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Copyright, 1892, 1893, by 
The Century Co. 

The DeVinne Press. 


Tommaso Salvini at the Age of Twenty- 

nine Frontispiece 

Facing Pace 

Gustavo Modena 16 

Ristori as " Mary Stuart " 48 

Salvini as " Icilio " in the " Virginie " of 

Alfieri 80 

Rachel as "Phedre" 112 

Francesco Lombardi 144 

Clementina Cazzola 176 

Salvini as " Orosmane " in the " Zaire " of 

Voltaire 208 





WHEN I was a little boy I ran away 
from home because of some fancied 
harshness, and three days later was found in 
a distant city and brought back by our old 
family servant. My father's hearing toward 
me after this escapade made a profound im- 
pression on me ; for, instead of punishing me 
severely, he chose to pass my misdeed by 
in absolute silence. His kindness caused a 
complete change in my boyish character, and 
I resolved to be a source of trouble to him 
no more, but to seek in every way to gain 
his esteem and love. I remained with him 
a year after this, and I have the satisfaction 
of feeling that during that year I was scru- 
pulously obedient and attentive to my duties. 


My father saw that it would be impossible 
for my brother and me to make serious 
progress in our studies in the midst of the 
nomadic life that we were leading with his the- 
atrical company, and he determined to place 
us at Florence with our uncle and aunt, and 
to send me to the Law School, and my 
brother to the School of Fine Arts. It was 
my father's wish that I should be a lawyer, 
and my brother a painter. Our uncle and 
aunt lived in the Via Romana, near the gate 
of the Boboli Gardens, and it was not pleas- 
ant, especially in winter, to walk on every 
work-day quite across the city from the Via 
Romana to the Via Martelli, and to the end 
of the Via del Cocomero (now Via Ricasoli). 
Our uncle walked with us, and from habit 
took steps of such great length and velocity 
that we trotted after him, panting. Occasion- 
ally, however, on account of indisposition or 
business, he had to let us go alone, and then 
we used to take our revenge. We would 
walk at our ease, and stop on the Ponte Vec- 
chio to admire the goldsmiths' and jewelers' 
shops. I won't say that the pastry-cooks' 
shops did n't attract us too. 

When ten years old I felt no leaning to- 


ward any vocation. My father's will was 
mine ; and I do not remember feeling distaste 
for any task that was given me. Whatever 
was marked out for me to study, it was ali the 
same to me: history interested me, grammar 
attracted me, in arithmetic I found pleasure, 
geography amused me, and as to penmanship 
and spelling, I had a real passion for them. 
Three years later I was just beginning Latin 
when my father carne to Florence to play for 
an entire season. During those three years, 
however, my uncle had often taken me to my 
father in vacation-time, particularly if he hap- 
pened to be in a place not far from Florence. 
Upon these occasions we would see him play 
in the evening, which was to us a source of 
unmeasured enjoyment. I took especial de- 
light in dramas and tragedies. When the 
company gave a comic piece, I used to ask 
my father to let me go to bed. 

During one of my vacations, I went alone 
with my father to Milan, my brother being ili 
with measles, and I had the good fortune to 
see a piece played by that wonderful artist 
Luigi Vestri. The play was a translation 
from the French entitled " Malvina," and for 
the first time I learned that one can cry and 


laugh at the same time. Vestri, who had 
been endowed by Nature with ali that she 
can grant to a dramatic artist, made so strong 
an impression on my boyish imagination, that 
when my father presented me to him the next 
day I stared at him as if under a speli, and 
was unable to utter a word. I fancied that I 
was in the presence of a divinity. He patted 
my face kindly, and I felt a wave of delight 
rush through my veins. 

About this time a disaster befell my poor 
father's household. His second wife, whom 
in our short visits we had hardly learned to 
know, unmindful of the sacrifices which her 
husband had made for her, ungratefully aban- 
doned him. He was so deeply affected that 
only the thought of his sons restrained him 
from suicide. For several months he gave 
himself up to grief, and to projects of ven- 
geance which his good sense and dignity 
caused to come to naught; and it was after 
this that he carne to Florence for a season, 
as I have said. I was then thirteen years 
old ; but, strange to say, I looked fully seven- 
teen. So precocious was my development 
that not only was I a head taller than the 
tallest of the boys of my age, but my whole 


figure was in proportion, and I needed only 
a little hair on my face to have the presence 
of a young man of twenty. When my father 
caught sight of me, he exclaimed : 

" My goodness ! what are you going to 
grow up to be ? The giant Goliath ? " 

" No, father," I answered ; " I prefer to be 
David, who killed him." 

" Well, you shall come with me," said he, 
"and I will be your Saul in his good mo- 
ments. If you can't play the harp to charm 
away the grief of my soul, you can talk to me, 
and the sound of your voice will soothe me." 

Accordingly, when, after the carnival season 
in Florence, my father joined the Bon and 
Berlaffa Company as leading actor, he took 
me with him, leaving my brother to his course 
at the Fine Arts. 


The Bon and Berlaffa Company alternated 
in its repertory between the comedies of Gol- 
doni and the tragedies of Alfieri. 

One evening the "Donne Curiose" by Gol- 
doni was to be given, but the actor who was 
to take the harlequin's part, represented in 


that piece by a stupid slave called Pasquino, 
fell sick a few hours before the curtain was to 
rise. The company had been together for a 
few days only, and it was out of the question 
to substitute another play. It had been de- 
cided to dose the theater for that night, when 
Berlaffa asked : 

"Why could n't your Tom take the part?" 

My father said that there was no reason 
why he should n't, but that Tom had never 
appeared in public, and he did n't know 
whether he had the courage. 

The proposition was made to me, and I ac- 
cepted on the spot, influenced to no little ex- 
tent by a desire to please the managers, who 
in my eyes were people of great importance. 
Within three hours, with my iron memory, I 
had easily mastered my little part of Pas- 
quino, and, putting on the costume of the 
actor who had fallen ili, I found myself a full- 
fledged if a new performer. I was to speak 
in the Venetian dialect; that was inconvenient 
for me rather than difficult, but at Forte, 
where we were, any slip of pronunciation 
would hardly be observed. 

It was the first time that I was to go on 
the stage behind the dazzling footlights, the 


first time that I was to speak in an unac- 
customed dialect, dressed up in ridiculous 
clothes which were not my own; and I con- 
fess that I was so much frightened that I 
was tempted to run back to my dressing- 
room, to take off my costume, and to have 
nothing more to do with the play. But my 
father, who was aware of my submissive dis- 
position toward him, with a few words kept 
me at my post. 

"For shame!" said he; "a man has no right 
to be afraid." A man ! I was scarce fourteen, 
yet I aspired to that title. 

The conscript who is for the first time un- 
der fire feels a sense of fear. Nevertheless, 
if he has the pride of his sex, and the dignity 
of one who appreciates his duty, he stands 
finn, though it be against his will. So it was 
with me when I began my part. When I 
perceived that some of Pasquino s lines were 
amusing the audience, I took courage, and, 
like a little bird making its first flight, I ar- 
rived at the goal, and was eager to try again. 
As it turned out, my actor's malady grew 
worse, so that he was forced to leave the com- 
pany, and I was chosen to take his place. 

I must have had considerable aptitude for 


such comic parts as those of stupid servants, 
for everywhere that we went I became the 
public's Benjamin. I made the people laugh, 
and they asked for nothing better. Ali were 
surprised that, young and inexperienced as 
I was, I should have so much cleverness of 
manner and such sureness of delivery. My 
father was more surprised than anybody, for 
he had expected far less of my immaturity 
and total lack of practice. It is certain that 
from that time I began to feel that I was 
somebody. I had become useful, or at least 
I thought I had, and, as a consequence, in 
my manner and hearing I began to affect the 
young man more than was fitting in a mere 
boy. I sought to figure in the conversation 
of grown people, and many a time I had the 
pain of seeing my elders smile at my remarks. 
It was my great ambition to be allowed to 
walk alone in the city streets ; my father was 
very loath to grant this boon, but he let me 
go sometimes, perhaps to get a sample of my 
conduct. I don't remember ever doing any- 
thing at these times which could have dis- 
pleased him ; I was particularly careful about 
it, since I saw him sad, pensive, and afHicted 
owing to the misfortune which had befallen 


him, and soon he began to accord me his con- 
fidence, which I was most anxious to gain. 

a father's advice 

Often he spoke to me of the principles of 
dramatic art, and of the mission of the artist. 
He told me that to have the right to cali 
one's self an artist one must add honest work 
to talent, and he put before me the example 
of certain actors who had risen to fame, but 
who were repulsed by society on account of 
the triviality of their conduct ; of others who 
were brought by dissipation to die in a hos- 
pital, blamed by ali; and of stili others who 
had fallen so low as to hold out their hands 
for alms, or to sponge on their comrades and 
to cozen them out of their money for un- 
merited subscriptions — ali of which things 
moved me to horror and deep repugnance. 
It was with good reason that my father was 
called " Honest Beppo" by his fellows on the 
stage. The incorruptibility and firmness of 
principle which he cultivated in me from the 
time that I grew old enough to understand 
have been my spur and guide throughout my 
career, and it is through no merit of my own 


that I can count myself among those who 
have won the esteem of society ; I attribuite 
ali the merit to my father. He was consci- 
entious and honest to a scruple ; so much so 
that of his own free will he sacrificed the 
naturai pride of the dramatic artist, and re- 
nounced the well-earned honor of first place 
in his company to take second place with 
Gustavo Modena, whose artistic merit he 
recognized as superior to his own, in order 
that I might profit by the instruction of that 
admirable actor and sterling citizen. My 
father preferred his son's advantage to his 
own personal profit. 


In Lent of the year 1843, m tne city °f 
Padua, we joined Modena's company, which 
was made up almost entirely of players of 
less than twenty years. Now, to be exact, I 
shall have to say that in the contract between 
my father and Gustavo Modena I figured as 
the bone that is thrown in for good measure ; 
I was to have no salary, but was bound to do 
whatever was assigned to me by the director, 
including appearance as a "super" in case of 


necessity. This was humiliating, after my 
little triumphs as Pasquino the year before; 
but my father soothed my susceptibility by tell- 
ing me that ali were subjected to the same 
condition, which was true. I remembered 
then that egoistical proverb, " An evil shared 
is half a Joy," and my spirits went up a little. 
My apprehensions vanished entirely when my 
father said to me that the time had now come 
to devote myself seriously to the study of my 
profession ; that in future I must exert myself, 
and that it was only right that the sacrifice he 
had made should be compensated by my good 
will and application ; and that I should never 
have a better chance, since the rudiments and 
the best example of the drama would be 
exhibited to me by the most distinguished 
artist of Italy. 

I kissed him, and said, " Papa, I will do the 
best I can." The next day we went to the 
theater to receive our instructions from the 


To be frank, my first impression of my 
future master was not wholly favorable. He 


looked to me more like a drover than an actor. 
He was fat and flabby, his nose was siink be- 
tween his cheeks, his walk was heavy, and his 
legs had the appearance of elephantiasis. 
Nevertheless, his white and beautifully formed 
hand, his vivacious, intelligent, and kind eye, 
won my sympathy on the spot. His voice, 
though nasal, was sonorous, and seemed to 
issue not from his lips, but from his ears or his 
eyes, or rather from his wide-open nostrils. 
As soon as Modena perceived my father, who 
in comparison with him looked like a lord, 
they squeezed each other's hands and em- 
braced; then Modena turned to me and ex- 
claimed (as was his habit) in his native dialect: 
" Oh, what a good David ! Well, my lad, is 
your mind made up to study ? " 

" Yes, Signor Maestro," said I. 

" No, no," he said ; "cali me Gustavo ; that 
is better. And what have you been studying? " 

" Harlequin parts, Signor Gustavo," said I. 

"Good!" he said; "now you shall study 
this speech, and when you know it you shall 
say it to me, putting into it ali your intelli- 
gence and ali your soul." It was the speech 
of Egisto to Polifonie in Alfieri's tragedy of 
" Merope " ; and the same speech had been 


given before me to every new member of the 
company as a test of his vocation for tragedy. 
The stage gradually filled up with others of 
the company, who were to rehearse "La Ca- 
lomnie" of Scribe, in which neither my father 
nor I was to appear. 

While the rehearsal was in progress, and my 
father was making the acquaintance of the 
other artists, Modena turned to me and said, 
" In this comedy you shall do the little Moor 
for me." I fancied that the little Moor was a 
part. Alas ! he was merely a lay figure, de- 
vised to garnish the stage by the Signora 
Giulia, Modena's wife. I was directed to 
blacken my face, and to get myself up in 
Orientai costume to figure as the attendant 
of one of the personages of the play. This 
first assignment did not encourage me at ali, 
and my father, seeing my disappointment, 
whispered in my ear, " Never mind; only 
study, and you will have no more ' super ' 
work to do." The following day I was the 
only one who knew Egistós speech perfectly 
by heart, and I repeated it to my father, who 
corrected me, and showed me the most salient 
points, and finally encouraged me by saying, 
"There, you have it well enough." 


The moment of trial carne, and by good 
luck neither my gestures, nor my voice, nor 
my expression betrayed the violent palpita- 
tions due to my emotion. When I got through, 
Modena exclaimed : " You have some founda- 
tion ! you '11 make a man for me ! " and with 
this were assigned to me the parts of Masham 
in Scribe's "Un Verre d'Eau"; of Perez, 
Filippo, and donata, in Alfieri's " Saul " ; of 
Massimiliano Piccolomini in Schiller's " Wal- 
lenstein " ; of Pietro Tasca in the "Fornaretto" 
of F. Dall' Ongaro ; of the Lover in Man- 
zoni's tragedy "Adelchi," and of the lovers in 
sudi plays as my father should give on Mo- 
dena's off-nights. Since I appeared every 
night, the "super" business troubled me no 
more. My father had to provide my costumes 
for ali these parts, which was no light expense; 
but he supported the burden willingly, since 
he saw the lighting of a fair dawn in the morn- 
ing of my career. In order to master so many 
parts in the shortest possible time, I had to 
sacrifice many hours of sleep. Toward the end 
of the season, I could have slept on a couch 
of thorns ; and often when my father and I 
were returning home after supper, and he, be- 
coming interested in some discussion with a 


friend, ceased to attend to me, my eyes would 
dose, and at the first corner I would lean my 
head against the wall and fall quietly asleep 
on my feet. My father, noticing that I was 
gone, would turn back and take me by the 
arm, and when we reached home would lay 
me down on my bed ; and the next morning I 
would wake up and would not know how I 
got there ! What an admirable age youth is ! 
It supports without complaining the incon- 
veniences of life, and adapts itself gladly to 
every hard condition, if only it is spurred on 
by ambition. And at fifteen everything looks 

My rose was destined soon to change to 
black. At the end of the year of my novitiate, 
in Lent of 1844, my father fell ili at Palma 
Nuova. Just at that time I was burdened 
more than ever with study, as Carlo Roma- 
gnoli had left the company, and ali the parts 
which had been given to him the year before 
were transferred to me in addition to my own, 
among them David in "Saul," Nemours in 
"Louis XI.," Luciano in "La Calomnie." 
The doctor pronounced my father's malady 
an inflammation of the bowels, and prescribed 
frequent baths with bran. In our house the 


only source of water was a very deep well, 
and it became my duty to draw water to fili 
the tub. It was a serious fatigue ; but because 
of the purpose of the task, and perhaps a little 
because the muscles of my arms began to 
show a prodigious development from the Con- 
stant exercise, I was never willing to sur- 
render the charge to others, and performed it 
regularly for twenty-three days. The com- 
pany was then about to finish its engagement 
at Palma Nuova, and my father summoned 
me to his bedside and told me that I must go 
on to Cremona with the director, who would 
be hampered without me. He said that as 
soon as he was well enough he would follow, 
but in the mean time it was out of the ques- 
tion to put that excellent man, our director, 
to loss by depriving him of one of the most 
important men of his company. I opposed 
this decision with energy, but I was compelled 
to yield to my father's repeated commands. 
I left him in charge of the people of the house, 
and engaged a man besides to nurse him, and 
I took my leave of him with tears and kisses. 
I felt myself sadly alone without my father's 
accustomed guidance. It is true that he had 
become stili more grave, and was even in- 



clined to misanthropy ; but frequently he 
vvould forget his troubles in reading to me 
some extracts from a play he was writing ; or 
in declaiming a bit of Metastasio, his favorite 
author ; or in talking to me of my poor dead 
mother, whom I never knew, since she died 
when I was two years old ; or of my brother, 
who was pursuing his studies, or my aunt and 
uncle, who lived in Florence. One evening 
at Venice, as we were passing in our gondola 
before the illuminated Piazzetta di San Marco, 
he embraced me with silent but profound ex- 
pression of tenderness, and after a little he 
said : 

" Do you see that lamp burning there be- 
fore that image ? That flame commemorates 
the unpardonable mistake of the sentence of 
poor Fornaretto, whose part you play; and 
that light will not be extinguished so long as 
man is capable of calling himself infallible." 

In my ingenuousness and ignorance I asked, 
" Papa, how long will that be ? " 

He smiled, and said : "Ah, my son, that 
lamp will bum on forever." I felt something 
like a weight in my soul, and that answer was 
perhaps the inception in me of the first germs 
of distrust in my fellow-men. 



My father wrote to me from his sick-bed at 
Palma Nuova, exhorting me to behave well, 
to be studìous, and to be loyal to the wishes 
of the director. But I noticed that with every 
letter his beautiful handwriting was growing 
less finn and even, and I began to fear that 
he was becoming much worse. I begged 
Gustavo Modena for permission to visit him, 
but he refused me absolutely. After a few 
days I went to him again, and repeated my 
request in a tone of supplication. With a 
kinder manner than before he explained to 
me in what a dilemma I should put him if I 
were to go, as it was entirely impossible for 
him to find understudies for my parts; he 
said that he should have to dose the theater, 
which would be at once a dishonor to him and 
a very serious loss ; and he assured me that 
he had had direct news from his friend Beppo, 
as he called my father, and that he was de- 
cidedly better, and would soon be able to re- 
join us. These were fair words, but they did 
not reassure me, for no more letters carne 
from my father. One morning, without say- 
ing anything more to Modena, I went to the 


police-bureau to reclaim my traveling-permit, 
which had been issued in my name when I 
was separated from my father; but the Aus- 
trian officiai refused to surrender it without 
the consent of the director of my company. 
I hurried, beside myself, to Modena, and 
said : 

" Maestro, I get no more letters from my 
father, and I have no news of him. I fear that 
something is wrong. Now you will either 
give me permission to go to Palma Nuova, or 
I will start out on foot and take the risk of 
being arrested." 

Modena answered verydryly: "What do 
you want to go there for? Your father is 

May God pardon him the pain he gave me 
at that moment, in return for ali the kindness 
I had from him at other times! He should 
not be judged too harshly ; he was tormented 
by my persistence, and the obstinacy of my 
determination, and by the thought of the con- 
sequences to him which must follow, and he 
fancied that by that brutal announcement he 
would at once deprive me of ali hope, put an 
end to my plans, and relieve himself from fur- 
ther embarrassment. He took the view that 


to so grave an evil should be applied a heroic 
remedy. I fell to the floor like a log, sense- 
less ; and when I carne to myself I was in my 
bed, and my young comrades were by my side, 
impotent to cairn the hysterical spasms which 
sent me into fit after fit of delirium. For four 
days I was in bed with aching bones, bruised 
and sore, and with frequent spells of convul- 
sive sobbing. I learned that during this time 
my uncle had gone to Palma Nuova and had 
paid ali the last sad offices to the dead; and 
so at fifteen I was left an orphan, and with the 
responsibility of working out alone my sup- 
port and my future. 


It was now necessary for Gustavo Modena 
to accord me some salàry to enable me to live, 
and I remember that my pay was about fifty 
cents a day. Sometimes when I was cast for 
an important part he would give me a dollar 
as extra compensation ; this happened very 
seldom, but I had enough to live on with care- 
nai economy. When we carne to Milan, how- 
ever, three tailors, claiming to be creditors of 


my father, presented themselves, and asked 
me what were my intentions as to obligations 
standing against the name of Giuseppe Salvini. 

" My intentions?" said I. "I will pay in 
full; I ask only for time." They had three 
notes of 1000 francs each, which my poor 
father had indorsed for a friend of shaky 
credit who had never paid them. The notes 
were renewed so that they provided for pay- 
ment within three years, and I signed them. 
The reader can imagine how hard pressed I 
felt myself under these obligations, which I 
must meet with what economies I could 
make from my meager pay. During the re- 
mainder of the year I was nevertheless able to 
hoard up 300 francs, which I sent in advance 
of the time fixed to Lampagnano at Milan, 
on account of my debt. With regret, but 
constrained by necessity, I sold some of my 
father's theatrical wardrobe, and was thus 
able to meet ali my engagements for that year. 

When misfortunes befall, they never come 
singly; and of this I was now to have painful 
experience. Soon after my father's death an 
unlucky incident happened, which compelled 
me to sever my connection with Modena. I 
had inherited from my father, besides his cos- 


tumes, of which I had sold a part, a beautiful 
wig of long, golden -blond hair, which he used 
to wear as Charlemagne in "Adelchi," and 
which I wore in the part of Massimiliano 
Piccolomini in " Wallenstein." After wearing 
it, I used to give it in charge of Graziadei, the 
hair-dresser of the theater, to put by for me 
in a box. One evening Signora Giulia Mo- 
dena, who occupied herself with much taste 
and competence about the dresses of the 
artists, asked me to lend her my wig. Now 
to me this wig was a most precious posses- 
sion, both because it carne to me from my 
father, and because it was to go on my own 
head ; so I refused her request as civilly as I 
could, and no more was said about it. The 
next evening I perceived on the head of one 
of the "supers" my beloved wig, which the 
Signora Giulia had obtained from the hair- 
dresser on some trumped-up pretext. With 
a "bee in my bonnet" (at that time such bees 
were numerous with me), and my wig in my 
hand, I presented myself before the Signora, 
and made my remonstrance : 

" I wish to know, Signora Giulia, who gave 
you the right to use my wig, after I told you 
that you could n't have it ? " 


" Come to Gustavo, and you will find out," 
said she to me. 

We went to Modena's dressing-room, and I 
repeated my demand. Could he in my pres- 
ence blame his wife, recognize that I was right, 
and that she was guilty of an unwarranted 
act? Could he, a Modena, my master, make 
excuses for her to me, his pupil? He con- 
tented himself with saying, " Go, boy ; go !" 
He did n't put his wife in the wrong, nor did 
he admit that I was right ; it was no doubt 
the best thing he could do. But that word 
" boy " cut me to the heart, and I left the room 
without a word. 

The next day I wrote him a letter notifying 
him that from that moment I ceased to belong 
to his company, since it was manifest that a 
mere " boy " could not be qualified to take the 
chief parts after himself. For his answer he 
sent to me Massini, the secretary, and some 
of the senior members of the company, to 
demonstrate to me that it was not making a 
very good start in my profession to leave my 
company in the middle of the season. My 
friends told me further that Signora Giulia 
admitted that she had acted arbitrarily, and 
that it would be an ungrateful thing on my 


part to leave the director in the lurch. This 
last reason won my consent to remain until 
the end of the year. Three weeks later I 
was under contract for the next year with the 
Royal Company of Florentines in Naples, for 
first and second lovers' parts, at a salary of 
2400 francs. Modena engaged in my place a 
young man from Leghorn of excellent physi- 
cal and mental qualities and good artistic 
promise, Ernesto Rossi by name. He has not 
disappointed the hopes formed of him in his 
youth. He, too, guided by the counsels and 
advice of our master, has gained the esteem 
of ali Italy, and in his tours through Europe 
and America has done honor to his country. 

The six months that I had stili to stay with 
Modena passed in perfect harmony with him 
and his wife, for both of whom I felt real affec- 
tion and respect. The nearer carne the time 
when I must leave them, the more fond I 
grew of them, admiring in her the faithful 
consort of an exiled citizen, and honoring in 
him the upright man, the distinguished artist, 
and the unswerving patriot. Not many days 
before our separation, I began to realize what 
a great advantage it had been to me to have 
his advice, his precepts, his instruction, and 


his example, and I treasured ali these up for 
the future. When at last we parted, I felt as 
if I had lost a second father ; and I am sure, 
from his visible emotion, that he felt toward 
me as if I were his son. 


Modena's system of instruction was more 
by practice than by theory. In our day he 
would be blamed, now that it is considered 
needful that actors should know everything 
that has to do in any way with their subjects, 
no matter how little of it they may be able to 
put to profìt. He rarely spent much time 
in explaining the character, or demonstrating 
the philosophy of a part, or in pointing out 
the reasons for modesty or for the vehemence 
of passion. He would say, "Do it so," and it 
would certainly be done in a masterly way. 
It is true that those pupils who were unable 
to emancipate themselves, and to act as he 
told them indeed, but with their own resour- 
ces and expression of their own feeling, de- 
veloped into mere imitators. In proof of this 
it is easy to show that most of Modena's pu- 


pils, not excepting some who attained a cer- 
tain reputation, copied him more in his faults 
than in his merits. 


After leaving Modena, I turned my face 
toward Naples ; but when I carne to Leghorn 
I learned that I should not have to appear 
during Lent, as it was not the custom for new 
actors to play until after Easter. I was pleas- 
antly settled with some old friends of my 
father's, and I determined to wait to see 
Adelaide Ristori, who was then playing in 
Leghorn, and whom I had never seen. 

Ristori was at that time twenty-three, and 
had already won most flattering considera- 
tion. She was as beautiful as a Raphael Ma- 
donna, of graceful figure, attractive, and of 
polished and dignified manners. She enjoyed 
even then the reputation of being one of the 
most youthful and beautiful actresses on the 
stage, and at the same time one of the most 
gifted ; and with good reason rivai managers 
contended to secure her. She was a pupil of 
the noted Carlotta Marchionni, who for many 


years was the ornament of the Royal Com- 
pany of Turin, and held the highest place 
among artists of distinction. From Signora 
Marchionni Ristori acquired a wealth of prac- 
tical and theoretical knowledge, and this, with 
her essentially artistic nature and her strong 
will, made her in a few years the favorite of 
the public throughout Italy. Many fell in 
love with her, and those who escaped losing 
their hearts admired her. Young and ardent, 
almost too poetic, as I was, I could not re- 
main indifferent to the unconscious charming 
of that siren ; and although my heart was ai- 
ready inclined to other sympathies, in pres- 
ence of Ristori' s acting it was invaded by a 
sentiment of respectful affection. I remember 
that one evening when she played a drama 
from the French entitled "La Comtesse d'Al- 
temberg," I cried, out and out, during a mov- 
ing scene in which a mother reproaches her 
daughter for suspecting her of being her rivai 
in love. Though I knew well that my con- 
gratulations could have but small weight, I 
could not refrain from assuring her of my 
warm admiration ; and she was kind enough 
to appear pleased. But when she said that 
she was proud to receive the homage of a 


pupil of the reformer of dramatic art, she put 
so marked and ironical an accent on her 
words that I remained in doubt whether she 
was mocking me, or whether she intended to 
direct a shaft against the renown of Gustavo 
Modena. I should have preferred the first 
intention to the second. 





AT the age of sixteen I found myself in 
il Naples, a member of the Royal Fior- 
entine Company. The older actors of the 
company were great favorites with the Nea- 
politans, whose sympathy and liking it is not 
difficult to gain. I brought with me the mod- 
em ideas inculcated by the teaching of my 
master, Modena, and the fresh influence of 
Adelaide Ristori. It can be imagined how 
I felt in the musty, heavy, unhealthful atmo- 
sphere to which I had come. I felt like a 
first officer who was taking the place of a 
cabin-boy. The only course open to me was 
to cairn my rebellious spirit, to force myself 
to breathe that atmosphere, the reverse of 
vivifying though it was, and to keep faithfully 


the engagement^ which I had made. There 
were undoubtedly artists of ability in that 
company, but their method was antiquated, 
except in the case of Adamo Alberti, who 
was a most spirited and vivacious comedian ; 
moreover, ali spoke with the accentuation and 
inflections of the Neapolitan dialect, so that 
my speech, and that of the other new actors, 
contrasted unpleasantly with that of the old 
members. The parts that were allotted to 
me were of little substance, and I had them 
in such aversion that I could not bring myself 
to study them ; I was discouraged and humili- 
ated to such a degree that the expressions of 
displeasure of the public due to my not know- 
ing my lines failed to arouse me from my 
apathy. To my professional friends who 
sought to encourage me, I said : " The pub- 
lic is perfectly right ; but I cannot help it. It 
is not possible for me to interest myself in 
such colorless and inept parts." 

Through the influence of one of the new 
actors who sympathized with me, I was cast 
for the part of Annio in the " Clemenza di 
Tito" of Metastasio, and on the night when 
I appeared in this part, which was highly 
sympathetic to me, I had an enthusiastic re- 


ception. The so-called camon'a (ring) was, 
however, so well organized in that musty as- 
semblage of artists that I had no chance of 
getting many such opportunities to distinguish 
myself. The fear of innovation terrified them, 
and they were careful to guard against it. I 
had engaged with that company for three 
years, with annual augmentation of my salary ; 
but at my earnest request the manager, Signor 
Prepiani, canceled my contract from the date 
of the ensuing carnival. That year, 1845, was 
a most unhappy one for me, abounding in 
moral and material sacrifices. Out of my 
salary of 2400 francs, I paid 700 to Lampu- 
gnani, and 500 on account of the debt of 1000 
to Rossi of Brescia. I lived at a boarding- 
house, where I paid two francs and a half a 
day for my bed and dinner, having for break- 
fast a small piece of bread dipped in the juice 
of a melon. The remembrance of the im- 
portant parts which I used to play with my 
master, and of the spontaneous and gratifying 
favor accorded by the public, was constantly 
before me, and the contrast made my new 
position seem ali the more humiliating. I 
grew peevish and rebellious, and secretly 
cherished thoughts of revenge. I planned to 


return when ali the old and moldy material 
of that company should have disappeared, 
and to put to shame the artists who hoped 
for my failure. This pian did not testify to 
excessive modesty on my part, but at sixteen 
a little vanity is excusable. In the midst of 
my justifiable acrimony, I could not but rec- 
ognize incontestable merits in some of my 
opponents. But not one of these actors and 
actresses could go outside of the kingdom of 
the Two Sicilies without exposing himself or 
herself in the theaters of ali other Italian 
provinces to criticism and censure on account 
of the gestures, the accent, and the manner- 
isms which they had breathed in with the 
Neapolitan air. 

