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An Anonymous Donor 













GEORGE R. SIMS Frontispiece 








J. L. TOOLE 244 






I BEGAN these reminiscences, written at the suggestion of 
my friend the editor of the Evening News, in the first hour 
of the year 1916. 

The front door was flung wide at five minutes to midnight 
on December 31, 1915, and as the last of the twelve 
momentous shocks of sound died away a dark man in the 
shape of a friendly policeman did me the kindly service of 
being the first to cross my threshold. 

And now that the New Year has come to us amid an 
almost oppressive stillness, with no gay clang of church 
bells, and only a far distant and apparently restrained 
welcome by the steam-whistles and the hooters of the great 
works where labour toils through the night, I sit down in 
my grandfather's big cane-seated arm-chair and peer into the 
dim and distant past. 

In the hour that my land is athrill and athrob with the 
alarums and excursions of the greatest war the world has 
ever known, my memory carries me back to the day just 
upon sixty years since when all London was abroad far into 
the night celebrating the blessed peace that had come to us 
after the agonies of the Crimea. 

I gaze from my window into the blacked-out expanse of 
the park, and I see once again the skies of that memorable 
May night ablaze. From Hyde Park, from Victoria Park, 
from St. James's Park, and from Primrose Hill a thousand 
devices in golden flame have been hurled into the air. 

But no fireworks of joy flame in the night skies above me 
in the year that we have just entered upon. 

The London that I look back upon is a Dickensy London, 
a Cruikshank London, an Albert Smith London, a John 
Leech London ; it is a London of " characters," a London 

I A 


in which men of high degree and low degree alike wear a 
high hat. The beggar begs in one, the burglar burgles in 
one, the cricketer plays in a classic match in one, the swell 
and the sweeper, the legislator and the lamplighter, the 
Pentonville cornet player and the Pall Mall clubman, all 
pass similarly headgeared in the human panorama of the 

I see a dimly lighted London, not quite so dim as it is 
to-day, but nearly so. When Thomas Hood wrote " Where 
the lamps quiver," for poetry's sake and as a rhyme to 
" river," he might with equal truth have written " flicker." 
The lights of London in those far-off days flickered in every 

But I see a gayer London by night than the twentieth 
century has ever known. Long after midnight certain 
streets of the West, and notably the Haymarket, are packed 
with a roystering mob seeing life. But animal spirits are 
not the only spirits that contribute to the riotous gaiety. 

I remember the London of Sayers and Heenan, and the 
last glory of the old prize-ring. 

I remember a London of open betting and leviathan 
pencilling, when a hundred thousand pound book would be 
made on the Chester Cup, and horses that were literally 
dead were backed for months after their decease. 

I remember the Derbys of the green veils and dolled white 
hats. Thormanby, Kettledrum, Caractacus, and Blair Athol 
flash past the winning-post again. The snowstorm Derby 
of Hermit is run again in my midnight dream of the past. 
The figures of Admiral Rous, of General Peel, and George 
Payne and the Marquess of Hastings and Count de Lagrange 
rise from the turf to live and move and have their being 
again upon it. 

I think back to a London whose theatres were " half price 
at nine o'clock " and where 12.30 was the ordinary hour for 
the final curtain to fall. 

And, after that, oysters were sixpence a dozen, and there 
were more oyster shops in the Strand than there are in the 
whole of London to-day. 

I look back to the time when Charles Kean, Phelps, Ben 
Webster, Charles Fechter, Wright, Paul Bedford, Charles 


Mathews, John Baldwin Buckstone, Helen Faucit, Mrs. 
Keeley, Miss Glyn, Miss Woolgar (who became the wife 
of Alfred Mellon), Mrs. Stirling, and Madame Celeste were 
the footlight stars. 

I am in a London that has gone mad in its enthusiasm for 
Jenny Lind. I remember Adelina Patti's first appearance 
and Mario's " Farewell." 

I remember Astley's Amphitheatre when the programme 
was " Horsemanship and Opera." 

I see again in the theatre of St. Stephen's Lord Brougham 
with a nose that Punch was never tired of dwelling upon, 
and little Lord John Russell, and Palmerston in Punch 
with the eternal straw between his lips. I listen to the 
glorious voice of John Bright ; I delight once more in the 
bulldog tenacity of Old Tear 'em. 

I watch and listen while Gladstone and Disraeli gradually 
come to their own. 

I see a mighty mob of people marching behind a black 
flag through the busy streets and pillaging the bakers' 

I see the Iron Duke, the great Captain, borne through 
the mourning populace to his resting-place at St. Paul's. 

I pick my way over muddy, broken roadways, among 
three-caped Jarvies perched upon ramshackle cabs, and I 
watch the lumbering buses jolt and rattle over the stones, 
and every bus is strewn inside with dirty straw. 

I come to a Fleet Street in which literary Bohemia smokes 
short clay pipes in the streets and lounges at tavern bars, 
fortifying itself for the night's work with goblets of steaming 
hot brandy and water and Irish whisky : " A slice of lemon 
and one lump, please." Soda water is for the morning 
reflection, not for the evening entertainment. 

I pass a Newgate outside which the bodies of dead men 
are swinging to make an early morning London holiday. 

I see the London merchant and the London banker make 
their way on horseback to the heart of the City for the 
day's work, and I see them riding home again when evening 

And as I look far away to the London of my boyhood old 
familiar cries ring in my ears. I hear " Cherry Ripe " and 


" Who'll buy my Lavender ? " and " Buy a Broom," and 
" Scissors to grind," and in the silence of the night I hear 
the top-hatted policeman spring his rattle. 

And looking back upon the living London of bygone days 
I turn from the dark skies that shroud the cradle of baby 
1916, and sit down to write my memories of a London that 
in its wildest imaginings had no dream of Zeppelins or 
motor-cars or phonographs, and only a dim idea of the 
telephone ; a London so far away from X-rays that it was 
filled with awe and wonder when it heard of the use of 
chloroform for surgical operations. 

The clock strikes one. The New Year is already an 
hour old. It is time that for these reminiscences I should 
be born. 


" SOMEWHERE in London," at six o'clock on September 2, 
1847, an event occurred which was to have a far-reaching 
consequence. That consequence was the appearance in the 
year 1916 of these reminiscences. 

It was on the eve of the anniversary of the Battle of 
Worcester that I first saw the light, the light of a soft 
September evening. The anniversary was well chosen, for 
my mother was a Worcester girl, and had intended that I 
should be born in the Faithful City, but like the good Cockney 
that I have always been, I preferred London. 

It was not long, however, before I found myself in 
Worcester, and it was there at St. Nicholas' Church that I 
was christened. 

But though I was christened at Worcester I have from 
my birth been a Londoner, fated 

To float on London's human tide, 
An atom on its billows thrown. 
But lonely never, nor alone. 

I had quite youthful companionship from the very 
beginning, for when I was born my mother was eighteen 
and my father was nineteen, a circumstance which permitted 
me to be present at his coming-of-age and make a speech, 
and my speech bears eloquent testimony to the temperate 
character of the celebration. 

The words that I uttered they were my first were 
" A bop o' tea." It was my first attempt to get the mono- 
tony of a milk diet varied, and I have remained faithful to 
the substitute ever since. 

As I shall probably never write my reminiscences again, 
I may as well avail myself of this opportunity and give a 
few of the early details which are considered essential in an 



autobiography. If you do not place something of your 
family history on record it is sometimes invented for you, 
and it generally does you less justice than you would do 

For instance, I read not long ago in a weekly publication 
that I was of Semitic origin and foreign extraction, and I 
think the editor, a playful Irishman, was anxious to convey 
the impression that the foreign extraction was Teutonic. 
People will hint at anything in war-time. 

Let me then say at once that I am not only a Londoner, 
but quite English, you know. And yet I suppose there is a 
little foreign blood in me just a wee drappie and it came 
about in this way. 

My great-grandfather, Robert Sims, was a sturdy, hand- 
some and well-to-do Berkshire yeoman. To the Berkshire 
town into which he rode regularly on market days there 
came a Spanish grandee, Count Jose de Montijo, who was 
of the family which gave us the Empress Eugenie. He had 
left Spain as a political refugee, and his daughter, the 
Countess Elizabeth de Montijo, had come with him. 

My great-grandfather fell in love with the beautiful 
Spanish girl, and married her. She was quite a young girl 
when she became his wife, but she " lived happily ever 
afterwards," and died a dear old English lady at the age 
of eighty-five. That is the drop of foreign blood. There 
is no more, and the rest of me is quite as English as it 
could be. 

My grandfather, Robert Sims, the son of the Berkshire 
yeoman and the Spanish countess, married Mary Hope, 
daughter of William Hope. She was one of the Hopes of 
Brighthelmstone, or Brighton as we call it now. 

The Hopes were the Pickfords of Brighton in the days 
before the railways. They were strict Nonconformists, and 
mortally offended the Prince Regent by refusing to convey 
his race-horses on Sunday. In the family Bible I find that 
William Hope, who was sprinkled at the Countess of 
Huntingdon's Chapel, was in later life baptized by the 
Rev. Mr. Gough at the Baptist Chapel in Bond Street, 
Brighton, and became a deacon of that chapel. 

Some of the Hopes, my great-uncles, lie in Bunhill Fields, 


and are buried in the coveted place of honour near the 
tomb of John Bunyan. 

Many a pious pilgrimage did I have to make as a child 
to see the tomb of John Bunyan " with the Hopes around 
him." The old burial-ground, the green garden of rest in 
the heart of the City, was the Campo Santo of Dissent, and 
the nearer you lay to the author of " The Pilgrim's Progress " 
the more fortunate you were considered as a corpse. 

Macaulay bore testimony to this fact when he said, 
" Many Puritans, to whom the respect paid by Roman 
Catholics to the reliques and tombs of their saints seemed 
childish or sinful, are said to have begged with their dying 
breath that their coffins might be placed as near as possible 
to the coffin of the author of ' The Pilgrim's Progress.' ' 

In our family Bible I find the position of the Hope graves 
duly noted. 

" William Hope, son of William and Phoebe Hope, died 
at his sister's at Peckham on Thursday, July 28, 1842, and 
was buried at Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, situated 26 East 
and West, 24 and 25 North and South, about one yard from 
Bunyan's tomb, on Tuesday, August 2nd, 1842." 

My father was the son of Robert Sims and the " sister at 
Peckham," and there was no mistake as to the Englishness 
of the family into which he married. 

These are days when any man may be forgiven if he takes 
pride in tracing himself back to Nelson. I cannot do that, 
but on my mother's side I can get into very close touch 
with the national hero. 

Among my ancestors is an Admiral Parker. I was always 
under the impression that it was Sir Hyde Parker, but I 
find on consulting the family archives that it was not that 
famous sea-dog. At any rate, my Admiral Parker had a 
daughter named Margaret who married Charles Yardley of 
Hindlip Hall in Worcestershire, the Hall with the famous 
Jesuit's Hole. 

It afterwards passed into the possession of the Allsopps, 
and gave Lord Hindlip his title. 

One of the young Yardleys Tom Yardley was a mid- 
shipman on Admiral Parker's ship, and was killed at the 
Battle of Copenhagen. 


The son of the Yardley-Parker marriage, Charles Yardley, 
married Elizabeth Partridge, and this marriage eventually 
gave me as cousins dear old William Yardley " Bill of the 
Play " of the Sporting Times, who was the first man to 
make a hundred for his 'Varsity and Samuel Partridge, of 
the Religious Tract Society. Both of them had something 
to do with my early introduction to journalism and the 

Charles Yardley had by his marriage with Elizabeth 
Partridge a daughter, Mary Yardley, who married John 
Dinmore Stevenson, and was my maternal grandmother. 

My father was riding through a London street one day 
when his horse shied at something and nearly threw him. 
He heard a musical female voice exclaim " Oh ! " and 
looking in the direction of the sound he beheld a pretty girl 
of seventeen at a window. 

He thought she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen, 
and determined to find out who she was, and obtain an 
introduction. He found that she was Miss Stevenson, a 
Worcestershire girl who was on a visit to London. 

The shying of my father's horse provided the introduction, 
and gave me an old English sea-dog for an ancestor. 

Having disposed of my ancestors, and proved that in 
spite of all temptations to belong to other nations I have 
remained an Englishman, I am now free to indulge in my 
own reminiscences of the " Hungry Forties " and after. 


OF life in London in the late forties I have, of course, only 
a vague remembrance. My own experiences were rather 
monotonous, but there was plenty of adventure going on 
around me. 

Among the family relics that I have preserved is a rather 
elaborate staff of a special constable. It looks like a ruler 
with a brass crown on the business end of it. 

This staff is connected with a period of intense anxiety 
through which my mother passed when I was still an infant 
in her arms. 

My grandfather, John Dinmore Stevenson, was one of the 
leaders of the Chartist movement. An oil painting of him 
with the Charter rolled up under his arm hangs in my 
bedroom to-day, and whenever I gaze at it I remember 
that he was looked upon as a very dreadful person simply 
because he advocated reforms almost every one of which 
has since been accepted as essential to the public well- 
being. The Chartists demanded : (i) The extension of 
the right of voting to every male native of the United 
Kingdom ; (2) equal electoral districts ; (3) voting by ballot ; 
(4) annual Parliaments ; (5) no property qualification for 
members ; (6) payment of Members of Parliament for their 

But in 1848 the Chartists made the strategic mistake of 
threatening to use force in order to obtain their demands. 
That is where the story of the special constable's staff 
comes in. 

My maternal grandfather went off to join the Chartists in 
the great demonstration on Kennington Common, and to 
act as one of their leaders in the threatened advance upon 
Westminster, and my father was at the same time sworn in 
as a special constable, and armed with his staff of office went 



forth with Louis Napoleon to protect London from my 

The Kennington Common affair was a terrible fiasco. The 
heavens, I believe, wept over it so profusely that the ardour 
of the rebels was damped in the deluge. 

At any rate, the fates preserved my father from having 
to use his staif upon the head of his father-in-law. My 
grandfather came back to our house soaked to the skin, 
changed his clothes, and sat down to tea with the special 
constable. And there was peace between them. I was the 
olive branch on that occasion. 

I do not know whether it was that my mother and father 
were considered to be too young to have the direction of my 
babyhood, but I know that during the first few years of my 
life my grandfather was my constant companion, my guide, 
philosopher, and friend. 

In those days naughty little boys were always denounced 
as " little Radicals." If you broke the nursery window or 
hit your little sister on the head with a hair-brush, or used 
your shilling box of paints to heighten the effect of the 
pattern on the drawing-room paper, the first words of 
remonstrance you heard were, " Oh, you little Radical ! 
What have you been up to now ? " 

You see, Radicalism did not rank so high in public estima- 
tion in those days as it did, say, at the last General Election. 

But my grandfather's companionship made me a little 
Radical in the sense in which the word is used to-day. It 
was my grandfather, the old Chartist, who shaped my early 
political views. 

I have a dim remembrance of his reading aloud to me 
from certain of the Radical papers of the period, and a vivid 
remembrance of his reading to me the story of Garibaldi's 
sufferings, and I can see the tears running down his cheeks 
as he read. 

I remembered that incident very distinctly when I saw 
Garibaldi drive in triumph through the streets of London 
amid the frantic cheers of the people, and I regretted that 
my grandfather had not lived to see his hero face to face. 

Garibaldi remained in the memory of the English people 
for years after that. The Garibaldi shirt was adopted by 


the fair, and has never been abandoned by them, but to-day 
we call it a " blouse/' and the Americans call it a " shirt- 
waist." And the Garibaldi biscuit is still with us. 

It revived old memories when I saw some of the ancient 
Red Shirts turn out and march through London under the 
Italian flag when Italy had decided to throw in her lot with 
the Allies in the great fight for the freedom of the world from 
the tyranny of the Huns. 

Of the very early days my memories are naturally rather 
misty, but I have a vivid remembrance of an event that 
happened when I was five years old. 

On November 18, 1852, the great Duke of Wellington was 
buried at St. Paul's, and I was taken by my father and 
mother and my grandfather to see the funeral procession 

I think it must have been very early in the morning when 
we left our home in Islington, for the impression of a grey 
atmosphere has always remained with me. I can see the 
soldiers now as I saw them then, misty figures in that grey 

But clearly and distinctly I can see the funeral-car bearing 
the body of the great Duke, and more clearly still a riderless 
charger that was led immediately behind the car. The 
reversed boots that hung from the empty saddle stirred my 
childish imagination so strongly that the picture has never 

The silence of the great crowd, the car, and the riderless 
horse are all that I can remember distinctly of the funeral, 
but there are details connected with the day which I also 

We had seats in a shop window in Fleet Street. I 
believe it was a coffee-shop. The shop was closed in 
by an old-fashioned window with a number of panes of 

Every seat behind that window was occupied, and after 
an hour or two the occupants began to feel the effect of the 
atmosphere. It was suggested that some panes of glass in 
the window should be broken to admit a little fresh air, and 
it was proposed that every one should make a small contri- 
bution to compensate the proprietor. Every one agreed 


with the exception of an elderly Scotsman, who absolutely 
declined to part with a bawbee. 

It was decided to do without his contribution and admit 
the fresh air, and the moment the first pane had been 
knocked out the old Scotsman thrust his head through the 
aperture and gasped, " Thank goodness. In another minute 
I should have been suffocated." 

It is sixty-three years since I saw the dead Duke borne 
through the sorrowing multitude to his last resting-place, 
yet there is another incident which, though it took 
place after the funeral was over, has remained in my 

As soon as the procession had passed, my father and my 
grandfather left us the one to go to the office in the City 
and the other to the office of the Reform Freehold Land 
Society, in which he was interested. And then my mother 
took me home to Islington. 

I was very tired. I had been up since four in the morning, 
and I began to cry. Street hawkers were standing along 
the kerb in Fleet Street, and some of them were selling penny 
coloured picture-books. 

In the hope of distracting my mind and stopping my tears 
my mother bought one of the books and gave it to me. It 
was the story of " Puss in Boots." It was intelligent 
anticipation on my mother's part, as sixty-three years later 
I was one of the collaborators of Mr. Arthur Collins in 
reproducing that story for the Christmas pantomime at 
Drury Lane. 

It was soon after I had seen the Duke of Wellington's 
funeral that I paid my first visit to the play. 

We were living in Islington, not very far from Sadler's 
Wells Theatre. My father had taken an old-fashioned house 
there because he was in the habit of riding to and from 
Aldersgate Street, where, at London House, the former 
residence of the Bishop of London, he carried on his 

Sadler's Wells, which was within easy walking distance of 
our house, was then the equal of any of the West End 

Samuel Phelps had become the lessee, and had revived 


the fame and fortune of the once famous playhouse. Under 
his management it had become the home of Shakespearean 

What Henry Irving was to the English stage in my young 
manhood Samuel Phelps was to the English stage in my 

The Sadler's Wells audience was in those days an audience 
of keen critics, with a wonderful textual knowledge of the 
plays of Shakespeare. If an actor forgot his lines there was 
always an amateur prompter in the pit or gallery to give 
him the missing words. 

My mother was an enthusiastic playgoer, and found the 
proximity of Sadler's Wells, with its fine productions and 
the admirable acting of Phelps and his company, a great 

And so it happened that on one memorable occasion, after 
extracting from me a solemn promise that I would be good 
and sit as still as a mouse and not ask questions out loud, 
she took me with her. 

It was a memorable occasion, not only in my annals, but 
in the annals of the British drama, for it was the first night 
of Phelps's magnificent production of A Midsummer Night's 

That was on October 8, 1853, so that when I made my 
debut as a playgoer and first-nighter I was six, and Sadler's 
Wells, Shakespeare, and Samuel Phelps had the honour of 
being associated with the event. 

Samuel Phelps controlled the fortunes of Sadler's Wells 
for eighteen years, and I was present as a youth of fifteen 
at his final performance in the theatre, at which, during his 
successful and artistic management, he had produced thirty- 
four of Shakespeare's plays. 

In connexion with my early association with Sadler's 
Wells there is an event in which the long arm of coincidence 
was at work. 

At my first school, which was " somewhere in Islington," 
there was a boy named Hoskins, who was my first real 
" chum." Young Hoskins shone among his little school- 
fellows and playmates with a reflected glory. His father 
was an actor at Sadler's Wells, and he, because I was a 


friend of his little boy, would often stop and talk to me in 
the street. 

Now my first public appearance as a journalist was in 
the dock at the Guildhall Police Court. I had written 
something in Fun which was intended to be satirical and 
humorous. It was a letter addressed to "a fashionable 
tragedian," and it called attention to the number of plays 
produced at the Lyceum Theatre in which Henry Irving 
had played the part of a murderer. 

One paper I fancy it was the Saturday Review said that 
the article had been written " by a young gentleman named 
Sims of whom nothing has been previously heard, and of 
whom nothing will probably be heard again." 

But all the newspapers quoted one line of the luckless 
letter. I accused the fashionable tragedian of having 
" canonized the cut-throat and anointed the assassin." 

" Papa " Bateman we called him " Papa " because of 
his three clever children, the Bateman sisters was the 
manager of the Lyceum, with Irving as the star, and Bate- 
man, who was a good showman, saw in the undoubted 
libel the article contained a chance for bold advertisement. 
So on Christmas Eve Mr. George Lewis he was not Sir 
George then applied at the Guildhall Police Court for a 
summons against the printer of Fun. 

The first intimation I had of the fact was when I bought 
the Western Morning News at Penzance railway station on 
Boxing Day morning. I had gone to Penzance to spend 
Christmas with my mother, who was wintering there. 

The summons against Fun was returnable the day after 
Boxing Day, so I took the first train to town, and presented 
myself at Guildhall Police Court on the next morning, went 
into the witness-box and confessed myself the author of the 

" I am the author of this letter," I said, " and I have 
come five hundred miles to say so." 

It was a good little speech, but George Lewis marred its 
effect by jumping up and handing me a Bradshaw, and asking 
me to look at Penzance. 

" Now, sir," he said, " you tell us that you have come 
five hundred miles, and you say that you have come from 


Penzance. Penzance, according to the official railway 
measurement, is three hundred and twenty-six and a half 
miles from London. A liberal discount has evidently to be 
taken off any statement you may make." 

The result of my admission was that I was accommodated 
with a seat in the dock by the side of Mr. Henry Sampson, 
the editor of Fun, who also acknowledged his liability, and 
together we listened to the evidence. 

It was really more of a theatrical matinee than a judicial 
inquiry. Sir Robert Garden made humorous remarks which 
were intended to be serious from the Bench, John L. Toole 
gave comic evidence which was interrupted by roars of 
laughter, Frederic Clay, the composer, who was afterwards 
to be my great friend and collaborator, came into the 
witness-box to testify that he had read the article and was 
convinced that it referred to Henry Irving, and Dion 
Boucicault, who arrived late to say the same thing, had to 
fight his way into the court through the mob which had 
gathered outside to see the celebrities. 

Towards the middle of the second day's hearing Henry 
Irving, who had quite unwillingly taken part in the affair, 
insisted that the thing had been carried quite far enough, 
and that he would be satisfied with an apology. And 
that is how my first public appearance as a journalist 

The editor published a nice little apology in Fun, and I 
went round the next day to Irving's chambers in Grafton 
Street and had a chat with him, and he was afterwards my 
very good friend. 

And now the long arm of coincidence comes in. Soon 
after my friendly meeting with Irving I learnt that it was 
through a visit to Sadler's Wells in 1855 that he became 
acquainted with an actor named Hoskins. Irving told me 
that in those days he had to be in a City office at nine o'clock, 
but Hoskins would let him come to his house at eight in 
the morning to have a lesson. 

Hoskins, the first actor I ever spoke to and whom I knew 
in my childhood, had been the first stage tutor of the actor 
whose first manager of the Lyceum issued a police court 
summons against me in my young manhood, and it was 


on a letter of recommendation from Hoskins that Irving 
obtained his first engagement on the regular stage. 

But I was more than seven when the Irving adventure 
brought back to my memory the little Hoskins of my first 
school, and so far as these reminiscences are concerned I 
have not yet attained that interesting and classic age. 


ALL through my life there has been a remarkable re-entrance 
of characters associated with the prologue of my little 
everyday drama into the later acts. 

One of my earliest reminiscences after the Duke of 
Wellington's funeral and Shakespeare at Sadler's Wells is 
that of a first visit to a little chapel in Hare Court, Barbican. 

My grandfather, Robert Sims, was a Sandemanian or 
Glassite, and his greatest and dearest friend was Michael 
Faraday, the famous chemist, who was one of the elders. 

My father was never a member of the little community. 
Both he and my mother were Church of England, but they 
used occasionally to take me and my sister to the chapel 
on Sundays to see our grandfather. 

Among the elders of the chapel whom I knew as a child 
were Professor Faraday and John Boosey, the uncle of the 
William Boosey of the present day. Another of the elders 
was Benjamin Vincent, who was, I believe, the secretary of 
the Royal Institution, of which Faraday was the shining 

The Sandemanian service was a curious one, and the 
elders used to preach or " expound " in a curious way. The 
idea was to use as few words of their own as possible, and 
so their sermons or expositions consisted of a series of 
passages from the Scripture strung together by the aid of a 
" but," a " though/' or an " and." 

At this little chapel in Hare Court Michael Faraday once 
stood up before the congregation to apologize humbly for 
having in one of his lectures at the Royal Institution formu- 
lated an idea which was in a way opposed to the teaching 
of the Scriptures as accepted by the Sandemanians. 

The Sandemanians came, most of them, from distant 
parts of London for their Sunday services. There was no 


Underground Railway in those days, and no swift motor- 
buses, and as the morning service was not over till one 
o'clock the question of the midday meal had to be con- 

In order that the members of the congregation who lived 
far away might remain for the afternoon service a meal was 
prepared and served in a room attached to the chapel. The 
meal was served cold with the exception of the soup, which 
was always Scotch broth. 

To the Feast of Friendship, as it was called, children were 
not admitted, so I and my sister and the other children who 
had been brought by their parents remained in the pews 
and were there served with Scotch broth and sandwiches. 

Among the children who took Scotch broth on Sundays 
in the pews of the chapel in Hare Court was, I am told, a 
little boy named Fred Barnard. Another child was Miss 
Alice Faraday, a daughter of James Faraday, the Professor's 
brother. I do not know if they first fell in love with each 
other over the Scotch broth at Hare Court Chapel, but I do 
know that when they grew up pretty Alice Faraday became 
the wife of Fred Barnard, the young artist. 

I did not go to the Sandemanian Chapel after I was ten, 
being mostly away at school, but when long years afterwards 
Mr. Gilbert Dalziel commissioned me to write for the 
Pictorial World a series of articles on the conditions under 
which the poor were living in certain parts of London, he 
introduced me to the artist who was to accompany me and 
make the sketches. 

The artist was Fred Barnard, who had won great fame 
by his black-and-white work and the clever pictures he had 
painted and exhibited at the Royal Academy. 

The best known then were The Crowd Before the Guards' 
Band, The Barber's Shop, and Saturday Night in the Borough. 

Of the wonderful trips we made together into the darkest 
byways of a London that would be impossible to-day I 
shall have something to say later on. 

To his artistic soul the monotony of " the scenery and 
costumes " did not appeal. 

Poor Barnard's fate was a sad one. He undoubtedly 
became mentally unhinged. On one occasion he went to 


stay with a friend, and was discovered leaving the house 
early in the morning with nothing on but his boots, trousers, 
and hat. He had painted his body scarlet to represent a 
Salvation Army vest, and he had adorned his chest with the 
words " Blood and Fire." 

In September 1896 he was staying with a friend at 
Wimbledon. On Sunday, the 27th, the maid called him at 
half-past eleven. He said that he would be up shortly, but 
he evidently went to sleep again. 

Two hours later smoke was seen coming from the window 
of his bedroom. The door was locked, and all attempts to 
open it failed till the fire brigade arrived. But they had 
come too late, for the clothes were one mass of flame, and 
Fred Barnard was found in the midst of them, still alive, 
but unable to utter a word before he died. 

A pipe found lying on the floor gave the clue to the 
tragedy. He had been smoking in bed and had set fire to 
the clothes. 

I do not know if Mr. William Boosey, of ChappelTs, ever 
attended a Sandemanian service. He is a younger man 
than I am, so he could not have had Scotch broth with me, 
but his uncle, one of our elders, was a member of the firm of 
music publishers in Regent Street, and my first musical 
venture, " A Dress Rehearsal," with Louis Diehl as the 
composer, was published by the Booseys and is still sold 
by them. 

And when I wrote my first comic opera with Ivan Caryll 
it was William Boosey, John Boosey's nephew, who secured 
the publishing rights for Messrs. Chappell. 

It is curious that out of such a small community so many 
should, after the lapse of over a quarter of a century, have 
become associated with me when I took to journalism and 
dramatic authorship. 

It is the more curious seeing that it was a community 
with very strong views concerning Sunday newspapers and 
the theatre. The Bible was the only book the eyes of the 
religious might rest upon on the " Sabbath," and a visit to 
the Polytechnic or the Colosseum in Regent's Park was the 
nearest approach to dissipation permitted to the young at 
holiday time. 


Appreciating the strictness of the Sandemanian views it 
is a remarkable circumstance that it is in the theatrical 
world that the names borne by the Sandemanian elders 
survive to-day. 

The Michael Faraday who gave us The Chocolate Soldier 
and The Girl in the Taxi at the Lyric Theatre is named after 
his relative, the famous scientist and the humble Sande- 
manian elder. And the name of William Boosey is famous 
in the world of light opera and musical comedy. 

It was when I was nine that I went to my first real school, 
a boarding school. It was " A Preparatory School for 
Young Gentlemen/' situated in The Grove, Eastbourne, and 
was kept by the Misses Shoosmith. 

Nearly sixty years ago ! And as I write these lines there 
lies before me a message of thanks for a Christmas remem- 
brance that an old lady at Eastbourne sent me in the last 
week of nineteen-fifteen. And the old lady was one of the 
Misses Shoosmith of The Grove Preparatory School. 

Eastbourne was then a very different seaside town from 
what it is to-day. The residential portion on the front did 
not extend far beyond the Burlington Hotel at one end, 
and at the other end the Albion Hotel was the last residential 
building of any importance. Beyond the Burlington were 
cornfields, and beyond the Albion was beach. 

Where the magnificent motor rolls its lordly way were 
Sussex lanes, along which plodded the Sussex peasant in a 
white smock and a high black hat, rendered rusty by wind 
and weather. 

The railway station was quite a rural affair, and op- 
posite it was an old-fashioned inn which was the Railway 

Eastbourne was then a fashionable resort, especially in 
the late autumn, but it had not achieved the fame and the 
popularity that it enjoys to-day. 

There was an air of old-world peace about it always, a 
peace which was occasionally disturbed by the sea, which 
had a habit at certain periods of the year of invading the 
" front/' and hurling angry billows plentifully charged with 
pebbles against the windows of the picturesque little houses, 
and leaving sufficient of itself behind to enable the tenants 


to have sea-water baths in their own apartments without 
the trouble of going to the sea to fetch the water. 

In those days the then Duke of Devonshire was referred 
to affectionately by Eastbourne as " My Uncle," and was 
in frequent residence at his lovely place, which bore locally 
the charming name of " Paradise/' 

The sudden development of Eastbourne made many local 
fortunes. Some of the tradespeople who had bought land 
found themselves on the high road to a wealth of which 
they had never dreamed. One of the tradesmen, who used 
to supply my school and leave his goods himself, made 
enough money out of the boom to have a carriage and pair, 
a carriage of the chariot order, with a coachman and footman 
in gorgeous livery. 

The Grove is now a busy shopping thoroughfare. When 
I first made its acquaintance it was a leafy lane, and my 
old school-house stood in spacious grounds. The front of it 
looked on to hedgerows, and the back of it on to the green 

There was no Duke's Drive to Beachy Head. The only 
way to go was by the coastguard's track along the cliffs. 

In South Street, which is now a thriving thoroughfare, 
there was an old inn, and adjoining the inn a field separated 
from the roadway by a low pebble wall. In this field there 
was a little wooden theatre to which every now and then a 
company of strolling players would come and perform to, I 
fear, but scanty local patronage. 

I remember that a few bills of the play were stuck about 
on five-barred gates and the backs of wooden buildings, and 
they generally announced " a thrilling drama." 

I was never allowed to witness a tragedy at the wooden 
theatre, but I had a very narrow escape from being mixed 
up in a real tragedy as terrible as any the strolling players 
had in their repertoire. 

I went to Eastbourne a white-faced weakling, and there I 
grew into a healthy lad. When, after a time, I became too 
old for a preparatory school, my mother wished me to 
remain at Eastbourne, and my father was on the point of 
sending me to another scholastic establishment in that 
charming sea-coast town when a friend strongly recom- 


mended him to send me to a college at Hanwell kept by the 
Rev. J. A. Emerton. 

But for this change of plan I should have been transferred 
from the Grove to No. 22 Grand Parade, where there was 
also " A School for Young Gentlemen." The proprietor 
and head master was a Mr. Thomas Hopley. When we little 
boys of The Grove were taking our daily walk along the 
Parade, walking two and two, we used constantly to meet 
the Hopley boys walking two and two. 

On April 22, 1860, it became known all over Eastbourne 
that a terrible tragedy had occurred the previous night at 
22 Grand Parade. 

One of the pupils, a boy of sixteen, named Reginald 
Cancellor, had been found dead in his bed, and the rumour 
went round that he had been thrashed to death by Mr. 

An inquest was held on Cancellor, and the verdict was that 
there was no evidence to show how he came by his death. 

But the police took the matter up, and Mr. Hopley was 
brought before the magistrates on a charge of manslaughter, 
and there was plenty of evidence to show that the poor boy 
had been brutally done to death by a merciless master who 
had thrashed him for two hours with maniacal fury. 

At the end of two hours' thrashing the boy died, and 
Mr. Hopley summoned his distressed and horrified wife to 
assist him in rearranging the scene of the tragedy. 

The blood with which the floor was spattered was wiped 
up, the battered body of the boy was covered with a white 
nightgown, long white stockings were drawn over the 
lacerated legs, and the bruised and bleeding hands were 
thrust into a pair of white kid gloves. 

Hopley 's idea was to give out the cause of death as heart 
failure, and to get the body buried as quickly as possible 
and without an inquest. 

When he was tried for manslaughter Hopley contended 
that he had been compelled to chastise the boy in order to 
drive the wicked spirit out of him. He had thrashed him 
mercilessly for two hours, and at the end of that time he 
had succeeded in his object. The spirit had left the body 
for ever. 


Hopley's defence was a farrago of such canting hypocrisy 
that the case became a sensational one all over the country. 

He was tried at Lewes before Lord Chief Justice Cockburn. 
Serjeant Parry prosecuted, and Serjeant Ballantine defended. 
Hopley was found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to 
four years' penal servitude. 

In Lewes Gaol he wrote a pamphlet in which he defended 
his conduct from the point of view of the disciplinarian. 
The unfortunate boy had refused to learn as rapidly as the 
schoolmaster wished him to. He had been so stubborn in 
his wickedness that he " would not even make an effort to 
repeat the prismatic colours in their proper order." 

I was very glad, when I read the evidence, that my father 
had at the last moment decided not to send me to Hopley's. 
I do not think that even now I could repeat the prismatic 
colours in their proper order. 

A few years ago my old school, The Grove, had its little 
day of fame again. 

The Duke of Devonshire had decided that the old house 
should be pulled down. One of the Misses Shoosmith who 
still remained in it resented the order, refused to leave, 
barricaded herself in, and for a time The Grove was a 
miniature " Fort Chabrol." 

The Duke was very considerate and very kind to the old 
lady, but the old place had to go, and eventually it was 
levelled to the ground. 

And from one of the old ladies who kept my first school, 
and who on more than one occasion took the birch out of 
the drawer where it was kept I can see that drawer now 
and administered it for my special benefit, I received a kindly 
greeting only last Christmas Day. 

After leaving Eastbourne I went to Hanwell College. On 
the note-paper it was called " Hanwell Military College." 

The head master was the Rev. Dr. Emerton, and he took 
in a number of boarders to be crammed for the Army. That 
is how it became a military college, and it was there that 
I had my first experience of military life, for very soon 
after I had joined I was wearing Her Majesty's uniform, and 
being trained for home defence. 

There was a good deal of talk about invasion in the early 


'sixties, and the volunteer force became highly popular. Of 
course it was very unfavourably regarded by the military 
authorities volunteer forces always are and it came in 
for a tremendous amount of chafi from the ready-witted 
urchins of the pavement. 

The pride of many a whiskered warrior as he strutted 
along with his rifle on his shoulder and his Piccadilly weepers 
sportively toyed with by the breezes, was hurt by the cry of 
" Who shot the dog ? " which pursued him relentlessly as 
he went his martial way. 

It was one of the whimsies of the masses, and had as 
great a vogue as " What a shocking bad hat ! " " There he 
goes with his eye out ! " and " Where are you going on 
Sunday ? " the correct answer to which, I believe, was, 
" Up the river in a hansom and down the Old Kent Road in 
a steamboat/' 

It was Louis Napoleon, the special constable of the 
Chartist riots, who caused the invasion scare. 

It was generally believed that, forgetting the hospitality 
England had given him in his days of exile, he had determined 
to copy the first Napoleon, and in furtherance of this idea 
had oompleted a magnificent scheme for the invasion of the 
shores of perfidious Albion. 

Wimbledon had become the volunteer war centre. The 
Queen had reviewed eighteen thousand volunteers there and 
eleven thousand in Hyde Park, and all over the country 
thousands of citizens were donning uniform and drilling and 
learning to use the rifle effectively. 

The Hanwell boys became the Cadet Corps of, I think, 
the 30th Middlesex Rifles. We wore pepper-and-salt 
uniforms and high shakos adorned with dark green cocks' 

Monsieur Obert, our French master he had translated 
" The Deserted Village " into French wore the uniform of 
a captain, although, as we told him on more than one occasion, 
he was a " froggy " himself. 

Herr Kruger, our German master, pleaded that he was an 
officer in his own country and could not wear the trappings 
of an amateur in ours. But most of the other masters wore 
pepper and salt, and our Colonel was Mr. Wolseley Emerton, 



the principal's son, who was " all Sir Garnet " because he 
took his front name from the Wolseley family to which he 
was related. 

We wore our uniform every day and all day long, only 
abandoning it on Sundays, when we wore civilian clothes 
and mortar-boards. 

We drilled three times a day, and those of us who were 
old enough were instructed in the use of the rifle. 

All went well for a time, but gradually the uniforms wore 
out. The trousers, as will happen with the best regulated 
boys, went first, and the shakos, owing to the unceremonious 
manner in which they were treated, went next, and then 
Hanwell boys were to be seen in the village wearing the 
volunteer tunic, check or fancy pattern trousers, and a 
billycock or straw hat. And, just as I had been raised to 
the proud position of sergeant, the cadet corps came to an 
inglorious end. 

An old Indian colonel who lived at Hanwell saw a party 
of us one day in mixed civilian and military costume. He 
was scandalized, and gave Dr. Emerton a piece of his mind 
on the subject. As some of the boys' parents were not 
inclined to find new uniforms for their sons, the corps was 
disbanded, and I bade adieu to military life for ever. 

But a goodly number of Hanwellians when they left the 
College joined a grown-up corps, and many others went into 
the Army, and so the two years' steady drilling they had at 
the old school was of good service to them. 

One of the young men who came to the College to cram 
for the Army was the son of Mr. Weston, of Weston's 
Music Hall. We called him the " Star of the Weston 

At the time he was with us his father opened a sort of 
Cremorne on a small scale somewhere in Kentish Town or 
Highgate Road. It was called Weston's Retreat, and on 
Saturday evenings young Weston generally went up to town, 
taking a certain number of the boarders with him, and a 
young English master, Mr. Martin, who was the son of the 
editor of the then popular Peter Parley's Annual. 

Young Martin, who was a charming fellow, "rather like 
Lord Dundreary in appearance, had only one fault. He 


always came back on Saturday night with a desire to go to 
bed in his boots. 

He slept in a little room off the dormitory of which I was 
the captain, and it was frequently my midnight task to get his 
boots off after he had fallen into a sleep disturbed by dreams 
in which he gave off snatches of the latest music-hall songs. 

He appreciated my services, and, knowing that I was 
always " scribbling " little things which were intended to 
be humorous, he promised that one day he would show 
some of my stuff to his father, the editor. 

I wrote quite a number of " things " in anticipation of 
the event, but " Peter^Parley's " son left suddenly, and then 
I gathered my literary efforts together and sent them in a 
large envelope to the editor of Fun. 

I bought the periodical regularly every week to see if 
anything of mine was in it. I thought that as my manuscript 
had not been returned it had been accepted. At last I gave 
up all hope of ever seeing my work in Fun. 

But the ambition was gratified after all. Ten years later 
I was on the staff of that then popular " penny comic," and 
among the members of the staff of Fun and Hood's Annual 
when I joined were W. S. Gilbert, H. S. Leigh, George 
Augustus Sala, Austin Dobson, Ambrose Bierce, Charles 
Leland, Arthur Sketchley, Godfrey Turner, and Ashby 
Sterry. But this is another story. 

I left Hanwell at the end of 1863, and in 1864 I went to 
Germany the Germany of the 'sixties that was never to be 
the same Germany again after the dawn of the 'seventies. 

In Bonn I was placed by my father in the house of 
Dr. Stromberg, in the Weberstrasse. My fellow-students 
were a number of young men who were studying German 
and attending lectures and amusing themselves. 

