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Full text of "Mary Anderson: the story of her life and professional career"

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Life and Protessionai ^.areer, oy raiid.. 

with port, in steel from original drawings by 

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^ England as an appreciation of the American 

'^^ctress who became endeared to th,e English 

Theatre-going Public, ' tK. cry\^H .'■ 1884 

Marv Andfys"". the- Velebrat* Amencan; was 

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MARY ANDERSON 



THE STORY OF HER LIFE 



PROFESSIONAL CAREER 



J. M. FARRAR, M.A. 

Author of "Five Years in Minnesota," Syc. 

WiitD a {portrait on Steel 

FROM AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY HENRY VAN DER WEVDE 





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LONDON 




DAVID BOGUE, 


27, KING WILLIAM STREET 




STRAND 




1884 







 
T. TETTITT & CO., X 

■a •  

rrinters,  

25, Frith Street, Soho, 

LONDON, W. 



ACF3 



TO 

MRS. HAMILTON GRIFFIN 

IS INSCRIBED 

WITH SINCERE REGARD, 

THIS SKETCH 

OF 

HER DAUGHTER'S LIFE. 



513 



PREFACE. 



THE writer of these pages feels some diffidence in presenting 
them to the public. They are a sketch — incomplete as any 
such sketch must be — of an artist whose career, if her life be 
prolonged, can hardly be said to have more than begun. There 
is a charm too in Mary Anderson, in her enthusiasm for her 
art, in her high and cultivated intelligence, in her sweet and 
gracious womanliness, which are far more easily felt than described. 
Very few actresses — none, indeed, of other than English birth — 
have so endeared themselves to the English theatre-going public. 
Rare, indeed, are the names of those who have inspired friend- 
ships so warm among some of the most gifted Englishmen and 
Englishwomen of their time. To have known Mary Anderson 
intimately is to have lived in the sunshine. To think of her is 
to be reminded of a line of the great poet of her native 
land : — 

*' When she passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music." 

J. M. F. 

London. 

October, 1884 



CONTENTS. 



Preface. 

Chap. I. At Home i 

„ II. Birth and Education ... 7 

„ III. Early Years on the Stage . . .16 

„ IV. The Career of an American Star . . 25 

„ V. First Visit to Europe . . . .41 

„ VI. Second Visit to Europe — Experienxes 

ON THE English Stage . . . -45 

„ VII. Impressions of England ... . .52 

„ VIII. The Verdict OF the Critics . -57 

„ IX. Mary Anderson as an Actress . . 80 





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MARY ANDERSON. 



Chapter I. 



AT HOME. 



LONG BRANCH, one of America's most famous watering- 
places, in midsummer, its softly-wooded hills dotted here 
and there with picturesque " frame " villas of dazzling white, and 
below the purple Atlantic sweeping in restlessly on to the New 
Jersey shore. The sultry day has been one of summer storm, 
and the waves are tipped still with crests of snowy foam, though 
now the sun is sinking peacefully to rest amid banks of cloud, 
aflame with rose and violet and gold. 

About a mile back from the shore stands a rambling country 
house embosomed in a small park a few acres in extent, and 
immediately surrounding it masses of the magnificent shrub 
known as Rose of Sharon, in full bloom, in which the walls of 



2 MARY ANDERSON. 

snowy white, with their windows gleaming in the sun-light, seem 
set as in a bed of colour. The air is full of perfume. The scent 
of flower and tree rises gratefully from the rain-laden earth. 
The birds make the air musical with song ; and here and there 
in the neighbouring wood, the pretty brown squirrels spring from 
branch to branch, and dash down with their gambols the rain- 
drops in a diamond spray. , ,A broad verandah covered with 
luxuriant honey-suckle and clematis stretches along the^eastern 
front of the house, and the wide bay window thrown open just 
now to the summer wind seems framed in flowers. As we 
approach nearer, the deep, rich notes of an organ strike upon the 
ear. Some one, with seeming unconsciousness, is producing a 
sweet passionate music, which changes momentarily with the player's 
passing mood. We pause an instant and look into the room. 
Here is a picture which might be called "a dream of fair 
women." Seated at the organ in the subdued hght is a young 
woman of a strange, almost startling beauty. Her graceful figure 
clad in a simple black robe, unrelieved by a single ornament, is 
slight, and almost girlish, though there is a rounded fulness in its 
lines which betrays that womanhood has been reached. A small 
classic head carried with easy grace ; finely chiselled features ; 
full, deep, grey eyes ; and crowning all a wealth of auburn hair, 
from which peeps, as she turns, a pink, shell-like ear; these 
complete a picture which seems to belong to another clime and 
another age, and lives hardly but on the canvas of Titian. We 
are almost sorry to enter the room and break the spell. Mary 
Anderson's manner as she starts up from the organ with a light 
elastic spring to greet her visitors, is singularly gracious and 



A T H O M E. 3 

winning. There is a frank fearlessness in the beautiful speaking 
eyes so full of poetry and soul, a mingled tenderness and 
decision in the mouth, with an utter absence of that self- 
consciousness and coquetry which often mar the charm of even 
the most beautiful face. This is the artist's study to which she 
flies back gladly, now and then, for a few weeks' rest and relaxation 
from the exacting life of a strolling player, whose days are spent 
wandering in pursuit of her profession over the vast continent which 
stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Here she may be found 
often busy with her part when the faint rose begins to steal over the 
tree tops at early dawn ; or sometimes when the world is asleep, 
and the only sounds are the wind, as it sighs mournfully through 
the neighbouring wood, or the far-off murmur of the Atlantic 
waves as they dash sullenly upon the beach. On a still summer's 
night she will wander sometimes, a fair Rosalind, such as 
Shakespeare would have loved, in the neighbouring grove, and 
wake its silent echoes as she recites the Great Master's lines ; or 
she will stand upon the flower-clad verandah, under the moonlight, 
her hair stirred softly by the summer wind, and it becomes to her 
the balcony from which Juliet murmurs the story of her love to a 
ghostly Romeo beneath. 

A large English deerhound, who was dozing at her feet when 
we entered the room, starts up with his mistress, and after 
a lazy stretch seems to ask to join in the welcome. Mary 
Anderson explains that he is an old favourite, dear from his 
resemblance to a hound which figures in some of the portraits of 
Mary Queen of Scots. He has failed ignominiously in an at- 
tempted training for a dramatic career, and can do no more 



4 MARY ANDERSON. 

than howl a doleful and distracting accompaniment to his mistress's 
voice in singing. We glance round the room, and see that the 
walls are covered with portraits of eminent actors, living and 
dead, with here and there bookcases filled with favourite dramatic 
authors ; in a corner a bust of Shakespeare ; and on a velvet stand 
a stage dagger, which once belonged to Sarah Siddons. Over 
the mantelpiece is a huge elk's head, which fell to the rifle of 
General Crook, and wajs presented to Mary Anderson by that 
renowned American hunter ; and here, under a glass case, is a 
stuffed hawk, a deceased actor and former colleague. Dressed in 
appropriate costume he used to take the part of T/ie Hawk in 
Sheridan Knowles's comedy of " Love," in which Mary Anderson 
played the Countess. The story of this bird's training is as 
characteristic of her passion for stage realism as of that in- 
domitable power of will to overcome obstacles, to which much of 
her success is due. She determined to have a live hawk for the 
part instead of the conventional stuffed one of the stage, and 
■with some difficulty procured a half-wild bird from a menagerie. 
Arming herself with strong spectacles and heavy gauntlets, 
she spent many a weary day in the painful process of " taming 
the shrew." After a long struggle, in which she came off some- 
times torn and bleeding, the bird was taught to fly from the 
falconer's shoulder on to her outstretched finger, and stay there 
while she recited the lines — 

" How nature fashioned him for his bold trade ! 
Gave him his stars of eyes to range abroad, 
His wings of glorious spread to mow the air 
And breast of might to use them ! " 



A T H O M E. 5 

and then, by tickling his feet, he would fly off and flap his wings 
appropriately, while she went on — 

"I delight 
To fly my hawk. The hawk's a glorious bird ; 
Obedient — yet a daring, dauntless bird ! " 

Here, too, are her guitar and zither, on both which instru- 
ments Mary Anderson is a proficient. 

And now that we have seen all her treasures, we must 
follow her to the top of the house, from which is obtained a fine 
view of the Atlantic as it races in mighty waves on to the 
beach at Long Branch. She declares that in the offing, among 
the snowy craft which dance at anchor there, can be distinguished 
her pretty steam yacht, The Galatea. 

Night is falling fast, but with that impulsiveness which is 
so characteristic of her, Mary Anderson insists upon our paying 
a visit to the stables to see her favourite mare, Maggie Logan. 
Poor Maggie is now blind with age, but in her palmy days she 
could carry her mistress, who is a splendid horsewoman, in a 
flight of five miles across the prairie in sixteen minutes. As we 
enter the box, Maggie turns her pretty head at sound of the 
familiar voice, and in response to a gentle hint, her mistress 
produces a piece of sugar from her pocket. As Mary Anderson 
strokes the fine thoroughbred head, we think the pair are not 
very much unlike. Meanwhile, Maggie's stable companion cranes 
his beautiful neck over the side of the box, and begs for the 
caress which is not denied him. 

Night has fallen now in earnest, and the beaming coloured boy 
holds his lantern to guide us along the path, while Maggie whinnies 



6 MARY ANDERSON. 

after us her adieu. The grasshoppers chirp merrily in the sodden 
grass, and now and then a startled rabbit darts out of the wood 
and crosses close to our feet. The light is almost blinding as 
we enter the cheerful dining room, where supper is laid on the 
snowy cloth, and are introduced to the charming family circle 
of the Long Branch villa. Though it is the home now of 
an old Southerner, Mary Anderson's step-father, it is a 
favourite trysting-place with Grant, the hero of the North, with 
Sherman, and many another famous man, between whom 
and the South there raged twenty years ago so deadly and 
prolonged a feud. While not actually a daughter of the South by 
birth, Mary Anderson is such by early education and associations, 
and to these grim old soldiers she seems often the emblem of Peace, 
as they sit in the pretty drawing-room at Long Branch, and listen, 
sometimes with tear-dimmed eyes, to the sweet tones of her voice 
as she sings for them their favourite songs. 




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Chapter II. 
BIRTH AND EDUCATION. 

SELDOM has a more charming story been written than that 
of Mary Anderson's childhood and youth to the time when, 
a beautiful girl of sixteen, she made her debut in what has ever 
since remained her favourite role, Juliet — and the only Juliet who 
has ever played the part at the same age since Fanny Kemble. 

There was nothing in her home surroundings to guide in 
the direction of a dramatic career ; indeed her parents seem to 
have entertained the not uncommon dread of the temptations 
and dangers of a stage life for their daughter, and only yielded at 
last before the earnest passionate purpose to which so much of 
Mary Anderson's after success is due. They bent wisely at length 
before the mysterious power of genius which shone out in the 
beautiful child long before she was able fully to understand 
whither the resistless promptings to tread the " mimic stage 
of life " were leading her. In the end the New World gained an 
actress of whom it may well be proud, and the Old World has 
been faip to confess that it has no monopoly of the highest 
types of histrionic genius. 



8 MARY ANDERSON. 

Mary Anderson was born at Sacramento, on the Pacific 
slope, on the 28th of July, 1859, but removed with her parents 
to Kentucky, when but six months old. German and English 
blood are mingled in her veins, her mother being of German 
descent, while her father was the grandson of an Englishman. 
On the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the ranks of 
the Southern armies, and fell fighting under the Confederate 
flag before Mobile. When but three years old Mary 
Anderson was left fatherless, and a year or two afterwards she and 
her little brother Joseph found almost more than a father's love 
and care in her mother's second husband, Dr. Hamilton Griffin, 
an old Southern planter, who had abandoned his plantations at 
the outbreak of the war, and after a successful career as an army 
surgeon, established himself in practice at Louisville. 

Mary Anderson's early years were characteristic of her 
future. She was one of those children whose wild artist nature 
chafes under the restraints of home and school life. Generous 
to a fault, the life and soul of her companions, yet to control her 
taxed to their utmost the parental resources; and it must be 
admitted she was the torment of her teachers. Her wild ex- 
uberant spirits overleaped the bounds of school life, and sometimes 
made order and discipline difficult of enforcement. She was never 
known to tell an untruth, but at the same time she would never 
confess to a fault. Imprisoned often for punishment in a room, 
she would stedfastly refuse to admit that she had done wrong, 
and, maternal patience exhausted, the mutinous little culprit had 
commonly to be released impenitent and unconfessed. Indeed, 
her wildness acquired for her the name of " Little Mustang;'* as, 



BIRTH AND EDUCATION. ^ g 

later on, her fondness for poring over books beyond her childish 
years that of " Little Newspaper." At school, the confession must 
be made, she was refractory and idle. The prosaic routine of 
school life was dull and distasteful to the child, who, at 
ten years of age, found her highest delight in the plays of 
Shakespeare. Many of her school hours were spent in a corner, 
face to the wall, and with a book on her head, to restrain the 
mischievous habit of making faces at her companions, which 
used to convulse the school with ill-suppressed laughter. She 
would sally forth in the morning with her little satchel, fresh and 
neat as a daisy, to return at night with frock in rents, and all 
the buttons, if any way ornamental, given away in an impulsive 
generosity to her school mates, It soon became evident that 
she would learn little or nothing at school; and on a faithful 
promise to amend her ways if she might only leave and pursue her 
studies at home, Mary Anderson was permitted, when but 
thirteen years of age, to terminate her school career. But instead 
of studying " Magnall's Questions," or becoming better acquainted 
with " The Use of the Globes," she spent most of her time 
in devouring the pages of Shakespeare, and committing favourite 
passages to memoiy. To her childish fancy they seemed to open 
the gates of dreamland, where she could hold converse with a 
world peopled by heroes, and live a life apart from the prosaic 
everyday existence which surrounded her in a modern American 
town. Shakespeare was the teacher who replaced the " school 
mar'm," with her dull and formal lessons. Her quick perceptive 
mind grasped his great and noble thoughts, which gave a vigour 
and robustness to her mental growth. Since those days she has 



lo MARY ANDERSON. 

assimilated rather than acquired knowledge, and there are now 
few women of her age whose information is more varied, or 
whose conversation displays greater mental culture, and higher 
intellectual development. Strangely enough, it was the male 
characters of Shakespeare which touched Mary Anderson's youth- 
ful fancy ; and she studied with a passionate ardour such parts 
as Hamlet, Romeo, and Richard III. With the wonderful intuition 
of an art-nature, she seems to have felt that the cultivation of the 
voice was a first essential to success. She ransacked her father's 
library for works on elocution, and discovering on one occasion 
"Rush on the Voice," proceeded, for many weeks before it 
became known to her parents, to commence under its guidance 
the task of building up a somewhat weak and ineffective organ 
into a voice capable of expressing with ease the whole gamut 
of feeling from the fiercest passion to the tenderest sentiment, and 
which can fill with a whisper the largest theatre. 

The passion for a theatrical career seems to have been born 
in the child. At ten she would recite passages from Shakespeare, 
and arrange her room to represent appropriately the stage scene. 
Her first visit to the theatre was when she was about twelve, one 
winter's evening, to see a fairy piece called " Puck." The house 
was only a short distance from her home at Louisville, and she 
and her little brother presented themselves at the entrance door 
hours before the time announced for the performance. The door- 
keeper happened to observe the children, and thinking they would 
freeze standing outside in the wintry wind, good naturedly opened 
the door and admitted Mary Anderson to Paradise — or what 
seemed like it to her — the empty benches of the dress circle, the 



BIRTH AND EDUCATION. H 

dim half-light, the mysterious horizon of dull green curtain, 
beyond which lay Fairyland. Here for two or three hours she sat 
entranced, till the peanut boy made his appearance to herald the 
approach of the glories of the evening. From that date the die 
of Mary Anderson's destiny was cast. The theatre became her 
world. She looked with admiring interest on a super, or even a 
bill-sticker, as they passed the windows of her father's house ; and 
an actor seen in the streets in the flesh filled her with the same 
reverent awe and admiration as though the gods had descended 
from their serene heights to mingle in the dust with common 
mortals. We are not sure that she still retains this among the 
other illusions of her youth ! 

