt much excellent acting 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN 13 

was to be seen at these theatres, (what a small 
list it is when compared with that of to-day !) 
but most of the plays were poor ones, critics 
were dissatisfied, and theatre-goers had become 
alarmingly apathetic. Fechter had given the 
old-fashioned school a lesson in romantic 
acting, and Sothern had done equa,l service 
for comedy. The seeds of discontent had 
been sown ; following the lead of Oliver Twist, 
both critics and theatre-go6rs "asked for 
more," and they got it when the Bancroft 
reign commenced at the Prince of Wales's 
Theatre, when the delightful comedies of T. 
W. Robertson, adequately mounted and 
admirably acted, were produced, and when 
they recognised, as they immediately did, 
the unique gifts and perfected art of John 
Hare. 

Says Mr. Clement Scott, " I don't suppose 
that before the curtain drew up on Robertson's 
' Society/ anyone in London had heard a 
word about, or knew there was such a creature 
in existence, as John Hare. Before the curtain 
fell the young actor was iamous, and every- 



H JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

one who had social or newspaper influence was 
talking about him." 

Indeed Mr. Hare's stage experience is almost 
as unique as his genius, and his opportunity 
came to him just at the right time and just in 
the right way. Conscious of the power within 
him, and determined to try his fortune as an 
actor, he became in 1 864 the pupil of Mr. Leigh 
Murray, and in 1865 he scored a genuine 
success on the London stage. Mr. Hare 
therefore can tell us no half humorous, half 
pitiful, stories of the rough days of the old 
provincial stock companies when on a starva- 
tion salary the would-be actor was expected to 
play some fifteen different and difficult parts in 
the course of a single week. We often are told 
of the good that these trying experiences did for 
subsequendy famous actors, and no doubt in 
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the con- 
tention holds good. But I believe I am right 
in saying that Mr. Hare's was the hundredth 
case, — the exception that proves the rule. If 
you want to put a point to a lancet you do not 
take it to the same grindstone that is to sharpen 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 15 

and polish an axe, and very probably too much 
disheartening and exhausting stock company 
work would have taken the edge and lustre off 
Mr. Hare's singularly delicate style. However 
that may be, it is certain that he did not want 
more tuition than he got. 

Of his experiences in the brief pre- Prince of 
Wales's days of his theatrical career we learn 
something from Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft's delight- 
ful volume of reminiscences. We learn very 
little from Mr. Hare, for the innate modesty 
that is one of the great charms of his personal 
character is always wilfully and very wrongly 
telling him that his early experiences have little 
interest for the public. Mr. Bancroft has been 
kinder to us, and tells how, in 1864, and 
when he was a member of the stock company 
at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, Liverpool, 
he met " his oldest professional comrade, 
John Hare." "He was then/' he says, " a 
young fellow of twenty, and had come to Liver- 
pool accompanied by that once brilliant actor, 
Leigh Murray, whose pupil he had been, to 
make his first appearance on the stage. The 



16 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN: 

friendship between Hare and myself soon be- 
came close, and there are few remembrances 

keener in my mind than frequent visits to his 
rooms, where Leigh Murray stayed with him 
for a time, and who, although suffering severely 
from asthma, and terribly crippled by rheuma- 
tism, was one of the most delightful companions 
I have ever known." 

Before making his first appearance on the 
stage Mr. Hare had had very little experience 
as an amateur, and very few opportunities of 
theatre-going; but he was possessed with an 
ardent admiration for good acting, and all things 
connected with dramatic art. While reading 
with his tutor, the Rev. J. R. Blakiston, with a 
view to qualifying himself for the Civil Service, 
accident changed the whole course of his life. 
At the age of about nineteen he was invited by 
his friend Mr. Birkbeck to take part in some 
private theatricals given in his house at Settle, 
Yorkshire. The piece chosen (amateurs are 
nothing if not ambitious !) was " A Scrap of 
Paper," and the part assigned to him was that 
of a footman with one line to speak. During 



JOHN HARE y COMEDIAN. i7 

the rehearsals it was obvious that no one con- 
nected with the entertainment had the slightest 
idea of stage management or direction. " The 
absence of this gift in others/' Mr. Hare writes 
me, " in some mysterious way developed it in 
me, and before many days were over I found 
myself directing the performance, and showing 
the possession of the faculty which in later 
years has done me such good service." The 
night before the production of the play the 
actor of the principal character, Prosper (the 
" Colonel Blake " of the now well-known Hare- 
and- Kendal version of the delightful comedy), 
was taken ill, and Mr. Hare found himself 
suddenly called upon to take his place. In order 
to rehearse the part properly the next day, he 
sat up all night to study it, and subsequently 
played it with a success that brought about an 
inevitable and severe attack of stage-fever. 
Mr. Hare mentions this to me as an instance 
of the quickness of his " study " when quite a 
young fellow — the part being one of the longest 
known in the range of comedy. It is interesting, 
too, to note that it was the recollection of this 



18 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

amateur performance that induced Mr. Hare 
years later to single out i( A Scrap of Paper " 
for production at the Court Theatre. 

Mr. Hare's little triumph as Prosper prompted 
a committee, organised irr Settle for the purpose 
of giving an amateur dramatic performance in 
aid of the Lancashire Distress Fund, to offer him 
two parts — Beaus^ant in a burlesque on " The 
Lady of Lyons," and Box, in " Box and Cox." 
Again he was very successful, and by this time 
his mind was altogether unsettled for the work 
upon which he was avowedly engaged. Notic- 
ing this, Mr. Blakiston, who had seen these 
performances, with rare common sense, advised 
him to adopt the stage as a profession. At the 
tutor's intercession his uncle, who was also his 
guardian, waived his objections to his abandon- 
ing the career that had been mapped out for 
him, and Mr. Blakiston resigned his post in 
favour of Leigh Murray. 

Of his dramatic master Mr. Hare has some 
interesting things to tell. " Leigh Murray," he 
says, "was at this time a man of about forty years 
of age, still very handsome, although almost 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 19 

a confirmed invalid, and continually suffering 
from asthma. In spite of this he possessed a 
beautiful voice, and his searching eyes and 
general charm of manner fascinated all who 
had the good fortune to know him. Apart 
from being a most accomplished and versatile 
actor, he was a most extraordinary mimic, and 
I have a very vivid recollection of his reading 
me the play of ' Richelieu ' with exact imitations 
of the actors who played the principal characters 
— Macready, Ward, Elton, and others. Apropos 
of this I remember him telling me an amusing 
anecdote of Ward, the original Baradas of the 
play. Ward was a very bumptious man, with a 
didactic and ponderous utterance, and he had 
the reputation of being very thoughtless and 
extravagant One winter, during the recess at 
Drury Lane, a recess that had been an unusually 
long one, and had drained to the very last ex- 
tremity the resources of the actors out of engage- 
ments, Ward met Elton in Wellington Street. 
The friends shook hands ; Elton enquired how 
Ward was, and Ward replied in his heavy 
manner : ' Dear boy, I am penniless, and haven't 

C 2 



20 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

tasted food for the last three days.' This terrible 
admission shocked the good-hearted Elton, and 
taking from his pocket a purse which contained 
two half-sovereigns, he said : ' My poor old 
fellow ! I can't hear of a friend being in such 
distress as this ! I have only a sovereign 
myself, but here is half of it.' Ward, in a lordly 
and condescending way, pocketed the half- 
sovereign, said ' Thanks, dear boy/ as he 
waved his walking-stick to a passing Hansom : 
' Cab ! ' and getting into the conveyance, drove 
away. 

" Leigh Murray obtained me my first engage- 
ment at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, Liver- 
pool, where he accompanied me to give me the 
benefit of his advice. Many a pleasant evening 
did I and the members of the company spend 
with him enjoying his rich fund of anecdote, 
which seemed to be inexhaustible. His memory 
^ was marvellous. He had a great love for and 
was a deep reader of poetry and the drama, and 
what he had once learnt he never forgot. 
Present at these little gatherings were 
S. B. Bancroft, Lionel Brough, W. Blakeley, 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 21 

and others who — beginners like myself — have 
since won fame and position on the London 
stage. It was in Liverpool that Leigh Murray 
first saw Sothern play David Garrick, and I 
remember how deeply he envied him the 
opportunity of creating that splendid part." 

Mr. Hare's first professional appearance was 
made in a now forgotten piece entitled "A 
Woman of Business," in which, supporting 
Mr. J. L. Toole, who was fulfilling a starring 
engagement, he played the small part of a fop. 
This performance was attended by somewhat 
disastrous results, for towards the end of the 
little scene in which he was engaged Mr. Hare 
suddenly became the victim of stage fright, and 
utterly forgot every word he had to say. He 
was roused to a sense of his luckless position by 
the hoots and jeers of a derisive gallery, and 
fortunately these had an effect the reverse of 
what might have been expected. The young 
actor's anger was excited ; with his wrath his 
memory came back to him, and pulling himself 
together, he managed to get through the scene. 
But he was half heart-broken, and when he 



22 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

reached home he told Leigh Murray (who had 
been too ill to go to the theatre that night), that 
he had mistaken his vocation. Of course he 
was comforted and coached for his next fling 
with fortune. This was in a small part (the 
poet Lexicon) in " The Birthplace of Podgers," 
in which he again had the good luck to appear 
with Mr. Toole. Thanks, as he gratefully 
remembers, to the hints and encouragement 
of that genial comedian and ever kindly man, 
he gained confidence, and scored his first 
success, winning the laughter and applause of 
the audience, and (how sweet this always is to 
the young actor !) the recognition of the press. 

" But best of all to me," says Mr. Hare, " was 
the approval of my old friend Toole. This 
early meeting with him was the commencement 
of a friendship which has increased and lasted 
down to the present time." 

Mr. Hare's next good fairy was the late 
E. A. Sothern who, pleased with his perform- 
ance of the stammering Jones in " David 
Canuck/' cast him for a somewhat important 
part in his new play, " The Woman in Mauve." 



fOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 23 

This was to be produced in Liverpool upon the 
return of Sothern from an engagement which he 
had to fulfil in Manchester, and the piece was 
to be rehearsed during his absence by a deputy. 
Mr. Hare learnt subsequently that his manner 
of rehearsing the part gave the greatest alarm 
to the manager, Mr. Henderson, who thought 
him far too inexperienced to* play it. As a 
matter of consequence letters and telegrams 
were continually going between Liverpool and 
Manchester urging Sothern to make an altera- 
tion in the cast, and to give the part to the 
recognised low comedian of the theatre. 
Sothern, however, was steadfast, and insisted 
that the young actor, whose talent he had 
recognised, should have his chance. His judg- 
ment was correct, and on the first night, at the 
end of the second act, he led his prot6g6 before 
the curtain in graceful acknowledgment of the 
fact that in the scene that had just called forth 
applause honours had been fairly divided. 

This episode receiving notice at the hands 
of some of the London critics, encouraged 
Mr. Hare to hope for an immediate engage- 



24 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

ment in town, and when he had been seen 
successfully acting in H. J. Byron's little piece 
called "An Old Story," by the author and 
Miss Marie Wilton, and they had said many 
kindly and encouraging things of his perform- 
ance, visions of an offer from the new manage- 
ment of the Prince of Wales's Theatre tantalised 
him. 

That offer, however, did not (offers rarely do) 
spontaneously come, and it was not until he 
had confided his aspirations and troubles to 
John Clarke, who was engaged as a leading 
member of the new London company, that, 
following his friend's advice, he boldly u wrote 
in," as actors have it, and offered his services, 
prepared to " do anything he was told, play any 
part that was offered him, and be grateful for 
any salary he could get." The result of this 
plucky policy was an engagement at £2 a week, 
plus a fixed resolve to make the most of any 
opportunity that might come in his way. 

An early Liverpool performance of Mr. Hare's 
in company with Mr. Bancroft was that of 
Pinch (the u schoolmaster and conjuror ") in 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 25 

a production of Shakespeare's "Comedy of 
Errors," in which Mr. Bancroft appeared as 
Antipholus of Syracuse, and the brothers Charles 
and Harry Webb played the two Dromios. In 
consequence of the extraordinary likeness exist- 
ing between these two comedians, this was, in 
the days of 1864, a very popular entertainment, 
and in connection with it I may, perhaps, be 
permitted to tell a story that deserves a place in 
the " Curiosities of Criticism." On one occasion 
when the Webbs were engaged to appear as 
the Dromios at a provincial theatre, Charles 
missed his train and telegraphed to Harry that 
he could not appear on the stage until about the 
time that the curtain might be expected to fall. 
Now it will be remembered that Dromio of 
Ephesus does not meet Dromio of Syracuse 
until the final scene of the play, and, grasping 
the situation as a true actor should, Harry Webb 
played the two parts all through the piece, — 
took care that the waits between the acts wej^ 
as long as the audience would allow them, and 
at the end of the comedy, — just at the right 
moment, — had the satisfaction of standing face 



26 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

to face with quickly dressed and hastily made- 
up brother Charles. This, of course, was no 
very great achievement ; the pith of my story 
lies in the fact that in the next day's local 
newspaper, the astute critic sneered at the 
preposterous notion of the brothers considering 
themselves like each other. " A mere tyro/' he 
majestically declared, " could at any moment 
have seen which of the two occupied the stage ! " 

I do not suppose that Mr. Hare could make 
much of Pinch ; but as one of his few Shake- 
spearean impersonations, his appearance in the 
part is worthy of record. Mr. Bancroft tells 
us that he " presented a very quaint figure," and 
also noted that when the Webbs appeared as 
Dubosc and Lesurques in "The Courier of 
Lyons" (" The Lyons Mail" of Sir Henry 
Irving's Lyceum repertory), " Hare gave the 
first sign of his power in the art of making-up 
in a small part of a very old man." 

When Sothern came to Liverpool with his 
second great success, " David Garrick," with 
Lionel Brough for his Squire Chevy, Hare, as 
we have seen, played the poor and ridiculous 



FOHA HARE, COMEDIAA. 27 

part of the stuttering Jones, — one of Alderman 
Ingot's impossible guests, — and when a little 
later on the clever but ill-starred " Woman in 
Mauve " of Watts Phillips was produced, 
Sothern entrusted him with the character of the 
ex-policeman, subsequently played during the 
very brief run of the piece at the Haymarket 
by Mr. Compton. 

Writing of this play and its tentative pro- 
duction, Watts Phillips, who was not present, 
said : 

iC It appears my 'Woman in Mauve' has 
been a most extraordinary success in Liverpool. 
They wanted originality, and they have got it, 
— for the critiques declare that 'such a piece has 
never been seen before on the English stage/ — 
and Sothern says that the astonishment and 
enthusiasm were wonderful. It will be produced 
in about six weeks at the Haymarket, and they 
expect it will take London by storm. We 
shall see ! " 

Alas for the fond hopes of the ever sanguine 
Sothern, and the often disappointed author, 
they did see, and all that is now remembered of 



28 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

a whimsically conceived and cleverly written 
but unsuccessful play, is Mr. Bancroft's droll 
anecdote of one of Hare's first appearances as 
ex-constable Beetles. 

" The leading characters in the second act," 
he says, " were joining in the chorus to a song 
sung by Sothern, Hare beating time with a 
telescope, which he used throughout the play as 
a kind of memory of his former truncheon. 
One night the audience roared with laughter 
louder and louder at each successive verse ; the 
actors doubled their exertions, — Hare especially, 
who attributed part of their enjoyment to the 
vigorous use of his impromptu bdton — when 
Sothern, who was next to him, suddenly dis- 
covered that various articles of costume, used by 
Hare as padding, were one by one emerging from 
beneath his coat, and forming an eccentric 
looking little heap upon the stage. The audience 
roared louder than ever; Hare beating time 
with renewed fierceness, when Sothern whis- 
pered : • Never mind, old fellow ; don't take 
any notice ; don't look down ! ' Of course 
Hare did look down at once; he saw what had 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 29 

happened, and bolted in confusion, leaving us to 
finish the scene as best we could without him." 

Mr. Bancroft further makes mention of a 
performance of " Money," ift which he played 
Captain Dudley Smooth, and Mr. Hare was 
cast for the subordinate part of the irascible old 
member of the club whose time is passed in 
calling for the snuff-box. No doubt this pro- 
duction was recalled by the Sir Frederick 
Blount and Sir John Vesey at the famous revival 
of Lord Lytton's comedy at the Prince of 
Wales's Theatre in 1872. 

We now clearly understand how it came 
about that when Mr. Bancroft became a pro- 
minent member of Miss Marie Wilton and Mr. 
H. J. Byron's London Company he was soon 
followed by his old Liverpool comrade, Mr. 
Hare, whose first appearance on the metropoli- 
tan boards was made at the Prince of Wales's 
Theatre on September 25, 1865, ^ ^ e land- 
lord Short in the well known " Naval Engage- 
ments." " Byron," says Mr. Bancroft, " would 
drag in a joke, and at rehearsal one day 
remafked to Hare : ' So wise to appear first of 



30 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

all in a part suited to you. Short figure, short 
name, short part ; the critics will say : 'Mr. 
Hare, a clever young actor, made his first bow 
to a London audience, and was most excellent ; 
in short, perfect.' ' Yes/ said Mr. Hare ; ' but 
what will happen if they don't like me ? ' ' We'll 
rechristen the piece " Short Engagements." ' " 

Though the time and the opportunity for 
making his great mark had not yet arrived, the 
" in short, perfect " prophecy was very near the 
mark, and, as we all know, the engagement 
became a very long one. 

As we have seen, lasting success came with 
his unique and almost startling performance 
of Lord Ptarmigant in T. W. Robertson's 
" Society," on November 1 1 of the same year. 
This was at once appreciated by the critics and 
the public, and the fame of the actor was 
firmly established. Following the custom of 
those days the bill was strengthened at Christ- 
mas by the production of a burlesque. This 
was entitled " Little Don Giovanni," and was 
from the pen of Mr. H. J. Byron. In it Miss 
Marie Wilton appeared as the Don (how 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 31 

delightful she was in such characters will never 
be forgotten by old playgoers !) and, probably 
very much against his will, Mr. Hare figured 
as Zerlina. It was almost the last piece of its 
class ever produced at the theatre. Henceforth 
the resources of this admirable company were 
to be very properly devoted to pure comedy. 

May 5, 1866, witnessed the production of 
H.J. Byron's comedy " A Hundred Thousand 
Pounds/' in which Mr. Hare, with distinct suc- 
cess, played the character of Mr. Fluker. It is a 
pleasant piece, and is still very popular with 
amateurs, but although it advanced Mr. Hare's 
position on the London stage it did not other- 
wise greatly add to the acting reputation of any 
one of those who first appeared in it 

T. W. Robertson's next comedy at the Prince 
of Wales's Theatre was " Ours," the play in 
which the author's great love of and sympathy 
with soldiers first showed itself. It had its trial 
trip at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, Liverpool, 
and at the first reading some disappointment 
was expressed by those who were to appear in 
it, Mr. John Hare especially feeling that the 



32 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

part of Prince Perovsky (subsequently one ot 
his notable successes) was unsuited to him. By 
this time he knew his own value, and was 
naturally anxious with regard to new ventures, 
but when Robertson ' told him that if he would 
accept the part he should regard it in the light 
of a personal favour, he readily acceded. On 
September 15, 1866, the charming play was 
presented in London, and at once made its 
mark. While the acting of all concerned was 
deservedly praised, it was clearly pointed out 
that Mr. Hare had made another distinct step 
forward, and that no more complete impersona- 
tion had been for some time seen, than his 
embodiment of the Russian Prince, characterized 
by the highest polish and the utmost refinement 
of speech and manner. 

It was during this original run of "Ours," 
that H.R.H. the Prince of Wales sent for 
Mr. Hare during the performance, and graciously 
complimented him on his impersonation of the 
Russian Prince. Since that time not a year 
has passed without his having received some 
mark of the Prince's kindness and appreciation 



JOfIN HARE, COMEDIAN. 33 

of work well done. He has seen nearly every 
play that Mr. Hare has produced or appeared 
in, and has never failed to express his pleasure. 
" Often/' says Mr. Hare, " I have had the 
advantage of his shrewd and kindly judgment, 
and I believe him to be one of the best, as he 
is one of the most sympathetic of critics/' On 
the occasion of this first introduction to the 
Prince, Mr. Hare had good cause to be struck 
by his well-known minute observation of detail. 
His uniform as the Russian General was 
complete in every detail (for the taking of pains 
in such matters Mr. Hare is without a rival), 
but, thinking that no one in front would be 
much concerned about the authenticity of his 
decorations, he allowed himself to wear a rather 
mixed lot, among them being the order of a 
freemason. This the Prince had noticed 
through his glasses, and when he met Mr. Hare 
he at once condemned the entire display as 
preposterous and absurd. The error was 
immediately rectified, but the little story shows 
how quickly the Prince detects the slightest 
inaccuracy in dress and appropriate decoration. 

D 



34 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

On the other hand, he is the first to recognize 
correctness. 

What a contrast was there between Prince 
Perovsky and the next character our actor was 
called upon to play ! what a surprising change 
from the haughty, high-minded, aristocratic 
Russian Prince, to that of Sam Gerridge, the 
commonplace, jealous, and plebeian little trades- 
man of the Borough Road, who informs all and 
sundry that he has succeeded to the business 
of the late Mr. Binks, and that " Bell-'anging, 
gas-fitting plumbing and glazin* would be carried 
on as usual ! " 

When, on April 6, 1867, Robertson's 
masterpiece was produced at the Prince of 
Wales's Theatre, Mr. Hare's Sam Gerridge was 
one of the surprises and the triumphs of a de- 
lightful and memorable evening. Mr. Clement 
Scott attributes much of this success to the 
dramatist. " What a keen observer," he says, 
" was Tom Robertson ! He saw Hare clearly 
and distinctly as Lord Ptarmigant ; but he saw 
him also, sharp, decisive, cockney to the back- 
bone, as Sam Gerridge, the gas-fitter." 



MR. JOHN HARE as "sam gerridgb," 
j MRS. BANCROFT as "polly ecclks" in " 

(Frtm a Photograph by Henry Aihdvtm.) 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 35 

Robertson would, no doubt, have given the 
praise to the actor, and the truth of the matter 
is that it was a case of mutual obligation. 

Writing of this production a leading critic 
said : "The most natural and powerful cha- 
racter in the play is the drunken father, a selfish 
sot, partly self-deluded, partly a humbug " — by 
the way Mr. Hare has sometimes said that he 
would play Eccles. Why does he not do it ? — 
" Next to him stands the other and the real 
working man, a mechanic whose flow of speech 
is not great, but who makes his presence felt 
by judicious ' business/ Mr. Hare is so refined 
and perfect an actor, so true an observer of life, 
that we were not surprised to find him made up 
a sharp, wiry, veritable working man who might 
have stepped out of any carpenter's shop in 
England. The scene in which he reads to his 
' intended ' the trade circular he has just com- 
posed is the most exquisite and unforced bit of 
comedy we have seen for years." 