Walter Ballantine, Serjeant Ballantine's son, who after- 
wards became M.P. for Coventry, was a fellow-student of 
mine, and so was one of the Rowntrees. 

Walter Ballantine and I had certain habits in common. 
We were both great readers, and it was our delight to spend 
a summer or an autumn afternoon sitting under a fruit-tree 
reading a French novel and eating cherries or peaches or 


Fruit was very cheap in Bonn in those days. You could 
buy as many ripe apricots as you could conveniently eat 
in an afternoon for a couple of groschen, and cigars were 
eight pfennige about a penny each. Wine was sixpence a 
bottle, and not bad if you mixed it with sugar or strawberries 
or peaches. Oh, the economical luxury of those happy 
days ! 

In the intervals of reading Balzac, my favourite French 
author, and eating apricots, I translated Freiligrath and 
Schiller and Uhland into English verse of sorts, and smoked 
German tobacco in a long German pipe, and fell in love with 
a pretty fraulein behind the counter of a shop where the 
penny cigars were sold. 

We went to nearly every kermesse within a dozen miles, 
and danced with the village maidens. We made a point of 
attending most of the students' duels, and played against 
the English elevens of Diisseldorf and Essen. 

We sailed on the Rhine and we bathed in the Rhine, and 
it was in the Rhine that one of my chums, an American 
student at the University, went one evening to bathe and 
was drowned, and the Bonn students in full uniform gave 
him a torchlight funeral. 

Every student in the procession, which started about 
eight o'clock at night, carried a flaming torch, and after the 
ceremony was over we returned to the banks of the Rhine 
and every lighted torch was flung into the river opposite the 
spot at which our comrade had met his fate. 

There were a number of young Englishmen at Perry's in 
Poppelsdorf Allee, and with the Perry contingent we were 
frequently allied in frolics and escapades. 

Lord William Beresford he was Bill Beresford to us, as 
he was afterwards to thousands of admirers was one of the 
most conspicuous of the bloods who were at Perry's, which 
was the aristocratic house. He generally wore his hat at 
an angle of forty-five degrees, and he was the champion at 
a form of nocturnal sport which was known as a candlestick 

The old-fashioned bedroom candlestick as a weapon 
requires a certain amount of dexterous handling. 

The game was generally played by eight, four a side, and 


all in night attire. The combatants stood a certain 
distance apart, and then sent their candlesticks whirling 
through the air. 

After the bout the lower limbs of the players were care- 
fully examined for cuts and bruises. The side whose legs 
had the fewest cuts and bruises were the winners. 

It was a rule of the game and a point of honour never to 
aim above the legs. 

Bonn was a very different town in the 'sixties from what 
it became after the Franco-German War. There were no 
grand villas as there are to-day, and living was cheap and 
good, and many English families came to Bonn to economize. 

But even then the English were not popular. 

And so it frequently happened that after our fellows had 
spent a night at a popular Bierhaus we finished up with a 
free fight outside. We fought fairly, in the good old English 
fashion, but some of the lower-class Germans fought unfairly. 
They used to wait for us at dark corners and open proceedings 
by throwing empty beer-bottles at our heads. 

When we had enough money for a week-end a select 
party of us would board the midnight boat on Saturday and 
disembark at Oberlahnstein for Ems early on Sunday 

The roulette tables at Ems, Wiesbaden, and Homburg 
had two zeros single zero and double zero but you could 
stake as low as a florin, and that gave you a chance of trying 
your luck a good many times. 

My youthful experiences of the German gambling tables 
were many and varied. I played more than once side by side 
with " The Butcher Duke," as the Duke of Hamilton used 
to be called on account of his fondness for wearing blue 
shirts, and on one occasion I saw the notorious Garcia break 
the bank. 

But my early relations with roulette were summarily 
snapped by an accident. 

One wet evening I had no money to go out with, and so 
I stayed at home. 

I had previously arranged with a young Englishman who 
lived in the opposite house a form of amusement for wet 
evenings. We each took a supply of crab-apples up to our 


rooms, and from our open windows, which faced each other, 
we bombarded everybody who passed along the street with 
an umbrella up. 

Unfortunately a famous German professor happened to 
pass under my window. He put down his umbrella for a 
moment to see if it had left off raining, and he received a 
heavy shower of crab-apples on his intellectual brow. 

He knocked at the door furiously, and insisted upon 
having my name, and then, having expressed himself 
towards me in unclassical language, he went away. 

I was summoned before the Chief of Police, who gave me 
a severe lecture in German, and fined me ten thalers. I did 
not mind having to listen to the lecture, but I objected to 
having to lose the thalers, and that night at Ruland's 
Bierhaus, when it was packed with students, I delivered 
myself freely of my views on German justice. 

Some of the Germans made insulting remarks, and then 
the English and Americans took the matter up, and there 
was a certain amount of damage done to the glass and 

This time the authorities requested Dr. Stromberg not to 
allow me out of the house after nightfall for a fortnight. 

This was a disciplinary measure to which I strongly 
objected, so after being locked in my bedroom at night I 
opened the window, fastened my sheets together, and went 
down them hand over hand to the ground, where I was 
received with cheers by the English contingent. 

Knowing that the police would be after me I did not stay 
in the town, but made my way to the top of the Petersberg 
one of the Seven Mountains and there in a comfortable 
little hotel I stayed for three or four days ; then becoming 
reckless I ventured down into the town, entered a Gasthaus 
in a side street for some refreshments, and there I was 
promptly arrested. 

This time the fine imposed upon me was too heavy for 
my depleted purse, and I had to telegraph home for money. 

My father, who had heard of my previous escapades and 
my gambling proclivities, thought that I might as well go 
home and tempt fortune in London, where the odds would 
be more in my favour. So I left Bonn one afternoon en route 


for London, and a cheering crowd of young Englishmen 
who sympathized with me in my fight with Kultur saw 
me off. 

" Bill " Beresford was at the station, and he made a 
speech congratulating me upon the bold stand I had made 
against German tyranny. 

Everybody insisted upon thrusting cigars German cigars 
into my pockets. When the train started I hurriedly 
pulled out my handkerchief to wave it to the boys I left 
behind me, and in the process I pulled out the cigars, which 
flew about in every direction, one hitting an elderly German 
officer on the nose, and the others falling into a German 
lady's lap. 

I endured the withering scorn of their glances as far as 
Cologne, and there I changed into another compartment, 
and arrived in London with one cigar and one thaler in my 

A month later I was on a high stool in my father's office, 
extracting all the humour I could out of a situation which 
I never took very seriously. 

But I had sampled " life " in Bonn, and London with its 
infinite possibilities lay before me. 


THE first thing that struck me when I entered my father's 
office in Aldersgate Street to start a mercantile career was 
that the environment presented facilities for the pursuance 
of my pet ambition, which was to be a journalist and author. 

I had written poetry of sorts from the age of ten. When 
I was fifteen some verses of mine were printed on the back 
page of the halfpenny Welcome Guest, with an encouraging 
little note it was on the Answers to Correspondents page 
from the editor. 

Some years afterwards, when I was chatting with my 
friend Miss Braddon at her Richmond home, she told me 
that the encouraging answer to " S. R. G." had been written 
by her mother, who was then editing the periodical. 

I wonder how many people to-day remember that half- 
penny Welcome Guest and its rival, the Halfpenny Journal, 
to which Miss Braddon herself anonymously contributed a 
thrilling serial under the title of " The Black Band, or The 
Mysteries of Midnight " ? 

I had written burlesques for my brothers and sisters to 
perform in the Theatre Royal Back Drawing-room, and 
though I had appropriated whole pages from the burlesques 
of H. J. Byron, printed copies of which I bought at Lacy's 
in the Strand, a good deal of the work was original, and 
there were puns of my own in them which Byron would 
have blushed to acknowledge. 

All my father's friends said I was a nice boy, but it was 
a pity I " scribbled." So to cure me of " scribbling " my 
father decided when I came back from Bonn that I should 
be placed in his office and instructed in the mysteries of 
commerce. I did not like the idea, for I was a born 
Bohemian, but I had to give way. 

My father was at that time a wholesale and export cabinet 


manufacturer and plate-glass factor, and he carried on his 
business on historical premises which were his freehold 

Aldersgate Street was from the time of the Plantagenets 
to that of the Stuarts the Belgravia of London, the residence 
of prelates and nobles, and I found myself in the heart of a 
land of romance that was already dear to me as a lover of 

The premises at which my father carried on his business 
covered a large space of ground stretching in one direction 
nearly to Bartholomew Close, and London House itself, 
which was the frontage of the area, was formerly the palace 
of the Bishops of London. 

It was supposed to have been at one time the town house 
of the Marquis of Dorchester. During the Commonwealth 
it was used as a State prison, and after the Restoration it 
became the episcopal residence of the See. 

The historical associations of London House appealed to 
me greatly, and softened the first blow of having to enter 
commercial life, for which I did not feel myself particularly 
fitted, either by training or disposition. 

There was a little dramatic story in connexion with the 
superstition of " three " which also appealed to me. 

In the middle of the eighteenth century London House 
was occupied by Seddon, the eminent cabinet-maker, who 
carried on his business there and lived in the palatial rooms 
above. Even in my time these rooms were of the palatial 
order, with magnificent solid mahogany doors and wonderful 

The dramatic incident of " three " occurred in connexion 
with Seddon, the cabinet-maker. At London House the 
whole of his uninsured stock was burned on two occasions, 
and some little time after, in order to complete the chain of 
" three/' Miss Seddon was burned to death in the house by 
her clothes catching fire. 

The premises were so important and were of such extent, 
a good deal of valuable ground at the back being covered 
only by rambling workshops and packing-sheds and open 
yards, that my father had many tempting offers for the 
freehold, but for many years he refused to sell. 


I remember that at one time the General Post Office had 
an idea that they would like to become purchasers, as they 
were extending their premises and contemplating vast 
building operations. 

Mr. Frank Ives Scudamore was instructed to go over the 
premises, and I had the honour of personally conducting his 

I have read a good deal at various times about Frank Ives 
Scudamore's wit and humour and his many quaint charac- 
teristics. It will be remembered that he eventually left 
the G.P.O. and went to Constantinople to establish the 
postal system there, and that in his day he was quite a 

But on the afternoon that I took him over London House 
I had no opportunity of sampling his characteristic conversa- 
tion. He went silently with me into the various portions 
of the building, and during the journey he only indulged in 
an occasional short grunt. 

When he had seen everything he uttered one word : 

" Damn ! " 

Then he put out his hand in token of farewell, and we 

I had more opportunity of conversation with a celebrity 
a year or two later, when one of the Brothers Mayhew, who 
was writing a series of commercial articles on great business 
houses, I believe I forget what the title was came to 
London House, and I was told off to be his guide. 

On that occasion I remember that I took him into the 
rooms where the quicksilvering process was going on, and 
I told him such terrible stories of the effect of quicksilver 
upon the workers that when the proof of the article came to 
my father he held up his hands in horror. 

I had indulged my romantic, or, as he called it, imaginative 
faculty to such an extent that the article was considered 
absolutely impossible. 

Long years afterwards, when I was a prosperous author 
and Henry Mayhew had ceased to be one, he wrote me a 
letter reminding me of the first interview between the man 
who wrote " London Labour and the London Poor " and 
the youth who was later on to write " How the Poor Live/' 



and I was able to help him over one of the I am afraid 
many critical moments of his career. 

A good many years later my father did part with London 
House and the adjacent land. The old palace of the bishops 
has disappeared, and a huge block of business houses now 
stands on its site. 

It was my joy in the days before I combined journalism 
with the City to roam around Little Britain and Barbican, 
Bartholomew Close and Cloth Fair, and the ancient ways 
where once reigned the glories of Bartholomew Fair, and my 
early pilgrimages in old Aldrichesgate and the time-hallowed 
haunts around it inspired me to gain the knowledge of 
London which was to stand me in such good stead as an 
author in later years. 

But there was a very human side to my early life in the 
City, and I came into it when the spirit of Dickens still 
hovered over it. 

You could see the Cheeryble Brothers ambling amiably 
on one side of a street, and Mr. Dombey striding pompously 
along on the other. 

And a few of the City fathers still dwelt in the City and 
lived over their business establishments. 

There was one dear old Deputy who furnished me with 
the material for one of my first stories. He and his elderly 
daughters lived over a forlorn warehouse where he carried 
on a business that had diminished year by year until it had 
become practically non-existent. But to every feast and 
function in the City the Deputy and his two elderly daughters 
were invited. 

These City luncheons and banquets must have been 
salvation to them, for the current story was that in the 
intervals of City functions they lived upon the stock which 
still remained unsold in the warehouse. 

It was a drysalter's business, and there were bottles of 
anchovies and herrings and things of that sort displayed on 
dusty shelves in the old-fashioned, small-paned windows. 

The old Deputy and his daughters attended the functions 
of the 'sixties garbed in the fashion of the 'forties, and the 
old ladies, I remember, generally wore faded wreaths of 
roses on their grey hair. 


The old Deputy died in his room above the warehouse, 
and then the shutters went up, and when they were taken 
down again the melancholy bottles of anchovies that had 
stood for years, the last survivors of a once prosperous past, 
had disappeared too. 

The woe-begone windows of that City warehouse have 
been to me for fifty years a haunting memory of my City 

Apart from the romantic atmosphere of my historic 
surroundings in Aldersgate Street I did not find City life 
such an unpleasant sort of existence as I had anticipated. 
My father's office was filled with old gentlemen who had 
been with the firm for many years. 

The cashier and two of the principal clerks wore swallow- 
tailed coats, a large expanse of frilled shirt, and high black 
stocks. The cashier, in addition, wore a velvet skull-cap. 

They took snuff out of a silver box, the lid of which they 
tapped in quite the classical comedy style. 

The Early Victorian, Dickensy, atmosphere of our office 
appealed to my love of character, and when I discovered 
that there was a delightful double of Mr. Micawber among 
the artists who made the designs our travellers carried all 
over the country I was quite delighted. 

Micawber and I used to lunch together in the artists' 
room. Sometimes we lunched on tinned lobster, and some- 
times we cooked steak in a frying-pan on the stove. 

But all our artist designers were interesting. One of 
them was the son of G. W. Hunt, the composer of " We 
don't want to fight, but, by Jingo, if we do ! " and at once 
I breathed the atmosphere of the music-hall. 

Another artist was Mr. G. J. Thompson, who encouraged 
my literary aspirations and collected the verses which I used 
to write in business hours. 

Quaint characters came to the office and to the warehouse 
from all parts of the kingdom, and I remembered them with 
great advantage when I began to write stories professionally. 

But my chief delight was my father's private office, in 
which I had a big writ ing- table. The private office was 
secluded and cosy, and it was there and upon that writing- 
table that I wrote stories and verses and occasionally plays 


without the faintest hope of ever getting them published or 

Among the stories I wrote in the City office was the series 
afterwards published in the Weekly Dispatch, " Three Brass 
Balls." The stories were inspired by the fact that there was 
a pawnbroker exactly opposite us. 

Among the plays I wrote on that office table was The Lights 
o' London. 

Of course I ought to have done my " fancy work " at 
home in my own time. But I wanted to see life and know 
life, and the process occupied most of my leisure after-office 

Seeing life in London cost money, and I am afraid I had 
extravagant ideas. At any rate, I found my salary, good as 
it was, seeing that I lived in my father's house at Hamilton 
Terrace, insufficient for my persistent programme of theatres 
and music-halls, with Cremorne and the North Woolwich 
Gardens, the Argyle Rooms and the Holborn Casino, Highbury 
Barn and CaldwelTs in Dean Street, Soho, thrown in, and a 
fondness for backing my fancy on the turf. 

In my early City days when I began to follow the turf I 
used to put my money on at " The Ruins " in Farringdon 
Road in the day-time, and at a coffee-house in Foubert's Place, 
Regent Street, in the evening. 

A friend of mine who lived in Maida Vale had backed 
Hermit at 66 to i, thrown up his position in his father's office 
on the strength of his winnings and " gone racing/' and we 
used to meet in the billiard-room at The Warrington, Maida 
Vale, of an evening, and he would give me tips. They did not 
often come off, but I generally had my half-crown on them at 
The Ruins. 

At The Ruins several well-known ready-money bookmakers 
stood daily exhibiting their lists, and there the youth of the 
City flocked to put their money on. And working among 
the crowd were any number of sharps. 

But the whole thing went on under the noses of the City 
police, and this form of street betting was then accepted as 
the habit and custom of a free people. 

At the coffee-house in Foubert's Place the business was 
fairly straight. The bookmakers would sit in the boxes with 


their lists in front of them, and you could put your money on 
quite comfortably, and get it if you won. 

There was another public betting-place at the back of the 
brewery at the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court 
Road, and there were plenty of well-known " List Houses/' 
where you could bet in ready money. 

Seeing life and backing my fancy soon made me hard up, 
and to relieve the situation I sought the assistance of an 
accommodating gentleman in Holborn, a tailor who would 
make me a suit of clothes and discount my bill for fifteen or 
twenty pounds. 

At one time I owed him something like a hundred and fifty 
pounds, but I do not think that I had had more than thirty 
or forty pounds cash. The balance was made up of interest 
on renewals. 

The incident was brought to my mind quite recently in a 
curious way. 

When the King of Italy made the amiable Mr. Oddenino 
of the Imperial Restaurant a Cavaliere a number of his old 
friends gave him a congratulatory banquet. 

One of the vice-chairmen was Mr. Tom Honey, of Barnato 
Brothers, who during the evening made a speech. I had 
previously spoken and Mr. Honey took the opportunity of 
telling a story about me. 

One day in the long ago years he went to his tailor in 
Holborn to try on a suit, and he found the tailor looking very 

" Hallo," said Mr. Honey, " you look sad. Have you made 
a bad debt ? " " No," was the reply, " but I've been paid 
off some money that I thought was going to earn interest for 
a good many years to come. Young Sims has made a success 
with a play, and he's taken up his bills. Just my luck ! " 

The play that enabled me to pay off the accommodating 
tailor was the one written on my office table in the City. 

I got my first chance as a journalist and dramatist through 
not liking the liquor or the company at Kate Hamilton's, a 
night house in the neighbourhood of the then notorious 
Panton Street. 

Bad liquor and bad company were my stepping-stones to 
Fortune. And this is how it happened. 


SOME people used to go to Mitcham in the old days for the 
Fair, and some for lavender. George Borrow's Sapengro or 
snake man used to go there to catch snakes. I am bound to 
confess that I have, so far as my memory serves me, only 
been to Mitcham once in my life. 

But it was a very momentous once, for it was a turning- 
point in my " career." It took me out of Aldersgate Street 
and put me down in Fleet Street. It gave me my start not 
only as a journalist but as a playwright. 

If I had not gone to Mitcham one winter evening long, long 
years ago it is quite possible that I might have become a 
fairly prosperous City man instead of a struggling author. 

I was about five and twenty when my Fate found me. It 
happened that some intimate friends of my family were living 
at Mitcham, and the daughters of the house were anxious to 
have some private theatricals. 

They had selected H. J. Byron's Old Story, and they asked 
me if I would stage-manage it. I agreed, and I was asked to 
run over to Mitcham and meet the company and rehearse the 

Among those who were taking parts were Mr. J. F. Dillon 
Croker, Mr. Westmacott Chapman, and Mr. George Canton, 
all of them well known in amateur circles, and with a large 
number of acquaintances in literary and theatrical Bohemia. 

After the rehearsal we came back to London by the last 
train. Dillon Croker bade us good night at Victoria. It was 
only a little after midnight, and one of the party I think it 
was Canton proposed that we should sample the night life 
of London. 

The programme of the " Won't go home till morning " boys 
was generally in those days mapped out on pretty regular 



After the Holborn Casino and Argyle Rooms, where fair ones 
of a certain type had their days or shall I say nights ? of 
renown, closed their doors, which was usually at midnight, 
the " Won't go home till morning " boys would make their 
way to Mott's, which was just off Langham Place, or to 
222 Piccadilly an establishment which was colloquially 
known as " The Three Swear- wordy Twos," and is now, I 
think, absorbed in the Criterion building and in these 
establishments they would dance and otherwise divert them- 
selves till daylight. 

The Haymarket was as busy as a fair all the long night 
through, and there were night houses in Panton Street and 
Jermyn Street and the streets around Leicester Square where 
you could drink bad spirits and worse wine till the early 
morning sun streaming in through the back windows sent you 
shamefacedly home. 

It was quite the usual thing to come back from Cremorne 
at four o'clock in the morning, and wind up by going " round 
the houses " in the West, and thus stretching out the night's 
amusement to five or six o'clock, a plan of campaign which 
was known as " Home with the milk in the morning." 

Cremorne ! All its comedy and all its tragedy have yet to 
be written. The life-story of some of its proprietors would 
make a Balzacian volume I shall have something to say 
about them later on and so would the life-story of some of 
its habitues, the fair and frail, the gallant and the gay, light- 
hearted youth and wicked old age, frolicking Bohemia and 
wild-oats-sowing Belgravia, the " lights " and shadows of 
the bar, the stage, and the turf, youth having its first fling, 
and the blase man about town, all frisking and frolicking, 
drinking and dancing, pleasuring or prowling among the 
shining lights. All are in the picture that comes back to my 
memory across a gulf of forty years. 

Of those memories among the outward and visible souvenirs 
that remain to me are some verses written by H. J. Byron, 
when all Cremorne's stock-in-trade and appurtenances were 
advertised for sale by auction. Here is a verse : 

" Cream-coloured charger," I exclaimed, 
" I mourn thy lot forlorn," 

4 o MY LIFE 

And with a sigh I hurried by 
The Gardens of Cream mown. 

And I never sit down to my morning meal without being 
reminded of the old " Gardens of Delight," for the silver dish- 
covers that are used on my breakfast-table bear the stamp of 
" The Royal Cremome Gardens " upon them. They were the 
covers used for special and distinguished supper-parties, and 
were given to me some years ago by a friend. 

Cremorne Gardens were open in the day for a different sort 
of patronage. The price of admission was one shilling U p to 
10 P.M. and two shillings after that hour. It was one evening 
that De Groof , the flying man, ascended with his newly designed 
wings, and after attaining a certain height fell suddenly with 
a terrible crash on to the pavement of a Chelsea street. 

I was near the spot at the time and saw the crowd rush 
towards the battered body and struggle to secure pieces of 
the dead man's shattered wings as a souvenir. Several 
leading articles were written in the daily papers on the tragedy, 
and the verdict of all of them was that man would never 
conquer the air. 

But I have travelled from the night house to Cremorne. It 
was generally the other way about. Let me hasten back to 
the night house. 

In the fulfilment of our intention to see life our little party 
made its way first to Coney's in Panton Street, from there to 
Sally Sutherland's, and thence to Kate Hamilton's, which was 
not far off. 

I can see the company in one of these night houses now. A 
young man in mercantile marine uniform is leaning across the 
bar exchanging breezy persiflage with the golden-haired, 
highly coloured damsel behind it. A pretty faded girl of five 
and twenty is sitting on one of the couches drinking cham- 
pagne with a swell of the period who wears peg-top trousers 
and long Dundreary whiskers. 

An elderly woman with keen, evil-looking eyes is escorting 
two very much made-up young girls who call her " Ma/' and 
they are sitting at a table with an elderly man who wears 
his hat very much on one side, and has a portion of his jnouth 
in the same condition. 


The gaiety, such as there is, is forced. The voices ue 
harsh, the atmosphere is bad, and the liquor is worse. 

I sipped the stuff in my glass at three bars, and then told 
my friends that I had had enough of that sort of thing andl 
should go home. Then one of the party had an idea. 

" Don't let us breakup yet," he said. " I know an awfully 
jofly jdace where we can go. A dob I belong to. We can sit 
there anH smnfa* and drink decent honor. It's quite a 
Bohemian club actors ad authors and journalists and that 
sort of thing, don't you know? " 

I pricked up my ears. Authors, actors, journalists, and 
amnng thfm there might be managers attd <dUoib ! To 
mingle with such people, if it were only for a brief hour, would 
be a delight tome. 

I yielded to the suggestion eagerly. We hailed a four- 
wheeled cab there was no necessity to blow a whistle in 
those days ; the cabs crawled past yon in I'lriBJJ procession, 
and you didn't have to hafl them, the drivers hailed >uu me, 
got into the cab, and the clubman whose guests we were to 
be shouted to the driver, " Hoiywefl Street." 

Half-way down Hoiywefl Street, that later on was niiiMMil 
Booksellers' Row, we stopped at a little door, pushed it open, 

~Vi ^T-H iL- 1 n i" ^ 11L~r-2-i':: * " ~ lilt" i -"HZ 7 ~% " .1 ~ 7 - ' ~* ~'-~ ' - ~ ' ~ ~ ~~- 

room, ^ " fc "' t ^Hy fuiaidii il with easy chairs and a big sofa, 
and filled with tobacco <smnfa> ar^f the clamour of voices. 

Jne coinp^^y HXfrtSisfffl cfaiefiv of actors. anlliOHL and 
journalists, and their invited guests. 

This was *^ Unity dub, the bit of old-fashioned Bohemia 
in TxiAifi that was to be my jumping-off place for th<^ world 
cf l^ilJi C ~^ '~ : 7 

Among the TUF^nnPTs to whom I ifc^*^ tnt rxKinfBd was A 
iiaiifi^Mii^ voun? actor ^i^pajjy 3. Duboc favourite and HTTMT" 
admired on the stage by the fair portion of the aodiencp 

I should have Jpolnpd at him with even keener interest than 
I did could I have foreseen the future and known that nearly 
thirty years later I should be rung up by the Evonmg Nems 
late one vuiln u^hL and asked by the editor to viile there 
and then an ipyrrr FMWP of the 
played the hero so often in my Addphi mekxiramas, 
on that fateful evening of December 16, 1897, 


murdered at the stage door of the Adelphi by a player of 
small parts who was suffering from the mania of persecution 
and believed that William Terriss had kept him out of an 

Before I left the club on the night of my introduction to 
it I had been proposed as a member. A fortnight later I 
received a notice of my election, paid my guinea, and became 
a " Unitarian." 

Our house dinner at the Unity was at three o'clock. Among 
the frequent diners were Arthur and Edward Swanborough, 
of the merry little Strand ; David James, Tom Thorne, George 
Honey, George Maddick, the founder of many newspapers; 
Henry S. Leigh, the Caroller of Cockayne ; Wilford Morgan, 
the singer : John Sheehan, the " Irish whisky drinker " ; 
William Tinsley, the publisher ; Tom Catling, the editor of 
Lloyd's ; George Spencer Edwards of the Era ; H. B. Farnie, 
the librettist; George Barrett, Wilson's brother; Walter 
Joyce, Savile Clarke, and occasionally Dan Chatto, who was 
then with John Camden Hotten in Piccadilly ; Tom Oliphant, 
the editor of the Weekly Dispatch ; and John Thomson, its 
dramatic critic. 

John Thomson, a big-hearted young fellow, with a fat, 
baby face and large spectacles, had been Swinburne's secretary. 

Thomson's mother had an apartment house in Bloomsbury, 
and at one time Swinburne and Savile Clarke lodged there. 

One night, going in late, Savile Clarke went down into the 
kitchen to get some hot water for the whisky that he and 
Swinburne desired to take as a nightcap. Clarke, finding the 
kitchen door ajar, went in and was astonished to see a fat- 
faced boy of about sixteen sitting in front of the fire and 
reciting " Paradise Lost " from memory to the blackbeetles. 

He went upstairs and fetched Swinburne down, and they 
spent the night listening to the boy, who appeared to know 
all the English poets, ancient and modern, by heart. 

Swinburne took an interest in the boy and had him con- 
stantly with him, and it was while he was Swinburne's secretary 
that poor John first met Adah Isaacs Menken, the actress and 
poetess, with whom he fell madly in love. But that is another 

When I first met Thomson at the Unity he was the dramatic 


critic of the Dispatch, and wrote a column of paragraphs called 
" Waifs and Strays." Tom Hood had been writing the 
column previously, but had given it up. 

I wrote a poem which I called " Jack's Story." It was 
inspired by Colonel John Hay's " Jim Bludso." I showed it 
to John Thomson. He had it set up at the Weekly Dispatch 
office and tried to get it published, but it was too daring for 
London editors, and eventually Ambrose Bierce took it across 
the Atlantic with him and got it inserted in the San Francisco 
News Letter, a paper which was founded by an Englishman, 
Frederick Marriott. He started the halfpenny Chat and 
many other journals in London, but they failed, and he went 
to America, and there he made a fortune. 

The editor of Chat was Thomas Lyttelton Holt, a Cambridge 
man of good family, but a journalist of the ultra-Bohemian 
type, who had the reputation of having started more news- 
papers and publications than any man of his day. But they 
all started with very little capital, and Holt was always in 
more or less desperate straits for money. 

But fortune came to him at last when, in the first flush of 
the railway mania, he started the Iron Times and railway 
advertisements flowed in. Then the journalist who had 
borrowed many a half-crown in the Street of Adventure was 
seen driving along Fleet Street in a carriage and pair, with a 
liveried footman hanging on behind. 

When a Times leader pricked the railway bubble, Holt lost 
the Iron Times and the hard times returned to him. 

When Holt resigned the editorship of Chat he was succeeded 
by a young man who was then a scene-painter's assistant at 
the Princess's Theatre, where his mother was acting. The 
name of the young man was George Augustus Sala. 

At that time Sala was doing the illustrations for Edward 
Lloyd's Penny Sunday Times and also for a number of 
periodicals of a highly sensational order, but not of an 
immoral tendency as some of the later penny dreadfuls 

My old friend Mr. Farlow Wilson, for twenty-eight years 
the printing manager of the house of Cassell, has left it on 
record that at one time Sala was told he must put more 
vigour into his drawings. Mr. Lloyd wrote to the artist, 


" The eyes must be larger and there must be more blood, 
much more blood." 

I once heard Sala in an after-dinner speech refer to his early 
adventures as an illustrator of penny fiction and to his first 
appearance as an editor. The paper was Frederick Marriott's 
Chat, of which, I believe, there is no copy in the British 

The first man who employed Sala as an editor was Frederick 
Marriott of the London Chat, and the man who printed my 
first Fleet Street effort was Frederick Marriott, the proprietor 
of the San Francisco News Letter. 

The poem that was published in the San Francisco News 
Letter was the first of the series which afterwards became 
known as " The Dagonet Ballads." I hasten to say that 
" Jack's Story " is not to be found in any of the " Dagonet " 
volumes now. 

Poor Thomson was not a strenuous worker. He was 
fonder of talking than of writing. Bandmann, the tragedian, 
had announced a revival of Narcisse at the Lyceum for one 
Saturday evening. Thomson wrote his notice for the Dispatch 
on Saturday morning and went off to the seaside with a 

At the last moment Bandmann decided to postpone the 
production of Narcisse till Monday evening, but the Dispatch 
came out on Sunday morning with a notice of the performance, 
and it was a vigorous slate of Bandmann in the title r61e. 

Bandmann placarded London with posters denouncing 
critics in general and the dramatic critic of the Dispatch in 

Thomson, to give me a chance, as he said, let me write his 
column in the Weekly Dispatch. For some weeks I wrote the 
paragraphs and he took the guinea, but one day he came to 
me and said : " Look here, my boy, the public evidently like 
your stuff. You had better keep the job and take the 
guinea/' And I did. And that was my first appearance in 
Fleet Street as a professional journalist. 

There was a good deal of mystery about poor John Thomson. 
He lived in one of the side roads of St. John's Wood, then 
playfully referred to as " The Grove of the Evangelist," and 
the house in which he lived was rather sumptuously furnished. 


It was in this house that Thomson fell ill with a feverish 
cold. One evening a friend called to cheer John up, and they 
began discussing the poets. Thomson began to recite from 
memory Swinburne's " Atalanta in Calydon." When he 
came to a certain passage the friend stopped him and said he 
had not got the exact words. 

Thomson, who said that he had and would prove it, got 
out of bed, and, bare-footed, walked out of the bedroom, 
down the stairs, across the hall and through a conservatory 
into the little library in which he knew he could find the book. 

He found it, brought it back, pointed to the passage, 
proved that he was right, and got into bed. But he never 
left it again. In a few days he was dead. 

I went on writing the " Waifs and Strays " for the Weekly 
Dispatch and drawing the guinea. But I was still in the 

I have said that " Jack's Story " was my first ballad. 
That is not quite correct. I had previously written one 
called " Harcourt's Dream," but it was much too personal 
for publication. It dealt in free and uncensored language 
with the habits and customs of the most eccentric member 
the Unity had on its roll of membership. 

We called him " The Bushranger," because he came from 
Australia. He lived in Dane's Inn in the day-time and came 
to the Unity about four o'clock in the afternoon, sat in a 
chair by the fire, and drank his whisky and water steadily 
until about nine o'clock in the evening, and then he would 
gradually slip out of the chair into the fireplace. 

At first the waiter or a guest arriving and discovering him 
lying in such dangerous proximity to the hot coals would go 
to his assistance, but the old gentleman's language on being 
disturbed was of such a discouraging nature that it was 
ultimately decided to let him rest in peace. But in order 
that the fire might be properly made up he was sometimes 
gently and delicately pulled a little on one side. 

It was at the Unity that the habit among the members of 
coming in and wanting chops and fried potatoes and other 
delicacies between four and five o'clock in the morning 
compelled the proprietor to have the following notice put up 
in the hall : 


Members are earnestly requested not 
to order hot suppers after 4 a.m. 

Before I became a paid traveller in the Street of Adventure, 
certain adventures had happened to me, both in the news- 
paper world and the world of the footlights. 

One night I had gone with a friend to the pit of the Queen's 
Theatre, of which Mr. Henry Labouchere was the lessee he 
had taken it for Miss Henrietta Hodson, who was afterwards 
Mrs. Labouchere and there was a scene. 

The play was Tom Taylor's 'Twixt Axe and Crown, and the 
beautiful Mrs. Rousby was playing the heroine. 

Seated near me in the pit was a shortish, square-shouldered 
gentleman with long whiskers of a bright red hue. He was 
making audible remarks during the progress of the play, and 
when an official of the theatre, Mr. Morris Jacobs, the acting 
manager, came to him and began to remonstrate with him, 
the red-whiskered gentleman exclaimed, " Shut up ! I want 
to hear Tom Taylor's history." 

Thereupon the acting manager summoned his assistants, 
and the red-whiskered gentleman was seized by the shoulders, 
dragged backwards over the pit benches, and ignominiously 
pushed down the stone steps that led to the street. 

I was an habitual pittite in those days, with old-fashioned 
notions as to the sacred rights possessed by the pit. I followed 
the fray, and when the red-whiskered gentleman landed on 
the bottom step I sat down beside him while he pulled himself 
together, and handed him my card in case he required a witness 
to the rough treatment he had received. 

The red-whiskered gentleman was Leopold Lewis, co-editor 
of the Mask with Captain Alfred Thompson, the brilliant 
artist and caricaturist. Leopold Lewis was later on the 
author of The Bells. 

Lewis was a solicitor as well as a Bohemian and an author, 
and his legal instinct prompted him to bring an action against 
Mr. Labouchere, the proprietor of the theatre, in the shape 
of a claim for damages. 

The case was tried at Westminster, and I was a witness 
for the plaintiff. There had previously been a Bow Street 
case, in which Lewis had been charged with creating a dis- 


turbance in the theatre, and the official reporter at Bow Street 
was Mr. George Grossmith, who was later known to fame as 
a society entertainer and the leading comedian of Savoy 
opera. He was not making enough money in those days to 
give up his post at Bow Street. 

George Grossmith, as the official reporter, was summoned 
as a witness, in order that he might produce his shorthand 
notes of the evidence in the police case. 

While the case was in progress Lewis, who was sitting next 
to me, whispered, " I shall win. There's one of my tenants 
on the jury, and he wants me to renew a lease." 

He did win, but it was a Pyrrhic victory, for the damages 
awarded to him amounted to one farthing. 

The evidence concerning the affray in the pit of the Queen's 
by the witnesses must have been rather embarrassing to the 
jury. Leopold Lewis's witnesses described it as one of the 
most disgraceful assaults upon a British subject that had ever 
occurred within the walls of a West End theatre. The 
witnesses who spoke on behalf of the management described 
it as merely an amiable attempt to induce a gentleman who 
was disturbing the audience to quit the building quietly. 

The judge in his summing-up humorously suggested that 
one side or the other had given play to their fancy in the 
witness-box in a direction which approached dangerously near 
to deliberate perjury. What his legal mind failed to recognize 
was that it was merely a difference of " point of view." 

After the case was over Lewis introduced me to George 
Grossmith, and I took him with me to the Unity Club. That 
was our first meeting, but it started a friendship which only 
ended on the day that the gay comedian played the last 
scene in the tragedy with which his life closed. 

When The Bells was produced at the Lyceum I was still 
" unattached," but the Strand was my home from home. 

Early on the evening of November 25, 1871, I was in the 
Strand when I saw a pair of long red whiskers coming out of 
a public-house, and Leopold Lewis, with a thick woollen 
comforter round his neck, followed the whiskers. 

He was preceded by a strong odour of rum. In a wheezy 
voice he explained that he had a terrible cold, and he had 
been taking hot rum and butter for it. 

4 8 


Then he told me that a play of his was being produced at 
the Lyceum that evening, and he asked me to accompany 
him to the theatre. 

" I don't think much of the thing," said Lewis, " but Irving 
fancies himself in it. Come and see how it goes." 

On the night of the production of The Bells I sat in the 
stalls side by side with the author. He kept his overcoat and 
his muffler on, and I wore among other things a pilot jacket. 

The stalls were not nearly filled, and there was very little 
evening dress about. It was the sort of thing that was the 
rule at the opera and the exception at the theatre. 

The programme was a long one. It began with a farce. 
The Bells was the second item, and the third item was a 
version of Pickwick by James Albery, in which Irving, having 
died as the Polish Jew in The Bells, came to life again as 

The audience on the first night of The Bells was not 
enthusiastic. It was rather bored until the big scene of the 
dream with the sleigh-bells effect came, then we were gripped, 
and there was a big burst of applause. 

Lewis thought Irving fine, but he did not fancy there was 
much money in the piece. We had no idea when we left the 
theatre that night that The Bells was going to take London 
by storm and be Henry Irving's stepping-stone to a fame that 
was to be world-wide. 

But if The Bells made Irving it certainly did not make 
Leopold Lewis. He did very little afterwards, and remained 
to the end a disappointed and dissatisfied man. Irving 
behaved admirably to him, and stood by him to the finish. But 
the success of The Bells had given poor Lewis a false idea of 
his own value as a dramatist, and he became a man with a 
grievance, and gradually drifted out and died in the Royal 
Free Hospital in February 1890. 

Irving had been more than generous to him, for The Bells 
was a translation of Erckmann Chatrian's Le Juif Polonais, 
and it was up to any one to do a version, so that the play 
itself was not in a commercial sense a property. 

It was not the author who made it the enormous success 
that it proved, but the actor, a fact which Leopold Lewis 
failed unfortunately to realize. 


But enormous as the success was, every one did not 
appreciate it. When the play was at the height of its drawing 
power Irving was standing one day at the porch of the 

An old provincial actor passed by with whom Irving had 
been associated in his early struggle for fame. 

Irving stepped out of the portico, grasped the old actor 
warmly by the hand and said, " Ah, my boy, I am pleased to 
see you ! And how are things going ? " 

" Oh," said the old actor, "I'm just jogging along in the 
same old way. Are you doing anything ? " 

The first night of The Bells was my first night in the stalls, 
but long before I became a journalist I was an habitual 
first-nighter in the pit. 

I was in the pit on that memorable night in 1865 when 
Charles Reade's Never Too Late to Mend was produced at the 
Princess's, and Frederick Guest Tomlins, who was there as a 
dramatic critic, rose in his seat during the performance and 
loudly protested against the " brutal realism " of the treatment 
of the boy Josephs in the prison scene. 

There is a good story told of Tomlins when he was on 
Jerrold's newspaper. He had an office close by, and employed 
an office boy to go at eight o'clock to sweep the place out and 
put everything in order. 

One morning at nine Tomlins arrived at his office and could 
not get in. The boy had the key and had not turned up. 

When the boy did arrive he was very sleepy, and explained 
that he had been up all night. He had had an uncle hanged 
at the Old Bailey that morning, and he had thought it his 
duty to go to the funeral or as near as he could get 
to it. 

Tomlins was sympathetic in his reply. " Quite right, my 
boy," he said. " Never forget your family duties. But the 
next time you are going to see a relative hanged, call here 
first and put the key under the doormat/' 

Which reminds me that a somewhat similar incident oc- 
curred under the roof of the late Mr. Abraham Cecil Fothergill 
Rowlands, who wrote under the name of Cecil Raleigh. 

One morning Raleigh came down to breakfast and was 
quite justified in grumbling at the way in which it had been 


5 o MY LIFE 

prepared. He sent for the cook to remonstrate with her, and 
the woman came to him in tears. 

" Oh, please, sir," she said, " I hope you'll look over it, but 
my husband, from whom I'm separated, was hanged this 
morning, and it rather upset me." 

I was in the pit at the Prince of Wales's in Tottenham Court 
Road when it was opened under the management of Miss 
Marie Wilton and H. J. Byron with a comedy, Winning 
Hazard, and a burlesque of La Somnambula. 