The person who seems to have fixed Mary Anderson's 
theatrical destiny was one Henry Woude. He had been an actor 
of some distinction on the American stage, which he had, however, 
abandoned for the pulpit. Mr. Woude happened to be one of her 
father's patients, and the conversation turning one day upon 
Mary's passion for a theatrical career, the old actor expressed a 
wish to hear her read. He was enthusiastic in praise of the power 
and promise displayed by the self-trained girl, and declared to the 
astonished father that in his youthful daughter he possessed a 
second Rachel. Mr. Woude advised an immediate training for a 
dramatic career ; but the parental repugnance to the stage was not 
yet overcome, and Mary remained a while longer to pursue, as 
best she might, her dramatic studies in her own home, and 
with no other teachers than the artistic instinct which had 
already guided her so far on the path to eventual triumph and 
success. 



12 MARY ANDERSON. 

When, in her fourteenth year, Mary Anderson saw for the 
first time a really great actor. Edwin Booth came on a starring 
tour to Louisville, and she witnessed his Richard III., one of the 
actor's most powerful impersonations. That night was a new 
revelation to her in dramatic art, and she returned home to lie 
awake for hours, sleepless from excitement, and pondering whether 
it were possible that she could ever wield the same magic power. 
She commenced at once the serious study of Richard III. The 
manner of Booth was carefully copied, and that great artist would 
doubtless have been as much amused as flattered to note the 
servility with which his rendering of the part was adhered to. A 
preliminary rehearsal took place in the kitchen before a little 
coloured girl, some years Mary Anderson's senior, who had that 
devoted attachment to her young mistress often found in the 
coloured races to the whites. Dinah was so much terrified by the 
fierce declamation that she almost went into hysterics, and rushing 
upstairs beg^d the mother to come down and see what was the 
matter with " Miss Mami," as she was affectionately called at 
home. Consent was at length obtained to a little drawing-room 
entertainment at home of Richard HI, with Miss Mary Anderson 
for the first and last time in the title role. For some months the 
young debutante had carefully saved her pocket money for the 
purchase of an appropriate costume, and resisting, as best she 
might, the attractions of the sweetmeat shop, managed to 
accumulate five dollars. With her mother's help a little costume 
was got up — a purple satin tunic, green silk cape, and plumed hat — 
and wearing the traditional hump, the youthful representative of 
Richard appeared for the first time before an audience in the Tent 



BIRTH AND EDUCATION 13 

Scene, preceded by the Cottage Scene from The Lady of Lyons. 
The back drawing-room was arranged as a stage ; her mother 
acting as prompter, though her help was little needed ; and, judged 
by the enthusiastic applause of friends and neighbours, the per- 
formance was a great success. The young actress received it all 
with even more apparent coolness than if she had trodden the 
boards for years, and made her exits with the calm dignity which 
she had observed to be Edwin Booth's manner under similar circum- 
stances. Indeed, Booth became to her childish fancy the divinity 
who could open to her the door of the stage she longed so 
ardently to reach. She confided to the little coloured girl a plan 
to save their money, and fly to New York to Mr. Booth, and ask 
him to place her on the stage. Dinah entered heartily into the 
affair, and at one time they had managed to hoard as much as 
five dollars for the carrying out of this romantic scheme. Some 
years afterwards when the wish of her heart had been long accom- 
plished, Mary Anderson made Mr. Booth's acquaintance, and 
recounting to him her childish fancy asked what he would have 
done if she had succeeded in presenting herself to him in New 
York. " Why, my child, I should have taken you down to the 
depot, bought a couple of tickets for Louisville, and given you in 
charge of the conductor," was the rather discouraging answer of 
the great tragedian. 

Not long afterwards Mary Anderson's dramatic powers were 
submitted to the critical judgment of Miss Cushman. That great 
actress, then in the zenith of her fame, was residing not far distant 
at Cincinnati. Accompanied by her mother, Mary presented herself 
at Miss Cushman's hotel. They happened to meet in the vestibule. 




14 MARY ANDERSON. 

The veteran actress took the young aspirant's hand with her accus- 
tomed vigorous grasp, to which Mary, not to be outdone, nerved 
herself to respond in kind ; and patting her at the same time affec- 
tionately on the cheek, invited her to read before her on an early 
morning. When Miss Cushman had entered her waiting carriage, 
Mary Anderson, with her wonted veneration for what pertained to 
the stage, begged that she might be allowed to be the first to sit in the 
chair that had been occupied for a few moments by the great actress. 
Miss Cushman's verdict was highly favourable. '' You have," she 
said, " three essential requisites for the stage : voice, personality, and 
gesture. With a year's longer study and some training, you may ven- 
ture to make an appearance before the public." Miss Cushman 
recommended that she should take lessons from the younger 
Vandenhoff, who was at the time a successful dramatic teacher in 
New York. A year from that date occurred the actress's 
lamented death, almost on the very day of Mary Anderson's deduf. 
Returning home thus encouraged, her dramatic studies 
were resumed with fresh ardour. The question of the New York 
project was anxiously debated in the family councils. It was at 
length decided that Mary Anderson should receive some regular 
training for the stage ; and accompanied by her mother she was 
soon afterwards on her way to the Empire City, full of happiness 
and pride that the dream of her life seemed now within reach of 
attainment. Vandenhoff was paid a hundred dollars for ten 
lessons, and taught his pupil mainly the necessary stage business. 
This was, strictly speaking, Mary Anderson's only professional 
training for a dramatic career. The stories which have been 
current since her appearance in London, as to her having been a 



BIRTH AND EDUCATION. 15 

pupil of Cushman, or of other distinguished American artists, are 

entirely apocryphal, and have been evolved by the critics who 

have given them to the world out of that fertile soil, their own 

inner consciousness. There is certainly no circumstance in her 

career which reflects more credit on Mary Anderson than that 

her success, and the high position as an artist she has won thus 

early in life, are due to her own almost unaided efforts. Well may 

it be said of her — 

" What merit to be dropped on fortune's hill? 
The honour is to mount it." 




Chapter III, 



EARLY YEARS ON THE STAGE. 



BETWEEN eight and nine years ago, Mary Anderson made 
her d^bui at Louisville, in the home of her childhood, and 
before an audience, many of whom had known her from a child. 
This was how it came about. The season had not been very 
successful at Macaulay's Theatre, and one Milnes Levick, an 
English stock -actor of the company, happened to be in some 
pecuniary difficulties, and in need of funds to leave the town. 
The manager bethought him of Mary Anderson, and conceived the 
bold idea of producing ** Romeo and Juliet," with the untried young, 
novice in the role of Juliet for poor Levick's benefit. It was on a 
Thursday that the proposition was made to her by the manager at 
the theatre, and the performance was to take place on the 
following Saturday. Mary, almost wild with delight, gave an 
eager acceptance if she could but obtain her parents' consent. 
The passers-by turned many of them that day to look at the 
beautiful girl, who flew almost panting through the streets to reach 
her home. The bell handle actually broke in her impetuous 
eager hands. The answer was " Yes," and at length the dream of 



EARLY YEARS ON THE STAGE. 



17 



her life was realised. On the following Saturday, the 27th of 
November, 1875, after only a single rehearsal, and wearing the 
borrowed costume of the manager's wife, who happened to be 
about the same size as herself, and without the slightest "make 
up," Mary Anderson appeared as one of Shakespeare's favourite 
heroines. She was announced in the playbills thus : — 

JULIET . . By A Louisville Young Lady 

( Her first appearance on any stage). 

The theatre was packed from curiosity, and this is what the 
Louisville Courier said of the performance next morning. 

Louisville Courier, November 28th, 1875. 

" We can scarcely bring ourselves to speak of the young actress, 
who came before the footlights last night, with the coolness of a 
critic and a spectator. An interest in native genius and young 
endeavour, in courage and brave effort that arrives from so near us 
— our own city — precludes the possibility of standing outside of 
sympathy, and peering in with analyzing and judicial glance. But 
we do not think that any man of judgment who witnessed Miss 
Anderson's acting of Juliet, can doubt that she is a great actress. 
In the latter scenes she interpreted the very spirit and soul of tragedy, 
and thrilled the whole house into silence by the depth of her passion 
and her power. She is essentially a tragic genuis, and began really 
to act only after the scene in which her nurse tells Juliet of what 
she supposes is her lover's death. The quick gasp, the terrified 
stricken face, the tottering step, the passionate and heart-rending 
accents were nature's own marks of affecting overwhelming grief. 
Miss Anderson has great power over the lower tones of her rich 
voice. Her whisper electrifies and penetrates ; her hurried words 
in the passion of the scene, where she drinks the sleeping potion, 
and afterwards in the catastrophe at the end, although very far 



l8 MARY ANDERSON. 

below conversational pitch, came to the ear with distinctness and 
with wonderful effect. In the final scene she reached the climax of 
her acting, which, from the time of Tybalt's death to the end, was 
full of tragic power that we have never seen excelled. It will be 
observed that we have placed the merit of this actress (in our opinion) 
for the most part in her deeper and more sombre powers, and despite 
the high praise that we more gladly offer as her due, we cannot be 
blind to her faults in the presentation of last evening. She is, un- 
doubtedly, a great actress, and last night evidenced a magnificent 
genius, more especially remarkable on account of her extreme youth ; 
but whether she is a great Juliet is, indeed, more doubtful. We 
can imagine her as personating Lady Macbeth superbly, and hope 
soon to witness her in the part. As Juliet, her conception is almost 
perfect, as evinced by her rare and exceptional taste and intuitive 
understanding of the text. But her exactment of the earlier scenes 
lacks the exuberance and earnest joyfulness of the pure and glowing 
Flower of Italy, with all her fanciful conceits and delightful and 
loving ardour. 

" We could not, in Miss Anderson's rendition of the balcony 
scene, help feeling in the tones of her voice, an almost stern fore- 
boding of their saddening fates — a foreboding stranger than that 
which falls as a shadow to all ecstatic youthful hope and joy. Other 
faults — as evident, undoubtedly, to her and to her advisers, as to us 
— are for the most part superficial, and will disappear in a little 
further experience. A first appearance, coupled with so much merit 
and youth, may well excuse many things. 

" A lack of true interpretation we can never excuse. We give 
mediocrity fair common-place words, generally of commendation 
imaccompanied by censure. But when we come to deal with a divine 
inspiration, our words must have their full meaning. 

"We do not here want mere commendatory phrases, whose 
stereotyped faces appear again and again. We want just apprecia- 
tion, just censure. Thus our criticism is not to be considered unkind. 
Nay, we not only owe it to the truth and to ourselves in Miss 
Anderson's case, to state the existence of faults and crudities in her 
acting, but we owe it to her, for it is the greatest kindness, and yet 



EARLY YEARS ON THE STAGE. 19 

we do not speak harshly and are glad to admit that most of her 
faults — such for instance as frequently casting up the eyes — are not 
only slight in themselves, but enhance if not caused by the timidity 
natural on such an occasion. 

" But enough of faults. We know something of the quality of 
our home actress. We see with but little further training and 
experience she will stand among the foremost actresses on the stage. 
We are charmed by her beauty and commanding power, and are 
justified in predicting great future success." 

In the following February Mary Anderson appeared again at 
Macaulay's Theatre for a week, when she played, with success, 
Bianca in " Phasio,'' studied by the advice of the manager, who 
thought she had a vocation for heavy tragedy ; also Julia in •' The 
Hunchback," Evadne, and again Juliet. 

The reputation of the rising young actress began to spread 
now beyond the bounds of her Kentucky home, and on the 6th of 
March, 1876, she commenced a week's engagement at the Opera 
House in St. Louis. Old Ben de Bar, the great Falstaff of his 
time, was manager of this theatre. He had known all the most 
eminent American actors, and had been manager for many of 
the stars ; and he was quick to discern the brilliant future which 
awaited the young actress. The St. Louis engagement was not 
altogether successful, though it was brightened by the praises of 
General Sherman, with whom was formed then a friendship which 
remains unbroken till to-day. Indeed, the old veteran can never 
pass Long Branch in his travels without "stopping off to see 
Mary." Ben de Bar had a theatre in New Orleans, known as the 
St. Charles. It was the Drury Lane of that city, and situated in 
an unfashionable quarter of the town. Its benches were reported 
to be almost deserted, and its treasury nearly empty. But an 



20 MARY ANDERSON. 

engagement to appear there for a week was accepted joyfully by 
Mary Anderson. She played Evadne at a parting matink in St. 
Louis on the Saturday, travelled to New Orleans all through 
Sunday, arriving there at two o'clock on the Monday afternoon, 
rushed down to the theatre to rehearse with a new company, and 
that night appeared to a house of only forty-eight dollars ! The 
students of the Military College formed a large part of 
the scanty audience, and fired with the beauty and talent of the 
young actress, they sallied forth between the acts and bought up all 
the bouquets in the quarter. The final act of "Evadne" was played 
almost knee-deep in flowers, and that night Mary Anderson was 
compelled to hire a waggon to carry home to her hotel the floral 
offerings of her martial admirers. General and Mrs. Tom Thumb 
occupied the stage box on one of the early nights of the engage- 
ment, and the fame of the beautiful young star soon reached the 
fashionable quarter of New Orleans, and Upper Tendom flocked 
to the despised St. Charles. On the following Saturday night there 
was a house packed from floor to ceiling, the takings, meanwhile, 
having risen from 48 to 500 dollars. An offer of an engagement 
at the Varietds, the Lyceum of New Orleans, quickly followed, 
and the daring feat of appearing as Meg Merrilies was attempted 
on its boards. The press predicted failure, and warned the young 
aspirant against essaying a part almost identified with Cushman, 
then but lately deceased, who had been a great favourite with the 
New Orleans public, and one of whose best impersonations it 
was. The - actors too, with whom Mary Anderson rehearsed, 
looked forward to anything but a success. Nothing daunted, 
however, and confident in her own powers, she spent two hours in 



EARLY YEARS ON THE STAGE. 21 

perfecting a make-up so successful, that even her mother failed to 
recognize her in the strange weird disguise ; and, then darkening 
her dressing room, set herself resolutely to get into the heart 
of her part. Mary Anderson's Meg Merrilies was an immense 
success ; Cushman herself never received greater applause, and 
the scene was quite an ovation. Hearing, on the fall of the 
curtain, that General Beauregard, one of the heroes of the Civil 
War, intended to make a presentation, she threw off her disguise, 
and smoothing her hair rushed back to the stage, to receive the 
Badge of the Washington Artillery, a belt enamelled in blue, with 
crossed cannons in gold with diamond vents, and suspended from 
the belt a tiger's head in gold, with diamond eyes and ruby tongue. 
The corps had been known through the War as the "Tiger Heads," 
and were famed for their deeds of daring and bravery. The belt 
bore the inscription " To Mary Anderson, from her friends of the 
Battalion," She returned thanks in a little speech which was 
received with much enthusiasm, and retired almost overcome with 
pleasure and pride. The youthful actress, who had then not 
completed her seventeenth year, took by storm the hearts of 
the impulsive and chivalrous Southerners. On the morning 
of her departure, she found to her astonishment that the railway 
company had placed a fine '* Pullman " and special engine at 
her disposal all the way to Louisville. Generals Beauregard and 
Hood with many distinguished Southerners were on the platform 
to bid her farewell, and she returned home with purse and 
reputation both marvellously grown. 

After a brief period spent in diligent study, Mary Anderson 
fulfilled a second engagement in New Orleans, which proved a 



22 MARY ANDERSON. 

great financial success. The criticisms of this period all admit her 
histrionic power, though some describe her efforts as at times raw 
and crude, faults hardly to be wondered at in a young girl mainly 
self-taught, and with barely a year's experience of the business of 
the stage. 

About this time Mary Anderson met with the first serious 
rebuff in her hitherto so successful career. It happened too in 
California, the State of her birth, where she was to have a somewhat 
rude experience of the old adage, that " a prophet has no honour 
in his own country." John McCullough was then managing with 
great success the principal theatre at San Francisco, and offered 
her a two weeks' engagement. But California would have none of 
her. The public were cold and unsympathetic, the press actually 
hostile. The critics declared not only that she could not act, but 
that she was devoid of all capability of improvement. One more 
gallant than his fellows was gracious enough to remark that, in 
spite of her mean capacity as an artist, she possessed a neck like 
a column of marble. It was only when she appeared as Meg 
Merrilies that the Californians thawed a little, and the press 
relented somewhat. Edwin Booth happened to be in San Francisco 
at the time, and it was on the stage of California that Mary 
Anderson first met the distinguished actor who had been her early 
stage ideal. He told her that for ten years he had never sat through 
a performance till hers; and the praises of the great tragedian went far 
to console, for the coldness and want of sympathy in the general 
public. It was by Booth's advice, as well as John McCullough's, that 
she now began to study such parts as Farthenta, as better suited to 
her powers than more sombre tragedy. Those were the old stock- 



EARLY YEARS ON THE STAGE. 23 

theatre days in America, when every theatre had a fair standing 
company, and relied for its success on the judicious selection of 
stars. This system, though perhaps a somewhat vicious one, made 
so many engagements possible to Mary Anderson, whose means 
would not have admitted of the costlier system of travelling with a 
special company. 