In the course of the year that I spent at 
Naples, I was enrolled as primo amoroso in 
the Domeniconi and Coltellini company, to 
which were to belong, among other artists of 
merit, Carolina Santoni, Antonio Colomberti, 
Gaetano Coltellini, and Amilcare Bellotti. In 
this new and more sympathetic companion- 
ship I breathed more freely, and began to 
cultivate with study and application my na- 
turai artistic bent, which I had feared to lose 
at Naples, but which was merely dormant. 


Since I was under engagement to pay the 
last 1000 francs to the costumer Robotti, 
brother of the well-known actress, I lived with 
rigid economy throughout the year 1846 also, 
when at last my debt was canceled. After 
that I was able to sleep in peace at night, for 
I was delivered from the fear of being unable 
to meet my obligations. The year ran its 
course for me without great praise or serious 
discredit ; if I was blamed for any shortcom- 
ing, it was for nothing more than a certain 
lack of energy, which was the result of my 
experience in Naples, and which I could not 
shake off at once. On the other hand, I soon 
gained the friendship of the manager and of 
my associates in the company, who perceived 
in me, perhaps, some tendency to advance. 
Coltellini reèngaged me for the following 
year, with the rank of primo attore giovane, 
and an increased salary, and Domeniconi, 
who had been absent, resumed the active 
management. This most intelligent artist 
had not received from nature the gift of good 
looks, or of an artistic type of face, or of a 
naturai method, except in comedy; but he 
had the merit of appreciating and giving ex- 
pression to the most intimate thoughts of his 


authors, and that to a degree in which no 
other artist could rivai him. From Gustavo 
Modena and Luigi Domeniconi I acquired 
the foundation of my art ; and while careful 
not to copy the first, and not to ape the man- 
ner of the second, I sought to profit by what 
I could gain from both. 


In the autumn of that year the company 
opened at the Teatro Valle in Rome. It was 
the first time that I had set foot in the an- 
cient capital of the world ; and during my 
hours of liberty I visited untiringly its monu- 
ments, its galleries, its splendid churches, and 
its admirable suburbs abounding in handsome 
villas. I believe I formed a just conception 
of the greatness of that ancient race which 
dominated the world. I found Rome over- 
joyed at the famous Encyclical, and at the 
liberal principles of the Supreme Pontiff, 
whom ali proclaimed the savior of his people. 
The idolatry of Pius IX. was universal, and 
I, like everybody else, paid him the tribute 
of my enthusiasm, and used to repeat from 


memory sonnets which sang of his saintly 
virtues, and heaped maledictions on Austria 
as the enemy of every generous aspiration of 
Italy. Both the politicai and the ecclesiasti- 
cal censure were abolished, and we were free 
to give many plays which before had been 
on the Index. 


One evening, going casually to the dressing- 
room of the first actor, Antonio Colomberti, 
I found there a gentleman of distinguished 
appearance and somewhat advanced age, 
whom I did not know, and who was presented 
to me by Colomberti. When we met in the 
Street afterward, we saluted each other cour- 
teously, until one day a Roman friend with 
whom I was walking touched my arm, and 
asked, "Who is that you are bowing to?" I 
answered, "A gentleman who was presented 
to me the other night by Colomberti." " Don't 
you know," said he, "that that person pre- 
tends to belong to the Carbonari association, 
and is really a spy on the Targhini and Mon- 
tanari, who cannot lift their heads without his 


reporting it? He is a spy paid by Austria!" 
After that I turned my head away every time 
I met him, and pretended not to see him. 
The spy saw through this, and swore ven- 
geance. A few days afterward I was invited 
to a country resort, — a vineyard, as they cali 
them in Rome, — to be present at a lottery 
for which some thousands of people of ali 
ranks had come together.' In a moment of 
enthusiasm, aroused by the politicai speeches 
which had been made, and nourished by co- 
pious libations, I was lifted by main force 
upon the bottom of an overturned cask, and 
called upon to recite some patriotic rhymes. 
My success was proclaimed with loud ap- 
plause. A son of the spy was present, — an 
educated and liberal young man, who was 
ignorant of the despicable and infamous trade 
of his father, — and when he went home he 
told ali about the lottery, not forgetting my 
success as a reciter of inflammatory verses. 
The personage in question, whom out of re- 
gard for his son I will not name, caught the 
opportunity like a ball on the fly, and sent 
such a good recommendation of me to the 
Austrian government, that next year, when 
I was on my way to Trieste, whither the 


rest of the company had preceded me, upon 
reaching the frontier I was searched and 
subjected to an examination, and finally the 
sentence was inscribed upon my passport, 
"Forbidden to enter the dominions of Aus- 
tria!" I was in a dilemma. There was no- 
thing for me to do but to recross the Po; and 
when I reached Ferrara, I wrote to a friend 
at Bologna, explaining my position, and beg- 
ging him to send me some money as a loan, 
for I had nothing. As soon as the money 
carne, my first thought was to relieve my 
manager Domeniconi from embarrassment, 
for without me he could not begin his rep- 
resentations ; and I resolved, if repulsed at 
one point, to try again at another. I went 
to Ancona, destroyed my compromising pass- 
port, and from the consul of Tuscany secured 
a permit to travel which authorized me to pro- 
ceed from Ancona to Trieste by sea. When 
I landed in Trieste I was promptly arrested, 
and conducted under guard to the Imperiai 
and Royal Bureau of Police. They asked 
me what I meant by my impudence and obsti- 
nacy in daring to set foot upon Austrian soil 
after I had been warned to keep off. I set 
forth my reasons, and protested that I was a 


victim of calumny ; and at last, through the 
intercession of the Countess Von Wimpffen, 
a friend of Ristori, the concession was made 
that I might remain in Trieste until orders 
concerning me could arrive from Vienna. 
One might have thought that ali this fuss 
was about one of the most dangerous of 
conspirators. Efforts were made to obtain 
authorization for me to stay in Venice also, 
for which place we were booked after leav- 
ing Trieste ; and I secured permission, under 
bonds, to fulfil my engagements there with 
the company, upon condition that I should 
present myself every day at the police office, 
"to show myself," as they put it. This re- 
quirement became rather a joke, for every 
morning the consecrated formula would be 
this: I would say, "Good morning," and the 
Commissary would answer, " I hope you are 
well," and I would take myself off. 

One evening, rather late, as I was leaving 
the Caffè Chiodi to return to my lodgings, I 
noticed on the further side of the Ponte della 
Verona fìve persons who were barring the 
narrow way by which I must pass. The idea 
of an attack flashed through my brain. I was 
ashamed to turn back, and besides it was 


very cold, and I was anxious to get to bed. 
I made the motion of grasping a weapon 
under my cloak, and putting on a bold face 
I walked resolutely through the suspicious 
group. Just as I had passed, I heard one 
say to the others, " It is he." I turned on 
my heel and demanded, "Whom do you 
mean?" The chief stepped forward and said, 
" Go on your way, Signor Salvini ; as for us, 
we are under orders to watch you." " So 
much the better," said I; "if that is the case, 
I shall be ali the safer on my way home." 
It would take a volume to teli ali the annoy- 
ances, the troubles, the persecutions, which 
I had to undergo because of that unlucky 
introduction of Colomberti's at Rome. I 
learned a lesson from it — never to make in- 
troductions except between persons who are 
well known to me. 


What I have been narrating, as will have 
been observed, began in the year 1846 and 
extended into the following year ; but to omit 
nothing of importance, I must now take a step 


backward. In Lent of 1847, I was m Siena 
with my new manager, Domeniconi, with Ris- 
tori as leading lady, and other actors of 
ability. My new class of parts supplied me 
with a task which it was not easy to carry 
through : it was customary in Lent to dose 
the house on Fridays, but on every other 
night of the week I had to appear in a new 
part, and in company with artists of established 
reputation. O Memory, goddess of my youth, 
how great is my debt to thee ! At six in the 
morning I used to pass out one of the city 
gates with the part I was to play in my hand, 
often walking on a thin coating of snow. I 
would walk miles without noticing the dis- 
tance, and it was my boast that when the 
hour of rehearsal carne I would make the 
prompter's office a sinecure. Ali were aston- 
ished at me, and the more so because of the 
thirty-six new parts which were handed down 
to me to learn by the young actor to whose 
place I had succeeded, six were in verse. I 
will not seek to deny that I was spurred on 
not only by my love for art, but by a softer 
sentiment — by my resolution not to be un- 
worthy of the affectionate encouragement be- 
stowed upon me by Ristori, for whom I burned 


with enthusiasm. But when we carne to 
Rome, in the spring, I perceived that her 
generous and confidential encouragement was 
intended not for the young man, but solely for 
the young artist ! I did not prize it the less 
for that, and I continued to love her as a 
friend, and to admire her as an artist. I was 
seventeen, and my disillusion did not wound 
my heart, but enriched my store of experience. 
At that time Ristori was my ideal as Fran- 
cesca da Rimini, as Juliet, as Pia di Tolommei, 
and in a host of other ròles in both dramaand 
comedy, in which she put forth ali the per- 
niine and freshness of the true in art. Ali the 
gifts and virtues which adorned her as a 
woman and as an actress united to influ- 
ence me to be worthy of her companionship. 
Surely, Adelaide Ristori was at that time the 
most charming actress in Italy. 


That year in Rome an incident occurred 
which conduced not a little to raise my artistic 
reputation in public esteem. Many years be- 
fore, in that city, the celebrated Lombardi had 


played Alfieri's " Oreste." Ventura, Ferri, 
Capidoglio, ali famed actors, and finally Gus- 
tavo Modena himself, had tried it, but had not 
succeeded in overcoming the strong impres- 
sion left by Lombardi, who possessed in pro- 
fusion the precise requisites for that char- 
acter — good looks, youth, voice, fire, delivery, 
intelligence : so they were enumerated to me, 
who had never had the good fortune to see 
him. Some years had passed since the last of 
the unsuccessful attempts to revive " Oreste," 
when, upon the occasion of a benefit which 
was to be given me, I expressed to an old 
dilettante who was president of one of the 
best philanthropic societies of Rome my de- 
sire to appear in that part. The old gentle- 
man, who took much interest in my progress, 
exclaimed: " Dear me! my son, do you want 
to tempt fortune, and to play ali your future 
on one card ? Think of what a risk you would 
run. Others, more experienced than you, 
have tried it, and have been sorry. Don't be 
so stubborn as to put yourself in a fair way to 
lose ali you have gained in the favor of the 
public. My son, don't do it." 

I was in truth very young, and, like the lava 
which pours from a volcano, I knew no ob- 


stacles; therefore, for my benefit I imposed 
upon the company, as was my right, the 
tragedy of " Oreste." The night of the repre- 
sentation carne. My ears were tingling with 
discouraging warnings; the state of mind I 
was in is beyond description; yet I found 
some comfort in my own secret reasoning. I 
said to myself: "As Romeo in 'Giulietta e 
Romeo,' as Paolo in 'Francesca da Rimini,' 
as Carlo in 'Filippo,' as Egisto in 'Merope,' 
I have found favor with the public; why 
should I lose it as Oreste, a character which 
moves me powerfully, and for which I have as 
suitable physical gifts as anybody ?" I went 
to the Teatro Valle three hours before the ris- 
ing of the curtain; I dressed myself at once, 
and went to pacing up and down behind the 
scenes like a wild animai, speaking to no one 
and answering no one. I overheard my com- 
rades saying among themselves, " Salvinetto 
is a fool !" " Salvinetto has gone mad ! " and 
indeed they had good reason to think so. The 
auditorium was soon crowded. The play had 
not been given for many years in Rome ; the 
public was eager to see it again, and was 
attracted by the sympathy which my name 
enjoyed, and by curiosity to witness a success, 


so that not a place in the theater was left 
vacant. The first act ended with applause 
for Ristori {Elettra), for Job (C/itennestra), 
for Domeniconi {Egistd). As I stood behind 
the scenes I envied them, and thought of the 
hisses which were perhaps about to greet me. 
The interlude of music which precedes the 
second act ended, and Oreste must go on 
immediately. My Pilade (Giacomo Glech) 
said to me, " Courage ! Courage !" "I have 
it for sale," said I; "do you want some?" 
and at once I went on. I made my entry 
without speaking, without bowing my thanks 
for the applause which attended my appear- 
ance ; I identified myself absolutely with the 
personage whose part I was representing. 
After manifesting by gestures my joy upon 
recognizing the ancestral scenes from which 
Oreste had fled at the age of five, I delivered 
my first verse : " Pilade, yes ! This is my 
realm ! O joy ! " The public, after the ap- 
plause of welcome, had resumed silence, eager 
to see from the start how that impetuous char- 
acter would develop itself, and now broke 
forth with a roar of approbation which re- 
echoed from pit to gallery for as much as two 
minutes. Then I said to myself, "Ah ! I am 


Oreste. 1 ' As the play went on, and at the end, 
the applause became enthusiasm. From that 
moment my title of tragic actor was won, and 
I was only nineteen ! 


In 1848 we made a tour in Sicily. We 
embarked at Naples, where the politicai dis- 
turbances of that year had not yet manifested 
themselves. During our stay in Palermo, 
however, the revolution broke out in the isl- 
and. Ferdinand II. stopped the steam-pack- 
ets which communicated with the mainland, 
and we found ourselves cut off from returning 
to Rome, where we were bound to appear for 
a subscription season arranged for by the 
most distinguished families of the Roman pa- 
triciate. Poor Luigi Domeniconi was in de- 
spair. He decided to get the whole company 
together, and proposed that we should char- 
ter a brigantine and make the voyage by sail 
to Civita Vecchia. We accepted on the spot, 
ali the more eager to escape from the trap we 
were in because we heard that the King of 
Naples was preparing a strong military ex- 


pedition for the purpose of invading Sicily 
and subjugating the rebels. Our provisions 
were embarked, and we sailed without hin- 
drance out of Palermo on the Fortunato, a 
vessel which had just made a voyage with a 
cargo of sulphur. We had the lower deck 
divided into two rooms with canvas, one for 
the ladies, the other for the men, and laid our 
mattresses down on the deck, so that the ship 
looked like a floating hospital. Ristori, who 
had already become Marchesa Capranica del 
Grillo, had a sort of state-room of canvas and 
boards rigged up on deck, and she and her 
husband were somewhat less uncomfortable 
than the rest of us. Continuous calms held 
us back near the Sicilian coast, and the suf- 
focating heat tempted me and some of my 
friends to plunge overboard into the sea, 
which was as bright and clear as crystal. 
We were swimming quietly in the slow wake 
of our ship, when of a sudden we were star- 
tled by a horrified yell. It was the captain, 
who sprang up on the poop, and called at 
the top of his voice: "Santo diavolone! get 
on board quick, gentlemen ; we are just in 
the spot where dogfish are most plentiful ! " 
The sailors began to throw morsels of food 


as far beyond us as they could, to distract the 
attention of the bloodthirsty animals, and in 
a twinkling we were again on deck, swarm- 
ing up the rope ladder. We got a famous 
dressing-down from the captain, who was 
responsible for any misfortunes which might 
have befallen us as his passengers, and the 
experience took away effectually our appe- 
tite for swimming. 

After four days passed at sea, we had ali 
come to have prodigious appetites ; on the 
sixth day our provisions were exhausted, and 
we had to get on as best we could with 
ship's biscuit and fried potatoes. It occurred 
to the cook to make us some fritters of flour 
and sugar, which were duly distributed. But 
just as we were preparing to swallow with 
avidity this unlooked-for dainty, a mighty 
yell carne from the cook, who had tried one 
of his fritters, and with swelled lips and 
burning tongue called to us that the fritters 
were poisoned ! It appears that the cabin- 
boy had been sent to the captain's cabin for 
the sugar, and had taken by mistake a pack- 
age of flour poisoned with arsenic for the de- 
struction of rats. Two days more went by, 
and from being hungry we became famished. 


With the consent of the captain, four of us 
took the brigantine's boat and rowed off to 
a fishing-smack to buy the fishermen's catch. 
But the fishermen declined to sell, saying 
that they were bound to deliver ali they 
caught to their employer. I explained to 
them civilly that we had thirty persons on 
our ship who were actually starving, and that 
under these circumstances they were not jus- 
tified in refiising to sell, and I told them that 
we were willing to pay them twice the value 
of their fish, but that it was necessary that we 
should buy them. The blockheads persisted 
nevertheless in their refusai, and we were 
obliged to throw courtesy to the winds and 
to take away a part of their catch by force, for 
which we threw them a handful of silver. We 
were pirates, no doubt, but generous pirates. 
The next morning we made land, and the- 
city of Civita Vecchia gradually carne into 
plain sight. Full of delight, and never doubt- 
ing that we should sleep that night in good 
soft beds, we threw our Straw ticks over- 
board; when ali of a sudden a violent con- 
trary wind arose, and drove the ship out to 
sea again. We spent that night on the bare 
planks of the deck. At last, on the following 



day, we landed at Civita Vecchia, and, weary 
from our wretched sleeping accommodations, 
sunburnt, and with throats parched by the 
heat, we made the best of our way to a caffè 
to get something refreshing. But when we 
tendered our money to the cashier, he would 
not take it, because the silver was blackened 
by the fumes of sulphur, of which the ship 
was redolent. We ali had to set to work to 
polish our money, and when, after much la- 
bor, we had brought the coins back to their 
originai brightness, we succeeded with some 
trouble in getting them accepted, and were 
free to set out for Rome. Such a chapter 
of accidents it ali was that some of the com- 
pany seriously attributed our experiertce to 
the presence on the ship of some possessor 
of the evil eye. 


In that year the revolutionary movement 
assumed extensive proportions. In Rome 
were gathered ali that Italy could boast of 
honest, liberal, and courageous citizens, lovers 
of liberty. Pius IX., who had given the first 


impulse to the progressist and humanitarian 
theories of the time, became frightened by the 
menaces of Austria, by the displeasure of the 
absolute rulers of the other provinces of Italy, 
and most of ali by the insinuations and coun- 
sels of the clericals throughout Europe, who 
hated every aspiration toward liberalism, and 
he abjured the principles he had professed, 
and proceeded to Gaeta, to fly from the im- 
petuous wave of the revolution, which would 
have swept him on into a holy war against 
the oppressors of Italy. Some time before 
this, in Rome, as well as in other provinces, 
the National Guard had been formed, and I 
had been enrolled in the 8th Roman Battalion. 


The republic was proclaimed by the will 
of the people. Mazzini was one of the three 
consuls. Among the chiefs of the republican 
army were Avezzana, Roselli, Garibaldi, and 
Medici; and the various regiments numbered 
together about fifteen thousand young men, 
the flower of the best families of Italy. Louis 
Napoleon Bonaparte was the President of the 


French republic, and to win over the clerical 
party, which afterward helped him mount his 
throne, he despatched an expedition which, 
in conjunction with the forces of the King of 
Naples, and with the cooperation of a rather 
shadowy contingent from Spain, had for its 
objective the reèstablishment of the PontifT 
in Rome, and the subjugation of the Italian 
republicans. As soon as our Triumvirate 
learned of these projects, it published an edict 
to the National Guard, summoning ali who 
were in earnest to mobilize for the defense of 
the walls and fortifications of the city. I and 
other young artists with me were not the last 
to report for duty ; and soon two battalions 
of volunteers were ready, under the command 
of Colonel Masi, who intrusted to us the 
defense of the walls at the Gardens of the 
Pope, between the Cavalleggieri and An- 
gelica gates. On Aprii 30 the French, led 
by General Oudinot, carne in sight of Rome, 
advancing from Civita Vecchia, and were 
welcomed by a first cannon-shot, which was 
discharged within ten paces of where I was 
stationed. I must confess that at that first 
shot the nerves about my stomach contracted 
sharply. The French, who were marching in 


compact order along the highway, deployed 
in skirmishing order in the fields, and opened 
a sharp though irregular fire. On the ram- 
parts we had only two small howitzers, and 
ali about them fell the rifle-balls of the Chas- 
seurs de Vincennes, while the French sharp- 
shooters were out of range of the bullets of 
our muskets. After covering us with a heavy 
fire, they attempted to take our walls by as- 
sault; but the hail of balls which we poured 
in on them forced them to give up the notion, 
leaving the field strewn with their dead and 


On that same day I was promoted corpo- 
ral by the commander of my battalion, and 
on the night of Aprii 30 I was in charge 
of the changing of sentinels, and on the 
lookout for a not improbable night assault. 
The result of that day had been in our 
favor; we had weakened the enemy's ranks 
by over 1500, between killed, wounded, and 


prisoners. Yet these enemies, too, were 
republicans, and bore the cock with open 
wings on their caps, which we saw pierced 
with our balls when the next morning 
dawned. For seven days and nights we were 
not relieved from that post, and our couch 
was the bare earth. At last we had the good 
fortune to give over our station to another 
body of soldiers, but we were at once given 
the task of constructing barricades at the 
Porta del Popolo. I had charge of the build- 
ing of two of them, and these were deemed 
worthy of praise in the certificate given me in 
1861 by General Avezzana, formerly Minister 
of War. This I am proud to transcribe here, 
with its note by Garibaldi : 

Naples, February 12, 1861. 

I, the undersigned, attest that Citizen Tommaso Sal- 
vini served as a volunteer in the mobilized National 
Guard posted for the defense of the Vatican Gardens on 
Aprii 30, 1849, when that position was attacked by the 
hostile French troops. Further, that the said Salvini, who 
was subsequently promoted Corporal, continued to serve 
throughout the siege of Rome, both in the ranks of the 
Guard and in the construction and defense of barricades, 
during the whole time of that memorable siege, and that 



tìiroughout this time he conducted himself as a warm pa- 
triot and a brave soldier. In testimony whereof I hand to 
him the present certificate. 

Giuseppe Avezzana, 
General, ex-Minister of War and of Marine. 

I recommend to my friend Avezzana our comrade 
Salvini. Giuseppe Garibaldi. 


After the check of Aprii 30, the French 
wanted their revenge, and since they had dis- 
covered that our bullets were not made of 
butter, and that Italians could fight, two things 
which they would never have believed, they 
resolved upon a new expedition, this time 
of 34,000 men, and with a full siege-train. 
During the truce we gave up 300 prisoners, 
whom the kind-hearted Italians sent over to 
the enemy's camp with their pockets full of 
cigars and their stomachs of wine, since they 
swore that they had come in ignorance of 
the state of affairs, and that they would never 
again bear arms against us. When they left 
us, they shouted, "Vive la Républiqtie Ro- 
maine!" But when our republic had fallen, 
we recognized some of them in the hostile 


ranks which marched into Rome, with arms 
in their hands, and the exultation of con- 
querors on their faces. Our forces dwindled 
from day to day, and we could not fili the 
places of the killed and wounded, and of the 
sick. One day there would be a brush on the 
Pincio, the next before the Porta Portese, but 
more often there would be fighting at the 
Porta San Pancrazio, where I had opportunity 
to become familiar with the cannon's roar, 
with the whistling of conical balls, and with 
the sight of dead and dying, and of mutila- 
tion. Behind the stretch of wall which we 
defended there was a house with a balcony, 
in which house Garibaldi would often show 
himself at a garret window to study the move- 
ments of the enemy with his field-glass. The 
front of this house was riddled with French 
balls, but by a happy fortune none of them 
ever struck the general, though a young 
Lombard named Tedeschini, a friend of mine, 
was hit in the eye by a projectile, and fell 
from the balcony to the ground. When Gari- 
baldi carne out of the house, he saw the poor 
fellow lying there in his blood, and said, " I 
told him that this would happen." In point 
of fact, a short time before he had warned 


him from his high window of the risk he was 
running by imprudently exposing his head in 
a place where he had no cover. 

Another day, hearing angry voices at the 
Porta San Pancrazio, I descended from the 
gallery where I was posted to see what the 
trouble was, and I arrived in time to hear a 
sharp discussion between Garibaldi and Ma- 
sina. Garibaldi ordered Masina to take his 
" Knights of Death" and seize the Vascello 
Casino. Masina observed to the general that 
there were over 500 French soldiers in that 
building, and that it was an impossibility for 
cavalry to dislodge them. Garibaldi retorted: 
" If you don't want to go there, I will go." 
" No, general," said Masina ; " I am going." 
He gave the command to his men, but only 
thirteen mounted their horses to follow him. 
The San Pancrazio gate was thrown open, 
and a fruitless hail of balls preceded the 
sortie of the knights, who charged forth on 
a full run along the highway toward the Vas- 
cello, which was a musket-shot away. In their 
headlong charge one man fell, pierced by a 
bullet, but his horse ran on with the others, 
who rode up the ramp, and in on the lower 
floor of the Casino. In a moment we heard 


a repeated and prolonged discharge within, 
and we saw three of those heroes ride out, 
and these fortunately regained the gate of 
Rome unharmed. Masina was not one of 
them. That must surely have been a very 
sad day for Garibaldi. 

Under the protection of a ditch and a thick 
hedge along the highway, we advanced from 
the small postern, under the fire of the French, 
to retake the bodies and carry them back to 
Rome. We succeeded, not without difficulty 
and danger, and were warmly praised by our 
fellows in arms. Masina's body was unrecog- 
nizable, for the French, seeking to prevent 
us from getting possession of it, had concen- 
trated their fire on his head as he lay a corpse. 



V I 

The solution of the glorious drama was 
near. The trenches and rifle-pits planned 
by the French chief of engineers, Le Vail- 
lant, were completed, the siege-ordnance was 
placed in position, and shells rained on Rome 
regularly every five minutes, day and night. 
Yet the republicans would not capitoliate. 



It was a heroic protest rather than a defense. 
We ali knew that we could not hold out 
against forces so overwhelming, but we knew 
too that there were in Italy generous hearts 
full of revolt against the yoke of despot- 
ism and tyranny. The French made seven 
breaches in the walls, with the view of secur- 
ing possession of the heights, and these they 
occupied by night, with the aid of traitors, but 
not without an obstinate and heroic resis- 
tance. The republic fell, but not the repub- 
licans. As soon as the French had secured 
possession of a few important strategie points 
in the city, Garibaldi marched out of the 
gate of St. John with a few hundred men; 
many others left Rome singly, and stili more 
withdrew quietly to their own houses, filled 
with anxiety for the future. A military proc- 
lamation was issued, commanding ali persons 
to retire to their lodgings at the firing of a 
gun every evening at nine o'clock. Numer- 
ous patrols passed through the streets after 
that hour. I, with Missori (who was after- 
ward colonel with Garibaldi, whose life he 
saved at Calata Fimi), the professor of music 
Dall' Agata, and others who lived in the same 
house, used to mock the French patrols, as 


they passed under our windows, by imitating 
the cock's crow at them. After a few days it 
occurred to me that I might be exposed to 
some annoyance after the reéstablishment of 
ecclesiastical rule, and I determined to leave 
Rome for a time, giving as a pretext my de- 
sire to see my relatives, as well as a certain 
pretty girl to whom I had been attentive 
for some time. Accordingly I set out from 
Rome, and embarked at Civita Vecchia on 
the steamer 77 Corriere Corso with many emi- 
grants of my acquaintance, among them Au- 
relio Saffi, Saliceti, Dall' Ongaro, and Sala of 
Milan. When the steamer put in at Leghorn, 
where we were to land, the restored govern- 
ment of the Grand Duke refused to receive us, 
and despatched us on to Genoa. There we 
found in the port the steamer Lombardo, which 
had taken a large number of the politically 
compromised, among them Prince Canino 
Bonaparte, who had been vice-president of 
the Roman assembly. Our ship was promptly 
surrounded, like the other, by gunboats ; and 
after lying there three days, we were taken 
to the Lazaretto della Foce. To those of us 
who could afìford to pay was assigned a room 
with Straw beds on the floor ; but the greater 


number were forced to remain in the corri- 
dors of the establishment. I was in a room 
with my friends. 

An aunt of mine, who was at Genoa, begged 
my liberty of General La Marmora, who was 
then commandant of the place, and I was thus 
able to leave prison sooner than the rest. I 
was impatient to get to Florence, and I pre- 
sented myself with my passport to the Tuscan 
consul, to obtain the necessary visa, and then 
hurried on board of a packet which was just 
sailing for Leghorn. That night the gods 
had a famous battle among themselves. It 
thundered, it lightened, terrific bolts flashed 
down from the heavens, and the wind piled 
up the waves in mountains, up which we 
crawled only to fall into the abyss beyond. 
It seemed as if our nutshell of a steamer must 
go to pieces at any moment. A gruesome 
noise arose from the dashing about of furni- 
ture, the crashing of dishes, bottles, and 
glasses, the groaning of the timbers, the 
shrieks of some of the women, and the cry- 
ing of terrified children. The cabin doors 
were fastened, but I stayed on deck to enjoy 
this grand spectacle of nature ; I was obliged 
for safety to have myself secured to a mast, 


or I should have been washed overboard by 
the waves, which broke on deck without in- 
termission. In the midst of the disturbance 
I fell asleep, and at dawn I was not sorry to 
find myself in sight of Leghorn — but in what 
a state ! I was drenched by the sea and the 
steady downpour; I was literally swimming 
in my boots, and I had to go to my state-room 
and change my clothes from head to foot. 