It was a performance that had a firm hold on 
the public. On April 13, 1883, when, at the 
Haymarket Theatre, " Caste " was played for 

D 2 



36 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

the last time under the famous Bancroft 
management (by the way, it was during the 
first run of " Caste " that Marie Wilton became 
Mrs. Bancroft), Mr. Hare came over from the 
St James's Theatre to play his old part to the 
Captain Hawtree and Polly Eccles of his 
former manager. " That evening," says Mrs. 
Bancroft, " will long be remembered by us, and 
is not likely to fade easily from the memory of 
anyone present. It was apparent, directly the 
curtain rose, that the audience was exceptional, 
and that some strange magnetic influence 
affected both auditor and actor. The reception 
of all the familiar characters was very pro- 
longed, while that of Mr. Hare, the moment 
he appeared as Sam Gerridge, and of ourselves, 
no other word will so express the demonstration 



ember these brilliant im- 




gnei 

' ree with me in saying that 
ht word used in the right 
e the evening was made 
>y the presentation to him 
beautiful silver vase. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 37 

On December 21, 1867, "Caste" was suc- 
ceeded at the Prince of Wales's by Dion 
Boucicault's five-act comedy, entitled " How She 
Loves Him." Mr. Hare's character was that of 
Mr. Nettletop (divorced from his wife), but 
though the piece had proved attractive in 
America it failed to please in London, and was 
soon forgotten. As an afterpiece (in those 
days audiences were exacting enough to expect 
an afterpiece) Maddison Morton's immortal 
€i Box and Cox " was staged, with the following 
cast : Box, Mr. George Honey ; Cox, Mr. 
Hare ; Mrs. Bouncer, Mrs. Leigh Murray. 
Those who saw this matchless piece of farce 
acting by three great artists will never forget it. 

On Saturday, February 15, 1868, Robertson's 
new comedy " Play " was produced. It was, no 
doubt, the weakest of the famous series con- 
tributed by him to the Bancroft rdgime, but in 
it Mr. Hare was able to score in a curiously 
original stage study. Speaking of the Hon. 
Bruce Fanquehere, the Times critic said : 
" His morals are somewhat lax, but his prin- 
ciples, when a point of honour is concerned, are 



38 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

& sound, and when interest does not decidedly 
pull the wrong way he is an earnest though 
cool advocate on the side of right. Mr. Hare, 
always ready to seize on exceptional peculiarities 
of character, is the very man to perform the 
character, and the figure he presents with thin 
legs, imperturbable demeanour, and a dress 
which, though plain, borders on the ' slangy/ is 
entirely new to the stage." Of the same 
performance Mr. Dutton Cook says : " In the 
part of the Hon. Bruce Fanquehere, Mr. Hare 
finds an opportunity for presenting the public 
with another specimen of his skill in character 
painting. Mr. Bruce, with all his viciousness and 
utter want of principle, is yet master of a certain 
well-bred gentlemanly manner which Mr. Hare 
is heedful never to lose sight of, and to keep 
constantly under the notice of the audience/' 

But " Play " was not a second "Ours" or 
"Caste," and on December 12, 1868, "Tame 
Cats," an original comedy by Edmund Yates, 
was brought out. This proved one of those 
saddest of sad things — a first-night failure. Sad, 
that is to say, to those who think with me. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 39 

Mr. Bancroft tells us that " cat-calls and feline 
sounds of many kinds followed the final fall of 
the curtain, and we felt the play was doomed." 
Even to read of such a brutal demonstration as 
this, and of such wanton insults offered to a 
clever writer and an exceptional company of 
actors and actresses, makes the blood of the 
honest playgoer boil. And yet this sort of 
thing is still, to the disgrace of the English 
stage, going on. I wonder what sort of people 
these first-night hissers, and hooters, and 
cat-callers are ? I suppose it is exceedingly 
unlikely that they are familiar with the words 
of George Eliot, or they would remember that 
that great writer said : u Failure after persever- 
ance is much grander than never to have a 
striving good enough to be called a failure." 
I am quite certain that the great majority of 
theatre-goers will agree with me when I say 
that I would far rather wake up on the morning 
following one of these vulgar and unseemly 
outrages to find myself critically condemned as 
an unsuccessful actor or author, than to know 
that I had been guilty of taking even the 



40 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

smallest part in an ill-bred and cruel display of 
temper. It is true that, years afterwards, 
Edmund Yates said that "Tame Cats" was 
poor stuff and deserved its fate, but neither he 
nor the Prince of Wales's company thought 
so at the time of its production, and if they 
mutually made a mistake they deserved com- 
miseration and not insult. 

In connection with this ill-fated venture 
Mr. Bancroft says : " Hare had to appear as a 
shabby and disreputable creature who was a 
returned convict : he was, as usual, immensely 
excited about his ' get-up/ which was mutually 
discussed over one of the many delightful 
dinners of those early days. I remember an 
amusing incident of his hunting in all sorts of 
back streets for some characteristic clothes, and 
after walking round and round a strange man 
who wore a very odd-looking hat, which Hare 
thought priceless, at last striking a bargain for 
its purchase with the bewildered owner, and 
carrying it off in triumph with some horrible 
rags of garments which had to be well baked 
in an oven before they could be worn. ,, 



L 






MR. JOHN HARE 

"BEAU FARtNTOSH" IN "SCHOOL." 

n Photograph o\y Messrs- Window & Grove.) 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. Al 

On January 16, 1869, Robertson's "School," 
partly founded on the German play " Aschen- 
brodel " of Roderich Benedix, was produced 
with such complete success that the former 
disappointment was speedily forgotten. In this 
Mrs. Bancroft was delightful in that which she 
has since admitted to be her favourite part, 
Naomi Tighe ; Mr. Bancroft was most happily 
fitted as Jack Poyntz ; and as the cosmeticised 
and decrepit Beau Farintosh Mr. Hare made 
another distinct mark. 

Of this performance the critic of the Daily 
Telegraph said : "Whatever part Mr. Hare 
undertakes we may be quite assured the utmost 
amount of pains will be bestowed on every 
detail ; and this most creditable characteristic 
of the actor is especially to be noticed in his 
latest assumption. Beau Farintosh, who might 
have been a young ' buck ' in the days of the 
Regency, but who is now only a padded old man 
striving to repair the ravages of nature by the 
appliances of art, must be ranked the very best 
of Mr. Hare's impersonations. The carefully 
made-up face, in which the wrinkles are effaced 



42 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

by the plastering of cosmetics, the affected 
jaunty air of youth contrasting with the un- 
avoidable feeble gait, and the blundering short- 
sightedness of which he seems to be so 
amusingly unconscious, are admirably exhibited. 
An effective contrast is also produced when he 
no longer affects to conceal the years he has 
attained ; and when, clasping his long-sought 
grandchild to his arms with emotions which 
overpower his utterance, the old beau reappears 
as a grey-headed old gentleman, inspiring 
reverence instead of ridicule. The burst of 
pathos which accompanies this wholesome 
change favourably displays the power of the 
actor in a strong situation. " 

In September, 1891, Mr. Hare revived 
"School" at the Garrick Theatre, but to the 
great regret of playgoers did not reappear as 
the whimsical but warm-hearted old beau. The 
cast was, however, in many respects an interest- 
ing one. Mr. H. B. Irving, the son of 
Sir Henry Irving, appeared as Lord Beaufoy ; 
Mr. Hare's son, Gilbert Hare, was the 
Mr. Krux ; Mr. C W. Garthorne, Mr. Kendal's 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 43 

brother, the Jack Poyntz ; Miss Fanny Robert- 
son, the sister of the dramatist and of 
Mrs. Kendal, the Mrs. Sutcliffe ; and Miss 
Kate Rorke, who was dne of the schoolgirls in 
the Haymarket revival of the play under the 
Bancroft reign, the Bella. The part of Beau 
Farintosh was entrusted to that excellent 
character actor Mr. Mackintosh. 

On April 23, 1870, the Bancrofts produced 
"M.P.," the last of the series of delightful 
comedies that poor Robertson wrote for the per- 
fectly organised little company that he under- 
stood so well. He was in failing health when he 
wrote it (indeed the end of it was dictated by 
him from his bed of sickness), he was unable to 
attend the rehearsals, and, as a matter of course, 
the work suffered. But good acting saved it, 
and in the finely drawn character of Dunscombe 
Dunscombe Mr. Hare scored another notable 
success. 

" Mr. Hare," said a leading critic, speaking 
of this performance, " is the most finished actor 
of old men that our stage has had since the late 
William Farren if we except Mr. Alfred Wigan, 



44 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

who might, and no doubt will, be pre-eminent 
in this line of business whenever he takes to it. 
As it is, Mr. Hare has no rival in our theatres 
at this moment. The one new incident of the 
comedy, and the best part intrinsically of 
Mr. Robertson's piece, is the scene of the sale 
by auction in Dunscombe Hall, which may have 
been suggested by the late R. Martineau's im- 
pressive picture of ' The Last Day in the Old 
House/ but on which as well Mr. Robertson is 
to be congratulated, both for his choice and 
his treatment of the incident, as his actors — 
Mr. Hare more particularly — for their perfect 
realization of the authors intention. We re- 
member no more natural and touching passage 
of mingled comedy and pathos than the best 
part of this third act, and it alone would have 
secured the success of the piece. Mr. Hare's 
performance, in conception and execution, was 
the gem of the piece. The scene in which the 
old squire resents Piers's " (this was the part so 
perfectly played by Mr. Bancroft) "charge, and 
that which follows when he listens to the voice 
of the auctioneer knocking down his ancestral 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 45 

pictures, rises to the highest rank of acting in 
contemporary comedy. Throughout, his per- 
formance illustrated admirably a truth very 
important to dramatists and actors, namely, how 
wide and unoccupied a field there is for effec- 
tive impersonation, even in the studiously un- 
masked and reticent manners of contemporary 
life, and among the class most careful to mask 
emotion and put the curb on all expression of it." 
Notwithstanding this great and thoroughly 
artistic success, the popular impersonator of 
Dunscombe Dunscombe was by this time grow- 
ing a little restless. " Held down, as it were, 
by long runs," says Mr. Bancroft, " Mr. Hare 
asked our permission, which was at once 
accorded, to give a special matintte at the 
Princess's Theatre." As an actor, it may here 
be noted, Mr. Hare has always disliked long 
runs, maintaining that after some fifty nights in 
one character the actor becomes mechanical in 
his part. Whether as a manager he holds 
precisely the same views is more than I can 
say. The cast of the Princess's matinie is 
worth quoting here, for it shows how, at even 



46 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

this comparatively early stage of the actor's 
career, he was esteemed by the flower of the 
theatrical profession. The programme com- 
menced with the good old farce of "The Bengal 
Tiger," in which Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wigan 
acted ; and this was followed by " London 
Assurance," in which Mr. Hare as Sir Harcourt 
Courtly was supported by Mr. H. J. Montague 
as Charles Courtly, Mr. Addison as Max 
Harkaway, Mr. Bancroft as Dazzle, Mr. 
Buckstone as Dolly Spanker, Mr. J. L. Toole 
as Mark Meddle, Mr. John Clayton as Cool, 
Mr. C. Collette as Solomon Isaacs, Mrs. 
Bancroft as Lady Gay Spanker, Miss Carlotta 
Addison as Grace Harkaway, and Miss Nellie 
Farren as Pert. If with such a cast as this 
" London Assurance " could be revived to-day 
what crowded houses it would draw ! Alas ! it 
took place as long ago as 1870, and was then 
" for one afternoon only." Another attraction 
of that memorable afternoon was that Arthur 
Sullivan (he was not " Sir Arthur " in those 
days) and Frederick Clay played the piano 
between the acts. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 47 

The next important production at the Prince 
of Wales's Theatre was the notable revival of 
Lord Lyttons comedy " Money." It gained 
new life for a neglected and supposed to be 
(from an actor's point of view) " unlucky " play, 
and was a bright feather in the managerial cap. 
As Sir John Vesey Mr. Hare met with a new 
occasion for exhibiting his skill in histrionic por- 
traiture. With a suffused face, white hair and 
whiskers, a restless pomposity of manner, and 
a plausible geniality that only gave way when 
selfishness became urgent, "Stingy Jack" in 
Mr. Hare's hands acquired a position of unusual 
prominence in the comedy. The representation 
was complete in every respect, and marked by 
particular ingenuity in the contrivance of by- 
play, and what is called "stage business." 

In Wilkie Collins's powerful play " Man and 
Wife " (by the way, Mr. Hare first brought this 
work to the notice of the Bancrofts) he appeared 
as Sir Patrick Lundie, and was enabled to pro- 
duce another of his now established portraitures 
of a shrewd, sarcastic, and yet kindly elderly 
gentleman. 



48 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

April 4, 1874, witnessed that elaborate and 
in many respects remarkable revival of " The 
School for Scandal " that will always have its 
place in the story of the English stage, and in 
which Mr. Hare was the Sir Peter Teazle. 
Concerning this impersonation I shall once 
more make so bold as to quote the critic of the 
Daily Telegraph. " How loyally and well/' he 
says, " Mr. Hare would assist such a perform- 
ance we all know, and how the performance was 
in itself brought into relief by Mr. Hare's 
good taste we must all be convinced. Without 
such a Sir Peter, who refines everything to a 
nicety, who remembers the tone and character 
of the old English gentleman, and studiously 
forgets the coarseness, and we may add the 
grossness, which has been attached to the 
character by tradition, how much less expression 
would have been obtained by the great scene 
with Lady Teazle ! Surely a young actor can 
play Sir Peter Teazle without being obstinately 
compared with such geniuses as are identified 
with the character, and we may well congratu- 
late Mr. Hare in successfully passing through 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 49 

a most harassing and almost overwhelming 
ordeal. It is difficult to shake the conviction 
of anyone, and with old playgoers old memories 
are necessarily dear ; but it will be gratefully 
remembered that in Sir Peter Teazle Mr. Hare, 
true to his art, discarded those coarse effects 
which are so telling, and, remembering his own 
standard and outlook of the character, played it, 
with evenness and finish, and like a refined and 
well-bred gentleman." 

" It was at this time," writes Mr. Bancroft, 
" that our company suffered a great loss in the 
departure of its oldest and most valued member, 
John Hare. Wisely enough, for there was ample 

room for two such theatres as the then Prince of 
Wales's in friendly rivalry, he had for some time 
entertained ideas of commencing management 
on his own account ; how wisely has been 
proved by the splendid record of his work in 
that direction. 

" When ' The School for Scandal ' was with- 
drawn Hare left us, Sir Peter Teazle being the 
last part he played under our management ; but 
time has not weakened our remembrance of his 

E 



50 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

valued services and the great aid he gave to 
the Robertson comedies, with which his name 
must always be associated, or, I rejoice to add, 
altered our friendship. He and I had dressed 
in the same room together for years, those years 
being, at least on my part, the happiest of my 
life, for they began when I was twenty-four and 
ended when I was thirty-three. I know I can 
claim to be his oldest theatrical friend, and I 
don't suppose he was surprised that the little 
dressing-room knew me no more, for the next 
night I found a lonely corner somewhere else." 



CHAPTER II. 

1875-1879- 

THE COURT THEATRE. 

The time was certainly ripe for the organ- 
ization of a new high-class company of 
comedians when, on March 13, 1875, Mr; Hare 
opened the Court Theatre (the parent of the 
existing Court Theatre) in Sloane Square, 
Chelsea. Buckstone's famous Haymarket com- 
pany had been disbanded, and this enabled him 
to secure the services of Mrs. Kendal (who 
still figured in the programmes as Miss Madge 
Robertson) and Mr. Kendal, and other engage- 
ments were made with Mrs. Gaston Murray 
(then playing as Miss Hughes), Miss Amy 
Fawsitt, Miss Bessie Hollingshead, Miss Mary 
Rorke, Mr. R. Cathcart, Mr. H. Kemble, Mr. 
Charles Kelly, and Mr. John Clayton; in all 
truth a goodly company. The pretty little 

B 2 



52 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

playhouse was tastefully decorated — at his own 
wish Mr. Val Prinsep painted a new act-drop, 
which was equally novel, tasteful, and excellent 
— and the opening night went off with great 
tclat. 

The chief attraction was u Lady Flora," a new 
and original four-act comedy by Mr. Charles 
Coghlan, who since the production of "M.P." 
had been a very prominent member of the 
Prince of Wales's Company. It was a pleasant 
play of the Robertsonian school, written with a 
sprightliness and a measure of tenderness, and 
it proved both attractive and amusing. Once 
more perfectly made-up, Mr. Hare gave a fine 
and highly finished picture of a French Duke 
resident in England, playing throughout with 
his known ease and tact ; Mrs. Kendal was 
charming as Lady Flora; Mr. Kendal acted 
admirably in rather a thankless part ; Mr. John 
Clayton also made his mark ; and Mr. Kelly 
scored heavily as a good-natured English 
nobleman, brusque in manner but warm in 
heart. Altogether Mr. Hare's best friends 
could not have wished him a better " send-off. " 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 53 

On June 12, "Lady Flora" was succeeded 
by Mr. Hamilton Aide's interesting four-act 
comedy-drama " A Nine Days' Wonder," in 
which Mr. Hare appeared as an elderly 
widower, Mr. Vavasour by name, who for the 
proverbial " nine days " is in danger of becoming 
enmeshed in the matrimonial snares of Mrs. 
Fitzroy (a part superbly rendered by Mrs. 
Kendal), who a quarter of a century previously 
had refused his hand. Mr. Hare's performance 
had all the minute realism of his well-known 
method, and was equally picturesque and 
effective. 

With Mr. and Mrs. Kendal fresh from their 
Haymarket triumphs in " The Palace of Truth/' 
" Pygmalion and Galatea," and " The Wicked 
World," as the leading members of his company, 
it was but natural that Mr. Hare should wish 
to produce one of those fascinating stage fairy 
stories in which Mr. Gilbert had found conve- 
nient vehicles for his piquant fun and trenchant 
satire. Accordingly, on December 9, he staged 
that delightful writer's " Broken Hearts " with 
Mrs. Kendal as Lady Hilda, Mr. Kendal as 



54 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

Prince Florian, and Mr. G. W. Anson as the 
dwarf — Mousta — the character in which he 
made his first great London success. Possibly 
this, was the part designed by the author for 
Mr. Hare, but, be that as it may, he elected not 
to appear in the piece. Indeed, now that he 
had become his own manager he seemed almost 
to wish to efface himself as an actor. This, no 
doubt, was following out his theory that the 
ideal theatrical manager should be one who, 
whilst possessing the best artistic knowledge 
and thorough command over his company, is 
self-sacrificing enough not to act himself. 

But, luckily for dramatic art, his audiences not 
only wanted to see him on the stage, but let 
him know it, and he had to respond to their call. 

It was on January 8, 1876, that Mr. Hare 
appeared for the first time as Lord Kilclare in 
Mr. Coghlan's adaptation from the French, 
entitled " A Quiet Rubber," and achieved one 
of his greatest and most lasting stage triumphs. 
The success was won in the face of great 
difficulty. Barely five years had elapsed since 
Mons. Lesueur had visited London and 



MR. JOHN HARE 

"LORD KILCLARE" IN " A QUIET RUBBER." 
ran a Photograph by Sftart. Windew &• Grant.) 



I 

J 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 55 

appeared at the Lyceum in " La Partie de 
Piquet," the French original of Mr. Coghlan's 
English play, and theatre-goers were still 
talking of the masterly presentation given by 
that admirable artist of the hero of the little 
piece, a member of an old-fashioned aristocracy, 
nurtured in prejudice and delusions which even 
the earthquake shock of revolution could not 
overthrow. Everyone was saying not only that 
the piece could not be Anglicised, but that 
neither Mr. Hare nor any other English 
comedian could give an adequate rendering of 
this extraordinarily subtle character. How 
these difficulties were cleverly overcome by the 
adapter, and absolutely vanquished by the 
actor, is now a matter of theatrical history. 
For nearly twenty years Lord Kilclare, as 
impersonated by Mr. Hare, has held his own 
upon the boards, and, indeed, there is no more 
popular figure on the stage than the proud and 
irascible old nobleman in the familiar high 
collars and brown coat with brass buttons. The 
part proved itself to be peculiarly adapted to 
Mr. Hare's method. A little fire of manner 



56 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

that in the eyes of some critics had occasionally 
detracted from the value of his pictures of age, 
was here in keeping, and gave added effect to 
the haughty insolence which is hidden behind 
elaborate and ostentatious courtesy. If he had 
never done anything else, Mr. Hare's Lord 
Kilclare would ever keep his memory green. 
It is one of those unique impersonations that 
English play-goers love to see over and over 
again. 

The March of the same year witnessed the 
first production at the Court Theatre of Mr. J. 
Palgrave Simpson's revised adaptation of 
Sardou's " Les Pattes de Mo^he," still happily 
called "A Scrap of Paper." We have seen 
how as an amateur Mr. Hare had appeared in 
and been attracted to this remarkably clever 
comedy. It was first produced on the English 
stage with Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wigan in the 
parts destined to become so famous in the 
hands of Mr. and Mrs. Kendal, but on that 
occasion was merely a succes d'estime. This, 
Mr. Hare felt, was mainly due to the fact that 
Mrs. Alfred Wigan, although perfectly artistic 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 57 

in all she did, was at the time it fell in her way 
too old for the part of the vivacious and 
fascinating heroine. Her performance was full 
of ability, but it had lacked " charm." In Mrs. 
Kendal's clever hands he felt certain that this 
difficult character would from every point of 
view be perfectly safe ; and the result proved 
the correctness of his judgment. " A Scrap of 
Paper" was an immediate and enormous 
success at the Court Theatre, and was sub- 
sequently one of the most brilliant revivals of 
the Hare and Kendal management at the 
St James's. It still proves — and as long as 
they go on playing it is likely to prove — one of 
the most attractive and popular items of Mr. 
and Mrs. Kendal's repertory. In the first 
production of the play under his management 
Mr. Hare, for the sake, presumably, of showing 
his versatility, elected to appear in the boy's 
part, Archie Hamilton. Wonderfully made-up, 
and presenting an absolutely youthful appear- 
ance, he played with a brightness of style that 
was at once captivating and convincing. I 
remember on one occasion seeing Mr. Hare 



58 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

follow up this daring and dashing performance 
with an appearance as the infirm old Lord 
Kilclare, and I have reason to know that a 
number of people in the theatre could not be 
convinced that the same actor had played the 
two parts. 

In later productions of " A Scrap of Paper" 
Mr. Hare appeared as the eccentric old ento- 
mologist, Dr. Penguin, and in wonderful 
suggestions about the eyebrows and whiskers 
conveyed the idea that he had become so 
absorbed in his hobby that he was getting to 
look like one of his treasured specimens. 