The Prince of Wales's, which Tom Robertson and the 
Bancrofts made the most fashionable theatre in London, was, 
when I first knew it, called the Queen's, and known as " The 
Dusthole." There I used to see such old-fashioned dramas 
as The Angel of Midnight, The Clock on the Stairs, and The 
String of Pearls, a version of " Sweeny Todd," the Demon 
Barber of Fleet Street, who, according to tradition, tilted his 
customers out of the shaving-chair through a trap-door into a 
cellar, where he pickled them and made them into pork pies. 

The invention of the demon barber was at one time widely 
attributed to George Augustus Sala, but " The String of 
Pearls," in which Sweeny Todd and his barber's shop in 
Fleet Street were introduced into the first chapter, first 
appeared in the People's Periodical and Family Library, 
edited by E. Lloyd, and was published in 1846. 

Sala was on Edward Lloyd's staff, but he did not perpetrate 
" Sweeny Todd." When the play was first produced it was 
announced as " Sweeny Todd, the Barber of Fleet Street, or 
The String of Pearls, a Drama in three acts founded on the 
popular work of the same title by Fred Hazleton, Esq., 
Author of ' Edith the Captive,' ' Charley Wag,' etc." 

As this drama can be traced back to the Britannia Theatre 
in 1846, Sala, in the year in which he was alleged to have 
written " Sweeny Todd," was only eighteen, so I am afraid 
that the credit of having invented the immortal barber must 
be denied to him. 

Dear old E. L. Blanchard told me many years ago that he 
was one of the authors who occasionally supplied The Dusthole 
with a drama. The price paid was generally ten shillings 
an act. 

I was in the Strand Music Hall on the last night of its 



existence, and when John Hollingshead had obtained the 
money to turn it into the Gaiety I was in the gallery on 
Practical John's first night. 

We were not a kind gallery, and we were not a kind pit, 
and we did not like the version of L'Escamoteur which he 
called On the Cards, and though Madge Robertson and Alfred 
Wigan played delightfully, there was a good deal of hissing 
at the fall of the curtain. 

John Hollingshead stepped on the stage and held up his 

" What do you want ? " he said. 

" Something better for our money," we shouted back. 

" You shall have it directly," replied Practical John he 
was not really practical, but he had a good heart, which was 
much nicer. 

The " something better " was a burlesque of Robert the 
Devil by a young author named W. S. Gilbert. It was called 
" An operatic extravaganza," and in it Nellie Farren began 
her long and happy connexion with the Gaiety. She played 
Robert, Emily Fowler was Alice, and Connie Loseby was 
Raimbault. Joseph Eldred was Gobetto, and Richard Barker 
who was afterwards to be flung down the steps of the Opera 
Comique in the famous Pinafore dispute, and to become a 
great " producer " on both sides of the Atlantic, and to 
stage The Merry Duchess, by Frederic Clay and myself, for 
Miss Kate Santley at the Royalty was Bertram. 

John Hollingshead was a journalist he was one of Dickens's 
young men and he was always issuing manifestoes. 

In the early days of the Gaiety, when Talbot Smith was 
generally to be seen during the day-time smoking a big 
cigar at the front entrance, John Hollingshead used to sit in 
his office at the theatre with his watch on the desk in front 
of him. 

Robert Soutar Nellie Farren's husband looked after the 
stage, and Hollingshead generally had " appointments " 
somewhere else. That was why he always kept his watch 
on his writing-table. 

I used occasionally to make my way over to the Garrick 
Theatre in Leman Street, Whitechapel. It was a theatre run on 
the lines of a gaff, and I saw Sixteen String Jack played there 


On this occasion the house was packed, and I was told that 
the only seat vacant was one in a private box for which the 
charge would be sixpence. 

I paid my money and was put into a box which had four 
seats. The other three were occupied by a black sailor the 
worse for drink and two ladies whom nothing could have 
made worse. 

The audience was noisy, but there were two or three big 
burly fellows in uniform who kept order by hitting the 
disturbers of the piege^on the head with a cane. 

A story popular at the time gives a very fair idea of the 
character of the audience at the Garrick in its gaff days. 

The proprietor was a man named Richards, who was fairly 
well known in professional circles. One year Mr. Gye 
announced that he would open his Italian Opera Season a 
month earlier than usual. 

Soon after the announcement Richards met Gye in the Strand. 

" I say," said Richards, " you've done a nice thing for me, 
opening your opera show next month. It cuts right into my 

" Good heavens ! " exclaimed Gye, " how can my Italian 
Opera Season affect your confounded gaff ? Your patrons 
aren't likely to come to my theatre." 

" No," replied Richards, " but they'll be outside it picking 

Apropos of the Garrick, some years afterwards Bill Yardley 
and his friend and my friend Joe McClean acquired an interest 
in the Garrick, refurnished and redecorated it, and made it 
quite a spick-and-span little place. 

I was there on the first night that it opened under the 
direction, I believe, of Miss May Buhner. The play was a 
musical one, A Cruise to China, and in it there was a young 
gentleman who had deserted his father's office for the stage. 
He played a gouty old gentleman and sang a song. The 
name of the young actor was Herbert Beerbohm Tree. 

There is a story told I dare say it isn't true that young 
Tree one day sought an interview with the management and 
explained that he would like to resign the part as he had a 
good chance at the Criterion, where Wyndham had offered 
him a nice little part and five pounds a week. 



Sir Herbert won't mind my telling the story. We are old 
friends. Young Tree made his first success by reciting one 
of my " Dagonet Ballads " entitled " Told to the Missionary," 
and he altered the word " bitch " into " dog," for which he 
was reproached I think it was in the Referee for mutilating 
the text of an author in a spirit of false delicacy. 

From the age of six to the age of twenty-four I had been a 
fairly persistent playgoer. My mother took me to the theatre 
until I was seventeen, and after that I took myself. 

It was when I was in my twenty-fifth year that one of my 
ambitions was suddenly fulfilled. I became a dramatic critic 
for a fortnight. My first dramatic criticism was followed 
by a murder in which the heroine of the play I had criticized 
was very closely concerned. 

It was at my mother's house in Hamilton Terrace that I 
met the lady who first brought me into journalistic touch 
with a murder case. 

My mother was a member of a number of societies which 
devoted themselves socially and politically to the welfare of 

She was a woman of wide sympathies, a humorous speaker, 
a trained elocutionist, and very popular on the " platform " 
when the various societies held public or private meetings. 
She was an enthusiastic advocate of female suffrage. 

But nothing delighted her more than to gather her " working 
friends," as she called them, around her at our house in 
Hamilton Terrace. 

Among our frequent guests were Augusta Webster, the 
poetess, Karl and Mathilde Blind, Dr. Anna Kingsford, Mrs. 
Fenwick-Miller she was Miss Fenwick-Miller then Emily 
Faithfull, Ella Dietz, Dr. Zerffi, Professor Plumtree, Samuel 
Butler, the author of " Erewhon," Frances Power Cobbe, and 
occasionally Lydia Becker. 

Dr. Anna Kingsford was a lovely woman, with classical 
features and a mass of wonderful golden hair. I think she 
was the most beautiful " clever " woman I have ever known. 

She told me one evening at a dance at my mother's house 
that she would like above all things to see a rehearsal of a 
pantomime, so I took her to the dress rehearsal of the Grecian 
pantomime, and George Conquest kindly gave me a box. 


I could see that every one on the stage was struck by the 
ethereal beauty of my companion. After the rehearsal was 
over, when I had gone behind to speak to Conquest, he told 
me that whenever he had looked at the box that evening he 
felt as if he were entertaining an angel unawares. 

And then I told him that he had been, as my friend, Dr. Anna 
Kingsford, was in a former existence Joan of Arc. 

The beautiful doctor was fully convinced of this, and she 
maintained that she still had visions. She had taken her 
M.D. degree, but she had many " unmedical " views. She 
was the wife of a clergyman, but she was a mystic. At times 
she would speak like an inspired prophetess, and sometimes 
she would be as frivolous as a Society beauty. 

Anna Kingsford died long before her beauty had faded, 
and to her devoted friends and admirers who were spiritualists 
she is said to have returned after death, looking as lovely as 

It was at a meeting of a society formed to advocate the 
claims of women that my mother met a lady who wrote 
under the name of Amelia Lewis. Amelia Lewis was the wife 
of Dr. Freund, a physician in Finsbury Square. She had a 
son, John Freund, who, while an undergraduate at Oxford, 
brought out in London a monthly magazine which was 
published at a shilling and called the Dark Blue. 

Amelia Lewis and her son, John Freund, became frequent 
visitors at our house. They heard of my desire to become a 
journalist, and John Freund after interesting my father in 
the Dark Blue and getting him, I believe, to put some money 
into the affair said he would give me a chance of learning 
the business of authorship. He offered to take me into the 
edi'orial office of the Dark Blue. 

I had left the City I left it four or five times, to go back 
to it again, before I finally settled down to journalism and 
the drama and so my father consented, and in a room over 
the shop and warehouse of the British and Colonial Publishing 
Company, at 8ia Fleet Street, I commenced my adventures 
as a Pressman. 

So far as I can remember, among the few books that the 
company published and displayed in the shop window were 
" The Modern Magdalene/' by Amelia Lewis ; " The Theatre 



in England : Its Shortcomings and Possibilities," by Tom 
Taylor ; " The Coming Cromwell," by an unknown author ; 
and " Gillott and Goosequill," by Henry S. Leigh. 

The Dark Blue, which John Freund edited between Oxford 
and London, had a remarkable list of contributors, among 
whom were John Ruskin, Algernon Charles Swinburne, 
Dante G. Rossetti, Henry Kingsley, W. S. Gilbert, C. S. 
Calverley, George Macdonald, Thomas Hughes, M.P., Edmund 
Yates, Andrew Lang, J. Ashby-S terry, Sidney Colvin, W. 
Vernon Harcourt, M.P., Frederick Pollock, William Black, 
Karl Blind, Joaquin Miller, and Moncure D. Conway. 

This was in the year 1872, and the first contribution I was 
permitted to make to this shilling magazine " established for 
the promotion of high-class literature " was an article on the 
Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. I wanted to call it 
"An Attack of Tiefuss Fever," but Freund thought that 
would look a little too frivolous between an article by Ruskin 
and a poem by Swinburne. 

It was part of my duty to go over the proofs and compare 
them carefully with the written manuscript before returning 
them to the author. 

I remember that on one occasion I returned the proof of a 
poem to Swinburne, and suggested an alteration to one of the 

In the first week of my engagement Amelia Lewis brought 
out a new paper which was to be devoted entirely to the 
interests of womanhood. The title of the paper was Woman. 

" You are a playgoer, and you can do the theatre for 
Woman, if you like," said Mrs. Lewis to me one morning as 
we sat at lunch in a little back office piled up with unsold 
copies of the Dark Blue. 

I accepted the offer eagerly, and the next evening, armed 
with a card on which was written " Woman, a Weekly Journal, 
Dramatic Critic, Mr. Geo. R. Sims," I presented myself at the 
box-office of the St. James's Theatre, where a series of French 
plays was then being performed under the direction of M. Felix, 
and was given a stall there were plenty to spare. 

The play that evening was Christiane, a comedy by Gondinet, 
and the heroine was played by a pretty and sympathetic 
young actress, Mademoiselle Riel. 


I wrote a column article on Mademoiselle Kiel's Chris tiane, 
and made it what I hoped would be the first of a series entitled 
" Woman on the French Stage in London." 

A week or two after her success as Christiane, Made- 
moiselle Kiel, being out of the bill, went for a week-end to 
Paris. She left her mother and her cook, a Belgian named 
Marguerite Dixblancs, and an English housemaid at the 
pretty little house in Park Lane which had been placed at her 
disposal by an English nobleman. 

When Mademoiselle Kiel returned early on Monday morning 
the housemaid let her in and said, " Oh, Miss Julie, I'm so 
glad you have come back. Madame has not been home since 
yesterday, nor has cook/' 

The house was searched, and in the pantry Madame Kiel 
was found lying dead with a rope round her neck. The 
Belgian cook who had committed the crime had fled to Paris 
with money and notes which were missing. 

She was eventually arrested in France by Inspector Drusco- 
vitch, who was to figure later in the famous Kerr and Benson 
frauds. She was tried in London and sentenced to death, but 
the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. 

Benson, by the by, who was the prime mover in the frauds 
that brought some of the principal men at Scotland Yard to 
grief, went to America soon after the Referee had been started, 
and there passed himself off as a member of the Referee staff 
and an intimate friend of " Dagonet." 

I got plenty of experience on the Dark Blue, but no money, 
and I wanted some. So I told my father that I would try 
the City again if he would give me a month's salary in advance. 
He consented readily, thinking that I was cured of my desire 
to be an author. 

When he told me that, I did not say " Wait and see." 

But I thought it. 


IT was my membership of the Unity Club that opened to me 
the gates of the City of Prague, the city of which " Jeff " 
Prowse, the Laureate of Bohemia, sang so lovingly. 

There are lines of Prowse's which, though his audience was 
limited at the time, have never been forgotten, and the veterans 
of the Old Brigade quote them still with joy. 

I remember a line in which Prowse described an ancestor 
of the present All-Highest Hun who was known as " King 
Clicquot," and who was at the same time as publicly prayerful 
as " Holy Willie," the Kaiser's grandfather. Prowse described 
" King Clicquot " as " problematically pious, but indubitably 

In " The City of Prague," from which I quote a verse, 
Prowse sums up the old Bohemia in which I found myself a 
stranger and a pilgrim nearly half a century ago : 

/ dwelt in a city enchanted, 

And lonely indeed was my lot ; 
Two guineas a week, all I wanted, 

Was certainly all that I got : 
Well, somehow I found it was plenty, 
Perhaps you may find it the same, 
If if you are just five-and-twenty, 
With industry, hope, and an aim. 
Though the latitude's rather uncertain, 

And the longitude also is vague, 
The persons I pity who know not the city : 
The beautiful City of Prague. 

Two guineas a week was the sum upon which many a good 
fellow managed to know the joy of life, and some of them, to 
all outward appearances, got the joy for less. 

Fleet Street, before it became the highway of newspaperdom, 




was a street of taverns, and tavern life formed a considerable 
portion of the life of Bohemia when I first landed on its 
shores. That Bohemia had shores let Shakespeare bear 
witness " Scene : Bohemia, a desert country near the sea." 

Our Bohemia was no desert country, but it lay on the 
shores of a sea, the sea of unrest, picturesque unrest, of 
movement and colour, of song and laughter, often, alas, of 
those who made haste to laugh lest they should weep. 

As I write there come to me memories of Mortimer Collins, 
the fine old Bohemian poet who, when invited to the Mansion 
House to a banquet in honour of the representatives of art 
and literature, refused to put on evening dress, and sat down 
among the white shirt-fronts in a black velvet jacket and 
waistcoat and fancy pattern trousers ; Tom Purnell, " Q " of 
the Athenaum \ W. G. Wills, the King of Bohemia ; dear old 
E. L. Blanchard, the gentlest Bohemian of them all ; Henry S. 
Leigh, the Caroller of Cockayne ; John Augustus O'Shea, the 
" Gineral " ; William Brunton, the artist ; the three brilliant 
brothers, William, Wallis, and Joe McKay ; Savile Clarke, 
Tom Jerrold, Fatty Coleman, and handsome Tom Hood, for 
whom everybody was willing to do anything for his father's 
sake, but who was too genial and easy-going to do very much 
for himself. 

My first interview with him when he was the editor of Fun 
was at Spiers and Pond's bar in Ludgate Hill Station, the 
great meeting-place of the " literati " of the locality. And 
their beverage was as often a brandy hot or a gin cold. But 
Tom Hood was fairly faithful to green Chartreuse. 

Of the picturesque Bohemian W. G. Wills I shall have 
something to say when I meet him a little later on in Theatre- 
land. I did not know him when I first joined the Unity, but 
the men I did know were many of them quite remarkable 

There was an actor, a low comedian, whom I will call 
" Billy W.," who was generally to be found asleep on the 
club sofa. He had not had an engagement for over twelve 
months, and I knew afterwards that sometimes for a whole 
week he had not a copper in his pocket. 

He had a room near Covent Garden, and the two old ladies, 
sisters, who kept the house were very sympathetic. They not 


only never pressed him for the rent, but every morning they 
took a cup of tea and a slice of bread and butter to his bedside. 

One day somebody who had borrowed half a crown from 
Billy three years previously met him in the Strand and paid 
the debt. Billy rushed off at once and spent the whole half- 
crown in what to him was a Gargantuan repast. Then he 
strolled out into the street. 

Suddenly some one touched him on the shoulder. He 
turned round and found himself face to face with John 
Oxenford, the amiable critic of the Times, who was always to 
be seen on a first night in a private box with Mr. Murphy on 
one side of him and Mr. Herbert on the other. 

" HaUo, Billy ! " said Oxenford, " I'm going to Carr's. 
Come and have some dinner with me." 

I met Billy that evening, and he was almost in tears as he 
told me the story. 

" Fancy ! " he said ; " it's the first time anybody's asked 
me to have a dinner for twelve months, and I'd spent the 
only half-crown I'd seen for a year in buying one ! " 

Poor Billy W. got one or two brief engagements, but he 
brought bad luck, and began to be looked upon as a sort of 
Jonah. Eventually, I believe, he left the profession and 
joined his brother, who was in the undertaking business. 

There was plenty of the hunger pain in Fleet Street in my 
youth, but the men who suffered its pangs did not talk about 
it. Any one would stand you a drink, but nobody would ask 
you to eat. 

A Bohemian of a different type from Billy W. was a Scots- 
man, a brilliant fellow who was at one time the editor of a 
well-known Sunday paper, and my chief. He was a fine 
scholar and a first-class journalist. 

There was nothing very gay or bright about his Bohe- 
mianism, but he used to sit among us and drink steadily. 

One day in the absence of the dramatic critic of the paper 
through illness, the editor took the stall that had been sent for 
a West End theatre, and went to criticize the performance 

It was an opera bouffe, and in it a very handsome young 
woman played a small part. 

The editor admired her very much. She had not many 


lines to speak, but he gave her nearly as many lines in his 
notice, and soon afterwards made her acquaintance. He had 
fallen violently in love with her, but she laughed at him. She 
had other views. 

As he could not get the girl he became unhappy and drank 
to drown his grief. Presently he became impossible, and dis- 
appeared from Fleet Street. 

Some years afterwards I had a letter from my former 
editor. He wrote me from the Strand workhouse to tell me 
that though he had come to the last refuge of the destitute 
the disaster had been a blessing in disguise, for in the work- 
house he had met an old flame. The beautiful actress with 
whom he had been in love had come to the workhouse too. As 
a matter of fact, the same cause had brought them both to 
the paupers' hotel. 

While in the workhouse the lady wrote to several of her old 
admirers, and one of them sent her a ten-pound note. On the 
strength of that both the ex-editor and the ex-stage beauty 
discharged themselves, got a special licence and were married. 

They drank the balance of the money away in a few days, 
and at the end of their brief honeymoon returned penniless 
to the workhouse. The husband died there. The widow is 
still writing from the workhouse to " old admirers/' 

But there is a fairer side to the Bohemia of my youth, and 
I gladly turn to it. 

Very early in my Fleet Street days I made the acquaintance 
of two of the famous journalists of the period, George Augustus 
Sala and Archibald Forbes. 

Forbes was not seen much in Bohemia. He was the great 
war correspondent of the day, and was generally " somewhere 
at the front." But years afterwards he became my friend 
and close neighbour in Regent's Park. 

We were on the best of terms, and very often the old war 
correspondent would come in and smoke a pipe with me and 
fight his battles over again. 

I should not call Forbes a Bohemian. He was always too 
much of a soldier to drop into our happy-go-lucky ways, but 
Sala was a Bohemian to the tips of his finger-nails. I have 
told the story of his early experiences as an artist and of his 
first editorship, but I heard him once, at a dinner given to a 


famous publisher of Philadelphia, tell the company that he 
could look back to the time when, as a youth, he had slept 
more than one night in Covent Garden Market with a sack of 
potatoes for a pillow. And that was in the days when Covent 
Garden was known as " Mud Salad Market/' and lived up to 
its reputation. 

But he came through, and when I first met him he was one 
of the " lions " of the Daily Telegraph, not quite a young 
" lion," but with all his teeth sound, and with a roar that was 
as loud as any in the great Peterborough Court Menagerie. 

Sala was a bon vivant and a gourmet. He had as practical 
a knowledge of cookery as the elder Dumas, and a perfect 
sense of the poetry of the palate. 

He was the most fastidious Bohemian in the matter of food 
that I ever knew. 

On the last occasion I met him abroad it was at Nice. I 
went into a restaurant to lunch, and found Sala sitting at a 
table in a corner of the room. He was having an altercation 
with the waiter with regard to the " infamous price " he had 
been charged for some oysters. In perfect French he told 
the waiter to take his compliments to the proprietor and 
inform him that he was a brigand. 

Directly Sala saw me he rose, came towards me, slipped his 
arm in mine and said to the astonished waiter, " This gentle- 
man is a friend of mine, and I shall not permit you to rob 
him as you have robbed me." Then, heedless of my gentle 
expostulations, he led me out of the restaurant. 

But Sala, although he objected to extortionate charges 
in foreign restaurants, was a viveur in every sense of the 

He took his liquor with discretion in the matter of its 
quality, and valour in the matter of its quantity. He was a 
seasoned worshipper of the vine-wreathed god, but occasionally 
towards the small hours of the morning his powers of resistance 
to the influence of the insidious nectar would weaken. 

I remember a story he told me. On one occasion he had 
come back from Cremorne about three in the morning and 
had looked in at the Daily Telegraph office " on business." 

When he came out again to continue the night's amusement 
he hailed a four-wheeled cab and said, " Barnes's," which was 


a well-known West End rendezvous for night-birds at that 
time. He got into the cab and fell asleep. 

He remembered nothing more until he was shaken up by 
the cabman, who was standing at the open door and shouting 
at him. 

" What part of Barnes do you want to go to, guv'nor ? " 
said the cabman. " This is the Common." 

Sala, alike in the days when he dined and wined generously 
and in the days when he frequently did not dine at all, wrote 
a marvellous hand. It was of the old " copper-plate " kind, 
and his copy was a delight to the printers. From their point 
of view it was ideal, and that they were justified in that 
view will be seen from the following specimen. 

Another friend of mine in the early days and late nights 
was Herman Merivale. Herman Merivale was a fine dramatist, 
and wrote some excellent poetry and one good novel. 

I never met a man more energetic in argument or louder in 
declamation during private conversation. His vigorous 
gestures were sometimes as alarming as his vociferation. 

I remember meeting him one night at the old Ship at 
Brighton just about midnight, and he insisted upon my going 
out for a walk with him, as he wanted air. 

We strolled along the front in the moonlight, and presently 
the discussion turned upon opera singers. 

Merivale had just come back from Italy, and he was 
enthusiastic about I think it was Tamagno. 

Gradually he worked himself up into a frenzy of enthusiasm. 
He had a big stick with him which he brandished wildly in 
the air while he declaimed against every one who did not 
believe that Tamagno was the greatest singer on earth. 


Presently we found ourselves down on the beach near the 
private " semi-residential " arches. 

Fancying, I suppose, that he was not thoroughly impressing 
me with the merits of Tamagno, he suddenly gripped me by 
the shoulder, pushed me against the wall, and began to rave 
at me, emphasizing his arguments about every five seconds 
with a terrific bang of his stick upon the stonework. 

Eventually I found myself dodging my head to and fro to 
escape the practical punctuation of Merivale's sentences. 

On one occasion Merivale so the story goes went to read 
a play to Mrs. Langtry at her private residence. He had 
been invited to lunch. It was an elaborate lunch, and the 
dessert service was exquisite. 

With the appearance of the coffee Merivale began to tell 
Mrs. Langtry the synopsis of the play which he wanted her 
to produce as there was a part in it which would suit her. He 
became excited, and stood up at the table in order to give 
freer play to his dramatic gestures. 

When he reached the situation in the first act the gesture 
was not only dramatic but so sweeping that off went half the 
dessert service. 

" That/' said Merivale, " is the first act. I will now give 
you the big situation in the second." 

When Merivale reached the situation of the second act his 
gesture was more sweeping than ever. Off went the rest of 
the service. 

" Now/' said Merivale, utterly heedless of the havoc he 
had caused, " I will give you the situation of the third 

Off went Mrs. Langtry. 

Sydney Grundy was coming to see me one day at Brighton, 
and I went to the station. There was no Grundy, but I met 
Merivale getting out of the train. 

" Where's Grundy ? " I asked. 

" Oh," replied Merivale, " I got into the carriage with him 
at Victoria. But he got out at Redhill, and didn't come back 

Two hours later Grundy arrived. 

Then he explained. As soon as the train left Victoria, 
Merivale, who had had a quarrel with Wilson Barrett over a 


play, had begun to give Grundy his opinion of Barrett's 

As usual, he had his thick stick with him, and he began to 
brandish it and strike the sides of the carriage with it. Grundy 
and he were alone in the compartment, and as Merivale 
became more and more violent, so he became less and less 
accurate in his aim, and Grundy found himself wondering 
whether he had not better secure safety under the seat. 

When the train stopped at Redhill he saw his chance and 
got out. 

Merivale was always my good friend, and apart from his 
eccentricities of argument a charming man. But I did not 
meet Herman Merivale until after my first play, Crutch and 
Toothpick, had been produced, and the story of my dramatic 
debut is a story of the old Bohemian Club in Holywell 


ONE night there came into the Unity Club a shortish, 
thick-set, good-looking young man with keen grey eyes and 
features that suggested a masterful disposition. He had a 
black bag with him, and he was brought in to have a drink 
by my friend John Thomson, the dramatic critic of the 
Weekly Dispatch. 

Thomson introduced me to his guest and I learned that his 
name was Henry Sampson, that he was writing the sporting 
article in the Weekly Dispatch under the pen-name of " Pen- 
dragon/' that he was Tom Hood's right-hand on Fun, and 
that he had had practical experience of most of the sport that 
he wrote about. He was a fine athlete, had been in the old 
days a redoubtable sprinter, and was well skilled in what it 
was the custom in those days to call " the noble art of self- 

We talked together that evening until past midnight, and 
I suppose I made a favourable impression, for soon afterwards 
when Tom Hood fell ill and Sampson was conducting the 
paper in his absence he invited me to call upon him. 

I went into the little back office in Fleet * Street and there 
Sampson told me that I might if I liked do a bit of verse and 
a few paragraphs and send them in. 

I sent in the verse and the pars. They were printed in 
Fun, and on the following Thursday by the editor's instruc- 
tions I stood in the front office at the cashier's desk and 
waited while that useful official fumbled in a drawer and 
presently drew out a little white packet on which my name 
was written. I unfolded the packet and found in it a sovereign 
and three shillings, the " honorarium " for my contribution. 

The pay for every literary contribution to the paper was at 
the rate of one pound per column, and fractions of a column 
were paid for pro rata. 

65 E 


As your contributions might be scattered all over the 
paper they were measured up with a piece of string, which 
the cashier applied to your verse or paragraph and then drew 
it through his fingers and measured up your next " bit.'' 

After that I contributed regularly for some weeks to Fun, 
and then Sampson told me that I should have to stand down 
for a time, as W. S. Gilbert, an old contributor, had suddenly 
weighed in with " Rosencrantz and Guildenstern," a burlesque 
drama, which might run for two or three weeks, and during 
that period there would be no room for me. 

But as soon as " Rosencrantz and Guildenstern " had run 
its course I went back on to Fun, and worked on it until the 
death of Tom Hood. Sampson, at Tom Hood's request, was 
given the editorship, and I became regularly attached to the 
staff and to my chief. 

Henry Sampson was my editor and kindly comrade to the 
end of his life. He was an implacable enemy, but as loyal a 
friend as ever man had. 

Here are the last lines Tom Hood ever wrote. They were 
written to the Brothers Dalziel from his deathbed : 

" MY DEAR SIRS, To the best of my ability, and to the 
utmost of my power, I have served you loyally and honestly 
while strength remained. If I have failed it has not been 
wilfully, and when we have differed in opinion I have only 
done what I have believed it right to do, or assert beyond 
mere matter of expediency. 

" Sampson has long co-operated with me, and now so well 
understands the working of the paper that it has been of the 
greatest comfort and use to me to have, for the first time in 
my life, some one on whom I could entirely rely when I was 

" A more disinterested and faithful friend man never had, 
and I am sure if you transfer the bauble from my hands to 
his you will have secured fidelity and ability of no usual 
order, loyalty and discretion, zeal and determination. It is 
my dying wish that he might be my successor on Fun. Of 
course I only express this as simply a wish of yours always, 


Gilbert, who temporarily put me " out of work," came to 


Fun through the rejection by Punch of his famous ballad, 
" The Yarn of the Nancy Bell" The editor of Punch thought 
it was too cannibalistic ; the editor of Fun did not share his 
opinion, and so it appeared in Fun, and for some time after 
that Gilbert contributed to the penny instead of the threepenny 

At the time I went on to Fun I was still in the City. I was 
getting much too good a salary in my father's office to resign it 
for what I had found by experience was a very uncertain income. 

I was having a guinea a week on the Dispatch, and averaging 
two pounds a week on Fun, but in spite of my Bohemianism 
I had extravagant ideas and heavy debts, and the three pounds 
did not suffice to keep me from anxiety. 

So at that time I was in the City from ten o'clock in the 
morning until one, when I had an hour and a half for lunch. 
The luncheon hour I nearly always devoted to paying visits 
to my editors. 

I got back to the City generally about half-past two. I 
remained there until six there were certain things I was 
bound to attend to, as I was in the shipping department and 
had to write letters and catch mails and at six o'clock I left 
the City and went home. 

I was bound to sacrifice an hour for dinner as I rarely had 
any lunch, but after dinner I went up to my room and worked 
steadily till half-past ten or eleven. Then I went to the 
Unity Club and stayed there till three or four in the morning. 

Then I went home to bed, and I had generally had enough 
sleep when eight o'clock came. 

At any rate, I was never late for business, and I do not 
think that twice in my life I have been late at either a business 
appointment or a pleasure appointment. My punctuality in 
the matter of keeping appointments has caused me to waste 
an enormous amount of time, as the other people have so 
frequently failed to be there until long after the agreed hour. 

And now about Fun itself. A good many years after I 
had left it I spent a day at Broadmoor, and after lunching 
with the medical officers, who were my friends, I was intro- 
duced to several of the patients. 

Among the gentlemen I met in the club lounge of the 
institution was Mr. Roderick Maclean, He was playing 


whist for counters, of course with some fellow-patients at 
a table. One of them presently had had enough, and I was 
invited to sit down and make the fourth. 

Maclean caught at my name when I was introduced, and 
at once claimed me as a brother journalist. 

He was the Roderick Maclean who shot at Queen Victoria 
at Windsor in March 1882, and was found to be insane and 
sent to Broadmoor. 

During the game he said to me, " You were on Fun, weren't 
you ? " 

I said, " Oh, yes." 

" Ah," he replied, " that was my father's paper. My 
father had a big looking-glass shop in Fleet Street. It was 
called the Commercial Plate Glass Company, and at the back of 
that shop was an office which he devoted to the staff of Fun, 
of which he was the proprietor. I have often seen George 
Augustus Sala and Frank Burnand and Tom Hood there. I 
am writing the story of my life. I will send it to you/' 

Some time afterwards I received Roderick Maclean's 
" story of his life," as written by himself at Broadmoor, and 
from this I will venture to make an extract or two as they 
bear directly on the story of the paper on which I made my 
debut as a hired humorist. 

Some two months after the adventurous afternoon I had 
spent at Broadmoor Criminal Asylum with a number of 
pleasant gentlemen the majority of whom had committed the 
offence which, had they been considered responsible for their 
action, would have brought them to the gallows, I received 
the promised manuscript. 

It bore the title of " Yestern ; or The Story of My Life and 
Reminiscences, by Roderick Edward Maclean," and the 
motto which the author of " Yestern " had placed upon his 
title-page was " Veni, vidi, vici." 

This motto as an epitome of his career was misleading. 
Roderick Maclean certainly came and saw, but he failed to 
conquer even the insane vanity which led him to hang about 
Windsor until he saw Queen Victoria drive by in an open 
carriage and then to discharge a loaded revolver at Her 
Majesty because she had declined, through Lady Marlborough, 
to accept the dedication of Roderick Maclean's poetry. 


" Yestern " was interesting as showing the frame of mind 
in which the unfortunate author still remained. 

There were pages of description of his father's " country 
estate." This was described in glowing detail never equalled 
even by the immortal Robins. 

There were references to the fair and noble dames who had 
cast tender glances at him from their " sumptuous equipages " 
as he sauntered in the Park at the hour of fashion. This was 
the only possible justification I could find in the autobiography 
for the " vici." 

Describing life in his father's residence in Chapel Place, 
Oxford Street, he said : " Chapel Place was the rendezvous 
of many friends, literary, artistic, and independent, many of 
whom being society's moths and dinner hunters, others 
second-rate foreign noblemen. The scene being a brilliant 
one when the chandeliers were lit, and the assembly a happy 
company, the majority being congenial people, though there 
were some phlegmatic old fogies whose mordacious remarks 
threw a shade over the lustre of the prevailing hilarity, a 
sipient way inculcating disgust and engendering sarcasm." 

In the course of his meanderings the author tells in a fashion 
the beginning of Fun, and so I give it verbatim. 

" My father was the proprietor of that well-known periodical 
Fun, which he purchased from my brother and a printer, who 
wanted it more for a hobby than a gigantic speculative 
enterprise ; comparatively it was unknown, but by per- 
severance and advertising it became a popular periodical. It 
was eventually purchased by Tom Hood. It was a novel 
venture, productive of an agreeable associationship with 
leading literary men. There were Arthur Sketchley, the 
author of ' Mrs. Brown,' George A. Sala, the remarkable 
author regarding whom it is said that he approached the 
zenith of Shakespeare's genius, W. S. Gilbert, the learned 
burlesque writer, Mr. F. C. Burnand, a good motto for whom 
is ' A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush ' original 
this, Matt Morgan, the original delineator of scenes at 
Ramsgate and kindred watering-places, and Mr. J., the 
versatile Tailor of the Midlands, who wrote a scathing 
satire on the much-maligned Napoleon III." 

It is perfectly true that the original office of Fun was on the 

7 o MY LIFE 

premises of the Commercial Plate Glass Company. When it 
was there H. J. Byron was the editor, and F. C. Burnand, the 
future editor of Punch, Clement Scott, Tom Robertson the 
dramatist, and W. S. Gilbert were on the staff. 

Sir Frank Burnand told me some time ago that it was to 
Maclean's shop in Fleet Street that he used to go to draw the 
money for his contributions, and one day while in the shop 
he read the manuscript of " Mokeanna " to Maclean. 

Maclean refused it. He did not think it was the sort of 
stuff the public wanted. 

Burnand eventually took " Mokeanna " to the editor of 
Punch, who accepted it. It was an enormous success, and 
during its progress in the pages of Punch it was illustrated by 
Sir John Gilbert, Hablot K. Brown, Charles Keene, Du 
Maurier, and Millais. 

My first journalistic ambition it was an ambition of my 
schooldays was to be on Fun. That ambition was gratified. 
Later on a greater opportunity came to me. From the 
editor of Punch I received tfie following letter : 

" MY DEAR SIR, I think ' Mustard and Cress ' is yours, is 
it not ? But be that as it may, I should like you to hit on 
something for Punch. I never ask a man to repeat himself, 
so I won't suggest ' something like M. and C.' But I am sure 
that without looking very far you can find objects well worthy 
of the sharpest satire and also of broadly humorous treatment. 

" Yours truly, 

" F. C. BURNAND." 

For some reason, what it was I only dimly remember now, 
I let the golden opportunity of being a member of the Punch 
staff pass. It is one of the many incidents in my working 
life that I look back upon with regret. 

Maclean was well known in Fleet Street as the proprietor of 
a comic paper, and more than one Bohemian brother in need 
of a little cash would " dash off " some verse or a humorous 
skit in an adjacent coffee-house, and offer it before the ink 
was dry for " a bit of ready " to the proprietor of the looking- 
glass shop. 

In 1865 Mr. Edward Wylam had become the proprietor. 


He became interested in a famous dog-biscuit firm and wanted 
to sell Fun. Tom Hood at that time was the editor. 

He took the proposal to the Brothers Dalziel, who gave 
six thousand pounds for the copyright, and retained Tom 
Hood as the editor of the paper, a position he held till his 
death in 1874. 

After Hood's death I joined the staff under Sampson's 
editorship, and remained with him until he started the Referee 
in 1877, and then we left Fun together. 

The Brothers Dalziel sent me a kindly letter saying how 
much they regretted the severance of our pleasant connexion. 

The brothers were two of the most amiable of men, well 
known and well loved in the literary and artistic world. 

They only put their foot down once, and that was when I 
wrote some verses heralding the approaching appearance of 
the new Sunday paper, the Referee. The Dalziels nipped the 
ingenious free advertisement in the bud and in the proof 
sheets, and wrote Sampson a letter in which they said, " Sims's 
verses would doubtless be an excellent advertisement for your 
new venture, but we would remind you that the Referee is the 
property of yourself and Mr. Ashton Dilke, while Fun is the 
property of yours sincerely, the Brothers Dalziel/' 

The only other occasion on which the dear old brothers 
remonstrated with Sampson was when the reports of a glove 
fight at Sadler's Wells, which had been broken "up by the 
police, came out in the papers, and it was stated in one of 
them that the referee on this dreadful occasion was Mr. Henry 
Sampson, the editor of Fun. 

Of that memorable fight it was between Jim Goode and 
Micky Rees, and Goode fought twenty rounds after his left 
arm had become useless I shall deal in my reminiscences of 
the prize-ring as I knew it. 

It was on this occasion that Jim Goode's father, who was 
beaming with pride at the prowess of his progeny, gave me 
his card. It had the Royal arms upon it, and described the 
owner as " Poodle trimmer to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales." 

Boxing in those days was not the aristocratic entertainment 
that it is to-day. The spectators were not in full evening 
dress. Many of them did not even trouble to complete the 
morning dress, and came collarless to the rendezvous. 


The Brothers Dalziel were patrons of art, but they did not 
think that the noble art was one with which their editor 
should be publicly associated. 

I do not think that while he retained the editorship of 
Fun Sampson ever refereed a glove fight again. He, like 
myself, had a genuine affection for the brothers, and was 
anxious to do nothing that would hurt their susceptibilities. 

But by 1878 the Referee had become so successful that 
Sampson bade the little back office of Fun in Fleet Street 
the little office filled with hallowed memories a polite good 
day, and I went with him. 

I did not know then that the son of the first proprietor 
was whiling away his time at Broadmoor until it should 
please the Fates to bring me to his side there at the whist 
table, or that it was in the famous criminal lunatic asylum 
that I was to learn the origin of the first intentionally comic 
paper with which I had had the honour of being associated. 

I was on Fun for two or three years, and I was writing a 
regular column in the Weekly Dispatch, which Mr. Ashton 
Dilke, a younger brother of Sir Charles Dilke, and M.P. for 
Newcastle, had purchased. But I was still in the City in the 
daytime and still at the Unity Club in the night-time. 

All my brother Bohemians in the newspaper world and the 
theatrical world knew that I was in the City, and a good 
many of them used to come to the office occasionally and 
have a chat with me about little schemes that we had in hand 
or ideas that we had in our heads. 

John Thomson used to come frequently, and Henry Sampson 
occasionally. E. J. Odell astonished the office staff one day 
by calling to inquire in his characteristically humorous 
manner " if his play was ready, as if it was he would take it 
with him." 

I had done an adaptation of Le Centenaire for him, and 
this was produced at a matinee at the Olympic in June 
1874, without any author's name appearing in connexion 
with it. 

This was my first venture in the regular theatre, but it was 
not till 1879 that I got my chance. 

My first play to go regularly into the evening bills was the 
three-act comedy, Crutch and Toothpick. 


Edgar Bruce had taken the Royalty, and it opened under 
his management with my play on Easter Monday, 1879. 

The commission to write the play arose through my being 
a member of the Unity Club. Charles Wyndham had bought 
the rights of a French play, and he thought it would suit 
Bruce for his opening season. 

He asked H. 6. F^rnie to do the adaptation. Farnie was 
busy, and suggested to Wyndham that he should let me do it. 

I had met Wyndham previously, and had been invited to 
call upon him at an hotel in Arundel Street, Strand, and there 
I had interviewed him while he was packing his portmanteau 
in a hurry to catch a train. In those days Wyndham was 
always in a hurry, and generally had a train to catch. 

He asked me to write two new characters into W. S. Gilbert's 
Happy Land, the touring rights of which he had purchased. 

How the act of vandalism which I committed when I 
mutilated the great humorist's satire escaped Gilbert's atten- 
tion I have never understood. At any rate, Wyndham said 
my work was good, and presented me as a token of the sincerity 
of his criticism with a cheque for three pounds. 

That was the most so far that I had ever received for a 
play. For Le Centenaire I got nothing. 

The next thing I did after Le Centenaire was to rewrite 
The Field, of the Cloth of Gold with " new and original " songs 
for the Swanboroughs at the Strand Theatre. My new 
version, with " Mons " Marius*and Angelina Claude in it, was a 
great success, and when it had run for some considerable 
time Arthur Swanborough asked me to come across to the 
Strand Theatre, and in his private office made a charming 
speech, and on behalf of his mother, dear old Mrs. Swan- 
borough, whom H. J. Byron had foisted upon the theatrical 
world as the Mrs. Malaprop of her day, presented me with a 
guinea set of gold studs. 

