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(fas "pMi*S 7 

Book jf i^y 





By the Same Author 

Eugene Field I Knew 

Illustrated. i2mo. $1.25 

Recollections of A Player 

Privately printed 

7r fitutCcJ Jh^>\^ 


Reminiscences of a Fellow Player 







Two Copies Received 

APR 14 1906 

^y Copyright Entry 

ciAss cl ? xkc No. 

COPY %./ 

Copyright, 1906, 
By Charles Scribner's Sons. 

Published April, 1906 



To My Wife 


Born, Philadelphia, Pa Feb. 20, 1829 

Appeared in " black face " in imitation of T. D. 

("Jim Crow" ) Rice at Washington, D. C. . 1833 
Acted in Mexico, a camp follower of the American 

Army 1846 

Married Margaret Clement Lockyer . . . . 1850 
Joined Laura Keen's Theatre. Success as " Dr. 

Pangloss" 1857 

Winter Garden, success as "Caleb Plummer " 

and "Salem Scudder " 1859 

Adapted "Oliver Twist" for the stage . . . i860 

Death of Mrs. Jefferson 1861 

In Australia and England 1 861-5 

Olympic Theatre, New York, in revised and re- 
written Rip Van Winkle 1866 

Married Sarah Isabel Warren, his cousin . . . 1867 

Named "The Little Church around the Corner" 1870 
In London, "Rip Van Winkle," " Golightly," 

" Hugh de Brass " l8 75~ 7 

Produced his amended version of " The Rivals," 

Philadelphia 1880 

Published Autobiography 1 889-90 

Given the degree of M. A. by Yale University . 1892 

Given the degree of M. A. by Harvard University 1895 
Presented with a loving-cup by the actors and 

actresses of America 1 895 

All-Star " Rivals " Tour 1896 

Died at Palm Beach, Florida . . . April 23, 1905 


THOSE who seek the facts of his life, and 
the standard and accepted estimates of 
Jefferson's work and art, will find them in the 
adequate pages of Mr. William Winter. 

Those who would acquaint themselves with 
the ineffable charm of his personality must linger 
over the pages of the comedian's Autobiography, 
a book to be mentioned only with Colley Cibber's 
Apology, equal in interest, beyond it in charm. 

The present writer has aimed merely to set 
down the remembrances, mostly anecdotal, which 
were his over a number of years in connection 
with the subject of this sketch. 


Chapter Page 

I. First Acquaintance i 

II. Characteristics u 

III. Rip Van Winkle 24 

IV. His Recreations 46 

V. Joseph Jefferson as a Lecturer . . 97 

VI. The Author 149 

VII. " The Rivals " and the All-Star 

Performances 182 

VIII. Characteristic Days 280 

IX. Conclusion 326 


Joseph Jefferson 

Photogravure from a Photograph 

Joseph Jefferson and William Florence in "The 
Rivals' ' 

Joseph Jefferson's Birthplace 

Joseph Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle (Old Age) 

Joseph Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle (Youth) . 

Joseph Jefferson sketching 

Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Jefferson off for a Day's 

The Indefatigable Fisherman, Grover Cleveland 

Buzzards Roost — A Monotype by Jefferson 

Joseph Jefferson and Judge Henry E. Howland 

King of the Forest — A Painting by Jefferson . 

Portrait of Israels, by himself 

Mr. Jefferson delivering an Address . . . . 


Crow's Nest, Jefferson's Home at Buzzards 

Mr. Jefferson planting the Jefferson Tree . . 

Joseph Jefferson as " Bob Acres " . . . 

Mrs. John Drew as " Mrs. Malaprop " . . 

Francis Wilson as " David " 


Facing page 8 






Joseph Jefferson and The Fanny Rice Baby Facing page 198 

William H. Crane as " Sir Anthony Absolute* ' " 200 

Nat. C. Goodwin as "Sir Lucius O'Trigger" " 206 

Julia Marlowe as " Lydia ' ' " 212 

Robert Taber as " Captain Absolute " ... " 216 

E. M. Holland as "Fag" " 220 

Joseph Holland as " Falkland ' ' " 224 

Fanny Rice as "Lucy " " 228 

Flatboat on a Bayou of the Mississippi — From 

a Painting by Jefferson " 280 

Imitation of Turner, by Joseph Jefferson . . " 306 
Joseph Jefferson at Palm Beach, Fla., — Sep- 
tember 26, 1904 " 326 

Mr. Jefferson, C. A. Walker, and C. B. Jefferson 

on a Fishing Expedition " 340 

Mr. Jefferson on his Seventy-sixth Birthday . " 344 

The Grave of Jefferson at Sandwich, Mass. . " 346 


/ have devoted all my life to acting, and I stand 
to-day in awe of its greatness. 

My boys sometimes get discouraged, and I say to 
them : "Go out and do something for somebody. Go 
out and give something to anybody, if it' s only a pair 
of woollen stockings to a poor old woman. It will take 
you away from yourselves and make you happy /" 

Joseph Jefferson. 



I WAS never introduced to Joseph Jefferson ; 
we just shook hands. To me his name 
was the synonym for all that was highest 
and best in our profession, and I had long won- 
dered if I should ever come to know him. 

I first saw him one Saturday afternoon, in 
1870, as I can see him now, on the southwest 
corner of Twenty-third Street and Sixth Avenue, 
New York, eating Malaga grapes out of a paper 
bag. In those days there was a fruit-stand on that 
corner. He stood on the curbstone abstractedly 
eating the grapes and watching the crowd file into 
Booth's Theatre for the matinee performance of 
" Rip Van Winkle," which was then in the midst 
of an eight months' run. How I drank him in 
and ate him up as he stood there — and I re- 
member how, boy-like, I brushed past him just 
to be able to feel that I had come in contact 


with him ! My action had not disturbed him, 
for he did not turn toward me or make any 
sign that he had heard my frightened words of 
apology. This relieved me, for I was so scared 
at my temerity that I should not have known 
what to say or do. I followed him, at a re- 
spectful distance, across the street, past the main 
entrance of the theatre, to that mysterious portal, 
the stage door, through which he vanished from 
my admiring gaze. 

Since that time I have had pleasure in watch- 
ing people assemble to witness performances of 
my own, but it has always recalled my first 
glimpse of Joseph Jefferson and that paper bag 
of Malaga grapes ! Once, in later years, as we 
were passing that corner together, I told him of 
the incident, placed him in the exact position in 
which he had stood, and begged him to eat imag- 
inary grapes in an abstracted way, and together 
we acted over the little comedy, the original of 
which was so fraught with importance to me. 
This amused him greatly, and as we passed up 
the street he admonished me always to preserve 
as much as possible the simplicity and buoyancy 
of youth. 


I had often been his auditor, but had never 
had him as one of my own, so far as I know, 
until November, 1889, at the old Globe Theatre 
in Boston, when he commanded me to place a 
box at the disposal of himself, Mrs. Malaprop 
Drew, and Sir Lucius O'Florence for a perform- 
ance of " The Golan." It was an anxious 
day for me, and I came upon the stage with my 
voice full of quavers and my memory ready, as 
" Acres " says, " to ooze out of the ends of my 
fingers." I gathered myself with an effort, and 
it was not long before I had the reassuring 
pleasure of seeing Mr. Jefferson give way to a 
hearty burst of laughter which but for the back 
of his chair must have upset his equilibrium, 
while Mrs. Drew and Mr. Florence seemed to 
be greatly enjoying themselves. On the instant 
all nervousness vanished, and the performance 
proceeded to the end with confidence and spirit, 
" Rip Van Winkle " kissing his hand to me as 
the curtain fell. 

I had been corresponding with Mr. Jefferson 
about his Autobiography, but newly begun in 
the November " Century Magazine," and he had 
promised to help with gifts of prints and letters 


in the extra-illustrating of my own copy when the 
Autobiography should be published in book form. 
He asked me to come and see him, appointing 
the business office of the Park Theatre, Boston, 
as the place, and one o'clock as the hour. As I 
entered, he sprang from his chair, and before any- 
one could introduce us, he had grasped me by 
the hand — and thus was realized my youthful 
dream of meeting Rip Van Jefferson. 

The first thing about him to impress me, at 
friendly close range, was the kindly, winsome, 
and at the same time inquiring, penetrating ex- 
pression of his face. My notes, made on the 
same day, say that he was above rather than 
below the middle size. He was thin, and his face 
was much wrinkled, which is not to be wondered 
at, for, as was said of his illustrious predecessor, 
David Garrick, " no man's face has received 
more wear and tear." This is true of all actors, 
for " their faces have double the business of any 
other man." 

Mr. Jefferson's mixed gray and brown hair was 
worn rather long, compared with the fashion of 
the day (which resembles that of the convict 
crop), and there was a plentiful wad of it on the 


top of his, I should say, rather small head. The 
hair was parted comparatively low down on the 
left side, combed up over the front of the head, 
and curved up toward a generous right ear. The 
nose and chin were rather prominent, giving what 
Mr. Jefferson himself has elsewhere humorously 
described "as a classical contour, neither Greek 
nor Roman, but of the pure Nut-cracker type." 
As it impressed me, in that part just over the 
eyes, denoting perception, the forehead was full, 
broad, and especially prominent. The mouth 
was exceptionally kind in expression, and his 
speech, neither low nor high in tone, had great 
clearness and remarkable carrying quality, with a 
tendency to the sh sound in the use of sibilants. 
But the eye was the great feature of the face. 
There was mildness, sweetness, frankness, fun, 
jollity, and especially was there riveted attention 
in it when he listened — and no man to my 
knowledge ever listened better ! Good health 
shone out of his eyes — and how they did shine ; 
and what wonderful control he had of them, 
giving them, as his long professional practice had 
taught him, every shade of meaning and expres- 
sion his fancy might care to depict. I noticed 



an unusual white mark in one of his eyes, due 
no doubt to an operation for glaucoma, which 
threatened, in 1872, to rob him entirely of sight, 
— a calamity happily averted by the skill of 
Dr. Reuling, of Baltimore. 

I found him, as I knew he would be, keenly 
alive to the humorous ;* and the conversation did 
not go far in any direction before it reminded 
him of something laughable in the storehouse of 
his vast experience. He dipped liberally and 
narrated skilfully, employing voice, eyes, hands, 
hair, and body. He was interested in some 
prints I had brought with me of his grandfather 
and other theatrical people of a past age, and he 
gave me a minute history of each. An etching 
of the father of William Warren, the comedian, 
he declared to be a counterpart of the son, then 
just dead. 

In speaking of the great popularity of his con- 
tribution to the " Century Magazine," his Auto- 
biography, he replied, giving me an exceedingly 
interesting account of the request to publish the 
work. He had never before written anything for 
publication, and was not aware that he had any 
talent in that direction. When he began it, about 



three years earlier, he did so haltingly at first, 
but soon got into the swing of it, and as recol- 
lections would come to him he would rise at 
unseemly hours of the night to jot them down, 
fearful that he might not be able to recall them 
in the morning. 

He told me how the " Century " at first wished 
to publish only extracts from the work. This re- 
quest was refused. With a quiet chuckle of 
satisfaction he modestly added that since the 
appearance of the first instalment he had been 
requested to extend the story. 

Here Mr. Florence joined the party, and then 
began a little banter. Mr. Jefferson explained 
that he was absent-minded at times, and told of 
having written a letter to his wife the other night, 
and not wishing to forget to post it he carried it 
in his hand, got into a car, paid his fare on enter- 
ing, and sat down. Later, the conductor, forget- 
ting Mr. Jefferson had paid, touched him on the 
shoulder, and held out his hand. Mr. Jefferson 
abstractedly put the letter into the conductor's 
hand, saying : 

" Mail this for me, will you, please ? " 

" I have n't time to mail your letters ! " yelled 


the fare-taker, which brought Mr. Jefferson to 
himself, when, of course, explanations and apolo- 
gies followed. 

The story was inimitably told, and caused much 

" Oh, that man Jefferson 's a funny creature," 
said Florence. 

" How do you know ? " I asked. 

" Oh, he makes me laugh," replied Florence. 
Turning to Jefferson, he said : 

" By the way, Joe, when I ask you at night [in 
" The Rivals "] ' What 's the matter with you/ and 
you turn and say, in that God-forsaken way, ' I 
don't know what 's the matter with me,' I can't 
help laughing to save my life. At that moment 
there is n't a particle of Jefferson in you, nothing 
that reminds me of your real self! " 

This pleased Mr. Jefferson very much. He 
seemed greatly to relish Florence's compliments. 
He was susceptible to honest admiration. I have 
often heard him declare since that he would not 
give the snap of his finger for anybody who was 

Mr. Jefferson had written for me on one of 
his photographs — the eyes of which he thought 

From a photograph by Falk 


rather starey — and I was trying to dry the ink 
by waving the picture in the air. 

" I fear I have written a round, bold hand, Sir 
Lucius," quoted Mr. Jefferson, and then, turning 
to Florence, he added : " By the way, Billy, 
there *s a line in the c Rivals ' I never speak." 

" There 's a lot in that piece, Joe, if you 'd 
only study it ! " instantly retorted Florence. 

Nobody enjoyed this more than Mr. Jefferson, 
who was one of the few men capable of enjoying 
a joke on himself. 

" But I always give you the cues ! " comically 
whined Jefferson. 

" Yes," said Florence, " and the cues are about 
all you do give me ! " 

Mr. Jefferson told another " absent-minded " 
story. When in Washington, thirty years ago, 
he had been introduced to Senator Stephen A. 
Douglas and was invited to drink. On leaving 
the place one of the party who accompanied Mr. 
Jefferson asked if he knew what he had done. 

" I can't imagine — something dreadful, I '11 
be bound ! What was it ? " 

" Why, Douglas paid for those drinks with a 
five-dollar piece and you pocketed the change ! " 



Mr. Jefferson told me that Mrs. Drew, who was 
nine years his senior, was facetiously known in the 
company as the " soubrette," while Mr. Florence 
was called the "juvenile man." 

He then spoke pleasantly of" Erminie," which 
he had seen at the Casino, New York. He said 
he had often played the character of " Caddy " ; 
only, he added, it was known as "Jacques 

" I used to play it, Wilson, with an actor 
named Browne — Browne, with an c e ' — and a 
very good actor he was too ; he played the other 
thief. Billy," to Mr. Florence, " did you ever 
know Browne ? " 

" If I say c Which Browne ? ' " said Florence, 
" you '11 say c Brown Stout/ I suppose ! " 

At this trite sally there were groans and indig- 
nant glances from all present. Florence, feeling 
himself properly rebuked, meekly removed his 
hat, bowed obsequiously, and with mock humility 
crept out of the office, — not a word having been 
uttered from the time of his effort at wit until 
his exit. 



THE prime characteristic of Jefferson's 
nature was his naturalness, and this 
applies with equal truth to him as an 
actor and as a man. Few have gone through so 
much lionizing and become less vain. He had 
a very proper and a very just estimate of him- 
self and of his abilities, but, as he said, it was 
little less than disgraceful for a man to carry him- 
self as " I am Sir Oracle, and when I speak let 
no man ope his lips." " And," he added, " the 
actor who made this evident on the stage lacked 
much that belonged to his art." 

" Why, you dear, great man ! " said a most 
sincere but very effusive woman to whom I had 
introduced him at New Rochelle. 

" Madam," he replied as gently as he could, 
" you make me very uncomfortable." 

" I have a horror," he said to me, " of being 


as narrow in certain views of life as Carlyle or 
Dr. Johnson, who thought their way in many 
things was the only way, and that those who took 
a contrary view were ignorantly, terribly wrong." 

He was a believer in the specialist; he thought 
the world and its manifold considerations too 
great to be grasped by any one mind. 

" I have great confidence in the fellow who 
does some one thing better than anybody else. 
I love Rembrandt for his portraits, Corot for his 
landscapes, Rousseau and Dupre for their skies 
and woods, Diaz and the Venetians for their 
color, Millet for his masterly portrayal of the 
peasant, Mauve, Israels, Neuhuys, each for the 
skill of his specialty. The surgeon, the entomol- 
ogist, the psychologist, the gymnast, and the chi- 
ropodist are all to be admired for the perfection 
to which they have brought their skill." 

Nothing was too small for Jefferson to interest 
himself in. His delicious sense of humor allowed 
him to find great entertainment in matters that 
other people would have passed by or thought 
too trivial. Wax figures in a museum or dolls 
in a window held conversation for his especial 
delectation. He sometimes fancied them saying 


to each other : " Look at that old fool taking up 


I wonder if 

time staring and laughing at u 
he thinks we have no feelings." Or : " Is n't 
this a sloppy sort of day for dolls ? Not even 
fit to look out of the window !." Or: " Hello, 
Margery, who tore your skirt?" And so I have 
heard him insist, laughingly, the figures would 
talk for him. He was no unusual visitor to the 
toy-stores throughout the country. 

The fact of the whole matter, I suppose, is 
that not only was he in love with children, their 
ways, their naive manner of regarding things and 
giving expression to their thoughts concerning 
them, but that he was in love as well with what 
gave them so much pleasure. As I think again 
of it, I feel that the quaint humor of the man 
had much to do with it all. 

I met him one day in a great toy-store, and he 
confessed that he visited the place three or four 
times a year, not only to make purchases, but also 
to see the children buy and hear their joyful ex- 
pressions and exclamations. " I get a great deal 
of fun out of it," he said. 

" You seem to have had a full measure of en- 
joyment in life, Sir Joseph," I said to him. 

1 3 


"Of course I have," he replied, "but I feel 
that all this is nothing compared with what is to 
come. This life is merely a rehearsal. I have 
had more fortune, more happiness than falls to 
the lot of most men, but they can 'ring down on 
me ' as soon as they please, only so there is no 
delay, no lingering; let them give me a 'quick 
curtain.' None of your slow fellows with long 
protracted red-fire accompaniment." 

" Ring down on you ! Why, surely you are 
not tired of it all ? " I ventured. 

c< Oh no, not at all, not at all," he replied 
quickly. cc I shall be content to go on at this rate 
for a great many years. I 'd like to fish until 
I'm ninety, and then I'd like to paint a little 
and act a little, but I want you to understand 
that I 'm not afraid of what 's to come, and I do 
not wish to degenerate into the lean and slippered 
pantaloon. No, when the end comes, let it come 
quickly ! " 

It was not that he was "afraid of what's to 
come" ; his confidence in that was too great to be 
at all fearful. It was that, seriously and humor- 
ously, he saw no pressing necessity of making 
any terrestrial change. His health was so fine, 



his enjoyment of all things so keen, and every- 
day so filled with the life beautiful of family, fame, 
and fortune, that it is small wonder he rebelled 
at any thought of separation from what was so 
appealingly attractive. Tactless friends and 
thoughtless critics jarred his sense of delicacy 
with injudicious remarks and publications. Even 
eight or ten years ago, he wrote : 

"The newspaper criticisms on my acting of 
late are very mournful in tone. They write, 
c This may be the last time you will ever see 
him ! ' c He must soon pass away ! * They 
sound more like obituary notices than critiques. 
I expect to see shortly, c None but the family are 
invited — no flowers, etc.* " 

He told me of being at table once where there 
was a number of people. A lull in the conversa- 
tion permitted an affected fellow to drawl at him : 

" Aw — Mr. Jefferson — aw — when are you 
— aw — going — aw — to retire from the stage ? " 

To which he replied pointedly : 

" I am only waiting for you to say the word ! " 

He jested about such things, but they hurt 
him. He loved his art ; he learned something new 
about it every day, perhaps at every new per- 


formance, and he strove with remarkable vitality 
and rare delicacy to prove this increased knowl- 
edge to his public. Naturally, he sought to 
postpone as long as possible the time when he 
must surrender the exercise of that in which he 
had acquired such skill and had won so much 
success. The breath of fame, as to others, was 
dear to him. Naturally, too, he resented, even 
though he resented it playfully, any intimation of 
the approach of useless old age which he, care- 
fully on the alert, had not yet detected. And 
he was confident of being the first to note any 
diminution of his powers, upon which he meant 
instantly to withdraw from public life. Like 
most happy men, he was regretfully conscious of 
the swift going of time. 

" How the summer has flown ! " he writes, 
(in August, 1 901). " I dig in the garden in the 
morning and paint all of the afternoon. Time 
slips away, and I have n't got half done that I 
want to have behind me — I am going on for 73. 
God will soon make a sweet little angel of me, so 
I must hurry up. Till then I am 

Faithfully yours, 



He took occasion to deny before the curtain 
premature reports of his intention to withdraw 
from the stage. He declared that, like a well- 
bred dog, he meant to withdraw on the slightest 
intimation of being kicked out. At the time of 
one of these reports, a young newspaper man was 
sent to ascertain if it were true or false. He was 
told that Mr. Jefferson had gone to bed and 
could not be interviewed. The young man was 
insistent and sent a card to the actor's room 
with this message, " Is there any truth in the 
report that you are about to retire ? " 

Back came the answer, " Mr. Jefferson has 

On first visiting London I remember to have 
been much impressed with those circular com- 
memorative tablets let into the walls of certain 
houses. I came quite by accident upon one that 
thrilled me : 


Later on I saw another inscription, equally 
thrilling : 




At Stratford-on-Avon I found the chief interest 
of the place centred about a player-playwright. 
I knew that actors and dramatists had been Poets 
Laureate of England, but so thick had been the 
air of prejudice about me, I felt half convinced 
that Jonson, Dryden, Colley Cibber, and Dave- 
nant must have come to such an honor only after 
some process of mental nullification. 

At Venice my eyes bulged out in astonishment 
at a life-size bronze statue to the comedian 
Goldoni. "Can it be possible," said I to myself, 
" that our village pastor is mistaken, and that all 
hope of eternal salvation is not to be abandoned 
by those who enter the portals of the player's 
profession ? " I remembered then how, at home, 
Jefferson, Murdoch, Booth, Barrett, Robson, 
Crane, Mary Anderson, Charlotte Cushman, and 
a host of others were loved and respected, and 
I confessed to a feeling of distress that our 
village pastor's predictions were to be unfulfilled 
and that not unlikely I was to be deprived of 
an ultimately exciting experience in the nether 

I could not remember that any statue or tablets 
had been erected to actors and actresses in Amer- 



ica, and, in the flush of my enthusiasm, I longed 
to hasten home and dot all sorts of facades with 
all sorts of tablets. 

While on tour with the "All-Star Cast" of 
"The Rivals" (1896), I spoke to Mr. Jeffer- 
son about affixing a tablet to his birthplace, on 
the southwest corner of Sixth and Spruce Streets, 
Philadelphia. He modestly objected, saying that 
it was an unusual thing to do while the subject of 
such a memorial was still living. The matter was 
dropped for the time, but later, at the suggestion 
of my friend De Witt Miller, he, the late A. W. 
Whelpley, of Cincinnati, and I put up a tablet 
with this inscription : 

Joseph Jefferson, the Actor, 

Was Born Here 

Feb. 20, 1829. 

Here's Your Good Health and Your 

May they Live Long and Prosper. 

On New Year's Day of the same year he wrote 
me apropos of the tablet, — 

" So you would do it — God forgive you ! " 
I believe He has. 

J 9 


From the mention of Jefferson's birthplace, it 
is an easy step to the subject of his first appear- 
ance on the stage, which has been stated as being 
now in one thing, now in another, and then again 
in something else. Mr. Jefferson could not re- 
call, nor was there any family tradition, in what 
play he made his first appearance. He felt it to 
be positive that, as a child in long clothes, he had 
often been pressed into theatrical service. In 
this connection he has written humorously of the 
histrionic ambition of his mother with respect 
to himself. 

The following letter, a copy of which the 
owner, Mr. John T. Loomis, of Washington, 
has kindly presented me, naively sets forth the 
earliest recollection of our " Rip " as to his first 
appearance : 

Philadelphia, Nov. 18/66. 

My dear Coyle, 1 — As usual you have over- 
whelmed me with compliments. The notice is 
most charmingly written and praises me far be- 
yond my desert. 

1 John F. Coyle, of the "National Intelligencer," Wash- 
ington, D. C. 


The memorial tablet was placed on the house by Francis Wilson, DeWitt 

Miller, and A. W. Whelpley— Mr. Wilson and H. H. 

Furness, Jr., are standing in doorway 


I have made a few cuts in the article, as you 
kindly suggested that I should alter any mistakes it 
might contain. I know that it is generally believed 
that I was born in the Capital, but it is an error. 
Philadelphia is my native city, so I have passed 
my pen through the lines referring to my birth 
and my having played Cora's Child with " eclat." 
I certainly did enact the Peruvian infant, but as 
the author has never made the child express his 
opinion on any subject during the play, there 
is but little opportunity afforded for giving 
much " eclat " to the performance. The only 
point I remember to have made was in the 
last act. 

J. R. Scott being the Rolla, you may readily 
conceive that he was rather unsteady upon his legs 
during the latter portion of the play, and as he 
rushed, or rather staggered, upon the bridge and 
lifted me on his shoulders, I found that Rolla 
was even more elevated than myself. Feeling 
the insecurity of my position, I made a grab for 
the hair of the noble Peruvian, and in the strug- 
gle pulled off his wig. You may judge of the 
effect when I tell you that the top of Rolla' s head 
was as bare as the bottom of Cora's baby. This, 


therefore, was the only point I made with " a 
claw/' After that I had better close. ... 

Mr Jefferson recalled perfectly his first appear- 
ance in black face, a miniature reproduction of 
Jim Crow (T. D. Rice). 

" Daddy " Rice, as he was familiarly called, 
had seen young Jefferson's imitation and insisted 
that the boy should appear at his benefit. The 
six-foot minstrel dumped his pigmy imitator out 
of a bag onto the stage, and the twain, beside 
making a decided hit, were showered with coins, 
— twenty-four dollars of which were gathered 
and promised to " young Joe." 

On the margin of a copy of Mr. Jefferson's 
Autobiography which he gave me, Mrs. John 
Drew wrote that she was present at Rice's benefit 
performance, and remembered well Mr. Jefferson's 
appearance and mimicry of Rice, which was re- 
ceived with uproarious laughter. 

" Why do you wish me to write on the margin 
of the book?" asked Mrs. Malaprop. 

" Yes," interjected Bob Acres, cc why have any- 
body write on the margin or in any other part of 
the book ? You ask me to write something for 


you in the Autobiography. I did write some- 
thing in it ! By gracious, and by perseverance, I 
wrote the whole book, and now you wish me to 
write more. I '11 do it gladly, but why ? Why 
do you wish me to deface the fair white 
margins ? " 

Thus driven to explain, the enthusiastic gath- 
erer of autographic plunder said that the writing 
would give the book distinction. That of the 
thousands printed this particular copy by its in- 
scription would be especially set apart. It would 
be proof positive that this volume at least had 
been in the hands of its author, and as well in 
the hands of one of whom that author had most 
graciously written. 

There was a pause, during which Acres and 
Mrs. Malaprop exchanged glances. 

cc Henceforth/' said Jefferson, " I shall submit 
to autographs and to book inscriptions with a 
lighter heart." 

"And so shall I," added Mrs. Drew. 




IN November, 1897, " Rip Van Winkle " was 
given for the last time in Washington, — 
that is, for the last time that season, — and 
Mr. Jefferson had not been seen there in the 
character for a number of years. A vast crowd, 
many of which could not obtain admission, turned 
out to say farewell. All felt it might be the last 
chance to greet the genial Rip. 

I went down to see him before the perform- 
ance, and we had the customary chat in the rear 
of the box-office, when, as usual, we ranged over 
divergent subjects. I thanked him for a letter he 
had written me apropos of Eugene Field and the 
latter' s poem " Little Button Eyes " which had 
been dedicated to Jefferson. 

" Was the letter what you wanted ? " 

cc Precisely, sir; you always do the right thing." 

Deprecatingly, " I don't know about that." 


From a photograph, Copyright 1905 by Charles A. Walker 


"You always do the right thing," I repeated. 

" Well,'* he said modestly, " I believe I make 
fewer mistakes than most men. I think I am 
tactful rather than politic, the difference between 
which is very great. We are politic when we 
do something for ourselves, tactful when we do 
something for others." 

I mentioned having heard genius described as 
tact and brains. 

" Oh," he said, " that is too broad an assertion. 
A better definition is that genius creates and tal- 
ent reproduces." 

Speaking of happiness, he remarked, " My boys 
sometimes get discouraged, and I say to them, 
' Go out and do something for somebody. Go 
out and give something to anybody, if it 's only 
a pair of woollen stockings to a poor old woman. 
It will take you away from yourselves and make 
you happy ! ' " 

To make those about him happy was the guid- 
ing principle of Joseph Jefferson's social as well 
as his professional life. He was very generous, 
but few knew the extent of his charities. 

While we were talking there in the box-office, 
I saw a little boy peeping in at the door. I called 


to him and asked him to shake hands with Mr. 
Jefferson. The boy's mother followed, and was 
elated to find her son chatting with Rip Van 
Winkle. She explained that the boy's father 
had told him all about Washington Irving's 
"Rip of the Catskills " and had given him a 
book on Christmas that he might read it for 

" Now," said the mother, pointing to Mr. 
Jefferson, " this is Rip ; he does n't look like a 
man anybody would drive out into the moun- 
tains, does he ? " 

And while the little fellow pondered the matter, 
Mr. Jefferson's sons and I begged Rip to dis- 
card his ferocious aspect and assume a guileless 
air, if he had it not, — to please to look -like 
a man whom no one would dream of driving 
out into a fearful storm. The most amiable of 
men, he was never more amiable than that day. 
He bubbled over with good-humor. Here, then, 
was one cause of his great success — all his attrac- 
tive personal characteristics he carried over into 
his dramatic portrayals, and by his delicate and 
human delineation of the character of the sweet- 

dispositioned Dutchman, by the rare skill of his 



acting, he had become a classic along with the 
works of Washington Irving, Dickens, and Cole- 
man, to whose creatures of the brain Joseph 
Jefferson has lent personality, a realization never 
to be disassociated from him or from them. 

Presently the mother returned in despair to tell 
her boy she could not procure a seat, and he was not 
to see the play after all. The boy's sobs attracted 
Mr. Jefferson's attention, and with a " God bless 
his little soul," both mother and son were con- 
ducted to the stage, where they were to witness 
the play from the wings. How she will tell 
about it for all time, and how increasingly proud 
the little boy will feel to have been so honored ! 

We continued our conversation : Mr. Jeffer- 
son thought Mrs. Siddons the greatest actress 
the world had ever seen, because of the parts 
she had played and in which she had so won- 
derful a reputation, — the wife and the mother. 
" Anybody," he said, cc can play the part of a 
maid or those of a Camille order, with powdered 
face and bare feet, and make people cry, but it 
is to be remembered that in c Douglas/ when 
Mrs. Siddons, just learning of the discovery of 

her child, whom she supposed dead, asked so 



impressively if he were alive, women in the 
audience fainted." 

He was so given to lauding the acting of the 
present day that I was a little surprised to hear him 
launch out suddenly and declare that Macready, 
Kemble, and Mrs. Siddons were right with their 
eloquent pauses, which were as effective as elo- 
quent speeches. " The whole play passes so 
swiftly," he said, " that unless you give the 
minds of the auditors a chance to rest upon the 
important themes and speeches of the play — 
time to receive the proper impression, as acid 
upon copper — there can be no effect or result. 
I learn something about my art every night, and 
have but recently verified the justice of the old- 
time claim for eloquent pauses. Mrs. Siddons 
was right when she said the secret of acting 
was proper pauses. George Henry Lewes, who 
knew more of acting than most critics, added 
cleverly that one must pause without seeming 
to do so and without making a wait." 

He spoke of a certain actress who was advo- 
cating great reformation in the conduct of the- 
atrical business matters. Her ideas were, he 
thought, absurd. He had told her that because 



woman was placed on an equality with man here 
in America, she now sought to make herself his 
superior, but that this would never succeed, be- 
cause women, he believed, had all other endow- 
ments except the logical mind. 

He spoke of his half-brother, " Charley " 
Burke, for whom he had an undying affection 
and respect. He told me that he owed more to 
Burke than to any other person in this world 
or the next. 

" All the good things Burke did upon the stage 
— all that 1 ean remember, I do," he declared. 
" What would the world be if it were not for 
the wisdom, the skill and example of those who 
have preceded us ? " 

Dr. A. W. Whelpley, a common friend, now 
dead, — an old theatre-goer, a man of fine critical 
judgment and long experience in matters theatri- 
cal, one who had often seen Burke act, — told me 
that Mr. Jefferson once said to him that the 
memory of Burke was very precious to him. 

" He was a better actor than I am," he 

" I have heard you say so," replied Dr. 


"And was he a better actor than Jefferson?" 
I demanded. 

" No," said Dr. Whelpley, " better actors than 
Joseph Jefferson have rarely been." 

We spoke of " Rip Van Winkle " again, and 
of its wonderful power to hold the affection of 
audiences for generation after generation. 

"It 's a sturdy old fellow," said Mr. Jefferson, 
proudly, "built of the material that endures. 
Do you know I believe it is still in its infancy, 
and I don't care how long I am spared to play 
in it!" 

Once I wrote him of a play that had failed to 
please, and remarked that I thought the public 
liked its old favorites best. To this he made 
answer as follows: 

"You are quite right in saying the public likes 
its old favorite plays. I wonder how c Rip Van 
Winkle' would do? It is forty years since I 
first acted it, — possibly the public has forgotten 

He told me of once acting Rip in Easton, 

Pennsylvania. The curtain had just fallen on 

the final act of the play, and he was making for 

his dressing-room, when he was clapped familiarly 



on the back by a lout of a stage hand, who 
bawled : 

" J oe > y ou done well ! " 

" Why, what did you say to him ? " I asked. 

" I was astonished, of course, and then amused, 
so I simply said : c Do you think so ? When we 
are here again, come to see us/ And he replied, 
' Bet your life I will/ " 

I asked him if there were any truth in the story 
of his going into a bank to cash a check, and on 
being refused because of there being no one to 
identify him, he leaned up against the counter 
and, in the tones of Rip, exclaimed, " If my tog 
Schneider vas here he vould recognize me ! " and 
that instantly there were any number of people 
eager to identify him ? 

He laughed and said : 

" No, it is not true, but it ought to be. It is 
too good to be disproved. Oh, who is it," he 
continued, " that rounds out all those stories, giv- 
ing them a quip and snap which the original nar- 
rator would have rejoiced to have thought of? " 

" What have you in mind ? " I asked. 

" Why, the Dog Schneider story and the one 
about General Grant and mvself." 


" Don't tell me that is n't true ! " 

"Of course it is — to a certain point, but 
the most humorous part of it is not mine," he 

cc Oh, then you did meet Grant ? " 

" Yes, and he spoke to me as we were going up 
in the elevator of (I think he said) the Equitable 
Building. He greeted me by name, and we ex- 
changed a few commonplaces, and then he said he 
did not believe I remembered him, and I had to 
confess I did n't, whereupon he said : c My name 
is Grant.' General Grant ! You can imagine 
how chagrined I felt on hearing the name, and I 
immediately made matters worse by sputtering out 
an apology and saying I was not accustomed to 
seeing him with his hat on, which was equivalent 
to admitting that I had only seen him when he 
came to the theatre to see me! Nor did I im- 
prove matters by asking him, in my confusion, 
where he was living, which all the world except 
myself knew was in New York ! The story 
is all true as far as that, but some wit has won- 
derfully improved it by adding that I turned to 
Grant a few seconds later and said, c By the way, 
General, where were you during the war?' Oh, 



but that *s fine," he laughed, " and it ought to be 

This recalls the story of General Sherman and 
Mr. Jefferson. They had chatted pleasantly, 
and Mr. Jefferson arose to go. 

" I think you must have dropped this," said 
Sherman, picking up some sheets of paper near 
the chair in which Mr. Jefferson had been 

" My dear General," said Rip, " you have 
saved my life ! " 

" I am glad of that," replied Sherman, " but 
is n't it a little careless of you to carry such 
valuable papers around so loosely P " 

Mr. Jefferson laughed, and opening the packet 
showed its contents. It was the manuscript 
of the first chapter of the great comedian's 

It was while lying upon his back in the hay- 
loft of a barn in Pennsylvania, whither one 
summer he had gone from economical considera- 
tions, that the first suggestion of Rip Van 
Winkle came to him. He had been reading 
" The Life and Letters of Washington Irving." 
Always on the lookout for a great American 



character suited to his purpose, one that he 
hoped would bring him fame and fortune, the 
mention of the name of Rip Van Winkle arrested 
his attention. Great was his disappointment to 
discover that the character of Rip did not speak 
above a dozen lines, and that the sketch itself 
presented few or no dramatic possibilities. There 
were to follow this first suggestion of Rip Van 
Winkle years of only moderate success from 
various publics throughout the world. Through 
all this his happy temperament bore him with 
charming placidity. 

By comparison with the version of " Rip Van 
Winkle " made by Dion Boucicault (the changes 
being largely the result of Jefferson's suggestions), 
the earlier versions played by Thomas Flynn, 
Charles B. Parsons, William Chapman, James H. 
Hackett, Frederick Henry Yates, William Isher- 
wood, Charles Burke (Jefferson's half-brother), 
and even Jefferson himself, must indeed have 
been much less effective. 

Not in America but in England was first given 
the " Rip Van Winkle " in the form in which 
we Americans have come to know and revere our 
Rip Van Jefferson. 



For years he carried the play about with him 
in its imperfect state. He was confident the 
character was what he wanted and equally confi- 
dent the play was not, as he himself tells us 
in his Autobiography. He knew what it needed, 
but, probably from too close association, he was 
unable to supply it. 

After a four years' sojourn in Australia he 
reached London. There he met Dion Bouci- 
cault, under whose management in New York, in 
1859 he had first played Caleb Plummer in 
"Dot," which was Boucicault's adaptation of 
" The Cricket on the Hearth." 

It was not until Dion Boucicault had touched 
the play with the magic of his pen, supplying 
a dramatic element which Jefferson had vainly 
sought, and Jefferson had properly moulded 
and idealized the meeting with the ghostly 
crew of Hendrik Hudson, setting that meet- 
ing aside as a separate act, that Joseph Jef- 
ferson, along with the play of " Rip Van 
Winkle," became inseverably woven into public 

As an actor, Jefferson's skill and ingratiating 
personality were long well known and respected. 



As a young comedian, Washington Irving had 
commended him, but the Joseph Jefferson whom 
we of to-day knew and loved as a great actor, 
came into existence with the Boucicault revised 
version of " Rip Van Winkle " which Jefferson 
brought back with him from England in 1866. 
From that time forward, he was Rip and Rip 
was he. It might be said that the play was an 
incident, more or less important, in the life of 
every other player who had performed it, but that, 
comparatively speaking, it was Jefferson's whole 
existence. After Boucicault revised it, doubtless 
on lines suggested by Jefferson, it was never nec- 
essary for Jefferson to play anything else. He 
varied his performances, it is true, with Caleb 
Plummer, Bob Acres, Dr. Pangloss, Dr. Ollapod, 
and Golightly, but most of all he played Rip Van 
Winkle, Boucicault' s revised Rip Van Winkle, Jef- 
ferson's own skilfully developed and revised ver- 
sion of Boucicault's revision of Rip Van Winkle. 
Ever a fertile actor in the upbuilding of a scene, a 
genius in fact in this respect, much that Bouci- 
cault did acted as a spur, a suggestion, to Jeffer- 
son, who, as we are told on good authority, so 
developed the play that Boucicault himself, ever 


From a photograph, Copyright 1894 by B. J. Falk 


sceptical of the play's worth, was astonished and 
greatly impressed thereby. 

I count it one of the privileges of my life to 
have heard Joseph Jefferson with kindling eye 
describe the September night in '6$ y when, at the 
Adelphi Theatre in London, an American come- 
dian in an American play, " Rip Van Winkle," 
began a theatrical engagement which lasted for 
one hundred and seventy nights. 

Somehow, though, different in many aspects, it 
recalled the first London performance of " Shy- 
lock " by Edmund Kean, when that unknown 
genius flashed comet-like and with startling effect 
across the English dramatic sky. 

Jefferson could see indeed what the London 
success meant for him, not only in England, but 
in America, whither, after an absence of five 
years, he wended his way, and where, in New 
York just a year later, at the Olympic Theatre, 
he gave his fellow countrymen an opportunity to 
renew their acquaintanceship with that amiable 
vagabond, Rip, in a perfected dramatic form. 

He never tired of talking of " Rip Van Win- 
kle " and he loved everything connected with it. 

" Why should n't I ? " he would exclaim ; " see 



how much I owe to it ! " He was too modest 
ever to obtrude the subject upon anyone, but he 
never dodged it. It seemed to me that he was 
grateful for any allusion to it or discussion of it. 
Frequently he would close a letter with an 
allusion to it, as : 

" I will be in New York early in May, where 
I hope to see you. In the meantime on the road 
producing my latest novelty, Rip Van Winkle, 
as I find the public still blind to my dramatic 
defects. " 

He never lost an opportunity to come to its 
defence or to the defence of the stage. 

" I suppose you have read Mr. Zangwill's 
foolish attack on the stage," he writes, October 
15, 1889, "and my own equally feeble response. 
I don't think that either side is seriously hurt, so 
c all 's well that Zangs well/ I see that some 
gentleman in the c Herald ' of to-day states that 
c the public must not take for gospel the word of 
an actor who for fifty years has driven only two 
war-horses.' As Mrs. Malaprop says : c What 
insurance ! He must mean me ! ' I certainly 
may be an indifferent whip, but at least I have 
selected a good team ( c Rip ' and c Bob '). They 



speed fairly well in double harness, and in point 
of endurance are equal to the public. 

" Think of it ! What a triumph it is for artis- 
tic duplicity to have deceived the public for fifty 
years — and, in view of my present health, I am 
good, as King Henry says, c for much more 
slaughter.' " 

As we talked, many subjects were suggested. 
I wanted to know how he felt on being face to 
face with the oldest English-speaking theatrical 
public, and what he thought of the prospects 
of success, how the actors behaved at rehearsals, 

" The actors at first were inclined to be scep- 
tical as to its chances for success," he said, " but 
I was so much in earnest and had my subject so 
well in hand that I soon won their respect, and 
the few inclinations to cynical comment, guying, 
or quizzing, which I detected, soon gave way to 
hearty co-operation, and I was patronizingly called 
by the older members of the company their 
c transatlantic kid/ and heartily welcomed to the 
' sacred precincts of the Royal Adelphi.' " 

He was greatly concerned over a dispute be- 
tween the manager of the Adelphi, Benjamin 



Webster, and Dion Boucicault, who so reflected 
on Webster that that irascible gentleman on the 
eve of the production refused to allow any play- 
in which Boucicault figured to be performed at 
the Adelphi. Here was an unhappy state of 
affairs, truly, and at a critical point in his dramatic 
life, when he needed above all else tranquillity ! 
However, the matter was amicably arranged and 
the play given with great success. 

What time he had to think calmly, between 
rehearsals and the Boucicault- Webster trouble, 
he had felt moderately sure of the outcome of the 
play. He believed that Boucicault had supplied 
the element of human interest which the previous 
play lacked ; and, happily, his belief, his judg- 
ment, was sustained. 

Of his own achievement in the evolution of" Rip 
Van Winkle," he was proudest of having sepa- 
rated the supernatural from the human interest, 
— giving the spectral crew of Hendrik Hudson 
(which in the previous versions of the play had 
not only spoken but sung!) an act to themselves, 
in which they were speechless, pantomimic, sol- 
emn, and mystical. It was a stroke of real genius 
by which the voice of Rip, in contradistinction 



to the silence of the spectres, stood out in weird, 
impressive relief. 

Jefferson had great admiration for Boucicault' s 
skill in all dramatic directions. He always gladly 
voiced that admiration. " Dion Boucicault," I 
once heard him say, " has been a most impor- 
tant factor in my stage successes. Under him I 
spoke my first serious line in any play, — Caleb 
Plummer in c The Cricket on the Hearth/ — 
and spoke it all wrong, as he soon told me. I 
was the first to play his Salem Scudder in £ The 
Octoroon,* and he added the human touch I 
had so long sought in Rip Van Winkle." Con- 
sidering all that he, Jefferson, had gone through 
with the vagabond Rip, and the unshaken con- 
fidence he had maintained in the ultimate success 
of the bibulous hero of the Catskills, he confessed 
to a tinge of regret that he could not have been 
as clever as Boucicault, and himself supplied the 
elements of human interest necessary to the play's 
great success. 

Who knows that he did not feel something of 
resentment against the dramatic shades of Hen- 
drik Hudson and his sailors, those shades which, 
as we have seen, he had treated so considerately, 



for not having whispered to him the secret of 
the play's requirements ? I wish I had thought 
to ask him about it. I asked him about almost 
everything else ! However, it would have been 
futile ; they were nothing but spectres, and he 
himself had forbidden them to speak. 

Not everybody has been taken captive by 
" Rip Van Winkle." I have seen it stated that, 
admitting Mr. Jefferson's skill, the material out of 
which he made his great reputation was unworthy. 
This, I think, is quarrelling not so much with 
Jefferson as with Washington Irving. It was 
argued that Rip at best was but a drunken 
sot who beggars his wife and children, prefer- 
ring the company of his dog and the mountains 
to his home and family. Strange material indeed, 
it was said, out of which to form a hero ; and, 
further, it was argued that the moral to be de- 
duced from such a play was distinctly bad. Let 
Dame Winkle but burst into tears, overcome by 
her husband's selfishness and neglect, and sym- 
pathy for Rip would be instantly destroyed, it 
was urged. A clever actress told me that she 
had once endeavored so to portray Dame Winkle, 

but was halted in her tracks by Mr. Jefferson. 