After the first run of the play Mr. and Mrs. 
Kendal left the Court Theatre to fulfil an 
engagement with the Bancrofts at the Prince of 
Wales's, and, fortifying his company by the 
important engagement of Miss Ellen Terry, 
Mr. Hare produced, on November 4, 1876, a 
new three-act comedy, by Mr. Coghlan, called 
" Brothers." It was a brightly written play, 
and the acting had the ensemble that Mr. Hare 
had striven so hard and so successfully to 
impart, but it did not " draw the town," and it 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 59 

was very speedily succeeded by a revival of 
Messrs. Tom Taylor and A, W. Dubourg's 
charming comedy u New Men and Old Acres," 
in which Miss Ellen Terry played the part 
created by Mrs. Kendal on the original produc- 
tion of the piece at the Haymarket, and Mr. 
Hare followed Mr. Chippendale as Vavasour. 
By all concerned this was so beautifully acted — 
and by Mr. Hare so perfectly stage-managed — 
that solid and lasting success was assured. 
The good work that was being done was gene- 
rously recognised, and the critical Athenaum 
spoke for the public when it said : " Without 
going to the best Parisian theatres, it is not 
easy to rival the performance now given, and 
there even the majority of the impersonations 
would call for notice. The result is highly 
gratifying to the public, unused to spectacles 
such as are now presented to it, and is most 
honourable to the management." * * * "We 
may congratulate, accordingly, Mr. Hare and his 
company upon a performance that lifts off a 
portion of the reproach under which we have 
lain, and that is the more noteworthy inasmuch 



60 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

as of the dozen actors concerned in the per- 
formance, there is no one that does not deserve 
praise." 

So great was the popularity of this production 
that no change of programme was needed until 
October, 1877, when Mr. Hare was ready with 
one of his most ambitious efforts. 

This was the production of Lord Lytton's 
posthumous work " The House of Darnley," 
and concerning it I cannot do better than quote 
Mr. Dutton Cook when he said : " A critic 
wrote concisely of the late Lord Lytton's play of 
' Not so Bad as We Seem/ that it was 'not so 
good as we expected/ Perhaps a like judgment 
might fairly be passed upon the noble author's 
posthumous comedy ' The House of Darnley/ 
It was inevitable, however, that Lord Lytton's 
fame should stimulate hope unduly. The author 
of ' The Lady of Lyons ' and ' Money ' may 
reasonably be reckoned the most successful 
dramatist " (Jnen entendu this was written in 
1877) " of the nineteenth century. It may be 
said at once that with those established works 
the new comedy cannot afford comparison. But 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 61 

in estimating the worth of ' The House of 
Darnley ' it is very necessary to bear in mind 
the peculiar conditions under which it is sub- 
mitted to the public. The play was left in an 
unfinished state ; the whole of the last act has 
been furnished by Mr. Coghlan, who was with- 
out other clue than his fancy could suggest as to 
the original design of the dramatist More than 
any other literary work, a drama must benefit 
by revision and reconsideration on the part of 
the author ; in such wise, weak points in con- 
struction may be strengthened, gaps in the story 
supplied, the dialogue braced, and the action 
quickened/ ' 

That in the face of all these very properly 
pointed out difficulties success should have been 
won speaks volumes for the tact of the courage- 
ous manager and the skill of his fellow-workers, 
Let me again quote my authority : 

" With all its defects/' he says, " ' The House 
of Darnley* secures the attention and the respect 
of the audience, and succeeds in right of its own 
good qualities, and not merely because of the 
esteem in which the performances of its departed 



62 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

author are generally held. If the theme be 
weak, it is yet strongly handled, and demon- 
strates sufficiently the wit and the humour, and 
the literary accomplishments of the late Lord 
Lytton. The comedy has been provided for 
with the good taste and liberality which have so 
- laudably distinguished Mr. Hare's management. 
The scenes representing the oak hall at Lord 
Fitzhollow's and the drawing-room and library 
at Mr. Darnley's are admirable examples of the 
pictorial theatre.' ' 

Acting honours in this noteworthy and praise- 
worthy production were divided between Mr. 
Hare (who contented himself with the small 
part of Mr. Mainwaring), Mr. Kelly, Miss Ellen 
Terry, and Miss Amy Roselle. 

When the storm and stress of acting and 
management are at an end, and Mr. Hare has 
time in which to " think things over," he will no 
doubt be a little bit proud of the fact that he 
was responsible for the production of " The 
House of Darnley." 

His next .venture was not very successful. 
In spite of the care lavished upon its production 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 63 

Mr. Tom Taylor's comedy " Victims/' originally 
presented at the Haymarket in 1857, failed to 
attract audiences for any appreciable length of 
time to the Court Theatre in 1878, and in spite 
of much clever acting on the part of Mr. Hare, 
who played the character of the young poet, 
Mr. Herbert Fitzherbert, and his skilful com- 
pany (of which his old friend and adviser, 
Mr. John Clarke, was now a member), the piece 
was speedily withdrawn. 

Withdrawn it may unhesitatingly be said in 
favour of Mr. Hare's greatest managerial suc- 
cess. Following his old scheme of " self efface- 
ment " he did not elect to appear in Mr. W. G. 
Wills's stage version of Oliver Goldsmith's 
immortal story "The Vicar of Wakefield," 
entitled " Olivia," but how far he was respon- 
sible for that beautiful production I propose to 
show. It was, as a matter of fact, one of the 
few plays (Mr. Hare says it was the only play) 
in which he played the part of collaborator. He 
suggested the subject to Mr. Wills, and it was 
at once seized with the characteristic avidity of 
that prolific and graceful writer. No one who 



64 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

knew that unquestionable but erratic genius will 
be surprised to hear that the first draft of the 
play was, for stage purposes, impossible. It was 
made up of scenes of great beauty hopelessly 
choked with vast quantities of irrelevant matter. 
It was not consecutively written, but was jotted 
down at random in untidy copy-books, on the 
backs of used envelopes, chance scraps of paper, 
and even on the eager but unmethodical author's 
wristbands. At one time the task of bringing 
all this heterogeneous matter into workmanlike 
form seemed to be a hopeless one, but with full 
faith in his project and his author, Mr. Hare was 
not to be baffled. Night after night the two sat 
up together, and the play was reconstructed 
and rewritten in accordance with the practical 
managerial views. When it was at last com- 
pleted Mr. Wills prudently withdrew from the 
scene. He had no interest in or talent for 
stage management, and he wisely left the pro- 
duction in the experienced hands of Mr. Hare, 
only attending the perfected rehearsal on the 
eve of the first performance. Mr. Hare can 
rarely be induced to talk about himself or about 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAlf. N 65 

his work, but in connection with this production 
he is inclined to be somewhat enthusiastic. "The 
beauty of its subject," he says, " made the stage 
management of this play profoundly interesting 
to me, and stimulated my imagination and in- 
ventive powers to a greater height than I had 
ever reached. By working out the whole 
scheme of the play in my home study I planned 
out all the movements and minute stage direc- 
tions, so that at the very first rehearsal it prac- 
tically was the same as when it was presented 
to the public. The part of the Vicar I offered 
in the first instance to Mr. Alfred Wigan, 
making every effort to induce him to return to 
the stage in order that he might create this beau- 
tiful character. I could not induce him, however, 
to face the footlights again. So Mr. Hermann 
Vezin became the Court Vicar, and how 
admirably he played the part we all know." 

No one grudges Mr. Vezin his splendid and 
well-won success, but some of us who ponder 
over things theatrical, sometimes wonder 
whether, if the Court Theatre had had another 
manager, and the services of Mr. John Hare 

F 



66 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

had been available, he might not have been 
induced to impersonate Dr. Primrose. 

But he had his triumph in the chorus of 
praise with which this beautiful production was 
received, 

"Mr. Wills," says Mr. Dutton Cook, "has 
been fortunate, not merely in his performers, 
but in his manager. Mr. Hare demonstrates 
anew that he has elevated theatrical decoration 
to the rank of a fine art ; indeed, his painstaking 
and outlay in placing the play upon the stage 
justify suspicion that it was produced almost as 
much for its pictorial as for its dramatic merits. 
In either case advantage has been taken of the 
opportunity to present a special reflection of the 
artistic aspects of the last century with regard 
to furniture and costumes, china and glass, and 
other accessories. A sort of devout care has 
been expended upon the veriest minutiae of 
upholstery and ironmongery ; a fond ingenuity 
is apparent in every direction of the scene ; and 
the foibles and fancies of those who love, or 
imagine that they love, cuckoo clocks, brass 
fenders, carved oak, blue-and-white crockery, 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 67 

and such matters, have been very liberally 
considered and catered for. Prettier pictures 
have not, indeed, been seen upon the stage 
than are afforded by the Primrose family, their 
friends and neighbours, goods and chattels, and 
general surroundings. But a higher claim to 
distinction arises from the method of its repre- 
sentation. In the hands of Miss Ellen Terry 
Olivia becomes a character of rare dramatic 
value. The actress's singular command of 
pathetic expression obtains further manifestation. 
The scene of Olivia's farewell to her family, all 
unconscious of the impending blow her flight 
is to inflict upon them, is curiously affecting in 
its subtle and subdued tenderness ; while her 
indignation and remorse upon discovering the 
perfidy of Thornhill are rendered with a 
vehemence of emotion and tragic passion such 
as the modern theatre has seldom exhibited." 

Of course, within the scope of this brief 
volume it is impossible to speak of all the actors 
who gained their spurs under Mr. Hare's 
banner, but in connection with "Olivia" it is 
interesting to note the success achieved at 

F 2 



68 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

almost the commencement of his stage career 
by Mr. William Terriss as Squire Thornhill. 
How " Olivia," with Sir Henry Irving as Dr. 
Primrose, and Miss Ellen Terry still happily 
playing the part of the sweet-souled heroine, is 
to-day one of the popular items in the Lyceum 
repertory, is known to all playgoers. But the 
lion's share of the credit of the production 
undoubtedly belongs to Mr. John Hare. 

In 1879 there was a shuffling of theatrical 
cards. Miss Ellen Terry migrated from the 
Court to the Lyceum Theatre ; and the Kendals 
returned to Mr. Hare to appear in the first 
place in a revival of "A Scrap of Paper/' 
supplemented by the reproduction of " A Quiet 
Rubber." 

A few weeks later, and at a tentative morn- 
ing performance — [jnatintes were comparatively 
rare events in those days) — was produced 
T. W. Robertson's adaptation of the comedy 
of Scribe and Legouv6, l€ Bataille des 
Dames," entitled "The Ladies' Battle." It 
is one of the works which Robertson, before 
he made his mark, translated for theatrical 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 69 

speculators at a price, it is said, of something 
like ten shillings an act Poor Robertson ! if 
he could only have seen his tenderly written 
and hitherto misunderstood work acted at the 
Court Theatre ! To show the marked im- 
pression that was by this time being made 
by Mr. Hare's productions, I must again quote 
from the Athetueum. " The revival at the 
Court Theatre of ' The Ladies' Battle," says 
that authority, " has more interest and value 
than might be expected from the conditions 
under which the play was produced. For 
once managerial promises have been kept, 
and the pledge that the care that distinguishes 
the regular entertainments at the Court should 
be bestowed on the morning performances 
has been redeemed. How ready the public 
is to put faith in a management that will 
keep faith with it, and how much genuine 
interest in theatrical affairs survives the dis- 
couraging influences of recent years, is shown 
in the kind of audience that is assembled on 
such occasions as the production of a novelty 
at the Court In the hands of Mr. Hare and 



•jo JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

the one or two managers who are animated 
by the same views is the future of our stage. 
A performance like that of 'The Ladies' 
Battle' may challenge comparison with any- 
thing that can be seen at the representative 
theatres on the Continent, and the only thing 
wanting to make the Court Theatre fulfil the 
functions of a subventioned house is that it 
should give us a certain percentage of works 
of English growth, instead of an almost 
constant series of adaptations." The English 
plays were to follow later on, and, in the 
meantime, "The Ladies' Battle," which in due 
course was promoted to the evening bill, 
proved a trump card. Mr. Hare's presenta- 
tion of the PreTet who had changed his skin 
with every Administration — had been Citizen 
inder the Republic, Mons. de 
nder Napoleon, and the Baron 
d under Louis XVIII. — was 
est performances he had ever 
make-up and in acting it was 
Mrs. Kendal as the heroine 
, and Mr. Kendal's powers as a 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 71 

Comedian found full scope in the rather ex- 
travagantly drawn character of Gustave de 
Grignon. Down to every detail connected 
with the piece the same care was extended, 
and the scene in which the action passed was 
one of the most artistic that had ever been 
seen in the theatre. 

It was at a morning performance, too, that 
Mr. G. W. Godfrey's bright and permanently 
popular adaptation of the French u Un Fils 
de Famille," happily called " The Queen's 
Shilling," was first given. Again the utmost 
pare was taken with every detail, and the 
result was a performance which was a reflection 
of real life. In the character of Colonel 
Daunt, Mr. Hare surprised even those who 
had most faith in him. In the original French 
play, and in the English versions of it that 
had been seen at the Princess's and the 
Adelphi, the Colonel was a very formidable 
person, quite unlike the small but soldierlike 
figure that appeared at the Court. It was the 
boldest and, in its way, the most effective 
thing that Mr. Hare had done, and the im- 



72 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

personation well merited the applause with 
which it was greeted. He was marvellously 
got up, and acted with extreme care arid finish 
of style. Old playgoers will remember how 
Mr. and Mrs. Kendal and Mr. Hare in this 
pleasant play used to join in the refrain 
commencing " Speak to me, love, and with thy 
glances," and they will agree with me that 
they then saw comedy at its brightest and its 
best. 

On July 19, 1879, Mr. Hare said good-bye 
to the Court Theatre, and in the following 
words, and to an enthusiastic audience, 
announced his forthcoming partnership with 
Mr. Kendal in the management of the St. 
James's Theatre. 

"Union is strength," he said, "and I feel 
that in associating myself with an admirable 
man of business and a most able artist, and 
at the same time gaining the permanent 
services of his accomplished wife, there seems 
a reasonable hope of conducting successfully 
a theatre which up to the present time has 
laboured under the stigma of being unfortunate. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 73 

I assure you we shall work our hardest to 
reverse its ill-luck, and it will be through no 
lack of endeavour on our part if we fail. I 
may tell you that our plan of campaign will be 
similar to the one adopted by me here. 
Comedy and Comedy-drama will form the 
staple of our dramatic fare, and we shall 
endeavour to get the best company together, 
with a view to giving that which is always, I 
take it, the most satisfactory thing to an 
audience — an even, all-round performance." 

But before opening the St. James's Theatre 
Mr. Hare had a new and, I think he will 
admit, a most delightful experience. In the 
company of the Kendals, and for the first time 
since he had become an actor of the highest 
note — Mr. Hare acted in the English pro- 
vincial cities and towns. Always the most 
modest of men, he had, I have good reason 
to believe, a conviction that his name had 
never been heard of outside London, and that 
his methods might not suit the tastes of his 
country cousins. In very unmistakable terms 
he was soon told that his histrionic fame had 



74 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

travelled far and wide, and that the perfection 1 

of his art was the very thing to ensure his 
success among the thronged and expectant 
audiences that rejoiced to bid him hearty 
welcome. Wherever he went he at once estab- 
lished himself as a prime favourite, and from 
that day to this his provincial tours have 
increased in favour. No doubt London is the 
great and most profitable field for the English 
actor, but it is worth something to make 
one's name (as, in company with other great 
actors, Mr. Hare has done) a household 
word in all the great centres of England, 
Scotland and Ireland, wherever increasing 
industry and facilities for education naturally 
lead up to an increased appreciation of true 
art. 



CHAPTER III. 

1879-1888. 

the st. james's theatre. 

When, on October 4, 1879, the recon- 
structed and redecorated St. James's Theatre 
was opened under the management of Messrs. 
Hare and Kendal, it was freely acknowledged 
to be not only one of the chief attractions but 
one of the sights of London. Certainly it was 
the most luxurious and tasteful playhouse that 
had so far been seen in England, and the foyer > 
which was also a picture gallery, was remark- 
ably attractive. Indeed, the whole place 
more resembled a richly appointed house than 
a theatre, and there was about it a general air 
that made its patrons feel themselves comfort- 
ably at home. 

The opening programme consisted of the 



76 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

recent Court success, "The Queen's Shilling," 
with Mr. and Mrs. Kendal and Mr. Hare in 
their original characters, and this was preceded 
by a comedietta from the pen of Mr. Val 
Prinsep (in which Mr. Hare played with 
admirable art), entitled " Monsieur le Due" 

The story which this piece relates is more 
familiar on the French than on the English 
stage. It deals with libertinism and love. 
The Due de Richelieu, Marshal of France by 
right of his military services, and roui by reason 
of his numerous profligacies, receives a visit 
from a young lady — an orphan — who, obeying 
the injunctions of a dying mother, seeks his 
powerful protection. After his wont, the Duke 
bets lightly on the immediate dishonour of his 
fair visitor, professing to regard her appeal as 
nothing but a direct venture of her innocence. 
The bet is lost. In the subject of his gallantry 
he discovers his own daughter, her mother (a 
lady of noble rank, but not his equal in point of 
birth) having married the Duke when a young 
man, for which indiscretion a lettre de cachet, 
procured at the instance of his father, had 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 77 

consigned Monsieur le Due to temporary 
seclusion in the Bastille. Meanwhile the 
mother had been spirited away. Richelieu 
having still a lingering affection for the wife 
of his younger days, and reflecting on the past 
with its rudely checked happiness, receives his 
daughter to his arms. The heartless libertine 
becomes the repentant father whose one 
thought is to protect his child from insult and 
wrong. 

This cleverly conceived and well-written 
little play has not been revived, but it is men- 
tioned at some length in these pages, because in 
it Mr. Hare at the commencement of his new 
partnership struck out a new line and made a 
perfect picture of Monsieur le Due. 

On December 18 of the same year the 
St James's management did itself honour in 
producing " The Falcon," an original play in 
one act, by Alfred Tennyson, founded on the 
story in " The Decameron " of Boccaccio. This 
interesting piece was beautifully staged, and as 
the Count Alberighi and the Lady Giovanna 
Mr. and Mrs. Kendal played perfectly. The 



7* JOHN JtARE, COMEDIAN. 

trouble of the cast was the falcon, who died 
during the run of the play. 

The next venture on the part of the new 
management was the highly popular revival of 
Tom Taylor's well-known play, " Still Waters 
Run Deep." In this Mrs. Kendal made a very 
notable hit as Mrs. Sternhold, Mr. Kendal was 
admirable as John Mildmay, and in the com- 
paratively small part of Potter Mr. Hare 
excelled himself. It was a masterpiece of 
character-acting, fauldess in get-up and, indeed, 
in all respects. As one of the most eminent 
critics summed it up, it was in very truth "a 
keen instance of unexaggerated eccentricity." 

In connection with " Still Waters Run Deep," 
Mr. Hare has one of those stories to tell that 
prove how presence of mind exercised in the 
right way and at the right moment may avert 
serious calamity. With Mr. and Mrs. Kendal 
and the St James's Theatre company he was, 
while on one of those provincial tours that had 
now become their annual custom, playing the 
piece at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, 
Liverpool. The occasion was the Kendals' 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 79 

benefit, and as a matter of course the house 
was packed "from floor to ceiling. In those 
days precautions against fire and panic were 
not so rigidly enforced as they are now, and to 
make room for the overwhelming audience the 
orchestra had been banished to the regions 
below the stage, and all the gangways were 
blocked with chairs. Under these conditions 
anything like a scare would inevitably have 
been attended by horrible consequences. Now 
those who are familiar with "Still Waters 
Run Deep " will remember that when the cur- 
tain rises on the first act all the principal 
characters are discovered. John Mildmay, 
Mrs. Mildmay, and Mrs. Sternhold are in the 
front of the stage, and old Potter is seated at 
the back napping by the fireside, with his back 
to the audience and a handkerchief thrown 
over his head and face. On the evening of 
which I am writing, the fire in the grate, or the 
lamp which was supposed to represent the fire, 
had been lit, and as good luck had it there was 
a hole in old Potter's handkerchief. Through 
this Mr. Hare, impersonating that eccentric old 



' 



8o JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

gentleman, saw, to his intense horror, that the 
flames had caught that part of the scene painted 
to represent the mantelpiece, and were slowly 
but surely creeping up and gaining ground. 
As the scene of his earliest appearances he 
knew the theatre well, and had often recognised 
the fact (it is all altered now) that in the case of 
an alarm it would with a full house prove a 
veritable death-trap. He also knew that if the 
crowded audience saw the steadily increasing 
flames, a panic with its ghastly results would 
ensue. Fortunately some moments had to 
elapse before he was called upon to take his 
cue, and slowly rising and in the slip-shod 
manner he assumed in portraying the character, 
toddled off the stage. His exit caused consi- 
derable laughter, and Mrs. Kendal, turning to 
see the cause of the unexpected interruption, 
realised with characteristic quickness the perilous 
predicament. Instantly grasping the situation, 
and the reason of Mr. Hare's departure, she 
placed herself, with admirable calmness, between 
the ignited scenery and the audience. Mean- 
time M^ Hare was behind the scenes. " The 

\ 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 81 

Fireman ! " he called, but there was no fireman. 
" The Gasman then ! " he demanded, but the 
gasman ''had just stepped out to smoke his 
pipe." Such was the manner in which in those 
days some of the provincial theatres were con- 
ducted ! Happily he obtained a wet blanket, 
and this, with the assistance of a carpenter, was 
pushed through the fireplace from the back to 
the front of the scene, and wrapped round the 
flame, which, not without considerable difficulty 
was extinguished. The bare arms of the work- 
man, the blanket, and the fire were all this time 
hidden from the audience by Mrs. Kendal. 
The danger being over, Mr. Hare returned to 
the stage with the same comic walk, and Mrs. 
Kendal interpolated a " Well, brother Potter, 
and where have you been ? " She laughed, and 
so did the audience, little knowing that through 
the courage and presence of mind of their 
entertainers they had escaped a terrible catas- 
trophe. 

Encouraged by the popularity of the revived 
H Still Waters Run Deep " — and in the dearth 
of any brilliant novelty from the pen of a living 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 83 

Once more the stage management caused 
surprise as well as delight. " To see," wrote a 
keen critic, "such pictures as those of the 
cottage at Deal, in which the action of ' William 
and Susan ' commences, the beach with the fleet 
in the Downs, the cabin of the man-of-war with 
the officers with their smooth-shaven faces, and 
in their knee-breeches and silk stockings, and 
the marines with their quaint but effective 
costume of the early part of this century, and 
the final tableau of the deck of the same vessel, 
in which everything is exact enough to defy 
scrutiny, is to learn of what the art of theatrical 
decoration is capable. The improvement, mean- 
while, is not confined to matters of dress and to 
what is inanimate in the picture. For the first 
time upon an English stage, supers of whom 
everyone apparently is an actor are employed. 
The pictures afforded accordingly vibrate with 
life, and the stage illusion is perfect. So 
thoroughly has Mr. Hare accomplished the 
task he set himself that his example must 
inevitably be followed, and a definite im- 
provement in the conditions of theatrical re- 

G 2 



84 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

presentation in England is now a mere matter 
of time." 

This was written fifteen years ago, and we 
all know how perfectly things are done in the 
best theatres of to-day. That much of this 
perfection is due to the example set by Mr. 
Hare, and (I know that in speaking of the 
St. James's productions he would like to add) 
Mr. Kendal, — is beyond all dispute. 