Upon landing at Leghorn, my first care 
was to go to the police bureau for my pass- 
port, which I had had to give to the purser 
of the steamer before sailing from Genoa. 
The chief of police put an infinity of ques- 
tions to me, and I gave him straightforward 
answers, the result of which was that I was 
conducted between two gendarmes to the 
Lazaretto of St. Leopold, which was at that 
time set aside for the detention of politicai 
prisoners. I was put into a large celi with 
several young men of Leghorn whom I knew 
to be of advanced opinions, and with a supply 
of cigars and some bottles of good wine we 


spent three days without incident. On the 
fourth day I was notified that as my domicile 
was in Florence, I must proceed to that city. 
Two new guardian angels bore me company 
in a coach to the railway station, and were 
civil enough to spare me the mortification of 
appearing to be under arrest by sitting at 
some distance from me in the compartment, 
though they were careful not to take their 
eyes off me. At Florence another coach was 
in waiting, and set me down at the office of 
the Commissary of the quarter of San Marco. 
It was dinner-time, and ali the officials were 
out. While I was waiting I discovered a ser- 
geant, an ex-dramatic artist, whom I knew, 
and I begged him to inform my uncle of my 
arrivai in Florence as a prisoner. After a 
time the officer in charge carne in, and, learn- 
ing that I was domiciled in the Santo Spirito 
quarter, he sent me on to the Commissary of 
that subdivision of the city. This personage 
said, with a most impertinent and offensive 
manner, " You look like a very suspicious 
character." " You don't mean to say so," 
said I ; " that shows that appearances are 
deceptive, for, on the contrary, I am the most 
amiable young man in the world." This 


flighty jack-in-office proceeded to put me 
through such a tiresome maze of questions 
that I thoughthe would end by asking me 
the name of the priest who baptized me, or 
that of the barber who gave me my first 
shave. Just as at Leghorn, the result of ali 
this prying and inquisitorial insinuation was 
an order to take me to prison. 

After five days my uncle carne and an- 
nounced to me that I was at liberty, but 
under the condition that I should leave Flor- 
ence at once. My director, Domeniconi, had 
obtained permission to resumé his represen- 
tations, and wrote me to return to Rome 
at once, and that he would see to it that I 
should have nothing to fear from the pon- 
tificai police. 


But what a Rome it was to which I carne 
back ! It was black, barren, lugubrious ; char- 
acterized especially by the red of the French 
trousers, and the black of priests' vestments. 
The few citizens whom one met in the streets 
looked so sad that one's heart yearned for 


them. Those days were gone when ali was 
life; when the cheerful colors of the nation 
adorned the streets, the palaces, the houses, 
and even the sunlight seemed brighter for 
their presence. Where were ali those merry 
faces, full of hope, eager for glory and for lib- 
erty ? Where was that sentiment of kinship 
and of equality which made one say when he 
met a youth, "He is my brother ! " and in- 
spired a filial feeling to every elderly man ? 
The air had become heavy, the walls gloomy, 
the people melancholy ; if we met a French 
soldier, we said, " There is an oppressor"; 
if a priest, "There is an enemy of our coun- 
try." Unhappy Rome! Unhappy Italy! 
And with those two exclamations I turned 
back to art, the one resource which lay open to 
my bruised spiri t, and to art I dedicated my- 
selfwithout reserve. I understood perfectly 
that the priestly government looked upon me 
with an evil eye, and I thought it prudent to 
hold myself in complete isolation — ali the 
more so after I had met Monsignor Mattencei, 
governor of Rome, escorted by police agents 
in disguise, and he had said to me as he passed, 
"Prudence, my young fellow!" I well un- 
derstood the covert threat, and I spent every 


hour that the theater did not require of me 
in reading and studying in my rooms. 

Doubtless it would not be possible for me 
now to remember how much and what I read 
during the two years that I continued after this 
with the Roman company. I was by nature 
more inclined to poetry than prose, and I gave 
most of my time to the perusal of the classics 
in poetry and the drama. Homer, Ossian, 
Dante, Tasso, Ariosto, Petrarch — the sover- 
eign poets — were my favorites ; Metastasio, 
Alfieri, Goldoni, Nota, Kotzebue, Arelloni, 
ranked next; and after these my preference 
was given to the foreign authors — Milton, 
Goethe, Schiller, Byron, Corneille, Racine, 
Molière. For the donne bouche I reserved 
Ugo Foscolo, Leopardi, Manzoni, Monti, and 

By familiarizing myself with these great 
writers, I formed a fund of information which 
was of the greatest assistance to me in the 
pursuit of my profession. I made comparisons 
between the heroes of ancient Greece and 
those of Celtic races; I paralleled the great 
men of Rome with those of the middle ages ; 
and I studied their characters, their passions, 
their manners, their tendencies, to such pur- 


pose that when I had occasion to impersonate 
one of those types I was able to study it in its 
native atmosphere. I sought to live with my 
personage, and then to represent him as my 
imagination pictured him. The nice decision 
as to whether I was always right must rest 
with the public. It is very certain that to ac- 
complish anything in art requires assiduous 
application, unwearied study, continuous ob- 
servation, and, in addition to ali that, naturai 
aptitude. Many artists who have ability, eru- 
dition, and perseverance will nevertheless 
sometimes fall short of their ideal. It may 
happen that they lack the physical qualities 
demanded by the part, or that the voice can- 
not bend itself to certain modulations, or that 
the personality is incompatible with the char- 
acter represented. 


Our company reopened, then, at the Te- 
atro Valle of Rome, and took the name of 
that city. The laws of politicai and ecclesi- 
astical censure had come again into force, and 
we actors had to contend with very serious 


difficulties in observing the innumerable era- 
sures and the ridiculous substitutions which 
the censors made in our lines. The words 
"God," " Redeemer," "Madonna," "angel," 
"saint," " pontifìf," "purple," "monsignor," 
"priest," were forbidden. " Religion," "re- 
public," "unity," "French," "Jesuit," "Tar- 
tuffe," "foreigner," "patriot," were equally in 
the Index. The colors green, white, and red 
were prohibited ; yellow and black and yel- 
low and white were also forbidden. Flowers 
thrown on the stage must not show any of 
those colors prominently, and if it chanced 
that one actress had white and green in her 
dress, another who wore red ribbon must not 
come near her. If we transgressed we were 
not punished with simple warnings, but with 
so many days of arrest, and with fines which 
varied in amount according to the gravity of 
the offense. I remember well that one night 
when I played the Captain in Goldoni's 
"Sposa Sagace" I was fined ten scudi for 
wearing a blue uniform with red facings and 
white ornaments, for the excellent reason that 
the blue looked green by artificial light. 

Another time our leading actress was play- 
ing Marie Stuart, and had to receive the 


dying David Rizzio in her arms, and to kiss 
him on the forehead just as he drew his last 
breath. I had to pay twenty scudi for the 
kiss I had received without being aware of it ! 
The priests plainly knew their own minds, 
and they did not falter in chastising the err- 
ing. The reader can well imagine the effect 
upon art of ali this interference, and annoy- 
ance, and torment. Art, indeed, was treated 
as a culprit. Nevertheless, the public con- 
tinued to fili our house, to applaud, and to be 
entertained; and it had then a much truer 
feeling for artistic beauty than it has to-day. 
The artists, too, were then animated in the 
highest degree with the honor that should be 
paid to a profession which, whatever else 
may be said of it, is eminently instructive 
and improving. 


The parts in which I won the most sym- 
pathy from the Italian public were those of 
Oreste in the tragedy of that name, Egisto 
in "Merope," Romeo in " Giulietta e Romeo," 
Paolo in "Francesca da Rimini," Rinaldo in 


11 Pia di Tolommei," Lord Bonfield in " Pa- 
mela," Domingo in the " Suonatrice d'Arpa," 
and Gian Galeazzo in " Lodovico il Moro." 
In ali these my success was more pronounced 
than in other parts, and I received flattering 
marks of approvai. I did not reflect, at that 
time, of how great assistance to me it was to 
be constantly surrounded by first-rate artists; 
but I soon carne to feel that an atmosphere 
untainted by poisonous microbes promotes 
unoppressed respiration, and that in such an 
atmosphere soul and body maintain them- 
selves healthy and vigorous. I observed fre- 
quently in the "scratch" companies which 
played in the theaters of second rank young 
men and women who showed very notable 
artistic aptitude, but who, for lack of culti- 
vation and guidance, ran to extravagance, 
over-emphasis, and exaggeration. Up to 
that time, while I had a clear appreciation 
of the reasons for recognizing defects in 
others, I did not know how to correct my 
own ; on the other hand, I recognized that 
the applause accorded me was intended as an 
encouragement more than as a tribute which 
I had earned. From a youth of pleasing 
qualities (for the moment I quell my mod- 


esty), with good features, full of fìre and 
enthusiasm, with a harmonious and powerful 
voice, and with good intellectual faculties, the 
public deemed that an artist should develop 
who would distinguish himself, and perhaps 
attain eminence in the records of Italian art; 
and for this reason it sought to encourage 
me, and to apply the spur to my pride by 
manifesting its feeling of sympathy. By 
good fortune, I had enough conscience and 
good sense to receive this homage at its just 
value. I felt the need of studying, not books 
alone, but men and things, vice and virtue, 
love and hate, humility and haughtiness, 
gentleness and cruelty, folly and wisdom, 
poverty and opulence, avarice and lavishness, 
long-suffering and vengeance — in short, ali 
the passions for good and evil which have 
root in human nature. I needed to study 
out the manner of rendering these passions 
in accordance with the race of the men in 
whom they were exhibited, in accordance 
with their special customs, principles, and 
education ; I needed to form a conception of 
the movement, the manner, the expressions 
of face and voice characteristic of ali these 
cases ; I must learn by intuition to grasp the 


characters of fiction, and by study to repro- 
duce those of history with semblance of truth, 
seeking to give to every one a personality 
distinct from every other. In fine, I must 
become capable of identifying myself with 
one or another personage to such an extent 
as to lead the audience into the illusion that 
the real personage, and not a copy, is before 
them. It would then remain to learn the 
mechanism of my art ; that is, to choose the 
salient points and to bring them out, to cai- 
culate the efifects and keep them in propor- 
tion with the unfolding of the plot, to avoid 
monotony in intohation and repetition in ac- 
centuation, to insure precision and distinct- 
ness in pronunciation, the proper distribution 
of respiration, and incisiveness of delivery. 
I must study; study again; study always. 
It was not an easy thing to put these pre- 
cepts in practice. Very often I forgot them, 
carried away by excitement, or by the su- 
perabundance of my vocal powers; indeed, 
until I had reached an age of calmer reflec- 
tion I was never able to get my artistic 
chronometer perfectly regulated ; it would 
always gain a few minutes every twenty-four 


In the spring of 1851, Ristori entered the 
Royal Company of Turin, while I remained 
with Domeniconi that year and until the be- 
ginning of 1853. During those two years 
our leading lady was Amalia Fumagalli, a 
painstaking actress, whose comic face and in- 
elegant figure were drawbacks to her — com- 
pensated, however, by a sweet voice, a most 
moving rendering of emotion, a dexterity that 
was beyond belief, and a most uncommon 
degree of artistic intuition. If Amalia Fuma- 
galli had been beautiful, she would undoubt- 
edly have rivaled the best actresses of the 
day, and particularly so in comedy. In many 
parts she certainly ranked first; and espe- 
cially in Scribe's "Valérie," in "Birichino 
di Parigi," and in "Maria Giovanna" she was 
inimitable. Debarred as she was by Nature 
from that gift which for a woman has most 
charm, she had the power to win the esteem 
and affection of the Italian public. 


At this time I had the fortune to be pres- 
ent at a few representations given by Rachel 


at the Teatro Metastasio in Rome. Her 
name had been preceded by her fame, a thing 
which is sometimes of assistance to an artist, 
while it increases greatly his responsibility, 
and as often is positively harmful. But this 
was not so with Rachel. What can I say of 
that incomparable French actress ? She was 
the very quintessence of the art of Roscius ; 
to render due praise to her qualities of mind, 
as well as to those of face and form, it would 
be necessary to coin new epithets in the Ital- 
ian tongue. Expression, attitude, the mobile 
restraint of her features, grace, dignity, affec- 
tion, passion, majesty — ali in her was nature 
itself. Her eyes, like two black carbuncles, 
and her magnificent raven hair, added splen- 
dor to a face full of life and feeling. When 
she was silent she seemed almost more elo- 
quent than when she spoke. Her voice, at 
once sympathetic, harmonious, and full of 
variety, expressed the various passions with 
correct intonation and exemplary measure. 
Her motions were always statuesque, and 
never seemed studied. If Rachel had been 
able to free herself in her delivery from 
the cadence traditional in the Conservatoire, 
where she had studied, — a cadence which, it 


is true, cropped out but rarely, — she would, 
in my belief, have been perfect. She was 
the very incarnation of Tragedy. The mo- 
notony of the rhyming Alexandrine verses 
was not suitable to her gifts; she should not 
have been compelled to speak an impover- 
ished, nasal, uneven, unmelodious language 
like the French, but the sonorous measures 
of ancient Greece and Rome. 

Was it in her nature or in her art? Both 
were so completely harmonized in her by ge- 
nius as to form a new Melpomene. France, 
who most laudably pays honor to her distin- 
guished children, should not have shared in 
the unjust war made upon Rachel by certain 
authors and journalists under the contemp- 
tible promptings of spite and ili temper, 
by leaving that luminous star unheeded to 
quench itself by inches in languor and mel- 
ancholy. Her merit was so supreme that we 
can well pardon some slight defects in her 
character — defects which were, perhaps, due 
to the malady which was secretly preying 
upon her; and both as a woman, and as one 
who was a real honor to her country, she 
had the right to expect more indulgence and 
higher regard from the proverbiai equity and 


courtesy of the French people. The thought 
that she was disliked by her compatriots ex- 
acerbated the disease which brought her to 
the grave. Poor Rachel ! May the compas- 
sion of an Italian artist reach you in your 
eternai abiding-place ! 


I remained with Domeniconi for two years 
after Ristori left us, and during this period 
I busied myself with reading the works of 
Shakspere, translated into Italian verse by 
Giulio Carcano. Although the name of 
Shakspere had already more than once at- 
tracted my attention, the dubious outcome 
of the experiments of several meritorious 
artists who had made essay of him had 
dissuaded me from occupying myself over- 
much with his plays. 

At that time the quality of form appeared 
so important to me, that Voltaire seemed to 
be more acceptable than Shakspere, and I 
preferred Orosmane in " Zaire " to the Moor 
of Venice. The haughty and impassioned 
sultan possessed me heart and soul, and I 


awaited with impatience the opportunity to 
portray him. The character appealed to me 
so strongly that I could not get it out of my 
thoughts, and it kept fusing itself with the 
various new parts for which I was cast by 
my director. I already had by heart some 
portions of Orosmané's lines, and I took plea- 
sure in declaiming them before a mirror, with 
a towel wrapped round my head in lieu of a 
turban ; and at the start I found some effects 
which, as I thought, presaged a sure success. 
I wished, however, to avoid fixing an imma- 
ture conception in my mind, and I let it He 
for several months, so that I might form fresh 
impressions upon taking it up again. There 
is no better rule in art than not to permit 
one's self to be carried away by a first im- 
pulse. When time is taken for reflection, 
one's conceptions are always more correct. 

It was my aim to form a repertory of spe- 
cial parts so minutely studied and rounded 
that I might be able through them to attain 
a reputation. 

The conditions of the Italian stage at that 
time were not such as to ofìfer me the means 
of attaining my end. Constrained as I was 
to busy myself with a new part every week, 


which, though often I clid not know the text 
perfectly, I had to play without reflection, 
and without having a thorough grasp of it, 
how was it possible for me to prosecute a 
serious study of the philosophy and psy- 
chology of my art ? I resolved to accept no 
engagement for the coming year (1853), an< ^ 
to live quietly with my relatives in Florence 
with a view to carry out my pian. 

Just then the works of Shakspere carne 
again into my hands, and, to teli the truth, 
even on a second reading, his characters, his 
conceptions, and his form seemed to me so 
strange that I was stili in doubt whether to 
occupy myself with them. Nevertheless, the 
impression that I received was a strong one, 
since I was unable to drive from my mind the 
adventures of the sad, perplexed, and anguish- 
driven Hamlet, and of the loyal, generous, and 
trusting O the Ilo. I made up my mind that I 
would spend my time, during the next year, 
on no more than three parts. These were 
Saul and Othello in the tragedies of the same 
names by Alfieri and Shakspere, and Oros- 
mane in Voltaire's "Zaire," which last I had 
already gotten into pretty good shape. With 
the carnival of 1853 ended in Bologna my 


engagement with Domeniconi; but I had to 
stay through Lent in that city to play at a 
match in billiards which I had begun during 
the season. During Lent the Zannoni Com- 
pany carne to the Corso Theater in Bologna, 
and with a view to bettering their somewhat 
languishing fortunes, made me a proposai that 
I should appear in a few extra performances. 
As I was on the spot, I accepted the proposi- 
tion, a little out of vanity, and a little for the 
sake of laying up a few more scudi for the 
needs of my coming period of leisure. One 
of the most promising plays to give was un- 
doubtedly " Zaire " ; but I was not a little 
awed by the fame, stili bright in that city, 
won as Orosmane by the celebrated Lombardi. 
Lombardi must surely have been an artist 
of great merit to establish himself so firmly 
in the popular memory. " He who is afraid 
goes not to the wars," said I to myself, and I 
decided to seize the chance to give the play. 
I began my series with "Orestes," "Der 
Spieler," by Iffland, "Orlando Furioso," and 
Scribe's "La Calomnie." I did not possess 
the costumes for Orosmane, but with my re- 
ceipts from the first plays I was able to fit my- 
self out with dresses at once rich and elegant. 


On the appointed evening the expectation 
of the audience was wrought up to a high 
pitch. Nevertheless, it was favorably dis- 
posed; and notwithstanding that in the last 
act my wide Turkish trousers were awkwardly 
disarranged precisely at the culminating mo- 
ment of the tragedy, it was a splendid success. 
Thus one of the three parts in which I had 
determined to attain superiority had already 
received its consecration. 

I settled myself very comfortably with my 
relatives in Florence, and laid out my hours, 
— so many for study and so many for recrea- 
tion, — keeping myself free from everything 
which might disturb my plans. During my 
frequent walks I declaimed my parts mentally; 
but now and then I would forget myself, and 
instantly would become an object of public 
curiosity. Again I would be surprised by 
some passer-by in the act of practising a ges- 
ture appropriate to the personage who was 
occupying my mind, and I doubt not that I 
was often taken for a lunatic. Very often 
I would seek out-of-the-way and solitary 
places, pushing on into a fir wood or a chest- 
nut grove, where my only audience would be 
the birds. A gentleman of Ferrara, who was 


fond of declamation, having asked me to give 
him lessons, I taught him Saul, and took the 
opportunity to study it myself at the same 
time. This was the only part in my master's 
repertory of tragedy which I ventured to play, 
and in the proper place I will explain why. 
I avoided the others, fearing lest I should fol- 
low him too closely or do less well. Those 
actors whom I saw devote themselves to re- 
producing those parts awoke my disgust or 
moved me to ridicule; and when sometimes 
I heard them applauded by a forgetful or ig- 
norant public, I became indignant, and would 
gladly have protested. I shall always con- 
gratulate myself upon my decision to free 
myself for that year from the monotonous 
routine of the stage. I gained in this way 
the opportunity to reflect, to make compari - 
sons, and to examine into my defects. I im- 
posed upon myself a new method of study. 
While I was busying myself with the part of 
Saul, I read and re-read the Bible, so as to 
become impregnated with the appropriate sen- 
timents, manners, and locai color. When I 
took up Othello, I pored over the history of 
the Venetian Republic and that of the Moor- 
ish invasion of Spain ; I studied the passions 




of the Moors, their art of war, their religious 
beliefs, nor did I overlook the romance of 
Giraldi Cinthio, in order the better to master 
that sublime character. I did not concern 
myself about a superficial study of the words, 
or of some point of scenic effect, or of greater 
or less accentuation of certain phrases with a 
view to win passing applause ; a vaster hori- 
zon opened out before me — an infinite sea on 
which my bark could navigate in security, 
without fear of falling in with reefs. 


In my assiduous reading of the classics, 
the chief places were held among the Greeks 
by the masculine and noble figures of Hector, 
Achilles, Theseus, CEdipus ; among the Scots 
by Trenmor, Fingal, Cuchullin; and among 
the Romans by Csesar, Brutus, Titus, and 
Cato. These characters influenced me to 
incline toward a somewhat bombastic system 
of gesticulation and a turgid delivery. My 
anxiety to enter to the utmost into the con- 
ceptions of my authors, and to interpret them 
clearly, disposed me to exaggerate the modu- 


lations of my voice like some mediar) ism 
which responds to every touch, not reflecting 
that the abuse of this effort would bring me 
too near to song. Precipitation in delivery, 
too, which when carried too far destroys ali 
distinctness and incisiveness, was due to my 
very high impressionability, and the straining 
after technical scenic effects. Thus, extreme 
vehemence in anger would excite me to the 
point of forgetting the fiction, and cause me 
to commit involuntarily lamentable outbursts. 
Hence I applied myself to overcome the 
tendency to singsong in my voice, the exu- 
berance of my rendering of passion, the 
exclamatory quality of my phrasing, the pre- 
cipitation of my pronunciation, and the swag- 
ger of my motions. 

I shall be asked how the public could abide 
me, with ali these defects ; and I answer that 
the defects, though numerous, were so little 
prominent that they passed unobserved by 
the mass of the public, which always views 
broadly, and could be detected only by the 
acute and searching eye of the intelligent 
critic. I make no pretense that I was able to 
correct myself ali at once. Sometimes my 
impetuosity would carry me away, and not 


until I had come to mature age was I able to 
free myself to any extent from this failing. 
Then I confìrmed myself in my opinion that 
the applause of the public is not ali refined 
gold, and I became able to separate the gold 
from the dross in the crucible of intelligence. 
How many on the stage are content with the 
dross ! 


My desire to improve in my art had its 
origin in an instinctive impulse to rise above 
mediocrity — an instinct that must have been 
born in me, since, when stili a little boy, I 
used to put forth ali my energies to eclipse 
what I saw accomplished by my companions 
of like age. When I was sixteen, and at Na- 
ples, there were in the boarding-house, at^ 
two francs and a half a day, two young men 
who were studying music and singing, and to 
surpass them in their own field I practised 
the scales until I could take B naturai. Later 
on, when the tone of my voice had lowered 
to the barytone, impelled always by my de- 
sire to accomplish something, I took lessons 


in music from the maestro Terziani, and ap- 
peared at a benefit with the famous tenor 
Boucardé, and Signora Monti, the soprano, 
and sang in a duet from "Belisario," the 
aria from "Maria di Rohan," and "La Setti- 
mana d'Amore," by Niccolai; and I venture 
to say that I was not third best in that triad. 
But I recognized that singing and declama- 
tion were incompatible pursuits, since the 
method of producing the voice is totally dif- 
ferent, and they must therefore be mutually 
harmful. Financially, I was not in a condi- 
tion to be free to choose between the two 
careers, and I persevered of necessity in the 
dramatic profession. Whether my choice was 
for the best I do not know ; it is certain that 
if my success had been in proportion to my 
love of music, and I have reason to believe 
that it might have been, I should not have 
remained in obscurity. 

My organization was well suited, too, for 
success in many bodily exercises. When I 
wanted to learn to swim, I jumped from a 
height into the sea out of my depth, and 
soon became a swimmer; I took a fancy to 
dancing, and perfected myself to such good 
purpose that I was always in favor as a part- 


ner; I wanted to be a good swordsman, and 
for five years I handled the foils assiduously, 
and took part in public exhibitions for the 
benefit of my teachers. In like manner I 
became one of the best billiard-players in 
Italy, and so good a horseman that no horse 
could unseat me. My muscular strength, 
fostered by Constant exercise, was such that 
with one arm I could lift a man seated in a 
chair and place him on a billiard-table. I 
could sew and embroider, and make any quan- 
tity of pretty little trifles, and I used to devise 
new games that gave pleasure to numbers of 
my friends. Everything that I tried succeeded 
at least moderately well, not from any personal 
merit of my own, but owing to the happy 
disposition conferred upon me by nature. 

As to my character, I must confess that 
I was somewhat positive. I was extremely 
high-strung, and took offense at an equivocai 
word or a dubious look. Though apparently 
self-controlled, I was very violent when my 
anger was awakened. I was patient in a 
very high degree, but firm and resolute in 
my decisions. I was Constant when once my 
affection was seriously given, but changeable 
in my sympathies. Friendship was a religion 


for me, and notwithstanding frequent decep- 
tions, I have always remained an affectionate 
friend. Titles of nobility have never dazzled 
me; I have always admired the true gentle 
man, and venerated the man of real talent. 
The sentiment of revenge never developed in 
me, but that of contempt assumed great pro- 
portions. I have never felt envy of any one, 
but I have sought to emulate those I have 
admired. I have sought for money, not for 
the sake of riches, but as a means of inde- 
pendence. I have done much good to my 
fellows, and have received evil in return. I 
have thought much for others, and have made 
little provision for myself; in that little I in- 
clude the leaden case destined to receive my 


In 1854 I became a member of the As- 
tolfo company, of which Carolina Santoni 
was leading lady, and Gaspare Pieri the 
brillante. Carolina Santoni had a disagree- 
ment with our manager, Astolfi, and left the 
company in the middle of the year; her place 
was supplied by Gaspare Pieri's wife, the 


charming Giuseppina Casali-Pieri, who had 
some talent in comedy. 

We went to Bologna just as the cholera was 
beginning to appear there ; it was threatening 
at the same time several other cities in Italy. 
I advised ali to leave Bologna at once, and 
to go to some place that was free from infec- 
tion ; but neither manager nor company would 
accept my advice, being unwilling to incur the 
unforeseen expense of a new journey. To 
mask their stinginess, they declared that my 
advice was dictated by fear, and Astolfi di- 
verted himself hugely at my expense, and 
ridiculed the timidity of my proposition. In 
the mean time the disease was becoming 
more and more serious, and one day when 
I saw an expression of grave anxiety on the 
faces of my late opponents, I said to them: 
" You refused my advice, and said that it was 
due to my being afraid. Now ali I have to 
say to you is that I shall be the last of us ali 
to leave Bologna." Soon the victims of the 
pestilence numbered 500 a day. The city 
was in consternation, and business was for- 
gotten or neglected. At many street-corners 
temporary altars were set up, and the people 
would kneel down before them and pray, and 


seek to conjure away the danger. One night 
I myself stumbled over the body of a person 
who had been suddenly stricken down. In 
a short time the city became a desert, and 
only then did my companions decide to go 
away. They hired carriages by the day to 
make the journey ; and when they had ali 
gone, I took a place in the public coach, and 
reached Leghorn before them. Our manager, 
Astolfi, upon his arrivai at Pistoja, was taken 
with the epidemie, and lost his life. 

I received a most advantageous offer for 
1856 from the jovial and courteous, but none 
the less able, actor and manager, Cesare 
Dondini. After Luigi Vestri, this actor was 
the most faithful follower of the school of 
truth. The very sight of him put one in good 
humor; the geniality of his disposition even 
influenced the audience, and made everybody 
in the house feel happy, no matter how diverse 
were the parts which he played. He was a 
very pearl of a man, and a model manager. 

A most brilliant comet was just then rising 
on the artistic horizon. Clementina Cazzola 
was born under the patronage of art; as a 
little girl she was called an infant prodigy. 
She was the child of artists of humble rank, 


but nature had endowed her with the senti- 
ment of the beautiful; and as the workman 
extracts the carbuncle from the rock, so did 
Cesare Dondini raise from obscurity that 
precious gem of the purest water. Her in- 
terpretation of her characters was faithful 
and exquisitely subtle, and the most minute 
analysis of every profound emotion was ren- 
dered by her with exactness and truth. Her 
eyes were like two black diamonds emitting 
beams of light, and seemed quickly to pene- 
trate to the very soul of him upon whom she 
fixed them, and to read his inmost thoughts. 
In the "Dame aux Camélias" she was be- 
witching; in the tragedy of "Saffo," by Ma- 
renco, she was admirable; in " Pia de Tolom- 
mei" she was sublime. In this last tragedy, 
especially, she reached such a pitch of per- 
fection that it seemed a miracle. I am most 
happy to render to this incomparable actress 
a small part of that homage which the Italian 
public lavished upon her. We ali deplored 
her early death in July, 1858. 

While I was stili with the Dondini com- 
pany, the distinguished tragic poet G. B. 
Niccolini intrusted to me the production of 
his "CEdipus at Colonos," and it met every- 


where with a favorable reception. Other 
works, more or less worthy, carne at this 
time to distract my attention from the studies 
of my choice; but these transient interrup- 
tions really contributed to ripen those studies. 
I could not deviate from my purpose to form 
a special repertory for myself, and I had 
already made a beginning with "Zaire," the 
"Suonatrice d'Arpa," "Oreste," "Saul," and 
my study of "Othello." 


This last play I was able to put on the 
stage at Vicenza in June, 1856, with Clemen- 
tina Cazzola as the most perfect type of Des- 
demona that could ever be wished for. The 
usuai conception of Desdemona is as a blonde, 
with blue eyes and a rosy complexion, — per- 
haps because in his pictures Titian preferred 
that type, and cultivated variety in his colors 
and half-tints, — but for ali that, it is not less 
true that the Venetian type is represented by 
dark eyes, black hair, and skin of alabaster. 
In Venice ruddy-haired women are no more 
usuai than those with jet-black hair in Eng- 


land. That excellent artist, Lorenzo Picci- 
nini, fìlled most adequately the part of Iago. 
The material of the company was excellent; 
every care had been taken with the costumes, 
which were faultless; suitable scenery had 
been prepared by a scene-painter of ability, 
and the production of Shakspere's play was 
awaited with lively interest. It was the night 
of my benefit, and abundant and prolonged 
applause was given in greeting to the artist; 
but it was the first time that a tragedy of that 
type had been seen in Vicenza; hence popu- 
lar judgment wavered as to the worth of the 
work. It would be unfair to lay this too 
heavily to the charge of a public accustomed 
to the observance of the Aristotelian limits 
of classic tragedy. It is not the little band 
of intelligent persons that we have to con- 
vince, but the mass of the public. 