" You may be right," he said to her, " from 
your point of view, but I prefer it played the 
other way." 

Jefferson in his insistence was but carrying out 
the clearly expressed intention of Irving, who 
made Rip the victim of a shrew. The lazy, 
good-natured, dissipated, henpecked Rip was 
loved by everybody in the village of Falling 
Water, the very dogs following him affection- 
ately. The virago quality of Dame Van Winkle 
arrayed even the townspeople of her own sex 
against her. To laud her, then, at the expense 
of Rip would seem to be a misconception of the 
author's intention, a subversion of his ideas, and 
something of a failure to appreciate his satire. 

It should be unnecessary to say that nothing 
in the story partakes more of satire than this 
very subject of henpecking, which is here held 
up so humorously for ridicule, — a henpecking 
ending in that outburst of pitiless scorn on the 
part of Dame Van Winkle, who drives the 
dazed and besotted Rip from the house to take 
refuge in the storm-wrapped mountains. When 
will anyone who has ever heard it forget Rip's 
utterance of those memorable words : c< Would 



you drive me out like a dog ? " We all felt the 
worthless scamp deserved punishment, but not a 
heart failed to pulse sympathetically for what it 
felt was the unjust extent of that punishment. 
We knew what was to come, — that the mountain 
path lit only by the lightning flash, the weird, 
gnome-like, speechless dwarfs, and those long 
years of sleep which were to rob the poor fellow 
of his young manhood, awaited Rip, who had 
not even the company of Schneider to cheer him ; 
and as the curtain fell, our silence, broken only 
by our sobs, was our tribute to play and player. 

Jefferson was, as he himself says, attracted to 
the legend by its poetic quality, and he endeav- 
ored to treat it in harmony with that feature. 
The marvel is that out of so slight a sketch, pre- 
senting so few dramatic possibilities, a play should 
be constructed which for forty years should have 
maintained an unbroken success. With all honor 
to Irving for his exquisite fancy, and to Dion 
Boucicault for his deft dramatic carpentry, it is 
instantly conceded that the greatest factor in that 
success was Joseph Jefferson. How did he ac- 
complish this ? Aside from his genius as an actor, 
chiefly, I think, by the sweetness and appealing 



quality of his own personality, with which in half a 
century nothing comparable has adorned the stage. 

This attractive spirituality he imparted to every- 
thing he did in his home, in his social and pro- 
fessional life. Together with a mind of more 
than average quality, he had great delicacy of 
judgment, a wonderful memory, and a long ex- 
perience in a world-wide school. He was wise 
enough to recognize the strength as well as the 
limitations not only of his own power, but of the 
requirements of his dramatic accessories. 

He manoeuvred thoughtfully, patiently, and 
adroitly for success, and having won it, he strug- 
gled with equal force to maintain it. What man 
need do more ? He did the thing for which 
nature, environment, and education best fitted 
him. He was neither a reformer nor an educa- 
tionalist. He did not, need not, concern himself 
with questions of aesthetic public import. He was 
a player in the fullest acceptance of that word, 
one who felt that the chief province of the theatre 
is to entertain and only secondarily to instruct, 
and as such a player, for nearly half a century, he 
stood foremost in his profession. 




« TOE JEFFERSON is up here, drawing the 
i] worst houses you ever saw." So wrote 
John Sefton to his relative, Mr. Barton 
Hill. But the houses which Jefferson was draw- 
ing were on canvas. The comedians, Sefton and 
Jefferson, were summer neighbors in Paradise 
Valley, Pennsylvania, the valley in whose peace- 
ful shades Jefferson first met the suggestion of 
Rip as a possible character for himself. 

A barn was to be removed, and Jefferson ob- 
jected because he thought it too picturesque to 
be destroyed ; but if it had to go, he declared 
his intention of making a painting of it, and his 
doing so gave the facetious " Jemmy Twitcher " 
Sefton occasion for the jest. 

Mr. Jefferson came honestly by his love of 
painting, for his father and grandfather had been 

artists with the brush as well as with the buskin. 

4 6 



From a photograph, Copyright 1905 by Charles A. Walker 


" The Siege of Belgrade," a comic opera by 
Cobb, was the first new production, in New 
York, in 1796-97. For it Mr. Jefferson's grand- 
father, Joseph Jefferson 1st, painted the scenery, 
and in it he played the character of Leopold. 
Mr. Jefferson's father, Joseph Jefferson 2d, who, 
like his illustrious son, was born in Philadelphia, 
was more manager than actor and more painter 
than either. As a boy he studied architecture 
and drawing, and he was also pupil to the scenic 
artist, Robert Coyle, an Englishman of repute at 
that period. 

In describing the new theatre in Chicago, in 
1839, wnen ^e present Western metropolis had 
but newly changed from an Indian village, Jef- 
ferson, in his Autobiography, says, <c My father, 
being a scenic artist himself, was disposed to be 
critical " ; and then follows a humorous descrip- 
tion of the colloquy between the elder Jefferson 
and the resident scenic artist, but not more hu- 
morous than Jefferson's own account of the new 
drop-curtain with the " medallion of Shakespeare 
suffering from a severe pain in his stomach." 

On the death of his father at Mobile, Alabama, 
young Jefferson and his sister were engaged by 



the local manager to play children's parts, sing 
comic duets, and appear in fancy dances. In 
addition to this, he says, " I was to grind colors 
in the paint room, — ' assistant artist ' I was called 
on the bills, — and make myself generally useful, 
for which services we were each to receive six 
dollars per week." 

At thirteen years of age he was the chief sup- 
port of a widowed mother whom misfortune had 
reduced " from leading lady to landlady." In 
reviewing the hardship of his early life, one can- 
not but feel how much he deserved the success 
which crowned his later years ; nor is it to be 
wondered that, once achieving success, he never 
jeopardized it by experimenting with new plays 
so long as the old ones showed every evidence 
of popular favor. In this rough school of ex- 
perience, then, where he indeed made himself 
"generally useful," Jefferson learned the art of 
acting and something of the art of painting. Act- 
ing was his profession, painting was his pastime. 
He had great passion for both. When he acted 
and especially when he did not, he painted. When 
he did neither, he fished. He was an ardent 
disciple of Izaak Walton. I have heard ex- 

4 8 


President Cleveland, who was often Jefferson's 
companion of the fly and rod, say he never saw 
any man get greater joy out of the sport of fish- 
ing than Joseph Jefferson, and that the mere 
untangling of a line seemed a philosophical 
pleasure to him. 

Apropos of fishing, the story is told of a 
woman approaching Jefferson, who, comfortably 
clad and wearing an old sombrero, sat on the 
wharf at Palm Beach, watching his line. The 
good woman, mistaking him for a well-known 
character whose business it was to supply bait, 
asked, as she was directed : 

" Are you Alligator Joe ? " 

" I plead guilty to c Joe ' " said Jefferson, 
looking up at her quizzically, cc but I deny the 
< Alligator.' " 

I give the following, as I wrote it down at 
the time, bearing upon fishing and its often- 
times accompanying complaint, rheumatism : 

As a member of a committee of the Actors' 
Fund, I was anxious to secure Jefferson to ap- 
pear for the Fund Benefit, November 10 (1898). 
Jefferson is now in New York, at the Fifth 
Avenue Theatre, for six weeks playing " The 



Rivals." He writes me that he will not con- 
sider the idea of producing " Rip Van Winkle " 
at the benefit, being momentarily tired of play- 
ing the character. I called, hoping to catch him 
before the performance. The boys, his sons, 
"Tom," "Joe" and "Charley," the latter his 
business manager, had told me a story of the 
interest felt in the " Governor," as Rip is 
affectionately termed, by his new valet, Karl. 
Such a man as Karl never was before or since. 
His usefulness, versatility, skill, and attention 
are extraordinary. The " Governor," it seems, 
was fishing and received no nibbles and was be- 
coming restive. The lynx-eyed Karl saw this, 
and immediately set about to relieve the strain 
of monotonous waiting. He stealthily threw 
some small stones now on this and then on that 
side of the line of the ardent angler, who, mis- 
taking the plashing for fish, cast about in great 
activity. " The boys " enjoyed this joke on the 
" Governor," but for Karl's sake they refrained 
from making it known to the victim. They 
told it to me while I waited in the dressing- 
room for the coming of the septuagenarian 
Acres; and feeling certain of its reception, and 



to the astonishment of the boys, I told it to 
Jefferson soon after his arrival. As I thought, 
he relished it hugely. 

"Why shouldn't he throw stones? " was his 
exclamation ; " he would throw his life away for 
me, then why not throw out a few pebbles ? I '11 
plague him about it, though, to-night." 

Then he went on to tell me about the faithful, 
wonderful Karl, — how he had been rubbing 
Rip's leg for rheumatism, presumably caught 
lying out o' nights in the Catskills, and how, 
much to Karl's chagrin, he had declared the leg 
was getting worse. 

" But, Francis," said he, " I have an old- 
fashioned remedy which will drive Karl to despair, 
but will also drive away the rheumatism." 

And fishing down into his old-fashioned, ca- 
pacious trousers' pocket, he pulled up a huge 
new potato. 

"In three weeks this potato will be soft, but not 
rotten, and — " And then he went on to ex- 
plain the various stages through which the potato 
would pass until the cure was effected. 

He could not decide what he should play at 
the benefit, and the matter was postponed. A 



day or two later I received the following from 
him : 

cc My dear Sir Francis Joseph — I mean 
Napoleon, 1 — Can you run in here [Fifth Avenue 
Theatre] this evening ? I will come at seven 
thirty to talk over the Fund Benefit. If not, we 
must try to meet some time in the early part of 
next week. Thine, 


In strict obedience I went to the theatre at the 
appointed time, and found Jefferson in a brown 
padded Chinese smoking jacket. He was dozing 
in his chair, while the all-useful Karl, feather in 
hand, was sitting near by tickling the soles of his 
feet. From previous knowledge, I knew this to 
be a peculiar diversion of Jefferson's. He said, 
in explanation, that it brought the blood from 
his head and made him more comfortable. He 
had sent for me to say that instead of" Lend me 
Five Shillings " for the Fund Benefit, he would 
play the challenge scene from " The Rivals." 
He spoke of the Tolstoi dinner which he had 

1 In allusion to " The Little Corporal " in which I was 

5 2 


attended because he was afraid his friends, who 
had been very kind to him in the way of invita- 
tions, would think he attended dinners only when 
given to himself; said he knew his speech would 
please, because, after all the big guns had been 
fired, his little pop of nonsense would be 

" The literary chaps had come, some of them 
a long distance, fully primed to tell all they knew 
of the Russian novelist Tolstoi — while I was 
present to tell all I did n't know of the great man 
— of his powers of non-resistance — to even his 
mother-in-law. I told them a lot of nonsense 
seriously ." 

" After the fashion of Artemus Ward ? " 

" No, after the fashion of Jefferson, which, as I 
have told you, Ward adopted, and thanked me 
for when I met him in London. If you have ever 
seen the farce of c A Regular Fix ' — it was that 
Ward spoke of having seen me in at the Winter 
Garden — you will understand that it was that 
kind of serious, earnest fun that made the piece 
such a success." 

" I saw the elder Sothern in it," I said. 

" Yes, well, Sothern missed it altogether. He 



was having fun with the old man in the piece, 
whereas the chief character is really in a regular 
fix, and his serious, honest efforts to disentangle 
himself cause all the fun." 

Jefferson was not much of a Nimrod. Almost 
his entire leisure time was occupied by painting 
and fishing. Most of his reading was on art or 
kindred subjects, and he owned some valuable 
books containing autograph letters, original etch- 
ings, and drawings of distinguished painters. 
That he was not a " mighty hunter before the 
Lord" is borne out by the following story told 
me by the artist, E. W. Kemble, who visited him 
in his Louisiana home, New Iberia. 

" Suitably dressed in hunting costume, we had 
gone out in a patent air-boat," said Mr. Kemble, 
"in hopes of finding some sport on the wing. 
Presently some birds came in view. I took 
deliberate aim, and missed. Mr. Jefferson caught 
up the gun, took equally deliberate aim, and — 
also missed. The attendant rowed us on in 
profound silence. Presently Mr. Jefferson said 
dryly : 

" c I think I Ve had enough hunting for to-day/ 





" I expressed myself as also quite satisfied and 
we headed toward the shore, which we were lucky 
to reach without being obliged to swim, for the 
air-valve of the rubber boat had become uncon- 
trollable and when we touched land we were 
almost level with the water." 

As is well known, former President Cleveland 
and Jefferson were great friends and frequent 
companions in fishing excursions. This mutual 
preference for the same sport ripened the inti- 
macy between them and brought both men much 
happiness. Respect for the modesty of Mr. 
Cleveland forbids the statement here of much 
that Jefferson said of him. Mr. Cleveland's es- 
timate of Jefferson has been given to the world. 
In their fishing jaunts there were rules implied 
and expressed. There was " the hour limit," for 
example. The boat once anchored remained so, 
no matter what fortune attended, for at least the 
space of an hour. Conversation might always be 
interrupted abruptly for good fishing, but under 
no circumstances, it is related, could good fishing 
be interrupted for conversation. 

One of the best stories I ever heard in connec- 
tion with Cleveland and Jefferson was that of a 



visit the ex-President had paid between his two 
administrations to the comedian at New Iberia, 
Louisiana; desiring to see an ante-bellum negro 
cabin, Jefferson conducted him to one, a wretched 
affair, inhabited by an old mammy who might 
have been sixty or a hundred, for all one could 
judge. The place was without any ornament ex- 
cept a campaign lithograph picture of Cleveland. 

" Mammy," said Jefferson, " whose picture is 
that ? " 

" I doan' know fo' shoV , was the reply, " but 
I think it's John de BaptisV 

I wrote to Mr. Cleveland and asked him if he 
would kindly verify or disprove the story, and 
received the following: 

Tamworth, N. H., Aug. i, 1905. 
. . . And now at last to come to the point of 
your letter ; I have heard Mr. Jefferson tell the 
story you mention, and so I think it not only 
ought to be, but is, in the main, true. When I 
read your letter last evening, I was a little uncer- 
tain whether it was my picture the old negro had 
or that of some other crafty politician. My wife, 
who is always right — against the world — says 



that she too heard the story from Mr. Jefferson's 
lips and that the picture was mine. 

I was not present when the picture was identi- 
fied, was never in New Iberia or that neighbor- 
hood with Mr. Jefferson, and have no relationship 
with the incident, except such as may be derived 
from my striking resemblance to John the 
Baptist, which I have always perfectly well 

If you will eliminate the element of my per- 
sonal presence, the story will be all right and you 
are welcome to use it, and if you think my bodily 
presence necessary to give juiciness to the story, 
put me in — but understand — the lie must be 
charged to your account, not mine. 

Yours very sincerely, 


In thanking Mr. Cleveland, I wrote him that 
I believed the story would print better if his 
letter were given as an addendum, to do which I 
respectfully solicited his permission. To this he 
wrote, under date of August 10, 1905 : 

"... I am quite willing to leave my John the 
Baptist letter in your hands, and my reputation, 



so far as it is included, to be dealt with as your 
judgment and friendly care may dictate. I can 
readily imagine the reminiscent revival of Jeffer- 
soniana when you and the Commodore 1 and the 
Senator 2 foregathered. I am wondering if I 
could have made a contribution if I had been 
present. The trouble with me is that among the 
many things I remember, a majority of them 
depend for their delightful value upon the pecu- 
liar expression and manner of our dear friend, 
as they transpired, and these, of course, cannot 
be reproduced by anyone. I '11 give you an 

cc We were fishing for weakfish — called by 
the Buzzards Bay fishermen c Squeteague.' He 
had a most exasperating habit of viciously jerking 
a fish after he was fairly hooked and during his 
struggling efforts to resist fatal persuasion boat- 
wards. It looked to me like courting failure on 
the part of the fisherman to indulge in these un- 
necessary twitches. So on one occasion when he 
had a fish hooked and was enlivening the fight by 
terrific yanks, I said to him, c What do you jerk 
him that way for ? ' With an expression that 
1 E. C. Benedict. 2 W. H. Crane. 


From a photograph by John Finley, Esq. 


comprises really all there is of the story, he 
turned his face to me and said, c Because he 
jerked me.' 

" What a trivial thing this is to tell, and yet I 
cannot recall anything that illustrates better the 
quickness and drollery of his conceits." 

That the true principles of democracy obtain 
in America, as perhaps nowhere else, is illustrated 
by the following incident told me by Mr. E. C. 
Benedict : 

" Ex-President Cleveland and Jefferson were 
on the point of setting out to fish. Cleveland 
was in the small boat beside the yacht c Oneida,' 
impatiently awaiting the coming of Jefferson. 

" ' Are you going fishing or not ? ' called out 
the despairing ex-President. 

" With assumed boyish petulance Jefferson 
looked over the vessel's rail at the man whose 
countrymen had twice elected him to the presi- 
dency, and said : 

" c I do not mean to stir until I have finished 
my story to the Commodore.' " 

Comedian William H. Crane, as one of a party 
with Cleveland and Jefferson, recounts that the 
preparations for departure being nearly complete, 



Jefferson set off on a discussion of telepathic in- 
fluence. As he halted for a second, Mr. Cleve- 
land interrupted with : 

" That 's all right — but where 's the bait ? " 

Jefferson was an ardent lover of nature, and, as 
in acting and in his appreciation of most things 
in life, he was attracted chiefly by the graceful, 
the peaceful, and the beautiful. The slow-winding 
river, the brawling brook, the mountain torrent, 
the tumbling cascade, the upland meadow, the 
dilapidated barn, the sheltered mill with decaying 
wheel with water trickling over near-by mossy 
rocks, the oak, the birch, and beech trees appealed 
to him most, were most expressive of his nature, 
and these he selected for presentation on his own 

Other compositions such as the figure, genre 
pictures, and animals, he essayed, but gave over, 
because, as he said, he had not attempted them 
early enough and it was not easy to teach an old 
dog new tricks. With what boyish enthusiasm 
he embraced the opportunity to take up the 
brush and bear the palette may be seen from the 
following, written in January, 1897: 

" Think of it, I have been twelve weeks with- 


out painting, so that I am filled to the brim with 
mountains, trees, waterfalls, and c cut woods/ but 
I shall be at it bright and early to-morrow, and 
woe betide my dearest friend if he comes within 
the circumference of my benevolent brush, for I 
shall spatter him from head to heel. The weather 
here is delightful. The roses are climbing over 
our veranda, and my grandson is climbing over 
my chair." 

"I am working away at my painting, and hope 
shortly to do some work that will be creditable in 
the way of American landscape. The error of 
our American artists consists in too servile imita- 
tion of the foreign schools. ... I have myself 
found much trouble in avoiding this, for now and 
then suggestions of Corot and Daubigny kept 
unconsciously intruding themselves — from pure 
admiration of their work. 

" Nothing is so fatal to an artist as a tendency 
to servile imitation. I hope I have got rid of this 
bad, weak habit. No more French villages or 
Dutch interiors for me — there is material quite 
enough in the mountains of the West, the water- 
falls and forests of the East, and the swamps of the 
South for American artists for all time to come. 



Do come to us, come and see me wield the brush 
— and paint out in a minute the work of days." 

What he termed his more serious paintings he 
did in Louisiana or Florida or in Massachusetts, 
where he had winter and summer residences. He 
became restless if long without a brush in his 
hand, and when he travelled professionally he 
carried an artist's outfit and daily applied him- 
self with gleeful, almost feverish enthusiasm to 
" monotyping. " If in the course of our pur- 
suit we met in the same cities, as we did not 
infrequently, I would generally receive some such 
note as the following: 

"We are going to do a little monotyping to- 
day at 3 p. m. at the National Theatre. Per- 
haps you'd like to see us at work. They'll tell 
you at the box office where to find us." 


"We are at it again — in the front building of 
the theatre. Come along, don't be late." 

Or, in imitation of the call for a rehearsal : 

"All the artists at Three." 

I find many notes made of these occasions, but 
one, with citations from others, will serve. 

One afternoon I found him almost hid in a 


many-colored calico apron, working away on 
pieces of tin or zinc of various sizes. After the 
All-Star " Rivals " trip he had a gigantic wash- 
wringer made, and it was a conspicuous article 
of furniture in his parlor at the various resting- 
places throughout the country. It took him 
only a few minutes to lay in a composition, 
using fingers, palette knife, rags, and often a 
brush — the skilful use of the knife making the 
birch tree which is especially characteristic of his 
paintings. His initials, "J. J.," were put in last, 
with a piece of leather. The tin containing the 
painting and a piece of paper were rolled together 
through the wringer, the paper receiving the 
impression. Unexpected effects were thus pro- 
duced, for the composition of the painting on the 
tin before the rolling gave no true idea of what it 
would be once pressed onto the paper. This is 
one of its great attractions! This day he rolled 
the tin through the wringer in conjunction with 
the fluffy side of a piece of canton flannel, and the 
velvety, leafy effect of the trees and moss-covered 
rocks was excellent. It was the first effort on 
canton flannel. 

On one occasion he lunched with President 


McKinley and his wife, and I twitted him on 
his disloyalty to the Clevelands and said I meant 
to inform them. I should tell them, too, that a 
change of administration could make no difference 
in my faithfulness — beside which I had received 
no invitation. As he sat there painting away, 
smiling at my threat and chatter, with that vast 
apron buttoned up close under his ears and his 
patent leather shoes peeping out in comical contrast 
below, unmindful of the attendants injunction not 
to drop the paint on his shoes or wipe his hands 
on his huge bib, — because the bib being thin the 
paint went through to his trousers, — he looked 
for all the world like a big wrinkled-faced boy who 
had gotten into some highly interesting mischief, 
unmindful of the birching that might lie at the 
end of it. 

With a funny little pursing of the lips he told 
me, between dabs with the brush or rag, that he 
had just come back from " Mac's." 

"Anything important said?" I asked. 

" Nothing political, of course," he replied with 
comic airiness. 

" Of course not," I answered, imitating him, 
" but was there anything said worth remember- 

6 4 


ing — any gem of thought displayed not by the 
President, of course, but by yourself?" 

"No, no," he answered in his best Dr. Pan- 
gloss manner ; " the conversation was general. I 
did n't condescend to advise the President as to 
the course he should pursue." 

Later in the conversation he expressed pleasure 
that a certain estimable young actress had made so 
great a success in Barrie's " Little Minister." 

From this began a discussion of the compara- 
tive importance of success to men and women 
on the stage. " Success," he said, " means much 
to a man. It means even more to a woman. 
The actress who has made a fortune is not be- 
holden to some rascal of a husband, or to any 
of the crowd of men who hang about actresses' 

" Has n't a woman," I asked, " possessing suf- 
ficient ability to challenge the world's attention 
enough judgment to guide her in an important 
matter like a husband ? " 

cc Not necessarily," he said. " Women, like 
music, are chiefly emotional, and an emotional 
woman has little chance as against a clever, un- 
scrupulous man." 



On an occasion similar to this, I had called upon 
him at New Orleans. After greeting me, he said : 

" I don't give you my hand," presenting his 
elbow to be shaken, " because it is so dirty." 

Then I observed just how besmeared he was. 
His face had a streak of green and yellow, and 
his fingers were shining with all the colors of the 
painter's palette. I declared him to be the neat- 
est actor and the dirtiest painter I had ever seen, 
and he laughingly acknowledged that it was pos- 
sibly so. I asked him if it were true that he 
would rather paint than act. He replied it most 
emphatically was. I said I could scarcely credit 
it, and that I believed if he were to reverse mat- 
ters and were to act but a few weeks and paint for 
a whole season, the preference would be the other 
way. He answered that it might be so, but he 
did love to paint. 

At another time Mr. Jefferson spoke of " Nat" 
Goodwin's imitations and their cleverness, par- 
ticularly his singing of " Little Bo Peep " as 
various actors would sing it, — Irving, Booth, 
Barrett, and finally Jefferson, stopping in the 
middle and straying absent-mindedly from the 
song to a discussion on art. 



" How much I should like to see it ! I hear 
his imitation of me in the awakening scene in 
c Rip ' is cleverly ludicrous. As he yawns, he 
glances up and says : ' Gallery is a little off to- 
night ! House about fifteen hundred, I should 
think/ " 

Then Mr. Jefferson laughed and added seri- 
ously : 

" He knows how much I like to play to a good 

In response to a remark of mine he said : 

" There have been numerous players who have 
infringed upon my rights as Rip. I interfered 
with them but once. I had bought the right to 
play c Ours/ and had transferred the privilege 
gratis to a fellow actor for a Chicago engage- 
ment. The piece failed, unfortunately, and the 
actor had the temerity to play c Rip Van Winkle ' 
a few days before my engagement in Chicago. I 
sued him — but dropped it. I have always felt 
there was nothing in suing people for an infringe- 
ment of this kind except the so-called c sweetness 
of revenge/ and the man who has that finds he 
grasps a pretty small lump of sugar." 

He showed me a photograph of himself and 


his friend Judge Howland. He thought both 
likenesses excellent. I remarked that the pro- 
jecting chin in the picture gave him a resemblance 
to Voltaire. 

" I thought so myself," he answered, <c and 
wondered if I were right." 

" What would you do if you could n't paint ? " 
I said to him, interested in his absorption in 
the task. 

" Die, I think," he replied. 

There was some talk of his playing "The 
Rivals " again next year. I asked him if he 
intended to do so. 

" It 's in abeyance, it never grows old — if it is 
well done," he answered, the naivete of which 
amused me. 

"What is the greatest mental pleasure you 
have known ? One that excited your feelings 
most, and upon which you look back with the 
keenest pleasure ? " 

" I find that hard to answer," he mused. " There 
are professional successes and domestic successes 
(I have been very happy in this latter respect) that 
are very dear to me. I have always been a very 
contented man whatever happened, and I think 


From a photograph by Hollinger & Co., N. Y. 


I have had good reason to be. On the whole, I 
think the success of c Rip Van Winkle/ which 
was an artistic as well as a commercial success, is 
the greatest pleasure I have ever known." 

He painted awhile and then looked up and 
said : 

" Irving did n't like my idea of Macbeth, you 

" What is your idea concerning it ? " I asked. 

" That Macbeth is a good man at the begin- 
ning of the play. He is so wrapped about with 
integrity that all the efforts of the witches — not 
one, but three — are necessary to shake him. To 
hold other than that Macbeth is a man of in- 
tegrity in Act I is to hold that Macbeth is a 
bloody murderer and that the play is a melo- 
drama." Then, pausing to slant his head for a 
view of the picture, he added : cc All the plays of 
Shakespeare illustrate some grand passion or 
quality, — Hamlet vacillation, Romeo and Juliet 
love, Shylock revenge, Coriolanus autocracy, 
Richard III ambition ; and of the grandest of 
all subjects — fate, which is the theme of 
Macbeth — Shakespeare was too big a man to 

neglect to make the most. What greater subject 

6 9 


could there be than that of the responsibility 
of human beings for their actions in this life ? 
There the individual stands face to face with God 
Himself. To find out what the characters are, 
or mean, one has only to go to the soliloquies 
of the poet. Mark how the characters of Richard 
and Macbeth are contrasted in two soliloquies on 
c blood,' the first while Richard was still Gloucester, 
in c Henry VI ' : 

' Gloucester. See how my sword weeps for the poor king's 
death ! 
O, may such purple tears be alway shed 
From those that wish the downfall of our house ! ' 

■ Macbeth, Of all men else I have avoided thee : 
But get thee back ; my soul is too much charged 
With blood of thine already.' 

The villain — the ambitious villany of Richard 
is here set forth in the one, and the conscience- 
stricken man in the other." 

Another pause for an oblique observation of 
the canvas. 

" I went with Winter to see Irving, and he 
tried to draw me out on the subject, but after 
a few remarks I declined to discuss it further, 

7 o 


because I thought it might seem presumptuous. 
With Coquelin, Crane, or yourself on the subject 
of comedy, yes ; but with Irving, on the subject 
of tragedy, I thought it might be construed as 
discourteous. " 

" What were the c few remarks' before you 
discontinued the discussion ? " I asked him. 

"Why, Irving thought Macbeth a villain 
from the beginning, and I pointed out that for a 
villain he made some very fine philosophical 
speeches, as, c Life 's but a walking shadow, a 
poor player that struts and frets his hour upon 
the stage/ etc., etc." 

" Surely Irving replied to that? " 

" Oh yes; he said that Macbeth had many fine 
speeches, but that they were intended to be 

" Satirical ? " 

" Yes, satirical. I called his attention to the 
fact that the speeches I quoted were spoken when 
Macbeth was alone. A man does n't speak sa- 
tirically to himself, — that is, he does n't deceive 
himself. Yes," he said on reflection, " he may 
do that, too, but he does n't do it intentionally. 
Shakespeare always makes his characters reveal 



their true selves when they soliloquize, as Iago, 
on the departure of Roderigo : 

' Thus do I ever make my fool my purse ; 
For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane, 
If I would time expend with such a snipe.' " 

" Did Irving reply ? " I interrogated. 

"If he did I didn't hear him, and then I 
turned the subject. In his address before the 
College [Columbia] he did n't mention me by 
name, but in referring to Macbeth he said he 
could not conceive how certain American students 
of Macbeth could so mistake the character. My 
friends wished me to reply, but I declined, al- 
though I knew he meant me." 

" Why did you refrain ? " I ventured. 

" Well, in the first place," he answered, " I am 
not a student of Shakespeare. I have not even 
read all his plays ; but what I have read I have 
read analytically, and know as well as Mr. Irving 
or Mr. Anybody Else. In the next place, my 
defeat could not bring much glory to Irving, 
who was contending on his own ground, while 
victory for me would only bring humiliation to 
Irving and discourteously weaken his credit be- 



fore the public. Perhaps some day I '11 write 
out my views on the matter and publish them." 

This time he was arrayed in a full set of blue 
jeans and was painting away and answering my 
questions. I was sitting at a table opposite writ- 
ing down his responses. He went on with his 
brush or feathers or fingers, until I had set down 
the words and had launched forth with more 
questions. He must have known I was taking 
notes, for he said I must not print the Irving 
discussion — at least, not now. Sometimes I 
read aloud what he said, and he corrected me if 
I had mistaken him. Like Boswell, " I know 
not how such whimsical ideas come into my head," 
but I asked him the most disconnected things, 
which often extracted a laugh from him and 
always a reply. If the question startled him, he 
would even put down his brushes and palette and 
with fingers stiff with many-colored paints would 
walk up and down the room, turning now and 
then to me to emphasize some remark. 

Boswell-like, I asked him a variety of unrelated 
questions about his daughters, his sons, whether 
he meant to revive " The Rivals," why he painted 
with his fingers, why his hair kept so dark, how 



long he had been playing " Rip Van Winkle," 
and the like. 

He told me about his daughters, one of whom, 
Mrs. Farjeon, wife of the novelist, he had not 
seen for twenty years. 

" Farjeon does n't write any more, does he ? ,] 
I asked. 

" Not now/' he replied ; " his style has gone 
out of fashion, I suppose. I am ashamed to say 
I have never read but one or two of his books." 

He painted with his ringers, pieces of rag, ends 
of blotting paper, feathers, etc., to get the proper 
effects. It must not be supposed he discarded 
brushes ; they were used to lay in the colors. 
When I had last seen him, in Washington, he was 
making birch trees on the canvas with his palette 
knife. This day the back-bone of a feather was 
used. The soft part of the same article dipped 
in paint and drawn across the picture, produced 
the branches, limbs, and leaves. 

" What 's the swiftest time in which you ever 
painted a picture? " I asked. 

" Two minutes." 

« What ! " 

" Two minutes — for Judge Howland at a 



dinner recently. He passed me his card and 
timed me." 

" Here 's a card," I said ; " do let me witness 
how quickly you can make one for me." 

Some ink was spilled into the top of a soap- 
dish for him, and with a piece of blotting paper 
which I tore off the pad on his table, he in one 
minute and a half produced a little picture which 
he called "A Memory of the Catskills." 

" Now sign your name," I said, " and say c done 
in a minute and a half for Francis Wilson.' " 

" No ; that would be equivalent to saying, c I 
did this in a minute and a half, see what a great 
man I am ! ' " 

He wrote the title and his name and date, and 
I added the time record. He was much pleased 
with the picture, and as he examined it critically 
he declared it to be " excellent." Then sitting 
back in his chair, he said thoughtfully : 

"Now, why can't I paint like that with the 
brush ? " and then with great determination, " I 
will, some day ! " And this man was seventy the 
next February ! 

He declared the picture had sky, mountains, 
valleys, trees. 



" And habitation," I ventured. 

" Well," answered he, " that *s as one sees it. 
That 's all there is to art ; the artist paints sug- 
gestion and the spectator does all the rest." 

He had finished and oiled his painting, "bring- 
ing out the colors" he called it, and begun to 
divest himself of his overalls and coat. He got 
interested in the discussion of what a spectator 
brings to a picture, when, giving a sudden twist, 
the blue jeans trousers being down at his heels by 
this time, he would have toppled over had I not 
caught him. In attempting to help him off with 
the pantaloons we became greatly entangled, clung 
to each other, and laughed till we were weak. I 
was convulsed to find that, in his abstraction and 
impatience, he had, boylike, twisted the jeans 
into almost undoable tangles. 

I had brought him two of his Autobiographies 
for his autograph. Friends of mine who were 
not acquaintances of his often profited in this 
way. His favorite quotation for inscriptions in 
books was the Rip Van Winkle toast, " Here *s 
your good health, and your family's ; may they 
all live long and prosper." In one volume I 

requested him to write something else. He 



asked what he should write. I suggested that 
he give expression to an idea about the fleet- 
ing character of the actor's art, and of his own 
hopes, as I had heard him express them, of being 
remembered through his book of reminiscences. 
He thought that would be egotistical. He 
finally wrote : 

"An actor cannot hope to live after he has 

made his final exit — an author may, — but? " 

April 4, 1898. 

The discussion of minstrelsy came up, and I 
asked if he had had any other experience than 
that of Jumping Jim Crow with T. D. Rice as 
related in his Autobiography. 

"Oh yes," he said gayly. "After my father 
died, his partner, McKenzie, took full charge of 
the company, and when minstrelsy became so 
popular, the craze having been inaugurated by 
Dumbleton, we all blacked up and did songs 
and dances.'' 

" c We all' — who were c we all'?" 

" My half-brother, Charley Burke, James 
Wright, who was afterwards prompter at Wal- 

lack's Theatre, and myself," he answered. 



" Did the ladies cork their faces ? " 

"Oh no." 

" What songs did you sing ? " 

" c Lucy Long,' c Good-night, Ladies/ and all 
the old melodies." 

" Do you remember the words of any of 
them ? " 

" Yes ; one we used to do ran : (singing) 

' Sing, sing, darkies, sing ! 
Don't you hear de banjo ring ? 
Sing, sing, darkies, sing ! 
Sing fo' de white folks, sing ! ' " 

During the delivery of the song he tossed his 
head and hands and went through the " busi- 
ness " much the same, I should say, as he did 
it originally. He told me once that he never 
forgot anything. 

" I wish I could see Rip to-night," I said to 

" How long since you have seen it ? " 

" Two or three years," I replied. 

" Where ? " he asked. 

" At the Star Theatre in New York." 

" Two or three years ! Six or seven years ! " 

he said. 



" Is it possible that it is so long ago ? " 
"Why, do you know," he remarked sadly, 

" that ' Billy ' Florence has been dead five or six 


" Time has a way of dashing along — " 
" I should say it had, it just leaps with me," 
he replied. " I am amazed when I reflect that it 
is thirty-five years since I first played c Rip Van 
Winkle,' and thirty-five years before that I was 

Mr. Jefferson was not only an amateur painter 
of merit, but he was a connoisseur of art as well. 
Pie had a worthy collection of pictures which few 
distinguished artists at home or from abroad have 
failed to visit. He was especially interested in 
the modern Dutch School, the rise of which he 
predicted and in the canvases of which he in- 
vested — ultimately to his great profit. With 
discriminating judgment he bought Marises, Is- 
raels, Mauves, and Neuhuyses, when the pictures 
of these now famous men were looked upon 
almost as a joke or as the epitome of the so- 
called " Molasses School of Art." A few weeks 
before his death, when so weak he had to sit 
down to examine the canvases, he added to his 



collection examples of two or three of the com- 
paratively unknown younger men of this same 
school. All his life long he scented pictures 
destined to become masterpieces as unerringly as 
a retriever noses his game. Standing before the 
gems of the Walters Collection in Baltimore, he 
would point out " The Frosty Morning " by 
Rousseau, a " Ville d'Avray " by Corot, a Diaz 
here, a D'Aubigny there, as works he had seen 
and loved long ago, and sadly declare he could 
have secured them, when he was in Paris, for the 
price of a song. 

"And why didn't you? " I asked excitedly. 

" I was too poor ! I was richer in judg- 
ment than I was in purse," was the rueful 

Narrow in nothing, much less in his art affili- 
ations, he gathered from all schools. Of the 
Englishmen great in painting he had examples 
of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Thomas Lawrence, 
and Thomas Gainsborough. Of the elder Dutch 
School he owned a Rembrandt; of the modern 
Dutch, those I have mentioned and many others, 
and all these were exquisite in quality and im- 
portant in size. Beautiful pictures of Corot, Diaz, 



Monticelli, Van Marcke, Greuze, greeted him 
daily from his walls. 

The spirit and the poetry of the true artist 
resided in the bosom of the many-sided, greatly 
gifted man who dreamed and worked with youth- 
ful ardor, attentively listening the while for the 
voice of Nature to whisper her secrets of light 
and shade and color to him. Now he would 
be enthusiastic with the thought of a suggestion 
of confidence from her, and now temporarily 
dashed in spirit because that suggestion had 
eluded him. He longed to conquer another 
world, the world of the painter's art, the diffi- 
culty and elusiveness of which fascinated him. 
As an actor he could make his power of sugges- 
tion felt to audiences which his skill and genius 
had held captive for generations ; why, then, 
could he not, as he had seen meaner spirits do 
readily, set that suggestive, poetical quality upon 
canvas ? At times he was elated with the convic- 
tion that he had accomplished this, and he would 
say : 

" I did something worth while yesterday, it 
came like a flash ; come and see it." 

But before he could be reached he had painted 



it out, because the morning's judgment had dis- 
dained it. He said that if Necessity is the mother 
of Invention she is also the foster-mother of 
Art. Joseph Jefferson had artistic temperament 
and instinct, and might have become an artist of 
no common powers if Necessity had forced him 
to paint as she had forced him to act. How 
skilfully he painted dramatic pictures we all 
know. He began one and finished it every 
evening, and he wanted to paint on canvas with 
equal effectiveness and celerity. This he might 
have accomplished had he devoted the same 
time to the acquisition of the rudiments of the 
art as he had to acting, and had done this under 
equally skilful masters. When, as a connoisseur, 
he stood before a picture and when he con- 
ceived one which he sought to paint, he brought 
a wealth of appreciation and temperamental in- 
stinct to it, but if, as some think, he fell short 
of great achievement in this art, it was be- 
cause he had neglected its fundamental prin- 
ciple, draughtsmanship. He either could not 
or he would not draw from life, and therefore, 
as it was thought, he had missed acquiring the 
power to give deft expression to his imagery 



and poetic conceptions, which were as fair and 
beautiful as ever painter possessed. Though he 
painted landscape, he made no outdoor studies, 
contending that the pictures of the brain were 
best. In a word, he had been too much enam- 
oured of paint, too little devoted to the pencil. 
He was in ardent sympathy with Nature, and his 
heart grew big in the presence of her glories, the 
impressions of which he strove to carry with him 
to the studio and affix upon canvas. He felt 
at times, I think, that his fame as an actor ob- 
scured the appreciation of his ability as a painter, 
and that sooner or later he would come out shin- 
ingly from the eclipse. He cited Corot as 
an example of a man whose recognition had 
been delayed, and that not until fifty years of 
age had a picture of the master been accepted 
at the Salon. He loved the story of Corot, 
when past fifty, regretting the sale of his first 
picture, because it rendered his collection in- 
complete. Through it all he saw something 
of himself, and it encouraged him to hope and 
labor on. If Corot reached fifty before he could 
sell a picture, he felt that he himself might make 
bold enough not only to exhibit but to sell at 



seventy. He did both. His first exhibition 
and sale was held in Washington. 1 

The catalogue contains a likeness of Mr. Jef- 
ferson, and the Introduction runs : 

"It is with sincere pleasure we send this cata- 
logue — opening the Art Season — to our patrons 
and lovers of Art ; the more so for the reason that 
to the majority it will be a surprise to meet an old 
friend in an avocation of which only the initiated 
few were aware. Joseph Jefferson, as a Painter, 
has a subtile charm and poetry, which are inspired 
in artists by qualities of heart and mind, and I am 
certain nobody will see this charming Exhibition 
without being delighted to have been brought 

1 The sale catalogue, one of which he sent me, reads : 

Fisher Gallery, 529 Fifteenth St. Exhibition of 16 Oil 
Paintings by Joseph Jefferson. October 30th to November 
loth. From 10 o'clock to 5 p. m. (Admission by Card.) 
Washington, D. C, 1899. 

Underneath the " Joseph Jefferson " of the above he face- 
tiously wrote : " One of the old Masters." 

By designation the pictures are: 1, Early Fall; 2, Forest 
and Stream; 3, Solitude; 4, Rustic Bridge; 5, An Early 
Frost; 6, Mountain Torrent; 7, Stony Brook; 8, An Old 
Beech Tree; 9, Wood Cart, in Winter; 10, The Copse; 
11, The Old Mill; 12, The Canon; 13, The Mill Dam; 
14, Little Falls; 1 5, On The Beach; 16, A Cool Spot. 



into contact with the fascinating individuality of 
the Painter himself." 

I give an extract from the "Washington Times " 
of October 29, 1899, which reviewed this exhibi- 
tion at length : 

" Many of these pictures are the work of but a 
few hours, and were turned off at white heat, just 
as Sargent produces his wonderful portraits. As 
a consequence they possess a certain unity of feel- 
ing, sentiment, and tone, which is very attractive. 
There is, beyond the color and subjective matter, 
something in the objective matter of these pictures 
as well, which strongly suggests eighteenth-century 
English art. There is also a distinctly picturesque 
quality, often powerful and dramatic, which be- 
tray long familiarity with theatrical scenery, and 
the school is no mean one, for no class of painters 
know so well as the scene-painters how to make 
the most of opportunity and material. There are 
in this collection typical old water-mills, cascades, 
and shady dells. The pervading colors are rich 
gray, greens, and the shadowy tones of wet, mossy 
rocks and tree trunks, with somewhere on the 
canvas a note of silvery gray and Delft blue. 
There is, too, a wonderful richness and juicy 



quality in the foliage, and the old buildings have 
caught the green tones from the omnipresent 
moisture, till every canvas sings in tune, and the 
resulting note is something delicate and fine, that 
remains long and pleasantly in one's memory. 
These pictures are in every sense strong, mature, 
and individual. They need no defence. To be 
sure, there is not in them the minute observation 
and drawing one looks for in Picknell or Bolton 
Jones, but there is something more, — that some- 
thing without which we should never have heard 
of Corot or George Inness. These pictures are 
well-bred fancies begotten of great love and a 
profound knowledge of Nature." 1 

1 A year and two months later, at the same place, Mr. Jef- 
ferson had another and much larger exhibition of his pictures. 
It included none of the examples of the previous collection. 
The catalogue was more pretentious in every way than its 
predecessor, being larger and illustrated with a portrait of him- 
self, a sketch as he appeared in his studio at the easel, reproduc- 
tions of some of the exhibited pictures, a reprint of an article, 
"The Actor- Painter," from the "Boston Sunday Herald,'* 
September 29, 1900, and a criticism of the paintings from 
which an extract has been quoted. 

The title-page ran : 

Exhibition of 55 Oil Paintings, by Joseph Jefferson, at the 


Mr. Jefferson had long been accustomed to the 
comments of friends and acquaintances on his 
efforts with the brush. He had been generous 
in the presentation of his canvases, and examples 
of his work hung in the Metropolitan Museum 
and in various art galleries and clubs throughout 

Fisher Galleries, 527-529 Fifteenth Street, from December 
tenth to twenty-ninth, Washington, D. C, 1900. 

The enumeration and titles of paintings in the catalogue were 
arranged thus: 1, Shady Nook; 2, Mount Washington; 3, 
Duck's Retreat ; 4, The Bayou ; 5, Near the Everglades ; 
6, Miller's Home ; 7, The Willows ; 8, Approaching Storm; 
9, In the Adirondacks ; 1 o, Evening Glow ; II, After Trout ; 
12, In the Mountains; 13, Night Effect ; 14, Moonrise ; 15, 
Forest and Stream ; 1 6, After Bait ; 1 7, Dutch Windmill ; 1 8, 
Australian Coast; 19, A Brook; 20, A Sunny Spot; 21, A 
Wreck on Shore; 22, Early Fall; 23, Old Homestead; 24, 
Frosty Morning; 25, Farmer's Retreat; 26, In the Rockies; 
27, Peaceful Valley; 28, The Tugboat; 29, Brook in the 
White Mountains; 30, The Broken Tree; 31, The Coming 
Tide; 32 Deserted Farm; 33, Rocky Brook; 34, Coast off 
New Zealand; 35, Storm in the Catskill ; 36, King of the 
Forest; 37, On the Island of Naushon ; 38, The Mill in 
Valley; 39, Massachusetts Bay; 40, Dove's Nest; 41, A 
Dangerous Crossing ; 42, A Waterfall ; 43, Rustic Bridge ; 44, 
A Street in St. Augustine ; 45, Mill Brook ; 46, Near the 
Needles; 47, The Old Bridge; 48, Snow Drift; 49, The 
Wreck ; 50, A New England Farm ; 5 1, A Cataract ; 52, The 
Old Road; 53, A Smoky City; 54, In the Moors; 55, Old 
Road in Naushon. 



the country, but he had never before exhibited 
publicly, and public exhibition with public com- 
ment which should bring him a general and pro- 
fessional judgment was what he sought, albeit 
with as much nervousness and concern as when 
he faced an audience on the first night of a new 
engagement, — a nervousness which, to his last 
performance, was enough to render him exceed- 
ingly uncomfortable. 