Wyndham gave me the French play to do, and promised 
me 5 on handing in the manuscript, and i a performance 
until I had received 150, after which there was to be no 
further payment. 

The play was produced at the Royalty on Easter Monday, 
1879, and was an instantaneous success. Edgar Bruce 
played to perfection the hero, a dude of the period, with a 


crutch stick in his hand and a toothpick between his teeth, 
but the great successes of the evening were made by a clever 
young comedian and a charming young comedienne. The 
comedian was Mr. W. S. Penley and the comedienne was 
Miss Lottie Venne. 

It was during the run of Crutch that an accident happened 
which took Edgar Bruce out of the bill for a time. 

One night he came to the theatre suffering with a bad 
nervous headache. My friend Claude Carton was then 
playing another part and understudying Bruce. He sympa- 
thetically suggested to Bruce that a simple remedy might 
help him, sal volatile and red lavender. 

Gus Harris, at that time the Royalty stage manager, was 
standing by and rushed off to the nearest chemist, and without 
waiting to be told that the proper dose was a teaspoonful of 
the stuff in a wineglass of water, dashed at Bruce and began 
to pour the raw sal volatile down his throat. 

Luckily, Bruce only swallowed a comparatively small 
quantity, but as it was it took the skin off his mouth and 
throat and made him feel terribly bad. He went out of the 
bill for more than four months, during which period Claude 
Carton played Guy Devereux. 

Crutch on the first night was followed by a musical play, 
The Zoo, by B. C. Stephenson and Arthur Sullivan. 

When the curtain had fallen on the comedy Sullivan came 
behind, shook me warmly by the hand, and thanked me for 
having put the audience in such a good humour for The Zoo. 

The Zoo was not a great success, and soon after a burlesque 
called Venus, by Edward Rose and Augustus Harris, was 
substituted for it, and this was one of the first pieces in which 
the star flapper appeared. 

Harris at the time was negotiating for the lease of Drury 

After the show we used to go to Kettner's and have a 
modest supper there in the little side room. 

Gus Harris he was always Gus to us told me one night 
at Kettner's that if he got the Lane he was going to produce 
a play which he and Henry Pettitt and Paul Meritt had 
constructed between them. It was called The World. 

When Gus Harris told me about the play that he had in 


his head I told him about the play that I had already con- 
structed and partly written. 

The play that I told him about was The Lights o' London. 

Bruce at the same tune told me that he had a great idea of 
getting the Prince of Wales's Theatre. 

One night Gus came to Bruce on the stage of the Royalty 
and said, " Fm going to leave you, dear boy. I've taken a 

" Taken a theatre ! " exclaimed Bruce. " Why, you 
haven't a pound in your pocket." 

" Quite right," replied Gus, with a grin, " but I've got 
something in my pocket better than a pound. I've got the 
lease of Drury Lane." And he drew the document forth 
and flourished it in the face of his astonished manager. 

That night I met Gus after the theatre, and we walked 
West together. I, of course, congratulated him on having 
Drury Lane. " But," I said, " it's an awful responsibility, 
my boy. Look at the managers the Lane has ruined. It 
may ruin you." 

" It can't," said Gus, chuckling. " I've got nothing to lose." 

Both Bruce and Harris had brought their plans off, and The 
Lights o' London were still glimmering in the horizon. But 
they were soon to blaze out, and it came about in this way. 

Alfred Hemming, the head of the Hemming and Walton 
combination, bought the provincial rights of Crutch. Let me 
say at once that Wyndham was kinder to me than his contract, 
and allowed me to stand in in the provincial rights. 

Hemming had a pantomime engagement to fulfil at the 
Grand Theatre, Leeds. He asked me to go down and see 
himself and the Walton Family perform in the pantomime. 

I went to Leeds, saw the pantomime, and in the theatre I 
met Wilson Barrett. 


LONG before Fate led me to Leeds and flung Wilson Barrett 
across my pilgrim path I had at various times endeavoured 
to make managers acquainted with the fact that I had a 
drama to dispose of. 

A professional friend, into whose sympathetic ear I poured 
my despair, advised me to take the play to Morris Abrahams 
at the Pavilion, and told me that he would always give 
fifty pounds for a good drama. 

I shook my head at the proposal. I was ambitious, and I 
wanted the West End. 

I told James Fernandez about it, and he said he would get 
the Gattis to hear it for the Adelphi if I would write them a 
letter to bring the subject under their notice. 

I wrote the brothers, whom I had met once or twice casually 
at the Adelaide Gallery, and I wrote in my best handwriting 
there were no typewriters then and in reply I received an 
amiable letter from the Adelphi, written on behalf of the 
brothers Gatti by Mr. Charles Jecks, who was then the business 

Messrs. Gatti thanked me for my offer, but all their arrange- 
ments were made for some time to come. 

They were producing a play called The Crimson Cross, by 
Clement Scott and E. Manuel. 

I read the play to the beautiful Helen Barry, of Babil and 
Bijou fame, but she did not think there was a part in it to 
suit her. 

Then I tried Walter Gooch, who at that time had the 
Princess's. I had met Gooch when he was running the 
Metropolitan Music Hall, and I got Harry Jackson, a favourite 
comedian, famous for his comic jokes, and at that time 
Gooch's " dramatic adviser," to talk to him about my play, 


and see if he could not induce the manager of the Princess's 
to hear it. 

Walter Gooch was an amiable and kind-hearted little man, 
but with no " sense of the theatre." He left a good deal at 
that time to the judgment of Harry Jackson. 

Gooch said he woulo! hear the play, and invited me to dine 
with him one winter evening at his house in St. Andrew's 
Place, Regent's Park. 

The dinner I shall always remember because we were waited 
on by a small page-boy in brilh'ant uniform. He handed each 
dish first to Gooch, who before raising the cover said, " What 
have we here ? " When coffee and cigar time came I began 
to tell my host about the play, which I thought would suit 
the Princess's very well indeed. 

But just as I was getting him interested the wretched 
page-boy, who had been to the door to take in some letters, 
came in with the announcement that it was snowing heavily, 
and all the interest in my play that the manager of the 
Princess's had hitherto displayed vanished. 

"Snow!" he exclaimed. "That's a nice thing! It'll 
ruin business at the theatre. I wonder what we've got in 
to-night ? I shall have to get down there soon." 

I took in the situation at once. I left off talking about 
my play, and walked with Gooch as far as the Princess's. 

On the way he told me that he would think about the 
play. He rather liked the idea I had told him hardly 
anything about it but he was afraid that all his arrange- 
ments were complete, and he was committed to his next 

It was a snowy night in January 1881 when Gooch and I 
walked to the theatre together. Edwin Booth was then 
starring at the Princess's with a round of Shakespearean 
characters, but Gooch had arranged to follow Shakespeare 
with a play by Mr. Richard Lee, formerly the dramatic 
critic of the Morning Advertiser. This was the production to 
which he was committed. 

Mr. Richard Lee had in 1872 written a play for Mrs. Scott 
Siddons called Ordeal by Touch, and he had announced that 
having determined to become a dramatist he had resigned his 
position as dramatic critic, as he did not consider it right for 


a dramatist to sit in judgment on the playwrights with whom 
he was competing for public favour. 

Mr. Lee's play at the Princess's was called Branded. It 
was produced on April 2, 1881. It was a sensational drama, 
and was principally noteworthy for the number of horses 
which took part in it and whose unexpected antics convulsed 
the audience during what were intended to be the most 
thrilling parts of the play. 

Branded was a complete fiasco, and a play by Watts Phillips, 
Camillas Husband, was quickly put up, but on May 28 
the benefit of Mr. Harry Jackson, the stage manager, and 
" positively the last night of the season " was announced. 
And that was the end of Walter Gooch's reign at the 

When the theatre opened again it was in June under the 
management of Mr. Wilson Barrett, and on September 2 
Wilson Barrett produced The Lights o' London, the play 
which Walter Gooch had rejected because he had fixed his 
hopes on Branded. 

Some years afterwards I wrote with Clement Scott a play 
for Mrs. Gooch the popular Fanny Leslie and it was 
produced at the Strand. 

It was in this play that Lewis Waller made his first London 
success. I was very glad to see him in the company, for his 
beautiful voice had attracted my attention some time 
previously when he was playing a small part at Toole's 
Theatre, and I had prophesied a great future for him. 

Waller, whose wife, Miss Florence West a sister of the 
lady who afterwards became Mrs. Clement Scott was playing 
the heroine, came to me after the dress rehearsal and said, 
" I hope I shall be all right. I am very anxious indeed to 
get my footing here." 

The play was Jack-in-the-Box, which after a provincial tour 
was produced, in February 1887, at the Strand Theatre. 

The ultimate fate of poor Walter Gooch was for a long time 
a mystery. He suffered terribly from an internal complaint. 
He lost his energy and in many ways things went wrong with 
him. The Princess's, after he had rebuilt it, collapsed so far 
as a portion of it was concerned, and that helped to ruin 
him. He had borrowed a considerable sum on the lease of 


the Princess's Theatre, but the money went and he became 
very hard up indeed. 

Then his old haunts knew him no more, but a good many 
people for various reasons were anxious to know what had 
become of him. Inquiries were made, but no trace of him 
could be discovered. 

Some time after Walter Gooch's disappearance from 
London life a man poorly clad and evidently dying was picked 
up in the streets of New York. He was found to be uncon- 
scious, was taken to a hospital, and there he died. 

When his clothes were searched in order to discover some 
trace of his identity, nothing was found but a bunch of keys. 
He was buried as unknown, and the keys were put away in 
a box in the office of an official whose duty it was to look after 
the unclaimed property of deceased persons. 

The bunch of keys lay in the box for some years. One 
day a new clerk was appointed in one of the departments of 
the office, and this clerk was an Englishman. 

He took charge of the box, and, in going over the contents, 
he found the keys. He took them up and looked at them, 
and made inquiry as to why the body upon which they had 
been found was described as that of a man unknown. He 
pointed out that it was quite easy to ascertain to whom the 
keys belonged, 'as one of them was a Chubb and numbered. 

" If you write to England/' he said, " to Messrs. Chubb, 
and give the number of this key, they will be able to search 
their books and tell you who this man was." 

The letter was written, and the reply received was that the 
key had been made for Mr Walter Gooch, the lessee of the 
Princess's Theatre in Oxford Street, London, and that it was 
the key of a black box which had been supplied at the same 
time for his use at the theatre. 

The mystery of the fate of Walter Gooch, some time lessee 
and manager of the Princess's Theatre, was solved at last. 

At least I and many other old friends of the former lessee 
of the Princess's thought so, but it appears to be still a 

Some time after I had first published the story of the keys 
a lady wrote me that she had had as a lodger in 1889 tiu l8 93 
a gentleman named Walter Gooch, who used to show her a 


silver cigar-case on which was an inscription to the effect 
that it had been presented to him by Geo. R. Sims. 

This Walter Gooch, she told me, went in '96 to his mother's 
house in Maida Vale, and there he died. I have made inquiry 
at Somerset House, but have failed to find any certificate of 
his death in London, and so I am inclined to believe that the 
man who was found dead in New York, with the keys of 
Walter Gooch in his possession, was Walter Gooch himself. 


BETWEEN the production of Crutch and Toothpick at the 
Royalty and the journey to Leeds which was to bring me into 
professional relationship with Wilson Barrett, a great many 
things had happened. 

For one thing I had made the acquaintance of Mr. Louis 
Diehl, the composer. 

I had written some verses and published them I forget 
where and Diehl, always on the look-out for words, had 
read them and thought he would like to set them to music. 

As I am frequently asked for a copy of the verses and 
cannot find them in any of my published volumes, I give 
them here. 


The way was long and weary, 

But gallantly they strode, 
A country lad and lassie, 

Along the heavy road. 
The night was dark and stormy, 
But blithe of heart were they, 
For shining in the distance 
The lights of London lay. 

gleaming lamps of London that gem the city's crown, 
What fortunes lie within you, Lights of London Town ! 

The years passed on and found them 

Within the mighty fold, 
The years had brought them trouble, 

But brought them little gold, 
Oft from their garret window, 

On long, still, summer nights, 

81 F 


They'd seek the far-off country 

Beyond the London lights. 

mocking lamps of London, what weary eyes look down, 
And mourn the day they saw you, Lights of London Town ! 

With faces worn and weary, 

That told of sorrow's load, 
One day a man and woman 

Crept down a country road. 
They sought their native village, 

Heart-broken from the fray, 
Yet shining still behind them, 

The lights of London lay. 

cruel lamps of London, if tears your light could drown, 
Your victims' eyes would weep them, Lights of London Town ! 

It was a tramp, you see, who gave me my title and inspired 
the lines. 

When I made Henry Sampson's acquaintance I imbibed a 
good deal of his love of sport. I became an enthusiastic 
supporter of boxing as practised by other people and 
during several years I saw every glove-fight that was worth 

But there was a form of sport which I took up and practised 
myself. I was always a good walker, and I am so still, and it 
is not so very long ago that a friendly detective officer who 
had started out with me before midnight for a tour of certain 
criminal areas left me at four o'clock in the morning with a 
smiling protest. 

" When you came to the station to-night," he said, " and 
the chief told me off to go with you, I looked you up and 
down and thought I'd got a soft job. I expected that after 
about an hour's tramp you would bid me a polite good night, 
but we've had four hours of it and I'm dog-tired, while you 
are as fresh as a daisy." 

At the time that I took to the road as an amateur pedestrian 
long-distance walking had come very much into vogue as a 
professional pursuit. 

The first long-distance walking that I saw was when Sir 
John Astley, " The Mate " of affectionate memory, became a 



patron of the long wobble shows at the Agricultural Hall. 
These " wobbles " and ' go as you please " affairs used 
generally to start aj: midnight on Sunday, and I used to be 
one of the little crowd that assembled in the midnight gloom 
to admire Sir John Astley and to hear the representative of 
the Sporting Life fire a pistol as the clock struck twelve. 

Edward Peyson Weston was very much boomed by the 
Press, and the Hall was crowded to see him perform his feats of 
endurance, but far more popular shows were the long-distance 
walking competitions at the same hall with Harry Vaughan 
of Chester, Billy Howes, Ide, " Blower " Brown, and other 
well-known and popular " peds " taking part in them. 

It was while I was with Sampson on Fun that I started 
long-distance walking myself. I used to leave my house in 
Lonsdale Square at half-past four in the morning, walk to a 
terminus and catch the 5.15, which in those days was the 
newspaper train, to some country town twenty or twenty-five 
miles out. 

Arriving at my destination, I used to set my face towards 
London and start for home, endeavouring to pass a fresh 
milestone every quarter of an hour. That was a feat I did 
not always accomplish. 

It was one afternoon when walking from St. Albans to 
London that, near Barnet, I fell in with a young fellow and 
his wife. They seemed decent folk. The man told me he 
was tramping to London in search of work. 

I slackened my pace and walked with them. 

The darkness fell as we tramped along, and as we came to 
Highgate the lights of the City were just visible in the rather 
misty darkness. 

" Look, Liz," exclaimed the man eagerly to his wife as he 
stretched out his hand towards the City " paved with gold." 
" Yonder are the lights o' London." 

That night when I got home I had the warm bath I always 
took after a long tramp, had a light meal, and then I sat 
down and wrote the verses. 

Louis Diehl read them, liked them, and set them to music, 
and Miss Orridge, a fine contralto, sang them at the Ballad 

Soon afterwards Louis Diehl came to me and told me that 


he had a great idea. He knew a very clever girl who was the 
show pianist at a pianoforte shop perhaps I ought to call it 
an emporium in Baker Street. 

She had an idea of forming a company of " Lady Minstrels," 
and she thought she could get the money together. All she 
wanted was a musical play which could be performed entirely 
by girls. The young lady's name was Lila Clay. 

Diehl was quite willing to do the music if I would write the 
libretto. I agreed to do so, and I called the little musical 
play which was to be performed entirely by the fair sex 
A Dress Rehearsal. 

The plot of A Dress Rehearsal was simple. A number of 
schoolgirls were anxious to get up a pantomime for their 
" breaking-up " entertainment. 

The head mistress was very strict in her ideas. She had 
never been to a theatre in her life, and had no idea what a 
pantomime was. 

The pantomime itself was supposed to be written by one 
of the elder girls, who was fond of the play, and already had 
theatrical ambitions of her own, and it was rehearsed by the 
elocution mistress, an elderly lady who had in her time, 
before she met with an accident which crippled her slightly, 
combined comic old women with Shakespearean parts on the 
transpontine stage. 

I was introduced to Lila Clay at the piano shop, and there 
I read her the operetta in rather unusual circumstances. She 
had been left in entire charge of the shop at the time, the 
" governor " having gone to his lunch, and the boy having 
been sent into the City with a letter. Although my new 
manageress had to leave me every now and then hurriedly, 
because some one came into the shop, and had to be attended 
to by her, I managed to maintain my own enthusiasm to the 
end of the reading, and Lila she was " Lila " in the theatrical 
world for so many years afterwards that I cannot bring myself 
to write about her in any other name expressed herself as 
delighted with the work. 

She said she would see her backers at once, and hoped to 
be able to put the operetta in rehearsal in a few days. 

She got together a company of clever and pretty girls 
some of them became famous afterwards in musical comedy 


and when everything was ready we started rehearsals. Lila 
herself was not to act, but to be the musical directress of the 
minstrels and preside at {he piano. 

The rehearsals, with the amiable proprietor's permission, 
took place in the kitchen, which was in the basement. 

We had a piano moved down there, and the operetta was 
rehearsed there every day " under the personal direction of 
the author and composer." 

The upper part of the premises was residential, and the 
kitchen was used for preparing meals for certain people who 
occupied them, so there was a cook. 

But the cook was very kind, and frequently in the intervals 
of preparing the meals for upstairs held the prompt book, 
and on one occasion when one of the young ladies was unable 
to attend owing to a slight indisposition, the cook read the 
part, and to the best of her ability sang the music allotted to 
it, keeping one eye on the extended finger which the composer 
used as a baton, and the other on the frying-pan, in which a 
steak and onions were cooking. 

We heard a good deal at one time about getting the scent 
of the hay over the footlights, but it was my first experience of 
getting the scent of steak and onions over the scene of an 
operatic rehearsal. 

Lila enjoyed the rehearsals immensely, and when Louis 
Diehl could not come she took his place at the piano. 

The proprietor of the piano shop was very kind and con- 
siderate, and let Lila stay in the kitchen and look after the 
rehearsals, only disturbing her occasionally by shouting down 
the stairs when she was wanted to exhibit the qualities of a 
piano to a possible purchaser. 

The backers they were two very cheerful and good-looking 
young gentlemen, one middle-aged gentleman, and one rather 
elderly gentleman had authorized Lila to take the Langham 
Hall for the first appearance of " Lila Clay's Lady Minstrels " 
and the production of a " new operetta by George R. Sims 
and Louis Diehl," and the eventful night at last arrived. I 
look at the old programme and find that it was October 30, 

Half an hour before the curtain was due to rise at the 
hall, for which, by the by, a week's rent had been paid in 


advance by the backers, Diehl and I drove there and went 
" behind." 

The first person we met was one of the girls who was 
wandering about prettily attired as a lady minstrel in a short 
frock and dainty silk stockings, but on her feet were her own 
muddy boots, and on her face was a look of despair. 

" Fancy ! " she said, " everything's ready, but we have no 
boots to put on. The beastly old bootmaker's got them with 
him, but he won't let us have them without the money, and 
Lila can't find her backers." 

I went on to the stage the curtain, of course, was still 
down and there I saw the lady minstrels sitting in a semicircle, 
all daintily arrayed, but bootless. 

Then I met Lila with a smile on her face. Lila Clay's smile 
was literally the smile that won't come off. I don't think 
I ever saw her without it, in spite of all the ups and downs 
of her professional career. 

" Don't worry about the boots," she said, " it'll be all 
right. Some of my backers are sure to be here directly." 

But before the backers, who presently arrived at the hall, 
came behind to discuss the situation with us, a gentleman 
appeared who described himself as " the secretary." It was 
the first I had heard of it, but the gentleman explained to 
me that the backers on his advice had turned the affair into 
a limited liability company. The funds of the company, he 
found, were already exhausted, and as a secretary who knew 
company law thoroughly he was not prepared to advise the 
directors to call up further capital on the spur of the moment. 

I drew the curtain aside, peeped through and saw that a 
small audience was gradually assembling. The clock was 
ticking on towards the hour when the show was due to 

What was to be done ? I was not prepared to find the 
money for the company myself, because I knew what that 
might lead to, so I advised Liia to go and interview the 
directors, who were standing by the pay-box, and keenly 
watching the course of business there. 

Lila succeeded at last in overriding the scruples of the 
secretary and the four directors agreed to subscribe a sovereign 
each towards the bootmaker's bill. It was a little more than 


that, so the author and composer found the balance. The 
bootmaker was paid, and the dainty bottines were quickly 
donned by the fair minstrels. 

In the meantime* the four directors had squeezed into the 
small pay-box and were taking it in turns to recoup themselves 
for the money they had advanced. 

From the author and composer's point of view A Dress 
Rehearsal was a great success. From the company's point of 
view it was a failure. After a very short run it was withdrawn, 
and the Lila Clay's Minstrel Company went into voluntary 

The secretary, a clean-shaven gentleman who always 
carried a black bag and wore a tragic expression, called upon 
me one evening to announce the fact. 

" All right," I said, " it can't be helped, but get the script 
and the score from the company and send them to me." 

" I am afraid I can't do that," he said. " You see, legally 
the script and the score are the property of the company. As 
they are the only assets I should not, as secretary, be justified 
in parting with them." 

As neither Diehl nor myself had had a farthing for our 
work we thought the contention of the solemn secretary a 
particularly cool one. 

However, we eventually got our property back. Lila called 
a special meeting of her directors, and acting on our behalf 
laughed them out of their " only assets." 

There was an originality about Lila Clay's first theatrical 
enterprise which ought to have ensured it a better fate. 
Thirty-seven years ago the young manageress anticipated a 
system of representation that has been adopted within the 
last few months by many of the West End theatres. 

The programme of the " Lila Clay Lady Minstrels," with 
A Dress Rehearsal as the second part, was announced for 
performance " Every Monday, Thursday, and Friday at eight, 
and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday at three." 

I cannot remember the reason of this somewhat original 
arrangement. It was original at the time, but would be 
looked upon as nothing out of the ordinary to-day. 

A few months before the production of A Dress Rehearsal 
I had, at the suggestion of Mr. Ashton Dilke, undertaken to 


start and edit a new penny weekly periodical of the lighter order, 
something between the Family Herald and the Welcome Guest. 

The new paper appeared under the title of One and All, 
edited by Geo. R. Sims. 

It was in One and All that my first novel, " Rogues and 
Vagabonds," appeared, and a good deal of my original scenario 
of the, as yet, unplayed Lights o' London went to the making 
of the story. And it was as the editor of One and All that I 
printed a contribution one of the earliest, I believe, to the 
London Press by a young Irishman newly arrived in London. 
His name was George Bernard Shaw. 

But let me return to Lila Clay. Soon after the close of the 
run of A Dress Rehearsal she went into the provinces with 
Dick South's Opera Company. 

At the termination of the first tour I met her one Sunday 
morning in Park Street, Camden Town. It was a cold grey 
day, but her smile seemed to light up the whole thoroughfare 
from the Britannia to the York and Albany. 

" Well, Lila," I said, " how is the opera company getting 

" Oh, fine," she said. " We haven't had much money, but 
we've had lots of fun." 

For years after that Lila was always bobbing up serenely. 
She got the Opera Comique and produced The Adamless Eden 
there, by Savile Clarke. The Adamless Eden was a musical 
piece performed entirely by ladies. The orchestra was 
feminine, and conducted by Lila herself, and admirably 
conducted, for she was an excellent musician. 

And there was no trouble about boots. 

Some time after that Lila turned up in the ballroom scene 
in La Cigale at the Lyric. There was a music gallery in the 
scene, and there Lila conducted a female orchestra. 

When I met her again it was at Newmarket. She had 
become a sportswoman, and was to be seen regularly at the 
principal race meetings. She used to get some excellent tips. 
As they were my racing days we met constantly, and Lila's 
tips were very useful. 

One day she came to me and said : "I've got a pony on 
Day Dawn at 20 to i. You ought to have a fiver." I had 
two fivers on Day Dawn, and it won. 


I used to meet Lila racing for a year or two, and she was 
always merry and bright, and appeared to be on the best of 
terms with everybody, backers, owners, jockeys, and herself. 

Then she dropped out, and one day I heard that she had 
gone back to her people and died at home after a lingering 
and painful illness. 

Poor Lila ! May the earth lie lightly on her ! She was a 
feather-brain always and foolish often, but in the words of 
the old song " her bright smile haunts me still," and to meet 
her and talk with her was always an exhilarating experience. 

A Dress Rehearsal, in spite of its fate seven and thirty years 
ago at the Langham Hall, is still a property. Messrs. Samuel 
French and Co., the theatrical publishers of Southampton 
Street, Strand, look after the amateur rights for me, and 
every quarter they make up an account of the fees they have 
received and send me what Digby Grant in The Two Roses 
used to call " a little cheque." 

How much I owe, taking one consideration with another, 
to the tramp who said to his wife, as we jogged along the 
Great North Road together, " Yonder are the lights o* 
London ! " 


GLANCING back over the years when I was a playgoer with 
apparently very little chance of becoming a playwright, many 
an old familiar form revisits the pale glimpses of the stage 
moon in Limelight Land when all the programmes were 
" scented by Rimmel." 

I remember Benjamin Webster's wonderful performance in 
Janet Pride, an old-time Adelphi triumph that one seldom 
hears mentioned to-day by old plaj^goers. I must have seen 
it in a revival. I was a baby when it was first produced. 
And I have never forgotten Webster's Penn Holder in One 
Touch of Nature. 

I remember his Robert Landry in the Dead Heart. I 
remember the fine old actor in his heyday, and I remember 
his decline and fall literally his fall. 

It was when The Wandering Jew was produced with James 
Fernandez I wonder how many playgoers remember 
" Jimmy " at the old Bower Saloon that we called the Sour 
Baloon ? as Dagobert, and Webster played Rodin. 

In one scene he fell on the stage in a sitting posture and 
had to be helped gently to his feet by two of the characters 
who ought, according to the play, to have refused to stretch 
out a hand to him, even if he had been drowning. 

I was at the Adelphi on the first night of No Thoroughfare. 
Miss W'oolgar as Sally Goldstraw electrified the house with 
her pathetic despair in the Foundling Hospital, Webster was 
an ideal Joey Ladle, and Fechter was Obenreizer, and Carlotta 
Leclerq was Marguerite. 

I remember that on the first night when Fechter stole to 
the bed of Walter Wilding to give him his quietus a voice in 
the gallery shouted, " Wake up ! wake up ! he's going to kill 
you ! " but Fechter had so completely gripped the house that 
there was only a momentary titter. 



And the Colleen Bawn ! All London flocked to the Adelphi 
to see Dion Ifcucicault's 'masterly adaptation of Gerald 
Griffin's novel, " The*Collegians," and all London talked for 
many a -month after the first night of Boucicault's Myles Na 
Coppaleen and Edmund Falconer's Danny Mann. 

And I booked my seat for the Adelphi in those days, a 
pit-stall numbered and reserved for half a crown. And there 
was a beautiful golden-haired lady in the box-office who did 
all the box-office business and had no assistant. 

Once again the old boards are trodden by Mme. Celeste. 
Who that saw her as Miami in The Green Bushes and Cynthia 
in The Flowers of the Forest can ever forget her ? 

I remember when Toole and Paul Bedford were the stock 
comedians of the old house, and from the far-off shores of the 
sixties the echo of " I believe you, my boy ! " sounds in my 

I see again Kate Bateman as Leah. I see Rip van Winkle 
Jefferson wake after his long sleep on the Catskill Mountains 
and go back into the village and meet his wife and child. And 
the wife was played by " Our Mrs. Billington." 

And Emmet ! " Schneider, how you vas ? " 

I see Robson in The Porter's Knot at the Olympic, and as 
Jim Baggs in The Wandering Minstrel, and I see again a big 
house thrilled with the intensity of his burlesque tragedy in 
Medea. Once again I see him in the burlesque of Mazeppa, 
and I hear him singing : 

Had it not been for Olinska, 

Dat bery lubly gal, 
Her father would have sent me 

To the foundling hospital. 
Where de boys are dressed in woollen clothes 

To warm their little limbs, 
And smell of yellow soap and sing 

Like little cherubims. 

If I misquote from memory, forgive me. It is so long ago. 

And Widdicombe ! Who remembers his admirable *per- 
formance in the screaming farces that were the curtain-raisers 
of the sixties ? Poor Pillicoddy and The Two Polts. 


I remember the farces at the Adelphi the screaming farces 
splendidly acted by the leading comedians and comediennes 
of the house. And half-price at the Strand at nine o'clock, a 
shilling in the pit, and the merry burlesques of Brough and 
Byron with the excruciating puns that made the house 
writhe with joy. The more atrocious the pun the more 
delirious the mirth. 

The idols of the pit and gallery and, for the matter of that, 
of the stalls and boxes too, were Jimmy Rogers and Johnny 
Clarke, and Marie Wilton trod the boards daintily and 
brought to burlesque and extravaganza the art that was to 
charm the playgoing world later in comedy of the highest 

I remember the Royalty and Frank Burnand winning his 
laurels with laughing London at his feet ; Ixion with Jenny 
Willmore as the hero and Ada Cavendish as Venus, and lovely 
Lydia Maitland and the bevy of beauties that Mrs. Charles 
Selby had gathered together for her campaign of gaiety at 
the little theatre in Dean Street. 

And then came Black-Eyed Susan, with Dewar as Captain 
Crosstree and Patty Oliver as Susan. And Patty Oliver and 
Dewar sang " Pretty See-usan, don't say No," and soon all 
England was singing it : Flying Scud, with Charlotte Saunders, 
the one and only Charlotte Saunders there never was another 
as the jockey. And Fanny Josephs as Lord Willoughby 
righting his duel on the sands of Calais ! 

I remember the Queen's and The Last Days of Pompeii, 
with Henrietta Hodson as the blind girl, and the famous 
banqueting scene with the voluptuaries of the period crowned 
with roses at the festive board. And the Roman acrobat on 
the tight-rope for their amusement luncheon lectures and 
tango teas had not yet been introduced as post-prandial 
delights and the yells of laughter that arose when the 
acrobat, who was a heavy fellow and looked like a Grseco- 
Roman wrestler, missed his footing and fell into the Pompeian 
pie, which went pop like a paper bag. All playgoers who are 
still young enough will remember that scene and the wild 
shrieks of laughter that rang to the roof. 

At the St. James's Theatre lovely Miss Herbert in Lady 
Audley's Secret, with Ada Dyas as Phoebe Marks, and Hunted 


Down, or The Two Lives of Mary Leigh, with an actor named 
Henry Irving making kis mark in it. 

And the Leigh Murrays, and the Wigans, the Mirror Theatre 
and the Holborn Amphitheatre, and Emily Fowler at the 
Olympic, and the Charing Cross Theatre. 

I remember the burlesque of The Swan and Edgar, with 
Frank Matthews and Charles Young, The Rapid Thaw, which 
was a quick frost, with the roller-skating scene in it. And the 
first night of War, when they called derisively for the author 
at the finish, and Tom Robertson, the author, lay on his 

James and Thorne and Montague, with the early glories of 
the Vaudeville, comedies that took the town by storm, and 
burlesques to follow ! The Two Roses and Irving's Digby 
Grant, and George Honey's Our Mr. Jenkins ; Our Boys, 
which was to beat all previous records in its length of run. 
I was there on the first night. It was a real Byron first 
night. The whole house leaning forward eagerly waiting for 
the next joke with an anticipatory grin, and hailing it with a 
yell when it came. 

The Buckstone days at the Haymarket, with the Chippen- 
dales and Henry Compton and Amy Sedgwick, were glittering 
days, but not all of them were golden ones. 

But The Overland Route was a great success, and when 
Our American Cousin alighted in the Haymarket all his 
English cousins flocked to see him. 

Lord Dundreary came and saw and conquered. He has 
remained a type to this day, and his whiskers are classical. 
But we went Dundreary mad in '61. The shop windows were 
filled with Dundreary scarves, and Brother Sam scarves, and 
there were Dundreary collars and Dundreary shirts, and 
Dundrearyisms were on every lip. 

Sothern was a practical joker, and his pranks in private 
life were as much the talk of the town as his stage per- 

A hallowed memory is the reign of the Bancrofts at the 
Prince of Wales's and later at the Haymarket. 

When they took the Haymarket they abolished the pit, and 
there was trouble on the first night. The pittites, who had 
been compelled to find accommodation in other parts of the 


building, made themselves heard for some considerable time 
before they gave the actors a chance. 

The pits and galleries in those days had a habit of airing 
their first-night views with vigour and determination. 

There was a time when James Mortimer, who started the 
London Figaro, a paper subsidized by the Empress of the 
French, could not go into the stalls on the first night without 
being roughly greeted by the pit and gallery. He had 
offended them in some way which I forget. 

Mortimer never missed a first night, and he always had a 
play of his own in his overcoat pocket. If the piece looked 
like being a failure " Jimmy " would, at the fall of the curtain, 
pop round on to the stage, buttonhole the manager and say 
to him, " Look here, old chap, I've got just the play you 

James Mortimer was quite a kind-hearted little man, 
though he occasionally allowed the criticisms of the London 
Figaro to be anything but kindly ones. And for some reason 
we used to call him " The Corsican." 

He wrote a good many plays, mostly adaptations, but I 
think the only one that he made any money by was-Gloriana. 

To the last he had a habit of pulling out a gold watch on 
the slightest provocation and letting you see by the inscription 
that it had been presented to him by the Empress of the 
French. Peace to his memory ! 

I remember the first production of the best adaptation of a 
French play which has ever been made Tom Taylor's Ticket 
of Leave Man, the play that gave us the situation, " Who will 
take it ? " "I, Hawkshaw, the detective," a situation which 
has remained the feature of a certain class of British drama 
ever since. 

I remember Henry Neville's fine performance of Bob 
Brierly and his Henry Dunbar, with Kate Terry as his 
daughter, her face fearfully and wonderfully tied up for the 
toothache as a disguise. 

I remember the first night of Lord Newry's Ecarte, and who 
that was there will ever forget it ? 


WHEN I come in these reminiscences to. the production of my 
first melodrama, The Lights o' London, we shall be in the first 
year of the 'eighties. 

The 'eighties saw a very different London from the London 
of the 'seventies. 

In the 'sixties and even well on into the 'seventies the 
home was a house, and the flat system was mainly confined 
to the new and improved working-class dwellings founded by 
the estimable Mr. Peabody. And the family meal was taken 
at the family table. 

The popular restaurant as we understand it to-day had not 
arrived, and the separate table in public eating establishments 
was as unusual as to-day it is general. 

In the popular and in some of the fashionable dining-rooms 
and taverns, both in the West End and the City, you sat in 
small compartments called " boxes," and wooden partitions 
divided one set of lunchers or diners from their neighbours, 
and ladies were rarely of the party. 

In my early City days, when I had both the time for lunch 
and the money, I used to go to the dining-rooms that were 
popularly known as " slap bangs." They had taken their 
title from the line in the song which at that time was on 
everybody's lips, every barrel-organ there were no piano- 
organs in those days and every concertina, " Slap, bang ! 
Here we are again ! " 

My favourite houses of call for lunch were His Lordship's 
Larder in Cheapside, and Lake and Turner's in the same 
thoroughfare ; the Post Office Tavern, at the back of the 
G.P.O. ; Rudkin's Salutation in Newgate Street ; the 
eighteenpenny table d'hotes there were two, one at one and 
one at five at the Cathedral Tavern opposite St. Paul's ; 
and, when it would run to it, Krehl's in Coleman Street, where 



the menu was in French but some of the dishes had the 
flavour of the Fatherland about them. 

Later on, when I had come into Fleet Street and the Strand, 
Simpson's, with its old English fare, captured me for a time, 
and I always sat in one of the old-fashioned boxes and watched 
the ancients with delight. By the " ancients " I mean the 
old gentlemen who were supposed to have lunched or dined 
at Simpson's from their youth upwards. 

The old-fashioned " boxes " were a feature of the Albion 
Tavern opposite Drury Lane Theatre, and this was a great 
supper house in my early days for the lights and occasionally 
for the shadows of the theatrical profession. 

I sat in one of the " boxes " of the Albion one night and 
watched Augustus Harris, Henry Pettitt, and Paul Merritt 
they were seated in the same compartment with me divide 
the American fees for The World. 

Pettitt had that morning arrived in London from New 
York, and he had collected the fees due and brought them 
over with him in " ready." 

The division of the fees of The World in " ready " in the box 
in the Albion took place in the old-fashioned w r ay. The 
pile of notes were dealt out in the " one for me, one for you, 
and one for you " system, until the end was reached. 

When Felix Spiers and Christopher Pond came from 
Australia they revolutionized the buffet business. 

They made their first start at Farringdon Street, but both 
there and at Ludgate Hill, which presently became the centre 
of their activity, the box system prevailed. 

I knew both Felix Spiers and Christopher Pond in the early 
days of their enterprise, before the Criterion was dreamed of, 
and in those days when we lunched in the dining-rooms of 
the firm they were mainly attached to railway stations then 
the great feature was a steak " S. and P." 

There were no tea-shops in Fleet Street in those days, but 
there were plenty of coffee-shops, and here again the high- 
backed wooden boxes were the rule. 

Some of these coffee-houses were journalistic haunts. We 
used to go to them about six o'clock and have tea and muffins. 

There was one coffee-shop that I used to go to evening 
after evening for weeks. It had a bound set of Bentley's 


Miscellany for the use of customers. To eat hot buttered 
muffins and turn the pages of Bentley's Miscellany without 
damage to the property was not an easy task, and the volumes 
bore ample testimony to their popularity with the patrons. 

The tea-shop grew out of four things, the flat system, the 
increased facilities of transit which brought the ladies of the 
suburbs flocking to London in the afternoon, the vast increase 
in the employment of women in City and West End offices, 
and the decay of the alcoholic habit among young men. 

In my early City days there were no typists and very few 
lady clerks, and the catering was almost entirely for men. 

There were no typists in my early Strand days, and my 
first plays were copied by hand, but there were three or four 
theatrical copyists who would prepare a beautifully written 
copy of a five-act drama quite as quickly as you can get it 
done to-day at any typing agency. 

It was ten o'clock one Saturday night when Pettitt and I 
completed the script of In the Ranks. An old theatrical 
copyist, a fine old fellow with a clean-shaven face and a mass 
of wonderful grey hair, called at my house in Gower Street for 
it at half -past ten, as he had been instructed to do. At eleven 
o'clock on Monday morning the working script of that five-act 
drama was delivered to me. 

The tea-shop killed the coffee-shop, and gradually the 
foreign restaurant began to kill the chop-house and tavern 
dining-room, and to diminish the attendance at the eighteen- 
penny and two shilling " ordinaries." 

Cheap foreign travel organized on a vast scale was gradually 
changing the habits and customs of the Londoner. He was 
becoming less insular and more cosmopolitan in his tastes, and 
he was gradually learning how to enjoy himself without the 
display of exuberant animal spirits. 

It is difficult for the younger generation of Londoners to 
conceive the condition of the West End after nightfall as it 
was in the late 'sixties and well on into the 'seventies. 

There was a time when two black bullies, one called 
Kangaroo and the other named Plantagenet Green, known to 
his intimates as Planner Green, were the terrors of the West. 

I have seen Kangaroo come into a West End saloon and 
pick up the glass of champagne which a young duke had just 



poured out for a lady who was never likely to be his duchess, 
and toss it off, and then go to a table at which a young 
Guardsman was similarly entertaining a fair companion and 
drink up their wine too. 

It was not considered wise to resent the insolence of this 
ruffian in a practical manner. Dukes do not want to wear 
their coronets above a broken nose, and young Guardsmen 
would find two lovely black eyes inconvenient extras. 

But the black eye was quite a common result of a night 
out in those times. It was so general that in a side street in 
the Haymarket an artist had a studio specially arranged for 
the painting of black eyes, and it was open from eight o'clock 
in the evening till four o'clock in the morning. 

The songs of the lion comiques of those days echoed the 
habits of the West. "The Champagne Charlies" and the 
" Rolling Home in the Morning Boys " were types of the 
night life of London. 

Of that life as I saw it in the West End of London and the 
East End of London I have many abiding memories, and I 
had one black eye which I led my mother to believe was the 
result of an accidental collision with a lamp-post. 

As a matter of fact I got it in a free fight at the Alhambra 
one Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race night. 

Oh, those Boat Race nights ! I wonder what London 
would think of them now ? 

Of the roystering night life of London in the 'sixties and 
early 'seventies I have a lively remembrance. 

My experiences of night life began at rather an early period 
of my career because my opportunities were exceptional. 

In the 'fifties, when my juvenile experiences commenced, 
the general attitude with regard to theatrical entertainment 
and the form of amusement which we to-day call a variety 
entertainment was not so benevolent as it is to-day. 

The matine'e girl and the matinee child were unknown. 

The serious early and mid- Victorians would have been 
aghast at the idea of vast palaces of entertainment being 
daily crowded with afternoon audiences, and except at 
Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun many of the theatres had no 
matinee performances at all. 