In " William and Susan " Mr. Hare appeared 
(what a lesson to the much discussed actor- 
manager !) in the trivial part of the Admiral, and 
to the immense good of the production supplied 
a picture accurate and faithful in all respects. 

Octave Feuillet's well-known story " Le 
Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre" has 
always had a fascination for English playwrights 
and actors. In 1859, a stage version of it was 
produced under the title of " Ivy Hall,'' at the 
Princess's, and though the play is long since 
forgotten, the production will always have an 
interesting place in theatrical lore, inasmuch as 
in one of its minor characters Sir Henry Irving 
made his first appearance on the London stage. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 85 

Eight years later, Dr. Westland Marston 
prepared another adaptation of the novel for 
the late E. A. Sothern, which was produced at 
the Haymarket in 1868 under the title of "A 
Hero of Romance." In this, as old playgoers 
will remember, Sothern, who always loved to do 
startling things, made a tremendous sensation 
by an alarming jump that he took from the 
summit of a ruined tower into the unseen depths 
below the stage. In connection with Sothern's 
famous leap, I recall a droll incident. He was 
playing the piece in a provincial town, he had 
met with a slight accident, and made up his 
mind that for a few nights it would be wiser to 
jump by proxy. Accordingly he engaged a 
professional acrobat of his own height and 
build, who dressed exactly like him, and who 
(hidden of course from the audience) was 
stationed at the top of the tower ready to take 
his leaping cue from Sothern as he made his 
frenzied rush up the dilapidated stairs. Now 
Sothern, as most of us know, had a mania for 
practical joking, and it generally happened that 
amongst his company were victims of his 



86 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

propensity longing for an opportunity to pay 
him back in his own coin. This chance 
seemed to come to the company in question 
when the acrobat spoke rather sneeringly of the 
jump, and said that if he could only have a 
spring board he could " shoot right up into the 
flies and turn a double somersault before he 
came down ; but he supposed Mr. Sothern 
wouldn't like it." The actors assured him that 
nothing would please Sothern better, and so 
the spring board was provided, and the plot 
perfected. 

" Victor ! *t is death ! " cried the heroine, on 
the stage, when Sothern stated his apparently 
mad determination to leap from the crazy 
battlements. 

" Death ! " answered Sothern, in his most 
impressive tone, "'Tis honour ! " — and dashed 
up the stairs to give the cue to his confederate 
and crouch behind the scenery. " W-s-s-h-h ! " 
like a rocket the actor seemed to spring sky- 
wards, and then, turning an exquisite double 
somersault, disappeared from view. The good 
people of the provincial town of which I am 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 87 

writing took it all seriously, — marvelled at 
Sothern's proficiency — and in acknowledgment 
of his prowess called him any number of times 
before the curtain. It was some time before he 
discovered the cause of this extraordinary enthu- 
siasm, and when he did there was — in addition to 
a dismissed acrobat — trouble in that company. 

Probably it was the memory of Sothern's 
undoubted success as this u Hero of Romance " 
that induced the St. James's management to 
commission Mr. Coghlan to turn to the pages of 
"Le Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre; " but 
when " Good Fortune," as the piece was now 
called, was produced it was found that the once 
sparkling wine had become flat and lost its 
flavour. Why is it that plays that at one time 
seemed so fascinating grow (it is a term that 
those who write about the stage are, in default 
of a better one, apt to use) " old-fashioned " ? 
To those who have loved and been impressed 
by them in the days of long ago the word can 
never apply. I suppose the truth of the matter 
is that the fare that seems perfectly satisfactory 
to one generation of playgoers does not suit the 



88 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

more fastidious palates of those who succeed 
them. Be that as it may, " Good Fortune," 
although Mr. Coghlan had done his work 
admirably, and Mr. and Mrs. Kendal and their 
supporters (Mr. Hare had no part in the piece) 
played to perfection, did not prove too attrac- 
tive at the St. James's ; and I don't believe it 
would have done even if (with or without the 
aid of an acrobat) Mr. Kendal had courted 
favour (which he very wisely did not) in 
Sothern's sensational leap. 

But the comparative failure of " Good For- 
tune" had a curious effect not only on the 
St. James's Theatre but upon the English stage. 
Sooner or later the admirable work of Mr. A. 
W. Pinero would have been certain to find its 
home, and make its mark, but he would probably 
own that his first great chance came when Mr. 
Hare and Mr. Kendal suddenly found them- 
selves in want of an attraction, and determined 
to produce " The Money Spinner,' ' a two-act 
play that had made note in the provinces. It 
was the old story of the right time coming for 
the right man. In the days of 1881 we sadly 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 89 

wanted a new dramatist. Mr. Pinero suddenly 
filled the gap, and in spite of the brilliant and 
successful playwrights who have, with infinite 
credit to themselves and incalculable advantage 
to the stage, followed his lead, he still holds 
his own as the premier dramatist of to-day. 

No doubt Mr. Pinero would be the first to 
admit that his first London chance with an 
important play was an extraordinary one 
With such artists as Mr. John Hare, Mr. 
and Mrs. .Kendal, Mr. John Clayton, Mr. 
Mackintosh, and Miss Kate Phillips in his 
leading parts, he had indeed little left to wish 
for ; but the play succeeded as well as those who 
acted in it, and how splendidly he has followed 
up the promise of his first fruits is known to 
everyone. 

Mr. Hare's part was that of the self-styled 
Baron Croodle, and some critics consider that 
his rendering of the character of that disreput- 
able old Chevalier d' Industrie, a Montague Tigg 
and a Chevy Slyme rolled into one — was so far 
first and foremost in his gallery of character 
studies. His make-up and disguise as the 



90 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

drink-sodden and card-swindling old reprobate, 
with his shabby clothes showing clearly the 
evidence of more affluent days, and his still 
swaggering and half- patronising manner, were 
alike remarkable. Every little detail of the 
character had been minutely studied, every 
little item of make-up and costume carefully 
thought out. I have seen representatives of 
Baron Croodle who, with no little success, only 
gave the comic side of a wonderfully drawn 
character. When Mr. Hare played the part he 
made it not only humorous but in its peculiar 
way pathetic. When he surreptitiously lifted his 
brandy flask to his lips, or when he in a half- 
lordly fashion asked the naturally high-minded 
daughter he had trained to cheat if " there^was 
any little dispute at cards that dear papa could 
settle/' we laughed at, but we pitied him. It was 
a truthfully limned picture of a man capable of 
better things who had wilfully allowed himself 
to go down hill and had dragged his women- 
folk with him. The impersonation possessed 
the whimsical pathos of Newman Noggs, and 
the irresistible but transparent bluster of Captain 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 9* 

Costigan, and was in its way unique. Mr. Hare 
has before now been called the Meissonier of 
the stage. He never had a greater claim to 
that title than when he conceived, drew, and 
carefully "stippled in" the portrait of Mr. 
Pinero's Baron Croodle. If in the days of long 
ago Mr. Hare had not made his lasting reputa- 
tion, this inimitable impersonation would have 
at once and for always established it. Never 
shall I forget how after the run of the play in 
London it was received and relished in the 
provinces. Indeed, Mr. Hare's Baron Croodle, 
Mrs. Kendal's Millicent, and Mr. Kendal's 
Lord Kengussie are among the most cherished 
of theatrical recollections. 

And yet, in spite of its popularity, the story 
of " The Money Spinner " was rather a painful 
one, and a good many people were inclined to 
agree with " Mr. Punch " when he said : " And 
now comes the wonder, namely, that an author 
should have chosen such materials for a piece, 
have managed them so skilfully, and have had 
the luck to get it so perfectly played as to 
cause its objectionable character and its wrong 



92 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

moral to be lost sight of in the real interest 
awakened by the personages in the short drama." 

The characters of Claude Melnotte and 
Pauline Deschappelles have always been 
favourite ones with Mr. and Mrs. Kendal, and 
April, 1 88 1, witnessed the very welcome revival 
of " The Lady of Lyons." In this Mr. Hare 
appeared as Colonel Damas, and was excellent 
in all respects. Great care had been taken 
with the tnise en scene, which was adequate and 
unobtrusive. 

For the difficult task of adapting " Le Fils de 
Coralie" of Mons. Albert Delpit, for the 
English stage, the services of Mr. G. W. 
Godfrey, who had done such excellent work for 
the management in "The Queen's Shilling," 
were retained. " ' Le Fils de Coralie/ " said a 
critit, " is a powerful and, strange to say, 
sympathetic play. Just so far as it adheres 
to the original, the English version may claim 
the same praise. Each step from the beaten 
track, however, takes it into the mud, and when, 
in the last act, the path is quitted, piece and 
acting both disappear in a quagmire." 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 93 

But in spite of the disagreeable materials of 
which it was composed, " Coralie," as the play 
was now called, was so well acted by all 
concerned in it, and so perfectly staged, that 
it proved attractive. As the heroine, Mrs. 
Kendal obtained a triumph. A display of 
passion more powerful or more varied than was 
exhibited in the second and third acts, in which 
the lost woman saw the spectres of her past life 
rise up in judgment against her, and chase her 
from the home and happiness she fondly 
imagined herself to have won, the English 
stage had seldom seen. Its influence over the 
audience was overpowering. Mr. Hare's Mr. 
Critchell, — the keenest of keen lawyers — was a 
piece of absolute interpretation. 

In November, T. W. Robertson's adaptation 
of " L'Aventuriere " jof Mons. Emile Augier, 
which, with Sothern in the leading part, was 
produced at the Haymarket in 1869, was staged. 
This reproduction of the still familiar " Home " 
was very acceptable. Mr. Kendal followed 
Sothern as Colonel White ; Mrs. Kendal 
(playing with unimpeachable taste and pathos) 



94 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

succeeded Miss Ada Cavendish in her fine 
impersonation of Mrs. Pinchbeck, and the dead 
author's son, the younger T. W. Robertson 
(alas ! he, too, has gone over to the great 
majority !) was, in the character of the boy, 
Bertie Thompson, made welcome on the 
London stage. Mr. Hare elected to appear as 
the rascally and dissolute Captain Mountraffe, 
the part that at the Hay market had been so 
splendidly acted by Mr. Compton. He played 
the character with such merciless fidelity as to 
make the creature exactly what he was — 
absolutely odious. Some censors declared that 
both in appearance and manner he was so 
abject, that his presence in a country house was 
inconceivable ; but if that was so it was the 
fault of the author, not of the actor. When 
Mr. Hare takes a part it is a truthful photo- 
graph of the man he has in his mind's eye ; not 
a feeble portrait touched up to suit a sitter and 
his friends. His Captain Mountraffe was not a 
pleasant picture, but its memory will live with 
all who saw it 

In conjunction with " Home " was produced 



JOHN HAREy COMEDIAN. 95 

Mr. Clement Scott's delightful one-act play 
founded on the " Jeanne qui Pleure, et Jeanne 
qui Rit," of MM. Dumanoir and De K6ranion, 
called " The Cape Mail," in which Mrs. Kendal 
acted with inimitable art. 

The end of this eventful year was reserved 
for its greatest triumph. Mr. Pinero's " The 
Money Spinner " had paved the way for " The 
Squire," which, to a distinguished and delighted 
audience, was performed for the first time on 
December 29. Here at last was what we had 
been longing and waiting for : a successful home- 
made play worthy to rank with the best efforts 
of our leading dramatists. In every way the 
work was welcome, and truly it was said that, 
" The fresh, breezy atmosphere of ' The Squire ' 
carries us away from the busy world and takes 
us into scenes of charming rural life. The 
play is redolent of country air and pure 
domestic scenes that are a relief from the every- 
day incidents of a town life, and as hearty and 
welcome as they are fresh and singularly 
pleasing." 

Of this pre-eminently satisfactory production 



96 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

Mr. Clement Scott wrote : " Mr. Pinero has 
given us persons, not sketches ; his characters 
are flesh and blood, and his dialogue is, from 
first to last, admirable, and the very thing that 
the stage requires. Mr. Mackintosh has 
created old Gunnion. It is an embodiment, a 
personation, of an abstract idea. He makes 
the man live before us, and it is emphatically 
the finest bit of character acting that has been 
seen on the stage for many years. Almost as 
good, in its way, is the grumpy old parson 
played by Mr. Hare, a character not sufficiently 
praised for subtlety and finish, the last in the 
long gallery of character portraits painted by 
this accomplished actor. Mrs. Kendal has no 
living rival in strong emotional characters. 
She holds her audiences and quickly touches 
their sympathies. Her ' Squire,' however, is a 
part of exceptional difficulty, requiring all the 
finesse of the finished actress. The one great 
Jal got over with a taste, a 
ture that have not deserted 
ice she startled her admirers 
Jattle.' In Mr. Kendal she 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 97 

has a loyal assistant, and it is sometimes the 
misfortune of such loyalty to be compelled to 
play parts necessarily of the same pattern and 
without much variety. All plays must have 
love, and, consequently, lovers. Mr. Kendal 
seems to possess the gift of eternal youth, and 
so he must go on making love for ever. Mr. 
Frederic Clay has written some charming music 
to help one of the village scenes, and it is al- 
together a stage treat that no one should miss." 
Of the manner in which it was produced and 
performed, the Athenceum said : " Long bent 
upon imparting to English representations the 
vitality, finish, and ensemble which characterized 
the performance of the Dutch comedians 
recently in England, Mr. Hare has at length 
succeeded in his task. From highest to lowest 
every part in the piece was well played and the 
spectacle perfect. Its merits were not confined 
to the excellence of the collective representation. 
Separate performances were admirable. Like 
most of her recent presentations, Mrs. 
Kendal's Kate Verity was unsurpassable in 
truth and power, and reached a point of inten- 

H 



98 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

sity which riveted the audience. Mr. Hare 
assigned a distinct and striking individuality 
to the part of the clergyman, and Mr. Kendal 
played Lieutenant Thorndyke frith much 
earnestness and some passion. Mr. Wenman's 
Gilbert Hythe was a fine and masculine piece 
of acting, which could not easily have been 
better. Two specimens of bucolic life were 
played by Messrs. Mackintosh and Brandon 
in remarkable style. The Gunnion of Mr. 
Mackintosh may claim, indeed, to be one of 
the most noteworthy performances in its class 
that our stage has seen. Mr. T. W. Robertson 
gave a capital sketch of a gipsy boy. ' The 
Squire ' was a complete success, and its recep- 
tion was enthusiastic." 

Mr. Brandon, it may be noted, has developed 
into the popular actor-author of to-day — Mr. 
Brandon Thomas. 

When "The Squire" was brought into the 
country, Mr. Hare played old Gunnion with 
such exquisite humour and perfect finish that 
many people wondered why he had not elected 
to appear in the character on the first production 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 99 

of the play. But when the piece was revived in 
London he generously allowed Mr. Mackintosh 
to go on scoring in the part, and returned to his 
original character of the Mad Parson. So great 
was the success of " The Squire," that no 
novelty was wanted at the St. James's until 
December, 1882, when Mr. B. C. Stephenson's 
clever adaptation of MM. Xavier de Montdpin 
and Kervani's " La Maison du Mari " entitled 
" Impulse" was produced, Unluckily there 
was in this no part for Mr. Hare, but it was 
in every way a brilliantly successful production, 
and still remains a most popular item in the 
repertory of Mr. and Mrs. Kendal. 

In October, 1883, Mr. Hare made his re- 
appearance, playing for the first time the exacting 
character of old Rogers in " Young Folks' 
Ways," a comedy in five acts by Mrs. Burnett 
and Mr. W. H. Gillette, founded on Mrs. 
Burnett's story of "Esmeralda." Mr. Hare 
had never presented a finer or more telling 
picture. The meek, peace loving old man, 
whose surrender to his truculent wife amounts 
to his absolute effacement, but whom love for 

H 2 



j j j j 



ioo JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

his daughter rouses at length into sturdy self- 
assertion, was presented with noble skill. At 
first it was thought that in old Rogers the 
actor had secured a character after his own 
heart. He introduced the old man admirably, 
with many delicate touches, all his artistic 
instinct, and an undercurrent of sly humour. 
But the character died out of the story, and its 
impersonator could not supply an interest that 
after a time ceased to exist. Mrs. Kendal 
played so bewitchingly as Nora Desmond, and 
was so well supported by Mr. Kendal, whose 
light comedy style is always admirable, that the 
scenes between them were irresistible. Mr. 
George Alexander, who was now a member of 
the company at the St. James's, — the theatre 
that he manages to-day, with honour to himself 
and advantage to dramatic art — was the Dave 
Hardy of the cast. 

In December " A Scrap of Paper " was 
revived, and in this, as I have foreshadowed, 
Mr. Hare forsook the small part of Archie 
Hamilton, to which he formerly gave import- 
ance, and appeared as Dr. Penguin, F.Z.S, 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 101 

April 17, 1884, was the birthday of another 
St. James's triumph : Mr. A. W. Pinero's 
English version of Mons. Georges Ohnet's " Le 
Maltre de Forges," entitled "The Ironmaster." 
It was immediately successful, and in the hands 
of the Kendals has borne the test of repeated 
revival. It was one of their trump cards in 
America, and at the time that I am writing — 
eleven years since its first production — they are 
playing it to crowded and enthusiastic audiences 
in the principal English provincial towns. 

In the original cast Mr. Hare took no part, 
but later, in the country, he showed by his 
delightfully humorous rendering of the charac- 
ter of old Moulinet, the manufacturer of 
chocolates, that it contained a part with which, 
comparatively small though it was, he could do 
great things. 

It was hardly likely that a company such as 
the St. James's in these days would be content 
without the revival of one of Shakespeare's 
comedies. As Orlando and Rosalind Mr. and 
Mrs. Kendal had already worthily won their 
laurels ; and accordingly on January 24, 1885, 



ioa JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

" As You Like It " was staged with a scenic per- 
fection that had never before been seen. But 
the patrons of the house were not accustomed, 
and apparently did not much care to see their 
favourites in Shakespeare, and not a few of 
them were ungracious enough to declare that in 
their generous efforts to give a beautiful produc- 
tion the management had been too lavish. Mr. 
Lewis Wingfield, who was responsible for the 
adornment of the play, laid the action in the 
time of Charles VII. of France, and dressed it 
accordingly. The costumes were historically 
correct, rich in material, and exquisite in design, 
while the scenery was as realistic and beautiful 
as money and theatrical art could make it. It 
was all very much admired, but it was the 
correct thing at the time to say that it was 
" too modern " and " rather overdone/' Mr. 
Hare appeared as Touchstone, and was much 
praised for the manner in which he merged his 
own individuality in the nature of the philoso- 
phizing clown. 

In the following month, Mr. Hare took the 
chair at the annual dinner of the Dramatic and 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 103 

Musical Sick Fund, and in the course of an 
eloquent and convincing address, said : "It 
was with the greatest diffidence that I accepted 
the position that I now most unworthily fill, but 
I was, in spite of many objections and protes- 
tations on my part, over persuaded by the 
committee who have so honoured me by asking 
me to be your chairman on this most interesting 
occasion. Therefore, without wishing to repay 
the compliment they have paid me by an 
ungracious retort, I must warn them that their 
sins are upon their own heads, and that for 
mine, both of omission and commission, they 
must be responsible. Seriously, to occupy a 
chair from which, in the past, the eloquence of 
giants like Dickens, Thackeray, Benjamin 
Webster, and others has been employed in the 
interests of this charity, makes one feel a 
veritable pigmy, and overwhelms me with con- 
fusion. To quote the words that Shakespeare 
puts into the mouth of his clown, Touchstone, 
' A man, if he was of a fearful heart, might well 
nigh stagger in this attempt/ Gentlemen, I 
am a man of a fearful heart, and I do stagger 



104 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

in the attempt ; I feel myself a kind of oratorical 
Blondin who, with balancing pole in hand, 
amidst the gaze of eager onlookers, essays to 
• cross the rapids ; but I have more than myself 
to consider in the difficult passage that I am 
about to take, for on my back I carry a child 
for whose safety I am responsible — that child 
the well deserving charity whose cause I am 
here to plead to-night." After urging this 
cause with distinct and substantial effect, Mr. 
Hare said : " Perhaps I may be forgiven if, 
before I finish, I tell you a little story which 
has a certain bearing on my appeal to you 
to-night. It was told me by a friend who was 
staying in a country house where a large 
number of people were assembled. On a 
certain occasion the bishop of the diocese was 
to preach a charity sermon. The majority of 
the guests of course attended the service, one 
amongst them being one of the richest men in 
England. My friend, who is a man not very 
well to do in the world, sat next to the old 
gentleman in church, and fully expecting at 
least a five-pound note to be put into the plate 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 105 

by the millionaire, made ready his sovereign, 
but when the plate came round beheld the very 
rich man put in a shilling, and my friend, 
frankly admitting that his astonishment was 
tempered with relief, changed his coin, and also 
put in a shilling. Let me implore you not to 
follow this example — let those who intend to 
give little give much ; let those who intend to 
give much give more. Gentlemen,. I have 
nearly staggered across those rapids I spoke of, 
and am nearing the opposite shore — how far 
successfully my journey has been accomplished 
I cannot say, for I dare not look behind me. 
You, who have watched my faltering steps, 
must be indulgent to one who appears to-night 
in a new and unaccustomed r$le. It only 
remains for me now to make a final appeal to 
you on behalf of the suffering and distressed, to 
ask those who are successful and fortunate 
amongst you to remember those that are fallen 
by the way in life's journey ; to ask you to 
loosen your heart strings and your purse strings 
on behalf of the poor and destitute. The 
actor's calling has two sides : the one bright, 



106 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

exciting, and, to the world, much that is fascin- 
ating ; but the reverse of the picture is a sad 
one : disappointed hopes, unsuccessful struggles, 
too often ending in misery and despair. It is 
for those unfortunates that I plead, and I ask 
all those to whom Fortune has been kind to 
give willing, cheerful, and generous help, 
bearing in mind the words of the inspired 
writer, that when the sum of all earthly virtues 
is arrived at, — ' The greatest of all is charity.' " 

Other notable speeches on this occasion were 
made by Mr. J. Corny ns Carr, Mr. W. S. 
Gilbert, Mr. Hermann Vezin, Mr. Marcus 
Stone, Mr. Val Prinsep, and Mr. S. B. Bancroft. 
It was then indeed that Mr. Gilbert introduced 
his " famous young lady of fifteen,'' who sits in 
the middle of the front row of the dress circle 
" on the rare occasion of the first performance 
of an original English play.'' 

" She is a very charming girl," said Mr. 
Gilbert, "gentle, modest, sensitive, carefully 
educated and delicately nurtured, very easily 
flurried and perhaps a little too apt to take 
alarm when no occasion for alarm exists, but, 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 107 

nevertheless, an excellent specimen of a well, 
bred young English gentlewoman ; and it is 
with reference to its suitability to the eyes and 
the ears of this young lady that the moral 
fitness of every original English play is gauged 
on the occasion of its production. It must 
contain no allusions that cannot be fully and 
satisfactorily explained to this young lady ; it 
must contain no incident, no dialogue that can 
by any chance summon a blush to this young 
lady's innocent face/' 

Of course, Mr. Gilbert's young lady of fifteen 
exists to-day, but I think he would admit that 
she has within recent years had facilities for 
learning a good deal, and that in 1895 her 
parents, or guardians, are not quite so sensitive 
on her behalf as they were ten years ago. 