How pleased he was, then, with the reception 
of what he termed " these bantlings of my soul " 
may be gathered from the following: 

Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov. 2, 1899. 

You will see by the enclosed that I am no 
longer an amateur, but a full-fledged, rising young 
artist. [He was then within three months of 

Since my late exhibition of paintings I feel 
quite like a blushing debutante looking out for 
"notices." They refresh and rejuvenate me — 
unlike the newspapers on my acting of late that 
indulge in mournful expressions ... I have no 
excuse to offer for sending you the enclosed [the 
original criticism already quoted from the cata- 



logue of his exhibition] except my small new 
departure and my great vanity. 

Olympic Theatre, St. Louis, Mo., 
Nov. 20th. 
I find I have no other copy of the " Art 
Criticism " that I sent you. Will you kindly 
keep it for me? 

You see they have given up the calling of me 
" an amateur," so I fancy I am now one of " the 
old masters." 

I wrote him that I was going to Washington, 
and received the following: 

Fifth Avenue Hotel, Madison Square, 
New York, Nov. 26, 1900. 
The exhibition of my paintings will be post- 
poned till the 10 of Dec. 

There are, however, some of them hung now, 
and I enclose you a letter of introduction to Mr. 
V. G. Fisher, who, I am sure, will be pleased to 
give you a private view should you desire, to see 

I desired very much indeed to see them. He 

had presented me with an oil painting, " A Mem- 




ory of the Kattskill," and he had given me, as 
a souvenir of the " Heir at Law " performance, a 
picture he painted in imitation of Turner which 
hung on the wall of the drawing-room scene in 
the play. When I reached Washington, I selected 
" The King of the Forest " as the most repre- 
sentative and most skilfully painted of any picture 
I had yet seen of cc the rising young artist," and 
it passed speedily into my possession ; nor was I 
greatly influenced in my purchase by the guileful 
remark of the dealer that as a picture painted by 
the hand of Shakespeare would now be of incal- 
culable value, so, at no distant day, would be one 
painted by the hand of Joseph Jefferson. 

He learned speedily of my new possession 
and telegraphed me : 

" Congratulate you on having one of my best 
pictures. Don't tell anybody what you paid." 

To this I could not resist replying: 

" I won't. Am as much ashamed of it as 
you are." 

We laughed over this when we met, and he 

requested that I should say nothing of it to cc the 

boys," his sons, who are incorrigible wags. Such 

exchange of pleasantries was frequent. 



Replying to the note apprising him of my ac- 
quisition of " The King of the Forest," he wrote 
a few days later : 

" I am glad that you have this picture because 
you tell me you like it. You say that c it speaks 
to you.' This is the best test in a work of art. 
. . . The King of the Forest is partly from 
nature and partly from imagination — I saw the 
old fellow once on the bank of a trout stream 
just at sunset. The glowing light as it came 
through the weird and tangled limbs made a 
strong impression on me, so the next day I 
fixed my memory on the canvas." 

Many of the pleasantest hours passed with 
Mr. Jefferson were those spent in visiting picture 
collections, public and private. An account of 
one such visit as set down at the time, May 10, 
1 90 1, Boston, may serve, I think, as a fitting 
close to the chapter. 

" Francis," said Mr. Jefferson, as we jogged 
along, " there are a lot of poor people to-day as 
the result of not following Commodore Vander- 
bilt's injunction : c Never to sell what you have n't 
got or can't produce/ " 

This was apropos of the big flurry in the stock 


market during which many fortunes had been 
made in American securities and many lost in 
American bucket shops. 

Then he threw back his head and laughed, 
and followed the motion with the explanation 
that a man had asked him if he had been " hit " 
by the " slump in stocks." 

" Fancy living such a life as that ! " he said, 
" never being able to lie down comfortably or get 
a good night's rest for fear of being impoverished 
in the morning. Fancy being glued to a stock- 
ticker and not being able to get away ! No, sir, 
none of that for me. I want to fish a little, paint 
a little, and then act a little." 

" Why, sir," I said to him, " so easily have 
fortunes been made recently in Wall Street that 
one might buy a pair of shoes down there on 
Thursday and wake to find them a finely equipped 
leather factory on Friday." 

" Yes," he answered, " or buy a leather factory 
and wake up to find it a pair of shoes ! " 

<c I have been laughing for days," he said, 
" over 

* There was an old monk of Siberia 
Whose days grew weary and wearier, 


With a h— 1 of a yell 
He broke through his cell 
And eloped with the Lady Superior.' 

So I tried my hand at it : 

There was a small child of Peoria, 
Who cried for Pitcher's Castoria! 

The dear little dummy 

Got a pain in her tummy ; 
They buried her up at Astoria." 

" But why c dummy ' ? " I asked. 

" Oh, I don't know, unless it be to rhyme 
with c tummy/ ' Then, as we walked on a few 
yards, he said : " No, no ! that won't do. I 
must get another line for that." 

Arrived at our destination, we were ushered in 
among the artistic treasures of the place. Mr. 
Jefferson apologized for being a few moments 
behind time, because of being detained by an 
interview with Helen Keller. 

He then gave us a description of going through 
a scene from " The Rivals " for Miss Keller's 
benefit, she following him the while with her fin- 
ger on his lips. She had not only understood 
and repeated everything, but had explained that 
" Acres " had leaned over and whispered to " Sir 



Lucius" in the effort to get the right letter for 
the beginning of one of the speeches. This he 
thought extraordinary — ascribing it to telepathy, 
thought-transference, out of which, he felt sure, 
wondrous things were to come. 

About to leave the house, I suggested that we 
make choice of some one picture which we should 
carry off from those we had seen, — that is, give 
preference to some one painting we should be 
glad to carry off. The hostess was much taken 
with the idea. I selected the Dupre, and Jeffer- 
son pronounced instantly for the Israels <c Child 
in a Dutch High-chair." This was a compli- 
ment to his own taste, for he has owned, these 
many years, a most important and beautiful 
example of that artist. He has often told me 
how he procured it, but he never told it better 
or with more enthusiasm than this morning. 

A certain picture dealer, it seems, whom he 
visited one day, said he had a painting to show 
him that would knock him off his feet. 

" Gad, it did, too ! " said Jefferson, " for when 
he pushed that Israels out under the light, I was 
at once bitten with the desire for its possession. 
I inquired the price. c Now/ he said, c I am 


(Presented to Dr. Frank. Gunsaulus) 


going to break your heart, — it is sold.' Then 
the following conversation came quickly : 

" c Has the owner paid for it ? ' 

" < No/ 

" ' Is he over-much pleased with it ? ' 

" f Not especially/ 

C£ < What did he pay for it ? ' 

" c So much.' 

cc c Do you suppose you could get it for me ? ' 

" C I could try/ 

" c Do; if you succeed, I '11 give you five hun- 
dred dollars for your trouble.' 

" c Well, he got it, and [with a delighted 
chuckle] with a little bribery and corruption, so 
did I. 

" Without having examined the details of the 
painting, I called it c The Madonna of the Cot- 
tage.' On removing the glass and the shadow- 
box, I found, up in one corner of the painting, 
in deep shadow, as a picture on the wall of the 
cottage, the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus, 
showing that I had guessed the artist's inten- 
tion. This was told to Israels, who confirmed 
my thoughts as to the matter. I was greatly 



Then, as if he saw the picture before him, he 
added : 

" It is very beautiful. The young mother 
with her first babe — and, oh, the strength of the 
hand and arm that support the child, and the 
tenderness, lightness, and gentleness of the other 
hand with which she is bathing her boy ! " 

How true this is, those of us who have seen 
the Israels are ready to declare, though perhaps 
none of us has remarked, as had Mr. Jefferson, 
the lightness and strength of the mother's hand. 

Israels and Jefferson corresponded, but never 
met. Jefferson sent the artist his " Autobiog- 
raphy," and Israels returned the compliment by 
sending Jefferson his book of travels, " Spain." 

I had the distinction of being ambassador- 
extraordinary to the artist Israels, bearing a 
message of love from Joseph Jefferson, and I 
returned bearing an affectionate greeting from the 
master Dutch painter to the master American 

9 6 



MR. JEFFERSON had unusual success 
as a lecturer. On the platform his 
sympathetic face and manner, his mag- 
netism and rare sweetness of expression, his 
earnestness and conciseness of utterance, together 
with the enthusiasm for the subject he was treating 
— always the stage — made him a most attractive 
figure. He found himself in such demand as a 
platform speaker that he determined upon a 
professional lecturing tour; but he soon grew 
tired of a kind of work which allowed him far 
less scope than the drama afforded, though it 
interested him from the point of view of novelty. 
He confessed that he felt better when he gave up 
lecturing professionally, and that he had responded 
to the call only through courtesy. 

Mr. Jefferson lectured two or three times dur- 
ing the All-Star " Rivals " trip ; but an account, 



made by me at the time, of his appearance at 
Buffalo, New York, May 25, 1896, for the 
Women's Union, at Union Hall, when his sub- 
ject, as usual, was Dramatic Art, will serve chiefly 
as an illustration of him as a platform speaker and 
of his method as well as of his matter. 

The chairman, Mrs. Frank Wade, said she 
would reverse the usual order of things and 
introduce the audience to Mr. Jefferson, and, 
turning to the distinguished player, said: "Mr. 
Jefferson, here are five hundred of your friends. " 
The women attired in bright spring raiment were 
an animated and picturesque assembly, and Mr. 
Jefferson, in the beginning, did not fail to com- 
ment pleasantly upon the fact. He smiled upon 
his audience, and took them at once into his con- 
fidence by begging them not to be alarmed by 
the papers he held in his hand ; they were only a 
few notes to which he would occasionally refer — 
for the audience were not to suppose that he 
would pay them so poor a compliment as to 
appear before them unprepared, trusting to such 
meagre thoughts as would come to him on the 
spur of the moment. He said : 

" Preparation in my art is more necessary than 

< z 

c/5 o 


in any other. The sculptor, for example, can 
work with the clay, changing it many times before 
it is perfect, until he puts his figure into mar- 
ble ; the poet and the novelist may revise and 
rewrite carefully before they finally publish their 
work ; the painter can change and alter his handi- 
work while it is under his hand until it reaches 
perfection ; but an actor cannot rub out. His 
only chance is to be as perfectly and entirely sure 
as is possible beforehand, and once his presenta- 
tion is made it is made forever. I could not, 
after giving a poor presentation of a character, 
say to my audience, c Ladies and gentlemen, 
excuse me, I can do that much better, I '11 do it 
again ! ' No, the actor cannot rub out. If he 
disappoints his audience, he cannot go back." 

Mr. Jefferson then related an incident that 
laughably depicted how an elaborate preparation 
made by himself and Mr. William Florence was 
of no avail. The last night of an engagement in 
New York in " The Rivals/' Mr. Florence play- 
ing Sir Lucius O'Trigger, it was expected that 
there would be a recall after the final curtain had 
fallen, and a number of pretty speeches was pre- 
pared to be delivered by Mr. Florence and himself 


in the most impromptu way. The play ended 
and the curtain fell, but there was no recall ! 
Mr. Jefferson added that this was during the 
last engagement he and Mr. Florence played 

" No," continued Mr. Jefferson, " the actor 
must not only produce, but in order to make the 
greatest artistic effect he must reproduce each 
time as if he had never produced before." 

Speaking of the difference between acting and 
oratory : 

"The actor and the orator must have good 
voices, a clear articulation, easy gestures, and a 
strong personality ; and just here there comes a 
fork in the road. The orator must be impres- 
sive, the actor impressionable. The orator must 
speak only ; the actor must not only talk, but he 
must listen — and an actor who does not know 
how to listen has half his art to learn — and he 
must also show what he is feeling as he listens. 
The orator never has to listen. His art is 
therefore so much the easier." 

Speaking of genius and art, he said : 

"Genius is delightful in itself, and art is the 
handmaid of genius. Genius may dye the hues 


of the rainbow, but art catches the tints and makes 
them lasting." 

Touching upon tragedy and comedy, Mr. 
Jefferson described the print of David Garrick 
standing between the goddesses of tragedy and 
comedy, leaning toward the former but with his 
arm thrown around the latter. 

" Garrick was questioned as to his preference, 
and replied that whether he were well or ill, in 
high spirits or low, he was always equal to 
tragedy, but comedy was a serious business ! " 

As examples of the seriousness that some 
phases of comedy require, Mr. Jefferson gave a 
delightful reading of the Grave-digger in " Ham- 
let," also some lines of Dogberry in " Much 
Ado About Nothing." 

Continuing, he said : 

iC Shakespeare wrote to illustrate some distinct 
passion, and each play is an illustration of this 
fact, — c Othello' jealousy, c Macbeth ' supersti- 
tion ; c Romeo and Juliet* illustrated the passion 
of love, and this grand passion was frequently 
portrayed in different ways by different actors. 
Mrs. Siddons was called upon to decide between 
David Garrick and Sprangur Barry, which was the 


better Romeo, — Garrick the passionate lover or 
Barry the fascinating wooer. She had played 
Juliet to them both. She said that when from 
the balcony she listened to Garrick, she was 
afraid that he would throw himself up at her feet, 
but that when she heard Barry she felt as if she 
must throw herself down at his." * 

At the conclusion of the lecture Mr. Jefferson 
announced his willingness to be questioned by 
the audience, and gave a humorous description 
of a grave college professor once coming to the 
edge of the stage and asking him if he did not 
think the starring system a most pernicious one. 

" Naturally I found that a most delicate sub- 
ject to handle ; but I told him that once 1 had 
considered the starring system most pernicious, 
but that my opinion had since changed, — that 
when I was in a stock company I looked upon 
every star as a tyrant, but since I had become a 
star, I regarded every stock actor as a con- 
spirator ! Moreover I told him I was not re- 
sponsible for the starring system, that it was 
invented long before my time by the gentleman 

1 Mrs. Siddons never played Juliet to Garrick' s Romeo. 
The remark was attributed to a fashionable woman of the hour. 


by the name of William Shakespeare. He wrote 
all his plays for stars ; they are all written to 
illustrate a passion around a central figure. 

" The professor, however, wishing to oppose 
me, said: 'How about "Romeo and Juliet"?' 

"'Well,' I replied, c " Romeo and Juliet" was 
written to illustrate the passion of love, and how 
can you illustrate the passion of love without hav- 
ing at least two stars ? ' And now I am ready for 
your questions." 

The president of the Women's Union then 
rose and said that the officers of the Union were 
so often called upon for advice to young women 
entering professions, she would ask Mr. Jefferson 
his opinion of the stage as a career for women. 

Mr. Jefferson replied : 

" This is an oft repeated question not easily 
answered. I cannot but be prejudiced in my 
reply, for I am already four generations deep in 
the dramatic profession. My great-grandfather, 
my grandfather and grandmother, my father and 
mother were all actors and actresses, and in the 
face of this it is not likely I should say anything 
against my calling. I dislike to defend my own 
profession. I would much rather some minister 



should do it while I defend his. My daughters 
never showed any talent for the stage, but if they 
had they should have acted side by side with their 
father." The audience greeted this remark with 
an especially hearty round of applause. 

" Whether a woman should go on the stage 
depends entirely upon her motive. If she wishes 
to go on for amusement or to gratify her vanity, 
I emphatically answer, c No ! ' but if she wishes 
to earn a living or adopt the stage because she 
has love and real talents for it, I say, c Yes ! ' 
And the public should not be deprived of such. 
I do not claim entire virtue and purity for the 
stage — no profession can claim that, for they 
are all made up of humanity, good and bad, — 
but I am proud to number among my friends 
a host of men and women in the profession 
who are, I know, among the finest people in 
the land." Pausing for a few seconds, he added 
impressively : 

" It depends upon the woman herself in any 
calling whether her life is respectable or not." 

The next question, a written one, was handed 
up and proved to be : 

" How long did you practise the waking-up 


scene in c Rip Van Winkle ' before you were 
properly awaked ? " 

Mr. Jefferson could not answer this — nobody 
could — but he good-naturedly related the inci- 
dent of his trying on his Rip wig one Sunday 
in London and rehearsing the waking-up scene 
much to the amusement of a large crowd outside, 
of whose inspection Mr. Jefferson was ignorant 
until informed by an irate landlady ! 

At the outset of his address Mr. Jefferson had 
told his audience that his appearance that after- 
noon was somewhat unusual. He was without 
the customary stage paraphernalia, without his 
customary accessories, and came before them 
simply disguised as a gentleman. 

This disguise consisted of a long black Prince 
Albert coat, black waistcoat, which, after the 
Southern fashion, was fastened by one or two but- 
tons at the bottom only, — or, mayhap, one at the 
top and one at the bottom, — disclosing peeps of a 
rather loosely starched white shirt. Gray trousers, 
patent leather shoes, and a turndown collar with a 
red and black Windsor tie, completed his costume. 
The tie gave him an artistic jauntiness, but scarcely 

corresponded with the rest of his dress. 



He had his subject well in hand, and he inspired 
his audience with great confidence by his ease of 
manner as well as by his simplicity and felicity of 
speech. His loyalty to his profession was greatly 
applauded, and the people seemed to listen with 
breathless interest, and yet they were hushed in- 
stantly even to greater stillness as he told of being 
four generations deep in the dramatic profession. 
Now they were laughing heartily again as he nar- 
rated that the actor, unlike the author, sculptor, 
or painter, cannot go back, cannot say : " Ladies 
and gentlemen, I can do that better, I '11 do it 
over ! " His manner as much as his words told 
his hearers how absurd such a proceeding would 
be on the part of the actor, and, as usual, ham- 
mered home the truth of the declaration. Once 
or twice, with open hand back of his ear, declar- 
ing his hearing not so good as it used to be, he 
requested some weak-voiced auditor to put his 
question " a little louder, please." 

On April 28, 1897, Mr. Jefferson addressed 
the students of the American Academy of Dra- 
matic Arts. The occasion was interesting as 
bringing him face to face with the apprentices, 

the aspirants to fame in an art in which he had 



achieved and reflected such distinction. The 
questions asked were more interesting than those 
at Buffalo, and one at least especially so, as put- 
ting the Dean of the Stage upon his mettle and 
obliging him, as he felt, to defend his alteration of 
Sheridan's "The Rivals." This, I think, was the 
first time Mr. Jefferson had met the graduates of 
a dramatic school. He was known to be scep- 
tical with respect to such institutions. The only 
tyros of the dramatic art he had encountered and 
in whom he firmly believed were those of the 
theatre proper. It will be seen how gracefully 
he adapted himself to the circumstances. 

Mr. Jefferson said : 

" I have noticed to-day you are particularly en- 
thusiastic, you are most liberal with your applause. 
Possibly you were thinking about all that fine ap- 
plause you are going to receive, and a fellow feel- 
ing makes us all akin. I assure you that your 
applause has done me good, but at the same 
time given me stage fright." 

Bronson Howard had introduced Jefferson, 
who took advantage of the fact to say compli- 
mentary things in return. Speaking of dram- 

atists, he said : 



" The author of course can be very much in- 
debted to the actor for the development of his 
characters. I am told that on one occasion in 
Paris — I believe the first representation of * Ro- 
land ' — two characters were intended to be played 
as serious. They came upon the stage and, find- 
ing that they were not successful, immediately 
turned them into comic characters, and the hit of 
the play was tremendous. The author came to 
these actors, and said he never could be too grate- 
ful for what they had done. But what would the 
actor be without the author ? Sometimes I sup- 
pose the audience think we do the whole thing. 
Once while I was watching Booth as Hamlet, a 
gentleman sitting alongside of me remarked that 
he could not see how Booth could get all those 
things off out of his head." 

He made an exact statement of his views as to 
the instruction of beginners. " It is said, I be- 
lieve, we cannot teach acting. Many members 
of my profession insist upon that. They are 
wrong. I do not say we can teach emotion ; 
we cannot teach passion, wit, humor, or pathos. 
Who would suppose you could teach painting 
to one who was color blind, or modelling to one 



From a photograph by Mrs. 
Roland Nickerson 

By courtesy of C. A.Walker, Esq. 


who had no eye for form, or literary composition 
to one who had no power of expressing himself 
on paper ? Of course, one cannot be taught if 
there is no ability; but art, as applied to our 
profession, is most important. Art is the hand- 
maid of genius, and only asks the small wage 
of respectful attention as modest payment for 
her services." He told the students that the 
greatest things which occurred on the stage were 
those that were not thought out, but happened ; 
but he advised the most thorough preparation in 
case they did not happen. 

" Another important point for you to bear in 
mind," he said to them, " is that your profession 
is not only one of production but also one of re- 
production. A writer does not write the same 
book, a painter does not paint the same picture, 
but you have to play the same part very often — 
night after night — and yet play as if you never 
had played it before, so that yours is the art of 
reproduction as well as of production." 

To the question " What do you consider the 

most important qualification for success on the 

stage ?" he replied: 

" I should select three, — sensibility, imagina- 


tion, and industry : sensibility, that you may be 
alive to your surroundings; imagination, that you 
may weave that into a graceful and interesting 
combination ; and industry, that you may lose 
none of the precious moments that are given us 
here for the development of that faculty." 

"In playing a legitimate part, ought one to 
keep to the traditions or create a new treatment 
of the role ? " was the next question. Jefferson 
declared this was a " home thrust." 

" It depends entirely upon the actor, and upon 
how far he can come into the conditions required 
by the author, and whether he may not possibly 
be able to reach a better effect by bringing the 
parts a little to him. This question would al- 
most seem to allude to the alteration I made 
of the traditional character of Acres. For many 
years I had been playing from the traditional 
standpoint. I did not believe I could represent 
the character in that way so well as I could in an- 
other, and I acted it in all sorts of ways until I 
found out what I considered most effective. You 
will be surprised when I tell you, and I will con- 
fess it to you here to show you whether art is not 
necessary, and to show you also that sometimes 


the best things happen on the stage, and when 
they happen, it is the duty of art to stick a pin 
in the happening and see that it happens again. 
I had played the part of Acres two hundred 
times before I knew how to end the second act — 
always disappointed, always annoyed when the 
curtain fell. No, it was not right ! And on one 
occasion it happened, and it was right. So the 
happening was better than all I could do, but art 
came to the assistance, and said, c It must happen 
again.' This is such a home thrust and seemed 
almost intended to draw me out; so I want to 
vindicate myself before you for the liberties I took 
with Richard Brinsley Sheridan. In reading the 
papers, of course the critical or hypercritical 
dramatic critic said I had taken great liberties 
with Sheridan, and lately, when Mr. Goodwin 
played my version of it in Australia, he sent me 
the criticism of several of the horrible ways in 
which I had mutilated and defamed the sacred 
Sheridan. Once, when overcome and borne down 
by sorrow over the criticisms I had received, I 
opened Doran's c History of the Stage ' and came 
across this : c Richard Brinsley Sheridan,' said 
Doran, c took Sir John Van Brugh's five-act 


comedy of " The Relapse " and altered it to a 
three-act comedy and called it " A Trip to Scar- 
borough," and Richard Sheridan, knowing he 
would be rated by the critics for what he had 
done, makes his excuse by having one of the 
characters repeat the following lines : " It would 
be a pity if some of the great works of our former 
dramatists should become obsolete and retired 
from the stage, when by a little pruning they 
might be made interesting to the present genera- 
tion until we can have writers who can give us 
better work." ' I, therefore, ask no further vindi- 
cation for what I did to Brinsley Sheridan than 
his own confession of what he did for Sir John." 

" How far should an actor be conscious of what 
he is doing?" was the next interrogation. 

The gist of his reply was that if you can pro- 
duce a better effect by immersing yourself into 
the character, it is better to produce it. This 
matter of whether we should feel or not feel has 
been gone over by Monsieur Coquelin and Mr. 
Irving. One, he thought, believes we should feel 
up to the point of real tears; the other, that we 
should not feel at all. " It appears they are both 
right and both wrong. It is a question whether 


the one could produce the same effect as the 
other, reversing their methods." 

The preceding addresses were but a modifica- 
tion of the one delivered by Mr. Jefferson at 
Yale College, April 27, 1892. In November of 
the same year Yale University conferred upon 
the player the degree of M.A. In 1895 Har- 
vard University gave the great comedian the 
degree of M.A. Simpliciter. These were honors 
of which not only Jefferson but all who loved 
and respected him were proud. They served not 
only to distinguish Jefferson, but also to indicate 
as anachronistic whatever of religious intolerance 
existed in the community with respect to his 
profession. They were not conferred by these 
two great universities as a recognition of Jeffer- 
son's scholastic attainments, — he had none, and 
nobody knew that better than he, — but as a 
mark of appreciative distinction for his eminence 
and power as a player and his worth as a man. 
In a letter facetiously referring to these univer- 
sity distinctions he called my attention to the fact 
that M. A. was higher than B. A., and that in 
addressing him in future I was to remember 

that, after the manner of " Dr. Pangloss," he was 



now Joseph Jefferson, M. A., LL. D., and A. S. S. 
This was an injunction which for once, at least, 
in the superscription of an envelope, I kept in 

In a copy of the Yale University address which 
I sent him to sign, he wrote : 

" You will see that I have taken the liberty 
of writing in some lines that are not published 
[the twenty lines following : " And every tin man 
swears he was a tinker"]; so c they will away again 
from me to you/ as the first grave-digger says." 

Much of the Yale University address, or those 
parts not before mentioned, together with the lines 
Mr. Jefferson marked for insertion, are given 

Mr. Jefferson began with a humorous anec- 

" In my present condition," he said, " I feel 
that I strangely resemble the village boy of New 
Hampshire. It was proposed that in this same 
village a school-house should be erected. One 
of the Solons, who had been perhaps the oldest 
inhabitant, strongly opposed this barbarous intro- 
duction, and in his own simple words said : c We 

don't want no book larnin' in this place. I 'm 



ag'in it, my wife 's ag'in it, and we '11 both vote 
ag'in it, for 't ain't no account and takes a boy 
from his nat'ral work and chores e'en a'most as 
much as goin' fishin'. Why, there was a boy in 
this village years ago, as likely a young fellow as 
anybody ever stuck a knife into. What was his 
name now ? Oh, Webster, yes, Dan'l Webster. 
He was a peart, snappy boy, but he got it into 
his head that he must have book larnin\ Well, 
he went up to Boston, got his book larnin', and 
nobody ever hearn tell on him again.' 

"Now, though I resemble Daniel Webster 
about as little in personal appearance as I do 
intellectually, I still fancy that I may bear a 
likeness to him in this one particular instance, 
that after I have finished my discourse in the 
presence of so much c book larnin',' nobody will 
ever hear of me again." 

He told them that in presenting himself 
before them as an orator, he feared he risked 
whatever reputation he might have gained as an 
actor. The deep-laid plan, he said, to assault the 
august body was concocted by Professor Weir, 
whom he characterized as the anarchist in the mat- 
ter, while he, Jefferson, was only the dynamite. 



Speaking of players who have appeared on the 
platform, he said : " Fanny Kemble and James 
E. Murdoch are the only actors I can call to 
mind who have succeeded as readers. These 
exceptions are sufficiently limited to prove the 
rule, and for the reason that the peculiar qualities 
that are required in an actor are at variance with 
those which are desirable for an orator. Of 
course, there are some attributes that belong to 
each : voice, gesture, a fine articulation, presence, 
dignity, repose — all of these are necessary to 
both, but here is the great distinction : An orator 
impresses his audience by what he says to them ; 
an actor is often most effective when he shows 
how he is impressed by what is said to him. No 
one talks back to the orator ! He has it all to 

Following with humorous illustrations, he 
continued : 

" I beg you will not for a moment think that I 
disparage oratory. On the contrary, it is a glori- 
ous gift. I only mean to draw the distinction 
between the rostrum and the stage." 

Speaking of acting and mimicry, he said : 

" Acting has been called — erroneously, I 



think — one of the mimic arts. I do not think 
that good of any kind is displayed by mimicry. 
It is generally conceded that imitators are seldom 
fine actors, though they are usually great favorites 
with the public. " 

He illustrated this with the anecdote of the 
elder Buckstone, the English comedian listening 
impatiently to an imitation of himself. The 
whole table was in a roar of merriment; every 
one was in ecstasy except Buckstone, who looked 
the picture of misery. 

"'Well, Mr. Buckstone/ exclaimed a wag who 
was quietly enjoying the comedian's discomfiture, 
c don't you think the imitation very fine ? ' 

" c It may be/ he replied, c but I think I could 
do it better myself/ 

" Acting," Jefferson went on to state, " is more 
a gift than an art. I have seen a child impress 
an audience by its natural grace and magnetism. 
The little creature was too young to know what 
art meant, but it had the gift of acting. The 
great value of art, when applied to the stage, 
is that it enables the performer to reproduce 
the gift, and so move his audience night after 
night, even though he has acted the same charac- 



ter a thousand times. In fact, we cannot act a 
character too often if we do not lose interest in 
it ; but when its constant repetition palls on the 
actor, it will as surely weary his audience. When 
you lose interest, stop acting." Here he cited 
the story of Macready, who had fallen into a 
perfunctory method of playing, being set right 
again by the sage observation of Mrs. Warner 
the actress. 

" When I heard that story from Mr. Coul- 
dock," Jefferson goes on to say, c< it struck me 
with much force. I knew then that I had been 
unconsciously falling into the same error, and I 
felt that the fault would increase rather than 
diminish with time if I could not hit upon some 
method to check it. I began to listen to each 
important question as though it had been given 
me for the first time, turning the query over in 
my mind and then answering it, even at times 
hesitating as if for want of words to frame the 
reply. I will admit that this is dangerous ground 
and apt to render one slow and prosy. In fact, 
I was accused, and I dare say quite justly, of 
pausing too long. This, of course, was the other 
extreme and had to be looked to, so that it became 



necessary that the pauses should, by the manner 
and pantomime, be made sufficiently interesting 
not to weary an audience. So I summed it up 
somewhat after the advice of Mr. Lewes, — to 
take time without appearing to take time. The 
value of repose he declared to be so great that it 
was difficult to estimate it. ' To do nothing on 
the stage seemed quite simple, but some people,' 
he said, c never acquired this power/ " 

He cited his reply to the following question, 
which had recently been asked him : 

" Do you consider the stage in a better condi- 
tion now than it was formerly, — say from one to 
two hundred years ago ? " 

" I replied that I thought the question was 
leading me a long way back," he said, " and that 
though I might with justice lay claim to a lengthy 
dramatic experience, the date mentioned was rather 
before my time. But if I am to reason from my 
knowledge and engraft it on the history of the 
past, I would unhesitatingly declare that the stage 
is in a much better condition now than it ever was 
before. The social and moral status of the whole 
world has undoubtedly improved, and gone hand 
in hand with scientific and material progress ; and 



permit me to assure you that the stage in this re- 
spect has not been idle, but that, to my knowl- 
edge, it has in the march of improvement kept 
pace foot by foot with every social advance. 

" Even the coarse dramas of the olden time 
were in keeping with the conditions of the social 
and literary society that surrounded it. Those 
plays that appealed to the lowest taste were not 
only welcome, but demanded by the Court of 
Charles. Old Pepys, who lived during this time, 
says in his diary, ' I went last night to see a cc Mid- 
summer Night's Dream." It was a great waste 
of time, and I hope I shall never again be con- 
demned to see such a poor play. Ah, give me a 
comedy of Ethelridge, and let us have no more 
of this dull, vague Shakespeare.' It was not, there- 
fore, that there were no good plays, but that the 
vicious public wanted bad ones ; and while rakes 
and unprincipled gallants and vile women were 
the heroes and heroines of the stage, the plays of 
Shakespeare had been written for a hundred years. 
Such lovely creatures as Rosalind, Desdemona, 
Beatrice, Ophelia, Imogen, Portia, and Juliet, to- 
gether with their noble mates, Orlando, Benedick, 
Hamlet, Romeo, and a host of pure and marvel- 


lous creations, were moulding on the shelves, be- 
cause the managers had suffered bankruptcy for 
daring to produce them. Shakespeare says that 
the actors are c the abstract and brief chronicles 
of the times/ And so the people insisted that 
the actors should give them an exhibition of the 
licentious times rather than the splendid lesson 
of Shakespeare. As the social world improved 
in its tastes, the drama followed it, — nay, in some 
instances has led it." 

Leading up skilfully to what he called the 
"periodical attacks of a solemn question," he in- 
troduced the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy, and 
said that a female descendant of Bacon at one 
time went so far as to try to break into the tomb 
of Shakespeare with a crowbar, in hopes of find- 
ing some manuscript that would reveal the fact 
that her respected ancestor was the rightful heir 
to the fame of which Shakespeare was supposed 
to have robbed him. This he followed with his 
own rhymed version of the matter : 

" Respected member of the Bar and State, 
In Law and Literature profoundly great, 
As you have thrust at an immortal name. 
I claim the right of parrying the same. 


For though I 'm neither skilled in Law nor Science, 

The gauntlet you 've thrown down in bold defiance 

(Espousing Bacon's cause armed cap-a-pie), 

I here take up to have a tilt with thee. 

You pose before me as the great 'I am,' 

And flourish forth that deadly cryptogram ; 

That curious volume, mystic and misleading, 

Co-jointly with your case of special pleading. 

But I defy them both for good or ill, 

And stand the champion of * immortal Will.' 

So shall my sword upon thine own impinge, 

* The croaking Raven bellows forth " Revenge."' 

The actor doth the Lawyer here oppose, 

The sock and buskin for the woolsack goes. 

Lay on, Macduff", 

With all your legal stuff, 

And damned be he 

Who first cries, * Hold ! enough.' 
Stay ! Ere we come to blows with main and might, 
I beg to scan the ground on which we fight. 
The question's this, if I am not mistaken, 
' Did Shakespeare or did Francis Bacon, 
Inspired by genius and by learning too, 
Compose the wondrous works we have in view 
The scholar Bacon was a man of knowledge, 
But inspiration is n't taught at college. 
With all the varied gifts in Will's possession 
The wondering world asks, « What was his profession ? 
He must have been a lawyer, says the lawyer ; 
He surely was a sawyer, says the sawyer ; 
The druggist says, of course, he was a chemist ; 


The skilled mechanic dubs him a machinist ; 
The thoughtful sage declares him but a thinker, 
And every tinman swears he was a tinker. 
And so he 's claimed by every trade a factor, 

Pardon, gentlemen, he was an actor. 
If Bacon wrote the plays, pray tell me then 
Were all the lovely sonnets from his pen ? 
Did Bacon then, himself a versifier, 
Resign these charming lays and not aspire 
To be the author ? — put them on the shelf, 
And only keep the bad ones for himself? 
The argument against us most in vogue 
Is this — that William Shakespeare was a rogue, 
His character assailed, his worth belied, 
And every little foible magnified. 
We know that William one night after dark 
Went stealing deer in lonely Lucy Park. 
We also know Lord Bacon oft was prone 
To take another's money for his own. 
Now come, deal fairly, tell me which is worse, 
To poach a stag or steal another's purse ? 
So, if good character's to be the test of it, 
I think that William has the best of it. 
If Shakespeare was so poor a piece of stuff, 
How is it Bacon trusted him enough 
To throw these valued treasures at his feet 
And not so much as ask for a receipt ? 
Such confidence is almost a monstrosity 
And speaks of unexampled generosity. 
Oh, liberal Francis, tell us why we find 
Pope calling thee the 'meanest of mankind.' 


But now to Shakespeare let us turn, I pray, 

And hear what his companions have to say. 

First, then, Ben Jonson, jealous of Will's wit, 

Paid tribute when his epitaph he writ. 

If other proofs are wanting than Rare Ben's, 

We will consult forthwith a group of friends. 

Awake ! Beaumont and Fletcher, Spenser, Rowe, 

Arise ! and tell us, for you surely know: 

Was, or was not, my client the great poet ? 

And if he was n't don't you think you 'd know it ? 

These his companions, brother playwrights mind, 

Could they be hoodwinked ? Were they deaf or blind ? 

I find it stated to our bard's discredit — 

And 't is the author of the Cryptogram who said it — 

That Shakespeare's tastes were vulgar and besotted, 

And all his family have been allotted 

To herd and consort with the low and squalid ; 

But whence the proof to make this statement valid ? 

They even say his daughter could not read ; 

Of such a statement I can take no heed 

Except to marvel at the logic of the slight : 

So, if she could n't read — he could n't write ? 

Your proofs are too confusing, and as such 

You 've only proved that you have proved too much. 

The details of three hundred years ago 

We can't accept, because we do not know. 

The general facts we are prepared to swallow, 

While unimportant trifles beat us hollow. 

We know full well 

That Nero was a sinner, 

But we can't tell 

What Nero had for dinner. 


Just take my hand and come with me 
To where once stood the famous mulberry tree. 
Then on to Stratford Church, here take a peep 
At where the ' fathers of the hamlet sleep.' 
They hold the place of honor for the dead, 
The family of Shakespeare at the head. 
Before the altar of this sacred place 
They have been given burial and grace. 
Your vague traditions are but a surmise : 
The proof I offer is before your eyes. 

'* And oh, my comrades, brothers all in Art, 
Permit me just one moment to depart 
From this my subject, urging you some day 
To seek this sacred spot and humbly pray 
That Shakespeare's rage toward us will kindly soften, 
Because, you know, we've murdered him so often. 
I ask this for myself, a poor comedian : 
What should I do had I been a tragedian ? 

"I could pile up a lot of other stuff, 
But I have taxed your patience quite enough ; 
In turning o'er the matter in my mind 
This is the plain solution that I find : 

" It surely is — * whoe'er the cap may fit,' — 
Conceded that these wondrous plays were writ. 
So if my Shakespeare 's not the very same, 
It must have been another by that name." 

Besides being the scene of academic honors to 
Mr. Jefferson, New Haven witnessed other inci- 



dents in connection with him that are also worth 
recording. Some time before the 1892 address 
he had delivered a discourse to some students 
and had begun upon the " question box." These 
questions were often written upon slips of paper 
and dropped into a box. After the lecture 
proper, Mr. Jefferson, not having before seen the 
slips, would read and answer what they contained. 
On this particular occasion the following ques- 
tion was propounded : " What contrast do you 
draw between the drama of the present day and 
the drama in the time of iEschylus ? " 

Rip paused, smiled benevolently, and said 
deliberately, thus augmenting the effect of his 
final remark : 

" I am aware that I am in the presence of a 
learned body — and I must confess that I am 
asked to contrast the drama of the present day 
with the drama in the time of a gentleman of 
whom until this moment I have never heard." 

This seemed an extraordinary admission for a 
man like Jefferson to make, and the story, coming 
as it did from apparently authentic sources, greatly 
disturbed me. I wrote to Professor John F. 
Weir, who introduced Jefferson on the occa- 



sion mentioned, and my letter brought me this 
reply : 

" About the iEschylus jibe, the report of 
it was not correct. Jefferson knew the c boys ' 
would be likely to spring upon him, by im- 
promptu questions, some little decoy to lure him 
into deep waters, especially the Sophomores, and 
he pretended not to have heard of c an actor by 
the name,' and therefore could not speak from 
personal acquaintance, etc., etc., etc. I can't 
state it precisely, but to make it appear that he 
had never heard of iEschylus was absurd. I 
had warned him on the way to the hall to look 
out for snags, as there were those who would 
appreciate in their own way the chance of 
questioning a c professor/ as he termed himself. 
He greatly enjoyed these informal talks to 
what he designates his c class/ in his visits to 

Evidently Jefferson took the hint from his 
friend Professor Weir, and refused to be lured 
into a technical discussion of the Greek drama. 

The most casual reader of his Autobiography 
knows that Jefferson could not be wholly igno- 
rant of the subject. With three others, all 



" crowned with evergreen laurel wreaths," he 
there tells us of being cast " for the unhappy- 
Chorus," in the Greek play of " Antigone " by 
Sophocles, who was the great rival and contem- 
porary of ^Eschylus. He speaks of it as " this 
sublime tragedy of Antigone," and goes on to tell 
us that "some forty years previous" to the time 
in which he played in it, it had been freely trans- 
lated and acted in Dublin at the Theatre Royal, 
when the audience, at the close of the play, called 
for the author. 

Professor Thomas R. Lounsbury, of Yale, 
who was present at the first of Jefferson's ad- 
dresses to the students, writes me an account of 
the veteran actor's nervously disturbed condition 
on that occasion. This nervousness was no pose 
of Jefferson's ; on the contrary, it was a painful 
reality. He was thoroughly sincere in his reply 
to the amateur who asked him for a cure for 
stage scare. 

" If you find one," blurted Jefferson, " I wish 
you would let me have it ! " 

Says Professor Lounsbury: "The first public 
lecture that Jefferson ever delivered was given 
here at the Yale Art School. One of the singu- 



lar things connected with it was that he who 
from his earliest years had been accustomed to 
face audiences, was here almost overcome with 
stage fright, as he himself confessed. I suppose 
it was the fact of its being a new business, and 
speaking from a new platform, that made it hard 
for him to say what he wished. The audience 
did not notice his embarrassment, at least particu- 
larly, but he was very conscious of it himself. 
Professor Weir, the head of the Art School, was 
to introduce him. Before doing so he had to 
give notice of the next lecture. It so happened 
that it was to be delivered by Edmund Clarence 
Stedman. But Stedman had been taken ill and 
been ordered off by his physicians to the West 
Indies, 1 think. It was therefore necessary to 
defer his lecture to a date later than the one set 
down, and notice was given that all who wished 
to give up their tickets could receive their money 
back. It naturally took up some time to make 
these explanations, before introducing Jefferson. 
The delay, however, was agreeable to the fright- 
ened man. c I wished/ he told me after the 
lecture, c that Weir would never get through. 

I was never so much interested in Stedman in 



my life, and was in hopes Weir would keep on 
talking about him for the next two weeks." 

On his last appearance in New Haven he 
played Dr. Pangloss, that transparent old fraud 
of a tutor, in Coleman's " Heir at Law." 
There was a number of undergraduates in the 
audience. It was near the Christmas examina- 
tions, — a period, for no impenetrable reasons, 
when most collegians are assiduously applying 
themselves to their books. 

The epilogue had been reached and, stepping 
forward with characteristic blandness and jovial- 
ity, Mr. Jefferson, as Dr. Pangloss, asked : 
" Does anybody want a tutor ? " 

The question was so pertinent to the moment 
that the effect was electric, and the Yale boys 
cheered again and again. After the curtain had 
fallen they marched in a body to the hotel, 
where Mr. Jefferson received and addressed 

A new theatre was to be inaugurated at Port- 
land, Maine, September 14, 1897, and the occasion 
was one of festivity. This beautiful playhouse 
was named in honor of Joseph Jefferson, who 

came from Buzzards Bay to make the opening 



address. I give the account of the matter as I 
wrote it down at the time: 

Mr. Jefferson seems quite as vigorous as I 
have known him to be in the last five years, and 
his mental keenness seems to have acquired a 
finer edge. His hearing has grown somewhat 
duller and he bemoans this, for it deprives him in 
no small degree of the pleasure he got in going 
to the theatre as an auditor. He joked about 
it to-night, and said that while his deafness was 
improving, he thought his hearing grew worse. 
He was nervous over his prospective address to 
the people of Portland accepting the courtesy 
they had accorded him. The subject matter, he 
said, was all right, but the words he chose to 
express it did not suit him. Later in the even- 
ing I mentioned this to Speaker Thomas B. 
Reed, who was present. The speaker said that 
Mr. Jefferson's speech was most effective, and 
that Mr. Jefferson was entirely in error if he 
supposed the contrary. From where he sat, in 
the box on the left, he could both see and feel 
the effect of Mr. Jefferson's words upon the 
audience. There was no trace of nervousness 
in Mr. Jefferson once he was before the audi- 


ence. " Of course not," he said, when I spoke 
to him about it ; "I am too old a bird for that ! " 
I suggested that the opening strains to be heard 
in the dedication of such a building to public use 
should be " The Star-Spangled Banner," and it 
was given. Then Mr. Jefferson and the gen- 
tlemen who had been most prominent in the 
theatre's building accompanied him upon the 
stage. There was an address, and Mr. Jeffer- 
son was then introduced. He contrasted very 
graphically the difficulties and inconveniences of 
stage life of former years, when he was often 
obliged to play in barns, with the elegance and 
comfort of such a place of amusement as they 
were now met to dedicate. His appearance in 
Portland had been infrequent, but he remem- 
bered with great pleasure that some forty years 
ago he had been given a dinner there, and that the 
chairman on that occasion was a man for whom 
he knew all Maine people had an affection, — 
the Hon. James G. Blaine. He afterwards told 
me, at Mr. Wright's house, that Blaine recalled 
the circumstance to him and recited a greater 
part of the speech that he, Jefferson, had made 

on that occasion. Further than this, as evidence 



of the retentiveness of Blaine's memory, the great 
Secretary had told Jefferson that he was a fre- 
quenter of Burton's old theatre in New York, 
and astonished Jefferson by repeating pages of 
the plays and farces in the repertoire of Burton's 

Jefferson's mention of Blaine was received with 
applause, of course, as was also the telling de- 
livery of the account of the young lawyer of 
Springfield, Illinois, who secured a remission of 
the prohibitive theatrical license imposed upon 
Jefferson's father long years ago, — of how that 
lawyer rose to prominence in his own State, and 
how he occupied many offices of trust in the 
nation, and that his name was Abraham Lincoln. 
Jefferson was proudly fond of this story and told 
it frequently. 