There was a very large body of citizens and citizenesses 


who were opposed to " theatrical " entertainment in any shape 
or form, and the children of my childhood when they were 
taken to an entertainment were generally to be found at the 
Crystal Palace, the Colosseum, where they saw the Earthquake 
of Lisbon and the Panorama of London by Night I need 
hardly say there were no human figures in it the Polytechnic, 
where they went down in the diving-bell and saw Pepper's 
ghost ; the Christy, afterwards the Moore and Burgess, 
Minstrels, where the burnt-corked company sang pathetic 
songs about closing the shutters because Willie was dead, and 
meeting Belle Mahone at Heaven's gate. There were always 
five or six items in the entertainment that dealt with the 
early demise of amiable little boys and gentle maidens or the 
approaching dissolution of elderly black gentlemen who heard 
the angels calling. 

The nearest approach to theatrical entertainment that the 
children of the Puritan survival were permitted was the 
Royal Gallery of Illustration, where the German Reeds 
flourished for many years, and Woodin's Olio of Oddities, 
which were sometimes given in a real theatre, and they were 
permitted occasionally to visit a circus, which was more or 
less a permanent institution in London in the old days. 

Waxworks, dissolving views, and panoramas were popular, 
and lectures and readings were largely attended, especially 
the readings of Charles Dickens and the Mont Blanc enter- 
tainment of Albert Smith. 

I heard Charles Dickens read from his works twice, and 
one of my most treasured possessions is his own drawing of 
the reading-desk which afterwards became so familiar to the 
great public who flocked to hear him. 

My grandfather, the Sandemanian, would have limited my 
early experiences of entertainment London to a selection from 
this programme, but fortunately I had another grandfather, 
and he, like my mother, was passionately fond of the theatre, 
and liked to see eve r ything in the entertainment world that 
was going on. So when I was quite a boy I was taken to the 
Oxford Music Hall in the first week of its opening. 

We sat at a little table close to the chairman, and the 
chairman sat in a raised chair at a table near the orchestra, 
with his back turned to the performers. He was a cheery 

ioo MY LIFE 

individual with a bright and shining face and a bright and 
shining manner. 

He wore a large white shirt-front, in which sparkled a 
diamond about the size of the glass stopper of a scent- 
bottle, and at each new turn he rapped the table vigorously 
with his hammer and announced the name of the performer. 
To stand the chairman a drink was considered a great 

I was also taken to almost the first cafe chantant started in 
London. There was an amiable Italian gentleman who lived 
in Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square, and who came over to 
this country when he was twenty, and lived in it till he was 
seventy. He once told me that the English people were 
deficient in the gift of languages, because he had lived in 
London for fifty years, and Londoners were still unable to 
speak Italian. 

He was a fine old chap and a wonderful character, and had 
very intimate relations with the Italian Opera singers. I am 
under the impression that he used to finance them when they 
found themselves temporarily short of money. 

The Italian gentleman had found a portion of the money to 
start an enterprise which I believe was called the Imperial 
Music Hall, and he persuaded my father to take a number of 
shares. The music-hall it was really a cafe chantant on the 
French system occupied a portion of Savile House. 

I do not know how much money my father put into it, but 
I know that he had several books of tickets of admission sent 
him, and that on the opening night he and the Italian gentle- 
man allowed me to accompany them and to sit between them 
at a marble table during the performance. 

The career of the cafe chantant did not end in a blaze of 
triumph, but it ended in a blaze. 

The scene of the conflagration remained a gaping ruin for 
many years, but ultimately the site came into the possession 
of Mr. Nicol, of the Cafe Royal, and on that site arose the 
present Empire Theatre, so that upon the Imperial foundation 
with which I was associated in my boyhood arose a world- 
famed Empire. 

The rowdy night life of London in the 'sixties was not 
confined to the West End. It was quite the thing for the 

MY LIFE 101 

" Corinthians " of the 'sixties to make excursions to the East, 
and when I first became a student of " life as she is lived " 
my studies occasionally took me after nightfall in the direction 
of Ratcliffe Highway, and I have a vivid remembrance of 
weird and wonderful scenes in the dancing saloons attached 
to Paddy's Goose, which was in the notorious Highway, the 
Mahogany Bar, which was close by, and in the disreputable 
dens for they were dens and they were disreputable of 
Tiger Bay. 

In those days Jack ashore was frequently Jack with his 
pocket full of gold, and there were plenty of sharks, male and 
female, whose sole worldly occupation it was to assist Jack in 
getting rid of his money. 

Many a sailor, after a night of revelry in the dancing dram- 
shops of the Highway, would be lured, drunken, dazed and 
sometimes drugged, into the back courts of Artichoke Hill 
and St. John's Hill. There poor Jack was always robbed and 
sometimes murdered. 

When the " Corinthians " of the 'sixties and the early 
"seventies went East to make a night of it at the East End 
temples dedicated to the worship of Bacchus and Venus they 
were frequently accompanied by a professional bruiser, who 
was technically known as their " minder." 

It was the duty of the " minder " to shadow them as a 
detective to-day shadows a foreign royal visitor taking a stroll 
about town. 

Some of the " minders " were straight, but one or two of 
them were crooks, and I have known more than one assault 
upon a patron deliberately planned by a " minder " in order 
that at the psychological moment he, the " minder," might 
rush in and do doughty service for his chief, a service for 
which he would be handsomely rewarded. 

Some of these " minders " did so well out of their patrons 
that they became prosperous and blossomed into sportsmen 
and patrons of the Turf. 

One or two of the prosperous " minders " used to be very 
much in evidence in the early days of the Criterion when 
the American bar was in its glory. But that is a glory 
which has long since departed, and so has the glory of the 
" minder." 



I met many of them at the East End nights' entertain- 
ments, both at glove-fights and in the Ratcliff Highway 
" ball-rooms/' 

But it was in Fleet Street that some of the old-time bruisers 
came into " My Life." 


IT was Thackeray, I think, who sang : 

pretty page with the dimpled chin, 
Wait till you come to forty year. 

It was in the 'eighties that I came to forty, and so in these 
memories of the past I find myself standing with reluctant 
feet where the 'thirties and the 'forties meet. 

There is a charm about our early memories that the later 
ones seldom possess. So before I step into the 'eighties and 
the comparatively modern I would fain linger for a brief space 
among my early memories of the London that I love. 

In the days of my youth, though Bartholomew Fair had 
long since passed away, pleasure fairs were still held in the 
outlying districts of the Metropolis. 

The once famous fair of Gospel Oak was still held within 
walking distance of my boyhood's home. Greenwich Fair 
was still a great Cockney festival, and Charlton Fair retained 
many of its ancient glories. And there were others. 

The pleasure gardens were still popular, and there were 
tea gardens with arbours attached to scores of the better 
known public-houses. 

I can remember when on a Sunday evening you might see 
many of the Bohemianly inclined children of Thespis sitting 
at the little tables in the tea-garden attached to the York 
and Albany in Park Street, Camden Town. And from the 
Mother Redcap and the Britannia to the York and Albany 
was in those days quite a Sunday morning theatrical 

Rosherville was still the place to spend a happy day, and 
there was a good deal of the side-show element there. 

North Woolwich Gardens still attracted its thousands, and 
when William Holland, with his famous moustache and his 



genius for showmanship, ruled the roost there, it had a fair 
spell of popularity. 

When I first came into Fleet Street the pleasure steamers 
in the summer were laden with trippers for the North Woolwich 

Bill Holland he was the son of a draper in Newington 
Causeway had been associated with almost every form of 
entertainment enterprise. He called himself " The People's 

He was at various periods of his career the lessee of the 
Surrey Theatre, where he made a feature of pantomime with 
a Moon as a star Miss Nellie Moon manager of the Alhambra, 
impresario his own word on the occasion of a gigantic circus 
which he ran, of all places in the world, at the Covent Garden 
Opera House, the entrepreneur of a great circus at the Agri- 
cultural Hall, where he wanted to put on a real bull-fight but 
naturally was not allowed to, and the manager of the Blackpool 
Winter Gardens. 

During his reign at North Woolwich Gardens he used to 
hold shows of every description. Once he held a moustache 
show and took the prize himself, but his baby shows are the 
best remembered of any. 

Holland was a real showman, and not only understood the 
art of publicity but the still more useful art of obtaining 
gratuitous advertisement. 

He was a great favourite with Pressmen, and every Sunday 
during the summer he used to give an informal Press lunch 
at the Gardens. The room in which the lunch was held 
commanded a view of the landing-stage, and when the steamer 
came to the pier Holland would stand up and count the 
passengers who were disembarking for the Gardens. 

He used to count, " Ten twenty thirty forty fifty," 
and when he got to the " fifty " he would turn to his guests 
and say, " It's all right to-day, boys. We'll have another 

In London itself in the free and easy 'sixties there was no 
grandmotherly Government and very little harassing legisla- 
tion to interfere with the pleasures of the people. Though 
Bartholomew Fair had been abolished, there was a bit 
of it on Britannia Fields, Hoxton, and a good many of 

MY LIFE 105 

its features were to be found scattered about the streets of 

Acrobats, jugglers, and peep-showmen set up their pitches 
and performed where they chose. The usual attraction for 
the peep-show was the Murder in the Red Barn. 

Simple Simon could have tossed the pieman for his wares 
at a dozen street corners in those days ; German bands 
performed in street and square at all hours of the day and 
night, and niggers gave their alfresco concerts in places where 
now special police are provided to direct the traffic. 

Of one of the nigger parties, the conductor was dressed as 
Punch, and many of the heads of these bands were quite 
popular characters with Londoners, and their names were 
household words. 

Those were the days of the freaks. General Tom Thumb 
was more famous than any military commander of the same 
rank. With Minnie Warren and Commodore Nutt he cap- 
tured London and made a triumphant tour of the kingdom. 

Milly-Christine, " the double-headed nightingale," drew the 
town, and anything possessed of too many or too few limbs 
had a distinct commercial value. Donato, the dancing man 
with one leg, got a great deal more money for his performance 
than many an artist who was unfortunate enough to have 

You did not have bands at the banquet in those days, and 
people took and enjoyed their meals without music, but in 
the streets you had vocal and instrumental music the whole 
day long, and every murder had its melody. 

The " chaunters " stood along the kerbs generally after 
nightfall and hawked their doleful ditties. They did a 
roaring trade whenever a sensational crime had gripped the 
public fancy. Within five minutes of an execution the 
" chaunters " were along the streets celebrating the event 
and hawking the unfortunate wretch's " last dying confession " 
while he was still dangling at the end of the rope. 

On May Days Jack-in-the-Green and his rowdy train 
careered about the town from early morning until late in the 
afternoon. I have seen Jack arrayed in all his green glory 
dancing and frolicking along the Strand on the " chimney 
sweeps' holiday," celebrated with full honours in Trafalgar 

io6 MY LIFE 

Square. And there were no lions at the base of Nelson's 
Column then. 

In the days of my youth there was no compulsory education, 
and thousands of people, young and old, were unable to read, 
and among the masses it was quite as common to " make 
your cross " as to sign your name, but for the benefit of the 
young people of the masses who could read the market was 
flooded with objectionable literature. 

The " penny dreadful " of my youth was far more dreadful 
than the periodicals which earned the title in later days. 

The windows of newspaper shops of a certain class were 
filled with publications as objectionable in every way as the 
old vulgar Valentines that for years made the fourteenth of 
February a byword and a reproach. 

There were some dreadful stories published in penny 
numbers for the reading of the young who were permitted to 
choose their own literature. Two of the worst that I remember 
were " Charley Wag " and " The Woman with the Yellow 

These publications would to-day have been seized by the 
police within half an hour of their appearance. 

Stories for boys were of the bluggiest order. I remember 
" The Blue Dwarf " and " Varney the Vampire, or The Feast 
of Blood " ; and " Spring-Heeled Jack," popularly supposed to 
have been an eccentric Marquess of Waterford, was as great 
a hero as Dick Turpin. " George Barnwell " and " Moll 
Cutpurse " were, of course, classics. 

Some of the amusements provided for youth were as 
objectionable as the literature. Why the police permitted 
them to exist was a mystery to many even in the free and 
easy 'sixties. 

In the days of my young manhood such ghastly entertain- 
ments as " The Judge and Jury " presided over by " Chief 
Baron " Nicholson were still tolerated. Here the principal 
divorce cases of the day were tried over again, and the chief 
attraction was a degraded comedian who appeared as a 
female witness. 

There was a freedom of innuendo in the music-halls that 
would not be tolerated to-day at a cabman's " free and easy." 

For the class for whom Cremorne was too " swell " there 

MY LIFE 107 

was plenty of alfresco dancing, and at the Grecian, once the 
well-known Eagle, in the City Road, and at Highbury Barn, 
dancing was always one of the features of the evening's 

It was at the Grecian Theatre, admirably managed and 
run by George Conquest, that Paul Meritt and Henry Pettitt 
made their first start as dramatists. 

Paul Meritt was of Polish origin, but his mother was a 
Yorkshire woman, and his real name was Metzger. In his 
expansive moments he used to tell me that he was a descendant 
of Sobieski. 

When I first knew him he was a clerk at Thomas Tapling's, 
the great carpet warehousemen in Gresham Street. Henry 
Pettitt was a writing master at the North London Collegiate 

Meritt at the Grecian combined the post of local dramatist 
with that of giving the pass-out checks at the theatre exit for 
the interval in the grounds. 

George Conquest always had a strong company ; and many 
of them, especially those who played for him in pantomime, 
became later on popular West End stars. 

The story of how Paul Meritt took his name is characteristic 
of the man. He was an enormously stout man with a thin, 
high-pitched voice, not at all a bad fellow when you knew him, 
but eccentric in his habits. 

He could never resist the temptation of the food that he 
fancied, and I remember meeting him one day walking along 
the Strand with some pease pudding which he had purchased 
in a shop, and was eating from the paper in which it had been 
served to him. He had seen the pudding, fancied it, and was 
unable to resist the impulse. 

When he and Pettitt first came together to collaborate 
Meritt suggested that they should adopt stage names for the 
partnership, and that they should be known as Meritt and 
Success. He would be Meritt and Pettitt could call himself 

Pettitt, who had a keener sense of humour than Meritt, 
preferred not to tempt Providence. But Paul was Meritt to 
the end of his days. 

The only occasion on which I remember him using his own 

io8 MY LIFE 

name was when he took a house on Haverstock Hill which 
had a double frontage. One entrance was on the Hill and the 
other entrance was the Chalk Farm end of Adelaide Road. 

There was a brass plate on the Haverstock Hill door with 
" Mr. Paul Meritt " upon it, and there was a brass plate on 
the Adelaide Road door with " Mr. Paul Metzger " upon it. 
It was a bit of characteristic " swank " on Paul's part and 
that was all. 

There was no Dangerous Performances Act in those days, 
and there were plenty of exhibitions to which the people 
flocked attracted by the risk to life and limb which was run 
by the performer. 

Blondin on the high rope at the Crystal Palace is, of course, 
history. The hero of Niagara wrote his name upon the story 
of his time. 

But there was a female Blondin who was advertised to 
cross the river on a high rope from Cremorne, and young 
women were taken up into the clouds dangling from balloons 
and there cast adrift to descend in parachutes. 

At the Aquarium the famous Farini was running Lulu in a 
sensational act. Lulu was supposed at the time to be a 
pretty little girl, but as a matter of fact Lulu's name was 
Farini and Lulu was Farini's son. 

Zazel was another star of the old Aquarium days. Zazel 
was called " The Human Cannon Ball," and used to be fired 
from a cannon to the roof of the Aquarium, where she caught 
a trapeze. 

The Aquarium was started originally as an educational 
establishment more or less. Wybrow Robertson, the hus- 
band of Miss Lytton, the charming actress, was one of the 
founders, and Fatty Coleman was largely concerned in the 
management of the enterprise. 

There was a fellowship of the Royal Aquarium and a 
number of well-known men were elected to that honour, and 
in the comic papers the new distinction of " F.R.A." was 
worked for all it was worth. 

The Aquarium soon became a place of entertainment only. 

I have a tragic memory of the declining years of the 

I had a beautifully bred little bulldog and I named him 

MY LIFE 109 

Barney Barnato. Before I gave my dog that name I had 
asked the permission of the famous financier to do so. " Yes, 
certainly," was the reply, " but I hope he will never do any- 
thing to injure the name." 

" Make your mind easy," I answered. " My dog will 
never interfere with your career and I hope you will never 
interfere with his." 

The idea of anything he might do interfering with my 
dog's career amused Barnato immensely, and he repeated the 
joke to several of his friends. 

Now this is what happened. My little dog won his first at 
every show at which he had been exhibited, and the time 
came when he could be entered for the championship class. 

When the show day arrived my man took Barney down to 
the Aquarium early in the morning in order to have him 
benched at nine o'clock. 

At nine o'clock I woke up and found the usual cup of tea 
and the daily papers at my bedside. I opened the Daily 
Telegraph, and the first thing that met my eyes was the big 
headlines that announced that Barney Barnato had com- 
mitted suicide by leaping from the deck of a liner into the 

I sent a messenger off at once with instructions that Barney 
was to be removed from his bench and brought home. 

My little dog never had another chance of showing in a 
championship class. The famous financier whose name he 
bore had injured his career. 

One more memory of the Westminster Aquarium comes to 
me as I write. 

I went to the Aquarium to see a show to which I had been 

The first thing I heard when I entered the building was 
that Colonel North had died suddenly at his City office. 

Colonel North's name has always been associated in my 
mind with the death of the friend who was for so many years 
my chief, the editor of Fun and the editor of the Referee. 

On the day that Colonel North won the Jubilee, Henry 
Sampson, who was most anxious to see the race, was detained 
at home by some correspondence which had to be dealt with 
at once. 


It was a bitterly cold day with a biting east wind. Just 
when he had hardly a moment to spare to catch the train to 
Kempton, Sampson discovered that his overcoat had been 
accidentally torn, so instead of putting it on he flung it 
angrily on a chair and went off for a day's racing without it. 

In the bitter, searching wind of a winter that lingered in 
the lap of May, he caught a severe cold and he came home 
ill. The cold turned to double pneumonia, and within a 
week my old friend and chief had passed away. Colonel 
North's Jubilee win with Nunthorpe was the last race he ever 


IT was in the winter of 1880 that I accepted Alfred Hemming's 
invitation to go to Leeds and see him perform with the 
Waltons in the Christmas pantomime at the Grand Theatre, 
of which Mr. Wilson Barrett was then the lessee and manager. 

Mr. Wilton Jones was the author of the " Christmas Annual/ 1 
and before I went to the theatre Hemming brought him to 
see me at the Great Northern Hotel, and we had an interesting 

It was the first time I had been in Leeds, and I wanted to 
know more about it than I should see in the main thorough- 
fares. It was an early habit of mine to wander off the beaten 
track wherever I happened to find myself, and I have been 
able to see the hidden life of cities, the poverty areas, and 
the criminal areas, and the seamy side generally with much 
advantage to myself, and now and then, I hope, with advantage 
to the community. And in all my wanderings in black 
patches and through the danger areas I have never come to 
grief in the United Kingdom, and only once on the Continent. 
That was when I took Charles Warner to see the seamy side 
of Naples between midnight and 4 A.M. 

Mr. J. Wilton Jones, who had heard of my curious taste, 
had promised to show me round the less known quarters of 
Leeds. He was at that time on the Yorkshire Post. 

The Yorkshire Post was the only paper in Leeds that dealt 
with theatrical matters. The Leeds Mercury was then the 
property of Mr. E. Baines, who had the Puritan objection to 
the playhouse, and as a result no theatrical advertisements 
were accepted by the Mercury, and no notice of any theatrical 
performance was ever given so long as it remained under the 
Baines' control. 

The Grand Theatre, with its fine decorations and sumptuous 
appointments, was rather a novelty in Leeds in those days. 




Tragedians starring in the theatre used to complain that it 
took some time for the gods and goddesses to settle down to 
the first act, and the performers on the stage were occasionally 
interrupted by audible exclamations, such as, " Ay, look at 
t' gowd on t' ceilin', lass ! " 

Hemming had secured a box for me at the Grand, from 
which I could see in comfort the performance of the pantomime, 
which was Aladdin. 

It was a wonderful company. In addition to the Hemming 
and Walton family, it included Joe Eldred, of the cuffs and 
collars, one of the best Micawbers the stage had ever seen ; 
the famous sisters Dot and Minnie Mario, and, as the principal 
boy, the great pantomime and music-hall favourite, Jenny 
Hill, generally known and advertised as " The Vital Spark." 

Soon after the first scene a gentleman entered my box. He 
was a shortish gentleman with classical features and a romantic 
appearance. He introduced himself very much after the 
style in which Stanley introduced himself to Livingstone in 
Darkest Africa. 

" Mr. Sims, I presume ? " he exclaimed, and in answer to 
my polite bow of acquiescence, added, " I am Wilson Barrett/' 

That was my first meeting with the manager with whom 
I was to be associated for many busy and prosperous years. 

Barrett sat by my side and we watched the progress of the 
pantomime together. His principal concern, I remember, 
was that some of the ladies of the ballet would wear their own 
jewellery, and their own jewellery did not harmonize with 
their environment. 

Butterflies with ear-rings and dragon-flies with gold lockets 
round their necks distressed the artistic eye of the manager, 
and Wilson Barrett was always an artist in his productions. 

He did not tell me that there was a youth employed in the 
theatre who mixed the distemper for the scenic artists and 
designed comic masks, and whose name was Phil May. I 
learned that afterwards, when Phil May told me himself of 
the Leeds days, and how he had, as a boy, been employed at 
Archibald Ramsden's piano warehouse to polish the brass 
and run errands. 

Some time afterwards Phil May came to London, and for a 
while took to the stage. As a matter of fact, when my 

MY LIFE 113 

Romany Rye was running for a month at the Pavilion Theatre, 
Whitechapel, the two ruffians, Ginger Bill and the Scragger, 
were played by Leonard Merrick, now the popular novelist, 
and by Phil May. 

Barrett and I had a little chat, and he invited me to sup 
with him at his house on the Sunday evening. I went, and 
there found several members of the company who had been 
invited to meet me, and I was introduced to a lady for whose 
artistic ability I had from my early youth had a great 

The lady was Mrs. Wilson Barrett, who on the stage was 
the popular Miss Heath. Miss Heath was a finished actress 
and a finished elocutionist, and at one time held the appoint- 
ment of reader to Queen Victoria. 

Barrett took me into his studio and showed me some 
pictures he had painted himself, and duly impressed me with 
the fact that, above all things, he loved art. 

Up to this time I had only known him as supporting Miss 
Heath in Wills's play of Jane Shore, which had been a success 
both in town and in the provinces. 

After supper the conversation became general, and I only 
had about five minutes' private chat with Barrett, but during 
that five minutes he told me that he had heard from Hem- 
ming that I had a melodrama that I wanted to place. I 
told him that I had, and tried to tell him something 
about it. 

I did not succeed in telling him very much because there 
were about* fourteen people sitting round the table at the 
time, and the party was a merry one. But when I left 
Barrett that night to go back to my hotel he said, " I shan't 
forget about your drama, and perhaps later on I may ask 
you to let me hear a little more about it." 

I stayed in Leeds for two or three days and explored some 
of its " mysteries " with my friend Wilton Jones. 

But I saw no more of Barrett, and I heard nothing more 
from him for many months. When I did he had taken the 
Court Theatre, London, and was starring himself and Modjeska 
inW. G. Wills's /n. 

I came back from Leeds without the slightest idea that 
Wilson Barrett had been in any way impressed with the 


n 4 MY LIFE 

chat we had had after supper at his house about the drama. 
But I had not been idle. 

Early in the spring of 1881 Miss Kate Lawler, who had 
taken the Royalty, sent for me and asked me if I had a farcical 
comedy that would suit her. 

As a matter of fact I had not, but I was loath to lose the 
opportunity of a return to the little theatre where I had done 
so well with Crutch and Toothpick, so after a moment's hesita- 
tion I said I had a farcical comedy very nearly completed. 

The fair manageress told me that she must fix her pro- 
gramme up by the following Wednesday at the latest. 

So I went home it was then Saturday afternoon worked 
day and night on the French play, and by midday on Wednes- 
day I had completed the three-act comedy which I called 
The Member for Slocum. 

I made the hero a member of Parliament and the heroine 
a lady of pronounced views on the equality of the sexes, 
temporarily separated from her husband and devoting herself 
vigorously to a campaign for women's rights. 

The part of " Arethusa " that was the young lady's 
name was one that I felt convinced Kate Lawler would play 

The Member for Slocum was produced at the Royalty 
Theatre on May 8, 1881. Arthur Williams played the M.P., 
Miss Harriet Coveney played his mother-in-law, also a women's 
rights lady, who had sent her daughter's husband to Parliament 
in order to ensure the passage of the Bill for the emancipation 
of women ; and the husband of the heroine was played by 
Mr. Frank Cooper. 

It was a fine cast, and on the first night the play was an 
immense success. It had a long run at the Royalty with the 
burlesque of Don Juan as the after-piece, and the provincial 
rights were quickly snapped up. Mr. John L. Shine took 
the No. i rights, Mr. Haldane Crichton took the No. 2, Miss 
Eliza Weathersby took the American rights, and in America 
the M.P. was played by Nat Goodwin. 


I MUST have been working at hurricane speed in the year 
1 88 1, for two months before the production of The Member 
for Slocum at the Royalty I had written a burlesque for 
Alfred Hemming and the Walton Family. It was called a 
musical extravaganza. The title was The C or sican-Br other- 
Bab es-in-the-Wood, and it was produced at the Theatre Royal, 
Hull, on March 19, 1881. On April 25 a new farcical comedy, 
Mother-in-Law, which I had written for the Hemmings to 
play with the burlesque, had been produced at the Prince of 
Wales Theatre, Liverpool. 

There was one advantage about Liverpool in those days 
at least, I thought it an advantage. There was a comfortable 
little hotel near the theatre where up till about five o'clock in 
the morning you could always find amusing and interesting 
company in the smoking-room. 

I used to go to Liverpool by a train which left Euston 
about nine, and arrived at Lime Street at three o'clock in 
the morning. 

Going straight to the hotel and into the smoking-room I 
was sure of pleasant company for an hour before turning into 
bed. And as a rule the company was theatrical and jour- 

I used to be a bit tired after the long journey from town, 
and about four I usually felt like turning in. Alfred Hemming 
and George Walton who, if I was rehearsing in Liverpool 
with them, would meet me in the smoking-room to have a 
chat about business were generally ready to go at four, but 
if, as sometimes happened, Aynsley Cooke was among the late 
guests, he would plead with me to keep him company " a bit 

Aynsley Cooke, who was at that time touring with the 
Carl Rosa Opera Company, was such an interesting talker 



and so full of reminiscences that he generally managed to 
keep me till five. 

On one occasion we sat chatting till six, and then as I 
thought it was too late or too early to go to bed, we went 
for a blow on the landing-stage. 

Sometimes the landing-stage early morning blow would 
inspire a desire for something breezier still, and we would 
take the ferry to New Brighton, and explore and sample the 
early breakfast resources of Egg and Ham Terrace. 

Writing of the once famous promenade which was all 
Mersey on one side and all Menu on the other, reminds me 
that one day when I was travelling with Dan Leno to Glasgow, 
where Mr. Milton Bode was producing In Gay Piccadilly, a 
musical comedy of which I was the author, Clarence Corri the 
composer, and the great comedian the " hero " I mentioned 
my early experiences of New Brighton and Egg and Ham 
Terrace. The Terrace consisted principally of eating-houses 
and cheap restaurants of the " bob a nob " order in those 
days hence its name. 

" Ah," said Leno, " I have good reason to remember 
Egg and Ham Terrace. It was there that I made what was 
practically my first public appearance as an entertainer. 

" I had gone across from Liverpool one Easter Monday. I 
was a very small boy, very hard up, and very hungry, and I 
looked at the good things in the windows of the eating-houses 
with longing eyes. 

" Presently I passed a ' restaurant ' which was packed with 
people putting away the shilling dinner vigorously. 

" There was a piano inside, and one of the customers was 
trying to play it and trying to sing a song. But he couldn't 
play or sing for nuts. 

" Then an idea came to me. The proprietor was standing 
at the door looking up and down the parade with an eye to 
likely customers. I went up to him and said, ' Governor, do 
you want somebody to sing songs for 'em ? I can/ 

' Can you ? ' he said. ' Well, come in, and if you're all 
right I'll give you a bob to sing till three o'clock and a hot 
dinner when you've finished.' I went in and struck up, and 
all the people stared at me, I was such a bit of a boy. 

But I sang a comic song and did a bit of a dance on the 

MY LIFE 117 

end of it, and they banged the tables and nearly shouted the 
roof off I'd fairly hit 'em ! 

" I expected the proprietor to come and congratulate me, 
but he took me on one side and said : ' Very good, my boy 
but you make 'em too noisy. You see, my missis is lying 
dead upstairs, and it jars a bit on me/ 

" Of course I was very sorry and said I'd sing something 
quieter. So I started a sentimental ballad. 

" It didn't go at all, and all the customers began to get up 
and go. Then the proprietor came to me again. 

' Look here, my boy/ he said, ' you'd better give 'em one 
of the comic ones again. After all, she can't Hear ! " 

The last time I was at New Brighton it was quite a fashion- 
able resort, and the glory of Egg and Ham Terrace had 
apparently departed. But that was many years after I had 
produced Mother-in-Law at the pretty and popular little 
theatre in Clayton Square. I saw Mother-in-Law satisfactorily 
launched and I returned to London. 

On May 7, at the Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Wilson 
Barrett had produced Juana, by W. G. Wills, with Mme. 
Modjeska in the name part. 

Juana was not a financial success, so it was quickly shelved, 
and Barrett put on Bronson Howard's Banker's Daughter 
the James Albery version called The Old Love and the New 
with himself and Miss Eastlake as the hero and heroine. 

Presently Barrett heard that there was a chance of getting 
the Princess's. 

" I shall get the Princess's," he said to me. " It is as good 
as settled. I shall open there with The Old Love and the New, 
but I don't think it's quite strong enough for a run in a big 
house. What about the play you told me of at Leeds ? Can 
I have it to read ? " 

" Certainly. I'll send it to you to-night/' 

" Good. If I think it will suit the Princess's and we can 
come to terms, I'll do it." 

At last ! 

I knew it would suit the Princess's, and I was quite sure 
that so far as I was concerned there would be no difficulty 
about terms. I polished up The Lights o' London and sent it 
to Barrett to read, and hoped for the best. 


My hands were by this time pretty full, for although I had 
produced two new plays and a burlesque in three months, I 
was hard at work on Flats, " a farcical comedy in four stories," 
for Charles Wyndham. 

It was produced at the Criterion in July, and in the cast 
were W. J. Hill, Owen Dove, Herbert Standing, George 
Giddens, and Mrs. Alfred Mellon. 

I had at the same time undertaken to write a knock-about 
comedy for the Majiltons, which was due for production early 
in September. As a matter of fact I produced this comedy, 
which was called The Gay City, at the Theatre Royal, 
Nottingham, on September 8, with Charles Majilton, Lionel 
Rignold, and Ramsay Danvers in the principal parts. 

Then I rushed back to town for the dress rehearsal of 
The Lights o London, which was produced on the evening of 
September 10. 

1881 was my record year, for three weeks after the produc- 
tion of The Lights o' London at the Princess's a new three-act 
comedy of mine, The Halfway House, was produced by James 
and Thome at the Vaudeville. 

Not very long afterwards, in addition to a dozen touring 
companies, four West End London theatres were playing 
pieces of which I was the author. 

That was a record for which a few years ago I trembled 
when Sir J. M. Barrie was also being played at four London 
theatres. But the record has not yet been beaten. The 
brilliant author of Peter Pan only made a tie of it. 

The Lights o' London did not see the footlights of London 
until the autumn of 1881, and I became a farer in Fleet Street 
and a sojourner in the Strand in 1870. Before I come to the 
first night of The Lights o' London at the Princess's there are 
other reminiscences to be recorded. 

Now that as I write Germany is once more at war with 
France, memories of the terrible war that five and forty years 
ago cost Napoleon III his throne, sent the Prince Imperial to 
his death in Zululand, and made the Empress Eugenie an 
exile, come thick and fast upon me. 

In 1870 I took a summer holiday in Sweden. I travelled 
in various directions, but Stockholm fascinated me, and there 
I spent the better part of a month developing a partiality 

MY LIFE 119 

for Swedish punch and picking up sufficient Swedish to enable 
me, with my knowledge of German, to understand the plays 
I saw at the theatre. 

On one of the steamers that ply between Stockholm and 
Upsala I met the then heir to the Crown of Sweden and 
Norway, Prince Oscar. 

We were a small party of English. The Prince overheard 
us trying to ask a question of one of the officers in Swedish, 
but the officer failed to understand, so he came to our 
assistance, answering questions himself in excellent English. 

We had not the slightest idea who he was, and finding a 
Swede who talked such good English we plied him with 
tourist questions, all of which he answered smilingly. 

It was by accident, just before we disembarked at our 
destination, that we learnt that we had been making use of 
the Crown Prince. 

I was deputed to express to the Prince our regret for an 
innocent lack of reverence for royalty, and the Prince 
laughingly accepted the apology, and I bowed and backed as 
elegantly as I could, having the funnel just behind me, but he 
wished me good day and shook hands with me. 

Little did I dream that this kindly Prince would, when he 
was King of Sweden and Norway, make me a Knight of the 
Royal Order of St. Olaf for my services to one of his subjects, 
the Norwegian gentleman, Adolf Beck, whose case was one of 
the romances, or, rather, I should say, one of the tragedies, of 
our method of criminal procedure. 

My Swedish trip has remained engraved upon my memory 
because of its termination. 

I sailed from Gothenburg on board the Louisa Anna Fanny, 
bound for Millwall. We had a cargo of telegraph poles, cattle, 
and matches, and for some reason we lay and tossed about 
for six hours without making any progress. 

But we weathered the storm, passed through the French 
Fleet, which was pursuing a policy of masterly inactivity 
" somewhere in the North Sea," and arrived off Thames- 
haven about four o'clock on the afternoon of Sunday, 
September 3, and there a pilot came on board to take us up 
the river. 

He had brought with him a number of Sunday newspapers 

120 MY LIFE 

for the passengers, and also the latest news. There was a 
tremendous rush as the pilot's boat came alongside. 

Everybody on board was anxious to hear how things had 
been going in the theatre of war, and among our passengers 
were a dozen old Garibaldians who were going to join the 
French army. And it was from the pilot that September 
afternoon in 1870 that I heard that Sedan had fallen. 

It was soon after this that I made the acquaintance of 
Mr. Andrew Chatto, then the right hand of John Camden 
Hotten, the Piccadilly publisher, of whose business exploits 
and adventures an interesting volume might be written. 

It was Hotten who first introduced the stories and poems 
of Bret Harte to the British public, and the Rev. J. M. Bellew 
I " sat under him " at St. Mark's, Hamilton Terrace 
wrote the preface for the first volume. 

It was John Camden Hotten who published the first English 
edition of the ballads of Colonel John Hay, and he advertised 
the appearance of the volume in this highly effective manner : 

The dramatic force and vigour of these ballads will startle 
English readers. The last lines of the first ballad are simply 
terrific, something entirely different from what any English 
author ever dreamed of, much less put into print. 

The volume which contained this announcement contained 
a list of " other important new books," and from this I take 
the following : 

"Hotten's edition of ' Les Contes Drolatiques,' 'Droll 
Stories collected from the Abbeys of Touraine par Balzac/ 
with four hundred and twenty-five marvellous, extravagant, 
and fantastic designs by Dore, 125. 6d. Direct application 
must be made to Mr. Hotten for this volume." 

This edition was in French. Some time after the announce- 
ment appeared John Camden Hotten ceased to be a publisher. 

In connexion with his sudden disappearance from his 
business there is a story to be told. 

Ambrose Bierce had come to London, and at Tom Hood's 
invitation had done a good deal of work for Fun. Bierce was 
what might be called a weird and powerful humorist. In 
San Francisco his humour was occasionally staggering. On 

MY LIFE 121 

this side of the Atlantic it had to be diluted to the capacity 
of the English digestion. 

Bierce had brought over with him a lot of cuttings from his 
contributions to American newspapers. He showed them to 
John Thomson at the Unity Club, and Thomson said, " My 
boy, Hotten will jump at them." 

The cuttings were pasted in a book, and Bierce called the 
collection, " The Fiend's Delight," by Dod Grile. That was 
Bierce's nom de plume in 'Frisco. 

Hotten, after a little haggle, bought the book for twenty 
pounds, and gave Bierce a cheque. 

Bierce at that time had not a banking account in London, 
but Henry Sampson had. Sampson gave Bierce cash for the 
cheque and paid it into his account. It was returned by the 
bankers unpaid. 

When Bierce heard of this he was in a furious rage. He 
rushed up to Hotten's place in Piccadilly and demanded to 
see him. He was told that Mr. Hotten was not well and had 
not been to business for a day or two. 

" That's not true ! " exclaimed Bierce. " He's keeping out 
of my way." And off he rushed to Hotten's residence to see 
if he were there. 

The door was opened by a pale-faced girl. 

" Where's Mr. Hotten ? " said Bierce. 

" If you'll follow me, sir," said the girl, " I'll take you to 

Bierce followed the girl up the stairs. She pushed a door 
open and stood aside. 

Bierce entered the room and saw what he supposed to be 
Hotten lying in bed. Waving the dishonoured cheque in his 
right hand, Bierce approached the apparent invalid and 
exclaimed, " Look here, Hotten ! what the devil does this 
mean ? " Then he started back with a cry of horror. 

John Camden Hotten was lying there, but he was dead. 

The girl, it seems, was expecting the undertaker to come 
and measure the corpse. She had mistaken Bierce for that 
functionary, and so without demur had led him up into the 

Ambrose Bierce was my colleague and frequent companion 
in the middle 'seventies. Later on he returned to the States 



and did some very fine work in short stories which have been 
published in volume form under the title of "In the Midst 
of Life " and are among the finest short stories in the English 

In the matter of short weird story writing many American 
critics reckon him only second to Edgar Allan Poe. 

For many years I heard of him occasionally from friends 
on the other side, but he disappeared in Mexico in the year 
1913, and has, alas, never since been heard of. 

It was John Camden Hotten to whom John Thomson, 
when he was Swinburne's secretary, took Adah Isaacs Menken 
and the poems which she published under the title of 
" Infelicia." 

Many years ago my friend Andrew Chatto gave me the 
whole of the original manuscript and the cuttings from which 
" Infelicia " was set up, and I have them now. 

But my reminiscences of Adah Isaacs Menken, actress, 
poetess, and beautiful woman of many adventures, are for 
another chapter. It is the story of the " Contes Drolatiques " 
that I am about to tell. 

When Hotten died Dan Chatto nobody ever called him 
Andrew found a partner and took over the business, and 
thus established what is now the famous firm of Chatto and 

Hotten had made a considerable reputation by his issues, 
more or less authorized, of the American humorists who came 
along in the 'sixties, not in single spies, but in battalions. It 
was Hotten who gave us " Art emus Ward among the 
Mormons " f or a shilling. 

He also brought out an annual which he called The Piccadilly 
Annual. It included contributions from Dickens, Thackeray, 
and other masters which had been lifted, or, shall I say, 
transferred, from other sources. 

I have somewhere the indignant letters which Dickens's son 
and Thackeray's daughter sent to Tom Hood, whose father 
had also suffered from the Hotten habit. 

Soon after he had acquired the business and all Hotten's 
copyrights some of them were copywrongs, I am afraid 
Chatto, looking over the Dore illustrations to the " Contes 
Drolatiques," had an idea. 



MY LIFE 123 

" This book is a masterpiece," he said to himself. "It is 
by Balzac, and the illustrations are by Dore*, but it is in 
French. What a fine sale there would be for it if it were in 
English ! " 

There had been talk for some time of an English version of 
the " Contes Drolatiques." Sala had been consulted about 
it by Hotten, but Sala said he thought it was impossible to 
translate the work it was written in old French and pre- 
serve the atmosphere of the Moyen Age, which was one of the 
charms of the original. 

A translation into modern English would be undesirable. 
To tell the tales in the English of the nineteenth century 
would make them offensive, not only to the student, but to 
the ordinary reader. 

But Chatto still had his idea. He knew that I was familiar 
with the old French authors, and one day he came to me 
with a proposition. If I would translate the " Contes Drola- 
tiques " for him he would pay me seventy-five pounds for my 

I wanted the seventy-five pounds, and I appreciated the 
chance of doing something which would be considered in 
literary circles a tour de force. 

I accepted the commission on condition that my name 
should not appear on the title page. There was no false 
modesty about my desire to avoid publicity. 

I desired the translation to remain anonymous for family 
reasons. An English version of the " Contes Drolatiques " 
was not the sort of book that a boy would present to his 
mother and exclaim proudly, " Alone I did it ! " 

Chatto agreed, gave me at my own request twenty-five 
pounds down on the signing of the contract and an under- 
taking to pay me the other fifty on the delivery of the manu- 

I wanted the fifty, so I set to work steadily to complete the 
translation. But I had to read myself into the atmosphere, 
so for some weeks I read steadily the old English authors 
whose phraseology would be in harmony with the period and 
environment of the stories of the Abbeys of Touraine. 

I did a good deal of the work on my desk in the City, and 
I put in a lot of extra time at home in the evening. I did not 

124 MY LIFE 

get to the Unity Club till 12.30. That was the time when 
the members began to drop in and the company became 
sociable and sunny. 