The return journey from California was made painfully 
memorable by a disastrous accident to a railway train which had 
preceded the party, and they were compelled to stop for the night 
at a little roadside town in Missouri. The hotels were full of 
wounded passengers, and scenes of distress were visible on all 
sides. When they were almost despairing of a night's lodging, a 
plain countryman approached them, and offered the hospitality of 
his pretty white cottage hard by, embosomed in its trees and flowers. 
The offer was thankfully accepted, and soon after their arrival 
the wife's sister, a " school mar'm," came in, and seemed to 
warm at once to her beautiful young visitor. She proposed a 
walk, and the two girls sallied forth into the fields. The stranger 
turned the subject to Shakespeare and the stage, with which Mary 
Anderson was fain to confess but a very slight acquaintance, fearing 
the announcement of her profession would shock the prejudices of 
these simple country folk, who might 'shrink from having " a play 
actress " under their roof. Some months after the party had returned 
home there came a letter from these kind people saying how, 
to their delight and astonishment, they had accidentally discovered 
who had been their guest. It seemed the sister was an enthusiastic 
Shakespearian student, and all agreed that in entertaining Mary 
Anderson they had " entertained an angel unawares.' 



24 MARY ANDERSON. 

The Californian trip may be said to close the first period of 
Mary Anderson's dramatic career. With some drawbacks and 
some rebuffs she had made a great success, but she was known thus 
far only as a Western girl, who had yet to encounter the judgment 
of the more critical audiences of the South and East, as years later, 
with a reputation second to none all over the States as well as in 
Canada, she essayed, with a success which has been seldom 
equalled, perhaps never surpassed, the ordeal of facing, at the 
Lyceum, an audience, perhaps the most fastidious and critical 
in London. 




Chapter IV. 



THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR. 



M 



ARY ANDERSON returned home from California dis- 
heartened and dispirited. To her it had proved anything 
but a Golden State. Her visit there was the first serious rebuff in 
her brief dramatic career whose opening months had been so full 
of promise, and even of triumph. She was barely seventeen, and 
a spirit less brave, or less confident in its own powers, might easily 
have succumbed beneath the storm of adverse criticism. Happily 
for herself, and happily too for the stage on both sides of the 
Atlantic, the young debutante took the lesson wisely to heart. She 
saw that the heights of dramatic fame could not be taken by storm ; 
that her past successes, if brilliant, regard being had to her youth 
and want of training, were far from secure. She was like some 
fair flower which had sprung up warmed by the genial sunshine, 
likely enough to wither and die before the first keen blast. Her 
youth, her beauty, her undoubted dramatic genius, were points 
strongly in her favour ; but these could ill counterbalance, at 
first at any rate, the want of systematic training, the almost total 
absence of any experience of the representation by others of 



26 MARY ANDERSON. 

the parts which she sought to make her own. She had seen 
Charlotte Cushman, indeed, in Meg Merrilies, but of the true 
rendering of a part so difficult and complex as Shakespeare's 
Juliet, she knew absolutely nothing but what she had been taught 
by the promptings of her own artistic instinct. She was herself 
the only /uliel, as she was the only Bianca, and the only Evadne, 
she had ever seen upon any stage. In those days she had, 
perhaps, never heard the remark of Mademoiselle Mars, who was 
the most charming of Juliets at sixty. "6"/ favais ma Jeunesse, 
je rCaurais pas mon talent ^ 

Coming back then to her Kentucky home from the ill-starred 
Californian trip, Mary Anderson seems to have determined to essay 
again the lowest steps of the ladder of fame. She took a summer 
engagement with a company, which was little else than a band of 
strolling players. The repertoire was of the usual ambitious 
character, and Mary was able to assume once more her favourite 
role of Juliet, The company was deficient in a Romeo, and the 
part was consequently undertaken by a lady — a role by the way in 
which Cushman achieved one of her greatest triumphs. In spite, 
however, of the young star, the little band played to sadly empty 
houses, and the treasury was so depleted that, in the generosity of 
her heart, Mary Anderson proposed to organize a benefit matinee, 
and ^\zy Juliet. She went down to the theatre at the appointed 
hour and dressed for her part. After some delay a man strayed 
into the pit, then a couple of boys peeped over the rails of the 
gallery, and, at last, a lady entered the dress-circle. The dis- 
heartened manager was compelled at length to appear before the 
curtain and announce that, in consequence of the want of public 



THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR. 27 

support, the performance could not take place. That day Mary 
Anderson walked home to her hotel through the quiet streets of 
the little Kentucky town — which shall be nameless^with a sort 
of miserable feeling at her heart, that the world had no soul for the 
great creations of Shakespeare's master-mind, which had so entranced 
her youthful fancy. It all seemed like a descent into some chill 
valley of darkness, after the sweet incense of praise, the perfume 
of flowers, and the crowded theatres which had been her earlier 
experiences. But the dark storm cloud was soon to pass over, and 
henceforth almost unbroken sunshine was to attend Mary 
Anderson's career. For her there was to be no heart-breaking period 
of mean obscurity, no years of dull unrequited toil. She burst as a 
star upon the theatrical world, and a star she has remained to this 
day, because, through all her successes, she never for a moment 
lost sight of the fact that she could only maintain her ground by 
patient study, and steady persistent hard work. Failures she 
had unquestionably. Her rendering of a part was often rough, 
often unfinished. Not uncommonly she was surpassed in know- 
ledge of stage business by the most obscure member of the 
companies with whom she played ; but the public recognized 
instinctively the true light of genius which shone clear and bright 
through all defects and all shortcomings. It was a rare experience, 
whether on the stage, or in other paths of art, but not an unknown 
one. Fanny Kemble, who made her dedu^ at Covent Garden at 
the same age as Mary Anderson, took the town by storm at once, 
and seemed to burst upon the stage as a finished actress. David 
Garrick was the greatest actor in England after he had been on the 
boards less than three months Shelley was little more than sixteen 



28 MARY ANDERSON. 

when he wrote "Queen Mab;" and Beckford's "Vathek" was 
the production of a youth of barely twenty. 

In the year 1876 Mary Anderson received an offer from a 
distinguished theatrical manager, John T. Ford, of Washington 
and Baltimore, to join his company as a star, but at an ordinary 
salary. Three hundred dollars a week, even in those early days, 
was small pay for the rising young actress, who was already 
without a rival in her own line on the American stage ; but the 
extended tour through the States which the engagement offered, 
the security of a good company, and of able management, led to 
an immediate acceptance. On this as on every other occasion, 
through her theatrical career, Mary Anderson was accompanied 
by her father and mother, who have ever watched over her 
welfare with the tenderest solicitude. All the arrangements for 
the trip were en prince. Indeed we have small idea in our little 
sea-girt isle, of the luxury and even splendour with which 
American stars travel over the vast distances between one city 
and another on the immense Western continent. The "City 
of Worcester," a new Pullman car, subsequently used by Sarah 
Bernhardt, and afterwards by Edwin Booth, was chartered for 
the party, consisting of Mary Anderson, her father, mother, and 
brother, and the young actress's maid and secretary. A cook and 
three coloured porters constituted the personnel of the establish- 
ment. There was a completely equipped kitchen, a dining-room 
with commodious family table; a tiny drawing-room with its 
piano, portraits of favourite artists, and some choicely-filled 
bookshelves, as well as capital sleeping quarters. It was 
literally a splendid home upon wheels. Where the hotels 



THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR. 29 

happened to be inferior at any particular town, the party 
occupied it through the period of the engagement. Visitors 
were received, friendly parties arranged, and little of the in- 
convenience and discomfort of travel experienced. It was thus 
that Mary Anderson made her first great theatrical tour through 
the States. In spite of now and then a cold, or even hostile 
press, her progress was very like a triumph. In many places she 
created an absolute furore, hundreds being turned away at the 
theatre doors. Indeed, it was no uncommon occurrence for an 
ordinary seat whose advertised price was 75 cents to sell at as high 
a premium as 25 dollars. The management reaped a rich harvest, 
and Mary Anderson played on this Southern trip to more money 
than any previous actor, excepting only Edwin Forrest. There was 
still one drop of bitter in this cup of sweetness and success. The 
company, jealous of the prominence given to one whom they re- 
garded as a mere untried girl, proceeded to add what they could to 
her difficulties by " boycotting " her. There were two exceptions 
among the gentlemen actors j and we are pleased to be able to 
record that one of these was an Englishman. The ladies were 
unanimous in proclaiming a war to the knife ! 

Needless to say the impassioned youth of the New World 
now and then pursued the wandering star in her travels at 
immense expenditure of time and money, as vi^ell as of floral 
decorations. This is young America's way of showing his 
admiration for a favourite actress. He is silent and unobtrusive. 
He makes his presence known by the midnight serenade beneath 
her windows; by the bouquets which fall at her feet on every 
representation, and are sent to the room of her hotel at 



30 MARY ANDERSON. 

the same hour each day ; by his constant attendance on the 
departure platform at the railway station. We are not sure that 
this silent worship which so often persistently followed her path 
was displeasing to Mary Anderson. It touched, if not her heart, 
yet that poetic vein which runs through her nature, and reminded 
her sometimes of the vain pursuit with which Evangeline followed 
her wandering lover. 

Manager Ford had taken Mary Anderson through the South 
with great profit to himself. In this she had had no direct pecuniary 
interest beyond her modest salary. She had, of course, greatly 
enriched her reputation if not her purse. She had become at home 
in her parts, and even added to her repertoire, the manager's daughter, 
with whom she ^\z.yt^ Juliet and Lady Macbeth alternately, having 
translated for her Lafille de Roland, in which she has since appeared 
with great success. She was then but seventeen-and-a-half, and 
had never possessed a diamond, when on returning home from 
church one Sunday morning, she found a little jewel-case contain- 
ing a magnificent diamond cross, an acknowledgment from the 
manager of her services to his company. The gift was the more 
appreciated from the fact that it was a very exceptional specimen 
of managerial generosity in America ! 

The criticisms of the press during the early years of Mary 
Anderson's theatrical career are full of interest, viewed in the light 
of her after and firmly-established success. They show that the 
American people were not slow to recognize the genius of the 
young girl, who was destined hereafter to spread a lustre on the 
stage of two Continents. At the same time they are full either 
of a ridiculous praise which is blind to the presence of the least 



'J^ : 



THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR. 31 

fault, and would have turned the head of a young girl not endowed 
with the sturdy common sense possessed by Mary Anderson ; or 
they are marked by a vindictive animosity which defeats its very 
object, and practically attracts public notice in favour of an actress 
it is obviously meant to crush. These newspaper criticisms are 
further amusing as showing the family likeness which exists between 
the £enus " dramatic critic " on both sides of the Atlantic. Each 
seems to believe that he carries the fate of the actor in his inkhorn. 
Each seems blind to the fact that Voxpopulivox Dei; that favourable 
criticism never yet made an artist, who had not within him 
the power to win the popular favour; still more, that adverse 
criticism can never extinguish the heaven-sent spark of true 
artistic fire. 

The verdict of Louisville on its home-grown actress has 
been given in a preceding chapter. The estimate, however, of 
strangers is of far more value than that of friends or acquaintance. 
The judgment of St. Louis, where Mary Anderson played her 
earliest engagements away from home is, on the whole, the most 
interesting dramatic criticism of her early performances on record. 
St. Louis is a city of considerable culture, and stands in much the 
same relation to the South, as does its modern rival Chicago to 
the North- West. Its newspapers are some of the ablest on the 
Continent, and its audiences perhaps as critical as any in America 
if we except perhaps such places as Boston or New York. 

The St. Louis Globe Democrat says : — 

" A diamond in the rough, but yet a diamond, was the mental 
verdict of the jury who sat in the Opera House last night to see 
Miss Mary Anderson on her first appearance here in the character 



32 MARY ANDERSON. 

of Juliet. It was in reality her debut upon the stage. She played, 
a short time since, for one week in her native city, Louisville, but 
this is her first effort upon a stage away from the associations which 
surround an appearance among friends, and which must, to a great 
extent, influence the general judgment of the debutante' s merit 

We believe her to be the most promising young 

actress who has stepped upon the boards for many a day, and before 
whom there is, undoubtedly, a brilliant and successful career." 

The St. Louis Republican has the following very interesting 
notice : — 

" A fresh and beautiful young girl of Juliet's age embodied and 
presented Juliet. Beauty often mirrors its type in this beautiful 
character, but very rarely does Juliet's youth meet its youthful 
counterpart on the stage .... A great Juliet is not the 
question here, but the possibility of a Juliet near the age at which 
the dramatist presented his heroine. Mary Anderson is untampered 
by any stage traditions, and she rendered Shakespeare's youngest 
heroine as she felt her pulsing in his lines .... She leads a 
return to the source of poetic inspiration, and exemplifies what true 
artistic instincts and feeling can do on the stage, without either the 
traditions and experience of acting. She colours her own concep- 
tions and figure of Juliet, and by her work vindicates the master, 
and proves that Juliet can be presented by a girl of her own age 
. , . . The fourth act exhibited great tragic power, and no 
want was felt in the celebrated chamber scene which is the test 
passage of this role .... It stamped the performance as a 
success, and the actress as a phenomenon .... The thought 
must have gone round the house among those who knew the facts — 
Can this be only the seventh performance on the stage of this young 
girl?" 

Here is another notice a few months later on in Mary 

Anderson's dramatic career from the '■'■ Baltimore Gazette": — 

"Miss Anderson's 'Juliet' has the charm which belongs to 
youth, beauty, and natural genius. Her fair face, her flexile youth — 



THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR. . 33 

for she is still in her teens — and her great natural dramatic genius, 
make her personation of that sweet creation of Shakespeare success- 
ful, in spite of her immaturity as an artist. We have so often seen 
aged Juliets ; stiff, stagey Juliets ; fat, roomy Juliets ; and ill- 
featured Juliets, that the sight of a young, lady-like girl, vvith natural 
dramatic genius, a bright face, an unworn voice is truly refreshing. 
In the scene where the nurse brings her the bad news of Tybalt's 
death and Romeo's banishment, she acted charmingly. In gesture, 
attitude, and facial expression, she gave evidence of emotion so true 
and strong, as showed she was capable of losing her own identity in 
the rd/e." 

As an amusing specimen of vindictive criticism, we subjoin a 
notice in the Washington Capitol, under date May 28, 1876. This 
lengthy notice contains strong internal evidence of a deadly feud 
existing between Manager Ford and the Editor of The Capitol, and 
the stab is given through the fair bosom of Mary Anderson, whose 
immense success in Senatorial Washington, this atrabilious knight 
of the plume devotes two columns of his valuable space to explaining 
away. 

Washington City Daily Capitol, 28th May, 1876. 