Earlier, the manager, somewhat anxious for the 
outcome of the evening, asked me what kind of ora- 
tor Mr. Jefferson was, and seemed greatly relieved 
when I informed him that Mr. Jefferson on such 
occasions, as on all others, always struck twelve. 

I repeated this to Mr. Jefferson before the 
curtain rose, as he stood by me, bracing himself 
with a slight stimulant. 



" Gad/' he said, " I hope I '11 strike that high 
to-night, for, to tell the truth, I am as nervous 
as I can be." 

" I know you are/' I said. 

"Of course you do," he replied, "you under- 
stand the sense of responsibility." 

At the collation given by Mr. Wright, when all 
the guests but Jefferson, Speaker Reed, and the 
writer had taken their departure, it was amusing, 
during the call of the ladies and children for auto- 
graph programs, to see the interest manifested by 
both Jefferson and Reed. Jefferson wanted his 
for his grandchildren ; Reed, his for his daughter 
Kitty. Much fun was created by Jefferson's in- 
ability to spell Miss Wright's given name — 
Eleanor — and Mrs. Jefferson's nervous effort to 
assist him only added to his confusion. Like 
some other distinguished men, he had views of his 
own on orthography. "But he was never unfor- 
givably weak in this particular, and " Pensil- 
vanian " is the most violent deviation I have 
known him to make in any of his letters to me, 
and apparently he could see no sense in doubling 
a consonant. 

Speaker Reed convulsed us by narrating the 


story of a dinner given him by an ostentatious 
individual, who thought it would be effective to 
begin the feast with prayer. Amid an impressive 
silence he glanced down the table and, selecting 
a serious-faced guest, requested him to invoke 
the divine blessing. Rising to his feet and plac- 
ing his hand fan-fashion back of his ear, the guest 
replied : 

" I know you 're talking to me because you 

are making motions my way, but I 'm so d d 

deaf I can't understand a word you say ! " 

The dinner proceeded without grace ! 

I was instrumental in having Mr. Jefferson 
speak at the Chautauqua Assembly. With a 
single exception, no actor had ever spoken there, 
and I was anxious "Our Rip" should go. He 
gave his lecture on " The Drama " there August 
15, 1901. August 26, 1901, he writes: 

"... I am glad I went to Chautauqua. It 
was a novel and interesting experience — thanks 
to you. I cannot well send you the manuscript 
of my Gabble, as it was c ad lib ' with the excep- 
tion of a few old chestnuts — friends of the c Auld 
Lang Syne* that never desert us. You know, 

J 35 


of course, that the most of the talk was devoted 
to questions regarding the Stage, and I must say- 
that those propounded were among the most in- 
teresting I have tried to answer. I was an hour 
and a half on that huge platform confronted by- 
five thousand people. ..." 

Of Mr. Jefferson's impression upon the 
Chautauquans, Principal George E. Vincent wrote: 

" Mr. Jefferson made a great c hit/ When I 
tried to slip him into the amphitheatre quietly to 
attend a lecture the night before his address, the 
audience recognized him and cheered. We gave 
him the Chautauqua salute at that time. 

" Next day the amphitheatre was packed. Mr. 
Jefferson charmed everyone by his simplicity, 
kindliness, and humor. And he in turn was de- 
lighted by his reception. He said it was the 
finest audience he had ever appeared before, and 
the largest." 

Another friend, Mr. Leon H. Vincent, wrote : 

" I heard Joseph Jefferson at Chautauqua last 

Thursday. It was very interesting. He had an 

immense audience (the Amphitheatre jammed to 

the very edge) ; he told them he had never before 

seen so big an audience. All his points were 



received with rapturous enthusiasm. He forgot 
twice and took his paper out of his pocket and 
put on his eyeglasses in order to find out what 
came next. It was the most naive thing imagi- 
nable and pleased the audience hugely. No fee 
was arranged for, but Jefferson was to have 
$100 for expenses. The money was paid him, 
and he immediately returned it ; and when I left, 
Scott Brown was trying to make up his mind 
how to get it back to him and persuade him to 
keep it. Joseph Jefferson has seen many 
audiences, but he will seldom look into such a 
sea of faces as the Amphitheatre contained last 
Thursday afternoon. ,, 

He told the story of the boy and the gun. 
This incident greatly pleased Rip. I have often 
heard him narrate it with satisfaction : 

" I was at a watering-place last winter, and a 
gentleman sat opposite me with his little ten- 
year-old boy. He leaned over and whispered 
to the boy, and the boy looked up in surprise, 
and I knew what he was saying, — that the gen- 
tleman who sat opposite was the one whom he 
had seen in c Rip Van Winkle.' The little boy 
looked at me for a moment, and then said in the 



most childish and frank manner, c Don't you re- 
member that time when your gun fell apart ? ' 
That time, and it had fallen apart for thousands 
of times ! I said : c Your son has paid me the best 
compliment I have ever had in my life, for if I 
made him believe that was the first time that gun 
had fallen apart, I did much better than I thought 
I did/ " 

The following questions were propounded to 
Mr. Jefferson at the close of his Chautauqua 
address, and answered by him : 

" What hinders dramatic art, so beloved by a 
few and so pleasing to all, from taking as general 
a place as music has in the popular education of 
youth ? " 

<c I get from that question, Why does not 
dramatic art occupy the same place as music now 
has in the popular education ? First, because 
there is a popular prejudice against the stage ; 
second, because it is quite as difficult to act as it 
is to sing. However, it is the old prejudice that 
has been against the stage from time immemorial, 
and which to a certain extent still exists, and I 
fancy ever will. I was talking with two Meth- 
odist ministers before I came here, and they were 



telling me that they had never been to a theatre, 
and I do not think it was rude in me to say I 
thought it a great pity that they had not been. 
It is impossible sometimes for a minister to visit the 
theatre, because it puts him in an unpleasant posi- 
tion with his congregation ; and, as a matter of 
good taste, although he might desire to go, I 
respect the minister who does not go to the 
theatre, through sincerity, because he respects his 
congregation. I cannot fail to think that the 
dramas of Shakespeare, and even the plays of 
Bulwer and Sheridan, are helpful. The finest 
literature in the English language is in the dramas 
of Shakespeare. It does seem to me that those 
plays should be acted, and acted often, as a fine 
education and entertainment. There are many 
actors during the last year who have presented 
( Romeo and Juliet,' c Hamlet,' c Henry V,' and 
other Shakespearean plays. These have been 
presented very well. I have had nothing to do 
with them, and so I can afford to praise them." 

" If you had your life to live over again, would 
you choose the same profession ? " 

" Most certainly I would. If I had not been 

attached to my profession, I should not be acting 



now, for I am still following my profession. I 
have no present intention of retiring from the 
stage. Of course I do not think an actor should 
inflict his imbecility upon an audience, and as 
soon as he finds his powers impaired, it is proper 
that he should retire. I only hope I shall dis- 
cover my falling off before the public does, and 
then retire, like a well-bred dog, when he sees 
preparation being made for kicking him out." 

" Would you advise the young to attend the 
theatre ? " 

" I would advise the young to attend the 
theatre and see good plays that are educational. 
Most of the plays of Shakespeare are historical, 
and as produced nowadays you see not only the 
scenery of the times, but the costumes of the 
people, their manners, language, history ; so I 
certainly would advise them to see plays of that 
kind. A gentleman asked me a rather witty 
question recently, — if I did not think the proper 
play now for the youth would be the one to which 
a young girl could go and take her mother." 

" When you are playing do you feel that you 

yourself are the character, or is the character 

apart from vou, and you merely imitating ? " 



" It is a question whether an actor should feel 
the character or should not. It depends upon 
the peculiar temperament of the actor. A cele- 
brated Englishman says we should feel the 
character, a celebrated French authority says 
he could not feel the emotion at all ; so there 
you are. I have no doubt that that Englishman 
could not act if he did not feel, and that that 
Frenchman would be very inferior if he did feel ; 
so it depends upon the temperament of the man. 
You remember Shakespeare's advice to the 
players in c Hamlet/ I understand he means 
by that that no matter how you are overcome by 
your emotions you must take care and maintain 
coolness and clearness. For my own part, I like 
to have the heart warm and the head cool." 

" Does the theatre endeavor to stimulate the 
higher emotions ? " 

" It does, and it does not. The best plays 
do endeavor to stimulate the highest emotions. 
Think of the great characters that have been 
presented by Shakespeare and Bulwer. Think 
of Romeo, Imogen, Desdemona, Portia, and I 
could go on and on. But of course, if you go to 
see some unfortunate production from France in 



which domestic infelicity is made the ruling theme, 
you see a play which does not appeal to our 
highest emotions. The drama, like everything 
else, has its gradation and its degradation. So, 
in music, there are the great oratorios and the 
common ragtime. Unfortunately, you have only 
to tell the public that a play is not fit to be seen 
to fill the theatre. A gentleman said to me the 
other day, ( Don't you think that play (giving 
the title) ought not to be allowed to be played ? ' 
I said, c Possibly, but how do you know ? ' 
He was dumfounded, but said, l Oh, I saw it.' 
c How often ? ' c Only twice.' It was a play 
to which possibly a young girl could go, but 
could not take her mother ! " 

Joseph Jefferson and Edwin Booth were great 
friends. The tragedian frequently visited the 
comedian at his home at Buzzards Bay. Those 
who know this home of hospitality will recall two 
art windows separated by the main entrance, — 
one window bearing the lifelike presentment of 
William Warren as Touchstone, the other of Ed- 
win Booth as Hamlet. It has been my privilege 
to talk much with Booth of Jefferson and with 

Jefferson of Booth. 

•> 142 



Jefferson often told me he had frankly declared 
to others that though he was an actor he had 
never read all of Shakespeare. 

" How could I ? " he added ; " devotion to my 
art and to painting prevented me." 

He also said that Mr. Booth, on a recent visit 
to him, had asserted, with much shame in his 
voice, that he had never read a fine of Dickens's. 

" Then let me read you some of the sketches 
of c Boz,' " said Jefferson. 

" I sat down, and then and there," added Jef- 
ferson, " read him Bardell vs. Pickwick, and we 
laughed and laughed for a long time over the 
master's sketches." 

The tribute paid by Jefferson to Booth, whom 
he succeeded as President of The Players, is 
copied from The Players' Club Book and closes 
this chapter on Jefferson as a lecturer and orator : 

" Founder's Night was rendered particularly 
interesting by the presence of Mr. Jefferson, the 
President, who for the first time, in the Club 
House, spoke to his Fellow Players in his official 
capacity. That portion of his remarks containing 
his tribute to Mr. Booth is here presented : 

" c Founder's Night should be of joy unshaded 


by the slightest tinge of gloom. I know this, but 
how can I speak to-night without a loving refer- 
ence to the one whose gift we now hold, — a 
gift in which our children and theirs for many 
generations will take pride, delight, and comfort. 

" c It would be a twice-told tale to rehearse the 
career of Edwin Booth. You are as familiar with 
it as I am. But there are incidents in his early 
life that may interest you and possibly that no 
one but myself could tell you. 

" c An early remembrance of the stage brings 
before me the figure of the elder Booth. When 
I was but five years of age, I acted the Duke of 
York to his Richard III. 

" c You may think it strange that I remember 
this circumstance ; but even a child as young as I 
was could not have stood in the presence of this 
superb and magnetic actor without being indelibly 
impressed with the scene. His son, Edwin, was 
just then born. We first met when he was a 
handsome youth of sixteen. A lithe and graceful 
figure, buoyant in spirits, and with the loveliest 
eyes I ever looked upon. We were friends from 
the first, and it is a comfort for me to know that 
our friendship lasted nearly half a century, un- 



broken by a single unpleasant act or word. His 
early performances upon the stage did not give 
much promise, and there were grave fears that he 
had not inherited the genius of his father. But 
after the death of that father young Booth's friends 
and the public were suddenly startled by the news 
from across the continent that a new star had 
arisen, not in the East, but in the West, and was 
wending its way homeward. 

" c In 1853 I became the stage-manager for 
Henry C. Jarrett in Baltimore. That gentleman 
is a member of our Club and now stands before 
me. He one day brought a young girl who had 
been given to his care and placed her in mine, — 
a beautiful child, but fifteen years of age. Her 
family, a most estimable one, had met with some 
reverse, and she had decided to go upon the stage 
to relieve them from the burden of her support 
and possibly to contribute to the comfort of her 
father. This loving duty she faithfully per- 
formed. She lived in my family as the com- 
panion of my wife for three years, and during 
that time became one of the leading actresses of 
the stage. One morning I said to her: "To- 
morrow you are to rehearse Juliet to the Romeo 



of our new and rising young tragedian/' At this 
distance I can scarcely say whether I had or had 
not a premonition of the future, but I knew at 
the conclusion of that rehearsal that Edwin Booth 
and Mary Devlin would soon be man and wife ; 
and so it came about, for at the end of the week 
he came to me in the green-room, with his affianced 
bride by the hand, and with a quaint smile they 
fell upon their knees in a mock-heroic manner, 
as though acting a scene in the play, and said, 
cc Father, your blessing"; to which I replied in 
the same mock-heroic vein, extending my hands 
like the old Friar, " Bless you, my children ! " 
Shortly they were married. We know that his 
life was filled with histrionic triumphs and 
domestic bereavements. 

" c May I not speak here of this gift of The 
Players ? It is comparatively easy for those who 
are rocked in a golden cradle and who at their 
birth are endowed with great wealth to dispense 
their bounty. I do not desire to disparage the 
generosity of the rich. Those of our land have 
done much good, are now freely dispensing their 
wealth, and will continue to do so ; but we must 
remember that the fortune of Edwin was not 



inherited. The walls within which we stand, the 
art, the library, and the comforts that surround 
us, represent a life of toil and travel, sleepless 
nights, tedious journeys, and weary work ; so that 
when he bestowed upon us this Club it was not 
his wealth only, but it was himself that he gave. 

" c But a few years ago he was, though rich in 
genius, poor in pocket. He had been wealthy, 
and had seen the grand dramatic structure he had 
reared taken from him and devastated. His re- 
verse of fortune was from no fault of his own, but 
from a confiding nature. When he again, by 
arduous toil, accumulated wealth, one would have 
supposed that the thoughts of his former reverses 
would have startled him, and that he would have 
clutched his newly acquired gold and garnered it 
to himself, fearful lest another stroke of ill- 
fortune should fall upon him. But instead of 
making him a coward it gave him courage. 
It did not warp his mind or steel his heart against 
humanity. No sterility settled upon him. His 
wrongs seemed to have fertilized his generosity, 
and here we behold the fruit. 

" c When the stranger comes here and asks us 
for the monument of Edwin Booth, we can say, 



" Look around you." For some time past he had 
looked forward calmly to his dissolution. One 
year ago to-night, in this room and at this very 
hour, he said to me the memorable words : " They 
drink to my health to-night, Joe. When they 
meet again, it will be to my memory.'* 

" c Two years ago last autumn we walked on 
the sea-beach together, and with a strange and 
prophetic kind of poetry he likened the scene 
to his own failing health, the falling leaves, the 
withered sea-weed, the dying grass upon the 
shore, and the ebbing tide, that was fast receding 
from us. He told me that he felt prepared to go, 
that he had forgiven his enemies and could even 
rejoice in their happiness. Surely this was a grand 
condition in which to step from this world across 
the threshold to the next ! ' " 





SHALL not be remembered as an actor," 
said Jefferson to me one day, " much 
longer than a lifetime of those who see 
me play. After that I may be the subject of an 
occasional anecdote, that's all. If the memory 
of me lives longer, it will be because of my book." 
By " the book " he meant, of course, his Auto- 
biography. This fleeting quality of his fame did 
not grieve Jefferson. Indeed, he often congrat- 
ulated himself on the immediate applause and 
substantial reward he received, while the followers 
of other arts, as letters, painting, and sculpture, 
were obliged often to await the belated appreciation 
of posterity. He instanced Pepys pooh-poohing 
Shakespeare, Rembrandt starving, dying, and 
buried no one knows where — and the list might 
be drawn out indefinitely. 

cc The evanescent triumphs," says Tuckerman, 

<c when compared with those of letters, painting, 



and sculpture, have often been lamented. Cibber 
is eloquently pathetic on the subject, and Camp- 
bell has expressed the sentiment in a memorable 
stanza. In one respect, however, the fragility of 
histrionic renown is an advantage. No species 
of enjoyment from art has been made the theme 
of such glowing reminiscence. As if inspired by 
the very consciousness that the merit they cele- 
brated had no permanent memorial, intelligent 
lovers of the drama describe in conversation and 
literature the traits of favorite performers and the 
effects they have produced, with a zest, acuteness, 
and enthusiasm rarely awarded to the votaries of 
other pursuits. What genial emphasis, even in 
the traditional memory of Wilks' Sir Harry Wil- 
dair, Barry's Jaffier, Quin's Falstaff, Henderson's 
Sir Giles, Yates' Shakespeare's Fools, Macklin's 
Shylock, Harry Woodworth's Captain Boabdil, 
Cook's McSycophant, Siddons' Lady Macbeth, 
and Kean's Othello ! Walpole, who was an epi- 
curean in his dramatic as in his social tastes, sighed 
for the incarnation in one prodigy of the voice of 
Mrs. Cibber, the eye of Garrick, and the soul 
of Mrs. Pritchard. In Cibber's eulogies upon 
the tragic genius of Betterton, or the inimitable 



drollery of Nokes, Hunt's genial memoirs of Jack 
Bannister, Lamb's account of Munden's acting, 
Campbell's tribute to Mrs. Siddons, and Barry 
Cornwall's description of Kean's characters, 
there is a relish and earnestness seldom devoted 
to the limner and the bard, who, we feel, can 
speak best for themselves to posterity." 

To this " theme of glowing reminiscence " 
Jefferson has added by the composition and pub- 
lication of his own remembrances. This book, 
"The Autobiography of Joseph Jefferson," is re- 
markable for many qualities, but especially for " the 
careless ease " with which it is written. As was 
said, by the Spectator, of Cibber's "Apology" 
(apology because it was an accounting of only a 
fraction of Cibber's life), no cc dullard" could have 
composed such a work, and it shows Jefferson to 
be much more than the average player who sees 
little of interest aside from his profession. It 
stamps him as a many-sided man, a gentle phi- 
losopher, who, though travelling far afield, kept 
his eyes open and imprinted upon his memory 
much that it is well he afterwards recorded. What 
he has said may not, as did the " Apology," 
keep a Swift up all night, or make a Walpole 



deem it worthy of immortality, but, as Mercutio 
says, "'Tis enough, 'twill serve," and serve ade- 
quately, and it merits more than that patroniz- 
ing remark of Dr. Johnson, " very entertaining," 
which Cibber's book elicited from the " leviathan 
of literature." Jefferson has carried much of the 
charm of his personality into the work, a peculiar 
charm for which one seeks in vain in the delight- 
ful pages of his dramatic predecessor, the erst- 
while patentee of Drury Lane and poet-laureate 
of England. Carlyle has said that a well-written 
life is almost as rare as a well-spent one. Jef- 
ferson's life, whether guided by himself or set 
down by his pen, meets this declaration. He 
lived a full, rich, finely ordered life, and he wrote 
a full, rich, charming autobiography, albeit he 
found it tedious at times to adhere to statistics. 
He acknowledges himself " not quite sure as to 
dates, and many incidents," he says, " come up 
before me in a confused form, while a number are 
traditional " ; but allowing for all this, he has 
written one of the notable autobiographies of the 
time, and to those especially interested in his art 
and to many who are not he has given a book which, 
once taken up, will rarely be laid aside unread. 



It is a most unusual performance for a man 
who until close upon his sixtieth year had written 
nothing of an extended nature. William Dean 
Howells and others are to be thanked for en- 
couraging Jefferson to set down these reminis- 
cences, many of which could not possibly have 
been told by anyone other than Jefferson, — cer- 
tainly with anything approaching the authority or 
exceeding just his own quaint manner of giving 
them expression. 

The son of a manager, he was, as he himself 
declares, "almost born in the theatre," and he 
had as playgrounds those two unusual accompani- 
ments of boyhood, the stage and a graveyard. 
Material enough here, one would think, to quicken 
the youthful imagination ! He came swiftly into 
recorded theatrical history, for in his " Records of 
the New York Stage," Ireland sets down, Septem- 
ber 30, 1837, an account of Master Joseph Jeffer- 
son appearing in " A Celebrated Combat " with 
Master Titus. Jefferson records that he remem- 
bers the combat, and thinks Titus must also have 
long remembered it, as Titus almost lost a big toe 
in the conflict. He takes up the life of a strolling 
player with his parents, and journeys through the 



Erie Canal to the West, amusing the captain of 
the boat, "The Pioneer,'' with "a dismal comic 
song entitled c The Devil and Little Mike/ " It 
had twenty-five stanzas, and the captain, even 
before the song was half finished, expressed him- 
self as satisfied. He goes on up through Lakes 
Erie, Huron, and Michigan, and tells of Indians 
paddling out in their canoes offering beadwork 
and moccasins for sale. Always happy in de- 
scriptive passages, he paints in glowing colors a 
sunset over the lake. He reaches Chicago when 
that city is little more than a camp, and tells of 
acting in a porkhouse in Pekin, Illinois, and of his 
mother's being interrupted in the singing of 
cc Home, Sweet Home," by the scratching and 
squealing of pigs under the floor. At Memphis 
his father is obliged to turn to sign-painting. 
Matters brighten a little by the prospect of a per- 
manent engagement at Mobile ; but two weeks 
after their arrival, the father dies and the family 
is close upon poverty. He has memories and an- 
ecdotes here of James W. Wallack, Macready, 
and the elder Booth, who acted in Mobile during 
the season. 

He goes by flatboat to New Orleans, play- 



ing en route, using the scenes as sails and fighting 
stage broadsword combats to the amusement of 
passing vessels. He acts at the St. Charles in 
New Orleans ; and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kean, 
V Anna Cora Mowatt, and James H. Hackett, 
father of James K., — and once the great "Rip 
Van Winkle " of his time and always a great 
" Falstaff," — are among the visiting " stars." 
At the end of the season he goes up the Mis- 
sissippi to St. Louis, and at this juncture tells 
the uproariously humorous incident of his dis- 
astrous effort, on a Fourth of July occasion, to 
sing " The Star-Spangled Banner" and of the dual 
sympathy he and his mother found in tears. 
Not less humorous is the account of meeting 
in Mexico with the old-time actor " Pudding " 
Stanley, familiarly known as " Pud," now turned 
ranger, and, in order to raise the tide in the 
exchequer, of luring Stanley into a reappearance 
with the tempting bait of Richard III. Then 
comes the account of following the American 
army into Mexico and, obliged to abandon their 
Thespian efforts, of opening a coffee and cake 
stand in a gambling establishment rejoicing in the 
flamboyant title of The Grand Spanish Saloon ; 

J 55 


it being understood between the proprietor, 
Jefferson, and his partner, a fellow comedian 
named Badger, that in the event of either Badger's 
or Jefferson's being killed by a stray shot from 
the hands of any of the attaches, the offending 
party was to suffer immediate dismissal. Very 
dainty is his account of" Metta," his half-Spanish 
sweetheart, with whom for lack of linguistic ac- 
complishment he cannot communicate. 

Back he goes to New Orleans, where he sees, 
praises, and is jealous of the rising fame of John 
E. Owens, resolving some day to equal that come- 
dian. He crosses the Alleghanies in midwinter 
by stage-coach, is almost frozen, and reaches Phil- 
adelphia, where he is engaged by William E. 
Burton, and meets his friend " Tom " Glessing, 
the scene-painter, one of the strongest charac- 
terizations in the book. Well drawn, indeed, is 
his picture of the " professional borrower," and 
striking as well as ludicrous are his description 
and anecdotes of Burton. Nor does he fail in 
appreciation of Burton's skill as a player, after 
whose death Jefferson became the most con- 
spicuous comedian in America. The quarrel of 
Edgar Allan Poe and Burton is set forth, and an 

i S 6 


account given of Burton's pretentious effort in 
the production of the Greek play " Antigone," in 
which, as has been mentioned, Jefferson was one 
of the unhappy Chorus. He pays beautiful trib- 
ute to his half-brother Charles Burke, and gives 
an instructive view of the joint performances 
of Burton and Burke. He becomes a country 
manager, and is among the first persons in the 
world to receive a telegram. He tells us of his 
surprise that the world did not stand still when 
his name first went out in big letters. He re- 
turns swiftly to the stock as comedian-in-chief 
to Foster, in Philadelphia, where the equestrian 
drama was being given, and sings interminable 
songs, for which he is hooted, while the car- 
penters struggle to prepare the more important 
scenes for the flight and chase of the horses in 
Dick Turpin, Timour the Tartar, the Terror of 
the Road, etc. He feels justified in declaring the 
equestrian drama absurd, and that the horse and 
the actor refuse to unite. 

Being an cc old man of twenty-one," he now 
decides to marry, and, "with beating heart and 
a pair of tight-fitting boots," not forgetting his 
lavender suit, he leads his bride to the altar, 



Barney Williams officiating as groomsman. He 
hungers again for country management, and allies 
himself with John Ellsler at Savannah and Macon. 
During the managerial association Sir William 
Don comes upon the stage and makes a chief 
and graphic picture in the book, — not more 
graphic, though, than the cameo-like picture of 
Julia Dean, who disappears soon after and in 
outlining whom Jefferson is at his literary best. 
This period of management is sufficiently suc- 
cessful to permit the purchase of a watch which 
subsequently stood the young comedian in good 
stead in time of emergency. Back he goes to the 
Chestnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, as stock 
comedian under the stage management of John 
Gilbert, and here he first plays Dr. Ollapod in 
Coleman's " Poor Gentleman/' Bob Acres in 
Sheridan's " Rivals," and Dr. Pangloss in Cole- 
man's " Heir-at-Law." In the last-named John 
Gilbert affords him material aid with the Greek 
and Latin names. 

In 1853 he becomes stage-manager for Henry 
C. Jarrett at Baltimore, and plays Moses in a 
" star " cast of " The School for Scandal," of 
which the scholarly James E. Murdoch is the 



hero in a program that includes J. W. Wallack, 
the two Placides, Edwin Adams, the beautiful 
Lizzie Weston, subsequently the wife of Charles 
J. Mathews, and Mary Devlin, the first Mrs. 
Edwin Booth. He was not in favor of all-star 
performances, believing that actors who have 
been central figures for years in entertainments 
cannot adapt themselves readily to being grouped 
with others in a dramatic picture. He revised 
this judgment, as we shall see, later on. In 
1854 he becomes stage-manager for John T. 
Ford of Baltimore, and meets as stars Dion 
Boucicault, Agnes Robertson, and Edwin For- 
rest. Of this majestic, gifted, but irritable tra- 
gedian he gives a convincing account, and in a 
few pages carries him from the days of his triumph 
to the grave. 

Now comes Jefferson's first trip to Europe, 
— an economical one, in which all the "swell" 
restaurants are ignored. He remarks upon the 
devotion of the French to art and their un- 
certain loyalty to government, instancing their 
painting over the doors and arches of the public 
buildings the motto of Liberty, Equality, and 
Fraternity, and carving in stone the list of prices 



to the theatres. In the gay French capital he 
buys coveted articles of wardrobe for the stage. 

In 1857, as Dr. Pangloss, at Laura Keene's 
Theatre, comes his first appearance on the boards 
of a Broadway playhouse, a most unusual thing in 
those days for an American actor. Miss Keene's 
merits are shown, as well as her bad judgment in 
the selection of plays, — giving too much con- 
sideration to their literary merit. The extraordi- 
nary circumstances attending the rise of the elder 
Sothern are depicted, and as Asa Trenchard in 
Tom Taylor's " Our American Cousin," Jeffer- 
son considerably deepens the regard in which the 
public holds him. This determines him to launch 
out as a " star," which he does with " qualified 
success," retreating to the Winter Garden as a 
member of the company under William Stuart 
and Dion Boucicault. Here he opens in " Caleb 
Plummer," and notes entertainingly the speaking 
of his first serious words on the stage. Mrs. 
John Wood, Sara Stevens, and Agnes Robertson 
are in the cast. Here, too, is first produced 
"The Octoroon," in which Jefferson makes a 
decided success as Salem Scudder. He descants 

on the starring system, and notes Tyrone Power 



as one of the first of these brilliant men to enjoy 
the advantage of plays written to fit their especial 
gifts. Jefferson begins to have thoughts of a play 
for himself, one in which he can fully make 
known his own powers, and then comes the 
reading of the " Life and Letters of Wash- 
ington Irving " and the suggestion of " Rip Van 

Early in 1861 he loses his wife, and, putting 
three of his children at school, leaves home with 
his eldest son for California, going thence to Aus- 
tralia, appearing in " Rip Van Winkle," " The 
Octoroon/' and <c Our American Cousin." His 
description of the entrance into Sydney harbor, 
the weird skeleton dance of the natives of the 
interior, his acting of " The Ticket of Leave 
Man" to an audience of convicts, and his en- 
counter with the old shepherd and his dog 
" Jack " near the blue-gum or eucalyptus forest, 
are among the best things in the book. Most 
convincing is his portraiture of Charles Kean, 
as the old actor sat alone in St. Kilda's Park 
frowning, staring, and mumbling his part. The 
natives throw boomerangs for them as they sit 

there, and later, Kean to his wife good-naturedly 



makes Jefferson the butt of his pleasantry. From 
Australia he visits South America, and here his 
capable powers of description are again brought 
into requisition in the verbal vignettes he makes of 
the beautiful women of Lima, the religious drama, 
and the French consul at Callao. Nor must we 
for a moment overlook the forceful picture he 
draws of his frigid reception at the house of an 
English merchant, at Panama, in an enthusiastic 
endeavor to do a courtesy to a Tasmanian ac- 
quaintance. In London Boucicault supplies the 
necessary dramatic element to " Rip Van Winkle," 
the London debut takes place, and Jefferson's 
name and fame are greatly enhanced. Here he 
meets "Tom" Robertson and John Brougham, 
is advised by Charles Reade, patted on the back 
by Planche, and glared at through the fierce but 
honest spectacles of Anthony Trollope, and here, 
also, poor Artemus Ward figured in a brilliant 
but brief career. Back to America — home — 
he comes, to be received with acclamation. 

He again marries, in December, 1867, anc ^ 
after appearing in the larger cities forms a com- 
pany in his own support for the smaller places, 
and thus, with Charles Wyndham, which he 



spells Windham, becomes one of the progenitors 
of the " pernicious combination system," which 
he defends. About this time he attends the 
funeral of his friend George Holland and gives 
the name to " The Little Church Around the 
Corner." There are delightful pictures of Wil- 
liam Warren, to whom he was related, and of 
Charles Fechter. 

He returns to Europe, revisits Paris and de- 
scribes the acting at the Francais, deprecating the 
fault which the actors have of stepping outside 
the dramatic picture by addressing speeches di- 
rectly to the audience, a defect he failed to ob- 
serve at the minor theatres. Back in London, 
he renews his triumphs, and, in company with 
Browning, Kingsley, and George Augustus Sala, 
lunches at the Star and Garter, on the banks of 
the historic Thames. Browning relates the inci- 
dent of Longfellow wishing to pass his umbrella to 
a bedrenched London cabman. Here he revels 
in the pictures of the great English artists, as he 
had in those of the great French artists. He 
recounts the theft of the Duchess of Devon- 
shire painting, which took place while he was in 
London at this time. He plays in Scotland, 



and goes thence to Ireland, where his success is 
limited, and the manager suggests that he give 
Rip a slight brogue. 

In America again, he rearranges and produces 
with eminent success Sheridan's " Rivals." He 
justifies his alteration of this comedy. He shows 
his enjoyment of Warren's humorously adverse 
comment on the old comedy alteration. His 
tribute to Warren is touching and beautiful. 
There are letters here from John Howard Payne 
and Washington Irving, recommending Mrs. A. 
Drake, with whom Jefferson as a boy had acted, 
and whom he declares to have been the leading 
tragic actress of America before the advent of 
Charlotte Cushman. At the time of writing 
the Autobiography, many dead but few living 
actors and actresses are mentioned directly by 
name. Mr. Jefferson did not feel justified in 
naming and estimating contemporary players. 

A chapter is devoted to Jefferson's theory of 
the art he represented, but all through the volume 
may be found much matter bearing upon the 
subject. What he has so sensibly and tersely set 
forth here upon the art of acting is of great mo- 
ment to all students of the drama and of infinite 



credit to its author. It tells of high aims and 
noble endeavor under circumstances of the most 
adverse nature, crowned at last by appreciation and 
success. These anecdotes have a juiciness and 
flavor all their own, and come to one as gratefully 
as a summer shower to a sun-parched lawn. 
These portraits of a period in dramatic history 
which is not too far removed seem cut in bv 
an engraver accustomed all his life to the hand- 
ling of the burin. What, for example, could be 
finer than the picture drawn of Edwin Forrest, 
— the man, the actor, a Hercules in form, hand- 
some of face, possessing a rich, beautiful voice, 
under perfect control, which was capable of mov- 
ing to tears or exultation — a student with high 
aims — allied to a temper at once childish and 
almost ungovernable — "having," says Jefferson, 
<f no power of recognizing the distinction between 
a man who tries his best and fails and he who 
fails because he does not try at all." 

One can see, of course, that Jefferson has a 
just pride in his intellectual strength, in his pro- 
fessional achievements, and that he is not without 
a full appreciation of his position and success, 
but by no word does he exceed the limits of a 



most becoming modesty. It is true, as Jefferson 
said, " an actor cannot have his cake and eat it 
too," — that his reward is in the applause and 
recognition of the present, and with that he must 
be satisfied. For this reason must the exquisite 
acting of Joseph Jefferson ultimately become 
but a misty tradition ; yet we shall still have his 
"Autobiography" as an indestructible memorial 
to the art he adored and to the art he adorned. 

Jefferson was often called upon, publicly and 
privately, for advice upon matters respecting the 
stage. It was the penalty he paid for dramatic 
ascendancy. It seemed to him that he was al- 
ways being confronted unexpectedly by some foot- 
passenger demanding the secret of his success. 
" Your secret or your life ! " they seemed to say. 
To all who were serious in their intentions, to 
those whose motives were unimpugnable, he sac- 
rificed himself and the valuable moments of his 
life like a true gentleman, even postponing or 
curtailing his " sacred nap " for the purpose. 
To those who approached him from mere curi- 
osity — and they were numerous — or whose am- 
bitions were actuated by vanity or love of display, 
he gave no encouragement whatever, and but 



little time. However, I never knew him to 
be discourteous, and I have seen him when I 
felt indignant that he did not administer a ver- 
bal thrashing to some bore who was vulgarly ex- 
ceeding all limits in an interview procured under 
false pretences. He seemed to stand abashed, 
not knowing what to say, in the presence of such 
impudence, and then, with perhaps an ejacula- 
tion of surprise and the remark that such things 
are best when soonest forgotten, the matter was 
apparently dismissed from his mind. 

Students and lovers of the drama who are in- 
terested in the opinions of its chief exponents on 
the subject of their art, will not regret having 
their attention directed to a series of interesting 
letters published in December, 1892, by the 
" North American Review." Modjeska, Maggie 
Mitchell, Jefferson, Lawrence Barrett, John Mc- 
Cullough, and William Warren contributed the 
matter which made up the article entitled " Suc- 
cess on the Stage." What Jefferson said is, by 
permission of the editor of the magazine, given 
herewith : 

cc It is asked, What are the qualifications that 
one should possess to become a successful actor 



or actress ? This is a difficult question to answer. 
What would be the reply of a scientist if you 
were to ask him what were the qualifications 
necessary to become a successful astronomer or 
a great naturalist ? I fancy I see the old gen- 
tleman now. He removes his spectacles, and, 
thoughtfully rubbing his nose, looks at the ques- 
tioner as if he were a long way off. He says, 
c Well, really, I — I — Dear me, will you just say 
that over again ? ' You repeat the query. c Well/ 
he says, c perhaps inborn ability may be of some 
service ; and then, I should think that a great 
love, even a passion, for such a calling might be 
valuable ; but even these advantages, and a great 
many more that I can't think of, will be of very 
little use unless they are joined to earnestness and 

" Now I would say that, in addition to these 
qualities, to make a successful actor one must be 
gifted with sensibility, imagination, and personal 
magnetism. The art must be commenced at the 
foundation, or the superstructure can scarcely 
stand. The student should be content to enter 
upon the lower walks of the profession ; and this 
is his first stumbling-block, because the lower posi- 



tions are erroneously considered to be degrading. 
But to c carry a banner ' is necessary, and is cer- 
tainly not degrading to a beginner in the art of 
acting. All professions require that the student 
shall master the drudgery of his calling. Before 
the astronomer makes his great discoveries, he 
must have learned arithmetic. The distinguished 
savant has mastered the elements of his specialty. 
The famous chemist tries the most simple experi- 
ments, and has not hesitated to soil his hands in 
the laboratory. This simple drudgery is the key 
to the dramatic profession, yet the thought of it 
affrights the tyro ; and how natural that it should 
do so, for all the apparently degrading offices of 
other occupations are performed in private ; but 
on the stage the personal mortification has to be 
borne in the full glare of the public, and, still 
worse, in the presence sometimes of friends and 
relations who have come expressly to see how 
c our John ' will act his part. Poor John ! How 
inwardly, for the first time, he wishes his friends 
and relations were — somewhere else! He had 
rather the whole world had been there than that 
small family party, who themselves are indignant 

at the manager for giving their relative such a 



little thing to do. And to think that this same 
mortification has to be repeated night after night, 
perhaps season after season ! Do you not recog- 
nize other qualities that must now support him ? 
Should he not have nerve and fortitude, and how 
seldom these are coupled with sensibility and im- 
agination ! By many failures he may learn to 
succeed, and thus find out what not to do rather 
than what to do. 

" This, of course, is the darkest side of the 
picture ; for, though the successes by persons 
going upon the stage without experience have 
been of rare occurrence, still we cannot deny that 
there have been several exceptions to place 
against the many failures. But how small is the 
list ! If all the failures could be collected, the 
line would c stretch out to crack of doom.* 

" But to return to the dramatic aspirant. We 
all know the young man who calls after our early 
dinner — say about four o'clock, just as we are 
going to take our sacred nap — and craves our 
confidence. He fears his family will offer very 
serious objections to his entering the theatrical 
profession, and, of course, for their sake as well 

as his own, he could not think of holding a 



subordinate position. It is true he has failed as 
a hatter, and his success in upholstery did not 
seem to place him in a position to be entirely 
punctual in the payment of his board. But he 
felt that he had that within him that could ac- 
complish Hamlet. Such young persons should 
remember that some of the greatest actors have 
commenced by holding inferior positions. Many 
have failed year after year, and been utterly 
discouraged until some fortunate character has 
brought out the latent strength within them. 

"My remarks must necessarily be general, for 
the value of any particular advice given to a 
person depends much upon that person's nature, 
his capabilities, and how far he has advanced. 

" Some actors are inspirational and inventive ; 
others, again, require everything to be clearly 
mapped out, and a thorough plan of action ar- 
ranged before they begin. The greatest excellence 
is attained when the mechanism forms the ground- 
work and base of the inspiration. If they go 
hand in hand, a harmonious performance is sure 
to be the result. 

" If you are unsuccessful as a poet, a painter, an 

architect, or even a mechanic, it is only your 



work that has failed ; but with the actor it does 
not end here : if he be condemned, it is himself 
that has failed. Then, too, he is present, and is 
the personal witness of the public's censure and 
his own mortification. He cannot, like the 
painter, rub out his work, or alter or improve it 
before it goes to the exhibition. The bad effect 
an actor has produced must stand against him. 
How necessary, then, that a clear and effective 
outline of his character should be sketched out 
and fully arranged before he exposes himself to 
this ordeal, or insults his audience by an unde- 
fined jumble of ineffective work. 

" The study of gesture and elocution, if taken 
in homeopathic doses and with great care, may be 
of service ; but great effects can only be pro- 
duced by great feeling, and, if the feeling be true 
and intense, the gesture and elocution must obey 
it. It is safer, however, to study gesture and 
elocution than to study nothing. Better be 
pedantic and mechanical than indefinite and care- 
less. The one at least shows a desire to please, 
while the other is insulting to an audience, and I 
don't believe that audiences ever forgive careless- 
ness. Besides, elocution will at least assist one 



in articulation, and this important adjunct is too 
often slighted on the stage. 

" Look at an audience during a play, and you 
will see that many are leaning forward, with an 
expression on their faces as though they were 
hopelessly seeking for information. They seem 
careworn and unhappy. This despair occurs 
generally in the earlier scenes, when the spec- 
tators are not all in their seats, and attention is 
difficult because of the noise of folding-chairs, 
he rustle of Mr. Worth's silk dresses, the sud- 
den desire to consult the play-bills to discover 
what theatre royal has lately been robbed of its 
artistic treasures, and, above all, the bobbing 
about of the late lamented Duchess of Gains- 
borough's irrepressible hat ; for, though we are 
told that this graceful article forms a fine back- 
ground to a lovely face, it is a bad foreground to 
a comedy. Now, as these difficulties are un- 
avoidable and will occur, the actor must show his 
generalship and meet the foe. Instead, therefore, 
of beginning work in a timid, inane, and in- 
different way, he should use precision, strength, 
articulation, and force, even beyond the require- 
ments of the scene, in order that he may get the 



confidence of the audience and., through this, 
their attention. 

" I have given no details here, because they 
could not be stated in writing. The few gener- 
alities that I have written are the result of my 
experience, which, I daresay, will widely differ 
from that of others who may write on the same 

" To those who may wish to follow the theatrical 
profession and who have an earnest desire beyond 
the exhibition of their own vanity to study the 
art of acting for its sake rather than for their 
own, I should desire to give all the information 
in my power ; but to those who, having nothing 
else to do and who desire to go upon the stage 
for amusement, I would give the same advice 
that c Punch ' did to people about to marry, — 
< Don't.' " 

One point humorously and pathetically touched 
upon by Jefferson in this article has never, to my 
knowledge, been mentioned before by writers on 
the subject, namely, the publicity which is un- 
avoidably given to the crude, initial efforts of the 
beginner on the stage, " while all the degrading 
offices of other occupations are performed in 



private." Not many people are so constituted as 
to be insensible to ridicule, the actor with his emo- 
tional nature less than others, and yet it is likely 
fewer things in life are more provocative of laughter 
than the first efforts of an actor. When, then, as 
Jefferson remarks, these personal mortifications 
are to be borne night after night, perhaps season 
after season, not only " in the full glare of the 
public," but, more galling still, in the patronizing, 
often unsympathetic, presence of one's associates, 
an adequate idea may be obtained of the heavy 
ransom success demands of the votaries of the 

Returning to Jefferson as an author, we may 
note that in 1895 tne text °^ t ^ le pW of "Rip 
Van Winkle " was published. The Introduction 
which Jefferson wrote was mainly an enlargement 
upon the same theme in his Autobiography. 

In 1898 he also wrote the Introduction to a 
publication of " The Cricket on the Hearth," by 
Charles Dickens. He points out the story as 
the exceptional work of its author which, when 
arranged for the stage, proved satisfactory. He 
mentions Dickens's rare talent as an amateur actor 



as naturally making the great novelist ambitious 
to succeed as a dramatist. The " theatrical style " 
of declamation in Dickens's reading is described, 
and Jefferson expresses satisfaction that Dickens 
finally secured the tangible applause he coveted. 
Jefferson did not say in this Introduction, as he 
might, that few people realize that it was likely 
only so prosaic a thing as a pain in the face that 
kept Charles Dickens from becoming an actor. 
For three years Dickens attended some theatre 
almost every night, but always, when possible, the 
one in which his idol, Charles Mathews, played. 
For five or six hours a day at home or in the 
fields, he practised " even such things," he says, 
"as walking in and out and sitting down in a chair," 
and he committed to memory a vast number of 
theatrical parts. Writing to the manager of Covent 
Garden, a day was appointed when Dickens's capa- 
bilities were to be tested. His sister Fanny was 
in the secret, and was to accompany him on the 
piano in songs to be sung in an " At Home " 
entertainment a la Mathews. An inflammation 
of the face obliged him to break the appointment, 
and he wrote the manager that he would resume 

his application next season. Soon after he made 



some success in another direction, and, to quote 
his own words : " I had a distinction in the world 
of the newspaper which made me like it; began 
to write ; gradually left off turning my thoughts 
that way [the stage], and never resumed the idea." 
In the light of what Dickens has done there can 
be no reason to .regret. He has given the world 
masterpieces of fiction that are for all time. As 
an actor, granting him to have reached the merit 
of a Garrick, his creations could have been but for 
a generation. It is as futile to speculate upon 
what Dickens might have been as an actor as it is 
profitable to reflect upon what he became as an 
author. No matter what the histrionic gain — and 
with increased knowledge of stage technique it is 
possible Dickens might have touched the border- 
land of Shakespearean creations and easily excelled 
the master as an actor — we could ill afford to lose 
all the host of marvellous high-relief character 
carvings from David Copperfield down — or 
up — to that gentle spirit of self-abnegation, 
Caleb Plummer, in the stage portrayal of which 
Joseph Jefferson shone so illustriously. 