From Vicenza we went to Venice, and our 
rendering of "Othello" met with the same 
reception there. There was applause, there 
were calls before the curtain, an ovation even ; 
but the people, as they left the house, said, 
"This is not the kind of thing forus." While 
that pale imitation, Voltaire's "Zaire," was 
lauded to the skies, thanks to its irreproach- 


able form, "Othello" dici not appeal to the 
taste of the Venetians. It will easily be be- 
lieved that I made little account of this mis- 
taken judgment, and repeated the play several 
times, until at last they found "some good" 
in it. At Rome I forced the play on public 
favor. A sure sign that it commanded inter- 
est was that there was always a full house. 
It was not to their taste, it is true, but they 
could not stay away. For four seasons I 
always selected that play for my benefit. The 
first time people blamed me; the second, they 
began to be interested; the third, they were 
pleased ; and after that every time that I went 
to Rome they asked me how soon I should 
give "Othello." 


I became so much enamored of the great 
English dramatist, that I was constrained to 
neglect somewhat the classic school, though 
I stili held it in warm affection, in order to 
occupy myself with a character extravagant 
indeed, but nevertheless full of attraction — 
that of Hamlet. I chose the translations by 
Giulio Carcano as the most in accord with 


my taste, and for a fixed yearly payment he 
ceded to me "Othello" and ali his other 
translations and abridgments from Shakspere. 
In the eyes of the public my form seemed too 
colossal for Hamlet. The adipose, lymphatic, 
and asthmatic thinker of Shakspere must 
change himself, according to the popular 
imagination, into a slender, romantic, and 
nervous figure; and although my Hamlet was 
judged more than flatteringly by the most 
authoritative critics, and by the first dramatic 
artist of that day, it will always take rank 
after my Othello. I do not know whether I 
should felicitate myself upon having incar- 
nated that son of Mauritania; sure it is that 
he has done some injury to other personifica- 
tions of my repertory, though not less care- 
fully elaborated. I am bound to declare 
that Hamlet, Orestes, Saul, King Lear, and 
Corrado in "La Morte Civile," cost me no 
less study or application than Othello, and 
that my artistic conscience has never doubted 
that there was full as much merit in my in- 
terpretation of those characters as in that of 
the other. Nevertheless, Othello has always 
been the favorite and the best applauded; 
Othello is a sight-draft, which the public has 


paid promptly every time that it has been 


The reader who has become accustomed to 
my small modesty will permit me to make an- 
other assertion. The part in which I have the 
least fault to find with myself is that of Sofocle, 
in the drama in verse of the same name by 
Paolo Giacometti. The play was written ex- 
pressly for me ; and I venture to say that the 
emotions of that grandiose figure are modeled 
so well upon my capabilities that his spoils 
would ili become any other artist. Yet that 
name, venerated as poet and as citizen, cannot 
boast that it ever drew a full house. Those 
who carne were always full of enthusiasm; but 
though I tried it repeatedly, the audience was 
always scanty, and this notwithstanding that 
the play is one of the most meritorious that 
have been written in this century. 


Another work was written expressly for 
me by Ippolito d'Aste — "Sansone," a bibli- 


cai tragedy, rich in noble verses, striking in its 
conception, and of incontestable scenic effec- 
tiveness, but beyond a doubt, as a philosophi- 
cal and literary production, much inferior to 
" Sofocle." Yet the preéminent Greek poet 
was forced, by the capriciousness and injus- 
tice of the public, to yield the primacy to the 
biblical hero. This play, too, became a spe- 
cialty of my repertory. I must, however, 
acknowledge that my athletic figure and 
powerful muscles, and the strength of my 
voice, had their part in the great success of 
this play. It is idle to deny that for certain 
parts appropriate physical and vocal qualities 
are indispensable, and are an inseparable 
factor in success. It is an illusion that in the 
representative arts intelligence and talent 
are alone sufficient to win a great reputa- 
tion. The singer may possess an admirable 
method, facility in trilling, perfection in into- 
nation ; but if he has not also a fine and 
powerful voice, he will never rise above me- 
diocrity. The public demands, in addition to 
talent, physical presence ; in addition to art, a 
sympathetic and unlabored sonority of voice. 
If there is deficiency in one or another naturai 
gift, attention becomes dulled, enthusiasm is 


not aroused, and the public sets one down in 
the category of the intelligent and worthy, 
but not in that of the eminent. 

And this is not an injustice, for one is in 
no way constrained to join a profession of 
which the demands are so exacting. The 
public has not forced you to put yourself in 
a position where you must beg for its indul- 
gence, or to expose yourself in an endeavor 
which is beyond your strength. Those in- 
complete artists are unjust who rail at the 
coolness of the public, at the sharpness of 
the critic. Such characters as Saul, Samson, 
and Ingomar demand an imposing form and 
a masculine and powerful voice, and since 
nature had favored me with these material 
advantages, I was able for long to couple 
my name with those of the biblical king, the 
hero of the Jews, and the barbarian. 


When I had become in fair measure sat- 
isfied with my rendering of Orosmane in 
"Zaire," of Saul, and of Othello, I persuaded 
my friend and associate Cesare Dondini to 


try our fortune at the Salle Ventadour in 
Paris. I carried only my art with me, and 
in that mare magnum of ali earthly celebrities 
this proved to be a rather scant capital. In 
Paris, no doubt, true merit is appreciated ; 
but if one has not the means of presenting 
his merit along with a pretty liberal dose of 
charlatanism, it is offered to deaf ears, and 
the few who do appreciate it are swallowed 
up in the indifference of the vast majority. 
Well, we arrived in Paris, and, thinking to 
flatter the national pride, we chose Voltaire's 
"Zaire" for our first production. Our chief 
actress, Clementina Cazzola, was frightened 
by Ristori's great success, and declined to 
accompany us on this venture; ali her parts 
were accordingly intrusted to a conscientious 
young actress, Alfonsina Aliprandi, who filled 
them with credit. Orosmane was acclaimed, 
Zaire applauded, Lusignan (Lorenzo Picci- 
nini) praised ; but the play had lived its time, 
the classic type was in decadence, and our 
choice of a piece was criticized. We promptly 
produced " Saul." This sublime composition 
was pronounced by the Gallic critics heavy, 
dry, arid, incomprehensible. May Heaven 
pardon them! They were incapable of un- 


derstanding it. I convinced myself that this 
was really the case when I went to look for 
a French translation of ° Saul," in order to 
have librettos prepared to promote apprecia- 
tion of it, and found that fine opening, "Bell' 
alba è questa," rendered, "Oh, quelle belle 
matinée ! " I became even more convinced 
when Alexandre Dumas, pére, maintained 
that Alfieri should have made his Saul a 
young man, and not an old one. If an acute, 
many-sided, imaginative talent like that was 
capable of making so nonsensical an exhibi- 
tion of itself, it can easily be imagined what 
the smaller fry said. Thus "Saul" shared the 
fate of "Zaire." There was applause, and 
there were flattering notices, but the play 
would not draw. As our last anchor of 
safety, we tried "Othello." Shakspere was 
the fashion, and even I became the fashion, 
too ! Paris was moved ; and according to 
her wont, being moved, she went into a state 
of exultation. The Anglo-Saxon sojourners 
carne, too; the journalists were forced (I say 
forced, because they did it greatly against 
their wish) to fall into line with the general 
appreciation, to float with the current, and to 
bring themselves to do me justice. "Othello" 


paid the expenses of our season. The most 
generous praises were lavished on the artists ; 
in especial a demonstration was made by the 
Comédie Francaise, which decided, in order 
to do honor to the Italian actor, that on the 
night of his benefit several of its actors and 
actresses should take part in the representa- 
tion. I must admit that if the French once 
begin to be agreeable, they do not stop half- 
way ; and it was no small achievement to have 
interested the manager and the artists of that 
model playhouse. 

At this time I formed the acquaintance of 
a lady who wields much influence among the 
publishing enterprises of North America, and 
she urged me to go to New York; she said 
that she was sure I should have great suc- 
cess there, particularly in " Othello," and pro- 
mised me that I could count on her friendly 
interest as a guaranty of a favorable out- 
come. I hesitated, however, because of the 
length of the journey, of my usuai dififidence 
as to my own ability, and, above ali, of the 
exiguity of my finances. What means had I 
to fall back on in the event of a disaster? 
I thanked the amiable lady, and dismissed 
the thought. 


A thousand testimonial of esteem and 
sympathy followed, which it would be tedi- 
ous to set forth here. Through these, as by 
an electric flash, knowledge of our success 
was disseminated in Italy, and offers of new 
and advantageous engagements pelted Don- 
dini like hail. In his function as manager 
he accepted one of these for Sicily, compris- 
ing the three chief cities of the island; and 
the results of that year were highly profìt- 
able for our association. So it is that with in- 
crease of fame comes increase of funds also ! 

Upon our return to Italy, Signora Cazzola 
resumed her post in the company. 

We next went to Sicily, opening at Ca- 
tania. The four years that I passed with 
Cesare Dondini were the most advantageous 
of my career to my artistic reputation. The 
public, and more than the public, my col- 
leagues, conceded to me the palm in the 
rendering of several parts. They affirmed 
that I had no rivai as Orestes, as Orosmane, 
as Saul, in the "Morte Civile," in the "Suo- 
natrice d'Arpa," as Sansone, in " Pamela," 
and finally as Othello. This judgment, though 
of much weight, did not quench entirely my 
ardent desire to make myself a specialist in 


stili other plays. At the end of my service 
with the Dondini company, I was engaged 
as chief actor for the Compagnia Reale de' 
Fiorentini of Naples from the first day of 
Lent in the year 1860. I found but small 
change in the atmosphere of the theater 
after my fifteen years of absence. Almost 
ali those who had been attached to it in 
1845 were stili there. The celebrated char- 
acter-actor Luigi Taddei, who had joined 
the company ten years before, had become 
old and rather infìrm, and, though always ad- 
mirable, appeared but seldom. Only Fanny 
Sadowsky, though advanced in age, retained 
the spirit and energy of the fair days of her 
triumphs. In fine, the walls of the establish- 
ment had received a coat of whitewash, but 
the foundations were the same. The quality of 
the public, too, was unchanged in that hun- 
dred-year-old theater. There were stili those 
families who subscribed for their seats by the 
year, and who inserted in their marriage- 
contracts, as one of the conditions, a box at 
the Fiorentini for the bride. It was once 
their cherished pleasure to create or destroy 
the reputation of those who carne before their 
r 11 preme tribunal. 


At that time the company, subsidized by 
the Bourbon government, stili enjoyed the 
privilege of playing in that theater without 
competition, whence arose a Chinese wall 
between the actors of that company and ali 
others of the peninsula; so that if any of 
them happened to leave Naples for Florence, 
for instance, they would ask him whether he 
was going to Italy ! Nevertheless, the report 
of my success had broken through the pro- 
tecting wall, and curiosity was at a high pitch. 
Prepiani and Monti were dead, and Adamo 
Alberti alone remained as director of the en- 
terprise ; and as I could remain only one year 
at Naples, he had already secured my suc- 
cessor. Upon my arrivai in Naples, Alberti 
asked me, in accordance with the terms of 
my contract, which gave me the right of 
choice, with what play I wished to begin, 
and I indicated "Zaire." But they had no 
scenery for "Zaire," and it would hardly do 
to be content with a makeshift. "Ali right," 
said I ; " we will take the ' Suonatrice 
d'Arpa.'" But in that play Signora Sadow- 
sky had not yet mastered her part. "Very 
well; then I will give ' Oreste. " ; But Bozzo, 
who was cast for Pilade, happened just then 


to be ili. "Excellent," said I; "in that case 
I '11 play whatever you like." I divined very 
clearly the motive for this spirit of opposi- 
tion. The good man had engaged for the 
next three years an actor by the name of 
Achille Majeroni, and he was afraid that 
too marked a success on my part might be 
hurtful to his speculation with my successor. 
Finally he proposed to me to open with 
Goldoni's "Pamela"; but the Pamela could 
not be Fanny Sadowsky. " How 's that?" 
said I; "do you want a tragedian to begin 
his season with a comedy, and without the 
support of the leading lady at that? Well, 
let us have it so!" He was delighted with 
my answer, which certainly he had not ex- 
pected, and made haste to announce my first 
appearance in "Pamela," as happy as if he 
had won in three numbers at the lottery. 
Many were surprised at this choice of a play, 
and to the many who remonstrated with me 
I made answer that I would not set out with 
grumbling at my manager; that in order to 
get first to the goal in a long race it was 
better to begin to run slowly, rather than to 
start off at the highest speed, with the risk of 
finishing second. 


On the appointed evening the size andqual- 
ity of our house were imposing. The court 
and the first literary and artistic notabilities 
were there. The friends of the old actors 
had their guns cocked and primed; the jour- 
nalists and pseudo-authors with whom Na- 
ples abounds were ali under arms, and more 
disposed to find fault than to praise. I had 
before me the doublé task of routing the old 
fogies of 1845, and of being equal to the 
exaggerated renown that had preceded me ; 
in short, I had serious difficulties to over- 
come, and at the same time I had against me 
the inveterate bad taste of that public, which 
is not offended by a conventional cadence in 
phrasing, by monotony of delivery, and by 
gestures and motions worthy of Punchinello. 
I was not in the least nervous in face of this 
serious and really diflficult undertaking. My 
pulse did not count one beat more than the 
normal. I neither looked at the house, nor 
even saw it by chance; I identified myself 
entirely with the personage whose part I was 
playing {Lord Bonjìeld), and I made such an 
impression on that rather hostile audience, 
that at the end of every act it showed me, 
first favor, then admiration, and finally enthu • 


siasm. When I carne to the scene in which 
Pamela s father, who is thought to be a vii- 
lager, reveals his true rank to Lord Bonfield, 
•and tells him his story, declaring himself to be 
a count and proving it by authenticated docu- 
ments, whence it results that his daughter 
Pamela is worthy to become the consort of 
the aristocratic and impassioned Lord Bon- 
field, I succeeded by the mobility of my 
countenance, and by the feverish motions of 
my body, in following every part of the tale 
with such intent interest and sudi truth, that 
without uttering a syllable I drew from the 
audience a prolonged cry of enthusiasm, and 
no more doubt attended the completeness of 
my success. Poor Alberti ! He was con- 
strained to follow the current, and to take 
steps at once to put on the stage those very 
plays which he had found such excellent 
reasons for not giving, and these confirmed 
me emphatically in public favor. "Zaire," 
"Oreste," "Hamlet," "Saul" transported Na- 
ples with enthusiasm. 

It would be impossible to note ali the 
marks of esteem and appreciation which the 
Neapolitans lavished upon me. Everybody 
wanted to know me ; everybody wished for 


my friendship ; everybody made it his boast 
to be seen in my company on the prome- 
nades and at the places of resort; and every- 
body would say in passing, " Here is that 
most excellent fellow, our Salvine/" I had 
really come to belong to them, I was no 
longer my own master; and to such a point 
that the burden of entertainments, visits, in- 
vitations became almost oppressive. I had 
secured my revenge ! I had won over a pub- 
lic that had been confirmed in its habits ; I 
had convinced critics disposed to be severe, 
and overcome the hostility of the envious on 
the stage ; and I had put the laugh on a dis- 
obliging manager. 

During my stay in Naples, heroic acts of 
almost incredible valor were done in Sicily by 
the thousand followers of Giuseppe Gari- 
baldi, who overran the entire kingdom of the 
Two Sicilies. Naples was freed from the 
tyranny of the Bourbons, and received in se- 
curity every free citizen of Italy. Gustavo 
Modena, who had always been interdicted 
from setting foot on the soil of Naples, took a 
fancy to visit the Parthenopean city, and at 
the same time to make himself known profes- 
sionally to the Neapolitans. I encouraged 


him in this project, eager again to come into 
relations with my old master, and to see him 
play ; but he kept answering my letters with 
new doubts and difficulties. At last, how- 
ever, the way seemed clear, and I busied my- 
self with hiring the Teatro del Fondo, and 
with engaging several actors of other cora- 
panies, who had taken advantage of the an- 
nulling of the monopoly of the Fiorentini to 
come to Naples. In a word, I organized a 
company from what I could find, but it was 
sufficient for Modena's purpose ; and despite 
Alberti's unremitting hostility, I secured per- 
mission to give him my own support for a 
night. Modena arrived in due time at Na- 
ples, but he kept putting off the announce- 
ment of his appearance. I was able to see 
him only in the daytime, for I had to play 
every night; and every day I saw more 
clearly, to my deep regret, that his physical 
strength was failing. Finally he declared 
that his health would not permit him to face 
the judgment of the public, and that he found 
himself compelled to return at once to his 
home in Turin. It was a bitter disappoint- 
ment, and a real grief to ali who loved our 
art. I was eager to have him dine with me, 


vvith the Signora Giulia, before his departure; 
and they accepted upon condition that there 
should be only the three of us. I promised, 
and two days afterward they carne. As can 
easily be imagined, the stage formed the sta- 
ple of our conversation ; and I begged him, 
before he left, to drop in some evening at the 
Fiorentini, so that I might have his opinions 
and advice upon what progress I might have 
made. "I have seen you," he answered. 
" How ? " said I. " Where ? When ? " And 
he replied, " I have seen you in ' Hamlet ' and 
in ' Saul.' ' I felt as if a bucket of cold water 
had been doused over my head, and for fìve 
full minutes the conversation lapsed. He had 
come twice to the Teatro de' Fiorentini with- 
out my knowing anything of it. Finally I 
took courage, and asked him his opinion. 
" Here it is," he answered. " Nobody can 
play Hamlet but you ; in ' Saul ' my fourth 
act is better than yours, but your fifth act is 
better than mine." Not a word more did he 
say. Ought I to appeal from this judgment, 
or to be so modest as not to deem it just and 
impartial? I do not think so; I should be 
wanting in respect to the infallible criticism 
of that unequaled judge, and should, more- 


over, be false to my own conscience. Yes; 
Modena's words were true, and I will teli 
why, since he did not see fit to explain them. 
As a fervent republican and a very bitter foe 
of clericalism, into the diatribes of the fourth 
act, the reproaches heaped by Saul on the 
high priest Akimelech, he put ali his energy 
and the conviction due to his politicai creed, 
and he obtained extraordinary results. This 
effort left him, however, prostrated with fa- 
tigue, so that he was not in a condition to 
supply the great exertion demanded by the 
fifth act. In my own case, since I was not 
under obligation to fili before the audience 
the doublé character of artist and of anticleri- 
cai, I husbanded my strength, so that, without 
weakening the fourth act, I was stili in con- 
dition to give full efifect to the passion, the 
delirium, and the calamitous ending of that 
ill-starred king. 


In 1861 I visited Turin as first actor and 
manager of a company hearing my name. 
Hardly had I arrived in the city when the sad 


news carne to me that Modena, my master, my 
second father, had ceased to live. I hurried 
to his house to render the last tribute of my 
affection. I had the honorable though mourn- 
ful office of hearing on my shoulder, with three 
other faithfiil friends, the body of this distin- 
guished man. That evening, as a slight tribute 
of grief, I had the theater closed, and I headed 
a subscription to a fund for the erection of a 
monument on the grave of the great patriot 
and artist, and ali the members of my company 
contributed, of their own motion, a day's sal- 
ary; in addition I gave a performance the pro- 
ceeds of which were applied to the fund. It 
ali footed up to a handsome sum, which was 
placed in the hands of a committee formed of 
the politicai friends of the dead man ; and in 
addition to my collections this committee re- 
ceived many other liberal subscriptions from 
ali the provinces of Italy. 

Four years passed, and having occasion to 
write to Modena's widow to secure a manu- 
script of "Mahomet II." which belonged to my 
master, I asked her for news of the fund. 
Her answer ended as follows: "Never ask me 
again what has become of the money for the 
monument of my Gustavo; it is a sad and dis- 


graceful story." And it is a disgrace to Italy 
that not yet has just honor been paid to the 
memory of that inimitable artist and distin- 
guished patriot. 

To return to the chronicle of my artistic 
career, in 1861 and 1862 my company was 
formed of chosen artists, such as Clementina 
Cazzola, Isolina Piamonti, my brother Ales- 
sandro Salvini, Guglielmo Privato, Gaetano 
Voller, Gaetano Coltellini, and Luigi Biagi. 
Ali my thought and activity were devoted to 
the direction of my artists, to train them to 
work together, to inspire them, so to speak, in 
such manner that our productions should be 
distinguished for the homogeneity, the precis- 
ion, and the harmony of the rendering. I gave 
ali my energy to the object of surpassing the 
various companies of highest rank which had 
deservedly acquired a stable renown ; and with- 
out fear of contradiction I can say that in this 
I had satisfactory success, as was made plain 
by the size and contentment of our audiences. 


In 1863 I filled a few short engagements 
with a company under the management of 


Antonio Stacchini, an excellent genre artist, 
and in the intervals of idleness I went for the 
first time to London to look over the ground, 
which seemed to me capable of giving a good 
harvest. I visited several theaters ; but the 
only one which seemed to me at that time 
promising for an experiment with Italian 
drama was the St. James. But the demands 
of the agent of that house alarmed me. After 
having hunted through every corner of that 
vast city, I returned to Italy, disappointed as 
to my plans, but not discouraged. I hap- 
pened to be at Leghorn for the sea-bathing 
when the leading actor Adamo Alberti, then 
manager of the Fiorentine Company in Na- 
ples, carne there with the purpose of engaging 
me with Clementina Cazzola for his theater 
for three years. 

Achille Majeroni, with Fanny Sadowsky 
and Luigi Taddei, left the Teatro de' Fioren- 
tini to join the Teatro del Fondo, taking with 
them many of the patrician families who had 
been subscribers at the Fiorentini. The sub- 
scription-list at the Fondo reached the total 
of 130,000 lire, while ours was only 8o,ooo, 
We had, however, great advantages over them 
in the novelty of our chief actress, Clementina 



Cazzola, and in our repertory of forty plays, 
which had never been given in Naples, and in 
which that admirable actress and I supported 
each other. Majeroni, taking advantage of 
the abolition of the censorship, began to offer 
to the public ali the plays which had been 
placed on the index by the Bourbon govern- 
ment ; these were not liked by the aristocratic 
society people, and they declared that they 
did not want any more of them. At the 
Fiorentini, on the contrary, ali the new pieces 
were greeted with sympathy ; and although 
our subscribers were few, the paying public 
crowded our house more every night. Our 
plays were free from ali licentiousness and 
demagogism; they were chosen for their senti- 
ment and literary worth, and the most fastidi- 
ous audience could sit through them and 
experience nothing but interest and plea- 
sure. In Lent of 1865 the tables had been 
turned. The Fondo theater had 60,000 lire 
of subscriptions on its books, and we had 
140,000. Not that the artists of their com- 
pany were not excellent. Achille Majeroni 
was an actor of splendid physical and vocal 
gifts, and many of his ròles were played with 
rare ability ; but he had the fault of being 


slightly monotonous in his cadences, and had 
a systematic evenness of intonation at the 
dose of his periods which was unpleasant to 
the ear. Fanny Sadowsky maintained her 
high promise, and with her beauty and intelli- 
gence raised for herself a firm pedestal, upon 
which she stood like a statue of Canova, 
adorned with grace and feeling ; but even 
she was affected by the same shortcomings 
as her colleague Majeroni. Luigi Taddei, a 
very celebrated comedian, in many ways re- 
called the talent of the great Luigi Vestri; 
but unfortunately he was compelled by a 
stroke of paralysis to leave the stage. To al- 
leviate somewhat his unhappy financial condi- 
tion, the artists of the Fondo and the Fioren- 
tini joined forces, and gave a benefit to the 
excellent and unfortunate artist. The play 
was " Oreste," and it was given at the Teatro 
San Carlo with a result at once honorable 
and lucrative. Our two rivai companies kept 
up a Constant exchange of courtesies ; there 
was between us an emulation in civility and 
friendliness, and if there was rivalry, it was a 
rivalry without bitterness, or rancor, or self- 
assertion. Finally the Fondo Company had 
to abandon the contest, and at the opening 


of the third year it left Naples for upper 
Italy. We were left undisputed masters of 
the field, and the Teatro de' Fiorentini was 
no longer able to hold the people who wanted 
to get in. At this time I gave Giacometti's 
" Morte Civile," and a little note sent to me 
by the celebrated author shall narrate for me 
what was my success. Here it ìs: 

Gazzuolo, December 3, 1864. 
My dear Tommaso : Permit me affectionately to press 
your hand to thank you for the rehabilitation given to my 
" Morte Civile " by the power of your talent, at the Teatro 
de' Fiorentini, in face of the unfortunate outcome of the 
attempt a few evenings before at the Teatro del Fondo. 
If this may perhaps be counted as one among so many 
noble satisfactions which Art has honored herself by ac- 
cording to you, it is not less one for me also, with this 
difference, that I remain in it a debtor to your genius! 

Paolo Giacometti. 

We must make allowance for the joy of an 
author who has been applauded; it is never- 
theless true that the "Morte Civile" was dur- 
ing the three years of my stay in Naples a 
necessary and safe complement to the reper- 
tory for every week. 



Before giving "Othello" it was my wish 
to familiarize the Neapolitan public with a 
class of works foreign to that which had pre- 
viously been seen on the boards of that theater. 
I had already played Voltaire's "Zaire" several 
times, and other plays characterized by vehe- 
mence of passion, and it seemed to me that 
the time had come to try the effect of the 
implacable Moor of Venice upon my audi- 
ence. It is very seldom that I have attained 
satisfaction with myself in that róle; I may 
say that in the thousands of times that I have 
played it I can count on the fingers of one 
hand those when I have said to myself, "I 
can do no better," and one of those times was 
when I gave it at the Teatro de' Fiorentini. 
It seemed that evening as if an electric cur- 
rent connected the artist with the public. 
Every sensation of mine was transfused into 
the audience; it responded instantaneously to 
my sentiment, and manifested its perception 
of my meanings by a low murmuring, by a 
sustained tremor. There was no occasion for 
reflection, nor did the people seek to discuss 


me; ali were at once in unison and concord. 
Actor, Moor, and audience felt the same im- 
pulse, were moved as one soul. I cannot de- 
scritte the cries of enthusiasm which issued 
from the throats of those thousands of persons 
in exaltation, or the delirious demonstrations 
which accompanied those scenes of love, jeal- 
ousy, and fury; and when the shocking catas- 
trophe carne, when the Moor, recognizing that 
he has been deceived, cuts short his days, so 
as not to survive the anguish of having slain 
the guiltless Desdetnona, a chili ran through 
every vein, and, as if the audience had been 
stricken dumb, ten seconds went by in ab- 
solute silence. Then carne a tempest of cries 
and plaudits, and countless summonses before 
the curtain. When the demonstration was 
ended, the audience passed out amid an in- 
distinct murmur of voices, and collected in 
groups of fìve, eight, or twelve everywhere 
in the neighborhood of the theater; then, re- 
uniting as if by magnetic force, they carne back 
into the theater, demanded the relighting of 
the footlights, and insisted that I should come 
on the stage again, though I was half un- 
dressed, to receive a new ovation. This 
unparalleled and spontaneous demonstration 


is among the most cherished memories of my 
career, for it ranks among such as an artist 
rarely obtains. 


In 1865 a celebration of the sixth centenary 
of the divine poet was organized in Florence, 
and the municipality invited me, with Ade- 
laide Ristori, Ernesto Rossi, and Gaetano Gat- 
tinelli, to illustrate some tableaux-vivants by 
reciting the originai lines of Dante. The choice 
was left to me, and I selected the first and the 
thirty-third cantos of the "Inferno"; I was 
asked besides to recite a part of the ninth 
canto of the "Purgatorio," the description of 
the Gate of Paradise. At that time I was pres- 
ident of a society of mutuai succor for Italian 
dramatic artists, which I had myself founded 
in Naples, and which was in a very prosperous 
state. I took with me to Florence the banner 
of my society, that it might figure among those 
of other associations of Italy. In the proces- 
sion there were united with me as representa- 
tives of the dramatic art, besides the artists 
I have named, more than a hundred others, 


among them many comedians. Our beautiful 
banner, designed by the celebrated painter 
Morelli, as well as the reunion of so many rep- 
resentatives of our art, made a pleasing im- 
pression on the public, which had assembled 
from ali Italy, and our passage in the procession 
was especially distinguished by loud applause. 
On the evening of the tableaux Ristori, Rossi, 
and Gattinelli were admirable. The Teatro 
Pagliano presented a truly imposing spectacle. 
King Victor Emmanuel, the senate, the am- 
bassadors, the ministers, the army, the courts, 
the arts, industry, commerce — in a word, every 
caste of society was represented, and that great 
house was too small to hold the immense crowd 
which packed itself uselessly about the doors 
of the theater in the vain hope of enjoying the 
spectacle. As the reciter of the first canto, I 
was naturally the first to present myself on 
the stage. My entrance was greeted with 
sympathetic applause. When I reached the 
point where the divine poet symbolizes in the 
wolf the Roman Curia, and says : 

Molti son gli animali a cui s'ammoglia 
E più saranno ancora, finché Pveltro 
Verrà, che la farà morir di doglia! 1 

1 Many are the animals with which she wives, and there shall be 
more yet, till the hound shall come that will make her die of grief. — 

C. E. Norton. 


I looked fìxedly at the king, and stood for 
several seconds without speaking. The audi- 
ence caught the allusion on the instant, and a 
storni of applause burst out as if it would 
never stop. I believe that Victor Emmanuel 
at that moment would have preferred to be at 
the hunt rather than in the theater. The peo- 
ple persisted in their applause, and in crying: 
"Viva il Re! Viva l'Italia!" His Majesty 
did not understand, or did not wish to under- 
stand, the allusion which had aroused this 
enthusiasm, and hesitated for a time, but at 
last he was compelled to rise, and with appear- 
ance of great excitement thanked the people 
several times. The applause was so tremen- 
dous that I thought the theater would fall 
about my ears. 


