By FRANCIS WILSON
(fas "pMi*S 7
Book jf i^y
By the Same Author
Eugene Field I Knew
Illustrated. i2mo. $1.25
Recollections of A Player
7r fitutCcJ Jh^>\^
Reminiscences of a Fellow Player
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
LIBRARY of CONGRESS
Two Copies Received
APR 14 1906
^y Copyright Entry
ciAss cl ? xkc No.
By Charles Scribner's Sons.
Published April, 1906
THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.
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
Married Margaret Clement Lockyer . . . . 1850
Joined Laura Keen's Theatre. Success as " Dr.
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,"
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.
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
VIII. Characteristic Days 280
IX. Conclusion 326
Photogravure from a Photograph
Joseph Jefferson and William Florence in "The
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 /"
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
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
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
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-
The story was inimitably told, and caused much
" Oh, that man Jefferson 's a funny creature,"
" 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
JOSEPH JEFFERSON AND WILLIAM FLORENCE IN "THE RIVALS"
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
" 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
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.
"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
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 :
DAVID GARRICK LIVED HERE.
Later on I saw another inscription, equally
MRS. SIDDONS LIVED HERE.
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.
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
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
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.
JOSEPH JEFFERSON'S BIRTHPLACE ON THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF
SIXTH AND SPRUCE STREETS, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
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
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
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
"And so shall I," added Mrs. Drew.
RIP VAN WINKLE
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."
JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "RIP VAN WINKLE"
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-
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
RIP VAN WINKLE
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
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
RIP VAN WINKLE
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?"
" 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
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
RIP VAN WINKLE
on the back by a lout of a stage hand, who
" 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,
RIP VAN WINKLE
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
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.
RIP VAN WINKLE
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
JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS "RIP VAN WINKLE"
From a photograph, Copyright 1894 by B. J. Falk
RI P VAN WINKLE
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
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
RIP VAN WINKLE
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
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
RIP VAN WINKLE
to the silence of the spectres, stood out in weird,
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
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.
RIP VAN WINKLE
" You may be right," he said to her, " from
your point of view, but I prefer it played the
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
RIP VAN WINKLE
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.
JOSEPH JEFFERSON SKETCHING IN THE ORANGE GROVE OF
CHARLES A. WALKER AT NEW IBERIA, LA.
From a photograph, Copyright 1905 by Charles A. Walker
HIS R E C R EAT IONS
" 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
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-
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
"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
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
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
" 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
" c I think I Ve had enough hunting for to-day/
MR. CLEVELAND AND MR. JEFFERSON OFF FOR A DAY'S
" 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.
THE INDEFATIGABLE FISHERMAN GROVER CLEVELAND
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
" 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.
" 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
"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
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
" Of course not," I answered, imitating him,
" but was there anything said worth remember-
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-
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
Then Mr. Jefferson laughed and added seri-
" 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
" 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
" 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
"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
JOSEPH JEFFERSON AND JUDGE HENRY E. HOVVLAND
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
" 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
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
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
" 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,
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
" 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 ? ,]
" 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
" 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,
" 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
" 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 ? "
" 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
" 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 ! "
" 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
" 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-
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.,
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
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
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,
* 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
PORTRAIT OF ISRAELS BY HIMSELF
(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
" 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
" 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
JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS A LECTURER
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
AS A LECTURER
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
"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
AS A LECTURER
of the rainbow, but art catches the tints and makes
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.
AS A LECTURER
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
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
" 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
AS A LECTURER
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
AS A LECTURER
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.
By courtesy of C. A.Walker, Esq.
AS A LECTURER
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
AS A LECTURER
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
AS A LECTURER
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
AS A LECTURER
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
" 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
AS A LECTURER
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
" 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
AS A LECTURER
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-
AS A LECTURER
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 ;
AS A LECTURER
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.
AS A LECTURER
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-
AS A LECTURER
sion mentioned, and my letter brought me this
" 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
" 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-
AS A LECTURER
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
AS A LECTURER
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
AS A LECTURER
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
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.
J O SEP H JEFFERSON
" 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
Speaker Reed convulsed us by narrating the
AS A LECTURER
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
" 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,
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
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
AS A LECTURER
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
AS A LECTURER
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 ? "
AS A LECTURER
" 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.
CROW'S NEST,'' JEFFERSON'S HOME AT BUZZARDS BAY
AS A LECTURER
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
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-
AS A LECTURER
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
" 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
AS A LECTURER
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
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
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 ;
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
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
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,
" 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
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 PLANTING THE JEFFERSON TREE AT E. C. BENEDICT'S
INDIAN HARBOR HOME, CONN.
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.
"THE RIVALS" AND THE ALL-STAR
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
" 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,
-' S^M Hi
^V ^^^^H IK» '"^Pvl^^H
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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 "
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
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS"
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-
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS"
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
A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS.
BY RICHARD BRItfSLEY SHERIDAN
UNDER THE MANAGEMENT OF
C. B.JEFFERSON AND JOSEPH BROOKS.
CAST OF CHARACTERS.
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
SYNOPSIS OF SCENES*
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.
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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.
Q Mrs. Drew.
Crane. Mrs. Crane. Wilson.
JOSEPH JEFFERSON AND THE FANNY RICE (PURDY) BABY
Taken on the rear platform of the car carrying the
All-Star "Rivals" Company
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS
There are smaller tables arranged thus :
Jefferson. Ratcliffe. 1
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,
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
W" H CRANE.
Sir Anthony Absoli
twsu^iM; *" C\\>
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
" 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."
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
" 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. . . .
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS"
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
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
I heard some complaint that New York should
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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-
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS"
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
"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
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.
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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.
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
truly I was in hopes that you would never read
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.
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
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS"
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
" 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
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-
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
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.
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS"
" 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."
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS'*
" 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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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,
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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-
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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."
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
"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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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,
" 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,
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS'*
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
" 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 ' ? "
" 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."
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
" 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
" 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
"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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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,"
" 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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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 ? "
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
" What impressed you most about it ? "
" 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-
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS"
selves, in which Rip so cleverly supplies them
with words, — that was not Boucicault, was it ? "
" 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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
THE A L L-S TAR "RIVALS"
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
you are, you hypocritical young dog ! But it
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS'*
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
THE ALL-STAR "RIVALS"
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
"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
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
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
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-
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
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
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
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  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
" 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."
Apropos of this, Frederic Remington, the
artist, told me of meeting with Jefferson once in
" What a beautiful bit of landscape ! " ex-
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
"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,
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,
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
JOSEPH JEFFERSON AT PALM BEACH, FLA.
(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
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
Acting is more a gift than an art.
Cheap art is better than no art.
A first night's audience never represents the
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
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
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
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
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
MR. JEFFERSON, C. A. WALKER, AND CHARLES BURKE
JEFFERSON ON ONE OF THEIR MANY FISHING
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
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.
MR. JEFFERSON ON HIS SEVENTY-SIXTH BIRTHDAY
( 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.
THE GRAVE OF JEFFERSON AT SANDWICH, MASS.
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
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-
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-
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-
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
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-
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
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
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-
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,
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
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
Mitchell, Maggie, 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,
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-
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-
Robertson, " Tom," Jefferson
Robson, Stuart, anecdote of Jef-
" 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-
Sherman, General Wm. T., anec-
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
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
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,
Zangwill, I., his attack on the
Deacidified using the Bookkeeper process.
Neutralizing agent: Magnesium Oxide
Treatment Date: Oct. 2007
A WORLD LEAfTER IN COLLECTIONS PRESERVATION
111 Thomson Park Drive
Cranberry Township, PA 16066