" Miss Anderson comes to us on a perfect whirlwind of news- 
paper puffs. We use the words advisedly, for in none of them can 
be found a paragraph of criticism. If Siddons or Cushman had been 
materialized and restored to the stage in all their pristine excellence, 
the excitement in Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis and New Orleans, 
could not have been more intense. The very firemen of one of those 
cities seem to have been aroused and lost their hearts, if not their 
heads, and not only serenaded the object of their adoration, but got 
up a decoration for her to wear of the most costly and gorgeous sort. 
Under this state of fact we waited with unusual impatience for the 
sixteen sticks to give the cue that was to fetch on the Juliet. 
It came at last, and Juliet stalked in. Had Lady Macbeth responded 



34 MARY ANDERSON. 

to the summons we could not have been more amazed. Miss 
Anderson is heroic in size and manner. The lovely heiress to the 
house of the Capulets, on the turn of sixteen, swept in upon the stage 
as if she were mistress of the house, situation, and of fate, and bent 
on bringing the enemy to terms. Her face is sweet, at times 
positively beautiful, but incapable of expression. Her voice, while 
clear, is hard, metallic, at intervals nasal, and all the while stagey. 
She has been trained in the old Kemble tragic pump-handle style 
of elocution, that runs talk on stilts. Her manner is crude and 
awkward. In the balcony scene she only needed a pair of gold 
rimmed glasses to have made her an excellent schoolmistress, 
chiding a naughty young man for intruding upon the sacred premises 
of Madame Fevialli's select academy for young ladies. In the love 
scenes that followed she was cold enough to be broken to pieces for 
a refrigerator. But who could have warmed up to such a Romeo ? 
That unpleasant youth pained us with his quite unnecessary 
gyrations and spasmodic noise. We soon discovered that Miss 
Anderson had been coached for Juliet without possessing on her 
part the most distant conception of the character — or capacity to 
render it, had she the information. She was not doing Juliet from 
end to end. She was as far from Juliet as the North Pole is from 
the Equator. She was doing something else. We could not make 
out clearly what that character was ; but it was something quite 
different and a good way off. Sometimes we thought it was Lady 
Macbeth, sometimes Meg Merrilies, sometimes Lucretia Borgia, 
but never for a moment Juliet. We speak thus plainly of Miss 
Anderson, because her injudicious and enthusiastic friends are 
injuring, if they are not ruining her. Her fine physique, her dash, 
her beautiful face, her clear ringing voice, have carried crowds off 
their heads — well, they are off at both ends ; for on last Thursday 
night the amount of applauding was based on shoe leather. The 
lovely Anderson was called out at the end of each act. As to that, 
the active Romeo had his call. We never saw before precisely such 
a house. The north-west was out in full force. Kentucky came to 
the front like a little man. General Sherman, sitting at our 
elbow, wore out his gloves, blistered his hands, and then borrowed a 



THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR. 35 

cotton umbrella from his neighbour. Miss Anderson, with all her 
natural advantages, added to her love of the art, her indomitable will 
as shown in her square prominent jaw, has a career before her, but 
it is not down the path indicated by these enthusiastic friends. 
' The steeps where Fame's proud temple shines afar ' are difficult of 
access, and genius waters them wth more tears than sturdy, steady, 
persevering talent. 

" Charlotte Cushman told us once that the heaviest article she 
had to carry up was her heart. The divine actress who now leads 
the English-spoken stage began her professional career as a ballet 
dancer, and has grown her laurels from her tears. We suspected 
Miss Anderson's success. It was too triumphant, too easy. After 
years of weary labour, of heart-breaking disappointments, of dreary 
obscurity, genius sometimes blazes out for a brief period to dazzle 
humanity ; and quite as often never blazes, but disappears without a 
triumph. 

" To such life is not a battle, but a campaign with ten defeats, 
yea, twenty defeats to one victory. 

" Miss Anderson will think us harsh and unkind in this. She 
will live, we hope, to consider us her best friend. 

"There is one fact upon which she can comfort herself : she 
could not get two hours and a-half of our time and a column in 
The Capitol were she without merit. There is value in her ; but 
to fetch it out she must go back, begin lower, and give years to 
training, education, aud hard work. She can labour ten years for 
the sake of living five. As for her support, it was of the sort afforded 
by John T., the showman, and very funny. Mrs. Germon, God 
bless her ! was properly funny. She is the best old woman on end 
in the world. 

" Romeo (Mr. Morton) we have spoken of. Lingham is supposed 
to have done Mercutio. Well, he did do him. That is, he went 
through the motions. He seemed to be saying something anent the 
great case of Capulet v. Montague, but so indistinct that there was 
a general sense of relief when he staggered off to die. Deaths 
generally had this effect Thursday night, and the house not only 
applauded the exits, but made itself exceedingly merry. 



36 MARY ANDERSON. 

" When Paris went down and a tombstone fell over him, his 
plaintive cry of * Oh, I am killed ! ' was received with shouts of 
laughter. 

" It was the most laughable we ever witnessed. In the first 
scene one of those marble statues, so peculiar to John T.'s 
mismanagement, that resemble granite in a bad state of small-pox, 
fell over. 

" The house was amazed to see it resolve itself into a board, 
and laughed tumultuously to note how it righted itself up in a 
mysterious manner, and stood in an easy reclining posture till the 
curtain fell. 

" The scene that exhibited the balcony affair was a sweet thing. 
Evidently the noble house of the Capulets was in reduced circum- 
stances. The building from which Juliet issued was a frame 
structure so frail in material that we feared a collapse. 

" If the carpenter who erected that structure for the Capulets 
charged more than ten dollars currency he swindled the noble old 
duffer infamously. The front elevation came under that order of 
architecture known out West as Conestoga. It was all of fifteen 
feet in height, and depended for ornamentation on a brilliant horse 
cover thrown over the comer of the balcony, and a slop bucket that 
Juliet was evidently about to empty on the head of Romeo when 
that youth made his presence known. The house shook so under 
Juliet's substantial tread, that an old lady near us wished to be 
taken out, declaring that * that young female would get her neck 
broken next thing.' 

" In the last scene where the page (Miss Lulu Dickson) was 
ordered to extinguish the torch, the poor girl made frantic efforts, 
but failing walked off with the thing blazing. 

"When Paris entered with his page, a youth in a night shirt, 
that youth carried in his countenance the fixed determination of 
putting out his torch at the right moment or die in the attempt. 
We all saw that. 

" Expectancy was worked up to a point of intense interest, so 
that when at last the word was given, a puff of wind not only 



THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR. 37 

extingxiished the torch but shook the scenery, and made us thank- 
ful the young man did wear pantaloons, as the consequences might 
have been terrible. 

"When Count Paris fell mortally wounded, a tombstone at his 
side fell over him in the most convenient and charming manner. 
The house was so convulsed with merriment that when poor Juliet 
was exposed in the tomb she was greeted with laughter, much to the 
poor girl's embarrassment. And this is the sort of entertainment to 
which we have been treated throughout our entire season. But then 
the showman is a success and pays his bills." 

The great Eastern cities of America are regarded by an 
American artist much in the same light as is the metropolis by a 
provincial artist at home. Their approval is supposed to stamp as 
genuine the verdict of remoter districts. The success which had 
attended Mary Anderson in her journeyings West and South was 
not to desert her when she presented herself before the presumably 
more critical audiences of the East She made her Eastern deduf 
at Pittsburg, the Birmingham of America, in the heat of the 
Presidential Election of 1880, and met with a thoroughly 
enthusiastic reception, to proceed thence to Philadelphia where 
she reaped plenty of honour, but very little money. Boston, the 
Athens of the New World, was reached at length. When Mary 
Anderson was taken down by the manager to see the vast Boston 
Theatre, whose auditorium seats 4,000 people, and which Henry 
Irving declared to be the finest in the world, she almost fainted 
with apprehension. She opened here in Evadne, and one journal 
predicted that she would take Cushman's place. This part was 
followed hy Juliet, Meg Merrilies, and her other chief impersona- 
tions. On one day of her engagement the receipts at a matinee 



38 MARY ANDERSON. 

and an evening performance amounted together to the large sum 
of $7,000. 

The visit to Boston was made memorable to Mary Anderson 
by her introduction to Longfellow. About a week after she had 
opened, a friend of the poet's came to her with a request that she 
would pay him a visit at his pretty house in the suburbs of Boston, 
Longfellow being indisposed at the time, and confined to his 
quaint old study, overlooking the waters of the sluggish Charles, 
and the scenery made immortal in his verse. Here was com- 
menced a warm friendship between the beautiful young artist and 
the aged poet, which continued unbroken to the day of his death. 
He was seated when she entered in a richly-carved chair, of 
which Longfellow told her this charming story. The " spreading 
chestnut tree," immortalized in "The Village Blacksmith," happened 
to stand in an outlying village near Boston, somewhat incon- 
veniently for the public traffic at some cross roads. It became 
necessary to cut it down, and remove the forge beneath. But the 
village fathers did not venture to proceed to an act which they 
regarded as something like sacrilege, without consulting Long- 
fellow. At their request he paid a visit of farewell to the 
spot, and sanctioned what was proposed. Not long after, a 
handsomely carved chair was forwarded to him, made from the 
wood of the "spreading chestnut tree," and which bore an 
inscription commemorative of the circumstances under which it was 
given. Few of his possessions were dearer to Longfellow than this 
dumb memento how deeply his poetry had sunk into the national 
heart of his countrymen. It stood in the chimney corner of his 
study, and till the day of his death was always his favourite seat. 



THE CAREER OF AN AMERICAN STAR. 39 

The verdict of Longfellow upon Mary Anderson is worth that 
of a legion of newspaper critics, and his judgment of her Ju/i'ef, 
deserves to be recorded in letters of gold. The morning after 
her benefit, he said to her, " I have been thinking of Juliet all 
night. Zasi night you were Juliet ! ' ' 

At the Boston Theatre occurred an accident which shows the 
marvellous courage and power of endurance possessed by the 
young actress. In the play of Meg Merriiies, she had to appear 
suddenly in one scene at the top of a cliff some fifteen feet above 
the stage. To avoid the danger of falling over, it was necessary 
to use a staff. Mary Anderson had managed to find one of 
Cushman's, but the point having become smooth through use, she 
told one of the people of the theatre to put a small nail at the 
bottom. Instead of this, he affixed a good-sized spike, and one 
night Mary Anderson, coming out as usual, drove this right 
through her foot, in her sudden stop on the cliff's brink. Without 
flinching, or moving a muscle, with Spartan fortitude she played 
the scene to the end, though almost fainting with pain, till on the 
fall of the curtain the spiked staff was drawn out, not without 
force. Longfellow was much concerned at this accident, and on 
nights she did not play would sit by her side in her box, and 
wrap the furred over-coat he used to wear carefully round her 
wounded foot. 

From Boston Mary Anderson proceeded to New York to 
fulfil a two weeks' engagement at the Fifth Avenue Theatre. She 
opened with a good company in " The Lady of Lyons." General 
Sherman had advised her to read no papers, but one morning to 
her great encouragement, some good friend thrust under her door 



40 MARY ANDERSON. 

a very favourable notice in the New York Herald, The engage- 
ment proved a great success, and was ultimately extended to six 
weeks, the actress playing two new parts, Juliet and The 
Daughter of Roland. She had passed the last ordeal successfully, 
and might rejoice as she stood on the crest of the hill of Fame 
that the ambition of her young life was at length realized. Her 
subsequent theatrical career in the States and Canada need not 
be recorded here. She had become America's representative 
tragedienne ; there was none to dispute her claims. Year after year 
she continued to increase an already brilliant reputation, and to 
amass one of the largest fortunes it has ever been the happy lot of 
any artist to secure. 





Chapter V. 



FIRST VISIT TO EUROPE. 



IN the summer of 1879, was paid Mary Anderson's first visit 
to Europe. It had long been eagerly anticipated. In the 
lands of the Old World was the cradle of the Art she loved so well, 
and it was with feelings almost of awe that she entered their 
portals. She had few if any introductions, and spent a month in 
London wandering curiously through the conventional scenes 
usually visited by a stranger. Westminster Abbey was among 
her favourite haunts ; its ancient aisles, its storied windows, its 
thousand memories of a past which antedated by so many 
centuries the civilization of her native landj appealed deeply to 
the ardent imagination of the impassioned girl. Here was a 
world of which she had read and dreamed, but whose over- 
mastering, living influence was now for the first time felt. It seemed 
like the first glimpse ot verdant forest, of enamelled meadow, of 
crystal stream, of pure sky to one who had been blind. It was 
another atmosphere, another life. Brief as was her visit, it gave 
an impulse to those germs which lie deep in every poetic soul 
She saw there was an illimitable world of Art, whose threshold as 



42 MARY ANDERSON. 

yet she had hardly trodden — and she went home full of the in- 
spiration caught at the ancient fountains of Poetry and Art. 
From that time an intellectual change seems to have passed 
over her. Her studies took new channels, and her impersonations 
were mellowed and glorified from her personal contact with the 
associations of a great Past. 

A visit to Stratford-on-Avon was one of the most delightful 
events of the trip. It seemed to Mary Anderson the emblem of 
peace and contentment and quiet ; and though as a stranger 
she did not then enjoy so many of the privileges which were 
willingly accorded her during the present visit to this country, 
she still looks back to the day when she knelt by the grave of 
Shakespeare as one of the most eventful and inspiring of her life. 

Much of the time of Mary Anderson's European visit was 
spent in Paris. Through the kindness of General Sherman she 
obtained introductions to Ristori and other distinguished artists, 
and, to her delight, secured also the entree behind the scenes of 
the Thidtre Frangais. Its magnificent green-room, the walls lined 
with portraits of departed celebrities of that famous theatre, 
amazed her by its splendour ; and to her it was a strange and 
curious sight to see the actors in Hernani come in and play cards 
in their gorgeous stage costumes at intervals in the performance. 
On one of these occasions she naively asked Sarah Bernhardt 
why her portrait did not appear on the walls ? The great artist 
replied that she hoped Mary Anderson did not wish her dead, 
as only under such circumstances could an appearance there be 
permitted to her. " Behind the Scenes " of the Theatre Franfais 
was a source of never-wearying interest, and Mary Anderson 



FIRST VISIT TO EUROPE. 43 

thought the effects of light attained there far surpassed anything 
she had witnessed on the English or American stage. 

The verdict of Ristori, before whom she recited, was 
highly favourable, and the great tragedienne predicted a brilliant 
career for the young actress, and declared she would be a great 
success with an English company in Paris, while the " divine 
Sarah " affirmed that she had never seen greater originality. On 
the return journey from Paris a brief stay was made at the quaint 
city of Rouen. Joan of Arc's stake, and the house where, 
tradition has it, she resided, were sacred spots to Mary Anderson ; 
and the ancient towers, the curious old streets, overlooking the 
fertile valley through which the Seine wanders like a silver thread, 
are memories which have since remained to her evergreen. 
During her first visit to England Mary Anderson never dreamt of 
the possibility that she herself might appear on the English stage. 
Indeed the effect of her first European tour was depressing 
and disheartening. She saw only how much there was for her to 
see, how much to learn in the world of Art. A feeling of home- 
sickness came over her, and she longed to be back at her sea- 
side home where she could watch the wild restless Atlantic as it 
swept in upon the New Jersey shore, and listen to the sad 
music of the weary waves. This was the instinct of a true 
artist nature, which had depths capable of being stirred by the 
touch of what is great and noble. 

In the following year, however, there came an offer from the 
manager of Drury Lane to appear upon its boards. Mary 
Anderson received it with a pleased surprize. It told that her name 
had spread beyond her native land, and that thus early had been 



44 MARY ANDERSON. 

earned a reputation which commended her as worthy to appear on 
the stage of a great and famous London theatre. But her reply was 
a refusal. She thought herself hardly finished enough to face 
such a test of her powers ; and the natural ambition of a success- 
ful actress to extend the area of her triumph seemed to have 
found no place in her heart. 





Chapter VI. 

SECOND VISIT TO EUROPE. EXPERIENCES ON 
THE ENGLISH STAGE. 

THE interval of five years which elapsed between Mary 
Anderson's first and second visits to Europe was busily 
occupied by starring tours in the States and Canada. Mr. Henry 
Abbey's first proposal, in 1883, for an engagement at the Lyceum 
was met with the same negative which had been given to that 
of Mr. Augustus Harris. But, happening some time afterwards 
to meet her step-father, Dr. Griffin, in Baltimore, Mr. Abbey 
again urged his offer, to which a somewhat reluctant consent was 
at length given. The most ambitious moment of her artist-life 
seemed to have arrived at last. If she attained success, the crown 
was set on all the previous triumphs of her art ; if failure were the 
issue, she would return to America discredited, if not disgraced, 
as an actress. The very crisis of her stage-life had come now in 
earnest. It found her despondent, almost despairing; at the 
last moment she was ready to draw back. She had then none of 
the many friends who afterwards welcomed her with heartfelt 



46 M A RY AN DERSON. 

sincerity whenever the curtain rose on her performance. She saw 
Irving in Louis XL and Shylock. The brilliant powers of the 
great actor filled her at once with admiration and with dread, 
when she remembered how soon she too must face the same 
audiences. She sought to distract herself by making a round of 
the London theatres, but the most amusing of farces could hardly 
draw from her a passing smile, or lift for a moment the weight of 
apprehension which pressed on her heart. The very play in which 
she was destined first to present herself before a London audience 
was condemned beforehand. To make a debut as Parthenia was 
to court certain failure. The very actors who rehearsed with her 
were Job's comforters. She saw in their faces a dreary vista of empty 
houses, of hostile critics, of general disaster. She almost broke 
down under the trial, and the sight of her first play-bill which told 
that the die was irrevocably cast for good or evil made her heart 
sink with fear. On going down to the theatre upon the opening 
night she found, with mingled pleasure and surprise, that on both 
sides of the Atlantic fellow artists were regarding her with kindly 
sympathizing hearts. Her dressing-room was filled with beautiful 
floral offerings from many distinguished actors in England and 
America, while telegrams from Booth, McCullough, Lawrence 
Barrett, Irving, Ellen Terry, Christine Nillson, and Lillie Langtry, 
bade her be of good courage, and wished her success. The over- 
ture smote like a dirge on her ear, and when the callboy came to 
announce that the moment of her entrance was at hand, it 
reminded her of nothing so much as the feeling of mourners when 
the sable mute appears at the door, as a signal to form the 
procession to the tomb. But in a moment the ordeal was 



SECOND VISIT TO EUROPE. 47 

safely passed, and passed for ever so far as an English audience 
is concerned. Seldom has any actress received so warm and 
enthusiastic a reception. Mary Anderson confesses now that never 
till that moment did she experience anything so generous and so 
sympathetic, and offered to one who was then but "a stranger in a 
strange land." Mary Anderson's Parthenia was a brilliant success. 
Her glorious youth, her strange beauty, her admirable impersonation 
of a part of exceptional difficulty, won their way to all hearts. A 
certain amount of nervousness and timidity was inevitable to a 
first performance. The sudden revulsion of feeling, from deep 
despondency to complete triumphant success, made it difficult, at 
times, for the actress to master her feelings sufficiently to make her 
words audible through the house. One candid youth in the 
gallery endeavoured to encourage her with a kindly " Speak up, 
Mary." The words recalled her in an instant to herself, and for 
the rest of the evening she had regained all her wonted self- 
possession. 