Like many active-minded, active-moving men, 

Jefferson was fond of variety in his labors as well 

i 77 


as in his amusements. When he was not acting, 
painting, orating, or collecting art treasures, he 
occasionally " scribbled," as he called it. The 
lines, quoted in another chapter, on the Bacon- 
Shakespeare controversy are an example. 

No fitter ending to this chapter could be made 
than by the addition of Jefferson's lines on Im- 
mortality, in which he rose, in the opinion of 
many, to an unusual height. It might be called 
his "swan song/' and, along with his Auto- 
biography, will be quoted frequently when the 
memory of his acting is but a tradition. Mr. 
E. C. Benedict, to whom we are indebted for the 
preservation of the lines, had the greatest diffi- 
culty in procuring a copy of them from Jefferson, 
and only succeeded after repeated written and 
oral requests. On Jefferson's death they were 
given publicity by Mr. Benedict, who also gave, 
as follows, the way in which he first heard 

" One day last summer, when Mr. Jefferson 
and Mr. Cleveland were taking luncheon on 
board of the c Oneida/ in Buzzards Bay, the con- 
versation drifted to the subject of a future life. 
Mr. Jefferson expressed himself as very grateful 


Mr. Jefferson's son Frank standing by 


for having had more than his share of the joys of 
this life, and as being prepared to meet at any 
moment the common fate of all. He said he 
had lately been c scribbling some doggerel ' on 
the subject, and he recited his lines to us. I 
asked him for a copy of them, which he said he 
did not possess, but he promised to send me one. 
In February I reminded him of his promise, and 
received a signed copy of the verses, which he 
entitled c Immortality.* It seems as though 
these lines construct a beautiful bridge between 
faith and reason/' 


Two caterpillars crawling on a leaf 

By some strange accident in contact came. 

Their conversation, passing all belief, 

Was that same argument, the very same, 

That has been " proed and conned " from man to man, 

Yea, ever since this wondrous world began. 

The ugly creatures, 

Deaf and dumb and blind, 

Devoid of features 
That adorn mankind, 
Were vain enough, in dull and wordy strife, 
To speculate upon a future life. 
The first was optimistic, full of hope ; 
The second, quite dyspeptic, seemed to mope. 


Said number one, "I 'm sure of our salvation." 
Said number two, " I 'm sure of our damnation ; 
Our ugly forms alone would seal our fates 
And bar our entrance through the golden gates. 
Suppose that death should take us unawares, 
How could we climb the golden stairs ? 
If maidens shun us as they pass us by, 
Would angels bid us welcome in the sky ? 
I wonder what great crimes we have committed 
That leave us so forlorn and so unpitied. 
Perhaps we 've been ungrateful, unforgiving ; 
'Tis plain to me that life 's not worth the living." 
"Come, come, cheer up," the jovial worm replied, 
" Let 's take a look upon the other side. 
Suppose we cannot fly like moths or millers, 
Are we to blame for being caterpillars ? 
Will that same God that doomed us crawl the earth, 
A prey to every bird that 's given birth, 
Forgive our captor as he eats and sings, 
And damn poor us because we have not wings ? 
If we can't skim the air like owl or bat, 
A worm will turn ' for a' that.' " 
They argued through the summer ; autumn nigh, 
The ugly things composed themselves to die ; 
And so to make their funeral quite complete, 
Each wrapped him in his little winding-sheet. 
The tangled web encompassed them full soon, 
Each for his coffin made him a cocoon. 
All through the winter's chilling blast they lay 
Dead to the world, aye, dead as human clay. 


Lo, Spring comes forth with all her warmth and love ; 
She brings sweet justice from the realms above ; 
She breaks the chrysalis, she resurrects the dead; 
Two butterflies ascend encircling her head. 
And so this emblem shall forever be 
A sign of immortality. 





SHERIDAN declared that "The Rivals" 
was one of the worst plays in the language, 
and he would give anything if he had not 
written it. This declaration was made, however, 
years after the production of the play, when 
Sheridan had become great enough to look 
down patronizingly upon the literary efforts of 
his youth. 

" The School for Scandal," which may be taken 
as the highest expression of Sheridan's dramatic 
genius, was also a youthful performance, both 
plays bemg written before the author had attained 
his twenty-sixth year. Richard Brinsley Butler 
Sheridan, the future Member of Parliament and 
Treasurer of the British Navy, had every reason 
to be grateful to cc The Rivals." Its success en- 
abled him to avow his hitherto concealed marriage, 

^i& ' 



A ^ 

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m W\ 

k ^3*?^ 

^V ^^^^H IK» '"^Pvl^^H 









to extricate himself from desperate financial straits, 
and restore himself to the good graces of his 
father, the actor, " Tom " Sheridan, who had al- 
most abandoned his college-bred son as a hope- 
less scapegrace. The son was now propitiously- 
started upon that brilliant career in the course 
of which he should become the friend of princes 
and one of the most admired and popular men 
of his time. 

" The Rivals," owing to its length chiefly, and 
to some dissatisfaction with the cast of characters, 
was not at first a success. The reasons are clearly 
set forth by Bernard, the actor, who, passing 
through London, witnessed its initial performance. 
" It was so intolerably long and so decidedly 
opposed to the tastes of the day," he says, " as 
to draw down a censure which convinced me, on 
quitting the house, that it would never succeed. 
It must be remembered that this was the English 
c age of sentiment ' and Kelly and Cumberland 
had flooded the stage with immoral poems under 
the title of comedies, which took their views 
of life from the drawing-room exclusively and 
colored their characters with a nauseous French 

affectation. c The Rivals ' was an attempt to over- 



throw this taste and to follow up the blow which 
Goldsmith had given in c She Stoops to Con- 
quer/ My recollection of the manner in which 
the former was received bears me out in this 
supposition. The audience on this occasion was 
composed of two parties, — those who supported 
the prevailing taste and those who were indifferent 
to it and liked nature. The consequence was 
that Falkland and Julia (which Sheridan had 
obviously introduced to conciliate the senti- 
mentalists) were the characters most favorably 
received; while Sir Anthony Absolute, Acres, 
and Lydia were barely tolerated ; and Mrs. 
Malaprop (as she deserved to be) was singled 
out for peculiar vengeance. To this character 
alone must be attributed the partial failure of the 
play. She was denounced as a rank offence 
against all probability (which in dramatic life is 
possibility), as a thing without a parallel in soci- 
ety, a monstrous absurdity which had originated 
with the author." 

The play was withdrawn, condensed, recast, 
and then cc in a few days " started on that voyage 
of extraordinary favor which has endured until 

the present day. Sheridan was grateful enough 



at the time for its success, for in token of its 
appreciation he adapted, in forty-eight hours it is 
said, a two-act play called " St. Patrick's Day " 
for the benefit of the comedian Clinch, who in 
the recasting of the play had so successfully 
impersonated Sir Lucius O'Trigger. 

But who worries over the improbability of 
Mrs. Malaprop with her fine " derangement of 
epitaphs " and her " allegory on the banks of the 
Nile," or who cares whether or not she had a 
prototype in Dogberry, to whom she cannot 
hold a candle ? Who is disposed to quarrel with 
the seeming inconsistency of the fire-eating coun- 
try lout of an Acres with his new-fangled oaths 
of " odds tabors and pipes," " odds minims and 
crotchets," styled by him the " oath deferential " 
or " sentimental swearing," or his declaration that 
" damns have had their day," or who cares if 
he bears favorable comparison with Sir Andrew 
Aguecheek ? What matter is it if these fic- 
tional characters in this gorgeous bit of dramatic 
ebullition all, from Sir Anthony down to Fag 
and David, talk with a brilliance of wit not to 
be equalled by the most eloquent in real life ? 
Does not the happy result justify it all ? Is 



not, as Sheridan asserts, " the scope and imme- 
diate object of a play to please a mixed assembly 
in representation ? " And this " The Rivals " 
has done. 

In the selection of a contrasting picture, a 
companion character to his Rip, Jefferson dis- 
played a finely artistic sense. That this choice 
fell upon a play upon which no royalty or author's 
fee was to be paid was rather his good fortune 
than his deliberate choice. 

Winter's words are best. "In reviving c The 
Rivals ' and appearing as Acres," he says, " he 
afforded refreshment to the mind ; he lessened 
the possibility of making Rip Van Winkle tedi- 
ous ; he satisfied a craving for novelty on the 
part of his admirers ; he revived a just sense of 
the breadth of his scope as a comedian ; and, 
keeping pace with modern taste, he gave the 
public a new pleasure, a new picture in dramatic 
art, and a new subject for study and thought." 

He did more ; he excised all those stilted and 
questionable passages, and at least one of the 
parts, that of Julia, which Sheridan had regret- 
fully inserted and retained as a conciliation to 
the sentimentalists of the time. By allowable 



and creditable rearrangement, combination, and 
invention, he gave Acres an importance and a 
quality hitherto unknown. 

We laughed with Bob, as we had done be- 
fore, but, through the grace of Jefferson's genius, 
we also sympathized with him. The actor had 
bent the character to fit his peculiar powers, and 
this without injury to the form or detraction 
from the wit of the comedy, and with the ad- 
dition of an appealing attribute. Emulating the 
example of that accomplished dramatic craftsman, 
Dion Boucicault, he had condensed the play's 
dramatic effects, infused new life, imparted a new 
interest, and, like Boucicault, had exposed himself 
to censure. As we have seen, he has defended 
his course valiantly and wittily, but, considering 
the returns that course gave us and the source 
of the censure, Jefferson perhaps protested over- 
much. The changes Jefferson made, though 
somewhat more important, are precisely in line 
with those which, circumstances permitting, all 
intelligent actors, versed in the knowledge of their 
craft, are constantly making. The character of 
Acres -admitted of the prominence into which he 
thrust it, and such changes, especially with such 



a protagonist, it seems not unreasonable to sup- 
pose, Sheridan would have welcomed. 

Jefferson's revised version of " The Rivals " 
had a great success at its first performance, in 
1880, at Mrs. John Drew's Arch Street Theatre, 
Philadelphia, and, as we know, took its place 
thereafter in Jefferson's repertoire as a worthy 
companion piece to cc Rip Van Winkle." I once 
said to him : 

t' " I have often seen you criticised adversely 
for omitting certain lines of Sheridan from c The 
Rivals.' Why do you do it ? " 

" Because I cannot say them," he replied. 
" Because many things were not only permissible 
but demanded in Sheridan's time that would 
insult the more refined taste of the audience of 
to-day. For example, in c The Rivals ' Sir Lucius 
dictates the letter to Acres ; he says : c To pre- 
vent the confusion that might arise from our 
both addressing the same lady,' and Acres, ac- 
cording to Sheridan, confuses the lines and writes, 
speaking aloud, c From our both undressing the 
same lady ' ! 

" This was once spoken, but I took the liberty 

of substituting something less offensive and con- 


JZzFru**^ /^&»' 

yC*^ 4^^^' 


densing the piece to the form in which it is, and 
which I thought would make it more acceptable 
to the tastes of the present time. No," he con- 
tinued, " you ought to say nothing on the stage 
you would not say in private. You would n't 
insult your friends in private ; why should you 
in public ? " 

In the spring of 1895 a benefit performance 
of " The Rivals " was given at the Fifth Avenue 
Theatre for Jefferson's friend C. W. Couldock, 
the veteran actor. Besides Jefferson, a number 
of prominent actors were in the cast. From this 
performance came the idea of forming an all- 
star company to play the same comedy on tour 
for a month. This was carried into effect, after 
much trouble involving a great deal of negotia- 
tion. The tour began May 4, 1896, at Spring- 
field, Mass., and ended, after thirty performances, 
May 30, 1896, in New York City. A special 
train of Pullman cars housed the company and 
bore it after performances to the various cities in 
which it was to appear. The route was as fol- 
lows: May 4th, Springfield; 5th, Hartford; 6th, 
New Haven; 7th, New York, matinee; 7th, 
Brooklyn, night; 8th, Philadelphia ; 9th, Balti- 



more, afternoon; 9th, Washington, night; nth, 
Pittsburg; 12th, Louisville; 13th, Cincinnati, 
matinee and night; 14th, St. Louis; 15th and 
1 6th, Chicago, two nights and matinee; 18th, 
Milwaukee; 19th, Indianapolis; 20th, Grand 
Rapids, Mich.; 21st, Toledo, Ohio, afternoon; 
2 1st, Detroit, night; 22d, Columbus, Ohio; 
23d, Cleveland, Ohio ; 25th, Buffalo ; 26th, 
Rochester ; 27th, Syracuse, afternoon ; 27th, 
Utica, night ; 28th, Albany ; 29th, Boston, after- 
noon ; 29th, Worcester, night; 30th, New York. 
After all business arrangements had been made 
I wrote Mr. Jefferson about rehearsals, the cos- 
tumes, etc., of David, and received the following 

1 3 19 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, La., 
Feb. 21, '96. 

My dear Sir Francis, 1 — If as David you 
were to dance before the Lord or go on an ille- 
gitimate courting expedition after the Queen of 
Sheba, I would suggest short skirts for the first 
and an acrobatic get-up for the latter, but for my 
old friend David in " The Rivals " — pumps, 

1 My usual form of address to him was " My dear Sir 
Joseph.' ■ 






Sir Anthony Absolute, - William H Crane 

Captain Absolute, -.---. Robert Taber 
Falkland, «----»«. Joseph Holland 

Acres, ------•« Joseph Jefferson 

Sir Lucius O'Tr igger, - - - Nat. C. Goodwin 

Fag, E. M. Holland 

David, Francis Wilson 

Mrs. Malaprop, - Mrs. John Drew 

Lydia Languish, ----- Julia Marlowe Taber 
Lucy, - .-- Fanny Rice 


ACT I.— Scene 1 — Mrs. Malaprop's Reception Room. Scene 2— 
Captain Absolute's Bachelor Apartments. 

ACT II.— Scene 1— North Parade at Bath, showing Bath Abbey. 
Scene 2 — Mrs. Malaprop's Reception Room. Scene 3— Apartments 
of Bob Acres. 

ACT III. — Scene 1 — Mrs. Malaprop's Apartments. Scene 2— 
Hallway in Mrs. Malaprop's House. Scene 3— King's Meadea Fields, 
showing the City of Bath and Cathedral in the distance. (The cele- 
brated Dueling grounds. 

Scenery by Walter Burridge. Construction by 0. L. Hagen. 
Costumes by Herman. 




whife stockings, red plush breeches, long yellow 
vest, white necktie with huge bow, and a long 
old-fashioned square-cut livery. As for the wig, 
that, as Sam Weller says, "depends upon the 
taste and fancy of the speller, my lord." I would 
say a red or black close crop. But whatever color 
you choose you are sure to paint the Town red. 

A little later he wrote : 

Boston, April 29, 1896. 

... I find it will be quite out of the question 
to rehearse in Springfield until Monday. If you 
can get here Saturday morning or afternoon, I 
can give you an hour or two at my hotel, the 
Parker House. Your photo of David is ad- 
mirable. You seem to have hit the spirit of 
it. I predict great things for you ; but nous 
verrons, as we say in Dutch. . . . 

It was the honor more than the liberal emol- 
ument of the thing which, at the end of a labori- 
ous season, brought together such a company as 
The Rivals organization. There was an aesthetic 
flavor about the whole tour, a unanimity of feel- 
ing that rendered it particularly delightful. Such 
was the buoyancy of feeling that I am not sure 

that the most inefficient of us did not feel him- 



self quite competent to play the most impor- 
tant part. However that may be, I do know 
that nobody felt himself too big to play the small- 
est part. I thought that a record of the incidents 
and accidents (if any), and anecdotes of the trip 
might prove interesting. I set them down imme- 
diately, while the impressions were fresh. They 
follow, with the exception of much which has 
been used to illustrate previous chapters, and the 
addition of a few which subsequent recollection 
made possible. A great deal that I recorded was 
never meant for publication, merely for my own 
remembrance. However, I sent the manuscript 
entire to Jefferson, who commended certain parts, 
blue-pencilled and objected to others. He felt 
sure that my eagerness to include all that had 
been said and done had made me overlook the 
ultimate effect that "the printed form, unaccom- 
panied by cheerful manner and good feeling, would 
have upon those concerned," and that he wanted 
to be as frank with me as if I were at his elbow. 

" My book," he writes a few days later, " gave 
me my first experience. I told too much. Gilder 
warned me. I would not hold back till I saw 
it in cold type, then I cried ' Peccavi ! ' and saw 


ty^*<^*^£^iU<e,au^ . 


how right he was. I will read you some of 
c The Rejected Addresses ' when we meet, so 
that you can judge." 

On Saturday, November 7th, he writes : " I 
will send you the Star Trip. I am still in my 
original frame of mind regarding it. It puts you 
in the light of a hero-worshipper and me on a 
theatrical throne chair with an assumed air of 
modesty, but slyly acquiescing in the praise. Of 
course I have nothing more to say, and so leave 
it for you to decide, except as to certain allusions. 
Tho' I feel at liberty to chat about or criticise 
an actor or actress in writing or in conversation, 
to indorse the publication of harsh or censurable 
remarks would place me justly in an unenviable 
position." I wrote him that I cared more for 
his good opinion than for the publication of 
twenty journals, however frankly kept, and that 
I had no idea that many of the things set down 
would pass muster with him, but that I had let 
them all stand for his pencil's slash or neglect, 
and that the whole thing had been written subject 
to his criticism and decision. In the journal 
which follows no part, of course, to which Jef- 
ferson objected is printed. 



All-Star Rjvals Tour, Springfield, Mass., 
May 3, 1896. 

Came up from New York with Mrs. Drew, 
N. C. Goodwin, Edward Holland, Joseph Hol- 
land, Fanny Rice, and Joseph Brooks. 

On reaching Springfield drove to the Pullman 
cars lying side-tracked by the river. Mr. Jeffer- 
son, Julia Marlowe-Taber, and Robert Taber 
were assembled in the drawing-room, dining- 
room, morning-room Pullman car, and the greet- 
ings over we sat down to dinner, which was 
excellent as to food and service. Crane and his 
wife are at the Massasoit House, the former in- 
disposed with a dreadful cold and with strict 
injunctions from the physician to speak only in 
a whisper. This means torture to Crane, who is 
exceedingly nervous in the slightest illness, and 
imagines the day of judgment close at hand. 

There is a large table at which we sit thus : 

Goodwin. Marlowe-Taber. Taber. 


Jefferson. Q 

Q Mrs. Drew. 


Crane. Mrs. Crane. Wilson. 

1 V 


Taken on the rear platform of the car carrying the 

All-Star "Rivals" Company 


There are smaller tables arranged thus : 

Baby Grandma 
Rice. Rice. 

o o 

J. Holland. 




Dr. Purdy 



Ned Holland. 

Willie Miss 

Jefferson. Ratcliffe. 1 

o o_ 

Jefferson boys. 





Mrs. H. M. Pitt. 1 

Jefferson promises to be reminiscent, Mrs. 
Drew dignified and corroborative, Goodwin, and 
no doubt Crane, anecdotal, Fanny Rice maternal, 
while the Tabers, Hollands, and I, though ven- 
turing an occasional leading note, shall be gen- 
erally content to play the appreciative listeners 
who provoke the leaders to excel. To me the 
sweetest member of the company is Fanny Rice's 

Standing much in need of a general rehearsal, 
it was decided to go through the play in the parlor 
of the Massasoit House. Having arrived at the 
hotel, we at once paid our respects to the Cranes, 

1 Understudies. 


where William was found the picture of de- 
spair. We jibed him into better humor, and saw 
him relax into his accustomed pleasantness of 

The doctor being there with sprays and laryn- 
goscopical implements, everybody, nearly, in 
the company became affected with pharyngitis 
or larynx failure, and underwent instant treat- 
ment. The scene was wellnigh indescribable, 
there being a general holiday atmosphere over 
the whole proceeding. There were jokes and 
shouts of laughter as each new patient took the 
chair and swallowed quantities of ether, iodoform, 
and cocaine. The nasal inhalator was passed 
around, and dexterously adjusted and manipu- 
lated. There were burlesque diagnoses of the 
cases, some of which went pretty close to the 
mark. Crane was declared to have corns on his 
vocal cords, and Goodwin hypertrophy of the 
theatrical septum. Cocaine was sprayed as hair- 
oil, and Taber, whose pharynx was really con- 
gested, was pronounced in perfect health. High 
hats, sofa-pillows, Jefferson, and Mrs. Drew went 
through a course of unusual spraying treatment. 
Off in a corner of the room surreptitious glances 


Sir Anthony Absoli 

twsu^iM; *" C\\> 


were being taken at the lines soon to be spoken 
in the rehearsal apartment, and one exceedingly 
nervous member knelt in reverence before an 
open book of " The Rivals " in a frantic effort 
to get a deeper impression of the lines he knew 
perfectly weeks before. 

Mr. Jefferson conducted the rehearsal with an 
occasional valuable suggestion from Mrs. Drew, 
who is very firm and alert at seventy-six. Re- 
hearsing in a small room with all one's stellar 
confreres huddled about one is a trying expe- 
rience. There were blanched cheeks and profuse 
perspiration, for which even the warmth of the 
room did not fully account. In fact, a strong 
case of stage fright developed all around. Mr. 
Jefferson confessed himself nervous, not for him- 
self, but for the people ! It did not occur to 
anybody to be nervous for Mr. Jefferson. After 
each one had gone through his scene, he would 
heave a sigh of relief and escape into the hall. 
I felt easier as I saw them drift out about the 
time Acres and David were to appear, and, for 
fear that they would return inopportunely, I 
turned the key in the door, and obliged them to 
knock repeatedly before gaining admittance. Mr. 


Jefferson, whose hearing is somewhat dull, did 
not for a while take in the situation. 

As the rehearsal progressed, it was plain that 
anxiety to please and the newness of the situation 
were having a marked effect upon the acting of 
the people, Jefferson and Mrs. Drew being the 
only ones to do themselves justice. 

The Tabers and Crane have been rehearsing 
all the week, but the Hollands, Fanny Rice, 
and I are just beginning. Goodwin has once 
played his role of Sir Lucius. 

Thoroughly tired, nervously so, all reached 
the car after rehearsal and sat down to refresh- 
ments. The ladies have all disappeared, and 
the men are swapping anecdotes and relating ex- 
periences. Jefferson tells some funny things of 
the elder Holland. What attention is paid the 
talker ! How he responds to it, too ! At the 
christening of Joe Holland, Jefferson standing as 
godfather, and promising to bring Joe up in the 
Protestant faith, — a promise, he reminded Hol- 
land, he had forgotten until to-night, — the ladies 
of the christening party were very much over- 
come with the solemnity of the occasion, and 
Jefferson was astonished to find that Holland 


fere was much overcome as well. His head was 
in his hands, and his body swayed with apparent 
grief. Jefferson could not remember to have 
seen his old friend so moved and, placing his 
hand upon his shoulders, he spoke a few en- 
couraging words. To his amazement Holland 
gave him a punch with his elbow, and looked 
up at him with a wink so wofully ridiculous that 
it sent Jefferson from the church in a fit of only 
half-concealed laughter, while Holland assumed 
his attitude of emotion. 

It was a rare treat to hear Jefferson and Mrs. 
Drew talk over old times, old plays, and old 
friends. They were in excellent mood this morn- 
ing, and I confess being strongly tempted to take 
out a pencil and make notes on the spot. I think 
I never saw two people of the stage freer from 
pretence and affectation. Actors and actresses, 
particularly those of the " old school," are prone 
to carry into private life something of the grand 
manner they have been accustomed to assume 
on the stage. But there is nothing of this in 
Jefferson and Mrs. Drew. There is, on the 
contrary, an alert, rather jaunty air of modernity 

about Jefferson which I have often observed be- 



fore. It would have been quite natural for Mrs. 
Drew to carry into private life some of the 
queenly airs of the grandes dames and heroines 
of the drama, but I find no trace of it. There is 
dignity a plenty ; and when she speaks, she does 
so with an air of assured but never presumptuous 
authority, as one who has been accustomed to 
command. She has a deliciously keen sense of 
the finest gradations of humor, and it is most 
interesting to watch the peculiar expression about 
the eyes and mouth, indicative of her thorough 
grasp and enjoyment of a jest. As these two 
royal representatives of the drama sat talking, 
and I contrasted their simple, unaffected man- 
ner, both of speech and action, with that of 
some pretentious members of the players* pro- 
fession, I was reminded of the remark of a gifted 
artist who, when his attention was called to some 
students whose long hair and conspicuous dress 
obviously proclaimed their artistic ambitions, 
said : " Oh, if they only knew that art does 
not consist of that I " 

Mrs. Drew declared the elder Booth an " idio- 
syncratic reader,'' — that he thrust his views too 

much upon an audience by undue emphasis upon 



passages that reflected the reader s personal opin- 
ion and bias. She gave as an example Lear's 
lines about Cordelia : 

" Her voice was ever soft and low, — 
An excellent thing in woman," 

the adjectives of which, she said, he unduly ex- 
aggerated. This was confirmed by Mr. Jefferson, 
who declared " Booth put too much individuality 
into his readings." 

We spoke of his (Jefferson's) Autobiography, 
and he asked me what had most impressed me 
in it. 

" What an awful question to ask the man ! " 
said Mrs. Drew. " Suppose he can't think of 
anything ? " 

But I thought of the descriptive power dis- 
played, and which I believed unusual in a man 
who had excelled in another field, and Mr. Jeffer- 
son was visibly pleased at my comment. I went 
on to say that possibly the two most dramatic 
incidents in the book were his meeting with the 
Australian shepherd and his dog " Schneider," 
as I purposely misquoted, — 

"Jack," instantly corrected Jefferson, 
— and the performance of " The Ticket-of- 


Leave Man " before an audience composed of 
convicts ; but that nothing had amused me more 
than his visit to the Chinese theatre, when he 
had gazed into the fat and stolid countenance 
of the Mongolian tragedian and wondered if he 
had ever heard of Shakespeare. Jefferson smiled 
as I recalled the scene, and Mrs. Drew congrat- 
ulated him on his success as a fisher for com- 
pliments. Mrs. Drew thought the account of 
Jefferson carrying the letter from the tearful 
father in South America to the unfilial daughter 
and her iceberg of a husband in Australia, together 
with the frigidity of Jefferson's reception, one of 
the best things in the book. Mr. Jefferson told 
us that the father's name was Power, and that the 
daughter was a niece of Lady B . 

Dickens was mentioned, and Jefferson spoke 
of William Warren's disappointment in Dickens 
as a reader. Mrs. Drew had heard him read and 
corroborated Warren's judgment. 

" He characterized too much," she said, <c by 
acting all the voices, thus giving the imagination 
no opportunity. There was no relief, — no chance 
for the imagination of the listener to play. The 

reading became monotonous." 



" On a trip to San Francisco/' said Jefferson, 
" a number of favorable critiques of my per- 
formances in Eastern cities was, for purposes of 
advertisement, printed and circulated in the Oc- 
cidental city. On my arrival I found Harry 
Perry, an old-time actor, reading one of these 
papers, and asked what he thought of it. 

" Gad ! " said he, " but you must have improved 
since I last saw you !" 

I asked Mr. Jefferson and Mrs. Drew how 
much of their life they supposed had been given 
over to written and oral advice to stage-struck men 
and women and to their friendly interceders. Mrs. 
Drew's eyes were instantly uplifted with an ex- 
pression of despair, while Jefferson gave vent to a 
prolonged whistle which was more significant than 
describable. Much was said about the matter, the 
gist of which was that such sacrificed time was the 
penalty exacted of all people attaining positions of 
prominence. Jefferson was prompt and uniformly 
courteous in all such affairs ; dignified and helpful 
to strangers, and humorously blunt to friends. 

I give the following letter to the famous ag- 
nostic, kindly loaned by Mrs. Ingersoll, as part 

illustration of what has been said : 



Buzzards Bay, June 12th, '90. 

My dear Ingersoll, — I regret there is no 
opening in our company for your young friend. 
If there were you may be assured that he would 
have it for your sake. 

English comedy, the only dish we have to 
offer, seems to lose its flavor when not cooked up 
by experienced actors. I might say antiquated, 
for we belong not to the fossil but to the carbonic 
era — a lot of "lean and slippered pantaloons." 
Some day, when chance offers, I shall be glad 
to see Mr. Hazleton and advise him on the 
matter. . . . 

Faithfully yours, 


I asked him if he had been much bothered 
by people who wanted to name patent medi- 
cines, games, cigars, etc., after him or his plays. 
He answered : cc I once received an appreciative 
letter from a gentleman who had seen c Rip Van 
Winkle/ and who declared with some show of 
eloquence that he longed to present me with 
some tangible evidence of his appreciation. His 
name was Dunk, and he was a manufacturer, and 
he would take pleasure in presenting me with 



one of his beds. All that he would request was 
that in the third act of ' Rip Van Winkle,' after 
rising from the sleep of twenty years, I should 
say : £ I 'd have had a better time if I had had 
one of Dunk's patent spring beds ! ' " 

" First night " came at last, and with it as 
nervous a crowd of Thespians gathered to play 
" The Rivals " as one could well imagine. Those 
who had rehearsed unfalteringly in the morn- 
ing were the first to " dry up " in the evening. 
There were no great lapses, nor yet any noticeable 
embarrassments, the people being much too clever 
and experienced for that, but Mr. Jefferson had 
something of a task holding us all together. Sir 
Lucius and Falkland, Jack Absolute and David, 
came in for promptings that were timely and skil- 
ful from Acres. These promptings were not to 
be wondered at when it is remembered that be- 
sides the peculiarity of the situation, in the num- 
ber of years Mr. Jefferson has played the piece, 
much new stage business and many very worthy 
lines and phrases that greatly enrich the play, and 
especially the part of Acres, have crept in, and, so 
far as I could discover, exist only in the memory 



of the man who headed not only this company 
but the American theatrical profession. Speeches 
that one studies as an entirety are broken in upon 
by the clever sayings of Bob, and one is left for 
the instant wholly disconcerted. The cleverness 
and naturalness of the interpolations enlist at- 
tention in the direction of Acres, all of which 
naturally confuses until complete familiarity is 
established. Then, too, to one who has himself 
been for years the central figure of plays, it is 
more or less embarrassing at first to find himself, 
in stage slang, " feeding the situations " of another. 

The audience gave the performance breathless 
attention, and in their eagerness to hear every 
word forgot to applaud. Jefferson remarked it, 
but was scarcely at loss to account for it. As the 
play progressed, however, the audience became 
demonstrative and ultimately enthusiastic. At 
the end of the second act there was an especially 
hearty recall, and as the curtain rose and the ten 
cc stars" stood forth, there came a wave of tremen- 
dous applause. Thereafter there were numerous 
scene recalls and Jefferson made a speech. 

All the players, except Mr. Jefferson and 
Mrs. Drew, feel the irksomeness of the new 


situation, while to the others the roles seem very 
small compared to those each has been accus- 
tomed to play. 

Miss Marlowe confided to the writer that she 
thought Lydia Languish " such a silly lady." 
Goodwin was in despair over his role, which he 
thought was far from good. The condition of 
Crane's voice gave him real cause for complaint, 
and though Taber did not say so, he looked as 
if there were much too much of Jack Absolute 
for the little credit he possesses. Nearly every 
one has a word of discontent. It is, in fact, the 
usual period of depressive reaction. All this will 
have passed away with a few performances. 

It would be difficult to find a more lovable 
man than the " Governor," as Jefferson is called 
by his sons and others. He is courteous, kindly, 
considerate, able, affable, and felicitous. He has 
a fund of anecdotes and is original in thought and 
humorous in expression. His sense of right and 
wrong is accurate and swift, and he is prompt 
and fearless in the condemnation of the slightest 
injustice. He is never stubborn in the main- 
tenance of a position, and will yield gracefully 
to well-taken points in opposition to his views. 


There is a gentleness and sweetness in all he says 
or does that readily endears him to people. 

The subject of education came up. I asked 
him in what degree the lack of it was any barrier 
to the success of an actor. He thought that it 
would discover the actor to the cultured portion 
of his public, but would not greatly hinder his 
success. Edmund Kean he believed to be an 
illiterate man, but there was never any question 
of his great ability after the London debut in 
" Shylock." " Education has nothing to do with 
the expression of a passion," he said. 

" Do you not believe that the profession of an 
actor is perhaps the one most capable of utilizing 
information of whatever nature ? In short, the 
aptitude being given, that a man will succeed who 
possesses the greatest educational advantages ? " 

To this both Mr. Jefferson and Mrs. Drew an- 
swered emphatically : " Yes, of course ! " Lydia 
Languish then remarked naively that it was no 
disadvantage to hold a hand full of graces. 

Then came a discussion of Edwin Booth. 
Jefferson thought him " superior in c Hamlet/ 
for which he was best fitted by nature and much 
study." Mrs. Drew preferred him as Bertuccio 


in " The Fool's Revenge." Goodwin gave his 
voice for Tarquin in cc The Fall of Tarquin," in 
which Jefferson thought " Edwin " was very fine ; 
he also thought " Macbeth " the weakest per- 
formance in Booth's repertory. "As young 
men, but of vastly different types/' declared 
Jefferson, " Edwin Booth and Edwin Forrest 
were very handsome men." 

I asked Mrs. Drew to deny or affirm an often 
told story about herself and Mr. " Mat" Snyder, 
who was in her employ at the Arch Street 
Theatre, " Philadelphia. 

Mrs. Drew. Go on, I '11 answer. 

" It is said that you did not desire to retain the 
services of the gentleman in question for another 
season, and that you informed him of your de- 
cision by regretting that you and he were not 
to be together the following year, and that Mr. 
Snyder said : c Are you going to leave us, 

There was some laughter at this, and when it 
was quite done, Mrs. Drew replied : 

" It is not true. If I had not desired to 
re-engage the gentleman, it would not have been 
necessary to address him at all." 


" That 's it," said Jefferson ; " we never say 
the best things in any story " ; and here he re- 
counted the General Grant story previously told. 

As we rode down in the carriage from the 
theatre at Hartford, the subject of music was 
started, and Mr. Jefferson made a confession that 
will hardly bring joy to the worshippers at the 
throne of Wagner. He thought that quite the 
cleverest thing " Bill " Nye ever said was : cc My 
friend Wagner's music is really much better than 
it sounds." 

He went on to tell that his daughter, who is 
very fond of music, took him to hear " Lohen- 
grin," and turning to him in the middle of the per- 
formance, her face radiant with enjoyment, asked 
him if he were not now glad she insisted upon 
coming. " My dear child," he replied, " I wish 
we had gone to c Tony ' Pastor's ! " 

" Music, Wilson, is not intellectual, it is emo- 
tional. Here was a grand love story without a 
single love lay in it ! It was not even emotional 
to me ; it was simply mechanical ! " 

" But, my dear Mr. Jefferson," I interjected, 
"you will not deny that there may be some 
emotion, some skill in Wagnerian music, which 



nature has made it impossible for you to under- 
stand or appreciate ? " 

" Certainly not," he replied ; " there must be 
great merit in it or it could not have lived and 
interested as it does. Not to confess this would 
be very narrow indeed, and I hope I am not that. 
But Wagner is not for me. Its beauties to me 
are as a sealed book." 

We spoke of happiness. "Joy," I said, 
" is the god of our household. No one is 
permitted to hang crape on the door of our 

" That 's the proper way," he made answer. 
" Happiness is the religion of our family. To 
begin with, we take all the , comic papers. No 
one is permitted to read aloud, and he is begged 
not to read even to himself, about the mangled 
corpse of the father and the roasted bodies of 
the babies, — subjects with which the daily papers 
disgustingly teem." 

He spoke of once meeting Lawrence Barrett 
standing on a street corner waiting for a car to 
take him to the gymnasium. 

<c Going to exercise when you get there, I 
suppose ? " said Jefferson. 



" Of course," Barrett replied. 

" Why don't you walk ? " Jefferson added. 
" It's better exercise, and it'll save you the time 
and trouble of going." 

He thought it a great outrage to run an 
underground railway through the graveyard of 
the Boston Common, and argued from that the 
advantages of cremation, to which he was not 
averse. He drew a humorous picture of the 
confusion that would take place about the Com- 
mon when the Judgment Day Bugle blew. Some 
bodies in collecting their limbs would be apt 
to discover that they had two lefts and no right 
leg. Another would apologize for the tardi- 
ness of his arrival before the Seat of Justice 
on the ground that he had a Subway running 
through his spinal column ! 

He thought it humorously impertinent in 

certain wits to call a well-known Italian actor 

" Macaroni," his son " Spaghetti," and his grand- 

son " Vermicelli." The story was Suggested by 

somebody saying at dinner that he preferred 

macaroni with shellac (tomato) sauce. He also 

remembered, apropos of this, that the old-time 

actor, when salaries were in arrears or from pure 




as Captain Absolute 


cussedness, would guy his speeches. In the play 
of " The Stranger/' the phrase " One last look, 
and then, forget her ! " was frequently read " One 
last look and then spaghetti ! " 

It is believed that the theatrical profession 
never contained greater quizzers or "guyers" 
than Charles R. and Edwin Thorne. It was 
related of them by our " Sir Lucius " that Charles 
once engaged Edwin Thorne to play the " mes- 
senger " who brings the letter to Claude Melnotte 
in Bulwer's " Lady of Lyons." Knowing Edwin's 
propensity to pranks, Charles gave him the part 
only on the solemn promise that nothing that 
was not in the role should be said or done. The 
scene runs : 

Servant. A letter for Citizen Melnotte. 

Claude. A letter! from her perhaps — who 
sent thee ? 

Servant. Why, Monsieur — I mean Citizen 
Beauseant — Beauseant, who stops to dine at the 
Golden Lion on his way to his chateau, etc., etc. 

The following is what is said to have actually 
occurred : 

Servant. A letter for Mr. Belmont. 

Claude (under his breath). Damn your eyes, 



what did I tell you ? Do you want to ruin 
everything? (Aloud) What ! 

Servant (doggedly). You heard what I said ! 

Claude (aside, with much meaning). I '11 give 
it to you for this ! (Aloud) Who sent thee ? 

Servant. Old Bansang! 

(Exit Servant, very abruptly pursued by Claude 
in a murderous frame of mind.) 

Charles pursued Edwin upstairs into his dress- 
ing-room, where the latter securely barricaded him- 
self. " Come out ! " yells Charles. " I won't ! " 
replies Edwin, and then in an effeminate tone 
he called through the keyhole: "And, Charley 
whoever told you you could play Claude Mel- 
notte told you a wicked, wicked story ! " 

(Exit Charles in roars of laughter.) 

<c In a previous season with c The Rivals/ " 
said Jefferson, " Maurice Barrymore, one of the 
wittiest of men, was in the company. He ar- 
ranged the Christmas presents for the members 
of the cast. Among the gifts were peanuts to 
Mrs. Drew, who abhors them, and to me a book 
of c The Rivals ' with every part cut out except 
Bob Acres. ,> Jefferson told this with gleeful 



Professor Weir, of Yale, gave us a charm- 
ing reception, at which there were beautiful 
women and distinguished men. On leaving 
the house, " Sir Lucius " Goodwin had hold 
of " Acres " Jefferson's arm, while " David " 
Wilson grasped that of " Sir Anthony " Crane. 
We were all in formal attire, — long black 
coats, gloves, and tall hats, — and the departure 
from the scene of festivity was so much like a 
funeral procession that " Sir Lucius " comically 
increased the resemblance by taking off his hat 
and saying solemnly to Jefferson, " He was a 
good fellow ! " 

Jefferson, thinking he referred to our host, said : 
" Yes, he is a fine man ! " 

" No," persisted " Sir Lucius," tearfully, re- 
ferring to the suggestion inspired by the proces- 
sion, " I mean the deceased." 

The remark was so unexpected and so humor- 
ously made that we could scarcely control our- 
selves until out of sight of the house, when we 
all gave way to a prolonged fit of laughter. 

In the manuscript sent Jefferson, this was one 
of the stories objected to ; but Professor Weir, 
having a sense of humor and seeing no impro- 



priety where indeed none was intended, consents 
to the story's publication. 

The performance at New Haven was remark- 
ably smooth. The audience was one of the most 
enthusiastic I have ever met. 

Mrs. Drew thought the extreme heartiness of 
the plaudits would likely spoil us for the rest 
of the trip. Jefferson was sure the subsequent 
enthusiasm would equal it, and it did. After the 
performance we were entertained by Professors 
Weir and Lounsbury at the Graduates' Club. 

We — Jefferson, Crane, Goodwin, and I — 
were conducted to the " Crypt," sung to, and told 
we were "jolly good fellows " and obliged to make 
responses, which we did. Jefferson enjoyed the 
speeches hugely, supporting himself against the 
wall when laughing heartily. 

Jefferson, Crane, and Goodwin went down to 
New York by boat to-night. 

The matinee performance at the American 
Theatre, New York, was a clean-cut, fine repre- 
sentation, with everybody on the qui vive before 
an audience that was delightful to see, thrilling 
to hear. 

I heard some complaint that New York should 

yy y^^^^^c^e^^i^^^^^i^^Fa? 

Tuy 0,/^$- 


have been put off with a single performance and 
that a matinee, while Brooklyn was given an 
evening. When arrangements were being made, 
no theatre had open time for the date intended 
to be played. Jefferson deemed it prudent to 
give but one performance. "It was better," he 
said " to underrate than overrate." He widely 

The Brooklyn and Philadelphia engagements 
were but a repetition of that of New York. It 
was a grand sight in the Quaker City to see the 
vast Academy of Music with its tiers of people 
cheering on the efforts of the artists. Mr. Jeffer- 
son made a speech in which he said he had com- 
pressed the play into the shape he believed the 
public of the present day would accept. He 
spoke of the precocity of Sheridan, who had 
written two of the greatest comedies of this 
or any other age, " The Rivals " and " The 
School for Scandal," and that too before he was 
twenty-six years of age. He again justified his 
amendments and alterations of " The Rivals." 

Of acting, he said it was a great mistake for 
the artist to attempt entirely to sink his individu- 
ality in the parts he assumed. By so doing he 


was robbing the audience of that for which they 
were looking, that for which they admired him. 
One day I called his attention to the fact that in 
his Autobiography he had condemned "star" 
casts of plays. In a speech before the curtain 
he spoke of having written that star casts were 
usually failures ; and this he still maintained, be- 
cause it was difficult for people who had become 
accustomed to positions of prominence to adapt 
themselves — " to subordinate themselves " — 
were the exact words — to the situations of the 
play. He felt sure, however, that the audience 
would agree with him that the present cast was a 
gloriously exceptional instance. 

Speaking with him about the extraordinary 
advance in importance of the modern Dutch 
painters in whom he was greatly interested, I 
asked him to define the difference between those 
two great Dutch masters, Israels and Neuhuys. 

" I think Neuhuys/* he said, " quite as good 
an artist or workman as Israels, — in fact, he is 
even a better craftsman, — but he lacks the spirit- 
ual quality of Israels. It is as in acting, where, 
while one man will play a part in a satisfactory 
way, another will take the same role and by add- 


ing a spiritual quality make it a wholly different 
and more successful thing." 

Mr. Jefferson, his son " Willie," Charles A. 
Walker, of Boston, and I visited the Walters 
gallery in Baltimore. He stopped in an ad- 
miring way before Rousseau's " L'Effet du 
Givre," or, as he calls it, "Frosty Morning," — 
the sky effect of which is so superb, and said : " I 
have seen it often before, but it never looked 
so big (fine) to me as it does to-day." He said 
further that Mr. Walters the elder had paid 
$35,000 for it, and that Mr. Widener, of Phila- 
delphia, had told him of his intention to bid 
$75,000 for it if in his time the painting were 
ever offered for sale. In such an event Jeffer- 
son thought it would bring $100,000. Troyon's 
" Cattle " he found to be " the quintessence of 
fine art." He declared Decamps* " Suicide " to 
be a great piece of art, notwithstanding the un- 
pleasantness of the subject. The light effect 
was especially fine. 

He inveighed constantly against the dreadful, 

the unpleasant in art, and said no man had a 

right to poison the atmosphere of his home with 

it. Yet, on questioning, I found his admiration 



so great for the skill of this " Suicide " of De- 
camps' that he would be willing to have it in 
his home. 

"You see," he said in explanation, "there is 
nothing particularly unpleasant about the man 
lying across the table — from a short distance ; 
from here it might be a rose." I did not quite 
admit this, but it cannot be denied that the skill 
is great. 

Later he said : " Decamps does not horrify his 
subject, he poetizes it. 

" This poetry and mystery," he continued, " I 
try to give to c Rip Van Winkle.' If Rip were 
to yawn in Act II, the effect would be lost, for 
a yawn would be expressive of a night's rest. 
The mysteriousness in the play comes from hav- 
ing no one speak but Rip in the scenes in the 

" The Coming Storm," by Daubigny, he called 
one of the most "jewel" pictures he ever saw. 
He begged me not to neglect to take a good look 
at Fortuny's " Snake Charmer," one of the gems 
of the collection. 