The next novelty at the St. James's was 
" Mayfair," being Mr. Pinero's adaptation of 
Mons. Victorien Sardou's " La Maison Neuve." 
Although this much discussed and powerful 
play had been produced at the Vaudeville 
Theatre, Paris, as long ago as 1866, it was so 
essentially French in tone and treatment that 



io8 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN 

no English playwright had so far ventured to 
lay hands on it Mr. Pinero accomplished his 
difficult task with infinite skill and discretion, 
but even he, backed up by the splendid cast 
that interpreted his work, could not make the 
play permanently popular in London. It 
contained fine acting parts for Mr. and Mrs. 
Kendal, but with all the art at their command 
they could not make them sympathetic, and 
the most popular personage in the play was 
Nicholas Barrable, the warm-hearted old stock- 
broker. In the hands of Mr. Hare this was a 
delightful impersonation. It was a picture that 
might have stepped from the pages of Dickens 
or Thackeray. The shrewd, sound and cordial 
old fellow made many friends while he appeared 
at the St. James's, and the impersonation set 
many critics wondering why Mr. Hare did not 
venture on Got's famous part in " Le Gendre 
de Mons. Poirier." " May fair/' which was pro- 
duced on October 31, 1885, was, of course* 
perfectly staged. The scene that represented 
Barrable's home in Bloomsbury was the essence 
of unobtrusive but effective stage art. 



JOHA HARE, COMEDIAN. 109 

u Mayfair " was succeeded by a revival of 
"Impulse," and on February 13, 1886, a 
brilliant audience extended a hearty welcome 
to "Antoinette Rigaud," a three-act play 
adapted from the French of u Mons. Raymond 
Deslandes " by Mr. Ernest Warren. Mr. and 
Mrs. Kendal were this time provided with 
thoroughly congenial parts which they played 
to perfection, and as General de Pr^fond, Mr. 
Hare gave another of his masterly character 
sketches. In this clever, dramatic, well-con- 
structed, interesting and perfectly-acted play 
there was a touching scene between Mrs. 
Kendal and Mr. Hare that, exquisitely acted as 
it was, will never be forgotten. 

"Antoinette Rigaud" was succeeded on 
May 25, by Messrs. Sydney Grundy and 
Sutherland Edwards's adaptation in five acts 
of the "Martyre" of MM. D'Ennery and 
Tarb6, entitled "The Wife's Sacrifice." The 
English playwrights had done their work well. 
Mr. and Mrs. Kendal (the latter especially) 
were provided with telling characters, and Mr. 
Hare found an attractive though not very great 



no JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

part in Mr. Drake, an English Consul from 
Pondicherry, who is always protesting that he 
minds no one's business but his own, and, as a 
matter of consequence,, is always mixed up in 
other people's affairs. Mr. Hares appearance 
as this neat and dapper little English gentleman, 
with his dry and sententious manner (but 
thoroughly warm heart), in the midst of foreign 
surroundings, was a great relief to a somewhat 
gloomy play, and formed one of its conspicuous 
successes. On the fall of the curtain on the 
first night of the performance of the play, and 
after loud calls for all the principal characters, 
the authors, and the adapters, Mr. Hare made 
a brief and interesting speech, in which he said 
that Mons. D'Ennery had intended to be present 
to see the play performed for the first time in 
its English dress, but was prevented from doing 
so by illness. Mr. Hare also rightly urged the 
value of applause to the actors, though he 
discreetly added that by applause it was not 
always possible to gauge the success of a play. 
To my mind, Mr. Hare has rarely been seen 
to greater advantage than in Mr. Pinero's clever 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. in 

three-act comedy, " The Hobby Horse/' pro- 
duced at the St James's on October 23, 1886. 
As Mr. Spencer Jermyn, the cheery, spruce, 
and precise " patron of the turf/' the dramatist 
had taken his measure to a nicety, and fitted 
him like the proverbial and much quoted glove. 
No better stage-portrait has ever been limned 
than this alternately urbane and peppery little 
gendeman, so happily nick-named " Nettles " by 
his affectionate but much perplexed wife. For 
a good many playgoers " The Hobby Horse/' 
with its quaint and subtle humour, was a little 
bit before its time. When, with Mr. Hare in 
his original character of Spencer Jermyn, it is — 
as it assuredly must be — revived, it will, if I 
mistake not, make a great mark. Mr. Hare 
should be prevailed upon to play this splendidly 
drawn character during his forthcoming tour 
in America. His impersonation of Spencer 
Jermyn is undoubtedly worthy to rank with 
his Lord Ptarmigant, Prince Perovsky, Sam 
Gerridge, Beau Farintosh, Lord Kilclare, Baron 
Croodle, and Benjamin Goldfinch, and higher 
praise than this cannot be given it. 



ii2 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

It was the last original character that he was 
to play during his partnership with Mr. Kendal 
at the St. James's Theatre. In the revival of 
"Lady Ciancarty ,, (Tom Taylor's play had 
been originally produced at the Olympic 
Theatre in 1874), which took place on March 3, 
1887, he did not appear. That his friends and 
admirers had hoped that he would undertake 
the part of William III. (this would no doubt 
have been an exquisite impersonation) was 
patent to him was evinced in the little speech 
before the curtain that, in response to incessant 
calls, he was compelled to make. The excuse, 
he said, for not appearing as the king was the 
brilliant success made in that part by Mr. 
Mackintosh. This was no doubt graceful, and 
as far as Mr. Mackintosh was concerned, it was 
perfectly true, but we should all have liked to 
see Mr. Hare as " Dutch William.'' The piece 
was as perfectly mounted as it was splendidly 
acted by Mr. and Mrs. Kendal, and the other 
members of this famous company. To ensure 
the accuracy of the costumes of the period, the 
management had secured the assistance of Mr. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 113 

Marcus Stone, and exact reproductions were 
given of old tapestries, mantelpieces, furniture, 
and other appointments. As a critic pointed 
out : lt In this age of careful and expensive 
productions there has been none more beautiful 
more accurate and splendid than ' Lady 
Clancarty ' at the St. James's Theatre ; no 
detail, however trifling, has been neglected, 
All is beautiful and grateful to the senses, and 
if the play should fail to enthral or touch the 
mind there is a feast of stage pictures that 
cannot fail to give complete and utter satisfac- 
tion to the eye " 

" Lady Clancarty " had a long and successful 
run, and after a series of acceptable revivals, 
the partnership of Messrs. Hare and Kendal 
came to an end. On July 21, 1888, "The 
Squire " was played to a crowded, enthusiastic, 
and sympathetic audience, and when the curtain 
fell, Mr. Hare stepped before it and said : 

" Ladies and Gentlemen, I had hoped that in 
your kindness you might have spared me 
making a speech on this, to me, most trying 
occasion, but your cordial demonstration leaves 



ii4 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

me no loophole to escape from addressing a 
few remarks to you on this the last night of my 
joint management of the St. James's Theatre. 
I speak for myself now alone, and I am sure 
my friend Mr. Kendal will follow me, and 
express his own feelings on the subject It has 
often occurred to me that it must be a most 
painful thing for an author to write the word 
' Finis ' at the end of a work which has cost 
much loving thought and toil. I myself as a 
reader have often felt deep regret at coming to 
the end of that which has stimulated my 
imagination and aroused my sympathies and 
touched my sense of humour. I can safely say 
that, as a manager, to close this important 
chapter of my theatrical life is to me a source of 
both sorrow and regret ; and although it would 
be a presumption in me to hope that you as 
readers have been influenced by such feejings as 
I have described, I still may flatter myself that 
in recalling the record of the past nine years of 
management that I have shared with my friend 
Mr. Kendal, there may be some bright spots 
that your memories may linger upon with satis- 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 115 

faction and approval. Be that as it may, we 
have done our best We have done our best 
inasmuch as, whilst fighting to live amidst a 
keen and vigorous competition, we have en- 
deavoured not to forget the advancement of our 
art in the more sordid care of theatrical manage- 
ment It has been argued to our prejudice 
that we have favoured too much the productions 
of foreign authors ; but I would ask you to re- 
member that in the matter of plays, the demand 
has ever been greater than the supply, and that 
the history of the English stage for many years 
has proved it to be incapable of being entirely 
independent of foreign work ; and surely it 
would be as unjust, ungenerous, and narrow- 
minded to endeavour to limit the attention of 
English audiences to works of their own play- 
wrights, as it would be to forbid the sale of 
works of fiction and fact that have originated in 
the brains of distinguished foreigners. I can 
safely say, however, that to England we have 
always turned first for the dramatic fare that 
we have placed before you, and although our 
resources have been narrowed from the fact 

1 a 



n6 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

that our school and our method is essentially a 
modern one, we have been able to present to 
you many English comedies, and have had the 
privilege of introducing to you in his more 
serious aspect one of the most distinguished of 
our modern playwrights, Mr. Arthur W. Pinero. 
That we have not done njore has been our 
misfortune ; I would like to think not altogether 
our fault. Be that as it may, we owe a deep 
debt of gratitude to you, our public, for the 
support and encouragement you have given us 
when we have deserved it ; your consideration 
and indulgence when we have failed to satisfy 
the demands you made upon us. For both I 
thank you. I must also publicly thank the 
partner whose loyal aid and help I have 
enjoyed for so many years, Mrs. Kendal, whose 
talents have shed lustre upon and given vitality 
to so many of our productions ; also a company, 
many of whom I am proud to count as friends 
of old standing, and a devoted staff of officials 
and servants, for being in a position at 
this present of hoping I may enjoy some por- 
tion of your confidence and regard in the future." 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 117 

Following this, Mr. Kendal said : 
"It is perhaps somewhat singular that the 
first time I should have to speak from these 
footlights words not set down for me by my 
author, should be in taking farewell of you and 
the St James's Theatre under its present 
management. For Mrs. Kendal and myself I 
most cordially and gratefully endorse all that 
my friend, Mr. Hare, has just said in acknow- 
ledgment of the great indulgence and the most 
generous support which we have received at 
your hands during our tenancy of this theatre. 
We have had more successes and fewer failures 
than fall to the lot of average managers. It 
would be an affectation on my part, were I to 
be restrained by any unworthy bashfulness from 
declaring that for our successes we are prin- 
cipally indebted to Mrs. Kendal. With Mrs. 
Kendal we have done what we have done ; 
without her, we could, indeed, have done but 
little. No one, I am sure, will more sincerely 
endorse this avowal than my late partner, to 
whose uninterrupted friendship, hearty loyalty, 
and generous co-operation during our entire 



n8 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

connection, I now most gladly bear testimony. 
Next to Mrs. Kendal, we are indebted to the 
zealous assistance and unsparing efforts of our 
entire company and staff, who, without excep- 
tion, have done their utmost in aiding us to 
earn the commendation so liberally accorded by 
our critics, to whom we gratefully admit our 
obligations. One of the kindest and yet keenest 
of our critics has said, that the partnership 
now terminated has been productive of much 
interesting and memorable work. If we have 
done this, I may frankly say we have realised 
our highest ambition. In closing a connection 
of such long duration, and parting from our 
company, out partner, and the theatre which 
has been so many years our home, we have but 
words of heartfelt gratitude for the past, and 
confident hope for the future. And now, ladies 
and gentlemen, the time has come to say, in 
this place, Farewell. We separate from our 
recent associations with no inconsiderable pain. 
Ties such as we have maintained with the 
St. James's Theatre through all these years are 
not broken without regret. We go each our 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 119 

way, with no shadow of rivalry save the 
worthy rivalry of striving each for himself and 
herself to earn a continuance of your favour, 
and to sustain the honour of our profession." 

Mr. Hare was right. Even after this lapse 
of years, it is a painful thing to write " Finis " to 
that memorable chapter of English dramatic 
histQry that records the Hare and Kendal 
management of the St. James's Theatre. 
What was done in the production of plays 
these pages have briefly retold, but before 
ending it will be pleasant as well as instructive 
to note some of the well-known names of those 
who took part in them. From time to time the 
company included Mrs. Gaston Murray, Miss 
Kate Phillips, Miss Cissy Grahame, Miss Linda 
Dietz, Mrs. Stephens, Miss Kate Pattison, 
Miss Louise Moodie, Miss Winifred Emery, 
Miss Kate Bishop, Miss M. Cathcart, Miss Ada 
Murray, Mrs. Hermann Vezin, Miss Webster, 
Miss May Whitty, Miss Vane, Miss Lydia 
Cowell, Miss Fanny Enson, Mrs. Beerbohm 
Tree (how delightful this charming lady and 
accomplished actress was as Miss Moxon 



120 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

in "The Hobby Horse," and as Lady Betty 
Noel in " Lady Clancarty ! "), Miss Blanche 
Horlock, Miss Fanny Brough, Mr. William 
Terriss, Mr. Mackintosh, Mr. T. N. Wenman, 
Mr. Albert Chevalier, Mr. J. H. Barnes, Mr. 
John Clayton, T. W. Robertson the younger, 
Mr. Brandon Thomas (in the days of " The 
Squire" playing as Mr. Brandon), Mr. A. 
Beaumont, Mr. Arthur Dacre, Mr. J. Mac- 
lean, Mr. Herbert Waring, Mr. George 
Alexander, Mr. Henley, Mr. J. F. Young, Mr. 
Charles Sugden, Mr. Hermann Vezin, Mr. 
Charles Cartwright, Mr. Charles Brookfield, 
Mr. Hendrie, Mr. Fuller Mellish, Mr. C. W. 
Somerset, Mr. R. Cathcart, Mr. H. Bedford, 
Mr. Webster, Mr. Lewis Waller, and Mr. H. 
Kemble. Yes, Mr. Hare was right. To one 
at least who remembers all these clever people 
and the excellent things that they did during 
the Hare and Kendal rtgime at the St. James's, 
it is a painful thing to write " Finis " to this 
chapter, and to know that so many pleasant 
and memorable evenings can only exist in 
memory. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE GARRICK THEATRE. 
1889— 1895. 

Pending the completion of the Garrick 
Theatre in the Charing Cross Road, which was 
now being built for him, Mr. Hare accepted 
a brief engagement with Mrs. John Wood and 
Mr. Arthur Chudleigh, to create the important 
character of Jack Pontifex in Mr. Sydney 
Grundy's adaptation of the famous French 
farce " Les Surprises du Divorce," by MM. A. 
Bisson and A. Mars, entitled " Mamma." 
This was produced on September 24, 1888, 
the occasion being the opening of the new 
Court Theatre in Sloane Square, close to 
Mr. Hare's old theatrical home. The part 
was far removed from his accustomed line, and 
by playing it with marked success he proved 



122 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

his great versatility. Mr. Percy Fitzgerald 
truly summed up the impersonation as 
follows : 

" Mr. Hare has deservedly been praised for 
the spirit with which he played this part. We 
can praise him more for the judicious reserve 
and the simulated earnestness he infused into it. 
Another would have been tempted into being 
rattling and boisterous, he was exactly the man 
he personated : ' natural, easy, affecting/ 
snappish at times, good humoured, and oc- 
casionally driven to frenzy. This variety is 
found in nature, which is often, if not always 
inconsistent." 

In the cast of " Mamma," which was an 
emphatic success, were Mrs. John Wood, Miss 
Filippi, Miss Annie Hughes, Miss Caldwell, 
Miss M. Brough, Mr. Arthur Cecil, Mr. Eric 
Lewis, and Mr. Charles Groves. 

Mr. Hare's opening night at the Garrick 
(one of the most beautifully appointed houses 
in London) was April 24, 1889, the P^ a Y 
Mr. Pinero's " The Profligate," heralded by the 
fateful lines — 



JOHN HARE y COMEDIAN. 123 

" It is a good and soothfast saw : 
Half roasted never will be raw ; 
No dough is dried once more to meal, 
No crock new shapen by the wheel ; 
You can't turn curds to milk again ; 
Nor Now, by wishing, back to Then ; 
And having tasted stolen honey, 
You can't buy innocence for money." 

The event had been looked forward to with 
intense interest, and the handsome theatre was 
thronged by a brilliant audience that included 
the leading lights of the literary, artistic, and 
fashionable worlds. I need not in these pages 
say anything of Mr. Pinero's nobly conceived 
and finely written play, or of the acting 
triumphs achieved in it by Miss Kate Rorke, 
Miss Beatrice Lamb, Miss Olga Nethersole, 
Mr. Lewis Waller, Mr. Sydney Brough, and, 
above all, Mr. Forbes Robertson. With 
characteristic modesty Mr. Hare contented 
himself with the small part of Lord Dangars, and 
with consummate skill made it a great one. I 
have seen other and very capable actors play 
Lord Dangars, and the part has " gone for no- 
thing." " The Profligate " was recognised as one 
of the best plays, if not the best, that had been 



124 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

seen for years, its success with that critical first 
night audience was beyond all doubt, and 
high though public expectation ran, it was 
everywhere felt that in every respect the pro- 
duction was worthy of the occasion. 

In the July of this year Mr. and Mrs. 
Kendal left England to fulfil the first of their 
brilliantly successful professional engagements 
in America, and a " God-speed * banquet, at 
which the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain 
presided, was given in their honour in the 
Whitehall Rooms of the Hotel M&ropole. 

At this representative gathering Mr. Hare 
in the course of a very happy speech said — 
"Speaking in the name of the profession to 
which I belong, I can safely say that Mr. and 
Mrs. Kendal will carry with them to America 
the hearty good wishes of their brother actors 
and actresses, to whose regard and esteem they 
are entitled by long years of devotion to the best 
interests of their art, and by the possession of 
those social and domestic qualities which would 
have rendered them distinguished in any calling 
to which they might belong. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 125 

" I think our profession is singularly fortunate, 
inasmuch as/ having survived, I hope to a 
great extent, those prejudices to which Mr. 
Chamberlain has alluded, and which once most 
unhappily surrounded it, it is now in touch 
— and in kindly touch — with all branches of 
society. 

" Indeed, hardly a week passes but we receive 
some generous — I may almost say affectionate 
— token of regard from leading representatives 
in politics, in medicine, in law, and from the 
great brotherhood of other arts. We are 
proud of the interest our calling inspires, and 
we specially rejoice when any compliment is 
paid to those whose career in our profession 
has conspicuously adorned it Such a compli- 
ment has this evening been paid to Mr. and 
Mrs. Kendal by the brilliant gathering 
assembled to wish them God-speed, great 
success, and a happy and speedy return from 
the great continent which they are about to 
visit for the first time. In consenting to 
preside at this banquet Mr. Chamberlain has 
added another to the long list of statesmen 



126 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

whom the cares and battle of politics have not 
prevented from taking a kindly interest in 
fellow-workers in a widely different field, who 
though players, perhaps still add their quota 
to the public good, and whose lives are no 
more free from anxieties and responsibilities 
than their own. I feel sure that in his future 
recollections Mr. Chamberlain will feel a 
pleasure in knowing that amongst the lighter 
duties which he has been called upon to 
perform, he will have performed no more 
graceful one than when he consented to preside 
at this gathering. " 

It soon became evident that in his new 
theatre Mr. Hare had no intention of reversing 
his old policy, and that it was more the desire 
to produce the best presentable plays in the 
best possible manner than to add to his long 
ago well-won reputation as one of the finest 
actors who had ever graced the English stage, 
that had induced him to re-enter upon the 
heavy cares of management. 

It was while " The Profligate " was in the 
high tide of its first success that he set himself 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 127 

one of his most difficult tasks, the production 
of an English version of Mons. Victorien 
Sardou's " La Tosca," made famous in this 
country as well as in France by Madame 
Sarah Bernhardt. 

The task of adapting this gruesome but 
fascinating drama was entrusted to Messrs. 
F. C. Grove and Henry Hamilton ; and with 
a magnificence and perfection of scenery and 
appointments that excelled anything that even 
Mr. Hare had ever attempted, it was produced 
on November 28, 1889. 

Well was it said on that occasion, "Mr 
Hare deals liberally with his public." For 
the principal characters he engaged Mrs 
Bernard Beere (who had the difficult task of 
following Madame Bernhardt as Floria Tosca), 
Mr. Forbes Robertson (who never did anything 
better than Scarpia), Mr. Lewis Waller and 
Mr. Herbert; while in comparatively small 
parts such distinguished artists as Miss Rose 
Leclercq, Miss Bessie Hatton, Mr. Gilbert 
Farquhar, Mr. Sydney Brough, and Mr. 
Charles Hudson were seen. 



128 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

On the Parisian stage the drama had never 
been so richly or artistically mounted, and, 
taking it from "an all-round point of view/' 
it had probably never been better acted. 
During the run of " La Tosca " Mrs. Bernard 
Beere unfortunately fell ill. At a very short 
notice her terribly exacting part was taken by 
Miss Olga Nethersole, and played by that 
young actress in such artistic and vivid fashion 
as to win the praise of the most critical. 

The evening of February 22, 1890, should ever 
have some special mark in the theatrical calendar, 
for then Mr. Hare appeared for the first time 
in Mr. Sydney Grundy's remarkably clever 
adaptation of MM. Labiche and Delacour's 
" Les Petits Oiseaux," most happily called " A 
Pair of Spectacles." It would be a trite thing 
to say that everybody's friend, dear old 
Benjamin Goldfinch, is the best of Mr. Hare's 
unique collection of stage portraits, — but he 
has certainly never done anything better, — and 
it is one of those rare parts that an actor can 
go on playing until the end of his professional 
career. Fanciful stories that are at once witty 



MR. JOHN HARE 
AS "BENJAMIN goldfinch" in "a pair of spectacles." 

(R.froducid by ftrmttthm fnm a Photegrafk iy Main. Elliott &• Fry.) 




MR. JOHN HARE 

AS "BENJAMIN GOLDFINCH" IN "A PAIR OF SPECTACLES." 
[Reproduced by permittisn from a Photograph by Meixrt. Elliott &* Fry., 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 129 

and purposeful, cannot grow old fashioned, — and 
" A Pair of Spectacles " is exquisitely fanciful 
and wholesomely purposeful. Does any one 
grow weary of the delightful old fairy tales 
that have lived through the passing fashions of 
generations upon generations, and will go on 
living through all ages to come ? No! and 
thank Heaven for it, they can never become 
what smart playgoers, in order to show their 
shrewdness, love to term " old fashioned ! " 
Although it is intensely human, there is about 
" A Pair of Spectacles " the good old fairy-tale 
ring, and so long as it is well acted (and indeed 
it is a piece that requires the very best of dcting), 
it will assuredly hold the stage. Personally I 
am inclined to agree with those who say that 
Mr. Hare's Benjamin Goldfinch is the most 
wonderful thing he has given us, — for here, 
without any resort to artifice, he contrives to 
completely change the nature and expression 
of the man who alternately regards the world 
and his associates through the medium of 
sombre-hued and rose-tinted glasses. But 
his acting in this part is beyond praise, — indeed 



130 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

it is not acting, it is nature itself, — so cheery 
and happy in his belief, so miserable while 
struggling against his new-formed suspicions, 
and once more so truly contented when, get- 
ting back his own spectacles that have been 
mended, he with them recovers his belief in 
goodness. It is not unusual to hear would-be 
wiseacres say that the story of " A Pair of 
Spectacles " is " improbable/' Of course it is 
improbable, and it is meant to be improbable. 
Hans Christian Andersen's matchless fairy 
tales, Charles Kingsley's "Heroes" and 
"Water Babies," Richard Jeffries's "Wood 
Magic/' and to cite a stage subject, Mr. W. 
S. Gilbert's " Pygmalion and Galatea " are all 
beautifully improbable, but they will all live. 
And as long as Mr. Hare chooses to go 
on playing Benjamin Goldfinch, Mr. Sydney 
Grundy's " A Pair of Spectacles " will live. 
Equally good was, and still is, Mr. Charles 
Grovess well dominated and inexpressibly 
humorous rendering of Uncle Gregory, the self- 
made, tight-fisted man, who " cooms fra 
Sheffield" and sets everything wrong in his 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 131 

generous brothers household. Nothing could 
be happier than the contrast between the 
methods of these two admirable comedians. 
In fact the whole production was one of 
those happy events that come to us " once in a 

lifetime." 