To my pleasure in having given occasion to 
that politicai demonstration was added another 
on the two nights of that same occasion when 
the tragedy of "Francesca da Rimini" was 
given at the Teatro Niccolini before houses of 
equal quality to that of the Dante recitations 
at the Pagliano. Adelaide Ristori was Fran- 


cesca, Ernesto Rossi was Paolo, Lorenzo Picci- 
nini was Guido da Polenta, Antonio Bozzo 
was the Page, and I filled the part of Lanciotto. 
Adelaide Ristori did not fall behind her world- 
wide fame ; Ernesto Rossi surpassed himself, 
and that is not saying little; Lorenzo Picci- 
nini was acclaimed ; and they say that my suc- 
cess was a revelation. The betrayed husband 
of Francesca had had until then interpreters 
who had not brought out the loftiness of that 
generous, loyal, and loving nature ; he had 
generally been conceived as a stern, tyranni- 
cal, and vindictive husband, and the character 
had been played by artists accustomed to de- 
pict the most revolting characters. I made 
him an affezionate husband, worthy of pity in 
his misfortune, and torn by anguish in the 
just recriminations which he hurls at the guilty 
pair, and the public felt sympathy with the 
afflicted husband and betrayed prince, and dis- 
approvai, blame, and condemnation for his 
betrayers. It seemed to me that I had pene- 
trated to the moral of the tragedy. It was not 
for nothing that Dante placed adulterers in 
the circle of the tormented. The new inter- 
pretation of this part spread very quickly 
among cultivators of the Italian stage, and I 
received warm felicitations even from persons 


who were not known to me. At the end of 
the third act Adelaide Ristori gave me a kiss 
of admiration. At the end of the fourth the 
public, which by etiquette had been constrained 
to silence, called my companions and me many 
times before the curtain, and when the tragedy 
was completed it seemed as though the ovation 
would neverstop, and we wereobliged to repeat 
the play on the following night to content 
those who had not been able to obtain tickets 
for the first night. A marble slab in the vesti- 
buie of the pit commemorates in letters of gold 
this eventful performance. 

After a few days I returned to Naples, and 
when I appeared again on the stage my re- 
turn was applauded as a son is greeted when 
he comes back to his family — a most unusual 
thing in the theaters of Naples. The govern- 
ment had named me by decree a Knight of 
St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, and the artists of 
the Fiorentini Company united in a subscrip- 
tion to present me with the cross, hearing the 
following inscription on the back : 

To Tommaso Salvini, 

Prince of the Stage, 

His Companions in Art. 


You can imagine how pleased I was with 
this amiable proof of esteem and affection of- 
fered to me by my brothers in art. 


In 1863, while I was with the manager 
Antonio Stacchino, we had occasion to play a 
few times at the Teatro Carcano in Milan. 
One evening Humbert of Savoy, the son of 
Victor Emmanuel, who was sojourning at 
Monza, carne and stayed through the whole 
play. As I was on the point of going on the 
stage for the fourth act, an aide-de-camp of 
the prince, who is now a general, handed me 
a package, and said, " In the name of His 
Royal Highness." I thanked him hastily, put 
the package in my pocket, and went on to 
proceed with the act. When I carne off I 
hurried to my dressing-room and undid the 
packet, expecting to find some souvenir ; but 
it was money — ten napoleons in gold. I 
confess that at sight of it my pride was 
wounded. What was I to do? I did not 
care to refuse the gift, as I had done some 
time before with the Prince of Carignan, for 


fear of offending the son of our great king ; 
therefore I decided to keep the money, hoping 
that the future would give me an opportunity 
to clear myself of the suspicion of being a 
venal artist. In 1865 and 1866 I had the 
pleasure of enjoying the acquaintance of the 
estimable wife of Senator Vigliani, who was 
then prefect at Naples, an Englishwoman, 
highly educated, and an impassioned admirer 
of Shakspere. In the course of my visits I 
took occasion to refer to what had happened 
at Milan, and to express my sense of injury. 
The high-spirited lady was surprised, and 
seemed even to show real regret, and I could 
not doubt that she would speak of it to some 
frequenter of the Prince's court. One day 
when I was on the terrace of the prefecture 
with many gentlemen and ladies who had 
been invited to watch the passages of the 
masks, for it was carnival time, the same offi- 
cer who had placed the packet in my hands in 
Milan, and with whom I was on the footing 
of acquaintanceship, carne to my side and 
said, "Salvini, when do you take your bene- 
fit? " " Some night before long," I answered. 
" Let me know when the time comes," said 
he; "for His Royal Highness desires to be 


present." I announced " Francesca da Rim- 
ini " for my benefit, and the Prince, punctually, 
as is the habit in the House of Savoy, carne 
to the theater. On the morrow I received 
the following letter: 

Most esteemed Sir : His Royal Highness was greatly 
interested by the performance which took place yesterday 
evening, ióth instant, at the Teatro de' Fiorentini, and in 
which you gave nevv evidence of your powerful dramatic 
genius. The august Prince is full of admiration for an ar- 
tist who has had the ability to raise himself to your well- 
merited fame, and, desiring to give you a sincere attesta- 
tion of his particular esteem, he has taken satisfaction in 
intrusting to me the pleasant charge of presenting to you, 
in his august name, the pin in brilliants which I transmit 
to you with this note. It is a pleasure to me to be the in- 
terpreter of the kind feelings of His Royal Highness to- 
ward you; and I take advantage of the opportunity to 
assure you of my own very high consideration. The 
Major- General, ist aide-de-camp. . Revel. 

I opened the inclosure, and discovered on 
the pin beneath the royal crown the letters 
"U. S.," for Umberto Savoja. The Prince 
had had the delicacy to compensate me with 
usury for a mistake, very probably not his 
own ; and I could do no less than exclaim in 
my heart : " Viva Umberto ! Viva l'Arte ! " 


At this time it was my misfortune to see my 
illustrious and beloved colleague Clementina 
Cazzola waste away from day to day in the 
clutches of an incurable disease. The doctors 
pronounced that if the good creature persisted 
in the exercise of her art she would shorten 
her life, and she was constrained to retire 
from the stage in the hope that rest and quiet 
would conjure away the menace to her health. 
In her absence the whole weight of artistic 
responsibility at the Teatro de' Fiorentini fell 
upon me, and I put forth every effort of which 
I was capable to make the loss to the man- 
agement as light as possible. I was obliged 
to feign satisfaction while my heart was full 
of pain, and this throughout two years. I 
sought to quench my trials in my art, and 
while I was struggling between laughter and 
tears, art found profit in the combination of 
emotions due to my afflicted state. In that 
year, 1866, Paolo Giacometti delivered to me 
the tragedy of "Sofocle," which I had sug- 
gested to him, and in studying that sublime 
character I perceived that with the death of 
the protagonist I could identify my own af- 
flicting position. Sofocle dies at the moment 
when the crown of olive decreed by the 


Greek senate is brought to him, and when 
his sons return from the field to announce 
to him that the haughty Alcibiade, out 
of respect for the grand tragic poet, re- 
nounces his intended destruction of the 
necropolis where repose his ancestors; thus 
Sofocle is happy with the assurance of 
resting with his own. He dies surrounded 
by his family, honored and acclaimed by 
his fellow-citizens, while his nephew with 
his lyre chants in his stead the psean, the 
sacred hymn to the fatherland. He dies 
following the strains of that melody, un- 
consciously moving his fingers, and fancying 
that it is he who is singing the hymn of 
Athens to his lyre ; he dies with a smile on 
his lips, with joy in his heart — but he dies ! I, 
too, smiled, but in place of joy I had death 
in my heart. I, too, sang the hosanna, but 
the "De Profundis" held my soul. I, too, 
was filled with joy from the love and acclaim 
of my countrymen, and the relative posi- 
tions of the Hellenic poet and the Italian 
tragedian were so closely parallel that my 
rendering of his emotions could not but be 
true. A letter from the author, which I 
have preserved, will teli more eloquently than 


I could the effect produced by the play and 
its interpretation : 

My dear Tommaso : Thank you, my friend, for the 
fine account which you have kindly given me of the out- 
come of my "Sofocle"; thank you for the papers you 
have sent me, from which I should have formed an idea, 
if your letter had not been enough, of the reception given 
to my piece, as well as of your sublimity in acting it. I 
have not seen you, and who can teli when I shall see you, 
in the guise of the Homer of tragedy, and I am extremely 
sorry for it ; for if I had been present at the play I should 
have enjoyed one of those moments which are perhaps the 
only happy ones in an author's life, and I should have im- 
printed a fraternal kiss upon your forehead, which is glo- 
rified by the flame of genius. When an author offers his 
creation to an artist, and this artist who is to bring it before 
the world of letters receives it with a religious respect, 
meditates on it, and magnifies it, he acquires a sacred claim 
to the esteem and affection of the poet. To your worthy 
colleagues who, so far as I have seen by the accounts, 
have seconded you admirably well, I beg that you will 
give assurance of my gratitude. You did well to suppress 
a few verses which might have proved a clog upon the 
action or an obstacle to your conception ; and as to your 
idea of having a string of the lyre snap as Sofocle dies, 
there could be nothing either more opportune or more 
poetic: I compliment you upon it. I send you a kiss; 
and receive from my wife, with her most distinguished 
service, her grateful appreciation of the success of " So- 
focle." Yours always, 

Paolo Giacometti. 

Gazzuolo, Aprii io, 1866. 


Nothing worthy of telling happened to 
me in 1867. At the head of a company of 
artists of medium ability I traveled through 
the Italian cities, fìnding everywhere the sym- 
pathy of the public; this was satisfying to my 
pride, but the alarming condition of my ex- 
cellent colleague overwhelmed the triumphs 
of the artist. In 1868 I continued in the 
management of my company, with Virginia 
Marini as first actress, who in 1864, 1865, 
and 1866 had been with us at Naples, under 
my direction and the counsels of Clementina 
Cazzola. She had an iron will, unwearying 
application to study, surprising native tal- 
ent, with a sympathetic and harmonious voice, 
which caused to be overlooked her defect of 
unconscious imitation. 


In the summer of 1868 I was at the Poli- 
teama Theater in Florence with Virginia Ma- 
rini. Florence was then the provisionai capi- 
tal of the kingdom, and from King Victor 
Emmanuel down ali the notabilities of Italy 
had a standing appointment to meet in the 


evening at the Politeama. The king seemed 
to take much interest in my playing, for he 
did not stay away a single night. I have been 
asked which róles seemed to appeal most to 
him; they were Ingomar in the "Figlio delle 
Selve," Sansone in the tragedy of the same 
name, and Van Bruch in "Giosuè il Guarda- 
coste" — three strong, ardent, robust, loyal 
characters. It seemed as if he mirrored him- 
self in them; and when I passed near the 
royal box after having saluted the public, 
I would hear the voice of a stentor shout, 
"Bravo! Bravo!" It was the king. 

One evening, perhaps more pleased than 
usuai, he took from his finger a diamond ring, 
and commissioned the Marchese di Brem to 
bring it to me on the stage. The marquis 
said to me: " His Majesty begs you to accept 
this reminder of his royal admiration. You 
must prize it, for he has worn it for five years." 
A few days after this, at nine o'clock one morn- 
ing, my servant carne to my bedroom and told 
me that there was a gentleman in the draw- 
ing-room who desired to speak to me at once. 
I was a little vexed, and I said: "How? At 
this time of the morning? But I am stili in 
bed." Then I heard a voice calling from the 


next room: "Excuse me, Salvini; I am the 
Marchese di Brem, and I come from the king 
to say to you that His Majesty wishes to see 
you at once at the Pitti. Dress yourself as 
fast as you can, and I will wait at your door 
with the carriage." So I put on my dress- 
coat and went to the palace. The marquis 
accompanied me to the royal antechamber, 
where I found many people awaiting audi- 
ence, and, informing me that the officer on 
duty would cali my name, he left me with the 
words, "I warn you that His Majesty takes 
you for a republican." 

Among those who were waiting there were 
many diplomatists, ofncers of rank, the Gen- 
oese sculptor Varni, whom I knew, and a 
pretty young girl who did not mingle with the 
others, and whom I expected would be sum- 
moned first before the king. Soon two gen- 
erals, whose names I forget, carne out of the 
royal apartments, and I heard my name spoken 
by the officer at the door. I advanced to the 
door of the first room, after which there were 
five others to traverse before reaching His 
Majesty; and I saw at the end of the vista, as 
in a picture framed by the five doors, the form 
of Victor Emmanuel, who awaited my ap- 


proach withlegs and feetjoined, and his hands 
in the pockets of his wide trousers. When I 
reached the threshold of the last door, I halted, 
and in the position and with the military salute 
of a veteran, I said, "Your Majesty!" The 
king advanced toward me, and, extending his 
hand cordially, said: 

"My dear Salvini, I am very glad to see 
you and to know you personally." 

"Your Majesty," said I, "I am greatly 
flattered by the honor which Your Majesty 
does me." 

"My dear Salvini," said His Majesty, "a 
man of your merit flatters other people by 
his acquaintance." He took two cigars and 
offered one to me. "Do you smoke?" 

"Yes, Your Majesty. But I am an old 
corporal, and smoke only Tuscan cigars." 

"Light this one, and teli me what you 
think of it." He lighted a match and handed 
it to me to light a great Havana cigar; then 
he lighted his own, and approached a win- 
dow looking out on the Boboli Gardens. "I 
wanted to teli you hovv much I admire you 
as an artist. You are a republican, are you 

"Yes, Your Majesty. But when there are 


kings who are loyal, warlike, and honorable, 
like you, it is possible to be a constitution- 

"Thanks; thanks. It is very true that I 
live only for my nation. The battle-field is 
the post of my predilection. Politics cut the 
grass under my feet ; and sometimes, just as 
you say in the 'Figlio delle Selve,' 'I could 
rend the world,' I could rend the walls of 
my room. And I do not think that you have 
been a flatterer in calling me ' Re Galan- 
tuomo.' It seems to me that I am in truth 
that; but I could equally be a loyal pres- 
ident of your republic if I were not under 
the obligation of preserving a crown which 
has been transmitted to me, and which dates 
from centuries." 

"Your Majesty, no one contests that obli- 
gation ; but even if it were a burden for you, 
with your loyalty you would sustain it easily." 

"Thanks; thanks. For that matter, loyalty 
is traditional in the House of Savoy ; it is in 
the blood, and I have no merit in observing it 
and in causing it to be maintained." 

Up to this point ali the words of the dia- 
logue, spoken as we were both leaning on 
the front of the window, remain as if in- 


scribed in my memory, and I can be sure of 
their exactitude. I made several attempts to 
draw the conversation upon the needs of art, 
the necessity of providing for its restoration ; 
but when I sought to express my views, the 
king answered that the theater could not 
deteriorate since it had representatives like 
me, that my name was an honor to the 
country, that artists must spring up from my 
example ; in fine, with these praises he closed 
my mouth, and went back to politics. Among 
very many expressions which have escaped 
my mind one has remained with me, and its 
intimation has come true: that he would be 
content to die on the day when he had been 
able to set his foot in Rome. Can you, dear 
reader, teli me the motive of this frankness, 
of these royal confidences, to me, a dramatic 
artist? I have not yet succeeded in explain- 
ing it. Perhaps, under the impression of the 
strong and generous characters that I had 
been playing, he fancied that he was opening 
his mind to Sansone, to Ingomar, or to Vati 
Bruch; and when, in my hints about the 
needs of art, he was brought back to the 
prosaic Salvini, he changed the subject to get 
back to the atmosphere which gave him plea- 


sure. A good hour had passed, and my cigar 
was nearly finished, when I permitted myself 
to deplore the fate of the persons who on 
my account were waiting in the antecham- 
ber. Victor Emmanuel answered me: "Let 
them wait. You are certainly more occupied 
than they, and I do not believe that for that 
you wish to go away so soon." " I will go 
away," I answered, " when Your Majesty 
gives me the command." Upon this he ap- 
proached the writing-table, and taking up a 
packet, gave it to me, with the words: "Take 
this. I want you to have a souvenir of our 
acquaintance, and I hope that this will not be 
the last time that I shall have the pleasure of 
talking with you. I salute you." He again 
held out his hand to me, and I went away, 
saying: "I am at the orders of Your Ma- 
jesty." When I had reached the second 
room, I heard a loud ringing, and while the 
officer on service was advancing to the king, 
Victor Emmanuel called out behind me: "I 
shall see you this evening," informing me 
thus that he would come to the Politeama. 
I went back to my house charmed with the 
affable, frank, and familiar manner of the " Re 
Galantuomo." I opened the parcel which he 


had given me, and in it was a box with the 
royal cipher containing the cross of Officer 
of the Crown of Italy. A few days afterward 
a very different cross was fixed in my heart, 
a cross of strife and of mourning — Clemen- 
tina Cazzola was dead ! 


Convinced that, owing both to lack of pub- 
lic and government support, and to the grow- 
ing carelessness as to details among Italian 
managers and actors, dramatic art was suffer- 
ing a partial eclipse in Italy, after a tour in 
1869 in Spain and Portugal, which, owing to 
the very heavy expenses, and to the revolu- 
tionary movements in progress, produced but 
scanty returns, I decided to accept the offer 
of a respected South- American impresario. I 
was anxious to test the question whether in 
the New World work and study could look 
for an adequate reward; and I was attracted 
also by the foreign appreciation of my coun- 
try through the agency of art. 

The new company which I formed for the 
year 1871 was made up in part of artists who 


were in Florence at the time, and in part of 
others whom I knew by reputation. Isolina 
Piamonti, a clever and sympathetic actress, 
with a melodious voice and an attractive face; 
Signor and Signora Aiudi, with their daughter 
Pierina, who afterward became one of the 
best younger leading ladies on the stage; 
Lorenzo Piccinini, and Domenico Giagnoni, 
were my chief supporters, and with them I 
had twenty of lesser rank whom I need not 
name. This was a company which for South 
America might be called extremely good; it 
was certainly one of the best that had ever 
played in those countries. Before setting out, 
I gave twelve representations in Bologna, to 
get the company well organized and working 
in unison, selecting those plays which I meant 
to give in America. At the dose of the 
Lenten season, we ali went to Genoa, and 
embarked aboard the steamer Isabella. The 
cost of the voyage both ways for the entire 
company was paid by our impresario, Sefior 
Pestalardo of Buenos Ayres, with which city 
the South-American experience of our com- 
pany was to begin. The national festival fell 
just at the time when we were due at Buenos 
Ayres, and that of Montevideo was to be 


celebrateci during our stay there. Everything 
was well planned, organized, and provided 
for, so that the speculation could not fail; the 
impresario and I counted on sharing a hand- 
some profit, almost a fortune, as a result of 
the tour. 

It was my first voyage to America, the first 
time that I dared the ocean in a nutshell; 
and, whatever may be said, this experience 
must produce a certain impression upon any- 
body. Hardly had we entered the Gulf of 
Lyons, which is traditionally unkind to the 
sailor, when a tempest burst upon us, so 
furious that we carried away one of our 
masts, and had our sails torn to ribbons, and 
suffered some damage about the decks. Ali 
the passengers were compelled to keep below 
to avoid danger from the waves. I begged 
the captain's permission to remain awhile on 
the bridge to admire that imposing spectacle 
of irritated nature. To teli the truth, my 
desire to admire the fury of Neptune had 
only a secondary place in my mind. I was 
terrified at the idea of being drowned like a 
rat in my state-room berth, and I fostered the 
vain hope that since I was a very strong 
swimmer I might be able to save myself in 


the event of shipwreck. So far as I could, in 
the midst of the violent motion, and my alarm 
at the danger, I made my observations. 
What a magnificent spectacle it was ! The 
sky was veiled with impenetrable clouds; the 
sea was a confused mass of black velvet 
drapery with tufts of white lace, moved and 
changed in countless ways by the violent 
gusts, and hurled with a crash against the 
sides of our ship. The rain beat against my 
face, and the lamps shot fitful rays over the 
horrible but majestic scene, while the detona- 
tions of thunder, and the vivid gleams of the 
lightning, recalled to my mind the siege of 

At daybreak we found ourselves running 
in dangerous proximity to the African coast. 
The ship's prow was turned toward Gibraltar, 
and we made that port with difficulty. It re- 
quired three days to put the vessel in condi- 
tion to go to sea again. 


At Gibraltar I spent my time studying the 
Moors. I was much struck by one very fine 


figure, majestic in walk, and Roman in face, 
except for a slight projection of the lower lip. 
The man's color was between copper and 
coffee, not very dark, and he had a slender 
mustache, and scanty curled hair on his chin. 
Up to that time I had always made up 
Ot hello simply with my mustache, but after 
seeing that superb Moor I added the hair on 
the chin, and sought to copy his gestures, 
movements, and carriage. Had I been able 
I should have imitated his voice also, so 
closely did that splendid Moor represent to 
me the true type of the Shaksperian hero. 
Othello must have been a son of Mauritania, 
if we can argue from Iagds words to Rode- 
rigo: "He goes into Mauritania"; for what 
else could the author have intended to im- 
ply but that the Moor was returning to his 
native land? 


By reason of adverse winds and weather 
our voyage to Montevideo occupied forty-two 
days, and when the tender of the steamship 
company carne to meet us, it was with the 


melancholy announcement that yellow fever 
had broken out in Buenos Ayres, and that the 
death-rate was eight hundred a day. This 
was depressing news, especially to me who 
had submitted to the discomforts of so long a 
voyage, and had punctually paid my artists 
thirty per cent, above their regular salary, 
and ten francs of extra pay each, during a 
month and a half of idleness, in the hope of 
replenishing my greatly diminished exchequer 
with the fruits of my art. But much more 
than by my personal hardships, and the ex- 
penditure of a considerable sum, I was occu- 
pied by my responsibility for the safety of my 
companions, whom I had involuntarily led 
into this predicament. My impresario had 
taken refuge in the country beyond Buenos 
Ayres, and there was no way of communi- 
cating with that city, since the sanitary cor- 
don fenced it in, and the telegraph was in 
operation only for government service. I did 
not know a soul in the country, I did not 
speak the language, and for a moment I felt 
bewildered. On landing, I soon found my- 
self with Signor Sivori, a wealthy Genoese 
merchant, who had been commissioned by my 
impresario to place himself at my disposition 


and to be my guide and helper. The excel- 
lent man asked me whether I was in need of 
funds, but I answered him that I was in need 
of nothing but a theater. Sivori told me that 
that had been provided for as soon as the 
epidemie had appeared in Buenos Ayres, and 
that the Solis Theater, the best in Monte- 
video, was at my disposai. A day later our 
first announcement was issued ; but I am sure 
that the natives, when they read my name on 
the posters, asked themselves whether I was 
a tenor or a ballet-dancer. I opened with the 
" Morte Civile," and the next day there was 
no further question as to what I was. The 
newspapers and the Italian residents had 
made my quality public, and signs of general 
satisfaction were manifest. After the first 
night the theater was always crowded. It 
was the custom of the country to give only 
three representations a week, but I was re- 
quested to give four, to content those who 
wished to see me oftener. The house, at 
opera prices, could hold no more than about 
$3000 ; but for my benefit night the receipts 
were $4500, for everybody wanted boxes and 
orchestra chairs, and the best seats were at a 
premium. I received a great number of pres- 


ents, and wreaths and bouquets enough to 
cover the whole stage. 

In connection with this benefit at Monte- 
video occurred a rather curious episode. As 
I have said, King Victor Emmanuel had pre- 
sented me with a diamond which he had 
habitually worn. On account of my devotion 
to the " Re Galantuomo," I never took this 
off my finger, except in those cases in which 
artistic considerations forbade the wearing of 
it. One night when the " Morte Civile " was 
played, I had to take the ring off, because it 
would not have been proper to retain it in 
my character of a convict fleeing from prison, 
and, as was my custom, I placed it with my 
watch and chain at the back of my dressing- 
table. After the play a number of people 
carne to my room while I was dressing, to 
congratulate me, and my servant handed me 
my watch and chain, but forgot the ring. My 
attention was distracted by the conversation 
of so many people, and I did not notice the 
absence of the ring ; but when I carne to go 
to bed I perceived it, and sent my man to the 
theater to recover it. The keeper did not 
live in the building, and ali the doors of the 
theater were closed. The next morning my 


servant got up very early and hurried to 
the theater, but the sweepers had already put 
the actors' rooms in order, and my ring was 
no longer to be found. Had I lost my finger 
I should not have felt more lively regret. I 
lodged a complaint with the police, and sev- 
eral persons were arrested ; I had notices 
posted promising a liberal reward ; I had the 
form of the diamond lithographed with a de- 
scription of the ring, and sent copies to ali 
the jewelers of America and Europe ; but I 
got no word of it, and never recovered it. Ali 
Montevideo talked of this unfortunate acci- 
dent. On my benefit night, while I was re- 
ceiving the ovations of the public, and was 
almost buried in the flowers that were thrown 
to me, a beautiful child of five or six years 
advanced with a silver salver in his hand, and 
held out to me a small object which was 
upon it. As I bent down to kiss the little 
fellow, a quantity of flowers thrown from a 
box struck the salver, and caused the little 
packet to fall, and I lost sight of it in the 
mass of flowers. The curtain fell, and while 
the audience was demanding me before the 
curtain a number of people from the wings 
swarmed around me to find the object which 

*-i - ~ 



had gone astray ; but I was distrustful on ac- 
count of my previous loss, and shouted in a 
loud voice : " Off the stage, ali of you ! " My 
imperious and threatening command caused 
the stage to be evacuated at once, while the 
little child who had brought the gift fled, ter- 
rified and weeping. I began a search alone 
among the flowers, and I soon found the 
object, whìch had fallen out of its box. It 
proved to be a very beautiful brilliant, to 
which was attached a card with the words : 

You have lost the ring of a King ; 
The Republicans of Montevideo restore it to you. 

The kind thought gave me great pleasure, 
and the ring was superb; stili it could not re- 
place that which had been stolen. 

During our stay of two months at Monte- 
video the epidemie at Buenos Ayres ceased, 
and communication was reopened. Shortly 
afterward I announced our last appearance, 
with "Giosuè il Guardacoste" ("Joshua the 
Coast-guard"). Ali the arrangements were 
made with the steamer America to carry the 
company to Buenos Ayres, whence no sani- 
tary bulletins had been issued for two weeks. 


So lively was the sympathy felt for me by 
ali classes that on my farewell night the au- 
dience was not like the public paying hom- 
age to an artist: it was an affectionate family 
which saw with grief the departure of a well- 
loved member. In the midst of the applause 
and bravi, I distinguished the cry as if with 
one voice: "Otravez! Otravez/" ("Once 
more! Once more!"), with the sense that I 
should stay one night more to repeat my last 
play; and there was no way of stopping this 
cry until I had expressed my formai consent. 
I secured a delay of twenty-four hours from 
the management of the steamship company, 
so that I should not miss my engagement at 
Buenos Ayres. On the morning following 
this final representation, two hours before our 
sailing-time, as I was preparing my small 
private baggage, I heard a confused sound 
in the distance, mingled with martial strains, 
coming from several directions. As I ar- 
ranged the objects upon my toilet-table I said 
to myself: "It remains to be seen whether 
there is some commoLon which will prevent 
us from getting off!" In a little while two 
gentlemen presented themselves, one an Ital- 
ian, the other a native, in dress-coats and 


white cravats and gloves, and requested the 
favor of accompanying me on board the 
America. I accepted with pleasure, but I 
could not make out the occasion of this re- 
quest. The Italian then told me: "The 
citizens of Montevideo with the resident 
Italian colony, of whom we are the delegates, 
wish the honor and pleasure of accompanying 
you to the steamer." I then first understood 
that I was the object of a popular demon- 
stration, and I answered the gentlemen that 
I was at their orders. I left the baggage to 
my servant, and descended the stairs with the 
two delegates, one on each side of me. 

When I reached the Street two bands struck 
up, and a great shout of "Viva Salvini!" arose 
from the throats of a crowd numbering thou- 
sands. The streets through which I was to 
pass were strewn with flowers, the windows 
were hung with draperies, and filled with 
ladies and children, who threw down flowers ; 
as to the men, they were either in the proces- 
sion, or standing at the doors of their houses, 
holding their hats in the air and shouting. 
Our advance was very slow on account of the 
immense crowd which packed the streets, and 
although I was surrounded by an escort of 


gentlemen who requested the people to make 
way for me, we were often compelled to stop, 
our path being wholly blocked. At short in- 
tervals a pause was made, while addresses 
were read to me in Spanish or Italian. When 
the reading stopped, the cheers would begin 
again, and in this way we at last reached the 
mole, upon which had been erected during 
the night a large arch of greens and flowers, 
under which I had to pass. But first ali the 
addresses were presented to me engrossed on 
parchment, and the people wanted to place 
around my body an enormous wreath tied 
with the colors of Italy and of Uruguay. It 
was not possible for me to walk with this 
rather voluminous decoration on my back, 
and I passed under the triumphal arch car- 
rying the wreath in my hands, with the aid 
of the citizen delegates. Two tugs dressed 
with flags were waiting to take me out to the 
America. The bands and many citizens went 
on board of one, and with the two delegates 
I embarked on the other. At my side I found 
old Signor Sivori, with tears in his eyes! Be- 
fore proceeding to the America the two tugs 
steamed around the harbor, passing alongside 
ali the men-of-war of various nations which 


were stationed at Montevideo. The sailors 
manned the yards, and the officers were drawn 
up on the quarter-decks, and ali cheered while 
their flags were dipped in salute. The Amer- 
ica sounded her whistle to summon her pas- 
sengers on board, and then a thunderous 
shout arose from the mole ; it was the part- 
ing greeting of the people of Montevideo. I 
went aboard the America with my head whirl- 
ing from so great a manifestation of esteem, 
and I found my colleagues so full of excite- 
ment and emotion that they embraced and 
kissed me. 