De Neuville's " In the Trenches," so worthily 

placed in this great collection, was offered to Mr. 


o^ jEZI 


Jefferson in London twenty years ago for three 
hundred dollars ; thousands could not buy it 
to-day. This brought about Mr. Jefferson's char- 
acterization of the difference between De Neu- 
ville and Detaille. The latter he described as a 
great artist, but no genius ; De Neuville, he said 
was both a great artist and a great genius. 

Millet's " Sheepfold " he thought one of the 
world's greatest pictures. cc Millet," he said, 
" painted from within, — that is, painted with his 
soul ! The picture grows as one looks at it. So 
penetrating is his poetry, so completely does soli- 
tude invade the fancy, one forgets the painting is 
but twenty inches wide, and soon believes it as 
big as nature itself." 

Jefferson drew our attention to the great sim- 
plicity of the work, which, with the poetry of 
the artist, he said, was the very bulwark of his 

He made a contrast between Millet and Jules 
Breton, describing the latter's composition and 
figures as skilful but theatrical. 

While viewing a Troyon, he remarked the dis- 
tinction between art and realism, that they could 
not live together. If they could, pinning real 


wool on a painted sheep would be better than 
Troyon's masterly reproduction of it. 

" The distinction between De Neuville and De- 
taille needs qualification, perhaps/' he remarked. 
" I don't know but Detaille is the better artist, as 
far as his detail and drawing are concerned, but 
it is on a flat surface and carries with it no such 
force or effect as the work of De Neuville. 

" So it is on the stage, — you get an actor who 
has art and you get a player who is skilful but 
cold ; but you get a fellow who has both genius 
and art and you get skill and fire as well. ,, 

On Corot's death it was found he had painted 
some eight hundred canvases. Jefferson said, 
with a twinkle in his eye, that there were over 
nine hundred in America alone ! 

This brought about the discussion of fraudu- 
lent pictures in America, the number of which 
he declared to be enormous. "Ignorance and 
vanity have much to do with the matter," said 
Mr. Jefferson. "People who have no doubt 
where they may buy the best coffee or the finest 
raiment seem all at sea as to the whereabouts 
of the most reputable dealers in art. Art is a 
new thing to them, and they are too vain to 



confess their ignorance of the subject. The 
art shyster — and he is everywhere — sees this 
and trades upon it." 

" Have you never been bitten in your art 
purchases ? " I asked. 

" Of course I have," he said ; " and, like other 
people, my vanity has kept me from speaking of 
it. But I have learned my lesson and I have 
long since dealt only with art establishments 
of acknowledged reputation. Improved fortune 
brings increased desire for the refinements of 
life," he continued, "which seeks expression in 
artistic surroundings, household adornment, and 
the like. Now the newly rich fellow, throwing 
aside all the sagacity he used in acquiring his 
money, generally plumps himself into the arms 
of the first glib-tongued art fraud he encounters 
and allows himself to be unmercifully swindled." 

" How would you remedy this?" I asked. 

" You can't wholly," he replied quickly. 

" If you were called upon to give a rule for 
the guidance of the beginner in art purchases, 
what would it be ? " I queried. 

" I 'd give two," was his reply. 




" First, never to buy pictures of the travel- 
ling art vender.'* 

" Never ? " 

" Never ! " 


" Because I don't believe that the best estab- 
lishments hawk their pictures all over the coun- 
try, certainly not their finest pictures, which meet 
with ready sale at home; and the travelling art 
dealer is generally a fraud." 

cc Generally ? " 

" Generally ! " 

" Well ? " 

"Second, never to buy pictures of any art 
establishment whatever unless it has an estab- 
lished reputation for honesty." 

As we were walking into another part of the 
gallery, I remarked that I thought most begin- 
ners and modest buyers of pictures were fright- 
ened away from the big art places by the general 
sight of elegance, plate-glass windows, etc., which 
they felt had to be paid for by customers. 

" True," he said ; c< but who else is there to 
pay for them ? If these places are reputable, is n't 
it better to pay your part of these elegances and 



get genuine art than pay money to a shyster and 
get worse than nothing ?" 

We had moved on to another picture. " Let 
me call your attention," he remarked, "to Corot's 
treatment of this subject of St. Sebastian. All 
the other paintings I have ever seen treat the 
thing in a repulsive way. St. Sebastian is gener- 
ally seen with an arrow in his vitals, another in 
his eye, another in his heart, suffering frightful 
agony; but Corot's treatment of him here is one 
of relief. The soldiers have departed, the Saint's 
wounds are being bathed, the last arrow extracted 
from his arm, and there is a calm, a peacefulness 
in the wounded man's face, and, indeed, about the 
whole picture, that tells of the work of the big- 
souled artist. It is not the Sodomite that is 
depicted, but the Sermon on the Mount." 

Pursing up his lips, folding his hands in front 
of him in a characteristic way, and gazing about 
at the great number of paintings Mr. Walters has 
collected, he remarked : 

<c Charles Lamb said, c Happy is that man who 
has but one painting — and that a great one ! ' 
The Chinese [Japanese ?] go even further than 
this — they have but one fine piece of art ware on 


view in their houses, and there is much in it, be- 
lieve me. I shall never buy more pictures than 
the rooms of my house will hold. To do so is 
to rob your house of its homeliness and give it the 
barrenness of an art museum. Too many pictures 
in a private collection is but to overfeed your 
guests" ; and then with a knowing look he added, 
" One can have constipation of the mind as 
well as of the body ! " 

As we were leaving the Walters collection, 
we paused again for a final view of Rousseau's 
" Frosty Morning." " Is n't it fine ! " he said. 
<c What a lesson ! True feeling comes from 
within. Byron said, in acting : c Kean for fire, 
Cooke for malignity, Kemble for dignity, but 
Mrs. Siddons for soul. She was worth them 
all ! ' So it is in the painting — Rousseau for 
soul, and he is worth them all ! " To this, in 
the manuscript I sent him, he added : " No, this 
is saying too much. The Barbizon fellows were 
all equally great. It is the last one we look at 
that seems the best." 

Jefferson seemed never to tire. At Cincinnati, 
coming back from the Rookwood Pottery, when 
he had swiftly boarded an electric car, he expressed 



his belief that he had not aged at all in the past 
twenty-five years. His ambition knew not what 
it was to flag, for he eagerly made arrangements 
to come to Cincinnati and paint some pictures for 
the pottery people. He believed it much in his 
line of work, and even hinted that he could so 
easily become interested in the art that he would 
build a kiln of his own at Crow's Nest. 

He purchased a number of pieces of the ware, 
and selected the best examples — particularly the 
sheep and landscape subjects. While the artisan 
was "throwing some clay into shape" on which 
Jefferson was to scratch his name, places of birth 
somehow, apropos of nothing, came up for dis- 
cussion, and his eldest boy, Charles, stated that 
he was born in Macon, Georgia. "Yes," says 
Jefferson, instantly, " and we came near leaving 
you there for board ! " 

Jefferson referred to his chagrin at finding he 
had not said a word in his Autobiography of his 
old friend E. L. Davenport. As he wrote Fanny 
Davenport, he was astounded to make the dis- 
covery, and in apologizing to her verbally he 
expressed the determination to devote a whole 
chapter to her father when the book was revised 



for another issue. He said it gave him great 
joy, on the occasion of the presentation of the 
loving cup 1 to him by the actors and actresses 
of America, to pay a tribute to Davenport and 
J. H. Stoddart. Stoddart and Fanny Davenport 
were both compelled to rise from the audience 
and bow acknowledgments, — the latter on be- 
half of her father. 

The letter of apology has been sent me, on in- 
quiry, by Fanny Davenport's sister, Mrs. William 

St. Louis, Mo., April 4th, 1894. 

My dear Miss Davenport, — Your justly 
reproachful letter has just reached me, and I 
assure you that my mortification at the gentle- 
ness of your rebuke is all that your keenest 
revenge could desire. 

I cannot tell you how I regret that the omis- 
sion of your father's name in my book should 
have caused you any pain — let me confess to 
you that you are not the first that has noticed 
its absence. I have been rated in harsher terms 
than you have applied for this same neglect — 

1 November 8, 1895, at the Garden Theatre, New York. 


truly I was in hopes that you would never read 
my book. 

I knew your father well — I acted with him — 
we were the best of friends — and I admired his 
acting. He was an artist of the highest rank, and 
in some characters he had no superior, if an equal. 

When I return to New York I shall at once 
apply to my publishers, that I may correct my 
error in future editions. 

I am not astonished at your surprise, and can 
only wonder that it was expressed " more in sor- 
row than in anger." 

I know how you reverence your father's mem- 
ory, and beg that you will forgive me. 

Faithfully yours, 


At Cincinnati he paid himself an unintentional 
compliment which made me smile. At Rook- 
wood every piece of pottery his son Charles 
picked out seemed to please him. In the even- 
ing, as we paced the stage between scenes, dis- 
cussing the day's events, I said : cc Charley has a 
most accurate measure of your taste." " Oh, he 
has splendid taste," he replied. "He paints very 



well, too, — while he lacks in detail, his sky 
and water are as good as mine." I smiled at 
this. " Oh, don't make a mistake," he swiftly- 
replied. " Every man that is clever knows it. 
Vanity does not consist in knowing you have 
knowledge, but in parading it." He strutted 
in a pompous way, and added, cc See how clever 
I am!" 

Apropos of the loving cup given him by the 
actors and actresses of America, he said he was 
greatly delighted with it. He spoke affection- 
ately of the incident of his grandson, four years 
old, hiding in it when he (Jefferson) was brought 
in to inspect it. He had been greatly surprised 
to find the cup so much larger than he thought 
from the model he had seen on the day of the 

As we were at supper, bowling along toward 
St. Louis, he told us of a Western political orator 
very much intoxicated, leaning his head upon his 
(Jefferson's) shoulder, looking up maudlinly into 
Rip's face and saying : " Joe, I 've modelled my 
life on yours." 

" Sir Lucius," it appeared, was going to Aus- 
tralia, where, among other things, he meant to 



play " The Rivals. " Jefferson promised him a 
prompt-book, as he (Jefferson) had arranged the 
piece. Mrs. Drew inquired where he meant to 
get such a prompt-book. " Write it, of course ! " 
" Oh ! " said Mrs. Drew, significantly, " I won- 
dered, for I knew you never had one of your 
own ! " which much amused Jefferson. 

He often watched those scenes of the play in 
which he was not concerned, and his comments 
thereon were most instructive. Standing by him, 
I remarked upon the delicacy and cleverness 
of Mrs. Drew's Mrs. Malaprop. " Oh, fine ! " 
he said, with an admiring shake of the head. 
" The reading of the letter and her ultimate dis- 
covery that young Absolute wrote it, is the per- 
fection of acting." Mrs. Malaprop's "What — 
am I to thank you for the elegant compilation of 
an old weather-beaten she-dragon — hey ! " and 
her indescribably droll expression as she utters, 
"Oh, mercy! — was it you that reflected on my 
parts of speech ? " and the affected simplicity, 
when mollified by Sir Anthony, with which she 
says: "Well, Sir Anthony, since you desire it, 
we will not anticipate the past," are indeed, as 
Jefferson says, " the perfection of acting," such as 



one reads of in the past, but seldom meets with 
in the present. 

How manly and handsome Taber is as "Jack" 
Absolute ! No wonder Sir Henry Irving, who 
saw the performance in New York, wished to 
engage him for London. How beautiful and 
earnestly pettish is Lydia on discovering there 
is to be no elopement, and with what an artistic 
grasp and swing — with what a mien of ancient 
chivalry — Sir Anthony and Mrs. Malaprop 
exeunt, strutting the minuet. How the audience 
rise to it! 

" Pray, tell me how you came to write your 

Autobiography ? " I asked him. " Certainly/* he 

said. " Come back where we won't interrupt 

the scene. It was never intended, ,, said he, <c that 

the Autobiography should see the light before 

my death. It was intended as a legacy to my 

children. I had begun it, and had gone far 

enough to know that I had gotten hold of some 

good things — some of which I was telling one 

day to William Dean Howells. c Have you never 

written down any of these things ? ' he exclaimed, 

and then I confessed I had. I had also spoken to 

Richard Watson Gilder about it, and he asked the 



privilege to publish it in case I changed my mind 
as to making it a posthumous work. Shortly after, 
I got a letter from the Harpers asking if I would 
not consider a proposition from them for the 
book's immediate appearance. I wrote them 
that I felt myself compromised to another party, 
but should let them know immediately if the 
other party did not decide to negotiate. I then 
had an interview with Mr. Gilder, with the result 
that an offer, which I accepted, of $12,000 was 
made for the work, — $6,000 when the publication 
was half through, and the other $6,000 when it 
was finished. I was also to receive ten per cent 
on each book sold. Gilder received the right to 
print such portions in the c Century Magazine ' 
as he deemed best." " Does the sale of the book 
continue pretty good ? " "Oh yes — not as good 
as the first year, of course, but I had a letter re- 
cently saying it was as good now as at any time 
since the first year." 

A pleasant incident on the train one day was the 
round of applause given each individual as he en- 
tered the dining-car from the other mummers as- 
sembled. Mrs. Drew remarked that she could n't 
understand how anybody could be late for dinner. 



Jefferson told a story, in his best Rip Van 
Winkle dialect, of a Dutchman hailing a vessel 
with : 

" Vot for boad is dot ? " 

" Hel-ve— tia," comes the answer. 

" To hell mit yourself," goes back the angry 
response. " You are a tarn fool ! " 

For a long time Jefferson had not acted so 
late in the season, and the heat enervated him 
somewhat. Every possible attention was paid 
to the comfort of the company, as was shown by 
the presence of electric fans in the dressing-rooms 
and on the cars, and there were even ice-cream, 
cake, and punch at the back of the stage during 
the performances. 

Music and the drama coming up again for dis- 
cussion, he said : " The advantage that the drama 
has over music is that the drama is both emotional 
and intellectual. Music is emotional only," — 
an opinion in which the trained musician, mind- 
ful of Bach and Handel, will not coincide. 

Contrasting two great novelists, he said : " I 

know many unpleasant things about Dickens, 

and people insist that Thackeray is a much greater 

literary mind than Dickens, yet there is some- 



thing about the writings of Dickens that holds 
me faster than those of Thackeray. I suppose 
I am all wrong, but that is my opinion." 

When he played at a certain theatre, he was 
much annoyed by the musical conductor, who 
would turn his back to the stage and look out 
over the audience from the conductor's chair. 
" Now, you just try to act a play to indifference 
of that kind! It's impossible! It kills every- 
thing as dead as a door-nail." 

Jefferson was liberal-minded toward the drama 
of to-day. He thought the acting and actors of 
the present time equal if not superior to those of 
previous years. He said that all things progress, 
and it is narrow and unreasonable to suppose that 
such vital things as the drama and acting stand 
still. " The best talent on the dramatic stage," 
he said, " has come from the so-called variety or 
vaudeville theatre. I could not get an engage- 
ment at Wallack's at one time because I was 
regarded as the variety performer of my day." 

Julia Marlowe accidentally dropped a rose upon 

the stage just before one of Mr. Jefferson's scenes. 

As he came on the stage he caught sight of the 

flower, and he picked it up so swiftly that I was 



interested to know why. I asked him, later on. 
"I couldn't have acted with it there," he said. 
" The eye is such a tyrant that it would have 
constantly sought the unusual on the scene. My 
attention would have been distracted and my 
scene ruined." 

I asked him if he recalled having written in 
his Autobiography of a similar incident occurring 
to the elder Booth during a performance of Sir 
Giles Overreach in " A New Way to Pay Old 
Debts." He recalled it perfectly, and added that 
it was a feather and not a rose that Booth had 
picked up. I wondered if he had thought of 
the Booth incident when he had stooped for the 
rose. He declared he had, and asked of what 
use was intelligence if we did not take advantage 
of the teachings of our predecessors. 

Crane tells me he has been reading his next 
season's play, "A Fool of Fortune," to Jefferson. 
Throughout the perusal Jefferson's exclamations 
of approval were most encouraging. The close 
of the drama was sad, and when Crane had finished 
there was a lengthy pause during which Jefferson 
sat with his head resting on his hand, the same at- 
titude he had maintained while Crane was reading. 



" Very good/' he said finally. " But I don't 
think people want to see you die. When they 
go to see Irving they expect to see him die, and 

when they go to see they hope he '11 die ; 

but, William, I don't believe the public wishes to 
see you expire." 

I had been reading the recollections of a retired 
actress and called Jefferson's attention to a para- 
graph it contained, which I read him : 

" I have written to show young girls that the 
glitter of the stage is not all gold, to make them 
realize how serious an undertaking it is to adopt 
a life so full of hardships, humiliation, and even 
dangers." He bristled at once. " I object to that 
most emphatically," he said, " because it is stated 
as if it were true alone of the theatrical profession. 
The business of the shop-girl, the typewriter, the 
governess, and the companion are fraught with 
even greater dangers to young girls. The remark 
is unfortunate, and should have been qualified. 

"When I have been asked my advice about 

going on the stage I have invariably answered, If 

you are satisfied you are a great genius, or have 

special histrionic gifts, or are going to adopt the 

profession to earn a living, feeling yourself fitted 



for it, yes ; but if you are going on the stage sim- 
ply to show your vanity, no ! It is not the stage 
that creates vanity, but vanity that creates a 
longing for the stage. Here the distinction be- 
tween vanity and admiration should be clearly 
understood. Vanity is just the reverse of admi- 
ration, the love of which is natural and whole- 
some. Who is it that does n't like to be admired ? 
What kind of a man or woman is it to whom 
admiration is not welcome ? " 

Jefferson thought that the unhappiness of 
Mrs. Siddons's old age, quoted by the same 
author, was due less to " the overstimulating 
atmosphere in which she had lived" than the 
fact of her retirement, which robbed her of the 
aim of her life, which rendered her incapable of 
deeply interesting herself in anything else, and 
which caused her on the night of her retirement 
to sink dejectedly into a chair and exclaim : 
" Then this is the end of all ! " 

I read further in the aforementioned recollec- 
tions, and he was greatly pleased, and pronounced 
as " true " and "just " the authoress's declaration 
that " only blind prejudice could regard the stage 

and immorality as synonymous." 



" Do you agree with that enthusiast who says 
the drama in its highest form is as great a spir- 
itual force as religion ? " 

" Certainly not ! " he replied, " but it is its 
intellectual compeer. It is a civilizing, refining 
influence. They may say what they like of the 
stage, but I shall always uphold it, and I shall 
never give it up until I must. I tell my boys 
this is the profession for them, and they must 
never leave it if they have talent for it." 

He thought there were times when everybody 
was discontented with himself and his work, and 
he explained that it was during one of these pes- 
simistic moods — and he had occasion for many 
such — that Edwin Booth must have written the 
" discontented paper " cited by the authoress pre- 
viously quoted. In all his long intimacy with 
Booth he did not remember his giving expres- 
sion to any discontent with regard to his profes- 
sion or with even the " glare and excitement " 
of it. The glare and excitement Jefferson thinks 
to be an essential part of the dramatic profession, 
— a profession which cannot be practised in an 
attic or a back parlor, — and as for " the dislike 
of rehearsals in an atmosphere seldom penetrated 



by the sun and air/' to quote again from the 
recollections I was reading him, he thought that, 
too, a part of the exaction of the practice of the 
art. " I don't like rehearsals any more than 
others, because — see how natural a failing is 
vanity ! — I don't get any applause for my 
work ; and applause is just as sweet to me as 
to other normal beings." 

We spoke of Eugene Field, and he laughingly 
declared he thought him a little daft toward the 

" What do you mean ? " I asked. 

"At New Orleans," he replied, " Field and I 
ranged all through the curiosity shops, and the 
man would buy dolls and such things." 

I told him Field said he never saw a man like 
Jefferson, — that his eye was caught with all sorts 
of gewgaws, and that he simply squandered 
money on trifles. 

" That 's it," he chuckled ; " one half the 
world thinks the other half crazy." 

Sir Henry Irving sent Jefferson, suitably en- 
graved, the cane used by the first Sir Peter Teazle 
— " Cock-Salmon Farren" — and Jefferson said 

that it and the loving cup presented to him 



should, on his death, go to the Players. I shook 
hands with him on this, for, as one of the pro- 
posers of the cup and the provider of the inscrip- 
tion, I had always hoped the cup would ultimately 
go to the Players. Once before, in talking over 
the matter, Rip had said he thought it ought to 
go there, but this assertion in the dressing-room 
at Grand Rapids, Michigan, that it was his posi- 
tive intention to will it to the Players, and that 
his family agreed with him, quite determined the 

" Have you written it down," I asked, " in 
your c last will and testament ' ? " 

" Not yet," he replied, "but I shall do so." 

" I hope you won't neglect it." 

" Oh, I sha'n't," he replied emphatically. 

" You know how many friends of yours there 
are," I said to him, "who would be delighted to 
have you leave them some trifling token of re- 
membrance — such as a quill pen, an old hat, a 
pistol, Rip's gun or wig, a book, a feather, an old 
paint brush, or anything that you regard as a 
trifle, but which would be very precious to them. 
I have told you how Laurence Hutton labored 

for months with Edwin Booth," I continued, " to 



get him to sign a list of such small presents to 
his friends, and how Booth agreed that it was 
the very thing, but, despite numerous proddings, 
Booth never signed ? " 

" Yes," he answered, " I can understand that a 
man does n't care particularly about doing such 
a thing. It looks too much, as Mrs. Siddons 
said, like c the end of all.' " 

" Well," I rejoined, cc if you do make such a 
list, and I hope you will, do not forget to leave 
me Rip's hat." 

" You 'd better be careful, my boy," he an- 
swered, pointing his finger at me. "You may 
go first ! " 

Yesterday was a gala day on the cars. Fanny 
Rice Purdy's baby had a birthday. Everybody 
interested himself. The table was prettily deco- 
rated, and among the presents were pearl and gold 
pins, a music box, mechanical toys of all kinds, 
books, especially engraved glasses, and champagne 
and kisses. The central feature of the table was 
a birthday cake with two little white candles, the 
tiny flames of which seemed to wave welcome and 
congratulations. For a few seconds mother, child, 



and grandmother stood astonished before the great 
array ; then the mother beat a precipitate retreat to 
her stateroom, there to have a good old-fashioned 
cry. There was a choking up all around, and for 
the moment conversation was impossible. 

The demand we made on the financial resources 
of the playgoers of Grand Rapids appears to have 
been too great. For the first time during the tour 
there were empty seats in the back rows of the 
theatre. This led to some wag posting in the 
usual place for such things the following : 

" Ladies and gentlemen of the All Star Co. 
Are respectfully informed 
that owing to the slump in 
business at Grand Rapids, 
the season will close in 
New York City, Saturday, 
May 30th, '96. 
Kindly leave costumes with Willie." 

It was decided to have a flashlight photograph 
of the company, and Columbus, Ohio, was the 
place and after the play the time to have it done. 
We were obliged to wait until the audience had 
left the theatre. We became restless, Jefferson 



and Mrs. Drew especially so. Numerous jour- 
neys to the curtain peephole showed the audience 
still retreating slowly, as if loath to leave. 

" Never," says Jefferson, — " never again." 

" Why, this is more tiring than a performance," 
says Mrs. Drew. 

Finally, as in football, "we lined up" for the 
flashlight and the photograph. There was a 
blinding glare, and then came in clear-cut tones 
from Jefferson's irreverent but witty son Tom : 

" Now wash up ! " 

" Why," says Mrs. Drew, half earnestly, " he 
talks to us as if we were minstrels." 

Back again in the cars, off for Cleveland and 
at our midnight repast, the subject of minstrels 
came up. Jefferson said he thought he was one 
of the first men to black his face after the appear- 
ance and success of " Jim Crow " (T. D.) Rice. 

" I suppose," said Mrs. Drew, " there are very 
few men in this company who have not at one 
time or another been associated with minstrel 

" I played c Brudder Bones/ " said Mr. Jeffer- 
son. " Everybody knows I was in the minstrel 

business," Goodwin exclaimed. "Yes," I re- 



marked, " because we were there together." 
Cf Well," joined in Crane, " I was on the tam- 
bourine end with Campbell's minstrels. 

" I remember telling this at Lawrence Barrett's 
house, at Cohasset, where the rest of the party 
consisted of Edwin Booth and Stuart Robson. 
Booth then told how he and the comedian J. S. 
Clarke were minstrels in their younger days, and 
he followed this up by declaring that he used to 
'pick a little on the banjo.' I laughed, and 
Booth inquired the reason ; I added, c Oh, noth- 
ing much ; only Booth and the banjo seemed 
such an odd combination.' " 

Some of the spare time at night between scenes 
and acts is devoted by Falkland and David to 
pantomiming, in which Falkland, perhaps because 
of deafness, has become an adept. Expressing 
oneself without the use of words or the deaf and 
dumb alphabet is no easy task, and is recom- 
mended to aspirants to the stage as helpful. 

There was a long chat at luncheon at Rochester 
over various matters concerning the stage. Jef- 
ferson said he knew of literary men who were 
envious of the actor's present popularity. " It is 

absurd," he declared, " for if the actor does not 



get his credit here, where will he get it? The 
c Old Fellow ' [his customary way of alluding to 
Shakespeare] expressed it when he said c the 
*poor player that struts and frets his hour on the 
stage and then is heard no more/ Yes, sir, 
there is nothing so useless as a dead actor. Who 
speaks now of Gus Adams, a contemporary of 
Forrest ? An actor with genius — and with art 
to back it up — who played the Romans, Brutus, 
Lear, better, I think, than Forrest. Yet he is 
not now even a tradition. Look at Burton, the 
finest low comedian of his time, who lives only 
in the memory of those who saw him act, but 
who is as dead as dead can be in the memory of 
the sons whose fathers saw him play. People 
speak of Betterton, Garrick, Kean, and Mrs. Sid- 
dons, and they mark milestones in the dramatic 
pathway, for they lived at a time when literary 
men wrote sympathetically of the stage, and so 
their memories are kept alive ; but whom else do 
people speak of? " 

" Don't you think Edwin Booth will be more 
than a tradition ? " I ventured. 

" Probably — he founded a great club which 

will serve to keep his memory alive." 



"Certainly the public will remember Joseph 
Jefferson," I said. 

" Don't you believe it ! " replied Jefferson. 
Then, after a thoughtful silence, he added : " Well, 
yes, perhaps because of my book, which will 
serve to rescue me from total oblivion. Irving 
will be remembered because he was knighted, 
Booth for the reason I have stated, Mary Anderson 
because of her book, and I, perhaps, because of 
mine. No, believe me, the painter, the sculptor, 
the author all live in their works after death, but 
there is nothing so useless as a dead actor. Act- 
ing is a tradition. Actors must have their 
reward now, in the applause of the public, or 
never. If their names live, it will be because of 
some extraneous circumstances." 

Considering the hold the character of Rip Van 
Winkle and his own ideal impersonation of it had 
on the imagination and affection of the youth and 
age of our country, I said it was easily conceiv- 
able to me that one day a statue might be erected 
by public subscription to Joseph Jefferson's mem- 
ory. He laughed at this, and lowered his head. 
Then, as if the idea, though startling, were not 
repugnant, he said slowly and modestly : 



" It would be a great honor — not merely for 
me, but for Washington Irving." 

He told us of Laurence Hutton's once show- 
ing him a manuscript of an article for a mag- 
azine. He had asked Hutton when it was to 
be published, and was told perhaps not for a 

" Just fancy," continued Jefferson, " waiting 
that long for a round of applause." 

He gave us a humorous account of once 
meeting with the prize-fighter " Joe " Coburn 
in a restaurant at St. Louis. Coburn swung 
over to the table where Jefferson was sitting, 
and said : 

" I hear you and me 's rivals dis week ? " 

" Yes," answered Jefferson, " but I am glad, 
Mr. Coburn, it is not in the same ring." 

After the matinee at Syracuse, I went to him 

with a long countenance and asked him for an 

explanation of his having sworn at me, under 

his breath, on the stage. He took me quite 

seriously, and laughingly denied having done 

so ; and, truth to tell, the assertion had no 

foundation in fact, except as to some perfectly 

proper exclamations of impatience and disgust 



which Acres was making, sotto voce, at the 
whining cowardice of David. Yet so keenly 
does Jefferson feel the various emotions he is 
depicting, that he not infrequently says things 
half aloud on the stage which, if they were 
heard, would greatly surprise his audiences. 

For instance, nearly always, at the closing 
of the second act in " The Rivals," where 
Bob throws himself upon the lounge, over- 
come by the thought of being a principal in 
a duel, Jefferson, with back to audience and 
with head rolling from side to side in pitiful 
comic despair, exclaims : 

" Oh, my God ! my God ! What a d d 

fool I am!" 

Apropos of these half-uttered and sometimes 
fully expressed exclamations, — reflexes of the 
emotions of the character, — Jefferson tells a 
story of Macready, whom he parenthetically de- 
scribed as all art and no genius. He said that 
Macready would quarrel with his dresser, or 
resort to any other petty means of putting him- 
self into a condition to "fire up" as much as 
possible for the requirements of his impassioned 

scenes. Phelps, who played Macduff to Mac- 



ready's Macbeth, was astounded one night to 
find the Thane of Cawdor swearing at him un- 
der his breath, and not understanding, waited 
until the next night to make sure, and, there 
being no doubt about the matter, swore back 
like mad at the now actually enraged Macbeth. 
Sotto voce they berated each other, — sotto voce, 
too, Macready was heard to say he would dis- 
charge Macduff; and Phelps replied he would n't 
think of continuing under the d d manage- 
ment of Macbeth. Then the swords flashed fire 
in their furious combat, while the audience, raised 
to a pitch of excitement by the realism of the 
scene, applauded wildly. On the fall of the 
curtain Macready sprang to his feet, rushed up 
to Phelps, and grasping him by both hands, 
exclaimed : 

" Thank you ! thank you, Mr. Phelps ! You 
have been so kind to me to-night ! " 

Less talented and morally weaker men in 
Macready's condition, Jefferson declared, would 
have resorted to stimulants ; and he thought the 
explanation of the reason why some actors drank 
was that, conscious of their shortcomings, their 
lack of power to reproduce their dramatic effects, 



they sought stimulus in liquor to give them a 
false courage to pass through the ordeal of their 

" In the drama," he continued, " without 
the fire of genius, art is cold and calculating. 
Without the power of art genius is uncontrolled 
and unreproductive. In such a case genius is 
still genius, — flashing and. magnificent, but fit- 
ful and uncertain/' 

Sometimes — as with everybody — Mrs. Drew 
missed a word during the play ; and it was very 
interesting to see her supply either a synonym 
or maybe a circumlocutory phrase, which she 
did with much skill. In " The Rivals " she 
should say to David, " You shall be our cohort/ 
" Cohort " does n't always come to her, and she 
waves her hand and exclaims, "You shall be 
our — our — guide, philosopher, and friend — lead 
the way." She has made so many clever inter- 
polations into the role of Mrs. Malaprop that 
it is puzzling at times to her, as to Jefferson, 
to remember where Sheridan leaves off and Drew 
and Jefferson begin. Giving the wrong letter to 
Captain Absolute, and the silly confusion, mincing 
prudery, and expressions of affected girlishness 


attending its withdrawal, as she said, " There 's a 
slight mistake," is only one of Mrs. Drew's skil- 
ful introductions. She asked Mr. Jefferson if he 
thought it permissible. 

" I should think it was ! " he replied. "It is 
precisely what Sheridan himself would have done 
if he had thought of it." 

In Utica, as Jefferson and I sat alone watch- 
ing the sunset through the windows of the side- 
tracked Pullman car, he became retrospective. 
He talked at rather than to me, keeping his eyes 
fastened all the while on the varying aspect of the 
sky. He marvelled at the many changes he had 
seen in his time and day. As if suggested by 
the declining rays of the sun, he said he had seen 
the complete evolution of manufactured light as 
a means of dispelling darkness. He had grown 
up with candles, when, floated on blocks of wood 
in a trough of water, they had furnished the foot- 
lights of the theatre. Then came fluid lamps, 
and, as a wonderful advance, kerosene, which in 
turn had given way to the brilliancy of gas, when 
the acme of false illumination was thought to be at- 
tained, and now, he said, "we have electricity, which 

furnishes our light, rivalling the sun, drives our 



engines, and the full uses and limitations of which 
are still unknown." He had seen the tomato 
evolve from an ornament to an edible, and had 
watched sometimes the birth and always the early- 
efforts of such wonders as telegraphy, the sewing- 
machine, the telephone, the printing-press, the 
" ocean greyhound," the phonograph, the type- 
writer, the bicycle, the automobile ; and, begin- 
ning with the stage-coach, river-barge, and canal 
as means of conveyance, he was now enjoying the 
luxury of a Pullman car. 

As we jogged along from the station to the 
theatre, I asked : 

" Is it possible to make a play that shall be at 
one and the same time a good acting play and 
good literature ? " 

" Undoubtedly," he replied. 

" Can you give me ten examples of plays, 
except those of Shakespeare, that have the double 
acquirement? " 

" I can give you fifty," he rejoined. 

" Ten will do," said I. 

He instantly named the following: "Virgin- 
ia," " The Hunchback," " The Wife," "William 

Tell," "Richelieu," "Lady of Lyons," "New 



Way to Pay Old Debts," "Money," "The 
Honeymoon," " School," " Caste," " Ours," 
" Fazio," " Love's Sacrifice," " The Wife's Se- 
cret," "The Gamester," " Douglas," " Isabella," 
" The Fatal Marriage," " She Stoops to Con- 
quer," " The Rivals," "The School for Scandal," 
and " London Assurance." 

" But why did you say c except Shakespeare ' ? " 
he asked. 

" Because," I replied, " it was conceded, I be- 
lieve, that Shakespeare's plays, or most of them, 
were both good acting plays and good literature." 

" Is it necessary," I again ventured, " for a 
play's success, that it should contain good 
literature ? " 

" Not at all," he answered emphatically. 

" Are there not many examples of good plays 
that have succeeded, and which, from a literary 
point of view, were very slight ? " asked I. 

"Very many indeed," he returned. "The 
literature of a play must always be in abeyance 
because the eye is a greater tyrant, is swifter than 
the ear. What the eye conveys to the brain, 
the brain will not consent to accept at second- 
hand by the comparatively laggard ear." 



" That is to say, actions speak louder than 
words, even when the words are couched in fine 

" Precisely," said he. " You may have all the 
good literature you wish in a play if it does 
not interfere with the play's action ; and at the 
same time the absence of fine writing in a play 
will not injure it if the story and construction 
are right." 

" But, surely," I asked, " literary merit in a 
good play will enhance its chance of success ? " 

" Vastly, if it be subservient to the action," 
he replied. "You may have a very good play 
with very bad literature." 

I asked him where it was that he had used the 
phrase " Keep your heart warm and your head 
cool when acting." 

" It was in connection with the Coquelin-Irving 
discussion," he answered. 

" Who was right in that discussion ? " 

" Both," said he. " One produced his effect 
by remaining cool, and the other by losing him- 
self in feelings of the character. They got what 
they aimed at — the effect — though by entirely 
different methods. It is as absurd for one man 



to say that his method of doing a thing is the 
only way, as the claim that is set up that heaven 
is to be reached only through a certain belief. 
Now I tell you boys how I think a certain effect 
may be made in acting. What if you can't do it 
in that way ? Must the effect be lost ? Nonsense ! 
Get it in another ! " 

Of players who slighted their work he said : 
" They are among actors what the sparrow is 
among birds, — destroying the songsters and 
themselves giving no music." 

Of certain actors who were always going to do 
this and that, he avouched they merited Aubrey's 
epitaph : 

"He walked beneath the moon, 
He slept beneath the sun, 
He lived a life of going to do, 
And died with nothing done. ,, 

Speaking of James E. Murdoch, he said: "In 
comedy he had a fine sparkle, while in tragedy it 
seemed to me there was no flash. Murdoch was 
one of the most polished and scholarly actors 
of the time. I am now only illustrating the dis- 
tinction between art and genius as it applies to 



He told me too of an actor in his father's 
company who was constantly uncertain in his 
lines, and of whom he said he would make a 
good fencer, because he stuck so often. 

Jefferson once went to see " Nat " Goodwin 
play David Garrick and Golightly, — the lat- 
ter character in " Lend me Five Shillings," a 
farce for a long time played only by Jefferson. 
"After the performance," observed Goodwin, in 
recounting the matter to us all at dinner, " Jeffer- 
son came behind the scenes and said some com- 
plimentary things." For the sake of a good 
story, however, Goodwin twisted the conclusion 
to the following : 

" c Did you like it ? ' I asked him, referring 
especially to Golightly. c Of course I did ! ' 
answered Jefferson. c But, Nat, I like mine 
better ! ' " 

After the laughing had died down, true to his 
appreciation of a good thing, spontaneous or 
evolved, Jefferson remarked quietly, " I wish I 
had said that ! " 

Someone had presented young cc Joe " Jefferson 
with a rather skittish puppy. Discussion rose as 
to the animal's breed. 



" It 's a cross between a sheep and a cow," 
Crane averred. 

" Oh," dryly remarked Mrs. Drew, " you can't 
tell. Crane is such a flatterer." 

Dogs were not much in favor at this particular 
moment with Jefferson, whose afternoon nap had 
been disturbed by the yelping of the Taber canine. 

" I tell you what," proposed Jefferson, only 
half humorously, " let 's have Joe's dog kill 
Taber's dog and then kill it for killing Taber's — 
thus killing two dogs with one stone." 

Jefferson's eldest son, Charles Burke Jefferson, 
named for Charles Burke, Jefferson's beloved half- 
brother, has been nearly all his life the business 
man and financial adviser for his father. Actu- 
ated, it is said, by the popular craze for spectac- 
ular effects, he once proposed to give " Rip Van 
Winkle " a new phase by introducing a real lake, 
mountain waterfalls, and mechanical contrivances 
for the disappearing gnomes, etc. He outlined 
the scheme glowingly to his father and asked him 
what he thought of it. 

" I think," said Jefferson, " it is the biggest 
piece of impudence I have heard in a long time." 

At Worcester Jefferson was somewhat nervous 


lest some of the people who had remained in 
Boston after our matinee there should not arrive 
in time for the evening's performance. He 
drummed with his fingers against the car window, 
and kept asking me if such a one had come, and 
finally, being assured that all was right, he quieted 
down and became very communicative. 

" Do you know," he said, " there are many 
absurdities in c Rip Van Winkle/ But the play 
is such an effective one that people don't stop 
to think about them. That 's it. On the stage 
we must be effective even at the expense of 

I wanted to know what absurdities in the play 
he had in mind, and he replied by asking me 
if I had ever noticed that all the characters in 
the drama spoke good English except Rip. 
" There is no consistent reason why Rip should 
speak broken English," he declared. I said I 
had never even thought of it before. 

" Of course ! " he replied, (C the construction 

and the interest are too effective to permit you to 

notice it." He begged me therefore to bear in 

mind that the fundamental principle of a good 

play was effectiveness, and I assured him that he 



had deeply impressed me with that fact. He ex- 
pressed himself as pleased, "because," as he said, 
with characteristic emphasis on the eminently- 
important word of a sentence, " it is worth it." 

This whole conversation was distinctly typ- 
ical of Jefferson, — the confidence he possesses in 
things of which by long experience he is sure ; 
the earnestness, but not assertiveness, of his 
expression, both of words and countenance; the 
rush of images presented to his mind by the 
slightest suggestion ; the swift second's pause he 
takes before shaping his response, and, finally, 
the quaint habit, fixed by years of professional 
experience, of insisting upon the final, usually 
humorous, word on the subject discussed. 

I asked him if there were not many times of 
rare elation during his performances of Caleb, 
Acres, and especially of Rip, that stood out 
in his memory. He acknowledged that there 
were, and named his London performances of 
"Rip Van Winkle," during which he had had 
a number of what he designated as "inspired 
nights." He followed this with a series of 

" Have you seen c Rip ' very often ? " 


" Frequently." 

" What impressed you most about it ? " 


"The acting?" 

" Yes ; of course ; the acting at first, but later 
the play's development particularly." 

" How do you mean ? " 

" The development of so much from so little, 
— from the brief sketch of Washington Irving 
to the rounded-out play, as we now know it, of 
< Rip Van Winkle/ " 

" That 's it," he said ; " and it is to be remem- 
bered that it was the stage which showed us the 
possibilities of Irving' s brief sketch, and c Rip Van 
Winkle ' is only one of the millions of things the 
truthful, beautiful, beneficent unfolding of which 
the stage has shown us. Is it any wonder I love 
and reverence it ? But don't forget I had the 
advantages of time and affection for the work, and 
anything may be accomplished with love and 
time. Why, God bless my soul ! it is nearly 
fifty years since I first produced the play in 
Washington ! and even before that, when Burke 
played it, I acted the role of the inn-keeper." 

I remarked that his predecessors had had love 


and, many of them, no doubt, plenty of time, but 
that they had not made the play take hold of the 
mind and heart of the people as he had done, or 
the fact would have come down to us. 

" Burke did," he replied quickly ; " his was a 
fine, strong performance." I thought that very 
loyal of him ; but much the best of the play, I 
advanced, — ■ the weird, unspeaking gnomes, the 
recognition scene between Rip and Meenie — 
had all been added since Burke's time and by 

" And Boucicault," he added. " Don't forget 
Boucicault. The children at the end of the first 
act [as it was then, but it has since been made into 
two acts] and the Rip and Meenie scene are 
his, and mighty fine they are." 

"As developed and played by Jefferson," I 

" Yes, I must be frank," he answered. " I added 
to it, enlarged upon it," he acknowledged mod- 
estly. " I am no fool about such things. Ideas 
come, and I seize and apply them, but that idea 
and that outline were Boucicault's." 

"And keeping the spirit crew of Hendrick 

Hudson silent and giving them an act to them- 



selves, in which Rip so cleverly supplies them 
with words, — that was not Boucicault, was it ? " 
I asked. 

" No, no, no, no, no, no, no," he said sweetly ; 
" that was Jefferson, and he is very, very proud 
of it. " 

" Did you regard Boucicault as a great actor ? " 
I asked him. 

"No,'* he rejoined; "he lacked assurance, which 
is a necessary ingredient. No actor can be a great 
actor without confidence." He told me that Bou- 
cicault had made vast sums of money with plays, 
adaptations, and acting, and that, on the word of 
Henry C. Jarrett, Boucicault's income from these 
sources and from stock investments had for a 
brief time reached the significant sum of fifteen 
thousand dollars a day. Boucicault, he asserted, 
was as much at home in Wall as in Lombard 
Street, and equally at his ease on the Bourse as 
in either of the other places. 

" When he had finished writing the recognition 
scene between Rip and Meenie," Jefferson said, 
" he read it to me, and, pausing, asked me if I 
liked it. I assured him of my delight. 

" c Do you recognize it ? ' he said. 


" c Why, no — what do you mean ? ' I asked. 

" £ Why, it is the Lear and Cordelia scene re- 
versed. In "King Lear" it is Cordelia who longs 
for recognition ; here it is Rip — the man — 
who seeks to be known/ and sure enough it was 
true. He had made a very skilful rearrangement 
of a familiar scene. 

" Boucicault had a great memory and a marvel- 
lous faculty for adaptation, but he would dabble 
in stocks, where, it seems to me, every fellow is 
scrambling for the other fellow's money. My 
profession does not teach me that. I never 
invest my money in anything I cannot see." 

" I don't fully understand what you implied 
by Boucicault having a good memory," I re- 

" He remembered that I had had some success 
in playing Yankee roles," answered Jefferson. 
" He remembered also that a certain actor made 
a most effective Indian, and when he, Boucicault, 
adapted Mayne Reid's novel of c The Quadroon ' 
under the title of c The Octoroon/ he worked 
these two characters into the piece and engaged 
the other actor and me to play them. c The 

Octoroon* was a great success and ran for a long 



time. Boucicault's income from that alone must 
have been large." He added that Boucicault's 
performance of the Indian Wahnatee, in " The 
Octoroon " was the best thing he ever did. 

During an interval of the play one night, speak- 
ing of the continuous performances at the vaude- 
ville theatre, he said : " Shakespeare is for all 
time, but ' Tony ' Pastor and his fellow man- 
agers are for all day." 

It was sought to tell him a card story, and 
thought necessary to explain the game of draw 
poker before beginning. 

" Oh, I know the game," remarked Jefferson. 
" It is where c twos ' beat c threes ' ! " 

Speaking of the difficulty of making love 
scenes natural on the stage, he said : 

" The most beautiful and at the same time the 
most natural love scene in the whole range of the 
drama is the balcony scene in c Romeo and Juliet/ 
Mark the cleverness of Shakespeare ! He knows 
that men in love are fools, and so he makes 
Romeo wish himself a glove upon Juliet's fair 
hand that he might touch her cheek ; and when 
Romeo shall die, Juliet wants him cut in little 
stars to make the face of heaven so fine that all 



the world shall be in love with night ! What a 
useless thing a man in love is ! " 

In the manuscript I sent him he added to the 
above: "Don't suppose I decry love — I'm in 
love myself." 

He said that Boucicault had preferred Mary 
Anderson to Julia Dean as Juliet, but that he 
should decide in the latter's favor, — a decision 
which he declared was prejudiced, for Julia Dean 
had been his first sweetheart. 