It was a long job and a very difficult job, but three months 
after I had signed the contract the whole of the manuscript 
was in Chatto's hands, and in due course he published it. 

It was a beautiful and artistic volume with 425 illustra- 
tions by Dore", complete and unabridged, price 125. 6d. The 
binding was a beautiful red, and there was plenty of gold on 
it. It looked just the sort of book to adorn the drawing-room 

Chatto published and advertised the book in the ordinary 
way, and he subscribed it to the trade in the ordinary way. 

Many of the London and provincial booksellers, attracted 
by the name of Dore", ordered a considerable number. 

Now the " Droll Stories " are droll, but they are not stories 
for maidens and boys. Of that some of the family booksellers 
who ordered copies were evidently not aware. But a few of 
them soon found out. 

Some of them returned the copies with a note to the effect 
that at the time they had given the order they were unaware 
of the nature of the work. But some of the booksellers, 
remaining in ignorance, exhibited the volume in a way to 
attract the attention of their customers. And there was 

There was a firm in the Midlands who did a large business 
with schools. One day a schoolmaster entered their shop, 
and attracted by the cover and the illustrations ordered a 
dozen of the books, which he wanted for prizes for the boys. 
It is needless to say that he had not gone beyond the cover in 
making his selection. 

Fortunately, just before prize day arrived the schoolmaster's 
wife accidentally picked up one of the volumes, opened it and 
glanced at the contents. She had not glanced far before she 
uttered an exclamation of horror and rushed into her husband's 

" John ! " she exclaimed, " what on earth have you brought 
a book like this into the school for ? Are you mad ? " 

The schoolmaster took the book from his wife's hands, 
looked into it, and instantly dispatched an indignant letter 

MY LIFE 125 

to the bookseller, bidding him send a messenger at once to 
remove the books from the premises. 

The bookseller wrote a letter to Chatto, and the hand of 
the writer evidently trembled with indignation, for there was 
a blot upon every page of it. 

Then there was further trouble, and the second trouble was 
caused by that eminent author and critic, John Ruskin. 

Chatto had placed below his advertisement of the book a 
quotation from Ruskin. 

The extract had reference to the art of Dore. By the 
omission of a line and the substitution of asterisks, it appeared 
as though Ruskin was referring specially to the " Contes 

Ruskin saw the announcement and wrote an indignant 
letter to Chatto. He also sent a letter to one of the literary 
newspapers in which he charged Chatto, the publisher, with 
" mutilating criticism for the purpose of advertisement/' 

Then the secretary of a certain society wrote to Chatto and 
said that they had had complaints with regard to the book. 
They would rather, if possible, avoid prosecution in the case 
of a work by a famous French author, but they strongly 
advised Chatto to withdraw the book from circulation. 

Chatto thought very highly of the book himself, but he had 
to acknowledge that he had made a mistake in issuing it as 
an ordinary book for general circulation, and so he reluctantly 
came to the conclusion that the best thing he could do would 
be to follow the advice of the amiable secretary. 

Chatto removed the book from his list and sold the whole 
thing, I believe, to an American firm. 

Last year the gentleman at the British Museum who is 
responsible for the compiling of the reading-room catalogue 
wrote to me and said that it was generally understood that 
I was responsible for the English version of the " Contes 
Drolatiques." Had I any objection to my name being 
placed against the work in the British Museum Catalogue ? 
I said that I had none, and in the new catalogue it is there. 

But this is the first time I have told the true story of my 
first book. 


Bur let me return to the Lights o' London. Barrett read the 
play, suggested a structural alteration in the last act which 
was undoubtedly of advantage to the play, accepted it and 
began to discuss terms. 

Up to that time I had only received for my theatrical work 
a fixed payment or a nightly fee. I had been compelled at 
last to leave the City. I could not possibly put in eight 
hours a day in the City, write a play a month, and con- 
tribute regularly to three weekly papers. 

The fees I had so far received had not been sufficient to 
clear off the trifling sum of a thousand pounds for which I 
had in some way managed to become indebted to certain 
gentlemen who only charged sixty per cent, interest for the 

When Wilson Barrett said he would accept The Lights o' 
London I saw my chance. It might be the means of enabling 
me to pay up and live happily ever afterwards. 

So I said, " Well, suppose you give me five hundred pounds 
down and " 

Barrett did not let me finish. 

" I don't want to pay anything down," said Barrett, " or 
make a hard and fast arrangement. If the play should fail 
the arrangement you* suggest would be unfair to me. If it 
should succeed it would be unfair to you. I will suggest an 
agreement to you that will be fair to us both/ 1 

He called in an attendant and said to him, " Ask Mr. 
Herman to come to me/' and presently there entered upon 
the scene a middle-aged foreign-looking gentleman with 
rather pronounced features, and one eye. This was Mr. 
Henry Herman, Wilson Barrett's business manager, a quaint 
character and a remarkable personality. 

" Daddy " Herman that was the friendly name we gave 


MY LIFE 127 

him at the Princess's was an Alsatian. He was educated 
at a military college, but went to America, where he fought 
in the Confederate ranks. It was during the Civil War that 
he lost an eye and supplied the deficiency with a glass one. 

Daddy Herman, after many romantic adventures, found 
himself with his share of the fees of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones's 
immensely successful Silver King rolling in, a comparatively 
wealthy man. 

He furnished a house at Hampstead in gorgeous style, and 
he began to collect valuable books and grangerize them. He 
carried out this part of his programme with such excellent 
judgment that his library when sold at Sotheby's realized 
sixteen thousand pounds. 

But it had to be sold, and I fancy before his death poor 
Herman had had to sell or assign the rights he held in The 
Silver King and in other plays. He spent too lavishly, and 
the summer days did not last. 

Although Herman was an excellent linguist, his Alsatian 
accent always hovered about his English, and he hardly ever 
spoke a sentence without ending it with the words " See, 
see ? " 

It was Herman who was responsible for the libretto of 
The Fay o' Fire, a romantic opera with Edward Jones as the 
composer. It was produced at the Opera Comique in 
November 1885, and in it Miss Marie Tempest made what 
was practically her London debut. 

After he left the Princess's Herman collaborated with 
another old soldier, my friend and for many years my confrere 
on the Referee, David Christie Murray. With Murray he 
wrote several novels, the better known of which are, perhaps, 
" One Traveller Returns " and " The Bishop's Bible." 

One year Herman and Christie Murray, in order to work 
at ease, took a villa somewhere between Nice and Monte 
Carlo. It was situated in a lonely spot on the hills, and after 
walking home to it late one night from Monte Carlo Herman 
and Christie Murray decided that it was " not convenient." 
So, although they had paid two months' rent in advance, 
they wandered down the mountain side and took rooms in 
the town. 

Herman explained the situation to me when I met him one 

128 MY LIFE 

night at a cafe chantant in Nice, and long before he had said 
" See, see ? " half a dozen times I did see. 

Neither of the two old soldiers relished the idea of that 
lonely walk to their mountain home in the dead of night. 
Their nervousness was quite justified, for the lonely roads 
between Nice and Monte Carlo were frequently the scenes of 
robberies with violence, and in one or two cases the victims 
had been murdered. 

But Monte Carlo is a long way from Oxford Street. Let me 
return to the Princess's. 

Herman, while Barrett was talking with me, had been 
preparing an agreement for our joint approval. Barrett read 
it, said he thought that would do, and handed it to me to 
consider. This was the principal portion of the agreement : 

" Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, W. 

June 2oth, 1881. 

" It is agreed between us that you cede to me and I take 
from you the sole right of producing your new play, now 
entitled (provisionally) The Lights o' London, in all English- 
speaking countries on the following terms : I agree to produce 
the said play at the Princess's Theatre and elsewhere, and 
will pay you the following fees as consideration of this agree- 
ment : 

" In London. If the sums taken as receipts do not exceed 
600 per week of six performances, 2 2s. per performance. 
" If over 600 up to 700, 5 per cent, of the gross receipts. 
" If over 700 up to 800, 7J per cent, of the gross 


" If over 800, 10 per cent, of the gross receipts. 
" In the Provinces. Five per cent, of all sums up to 50 
per night, and 10 per cent, of sums after 50 per night have 
been taken by the theatre. 

" This agreement to remain in force for three years after 
the first production of the play." 

It was a much better agreement than I should have thought 
of suggesting, but I did not give that fact away to my 

" Oh, all right," I said to Barrett, " if it suits you^let it be 

MY LIFE 129 

that way." That it was that way I have every reason to be 

A few weeks later the melodrama whch had been submitted 
to half a dozen London managers and politely rejected by 
them was put into rehearsal at the Princess's, and on Sep- 
tember 10, 1881, it was produced. 

It was produced with a wonderful cast. Barrett played 
the hero, Miss Eastlake the heroine, George Barrett played 
Jarvis, the showman, and dear old Mrs. Stephens, who was 
always referred to as " the only Quakeress on the stage " she 
wore something very like a Quaker bonnet to the last was 
the showman's wife. 

All the little characters, and there were many, were 
admirably played. In two of them, Philosopher Jack and 
Percy de Vere, " Esquire," Mr. Charles Coote and Mr. Neville 
Doone made striking successes. And the villain was played 
by a young actor from the provinces named E. S. Willard. 

When the curtain fell that night there was no doubt about 
the success of The Lights o' London, and I went home with a 
light heart. 

I was living in the Camden Road. It was a fine night, and 
I walked from the Princess's. At the top of Park Street I 
came upon a huge crowd and the familiar sounds of fire engines 
at work. The Park Theatre was in flames, and before the 
morning it had been burnt to the ground. 

It is one of those odd coincidences of " three " that my 
first three melodramas should each of them have been 
associated with a fire. 

On the first night of The Lights o' London I saw the Park 
Theatre burnt down. When The Romany Rye, my second 
drama, was playing at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, the scenery 
caught fire and about a hundred and twenty-seven people 
perished in the catastrophe. My third melodrama was In 
the Ranks. The theatre in which it was produced in New 
York was very shortly afterwards burnt down. 

The Lights o' London has been played somewhere on the 
face of the earth ever since that September evening in 1881. 
This year the play celebrated the thirty-fifth anniversary of 
its birth. 

During the present year I have been receiving fees for its 


i 3 o MY LIFE 

performance in Danish in Copenhagen, and it is to be played 
in Stockholm and in Christiania. 

After the Princess's production I received charming letters 
of congratulation from Dion Boucicault, F. C. Burnand, and 
H. J. Byron, who, because of their then prolific output for 
the stage, were known as " The Three Busy Bees." 

Byron wrote, " I rejoice that the ranks of the men who 
work honestly for the stage have received such an addition, 
and I am delighted also for the sake of Barrett, the straightest 
and best of all good fellows." 

And the straightest and best of good fellows Wilson Barrett 
was to the end, though he had at times a terribly uphill task. 

The Princess's had for many years been unfortunate. 

It was built by a Mr. Hamlet, a wealthy jeweller of Prince's 
Street, Piccadilly, in 1828. Before it was two years old it 
was burnt down, and the loss of fifty thousand pounds broke 
the jeweller. 

The next tenant, Mr. Reinagel, lost a lot of money. A 
manager named Maddox fought manfully at the Princess's, 
but he had to confess himself beaten. 

Charles Kean made many brilliant successes. At the end 
of the season of 1858 he publicly announced that he had lost 
four thousand pounds over that season alone. In 1859 ne 
gave it up. 

It brought no luck to a young actor named Henry Irving 
in 1859. He made his London debut there in a piece called 
Ivy Hall, which was a failure, and he went back disheartened 
to the provinces for another seven years. 

Fechter made a great reputation at the Princess's but no 
profit. In 1865 it had a run of luck with Boucicault 's Streets 
of London and Arrah na Pogue, but Tom Robertson, the most 
successful author of his day, met misfortune there in 1867. 
The theatre closed suddenly in 1868, and George Vining, the 
manager, returned the few advance bookings. 

Then Webster became the manager and made no money. 
Chatterton succeeded him and lost his money. 

Walter Gooch ran it for a time with fair success, rebuilt it, 
and the adjacent houses fell into the excavation, and the 
claims ultimately ruined Gooch. % 

Then came Wilson Barrett and The Lights o' London. 


Barrett made a fortune during the first years of his tenancy 
of the Princess's with The Lights o' London, The Romany Rye, 
The Silver King, and Claudian, but he entrusted the bulk of 
it to a friend to invest for him, and lost it all. 

When he was still at the Princess's he had to call a meeting 
of his principal creditors. He promised to pay everybody in 
full, and eventually he did. But for years he had a heavy 
burden of debt on his shoulders. 

The turning in the long road of ill-luck came at last. He 
wrote and produced The Sign of the Cross. And fortune 
smiled again. He not only paid off the whole of his debts, 
but he left a comfortable sum. 

He died after an operation for a painful internal complaint, 
but he was cheery to the last. He had booked a tour, but the 
week before it should have started his case had become so 
serious that he was told that only an operation would save 
his life. 

" You will have to be opened to-morrow/' said the surgeon. 

" Ah," replied the sick man, " and I was to have opened 
myself on Monday." 

But when the Lights was produced there was no cloud in 
the sky. The theatre was packed night after night to its 

I have said that Barrett might have bought all my rights 
for a thousand pounds, and if he had made a cash offer 
probably for less. My first week's royalties were a hundred 
and fifty pounds, and within a fortnight a thousand pounds 
had been paid down on account of American rights, and in 
the States the play ran for many years, and the receipts were 
then a record. 

In England two travelling companies toured the provinces 
with it, and the No. i company would stay in a town for a 
month or six weeks playing to record business. 

In the provinces an admirable young actor named Leonard 
Boyne played Barrett's part. Leonard Boyne is an admirable 
young actor still, but he was even younger then than he is 

The Lights o' London, before Wilson Barrett accepted it, 
had been offered to four London managers and two provincial 

132 MY LIFE 

Walter Gooch, when he finally rejected it, said he had a 
play which he felt convinced was a better one. It was a 
play called Branded, and it ran twelve nights. 

The Gattis, with whom I was soon afterwards happily and 
prosperously associated at the Adelphi, refused it because 
they pinned their faith to a play called The Crimson Cross. 
This was produced about the same time as the Lights, and in 
it were a galaxy of stars with Adelaide Neilson as the bright 
particular one. 

But The Crimson Cross was a failure, and after a short run 
was never heard of again. 

Adelaide Neilson was a beautiful woman and a fascinating 
actress. Her career was one long romance. 

Adelaide Neilson's real name was Elizabeth Ann Brown. 
She was the illegitimate daughter of a handsome Spaniard 
and an Englishwoman, and was born in a little village some 
few miles out of Bradford. 

Her mother subsequently married a Mr. Bland, and 
Elizabeth Brown became known as Lizzie Bland, and as 
Lizzie Bland she was a nurse-girl, and at one time a " filler " 
at a woollen factory. 

When she was about sixteen she seems to have discovered 
the true story of her birth, and not wishing to be an encum- 
brance, or for some other reason, she ran away from home 
and spent her first night lying on a bench in the park. 

She presently, it is said, became a barmaid in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Haymarket, but the story of Adelaide Neilson 
as told by those who knew her intimately is as follows : 

She is said to have been found in the park by an officer in 
the Carabineers who took compassion on her and accommo- 
dated her with a bed in his chambers. 

Clement Scott, who knew as much about her as any one, 
said that she was educated by a generous and kindly disposed 
gentleman, well known to fame, who gave her her first start 
in life. 

In 1864 she married Mr. Philip Henry Lee, the son of a 
Northamptonshire parson, and down at the quiet vicarage 
of Stoke Bruern, Adelaide Neilson passed the happiest days 
of her life, idolized by the villagers and taking a part at the 
Sunday school. 

MY LIFE 133 

The marriage did not, however, turn out happily, for in 
the year 1876 Miss Neilson obtained a divorce from her 
husband in the Supreme Court of New York, the husband 
and wife being both naturalized American citizens. 

In 1865 she played Juliet at the Royalty Theatre, and no 
one took very much notice of it. Her popularity commenced 
when she played Nelly Armroyd at the Adelphi in Lost in 
London, and gradually she came to her own. 

She died very suddenly in great agony in a fashionable 
cafe* in the Bois de Boulogne, and in spite of every effort on 
the part of the Paris correspondent of an English newspaper, 
her body was taken to the Morgue. 

By her will she died a comparatively rich woman, possess- 
ing something like thirty thousand pounds she left a con- 
siderable sum of money to a dramatic critic, Mr. Joseph 

Clement Scott, to whom she had not left anything, said 
something on the subject, and the Referee commented on the 
nature of his remarks. What Henry Sampson wrote was 
considered by Clement Scott to be libellous. Scott brought 
an action, and the case, which lasted for several days, attracted 
a considerable amount of attention. 

The jury awarded Scott fifteen hundred pounds, which was 
considerably more than the amount Adelaide Neilson had left 
Joe Knight. 

Acting in the interests of my editor, and being friendly 
myself with Scott and Sir George Lewis, his solicitor, I was 
able to bring about a friendly understanding between the 
parties, which materially reduced the amount for which my 
chief had to draw a cheque. 

But I have wandered far from the Lights. The Press 
notices of my first melodrama were not only kindly, but 

There were two exceptions, and one gentleman said that 
the play would probably have a short run, but while it 
remained in the bill it would serve a useful purpose in attract- 
ing a certain number of undesirable men and women from the 

My friend Edmund Yates cut that notice out and sent it 
to me with a characteristic letter : 

134 MY LIFE 

" MY DEAR SIMS," he wrote. " This notice is written 

by . I have always found it useful to know my enemies. 

I give you this man's name that you may know one of yours." 

I don't think I troubled much about that notice. I have 
even forgotten the name of my enemy, so I cannot say if he 
came to a bad end. 

But one thing that was said by a critic about the Lights 
still remains in my memory. Mr. William Archer, in analysing 
my first melodramatic contribution to the stage, said I was 
" Zola diluted at Aldgate Pump." 

I don't know whether it was meant as a compliment, but 
I took it as one, and I am still grateful to the famous critic 
for it. 


WITH The Lights o* London in the full tide of success in 
London, in the provinces, and in America, I had more time 
to devote to certain social questions in which I was deeply 

I was still " a bit of a Radical," as the phrase went, and I 
accepted invitations to lecture on Sunday evenings at certain 
Radical clubs and for certain Radical societies. 

I wonder, by the by, whether my old friend John Burns 
remembers the night at Claremont Hall when an aged and 
eccentric Anarchist, who used to wear a red tie and a slouch 
hat and sell regicidal pamphlets on Sunday afternoons in 
Trafalgar Square and shout " Death to kings ! " at Sunday 
evening democratic debates, leapt on the platform at the 
close of a lecture and proceeded to demand the blood, not 
only of the entire Royal Family, but of all the members of 
the British aristocracy ? I remember the kindly way in 
which " The People's John " appealed to the old gentleman 
to be merciful. 

The Sunday concert and the Sunday theatrical performance 
had not then captured the fancy of working-class clubland. 

I had joined a committee in Southwark, of which Mr. Arthur 
Cohen, K.C., was the president, and my friend Lord Southwark, 
then Mr. Richard Causton, the vice-president. And "our 
Mrs. Burgwin " was also a member. It was a society that 
devoted itself to the improvement of working-class conditions 
in the Borough. 

My connexion with Southwark arose through a Sunday 
evening lecture at a Radical club. My subject was " The 
Poetry of Poverty," illustrated by recitations from my own 
" Dagonet Ballads." 

After the lecture a young man who had been an attentive 
listener came to me and said, " My name is Arthur B. Moss. 


136 MY LIFE 

I am a School Board officer for the poorest area in the Borough. 
If you would like to see some of the prose of poverty I shall 
be glad to take you round." 

I accepted the offer gladly and spent a day or two in the 
old Mint, and then, like Oliver Twist, I asked for more. 

But I have never cared to keep acquired knowledge to 
myself, and so I looked about for what the dear old penny-a- 
liners of my youth used to call " a medium of publicity." 
Fortunately, at that time Mr. Gilbert Dalziel, who had 
started a new illustrated paper, the Pictorial World, sent for 
me and asked me if I had an idea for a series of articles which 
would illustrate well. 

It was in that way that " How the Poor Live " came to be 
written and illustrated by Fred Barnard, the artist chosen by 
Mr. Dalziel. 

It was not a pleasant journey that we made together, for 
the conditions prevailing at that time in the poverty areas of 
London were terrible beyond description. 

We went into dens of dirt, disease, and despair, and explored 
the terrible tenement houses from cellar to garret. 

We smoked like furnaces the whole time, but we did not 
smoke cigars or silver-mounted briars. In order to avoid all 
suspicion of swank and to make the inhabitants feel more at 
home in our company, we smoked short clay pipes and coloured 
them a beautiful black in the course of our pilgrimage of pain 
through Poverty Land. 

These illustrated articles made something of a sensation. 
The clergy preached sermons upon them, as they did many 
years later when on Citizen Sunday the subject chosen for 
pulpit discourse in a hundred churches was my " Cry of the 

The way in which men and women were herded together in 
the vilest and most insanitary conditions in the capital of the 
British Empire touched the public conscience, and for a time 
" slumming " became fashionable. 

Eventually I was invited to be a witness before the Royal 

Commission on the Housing of the Poor, of which the Prince 

of Wales was the president, and Sir Charles Dilke, I think, 

the chairman. 

Lord Salisbury, who was a member of the Commission, 

MY LIFE 137 

invited me to enlighten the commissioners as to the meaning 
of the phrase " 'appy dosser," and Mr. Samuel Morley tried 
to make me say that drink was the cause of poverty, and 
pounded away at me like an Old Bailey cross-examiner until 
Lord Salisbury came to my rescue and contended that I had 
fully answered the question when I said that drink was one 
of the causes of poverty, but that poverty was one of the 
causes of drink. 

For a whole month I explored the poverty areas and the 
criminal areas of South London, and the criminal areas 
fascinated me. 

I saw pickpockets, thieves, and burglars in their more or 
less domestic circumstances. I rapidly acquired a knowledge 
of thieves' slang and I made the personal acquaintance of 
several desperate characters. I went into their homes with 
" authority." Only in one instance did I and my companion 
meet with a really rough reception. A man named Balch 
threatened to " knife " us if we didn't get downstairs " quick." 

We wanted to inquire after Master Balch, who had not been 
to school for days. A few days later we again knocked at 
Mr. Balch's door. We hoped that only his wife would be at 

A rough-looking woman came to the door. We told her 
politely that we wanted to see Mr. Balch, her husband 
which, of course, we didn't. 

" Oh, you want 'im, do yer ? " said the lady, recognizing 
the School Board officer. " Then yer can't 'ave 'im ! " 

" Why ? " 

" Why ? 'Cos God's got 'im ! " 

She flung the door wide, and there on a bed lay the husband, 

The little boy who had failed to come to school grew up 
badly. Some years later he and two companions robbed and 
murdered in broad daylight a Dr. Kirwan, who was roaming 
about the Borough the worse for liquor. 

I made the acquaintance of the captain of a local gang of 
young ruffians known as " The Forty Thieves." 

One afternoon I was talking to a woman who lived in a 
room that looked on to a backyard in which a few nights 
previously a man had killed his wife. 

138 MY LIFE 

The wife had, it seems, shouted " Murder ! Help ! Mur- 
der ! " when she was attacked ; but not one of the inmates 
of the house had gone to her assistance. 

" Why on earth," I said to the woman, " didn't you do 
something when you heard that poor creature shouting for 
help ? " 

" Lor* love yer, sir ! " was the reply, " if we was to get out 
o' bed every time we 'card murder shouted in this 'ouse we'd 
be 'oppin in and out all night." 

My experiences and adventures in the Borough started me 
upon what has been good-humouredly called " a life of 
crime," for from that moment the criminal became to me a 
fascinating study. 

It was my pursuit of this study that earned me whatever 
reputation as a criminologist I may have, and brought me 
later on not only into close connexion, but frequently into 
close personal touch with the authors of some of the most 
sensational crimes of the day. 

And it was my early experience of the criminal areas of the 
south of London that first brought me into friendly relation- 
ship with the authorities, and later on with the police, and 
this friendly relationship enabled me to acquire at first hand 
and from personal observation knowledge which has been 
invaluable to me as a journalist and of considerable service 
to me as a dramatist. 

When I put a doss-house on the stage it was a real doss- 
house, and the characters I put in the doss-house were men 
and women I had met in a doss-house. 

To get the doss-house in The Trumpet Call the doss-house 
in which, it will be remembered, Mrs. Patrick Campbell met 
with a startling misadventure on the first night I took the 
scenic artist and the producer into one of the worst in South 
London, and I introduced them to the company sitting 
round the coke fire as friends of mine who were forming an 
Anti-Landlord League. 

But I had come into touch with a murder mystery long 
before I was a journalist and a dramatist. 

Some time in the 'sixties my father had taken a house at 
Margate for us for the autumn holidays. 

On the jetty, where I used to disport myself daily, I con- 

MY LIFE 139 

stantly met two elaborately dressed and elaborately made-up 
middle-aged ladies who were arrayed in the most youthful 

They used to walk up and down the jetty simpering on 
either side of a tall, well-built, good-looking man, who always 
in the morning wore a yachting jacket and cap and white 

The ladies were known as " The Canterbury Belles/' They 
came from Canterbury, and the big, good-looking man was 
Mr. Frederick Hodges, the Lambeth distiller, who had a mania 
for fires and fire-engines. 

He was as fond of fire-engines and travelling on them as 
the then Duke of Sutherland, who made Stafford House so 

It was at Stafford House that Chopin played to Queen 
Victoria, and it was when Queen Victoria bade the Duchess 
good-bye on this occasion that Her Majesty remarked, " Now 
I go from your palace to my house." 

The Canterbury Belles were the Misses Hacker. Years 
after I had seen them so frequently at Margate one of them 
died, and the other came to London and took up her abode 
in apartments in a house in Euston Square, and the servant 
of the house was one Hannah Dobbs. 

After living for some time at this house Miss Hacker 
disappeared, and all trace of her was lost. 

A year or two after her disappearance her body was 
accidentally discovered in the coal-cellar. 

As the result of police investigation the servant, Hannah 
Dobbs, was arrested and charged, but was acquitted. 

Another murder in which I was greatly interested was that 
committed by Percy Mapleton Lefroy. 

Lefroy, with the name of Percy Mapleton on his card, 
called upon me some time before he committed his crime. It 
will be remembered that he murdered a gentleman named 
Gold, who was travelling in the same carriage with him in a 
Brighton train. 

Lefroy, a dramatist of sorts, came to see me about a play. 
I was out of town at the time, and the next thing I heard of 
Lefroy was that he had been to the Era office and seen my 
friend Mr. George Spencer Edwards. 



Lefroy wrote the pantomime for the Croydon Theatre, and 
I have the book of it in my Criminal Museum. 

When he was lying in the condemned cell he wrote the 
most passionate love-letters to a charming actress whom he 
had only seen on the stage. 

According to one of his many confessions it was while he 
was on his way to Brighton to try and sell a play to the 
manager of the Brighton Theatre that Lefroy found himself 
in a railway carriage alone with Mr. Gold, and murdered and 
robbed him. He said that he had previously provided 
himself with a revolver in order to commit suicide if he 
failed to sell the play. 

Lefroy is the only murderer I can recall who came to see 
me before committing his crime. I have had among my 
visitors three men who came to see me after they had been 
found guilty of murder and had served the commuted sentence. 

Two are alive and living respectably ; the third came to 
see me directly he was released. 

I made an appointment to see him again, and I promised 
to try and get permission for him to emigrate, that he might 
reinstate himself in his profession. He did not keep the 
appointment. Shortly after our interview he was found dead 
in his bed, having taken poison. 

Because for many years I spent a portion of my summer 
and autumn holidays at Malvern and I knew Dr. Gully, I was 
intensely interested in the Bravo case. 

And so, for the matter of that, was everybody else. I shall 
not soon forget the wild rush there used to be for the Evening 
Standard, with its verbatim report of the proceedings on the 
days that Florence Bravo was undergoing the terrible inquisi- 
tion into her " past." 

Who gave her husband the poison which caused his death 
is still a frequently discussed question among criminologists. 
Sir George Lewis told me that he knew. 

In the famous Penge case, where the Stauntons and Alice 
Rhodes were charged with the murder of Louis Staunton's 
wife, I defended Alice Rhodes vigorously in the Press. Mr. 
Justice Hawkins sentenced all four to death at midnight at 
the Old Bailey. It was one of the most terrible scenes ever 
witnessed in that grim Hall of Tragedies. 

MY LIFE 141 

Charles Reade took the case up and sat on the steps of the 
Home Office until he had procured Alice Rhodes's release. 

Within a very short time of being sentenced to be hanged 
by the neck, Alice Rhodes was behind the bar of a dining-hall 
run by E. T. Smith, who in his day had been a police constable, 
the lessee of Drury Lane Theatre, the founder of the Alhambra, 
the proprietor of a restaurant on premises which were Crock- 
ford's and are now the Devonshire Club, lessee of His Majesty's 
Opera House, the lessee of the Lyceum, proprietor of Cremorne 
Gardens and Highbury Barn, the proprietor of the Sunday 
Times, and lessee of Astley's Amphitheatre. 

One of the Stauntons died in prison. The sentence had 
been commuted to penal servitude for life. The other two 
are spending the evening of their days in peaceful surroundings. 

As a journalist I followed the Jack the Ripper crimes at 
close quarters. I had a personal interest in the matter, for 
my portrait, which appeared outside the cover of a sixpenny 
edition of my " Social Kaleidoscope/' was taken to Scotland 
Yard by a coffee-stall keeper as the likeness of the assassin. 

On the night of the double murder, or rather in the small 
hours of the morning, a man had drunk a cup of coffee at the 
stall. The stall-keeper noticed that he had blood on his 
shirt-cuffs. The coffee merchant said, looking at him keenly, 
" Jack the Ripper's about perhaps to-night." 

" Yes/' replied the man, " he is pretty lively just now, isn't 
he ? You may hear of two murders in the morning." Then 
he walked away. 

At dawn the bodies of two women murdered by the Ripper 
were found. 

Passing a newsvendor's shop that afternoon the coffee-stall 
keeper saw my likeness outside the book. 

" That's the man ! " he said, and bought the book. He 
took it first to Dr. Forbes Winslow, who was writing letters 
to the papers on the Ripper crimes at the time. 

Forbes Winslow, who knew me, told him it was absurd, but 
the man went off with the book to the Yard, and Forbes 
Winslow wrote to me and told me of the interview and the 
coffee-stall keeper's " mistake." 

But it was quite a pardonable mistake. The redoubtable 
Ripper was not unlike me as I was at that time. 

142 MY LIFE 

He was undoubtedly a doctor who had been in a lunatic 
asylum and had developed homicidal mania of a special kind. 

Each of his murders was more maniacal than its prede- 
cessors, and the last was the worst of all. 

After committing that he drowned himself. His body was 
found in the Thames after it had been in the river for nearly 
a month. 

Had he been found alive there would have been no mystery 
about Jack the Ripper. The man would have been arrested 
and tried. But you can't try a corpse for a crime, however 
strong the suspicion may be. 

And the authorities could not say, " This dead man was 
Jack the Ripper." The dead cannot defend themselves. 

But there were circumstances which left very little doubt 
in the official mind as to the Ripper's identity. 

I met Henry Wainwright twice. It was some time before 
he murdered Harriet Lane in the brush warehouse in White- 
chapel. He was a temperance lecturer and reciter, and was 
frequently engaged at mechanics' institutes to give an 
evening's entertainment. 

I met him once at a lecture and once at a music-hall, and 
from friends of his after his arrest I learnt that they always 
looked upon him as a " good fellow." 

Wainwright committed his crime cleverly, buried the body 
of his victim under the floor of a room in his warehouse, and 
there it would probably have remained undiscovered had he 
not had to give up the premises owing to financial difficulties 
in which he had become involved. 

When he knew that he had to quit the premises he took 
the body up and made a parcel of various parts of it. He 
made the fatal mistake of taking the parcel out into the street 
with him and leaving it in charge of a young man while he 
went to fetch a cab. 

The man's suspicions were aroused, he opened the corner 
of the parcel, and what he saw caused him to drop it with a 
cry of horror. 

Wainwright came back with the cab, put the parcel into it, 
and drove off. Then the man, recovering his self-possession, 
rushed wildly after the cab, shouting, " Murder ! Stop him ! 
Stop himj " 

MY LIFE 143 

Wainwright was hanged, but there were people who doubted 
whether he was the actual murderer. It was thought it 
might have been his brother who killed the girl at Wainwright 's 
instigation. This brother, Thomas Wainwright, was sentenced 
to seven years' penal servitude as an accessory after the fact. 

Wainwright did not seem to me at all the man to murder 
a young and attractive woman. It was his desire to keep 
well in the eyes of the world that caused him to get rid either 
directly or by the hand of another of the woman who was 
threatening to expose the double life which this " good 
fellow " was leading. 

It is always well to have friends at court, and I have always 
had good friends at the Central Criminal Court. I have 
known most of the famous Old Bailey barristers for the past 
forty years. 

I remember the days when the photograph of my old friends 
Montagu Williams and Douglas Straight, standing side by 
side, was as prominent in the shop windows as the Gaiety 
favourites used to be. 

I don't suppose that many people now remember that 
Montagu Williams, when he was an actor, played the counsel 
for the defence in the trial scene of Effie Deans at Astley's in 

In the days of the Serjeants-at-Law, Serjeant Ballantine 
was as popular a personality as any romantic actor of the 
period. The names of Serjeant Parry, Serjeant Sleigh, and 
Serjeant Cox were household words, and Serjeant Cox was 
the founder of a number of periodicals which were highly 
prosperous in his day and are still valuable properties. 

Ballantine I knew personally. I met him first at Bonn 
when he was on his way to Wiesbaden. He came to see his 
son Walter, who was a fellow-student of mine. Later on I 
used to see him at Evans's Supper Rooms and in theatreland. 

Ballantine made his first big success in the prosecution of 
Muller for the murder of Mr. Briggs on the North London 
Railway. Muller was magnificently defended by Serjeant 
Parry, but the facts " kicked the beam " and Muller died 
on it. 

Ballantine received the record fee of 10,000 for defending 
the Gaekwar pf Baroda. He made a vast sum of money at 

144 MY LIFE 

the Bar, but he got rid of it with both hands, and died a poor 

Sir Henry Hawkins was offered the brief to defend the 
Gaekwar of Baroda, but declined it and suggested Ballantine. 
When the latter returned from India, Hawkins said to him 
in the hearing of others, " Well, I hope you have paid all 
your debts." 

" No, I haven't/' said Ballantine. " I stopped in Egypt 
for a bit and had bad luck at the races at Cairo and at the 
tables at Alexandria." 

Hawkins almost flew at him. " Well, if I had been in 
your shoes and good luck had pulled me straight, I should 
never have frittered away the spoils donkey-racing in Egypt ! " 

I have listened again and again to the deadly cross-examina- 
tion of Mr. Henry Hawkins, and I have seen Mr. Justice 
Hawkins and his canine companion in court together many a 
time and oft. 

I sat not at the feet but at the back of Sir Charles Mathews, 
now the Director of Public Prosecutions the Swami called 
him " the Apostle Mathews " from the time he made his 
debut in the old-fashioned court with the window through 
which the prisoner in the dock would sometimes gaze so 
wistfully at the blue sky and the old tree where the birds 
sang gaily their song of liberty and the joy of life, and I 
witnessed his final triumph as counsel for the Crown in the 
new court that might have been lifted bodily out of a modern 
French drama. 

I watched Sir Frank Lockwood make his sketches in court, 
sketches that are so " strictly prohibited " to-day. 

I listened while Dr. Kenealy, in defending the Tichborne 
Claimant in the criminal case, shook the dewdrops from his 
mane, and while Sir John Coleridge favoured the Claimant's 
witnesses in the civil case with the ever-to-be-famous " Would 
you be surprised to hear ? " 

I saw the last of the " Claimant." He died in lodgings in 
Marylebone, and one Sunday morning I sat alone by his side 
in the Marylebone Mortuary and took a final look at the 
familiar features before the coffin lid was screwed down. On 
that lid he was described as " Sir Roger Charles Doughty 


MY LIFE 145 

The methods of modern counsel are very different from the 
brow-beating tactics of Dickens's days. Mr. C. F. Gill could 
cross-examine an obviously hostile witness with stately 
courtesy though deadly effect, and he and Mr. Grain had, 
as have Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Muir to-day, the " gentle " art of 
breaking down the defence of the man who did not want to 
be hanged. 

How admirable a counsel for the defence Mr. Marshall Hall 
has proved himself from the now distant days to the year 
that saw " Justice as usual " administered to the Bluebeard 
of the Bath is part of the history of the Old Bailey. 

I heard Banner Oakley, of the Co-operative Credit Bank, 
sentenced to five years' penal servitude. He managed to 
secure quite a considerable sum by offering ten per cent, for 
all money deposited at his bank. When he was arrested he 
had a hymn-book in his black bag. 

I heard a good deal of the evidence in the case of Mme. 
Rachel her name was Leverson who promised her female 
dupes to make them beautiful for ever. It was evidence that 
set the whole world laughing, but Mme. Rachel did not even 
smile when she got five years. 

I heard Jabez Balfour sentenced, and I have the gold 
watch with an inscription to the effect that it was presented 
to him on his twenty-first birthday. It stopped for the first 
time since it had been in his possession at the moment the 
jury brought in a verdict of guilty. 

By a curious coincidence I had just looked at that gold 
watch to refresh my memory as I was writing these lines 
when the evening newspapers were left at my house, and I 
opened the Evening News to read of the sudden death of 
Jabez Balfour in a railway carriage. 

I heard Dr. Whitmarsh sentenced to death for the murder 
of Alice Bayley by an illegal operation, and Dr. Whitmarsh 
told me many years afterwards, when he had served the 
time to which his sentence had been commuted, that he lay 
in the condemned cell at night and imagined he could hear 
the workmen making ready the gallows on which he was to 
be hanged. 

I followed the evidence against Mrs. Pearcey, " Mary Eleanor 
Wheeler," accused of having at her house in Kentish Town 




murdered Mrs. Hogg and Mrs. Hogg's baby, and I have 
somewhere a copy of the Spanish paper in which, at the 
condemned woman's request, this advertisement was inserted : 
" M. E. C. P. Last wish of M. E. W. Have not betrayed." 

James Canham Read, who murdered Florence Dennis at 
Southend because he was leading a treble life, was tried at 
Chelmsford, and I was not present, but I knew a great deal 
about Canham Read and his career. 

He was a particularly cool customer, and almost to the last 
retained his complete self-possession. 

Every day during his trial he ordered ham sandwiches to 
be sent to him, and he particularly impressed upon the officer 
entrusted with the order that the ham should be cut from the 
knuckle end. 

I have been present at most of the famous trials in the 
" new " Old Bailey, but these are as fresh in the general 
memory as they are in mine. 


IN the year that I was born two great singers made their first 
appearance in London. One was Jenny Lind and the other 
was Marietta Alboni. 

Jenny Lind married the famous pianist and composer 
Otto Goldschmidt, and retired from the operatic stage in 1851, 
so that I do not suppose I ever heard her sing. But there 
were two pictures that hung in my bedroom when I was a 
little boy, and I have never forgotten them. 

One was a picture of Jenny Lind as " The Daughter of the 
Regiment," and the other was a picture of Alboni in La 

Because I looked at these pictures the last thing every 
night, and because they were the first things that greeted my 
waking eyes they roused my childish curiosity. 

Because my people were great theatre-goers and loved the 
opera I used for years after Jenny Lind had retired to hear 
stories of her marvellous gifts, and of the wild sensation her 
first appearance in London had created. 

It was in the year 1847, * ne vear * na t I was born, that 
Jenny Lind made her first appearance in London at Her 
Majesty's, and took the town by storm. 

Forty years later, in October 1887, my mother was staying 
at Malvern, and I was on a visit to her. On Sunday morning 
I strolled away among the hills in the direction of the British 
Camp, and the result of that Sunday morning walk was that 
I was the first person in the world, outside her own family 
and her immediate attendants, to know that the soul of the 
sweetest singer of our time had passed away. 

And I gave my experience in the Referee. 

Last Sunday I spent at Malvern, and as the morning 
was a beautiful one I set out for the hills and got as far 

148 MY LIFE 

as the British Camp, the great hill on which the Britons 
under Caractacus made their last stand against the 
Romans. As I stood on the height and looked out far 
over miles and miles of forest and plain the sight was 
glorious ; but though far away in the distance like a streak 
of silver in the sunlight I could see the Bristol Channel and 
also the spires of churches in Worcestershire, Gloucester- 
shire, and Herefordshire, yet I had eyes for one place 
only, and that was a place which lay right at the foot 
of the hill on which I stood. 

It nestled among lofty trees all glowing with autumn 
tints. It was a lonely, lovely, romantic spot just the 
place where one would think some one who had seen all 
the gay glories of the world would come to to spend the 
evening of life in rest and peace. And it was indeed 
the home of one who had tasted all the joys the world 
had to give. 

I was looking down upon the romantic home of Jenny 
Lind. But my thoughts were sad, for within that sweet 
nest the " Nightingale " lay mute and motionless and nigh 
her end. All around was still and beautiful, the lovely 
peace of a Sabbath morning was upon hill and dale. 