From that time till Mary Anderson's first Lyceum season 
closed, the world of London flocked to see her. The house was 
packed nightly from floor to ceiling, and she is said to have 
played to more money than the distinguished lessee of the 
theatre himself Among the visitors with whom Mary Anderson 
was a special favourite were the Prince and Princess. They 
witnessed each of her performances more- than once, and both 
did her the honour to make her personal acquaintance, and 
compliment her on her success. So many absurd stories have 
been circulated as to Mary Anderson's alleged unwillingness to 
meet the Prince of Wales, that the true story may as well be told 



48 MARY ANDERSON. 

once for all here. On one of the early performances of Ingomar^ 
the Prince and Princess occupied the Royal box, and the Prince 
caused it to be intimated to Mary Anderson that he should be 
glad to be introduced to her after the third act. The little republican 
naively responded that she never saw anyone till after the close 
of the performance. H.R.H. promptly rejoined that he always 
left the theatre immediately the curtain fell. Meanwhile the 
manager represented to her the ungraciousness of not complying 
with a request which half the actresses in London would 
have sacrificed their diamonds to receive. And so at the 
close of the third act, Mary Anderson presented herself, leaning 
on her father's arm, in the ante-room of the Royal box. Only the 
Prince was there, and " He said to me," relates Mary Anderson, 
"more charming things than were ever said to me, in a few minutes, 
in all my life. I was delighted with his kindness, and with his 
simple pleasant manner which put me at my ease in a moment ; 
but I was rather surprised that the Princess did not see me 
as well." The piece over, and there came a second message, 
that the Princess also wished to be introduced. With her 
winning smile she took Mary Anderson's hand in hers, and 
thanking her for the pleasure she had afforded by her charming 
impersonation, graciously presented Mary with her own bouquet. 
The true version of another story, this time as to the Princess 
of Wales and Mary Anderson, may as well now be given. One 
evening Count Gleichen happened to be dining tete-d-tete with the 
Prince and Princess at Marlborough House. When they ad- 
journed to the drawing-room, the Princess showed the Count 
some photographs of a young lady, remarking upon her singular 



SECOND VISIT TO EUROPE. 49 

beauty, and suggesting what a charming subject she would 
make for his chisel. The Count was fain to confess that he 
did not even know who the lady was, and had to be informed 
that she was the new American actress, beautiful Mary Anderson. 
He expressed the pleasure it would give him to have so charm- 
ing a model in his studio, and asked the Princess whether he was 
at liberty to tell Mary Anderson' that the suggestion came from 
her, to which the Princess replied that he ceftainly might do so. 
Three replicas of the bust will be executed, of which Count 
Gleichen intends to present one to her Royal Highness, 
another to Mary Anderson's mother, while the third will be placed 
in the Grosvenor Gallery. This is really all the foundation for 
the €tory of a Royal command to Count Gleichen to execute a 
bust of Mary Anderson for the Princess of Wales. 

Among those who were constant visitors at the Lyceum was 
Lord Lytton, or as Mary Anderson loves to call him, " Owen 
Meredith." Her representation of his father's heroine in T/ie 
Lady of Lyons naturally interested him greatly, and it is possible 
that he may himself write for her a special play. Between them 
there soon sprung up one of those warm friendships often 
seen between two artist natures, and Lord Lytton paid Mary 
Anderson the compliment of lending her an unpublished manu- 
script play of his father's to read. Tennyson, too, sought the 
acquaintance of one who in his verse would make a charming 
picture. He was invited to meet her at dinner at a London 
house, and was her cavalier on the occasion. The author of 
The Princess did not in truth succeed in supplanting in her regard 
the bard of her native land, Longfellow; but he so won on 






50 M A RY A N D E RSO N.    ; 

Mary's heart that she afterwards presented him with the gift — 
somewhat unpoetic it must be admitted — of a bottle of priceless 
Kentucky whisky, of a fabulous age ! 

If Mary Anderson was a favourite with the public before 
the curtain, she was no less popular with her fellow artists on 
the stage. Jealousy and ill-will not seldom reign among the 
surroundings of a star. It is a trial to human nature to be but 
a lesser light revolving round some brilliant luminary — but the 
setting to^adorn the jewel. But Mary Anderson won the hearts 
of every onie on the boards, from actors to scene-shifters. 
And at Christmas, in which she is a great believer, every one, 
high or low, connected with the Lyceum was presented with some 
kind and thoughtful mark of her remembrance. And when the 
season closed, she was presented in turn, on the stage, -with a 
beautiful diamond suite, the gift of the fellow artists who had 
shared for so long her triumphs and her toils. 

Mary Anderson's success in London was fully endorsed by 
the verdict of the great provincial towns. Everywhere she was 
received with enthusiasm, and hundreds were nightly turned from 
the doors of the theatres where she appeared. In Edinburgh 
she played one night "to a house of ^^450, a larger sum than was 
ever taken at the doors of the Lyceum. The receipts of the week 
in Manchester were larger than those of any preceding week in 
the theatrical history of the great northern town. Taken as Ja 
whole, her success has been without a parallel on the English 
stage. If she has not altogether escaped hostile criticism in the 
press, she has won the sympathies of the public in a way which 
no artist of other than English birth has succeeded in doing 



.-.* •. i.« 









SECOND VISIT TO EUROPE. 51 

before her. They have come and gone, dazzled us for a time, 
but have left behind them no endearing remembrance. Mary- 
Anderson has found her way to our hearts. It seems almost 
impossible that she can ever leave us to resume again the old life 
of a wandering star across the great American Continent. It 
may be rash to venture a prophesy as to what the future may 
bring forth ; but thus much we may say with truth, that, when- 
ever Mary Anderson departs finally from our shores, the name of 
England will remain graven on her heart. 





Chapter VII. 



IMPRESSIONS OF ENGLAND. 



ALMOST every traveller from either side of the Atlantic with 
the faintest pretensions to distinction, bursts forth on his 
return to his native shores in a volume of "Impressions." 
Archseologists and philosophers, novelists and divines, apostles of 
sweetness and light, and star actors, are accustomed thus to favour 
the public with volumes which the public could very often be well 
content to spare. It is but natural that we should wish to know 
what Mary Anderson thinks of the " fast-anchored isle " and the 
folk who dwell therein. I wish, indeed, that these " Impressions " 
could have been given in her own words. The work would have 
been much better done, and far more interesting ; but failing this, 
I must endeavour, following a recent illustrious example, to give 
them at second hand. During the earlier months of her stay 
among us, she lived somewhat the life of a recluse. Shut up in 
a pretty villa under the shadow of the Hampstead Hills, she saw 
little society but that of a few fellow artists, who found their way 
to her on Sunday afternoons. Indeed, she almost shrank from 
the idea of entering general society. The English world she 



IMPRESSIONS OF ENGLAND. 53 

wished to know was a world of the past, peopled by the creations 
of genius ; not the modern world, which crowds London drawing- 
rooms. She saw the English people from the stage, and they were 
to her little more than audiences which vanished from her life 
when the curtain descended. From her earliest years* she had 
been, in common with many of her countrymen, a passionate 
admirer of the great English novelist, Dickens. Much of her 
leisure was spent in pilgrimages to the spots round London which 
he has made immortal. Now and then, with her brother for a 
protector, she would go to lunch at an ancient hostelry in the 
Borough, where one of the scenes of Dickens's stories is laid, but 
which has degenerated now almost to the rank of a public-house. 
Herd" she would try to people the place in fancy with the characters 
of the novel. " To listen to the talk of the people at such places," 
she once said to me, " was better than any play I ever saw." 

Stratford-on-Avon too, was, of course, revisited, and many 
days were spent in lingering lovingly over the memorials of 
her favourite Shakespeare. She soon became well known to the 
guardians of the spot, and many privileges were granted to her not 
accorded on her first visit, four years before, when she was regarded 
but as a unit in the crowd of passing visitors who throng to the 
shrine of the great master of English dramatic art. On one 
occasion when she was in the Church of Stratford-on-Avon, the 
ancient clerk asked her if she would mind being locked in while 
he went home to his tea. Nothing loth she consented, and remained 
shut up in the still solemnity of the place. Kneeling down by 
the grave of Shakespeare she took out a pocket Romeo and 
Juliet and recited Juliet's death scene close to the spot where the 






54 MARY ANDERSON. .•',••• 

great master, who created her, lay in his long sleep. But presently 
the wind rose to a storm, the branches of the surrounding trees 
dashed against the windows, darkness spread through the ghostly 
aisles, and terror-stricken, Mary fled to the door, glad enough to 
be released by the returning janitor.  ,/ • 

Rural England with its moss-grown farmhouses, ifs grey steeples, 
its white cottages clustering under their shadow, its tiny fields, its 
green hedgerows, garrisoned by the mighty elms, charmed Mary 
Anderson beyond expression, contrasting so strongly with the vast 
prairies, the primeval forests, the mighty rivers of her own giant land. 
These were the boundaries of her horizon in the earlier months of her 
stay among us ; she knew little but the England of the past, and 
the England as the stranger sees it, who passes on his travels 
through its smiling landscapes. But a change of residence to 
Kensington brought Mary Anderson more within reach of those 
whom she had so charmed upon the stage, and who longed to 
have the opportunity of knowing her personally. By degrees her 
drawing-rooms became the icene of an informal Sunday afternoon 
reception. Artists and novelists, poets and sculptors, statesmen 
and divines, journalists and people of fashion crowded to see her, 
and came away wondering at the skill and power with which this 
young girl, evidently fresh to society, could hold her own, and 
converse fluently and intelligently on almost any subject. If the 
verdict of London society was that Mary Anderson was as clever 
in the drawing-room, as she was attractive on the stage, she, in 
her turn, was charmed to speak face to face with many whose 
names and whose works had long been fpmilar to her. It was a 
new world of art and intellect and gei.'us to which she was 



IMPRESSIONS OF ENGLAND. 55 

suddenly introduced, and which seemed to her all the more 
brilliant after the somewhat prosaic uniformity of society in her 
own republican land. To say that she admires and loves England 
with all her heart may be safely asserted. To say that it has almost 
succeeded in stealing away her heart from the land of her birth, 
she would hardly like to hear said. But we think her mind is 
somewhat that of Captain Macheath, in the Beggars' Opera — 

" How happy could I be with either. 
Were t'other dear charmer away ! " 

One superiority, at least, she confesses England to have over 
America. The dreadful "interviewer" who has haunted her 
steps for the last eight years of her life with a dogged pertinacity 
which would take no denial, was here nowhere to be seen. He 
exists we know, but she failed to recognize the same genus in the 
quite harmless-looking gentleman, who, occasionally on the stage 
after a performance, or in her drawing room, engaged her in 
conversation, when leading questions were skilfully disguised ; and, 
then, much to her astonishment, afterwards produced a picture of 
her in print with materials she was quite unconscious of having 
furnished. She failed, she admits now, to see the conventional 
"note-book," so symbolical of the calling at home, and thus her 
fears and suspicions were disarmed. 

One instance of Mary Anderson's kind and womanly 
sympathy to some of the poorest of London's waifs and strays 
should not be unrecorded here. It was represented to her at 
Christmas time that funds were needed for a dinner to a number 
of poor boys in Seven Dials. She willingly found them, and a 
good old-fashioned English dinner was given, at her expense, in 



56 MARY ANDERSON. 

the Board School Room to some three hundred hungry little 
fellows, who crowded through the snow of the wintry New Year's 
Day to its hospitable roof. Though she is not of our faith, 
Mary Anderson was true to the precepts of that Christian Charity 
which, at such seasons, knows no distinction of creed ; and of all 
the kind acts which she has done quietly and unostentatiously 
since she came among us, this is one which commends her 
perhaps most of all to our affection and regard. 




Chapter VIII. 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 

" Quot homines, tot sententia." 

IT may, perhaps, be interesting to record here some of the 
criticisms which have appeared in several of the leading 
London and provincial journals on Mary Anderson's per- 
formances, and especially on her debut at the Lyceum. Such 
notices are forgotten almost as soon as read, and except for some 
biographical purpose like the present, lie buried in the files 
of a newspaper office. It is usual to intersperse them with 
the text ; but for the purpose of more convenient reference they 
have been included in a separate chapter. 

Standard, 3rd September, 1883. 

"The opening of the Lyceum, on Saturday evening, was 
signalized by the assembly of a crowded and fashionable audience 
to witness the first appearance in this country of Miss Mary Anderson 
as Parihenia in Maria Lovell's four-act play of ' Ingomar.' Though 
young in years. Miss Anderson is evidently a practised actress. 
She knows the business of the stage perfectly, is learned in the art 









58 



J»/^i?y ANDERSON. 



of making points, and, what is more, knows how to bide her oppor- 
.tunity. The wise discretion which imposes restraint upon the 
performer was somewhat too rigidly observed in the earlier scenes 
on Saturday night, the consequence being that in one of the most 
impressive passages of the not very inspired dialogue, the little 
distance between the sublime and the ridiculous was bridged by a 
voice from the gallery, which, adopting, a tone, ejaculated 'A 
little louder, Mary,' A less experienced artist might well have 
been taken aback by this sudden infraction of dramatic proprieties. 
Miss Anderson, however, did not lose her nerve, but simply took the 
hint in good part and acted upon it. There is very little reason to 
dwell at any length upon the piece. Miss Anderson will, doubtless, 
take a speedy opportunity of appearing in some other work in which 
her capacity as an actress can be better gauged than in Maria 
Lo veil's bit of tawdry sentiment. A real power of delineating passion 
was exhibited in the scene where Parthenia repulses the advances 
of her too venturesome admirer, and in this direction, to our minds, 
the best efforts of the lady tend. All we can do at present is to 
chronicle Miss Anderson's complete success, the re-calls being so 
numerous as to defy particularization." 