I had a copy of " Cymbeline " bearing evidence 
of once having been owned by Julia Dean. I 
sent it to him with a letter. It came back to me 
with the following, written on the interleaves of 
the little book : 

My dear Francis Wilson, — Yes, this little 
book must once have belonged to dear Julia 
Dean, and, as you say, does awaken memories of 
the olden time. This sweet girl and I fought our 
early professional battles side by side. We were 
in the ballet, front row, together. Happy 
peasants and gypsies — alternately Catholics and 
Protestants, Whigs and Tories — ready to change 

our religion or political opinion for six dollars a 



week. We led the choruses, too ; where we led 

them God only knows, for the leader never did. 

May we meet in another world where there are 

no matinees and but few managers ! 


Jefferson expressed himself as glad and sorry 
that our tour was so near its end, — glad to be able 
to begin his vacation, and sorry to end an asso- 
ciation which had been such an unusual one and 
so delightful socially and artistically. Speaking 
of the cast, he said : cc It is a very difficult thing 
for an actor who has for years dominated a scene 
to become as it were a piece of mosaic in a pic- 
ture. All have done this most decidedly, and 
it is much to everybody's credit, — more to the 
others' than mine, — for I am simply doing over 
in Acres what I have done before." 

The subject of modern improvements coming 
under discussion, Jefferson questioned whether 
they were a benefit to mankind or not. That 
the telephone and telegraph facilitated the trans- 
action of business, he of course admitted. 

" They have made competition so keen and 
have so completely tied the man of business down 
to his desk that he cannot leave it for much- 

Z 7 ! 


needed recreation. Why, I know men/' he de- 
clared, "who used to sit on my knee as boys, 
who are now bald-headed, sick old men. c Why 
don't you get your rod and gun ? ' I say to them. 
f Oh, I can't leave my business ! ' they cry. Of 
course they can't — the telephone and the tele- 
graph would talk in their absence to their com- 
petitors and the butter trade would be busted ! " 

Speaking of libraries, he said : 

<c People sometimes wonder that I have no 
great collection of books — in fact, that I do not 
read more. The answer is that I am a very busy 
man, that I am not a consumer but a producer. 
I cannot live in the city, because I should be too 
often distracted from my work, — if I could, I 
should select Philadelphia, — but I must be in 
the country, where I can be alone to work as I 
please, out in the open air with my palette and 
my brushes. There I am a happy man." 

I often found Mr. Jefferson in his stateroom 
painting away for dear life on a piece of tin or 
zinc about a foot and a half square, which, as has 
been explained, was a part of his " monotyping " 
outfit. The ministerial washwringer stood at his 
side ready to perform its impressive part in the 



union of tin and paper, the offspring of which 
would be an infant prodigy of pictorial art. I 
wondered that he could paint while the train was 
in motion, but he declared the "jiggling" rather 
helped the " leafy quality " of the picture. 

Jefferson gave Crane and me a treat one day 
by reading us Irwin Russell's poems, a collection 
of negro dialect verses which Jefferson said would 
one day rank high. The line 

"If we are sinning we need the more your prayers," 

he called Shakespearean. 

We became so interested in the reading that we 
did not at first notice the additional audience at my 
stateroom door. There, in absorbed attention, 
stood three of Jefferson's sons listening to their 
father and enjoying his appreciative comments 
on the poem. 

My journal for May 29th says : 

The tour has ended. We have shaken hands 
all around ; inscribed final names on final pro- 
grams and photographs ; told each other how 
much we have enjoyed the social and professional 
participation, how much we hope for another such 
coalition, — a hope, likely, never to be realized. 



Suggested, perhaps, by the presentation to Jeffer- 
son of a cane once belonging to William Far- 
ren, the great Sir Peter Teazle, " The School for 
Scandal " is talked of for another Ail-Star Tour 
next year or the year following, with Jefferson 
as Sir Peter. The performances to-day and to- 
night were as firm as any hitherto given on the 
trip, with an added sparkle which was due to 
the desire of all concerned to leave the best 
possible impression. The waywardness and win- 
someness of Lydia were strikingly apparent. The 
piquancy and alertness of Lucy were never more 
marked, while Mrs. Malaprop outdid herself in 
the comic austerity with which she bade her niece 
" illiterate this fellow quite from your memory/* 

Sir Anthony, with increased impressiveness, 
stormed and relented, bridled and chuckled with 
his dog of a son, Jack Absolute, who, handsome 
and demurely obedient, stood the personification 
of the ideal lover. What earnestness and con- 
viction the two put into the lines : 

"Absolute. Indeed, sir, I never was cooler 
in my life. 

"Sir Anthony. 'T is a confounded lie! I 
know you are in a passion in your heart ; I know 



you are, you hypocritical young dog ! But it 
won't do." 

And as Absolute started with some show of 
anger to protest, how skilfully absurd appeared 
the smothered rage of Sir Anthony as he said, 
" Can't you be cool like me ? " With what droll 
knowingness the two looked at each other when 
Mrs. Malaprop expressed her sorrow that her 
" affluence " over Lydia was so small. Sir Lucius, 
with his jaunty air and brogue, seemed to be in 
finer fettle than before as he bubbled out the 
well-known lines which Jefferson was fond of 
quoting, " It 's a very pretty quarrel as it stands." 
There seemed also to be an unusual amount of 
glibness and professional suavity in Fag, as he 
declared to the inquiries of Absolute that he had 
forgot the precise lie he had told Sir Anthony, 
but that it might be depended upon that Sir 
Anthony heard no truth from Fag. Jefferson 
himself, as he has done all through the trip, 
set the pace. He was swift, alert, exact. Such 
an air of breezy fussiness as he brought with 
him, as, with caped coat, whip, and conical hat, 
he swept into Absolute's apartment and saluted 

with " Ha, my dear friend, noble captain and 



honest Jack, how do'st thou ? " He was, indeed, 
the " eccentric planet " Absolute described him. 
With what seeming unconscious cleverness he 
baited the lovelorn Falkland, who fumed, fretted, 
and raved in a manner that would have delighted 
the sentimentalists of Sheridan's day ! Just the 
very touch that seemed necessary to drive the 
jealous lover to the verge of despair, Jefferson 
blunderingly hit off with extraordinary accuracy. 
How self-satisfied Acres seemed, how positively 
joyous he was at the thought of his improve- 
ment in urban ways when he lifted his hat and 
exposed his hair done up in curl papers ! The 
very knots of his hair, which he said he had 
been so long in training, seemed to partake of 
the comic determination of their owner, while 
the explanation of his genteel method of swear- 
ing was given with unusual bucolic confidence 
of social progress. How drolly condescending 
he appeared in his admission to the admiring 
David that dress did make a difference! How 
eagerly, by facial expression only, he invited the 
compliments of his clod of a servant, and with 
what self-complacence he surveyed himself in 
the mirror! It seemed to me nothing could 



be more ludicrous than his earnest manner of 
insisting upon being in a rage when, in the scene 
with Sir Lucius O'Trigger, he feels a kind of 
valor rising within him ; and with what refine- 
ment and delicacy he did it all ! Such was the 
mixture of comic cowardice in his determination 
not to be afraid, as he listened to the whining 
discouragements of David, that I felt like burst- 
ing out laughing in his face. In all the realm 
of comic situation, there is probably nothing 
funnier than that of trying to persuade a coward 
to fight a duel. Shakespeare gives us a taste 
of it in cc Twelfth Night," and the device has 
been employed with unfailing success by dram- 
atists of all times. Sheridan has used it with 
telling effect in " The Rivals," and Jefferson de- 
veloped and improved the opportunity to the 
utmost. If ever a mock hero was perfectly 
simulated, it was done by Jefferson in Acres. 
The very barrel of the duelling pistol which he 
carried on his arm seemed, like the owner, to 
lose much of its dignity, and to be fearful lest 
it might be obliged to fight. Besides many 
others, Jefferson was master of two important 

requirements of the stage, — that of entering 



and exiting, and his first appearance with Sir 
Lucius in the last act of " The Rivals " was inde- 
scribably droll. There was positively no mis- 
taking the fact that Acres was scared through 
and through. His insistence that there was no 
merit in killing a man at a distance of less than 
forty yards was especially effective to-night, pro- 
voking the audience to hearty laughter. The 
business-like bearing of Sir Lucius served only 
to emphasize the cowardice of the tremulous 
Acres. It seemed to me to be beyond the 
power of a dramatist to conceive — or if to con- 
ceive, to describe — the wealth of illustrative ac- 
tion which Jefferson lavished effortlessly on the 
episode of the duel in " The Rivals." It would 
have necessitated a book at least double the size 
of the play itself, merely to set forth the attitudes, 
the play of countenance, the felicitous emphasis, 
and inventive skill which Jefferson brought to 
bear on the whole play, but especially upon this 
particular scene. Few who have seen will ever 
forget the hopelessly absurd expression and ap- 
pearance of his Acres at the moment when Sir 
Lucius, who has paced off the duelling distance, 
turns to find Bob at his heels, instead of, as was 



expected, at the other end of the firing line, or 
when Bob leans weakly against Sir Lucius, and in 
reply to that gallant's question declares he does n't 
know what is the matter with him, — all of which 
was Jefferson and no part of Sheridan. Jefferson 
brushed the mildew of tradition from Acres, and 
brought to the part a sympathy and delicacy it 
never possessed nor yet was thought to possess. 
He lent it all the charm of his personality, and 
he will be regarded as the true exponent of the 
character here in America, I believe, far beyond 
the time which bounds the memory of those who 
saw his impersonation. 

Theatrical history sometimes repeats itself. 
When Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Jefferson's 
great-grandfather, was leaving Garrick's company, 
the English Roscius tossed him his Abel Drug- 
ger wig, saying, " Take that, my friend, and may 
it bring you as much good as it has brought me." 
To-night, after the curtain had fallen and The 
All-Star " Rivals " Tour had ended, Jefferson 
gave Goodwin his Acres wig, saying, cc Take it, 
Nat, and may it bring you success when you 
play my old friend Bob." 




IT was Jefferson's custom to begin his seasons 
early in the fall, and play until the weather 
became threateningly cold, in the latter part 
of November or the first part of December. He 
then abandoned his tour and sought the balmier 
clime of Louisiana or Florida, where he would 
fish and paint until early spring, when he would 
resume acting until summer weather gave indi- 
cations of advancing. He played only about 
eighteen or twenty weeks each year. To this 
avoidance of the rigors of a Northern winter he 
attributed his steady health and the prolonga- 
tion of his life. He had a plantation on Orange 
Island, in New Iberia, Louisiana, among the 
Acadian settlements, and a home, " The Reefe," 
at Palm Beach, Florida. His summers he spent 
at Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. Here, over- 
looking Buttermilk Bay, he built a beautiful 


house which he called " Crow's Nest," and here 
were his collection of valuable paintings, his chief 
studio, his books, and all those things that endear 
one to the place called Home. 

April i, 1891, "Crow's Nest" was burned 
down, and with it were destroyed many treasures 
of art and many things of a personal nature dear 
to their owner. Fortunately he had lent some 
of his best paintings to an exhibition. Some time 
after the fire, I found, on reaching Milwaukee 
(April 17, 1893), that Jefferson was also to play 
there. Acquainted with his habits, I went at once 
to the theatre. It was barely seven o'clock in 
the evening, the stage was set for the first act of 
<c Rip Van Winkle," and I found, as I expected, 
Jefferson mousing about the stage, which was 
dark and dismal enough. I took a seat while 
he told me of the burning of his home. And 
the quiet way in which he laughed at the thought 
of the "natives" tugging away at heavy furniture, 
while Corots, Diazes, Troyons, Daubignys, and 
Mauves were threatened with destruction, spoke 
volumes for his philosophy that could thus per- 
mit him to smile in the face of such a loss. Per- 
haps the most remarkable thing about it, though, 



was the keen sense of the ridiculous shown. It 
was altogether charming. 

" I am glad we were away when it burned 
down, because curiosity would have taken some of 
us to the cellar where the explosion occurred, and, 
like our poor cook, whom we had in our family 
for years, we should probably have perished." 

" Did I understand you were insured ? " 

"Yes, for $67,000; but the paintings of my 
father and mother are gone, and all the thou- 
sand things I Ve collected for years, — all of 
which were part of my history, any one of 
which would excite pleasant recollections, all lost 
to me forever." 

" When I got your letter of sympathy," he 
remarked, " I said : Of all men, Wilson has lost 
most by this conflagration in the way of auto- 
graph letters, programs, and what not which I in- 
tended to send him. When it was seen that the 
house must go," he continued, " my Cape Cod 
neighbors bethought them of saving the house- 
hold goods and rushed for the piano, a rattle- 
trap thing I had long thought of replacing. 
They made for that because it was big and had 
shiny legs, I suppose, and pulled it out on the 



grass. Much less exertion would have saved 
thousands of dollars worth of beautiful paintings. 
Nevertheless, I appreciate their intention, and am 
grateful for their efforts. " 

The barber came to shave him, — a difficult 
task, for Jefferson would talk and bob his head 
about. Curiously enough, the hair on his temples 
was shaved for the convenience of his wigs, but 
this, owing to the way Jefferson wore his hair, 
would not be noticed in private life except by the 
keen observer. We talked until "overture call " 
obliged me to beat a precipitate retreat. 

The next year after its destruction, " Crow's 
Nest" was rebuilt, and into its rebuilding went a 
great deal of the Jefferson personality. The large, 
uneven boulder stones of which the first story is 
constructed, were refined, its owner thought, by 
the contrast of the heavy plate-glass windows. 
The second story of dark red brick, with frequent 
regularly placed bricks with black-glazed ends and 
the red-tiled roof, give the color which Jefferson's 
eye always craved. The chimneys are of over- 
burnt pieces of tile topped with a border of tall, 
inverted, brownish-yellow, earthen seltzer bottles. 
Instead of being either obtrusive or startling in 



appearance, as this description might imply, the 
chimneys are modest-looking and picturesque. 
The verandas are broad and gracefully curved, 
and the place given over wholly to generous 

There Jefferson was as successful in playing 
the part of country gentleman as in any part in 
his professional life. His love of disputation 
finally deprived him of the carver's privileges, 
because family and guests were too frequently 
obliged to submit to tantalizingly " long waits," 
while with poised blade and fork he spun his 
round, unvarnished tale. 

He was greatly admired and respected by his 
neighbors and worshipped by those in his employ. 
He did not expect to find in his farm employees 
all the cardinal virtues for twenty or thirty dollars 
a month. He possessed the rare quality of not 
seeing too much. Once, though, when he found 
some notice must be taken of a dereliction, he 
assumed an injured tone and said with much 
dignity : 

"Why, Jones, you are drunk ! " 

" Oh, awful drunk ! " was the laborer's reply, 
the frank and comic admission of which made 



Jefferson, from suppressed laughter, incapable of 
further rebuke. 

Industry and faithfulness were qualities in his 
farm help which Jefferson greatly admired. One 
of these, a good worker but with no skill as a 
gardener, desiring to come to New York, asked 
for a recommendation. Jefferson was puzzled, 
but finally wrote an open letter which complied 
with the gardener's request, and yet protected not 
only himself but any future employer. The 
letter read : 

To Whom it May Concern: The bearer 
[naming him] has been employed on or about 
my place at Buzzards Bay for several years. He 
is a good man for anybody who wants just such 

a man. 


It was to Crow's Nest I usually wrote Jeffer- 
son, and from that place I received most letters 
from him. About the time of the rebuilding of 
the house I sent him for his signature a water- 
color drawing of himself as Bob Acres, by Charles 
A. Abbe. I give two letters from Jefferson con- 
cerning it : 



Buzzards Bay, Mass., Aug. 25, 1892. 
My dear Francis Wilson, — I do protest, 
good master, that thy watertype hath not ap- 
peared. I did even this very day (of all days in 
the year) dispatch my trusty serving-man, one 
John by name, a good man i' faith, too, and one 
of many parts — I say again, I did forthwith dis- 
patch him to our master of the post — who in turn 
declareth on his nativity, look you, that neither 
water- nor land-type hath passed his portal since 
good Ben Harrison did appoint him to his trust. 
Beshrew me if I would treat thee and thy good 
work, both of which I hold in high esteem, after 
such a scurvy fashion ; nay, more, I am honored 
in thy request, for thy care will hand me down to 
fame and goodly character — so straightway send 
me another portraiture and I will forthwith affix 
my poor name thereunto. 

Thine in good service, 


Buzzards Bay, Mass., Aug. 26, 1892. 
My dear Sir Francis, — Verily thy water- 
type hath turned up. 

There hath been a great coil and much ado 



amongst my vassals, one of whom, after due 
Christian torture, hath confessed that he, being 
much enamoured of the face (as it was a sweet 
reminder of mine own), did hide it in the Hen 
House, where it did lay so long that it be a won- 
der it did not either spoil or hatch. The varlet, 
in compensation for this scurvy act, hath by my 
decree been branded with the letters W. T. and 
turned loose upon the King's Highway, bearing 
an inscription about his throttle warning all true 
men to give him neither scrip, bread, nor housing 
under penalty of the Stocks. 

I have signed and sealed the W. T. and dis- 
patched it to thee to-day. 

God speed thee on thy voyage, and return 
thee in good time to make thy long and thy 

short jumps. 

Thine ever, 


M. A. & A. S. S. 

I saw Jefferson for the last time in " Rip Van 
Winkle," October 18, 1892, when he was play- 
ing an engagement at the Star Theatre, Broadway 
and Thirteenth Street, New York. The line of 
ticket-buyers was so long that I decided to appeal 



personally to the manager. I passed the gate and 
found Theodore Moss and Jefferson in the room 
adjoining the box-office. After the usual courte- 
sies as to health and business, on my mentioning 
California, he spoke of the delight of his recent 
experience there, and said that he was going again 
next season, and that he had, in fact, made ar- 
rangements to do so, and those arrangements 
included a week's idleness to be devoted to re- 
visiting the Yosemite Valley. I thought then 
that this foreboded no early retirement from active 
duty of the man who was by general acclaim 
the head and front of the dramatic world and 
who stood so high in the affections of the public 
and his profession. I was recommending him to 
leave his climbing of the Glacier Point Trail until 
the last day of his visit to the valley (a trail built 
since Jefferson's visit twenty years before), as, 
having done it recently, I believed that it was an 
inspiring vantage-point from which to say fare- 
well to the many glories of the Yosemite. He 
interrupted me with : 

" Oh dear, I could n't do any climbing ! I 
tried it once and nearly disgraced myself. My 
wife was in front and, as were all of us, on horse- 



or mule-back. My mule seemed to be meditat- 
ing a jump over the precipice at every step. As 
he leaned farther and farther out, I grew more 
unhappy and my head more uncertain. I did n't 
like to be the first to cry c halt/ and you can imag- 
ine what a relief it was to me when I heard my wife 
say, c I can't ride any longer, I must get down/ 
Slipping from my mule's back, I fairly screamed, 
with an impressiveness the remembrance of which 
makes me laugh even now, 4 Gentlemen, this lady 
can go no farther.' " 

Among the many happy hours spent with Jef- 
ferson in viewing pictures, I recall one which I 
find set down under date of January 13, 1897. 
We were in Boston : 

Jefferson sent me a special delivery letter to- 
day, asking me to meet him at the studio of a 
common friend, and after, lunch with him at 
Young's. He and his son Charles were there 
when I arrived. The greeting was most cordial, 
and together we looked over the Troyons, Diazes, 
Mauves, and new pictures which are always on 
hand. Mr. Jefferson seemed very well ; was active 
and eloquent as usual. 1 think I have never 
seen him to better advantage these seven years. 



How it makes one wonder, and how one hopes 
that one's threescore years and ten — for Jefferson 
will have reached that period in February — may 
be enjoyed in such excellent bodily health and 
mental alertness as he unquestionably possesses ! 
He was remarkably interesting to-day. The sub- 
jects ranged from Shakespeare to " Tom " Rob- 
ertson, from Botticelli to Corot, from John Hare 
to Locke Richardson, and the aptly applied stories 
and quotations came without a pause and with all 
the old full measure of humor and appreciation. 
What a benevolently apologetic glance he cast 
toward his son as he was about to narrate an 
anecdote or experience to point a moral or adorn 
a tale, saying, " My children have to share all my 
old stories ! " and then added laughingly, cc Once 
in a while, though, I tell a new one, and it always 
makes a big hit with them ! " He is an appre- 
ciative listener, too. When the point comes, his 
lovely face wrinkles to its utmost capacity, — which 
is saying much of one of such mobility of features, 
— the eyes shut, his head goes back, his mouth 
opens, slightly displaying the plate which holds 
the upper teeth, while his laugh is more a joy- 
fully prolonged high-keyed cry than, as usual, a 



series of short gasps. Suddenly his head will re- 
sume its normal position, the lips will purse up, 
and his eyes will take on a tender gleam, and he 
will say, " Is n't that fine ? " and forward will go 
his head on his chest in silent re-enjoyment of 
what has been said. He was more reserved and 
thoughtful at the studio. 

He was at his mental and anecdotal best, though, 
at luncheon. The example of Troyon he thought 
most admirable. The big one which he had seen in 
New York did not compare, he said, with the one 
before us, which was in a comparatively sketchy 
state. Here was the picture, he went on, as 
the great master had laid it in with his first swift 
touches. How well he must have known the 
bovine anatomy to suggest it perfectly with the 
initial passes of his brush ! For the connoisseur 
every touch that Troyon might have added would 
have taken away from the merit of the painting. 
The picture in New York was evidently one that 
Troyon had intended to be a masterpiece. He 
had painted in his background, and it was perfect 
in every detail. He had painted in his cattle, and 
they were perfect in every detail. But when it 

was all done there was something wrong ; the 



cattle did not contrast well with the background, 
and the background made no foil for the cattle, 
and though the painting brought a large price, 
Jefferson would not exchange it for the sketch 
before us, which would command a comparatively 
small sum. Talking of some other painters, he 
said, they stage-managed very well, but that 
Troyon did much the best acting. This Troyon* 
he said, was not a commercial picture ; it was done 
by an artist for the true artistic appreciation. 

" Just look at it closely, Charley," said he to 
his son ; cc see the broad, impressionistic sweeps 
of the brush. Oh, the whole thing must have 
been done in an hour, but think of the years it 
took him to be able to do it in that time " ; and 
then, the picture resting on the floor, he squats 
down on the balls of his feet in the most agile 
way, and with his thumb imitates the motion he 
supposes Troyon made in the production of this 
artistic group of cattle. 

" And you see there are so few points of light ! " 
he continued. " How the man could resist put- 
ting some white here and here and here/' em- 
phasizing each adverb of place with a suggestive 
and characteristic motion of the hand, " I can't 



imagine. Of course I should have added the 
light effects, and equally, of course, I should 
have spoiled the whole thing. No," he repeated, 
" every stroke Troyon added to this sketch would 
have made it finishedly imperfect. Did you hear 
what I said to Remington when he declared 
that Troyon could n't draw ? " 

" No, sir,'but I should like to." 

" c Can't draw, hey? Well, if that's the case, 
I, for one, am very glad he cannot ! ' " 

I said that reminded me of Dr. Horace Howard 
Furness's reply to a young man who asked if he 
did not think it possible that Shakespeare had 
often builded better than he knew, and if it were 
not true that there were many things written by 
Shakespeare the philosophy of which the great 
dramatist himself could scarcely have dreamed. 

" They are there, are they not, in Shake- 
speare ? " said Dr. Furness. 

" Yes," answered the inquiring youth. 

" You see them, don't you ? " 

" Yes," was the reply. 

" Well, I should be loath to feel," Dr. Furness 
said, " that I saw anything in Shakespeare's 
works of which he himself was ignorant." 



This seemed to be agreed upon as conclusive 
except by Mr. Jefferson, whose face for a moment 
wore an expression of doubt ; then he launched 
out with : 

" I should be inclined to agree with the young 
man as against Dr. Furness. Unquestionably 
Shakespeare, like all great poets, writers, thinkers, 
artists, builded better than he knew. What 
could he have known of the circulation of the 
blood ? Yet he approaches wonderfully close to 
a description of it when in c Hamlet ' he makes 
the Ghost tell of the ' leprous distilment/ which 
being poured into the ear 

* Holds such an enmity with blood of man 
That swift as quicksilver it courses through 
The natural gates and alleys of the body,' 

which," Jefferson earnestly declared, "goes to 

prove that he builded better than he knew. 

" Take Corot for another instance. c What a 

fine light that is coming through those trees!' said 

an admiring connoisseur to Corot of a painting 

the master was showing him. c Beautiful ! ' was 

the reply, c I never noticed it before ! ' — Never 

observed before a fine light in his own painting ! 

The man had builded better than he knew. 



" See a little child rolling on the floor. It 
can't be more graceful if it try. Perhaps not 
even a Michael Angelo could depict on canvas 
the unconscious grace of that childish action. 
The child is building better than it knows. 
That is what I always maintain. The best things 
are not thought out; they simply happen, on the 
inspiration of the moment. These happenings 
are flashes of genius. The power to catch a 
photograph of these flashes and reproduce them 
at will, as on the stage, is talent." 

One of the party said that he had there out- 
lined the distinction between genius and talent, to 
which he agreed. 

" Yes," he said, again making a professional 
application of the whole thing, " and here 's the 
distinction between the artist and the actor. The 
artist is continually painting new pictures, but the 
actor must not only paint over and over again 
night after night the same emotions, but paint 
them as if he had never felt them before." 

I was somewhat surprised to learn that Jeffer- 
son had offered for sale one of his Mauves — a 
cow grazing near the edge of a thicket — a splen- 
did example of the artist's work, the composition, 



coloring, and quality of which are very fine. I 
began to wonder if it were not in the purchase of 
paintings, as it is sometimes in the purchase of 
books, that the mere bargaining for them and 
their acquisition are, after all, the most attractive 
features in the transaction. Later, however, it 
was explained that Jefferson had thirteen Mauves, 
and that a promise given to Mrs. Jefferson not 
to buy any more pictures this season was being 
rigidly adhered to, but that nothing had been said 
about an exchange of -paintings! Sure enough, only 
a few days later, three of Mr. Rip Van Jefferson's 
new acquirements arrived at a Boston studio, as 
the result of some sort of an exchange the par- 
ticulars of which were not mentioned. It will be 
interesting to know what Mrs. Jefferson will have 
to say to this. Not unlikely it will end in hearty 
laughter on renewed promises from Rip not to 
drink another drop, or, rather, not to purchase 
another painting — this season I 

Among those who joined us at luncheon was 
Mr. Charles Rolfe, whom Jefferson introduced as 
his grandson-in-law. The novelty of this rela- 
tionship highly amused the great comedian. All 
being in readiness, Jefferson took his place at the 



head of the table and proceeded to haggle the 
duck. He appeared to do everything with it 
except hold it down with his knee. Nobody- 
seemed disposed to mend matters for him by tell- 
ing a story, and thus directing the attention away 
from the mangling. On the contrary, everybody 
gave him the most rigid attention, for no one 
knew at what instant it might be necessary to re- 
turn the duck. It was a shock to have one's 
idol thus shattered, but the conviction was pain- 
fully forced upon us that, however artistically 
Jefferson might act, it was evident that as a carver 
he had clay feet ! His Caleb Plummer might 
provoke tears, but his carving could excite nothing 
but laughter. He was reminded of Bill Nye's 
declaration that in amateur carving the gravy 
seldom matched the wall-paper, which merely 
prolonged the agony of service while the laughter 

I was telling him how I came into possession 
of a Rembrandt Peale painting which was among 
a collection made by Peale for the Baltimore 
Museum, and that to obtain this particular pic- 
ture the late John E. Owens had bought the 
whole gallery of paintings. The connoisseur 



Walters had, as Mrs. Owens declared, vainly im- 
portuned her husband for its purchase. I ended 
by saying that Mrs. Owens, to prevent its falling 
into the hands of mere hawkers of canvases, had 
sold it to me. 

" Oh yes," says Jefferson, " I once owned that 
Rembrandt Peale along with a lot of other paint- 
ings and waxworks ! " and then he gave us a 
humorous account of two fellow players named 
Ehrig and Stein and himself who ran the Balti- 
more Museum on shares, and that business was 
so poor that even the wax figures seemed to hold 
up their hands in protest at being put upon two- 
thirds salaries. 

On the way over to luncheon at Young's hotel 
he gave me a full description of " Founder's 
Night " ceremonies at The Players, where Judge 
Olin's eloquent speech had given such good op- 
portunities for responding. He said that after 
his own little effort he had those present ask him 
questions, — a practice which he always greatly 
enjoyed, because it afforded him chances for spon- 
taneous replies. I asked him if he did not always 
meet with about the same inquiries. 

" Yes," he replied, " about the same, but dif- 


ferently garbed, which are : What is the difference 
between acting and oratory ? Would you recom- 
mend the stage as a profession for young women ? 
Does not the frequent representation of a character 
upon the stage result injuriously to the actor and 
the representation ? What distinction and dif- 
ference do you draw from the art of the actor and 
that of the painter? But those at The Players' 
gathering had come up in a new form : 

" Should the actor dominate the character or 
the character the actor ? " 

" What reply did you make to that ? " I asked. 

" I told them that it greatly depended upon 
the man and upon the character, that the effect 
desired to be reached was the main consideration, 
and that, speaking for myself, if I could get it by 
dominating the character, then I should certainly 
dominate the character, but if I could only reach 
it by subordinating myself to the character, then 
I should surely subordinate myself, for the effect 
I certainly would have." 

We fell to discussing Locke Richardson's pub- 
lished belief that Dame Quickly's " A' babbled of 
green fields," with respect to Falstaff 's demise, 

meant that the old sinner, who had lost his voice 



in the singing of psalms, and was, in the hour 
of his dissolution, upon a bed of repentance, had 
had the Twenty-third Psalm in his mind's eye : 

" He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.'* 

I was telling Mr. Jefferson how delighted Dr. 
Furness had been with Richardson's solution of 
the question, and of his writing Richardson that 
had he (Dr. Furness) fallen upon such an ex- 
planation he would have been as proud as forty 
peacocks ; but that, apropos of the Richardson 
solution, Dr. Furnivall had written Dr. Furness 
that he thought the fields of which FalstafF 
babbled were meant by Shakespeare to be fields 
represented in a shield. 

" I do not believe/' said Jefferson, " that 
Shakespeare meant more than to indicate that 
Falstaff's mind had been diverted by the serious- 
ness of the situation, by his age, from warlike 
thoughts to the calm consideration of pastoral 
scenes, the beauties of nature, as of sky and trees 
and green grass, and that he made a peaceful end 
of it." 

He marvelled at Shakespeare's knowledge of 

unusual things and of his skill in giving them 



matchless expression. He told, in exemplifica- 
tion of this, of his own hostler's once calling him 
out to the stables to see the " elf-locks " the 
fairies had platted in the horse's mane. He ac- 
cused the hostler of having twisted the hair into 
regular plats as a hoax, but this was denied with 
credible earnestness. As he viewed these " elf- 
locks," Jefferson was reminded of the lines in 
" Romeo and Juliet" in which Mercutio says : 

" This is that very Mab 
That plats the manes of horses in the night, 

Which once untangled much misfortune bodes." 

Of Paganini, of Ole Bull, notwithstanding 
they say the latter was no musician, of Corot and 
Mauve, whom some accuse of not being academi- 
cal draughtsmen, he said that they were men who 
long ago learned the grammar of their art, made 
new rules of their own, and played and painted 
themselves into the affectionate remembrance of 
all posterity, — that, in other words, they were 
men of genius. 

He told me of having recently addressed the 
Medical College at Baltimore. The students, he 

said, were so enthusiastic that after the lecture 



they had unhorsed his carnage and drawn him to 
the hotel. He gave me a dialectic account of the 
incident as he had overheard one darkey hostler 
at the hotel narrate it to one of his companions. 

" What 's all de row dis mawnin' in de street ? " 

« Did n't yah heah ? " 

"No, wat was it?" 

" Oh, only some dem students drawin' ole Joe 
Jefferson aroun' in a hack ! " 

After luncheon, standing in the lobby of the 
hotel, I discovered that Mr. Jefferson was fear- 
fully and wonderfully, albeit sanitarily, apparelled. 
The weather being cold and his departure South 
delayed by Mrs. Jefferson's indisposition, he had 
furnished himself with a pair of thick woollen 
golf stockings with enormous plaids. His son 
Charles sportively drew up the leg of his father's 
trousers and gave us an exhibition. In addition 
to overshoes and his regular garments he wore a 
padded maroon-colored smoking-jacket, which he 
had almost forgotten to lay aside on entering the 

September 5, 1897, I went over to Philadel- 
phia with Jefferson to attend the funeral of Mrs. 



John Drew, our own Mrs. Malaprop, who had 
died at Larchmont, New York. 

" I doubt," said Mr. Jefferson, after we had 
with difficulty passed from the church through 
the crowd on the way to the railway station, " if 
the death of any lady in Philadelphia would 
awaken such interest or draw together such a 
number of people." 

I remarked that Mrs. Drew's death was sudden. 

" That is as it should be," he replied, — <c not to 
know the time when we are just alive ; to be taken 
off in the midst and pursuit of some great interest, 
not when one stands tremblingly apprehensive of 
the blow." 

On my reminding him that Mrs. Drew's fore- 
bears had been long-lived and that her mother 
had lived to ninety or thereabouts, he said : 

"Well, I don't wish to live to be ninety. I 
have met one or two such, and they were pitiable 

He kept excellent control of himself all through 
the solemn service at the church. As the coffin 
was borne past us up the aisle, I noted his bowed 
head and trembling lip . 

While on the way to New York, in the dis- 


cussion of a theory of mentation, in which he 
was greatly interested, by a disciple thereof, Elmer 
Gates, he declared that this earth was not the 
end of all, and that if he could bring himself to 
think so he should curse the powers that made 

Professor Gates had declared, and Jefferson 
was inclined to believe, that we were on the verge 
of a discovery that would bridge all things human 
and those that hitherto have been regarded as 

Professor Gates had greatly interested Mr. 
Jefferson by his experiments with an insect state 
of existence that had but a single brain cell, and 
had found the manifestation of this intelligence 
in the training of the insect to go to a certain 
place where it had been taught to expect a grain 
of sugar, or a drop of sugared water. 

" When we consider the millions of brain cells 
the average individual possesses," he said, " this 
knowledge of a creature of so low a state of ex- 
istence as to possess but a single brain cell is 
extremely interesting." 

Reverting to the affairs of the stage, it was said 
that the prospect of good times was very encour- 



aging and that the theatres would be sure to profit 
by it. " I can't comprehend what is meant by 
that," he said, " for I seem always to be the most 
successful when we are having periods of great 
financial stringency. Last year [1896] was one 
of my best seasons. It seems to make little 
difference what the times may be ; if you give the 
public something good, there will be no question 
as to their going in great numbers to see it." 

I asked him if he had ever found that the in- 
terest in a certain point or expression in one 
of his plays, expressions which had been pro- 
vocative of laughter or applause, had suddenly 
fallen off. 

" Yes, indeed, I have," he rejoined. " I dis- 
covered, after thirty-five years of playing c Rip 
Van Winkle,' that I had been reading my lines, 
in the last act, to Meenie in an exceedingly 
ineffective way. The applause had disappeared 
and I knew not why. I gave it much thought 
and it worried me. Suddenly it flashed upon me 
that I was picturing the situation as if Meenie 
had not recognized me — when, in fact, there was 
nothing yet to lead to the belief that she might 
not. I was anticipating the effect, and when it 



came it was weak. I returned to my former 
reading and the applause returned with it. I 
was very happy over solving the matter." 

" I always believed you were mistaken, Mr. 
Jefferson," I said to him, " when you declared 
that you have had more inspired moments in 
painting than in acting and that you would be 
content to give up acting and devote your time 
to painting. I want to ask you bluntly, if you 
were forced to choose between the two, which 
you would select." 

He looked out of the car window for some 
little time, evidently revolving the question in 
his mind. Finally he turned toward me with 
a fine light in his eyes, and with a beautiful 
smile said : 

" Francis, I don't know. I love them both 
so much ! " 

He was not able to do a thing at painting, he 
said, if anyone were around ; it was only when he 
was alone that he could find thoughts he deemed 
worthy to be put on canvas. " But," he added, 
with a twinkle in his eye, " if I like to be alone 
when I paint, I have no objection to a great 
many people when I act." 


2. £ 

« c 

2! tS 


Apropos of this, Frederic Remington, the 
artist, told me of meeting with Jefferson once in 
the South. 

" What a beautiful bit of landscape ! " ex- 
claimed Jefferson. 

" Why don't you get your outfit and sit down 
here with me and paint it? " Remington replied. 

" No, no, no ! Not now," said Jefferson. 

"When are you going to paint it? " asked the 

" Oh, sometime in the future, — when I have 
forgotten it," was the response'. 

To come back to our journey to New York, 
Jefferson said he believed that he was making 
now the worthiest efforts of his painting life, 
and I found that he thought it not impossible 
that examples of his work as a painter might 
be sought in the future for some quality not 
discerned or appreciated by connoisseurs of 

I asked him about some of the most exhil- 
arating mental experiences he had ever met. 

" One of them," he replied, " was answering 
the questions put to me by the members of 

The Union League Club, of New York, when 



I lectured to them " ; and then apropos of politics 
and parties, he added: "I have been a Democrat 
or had Democratic tendencies all my life, but I 
have come to the conclusion that the balance of 
intelligence is with the Republican Party." 

I spoke to him of Julia Dean's grave being un- 
marked at Port Jervis, New York. He thanked 
me, and expressed the intention of having a stone 
properly inscribed and put over the grave of the 
woman who, I remember him to have said, was 
his first sweetheart. 1 

He spoke again of the question box he has at 
the close of most lectures, and gave me an elabo- 
rate account of the power he had of throwing his 
mind back in search of an anecdote with which 
to round out his remarks upon any subject pro- 
pounded. This is what he called a subjective 
mind, which he said never failed him. He mar- 
velled at the mind going in search of something 
to point a moral or adorn a tale while it was still 
answering the question put. 

I told him I had seen it announced that he 
was going to retire in 1898. He denied indig- 
nantly that such was the case, and asked his son 

1 Mr Jefferson carried out his intention. 


Charles to see that proper contradiction was 
made. He wished to die in harness, he declared, 
and to play as long as he was able satisfactorily 
to portray the characters with which he was 

I had seen him at New Orleans at a riding- 
school laboring to learn to ride the bicycle, and 
asked him if he had given it up. 

" Yes," he said, " I did n't get enough out of 
it ; and then, too, I thought it was not unlikely 
I should fall and break a leg, and I said, c Old 
gentleman, discretion is the better part of valor, 
and a fall at your age would probably mean a 
year in bed '; so I gave it up." 

Reverting again to the subject of revising 
plays to suit modern tastes, he thought a great 
many of the classic dramas would bear rearrange- 
ment. He instanced cc Hamlet," which he thought 
would be much better if the first appearance of 
the Ghost were omitted. " If this were so," he 
said, "when Marcellus, Bernardo, and Hamlet 
appeared upon the platform, with the hope of 
seeing the apparition, there could be no doubt 
of the heightened interest of the audience, who, 

having heard of the Ghost's appearance to 



Marcellus and Bernardo, would be more deeply- 
concerned." He had recommended this to a 
young tragedian, Walker Whiteside, who had 
tried it, and with satisfaction in the result. 

He related a story of Burton, who, bemoaning 
a poor house at Albany, was told he should have 
timed his visit with the incoming of the canal- 
boats. Next night, two belated people walked 
down the aisle, and Burton, turning to the 
actor who was playing with him, said audibly, 
" There 's a boat in, by gad ! " 

We had reached New York, and had gone 
as far as Forty-second Street and Sixth Avenue, 
by the elevated road. Looking over Bryant 
Park, he said : 

" I remember distinctly the Crystal Palace that 
was built on the site of that square. But that 's 
back beyond your time." 

Under date of November 10, 1897, I find 
the following record of happenings : 

John Russell Young, the newly appointed 
Librarian of Congress, having invited us to 
visit and inspect under his guidance the Con- 
gressional Library, Jefferson and I found our- 
selves in the beautiful place at eleven o'clock, 



and with Mr. Young and one of the architects 
began a tour of sight-seeing under most favor- 
able circumstances. Jefferson was strong, in good 
health and spirits, and, as usual, anecdotal. His 
love of color led him to prefer the warmer rather 
than the lighter schemes and frescos for decora- 
tion. The pictures of Van Ingen he considered 
the right tone to his taste. The main hall, with 
its beautiful columns in white thrown out in great 
relief by the richer, darker colors behind them, 
he thought an artist's dream, — a fairyland. 

Going through the Maps and Charts Room, 
he quite abashed Librarian Young by remarking, 
" You and I were born in the same year, were 
we not? " And seeing the look of astonishment 
on Young's face, he quickly recovered himself 
by apologizing and saying, "No, no, no! I am 
old enough to be your father ! " and hit upon 
another and, I suspect, a fictitious person with 
whom he was of the same age. Then immediately 
afterwards, having gotten leeway, as it were, he 
named George W. Childs and Murat Halstead 
as the persons he had in mind. " I have a great 
advantage over you," he said to Mr. Young; 

" at your age people are sensitive about it, while 



at mine we are proud of it. But just think what 
has come in since I was born : steam railways, 
steamships, the telegraph, the sewing-machine, 
gas, electric light, elevators, the telephone and 
vitascope, and many more such." He begged 
our guides not to apologize for the disorderly 
condition of the newly occupied Maps and Charts 
Room, which is quite complete, we were told, as 
tQ maps of the United States. " I am glad of 
that," said Mr. Jefferson, "for I understand the 
map of Europe is not perfect." 

He turned humorously to me as the names 
of various great men were being pointed out 
on the ceiling, and said : "I do not see the 
name of an actor, do you ? " " Oh yes," said 
Mr. Young, instantly, " there is Shakespeare ! " 
This greatly pleased Mr. Jefferson. "Well," 
he returned, " the actor may not live much in 
posterity, but he lives like the deuce in the 
present ! " I remarked that this might be 
very uncomplimentarily construed, which made 
him laugh. He was reminded of what John L. 
Sullivan, the pugilist, is reported to have said on 
learning of the death of Edwin Booth : " An- 
other one of us gone ! " The writer heard Edwin 



Booth say, when told of Corbett having de- 
feated Sullivan in the prize-ring, that he was 
glad the championship belt remained in the 

" People seem to forget that plays are never 
produced exactly as written by the author," said 
Mr. Jefferson. " Shakespeare must then have 
corrected as well as directed his own plays with 
Beaumont and Fletcher, so to speak, looking 
over his shoulder and only too anxious to see 
him trip. How readily he must have displayed 
his ignorance and duplicity if the plays were 
Bacon's instead of his own ! " 

I reminded him of Professor John Fiske's argu- 
ment that the style, a personal matter, wholly 
unlike Bacon's, was the best internal evidence that 
Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him. 
That its being declared that Shakespeare could 
not have written this or that play because it pos- 
sessed knowledge on subjects with which Shake- 
peare could not possibly have had any knowledge 
from books, was absurd, because such knowledge 
could have been gained, and likely was gained, 
from oral communication, — absorbed from the 
conversation of the great minds of the period in 

3 J 3 


which he lived, such minds as Jonson, Beaumont, 
Fletcher, Raleigh, Selden, Daniel Donne, the 
Earls of Rochester and Dorset, Dekker and 
Bacon, all of whom were associates of Shake- 
speare at the Mermaid Tavern. 

"Oh, it's absurd," said Jefferson, "one might as 
well attribute a Rembrandt painting to Van Dyke 
and try to defy detection. But I still maintain 
that these writers as well as these painters — why, 
I do it in my own puerile handling of the brush 
and in my acting — build better than they know. 
They don't know all that is in what they say or 
paint. It comes to me, to them, by inspiration, 
and they write it and paint it as they are moved 
to do, by a power they cannot explain." 

Passing through another apartment, we found 
a blind girl reading from raised-letter pages. As 
we watched the girl, he said most sympathetically : 
" And we complain if we have a poor house ! 

We ought to have our d d heads knocked 

off!" I found on inquiring that the girl was 
reading a miscellaneous poetical selection. Her 
fingers moved over the cardboard leaves with 
great deftness. Jefferson asked me if I had ever 
met Helen Keller, who had attained such marvel- 


lous proficiency of speech. She was only sixteen, 
he said, and talked like a Socrates. 

"What did she say," I asked, "that gave you 
such an impression ? " 

" She talked of Emerson's opinion of Sweden- 
borg, and then gave me her opinion of Emerson's 
opinion, and it was quite as good as Emerson's," 
he replied ; "all this, mind, with a voice not one 
sound of which could she hear. She kept her 
fingers on my lip to feel what I was saying. I 
would say something and she would laugh. Then 
I would ask her what I had said, and she would 
repeat it word for word, except that, not being 
exactly like our utterance, it sounded foreign. 
She 's wonderful ! I have gone back to her after 
an absence of six months, and the moment she 
had touched my hand she said, c Ah, Mr. Jeffer- 
son!' Strangest thing of all, she speaks with a 
foreign accent." 

" A foreign accent, sir ? " 

"Yes ; it may seem strange, but in the same in- 
stitution they have colored pupils from the South 
who have been taught to speak, and they do it 
with a negro dialect." 

" Why, can an accent be inherited ? " I asked 
him. 315 


" No, but vocal organs and personal peculiari- 
ties may be," he answered. 