My thoughts wandered far away to the great cities and 
splendid theatres and opera-houses. I saw the diva with 
the great world at her feet ; I heard the roar of voices 
and the thunder of applause, and then I let the vision 
pass away and turned and looked at the little nest far 
from the haunts of men so peaceful that no sound of 
voice or footstep broke the silence of the hills and dales 
so lonely that the eye wandered far and near and could 
see no sign of life. 

And it was there that the world-famous songstress, the 
glorious Jenny Lind, was passing slowly to the golden 
songland which lies beyond human ken. 

And even as I watched the blinds were slowly drawn to 
shut out the light of day. 

Jenny Lind was dead. 

A few days later I received a charming letter from Jenny 
Lind's son : 

MY LIFE 149 

" November g, 1877. 

" DEAR SIR, Although I am personally unknown to you, 
I cannot refrain from writing to thank you for the very kind 
way in which you have written about my dear mother, 
Madame Jenny Lind Goldschmidt. On that lovely Sunday 
morning which you described, we who loved her were 
assembled in that little house under the Malvern Hills and 
heard from the doctors summoned for consultation that her 
end was near how near we now all know. 

" Yours faithfully, 


On the morning that I set out for the last home of Jenny 
Lind I had said good-bye at the Belle Vue Hotel to the 
members of a concert party who had sung in Malvern the 
previous evening. Among them was Michael Maybrick, who 
in professional life was Stephen Adams, and who was the 
brother of the Mr. Maybrick whose death brought the fair 
neck of his widow perilously near to the fatal noose and 
another of the party was Madame Antoinette Sterling, whom 
I met then for the first time, and who afterwards sent me 
many charming letters, and on one occasion sang for me or 
rather for the Referee Children's Fund at a concert given at 
the National Sporting Club. I shall not soon forget the 
amusement with which the famous contralto listened to the 
songs of the music-hall stars. I suppose it was the only 
occasion on which Madame Antoinette Sterling appeared on a 
programme with the Brothers Griffiths. 

In Malvern the house in which Jenny Lind died was known 
as " Johnson's Folly." 

Johnson was the nephew of a Lord Mayor of London. 
When he took possession of Wind's Point he had 15,000 a 
year. He spent every farthing, and died poor. 

His mania was inventing extraordinary things. To improve 
the view from his house he attempted to remove one of the 
Malvern Hills. The house was a most eccentric arrangement, 
whirligigs, queer doors, and chimneys of his own design. He 
would tread on a board and that caused the windows to open 
or shut and the shutters to open or close, as the case might be. 

Among his inventions was a patent costume. You put 

150 MY LIFE 

your hands through a hole in your bedding and your arms 
through sleeves attached to the bedding, pulled a string, and 
you were fully dressed. 

There was another Swedish nightingale who charmed our 
ears in the days of long ago. She was the daughter of a 
poor forester, and was born in his hut in the woods of 

The little girl had taught herself to play the fiddle, and one 
day she and her young brother went barefooted to the village 
fair and played and sang some of the national songs. The 
result of the concert was three-halfpence. 

They were so elated with their success that they tramped 
on from the village fair to a near town where a much larger 
fair was being held, and there the little Swedish girl sang her 
songs and accompanied herself on the fiddle. 

A gentleman standing in the crowd exclaimed, " What a 
lovely voice this child has 1 " And this gentleman he was 
a judge, and a good judge, too gave the little girl sixpence, 
and the rest of the bystanders contributed twopence. 

And then the children trotted back home with the, to them, 
fabulous sum of ninepence halfpenny in their possession. 

It was the foundation of the little girl's fortune. The 
gentleman found out where she lived, went to the hut, and 
persuaded the little girl's parents to let him take charge of 
her musical education. 

When I saw her she was a beautiful woman, slim and tall, 
with lovely fair hair and marvellous grey-blue eyes. She was 
the ideal Marguerite and the ideal Ophelia. 

Forty years have passed since London first fell under the 
spell of her enchantment. I have but to close my eyes to see 
her as the flaxen-haired Marguerite now. 

The little girl who left her father's hut to play and sing at 
the fair, and who made ninepence halfpenny by her first 
professional performance, was Christine Nilsson. 

I have said that thanks to the Italian gentleman who lived 
near Leicester Square I met some of the most famous operatic 
artists of the 'sixties and 'seventies. And thanks to the 
Italian gentleman we had a box for the opera on many 
occasions during the season. 

I met Mario first in Paris. My father had taken a flat for 

MY LIFE 151 

the family for two months in the Rue Neuve St. Augustin. It 
was in 1867 and I was twenty then. 

Our Italian friend had accompanied us. He put up at the 
Hotel de Bade, and there one day he invited me to lunch and 
took me afterwards to call on Mario. 

I have always remembered the circumstances because we 
were kept waiting in the salon for some considerable time 
before the great singer appeared. Mario was in the habit of 
keeping everybody waiting. He was never known to be 
punctual to an appointment, and he even arrived late when 
he had been invited to Windsor Castle. 

But my Italian friend was indignant at the delay. When 
twenty minutes had passed and we were still waiting he 
exclaimed : " Ah, it is too much ! The damn fellow keep me 
waiting while he put on his orders. Why does the fool do 
that when I have see him in his bath ? " 

Mario, though the son of a distinguished father, was at 
one time in such poor circumstances that he lodged where 
seven people slept in a room. And he was one of the 

Mario and the mother of his children, Mme. Grisi, sometimes 
earned as much as eighteen thousand pounds in a single year, 
but at the end he was again so poor that Mr. Arthur Chappell 
got up a grand concert for his benefit. 

Mario was a terrific smoker, and even when he was singing 
at the opera his servant stood at the wings to take the glowing 
cigar from his master's mouth when the artist had to go on 
the stage. 

It was while we were staying in Paris that year, by the by, 
that our Italian friend got us seats for the first night of a 
new opera bouffe by a brilliant musician, who called himself 
Offenbach, but whose name was Levy. It was a triumph for 
all concerned, and especially for Mademoiselle Hortense 
Schneider, who played La Grande Duchesse. 

But I must not begin to tell Paris stories. These are 
reminiscences of London. 

My fifty years' reminiscences of Paris, where I was at one 
time as faithful a theatre-goer as I was in London, must wait 
until I have time to write them. They go back to the days 
when Dejazet was still a popular idol, when Sarah Bernhardt 

152 MY LIFE 

was a slim ingenue, when Judic was a joy, and Therese was 
achieving her early triumphs. 

I knew the Italian opera and its stars in those days pretty 
well, but I knew the English opera artists better. 

I was a constant attendant at the English opera when it 
was run under the Pyne and Harrison management. We had 
English composers then who could produce serious opera and 
light opera of the higher class, composers who believed in 
" tune," and wrote for the people's pleasure as well as for the 
critics' praise. 

And there was a great English singer whom I knew better 
than any of the foreign stars. His name was John Reeves, 
and it was John Reeves for a good many years until he 
developed into Sims Reeves, and the evolution of the Sims is 

As plain John Reeves he studied music, then he became a 
medical student. He very soon grew tired of it and turned 
to the stage. 

He made his first appearance in London at the Grecian 
Theatre, and his name in the programme was " Mr. Johnson." 
Then he got a singing part in Macready's productions at 
Drury Lane, and he became John Reeves. About this time 
a lady vocalist suggested to him that he should put the name 
of Sims in front of his Reeves, as it would make it more 

When he next appeared at Drury Lane Jullien was the 
manager and Hector Berlioz was the chef d'orchestre. As 
Mr. Sims Reeves the young tenor made a huge success, and 
never looked back until age robbed him of his voice, and then 
evil times came. 

A great benefit was got up for him by Mr. Arthur Chappell, 
and he was granted a Civil List pension. 

I met Sims Reeves three or four times at various hotels 
when he was on tour in the provinces, and in this way came 
to know him personally. 

Whenever he travelled his devoted first wife was most 
solicitous for his health. She wanted if possible to avoid the 
" severe cold " which interfered so frequently with the tenor's 
concert engagements. Everything that the tenor used in the 
way of linen, including table-cloths, serviettes, and towels, was 

MY LIFE 153 

specially carried and specially aired under the personal 
supervision of Mrs. Sims Reeves. 

The devoted wife died in 1895, and Sims Reeves some time 
afterwards married a fine-looking young woman who was his 

It was rather a shock to the worshippers of the famous 
tenor to find Mrs. Sims Reeves playing later on in a provincial 
pantomime, and exciting some comment by the nature of her 

I wonder how many opera-goers remember the night when 
Sims Reeves, playing Robin Hood, vaulted lightly over the 
garden wall and struck the fair Maid Marian quite by 
accident a violent blow on the nose which caused it to bleed 

It was the first time Maid Marian had shed her blood for 
Robin Hood, but the love duet was duly sung, though Maid 
Marian had to keep her handkerchief well in hand during its 

The last time I heard Sims Reeves it was at a Sunday 
afternoon concert at the Queen's Hall. Alas, he was a name 
in the programme and nothing more. 

I have told the story of the evolution of the Sims as the 
famous tenor's middle name. It was an evolution by which 
I was later on personally affected. 

After I had come into the limelight I frequently had the 
Reeves added to my Sims, and this used to happen long after 
the famous singer had passed into the Great Silence. 

I was invited to the complimentary luncheon given to 
Mr. de Sousa, the celebrated American conductor, when he 
first appeared in London. On the card placed on the luncheon 
table to indicate the seat allotted to me I was astonished to 
find the name of a dead man. My seat at the de Sousa 
luncheon at the Trocadero was allotted to " Mr. Sims 


HENRY BROUGHAM FARNIE, who when I first knew him was 
the editor of a musical paper owned by Messrs. Cramer, was 
responsible at one time for nearly all the opera bouffe and 
comic opera imported into this country from Paris. 

All the Offenbach operas crossed the Channel in opera bouffe 
days, but his masterpiece, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, only came 
to us in English quite lately. 

I saw it on its production in Paris in 1880, and I urged 
Farnie again and again to do an English version, but he always 
told me that it would not suit the English taste. How 
mistaken he was my friend Mr. Robert Courtneidge has 
triumphantly proved at the Shaftesbury. 

Farnie's version of Genevtive de Brabant, produced in 
1871, took all theatrical London up Pentonville Hill to the 
Philharmonic, once a music-hall run by Sam Adams, and 
afterwards by Charles Head, a bookmaker, and Emily 
Soldene as Drogan, Marius as Charles Martel, and Bury 
and Marshall as the two gendarmes became the talk of the 

Farnie, in order to be near the new home of opera bouffe, 
where he contemplated further productions, took rooms in 
the City Road. 

But he was busier at the West End than he was at Islington, 
and half the theatres of London succumbed in turn to the 
charm of light opera. 

Violet Cameron ! What happy memories old playgoers 
have of her in La Mascotte, Boccaccio, Rip van Winkle, Falka, 
The Sultan of Mocha, and Morocco Bound. 

Florence St. John was always one of light opera's most 
charming exponents. In 1868 she was singing with a diorama. 
In 1875 she was singing at the Oxford Music Hall as Florence 
Leslie. Then she was with the Blanche Cole and Rose Hersee 


MY LIFE 155 

Opera Companies, and in 1878 she came to the Globe Theatre 
as Germaine in Les Cloches de Corneville. 

What old playgoer does not remember charming " Jack " 
St. John in Madame Favart, in Les Manteaux Noirs, as 
Boulotte in Barbe-Bleu, in Nell Gwynne, and as Bettina in 
La Mascotte. 

Both Florence St. John and Violet Cameron came later to 
the Gaiety to play in Faust Up-to-date, by Henry Pettitt and 
myself. But that is a later reminiscence. 

The Mansell Brothers their name was Maitland and they 
came from Athlone made a huge success at the Lyceum with 
Herve's Chilperic and Little Faust in 1870, and Jenny Lee, 
who was afterwards to win undying fame as " Jo/' was in 
Le Petit Faust a cheeky little crossing-sweeper. 

There was a beautiful lady named Cornelie d'Anka in the 
Mansell Company, and one night Dick Mansell performed a 
daring feat. 

Some unwelcome admirer presented a pistol at the head of 
the fair lady. Forward sprang the gallant Dick and wrested 
the deadly weapon from the ruffian's grasp. 

It was whispered some time afterwards that the deadly 
weapon that the aggressor held aloft was really a black 

There was a time when Arthur Roberts, the gay commander 
of H.M.S. Spooferies, was the comedian par excellence in 
musical comedy. I remember him at the old Middlesex 
Music Hall in the early 'seventies, and I have a happy recollec- 
tion of his Dr. Syntax in Mother Goose at the Lane. 

At the Avenue I remember sitting one night in a box with 
Henry Labouchere and Mrs. Labouchere and Walter Ballan- 
tine, who was then M.P. for Coventry. We had dined at 
the House of Commons, and Ballantine had taken us after- 
wards to see Roberts. I fancy the piece was La Vie. 

Labby was one of the few people who could not or would 
not see the popular comedian's humour. 

When Blue-Eyed Susan, by Pettitt and myself, was put on 
in '92 at the Prince of Wales's, Arthur Roberts was the 
Captain Crosstree, and I remember the mixed feelings with 
which I regarded his attempt in the middle of a sentimental 
scene to light his pipe from a beacon on the back-cloth. 

156 MY LIFE 

They were joyous days at the Strand in '73, when Farnie 
gave us Nemesis, and Marius was in his glory vowing vengeance 
on his enemy with a toy cannon which he pulled across the 
stage with a piece of string. 

The Alhambra early in the 'seventies ran big spectacular 
musical shows, of which the best remembered are perhaps 
The Black Crook and Le Roi Carotte, and Kate Santley was the 
bright particular star. 

And there was a Miss Rose Bell, and the Santleyites and 
the Bellites made war upon each other in the gallery o' nights. 

And there were the John Baum days, with the ladies' glove 
stalls at the back of the promenade. But that is another 

At the Alhambra they gave us La Belle Helene and La Jolie 
Parfumeuse. At the Opera Comique we had La Fille de 
Madame Angot and Orphee aux Enfers, and W. S. Gilbert and 
Frederic Clay gave us Princess Toto at the Strand, and Kate 
Santley played the Princess, and it was that which brought me 
some years afterwards to the Royalty with my first comic 
opera, The Merry Duchess. 

It was when Gilbert and Sullivan came to the Opera 
Comique that the English librettist and the English composer 
began to come to their own once more. 

Frederic Clay, the composer, who had won golden laurels 
with his songs, " She wandered down the Mountain Side," 
" Sands o' Dee," and "I'll sing thee Songs of Araby," and 
had carried off the musical honours in Princess Toto, wanted 
to write another comic opera. 

In 1882 Miss Kate Santley, who was at the Royalty, sent 
for me and asked me if I would work with Clay. 

The result of the collaboration was The Merry Duchess, 
which was produced at the Royalty on April 3, 1883. Clay's 
music was delightfully tuneful, and the Duchess ran her 
merry career for many months. 

Kate Santley and Henry Ashley kept us laughing all the 
time, and Kitty Munroe was as charming as she was a merry 
Duchess, and was wonderful in her wooing of her favourite 
jockey, played by Mr. F. Gregory. There was a young 
actor in the cast named Fred Kerr, who played a small 

MY LIFE 157 

When I first went to the Royalty in '79 Augustus Harris 
was the acting manager, and he became the lessee of Drury 

When I went to the Royalty with The Merry Duchess, the 
acting manager was Cecil Raleigh, and some years afterwards 
he was helping to write the dramas at old Drury. I waited 
for thirty years, but I got to the Lane at last, though it was 
with pantomime and not with drama. 

When I next met Cecil Raleigh it was at the Pelican Club 
one Sunday night. It was the night of the fight between 
Jim Smith and Peter Jackson. 

Raleigh was then the secretary of the club, which was being 
run on full-dress lines by my old friend Ernest Wells. 

I left the club about four o'clock in the morning, and 
Raleigh left with me, and we walked up Regent Street 

From that 4 A.M. " walk and talk " in Regent Street ensued 
a collaboration which lasted for a good many years, and 
resulted in The Grey Mare, with a lovely lying part for Charles 
Hawtrey, The Guardsman, at the Court, with Arthur Cecil, 
Weedon Grossmith, Ellaline Terris, Caroline Hill, and Isabel 
Ellison, who afterwards became Mrs. Raleigh, in the cast ; 
Fanny, at the Strand, Little Christopher Columbus, at the 
Lyric, with May Yohe in the name part and Ivan Caryll's 
music a triumph of tunefulness, and Uncle John at the 

In one of our plays there was a charming young actress. 
Some years afterwards she was found lying dazed and 
apparently destitute among the tramps who bivouacked in 
Regent's Park and were known as the " Park gipsies." 

But let me return to my first musical composer, Frederic 
Clay. That also, alas, is a story that becomes a tragedy at 
the finish, and it is a story in which the Alhambra Theatre is 
in a way concerned. 

My earliest recollection of the Alhambra is the black eye 
I got there during one of the rowdy rushes that used to be a 
feature of the 'Varsity Boat Race night. 

The famous Frederick Strange was at that time the presiding 
genius of the establishment. Strange had been a waiter in 
the chop room at Simpson's. He took up a refreshment 

158 MY LIFE 

contract at the Crystal Palace, made a lot of money, and took 
the Alhambra from the first proprietor, Mr. William Wild, 
who had introduced Leotard to the British public. 

Strange came on the scene in 1866, and made ballet the 
great feature of the Alhambra entertainment. 

I met Strange frequently when he was apparently one of 
the most successful amusement caterers in London, and I 
have often stopped to gaze at the splendid pair of high- 
steppers he used to drive in his phaeton, and at the delightful 
danseuse who was generally to be seen seated in the phaeton 
by the side of her admiring manager. 

The last time I met the once dashing impresario he was the 
steward on board a penny steamer on the Thames. 

The Alhambra in time became a limited company with 
directors of credit and renown who sat nightly in a directors' 

The late Maharajah Duleep Singh was often the guest of 
the directors at that time. He was the devoted admirer of a 
pretty young lady in the ballet. 

I met once or twice in the later years a nice old lady who 
was the mamma of the danseuse, and who always referred to 
the object of the Maharajah's admiration as "my daughter, 
the princess." 

The princess one day presented her mamma with a lovely 
sealskin coat which was rather out of fashion. 

Mamma accepted it and wore it home, but it was a long 
way to Camberwell from the West End, and mamma, when 
she got to the south side, found herself hungry. 

Somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Walworth Road 
she passed a fried fish shop, felt tempted, entered, and sat 
down. The cooking of the fish and chips had heated the 
atmosphere to an extent which made the wearing of a sealskin 
coat undesirable, so the princess's mamma took it off and laid 
it down beside her. 

When she had finished her fish she strolled out into the 
street, but, not being accustomed to luxuries, she forgot to 
pick up the hundred-guinea gift which her daughter had that 
afternoon bestowed upon her. When she realized what had 
happened she went back to the fried fish shop, but the 
princessly gift had disappeared. 

MY LIFE 159 

When I heard the story from the lips of the lady herself 
my memory wandered back to the days when the late 
Maharajah was such a faithful habitue of the Alhambra. 

Everybody knows what the can-can is to-day, but it was 
first introduced into England by Mile. Finette, who made a 
tremendous sensation with it at the Alhambra in '66. 

Later on we had a young lady who did another sort of 
can-can and was popularly known as " Wiry Sal." 

One of the earliest sketches, a form of entertainment which 
is now part of almost every music-hall programme, was given 
at the Alhambra in '66, and was called " Where's the Police ? " 
and the characters were played by Messrs. d'Auban, Warde, 
Fred Evans, and Miss Warde and Mrs. Evans. 

The piece was produced at the Alhambra by John 
Hollingshead, and a summons was immediately issued. 

The magistrate decided against the management. A fine 
of 20 a night, full penalty, was inflicted, and the piece was 
ordered to be withdrawn. 

Although a Parliamentary Committee soon afterwards 
recommended that music-halls should be allowed to play 
short dramatic pieces, over half a century elapsed before the 
performance of such plays in halls of variety was legalized. 

My personal connexion with the Alhambra began much 
later on. After The Merry Duchess Frederic Clay and his 
collaborator became very close friends. 

We were in Paris in December '82, sitting outside the 
Cafe de la Paix at the green hour, when we opened the Daily 
Telegraph and read that the Alhambra had been burnt down. 

Soon afterwards we had a commission to write a spectacular 
fairy opera for the new Alhambra, and on December 3, '83, 
The Golden Ring was produced, with Marion Hood as the 
leading lady and J. G. Taylor as the principal comedian. 

The fates were not altogether propitious. The stage hands 
let down the wrong cloth in the middle of the great transfor- 
mation scene of the Fisheries Exhibition to the open sea. 

On the second night Clay and I went into the theatre, and 
Clay was very much annoyed when he was told that a band 
that he particularly required to be on the stage would be 
cut out. 

Georges Jacobi, the old conductor, had left, and Jules 

160 MY LIFE 

Riviere, who had been the chef d'orchestre in the old days, had 
returned, but for some reason a good deal of extra work had 
fallen on Clay. 

After the show we walked into the Strand and met D'Oyly 
Carte, and stopped for a few minutes chatting with him. 
Then we turned into Bow Street. 

Opposite the police-station Clay suddenly reeled and fell 
heavily against me. 

I managed to hold him up and called for help. An inspector 
and two constables came over from the station, and between 
us we carried poor Freddy across the road and laid him on 
the floor in the inspector's room. 

Then I sent a special messenger to the house of his brother 
Cecil. Cecil Clay came quickly, put his brother in a cab, and 
took him home. 

That night poor Freddy Clay had a second stroke. For a 
long time he was unable to move. Then he got a little better 
and wrote me one or two pathetic little letters in pencil with 
his left hand. He was now a hopeless invalid, and knew that 
his life's work was done. 

The last letter I had from him was brief and sad. It was 
on the anniversary of his seizure, and this was all he wrote : 
" Fatal day. Poor Freddy." 

Soon afterwards he was found dead in his bath. I had lost 
my dearest friend, and the world had lost an artist who would 
have given it many charming and tuneful songs. 

We laid him to rest in Brompton Cemetery, and the chief 
mourners were his brothers, Arthur Sullivan, Squire Bancroft, 
and myself. 


ONE of my earliest visits to the Adelaide Gallery after it 
became a cafe under the direction of the Gattis and the 
Monicos was when I was still at Hanwell College. Three of 
us went out of bounds one afternoon and walked from 
Hanwell Londonwards. 

My early recollections of Gatti's are of chess and draughts 
at the little marble tables all day long, and a big billiard 
saloon with any number of tables down below. 

In those days the Brothers Gatti, Agostino and Stefano, 
used to sit at a big serving counter in the corner near the 
entrance in Agar Street, and of an evening Tommy Foster, of 
the Weekly Times, was frequently to be seen sitting with 

Tommy Foster, a little man with a benevolent smile, was 
faithful to the Gatti management to the very end. 

He died suddenly in the dress circle of the Adelphi on a 
first night. 

Quite early in the days of the Adelaide Gallery as a cafe* 
the Gattis and the Monicos dissolved partnership. The 
Monicos opened the establishment at Piccadilly Circus which 
bears their name, and the Gattis became interested in various 
theatrical enterprises. 

They ran promenade concerts at Covent Garden, and they 
produced pantomimes there. 

They became the proprietors of the Adelphi and produced 
dramas of the good wholesome Adelphi type, and Henry 
Pettitt wrote Taken from Life for them with the great 
Clerkenwell Prison explosion scene in it. That was in 
December 1881, and Charles Warner was their leading man. 

Until the end of 1882 I was under contract to the Princess's, 
and had followed The Lights o' London with The Romany Rye, 
a play of which a critic who meant to be complimentary said 

161 L 

162 MY LIFE 

that we "had brought the scent of the gipsies over the 

I hope we didn't. But the gipsies were real gipsies, and to 
the best of my recollection were found for us " somewhere in 
England " by my friend Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, who was 
then working on The Silver King with which Wilson Barrett 
had arranged to follow The Romany Rye. 

When it was announced that Henry Arthur Jones was 
coming to the Princess's, the Gattis came to me and offered 
to provide me with a new home at the Adelphi. They had 
an unfulfilled contract with Pettitt, and suggested that they 
should ask Pettitt to waive it and that he and I should colla- 
borate in a play for production in the autumn of 1883. 

I agreed, and commenced a theatrical partnership, which 
was continued for many years with excellent commercial 
results, both to ourselves and to the Adelphi. 

Henry Pettitt had the " gift of the theatre " in a remarkable 
degree. He was a master of the art of construction, and 
financially as successful as any author of his time. When he 
died he left nearly 50,000, and I remember the astonishment 
of a learned judge who had to be consulted with regard to 
the administration of the dead author's theatrical properties. 

Henry Pettitt was the son of a civil engineer, but he drifted 
about until he found his mtiier in melodrama. 

He had been agent in advance to a circus company, and 
business manager of an opera company that toured " the 

He played the " fiery Tybalt " in an equestrian performance 
of Romeo and Juliet, and died so far down the stage that, as 
the curtain descended, the corpse had to rise hurriedly and 
die again " higher up." 

Once on Christmas Day in one of the small towns the 
opera company was lodged at an inn. But business was 
bad, the ghost had not walked, and the landlord of the inn, 
knowing how matters stood, was not inclined to supply the 
Christmas dinner for a hungry company of Thespians on 

Pettitt envisaged the situation and was struck by an idea. 
He strolled off to the lodgings in the town where the manager 
and his wife had settled themselves comfortably. 

MY LIFE 163 

He got to the house about two o'clock. The manager had 
gone out to get an appetizer. The wife had cooked a fine 
goose for the early Christmas dinner, and was placing it on 
the table ready for the return of her lord. She went into the 
kitchen to dish up the vegetables. Pettitt saw his chance. 
He scribbled on a piece of paper : " The Company request 

the pleasure of Mr. and Mrs. to dinner at the Inn. 

Roast goose at 2.45 sharp. Please bring your own vege- 

Then he picked up the dish and bolted out of the house 
and ran as fast as his long legs could carry him to the inn. 

He put the goose on the table before the astonished company 
and said : " There you are, boys and girls. We'll keep it 
hot till the boss and the missis come. I've invited them to 
join us." 

And the boss and his better half did come, and they brought 
the vegetables, and the boss paid for the beer, and it was a 
merry party at the old inn that Christmas afternoon. 

There was a lot of quiet humour about Henry Pettitt. 

He once wrote me a little letter, and this is all that the 
letter contained : " DEAR SIMS, Does collaboration with 
you include cleaning your boots ? " 

I am afraid I was inclined to be trying in those days. But 
I suffered with dyspepsia and insomnia, and that is a combina- 
tion which does not make for patient gentleness. 

In the Ranks was produced at the Adelphi on the evening 
of October 6, 1883, with Charles Warner as the hero, Isabel 
Bateman as the heroine, Mary Rorke as Barbara Herrick, 
and William Herbert, as Captain Holcroft, had the love 
interest, and Mrs. Leigh, E. W. Garden, and Clara Jecks 
played the low comedy scenes in the fine old Adelphi fashion. 
John Beauchamp made a great character of the hop-picker, 
and dear old John Ryder was Colonel Winter. 

Ryder, one of the soundest actors of his time, lived in the 
suburbs, and liked to get home early. 

In In the Ranks he was supposed to be murdered in the 
first act. But he came to life again in the fifth act. With 
all the vigour of which he was capable Jack Ryder implored 
me to let him be really killed. 

" You see," he said, "if I'm really murdered I can get 



home at nine ; if I'm only dangerously wounded I have to 
sit in my dressing-room for two hours to recover and come 
on for a short scene, and then I don't get home till midnight. 
For goodness' sake, my dear boy, polish me off in the first 

On the first night of In the Ranks the foliage in the big 
" Outside the Church " scene caught fire, and the flames 
looked like spreading. 

Warner was playing in a front scene, and we managed to 
let him know that he was to keep on making love to his 
bride till we had torn down the burning border. 

And he did. It was one of the few occasions on which the 
authors of a play have been grateful to the leading man for 

Mr. Bruce Smith, though it was not his scene, did heroic 
work in cutting the flaming foliage away. We were within 
an inch of disaster that night. 

That delightful actor J. D. Beveridge will remember it, for we 
stood side by side and watched the progress of a fire behind 
the scenes of which not a soul in front of the curtain had, 
thank goodness, the slightest suspicion. 

On the last night of In the Ranks at the Adelphi it had 
run over a year the curtain absolutely refused to come 

Was it an omen ? 

It looked like it, for the drama, The Last Chance, which 
succeeded it in 1885, and which I wrote, was not a success. 

The production of The^Last Chance was associated with 
many unfortunate incidents. 

Richard Barker, who had been remarkably successful with 
the Gilbert and Sullivan operas and with the Sims and Clay 
Merry Duchess, was at my request engaged by the Brothers 
Gatti to produce it. 

About a week before production and just when the 
important final rehearsals with scenes and props were due, 
Barker had a bad breakdown. 

At the dress rehearsal I discovered to my horror that the 
scenic artist had painted peacocks' feathers over the chimney- 
piece in a room in a Derbyshire inn. 

I had never known peacocks' feathers bring anything but 

MY LIFE 165 

bad luck on the stage, and I was very unhappy. James 
Fernandez and Charles Glenny, who were in the play, tried 
to cheer me up, but I went home that night feeling anything 
but sanguine. 

On the first night Charles]Warner, the hero, when he was 
supposed to be starving in a garret, lifted his hands to heaven 
and exclaimed : " Our last farthing gone ; starvation stares 
us in the face ! " 

Unfortunately Warner was wearing a diamond ring which 
sparkled gaily in the limelight. 

So when he said that he was starving a voice from the 
gallery shouted, " Why don't you pawn your diamond ring ? " 

And that settled the situation and in a sense settled the 

You couldn't get an Adelphi audience to sympathize with 
a hero who wailed about his starving wife and wore a fifty- 
pound diamond ring. 

The Last Chance did not last long, but a few months later a 
nautical play by Pettitt and myself was put up. 

It was called The Harbour Lights. William Terriss we 
called him " Breezy Bill," and he was an ideal naval lieutenant 
played the hero, and Miss Jessie Milward the heroine, and 
The Harbour Lights beamed brightly for 540 consecutive 
performances, which was a record. 

After The Harbour Lights I went back to Wilson Barrett, 
who had taken the Olympic, and we revived The Lights o' 
London there with Miss Winifred Emery as Bess what a 
charming, sympathetic Bess she was ! and there we produced 
The Golden Ladder. 

Pettitt in the meantime had collaborated with my friend 
and former partner, Sydney Grundy, and The Bells of 
Haslemere rang and The Union Jack waved at the Adelphi. 

Pettitt and I came together for three or four more Adelphi 
dramas. In one of them, The Silver Falls, which was produced 
in 1888, Olga Nethersole was the heroine. 

Then Pettitt went out and Robert Buchanan came into 
partnership with me, and our first play ,The English Rose, 
was produced on August 2, 1890. Then came The Trumpet 
Call, which was produced on August 1, 1891, and was a great 
success, with Leonard Boyne and Elizabeth Robins as the 

166 MY LIFE 

hero and heroine, Lionel Rignold as a travelling showman, 
with Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Astrea, his clairvoyant. 

But before I come to the Buchanan days and nights 
and the story of one of the most remarkable personalities of 
his time, let me say a word or two about my lifelong friend 
and brilliant workfellow, Sydney Grundy. 

Sydney Grundy was a barrister, the son of a Manchester 
alderman. He gave up his practice, left Manchester, and 
came to London to improve his position as a playwright. 

We met first at the back of the dress circle at the Royalty 
on the first night of Crutch and Toothpick. 

Grundy was introduced to me by some one, we chatted 
and became friends, and exchanged views about our stage 

I had an idea for a Society comedy or rather a semi- 
Society comedy. So had Grundy. We put the two ideas 
together and wrote a play which was eventually produced at 
the Globe in September 1883. It was called The Glass of 
Fashion, in which Alice Lingard and Carlotta Leclerq, with a 
small Yorkshire terrier named Horace, scored instant successes. 
Prince Borowski was played by Beerbohm Tree, and Peg 
O'Reilly by Lottie Venne. John L. Shine was a self-made 
millionaire, a brewer, and there was a Society journalist who 
collected piquant Society " pars " for the Society journal, 
The Glass of Fashion, which the brewer had been induced to 
start in order to further his ambition for a seat in Parlia- 

Grundy had put some of his best work into what was 
intended to be a scathing satire on Society journalism, which 
was not then in very good odour. 

Grundy was always a man with a grievance. One of his 
grievances was against the Licenser of Plays. 

Grundy and Joseph Mackay had done an adaptation of 
La Petite Marquise, which they called The Novel Reader. For 
years the Licenser refused to permit its production, and 
Grundy writhed under the ban. 

When he was writing The Glass of Fashion he had a 
grievance against certain Society papers. 

We had mapped out the play, and its provisional title was 

MY LIFE 167 

Grundy used to come to Aldersgate Street to see me. Here 
is a letter from him : 

" DEAR SIMS, I will call at Aldersgate Street at 1.30 on 
Thursday, and shall rely upon getting Act I. Try and arrange 
to give me the Sunday and Monday nights following. I am 
determined Beauty shall be finished before the New Year. 

" Yours sincerely, 


Long before we found a manager to accept The Glass of 
Fashion Edmund Yates had become my friend and my 

Just about the time that the Glass was produced Edmund 
Yates was having trouble with Lord Lonsdale over an article 
in the World, and a libel case was pending which eventually 
ended in Yates going to Holloway. 

There were certain passages in the play which I knew Yates 
would take to himself and feel deeply. 

Grundy refused to remove them, and I could not insist, 
and so by a friendly arrangement my name was removed 
from the programmes and I resigned all my rights. 

But I kept the friendship of Edmund Yates and of Sydney 
Grundy to the end. 

The World had its beginning at a dinner-party at the 
house of the Rev. J. M. Bellew. Yates was a guest, and 
there he met Grenville Murray, of whom he had heard a good 
deal from Dickens. Grenville Murray was in the Foreign 
Office, and had written some admirable articles under the 
title of " The Roving Englishman " for Household Words. 

Murray was the editor of the Queen's Messenger, a bitterly 
satirical journal. In June 1869 there appeared in the 
Queen's Messenger an article entitled " Bob Coachington Lord 
Jarvey," which was considered by Lord Carrington to refer to 
his late father. 

Lord Carrington waited outside the Conservative Club, of 
which Murray was a member, and assaulted him as he came 
out. After the assault case had been disposed of, Lord 
Carrington brought a charge of perjury against Murray, and 
Murray left England and never returned. 

168 MY LIFE 

But before this Murray and Yates had agreed to start a 
new weekly paper, " The ' World/ a Journal for Men and 
Women." Yates went over to Paris, saw Murray, and they 
put up a capital of two hundred and fifty pounds each. 

The first number of the World was published on July 8, 

Among early contributors were Mr. Henry Labouchere, 
who wrote the City articles ; the Earl of Winchilsea, who did 
the racing ; Mrs. Lynn Linton, who had made a sensation 
with her " Girl of the Period " ; Archibald Forbes ; Comyns 
Carr ; Herman Merivale ; Mortimer Collins ; T. H. S. Escott ; 
and Henry W. Lucy, until recently the veteran " Toby " ; 
and Button Cook. 

Edmund Yates once told me that the whole sum he had 
spent in advertising the World from the start till that day 
did not exceed seventy pounds. 

On the morning the first number of Tit-Bits appeared on 
the bookstalls I met Yates on the platform at King's Cross, 
and he was in rather an excited state. The appearance of 
Tit-Bits had upset him. He was under the impression that 
it was going to live principally upon tit bits lifted from the 

" They're going to take my best paragraphs and yours, the 
brigands ! " he said to me. But of course he was mistaken. 

Grundy's motto was Fiat justitia, ruat ccelum, which has 
been humorously translated as " Let justice be done though 
the ceiling fall." He was always bringing down bits of 
ceiling, and sometimes rather large pieces of it fell on his own 

Yates was a fine fighter, and so was Sydney Grundy. He 
was fighting for his ideals to the day of his death. 


WHEN James Corbet " Gentleman Jim " came to London 
he called to see me one day. He wanted a play written 
round himself, and the principal scene was to be a glove- 
fight in which he was to give the theatre public a specimen of 
his prowess in the ring. 

I did not fancy that a glove-fight would be a popular 
feature with a West End audience, and I gently declined the 
amiable offer. 

I was mistaken. A glove-fight as a feature in a drama of 
human interest has proved a strong attraction in more than 
one stage production. 

I was very much mistaken with regard to another matter 
which arose out of a business offer in connexion with a play. 

When Mr. Cody, who afterwards became Colonel Cody, the 
well-known aviator, came to this country, he brought a play 
with him. It was called The Great Klondyke. Cody wanted 
me to rewrite The Great Klondyke for the English market and 
take charge of its business interests, as he intended to devote 
himself to preparing a flying machine. 

I did not want to rewrite an American play, and I brought 
a pleasant interview to a close by telling Cody that I thought 
he had much better stick to the stage and leave the air alone, 
and I said that with The Great Klondyke he could always give 
a flying matinee. 

At that time, if I remember rightly, Cody was only experi- 
menting with a kite for military purposes. But the interview 
I had with him left no doubt in my mind that he seriously 
contemplated devoting himself to the invention of a machine 
which would be capable of flying through the air in any 
direction its pilot desired. 

When Cody left me I looked upon him as a dreamer of 
dreams that could never possibly come true. How utterly 

170 MY LIFE 

mistaken I was Colonel Cody proved by his splendid services 
to the art of aviation ; though, alas, he paid the penalty of 
his devotion and daring just at the moment when his splendid 
dream had been triumphantly realized. 

James Corbet came to me, he told me, for two reasons. 
The first was that he understood that I had a habit of striking 
lucky with my plays, and the second reason was that he 
knew I was conversant with the business of the ring and 
" knew the ropes/' at any rate from the safe side of them. 

My memories of the ring go back to the great day when 
Sayers fought Heenan, and the man who beat the Benicia 
Boy was the idol of England. 

I was a small boy at the Preparatory School for Young 
Gentlemen at Eastbourne at the time, but another boy a 
good little boy told me all about it. 

He had asked permission to go upstairs to his bedroom 
half an hour earlier than usual in order that he might devote 
himself to pious meditation. 

That night, as we lay in our little beds in the dormitory, 
the good little boy told me all about the great fight. He had 
in some way got hold of a copy of Bell's Life with a full report 
in it, and it was in order to read Bell's Life in the privacy of 
the unoccupied dormitory that he had sought the opportunity 
of an extra half-hour for pious meditation. 

As a lad I saw a great deal of Tom Sayers. He lived 
somewhere off the Camden Road and had a great friend in 
Camden Town whom he used constantly to visit. This friend 
was the proprietor of a boot and shoe shop. 

I have waited outside that boot shop in Camden Town 
many a time in order to see the champion come out and have 
a straight stare at him. 

I knew Jem Mace in his prime and had many a pleasant 
chat with him over the old days of the ring when its glory 
and his had both departed. 

I saw a good deal of Tom King after he had beaten Heenan 
and had been affectionately kissed in his corner by Jem 
Mace. It is odd that the Continental kissing custom should 
be quite common among boxers in their business hours, seeing 
that the pugilist is, or was for many years, an eminently 
British production. 

MY LIFE 171 

Among other things Tom King took up when he left the 
ring was the growing of roses, and I thought that such a 
splendid idea that one day I asked the blooming bruiser by 
which I mean the bruiser who had gone in for blooms if he 
had ever read " The Rose and the Ring," If I remember 
rightly the answer was in the negative. 

Owen Swift, Nat Langham, Alec Keene, and Mike Madden 
I worshipped them all in turn, sometimes in the flesh and 
sometimes in the spirit. 

It was more in the spirit as regards Nat Langham and Alec 
Keene, both of whom kept sporting public-houses. When 
Nat Langham came to London he called his house the 
Cambrian, and it was stated that he had done so in order to 
let people know that he came from Cambridge. 

Those were the days when an ex-champion of the prize-ring 
could tour with a circus show as a star turn, exhibit his belt, 
and give a sparring exhibition with a partner specially engaged 
for the business. 

After the decline and fall of the prize-ring and the dis- 
appearance of the " merry mill " of which in the good old 
days Lord Palmerston would be an interested spectator 
the prize-ring that was so enthralling that Thurtell, who 
murdered William Weare, asked when the rope was round his 
neck if the sheriff would be so good as to tell him the winner 
of the big fight that had been brought off the previous day 
the champions found it profitable to book a tour and star 
round the provinces, taking various halls by the way, in 
which with a sparring partner they would give an evening's 

The largest crowd I ever remember seeing outside a railway 
station I saw waiting at Leeds when J. L. Sullivan arrived to 
give a sparring exhibition with Jack Ashton. 

That was before the great glove-fight between Sullivan and 
Charley Mitchell had been brought off " somewhere in France " 
in March 1888. 

It was while returning from the fight that took place 
" somewhere in France/' in December 1887, between Jake 
Kilrain and Jim Smith, that Mr. Archie MacNeill, of the 
Sportsman, met his death in Boulogne in circumstances 
which pointed unmistakably to murder, and the mystery of 

172 MY LIFE 

poor Archie MacNeilTs death has never been satisfactorily 

It was after I had seen Sullivan stripped that I realized to 
the full the meaning of the phrase, " the pink of perfection." 

Henry Sampson, my first editor, was an authority on the 
noble art. He wrote an excellent book on " Modern Boxing," 
and was frequently, before his editorial position interfered, 
asked to referee a glove-fight. 

He had seen plenty of mills with what were poetically 
known as the " raw 'uns," and he had taken up boxing not 
only with enthusiasm but with expert knowledge. 