T/ie Times, 3rd September, 1883, • * 

" Miss Mary Anderson, although but three or four and twenty, 
has for several years past occupied a leading position in the United 
States, and ranks as the highest of the American ' stars,' whose 
effulgence Mr, Abbey relies upon to attract the public at the Lyceum 
in Mr. Irving's absence. Recommendations of this high order were 
more than sufficient to insure Miss Anderson a cordial recep- 
tion. They were such as to dispose a sympathetic audience to make 
the most ample allowance for nervousness on the part of the 
debutante, and to distrust all impressions they might have of an 
unfavourable kind, or at least to grant the possession of a more 
complete knowledge of the lady's attainments to those who had 
trumpeted her praise so loudly. That such should have been the 
mood of the house, was a circumstance not without its influence on 



*>. -!.'• 






 V. • ' ,. 



T^E VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 59 

the events of the evening. It was manifestly owing in some measure 
to the critical spirit being subordinated for the time being to the 
hospitable, that Miss Anderson was able to obtain all the outward 
and visible signs of a dramatic triumph in a rS/e which intrinsically 
had little to commend it Usually it is the rude man- 
liness, the uncouth virtues, the awkward and childlike submissiveness 
of that tamed Bull of Bashan (Ingomar) that absorbs the attention 
of a theatrical audience. On Saturday evening the centre of interest 
was, of course, transferred to Parthenia. To the interpretation of 
this character Miss Anderson brings natural gifts of rare excellence, 
gifts of face and form and action, which suffice almost themselves 
to play the part ; and the warmth of the applause which greeted her as 
she first tripped upon the stage expressed the admiration no less than 
the welcome of the house. Her severely simple robes of virgin white, 
worn with classic grace, revealed a figure as lissome and perfect of 
contour as a draped Venus of Thorwaldsen, her face seen under her 
mass of dark brown hair, negligently bound with a riband, was too 
mignonne, perhaps, to be classic, but looked pretty and girlish. A 
performance so graced could not fail to be pleasing. And yet it was 
impossible not to feel as the play progressed, that to the fine 
embodiment of the romantic heroine, art was in some degree 
wanting. The beautiful Parthenia, like a soulless statue, pleased 
the eye, but left the heart untouched. It became evident that faults 
of training or, perhaps, of temperament, were to be set ofiF against 
the actress's unquestionable merits. The elegant artificiality of the 
American school, a tendency to pose and be self-conscious, to smirk 
even, if the word may be permitted, especially when advancing to 
the footlights to receive a full measure of applause, were fatal to such 
sentiment as even so stilted a play could be made to yield. It was 
but too evident that Parthenia was at all times more concerned with 
the fall of her drapery than with the effect of her speeches, and that 
gesture, action, intonation — every thing which constitutes a living 
individuality were in her case not so much the outcome of the feeling 
proper to the character, as the manifestation of diligent painstaking 
art which had not yet learnt to conceal itself. The gleam of the 
smallest spark of genius would have been a welcome relief to the 



6o MARY ANDERSON. 

monotony of talent It must not be forgotten, however, 

that a highly artificial play like Ingomar is by no means a favourable 
medium for the display of an actress's powers, though it may fairly 
indicate their nature. Before a definite rank can be assigned to her 
among English actresses, Miss Anderson must be seen in some of 
her other characters." 

Daily News, 3rd September, 1883. 

" It will be recollected that Mr. Irving, in his farewell speech at 
the Lyceum Theatre, on the 28th of July, made a point of bespeaking 
a kindly welcome for Miss Mary Anderson on her appearance at his 
theatre during his absence, as the actress he alluded to was a lady 
whose beauty and talent had made her the favourite of America, 
from Maine to California. It would not perhaps be unfair to 
attribute to this cordial introduction something of the special interest 
which was evidently aroused by Miss Anderson's debut here on 
Saturday night. English playgoers recognize but vaguely the 
distinguishing characteristics of actors and actresses, whose fame 
has been won wholly by their performances on the other side of the 
Atlantic. It was therefore just as well that before Miss Anderson 
arrived some definite claim as to her pretensions should be authori- 
tatively put forward. These would, it must be confessed, have been 
liable to misconception if they had been judged solely by her first 
performance on the London stage. ' Ingomar ' is not a play, and 
Parthenia is certainly not a character, calculated to call forth tlie 
higher powers of an ambitious actress. As a matter of fact, Miss 
Anderson, who began her historic career at an early age, and is even 
now of extremely youthful appearance, has had plenty of experience 
and success in rtles of much more difficulty, and much wider 
possibilities. Her modest enterprise on Saturday night was quite as 
successful as could have been anticipated. There is not enough 
human reality about Parthenia to allow her representative to 
interest very deeply the sympathy of her hearers, There is not 
enough poetry in the drama to enable the actress to mar our imagi- 
nation by calling her own into play. What Miss Anderson could 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 



6i 



achieve was this : she was able in the first place to prove, by the aid 
of the Massilian maiden's becoming, yet exacting attire, that her 
personal advantages have been by no means overrated. Her features 
regular yet full of expression, her figure slight but not spare, the 
pose of her small and graceful head, all these, together with a girlish 
prettiness of manner, and a singularly refined bearing, are quite 
enough to account for at least one of the phases of Miss Anderson's 
popularity. Her voice is not wanting in melody of a certain kind, 
though its tones lack 'variety. Her accent is slight, and seldom 
unpleasant. Of her elocution it is scarcely fair to judge until she 
has caught more accurately the pitch required for the theatre. For 
the accomplishment of any great things Miss Anderson had not on 
Saturday night any opportunity, nor did her treatment of such mild 
pathos and passion as the character permitted impress us with the 
idea that her command of deep feeling is as yet matured. So far as 
it goes, however, her method is extremely winning, and her further 
• efforts, especially in the direction of comedy and romantic drama, 
will be watched with interest, and may be anticipated with pleasure." 

Morning Post, ix& September, 1883. 
" Lyceum Theatre. 
*'This theatre was reopened under the management of Mr, 
Henry Abbey on Saturday evening, when was revived Mrs. Lovell's 
play called ' Ingomar,' a picturesque but somewhat ponderous 
work of German origin, first produced some thirty years ago at Drury 
Lane with Mr. James Anderson and Miss Vandenhoff as the 
principal personages. The interest centres not so much in the 
barbarian Ingomar as in his enchantress, Parthenia, of whom Miss 
Mary Anderson, an American artist of fine renown, proves a comely 
and efficient representative. In summing up the qualifications of an 
actress the Transatlantic critics never fail to take into account her 
personal charms — a fascinating factor. Borne on the wings of an 
enthusiastic press, the fame of Miss Anderson's loveUness had 
reached our shores long before her own arrival. The Britishers were 
prepared to see a very handsome lady, and they have not been 



V*" . '' 



:?'>-.^i>:^":-^> ..^••^ . •..-... 






62 MARY ANDERSON, :• ': ", . .; • . ,  • 

disappointed. Miss Anderson's beauty is of Grecian type, with a 
head of classic contour, finely-chiselled features, and a tall statuesque 
figure, whose Hellenic expression a graceful costume of antique 
design sets off to the best advantage. You fancy that you have seen 
her before, and so perhaps you have upon the canvas of Angelica 
Kaufifman. For the rest, Miss Anderson is very clever and highly 
accomplished. Her talents are brilliant and abundant, and they 
have been carefully cultivated to every perfection of art save one — 
the concealment of it. She has grace, but it is studied, not negligent 
grace ; her action is always picturesque and obviously premeditated ; 
everything she says and does is impressive, but it speaks a foregone 
conclusion. Her acting is polished and in correct taste. What it 
wants is freshness, spontaneity, abandon. Among English artists 
of a bygone age her style might probably find a parallel in the 
stately elegance and artificial grandeur of the Kembles. It has 
nothing in common with the electric verve and romantic ardour of 
Edmund Kean. Of the feu sacre which irradiated Rachel and 
gives to Bernhardt splendour ineffable. Miss Anderson has not a 
spark. She is not inspired. Hers is a pure, bright, steady light ; 
but it lacks mystic effulgence. It is not empyreal. It is not ' the 
, light that never was on sea or land — the consecration and the poet's 
dream.' It is not genius. It is talent. In a word, Miss Anderson 
is beautiful, winsome, gifted, and accomplished. To say this is to 
say much, and it fills to the brim the measure of legitimate praise. 
She is an eminently good, but not a great artist." 

Daily Telegraph, 3rd September, 1883. 

" There was a natural desire to see, nay, rather let us say to 

welcome Miss Mary Anderson, who made her debut as Parthenia 

in ' Ingomar ' on Saturday evening last. The fame of this actress 

had already preceded her. An enthusiastic climber up the rugged 

mountain paths of the art she had elected to serve 

an earnest volunteer in the almost forlorn cause of the poetical 
drama : a believer in the past, not merely because it is the past, but 
because in it was embodied much of the beautiful and the hopeful 
that has been lost to us, Miss Mary Anderson was assured an honest 



 ' •*' '■ 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 63 

greeting at a theatre of cherished memories It has 

been said that the friends of Miss Anderson were very ill-advised to 
allow her to appear as Parthenia in the now almost-forgotten play of 
' Ingomar.' We venture to differ entirely with this opinion. That 
the American actress interested, moved, and at times delighted her 
audience in a play supposed to be unfashionable and out of date, 
is, in truth, the best feather that can be placed in her cap .... 
There must clearlyTje something in an actress who can not only hold 
her own as Parthenia, but in addition dissipate the dulness of 

' Ingomar * And now comes the question, how far 

Miss Mary Anderson succeeded in a task that requires both artistic 
instinct and personal charm to carry it to a successful issue. The 
lady has been called classical, Greek, and so on, but is, in truth, a 
very modern reproduction of a classical type — a Venus by Mr. 
Gibson, rather than a Venus by Milo ; a classic draped figure of a 
Wedgjvood plaque more than an echo from the Parthenon . . . 
The actress has evidently been well taught, and is both an apt and 
clever pupil ; she speaks clearly, enunciates well, occasionally 
conceals the art she has so closely studied, and is at times both 
tender and graceful Her one great fault is in- 
sincerity, or, in other words, inability thoroughly to grasp the 
sympathies of the thoughtful part of her audience. She is destitute 
of the supreme gift of sensibility that Talma considers essential, 
and Diderot maintains is detrimental to the highest acting. Diderot 
may be right, and Talma may be wrong, but we are convinced that 
the art Miss Anderson has practised is, on the whole, barren and 
unpersuasive. She does not appear to feel the words she speaks, 
or to be deeply moved by the situations in which she is placed. She 
is for ever acting — thinking of her attitudes, posing very prettily, 
but still posing for all that. . . . . . She weeps, but there are 

no tears in her eyes ; she murmurs her love verses with charming 

cadence, but there is no throb of heart in them These 

things, however, did not seem to affect her audience. They cheered 
her as if their hearts were really touched. . . . . . These, 

however, are but early impressions, and we shall be anxious to see 
her in still another delineation." 



64 MARY ANDERSON. 

Standard, loth December, 1883. 
" Lyceum Theatre. 

"Miss Mary Anderson has won such favour from audiences at 
the Lyceum, that anything she did would attract interest and 
curiosity. Galatea, in Mr. W. S. Gilbert's mythological comedy, 
Pygmalion and Galatea, has, moreover, been spoken of as one 
of the actress's chief successes, and a crowded house on Saturday 
evening was the result of the announcement of its revival. An ideal 
Galatea could scarcely be realised, for there should be in the triumph 
of the sculptor's art, endowed by the gods with life, a supernatural 
grace and beauty. The singular picturesqueness of Miss Anderson's 
poses and gestures, the consequences of careful study of the best 
sculpture, has been noted in all that she has done, and this quality 
fits her peculiarly for the part of the vivified statue. In this respect 
it is little to say that Galatea has never before been represented with 
so near an approach to perfection." 



Daily News, loth December, 1883. 

" The part of Galatea, in which Miss Anderson made her first 
appearance in England at the Lyceum Theatre on Saturday evening, 
enables this delightful actress to exhibit in her fullest charms the 
exquisite grace of form and the simple elegance of gesture and 
movement by virtue of which she stands wholly without a rival on the 
stage. Whether in the alcove, where she is first discovered motion- 
less upon the pedestal, or when miraculously endued with life, she 
moves, a beautiful yet discordant element in the Athenian sculptor's 
household. The statuesque outline and the perfect harmony between 
the figure of the actress and her surroundings, were striking enough 
to draw more than once from the crowded theatre, otherwise hushed 
and attentive, an audible expression of pleasure. Rarely, indeed, 
can an attempt to satisfy by actual bodily presentment the ideal of a 
poetical legend have approached so nearly to absolute perfection." 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 65 

The Morning Post, loth December, 1883. 
" ' Pygmalion and Galatea,' a play in which Miss Mary Anderson 
is said to have scored her most generally accepted success in her 
own country, has now taken at the Lyceum the place of ' The Lady 
of Lyons,' a drama certainly not well fitted to the young actress's 
capabilities. Mr. Gilbert's well-known fairy comedy is in many 
respects exactly suited to the display of Miss Anderson's special 
merits. Its heroine is a statue, and a very beautiful simulation of 
chiselled marble was sure to be achieved by a lady of Miss Anderson's 
personal advantages, and of her approved skill in artistic posing. 
Moreover, the sub-acid spirit of the piece rarely allows its sentiment 
to go very deep, and it is in the expression — perhaps, we should 
write the experience — of really earnest emotion, that Miss Anderson's 
chief deficiency lies. Galatea is moreover by no means the strongest 
acting part in the comedy, affording few of the opportunities for the 
exhibition of passion, which fall to the lot of the heart-broken and 
indignant wife, Cynisca. Although in 187 1, on the original produc- 
tion of the play, Mrs, Kendal made much of Galatea's womanly 
pathos, there is plenty of room for an effective rendering of the 
character, which deliberately hides the woman in the statue. Such 
a rendering is, as might have been expected, Miss Anderson's. Even 
in her ingenious scenes of comedy with Leucippe and with Chrysos, 
there is no more dramatic vivacity than might be looked for in a 
temporarily animated block of stone. Her love for the sculptor who 
has given her vitality is perfectly cold in its purity. There is no 
spontaneity in the accents in which it is told, no amorous impulse to 
which it gives rise. This new Galatea, however, is fair to look upon — 
so fair in her statuesque attitudes and her shapely presence, that the 
infatuation of the man who created her is readily understood. By 
the classic beauty of her features and the perfect moulding of her 
figure she is enabled to give all possible credibility to the legend of 
her miraculous birth. Moreover, the refinement of her bearing and 
manner allows no jarring note to be struck, and although, when 
Galatea sadly returns to marble not a tear is shed by the spectator, 
it is felt that a plausible and consistent interpretation of the character 
has been given." 



66 MARY ANDERSON. 

The Times, loth December, 1883. 

" Mr. Gilbert's play Pygmalion and Galatea, is a perversion 
of Ovid's fable of the Sculptor of C)rprus, the main interest of which 
upon the stage is derived from its cynical contrast between the inno- 
cence of the beautiful nymph of stone whom Pygmalion's love 
endows with life, and the conventional prudishness of Society. 
Obviously the purpose of such a travesty may be fulfilled without any 
call upon the deeper emotions — upon the stress of passion, which 
springs from that ' knowledge of good and evil ' transmitted by Eve 
to all her daughters. It is sufficient that the living and breathing 
Galatea of the play should seem to embody the classic marble, that 
she should move about the stage with statuesque grace and that she 
should artlessly discuss the relations of the sexes in the language of 
double intent. Miss Anderson's degree of talent, as shown in the 
impersonations she has already given us, and her command of 
classical pose, have already suggested this character as one for 
which she was eminently fitted. It was therefore no surprise to those 
who have been least disposed to admit this lady's claim to greatness 
as an actress that her Galatea on Saturday night should have been an 
ideally beautiful and tolerably complete embodiment of the part. If 
the heart was not touched, as, indeed in such a play it scarcely 
ought to be, the eye was enabled to repose upon the finest tableau 
vivant that the stage has ever seen. Upon the curtains of the 
alcove being withdrawn, where the statue still inanimate rests upon 
its pedestal, the admiration of the house was unbounded. Not only 
was the pose of the figure under the lime-light artistic in the highest 
sense, but the tresses and the drapery were most skilfully arranged 
to look like the work of the chisel. It is significant of the measure 
of Miss Anderson's art, that in her animated moments subsequently 
she should not have excelled the plastic grace of this first picture. 
At the same time, to her credit it must be said, that she never fell 
much below it. Her movements on the stage, her management of 
her drapery, her attitudes were full of classic beauty. Actresses 
there have been who have given us much more than this statuesque 
posing, who have transformed Galatea into a woman of flesh and 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 67 

blood, animated by true womanly love for Pygmalion as the first man 
on whom her eyes alight. Sentiment of this kind whether intended 
by the author or not, would scarcely harmonize with the satirical 
spirit of the play, and the innocent prattle which Miss Anderson gives 
us in place of it meets sufficiently well the requirements of the case 
dramatically, leaving the spectator free to derive pleasure from his 
sense of the beautiful, here so strikingly appealed to, from the 
occasionally audacious turns of the dialogue in relation to social 
questions, from the disconcerted airs of Pygmalion at the contem- 
plation of his own handiwork, and from the real womanly jealousy ot 
Cynisca." 



The Graj)hic, 14th December, 1883. 