He was delighted with the inscriptions on the 
walls of the Library, because he found in them no 
narrow sectarianism. As he looked around at 
the decorations, the staircase, and general mag- 
nificence, he was reminded of a joke made by 
an old minstrel, Frank Brower, of Philadel- 
phia. The minstrels, he said, in the early days 
were oftentimes illiterate but always very witty. 
Brower and some companions had been invited 
to a splendid repast at the palatial residence of an 
admirer. As Brower, who came from the hum- 
blest origin, looked about him, he exclaimed : 
" Boys, this reminds me of home.'* Then turn- 
ing apologetically to Mr. Young, Jefferson said 
that he hoped to be excused for his occasional 
levity. " I must have my little joke, or I cannot 
exist," said this wonderful youngster of sixty- 
eight, who hustles about like a boy and must be 
occupied every minute of the day or he is un- 
happy. He sleeps, I find, about ten hours a day. 
Goes to bed at twelve, falling to sleep imme- 
diately, and rises about 8 a.m. In the afternoon 
his custom is to lie down about 5 p. m. and sleep 
until 6.30 or 7 p. m. 316 


In the Senatorial Reading Room the balconies 
reminded Mr. Young of Romeo and Juliet, and 
Jefferson told the story of Garrick and Spranger 
Barry as rival Romeos. Jefferson thought it 
splendid evidence of the greatness as well as the 
elasticity of Shakespeare's writings that two men 
of varied talents and personality, like Garrick and 
Barry, should be able to give successful repre- 
sentations of the same character, though in an 
entirely different manner. 

He was much taken with Blashfleld's " Progress 
of Knowledge," in the dome of the Library. The 
" opalescent tints " pleased him, and he thought 
it fine in composition and color. The pneumatic 
system and the chain elevators for the delivery 
of books greatly interested him. When a copy 
of his Autobiography was thrown out to him in 
a padded basket, he was astonished, and said he 
wondered the machine didn't go further and say, 
" Thank ye, ma'am." He also thought it flatter- 
ing to have one's own book in such a library. In 
the private apartments of the librarian some rare 
books were shown. The sight of " The New Eng- 
land Journal, 1827," made him exclaim, "Why, 
here 's a book older than I am. I did n't think 



it possible ! " He exhibited the proper deference 
before the First Folio, 1623, of Shakespeare, and 
laughed at one of the company who went on his 
knees and crossed himself before it. Apropos 
of Jefferson's saying that Mr. Young kept busy, 
the librarian quoted some lines "by an obscure 
Philadelphia poet " : 

*' Until my work is done I cannot die, 
And then I would not care to live." 

Jefferson had him repeat them, he was so much 
impressed by them. Later, when Mrs. Young 
joined us, she informed me that her husband 
meant them to be inscribed on his tomb. Some 
Benjamin Franklin imprints being shown, Jef- 
ferson eulogized the great printer, calling him 
the practical philosopher, — a man who could 
draw lightning from the clouds and invent for his 
wife a superior kind of washtub. The book in- 
spection closed with some Revolutionary broad- 
sides and a view of the first edition of Milton's 
" Paradise Lost." 

The day was beautiful, and occasionally Jef- 
ferson's glance would wander from the artistic 
magnificence within to the natural splendor with- 



out. Once he turned to me and whispered : " I 
have seen nothing so beautiful as the scene through 
the window ! " 

During the afternoon he painted away in the 
impromptu studio he had hired for the purpose. 
I joked him about the faux pas that had so con- 
fused Librarian Young. He laughed over the 
third party named, but affirmed the fact as to 
Halstead and Childs. As he was laying in the 
foliage of a picture, he said to me : 

" What are the best and worst things you have 
ever heard of the theatre? Take your time," 
he said, as he saw me hesitate. " It 's worth 

I said I thought cc the best thing," perhaps, 
was contained in Schiller's remark respecting the 
advantage of a standing theatre, that it would 
have a great influence on the national temper and 
mind, by helping the nation to agree in opinions 
and inclinations. 

" Why," he said, " did Schiller think the theatre 
would have this influence ? " 

" Because, he declared," I quoted, " the stage 

commands all human knowledge, exhausts all 

positions, illumines hearts, unites all classes, and 



makes its way to the heart and understanding by 
the most popular channels." 

" That 's fine ! " he said glowingly. " I have 
tried in my feeble way to give expression to simi- 
lar thoughts on the subject, but, my ! how futile 
it all seems after such a masterly setting forth as 
that of Schiller !" 

I said Schiller also made use of an expres- 
sion I had heard him employ frequently,* that of 
art's being the handmaid of genius or religion, 
or something such. 

" I suppose so," he said, " I suppose so ! No 
doubt I got it from Schiller or some other fellow, 
and that I have used it so often I think it 's my 
own. None of us is too original. I do all the 
good things I can remember either Burton or 
Burke did, — with just a touch, I hope, of my 
own originality. Now, what 's the worst thing 
you Ve heard ? " 

I answered that it was likely the remark of 
Augustine Birrell. As he asked me what it was, 
I could see him bristling for the onslaught he 
purposed to make. I told him Birrell had de- 
clared that acting was not a worthy art. I was 

disappointed in the way he received this. Instead 



of launching out at once against the declaration, 
he put down his palette and brushes and sat lost 
in thought. Turning, after some seconds, he said 
gravely : 

"Is anything worth while ? What, perhaps, 
does the best or worst any of us can do amount 
to in this vast conglomeration of revolving worlds ? 
On the other hand, is n't everything worth while ? 
Is not the smallest thing of importance ? Acting 
not a worthy art ? Oh, my, I have devoted all 
my life to it, and I stand to-day in awe of its 
greatness ! " 

I told him it had been derisively said of him 
that he painted his face and exhibited himself for 

" The more credit to me for doing so," he 
retorted spiritedly, " to entertain others. It is 
noble to give pleasure, and humanity must be 
pleased or it could not stand the world's trials." 

I give the gist of our talk at Buffalo, March 4, 
1898 : 

Met Mr. Jefferson here to-day. He is look- 
ing very well and said he felt so. Had been 
in the open air all winter at New Orleans, Jack- 
sonville, and Palm Beach. He spoke of the 



nervousness incidental to facing an audience. He 
declared that the feeling came from a sense of 
responsibility, from the desire not to make a ret- 
rograde movement in one's career, and that this 
nervousness increased with years. He said he 
had been given two dinners at New York and 
had prepared two speeches, neither of which he 
delivered, because incidents arose on each occa- 
sion which gave him better subjects for impromptu 
addresses. He dwelt upon the greater enjoyment 
and effect of an impromptu speech as compared 
with a cut and dried effort, but that he always 
went prepared in case nothing should be suggested 
by the speakers who preceded him. 

He spoke about his home on Orange Island, 
New Iberia, Louisiana, and told me of one of 
the colored boys asking him if it were true that 
he was an actor. 

"What do you do in the theatre? " asked the 

"That would be hard to describe, ,, Jefferson 

" Your son Tom he tell me you stand up and 
Mrs. Jefson frow knives at you," said the darkey. 

Jefferson replied that Tom was quite capable 
of saying so. 322 


" One thing," went on the negro, " I know." 

" What 's that ? " asked Jefferson. 

"You doan ack in no circus." 

" How do you know ? " Jefferson said. 

" Cuz," replied the negro, " I done see you get 
on a horse ! " 

Jefferson told me also of an extraordinary let- 
ter written to him by one of his Acadian farm 
hands. Later, I found he had sent it, or a copy 
of it, to his friend E. C. Benedict, through whose 
courtesy I am enabled to print it : 

Iberia Parish, Louisiana. 
My dear Mr. Jefson, — I spose you don't 
like to hear from myself, but, sir, I am in a bad 
way, sure. Your overseer he don't like me 
mighty well and dats the reason wot I write to 
you. Sometime the weder is bad and I cant get 
cross de prairy fo to do my work on dat plantation 
wot you hold yourself. Den he cuss me awful 
bad befo all dose black nigger hans on de place. 
I tink he bin writin you about me and dats why 
I go fo writin bout himself. Now look fo your- 
self no Christian man cant get cross de prary if 
God make it rain fo whole week. No sir, ever 



so much. I wish you write him fo not cuss me 
befo dose black nigger hans. He say he goin to 
send me away if I cant cross de prary in bad 
wedder. You tink dat overseer is pretty good 
man, yes. I dont tink him a fus rate man, no. 
I wish you would come down here wen dat over- 
seer aint roun I will show you some tings wot 
you never cant see by God almighty, so please 
sir dont let him send me away fo sure because 
den wot will I do fo myself. Please rite dat 
overseer to make me stay if I will and I dont 
never forget your kiness. Some day dat overseer 
is good kind of man but nex day I dont like to 
see any man so bad. 

I am, your good friend Saturday morning. 


P. S. You see I am in a bad way sure caus 
my ole modder is dead for long time my father 
she cant see out of both of his eyes. My wife 
too is goin to have a young baby and you wouldnt 
like to be that way yourself. 

Another of these Acadians, Landry by name, 
said to Jefferson's son : 

" Joe, your fadder he play in show ? " 



" Yes," said Joe. 

" That Mr. Florenz man, he play too ? " 


" Look, Joe, you watch dose two ole boys cut 
up monkey shines, you learn some thing good, 
sure ! 




CHARLES LAMB, writing of Munden, 
says : " I have seen this gifted actor in 
Sir Christopher Curry — in ( Old Dorn- 
ton ' — diffuse a glow of sentiment which has 
made the pulse of a crowded theatre beat like 
that of one man ; when he has come in aid of 
the pulpit, doing good to the moral heart of a 
people " ; and Talfourd says of him that " he 
was in high farce where Kemble was in light 

These words, spoken nearly a century ago of 
the comedian Joseph Shepherd Munden apply 
now with especial appropriateness to Jefferson. 
His Acres, Pangloss, Ollapod, Golightly, and the 
humorous phases of Rip and Caleb Plummer 
were as fine in quality and effect as the best 
serious efforts of his contemporaries. He was 
in high farce what Edwin Booth was in high 


(September 26, 1904) 


tragedy, and he was, moreover, indebted to no 
particular man as a model. In those parts of 
" Rip Van Winkle " and " The Cricket on the 
Hearth " requiring pathos, Jefferson, like Mun- 
den, not only kindled the feeling of sentiment 
in the breasts of his auditors, but fanned it into 
a flame that expanded and enveloped the hearts 
of the multitude. With exquisite delicacy and 
rare power he combined pathos with humor, and 
in doing so towered head and shoulders above 
any comedian of his time and generation. By the 
forceful touch of his genius plays written for an- 
other age took on a new and prolonged existence. 
That which his predecessors had used with com- 
paratively indifferent success became in his hands 
the delight of two continents, and brought him 
the attention and admiration of the ablest minds 
of the day. 

Not everybody admitted the existence of a 
moral lesson in Irving's story, and these George 
William Curtis silenced once and for all by de- 
claring that cc Rip Van Winkle" is a sermon, and, 
if you will, also, it is a poem. Everybody knows 
how much Jefferson added to the imaginative 
quality of the play, not only by his superb acting, 



but also by poetic additions and stage inventions. 
Except for an occasional performance by amateurs 
and professionals, Sheridan's brilliant comedy of 
" The Rivals " lay dormant for years and, save 
for library uses, must have soon disappeared al- 
together. By judicious pruning away of a lot of 
sentimental superfluity, much affected in a past 
age, and by dexterous rearrangement, condensa- 
tion, and skilful additions Jefferson saved this 
play as a stage picture for a quarter of a century. 
The delight his supporters found in it is sufficient 
refutation of any captious criticism as to the van- 
dal hand Jefferson was declared to have laid upon 
this comedy of Bath manners, in which, in Gold- 
smith's phrase, " all the little fishes talk like 
whales." By the singularity of his treatment 
such farces as " Lend Me Five Shillings " and 
" A Regular Fix " become distinctive creations, 
and his Mr. Golightly and Hugh de Brass 
charmed the cultivated people of England and 
America who had known of these little plays 
only as vehicles to eke out a performance or as a 
means of displaying the misconceptions of other 
comedians. He was one of the first actors to 
demonstrate the value of a dramatic conceit 



compressed into a half-hour's performance instead 
of being drawn out into a three-act attenuation. 
This is only to say that he was an abler man than 
most people of his calling, and that the world, ap- 
preciating and applauding his ability, enriched him 
financially and placed him as an artist in a class 
by himself. 

Jefferson has left us views on the art of acting 
which are precisely in accord with those of his dis- 
tinguished French fellow-player, Talma. " Act- 
ing is a complete paradox," says this instructor of 
a Bonaparte. " We must possess the power of 
strong feeling, or we would never command and 
carry with us the sympathy of a mixed audience 
in a crowded theatre ; but we must, at the same 
time, control our sensations on the stage, for their 
indulgence would enfeeble execution." Jefferson 
put it in the succincter phrase, already quoted, 
"In acting we must keep our hearts warm and 
our heads cool." This is the whole art of act- 
ing in epitome. While this was his way of re- 
garding the matter, he eagerly admitted it might 
not be the only way, and that if the effect, which 
is the desideratum in all acting, could be procured 
by other means, he felt they should be unhesitat- 



ingly adopted. "I have," he wrote, "discarded 
many pet theories, and as I have grown older and 
more experienced, have been taught, by my own 
observations and the successful achievements of 
others, that there is always room for reform." 
Could anything be more modest or philosophical ? 
In his beautiful tribute to Jefferson, Henry 
Watterson has given us one incident which con- 
vincingly verifies the truth of the comedian's 
theory with respect to the portrayal of emotions 
as well as of the application of that principle. 
" On a certain occasion/' says Watterson, " he 
was playing Caleb Plummer. In the scene be- 
tween the old toy-maker and his blind daughter, 
when the father discovers the dreadful result of 
his dissimulation — at the very crucial moment, 
there was an awkward hitch, and, the climax quite 
thwarted, the curtain came down. c Did you see 
that ? ' he said, as he brushed by me, going to 
his dressing-room. ( No,' said I, following him ; 
c what was it?' He turned, his eyes still wet, 
and his voice choked. c I broke down/ said he, 
Completely broke down. I turned away from 
the audience to recover myself. But I could not, 
and had the curtain rung.' The scene had been 



spoiled because the actor had been overcome by 
a sudden flood of real feeling, whereas he was to 
render by his art the feeling of a fictitious char- 
acter and so to communicate this to his audience. 
Caleb's cue was tears, but not Jefferson's." Edwin 
Booth, too, has told us that, once overcome by 
too poignant a realization of the sorrows of 
Bertuccio, in " The Fool's Revenge," he marred 
the effect of his acting. 

Jefferson loved brief and happy phrases. His 
conversation abounded with epigrams, and his 
wit, though keen and swift and bubbling and 
sparkling, was never biting. Scattered through- 
out his Autobiography in illustration of the themes 
he treated, will be found many humorous and 
pithy expressions, of which the following are but 
random samples : 

A man seldom regrets saying nothing. 

The courage of being unconventional. 

The great public is unbiassed by professional 

Vagueness is not to be mistaken for suggestion. 

Dramatic instinct is inherent throughout the 

human family. 

Acting is more a gift than an art. 


Cheap art is better than no art. 

A first night's audience never represents the 
general public. 

Harmony is the most important element in a 
work of art. 

The methods by which actors arrive at great 
effects vary with the nature of the actor. 

The power of dramatic action overwhelms the 
comparative impotency of dialogue. 

Shakespeare is responsible for the starring 

Guying begins where ability leaves off. 

Art is so sacred in Paris and its convention- 
alities so firmly established [that] no change of 
government could affect it. 

Acting is not to be confounded with wardrobe. 

If necessity is the mother of invention, she is 
the foster mother of art. 

The discordant scraping of a Chinese orchestra 
is dreadful to us, but if it falls harmoniously on 
the ears of a Chinaman, it is useless to recom- 
mend Beethoven to him. 

Art is the actor's sweetheart. 

Natural love, off the stage, is almost inva- 
riably comic. It is serious business to the 



lovers, and that is what makes it so delightful to 
look at. 

The tragedian has ever had an immeasurable 
advantage over the comedian. The old tragedies, 
especially Shakespeare's, contain one great charac- 
ter on whom the play turns. In the comedies 
the characters are formed in groups, and are gen- 
erally so arranged that they may be in some 
measure of equal value. 

Happy are those who in the race for fame 
advance steadily and by degrees ; shaking hands 
with their competitors as they go by them, and 
making honest room for them to pass should they 
come up again. 

We have been so long accustomed to the per- 
fection of Jefferson's art that we are apt to forget 
the struggle he had to acquire it. It was of slow 
growth and of thoughtful, practical evolution. 
Let the student be encouraged to learn that 
Jefferson was long considered so imperfect an 
artist that Wallack and Brougham refused to 
permit him to appear at their theatre, then the 
only so-called legitimate one on Broadway. He 
had been, as we have seen, a stop-gap comedian 



for the horse drama ; he had, as he told me, been 
the burlesque actor of his day, playing in innum- 
erable farces and musical burlesques revelling in 
such titles as " The Tycoon," " Fra Diavalo," 
" Beauty and the Beast," " Ivanhoe," " The 
Pearl of Chamouni," etc., in fact, going through 
all that laborious and formative experience which 
produced so many fine actors of the generation 
barely gone by. It would seem strange to the 
present-day theatre-goer to think of <c Rip Van 
Winkle " given as a part, and perhaps not the 
main part, of an evening's entertainment, yet such 
must often have been the case in the early career 
of Jefferson, before the play had been developed 
into its ultimate condition. In common with 
most actors, he had his periods of " magnificent 
misinformation " as to correct costume. I once 
heard Stuart Robson say to him that he had seen 
a certain standard character played by a now cele- 
brated comedian who, among other things, wore 
such and such a costume with an incongruously 
colored wig and a highly reddened nose. 

" Surely not ! " was Jefferson's reply. " Who 
could the man be ? " 

" Joseph Jefferson ! " said Robson. 



Jefferson did not come prominently into pub- 
lic view, and then not as a "star," until 1857, 
when at Laura Keene's theatre, in New York, he 
appeared as Dr. Pangloss in Coleman's " Heir- 
at-Law." A leading journal in its critique of the 
performance referred to him as " a nervous, 
fidgety young man by the name of Jefferson." 
He had still much to learn of the requirements 
and refinements of his art, and even to endure 
disappointment in his first venture as " star," be- 
fore he was to stand in undisputed possession of 
the position he coveted. 

Making no distinction between personality and 
emotions, I have heard it absurdly complained 
" by ill-natured persons, some of them envious 
actors," that Jefferson was the same in everything 
from Rip to Golightly. Yes, it was the same 
man, depicting different feelings, to be sure, 
now of heart-touching pathos, now of laughter- 
compelling humor, again of comic perplexity, 
and now of bombast, but the same man, with all 
the same personal peculiarities, the same skill, 
and, heaven be thanked, the same charm. He 
could not escape from himself, from individual 
idiosyncrasies, no man can, and if he had been 



able to do so, we should have received something 
other than a Jefferson flavor, which might or 
might not have appealed to us. Like Lamb, 
whom he resembled in the gentleness of his na- 
ture and mayhap in the quality of his humor, 
Jefferson had (surprising to state !) mental, moral, 
and physical predilections of his own, and we 
should as consistently quarrel with the gentle 
Elia for not writing like Coleridge or like 
Southey or Macaulay, as with Jefferson for not 
one evening playing like himself and another 
evening like Charles Mathews or Burton or the 
elder Booth. What should we say of a criticism 
in art that expressed discontent with Michael 
Angelo and Tintoretto because they differed in 
artistic conception and expression from Bellini 
and Raphael, or possibly from "the insipid Carlo 

In his attitude toward the so-called Theatrical 
Trust, Jefferson was criticised as not having the 
artistic interest of his profession at heart. This 
subject, which assumed such gigantic proportions 
in the minds of those most interested, developed, 
among other things, into a serious conflict be- 
tween manager and manager. It received much 



attention but little sympathy from the public 
at large, for whose fickle interest the details 
proved too complicated. It is a question that will 
solve itself, as all things having for their ob- 
ject the monopolizing of an art are solved. 
He spoke out plainly enough in the public 
prints, and straddled the question. This he felt 
was justified by a man who, recognizing himself 
as near the close of his career, did not wish to 
leave his family a legacy of embroilment. 

To any one ill-informed and inconsiderate 
enough to ask what Jefferson did for his pro- 
fession, I know not half so well how to reply 
as by again quoting Henry Watterson : " He 
did in America quite as much as Sir Charles 
Wyndham and Sir Henry [Irving] did in Eng- 
land to elevate the personality, the social and 
intellectual standing of the actor and the stage, 
effecting in a lifetime a revolution in the attitude 
of the people and the clergy of both countries 
to the theatre and all things in it. This was 
surely enough for one man in any craft or 

Jefferson's mind was of an exceedingly recep- 
tive nature, and he was prone to credit all things 



stated earnestly, especially when stated magnet- 
ically. He seems never to have lost a certain 
childish freshness of wonderment at things 
strange, and, following Hamlet's injunction, he 
therefore as a stranger gave them welcome. The 
weird, imaginative, poetic quality that appealed 
to him in " Rip Van Winkle " attracted him in 
other fields. 

In his religion he was a Swedenborgian, per- 
haps, more than anything else. He was interested 
in theosophy, telepathy, thought-transference, 
and spiritualism. He said we ought not too 
flippantly to ridicule or reject these matters, 
which might well be a manifestation from the 
Omnipotent, another channel of communication 
from the Master to His flock. " God moves 
in a mysterious way,'* he quoted, " His wonders 
to perform/* 

In his early days he had suffered much from 

religious intolerance, and this strengthened his 

determination to be liberal in matters of creeds 

and doctrines. The idea, as stated, that too 

extreme a belief in spiritualism threatened at 

one time to cloud his understanding is not for 

a moment to be accepted. The controverting 

33 8 


argument to that is Jefferson's wonderfully saving 
sense of humor. He said himself that his mind 
was so constituted that the humorous trod swiftly 
upon the heels of the serious. He knew he was 
credulous, and joked about it, delighting to tell 
stories that laughably illustrated his credulity. 
He was amused at people's enjoyment of these 
narratives, exposing what they might consider 
his weakness, but he went on being credulous 
just the same. He could not help it ; it was 
an attractive, beautiful part of the man's opti- 
mistic make-up. Like all such natures, he was 
strongly inclined to accept the inexplicable as 
the veracious. He did not hide in dark places 
with his theories and credulousness. His friends 
knew them, and he and they smiled over them. 
Once, when ex-President Cleveland, William H. 
Crane, and he were preparing for a fishing ex- 
pedition, an enthusiastic expounder of occult 
doctrines was holding forth. 

" What do you say to that ? " triumphantly 
exclaimed Jefferson, as some strange and inscru- 
table happening was recounted. 

"Wonderful ! " replied Mr. Cleveland. 

Thus encouraged, the advocate launched a flow 



of eloquence at the ex-President, who, checking 
him, said : 

"Tell it to Jefferson; he'll believe anything." 
Sifted of all isms and ists, to do good was 
Jefferson's religion, and the whole world the 
place he selected, or perhaps the place for which 
he was especially selected, to do it in. He be- 
lieved in the soul's immortality, and that he 
should see in another sphere those he had loved 
and lost in this. He attributed the fact that in all 
his years of travel he had never been in a railway 
or a steamship accident, nor even seen one, to 
the special guidance of God, and "with malice 
towards none, with charity for all," he probably 
came nearer than most people in this utilitarian 
age to living what is called " the Christian life." 

With his valued and long-time friend Charles 
A. Walker and the Dutch artist, Albert Neuhuys, 
I visited him at Buzzards Bay in the summer of 
1904. He looked wan and frailer than usual, 
and I found the family had despaired of his re- 
covery from an illness of the previous season. I 
did not feel much concern for his health, for I 
had come to believe that, like Macbeth, he bore 

" a charmed life," and that it was not unlikely he 





From a photograph, by courtesy of Mrs. Roland Nickerson 


would make good his humorous threat of outliv- 
ing me. He came to the station to greet us, and 
he expressed delight at the courtesy paid in com- 
ing so far to see him. Always a charming host, 
he was especially so during this visit, modestly 
showing the distinguished Dutch artist all the 
natural and acquired treasures of his home. Ten- 
der was his half-reluctant, half-anxious attitude in 
exhibiting to the insistent Netherlander his studio 
and canvases. I found some moments alone 
with him, and we chatted over past and even pro- 
spective matters. He took me to the studio. 
As we passed through the garden, he pointed out 
some lath supports made by himself to engirdle 
his tomato vines. "The saddest thing in old 
age," he said, fC is the absence of expectation. 
You no longer look forward to things. Now a 
garden is all expectation " — and here, the ridicu- 
lous presenting itself to his mind, he said swiftly, 
with his characteristic smile — " and you often 
get a lot you don't expect." Then resuming the 
serious vein he continued: "Therefore I have 
become a gardener. My boy, when you are past 
seventy, don't forget to cultivate a garden. It is 
all expectation." Dear man, he had been a horti- 



culturist all his life long ! And the flowers he 
tended were woven into wreaths of smiles and 
garlands of happiness for the multitude. 

In September, 1904, he was again taken ill, 
and his projected tour for the fall and spring was 
abandoned. He remained at his home, " Crow's 
Nest," Buzzards Bay, for a while, and then made 
a brief trip to New York. He journeyed thence, 
by easy stages, to his Florida residence, "The 
Reefe," at Palm Beach. 

In Washington, on his way South, he stopped 
with his friend Dr. George Barrie. I was just 
leaving that city as he arrived, and had only time 
to pay him courtesy over the telephone. Once 
in Florida, he alternately grew weaker and stronger, 
and at one time high hopes were entertained 
of his complete recovery. There was some 
expression of his intention to return to active 
professional duty. Soon, however, came his de- 
termination, in the event of fully restored health, 
never to play again. It is to be doubted whether 
he had ever been called upon to make a more 
difficult decision, one that affected him more 

Some faint idea may be gained, then, of the 



love and veneration he bore his art, of the fas- 
cination it had for him, when we view him here, 
past threescore years and ten, ill, but with all 

"That which should accompany old age, 
As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends," 

hesitating about abandoning his profession. 

He took several days of silent consideration 
of the matter, and quietly made his decision 
known to friends and family. 

" I shall never act again," he said. cc It will 
seem strange to me at first to act no more, but I 
shall soon get used to it. I now begin, what I 
have looked forward to these many years — my 
long, long holiday, in which I shall uninterrupt- 
edly enjoy nature in outdoor life, my painting, 
my books, and pleasant companionship with wife, 
children, and dear friends. I begin my holiday 
at last." 

I wrote him, expressing the hope that his 
decision was not irrevocable, that he would con- 
sent to take his farewell, in the metropolis, of 
Rip, of Bob, and of Caleb. 

I had in mind such an event as the glorious 
exits of Kemble, Macready, Munden, and Lester 



Wallack. He answered that it was impossible to 
act upon the suggestion I offered, for reasons he 
would explain when we met. He ended his letter 
and his last earthly communication to me with : 
" I am still a very sick man, but I am well enough 
to wish you success in your new undertaking/' 

Jefferson's last appearance on any stage was 
made, May 7, 1904, at Paterson, New Jersey, as 
Caleb Plummer in Boucicault's stage adaptation 
of Dickens's <c The Cricket on the Hearth," and 
Mr. Golightly in John Madison Morton's farce 
of " Lend Me Five Shillings." " His dramatic 
career," quoting William Winter, " accordingly 
covered a period of seventy-one years. It has 
been a blessing to the world, and has been 
illustrious to the last." 

Dr. Johnson declared that Garrick's death had 
" eclipsed the gayety of nations and impoverished 
the public stock of harmless pleasures," a flight 
of rhetoric warranted by the intimacy and mutual 
affection of the two men. Jefferson, of late 
years, had not kept himself so much in the 
public eye as formerly, playing but a limited 
number of weeks each season, and in his increas- 
ing years constantly suggesting the inevitable. 



( February 20, 1 905 ) 

From a photograph taken at Palm Beach, Fla. — Probably the last 
one taken of Jefferson 


But if his death had occurred ten or fifteen 
years ago, the grief at his loss would have been 
more acute, and the remark of Johnson would 
have been more nearly applicable to him than 
to Garrick, for Jefferson was known and loved 
in three continents, — England, Australia, and 

To the riff-raff of society, the man about 
town, the chronic first-nighter, ever on the look- 
out for something new to whet a jaded appetite ; 
to the thoughtless, frivolous, and shallow-pated, 
Jefferson's art meant nothing, — this to his honor. 
It was in the minds and hearts of the intellectual 
and refined, and in the souls of the " plain 
people " that Jefferson was securely enthroned. 
Women, remembering the happiness he had 
afforded them and their children, affectionately 
touched his coat as they brushed by him and 
passed respectfully on, and men, standing before 
his crape-draped photograph, exhibited in a pho- 
tographer's window, raised their hats in token 
of respect and affection. These were touching 
tributes, indeed, to Jefferson the play actor, to 
Jefferson the man, whom people honored them- 
selves in honoring. 



I have always wished it might have been Jef- 
ferson's lot to pass away upon the stage, — not, 
as his great-great-grandmother had done, in a 
fit of laughter, nor as Edmund Kean had ended 
his days of acting, when, sinking into his son's 
arms, he exclaimed, " I am dying ; speak to 
them for me ! " nor yet as Betterton or Peg 
Woffington, who were forced by sudden illness 
to close their careers, after which they lingered. 
The passing of Jefferson, it always seemed to me, 
would have been appropriately beautiful if, in the 
sleep scene of " Rip Van Winkle," he had one 
night never awaked. In the fervor of my imagi- 
nation I could see the awe-filled audience filing 
silently from the theatre, careful lest by some 
inadvertency they might disturb the dreams of 
Rip, now, indeed, at rest with the ages in an 
eternal sleep. A gracious Providence selected 
as the day of his going hence that on which 
Shakespeare was born, that Shakespeare who 
was Joseph Jefferson's Bible. 

34 6 

Bas-relief by Charles A. Walker 



Acres, Bob, on Charles A. Abbe's 
picture of Jefferson as, 286. 

Adams, Edwin, 159. 

Adams, Gus, Jefferson's opinion 
of, 250. 

Adams, Maude, 65. 

Anderson, Mary, Jefferson's opin- 
ion of, 251 ; as Juliet, 269, 

Autobiography, Jefferson's: how 
he came to write it, 236-237 ; 
brief extracts from, 331-333- 

Barrett, Lawrence, 167. 

Barrie, J. M., his "Little Minis- 
ter," 65. 

Barrymore, Maurice, anecdote of, 

Benedict, E. C, publishes Jeffer- 
son's lines on " Immortality," 

Booth, Edwin, Jefferson's friend, 
142 ; Jefferson's opinion of, 
142, 143-148, 250; Jefferson's 
opinions of his roles, 212, 213; 
Jefferson's opinion of his ap- 
pearance as a young man, 213; 
in minstrels, 249. 

Boucicault, Dion, his version of 
"Rip," 34; Jefferson's opinion 
of, 41 ; Jefferson meets, 159; 
Jefferson on his version of 
" Rip," 266 ; on his acting, 267 ; 
his income, 267 ; his memory, 
268; Jefferson's opinion of his 

performance in "The Octo- 
roon," 269. 

Brougham, John, Jefferson meets, 

Buckstone, J. B., anecdote of, 117. 

Burke, " Charley," Jefferson's 
opinion of, 29 ; Jefferson's 
reminiscence of appearance 
with, 77; Jefferson's tribute to, 
in his Autobiography, 157; 
Jefferson's opinion of his " Rip," 

Burton, William E., engages Jef- 
ferson, 156. 

Byron, on actors and acting, 230. 

" Caleb Plummer," Jefferson as, 
35, 41, 160, 177. 

Clarke, J. S., in minstrels, 249. 

Cleveland, Ex-President Grover, 
Jefferson's companion of the 
fly and rod, 49; anecdotes of 
Cleveland and Jefferson, 55, 56, 
58, 59; letters to the author, 56, 
57 ; on Mr. Benedict's yacht, 
"Oneida," with Jefferson, 178. 

Coburn, "Joe," Jefferson's meet- 
ing with, 252. 

Coquelin, C, 112, 259. 

Corot, Jefferson on, 12; Jeffer- 
son's opinion of his painting of 
" St. Sebastian," 229 ; Jefferson 
on his work, 294, 301. 

Couldock, C. W., 189. 

Crane, W. H., in All-Star Cast of 



"The Rivals," 211; Jefferson's 
opinion of his play, " A Fool 
of Fortune," 240. 
Curtis, G. W., 327. 

Daubigny, Jefferson's opinion 
of his painting, " The Coming 
Storm," 224. 

Davenport, E. L., not mentioned 
in Jefferson's " Autobiography," 
231 ; tribute to, 232. 

Davenport, Fanny, Jefferson's 
apology for not mentioning her 
father in his Autobiography, 
231 ; Jefferson's letter of apol- 
ogy, 232. 

Dean, JuHa, 158; Jefferson's first 
sweetheart, 269 ; as Juliet, 269 ; 
letter from Jefferson to the 
author about, 270 ; grave at 
Port Jervis, N. Y., 308. 

Decamps, Jefferson's opinion of 
his painting, " Suicide," 223; of 
his work, 224. 

De Neuville, Jefferson offered his 
painting, " In the Trenches," 
for $300, 224; opinion of his 
work, 225 ; contrasts his work 
with Detaille's, 226. 

Detaill e, Jefferson contrasts his 
work with De Neuville's, 226. 

Devlin, Mary, 145-146, 159. 

Diaz, Jefferson on, 12. 

Dickens, Charles, Jefferson on, 
i75~ l 77, 238. 

Don, Sir William, 158. 

Drake, Mrs. A., 164. 

Drama, the, its advantage over 
music, 238. 

Drew, Mrs., 198 ; talks over old 
times with Jefferson, 203; her 
opinion of the elder Booth, 204 ; 
corroborates William Warren's 
disappointment in Dickens as a 
reader, 206; anecdote of, 213; 

Jefferson's opinion of her " Mrs. 
Malaprop," 235 ; her interpola- 
tion in the role of Mrs. Mala- 
prop, 255 ; funeral of, 302-303. 
Dupre, Jefferson on, 12. 

Ellsler, John, Jefferson allies 
himself with, 158. 

Falstaff, Jefferson on, 299-301. 

Fechter, Charles, 163. 

Field, Eugene, 24; Jefferson on, 

Florence, William, on Jefferson's 
Acres, 8 ; as Sir Lucius O'Trig- 
ger in " The Rivals," 99 ; last 
appearance with Jefferson as 
Sir Lucius O'Trigger, 100. 

Ford, John T., Jefferson stage- 
manager for, 159. 

Forrest, Edwin, Jefferson meets, 
J 59 > Jefferson's description of, 
165; Jefferson's opinion of his 
appearance as a young man, 

Fortuny, Jefferson's opinion of 
his painting, " The Snake 
Charmer," 224. 

Furness, Dr. Horace Howard, 
293-294, 3 00 - 

Garrick, David, 4, 17, 101, 102. 

Gilbert, John, Jefferson stock 
comedian under, 158. 

Gilder, R. W., 196, 236-237. 

Glessing, "Tom," Jeff erson meets, 

Goodwin, " Nat," Jefferson's opin- 
ion of his imitations, 66 ; in All- 
Star Cast of "The Rivals," 
211 ; as " David Garrick" and 
" Golightly," 261. 

Grant, General Ulysses S., anec- 
dote of, 31. 



" Hamlet," Jefferson on the play, 

Hill, Barton, 46. 
Holland, George, 163. 
Holland, J. J., Jefferson stands as 

his godfather, 202. 
Howard, Bronson, 107. 
Howells, W. D., 153, 236. 
Hutton, Laurence, 252. 

Ingersoll, Robert, letter from 
Jefferson to, 208. 

Irving, Sir Henry, disapproves of 
Jefferson's idea of Macbeth, 69 ; 
Jefferson sees Irving as Mac- 
beth, 10 ; Jefferson discusses 
Macbeth with Irving, 71 ; pre- 
sents cane used by the first 
Sir Peter Teazle to Jefferson, 
244; Jefferson on, 251, 259. 

Irving, Washington, 164, 252. 

Israels, Jefferson on, 12, 94-96. 

Jarrett, Henry C, Jefferson 
stage-manager for, 1 58 ; on 
Boucicault's income, 267. 

Jefferson, Charles Burke, named 
for " Joe," Jefferson's half- 
brother, 262. 

Jefferson, Joseph, Autobiography, 
3, 6, 151 ; sense of humor, 12 
339; tablet on house he was 
born in, 19; on happiness, 25 
first appearance, 20 ; his love of 
the r&le he made famous, 37-38 
his recreations, 46; his grand 
father, Joseph Jefferson, 1st 
47 ; his father, Joseph Jeffer- 
son, 2d, 47 ; death of his father 
47 ; chief support of his mother 
at thirteen, 48 ; his pastimes, 48 
his love of nature, 60; on art 
61, 62, 63 ; methods of painting, 
62, 74 ; opinion of success, 65 
on women, 65; art collection 

of, 80 ; a connoisseur of art, 79- 
81 ; as an artist, 82 ; first exhi- 
bition of his paintings in Wash- 
ington, 1899, 84, 85; second 
exhibition in Washington, 86 ; 
as a lecturer, 97 ; on acting and 
oratory, 100 ; on genius and 
art, 100 ; on the stage as a 
career for women, 103-104; on 
acting, 108-113, 117; verses 
on Shakespeare-Bacon contro- 
versy, 1 21-125; answers to ques- 
tions after Chautauqua address, 
138-142 ; the author, 149 ; first 
appearances in "Poor Gentle- 
man," " Rivals," and " Heir-at- 
Law," 1 58 ; first appearance in 
a Broadway theatre, 160; loses 
his wife, 161 ; marries again, 
162 ; lunches at Star and Garter 
with Browning, Kingsley, and 
G. A. Sala, 163 ; on " Success 
on the Stage," 167-175 ; lines 
on "Immortality," 178-181 ; 
conducts rehearsal of All-Star 
Cast in " The Rivals," 201 ; 
talks over old times with Mrs. 
Drew, 203; in All-Star Cast 
of " The Rivals," 211 ; opinion 
of the profession, 212 ; on music, 
214; on happiness, 215; on 
acting, 221-222 ; on modern 
Dutch painters, 222 ; on art 
223 ; on fraudulent pictures and 
art in America, 226, 227 ; visit 
to Rookwood Pottery, 231, 233; 
on music and drama, 238, 239 ; 
on the drama, 242, 243 ; as 
" Brudder Bones," 248 ; on the 
chances of his being remem- 
bered, 251 ; some of his remi- 
niscences, 256; on plays and 
literature, 257-259 ; list of ten 
plays other than Shakespeare's 
he considered good literature, 

35 : 


257-258; on the All-Star Com- 
pany in " The Rivals," 271 ; on 
modern improvements, 271-272; 
quotes Sir Lucius, 275-279; 
burning of his home at Buzzards 
Bay, 281-283 ; on the distinc- 
tion between artist and actor, 
295 ; his disposition of the day, 
316; letter from Jan Larue, 
323 ; his acting, 326-328 ; G. W. 
Curtis on his " Rip," 327-328 ; 
Henry Watterson's tribute 
to, 330; brief extracts from 
Autobiography, 331-333 ; re- 
ligion, 338; last appearance, 

Kean, Mr. and Mrs. Charles, 
Jefferson acts with, 155; Jeffer- 
son's portraiture of, 161. 

Kean, Edmund, Jefferson's opin- 
ion of, 212. 

Keller, Helen, Jefferson on, 314- 


Kemble, Jefferson's opinion of, 

Kemble, E. W., story of hunting 

excursion with Jefferson, 54. 
Kemble, Fanny, as a reader, 116. 

Lamb, Charles, 229; onMunden's 
acting, 326. 

Lewes, George Henry, Jeffer- 
son's opinion of, 28, 119. 

Longfellow, anecdote of, 163. 

Lounsbury, Prof. Thomas R., on 
Jefferson's first public lecture 
at the Yale Art School, 1 28-131. 

Macbeth, Jefferson's idea of, 69. 
McCullough, John, 167. 
Macready, Jefferson's opinion of, 

28 ; anecdote of, 253. 
Marlowe, Julia, in All-Star Cast 

of " The Rivals," 211, 239. 

Mauve, Jefferson on, 12, 301. 

Millet, Jefferson on, 12; Jeffer- 
son's opinion of his painting, 
" The Sheepfold," 225 ; of his 
work, 225. 

Mitchell, Maggie, 167. 

Modjeska, 167. 

Mowatt, Anna Cora, Jefferson 
acts with, 155. 

Murdoch, James E., as a reader, 
116; in "School for Scandal," 
158 ; Jefferson's opinion of, 260. 

Neuhuys, Jefferson on, 12. 

" Octoroon, The," Jefferson as 
Salem Scudder in, 41, 160 ; Bou- 
cicault's play, 268 ; Boucicault's 
performance in, 269. 

Ole Bull, Jefferson on, 301. 

" Our American Cousin," Jeffer- 
son as Asa Trenchard in, 160. 

Owens, John E., Jefferson sees, 
156, 297. 

Paganini, Jefferson on, 301. 
Payne, John Howard, 164. 
Peale, Rembrandt, 297-298. 
Pepys, his dislike of " Midsummer 

Night's Dream," 120. 
Power, Tyrone, 160. 

Reade, Charles, advises Jeffer- 
son, 162. 

Rembrandt, Jefferson's opinion 
of, 12, 149. 

Rice, Fanny, her baby's birthday, 

Rice, T. D., as " Jim Crow," 77, 

"Rip Van Winkle," Jefferson's 
opinion of, 30 ; first suggestion 
of, 33; various versions, 34; pop- 
ular version by Dion Boucicault 
performed first in England, 34; 



Jefferson's revision of Bouci- 
cault's version, 36; Jefferson's 
love of the role, 37, 38 ; com- 
pany at first sceptical of its 
success, 39 ; Jefferson in wak- 
ing up scene, 104, 105; James 
K. Hackett as, 155; Jefferson 
produces, in Australia, 161 ; 
dramatic element, 161 ; text of 
play published, 175 ; Jeffer- 
son on his presentation of the 
character, 224 ; hold on the 
public, 251 ; Jefferson on the 
absurdities in, 263; Jefferson 
on, 265-267 ; Jefferson on Burke 
as, 266 ; Jefferson on Bouci- 
cault's version of, 266. 

"Rivals, The" (All-Star Cast), 
1896, 19; last appearance to- 
gether of Jefferson and Florence 
in, 99-100 ; Jefferson defends his 
alteration of, 107 ; Jefferson's 
first appearance in, 158 ; Jeffer- 
son reappears in, 164; All-Star 
performance, 182 ; Sheridan's 
opinion of, 182; history of the 
play, 182-186; William Win- 
ter's opinion of Jefferson as 
Acres, 186; first »performance 
of Jefferson's revised version, 
188 ; tour of All-Star Company 
in, 189; letters of Jefferson re- 
garding All-Star Cast, 190-197 ; 
All-Star rehearsal, 199; first 
appearance of All-Star Cast in, 
209; flashlight photograph of 
All-Star Company, 247-248; 
Jefferson on the All-Star Com- 
pany, in, 271 ; Wilson on the 
All-Star Company in, 273-279. 

Robertson, Agnes, Jefferson 
meets, 159; in "Caleb Plum- 
mer," 160. 

Robertson, " Tom," Jefferson 
meets, 162. 

Robson, Stuart, anecdote of Jef- 
ferson, 334. 

" Romeo and Juliet," Jefferson on 
balcony scene, 269. 

Rousseau, Jefferson's opinion of, 
12, 223, 230. 

Russell, Irwin, Jefferson's opin- 
ion of his poems, 273. 

"School for Scandal," Jeffer- 
son appears in, 158. 

Sefton, John, 46. 

Shakespeare, Jefferson on, 69-73, 
101-103, 258, 294 ; John Fiske 
on the Bacon-Shakespeare con- 
troversy, 313. 

Sherman, General Wm. T., anec- 
dote, 33. 

Siddons, Mrs., Jefferson's opinion 
of, 27 ; on unhappiness of her 
old age, 242. 

Sothern, E. A., 53. 

Stevens, Sara, 160. 

Stoddart, J. H., Jefferson's tribute 
to, 232. 

Taber, Robert, Jefferson's opin- 
ion of his Jack Absolute, 236. 
Talma, on acting, 329. 
Thackeray, W. M., Jefferson on, 


Theatrical Trust, Jefferson's atti- 
tude toward, 336. 

Thorne, Charles R. and Edwin, 
anecdote of, 217, 218. 

Trollope, Anthony, 162. 

Troyon, Jefferson's opinion of his 
painting, " Cattle," 223 ; of his 
work, 225-226, 291-293. 

Ward, Artemus, 53, 162. 

Warren, William, 163 ; Jefferson's 
enjoyment of his adverse com- 
ment, 164; Jefferson's tribute 



to, 164 ; on " Success on the 
Stage," 167. 

Watterson, Henry, 330, 337. 

Weir, Professor, reception to All- 
Star Cast, 219. 

Weston, Lizzie, 159. 

Winter, William, opinion of Jef- 
ferson as Acres, 186. 

Wood, Mrs. John, 160. 
Wyndham, Charles, 162. 

Young, John Russell, 310, 311, 
312, 318. 

Zangwill, I., his attack on the 
stage, 38. 


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