During the first run of " A Pair of Spectacles'* 
occurred the twenty-fifth anniversary of Mr. 
Hare's happy married life. , This "silver 
wedding day " could not be passed over 
without recognition from his loyal and devoted 
associates at the Garrick Theatre, and by them 
he was presented with a beautiful set of George 
III. silver fruit dishes, and a right cordial letter 
of congratulation. In the same year (1890) 
his son Mr. Gilbert Hare made his cUbut as a 
professional actor at the new Theatre Royal, 
Richmond (appearing in the bills as Mr. 
Gilbert Dangars), with a promise that has since 
been most satisfactorily fulfilled. 

Like Lord Tennyson's perennial " Brook/' 
"A Pair of Spectacles" seemed likely to "go 
on for ever," but engagements have to be 
kept, Mr. Pinero was ready with his new 

K 2 



i 3 2 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

play, and, on March 7, 1891, " Lady Bountiful " 
was produced. 

For his text the author took these dainty 
lines — 

" My masters, will you hear a simple tale ? 
No war, no lust, not a commandment broke 
By sir or madam — but a history 
To make a rhyme to speed a young maid's hour." 

Now I am afraid that this was what the 
playgoers of four years ago did not want. 

Mr. Gilbert's 1885 " young lady of fifteen " 
had just attained her majority, and she and her 
parents did not want to listen to histories 
written " to speed a young maid's hour," but 
were inclined (and I think that subsequent 
theatrical productions will prove that I am right) 
to revel in hearing of broken commandments. I 
think, too, that the young ladies who are fifteen 
to-day will without undue restraint, be differently 
influenced, for surely during the last year or 
so their playgoing parents have had some more 
or less startling stage experiences ! We may all 
be, — indeed I think we all should be, — very 
sorry for the lady with a past. She may be 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 133 

— and I doubt not very often is, — a very much 
injured lady. It is manifestly our duty to help 
the poor creature as far as in us lies. But on the 
other hand, we need not make her the heroine 
of romance, and permit our fifteen-year-old 
daughters to think that, from this point of view, 
she is pathetically ideal. 

Be these things as they may (and after all 
they are not much more than matters of 
opinion), it is a pity that " Lady Bountiful '' 
was produced (as I believe it was produced) 
at a time when " simple tales " were hopelessly 
out of fashion. One has only to read it to see 
what a beautifully conceived and admirably 
written work it is : one had only to see it to 
marvel at the manner in which it was placed 
upon the stage, and to be grateful for the good 
work done in it by Mr. C. W. Somerset, Mr. 
Forbes Robertson, Mr. Charles Groves, Mr. 
Gilbert Hare (who now made his first 
appearance at his fathers theatre), Miss 
Carlotta Addison, Miss Kate Rorke, Miss 
Dolores Drummond, Miss Marie Linden, and 
Miss Caroline Elton. Mr. Hare played the 



134 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

splendidly drawn character of Roderick Heron, 
— a gentleman who, according to Mr. Pinero 
(the best of authorities on the subject), was a 
very near relation of the immortal Harold 
Skimpole. This clever and unflinching im- 
personation might alone have made the success 
of the play, — in which all the stage pictures 
were realistic to a degree, and the interior of 
an old church remarkably beautiful. 

Of course " Lady Bountiful " attracted a vast 
number of appreciative playgoers, but I shall 
never think that the production met with the 
merit that it deserved, — and I feel certain that 
playgoers have themselves to thank for making 
Mr. Pinero realise that he need no longer 
cater for " masters " who were supposed to 
want a " simple tale." 

On September 19, 1891, Mr. Hare gave 
the highly interesting revival of "School" 
of which I have already spoken. 

On January 2, 1892, he produced Mr. 
Sydney Grundy's absorbing play "A Fools 
Paradise,'' which had already been seen in 
London at a Gaiety matinde, and, under the 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 135 

tide of " The Mouse Trap," in America. In 
this Mr. Hare gave an admirable study of the 
shrewd, cynical, but good-hearted physician, — 
Sir Peter Lund. Astute and caustic, yet kind 
and considerate, quick in snubbing an im- 
pertinence, yet very gentle and urbane to those 
he loved, Mr. Hare was in every phase of a 
difficult but thoroughly telling and well-under- 
stood character supremely excellent. He gave 
his audiences a picture of the fashionable, clever 
physician who, whilst ever ready to gibe at the 
follies of those around him, does not hesitate to 
administer like rebukes to himself and his 
own profession. To quote a well-known 
critic : " The character of Sir Peter Lund 
certainly deserves a place ' on the line ' cf 
Mr. Hare's gallery of portraits." Prominent 
in the cast of " A Fool's Paradise " were Miss 
Kate Rorke, Miss Olga Nethersole, Mr. F. 
Kerr, Mr. H. B. Irving, and Mr. Gilbert 
Hare. On the same evening Mr. Hare' pro- 
duced a pretty one-act play adapted from the 
German by Mrs. Bancroft, and entitled "My 
Daughter." 



136 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

It was not for twelve months that Mr. Hare 
required a novelty, and then he appeared, — on 
January 5, 1893, — as Valentine Barbrook in Mr. 
R. C. Carton's charmingly conceived but all 
too slender play, " Robin Goodfellow." Mr. 
Hare's character was not an agreeable one, but he 
played it to perfection. " Mr. Hare," said a critic, 
"is faultless as Valentine Barbrook. Make- 
up, business, rapid alternations of sham bonhomie 
and hard, sharp, cruel villainy, — sticking at 
nothing in the interests of self — are all admir- 
able. The man lives. We feel that 4 we know 
that man' as we watch him hoodwinking his 
poor old mother, alternately bullying and cajol- 
ing his daughter, tricking the ingenuous young 
lovers, and scattering broadcast the seeds of 
misunderstanding and misery. Valentine 
Barbrook is an unpleasant creation, but none 
the less a brilliant one from the critical 
standpoint." 

And to this let me add the testimony of Mr. 
William Archer, who is nothing if not critical, 
and who says : 

"Mr. Hare's Valentine Barbrook is a de- 



I 

1 » 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 137 

lightful piece of acting, which would lend 
attraction to a much duller play than ' Robin 
Goodfellow.' It is not the first character of 
the same type which Mr. Hare has presented 
to us ; but the beauty of the thing lies in the 
delicacy of its differentiation from its pre- 
decessors. 5 

The revival of " Diplomacy/' which was 
the attraction that succeeded " Robin Good- 
fellow/' was in every respect a happy thought. 
Messrs. Clement Scott and B. C. Stephenson's 
singularly adroit adaptation of Mons. Victorien 
Sardou's " Dora " is always likely to be 
popular ; and when it was announced that in 
it Mrs. Bancroft would make her reappearance 
after her temporary retirement from the stage, 
general delight was expressed. So great, 
indeed, was the interest felt in this production, 
that before the first . performance the advance 
booking exceeded two thousand pounds a 
week. On the evening of February 18, 1893, 
the brilliant audience at the Garrick included 
the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke 
of York, the Duke and Duchess of Fife, and 



:.'. •it- \-odutii msnbe* 5 ^ autocratic artBtfc 

•vi .v tiv .irctei. -^ ™ e largely attended 

-, : -.v i mi .U e stage that fbU OWed ^ 

• •m<..m^v, ; Mcscucitwa of a watcfj.j,^^^ 

wi* -woe to Mrs, Bancroft by 



*** * * 



• ■ - t ; itunber of lactic _ ^ 




\ V 



r-« >* 



■i Mrs. 3ancrott:^^ w f ro 
• ^ v .Lfttue ±xpressioir to the 

*- -u 4 .^. - Hi cast of 
\ v . ^. . -^ . ^» ^ jxc Xonsji were 






. • .. _u * ir. Art&mr 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 139 

No wonder that " Diplomacy " was enthusias- 
tically received, and that, both in London and 
the country (where with all these famous 
artists it was subsequently taken), it had a long 
and prosperous run. 

This and the productions to which I shall 
now briefly allude, are too fresh in the minds of 
the playgoer to heed any detailed comment on 
my part. 

On January 6, 1894, Mr. Hare appeared as 
Julius Sterne in Mr. Sydney Grundy's original 
five-act comedy, " An Old Jew ; " and on April 7 
of the same year as Major Edward Hardy, 
R.A., V.C., in "George Flemings" four-act 
play, " Mrs. Lessingham." Both were power- 
ful character studies, well worthy of his name 
and fame. As Julius Sterne, with the piercing 
eyes, keen grey face, long white hair, and 
velvet skull-cap he was fascinatingly pic- 
turesque, and he invested the portrait with 
an air of mingled shrewdness and benevolence 
that was eminently pleasing. There was 
a pathetic dignity, too, in the patient composure 
with which he bore the fierce reproaches of 



140 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

his son until the inevitable moment when other 
lips than his revealed the cruel secret of his 
life, that was appreciated by all who can under- 
stand true art 

As the worthy Major Hardy, Mr. Hare 
acted with no diminution of his well-known 
sincerity, decision, and firmness of touch. In 
speaking of this life-like impersonation Mr. 
William Archer said : " Major Hardy gave 
Mr. Hare another chance of proving the 
versatility of his art The character is a 
delightful one, and Mr. Hare played it delight- 
fully. It does not come within what we are 
accustomed to consider Mr. Hare's 'line/ 
but the mistake lies in supposing that so 
accomplished an actor is tied down to any 
'line' whatever." "Mrs. Lessingham" was 
followed by a revival of " Caste," in which 
Mr. Hare relinquished his old part, — Sam 
Gerridge, — to his son Mr. Gilbert Hare, and 
to the disappointment of his friends, did not 
appear as Eccles. 

Then followed another notable and highly 
popular production of " Money," with Mrs. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 141 

Bancroft as Lady Franklin, and Mr. Hare as 
Sir John Vesey. The revival brought back to 
the memory of frequenters of the old Prince of 
Wales's, and the reconstructed Haymarket 
under the Bancroft reign, many agreeable 
reminiscences. It was like a vision of those 
cheerful playgoing-days, to meet with Mrs. 
Bancroft once more enacting Lady Franklin 
with that incomparably honest laugh and merry 
twinkle of the eye which have never served her 
better than in the character of the gay and 
frolicsome widow. Mr. Hare's Sir John Vesey 
was not less happy in its associations, and it was 
a pleasure to find his performance even more 
remarkable than of old for that firmness of 
outline and that effective colouring which he is 
able to impart to this typical portrait of sham 
geniality and restless self-seeking. 

The cast, — which included Mr. Arthur Cecil 
as Graves, Mr. Charles Brookfield as Captain 
Dudley Smooth, Mr. Forbes Robertson as 
Alfred Evelyn, Mr. Arthur Bourchier as Lord 
Glossmore, Mr. Kemble as Stout, Mr. Gilbert 
Hare as the old club member, Miss Kate Rorke 



H2 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

as Clara Douglas, and Miss Maude Millett as 
Georgina Vesey, — was a notable one, and once 
more Lord Lytton's fifty-year-old play drew the 
town. In the autumn of the year the character 
of Georgina was very charmingly rendered by 
Miss Helen Luck. 

Mr. Hare commenced his 1895 campaign 
with the production of Mr. Sydney Grundy's 
" Slaves of the Ring." This did not prove a 
fortunate venture, but whatever the faults of the 
play might have been, it at least afforded Mr. 
Hare an opportunity for adding one more 
remarkable portrait to his already well-filled 
gallery of eccentric old men. In make-up, 
voice, and gesture his impersonation of the 
lame, half-deaf, half-blind Earl of Ravenscroft, 
who, although regarded as a painful example of 
senile decay, uttered more clever things in his 
queer imbecile way, and showed a shrewder 
judgment of character, than any other member 
of his little circle, was inimitable, and the most 
wonderful thing about it was that in every 
respect it differed from the previous pictures of 
old men Mr. Hare had given us. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN, 143 

,€ When in doubt play trumps ! " That is the 
immortal piece of advice given to the uncertain 
whist player, and that is what Mr. Hare did 
when, finding it necessary to provide an early 
successor to " Slaves of the Ring," he revived 
" A Pair of Spectacles.'' It came at the right 
time, at a moment when the English stage had 
been over-inundated by so-called problem plays, 
and when playgoers wanted a change ; and so 
once more old Benjamin Goldfinch was made 
right royally welcome. Who could wonder at 
it ? As Mr. Clement Scott pointed out, " A 
Pair of Spectacles " is " one of the very best 
adaptations of a French original that has ever 
been presented to the stage since George Henry 
Lewes, John Oxenford, and Tom Taylor repro- 
duced French plays ; and not only does the 
public delight in the work, but the old students 
of the stage applaud it, and not one of the new 
students of the stage has one word to say 
against it/' 

" A Pair of Spectacles " more than held its 
own until Mr. Pinero's remarkable play, "The 
Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith/' was ready, and Mr. 



144 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

Hare made his latest, and in some respects his 
greatest, acting success as the elderly rake and 
would-be peace-maker, — the Duke of St, 
Olphert's. 

It is in this cleverly conceived and superbly 
portrayed character that Mr. Hare elects to 
make one of his first appearances before an 
American audience. The success of Mr. 
Pinero's powerful play in London is of too 
recent date to call for comment in these pages. 

But Mr. Hare's friends and the public wanted 
to see him once more as Benjamin Goldfinch 
and Lord Kilclare, before he bade a temporary 
farewell to the Garrick Theatre ; and accordingly 
on June 15, 1895, the last night of his season, 
" A Pair of Spectacles " and " A Quiet Rubber * 
were performed to a crowded, expectant, and 
sympathetic audience. Mr. Hare has never 
encouraged the practice of making managerial 
speeches before the curtain, but on this occasion 
it was obviously impossible for the popular actor 
and manager to avoid a few words of farewell. 
And so at the close of an admirable perfor- 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 145 

mance, and having been enthusiastically 
received, he said : 

" I am aware that in certain quarters there 
exists a strong prejudice against an actor-mana- 
ger; taking the liberty to address an audience 
in his own theatre ; but even by the most pre- 
judiced it will not, perhaps, be denied that there 
are occasions when not only is no excuse needed 
for such a step being taken, but that it is 
actually incumbent upon him to say a few 
words to his audience. To-night I feel, ladies 
and gentlemen, to be such an occasion if ever 
there was one, for I feel that I cannot allow you 
to leave this theatre without, in the first place, 
thanking you for the compliment you have paid 
me in beirfg present here, and the hearty 
sympathetic manner in which you have followed 
the performance of these two old plays. It 
would be affectation if I attempted to be 
ignorant that the increased cordiality you have 
shown this evening is to a large extent due to 
the place which I believe I have the honour to 
hold in your regard, and as significant of your 
good wishes to an old servant of the public who 



146 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

is about for a time to leave you. To-night it is 
my sad task to bid you farewell for many, many 
months ; indeed, I cannot definitely fix in my 
own mind when I may next have the honour of 
appearing before you. I go to try my fortunes 
in the great American continent with the hope 
of making fresh friends amongst those who have 
always shown such encouragement, generosity, 
kindness, and sympathy to English artists. If 
I fail there, I shall at least know that the fault 
is only mine, for I have had every hope held 
out to me that a friendly welcome will be 
extended to me, and to those who accompany 
me. I hope to make my appearance in New 
York in the same programme I have presented 
to-night, and I shall have in it the support of 
Mr. Groves, ' the only Gregory/ my son, and 
other members of the company, with the excep- 
tion, I regret to say, of my old friend Miss Kate 
Rorke, who has been with me since I opened 
this theatre. For the presentation of Mr. 
Pinero's play, 'The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith/ 
I have secured the services of Miss Julia 
Neilson and Mr. Fred Terry ; and I am in 



1 i i 



/OHA HARE, COMEDIAN. 147 

formed that their first appearance in New York 
is being looked for with the keenest interest. 
During my absence in America, and beyond it, 
I have been fortunate enough to secure as a 
tenant, Mr. E. S. Willard, who will open his 
season with a new play by an American author, 
and I am sure will have the good wishes and 
hearty support accorded to him which are justi- 
fied by his great reputation and distinguished 
talent, and that he will receive a warm welcome 
when he makes his bow on this stage before you. 
It only remains for me, my dear friends, to say 
goodbye, and to thank you, as the public, for 
the support and indulgence accorded to me for 
upwards of thirty years ; for your more than 
generous appreciation of any good work which 
I may have done ; for your indulgence and 
forbearance with my many shortcomings, i 
wish, also, publicly to thank the Press for the 
help, kindness, and encouragement it has ac- 
corded to me from the time of my first appear- 
ance in London till the present moment ; and 
lastly, the members of my company, past and 
present, who have ever rendered me loyal and 

L 2 



148 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

devoted service never to be forgotten. I hqpe 
in a new country, ladies and gentlemen, to make 
new friends, but my heart must ever be with 
my old ones, with that generous English public 
to whom I owe, indeed, everything, and whom 
ly wanderings with 
itude and affection." 



CHAPTER V. 



PERSONAL. 



If by this time I have not shown my readers 
that Mr. John Hare is the most modest of men 
my little biography must be badly written. By 
the way, I suppose that in this "personal" 
chapter I ought to mention that his name is 
really John Fairs. Following the custom of 
the days when he tentatively sought his for- 
tune on the stage, he adopted an assumed name 
and winning success under it, wisely retained 
it for himself and the members of his family. It 
was emphatically the right thing to do, for in the 
history of dramatic art the name of Hare must 
always live. My record of Mr. Hare's achieve- 
ments clearly shows that his modesty has never 
stood in his way, and, indeed, it is certain that 
true modesty, backed by invincible energy, and 
that wonderful capacity for taking pains which 
is the true definition of genius, helps rather than 



150 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

retards a man's career ; but it is wonderful to 
know, as I do, how little, after his thirty years 
of arduous and splendidly successful stage work, 
he thinks of himself and his histrionic triumphs. 

He knows, of course, that he is beloved by 
his family and intimate friends, that he is the 
eagerly sought companion of his large circle of 
acquaintance, and that his name is a familiar 
one in the play-bills and in the newspapers. But 
he does not know how well known, both on 
the stage and off, he is to the thousands and 
thousands to whom his supreme art has given 
infinite instruction and lasting delight. 

And yet, in an odd way, this was once brought 
home to him. One evening on leaving an 
evening party, to which he had accompanied 
Mrs. Hare, he walked some distance down the 
long carriage rank looking for a " four-wheeled 
cab." To his annoyance he was followed by 
one of those ^objectionable London a touts," who, 
running beside him, kept touching his forehead, 
and in the slimily obsequious fashion of his 
tribe, saying, " Kerridge, my lord ? Kerridge, 
my lord ? May I get your lordship's kerridge ? " 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 151 

At last Mr. Hare, having silently ignored his 
persecutor, secured his conveyance, and was on 
the point of driving home, when the persistent 
one, putting his head through the window, said, 
" Where to, my lord ? " Now Mr. Hare can be 
emphatic as well as modest, and on that occasion 
he incisively remarked, " Oh ! go to the devil !" 
Whereupon, thrusting his face and his lantern 
into the cab, the touting linkman, with an altered 
manner and an indefinable grin, said quietly, 
" Business still keepin' pretty good, I 'ope, 
Mr. 'Are ? " 

Mr. Hare tells me this as a humorous inci- 
dent in his experiences, but the fact is, that the 
cab tout was one of the many thousands who, all 
England over, know him both in and out of the 
theatre, and honestly rejoice to know that 
€€ Mr. 'Are's " business is good ! 

No doubt the fact that he has for so many 
years almost exclusively played old men's parts 
has left a very confused idea in the public mind 
with regard to his age, a fairly general belief 
existing that he might be "anything between 
eighty and ninety." 



152 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

On many occasions this not wholly unpardon- 
able blunder on the part of people not acquainted 
with him or stage history has caused him con- 
siderable amusement In some of the pro- 
vincial newspapers that have recorded his 
performances in small towns, where he has 
not been well known, he has been told that 
u considering the age of the veteran actor " his 
success has been " most noteworthy." 

An early instance of this mistaken identity 
occurred when he had only been eighteen 
months on the stage. It was during ti\t furore 
caused by the success of " Society " that, getting 
into a carriage of the underground railway, he 
unexpectedly found himself face-to-face with an 
old school-fellow whom he had not seen for some 
years. Not knowing that he had adopted the 
stage as a profession, and taken the name of 
Hare, his friend cried out, " Hullo ! Fairs, how 
are you ? " and after they had chatted about old 
times, the conversation turned to the theatres. 
He asked Mr. Hare " if he was fond of the 
stage ? " and having received a reply in the 
affirmative, presumed that he had u been to the 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 153 

Prince of Wales's to see ' Society/ the piece of 
which everyone was talking." " No/' said 
Mr. Hare, doubtfully, " I can't say that I have 
seen it." " Then you should go at once," said 
his friend. " It's a capital play, and a devilish 
clever old man acts in it, a fellow named 
Hare." 

Another of the many instances bearing on 
the same point is as follows. It occurred at a 
time when Mr. Hare was still quite a young 
man, but had made himself famous by playing 
old men's parts. 

He was on the look-out for a good English 
terrier, and happened to mention the fact to a 
friend of his, who was also his solicitor, and he 
told him that one of his articled clerks was a 
great dog fancier, and had an animal of the 
kind for sale. Now this young gentleman, it 
appeared, was not only fond of dogs but of the 
theatre, and being an appreciative playgoer, 
had enrolled himself among the most ardent 
admirers of Mr. Hare. " I know," said the 
solicitor, " that it would please him very much 
if you would let him bring the dog and show 



154 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

him to you." To this Mr. Hare readily assented, 
and a day or so later he was roused from his bed 
early in the morning by the announcement that 
a gentleman had called, and was waiting in the 
dining-room " with a dog/' Hastily dressing, 
Mr. Hare hurried down, and found a very young 
gentleman, and a dog that was not in any way 
what he wanted. To his annoyance, too, he 
noticed that as they discussed the question of 
the dog the young gentleman's manner was 
supercilious and patronising, not at all the sort 
of thing that he should have expected from 
" one of his greatest admirers." And so, making 
the interview as brief a one as possible, he made 
some polite excuse for not purchasing the dog, 
thanked its owner for the trouble he had taken 
in the matter, and bade him good day. 