At Buenos Ayres I found the populace 
saddened by the recent epidemie (which had 
not left a single family unscathed), and in 
need of distraction and of breathing an at- 
mosphere of less depression, and the Teatro 
Colon was always filled. Almost ali the boxes 
were closed with gratings, for the families in 
mourning did not wish to be deprived of the 
pleasure of the theater, but did not care to 
appear openly; so it seemed as if I were play- 


ing in a convent or a harem. I heard people 
applauding me, but I could not see them. In 
success and financial returns, Buenos Ayres 
was not behind Montevideo ; but we lost the 
national festivals in both cities — occasions 
which are always highly profitable to a thea- 
ter. From Buenos Ayres I went to Rio de 
Janeiro, where I was disappointed in not find- 
ing the Emperor Dom Pedro, who was trav- 
eling in Europe. Nevertheless the Princess 
Regent, daughter of the Emperor, did not 
miss a single night at our theater, and on the 
evening of my benefit she had me summoned 
to her box, and presented to me a beautiful 
solitaire, which was handed to me by her 
consort, the Comte d'Eu. She honored me 
with an invitation to the imperiai palace, and 
I found her of the most exquisite amiability. 
I met no actor of distinction in South 
America. The theaters were busy with zar- 
zuele, as bouffe operas are called in Spanish, 
and these they gave with much spirit and 
correctness. The audiences show interest, as 
do ali those of the Latin races, but they are 
much quieter than in Italy. They rise easily 
to enthusiasm, and as easily forget their im- 



After the dose of my tour in South Amer- 
ica, I returned to Italy, having signed an 
agreement for the carnival-season at the 
Teatro Valle in Rome. I had some time to 
spare, so I gave first a few performances at 
Bologna and at Naples. 

It was, I believe, at about this time that the 
proposition was made to me that I should 
play Pylades, in Alfieri's " Oreste," with Er- 
nesto Rossi. I have always been delighted at 
an opportunity to join forces with artists of 
real worth, and I accepted the offer with the 
greatest pleasure, ali the more so because the 
part of Pylades, in my opinion, has the ad- 
vantage of lending itself to the production of a 
great effect with comparatively light fatigue. 
Be very sure of your lines, keep under con- 
trol any exuberance in your vocal power, 
mark the positions liberally, accentuate your 
phrasing in just measure, hold the interest 
and curiosity of your audience by the play of 
your expression, be naturai and simple while 
yet maintaining the dignity of the buskin, and 
the part of Pylades is mastered. I had be- 


fore this seen Ernesto Rossi in other parts of 
the highest importance, such as Paolo in 
" Francesca da Rimini," Romeo, and Hamlet. 
There was a time when, in the last of these 
parts, the Italian public considered him as 
superior to ali others who had essayed it. 
Whether this judgment was right or wrong, 
it is indubitable that in that róle he satisfìed 
the canons of Italian taste more perfectly 
than those of the Anglo-Saxon. While he 
was stili young, his sympathetic face and his 
voice were well adapted to Shakspere's ec- 
centric personage, as, indeed, to ali róles in 
which the passion of love was dominant. I 
do not believe there ever was an artist who 
could pronounce the words, " I love you ! " 
as Ernesto Rossi said them. The word 
"love" sounded well on his lips, but that of 
" rage " seemed astonished to fall from them, 
and out of place. Impassioned characters 
found in him an innate comprehension, but 
he could not sink himself sufficiently in such 
as were virile and imposing ; this was from 
no defect in his ability, but owing to lack of 
naturai aptitude for such parts. Many of the 
parts which he played, and which won re- 
nown for him, were by his fine and keen in- 


tellect, and by his unwearied study, fashioned 
and polished like a diamond. The cutting of 
the gem was perfect, its rays projected their 
multiform colors and dazzled and charmed ; 
yet it could not be maintained that it was of 
pure water. It had a faint Straw tinge, in- 
distinguishable except to experts, but visible 
to the experienced, to the intelligent, and to 
careful analysts, and this almost impercepti- 
ble tinge was the fact that the art did not 
sufficiently conceal the man. Very frequently 
the man himself would be betrayed in a ges- 
ture, or an expression, or in the voice. While 
the audience was impressed by the actor's in- 
numerable endowments, and had before its 
eyes the very personage and passion that he 
was portraying, of a sudden its illusion would 
vanish, and it would be reminded of the man 
who was playing a part, who was studying 
his inflections, and designing his motions. 
In Ernesto Rossi this small defect is like a 
mole on the face of a beautiful woman, which 
may even be looked upon as a charm. 



After a few months of rest, I resolved to 
get together a new company, selecting those 
actors and actresses who were best suited 
to my repertory. The excellent Isolina 
Piamonti was my leading lady ; and my bro- 
ther Alessandro, an experienced, conscien- 
tious, and versatile artist, supported me. An 
Italian theatrical speculator proposed to me 
a tour in North America, to include the chief 
cities of the United States ; and although I 
hesitated not a little on account of the igno- 
rance of the Italian language prevailing in 
that country, I accepted, influenced somewhat 
by my desire to visit a region which was 
wholly unknown to me. Previous to cross- 
ing the ocean I had several months before 
me, and these served me to get my company 
in training. 

My first impressions of New York were 
most favorable. Whether it was the benefit 
of a more vivifying atmosphere, or the com- 
fort of the national life, or whether it was 
admiration for that busy, industrious, work- 
loving people, or the thousands of beautiful 


women whom I saw in the streets, free and 
proud in carriage, and healthy and lively in 
aspect, or whether it was the thought that 
these citizens were the great-grandchildren 
of those high-souled men who had known 
how to win with their blood the independence 
of their country, I felt as if I had been born 
again to a new existence. My lungs swelled 
more freely as I breathed the air impregnated 
with so much vigor and movement, and so 
much liberty, and I could fancy that I had 
come back to my life of a youth of twenty, 
and was treading the streets of republican 
Rome. With a long breath of satisfaction 
I said to myself: "Ah, here is life !" Within 
a few days my energy was redoubled. A 
lively desire of movement, not a usuai thing 
with me, had taken possession of me in spite 
of myself. Without asking myself why, I 
kept going here and there, up and down, to 
see everything, to gain information ; and 
when I returned to my rooms in the evening, 
I could have set out again to walk stili more. 
This taught me why Americans are so un- 
wearied and full of business. Unfortunately I 
have never mastered English sufficiently to 
converse in that tongue; had I possessed that 


privilege, perhaps my stay in North America 
would not have been so short, and perhaps I 
might have figured on the English stage. 
What an enjoyment it would have been to 
me to play Shakspere in English ! But I have 
never had the privilege of the gift of tongues, 
and I had to content myself with my own 
Italian, which is understood by but few in 
America. This, however, mattered little; 
they understood me ali the same, or, to put 
it better, they caught by intuition my ideas 
and my sentiments. 

My first appearance was in " Othello." 
The public received a strong impression, 
without discussing whether or not the means 
which I used to cause it were acceptable, and 
without forming a clear conception of my in- 
terpretation of that character, or pronouncing 
openly upon its form. The same people who 
had heard it the first night returned on the 
second, on the third, and even on the fourth, 
to make up their minds whether the emotions 
they experìenced resulted from the novelty of 
my interpretation, or whether in fact it was 
the true sentiment of Othello s passions which 
was transmitted to them — in short, whether it 
was a mystification or a revelation. By de- 


grees the public became convinced that those 
excesses of jealousy and fury were appro- 
priate to the son of the desert, and that one 
of southern blood must be much better quali- 
fied to interpret them than a northerner. The 
judgment was discussed, criticized, disputed ; 
but in the end the verdict was overwhelmingly 
in my favor. When the American has once 
said " Yes," he never weakens ; he will always 
preserve for you the same esteem, sympathy, 
and affection. After New York I traveled 
through a number of American cities — Phila- 
delphia, Baltimore, Pittsburg, Washington, 
and Boston, which is rightly styled the 
Athens of America, for there artistic taste 
is most refined. In Boston I had the good 
fortune to become intimately acquainted with 
the illustrious poet Longfellow, who talked to 
me in the pure Tuscan. I saw, too, other 
smaller cities, and then I appeared again in 
New York, where the favor of the public was 
confirmed, not only for me, but also for the ar- 
tists of my company, and especially for Isolina 
Piamonti, who received no uncertain marks 
of esteem and consideration. We then pro- 
ceeded to Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, 
Buffalo, Toledo, and that pleasant city, De- 


troit, continuing to Chicago, and finally to 
New Orleans. I reached New Orleans at 
carnival time, and, in a masked procession in 
which ali nations were represented, I was 
revolted and offended to see Italy figuring as 
Pope Pius IX. giving his benediction to a 
band of brigands, who with their daggers in 
their teeth were kneeling at the Holy Father's 
feet. I was so much disgusted by this of- 
fensive and repulsive travesty, due to the 
suggestion of some renegade, as well as by 
the unpardonable ignorance of the carnival 
committee, that I could not refrain from pub- 
lishing a letter of protest, over my signature, 
in which I said : 

Italy for true Italians should be represented by Victor 
Emmanuel, by Gioberti, Cavour, and Garibaldi. Every 
good Italian must repel, protest against, and despise this 
insult offered to a nation which, by its antique traditions, 
and by its recent deeds, deserves the respect and the ad- 
miration of the civilized world ; and we are sure of finding 
an echo of adhesion to this sentiment among the American 
people, which is accustomed to render homage and justice 
to ali that is noble and generous. 

Italians congratulated me, the press kept 
silence, and the people remained indifferent ; 
and so the matter was forgotten. This was 


the only disagreeable experience of this tour 
in America. 

From New Orleans we sailed to Havana, 
but found in Cuba civil war, and a people 
that had but small appetite for serious things, 
and was moreover alarmed by a light out- 
break of yellow fever. One of my company 
was taken down with the disease, but I had 
the pleasure of seeing him recover. Luckily 
he had himself treated by Havanese physi- 
cians, who are accustomed to combat that 
malady, which they know only too well. 
Perhaps my comrade would have lost his life 
under the ministrations of an Italian doctor. 
In the city of sugar and tobacco, too, it was 
" Othello" which carried off the palm. Those 
good manufacturers of cigars presented me 
on my benefit with boxes of their wares, 
which were made expressly for me, and 
which I despatched to Italy for the enjoy- 
ment of my friends. In spite of the many 
civilities which were tendered to me, in spite 
of considerable money profit, and of the ova- 
tions of its kind-hearted people, I did not 
find Cuba to my taste. Sloth and luxury 
reign there supreme. 

I returned from Cuba to the United States, 


and gave five performances in Philadelphia 
and ten in New York, after which we went 
to Rio de Janeiro on the steamer Ontario, a 
voyage of twenty-eight days. We stopped 
on the way at St. Thomas, and at Para, on 
the great river Amazon. A short time after 
our voyage, the Ontario was lost with ali her 
passengers and crew. My good star has al- 
ways followed me, and in the innumerable 
journeys undertaken during the long period 
of my travels I have never had to lament an 


The Dom Pedro Theater of Rio de Janeiro 
was the first scene of our activity. The au- 
spicious season, the freedom from epidemie, 
and the certain presence of the Emperor 
Dom Pedro d'Alcantara, who had returned 
from his travels in Europe, were most favor- 
able, both to the brilliancy of our artistic 
success, and to our financial profit. The 
Emperor had me often at his palace in the 
city, and invited me to a lunch at the country 
palace of Petropolis, where I saw the Em- 
press, to whom I could give no greater plea- 


sure than to talk of her dear Naples. The 
affability, kindness, and learning of Dom 
Pedro are well known. He was a perfect 
polyglot, and conversed with me in unim- 
peachable Italian ; the Empress stili spoke 
with the Neapolitan accent. I played ten 
times at the Dom Pedro, and then I changed 
to the Fluminense Theater, which was in- 
tended for opera, and there I appeared eight 
times more, with a constantly growing afflu- 
ence of spectators. On my days off, I en- 
joyed visiting the enchanting suburbs of the 
city, and I formed the opinion that the real 
America is in Brazil. There Nature bestows 
her gifts with abundance, and ali growth is 
luxuriantly rank. The trees are as high as 
our campanili, the roses are as large as pine- 
apples, the birds display a thousand hues, 
the sky is always serene, the men are cour- 
teous, the women most amiable, and even the 
negroes are more docile and civilized than in 
their native land. The climate, alas ! leaves 
much to be desired, and if a European is not 
careful to lead a hygienic and well-regulated 
life, he runs the risk of leaving his bones 
there. I was under contract to go to Chile, 
but during my stay in Brazil negotiations 


were concluded arranging for a few appear- 
ances on the way at Montevideo, and at 
Buenos Ayres. I gave twelve nights more 
at Montevideo at the Solis Theater, for 
which the house was taken by storm. For 
my benefit the boxes and the best places 
were put up at auction, and nearly twice the 
proceeds of the regular prices was taken in. 
The theater managers each made $2500 for 
their own account. The people insisted upon 
my remaining at Montevideo through ali the 
time that I had destined for Buenos Ayres, 
and I consented the more readily because 
in the latter city there was some appear- 
ance of politicai disturbance, which soon de- 
veloped into civil war. The opera, which 
had suspended at the Solis Theater to make 
room for me, had to wait, under an in- 
demnity, for two weeks more before open- 
ing again. I paid ^1000 sterling to the 
administration of the English steamers for 
the voyage and return of my company from 
Montevideo to Valparaiso, and, traversing 
the Straits of Magellan, in eleven days we 
were in Chile. I should not be frank if I 
said that the Chileans received us with en- 
thusiasm. Both at Valparaiso and at San- 


tiago I had a succès d'estinte, little more, 
and our business was light, but yet covered 
the large expenses of so costly a journey. 
The returns, however, did not compensate for 
the trouble of going there, especially as we 
were shut out of Perù by one of the numer- 
ous revolutions. 

Upon my return I arranged to give a fare- 
well appearance at Montevideo. On the 
morning of my arrivai fourteen persons lay 
dead in the Plaza de la Matrice, as an accom- 
paniment to the presidential elections. Our 
play was given, notwithstanding, and to a 
splendid house. This ended my engage- 
ment^ with the company, and I pursued the 
voyage on the same English steamer to Bor- 
deaux, while my companions took the Italian 


In Paris I found a letter from the impre- 
sario Maplespn, who proposed that I should 
go to London with an Italian company, and 
play at Drury Lane on the off-nights of the 
opera. I was in doubt for a considerable 
time whether to challenge the verdict of the 


British public ; but in two weeks after reach- 
ing Italy, by dint of telegrams I had got to- 
gether the force of artists necessary, and I 
presented myself with arms and baggage in 
London, in the spring of 1875. 

Hardly had I arrived, when I noticed the 
posting, on the bill-boards of the city, of the 
announcement of the seventy-second night 
of "Hamlet" at the Lyceum Theater, with 
Henry Irving in the title róle. I had con- 
tracted with Mapleson to give only three 
plays in my season, " Othello," the " Gladi- 
ator," and " Hamlet," the last having been in- 
sisted upon by Mapleson himself, who, as 
a speculator, well knew that curiosity as to a 
comparison would draw the public to Drury 


I was very anxious to see the illustrious 
English artist in that part, and I secured a 
box and went to the Lyceum. I was recog- 
nized by nobody, and remaining as it were 
concealed in my box, I had a good oppor- 
tunità to satisfy my curiosity. I arrived at the 
theater a little too late, so that I missed the 


scene of Hamlet in presence of the ghost of 
his father — the scene which in my judgment 
contains the clue to that strange character, 
and from which ali the synthetic ideas of 
Hamlet are developed. I was in time to hear 
only the last words of the oath of secrecy. I 
was struck by the perfection of the stage 
setting. There was a perfect imitation of the 
effect of moonlight, which at the proper times 
flooded the stage with its rays or left it in 
darkness. Every detail was excellently and 
exactly reproduced. The scene was shifted, 
and Hamlet began his allusions, his sallies of 
sarcasm, his sententious sayings, his points 
of satire with the courtiers who sought to 
study and to penetrate the sentiments of the 
young prince. In this scene Irving was 
simply sublime. His mobile face mirrored 
his thoughts. The subtle penetration of his 
phrases, so perfect in shading and incisive - 
ness, showed him to be a master of art. I do 
not believe there is an actor who can stand 
beside him in this respect, and I was so much 
impressed by it, that at the end of the second 
act I said to myself, "I will not play Hamlet! 
Mapleson can say what he likes, but I will 
not play it " ; and I said it with the fullest 


resolution. In the monologue, "To be, or 
not to be," Irving was admirable; in the 
scene with Ophelia he was deserving of the 
highest praise ; in that of the Players he was 
moving, and in ali this part of the play he ap- 
peared to my eyes to be the most perfect 
interpreter of that eccentric character. But 
further on it was not so, and for the sake of 
art I regretted it. From the time when the 
passion assumes a deeper hue, and reasoning 
moderates impulses which are forcibly curbed, 
Irving seemed to me to show mannerism, and 
to be lacking in power, and strained ; and it is 
not in him alone that I find this fault, but in 
nearly ali foreign actors. There seems to be 
a limit of passion within which they remain 
true in their rendering of nature ; but beyond 
that limit they become transformed, and take 
on conventionality in their intonations, exag- 
geration in their gestures, and mannerism in 
their hearing. I left my box saying to my- 
self, " I too can do Hamlet, and I will try 
it ! " In some characters Irving is exception- 
ally fine. I am convinced that it would be 
difhcult to interpret Shylock or Mephistopheles 
better than he. He is most skilful in putting 
bis productions on the stage ; and in addition 


to his intelligence he does not lack the power 
to communicate his counsels or his teachings. 
Withal he is an accomplished gentleman in 
society, and is loved and respected by his fel- 
low-citizens, who justly look upon him as a 
glory to their country. He should, however, 
for his own sake, avoid playing such parts as 
Romeo and Macbeth, which are not adapted 
to his somewhat scanty physical and vocal 


The traditions of the English drama are 
imposing and glorious ! Shakspere alone has 
gained the highest pinnacle of fame in dra- 
matic art. He has had to interpret him such 
great artists as Garrick, Kemble, Kean, Ma- 
cready, Siddons, and Irving ; and the literary 
and dramatic critics of the whole world have 
studied and analyzed both author and actors. 
At present, however, tragedy is abandoned 
on almost ali the stages of Europe. Actors 
who devote themselves to tragedy, whether 
classical, romantic, or historical, no longer 
exist. Society comedy has overflowed the 
stage, and the inundation causes the seed to 


rot which more conscientious and prudent 
planters had sown in the fields of art. It is 
desirable that the feeling and taste for the 
works of the great dramatists should be re- 
vived in Europe, and that England, which is 
for special reasons, and with justice, proud of 
enjoying the primacy in dramatic composition, 
should have also worthy and famous actors. 
I do not understand why the renown and 
prestige of the great name of Garrick do not 
attract modem actors to follow in his foot- 
steps. Do not teli me that the works of 
Shakspere are out of fashion, and that the 
public no longer wants them. Shakspere is 
always new — so new that not even yet is he 
understood by everybody; and if, as they say, 
the public is no longer attracted by his plays, 
it is because they are superficially presented. 
To win the approvai of the audience, a daz- 
zling and conspicuous mise en scène does not 
suffice, as some seem to imagine, to make up 
deficiency in interpretation ; a more profound 
study of the characters represented is indis- 
pensable. If in art you can join the beautiful 
and the good, so much the better for you ; 
but if you give the public the alternative, it 
will always prefer the good to the beautiful. 



My season in London was a real event. 
The London public had very great attrae - 
tions both at Drury Lane and at Covent 
Garden. At the former such celebrated ar- 
tists as Nilsson and Tietjens, with the tenors 
Campanini and Fancelli, and the basso Nan- 
netti, were singing in " Lohengrin," " Fi- 
delio," and "Lucia di Lammermoor " ; at 
Covent Garden, Patti and the barytone Co- 
togni were delighting their hearers with " La 
Traviata," " Dinorah," and the " Barbiere di 
Siviglia." I was acting at Drury Lane on 
the three alternate nights when opera was 
not given. Whether it was the novelty, or 
that "Othello" had not been played for a 
long time, or merely one of the anomalies 
of the public, which, when it has once set 
its face in any direction, can with difficulty 
be made to change, Drury Lane was crowded 
on the nights when I played Othello. The 
Prince of Wales did me the honor to summon 
me to his box to assure me of his admiration. 
The celebrated poet Browning proved his 
friendship by securing my admission as a 


guest to the Athenaeum Club. The Garrick 
Club and the Arts Club tendered me a re- 
ception, and granted me honorary member- 
ship. I went to cali upon the diva Patti, 
who was surrounded by the most select so- 
ciety, on one of her reception-days, and she 
had the courtesy to make me " this compli- 
ment: "Do you know, Salvini, that I am 
a little jealous of you ? " 

Between Aprii i and July 16, 1875, I gave 
" Othello" thirty times, the " Gladiator" four 
times, and " Hamlet " on my last ten appear- 
ances. The last play gave the final touch 
to my reputation ; to this a few lines which 
I had from Robert Browning will testify. 
After playing Hamlet I expressed to him my 
reeret that I had not been able to attain in 
that róle ali that I had aimed at; and he 
answered me : 

My dear Salvini : I do not know whether what you 
say to me is true about the chords of tenderness which 
you lacked, or which failed to respond to the touch, in 
your first representation of " Hamlet." But this I know, 
that during your play on Friday the entire lyre of tragedy 
resounded magnificently. Ever yours, 

Robert Browning. 

I left behind in London many genial ac- 
quaintances and enduring friendships, besides 


a sincere affection for a young orphan girl 
who became my wife in the course of that 
year. I went away with much regret, but 
with the hope of returning to England for 
the long season of the following year. 


I returned to Italy well satisfied with my 
first experience in London, and I arranged 
with Colonel Mapleson for a tour in England 
to begin March 1, 1876, to include the chief 
cities outside of London, and the season in 
the capital itself. My new wife was unable 
to accompany me on the journey which had 
previously been arranged, and she remained 
in Florence. I visited Newcastle, Manches- 
ter, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, 
Belfast, and Birmingham, and on May 15 
I appeared again in London, at the Queen's 
Theater, which has since been pulled down. 
Mr. Mapleson certainly was not fortunate 
in his choice of so obscure a theater ; yet 
our performance of " Othello " drew, even 
if under difficulties, a public generous of ap- 
plause. After the seventh repetition of the 
Moor of Venice I fell seriously ili, tortured 


by a carbuncle between the shoulder-blades, 
which gave me intense suffering. For sev- 
enteen days I could not dose my eyes, and 
when wearied nature could no longer resist 
sleep, the lancinating spasms of my torment 
counterbalanced the refreshment. The Prince 
of Wales showed me the thoughtful atten- 
tion of sending me his own physician, who 
after consultation declared that my days were 
numbered. Fortunately he was mistaken ; 
but the gloomy opinion spread, and several 
newspapers mentioned it. My sole anxiety 
was the fear that it would reach my wife's 
ears; and to prevent her from setting out to 
join me, and spare her the fatigues of the 
journey and a great anxiety, which would 
surely have been injurious to her in her con- 
dition, I sent her word that a severe attack 
of rheumatism in my right shoulder pre- 
vented me from writing to her with my own 
hand. In this state of affairs I saw that even 
if I were to get well I should be an invalid 
for several months, and I determined to dis- 
charge my company and shoulder the finan- 
cial loss. Although my doctor sought to 
console me with hopeful words, from the im- 
pression betrayed by my dear and good 


friends who carne to see me, I was con- 
vinced that ali was over with me. Some of 
them had hardly entered the room and 
caught sight of me, when they fled without 
speaking, covering their eyes with their 
hands, and making other manifestations of 

Fate willed that my illness should gradu- 
ally assume a less alarming character; and 
after three days, during which I was given 
up, the doctor declared that the danger was 
past, but that I should have to undergo, as 
I had anticipated, a long convalescence. My 
appetite returned a little, I was able to keep 
up my strength with good wine, and soon 
I was assured that I should live to see again 
my family and my native land. As soon as 
I could stand on my feet, I arranged every- 
thing for my departure. I stopped for two 
days in Paris to rest. Ristori, who was stay- 
ing in that capital with her family, had pre- 
viously invited me to spend a day with her, 
and she was astonished at my emaciation 
and at the alteration in my features. When 
at last I reached Florence, I had to explain 
everything to my wife, who gave herself up 
to a torrent of tears at the thought of my 


dariger, and of how she had been cut off 
from succoring me in this painful experience. 


After a period of rest with my family at 
San Marcello and Antiguano, I returned to 
Florence with my health perfectly regained, 
and with ali my former energy, and formed 
a new company with the purpose of going 
to Austria and Germany. To secure the 
applause of a public accustomed to weigh 
in the balance artists as conscientious, as 
thoughtful, and as philosophic as the Ger- 
mans was a prize not to be despised, and I 
desired to win it. On February 22, 1877, I 
opened at the Ring Theater in Vienna, with 
the indispensable "Othello"; and although 
the audience, with a few exceptions, did not 
understand a word I uttered, I flattered my- 
self that I was received with favor. This 
confusion of tongues, which, as we are 
taught, God brought about as a punishment 
upon the builders of the Tower of Babel, 
might, one would think, be revoked after so 
many years, so that ali might use one lan- 


guage. But this is not to be ! To-day 
every ignorant person speaks one language ; 
one who respects himself must be master of 
two ; an educateci man must know three or 
four; and a learned man is necessarily a 
polyglot. Yet it seems to me that ali the 
time that must be spent in the study of lan- 
guage is wasted, and that it could be given 
much more fruitfully to the acquisition of the 
sciences. I envy those who can learn many 
tongues with ease, for this gift has never de- 
veloped in me ; and in Vienna, particularly, 
because of this, I suffered some embarrass- 
ment. We Italians have, however, a facil- 
ity in making ourselves understood without 
speaking, supplying the lack of words by 
gestures, and by the mobility of our expres- 
sion, and by these means I was often able to 
unravel difficulties. The most lively interest 
in my playing was shown by the artists of 
the Burg Theater, some of whom I had the 
pleasure of knowing intimately ; and I shall 
always cherish the recollection of the cour- 
tesies which I received from Sonnenthal, 
Lewinsky, Mitterwusser, and the clever and 
amiable wife of the last. The Viennese are 
full of enthusiasm for the arts ; they honor 


and appreciate highly any one who rises 
above mediocrity, and give expression to 
their sentiments by the nightly homage to 
their favorite artists of a profusion of flowers 
and wreaths. I made such a collection of 
souvenirs that my lodgings were hardly large 
enough to hold them ali. The press was 
unusually favorable to me, and from the 
translations which I procured of the articles 
concerning me I found that little or nothing 
had escaped appreciation of ali that I had 
expected would be lost on account of my for- 
eign idiom. I do not refer to the praises 
which were addressed to me, but to the de- 
tailed studies of my conceptions. There 
were just observations, judgments seriously 
weighed, urbane and dignified criticisms, and 
praise unmarred by exaggeration : nothing 
could be more correct, more wise, more con- 

The German actors have one most valu- 
able quality — that of studying much, a fea- 
ture which in general is wanting in us 
Italians, for we are wont to fancy that we 
have done much study when in fact our prep- 
aration is stili insufficient. The Germans are 
more patient in application; they investigate 



with accuracy the personage whom they are 
to play, and they lead ali the actors of the 
world in their talent for merging their own 
personality in that of their róle. It may be 
that they are somewhat lacking in life, that 
they do not rise to the feverish heights of 
passion, but always remain cairn and col- 
lected ; but what harmony and precision in 
the whole ! One might imagine that they 
were guided by a mathematical study, as it 
were, of their art, and that they had under- 
taken to put it into methodical practice. 
From this come that unison, that evenness 
of the whole, which have earned sudi high 
encomiums for the Meininger Company. 
The great actress Wolter, the Ristori of the 
North, by her intellectual qualities stands in 
the first rank among the actresses of the 
century. In talent and penetration, and in 
identification of herself with her róles, she is 
second to none, and she is not wanting in a 
spark of genius to illuminate her carefully 
elaborated interpretations. 

I remained at Vienna from February 22 
to Aprii 8, and played twenty-five times 
in "Othello," "Hamlet," " Macbeth," the 
"Gladiator," the "Morte Civile," "David 


Garrick," and " Ingomar." I made the ac- 
quaintance of the author of the last very 
beautiful and interesting composition, Baron 
von Bellinhausen, who wrote under the pseu- 
donym of F. Halm, and he was kind enough 
to declare me his most successful interpreter. 
If you can only succeed in an enterprise, 
your temerity in having attempted it will 
always be condoned ; and it was in truth 
a temerity on my part to play in Vienna a 
German piece which had already been ad- 
mirably presented by celebrated actors. But 
" fortune favors the brave ! " 


During my season in Vienna, Dom Pedro 
d'Alcantara, Emperor of Brazil, and the most 
erudite crowned head of the century, was ex- 
pected in that city. One morning at eight 
o'clock the secretary of the Brazilian legation 
carne to my hotel to announce to me that the 
Emperor Dom Pedro desired to see me as 
soon as possible. I dressed at once, and at 
nine I was in the presence of his Majesty. As 
soon as he saw me he said to me in pure Ital- 


ian, and with as much eagerness as if he were 
asking me to save his throne : " Salvini, you 
must do me a service ! " I was somewhat 
taken aback, for I did not see how I could be 
in a position to do service to an emperor. 
" Your Majesty," I said, "in what can I be 
so happy as to serve you ?" He answered : 
" You must play the ' Morte Civile.' ' I was 
reassured and breathed freely, and answered : 
" It will give me much pleasure, your Majesty ; 
but I have already given the ' Morte Civile ' 
five times, and I fear that the public may have 
had enough of it." " Do it the sixth time for 
me," said the Emperor, "and never mind the 
public." I said: "Your Majesty's judgment 
outbalances that of an entire public, and your 
desire shall be satisfied as an honor to myself." 
On that evening ali aristocratic Austria 
crowded the Ring Theater. During Dom 
Pedro's sojourn in Vienna, I was invited to 
recite Prati's poem " La Cena d'Alboino," in 
a large concert-hall, for the benefit of the 
Viennese students. In addition the entertain- 
ment consisted of vocal and instrumentai 
music. Dom Pedro was among the first of the 
audience to arrive. While I was waiting my 
turn, an aide-de-camp of the Emperor Francis 


Joseph invited Dom Pedro to go to the impe- 
riai palace on some pressing business. Dom 
Pedro was visibly annoyed, but he arose and 
left the hall, so I had to make my recitation 
without him as an auditor. Before he left 
Vienna, being unable to return ali the innu- 
merable attentions paid to him, he directed his 
minister to give a grand entertainment, and I 
was not forgotten. Unfortunately I had to 
play Othello on the night in question. Greatly 
fatigued as I always was by that play, when 
it was done I dressed, and went to the Bra- 
zilian minister's residence. The crowd of no- 
bles and dignitaries, with ali the feminine 
aristocracy of Vienna, was so dense as to 
make it almost impossible to pass from one 
room to another. I placed myself in a door- 
way, and perceived Dom Pedro before me, 
who, while talking with the Princess Metter- 
meli, kept turriing his glance in my direction. 
Of a sudden he rose, and, coming straight up 
to me, he requested me to repeat the poem of 
Prati's of which he was so fond, and which he 
had been unable to hear at the Academy. I 
saw that I was lost. 