► " Never, perhaps, have the playgoing public been so much at 
variance with the critics as in the case of the young American 
actress now performing at the Lyceum Theatre. There is no denying 
the fact that Miss Anderson is, to use a popular expression, ' the 
rage ' ; but it is equally certain that she owes this position in very 
slight degree to the published accounts of her acting. From the first 
she has been received, with few exceptions, only in a coldly critical 
spirit ; and yet her reputation has gone on gathering in strength till 
now, the Lyceum is crowded nightly with fashionable folk whose 
carriages block the way ; and those who would secure places to 
witness her performances are met at the box offices with the informa- 
tion that all the seats have been taken long in advance. How are 
we to account for the fact that this young lady who came but the 
other day among us a stranger, even her name being scarcely known, 
and who still refrains from those ' bold advertisements,' which in 
the case of so many other managers and performers usurp the 
functions of the trumpet of fame, has made her way in a few short 
months only to the very highest place in the estimation of our play- 
going public ? We can see no possible explanation save the simple 
one that her acting affords pleasure in a high degree ; for those who 
insinuate that her beauty alone is the attraction may easily be 



68 MARY ANDERSON. 

answered by reference to numerous actresses of unquestionable 
personal attractions who have failed to arouse anything approaching 
to the same degree of interest. As regards the unfavourable critics, 
we are inclined to think that they have been unable to shake off the 
associations of the essentially artificial characters — Parthenia and 
Pauline — in which Miss Anderson has unfortunately chosen to 
appear. Further complaints of artificiality and coldness have, it is 
true, been put forth d ;propos of her first appearance on Saturday 
evening in Mr. Gilbert's beautiful mythological comedy of Pygma- 
lion AND Galatea ; but protests are beginning to appear in some 
quarters, and we are much mistaken if this graceful and accom- 
plished actress is not destined yet to win the favour of her censors. 
The statuesque beauty of her appearance and the classic grace of all 
her movements and attitudes, as the Greek statue suddenly endowed 
with life, have received general recognition ; but not less remarkable 
were the simplicity, the tenderness, and, on due occasion, the 
passionate impulse of her acting, though the impersonation is no 
doubt in the chastened classical vein. It is difficult to imagine how 
a realization of Mr. Gilbert's conception could be made more 
perfect. ' ' 

The World, 12th December, 1883. 

"The revival of Pygmalion and Galatea at the Lyceum on 
Saturday last, with Miss Mary Anderson in the part of the animated 
statue, excited considerable interest and drew together a large and 
enthusiastic audience. Without attempting any comparison between 
Mrs. Kendal and the young American actress, it may at once be 
stated, that the latter gave an interesting and original rendering of 
Galatea. As the velvet curtain drawn aside disclosed the snowy 
statue on its pedestal, in a pose of classic beauty, it seemed hard to 
believe that such sculptural forms, the delicate features, the fine 
arms, the graceful figure, could be of any other material than marble. 
The gradual awakening to life, the joy and wonder of the bright 
young creature, to whom existence is still a mystery, were charmingly 
indicated ; and when Miss Anderson stepped forward slowly in her 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 69 

soft clinging draperies, with her pretty brown hair lightly powdered, 
she satisfied the most fastidiously critical sense of beauty. Galatea* 
as Miss Anderson understands her, is statuesque ; but Galatea is 
also a woman, perfect in the purity of ideal womanhood. The chief 
characteristics of her nature are innate modesty and refinement, 
which, though, perhaps, not strictly fashionable attributes, are 
appropriate enough in a daughter of the gods. When she loves, it 
is without any airs and graces. She has not an atom of self- 
consciousness ; she cannot premeditate ; she loves because she tnust^ 
rather than because she will, because it is the condition of her life. 
Some of the naive remarks she has to utter, might in clumsy lips 
seem coarse. Miss Anderson delivered them with consummate grace 
and innocence, but her fine smile, her bright sparkling eye, proved 
sufficiently, that the innocence was not stupidity. The first long 
speech at the conclusion of which she kneels to Pygmalion was 
bearutifuUy rendered, and elicited a burst of applause, which was 
repeated at intervals throughout the evening. Her poses were always 
graceful, sometimes strikingly beautiful. 

" Miss Anderson has the true sense of rhythm and the clearest 
enunciation ; she has a deep and musical voice, which in moments 
of path'os thrills with a sweet and tender inflection. She has seized, 
in this instance, upon the touching rather than the humorous side of 
Galatea, the pure and innocent girl who is not fit to live upon this 
world. She is only not human because she is superior to human 
folly ; she cannot understand sin because it is so sweet ; she asks to 
be taught a fault ; but the womanly love and devotion, and unselfish- 
ness are all there, writ in clear and uncompromising characters. 
The first and last acts were decidedly the best ; in the latter 
especially Miss Anderson touched a true pathetic chord, and fairly 
elicited the pity and sympathy of the audience. With a gentle 
wonder and true dignity she meets the gradual dropping away of her 
illusion, the crumbling of her unreasoning faith, the cruel stings 
when her spiritual nature is misunderstood, and her actions misinter- 
preted. She is jarred by the rough contact of commonplace facts, 
and ruffled and wounded by the strange and cynical indifference to 
her sufferings of the man she loves. At last when she can bear no 



7o M A RY A N D E RS O N. 

more, yet uncomplaining to the last, like a flower broken on its stem, 
shrinking and sensitive, she totters out with one loud cry of woe, the 
expression of her agony. Miss Anderson is a poet, she brings every- 
thing to the level of her own refined and artistic sensibility, and the 
result is that while she presents us with a picture of ideal womanhood, 
she must appeal of necessity rather to our imaginations than to our 
senses, and may by some persons be considered cold. Once or twice 
she dropped her voice so as to become almost inaudible, and 
occasionally forced her low tones more than was quite agreeable ; 
but whether in speech, in gesture, or in delicate suggestive byplay, 
her performance is essentially finished. One or two little actions 
may be rioted, such as the instinctive recoil of alarmed modesty 
when Pygmalion blames her for saying ' things that others would 
reprove,' or her expression of troubled wonder to find that it is 
' possible to say one thing and mean another." 

Dai'ly Telegra;pk, loth December, 1883. 

" Pygmalion and Galatea. 

" It is the fashion to judge of Miss Anderson outside her 
capacity and competency as an actress. Ungraciously enough she 
is regarded and reviewed as the thing of beauty that is a joy for 
ever, and her infatuated admirers view her first as a picture, last as 
an artist. If, then, public taste was agitated by the Parthenia who 
lolled in her mother's lap and twisted flower garlands at the feet of 
her noble savage Ingomar ; if society fluttered with excitement at 
the sight of the faultless Pauline gazing into the fire on the eve of 
her ill-fated marriage, how much more jubilation there will be now 
that Miss Mary Anderson, a lovely woman in studied drapery, stands 
posed at once as a statue, and as a subject for the photographic 
pictures which will flood the town. Unquestionably Miss Anderson 
never looked so well as a statue, both lifeless and animated, never 
comported herself with such grace, never gave such a perfect em- 
bodiment of purity and innocence. In marble she was a statue 
motionless ; in life she was a statue half warmed. There are those 
who believe, or who try to persuade themselves, that this js all 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 71 

Galatea has to do — to appear behind a curtain as a * ^ose flastique* 
to make an excellent ' tableau vivant,^ and to wear Greek drapery, 
as if she had stepped down from a niche in the Acropolis. All this 
Miss Mary Anderson does to perfection. She is a living, breathing 
statue. A more beautiful object in its innocent severity the stage 
has seldom seen. But is this all that Galatea has to do ? Those 
who have studied Mr. Gilbert's poem will scarcely say so. Galatea 
descended from her pedestal has to become human, and has to 
reconcile her audience to the contradictory position of a woman, 
who, presumably innocent of the world and its ways, is unconsciously 
cynical and exquisitely pathetic. We grant that it is a most 
difficult part to play. Only an artist can give effect to the comedy, 
or touch the true chord of sentiment that underlies the idea of 
Galatea. But to make Galatea consistently inhuman, persistently 
frigid, and monotonously spiritual, is, if not absolutely incorrect, 
at Isast glaringly ineffective. If Galatea does not become a breath, 
ing, living woman when she descends from her pedestal, a woman 
capable of love, a woman with a foreshadowing of passion, a 
woman of tears and tenderness, then the play goes for nothing. 

Miss Anderson reads Galatea in a severer fashion. 

She is a Galatea perfectly formed, whose heart has not yet been 
adjusted. She shrinks from humanity. She wants to be classical 
and severe, and her last cry to Pygmalion, instead of being the 
utterance of a tortured soul, is * monotonous and hollow as a ghost's.' 
It is with no desire to be discourteous that we venture any com- 
parison between the Galatea of Miss Anderson and of Mrs. Kendal. 
The comparison should only be made on the point of reading. Yet 
surely there can be no doubt that Mrs. Kendal's idea of Galatea, 
while appealing to the heart, is more dramatically effective. It 
illumines the poem." 

The Times, 28th January, 1884. 

" Lyceum Theatre. 

" Those who have suspected that Miss Mary Anderson was well 
advised in clinging to the artificial class of characters hitherto 



72 MARY ANDERSON. 

associated with her engagement at the Lyceum — characters, that is 
to say, making little call upon the emotional faculties* of their 
exponent — will not be disposed to modify their opinion from her 
'creation ' of the new part of distinctly higher scope in Mr. Gilbert's 
one act drama. Comedy and Tragedy, produced for the first 
time on Saturday night. Though passing in a single scene, this 
piece furnishes a more crucial test of Miss Anderson's powers than 
any of her previous assumptions in this country. Unfortunately it 
also assigns limits to those powers which few actresses of the second 
or even third rank need despair of attaining. Such a piece as 
this, it will be seen, makes the highest demands upon an actress. 
Tenderly, affectionate, and true with her husband, when she arranges 
with him the plan upon which so much depends : heartless and in- 
souciante in manner while she receives her guests ; affectedly gay 
and vivacious while her husband's fate is trembling in the balance ; 
deeply tragic in her anguish when her fortitude has broken down ; 
and finally overcome with joy as her husband is restored to her 
arms ; she has to pass and repass, without a pause, from one 
extreme of her art to the other. There is probably no actress but 
Sarah Bernhardt who could render a41 the various phases of this 
character as they should be rendered. There is only one phase of 
it that comes fairly within Miss Anderson's g^'asp. Of vivacity 
there is not a spark in her nature ; a heavy-footed impassiveness 
weighs upon all her efforts to be sprightly. The refinement, the 
subtlety, the animation, the ton, of an actress of the Comedie 
Fran9aise she does not so much as suggest. Womanly sympathy, 
tenderness, and trust, those qualities which constitute a far deeper 
and more abiding charm than statuesque beauty, are equally 
absent from an impersonation which in its earlier phases is almost 
distressingly laboured. While the actress is entertaining her guests 
with improvised comedy, moreover, no under current of emotion, 
no suggestion of suppressed anxiety is perceptible. It is not till 
this double rtle, which demands a degree of finesse evidently 
beyond Miss Anderson's range, is exchanged for the unaffected 
expression of mental torture that the actress rises to the occasion, 
and here it is pleasing to record, she displayed on Saturday night 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 73 

an earnestness and an intensity which won her an ungrudging 
round of applause. Miss Anderson's conception of the character 
is excellent, it is her powers of execution that are defective, and 
we do not omit from these the quality of her voice, which at times 
sinks into a hard and unsympathetic key." 

Morning Post, 28th January, 1884. 

"A change effected in the programme at the Lyceum Theatre on 
Saturday night makes Mr. Gilbert responsible for the whole 
entertainment of the evening. His fairy comedy Pvgmalion and 
Galatea, is now supplemented by a new dramatic study in which, 
under the ambitious title ' Comedy and Tragedy,' he has been at 
special pains to provide Miss Mary Anderson with an effective r6le. 
Th?s popular young actress has every reason to congratulate herself 
upon the opportunity for distinction thus placed in her way, for Mr. 
Gilbert has accomphshed his task in a thoroughly workmanlike 
manner. In the course of a single act he has demanded from the 
exponent of his principal character the most varied histrionic 
capabilities, for he has asked her to be by turns the consummate 
actress and the unsophisticated woman, the gracious hostess and 
the vindictive enemy, the humorous reciter and the tragedy 
queen. Nor has he done this merely by inventing plausible excuses 
for a succession of conscious assumptions, such as those of the 
entertainer who appears first in one guise and then in another, 
that he may exhibit his deft versatility. There is a genuine dramatic 
motive for the display by the heroine of ' Comedy and Tragedy ' of 
quickly changing emotions and accomplishments. She acts because 
circumstances really call upon her to act, and not because the 
showman pulls the strings of his puppet as the whim of the moment 
may suggest. The question is, how far Miss Anderson is able to 
realize for us the mental agony and the characteristic self-command 
of such a woman as Clarice in such a state as hers. ^The answer, as 
given on Saturday by a demonstrative audience, was wholly 
favourable ; as it suggests itself to a calmer judgment the kindly 
verdict must be qualified by reservations many and serious. We 



74 MARY ANDERSON. 

may admit at once that Miss Anderson deserves all praise for her 
exhibition of earnest force, and f9r the nervous spirit with which she 
attacks her work. It is a pleasant surprise to see her depending 
upon something beyond her skill in the art of the tableau vivant. 
The ring of her deep voice may not always be melodious, but at any 
rate it is true, and the burst of passionate entreaty carries with it 
the genuine conviction of distress. What is missing is the distinction 
of bearing that should mark a leading member of the famous troupe 
of players, grace of movement as distinguished from grace of power, 
lightening of touch in Clarice's comedy, and refinement of expression 
in her tragedy. At present the impersonation is rough and almost 
clumsy whilst, at times, the vigorous elocution almost descends to 
the level of ranting. Many of these faults may, however, have been 
due to Miss Anderson's evident nervousness, and to the whirlwind of 
excitement in which she hurried through her task ; and we shall be 
quite prepared to find her performance improve greatly under less 
trying conditions." 

The Scotsman, 28th April, 1884. 

" Last night the young American actress, who has, during the 
past few months, acquired such great popularity in London, made her 
first appearance before an Edinburgh audience in the same character 
she chose for her Metropolitan debut — that of Parthenia in 
' Ingomar.' The piece itself is essentially old-fashioned. It is one 
of that category of ' sentimental dramas ' which were in vogue thirty 
or forty years ago, but are not sufficiently complex in their intrigue, 
or subtle in their analysis of emotion, to suit the somewhat cloyed 
palates of the present generation of playgoers. Yet, through two 
or three among the long list of plays of this type, there runs like a 
vein of gold amid the dross, a noble and true idea that preserves 
them from the common fate, and one of these few pieces is ' Ingomar.' 
Its blank verse may be stilted, its action often forced and unreal ; 
but the pictures it presents of a daughter's devotion, a maiden's 
purity, a brave man's love and supreme self-sacrifice, are drawn with 
a breadth and a simplicity of outline that make them at once 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 75 

appreciable, and they are pictures upon which few people can help 
looking with pleasure and sympathy. We do not say that Miss 
Anderson could not possibly have chosen a better character in which 
to introduce herself to an Edinburgh audience ; but certainly it would 
be difficult to conceive a more charming interpretation of Parthenia 
than she gave last night. To personal attractions of the highest 
order she adds a rich and musical voice, capable of a wide range of 
accent and inflection, a command of gesture which is abundantly 
varied, but always graceful and — what is, perhaps, of more moment 
to the artist than all else — an unmistakable capacity for grasping 
the essential significance of a character, and identifying herself 
thoroughly with it. Her delineation is not only exquisitely picturesque ; 
it leaves behind the impression of a thoughtful conception wrought 
out with consistency, and developed with real dramatic power. The 
lighter phases of Parthenia's nature were, as they should be, kept 
generally prominent, but when the demand came for stronger and 
tenser emotions the actress W9.s always able to respond to it — as for 
instance in Parthenia's defiance of Ingomar, when his love finds its 
first uncouth utterance, in her bitter anguish when she thinks he has 
left her for ever, and in her final avowal of love and devotion. These 
are the crucial points in the rendering of the part ; and they were so 
played last night by Miss Anderson as to prove that she is equal to 
much more exacting rtles. She was excellently supported by 
Mr. Barnes as Ingomar, and fairly well by the representatives of the 
numerous minor personages who contribute to the development of the 
story, without having any individual interest of their own. Miss 
Anderson won an enthusiastic reception at the hands of a large and 
discriminating audience, being called before the curtain at the close 
of each act." 

Glasgow Evening Star, 6th May, 1884. 

" Miss Anderson at the Royalty. 