Subsequently his solicitor friend told him 
that on his clerk's return he asked him if he 
had satisfied his desire and seen Mr. Hare, and 
if he had sold the dog. 

" No," said the young gentlemah, " I have 
been terribly annoyed. The old man was in 
bed and sent the young one down to me." 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 155 

This of course accounted for the flippant 
manner that had irritated Mr. Hare, who at 
that time was twenty-five years of age ! 

But the oddest of all these incidents (and 
there have been any number of them) occurred 
during the first run of " A Pair of Spectacles/' 
Mr. Gladstone, always keen to discover and 
appreciate true art, had from the very outset of 
his career been one of Mr. Hare's warmest 
admirers, and soon after the production of 
Mr. Sydney Grundy's clever play, and ac- 
companied by Lord Rosebery, he came to 
make acquaintance with Benjamin Goldfinch. 
At the conclusion of the performance he had a 
long talk with Mr. Hare with reference to the 
play and other matters On similar occasions 
the actor had talked with the great statesman, 
but it had almost always happened when he was 
made-up for the stage. Shortly after this inter- 
view his wish to meet him in private life was 
gratified, and he sat with him at the dinner 
table of a mutual friend. Most of the guests 
present were known to Mr. Gladstone, but 
during dinner he inquired of his hostess the 



156 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

names of those he had not met before. Look- 
ing in Mr. Hare's direction, he asked, u Who's 
that ? " " Mr. John Hare," was the reply. 
" Oh ! yes, yes," said Mr. Gladstone, " I know 
his father, the manager of the Garrick Theatre.'' 
In a conversation between the two that took 
place later in the evening, Mr. Gladstone 
laughed over his mistake, and " discoursed," 
says Mr. Hare, " with his usual charm and 
knowledge, on acting, and on actors, past 
and present." 

Apropos of Mr. Gladstone's marvellous power 
of observation the following little story of him 
in connection with " A Pair of Spectacles " is 
very interesting. As those who are familiar 
with the play will remember, most of the 
characters in it — the wife, the 'son, the friend, the 
butler, and the bootmaker, in all of whom 
Benjamin Goldfinch has placed his implicit 
trust and absolute belief — gradually become, 
through the influence of the malign spectacles 
of Uncle Gregory, objects of distrust and 
suspicion. In the end, however, Goldfinch is 
disenchanted, and one by one, and each in turn, 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 157 

the characters re-reveal themselves to him in 
their true light as worthy objects of trust and 
affection. The scheme of the author is, in the 
first and second acts, to demolish each of 
Goldfinch's objects of belief, and in the third 
act to restore them. Never yet Was play pro- 
duced that did not require alteration, and on 
the first night of " A Pair of Spectacles " it was 
discovered that the scene in the third act, where 
the bootmaker places himself in his proper light, 
dragged the play, and (as Mr. Hare felt), at the 
expense of the logical development of the story, 
it was ruthlessly cut out. It was hoped that no 
one would notice this change, and no one did 
until Mr. Gladstone saw it and said, "A charm- 
ing play ! The only thing that struck me was 
that where such great ability had been shown 
in its construction, and where wife, son, friend, 
and butler are permitted to re-establish them- 
selves in Goldfinch's eyes, it seems a pity that 
the bootmaker should not have his opportunity." 
The keen eyes of Mr. Gladstone were the first, 
if not the only ones, to detect the flaw. 

That Mr. Hare has the enviable gift of 



158 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

making and retaining close friendships goes 
without saying. Of his earliest stage friend, 
Leigh Murray, he always speaks with affec- 
tionate gratitude, and I may jot down here two 
stories told him in the early Liverpool days by 
that once famous artist. 

On the occasion of the first appearance in 
London of his old friend Sims Reeves in the 
character of Edgar Ravenswood, Murray went 
to Drury Lane. He was then quite a young 
man, very particular with regard to his dress, 
and exceedingly careful as to his personal 
appearance. On the same evening he had been 
acting in an opening play at the Adelphi Theatre 
as a raffish young gentleman who was compelled 
to pawn his watch, and in the course of the piece 
he had to produce the pawn-ticket from his waist- 
coat pocket. Nowthis waistcoat was a smartwhite 
evening one which, as it was quite suited to his 
visit to Drury Lane, he, in order to save time, 
kept on. On his arrival at the theatre he 
deposited his hat and overcoat in the cloak- 
room, and at the conclusion of the performance 
he found himself, while waiting his turn to 
reclaim his property, the centre of observation 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 159 

of a group of unknown admirers, who in him 
had recognised that certain source of attraction 
— a popular actor. Not a little pleased at this, 
Murray, with a self-conscious air, and a pardon- 
able little bit of swagger, produced what he 
believed to be the cloak-room ticket from the 
fateful pocket, and said, "My hat and coat, 
please." The attendant, with a broad grin, 
returned the ticket, saying, " I think there is 
some mistake, sir." Alas ! it was the property 
pawn-ticket, and poor Murray's chagrin and 
mortification may be imagined. 

The other story belongs to theatrical history. 
The famous comedian Fawcett was a special 
favourite with George III. The King took the 
greatest interest in him and his performances, 
and on many occasions honoured him with 
kindly recognition. Fawcett lived at Slough, 
and had received the royal permission to walk 
when he chose in the private grounds of 
Windsor. On one occasion he had for his 
guest a fellow actor named Cooper, and in 
company with him he took advantage of the 
privilege the King had given him. On their 



160 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

walk Fawcett suddenly saw his Majesty un- 
accompanied and approaching them. " Here 
comes the King," he said to his companion. 
" He will probably speak to me, and while he 
does so you had best drop back a little." 
" Ah ! " said Cooper, " what would I not give to 
be spoken to by the King!" "Well," replied 
Fawcett, " he'll see you with me, and perhaps 
he will speak to you," The King approached 
and, in his well-known way of repeating the 
same word twice over, thus addressed the 
favoured comedian. " Well, Fawcett Fawcett ? 
How are you, Fawcett Fawcett ? What was 
the piece last night, Fawcett Fawcett?" " ' The 
School for Scandal/ your Majesty," replied 
Fawcett. " Capital ! " said the King ; and so for 
a few moments the conversation went on. At 
last, noticing Cooper, the King said, " Who's 
your friend, Fawcett Fawcett ? " Upon which 
Cooper slightly advanced. "Mr. Cooper of our 
company, your Majesty," said Fawcett, as 
Cooper bowed low. " Ah ! yes, yes ! " said the 
King ; " I know, I know ! Very bad actor, 
very bad actor ! " This was how poor Cooper 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 161 

realised his ambition, and was spoken to by 
George III.!" 

It was when " Ours " was tentatively produced 
in Liverpool in i860, that Mr. Hare made 
lasting friendships with many members of the Bar, 
notably with Mr. Charles Russell (afterwards 
Sir Charles Russell, and now Lord Russell of 
Killowen, the Lord Chief Justice of England), 
Mr. R. McConnell, Mr. Aspinall, -Mr. (after- 
wards Sir) John Holker, Mr. Leofric Temple, 
Mr. W. S. Gilbert (then a briefless barrister), 
and many others. Of course, Mr. Hare has 
been, and is, a distinguished as well as a highly 
popular member of the leading literary and 
artistic London clubs. Of the Garrick Club he 
has many cherished recollections. " I was 
admitted a member of this club," he tells me, 
" in (I think) 1868, and in it I have made some 
of the best and dearest friends of my life. I 
was proposed by the late Frederic Clay, — most 
accomplished of musicians, and most agreeable 
of men ; and I was seconded by Val Prinsep. 
What memories are associated with the many 
years of my membership of the Garrick ! On 

M 



162 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

my first introduction to the card-room, I found 
to my delight that amongst its frequenters and 
whist-players were (I take the names at random 
and as they occur to me) Anthony Trollope, 
Charles Reade, Charles Lever, John Millais, 
Henry James (now Lord James of Hereford), 
and occasionally James Clay, the finest whist- 
player in the kingdom, and who deserted the 
higher points of the Turf Club and the 
Portland (where he was accustomed to play), 
to meet his friends at the Garrick, and join in 
the modest * shilling ' points which are there the 
abiding law. I remember well with what awe 
and reverence I stood behind the great whist- 
player's chair to take in my early lessons of the 
king of games ! Curiously enough, on the very 
first of these experiences, Mr. Clay revoked, 
and to see such a thing as that has not, I take 
it, fallen to the lot of many men! With what 
kindness, what hospitality, what sympathy with 
the young, is the name of James Clay associated 
in my mind ! In my early London days I was 
a frequent guest at his table, and very memor- 
able are those Sunday dinners of his, strictly 



i 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 163 

limited with regard to number, but generally 
comprising some of the most interesting and 
talented people of the day. In my early 
Garrick days, a characteristic story was current 
concerning Charles Reade and Henry James, 
who were partners one afternoon at the whist- 
table. Charles Reade, one of the largest hearted 
and kindest of men, was extremely ' touchy/ and 
stood very much on his dignity. Upon this 
occasion he happened to pause a very long 
time before playing out a card, and this induced 
from Henry James the friendly remonstrance, 
' Now then, old Cockeywax, fire away ! ' 
Knowing Reade's peculiarities the other players 
were anxiously silent, and were not surprised 
when, at the end of the rubber, Reade with 
great ceremony rose and left the table and the ' 
room, ominously declining to play any more. 
This caused Henry James great distress, as of 
course nothing was further from his thoughts 
or wishes than to intentionally offend Charles 
Reade. Accordingly, when they met on the 
following day, he went up to him to express his 
regret that annoyance had been felt at what 



164 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

was meant as a mere piece of chaff. * I don't 
like chaff/ said Reade, in his severest manner, 
'and I strongly object to being called old 
Cockeywax/ * But/ said James, ' you are mis- 
taken. I did not use the word. I did not say 
old Cockeywax, but old Cockeylorum/ ' Oh ! ' 
said Reade, with a gleam of humour in his eye, 
1 If you said old Cockeylorum, that makes all 
the difference, and we can shake hands and say 
no more about it/ This story Lord James told 
me himself. It was in these days that my 
friendship with John Millais began, a friendship 
strengthened and cemented by years, and by 
my increasing and intimate knowledge of the 
most simple, most large-hearted and most 
delightful of men. Neither success nor the 
honours that have been heaped upon him by 
his own and other countries have in the 
remotest degree spoilt that fine and manly 
nature. As John Millais was to his friends 
in '65, so he is in '95. I recall a story of him 
that is characteristic. Just after he had been 
created a baronet, and on entering a room in 
the club where a few of his old and intimate 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. i$$ 

friends were sitting, he was received with shouts 
of welcome and congratulation mingled with a 
good deal of good-natured chaff. This pleasant 
banter lasted a considerable time, when at last 
Millais said, ' It's all very well for you fellows 
to chaff, but you don't know what a baronetcy 
does for you. I have had an experience of it 
within the last day or two. I was asked by the 
committee of the Manchester Autumn Exhibition 
to go down to " hang " for them, and on arriving 
there I went to an hotel and addressed the 
very charming young lady presiding in the 
office. " I want a bedroom and a fire, if you 
please," I said ; and she, turning from me 
brusquely, went to the speaking tube, and called 
up it, " No. 325 and a fire/' and then, ad- 
dressing me, said, "What name?" I replied 
" Sir John Millais," upon which she beamingly 
returned to the tube, and called, "No. 27 and a 
good fire ! " ' 

a Whether this was due to the dignity of the 
title or to the still greater honour associated 
with the name of Millais will never be known. 

" I shall always feel that the greatest com- 



166 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

pliment ever paid me was Millais's desire to 
paint my portrait. ' I'm going to paint you, 
old fellow/ he said, ' and you must come and 
sit for me next Sunday/ I went again and 
again, and charming indeed are the recollections 
of those sittings, of his bright and cheery talk, 
and the infinite pains that he took with his work. 
When the picture was finished he, with charac- 
teristic generosity, presented it to my wife, for 
her lifetime and my own, with the understanding 
that it shall ultimately become the property of 
some National collection, to be named by him." 
It was at the Garrick Club that Mr. Hare 
entertained the Daly company to supper on the 
occasion of their first visit to London. For 
this notable event permission was given by the 
committee to use the large dining-room. — a very 
special privilege. Between eighty and ninety 
sat down to supper, and Mr. Hare recalls with 
gratification how his chief guests of the evening, 
" tHe clever Americans who had so delighted us 
with their acting, ,, sat down in the presence of 
the portraits of their great histrionic ancestors 
with which the walls of that famous room are 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 167 

hung. Altogether the evening was a very great 
success, and several excellent speeches were 
delivered ; " two particularly graceful ones," 
says Mr. Hare, "being by my guests, Mr. John 
Drew and Mr. James Lewis." 

This seems a fitting time to enumerate those 
who met at the Garrick on this most interesting 
evening. 

The Daly Company was represented by Mr. 
John Drew, Mr. James Lewis, Mr. George 
Clarke, Mr. Otis Skinner, Mr. Bond, Mr. 
Charles Leclercq, Mr. F. Grove, and Mr. 
Holland. 

Amongst those present to meet them were : 
the Earl of Lathom, the Earl of Cork, the 
Earl of Londesborough, Right Hon. Sir Henry 
James, Q.C, M.P. (now Lord James of 
Hereford) ; Sir E. Lawson, Bart. ; Sir Richard 
Quain, Bart. ; Sir John Millais, Bart. ; Sir Frank 
Lockwood, Q.C. ; Sir Arthur Sullivan, Sir 
Charles Hall, Q.C. ; Sir Henry Irving, Hon. 
Lewis Wingfield, Mr. L. de Rothschild, Mr. H. 
Lawson, M.P. ; Mr. E. Dicey, C.B. ; Mr. 
Maclean, Q.C, M.P. ; Mr. Montagu Williams, 



168 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

Q.C. ; Mr. Phelps (United States Ambassador); 
Mr. W. S. Gilbert, Mr. A. W. Pinero, Mr. 
Clement Scott, Mr. Sydney Grundy, Mr. H. 
Herkomer, R.A. ; Mr. S. B. Bancroft, Mr. 
Luke Fildes, R.A. ; Mr. W. H. Kendal, Mr. 
J. L. Toole, Mr. Bret Harte, Mr. Wilson 
Barrett, Mr. Henry Abbey, Mr. Beerbohm 
Tree, Mr. W. Winter, Mr. Henry James, Mr. 
Corney Grain, Mr. E. Terry, Mr. John 
Hollingshead, Mr. Henry Neville, Mr. D. 
James, Mr. J. Comyns Carr, Mr. G. Broughton, 
R.A. ; Mr. Parkinson, Mr. A. Critchett, Mr. J. 
Knight, Mr. C. W. Mathews, Mr. T. Thorne, 
Mr. C. E. Perugini, Mr. A. Cecil, Mr. A. Levy, 
Mr. Bendall, Mr. Welch, Mr. A. Watson, Mr. 
G. Hare, Mr. E. Crabb, Mr. Weldon, Mr. 
Cathcart, Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Chitty, Mr. Du 
Maurier, and Dr. Playfair. 

Mr. Hare also cherishes fond recollections of 
the Arundel Club, of which he became an 
invaluable member soon after his first appear- 
ance in London. 

" It was," he says, " the most delightful of all 
Bohemian gatherings, and the good-fellowship, 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 169 

good humour, and bright wit that ruled our 
meetings will be recalled by all who can remem- 
ber them. Amongst the constant frequenters 
of the Arundel in those days, were Talfourd, 
Tom Hood, Henry S. Leigh, Prowse, Tom 
Robertson, H. J. Byron, Arthur Sketchley, 
Artemus Ward, W. S. Gilbert, Clement Scott, 
Joseph Knight, and last but not least, Peter 
Hardy, for many years our Honorary Secretary, 
and endeared to every member of the club by 
his genial and affectionate disposition. Most of 
these have, alas ! joined the majority, but one 
and all were the ' princes of good fellows/ and 
their names are associated with all that is bright 
and clever." 

Then there was that unique little coterie 
whimsically self-styled " The Lambs." 

" This delightful little club," says Mr. Hare, 
" was started in ' the sixties/ and I may claim to 
have been its part founder. It consisted of 
twenty-four members, the first twelve being 
called ' The Lambs/ and the second twelve 
' The Lambkins/ The chairman was ' The 
Shepherd/ We had no regular club-house, 



170 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

but met for many years at the Gaiety Restaur- 
ant, and subsequently at the Albemarle Hotel. 
c The Shepherd ' wore a badge, and called 
1 attention ' by means of a silver bell mounted 
on a crook. The object of the club was simply 
fun and good fellowship, and right royally it 
achieved its ends. It was a rule that only two 
speeches should be made : the one by ' the 
Shepherd/ who proposed any subject he chose, 
and called upon any member he thought 
proper to respond to it. As he invariably 
chose the man least acquainted with the subject 
in question, great fun ensued. Amongst the 
original members were S. B. Bancroft, Henry 
Irving, Harry Montague, Charles Sandey, 
Charles Collette, Sir Douglas Straight, Henry 
Tufton (now Lord Hothfield) ; and Lord 
Newry (now Earl of Kilmorey). 

" The club prospered for many years ; a 
surprising number of years, indeed, considering 
the small number of its members. As an 
instance of our freedom from superstition, and 
our justification in our common sense, I may 
mention that at the ' Annual Washing/ generally 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 171 

held at Skindle's Hotel, at Maidenhead, we, on 
four consecutive occasions, sat down at the ill- 
omened number of thirteen to dinner, and that 
during that period we did not lose one of our 
comrades. I believe I am correct in stating that 
when poor Harry Montague, one of the most 
popular of our c Lambs/ settled in New York, 
he founded the ' Lambs' Club ' that has since 
been so popular in that city." 

The st Two Pins Club," which was an institu- 
tion of much more recent date, is another * 
pleasant memory. It was originated by Mr. 
F. C. Burnand and some of the members of 
the Punch staff, its object being that its 
members should from time to time meet on 
horseback, ride out to some London suburb, 
lunch, and return together. It was named 
the " Two Pins " by the editor of Punch, in 
honour of the immortal memory of John Gilpin, 
and the members were expected to combine 
the fearless horsemanship and the amiable dis- 
position of that redoubtable equestrian. 

"At the time I speak of," says Mr. Hare, 
" Lord Russell of Killowen was its President, 



172 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

F. C. Burnand (its founder) the Vice- 
President, and amongst its strictly limited 
number of members were Sir Edward Lawson, 
Sir Frank Lockwood, Sir John Tenniel, Linley 
Sambourne, Harry Furniss, C. W. Mathews, 
R. Lehmann (the honorary secretary), and 
myself. These little meetings were very 
delightful, and were the source of much 
welcome fun and good fellowship. On one of 
our expeditions an amusing incident occurred. 
One of our members, whom I will call X., was 
riding by the side of Sir Frank Lockwood, our 
route being Wimbledon Common and its 
vicinity. To the amusement of those present 
X. was full of rather far-fetched reminiscences 
of the district ' Ah ! how well I remember 
this place when I was a boy/ he said, 'and 
how changed it all is! Where that church 
stands I shot my first snipe, and many and 
many a brace of partridges have I knocked 
over near the dear old windmill. In that 
white house yonder, hospitable old Tompkins 
lived ; and where that row of cottages now 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 17 3 

stands was a pretty field where I flirted with 
the parson's daughter/ 

"At this moment Sir Frank Lockwood, whose 
eye was twinkling with humour, caught sight 
of a distant shop sign-board bearing the legend 
' General Stores.' No one but himself had 
noticed this, and, turning to X., he said, c Oh ! 
by the way, old fellow, did you happen to 
know General Stores in those days ? ' ' Oh 
dear, yes ! ' promptly replied X., ' he is a 
very old friend of mine, but at that time he 
was only a captain.' That from that day to 
this X. has been mercilessly chaffed about his 
old friend ' Stores ' may be easily imagined, 
but it is only fair to add that he has borne it in 
the best of good temper, and like the fine 
fellow that he is." 

One of the first friends Mr. Hare made 
when he commenced his acting career in 
London was Mr. J. M. Levy, the editor and 
proprietor of The Daily Telegraph. From 
the first he showed him welcome encourage- 
ment and the greatest personal kindness, — and 
his friendship never varied from the time of 



174 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

their first meeting to the day of his death. 
For many years, Mr. Levy kept what might 
almost be called " open house " to his wide 
circle of friends, and at his table and receptions 
were to be found the leading representatives 
of Art, Literature, and Society. Sunday even- 
ings at his house were things to be remembered ; 
Patti, Nilsson, Albani, Trebelli, and, indeed, 
all the great singers of the day, contributing 
to make these delightful gatherings memor- 
able. 

As a loyal Englishman Mr. Hare naturally re- 
calls with pride the gratifying occasions on which 
he has had the honour <rf acting before the royal 
family. 

At Sandringham, by the desire of the Prince 
of Wales, he gave a performance of " A Pair 
of Spectacles," on the birthday of the late Duke 
of Clarence, — the last birthday, alas ! that the 
young Prince lived to see. The Prince and 
Princess of Wales took the greatest interest 
in this entertainment, keeping it a secret from 
their son in whose honour it was given. Mr. 
Hare had a special act-drop prepared for the 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 175 

occasion, showing white satin curtains, and 
cupids holding a wreath with the inscription, 
" Many Happy Returns of the Day." The 
Prince, the Princess, and the Duke, were 
greatly pleased with this "happy thought, " 
and the whole performance was received with 
enthusiasm. The Prince of Wales, the Duke 
of Clarence and others joined the Garrick 
company at supper, and before he left, and 
although he was in his travelling dress pre- 
pared for his journey to London, the Princess 
insisted upon Mr. Hare's presence in the 
drawing-room, where in her own gracious 
manner she most cordially received him. 

A week or two after this performance Mr. 
Hare was summoned to Marlborough House 
by the Prince of Wales, — who received him 
in his study, spoke in the most eulogistic 
manner of the entertainment, and presented 
him with a beautiful silver cigar-box. This 
was decorated on the outside with the Prince's 
crest and motto in gold and enamel, — and (also 
in enamel) the head of a hare wearing gold 
spectacles. In the inside, in a fac-simile of 



176 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

His Royal Highness's handwriting, was the 
following inscription : 

" To John Hare (Fairs) 

from 

Albert Edward, P. 

In remembrance of ' A Pair of Spectacles 
at Sandringham, 1891." 

The happily conceived detail of this most in- 
teresting souvenir was entirely the invention of 
His Royal Highness, and is one of innumer- 
able proofs of his infinite thought and kindness. 

The commands that Mr. Hare has had the 
honour to receive to appear before the Queen 
were both most interesting experiences, although 
strangely contrasted. 