" Your Majesty," said I, "I come from 
playing Othello, and my voice is rough from 


it ; moreover, I do not know whether it will 
be opportune for me to recite in Italian be- 
fore these ladies and gentlemen who are not 
acquainted with the language." 

" Never mind! Never mind!" he replied. 
"If these gentlemen do not understand, so 
much the worse for them ; but you will do 
me a very great pleasure, for I am very fond 
of those verses of Prati's, whom I know per- 

How could I refuse ? Soon the orchestra, 
which had been playing on a raised dais, 
passed into another room, and the dais was 
left free for my stage. Dom Pedro himself 
directed the placing of chairs in rows like 
those of a theater ; and when ali was ready, 
and the company had been informed of what 
I was to recite, the Emperor invited me to 
begin. I found that not ali my audience 
were ignorant of Italian, for from time to 
time there were spontaneous cries of Bravo / 
and Bene! Some understood, some pre- 
tended to understand, and most understood 
not a word. My recitation was nevertheless 
effective, and when it was done I was sur- 
rounded by many beautiful ladies and by 
many gentlemen, who offered me abundant 


congratulations — perhaps to pay their court 
to the Emperor. Dom Pedro waited until 
the crowd had finished its phrases of admira- 
tion, and then approached me, much moved, 
and spoke in my ear only the words: "Sub- 
lime! Thank you." This was at about two 
o'clock, and I drove back to my lodgings so 
wearied and worn out that I could not sleep, 
by reason of my overwrought nerves. The 
next day I concluded that it was at no little 
sacrifice that one could win the admiration 
of an emperor. I ought, however, to be 
grateful to him, for after such an advertise- 
ment the Ring Theater was patronized by 
the best society during the remaining nights 
of my season. 


From Vienna I went to Pesth, thence to 
Prague, and then to Berlin. In the capital 
of Germany I met with a flattering greeting. 
I had the opportunity to know the most dis- 
tinguished men in literature and in art. The 
court displayed much interest in my acting, 
and the old Emperor William particularly, as 


I judged, must have felt mudi sympathy for 
me, for he would risefrom his chair and go 
to the back of his box to applaud without 
being seen. It appears that etiquette imposed 
upon him reserve in open manifestation of 
approvai. The Crown-princess Victoria, now 
the widow of the Emperor Frederick, honored 
me with undisguised marks of her approvai, 
and did not lose a single one of my per- 
formances. People wanted me to petition for 
presentation at court, but I declined, for the 
reason that I did not care to expose myself 
to the humiliation of a refusai, and that if any 
of the august personages desired to know me 
personally, they had only to command my 
presence before them. It seemed that eti- 
quette did not admit of that ; but my feeling 
of delicacy kept me fixed in my resolution. 
At last I received a summons to present my- 
self at court. I was received by the Crown- 
prince Frederick William and the Crown- 
princess Victoria, with ali their children, then 
very small, and was treated with the greatest 
affability and courtesy. Among many ques- 
tions which they put to me, they asked me 
whether I should have any objection to give 
a play with my company in the theater at 


Potsdam. I could not refuse so kindly an 
invitation. The evening and the play were 
decided upon. The next day a chamberlain 
carne to ask me diplomatically what compen- 
sation I wished for giving this play at the 
private court theater. I answered that when 
I gave my coòperation for an entertainment 
outside of a public theater it was not my 
custom to fix a price, and that I would not 
do it. The chamberlain, however, insisted, 
saying that it was not proper that the court 
should accept a gift ; to which I replied that 
it was not my intention to make a gift, and 
that I would ask as my compensation the 
gloves which the Crown-princess would have 
worn when applauding me. I had great 
trouble to persuade the diplomatic messenger 
to take back my answer, but he had to con- 
tent himself with it. On the appointed day 
I took my company to Potsdam to play 
" Sullivan," a comedy for which only the 
dress of to-day is requisite. Ali my actors 
were lodged in a wing of the palace, where 
refreshments were provided, and I was in- 
vited to take my place in a carriage in which 
were the Crown-princess Victoria and her 
sons, and we drove to Sans Souci to visit 


the memorials to Frederick the Great and to 
Voltaire. The Princess described every object 
and locality to me in detail, with the greatest 
interest and affability, together with ali the 
memories attached to scenes so full of associa- 
tions. Upon our return to the palace, I made 
ready to give my play. A sudden indisposi- 
tion kept the old Emperor from being present. 
The small but graceful theater was literally 
packed with the officiai representatives of ali 
nations, with the most distinguished of the 
nobility, the diplomatic corps, the magistracy, 
and the military. The performance was of 
glacial frigidity, for at court ali applause is 
absolutely prohibited. After the play I was 
invited to take tea with the Crown-prince and 
Crown-princess, and I found myself in the 
midst of ali these beautiful and elegant ladies 
and distinguished gentlemen, who plied me 
with questions, congratulations, and compli- 
ments. Of these one, which surpassed ali 
the others both in its form and in its exquisite 
idea, was addressed to me by the Crown- 
princess, who said to me : " Since Rachel, 
you are the first, Salvini, to tread the stage 
at Potsdam ; I think that its doors must be 
closed after so great an event ! " And in fact 


the doors of the theater in Potsdam have not 
been reopened since my appearance there. I 
went away from Berlin delighted with the 
kindness and courtesy of the German court, 
and with a public of such intelligence ; and 
upon my arrivai at Trieste, where I stopped 
to make four appearances, I was informed 
by the German consul that there was an ob- 
ject addressed to me at the custom-house. I 
went there, and found a ring with a solitaire 
diamond which had been sent to me by the 
Emperor William and the Crown-prince and 
Crown-princess, as a souvenir of my appear- 
ance at Potsdam. 


My company was stili engaged for the 
whole month of June, and I wished to take 
advantage of the opportunity to appear four 
times at Venice. The Princess Margherita 
of Savoy, now our beloved queen, was at 
Venice for the sea-bathing, and was present 
at ali my performances. I preserve pre- 
ciously a beautiful souvenir which she was 
good enough to send me. From Venice I 


returned to Florence, and again took up my 
wanderings with different actors and ac- 
tresses. I opened at Paris, October 3, 1877, 
in the Salle Ventadour; of ali that I played 
there, to the " Morte Civile" was adjudged 
the palm. It was a real revelation to the 
Parisians. It would be tedious to repeat ali 
that the greatest artistic and literary lumina- 
ries wrote of it. Victor Hugo, La Pomme- 
raye, Zola, Gautier, Vitu, elevated to the stars 
both composition and interpretation. The 
celebrated dramatic critic Vitu even made a 
translation of it, so that it might be acted in 
French at the Odeon. Not "Othello," not 
"Macbeth," not " Ingomar," nothing aroused 
such interest as Paolo Giacometti's drama. 

After three nights at Antwerp, six at Brus- 
sels, and two at Lille, I went back to Paris 
for eleven more, five of which were devoted 
to the " Morte Civile." 


In Paris I had the opportunity to know the 
famous Mounet-Sully, whom I admired much 
in Victor Hugo's " Hernani," and to whom I 


permitted myself to make a small criticism 
on his highly artistic and meritorious per- 
formance — a criticism of the justice of which 
he was fully convinced. It is only conscien- 
tious artists who are able to recognize their 
own defects. I found in Mounet-Sully too 
much nervousness ; he was alvvays on the 
stretch, continually in forced action, as if 
something might break at any moment. He 
was a man of fine presence, of most accurate 
delivery, and if he could have freed himself 
from the traditions imposed upon him by the 
Conservatory, — traditions to which ali French 
actors who adopt the serious style are sub- 
jected, — it would have aided him to be less 
conventional. He is to-day one of the most 
solid pillars of the Maison de Molière, and 
that is not a little thing. 


One night when I went on the stage to 
see Mounet-Sully he presented me to Mme. 
Sarah Bernhardt. I had never heard that 
excellent artist except as Dona Sol in " Her- 
nani." I was entirely satisfied with her physi- 
cal and vocal gifts, as well as with her incisive 


and penetrating diction, but it seemed to me 
that her movements were a little angular. I 
saw her another time in the "Dame aux Ca- 
mélias," and she was attractive in the earlier 
acts, both from her "voice of gold," as the 
French style it, and from the naturalism with 
which she molded the character. At some 
points I noted a little precipitation in her de- 
livery, the reason for which I had not ob- 
served in Victor Hugo's verses ; and while I 
recognized in her superior talent for assum- 
ing her róle and modulating the various ex- 
pressions of the voice, for so accentuating 
her phrases as to give them brilliancy, and 
for making herself up with that attractiveness 
which is, perhaps, peculiar to French ac- 
tresses, yet I could not help noticing, espe- 
cially in the last act of the play, a seeking 
after effects that were discordant with the po- 
sition and character of the personage. I saw 
her afterward at Florence in Sardou's " La 
Tosca," and in that play she produced the 
same effect on me. She has very great gifts, 
an exceptional artistic quality, and notable 
defects. When I went through Paris on my 
last return from North America, I saw her in 
"Jeanne d'Are." 

I am not blind to the fascinatine merits of 


that eccentric actress, and I proclami her the 
brightest star which has in recent years risen 
above the horizon of dramatic art ; but I ask, 
is the superiority attributed to her by the 
world ali pure gold? Is there not in it a taint 
of alloy? Her sentiment, her artistic in- 
tuition, the acuteness of her interpretation, 
her moving and harmonious voice, the just 
accentuation of her phrasing, the tastefulness 
of her dress — ali this is gold, pure gold. A 
slight tendency to declamation, a use of ges- 
ticulation not always appropriate, a marked 
precipitation of speech, especially at criticai 
moments, and a pronounced monotony in pa- 
thetic expression, constitute the alloy. So 
mudi has been, and is stili, said of the extrav- 
agances of that originai genius, that wherever 
she goes, no one will stay away from seeing 
her. It must, however, be admitted that ali 
these advertisements draw more attention to 
the woman than to the actress. 


I must give, too, my impression of another 
celebrated French artist, an impression which 


is highly favorable to him, yet not without a 
"but," for which he will bear me no grudge. 
He is the cleverest, the most exact, the most 
delicate, the most keen in his delivery of a 
monologue that our century has produced. 
Every one has already perceived that I re- 
fer to the elder Coquelin. How subtle and 
bright is the intelligence which this actor 
brings into play to give life to his delivery! 
With how artistic a touch he colors every pe- 
riod, every phrase ! In how just a measure 
he balances his effects, so insinuating his 
humorous anecdotes that one would fancy 
they were told by many persons and not by 
himself alone! The variety of his voice, the 
mobility of his face, are powerful auxiliaries, 
which he uses with studied art ; he is never 
vulgar, never artificial, never monotonous, 
never incorrect. If this almost perfect artist 
could disabuse himself in the matter of play- 
ing a few parts which are not adapted either 
to his naturai tendencies or to his character- 
istic face, if he would confine himself to such 
typical characters as do not have to support 
the responsibility of the entire play, in my 
opinion he would heighten his fame. When 
one does everything, one does too much, and 


can with difficulty attain to perfection. For 
that matter, this fault is found in many great 
artists, and I have seen but rare exceptions. 


What can I say of the French public? 
Has it a taste of its own, an independent 
judgment? I doubt it. Those ten, twenty, 
and thirty men of superior intelligence who 
never miss a first night, whether of music or 
drama, guide and lead after them the mass 
of the audience. Would the claque with its 
paid applause ever have become established 
in France if the public had an opinion of its 
own ? And if it had such an opinion, would 
it submit to the imposition of judgment upon 
it? It is very true that if the play or the 
actor is not in touch with the audience, the 
claque has not the power to force it to return 
and see the same play, but it serves, never- 
theless, to modify any distaste on the part of 
the public. In Italy it could have no other 
effect than to make the public stili more 
hostile to a play. One can never obtain 
a sincere, independent, legitimate judgment 


from the mass of the French public. If the 
thirty intelligent persons do not approve, the 
mass will remain indifferent. And just so it 
is with the press. If the papers favor a play, 
they have much influence on public opinion, 
they incite the people to fili the theater, and 
the audience, whether it will or no, is per- 
suaded that it has been amused. If the cen- 
sors are unfavorable, the house will stay 
empty. Hence it results that it is never the 
public which decides, but the thirty assiduous 
men of intelligence who render the verdict, 
and the press which condemns or applauds. 
When I was again in Florence, I lived 
quietly and happily with my wife, whom I 
could not take with me on my professional 
tours, since she was obliged to attend to our 
family affairs, and to care as well for her own 
health. During the summer I busied myself 
with my garden and vineyard on my small 
property near Florence. At the end of Octo- 
ber, 1879, we returned to our winter quarters 
in Florence, and on November 13 our second 
child was born, after which event my wife was 
taken with an obstinate fever; then inflam- 
mation set in, and finally scarlet fever, which 
in her enfeebled condition did not break 


out openly, but none the less accomplished 
its maleficent work. After a month of suffer- 
ing under this accumulation of ills, a violent 
attack of peritonitis developed, and the poor 
creature, worn out, lost her reason and then 
her life, leaving me two little babies as 
memorials of our love. 

I cannot describe my anguish of mind. 
The world imagines that the artist wraps up 
ali his aspirations in his own self-love. It is 
indeed true that that satisfaction appeals to 
the mind, but it cannot compensate for the 
tortures of the heart. Not to have known 
my mother, who died when I was two years 
old ; to have lost my father at fifteen ; to have 
seen waste away, stili young, the woman who 
first inspired me with deep affection; to have 
been bereaved of my wife, who was not yet 
twenty-four; and finally, to see a brother die 
upon whom I had counted as the friend of 
my old age — ali this I have endured. Truly 
those who have no feelings are most happy ! 


Left alone by the death of my wife, with 
my Well-grown sons at school, and my last 


children too young to give me any consola- 
tion, I threw myself with renewed ardor into 
the embrace of art, resolved to seek no other 
distraction, but to look for relief and oblivion 
in unwearied study, in practice on the stage, 
in continuous traveling; but throughout four 
years it was impossible for me to forget my 
misfortune. Ali that was not connected with 
my art was repulsive to me: to new acquain- 
tanceships I was indifferent; traveling did not 
cheer me; and even in the exercise of my 
profession the dominating recollection of the 
irreparable loss I had suffered remained fixed 
in my mind. 

On November 11, 1879, I again started 
out, this time for Trieste, whence I went 
again to Vienna. Having given a few nights 
at Pesth, I went on to the cosmopolitan city 
of Russia, Odessa. There everybody has 
a more or less complete knowledge of Italian, 
and I had a festive greeting from the hetero- 
geneous population. 

I remained in Odessa from January 15 to 
February 20, 1880, and then went to Rou- 
mania, where I first appeared on February 
23. I played six times at Jassy, three times 
at Galatz, twice at Braila, and finally, on 
March 20, I proceeded to the capital, and 


stayed there until Aprii 14. I was so well 
received by the people and their rulers, that 
the Prince, now King Charles L, honored 
me with the Star of Roumania. The schol- 
arly Princess, now Queen Pauline Elizabeth 
("Carmen Sylva"), showed me the greatest 
kindness and courtesy. She had the kind- 
ness to read to me one of her poetical works, 
written in French, which seemed to me full 
of dash and interest, and elegant in form. I 
shall always retain an agreeable memory of 
the exquisite welcome of that court. After 
leaving Bucharest I played three times at 
Cracow, and on Aprii 20 left Roumania to re- 
turn to Florence, in order to take breath for 
my future peregrinations. 


In this year the agent of an impresario and 
theater-owner of Boston carne to Florence to 
make me the proposai that I should go to 
North America for the second time, to play 
in Italian supported by an American com- 
pany. I thought the man had lost his senses. 
But after a time I became convinced that he 
was in his right mind, and that no one would 


undertake a long and costly journey simply 
to play a joke, and I took his extraordinary 
proposition into serious consideration, and 
asked him for explanations. 

"The idea is this," the agent made answer; 
" it is very simple. You found favor the last 
time with the American public with your 
Italian company, when not a word that was 
said was understood, and the proprietor of 
the Globe Theater of Boston thinks that if he 
puts with you English-speaking actors, you 
will yourself be better understood, since ali 
the dialogue of your supporters will be plain. 
The audience will concern itself only with fol- 
lowing you, with the aid of the play-books in 
both languages, and will not have to pay any 
attention to the others, whose words it will 

" But how shall I take my cue, since I do 
not understand English? And how will your 
American actors know when to speak, since 
they do not know Italian ? " 

" Have no anxiety about that," said the 
agent. "Our American actors are mathema- 
ticians, and can memorize perfectly the last 
words of your speeches, and they will work 

with the precision of machines." 



"I am ready to admit that," said I, " al- 
though I do not think it will be so easy ; but 
it will in any case be much easier for them, 
who will have to deal with me alone, and will 
divide the difficulty among twenty or twenty- 
four, than for me, who must take care of ali." 

The persevering agent, however, closed 
my mouth with the words, " You do not sign 
yourself ' Salvini ' for nothing ! " He had an 
answer for everything, he was prepared to 
convince me at ali points, to persuade me 
about everything, and to smooth over every 
difficulty, and he won a consent which, 
though almost involuntary on my part, was 
legalized by a contract in due form, by which 
I undertook to be at New York not later 
than November 15, 1880, and to be ready to 
open at Philadelphia with " Othello " on the 
29A of the same month. 

I was stili dominated by my bereavement, 
and the thought was pleasant to me of going 
away from places which constantly brought 
it back to my mind. Another sky, other 
customs, another language, grave responsi- 
bilities, a novel and difficult undertaking of 
uncertain outcome — I was willing to risk ali 
simply to distract my attention and to forget. 


I have never in my life been a gambler, but 
that time I staked my artistic reputation upon 
a single card. Failure would have been a 
new emotion, severe and grievous, it is true, 
but stili different from that which filled my 
mind. I played, and I won ! The friends 
whom I had made in the United States in 
1873, and with whom I had kept up my ac- 
quaintance, when they learned of the con- 
fusion of tongues, wrote me discouraging 
letters. In Italy the thing was not be- 
lieved, so eccentric did it seem. I arrived in 
New York nervous and feverish, but not dis- 
couraged or depressed. 

When the day of the first rehearsal carne, 
ali the theaters were occupied, and I had to 
make the best of a rather large concert-hall 
to try to get in touch with the actors who 
were to support me. An Italian who was 
employed in a newspaper-ofrìce served me as 
interpreter in coòperation with the agent of 
my Boston impresario. The American ar- 
tists began the rehearsal without a prompter, 
and with a sureness to be envied especially 
by our Italian actors, who usually must have 
every word suggested to them. My turn 
carne, and the few words which O the Ilo prò- 


nounces in the first scene carne in smoothly 
and without difficulty. When the scene with 
the Council of Ten carne, of a sudden I could 
not recali the first line of a paragraph, and I 
hesitated; I began a line, but it was not that; 
I tried another with no better success; a 
third, but the interpreter told me that I had 
gone wrong. We began again, but the Eng- 
lish was of no assistance to me in recognizing 
which of my speeches corresponded to that 
addressed to me, which I did not understand. 
I was ali at sea, and I told the interpreter to 
beg the actors to overlook my momentary 
confusion, and to say to them that I should 
be ali right in five minutes. I went off to a 
corner of the hall and bowed my head be- 
tween my hands, saying to myself, "I have 
come for this, and I must carry it through." 
I set out to number mentally ali the para- 
graphs of my part, and in a short time I said, 
" Let us begin again." 

During the remainder of the rehearsal one 
might have thought that I understood Eng- 
lish, and that the American actors understood 
Italian. No further mistake was made by 
either side; there was not even the smallest 
hesitation, and when I finished the final scene 


of the third act between Othello and Iago, 
the actors applauded, filled with joy and 
pleasure. The exactitude with which the 
subsequent rehearsals of "Othello," and those 
of "Hamlet," proceeded was due to the 
memory, the application, and the scrupulous 
attention to their work of the American 
actors, as well as to my own force of will and 
practical acquaintance with ali the parts of 
the play, and to the naturai intuition which 
helped me to know without understanding 
what was addressed to me, divining it from 
a motion, a look, or a light inflection of the 
voice. Gradually a few words, a few short 
phrases, remained in my ear, and in course of 
time I carne to understand perfectly every 
word of ali the characters; I became so sure 
of myself that if an actor substituted one 
word for another I perceived it. I under- 
stood the words of Shakspere, but not those 
of the spoken language. 

In a few days we went to Philadelphia to 
begin our representations. My old acquain- 
tances were in despair. To those who had 
sought to discourage me by their letters 
others on the spot joined their influence, and 
tried everything to overthrow my courage. I 


must admit that the nearer carne the hour of 
the great experiment, the more my anxiety 
grew, and inclined me to deplore the moment 
when I had put myself in that dilemma. I 
owe it in a great degree to my cool head that 
my discouraging forebodings did not unman 
me so much as to make me abandon myself 
wholly to despair. Just as I was going on 
the stage, I said to myself: "After ali, what 
can happen to me ? They will not murder 
me. I shall have tried, and I shall have 
failed; that is ali there will be to it. I will 
pack up my baggage and go back to Italy, 
convinced that oil and wine will not mix." 
A certain contempt of danger, a finn resolu- 
tion to succeed, and, I am bound to add, con- 
siderale confidence in myself, enabled me to 
go before the public cairn, bold, and secure. 

The first scene before the palace of Bra- 
bantio was received with sepulchral silence. 
When that of the Council of Ten carne,' and 
the narration of the vicissitudes of Othello 
was ended, the public broke forth in pro- 
longed applause. Then I said to myself: 
"A good beginning is half the work." At 
the dose of the first act, my adversaries, who 
were such solely on account of their love of 


art, and their belief that the two languages 
could not be amalgamated, carne on the stage 
to embrace and congratulate me, surprised, 
enchanted, enthusiastic, happy that they had 
been mistaken, and throughout the play I 
was the object of Constant demonstrations of 


From Philadelphia we went to New York, 
where our success was confìrmed. It re- 
mained for me to win the suffrages of Boston, 
and I secured them, first having made stops 
in Brooklyn, New Haven, and Hartford. 
When in the American Athens I became 
convinced that that city possesses the most 
refined artistic taste. The theatrical audi- 
ences are serious, attentive to details, ana- 
lytical, — I might almost say scientific, — and 
one might fancy that such careful critics had 
never in their lives done anything but occupy 
themselves with scenic art. With reference 
to a presentation of Shakspere, they are pro- 
found, acute, subtile, and they know so well 
how to clothe some traditional principle in 
dose logie, that if faith in the opposite is not 


quite unshakable in an artist, he must feel 
himself tempted to renounce his own tenets. 
It is surprising that in a land where industry 
and commerce seem to absorb ali the intelli- 
gence of the people, there should be in every 
city and district, indeed in every village, peo- 
ple who are competent to discuss the arts 
with such high authority. The American 
nation counts only a century of freedom, yet 
it has produced a remarkable number of men 
of high competence in dramatic art. Those 
who think of tempting fortune by displaying 
their untried artistic gifts on the American 
stage, counting on the ignorance or inexperi- 
ence of their audience, make a very unsafe 
calculation. The taste and criticai faculty of 
that public are in their fullness of vigor. 
Old Europe is more bound by traditions, 
more weary, more blasé, in her judgment, not 
always sincere or disinterested. In Amer- 
ica the national pride is warmly felt, and 
the national artists enjoy high honor. The 
Americans know how to offer an exquisite 
hospitality, but woe to the man who seeks 
to impose on them ! They profess a cult, a 
veneration, for those who practise our art, 
whether of their own nation or foreign, and 


their behavior in the theater is dignified. I 
recali one night when upon invitation I went 
to see a new play in which appeared an ac- 
tor of reputation. The play was not liked, 
and from act to act I noticed that the house 
grew more and more scanty, like a faded rose 
which loses its petals one by one, until at the 
last scene my box was the only one which 
remained occupied. I was more impressed 
by this silent demonstration of hostility than 
I should have been if the audience had made 
a tumultuous expression of its disapprovai. 
The actors were humiliated and confounded, 
and as the curtain fell an instinctive senti- 
ment of compassion induced me to applaud. 
To return to my tour. From Boston I 
went to Montreal and Toronto, thence to 
Cincinnati for a week, and again to New 
York for a fortnight. I think that ali my 
dramatic colleagues will agree with me that 
the life of an actor in America is extremely 
wearing. The system obtains everywhere of 
opening the theaters every night, and I can- 
not blame the owners from the point of view 
of their own interests ; for since they hire 
their watchmen and attendants by the year, 
they must pay their salaries whether their 


houses are open or closed. They are there- 
fore constrained to impose similar conditions 
upon the managers. The most celebrated 
artists must therefore play every night except 
Sunday, and in some States even on that day, 
and on one or two days of the week they 
must play twice. Think of an artist, ali of 
whose repertory is made up of tragedies of 
Shakspere, and teli me whether it is possible 
that human strength can resist such a strain. 
Admitting that one's nerves may be elastic 
enough to endure it, one cannot control the 
vocal organs ; and after a few weeks of such 
exaggerated effort, the actor's strength and 
vocal faculty diminish, and the later repre- 
sentations seem pale, and without the life and 
fìre required for the best results. I always 
held back from submitting myself to this im- 
position ; I was never willing to play more 
than four or at the most five times a week, 
and even to the injury of my immediate in- 
terests I would never depart from this resolu- 
tion. There may have been actors able to 
support the burden more easily, but I know, 
though endowed with muscles of steel, sound 
health, and a strong voice, I would not un- 
dertake it. I know well that to keep a 


machine in good running order, there must 
be time to keep it alvvays polished and oiled ; 
with this precaution, even after fifty years of 
activity, it will not show a trace of rust, and 
will stili be in condition to perform its regular 
functions. In so long a period my machine 
was forced to stop only twice; and both 
times, after the damage was repaired, — dam- 
age which resulted not from imprudence, but 
from unforeseen accidents, — it began running 
again as efficiently as before. I continued 
my peregrinations to Albany, Buffalo, Detroit, 
and Chicago, and other cities in the West 
and South. 


At last we proceeded to the capital of the 
United States. Washington is a very attrac- 
tive city, with superb edifices, wide and well- 
paved streets, beautiful shops, and a popula- 
tion of most agreeable quality. It is safe to 
say that, after those of Boston, the theater 
audiences there are the most intelligent and 
appreciative in North America. The dele- 
gates to Congress, of the different States, 
with their families, form an important contin- 


gent of intelligence beyond the average. Irt 
that city I had an experience worth relating. 
With an acquaintance who spoke Italian and 
English I went one day to visit the Capitol. 
When we had entered the majestic structure, 
and were walking through the offices, the cor- 
ridors, and the private rooms of the commit- 
tees I noticed that I was an object of curios- 
ity to the many people whom I met. After 
half an hour spent in visiting the labyrinth 
of halls and galleries, a gentleman presented 
himself to me as a member of the House, and 
invited me in the name of the Speaker to 
visit the House of Representatives. I tried 
to excuse myself on the ground of my modest 
morning-dress, but the gentleman who in- 
vited me observed that this question of dress 
was little attended to in America, and I 
yielded to his arguments and to those of the 
friend who was with me, and presented my- 
self before the Speaker. The Speaker rose 
from his chair, as did ali the members pres- 
ent. After a few very courteous words, he 
gave me permission to visit the hall of the 
House, and as I passed through the corridors 
between the lines of seats, ali the members 
advanced from right and left to shake hands 



with me. When I reached the back of the 
great hall a crowd of the pages of the House, 
dressed in uniform, surrounded me with little 
note-books in their hands, belonging to the 
congressmen, and asked for my autograph. 
I had to write my name two hundred and 
seventy-eight times ; and, luckily for me, the 
attendance that day was not large ! My 
hand became cramped with so many signa- 
tures, and Heaven knows what my callig- 
raphy became before I finished ! 


The celebrated actor Edwin Booth was 
at this time in Baltimore, a city distant two 
hours from the capital. I had heard so much 
about this superior artist that I was anxious 
to see him, and on one of my off nights 
I went to Baltimore with my impresario's 
agent. A box had been reserved for me 
without my knowledge, and was draped with 
the Italian colors. I regretted to be made so 
conspicuous, but I could not fail to appreciate 
the courteous and complimentary desire to 
do me honor shown by the American artist. 