" No modern actress has created such 2, furore in this country 
as Miss Anderson. Coming to us from America with the reputation 
of being the foremost exponent of histrionic art in that country, it 



76 MARY ANDERSON. 

was but natural that her advent should be regarded with very critical 
eyes by many who thought that America claimed too much for their 
charming actress. Thus predisposed to find as many faults as 
possible in one who boldly challenged their verdict on her own merits 
alone, it is not surprising that Metropolitan critics were almost 
unanimous in their opinion that Miss Anderson, although a clever 
actress and a very beautiful woman, was not by any means a great 
artiste. They did not hesitate to say, moreover, that much of her 
success as an actress was due to her physical grace and beauty. We 
have no hesitation in stating a directly contrary opinion." 

Glasgow Herald, 6th May, 1884. 

"Miss Anderson at the Royalty Theatre. 

" Since Pygmalion and Galatea was produced at the Hay- 
market Theatre, fully a dozen years ago, when the part of Galatea 
was created by Mrs. Kendal, quite a number of actresses have 
essayed the character. Most of them have succeeded in presenting 
a carefully thought-out and intelligently-executed picture ; few have 
been able to realise in their intensity, and give adequate embodiment 
to, the dreamy utterances of the animated statue. It is a character 
which only consummate skill can appropriately represent. The play 
is indeed a cunningly-devised fable, but Galatea is the one central 
figure on which it hangs. Its humour and its satire are so exquisitely 
keen that they must needs be delicately wielded. That a statue 
should be vivified and endowed with speech and reason is a bold 
conception, and it requires no ordinary artist to depict the emotion 
of such a mythical being. For this duty Miss Anderson last night 
proved herself more than capable. Her interpretation of the part is 
essentially her own ; it differs in some respects from previous repre- 
sentations of the character, and to none of them is it inferior. In her 
conception of the part, the importance of statuesque posing has been 
studied to the minutest detail, and in this respect art could not well 
be linked with greater natural advantages than are possessed by 
Miss Anderson. When, in the opening scene, the curtains of the 
recess in the sculptor's studio were thrown back from the statue, a 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 77 

perfect wealth of art was displayed in its pose ; it seemed indeed to 
be a realization of the author's conception of a figure which all but 
breathes, yet still is only cold, dull stone. From beginning to end, 
Miss Anderson's Galatea is a captivating study in the highest 
sphere of histrionic art. There is no part of it that can be singled 
out as better than another. It is a compact whole such as only few 
actresses may hope to equal." 

Dublin Evening Mail, 22nd March, 1884. 

"Mary Anderson at the Gaiety. 

" Notwithstanding all that photography has done for the last 
few weeks to familiarize Dublin with Miss Anderson's counterfeit 
presentment, the original took the Gaiety audience last night by 
surprise. Her beauty outran expectation. It was, moreover, 
generically different from what the camera had suggested. It 
required an effort to recall in the brilliant, mobile, speaking 
countenance before us the classic regularity and harmony of the 
features which we had admired on cardboard. Brilliancy is the 
single word that best sums up the characteristics of Miss Anderson's 
face, figure and movements on the stage. But it is a brilliancy that 
is altogether natural and spontaneous — a natural gift, not acquisition ; 
and it is a brilliancy which, while it is all alive with intelligence and 
sympathy, is instinct to the core with a virginal sweetness and 
purity. In ' Ingomar ' the heroine comes very early and abruptly on 
the scene before the audience is interested in her arrival, or has, 
indeed, got rid of the garish realities of the street. But Miss 
Anderson's appearance spoke for itself without any aid from the 
playwright. The house, after a moment's hesitation, broke out into 
sudden and quickly-growing applause, which was evidently a tribute 
not to the artist, but to the woman. She understood this herself, and 
evidently enjoyed her triumph with a frank and girlish pleasure. 
She had conquered her audience before opening her lips. She is of 
rather tall stature, a figure slight but perfectly modelled, her well- 
shaped head dressed Greek fashion with the simple knot behind, her 
arms, which the Greek costume displayed to the shoulder, long, white. 



78 MARY ANDERSON. 

and of a roundness seldom attained so early in life, her walk and all 
her attitudes consummately graceful and expressive. A more 
general form of disparagement is that which pretends to account for 
all Miss Anderson's popularity by her beauty. It is her beauty, 
these people say, not her acting, that draws the crowd. We suspect 
the fact to be that Miss Anderson's uncommon beauty is rather a 
hindrance than a help to the perception of her real dramatic merits. 
People do not easily believe that one and the same person can be 
distinguished in the highest degree by different and independent 
excellences. They find it easier to make one of the excellences do 
duty for both. Miss Anderson, it may be admitted, is not a Sarah 
Bernhardt. At the same time we must observe that at twenty-three 
the incomparable Sarah was not the consummate artist that she is 
now, and has been for many years. We are not at all inclined to 
rank Miss Anderson as an actress at a lower level than the very high 
one of Miss Helen Faucit, of whose Antigone she reminded us in 
several passages last night. Miss Faucit was more statuesque in her 
poses, more classical, and, perhaps, touched occasionally a more 
profoundly pathetic chord. But the balance is redeemed by other 
qualities of Miss Anderson's acting, quite apart from all con- 
sideration of personal beauty. 

" ' Ingomar,' it must be said, is a mere melodrama, and as 
such does not afford the highest test of an actor's capacity. The 
wonder is that Miss Anderson makes so much of it. In her hands it 
was really a stirring and very effective play." 

Dublin Daily Express, 28th March, 1884. 

" Miss Anderson as Galatea. 

" Nothing that the sculptor's art could create could be more 
beautiful than the still figure of Galatea, in classic pose, with 
gracefully flowing robes, looking down from her pedestal on the 
hands that have given her form, and it is not too much to say that 
nothing could be added to render more perfect the illusion. The 
whole pose — her aspect, the contour of her head, the exquisite 
turn of the stately throat, the faultless symmetry of shoulder and 



THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS. 79 

arms — everything is in keeping with the realization of the most 
perfect, most beautiful, and most illusive figure that has ever been 
witnessed on the stage. Miss Anderson indeed is liberally endowed 
with physical charms, so fascinating that we can understand an 
audience finding it not a little difficult to refrain from giving the rein 
to enthusiasm in the presence of this fairest of Galateas. From 
these remarks, however, it is not intended to be inferred that the 
young American is merely a graceful creature with a ' pretty face.' 
Miss Anderson is unquestionably a fine actress, and the high 
position which she now deservedly occupies amongst her sister 
artists, we are inclined to think, has been gained perhaps less through 
her personal attractions than by the sterling characteristics of her 
art. Each of her scenes bears the stamp of intelligence of an 
uncommon order, and perhaps not the least remarkable feature in 
her portraiture of Galatea is that her effects, one and all, are 
produced without a suspicion of straining. Those who were present 
in the crowded theatre last night, and saw the actress in the rtle 
— said to be her finest — had, we are sure, no room to qualify the 
high reputation which preceded the impersonation." 




Chapter IX. 
MARY ANDERSON AS AN ACTRESS. 

THE author approaches this, his concluding chapter, with some 
degree of diffidence. Though he has in the foregoing 
pages essayed something like a portrait of a very distinguished 
artist, he is not by profession a dramatic critic. He does not 
belong to that noble band at whose nod the actor is usually 
supposed to tremble. He is not a " first-nighter," who, by 
the light of the midnight oil, dips his mighty pen in the ink 
which is to seal on to-morrow's broad-sheet, as he proudly 
imagines, the professional fate of the artists who are submitted 
for his censure or his praise. Not that he is by any means 
an implicit believer in the verdict of the professional critic. 
An actor who succeeds, should often fail according to the 
recognized canons of dramatic criticism, and the reverse. That 
the beautiful harmony of nature and the eternal fitness of things 
dramatic are not always preserved, is due to that profanum vulgus 
which sometimes reverses the decisions of those dramatic divinities 
who sit enthroned, like the Twelve Caesars, in the sacred temple 
of criticism, as the inspired representatives of the press. 



MARY ANDERSON AS AN ACTRESS. 8i 

Those who have been at the trouble to read the various and 
conflicting notices of the chief London journals upon Mary 
Anderson's performances — for those of the great provincial towns 
she visited present a singular unanimity in her favour — must have 
found it difficult, if not impossible, to decide either on her merits as 
an artist, or on the true place to be assigned to her in the temple of 
the drama. The veriest misogynist among critics was compelled, in 
spite of himself, to confess to the charm of her strange beauty. Hers, 
as all agreed, was the loveliest face and the most graceful figure 
which had appeared on the London boards within the memory of 
a generation. According to some she was an accomplished 
actress, but she lacked that divine spark which stamps the true 
artist. Others attributed her success to nothing but her personal 
grace and beauty; while one critic, bolder than his fellows, 
even went so far as to declare that whether she wore the 
attire of a Grecian maid, of a fine French lady of a century 
ago, or of the fabled Galatea, only pretty Miss Anderson, 
of Louisville, Kentucky, peeped out through every disguise. 
Several causes, perhaps, combined to this uncertain sound which 
went forth from the trumpet of the dramatic critic. Mary 
Anderson was an American artist, who came here, it is true, with 
a great American reputation ; but so had come others before her, 
some of whom had wholly failed to stand the fierce test of 
the London footlights. Then to " damn her with faint praise," 
would not only be a safe course at the outset, but the steps to a 
becoming locus penitentia would be easy and gradual if the vane 
should, in spite of the critics, veer round to the point of popular 
favour. One of the most distinguished of English journalists 



82 MARY ANDERSON. 

lately observed in the House of Commons that certain writers in 
back parlours were in the habit of palming off their effusions as 
the voice of the great English public, till that voice made itself 
heard. When the voice of the English theatre-going public upon 
Mary Anderson came to make itself heard in the crowded and 
enthusiastic audiences of the Lyceum, in the friendship of all that 
was most cultivated and best worth knowing in London society, it 
failed altogether to echo the trumpet, we will not say of the back 
parlour critics only, but of some critics distinguished in their pro- 
fession, who can little have anticipated how quickly the popular 
verdict would modify, if not reverse their own. 

It may be interesting to quote here some observations very 
much to the point, on the dramatic criticism of the day, in an 
admirable paper recently read by Mrs. Kendal before the Social 
Science Congress. It will hardly be denied that there are few 
artists competent to speak with more authority on matters 
theatrical, or better able to form a judgment on the true inward- 
ness of that Press criticism to which herself and her fellow artists 
are so constantly subjected : — 

" Existing critics generally rush into extremes, and either over 
praise or too cruelly condemn. The public, as a matter of course, 
turn to the newspapers for information, but how can any judgment 
be formed when either indiscriminate praise or unqualified abuse 
is given to almost every new piece and to the actors who interpret 
it ? Criticism, if it is to be worth anything, should surely be 
criticism, but nowadays the writing of a picturesque article, replete 
with eulogy, or the reverse, seems to be the aim of the theatrical 
reviewer. Of course, the influence of the Press upon the stage is 
very powerful, but it will cease to be so if playgoers find that their 
mentors, the critics, are not trustworthy guides. The public must, 
after all, decide the fate of a new play. If it be bad, the Englishman 



MARY ANDERSON AS AN ACTRESS. 83 

of to-day will not declare it is good because the newspapers have 
told him so. He will be disappointed, he will be bored, he will tell 
his friends so, and the bad piece will fail to draw audiences. If, on 
the other hand, the play is a good one, which has been condemned 
by the Press, it will quicken the pulse and stir the heart of an 
audience in spite of adverse criticism. The report that it contains 
the true ring will go about, and success must follow. In a word, 
though the Press can do very much to further the interests of the 
stage, it is powerless to kill good work, and cannot galvanize that 
which is invertebrate into life." 

To determine Mary Anderson's true stage place, and to 
make a fair and impartial criticism of her performances is rendered 
further difficult by the fact, that the English stage offers in the 
last generation scarcely one with whom she can be compared, if 
we except perhaps Helen F^cit. Between herself and that great 
artist, middle-aged playgoers seem to find a certain resemblance ; 
but to the present generation of playgoers Mary Anderson is 
an absolutely new revelation on the London boards. Recalling 
the roll of artists who have essayed similar parts for the last five 
and twenty years, we can name not one who has given as she did 
what we may best describe as a new stage sensation. Never was 
the pride of a free maiden of ancient Greece more nobly 
expressed than in Parthenia; never were the gradual steps 
from fear and abhorrence to love more finely portrayed than in 
the stages of her rising passion for the savage chieftain, whose 
captive hostage she was. Her Pauline was the old patrician 
beauty of France living on the stage, a true woman in spite of 
the selfish veneer of pride, and caste with which the traditions 
of the ancient noblesse had covered her ; while Galatea found in 
her certainly the most poetic and beautiful representation of 



84 MARY ANDERSON. 

that fanciful character, ever seen on any stage. This was the 
verdict of the public who thronged the Lyceum to its utmost 
capacity, during the months of the past winter. This was the 
verdict, too, of the largest provincial towns of the kingdom. The 
critics, some of them, were willing to concede to Mary Anderson 
the possession of every grace which can adorn a woman, and of every 
qualification which can make an artist attractive, with a solitary 
but fatal reservation — she was devoid of genius. But what, indeed, 
is genius after all ? It is the magic power to touch unerringly a 
sympathetic chord in the human breast. The novelist, whose 
characters seem to be living; the painter, the figures on whose 
canvas appear to breathe ; the actor who, while he treads the 
stage, is forgotten in the character he assumes ; all these possess it. 
This was the verdict of the public upon Mary Anderson, 
and we are fain to believe that— /a« the critics — it was the true 
one. Her Clarice was perhaps the least successful of her 
impersonations ; and given as an afterpiece, it taxed unfairly the 
endurance of an actress, who had already been some hours upon the 
stage. But as a striking illustration of the reality of her perform- 
ance, we may mention, that, in the scene where she is supposed 
by her guests to be acting, her fellow actors, who should have 
applauded the tragic outburst which the public divine to be real, 
were so disconcerted by the vehemence and seeming reality of her 
grief and despair, that on the first representation of " Comedy 
and Tragedy" they actually forgot their parts, and had to 
be called to task by the author for failing properly to support the 
star. " No man " it is said, "is a hero to his valet de chambre^^ 
and few indeed are the artists who can make their fellow artists 



MARY ANDERSON AS AN ACTRESS. $$ 

on the stage forget that the mimic passion which convulses them 
is but consummate art after all. 

Mary Anderson's present Lyceum season will exhibit her in 
characters which will give opportunity for displaying powers of a 
widely-different order to those called forth in the last A new 
Juliet and a new Lady Macbeth will show the capacity she 
possesses for the true exhibition of the tenderest as well as the 
stormiest passions which can agitate the human breast ; and she 
may perhaps appear in Cushman's famous ro/e of Meg Merrilies. 
In all these she invites comparison with great impersonators of 
these parts who are familiar to the stage. We will not anticipate 
the verdict of the public, but of this much we are assured that 
rarely can Shakespeare's favourite heroine have been represented 
by so much youth, and grace, and beauty, and genuine artistic 
ability combined. Juliet was her first part, and has always been 
regarded by Mary Anderson with the affection due to a first love. 
But it may not Tdc generally known that she imagines htxforie to 
lie rather in the exhibition of the stormier passions, and that she 
succeeds better in parts like Lady Macbeth or Meg Merrilies. I 
remember her once saying to me, as she raised her beautiful figure 
to its full height, and stretched her hand to the ceiling, " I am 
always at my best when I am uttering maledictions." Thus far, 
Mary Anderson has shown herself to us in characters which must 
give a very incomplete estimate of her powers. None indeed of 
the parts she assumed were adapted to bring out the highest 
qualities of an artist. That she has succeeded in inspiring the 
freshness and glow of life into plays, some of which at least, were 
supposed to be consigned almost to the limbo of disused stage 



86 MARY ANDERSON. 

properties, stamps her as possessing genuine histrionic power. 
She has earned distinguished fame all over the Western continent. 
London as well as the great cities of the kingdom have hailed her 
as a Queen of the Stage. Such an experience as hers is rare 
indeed, almost solitary, in its annals. A self-trained girl, born 
quite out of the circle or influence of stage associations, she burst, 
when but sixteen, as a star on the theatrical horizon ; and if her 
grace, her youth, her beauty, have helped her in the upward flight, 
they have helped alone, and could not have atoned for the want 
of that divine spark, which is the birthright of the artist who 
makes a mark upon his generation and his time. When the more 
recent history of the English-speaking stage shall once again be 
written, we do not doubt that Mary Anderson will take her fitting 
place, side by side with the many great artists who have so adorned 
it in the last half-century ; with Charlotte Cushman, Helen Faucit, 
and Fanny Stirling, who represent its earlier glories; with 
Mrs. Kendal, Mrs. Bancroft, and Ellen Terry, whose names are 
interwoven with the triumphs of later years. 




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