The first was at Windsor Castle, where " A 
Pair of Spectacles " was given. This might 
almost be described as a " Performance of 
State," as all the Court ceremonials were 
strictly enforced. The representation took 
place in the Waterloo Chamber, and did not 
commence until nine o'clock. The room was 
beautifully decorated, and prior to the perfor- 



JOHN HAREy COMEDIAN. 177 

mance Mr. Hare was consulted by the Princess 
Louise with regard to many details likely to 
tend to its success, and especially with re- 
ference to such arrangements as would enable 
the Queen to see and hear properly. To this 
end a short trial was given on the stage, and 
the acoustic properties of the room thoroughly 
tested. In front of the stage, and screening 
the orchestra, was a superb bank of ferns, 
palms, and flowers, and as Her Majesty suffers 
greatly from the effects of over-heated rooms, 
large blocks of ice were deftly used to equalise 
the temperature. At nine o'clock the Court 
took their places. The Lord Chamberlain 
and the other members of the household wore 
their official dresses, — officers were in full 
uniform, and when to these were added the 
handsome dresses and the sparkling diamonds of 
the ladies, the scene was as impressive as it 
was beautiful. Shortly after nine the orchestra 
played the National Anthem, and, preceded 
by the Lord Chamberlain and followed by the 
Lords and Ladies in waiting, the Queen 
entered. Immediately the Court rose and 

N 



178 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

remained standing until Her Majesty was 
seated and the performance began. As Court 
etiquette at Windsor forbade any excessive 
demonstration on the part of the audience, the 
reception of the comedy was necessarily quiet, 
and at first rather trying to actors who had 
been accustomed to the more enthusiastic 
expressions of approval in a public theatre. 
But, apart from this, the Queen makes a 
thoroughly "good audience," — being both ap- 
preciative and critical. She has always taken 
the liveliest interest in the theatre, and 
never fails to remember the names of the 
favourite actors of her youth, — a fact amply 
demonstrated when, during recent years, their 
descendants have sometimes appeared before 
her. On the occasion of Mr. Hare's appearance 
at Windsor his company included Mr. R. 
Cathcart (his stage manager) and Miss Lizzie 
Webster. When, after the fall of the curtain, 
he was sent for by Her Majesty, she asked him 
if it was the same Mr. Cathcart whom she had 
seen acting with Charles Kean, and if Miss 
Webster was the grand-daughter of Benjamin 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 179 

Webster ? On learning that in each case her 
surmise was correct, she expressed much 
interest. Mr. Hare and his company were 
received at Windsor with more than kindness, 
and were treated with consideration never to 
be forgotten. 

In the autumn of 1893 Mr. Hare received the 
Queen's command to appear at Balmoral in 
" Diplomacy," at that time being played by him 
with Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft, and the Garrick 
company in Scotland. Here was a striking 
contrast. At Windsor a State Performance 
before the Empress Queen with all the pomp 
and ceremony of the Court At Balmoral all 
homely and informal. No ceremony ; no state ; 
Court etiquette on the part of the audience 
entirely set on one side ; no restraint placed 
upon applause; and the reception of the play 
as enthusiastic and exhilarating as if it had been 
acted before an appreciative holiday audience. 
At Windsor Mr. Hare was received by the 
Queen as the Queen ; at Balmoral by the Queen 
as a lady in her own private house. To the 
actors the evening was made doubly memorable 



N 2 



180 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

by the presence in the audience of the Empress 
Eugenie. Since the death of the Emperor 
Napoleon it was the first time she had been 
present at a theatrical performance, and she was 
profoundly interested and moved. At the recep- 
tion subsequently given by the Queen in the 
drawing-room she was present, and Mr. Hare, 
Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft, Miss Kate Rorke, and 
other members of the company had the honour 
of being presented to her. She conversed a 
great deal with them, and it was touching to 
note her revived interest in the artistic pleasures 
from which she had been so long and so sadly 
separated. On this occasion the Queen specially 
honoured and pleased Mr. Hare by command- 
ing Mrs. Hare and his daughter to witness the 
performance, and to be presented to her at the 
reception by which it was followed. 

Shortly before supper (which was attended 
by the members of the Royal Family and the 
Court) the Queen retired, but she still continued 
to take the liveliest interest in the proceedings, 
and Mr. Hare has since learnt that she sent 
down from time to time to ascertain if the 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 181 

" players " were " well bestowed. " After supper 
Mr. Fire's health was proposed by Prince 
Henry of Battenberg, and before leaving 
Balmoral each member of the company was 
given a beautiful souvenir in the shape of a 
handsome brooch to the ladies, and a scarf pin 
to the gentlemen. These were presented by 
the Princess Beatrice in the name of Her 
Majesty. In addition to a magnificent silver 
cup given to Mr. Hare, the Queen sent him a 
few days later a full-length engraving of herself 
after the portrait by Angeli, signed in her own 
hand, " To Mr. John Hare from Queen Victoria," 
together with a most kind letter from her Groom 
in Waiting, the Hon. Alec Yorke, expressing the 
great delight she had felt in witnessing the per- 
formance of " Diplomacy/' 

Mr. Hare's Scotch tours are not always asso- 
ciated with this spirit of generosity. Like other 
managers travelling with expensive companies, 
and producing their plays in the country as 
perfectly with regard to scenery and appoint- 
ments as if they were being acted in London, 
he is compelled to make a small increase in the 



i8z JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

ordinary provincial admission prices. This is a 
thing that some people loudly resent, and in 
passing, I may mention that it is a curious fact 
that those who on such occasions talk of 
" extortion/' and write to the local newspapers 
concerning their alleged grievances, seldom or 
never patronise the theatre and support its 
manager when good dramatic fare is offered at 
the customary rate. They belong to that very 
large class who want the very best of everything 
at something very much below its market value. 
Well, playing in Dundee the other day, Mr. 
Hare heard of a man who wanted to go and see 
him act but who was very wrath, when with his 
wife he presented himself at the pit entrance, to 
find that the usual shilling seat was advanced to 
eighteenpence. "Well," said the sympathetic 
friend to whom he angrily told this terrible story 
of London rapacity, " of course you didn't go 
in ? " " Oh yes," the canny Scot had " gone 
in," but he sent his wife home, and so through 
Mr. Hare's greed had put sixpence in his own 
pocket ! " 

It was at Dundee, too, that the following 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 183 

incident occurred. As a first piece, Mr. Theyre 
Smith's dainty comedietta, " Old Cronies/' was 
being played (and capitally played) by Mr. Gilbert 
Hare and Mr. Charles Groves. The play is a 
duologue, devoid of dramatic action, and de- 
pending entirely on its clever dialogue and 
repartee. A frequenter of the pit, who expected 
the two actors on the stage to exhibit some of 
the dexterity and physical prowess associated 
with the " Two Macs," had sat the piece half 
way through in patience, when suddenly his 
temper gave way, and he yelled out in such 
broad Scotch that I shall freely translate it 
here, " Now then ! Where's my eigh teen- 
penny-worth ! Why don't you begin your 

BUSINESS ! " 

Then there was a curious incident at 
Edinburgh. Mr. Hare had reached that part in 
" A Pair of Spectacles " where Gregory has 
succeeded in instilling into Benjamin's mind 
distrust of everybody and everything, and has 
even suggested that Mrs. Goldfinch's attend- 
ance at church is associated with a penchant for 
the curate. Left alone at this crisis Benjamin 



184 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

says, " Gregory has not improved of late. He 
grows surly and suspicious, but if he thinks 
that because Buzzard's an impostor, I am going 
to suspect everybody, even my own wife, he is 
mistaken." Whereupon a man. in the gallery 
shouted out, " Well done, old un ! Stick up for 
the Missus ! " 

In a way these impromptus are entertaining 
enough, but to the actor they are as disconcert- 
ing as the unrehearsed effects which, in spite of 
all care, will now and then make themselves 
all too prominent, and which are far more 
likely to occur on the bustling provincial tour 
than in the methodically conducted London 
theatre. 

Mr. Hare, for example, is not likely to forget 
one night when he was playing in " A Quiet 
Rubber," and had come to the end of the great 
quarrel scene between Mr. Sullivan and Lord 
Kilclare. On the offended old Peer's reappear- 
ance to leave the " parvenus " house for good, 
it is necessary to bring on to the stage a small 
portmanteau. This was given to him as usual 
by his servant Now it is also necessary when 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 185 

touring that all the luggage should be labelled 
in a special manner. On his entrance with the 
portmanteau (a pathetic little incident that 
should be and almost always is received in 
hushed silence), Mr. Hare was amazed to find 
himself greeted with tremendous shouts of 
laughter, the meaning of which he could not for 
the life of him understand. But on turning the 
portmanteau round to pack " Ireland under 
Elizabeth," and *' The Noble Families of 
Galway," he saw pasted on its side a large label 
with the words, " Mr. John Hare's Garrick 
Theatre Company, Manchester." Then he 
grasped the situation. 

That Mr. Hare's pre-eminently refined style is 
thoroughly understood and appreciated in 
English provincial towns is an established fact, 
and the man who went to see him the other 
day in " A Pair of Spectacles/' at Bradford, and 
in his broad Yorkshire dialect said, " I thowt 
it rot ! A' dunno wot's coom to Thayter 
Royal. Thar's been na' good moorder thar' 
for last six moonths ! " is one in a million. 

On the first visit of the Com6die Frangaise 



1 86 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

to London (it was in those terrible days at the 
end of the Franco-German war and the 
Communist riots in Paris, and when their own 
theatre was closed to them), Mr. Hare had the 
opportunity of making the acquaintance of many 
of its most distinguished members. It com- 
prised in those days, Got, Delaunay, Bressant, 
Sarah Bernhardt, Favart, and many other 
brilliant artistes, and his meetings with them are 
amongst his most cherished recollections. He 
was a member of the committee formed to 
consider what steps should be taken to pay 
some special compliment to these distinguished 
visitors, and he was of course present at the 
famous luncheon that was ultimately given in 
their honour at the Crystal Palace. " The 
desire to meet our famous guests/' he says, 
" was so great that we had much difficulty in 
limiting the numbers, and a very important 
point was the selection of a chairman. At last 
this narrowed itself between Lord Dufferin 
and Lord Granville, both fluent French 
scholars, a very necessary consideration as the 
proceedings had to be conducted in French. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 187 

Finally it was decided to ask Lord Dufferin to 
preside, and accordingly I accompanied my 
good friend, Mr. Joseph Knight (the excellent 
Honorary Secretary of the committee), to Lord 
Dufferin's house to personally ask him to accede 
to the wishes of the committee. At once and 
in the kindest manner he expressed his delight 
in accepting the position. The affair was a 
supreme success, and the sight was one of the 
most brilliant and extraordinary I have ever 
witnessed. I suppose on that day, the sun 
shone through the transept of the palace on as 
great a number of distinguished men as had 
ever bqen gathered together. On the right of 
Lord Dufferin sat Got, on his left Bressant. 
Then came Lord Granville and others according 
to precedence. The scene was curiously 
picturesque. According to their custom our 
French guests wore evening dress, and Bressant 
to ward off the rays of the sun threw a table 
napkin round his head. Always an aristocratic 
arid distinguished looking man, this curious 
head-dress seemed in an odd way to lend 
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JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 189 

ments prevented my accepting this flattering 
proposal." 

Of course this is very satisfactory, and no one 
rejoices more than Mr. Hare that dramatic art 
should at last be properly recognised and 
rewarded ; but he is not wholly in love with the 
state of things that exists in the stage-land of 
to-day. 

Especially he deplores the fact that the 
rawest of amateurs are not only permitted to 
appear on the stages of important theatres, but, 
what is worse, are in far too many instances 
accepted by the thoughtless and the ignorant as 
genuine actors. " A musician or a singer," he 
emphatically and very rightly maintains, " if he 
dared to appear on the platform before he had 
studied and to some extent mastered his art 
would be hissed back into obscurity. But in 
English theatres so-called actors are allowed 
to ' do their exercises ' in the very presence 
of those who presumably pay to see finished 
acting." 

Unluckily this is only too true. Only the 
other day, an estimable lady told me that she 



190 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. \ 

was certain her son would be able to make an 
enormous success on the stage because he " had 
such a good memory," and would so easily 
" learn his parts." If the mere " learning of a 
part " were all that is necessary for the equip- 
ment of a successful actor, who would not take 
to the stage ! The unfortunate thing is that 
amongst average audiences there are so many 
who cannot discriminate between the self- 
satisfied parrot and the true artist. Considered 
from the art point of view the actor's calling has 
been and presumably always will be thus heavily 
handicapped. 

That Mr. Hare's ideal is a high one goes 
without saying, and in connection with it I may 
quote his own words : # 

" If an actor's imagination suggests nothing 
beyond what he has succeeded in producing, if, 
in short, he is completely satisfied with what he 
has done, there is something radically wrong 

* Note. — These views were for the most part communi- 
cated to a representative of the Birmingham Daily Gazette, 
and were embodied in an article that appeared in that journal 
under the title of " Mr. John Hare on Apting." 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 191 

with his artistic constitution. Impersonations 
have their history, their life, their growth and 
progress to a degree of perfection within the 
confines of an actor's powers. And a time 
comes when a character is, so to speak, in its 
zenith, when the actor can do no more, and 
then, if he be not careful, decadence sets in. 
Characterization is an art, and like music or 
literature, it demands a right temperament, an 
inclination, bent of mind, a fund of talent, and 
natural genius. Without this necessary stock- 
in-trade the actor is an impossibility. And, even 
granted this capital, this artistic nature, which must 
be inborn, and cannot be induced or acquired, 
nothing will avail its possessor without an im- 
mense amount of energy and hard work. What 
some people call the inspiration of the moment 
I heartily distrust. Genius is essentially sane, 
and subject to the laws of sanity ; it does not 
break free from all rule, but is tractable, and 
grows from strength to strength with ripening 
experience. There is a legend of some grand 
passion which comes upon the actor in the 
evening and transforms the character he has 



192 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

not taken the pains to bring before the mind's 
eye in moments of solitary reflection into some- 
thing sublime and wonderful. Robson, they tell 
me, was this order of man, an artist who never 
became his part until he was rapt with the 
glamour of the footlights. I remember Robson 
well, and I tell you plainly I don't believe it. 
Jefferson, Irving, Coquelin, Got, students every 
man of them, have relied on study, not on the 
chance excitement of the moment, which, though 
it may stimulate an actor to a great and success- 
ful effort, is much more likely to lead him astray 
from the paths of probability and nature. The 
character is assumed by the actor, but does not 
displace his own identity. He does not lose 
himself in the part, but retains a critical self- 
consciousness ; he experiments and watches the 
result ; he reasons out the meaning of the 
spoken words, and when a new interpretation of 
any point occurs to him, he notes its effect in 
practice with the closest attention. Imagination 
is his light, and reason his guide. Many of 
these emendations are failures, no doubt, and 
often, starting on a wrong premiss, the actor 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 193 

finds himself landed in a fallacy. Then the 
advice of a brother craftsman is invaluable. He 
is an unwise man who shuts his mind against 
the hints of a colleague. Those who see from 
without can discern many things that it is im- 
possible to discover by any criticism from 
within. 

" So art progresses, and in the course of years 
undreamed-of possibilities reveal themselves to 
the view. This it is that makes the early train- 
ing of the actor of so much importance, ffi hy is^ 
it that actin g seems so easy to the novice, and so 
difficult to the man of experience ? The reason 
is that where the one only sees a simple idea 
the other beholds a complex problem, which only 
concentration of mind and imaginative sympathy 
can enable him to compass and present in a 
logical form. Owing, however, to the un- 
fortunate position of the drama in England 
"raw youth has to drag through its novitiate in 
public." 

Mr. Hare is strongly in favour of the French 
Conservatoire system, but says : 

" Not that acting can be taught as bootmaking 



194 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

and tailoring are taught. That is out of the 
question. But granted the artistic temperament, 
that necessary capital I spoke of before, the 
preliminary training (without which one cannot 
arrive even at journeyman rank), may be learned 
just in the same way as the technics of music or 
painting. If these elements of the art were 
taught by a master the public would be spared 
the melancholy spectacle of some sorry wight 
floundering about on the road of incompetency. 
Many an unsuccessful actor would be saved the 
humiliation of exposure and public derision, and 
men and women of talent would be able to go 
on the stage armed with the confidence that 
only comes of knowledge. But the uninitiated 
of to-day, unable to walk properly, ignorant how 
to bear themselves properly, and utterly unable 
to manage their voices, must learn this rudimen- 
tary lore of the craft in the full blaze of the 
theatre. Is it not obvious that the experience 
of men like Samson and Regnier, Coquelin and 
Got, must be of the greatest possible value to 
a beginner ? It is very well to have the capacity 
to feel, but what will it avail a man if he does 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 195 

not know how to make use of the machinery of 
expression, gesture, and intonation, by which 
feeling is conveyed to others ? On the stage 
alone do people challenge criticism in their art 
before they have grasped its elements." 

Hoping that this brief chronicle will find 
American as well as English readers, I have 
asked two kind American friends of mine, 
Madame de Navarro (Miss Mary Anderson), 
and Mr. Bret Harte, to tell me what they think 
of Mr. Hare's art. 

Madame de Navarro writes me : — 

" Dear Mr. Pemberton, 

" I am delighted to hear that you are 
writing an account of Mr. John Hare's past 
work. I feel quite certain that when the 
American public see him they will place him 
where he should be placed — among the few 
great artists of our time. ^ 

" The first time I met him was at dinner at 
our mutual friends the Kendals. I sat next to 
him, and continually wondered at his resem- 



196 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

blance, in looks, voice, and manner, to my famous 
countryman Edwin Booth. Shortly after this I 
went to see him act, expecting him to imperson- 
ate the kind of parts taken by Booth. I was 
therefore greatly surprised to find him playing a 
character in which his make-up so disguised him 
that the Booth resemblance had entirely dis- 
appeared. He had, in fact, become a little 
ruddy-faced old gentleman who kept the 
audience beaming with pleasure from the 
beginning to the end of the performance. His 
acting reminded me of the best French school ; 
so excellent in its numberless and nameless 
nuances ; so perfect in its art ! The late Lord 
Lytton (Owen Meredith) once said to me : 
* John Hare, by virtue of the delicacy and beauty 
of his work, belongs to the Theatre Fran9ars. 
Most people appreciate and admire it, but I 
fear that many of its charming touches escape 
the middle-class English eye.' / think he 
belongs to humanity at large, for he is so 
finished in his work, so great in his simplicity, 
and so true to nature that his art must appeal 
to all classes, and to all nationalities. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 197 

" With a thousand good wishes for the success 
of your work, 

" I am, yours most truly, 

" Mary Anderson de Navarro." 

Mr. Bret Harte writes me : — 

"My dear Pemberton, 

" If anything is to be written of John 
Hare introductory to his visit to America, I am 
delighted that it should fall to hands as apprecia- 
tive and conscientious as yours; although, it 
seems to me scarcely possible that so accom- 
plished an artist as he should require any other 
introduction to my countrymen than the * bill of 
the play' and the lifting of the curtain. For 
to see him act is to love him, and i to love him 
is a liberal — theatrical — education/ I know that 
America will be quick to recognise that while 
he is in tradition and experience thoroughly 
an English actor, he expresses that finest 
quality of restraint so beloved of the Comddie 
Franchise, but which we here don't always 
recognise in the highly emotional rdles it sends 
across the Channel to us. What I think is still 



198 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

more remarkable in Hare's acting is his com- 
plete abnegation of self in his characters — a 
quality so strong that it seems to heighten the 
efforts of those who support him ; he is the 
cltaracter y and the others are capital actors who 
exist to draw him out. I don't believe that 
applause ever startles him from this singular 
and delightful concentration. I have seen him 
come before the curtain to receive his well- 
earned tribute with a slightly pained and 
deprecatory air, as of one who should say, ' You 
really mustn't praise me for acting, you know ; 
it's the other fellows. I am really Mr. So-and- 
So ! ' It is for this reason — because he has made 
the whole scene so delightful, and put every- 
body at their best, that one is apt to forget 
him in the perfection of his art, and one 
does not always yield him his full meed of 
applause. 

" I am told that he takes with him to America 
a limited rdpertoire, and that it is likely to 
affect his popularity with the masses. I should 
not predicate that of a people who have made 
Jefferson immortal in one or two plays ! — and 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 199 

he is quite as fortunate in his ' Pair of 
Spectacles ' as Jefferson was in his ' Rip van 
Winkle/ What a wholesome breath is wafted 
over the footlights in Grundy's charming 
adaptation of that pretty French trifle ? I do 
not believe that we, in America, are so 
familiar with the miasma of cynical doubt, or 
the fire-damp of explosive sentimentalism, as to 
draw back in our stalls from so honest and re- 
vivifying an atmosphere. And how delightfully 
Hare, even with look and gesture, traces the 
unfailing optimism of the hero, through its 
momentary refraction and aberration into 
cynicism under the distorting lens of the bor- 
rowed spectacles, to the perfectly natural and 
convincing climax ! One such play, and one 
such character, should carry him far across the 
Continent and far into the hearts of the 
American people, — and I shall be much mis- 
taken if they do not. 

" I am not a critic — Heaven forfend ! — so I 
cannot approach his art properly equipped and 
consciously superior. But I should like to 
dwell on what seems to me to be his singularly 



200 JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 

crisp delivery, — every word ringing out clearly, 
so that even in his wonderful rendering of an 
old man's utterance, his mumble is never unin- 
telligible, or his loquacity slurred or indistinct. 
His enunciation of emphasis is nearly perfect* 
I have a very vivid recollection of his delivery 
of the apology forced from Spencer Jermyn 
by his wife in the last act of ' The Hobby 
Horse.' The language is very simple — as 
Pinero always is when he is most subtle — so 
simple I should hesitate to transcribe it, but 
Pinero knew that Hare could inform it with 
the very spirit of the irony he intended. So 
that it stands now with Hare's delivery, as one 
of the most delightful and sarcastic risumis 
of the moral and sentimental situations of a 
play I ever witnessed. 

"It seems to me also that so much could be 
'said of his wonderfully minute study of the 
half senile character, where the habits and 
impulses of youth remain to override the actual 
performance. There is a notable instance 
of this in his wonderful portrayal of the Duke 
of St. Olphert's in 'The Notorious Mrs. 



JOHN HARE, COMEDIAN. 201 

Ebbsmith.' He is gallantly attempting to relieve 
Mrs. Thorpe of the tray she is carrying, but of 
course lacks the quickness, alertness, and even 
the actual energy to do it> and so follows her 
with delightful simulation of assistance all 
over the stage, while she carries it herself he 
pursuing the form and ignoring the perfor- 
mance. It is a wonderful study ! And who 
does not remember Beau Farintosh in ' School/ 
and all that splendid forgetfulness of the alas ! 
all too necessary eyeglass. 

" Do with this what you like, only don't make 
my arms seem to ache with reaching up to 
pat such a tall fellow as Hare on the head ! 

" Yours always, 

" Bret Harte." 

Before concluding this chapter I wish to 
record my sincere thanks to all the good friends 
who have helped and encouraged me in my 
work, and to many unknown friends from whose 
criticisms I have freely culled. 

Of John Hare personally I could write much