It was only naturai that I should be most 
kindly influenced toward him, but without 
the courtesy which predisposed me in his 
favor he would equally have won my sym- 
pathy by his attractive and artistic linea- 
ments, and his graceful and well-proportioned 
figure. The play was "Hamlet." This part 
brought him great fame, and justly; for in 
addition to the high artistic worth with which 
he adorned it, his elegant personality was 
admirably adapted to it. His long and wavy 
hair, his large and expressive eye, his youth- 
ful and flexible movements, accorded per- 
fectly with the ideal of the young prince of 
Denmark which now obtains everywhere. 
His splendid delivery, and the penetrating 
philosophy with which he informed his 
phrases, were his most remarkable qualities. 
I was so fortunate as to see him also as 
Richelieu and Iago, and in ali three of these 
parts, so diverse in their character, I found 
him absolutely admirable. I cannot say so 
much of his Macbeth, which I saw one night 
when passing througa Philadelphia. The 
part seemed to me not adapted to his nature. 
Macbeth was an ambitious man, and Booth 
was not. Macbeth had barbarous and fero- 


cious instincts, and Booth was agreeable, 
urbane, and courteous. Macbeth destroyed 
his enemies traitorously, — did this even to 
gain possession of their goods, — while Booth 
was noble, lofty-minded, and generous of his 
wealth. It is thus plain that however mudi 
art he might expend, his nature rebelled 
against his portrayal of that personage, and 
he could never hope to transform himself into 
the ambitious, venal, and sanguinary Scottish 

I should say, from what I heard in Amer- 
ica, that Edwin Forrest was the Modena of 
America. The memory of that actor stili 
lives, for no one has possessed equally the 
power to give expression to the passions, and 
to fruitful and burning imagery, in addition 
to which he possessed astonishing power of 
voice. Almost contemporaneously a number 
of most estimable actors have laid claim to 
his mantle; but above them ali Edwin Booth 
soared as an eagle. 

After a very satisfactory experience in 
Baltimore, I returned for the third time to 
New York and gave "Othello," "Macbeth," 
and the "Gladiator," each play twice, and 
made thè last two appearances of my season 


in Philadelphia. After playing ninety-five 
times in the new fashion, I felt myself worn 
out, but fully satisfied with the result of 
my venturesome undertaking. When I em- 
barked on the steamer which was to take me 
to Europe, I was escorted by ali the artists 
of the company which had coòperated in my 
happy success, by my friends, and by cour- 
teous admirers, and I felt that if I were not 
an Italian I should wish to be an American. 


At the end of May, 1881, I landed at 
Havre, and went on to Paris, where I took a 
good week of rest — relative rest, that is, for 
in that city it is not easy to do nothing. I 
did not fail to frequent the Comédie Francaise 
to hear some of those excellent society come- 
dies which are played there with so much 
taste, delicacy, and truth; and after having 
myself recited such a vast quantity of verse 
during seven months, that pure and beautiful 
prose appeared to me a most savory change, 
seasoned as it was with the most delicate 
sauces and spices by the most expert of 


cooks. When I reached Florence my first 
thought was to retire at once to my country 
house, to enjoy that cairn which one cannot 
find except at home and in the bosom of his 
family. However, offers of new theatrical en- 
terprises carne to disturb my repose, and I 
was constrained to accept a proposition that 
I should go to Egypt for the months of 
December, 1881, and January, 1882. I 
formed, for these two months only, an Italian 
company, and on December 3 I opened in 
Alexandria. Theatrical methods there are 
regulated upon the Italian principles, and it 
is necessary to change the play every night ; 
so besides my accustomed tragedies I gave 
dramas and comedies, as, for example, "Le 
Lapidaire," by Alexandre Dumas; "Fasma," 
by Dall' Ongaro; "La Calomnie," by Scribe; 
and "La Suonatrice d'Arpa," by Chiossone. 

I need not say how much pleasure the 
people of Alexandria took in these plays. 
The Italian colony overwhelmed me with 
generous demonstrations, and the Boat Club 
invited me to name after myself a new ac- 
quisition of their navy — not, it is true, a 
Duilio. After playing fourteen times in 
Alexandria, we went to Cairo, and I lost no 


time in visiting those tremendous monuments 
the Pyramids, glorious and imposing relics of 
a greatness the idea of which we cannot now 
even conceive. 


At the end of January I went back to 
Italy, and was invited to go to Russia. I got 
together fresh actors and actresses, and on 
February 24, 1882, I presented myself on the 
stage of the Maria Theater in St. Petersburg. 
I thus passed quickly from a land of suffocat- 
ing heat to one of bitter cold, but changes of 
temperature have never affected me much. 
I confess that when I first entered that em- 
pire I had a vague apprehension, the cause 
of which I did not fully explain to myself. 
I had been invited by the Direction of the 
Imperiai Theaters, I carne in the quality of 
a foreign artist, and no harm could possi- 
bly come to me ; nevertheless, after the vex- 
ations inflicted by the customs officers at the 
Russian frontier on the members of my com- 
pany, an indescribable disgust developed in 
my mind. My imagination is naturally fer- 


vid, and in my fancy I saw the poor exiles in 
Siberia, the knout administered in the public 
streets to disrespectful subjects, the tortures 
of the prisons, the summary confiscations of 
the property of the suspected, the arrogance 
of the soldiery, the extreme rigor of the laws, 
the servile obsequiousness obligatory toward 
the Czar, the despotism of the great, and the 
extreme degradation of the humble ; and ali 
this seemed to me so dark as in fact to be 
wholly black. The Nihilists had only a little 
before laid their inexorable hand on their 
prey, and ali were stili palpitating with the 
tragic end of the Emperor Alexander IL 
You can imagine how the Government stood 
to its arms, and how the people constantly 
trembled with dread. The theater was a per- 
mitted and innocent distraction, and there, 
freed from fear, and laying aside the pertur- 
bation of politics, the public worked off its ex- 
citement in clamorous enthusiasm, sometimes 
to the point of disturbing the course of the 
play and disconcerting the unlucky actor. I 
have never had experience with a public so 
systematically persistent in applause as the 
Russian. After the artist has gone through 
a very fatiguing part, and, panting, pros- 


trated, in a bath of perspiration, hopes to 
be able to retire to his room to rest, he is 
obliged to stand for a full half-hour, exhausted 
and perspiring as he is, to receive the inter- 
minable ovations of the people ; and he must 
go before the curtain fifteen, twenty, or even 
thirty times. Not content with that, they 
wait for you at the door, no matter how long 
you take to dress, and stand in lines for you 
to pass between, begging a look or a touch 
of your hand ; and if you live so near by as 
not to need a carriage, they accompany you 
on foot to the door of your lodgings, with 
open manifestations of sympathy. The Rus- 
sian is courteous, hospitable, liberal to the 
actor; but, like ali those whose enthusiasm 
exceeds due bounds, he forgets easily. 

There have been but very few native artists 
of celebrity. On the other hand, the Imperiai 
companies, which play only in St. Petersburg 
and Moscow, are meritorious, and distin- 
guished for the smoothness of their represen- 
tations. In the secondary cities the artistic 
contingent is of wretched quality, and may 
be compared with the lowest ranks of our 
own — the so-called guitti; but the Rus- 
sian public, particularly in the provinces, is 


amiable, tolerant, and ready, for the sake of 
amusement of any kind, to accept an alloy for 
the pure metal. I made twenty appearances 
at St. Petersburg in thirty-eight days, and 
then went to Moscow, where I gave eleven 
more performances. At Moscow the public 
seemed to be much calmer, and, moreover, 
our houses were much better. In both cities 
splendid gifts were made me, which I pre- 
serve as pleasant remembrances of an enjoy- 
able experience. By the end of Aprii, 1882, 
I was again resting in Florence. 


After having given due attention to the 
interests of my family, and fulfilled my social 
obligations, I employed my time in polishing 
my study of Shakspere's King Lear, and 
overcoming some difficulties which that 
character presented to me, with the in- 
tention of bringing it out in the United 
States, whither I had arranged to go in the 
beginning of October. My work on that 
day preoccupied me greatly, and although I 
had brought it out in a preliminary appear- 


ance at the Teatro Salvini, and it had been 
well received by public and press, I did not 
feel entirely satisfied with myself, and I pro- 
posed to combat my difficulties deliberately 
and seriously. , I wished to find the way to 
make some scenes more effective, while main- 
taining the character in its proper relations. 
It was necessary to devise means for produc- 
ing effects with auxiliaries different from 
those to which I had been accustomed, to 
move and interest the audience by creating 
new combinations and contrasts, and by con- 
juring up a type of sentiment in accord with 
the character and the age of that grandiose 
personage. I do not know whether I was suc- 
cessful, but the greeting of the public gave 
me assurance that I made at least some ap- 
proach to my object. I was thus provided 
with a new play for my third venture in the 
United States. 

I played 109 times in this season as against 
95 the time before ; moreover, the last six- 
teen representations of the "Morte Civile" 
were most lucrative, since I gave them in 
company with the famous actress Clara 
Morris. It is right that I should pay a 
merited tribute to this excellent actress ; for 


one could not wish for a better interpreter 
of the part of Rosalia in the drama I have 
named. This season was also more brilliant 
than the one before it, because the rumor had 
spread that I would not come again to North 
America — a baseless and absurd rumor, since 
the financial results were rather such as to 
encourage me to cross the ocean again, as in 
fact they did. The public was, however, so 
fully persuaded of the sincerity of my alleged 
resolution, that several gentlemen associated 
themselves to offer me a banquet at the 
Hotel Brunswick, at which ali classes of New 
York society were represented. The distin- 
guished German actor Barnay, whp was then 
in New York, carne to the banquet after his 
play, and made a speech full of kindly enco- 
mium, which aroused sincere enthusiasm. 

I again recrossed the ocean, not to rest, as 
I might perhaps have been excused for doing, 
after so many and continuous fatigues, but 
to study the part of Coriolanus in proof of 
my unwearied love of my art, which I have 
always looked upon as my second mother. 
If in the vicissitudes of my life I had not had 
this recourse, I do not know what would 
have become of me. Art has always received 


me, restored me, protected me ; and if it has 
not been able to make me forget my mis- 
fortunes altogether, it has mitigated them. 
I owe to it my moments of comfort, satisfac- 
tion, and joy, and now that I am constrained 
to abandon it, I do not weep, for I have 
never been weak ; but my heart feels the 
sting of bitterness. 

While I was occupying myself with the 
character of that impetuous but valorous war- 
rior, it was proposed to me to go to Rome and 
Trieste, and to play a few times in Florence. 
My fellow-citizens never evinced more affec- 
tion and admiration for me than upon this oc- 
casion. At Rome my nine appearances were 
greeted with hearty interest and enthusiasm. 
At Florence the theater was never large 
enough to receive those who wished to secure 
entrance, and at Trieste I was overwhelmed 
with ovations. The same company went 
with me for a season at Covent Garden, Lon- 
don. The time of the year was not propi- 
tious. At the end of February there were 
very thick fogs accompanying a humid and 
cold atmosphere, and the heating arrange- 
ments of the theater were so defective that 
it seemed like playing in an ice-house. I 


remember that on the night when I played 
the " Gladiator," in the fourth act, when I 
had to fight in the arena with nothing but 
silken tights on my body, before I went on 
my teeth chattered with cold. At the end 
of that very fatiguing act the perspiration 
rolled from me as in a Turkish bath, and 
when I reached my dressing-room a heavy 
chili carne over me, from the effects of which 
I suffered long. The audience sat in their 
overcoats and furs, the men with their collars 
turned up, and the women with their heads 
wrapped in shawls and hoods. Our season 
had opened with excellent promise, but what- 
ever may have been the public's love for the 
theater, many were constrained to stay away 
in such weather for fear of illness. I made 
urgent complaints to my impresario, but the 
evil was irremediable. After twenty-one 
nights of "Othello," "King Lear," " Mac- 
beth," the " Gladiator," and " Hamlet," we 
proceeded to Edinburgh, and the weather 
having become milder, our business again 
rose to its regular level. Our tour included 
the cities of Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, 
Birmingham, Brighton, and Dublin, and closed 
with a farewell representation of " Othello " 
in London. 



It being out of the question to remain in 
London, the only city in which a summer 
season is possible, I proposed to my company 
that they should continue at my disposition 
at half salary from the end of May until 
November i of that year (1884), proposing 
again to go on the road at the latter date. 
They agreed; and on November 4 we began 
a series of nine representations at Naples, 
whence we went to Messina, Palermo, and 
Catania, and thus I ended the year, resolved 
to confine myself for the immediate future to 
the study of the banished and vindictive hero 
Coriolanus. I felt that I could divine that 
character, which resembled my own in some 
ways — not, certainly, in his warlike exploits, 
but in his susceptibility, in his spurning of 
the arrogance and insolent pretensions of the 
ignorant masses, and, above ali, in his filial 
submissiveness and affection. Unfortunately, 
I was not able to submit the results of this 
study to the judgment of the Italian public, 
as I have done with ali my others, since it 
demands too costly a stage setting, and it was 


impossible to secure in the great number of as- 
sistants that artistic discipline without which 
the grandiose easily merges in the ridiculous. 
I regretted this mudi, as my compatriots 
would have given me an unbiased and intel- 
lectual judgment of the work; but for the rea- 
sons I have stated I reconciled myself to giv- 
ing it for the first time at the Metropolitan 
Opera House in New York, where, indeed, 
nothing was lacking for an admirable setting 
of the tragedy. This, as my reader will not 
need to be told, was the fourth time that I 
went before the American public, on three of 
which times I was supported by an English- 
speaking company. 

The dose of my artistic career approaches, 
and with it the end of the anecdotes with 
which it has been diversified. The chief 
object of these memoirs is to make it known 
to any one whom it may aid how a young 
man, without inherited resources, and con- 
strained to look out for himself from very 
early years, can, by upright conduct, finn res- 
olution, and assiduous effort, acquire in time 
some renown, and the means for enjoying the 
comforts of life in his old age without be- 
ing dependent on anybody. Those who meet 


with misfortune owing to too little applica- 
tion to study, or to pretensions out of pro- 
portion to their deserts, deserve indulgence 
indeed, but not compassion. If my example 
can be of utility to those who are borri with 
artistic instincts, I shall have the reward for 
which I hoped in undertaking this sketch of 
my life. Moralizing is now out of fashion, 
but an example stili receives attention, and 
may be of service. Art is pure, loyal, honor- 
able, uncontaminated. Through these virtues 
it exacts, commands, imposes morality upon 
whomsoever places himself under its segis, 
and it rejects, condemns, and punishes him 
who fails to respect it. It is for this reason 
that great artists, with rare exceptions, are 
moral and honorable. 


Before telling of my fourth visit to North 
America, I must narrate a rather strange ex- 
perience which I had in the spring of 1885. 
A lady (I say lady to distinguish the sex) 
made me an offer to play in Little Russia 
with native actors. My knowledge of ali 


foreign languages is extremely limited, but 
of Russian I do not know a single word. I 
informed my would-be impresario of this dif- 
ficulty, and she diminished my hesitation by 
writing me that Italian was more or less 
familiar to ali in those regions, and particu- 
larly at Kharkov, where there is a university, 
and that the actors would do their best to 
cooperate with me; and she added that she 
would provide two prompters speaking the 
two languages. Persistence sometimes over- 
comes even avarice, and I allowed myself to be 
seduced by her pressing arguments. I went 
to Kharkov, where the company was as- 
sembled, and I was scandalized to behold a 
theater entirely of wood, old, ruinous, and 
littered with the dirt of a century, which was 
enough to make me shiver. The actors, 
except the leading lady, who could recognize 
French by sight, did not understand a word 
outside of their own tongue; there were 
indeed two prompters, but the Russian knew 
no Italian, and the Italian no Russian. At the 
rehearsals the two prompters made a conven- 
tional sign to each other to cali the attention 
of the one upon whom it was incumbent to 
speak. The actors, who were Russian prò- 


vincials, seemed not to be in the habit of 
committing their parts to memory, for even 
at the last rehearsal which I made with them, 
they were not sure of their lines. The un- 
happy prompter had to repeat a phrase two 
and three times to get the actor to take it, 
and you can imagine what smoothness this 
system produced in the representation. I am 
naturally patient, and I sought to inculcate 
into this band of mountebanks the advantages 
of more study, more exactness, more atten- 
tion, and I sought to furnish them with an 
example by never giving the Italian prompter 
occasion to speak; but it profited nothing. 
The public representation began, and the 
audience, accustomed to that system of acting, 
was not at ali disturbed by it, but seemed to 
look upon it as a surprising phenomenon that, 
while the murmur of the prompter formed a 
Constant accompaniment to the words of the 
other actors, when I spoke the murmur ceased. 
It seemed, too, that little attention was given 
to exactness in costume, for I noticed that 
Brabantio in "Othello" wore short breeches 
and shoes with buckles, like a priest. In 
the "Gladiator," instead of tunic and toga, 
the lover carne on the stage in trunk-hose 


and short Spanish cloak of the time of Philip 
II. You can picture to yourself what the 
scenery, furniture, and accessories must have 
been. But the people did not complain, and 
did not eveh criticize. In their eyes every- 
thing was admirable, and they gave vent to 
the most exaggerated enthusiasm. During 
the rehearsals the prompters occupied stools, 
one on each side of the stage, but during the 
public performances both crowded into the 
little prompters box, which was covered with 
a hood of pasteboard. On the first night I 
was so much preoccupied that I thought of 
nothing that did not concern the course of the 
play itself, but on the second I noticed those 
two unfortunates wedged in together, simply 
melting with perspiration, each with one arm 
out of the box holding the book of the play, 
and nudging each other at intervals to indi- 
cate whose turn it was to prompt; and, think- 
ing of the Siamese twins, such an impulse to 
laugh carne upon me that with difficulty I 
avoided making a scandal. 

The University of Kharkov is large and of 
much importance, and, as was naturai, the 
audiences were made up in large part of stu- 
dents. Every one knows the characteristics of 


that picked class of society, marked by energy, 
enthusiasm, goodness of heart, and generous 
tendencies, compounded with thoughtless- 
ness and disorder. Especially in Russia, 
where the students are held in check by 
a rigorous Government, which suppresses 
every liberal aspiration, whenever an oppor- 
tunity offers to give rein to excitement, the 
reaction follows, and unbridled demonstra- 
tions break out. I refer to this because one 
night I had experience of the consequences 
of this condition. I do not remember what 
the play was, but when I carne out of the 
theater I found a real mob waiting for me, 
and with deafening shouts they lifted me in 
the air and carried me above their heads like 
a balloon to my carriage, into which they 
threw me as if I were a rubber ball. I may 
remark that I weigh 250 pounds! As soon 
as I felt myself freed from their clutches, I 
shouted, " Whip up, driver ! " and the horses 
broke into a trot ; but the crowd ran be- 
hind the carriage shouting and clamoring, 
and from time to time I caught the words 
" Un souvenir!'" It was not easy for me 
to satisfy them at that moment, but a happy 
idea carne to me. When I reached my hotel 
I remembered that I had in my portfolio a 


number of visiting-cards. I took them ali and 
threw them into the most fervent group of 
manifesters, and while these were busy pick- 
ing up the cards, I had time to get out of my 
carriage and rush into the hotel, happy in my 
deliverance. The Russians are most lavish 
in their gifts, and I brought away many as 
remembrances of those regions, which I have 
not seen since. At Saratov and at Taganrog 
there was no lack of demonstrations ; but as 
there were no students, enthusiasm did not 
become dangerous to life, as in Kharkov. 
We were to have gone on to Kazan, but the 
manager thought it good to pocket ali the 
receipts, and to omit to pay the actors, who 
justly refused to keep on under these con- 
ditions. I gave a performance for their bene- 
fit, and took my departure, leaving that 
management of little faith the richer by sev- 
eral thousands of francs on my account also, 
but very glad, nevertheless, to get away 
from it. 


From my journey to Russia I returned 
to Florence, to await the time of going to 
the United States, where the season opened, 


as usuai, in the month of October. My first 
performances were in the new Metropolitan 
Opera House. There I first produced " Cori- 
olanus," and I was so happy as to meet with 
a flattering reception. After the usuai tour 
through the chief cities, in February, 1886, 
we went to California. The weather was un- 
usually severe. Along the line beyond Den- 
ver was erected an immense penthouse of 
wood, many miles long, to carry over the 
tracks the frequent avalanches from the 
mountains above. To admire this Titanic 
work I went out on the platform of my car 
before we reached the entrance of the snow- 
shed, and for more than half an hour I was 
compelled to breathe the damp cloud of smoke 
and steam, which was shut in by the shed 
and could not escape. I say I was forced to 
breathe it, because in the darkness and the 
dazed feeling produced by the dense and 
black atmosphere, and the undulation of the 
swiftly running train, I was afraid to move for 
fear of falling on the rails. When we shot 
out into the light I was as drenched as if I 
had been ducked in a well, and I believe it is 
to this that I owe the complete loss of my 
voice after our first two or three performances 


in San Francisco, — a thing which in my 
whole career had never happened to me 
before. It was a most provoking accident. 
Every thing promised us at the outset a splen- 
did financial success, — my artistic success 
was won already, — when the sudden closing 
of the theater, the uncertainty of the people 
whether I could go on again, and the con- 
temporaneous appearance of several new at- 
tractions, ali united to divert the public from 
us, and we passed a week of interrupted 
profit and unlooked-for loss. I tried the 
most heroic and disagreeable remedies, but 
the disease would not be turned from its 
course, and we had to wait until my vocal 
organs could resumé their sonority. While I 
lay in bed trying to get well, out of spirits, 
cross, and worried, not only for my own loss, 
but for that of my manager, a telegraphic 
despatch carne from Florence to aggravate 
my trouble and grieve me sorely. My bro- 
ther Alessandro was dead. This sad news 
pained and depressed me so greatly that 
when I returned to the stage, not fully cured, 
and afflicted by my sudden loss, the public 
could not have formed a very favorable 
opinion of my artistic merit. Certainly I was 


not in condition to make the most of what I 
may have had. 


From California we returned to New- 
York, where I had an ofifer to play for three 
weeks with the famous artist Edwin Booth, 
to give three performances of " Othello " a 
week, with Booth as Iago and me as Othello. 
The cities selected were New York, Philadel- 
phia, and Boston. As the managers had to 
hire the theaters by the week, they proposed 
that we should give ''Hamlet" as a fourth 
performance, with Booth as Hamlet and me 
as the Ghost. I accepted with the greatest 
pleasure, flattered to be associated with so 
distinguished and sympathetic an artist. I 
cannot fìnd epithets to characterize those 
twelve performances ! The word " extraor- 
dinary" is not enough, nor is "splendid"; 
I will cali them "unique," for I do not be- 
lieve that any similar combination has ever 
aroused such interest in North America. To 
give some idea of it, I will say that the re- 
ceipts for the twelve performances were 
$43,500, an average of $3,625 a night. In 


Italy such receipts would be something phe- 
nomenal ; in America they were very satis- 
factory. During this time I carne to know 
Booth, and I found in him every quality that 
can characterize a gentleman. The affability 
and modesty of his manners rendered him 
justly loved and esteemed, not only by his 
countrymen, but by ali who had the fortune 
to make his acquaintance. For the perform- 
ances I have described, the best-known artists 
who were then free were engaged ; and my 
son Alessandro played Cassio in "Othello" 
and Laertes in " Hamlet" with honor to him- 
self, as he had also played with credit in more 
important parts in the course of my tour. 
This stili youthful actor was endowed by na- 
ture with the gift of easily acquiring north- 
ern idioms. He was educated in German 
Switzerland, and had made a thorough study 
of German, which rendered the acquisition 
of English easy for him. I had sought to 
influence him in any other direction than 
that of the stage, but in a few months he ven- 
tured to present himself before the New 
York public in a lover's part, in English, be- 
side that able actress Clara Morris, and the 
verdict was encouraging. By degrees he 


mastered the English language to such a de- 
gree that it could not be perceived that he 
was a foreigner. Nature bestowed upon this 
youth the material of an actor. He has a 
good presence, a fine voice, a vivid imagina- 
tion, and a naturai adaptability to diverse 
characters. In my opinion those best suited 
to him are the virile and energetic ; in the 
languid, amorous, and sentimental he does 
not seem to me so successful. 


In 1889 I accepted a fifth engagement for 
North America. The actor's life in North 
America can be summed up in three words, 
" Theater, railroad, hotel." Very few are the 
cities in which a stop of two or three weeks is 
made. Away from the large centers, some- 
times theater and town are changed every 
night, with the intervening weariness of 
packing and of sleeping-cars. And in addi- 
tion there is the infliction of the reporters, to 
which you must submit, the thousands of 
autographs from which there is no relief, and 
the admirers who persecute you. As you 


can imagine, at the end of such a season of 
seven months the actor is very eager to tear 
this shirt of Nessus from his back. But with 
ali that, if I had been ten years younger I 
should have returned thither ten times more. 
One can endure in America what would not 
be endurable in Europe, and especially in 
Italy. I do not know whether this is due to 
the air, or to the material comforts of life, 
or whether it is that the example of industry 
animates, fortifìes, and spurs one on : but it is 
certain that so continuous a strain in Europe 
would prostrate a man in a single year, while 
in America, one undergoes it with resigna- 
tion and resists it with courage. I will not 
deny that the anticipation of a satisfactory 
profit had some influence in maintaining my 
vitality, although my strongest incitement 
carne from knowing that I was appreciated 
and loved. 


In October, 1889, then, I found myself 
again in North America, and I began again 
the life which I have described. This time, 
too, I was fortunate in the choice of a play 


which I had already given in the United 
States during my first visit in 1873 w ^ tn 
the Italian company. After seventeen years 
"Samson" could be called new to the audi- 
ences who saw it. This play was put on 
the stage as a great spectacle. Scenery, 
furniture, costumes, accessories, ali were 
made new for the occasion. The fall of the 
tempie of Dagon was presented with so 
much realism that I feared every night that 
I should be crushed under one of those 
enormous blocks which fell on ali sides of 
me. My son Alessandro had the stage man- 
agement, and he took diligent precautions 
against a catastrophe. Nevertheless, one 
night a block of cornice rebounded, and gave 
me a bruise on the leg which lasted for 
several days. I was fortunate in having in 
the actress who play ed Delilah a most effi- 
cient coadjutress in the great success of that 
tragedy. During seven consecutive months 
I gave only three plays — "Othello," "Sam- 
son," and the "Gladiator," except that in the 
last month I added the "Morte Civile," to be 
able to take a little breath, and played it 
as a rest. I gave "Othello" thirty-six times, 
"Samson" thirty-five, the "Gladiator" 


twenty, and the ''Morte Civile" twelve, — in 
ali one hundred and three performances, ali 
requiring great expenditure of force. I need 
hardly say that, as always, the public showed 
me appreciation beyond my deserts. 

I realized, however, that I should not have 
the courage to make a sixth appearance in 
America under those inexorable conditions, 
and I resolved to announce my farewell to the 
American people in the papers, with expres- 
sion of my regret at taking my leave of them 
for the last time. No one would believe my 
declaration. People adduced the example of 
other artists, who have used this means to 
swell their audiences; but to the honor of 
truth I can say that I never was under the 
necessity of having recourse to so puerile a 
subterfuge. I was induced to say adieu to 
the United States by my fear of being no 
longer able to answer their expectation, .for it 
had cost me too much to hide the extreme fa- 
tigue consequent on my performances during 
the season just expired. In former years, 
owing to my exuberant strength, every effort 
carne spontaneously; now I felt that, to attain 
the same effects, I must make a greater ex- 
penditure of energy. As I left that hospita- 


able land behind, and saw the great Statue of 
Liberty fade gradually from my sight, I felt a 
pang in my soul, and if my eyes were dry, my 
heart wept. I made a salute to that country 
whose people are so full of vigor, industry, 
and courage, and lack neither culture, nor 
understanding, nor feeling. May the United 
States receive the salutation of a humble 
artist, who while his heart beats will feel for 
that nation respect and love! 

In returning to Europe the thought con- 
soled me that I left in the land of Wash- 
ington an offshoot of my blood. My son 
Alessandro loves the United States as I do, 
and can henceforth cali himself half Ameri- 
can ; and I am sure that with industry and 
unflinching will, besides winning general es- 
timation for himself, he will keep alive be- 
yond the ocean a sympathetic memory of me. 
In the mean time, thank God, he represents 
me worthily, and through him my name is 
stili heard in America. 


In 1890-91 Andrea Maggi's company was 
at the Teatro Niccolini in Florence for the 


carnival season. Maggi had played the part 
of Othello in other cities, and every condition 
seemed to favor my taking that of Iago in 
that theater, one of those of the highest re- 
pute in Italy. I accepted, and set to work to 
study, not the character, which was already 
impressed on my mind, but the mechanism 
of the words, a thing which for some little 
time had become difficult for me, owing to 
a defect of memory. It was much harder for 
me to commit exactly to memory the precise 
lines of the part of Iago than to form a con- 
ception of the personage and to study out the 
effects. As to the last, the best way to arrive 
at many is to seek for none. This is not the 
place to make an analysis of the character ; I 
will only say that every one looks at it in his 
own way, and that I have already published 
my view of it. ' The " actor of the classic 
school," as some impressionists cali me, aimed 
to present an example of naturalness in de- 
livery, while bringing into relief the poetic 
beauties of the part, and to efifect this so that 
the verse form should not obscure truth ; and 
it is said that success was not lacking. 
With this interpretation I completed my tril- 
ogy of parts of the second rank, the others 
being Lanciotto in " Francesca da Rimini " 


and Pylades in "Oreste"; and it was my 
purpose with these to demonstrate that even 
in an inferior part it is entirely possible to 
win the consideration of the public. 

It has always been my aim to overcome 
the difficulties of my profession. The more 
difficult a thing has seemed, the more firmly 
I have set my mind upon conquering it. Not 
a few of the characters which I have played 
in the course of my long career have aroused 
bitter criticism, and yet have been well re- 
ceived by the public because my interpreta- 
tion has been found accurate. Others have 
dated their success from some counsel of 
mine, which was based on experience, and 
for which the author has been grateful to me. 
Has the collection of the masterworks of art 
always found in me an interpreter of mirror- 
like truth ? No, I say. I have sought to the 
extent that my limited abilities have per- 
mitted to penetrate to my author's ideal, but 
I have the conscience to confess that I have 
not always risen to the height of my own 
conception. I have never had a more severe 
critic than myself in matters pertaining to my 
art. As I myself look at it, my sentiment 
of blame is stronger than that of satisfaction. 


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University of Toronto