The Amateur Boxing Association was formed at his instiga- 
tion, and the founders of the A.B.A. met on January 21, 1880, 
in the Referee office, and it was in the Referee office that the 
preliminary rules were drawn up. 

There were present on this occasion Henry Sampson, 
J. H. Douglas, L.A.C. ; T. Anderson, West London B.C. ; 
R. Wakefield, Highbury B.C. ; G. J. Garland, St. James's 
A.C. ; B. J. Angle, Thames R.C. ; R. Frost-Smith, Clapton 
.B.C. ; J. G. Chambers, Amateur Athletic Club ; E. T. 
Campbell, Clapton B.C. ; and Richard Butler, the present 
editor of the Referee, as honorary secretary. 

I saw most of the big glove-fights that were brought off in 
the home district, and most of the good-class competitions 

At Sadler's Wells on October 26, 1877, when Jim Goode 
fought round after round with a broken arm with Micky Rees, 
I suddenly turned my head and found that we were surrounded 
by a large body of police. 

The principals and the seconds were later on charged at 
the police court. A considerable number of the company on 
the stage, as soon as the presence of the police was discovered, 
made hurried exits in wrong directions. I was more fortunate, 
knowing the ropes. I dropped gently over into the orchestra 
and went the way of the band. 

I remember a competition at a well-known sporting house 
in the Old Nichol, the Five Ink Horns, kept by Ted Napper, 
in which one of the competitors was killed in the ring. He 
was laid out on the bagatelle board with the gloves left on 
it was Saturday night to await the inquest on Monday. 

MY LIFE 173 

I saw the memorable fight between the two bantams, 
Punch Dowsett and Tommy Hawkins, at the Cambridge Heath 
Skating Rink on December n, 1877, and I remember the joy 
with which every time the latter got a blow in the crowd 
yelled, " Go it, Mr. Justice Hawkins ! " 

Some months later, in August '78, Hawkins fought Joe 
Fowler, this time for the featherweight championship. The 
fight was begun at St. Helena Gardens, Rotherhithe. 

The men fought on a wooden stage, probably the old band- 
stand converted. There were several private fights in the 
crowd. An old scrapper who was drunk climbed up on to 
the ring. Ted Napper, one of the seconds, took hold of him, 
turned him upside down, and dropped him on to his head on 
the muddy ground below. 

After fighting two hours darkness came on, and the affair 
was adjourned. 

Mr. E. J. Francis, our publisher, who, after his Athenaum 
experiences, doubtless found the Referee entertainments an 
exciting change, during the proceedings lost his gold watch 
and chain, or, as the gentleman who took it would probably 
say, his " red super and slang." 

On the following Monday there was a meeting at the Five 
Ink Horns to make further arrangements. Two Referee men 
were there, our present editor and the late Mr. Joe Jenn, who 
was on the staff. 

Mr. Jenn had been a pedestrian by profession and a piano- 
forte tuner by trade. His real business and pleasure was 
pugilism : and it was the glory of his life that he had some 
share in training Tom Sayers. 

A place in which the mill could be finished was eventually 
found. And what a place it was ! It was the top floor of 
an empty warehouse in Stepney. A ring of about fourteen 
feet square had been pitched, and around it straw was littered. 
The price of admission, which had been comparatively high 
at the beginning, was gradually lowered, and eventually 
because they were making such a noise outside and attracting 
the attention of the police, some of the " mob " were admitted 
for nothing. 

Let me tell you the story of that fight as an illustration of 
what we had to endure in the old days before glove-fighting 

174 MY LIFE 

was recognized as a manly British sport, and when the rough 
element was " the predominant partner/' or soon became so 
during the progress of the programme. 

The Fowler-Hawkins fight was brought off on a blazing 
August afternoon. The heat was terrible, and the proverbial 
herrings in a barrel had by comparison comfortable accom- 

Every time the heaving mass rolled and surged around the 
ring there was an ominous swaying of the floor. 

Some of the local sporting gentry, unable to obtain admission 
in the legitimate way, climbed on to the roof and began to 
remove the tiles in order to get a peep at the proceedings. 

They did not remove sufficient of the roof to give us any 
air, but we got a liberal shower of dirt and lime, which added 
considerably to the thirst the heat had already engendered. 

The remembrance of that afternoon will linger with me 
while memory lasts. I had what was supposed to be a good 
seat on the floor near the ropes, but as I had to support the 
weight of about twenty other sportsmen on my back there 
were times when I could have done with a less uninterrupted 
view of the proceedings. 

That fight took place on a hot August afternoon in 1878. 
That I am alive to write about it on a snowy March morning 
in 1916 I am thankful. 

I remember a glove-fight that took place in a certain chapel 
in Bloomsbury, and the referee officiated in the pulpit. 

Bill Richardson's was a great sporting house in the East 
End. This house, " The Blue Anchor," was not only an 
East End, but a West End resort. It was not a Corinthian 
house of call, but the Corinthians were generally called to it. 
When any big sporting events were to be brought off the 
East End generally gave the West the " office." 

It was at Sadler's Wells where Charles Franks frequently 
provided excellent competitions, that Knifton, the Woolwich 
Infant, or the Eighty-one Ton Gun, as he was variously called, 
made his debut, and many a good man fought in the ring 
fitted on the stage in the sporting days of sunny old Sads. 

Charley Mitchell and Chesterfield Goode were the pets of 
swelldom. Ned Donelly was the aristocratic instructor who 
had succeeded the Game Chicken of the Dickens days, and 

MY LIFE 175 

Ned was generally to be seen somewhere near the old Criterion 
bar at the noonday hour. 

I saw the fight between Tom Allen and Charley Davis, and 
the fight at Sadler's Wells on October 29, 1877, between Tom 
Allen and Gilbert Tomkin, when some blood of Tomkin's on 
Tom Allen's gloves caused one of the young lions of the 
Daily Telegraph to roar fiercely about the brutality of the 
noble art. 

And now there is hardly a daily newspaper in London that 
does not give a full and often enthusiastic report of encounters 
in which the tapping of the claret is on quite a generous scale. 

That the old-fashioned English sport had at one time 
become debased there is no doubt, but it was because there 
was no proper home for it, and it had to be brought off amid 
more or less ruffianly surroundings, and was often conducted 
on the " win, tie, or wrangle " principle. 

But the sport never really declined or showed the white 
feather, and eventually it triumphed by showing the white 

The Pelican Club, under the admirable management of 
Mr. Ernest Wells, saved the situation, and at the Pelican 
upper Bohemia sat side by side with sporting Belgravia in 
immaculate evening dress on Sunday nights or rather 
Monday mornings, for the fights began after midnight to see 
the champions contend for sums that the old knuckle fighters 
would never in their wildest dreams have imagined could be 
earned at the game. 

Then came the National Sporting Club, where Evans and 
supper were once synonymous, and boxing had come to its 
own again. 

Until a year or two ago I used to attend these fistic causeries 
de lundi regularly and in excellent company. My friend of 
many long years, Sir Melville Macnaghten, late Chief of the 
C.I.D. at Scotland Yard, had the charming idea of giving 
little Corinthian dinners on Monday nights at his house, 
32 Warwick Square. 

The little party generally consisted of Sir Melville, Colonel 
Vivian Majendie, Mr. B. J. Angle, Mr. Tom Anderson, Mr. 
Charles Moore, an old Indian friend of Sir Melville, and 

176 MY LIFE 

After dinner we drove to the National Sporting, and many 
a fine contest was a fitting finish to the Corinthian night's 

That pleasant little party of sportsmen meets on Monday 
nights, alas, no more. Eheu ! fugacts . . . 

Apropos of Majendie, my friend Captain Leonard Bell, late 
of the Royal Artillery, recently called to my mind that in 
1896 Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Smith, K.C.B., formerly 
Chief Commissioner of the City of London Police, wrote an 
article on " The Streets of London " in Blackwood's Magazine. 
In a portion dealing with the dynamite outrages he mentioned 
the bravery of a " young Artillery officer " who would be 
telephoned for and would drive straight where he was wanted, 
and smilingly remove the clockwork from an infernal machine. 

Vivian Majendie died without the Victoria Cross, but 
many a time and oft he performed deeds in his official capacity 
as Inspector of Explosives to the Home Office that if performed 
upon the battlefield could not have failed to have won him 
the proud distinction. 

The mention of the Heenan and Sayers fight revives my 
memories of Adah Isaacs Menken, for Heenan was one of her 
many husbands. 

It was in 1864 that I saw her at Astley's Theatre, where 
she was playing Mazeppa, bound to the fiery untamed steed. 

But I had previously formed one of the little crowd that 
used to wait on Menken nights to see the " famous and 
fearless " American actress drive by in her rather showy 
brougham. You could always tell when she was coming by 
the jingle of the bells which adorned the horses. 

Adah Isaacs Menken was not of Jewish descent. She was 
christened Adelaide, and her father's name was McCord. He 
was a merchant in good circumstances in New Orleans. But 
he came to grief, and when he died he left a widow, a daughter, 
Adelaide, aged eight, and two little girls still younger, and 
nothing else. 

The two little girls could dance their father, who was 
passionately fond of dancing, had had them taught by a 
French professor of the art and they got engagements in the 
ballet at the New Orleans Opera House. Adelaide McCord 
became a leading danseuse at the Tacon Theatre, Havana. 

MY LIFE 177 

After a time she returned to New Orleans and taught 
French and Latin in a girls' school, and it was about this 
time that she published her first book of poems. In Texas 
she started a paper, and she was also carried off by Indians. 

In 1856, at Galveston, Texas, she married her first husband, 
a young musician, Alexander Isaac Menken, whose name she 
ever afterwards used. 

At Cincinnati, where she acted with Edwin Booth, she began 
to contribute articles and poems to the newspapers. 

An article she wrote in the Israelite she had adopted her 
husband's faith and changed her name from Adelaide to 
Adah to please him was copied into the English newspapers, 
and Baron Rothschild sent the young authoress his personal 

What happened to Menken, the musician, I do not know, 
but in 1859 Adah became Mrs. J. C. Heenan. 

It was in '61 that she made her first appearance in America 
as Mazeppa, and it was at the Green Street Theatre, Albany. 

Then she married " Orpheus C. Kerr " without waiting to 
divorce the famous prize-fighter. But she got rid of Heenan 
legally a year later. 

It was in 1864 that she came to England, and was quickly 
snapped up for Astley's. 

This is how Mazeppa was described on the playbill at 
Astley's, under a block which represented a lady in fleshings 
bound to a fiery, untamed steed : 

Miss Adah Isaacs Menken, who has earned well-deserved 
laurels in California, the Colonies, and the United States. 
Great curiosity is at its height respecting the part being per- 
formed by a Lady ; but the English Public will judge and 
appreciate the character in this Classic Drama represented by 
a Heroine (in a Classic Dress) who has performed it hundreds 
of nights. 

Menken had played Mazeppa hundreds of nights in America. 
She came to grief at first. She was strapped to a horse which 
started from the footlights up an eighteen-inch run into a 
painted mountain. 

The fiery, untamed steed, unused to its rider, plunged off 


178 MY LIFE 

the platform on to the stage, and Menken was picked up with 
blood streaming from a wound in her shoulder. But she 
insisted upon being bound to the horse again, and this time 
the feat was safely accomplished. 

Menken played Mazeppa in London for a long time, and 
also appeared at Astley's in a drama, The Child of the Sun, 
written for her by John Brougham. 

She went to Paris and became the friend of Alexandre 
Dumas. I have a photograph of the two taken together in 
quite a friendly and familiar attitude. In London Charles 
Dickens and Algernon Swinburne were her devoted literary 

She dedicated her first book of poems, " Infelicia," to 
Charles Dickens, and he accepted the dedication and sent her 
a kindly little letter : 

" Gad's Hill Place, 

" Higham, by Rochester, Kent. 
" Monday, zist October, 1867. 

"DEAR MISS^MENKEN, I shall have great pleasure in 
accepting your dedication, and I thank you for your portrait 
as a highly remarkable specimen of photography. 

" I also thank you for the verses enclosed in your note. 
Many such enclosures come to me, but few so pathetically 
written, and fewer still so modestly sent. 

" Faithfully yours, 


The poems of Adah Isaacs Menken have again and again 
been attributed at least some of them to Swinburne. 
This is how the mistake arose. 

My journalistic godfather, John Thomson, was Swinburne's 
secretary. John Thomson was in love with Menken madly 
in love with her. 

Menken one day, just as Ambrose Bierce had done, showed 
Thomson a book in which she had pasted the poems she had 
written in various American newspapers, and one or two 
poems still in manuscript. 

" Why don't you make a book of them ? " said Thomson. 
"I'll get it published. John Camden Hotten will jump at 


MY LIFE 179 

Hotten took the poems, and John Thomson went over the 
proofs and every line of " Infelicia " is the work^of Adah 
Menken herself. 

My friend Andrew Chatto was Hotten's right hand at the 
time. It was he who received the copy from Menken at 
Hotten's place in Piccadilly. 

Years afterwards Chatto gave me 'the whole of the cuttings 
and the whole of the manuscript in Menken's handwriting 
from which the book was set up. And I have them still. 

Here are two verses from one of her poems : 

/ can but own my life is vain, 

A desert void of peace. 
I missed the goal I sought to gain, 
I missed the measure of the strain 
That lulls Fame's fever in the brain. 

And bids Earth's tumult cease. 

Myself ! Alas for theme so poor, 

A theme but rich in Fear ; 
I stand a wreck on Error's shore, 
A spectre not within the door, 
A houseless shadow evermore, 

An exile lingering here. 

In 1866 Menken went back to America, divorced Mr. Newell 
" Orpheus C. Kerr " and married Mr. James Barclay. 

In '68 she went to Paris to rehearse The Pirates of the 
Savannah, was taken ill and died, and she was buried in Pere 
Lachaise. On her tombstone are the words : " Thou knowest." 
She was born a Christian and died a Jewess, and her body, 
after lying in Pere Lachaise for some years, was removed to 
the Jewish portion of the cemetery in Montparnasse. 

Among the archives of the firm of Chatto and Windus is a 
letter a pathetic little letter that John Thomson left for 
Adah Menken at Hotten's place in Piccadilly. 

She had promised to meet Thomson there, but she never 
came. She had gone to Paris to die. 

This is the true story of Adelaide McCord, who died aged 
thirty-three, and who in her brief span of life had been actress, 



equestrienne, poetess, journalist, and sculptor, the friend of 
Theophile Gautier and Alexandre Dumas, Charles Reade, 
Dickens, and Swinburne, the wife of Menken the musician, 
Heenan the prize-fighter, Orpheus C. Kerr the humorist, and 
Mr. James Barclay, whose profession I do not know. 

And perhaps the only man who broke his heart at losing 
her was John Thomson, secretary to Algernon Charles Swin- 
burne, sometime dramatic critic of the Weekly Dispatch, and 
the first man who gave me a chance in Fleet Street. 

That he loved her, he told her ; that her death broke his 
heart, he told me. 


THE " Dagonet Ballads " have at various times brought me 
into the limelight, and occasionally made me feel somewhat 
uncomfortable in its glare. 

" Christmas Day in the Workhouse " was for a time 
vigorously denounced as a mischievous attempt to set the 
paupers against their betters, but when a well-known social 
reformer died recently I read in several daily papers that he 
always declared that it was reading " Christmas Day in the 
Workhouse " which started him on his ceaseless campaign 
for old age pensions, a campaign which he lived to see crowned 
with victory. 

I have a bill in which " George R. Sims, the Author of 
' Billy's Rose/ " is announced to appear " positively " in 
support of Mrs. Georgina Weldon in her great battle for 

I knew Mrs. Georgina Weldon after the days of the Gounod 
trouble, when she had become a familiar figure in the Law 
Courts, and I have frequently seen her rise at inconvenient 
moments to address the learned judge. 

But I never espoused the litigious lady's cause, and when 
I saw myself announced on staring wall-posters I at once sent 
a message to the manager of the hall requesting that the 
posters should be withdrawn. They were not withdrawn, but 
another notice was posted over them, and it was to this effect : 
"Mr. George R. Sims, the Author of 'Billy's Rose,' will 
positively not appear with Mrs. Georgina Weldon to-night." 

It was through the " Dagonet Ballads " that I first came 
in touch with Robert Buchanan, the poet, who in later years 
was my companion and friend and my collaborator in four or 
five Adelphi dramas. 

In the Contemporary Review he reviewed a number of 
volumes which had recently been published, and he made a 


i8z MY LIFE 

very charming reference to my modest effort, for which I was 
very grateful. 

In some of his earlier reviews Buchanan had not pleased 
the poets upon whom he sat in judgment. 

I have somewhere safely put away so safely that I cannot 
find it" The Fleshly School of Poetry," by Thomas Maitland. 
" Thomas Maitland " was Robert Buchanan, and Robert 
Buchanan afterwards expressed his deep regret for the pain 
which his criticism had caused Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 

I have also somewhere safely concealed Swinburne's reply 
to " Thomas Maitland/' It was entitled " Under the Micro- 
scope " and was a savage denunciation of " Thomas Maitland," 
upon whose head torrents of invective were poured forth by 
the mighty master of words. This titanic battle of the bards 
took place in 1870. 

When Buchanan reviewed my modest ballads they had 
been published in book form. 

The " Dagonet Ballads " have had, during their forty years' 
run, three publishers, and in two instances the whole stock 
was burnt out. But I am glad to say that they have been 
published for many years by Messrs. Routledge, of Broadway, 
Ludgate Hill, without misadventure. 

The " Dagonet Ballads " were printed from time to time in 
the Referee. They were never put forward by me as poetry, 
but were intended for reciters who wanted something dramatic. 
I generally wrote them on the Friday night, posted them 
about 3 A.M., and went to the office on Saturday afternoon to 
correct the proof. 

\ One of the best known, " Billy's Rose," was written after 
returning from a glove-fight brought off in a shed in the 
East End, and " Billy's Rose " appeared in the same number 
of the Referee that contained a wonderful word-picture of the 
fearful fight by the editor. 

'" Billy's Rose" was always cropping up in the most 
unexpected places. 

Just before the Derby of 1890 I went down with Mr. Sidney 
Jousiffe to stay with his brother, Mr. Charles Jousiffe, at Seven 

Charles Jousiffe, the famous trainer of Bendigo, had invited 
me to see the Derby trial of Surefoot, who was then first 

MY LIFE 183 

favourite for the event. The trial took place between six 
and seven in the morning, and so far as I can remember the 
only persons present were myself, the trainer, Sidney Jousiffe, 
and the Rev. C. R. Light, who was then vicar of Lambourne. 
The vicar, who was a fine sportsman, was very much interested 
in the stable-lads, among whom he was doing excellent work. 

After the trial of Surefoot who, it will be remembered, 
started at 95 to 40 on, and was beaten by Sainfoin we went 
back to Seven Barrows to breakfast, and Charley Jousiffe 
asked Mr. Light and myself if we would like to spend half an 
hour in the evening among the lads. 

I went, and it was with mixed feelings that I heard the 
vicar say, " That lad is a fine reciter. You ought to hear him 
do your ' Billy's Rose/ ' 

The stable lad, a smart young fellow, took the hint, stepped 
forward, and gave vent to the whole of the poem for my 
special benefit. 

Of course I shook him warmly by the hand and congratulated 
him, and I was right in doing so, for I observed as I turned, 
away that he had brought tears to the eyes of several of the 

Alas, the defeat of Surefoot brought tears to the eyes of 
many of us who had long since passed our boyhood ! 

The " Dagonet Ballads " were recited at matinees, and one 
or two of them were particularly popular at the professional 
benefits which were common in those days but have now 
practically disappeared. 

The benefit was sometimes part of the contract, so much a 
week and a benefit. The benefit was not always so profitable 
as the public imagined. 

Wilson Barrett once showed me a telegram he had had 
from his brother George. 

" DEAR WILL," Barrett's real name was William, not 
Wilson " I have had a benefit. Please send me a fiver to 
get out of the town." 

George Barrett was a fine low comedian, with a happy 
combination of pathos and humour and natural characteriza- 
tion. His Jarvis, the showman in The Lights o' London, and 
his Jaikes in The Silver King are among the happiest memories 
of old playgoers. 

184 MY LIFE 

But he found himself very much out of his element when 
his brother deserted the modern for the classical drama. 
Wilson Barrett, on the contrary, revelled in classic costume 
and poetic diction, but when he tried Hamlet he rather fell 
back into the old melodramatic style and failed to please the 

He used to come to my house a good deal at that time, an^ 
one day just before the production of Hamlet he asked my 
housekeeper, who was generally known as " Mrs. Bulleyboy," 
if she would like a seat for the first night, and the offer was 
gratefully accepted. 

Shortly after the production of Hamlet Barrett called, and 
the door was opened by Mrs. Bulleyboy. 

" Well," said the popular tragedian to her, " how did you 
like Hamlet ? " 

" Well, sir," was the frank reply, "I'm not much of a judge 
of that sort of thing. But you did your little bit all right." 

But to return to the " Dagonet Ballads." In a Drury Lane 
drama by my friend and collaborator, Henry Pettitt, one of 
the characters was always endeavouring to recite " The 
Lifeboat," and being sternly suppressed by everybody within 
hearing distance. 

" I will now recite ' The Lifeboat/ " was his gag wheeze, 
and the usual reply was, " Oh, ' The Lifeboat ' be hanged ! " 

The gentleman who wished " The Lifeboat " that fate had 
his wish gratified. " The Lifeboat " was hanged, or, rather, 
hung. A well-known painter selected it as the subject of his 
Academy picture, and it was hung on the line. 

After several ballads had appeared in the Referee, Edmund 
Yates asked me if I would write some for the World. He 
suggested that they should not deal with low life, but with 
society or rather semi-society subjects. 

For the first " Dagonet Ballads " in the Referee I received 
one guinea. For each of the " Ballads of Babylon " that 
was the title I gave them in the World I received five pounds. 
For the last " Dagonet Ballad " I ever wrote, and I wrote at 
the request of the editor of the New York Spirit of the Times, 
I received forty pounds. 

But that was one of the pleasures of being a " poet." There 
were pains and penalties. 

MY LIFE 185 

A " Dagonet Ballad " once caused considerable consterna- 
tion in a fashionable assembly at Washington. It was one 
of the ballads I had written for Edmund Yates. 

One February night in 1886 Mrs. Brown-Potter, an aristo- 
cratic amateur, who was just starting her career on the stage, 
gave a recitation of " Ostler Joe." But let me quote from 
the New York Times : 

Mrs. James Brown-Potter and her play have been the 
great topics of the week, and Washington has not always 
endorsed the verdict of New York. This amateur has been 
the first real social sensation of the winter. Her proceedings 
at the amateur entertainment in Mrs. Whitney's house 
have been the nine days' wonder and gossip. 

Her reading of Swinburne's " Hostler Joe " raised 
universal condemnation about the town and distressed and 
deeply embarrassed every man and woman in the chosen 
audience that had to listen to those indecent verses. As 
an attempted defence it is said that Mrs. Potter first read 
the poem to three prominent society men, and they thought 
it very " chic " and quite the thing. Again, it is claimed 
that only the title was named to the most prominent of the 
trio, and he, mistaking it for one of John Hay's dialect 
poems, thought that it would make a variety in the usual 
placid routine of amateur readings, and said, " Read it." 

The embarrassed audience and the silence that reigned 
at the conclusion of the recitation were a sufficient intima- 
tion of the storm of censure that has since followed. As an 
instance of the depravity of the times it may be told that 
since that unfortunate night the libraries and book-stores 
have been besieged by people anxious to read the verses 
again, and the few known to own private copies of Swin- 
burne's are overrun with borrowers. 

This sensational incident gave great activity to the sales 
of the tickets for the matinee of The Russian Honeymoon, 
and the audience was a most remarkable one. The under- 
current of gossip between the acts was " Hostler Joe," and 
the insinuations of Metropolitan visitors that Washington 
was absurdly prudish as well as provincial to be shocked by 
that modern poem were vehemently repelled. 

i86 MY LIFE 

Swinburne had been accused of writing the poems of 
Adah Isaacs Menken, but I never imagined that any of my 
verses would be fathered upon the great poet. 

Some of the other papers announced that it was not 
Swinburne but Simms, and then there was a rush for the 
poems of William Gilmore Simms. 

But presently the New York World published the poem 
and informed its readers that it was by the author of The 
Lights o' London. 

Several enterprising publishers issued " Ostler Joe," and 
some of them reprinted the whole of the " Dagonet Ballads " 
in book form, but omitted to send me a banker's draft. 

Then the American Press thought it was about time to 
rehabilitate me, and the following statement was made in a 
New York journal : 

" The poem, a sort of homely Will Carle ton ballad, and 
about as harmless as ' Over the Hills to the Poor-House/ has 
been published and republished and read by perhaps four- 
fifths of the entire adult population of the United States." 

The Chicago Daily Tribune said : " Mrs. James Brown- 
Potter has done a wonderful thing for Mr. George R. Sims. 
His poem, ' Ostler Joe ' and it is a pretty good poem is 
being printed all over the country." 

I don't know where the " wonderful thing " came in, for 
I have never to this day had a red cent out of the American 

Mrs. Brown-Potter, who subsequently appeared in London 
and America at various dates, and as a rule with Kyrle Bellew 
as her leading man, is perhaps best remembered here by her 
Charlotte Corday, which was produced at the Adelphi in 1898. 

But these things happened many years after " Ostler Joe " 
had been such a big reclame for her. 

Kyrle Bellew was an enormous favourite in America, where 
his picturesque appearance and romantic manner won the 
hearts of playgoers, more especially of the fair sex, and he 
was familiarly known as " Curly Bellew," a name suggested 
by the artistic arrangement of his locks, one of which, hung 
delicately over his forehead, had a poetic touch of grey in it. 

The New York World, when, as will be seen a little later on, 
I had undertaken to write a play for Mrs. Brown-Potter on 

MY LIFE 187 

" Ostler Joe " lines, wondered where Kyrle Bellew would 
come in. 

" Mrs. Potter will, of course, play the part of the misguided 
wife, a role which Mr. Sims may be relied upon to suit to her 
undoubted capabilities. It is difficult, however, to see where 
Kyrle Bellew will come in. Mrs. Potter will not act without 
him, and yet to expect him to act the part of the 'ostler, 
wearing tight leather breeches and close-cropped hair, would 
be simply preposterous." 

" Curly " Bellew with close-cropped hair ! A thrill of 
horror would have stirred the bosoms of thousands of fair 
playgoers on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Cora Urquhart Potter was the daughter-in-law of a bishop, 
and a very popular bishop. He is said to be responsible for 
the definition of the different way in which an American and 
an Englishman would greet a dignitary of the Church. 

" An Englishman with whom I had become well acquainted," 
he said, " would always address me deferentially. An 
American who had met me once would, meeting me for a 
second time, slap me on the back and say, ' Hallo, Bish ! ' 

Mr. Brown-Potter, the bishop's son, was never very much 
in evidence over here, and the marriage was dissolved in 1903. 

One of the American papers published some statistics in 
connexion with the " Ostler Joe " boom which are interesting. 
According to the American authority there were 667 leading 
articles written on " Ostler Joe," 4320 paragraphs, and 1285 
newspapers reprinted the piece in full. 

It was recited in 290 theatres, and 82 clergymen referred 
to it in their sermons. Last, but not least, says the American 
journal, one publisher confesses to having netted 2000 dollars 
in a fortnight. And Dagonet netted nothing. 

A New York playwright wrote a play on it. I had written 
a play on it, and I have waited years for it to be produced. 
It was cast and in rehearsal, and the scenery painted and 
everything ready for its production when the war broke out, 
and my play, which I called Jenny o* Mine, came back to me, 
and still lies snugly in its long resting-place. Mr. F. Belasco 
set " Ostler Joe " to music for Tony Hart. In one of the 
Mikado companies " Katisha " recited it in a Japanese 

i88 MY LIFE 

At Koster and Dial's Mr. James Gough recited it as a star 
turn. Miss Lillian Lewis, a Chicago actress, billed herself as 
" America's own dramatic queen," and announced that 
Geo. R. Sims's poem, " Ostler Joe," was written expressly for 

Another Chicago lady, Miss Anna Morgan, declared that 
she was the only real and original reader of the poem, and 
that all other ladies who had recited it, Mrs. Brown-Potter 
included, were base imitators. 

The discussion became at last so acrimonious as to which 
was the original reciter that the New York Dramatic Mirror 
suggested that a matinee should be given, and that the only 
item should be the competitive reading of " Ostler Joe " by 
all the claimants. 

Of course there was the inevitable parody, " Hustler Jim " 
(with apologies to G. R. Sims, Bret Harte and Co.). At 
Baltimore the announcement that Miss Blanche Chapman 
would recite " Ostler Joe " at Ford's Grand Opera House 
packed the theatre to overflowing. 

Some of the American newspapers who did not know set 
about to find out who I was, and one special correspondent in 
London favoured them with the following complimentary 
description : 

" I don't suppose Mr. George R. Sims will be particularly 
satisfied when he learns of the tempest in a teapot his verses 
have created. He is rather a disagreeable man personally 
with a wonderful opinion of himself and an abominable 
temper. He has been singularly successful during the past 
five or six years, and I presume he has put aside enough money 
to make him independent for life." 

Why the ballad should have made such a sensation in 
Washington I could never understand. Here in London Mrs. 
Kendal had recited it at a fashionable charity matinee at a 
West End theatre, and in Washington, as a matter of fact, 
Mrs. Brown-Potter had read it to Secretary Endicott and 
Mrs. Endicott and Senator Whitney, and they had asked her 
to recite it. 

In the meantime the " Ostler Joe " sensation had crossed 
the Atlantic, and the ballad had caught on with London 

MY LIFE 189 

Lionel Brough was going to America. At a benefit given 
to him as a gracious send-off at Drury Lane a rhymed address 
was spoken by Mrs. Keeley, and Mrs. Kendal recited " Ostler 
Joe " at the National Theatre. 

" Ostler Joe," thanks to Mrs. Kendal, also introduced his 
homely figure at the St. James's Hall. On July 5, 1886, 
Mr. Cusins gave a concert, and all the musical world still in 
town flocked to listen to the singing of Albani, Scalchi, Lloyd, 
and Santley, but, as was duly recorded in the notices of the 
concert, they also went to hear Mrs. Kendal recite " Ostler 
Joe," and on turning to the notice in the Lady I find that 
Mrs. Kendal's recitation of " Ostler Joe " was a marvellous 
performance, " at the conclusion of which there was not a 
dry eye in the room." 

I never imagined that it would be my fate to make a St. 
James's Hall audience cry at an Albani, Scalchi, Lloyd, and 
Santley concert. I felt that I ought to apologize. I didn't 
then, but I do so now. 

Before the sensation in America had subsided, Mrs. Brown- 
Potter came .^o England. She had determined to be a real 
actress, and Kyrle Bellew was to be her leading man. 

Kyrle Bellew was an old acquaintance of mine when his 
father, the Rev. J. M. Bellew, was the vicar of St. Mark's, 
Hamilton Terrace. 

The Rev. J. M. Bellew, whose real name was Higgins, was 
a finished elocutionist and gave public readings. He was very 
much interested in the drama, and it was sometimes 
assumed that when the evening service at St. Mark's was 
sharp and short it was because our pastor was in a hurry to 
get to a rehearsal at the Lyceum. 

Kyrle Bellew brought Mrs. Potter to see me. She thought 
that if I would write a play for her, and she could announce 
it as by the author of " Ostler Joe," it would be a pretty safe 
card in the States. 

Mrs. Brown-Potter had her two golden-haired little girls 
with her here in England, and had also brought her father, 
Colonel Urquhart, with her. She gave me a contract and 
two hundred-pound notes on account of fees, and I set to 
work, and in due course handed my new manageress a four-act 
play, which I called A Wife's Ordeal. It was a free adaptation 


of a French play, but more or less English in characterization 
and sentiment. 

Mrs. Brown-Potter and Kyrle Bellew went back to America 
with the play, but before they produced it in New York they 
gave it a trial show at a one-night stand somewhere in the 
Wild West, and I presume that the Wild West did not care 
about it. 

At any rate, it never came to New York, and I put it away 
for some years, little dreaming that it would ever be the play 
that would help to bring about a real life tragedy. 
\ It was taken out to Australia by Arthur Dacre and Amy 
Roselle, and when I received my fees from Arthur Dacre he 
had murdered his wife and committed suicide. 

The Wife's Ordeal was the title of the stage play. It was 
the title of the tragedy of Amy Roselle's life. 

She was a charming artress, and came of a theatrical 
family. Her brother, Percy Roselle, was a dwarf, and played 
children's parts in the Drury Lane pantomimes as " Master 
Percy Roselle " after he had come to man's estate. 

Arthur Dacre his real name was Arthur James was a 
doctor. He took to the stage and became a fair actor. He 
had a wife, from whom he was separated. He fell in love 
with Amy Roselle and she fell in love with him. 

And the wife waited for them sometimes at the stage door 
and made scenes. 

But eventually Arthur Dacre married Amy Roselle, and for 
a time there was sunshine. 

But presently came the trouble of the joint engagement. 
The Dacres were a devoted couple, and the idea of separation 
by professional engagements was abhorrent to them. 

Managers wanted Amy Roselle, but they didn't want 
Arthur Dacre. 

But the Dacres stood out for "a joint engagement/' 
especially when the offer to the wife came from a touring 

Their obstinacy in the matter brought about a disastrous 
state of affairs. They both remained out of an engagement 
so long that the wolf was at the door. 

Mr. E. W. Royce went to Australia with, I think, one of 
the Gaiety companies. He knew the Dacres, sympathized 

MY LIFE 191 

with them, and promised to see if he could get them an 
Australian engagement. 

The Dacres waited patiently and bravely for the cable that 
was to bring them the good news. 

k Dacre and Amy Roselle had read The Wife's Ordeal, and 
they fancied the parts would suit them. Might they have it 
for their repertoire in Australia ? 

, I told Dacre that it had not succeeded with Mrs. Brown- 
Potter and Kyrle Bellew, but he said that he was sure it had 
never had a fair chance. 

\ One day Dacre came to me radiant. The cable had come. 
Their fares had been sent. They would produce The Wife's 
Ordeal at the Bijou Theatre, Melbourne. 
b. The next news of The Wife's Ordeal I had received from 
Dacre in a letter dated " Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, July loth, 

" MY DEAR SIMS, We produced The Wife's Ordeal on 
Saturday night with every possible sign of success, though if 
ever two poor devils had everything against them we had. 
The weather was hotter than anything I have ever known, 
and it continued so for eight days and nights without a 
break. ^ 

"As if the sun was not fierce enough, there were miles of 
bush on fire, and you could smell the burning and feel the 
wind as hot as if you were standing in front of a furnace. 

" But we had an undoubted success. Everybody likes us, 
and everybody assures us that, taking the weather into 
consideration, we have done wonderfully well." 

Then came another letter dated " Melbourne, 5th March." 

" MY DEAR SIMS, I wish I could send you a better account 
of the receipts. I send you the notices, as I know you would 
like to see them. What the heaven-born geniuses could see 
in common between the Doll's House and your play Heaven 
only knows. 

" Whatever the fate of the play, I shall always be grateful 
to you and The Wife's Ordeal for one thing, and that is that 
it has served to obtain for Mrs. Dacre an excellent introduction 

192 MY LIFE 

here. But the work is terrible for her. It is as much as she 
can do to get her dinner and lie down for an hour before the 
rehearsal and night performance. I took her for a few hours' 
sail on Sunday, and that is literally the first bit of relaxation 
we have had since we have been here. 

" I enclose official statement of nightly receipts and a draft 
for your fees. " Always yours, 


The Dacres, after playing for some time in Melbourne, 
visited Adelaide, and in the autumn they were in Sydney, and 
Dacre sent me a banker's draft for further performances of 
The Wife's Ordeal and told me he was entering into a contract 
with Mr. George Leech to play in The Land of the Moa. 

When I opened Dacre's last letter the good fellow who sent 
it had murdered his wife and put an end to his own existence. 

The Land of the Moa was taken off and The Silence of Dean 
Maitland was put into rehearsal for immediate production. 
The part of Dean Maitland was allotted to Dacre. It was the 
longest he had ever studied, and he appeared to think that it 
had been given him with the object of harassing him. 

He told friends who spoke with him and tried to soothe 
him that Melbourne had crushed his spirits. He was in a 
state of high nervous tension, and he and his wife were seen 
later on weeping together. This was on Saturday afternoon. 

On the Sunday, worn out with trouble and despairing of 
the future they had met with reverses everywhere in 
Australia, and had made nothing to clear off the liabilities 
they had left behind them in England they brought their 
life's tragedy to a close. 

Arthur Dacre, there is every reason to believe at her own 
request, shot his loyal and devoted wife, and then shot 

I heard afterwards that the stress of the situation was 
increased by the knowledge that Amy Roselle would shortly 
have to undergo a serious surgical operation. 

In the room occupied by the Dacres was found a small 
casket containing some English soil and moss. It had been 
taken from the grave of the infant child they had left behind 
them in the old country. Amy Roselle had taken that 

MY LIFE 193 

casket across the seas with her, and she expressed a wish to 
a friend that should she die in Australia the casket with its 
contents should be buried with her. 

The last act of The Wife's Ordeal had been played. Amy 
Roselle was at rest. 


WHETHER George Edwardes came to me or I went to him I 
cannot say with certainty, but we met in the middle 'eighties. 

I had had for some time at the back of my head an idea of 
doing a more or less operatic burlesque of Faust. 

I had talked it over with Pettitt, and one evening George 
Edwardes, who had then blossomed into management I 
think he was running Little Jack Sheppard at the time told 
me that he thought that the days of the old-fashioned burlesque 
with puns and parodies of popular songs were numbered, and 
he believed there was a great chance for something light and 
bright with original music and plenty of pretty girls who 
could sing and dance. 

I saw an opening, and I sprang the idea of Faust upon 
him. A few days afterwards he commissioned Pettitt and 
myself to write the play, and it was agreed that Meyer Lutz, 
who at the time was the chef d'orchestre at the Gaiety, should 
compose the music. 

John Hollingshead had entered into partnership with 
George Edwardes when Little Jack Sheppard was produced. 
Before the end of the run he had retired and left the young 
Irishman who was to become " the father of musical comedy " 
in sole possession. 

The authors of Little Jack Sheppard were my kinsman 
William Yardley and H. Pottinger Stephens, who was 
familiarly known in Fleet Street as " Pot/' 

" Pot " did some excellent comic-opera work with Teddy 
Solomon as his composer. Teddy was a clever musician and 
a delightful little fellow, but very Bohemian in his financial 

He was a great favourite with all his brother composers, 
who thought highly of his music. 

I remember that on one occasion, when he was busy upon 


MY LIFE 195 

an opera, he was very much annoyed by certain creditors who 
persistently interfered with his moments of inspiration by 
serving him with writs. 

Sir Arthur Sullivan, Frederic Clay, and one or two friends 
I think I was one of them clubbed together and gave him a 
couple of hundred pounds in order that he might get rid of 
the worriers. The money was handed over to Teddy in crisp 
bank-notes one Saturday morning. 

On the Sunday evening Clay and Sullivan dined together 
at the Cafe Royal. Suddenly they heard a familiar laugh, 
looked across the room, and saw a young friend of theirs at 
an adjacent table. Teddy was giving a jolly little dinner- 
party to half a dozen of his friends, who were both of the 
brave and the fair sex. And the champagne corks were 
jumping merrily. 

The operatic burlesque of Faust, which was produced at t::e 
Gaiety in October 1888, revived at the Globe in 1889, and 
again at the Gaiety in 1890, is remarkable at least for one 
fact. It brought the phrase " up-to-date " into general use 
wherever the English language is spoken. 

So little was the phrase known at the time that Augustus 
Moore, passing the Gaiety when the bills had just been put 
out announcing the forthcoming production, and seeing me 
talking to George Edwardes in the entrance hall, came in to 
point out to me that the phrase must be wrong. " Surely," 
he said, " if you mean anything at all you mean that Faust is 
brought down to date." 

But the phrase, unfamiliar as it was in theatrical, literary, 
and newspaper circles, was very well known in the commercial 
world. It was in the City that I first saw it used. " SIR, I 
beg to enclose a copy of your account up to date." 

It was from the City that I got the idea of describing the 
Gaiety story of Faust as written " Up-to-date," and the 
phrase caught on. But when it was first used at the Gaiety 
for the Sims-Pettitt-Lutz version of Faust it had never been 
used in any newspaper or book or public speech or private 

Faust Up-to-date had a wonderful cast. Florence St. John 
was Marguerite ; Violet Cameron was Faust ; Lonnen, 
Mephistopheles ; George Stone, Valentine ; Maria Jones, 

196 MY LIFE 

Martha ; and Fanny Robina was Siebel ; and the Vivandiere 
was played by a very young actress named Mabel Love. 

Bob Martin, as usual, supplied a couple of songs, but nearly 
the whole of the music was original and was by Meyer Lutz. 

The pas de quatre which he wrote for Faust not only took 
the town but became world-famous. The original dancers of 
the pas de quatre were Florence Levy, Lillian Price, Eva 
Greville, and Maud Wilmot. 

There had been some discussion with regard to a romantic 
incident in the life of a young lady who was appearing in 
Faust she was supposed to have attempted to commit 
suicide and this led to certain letters in the papers, one of 
them being written by Mrs. Millicent Garrett Fawcett. 

Mrs. Fawcett was invited to come and see Faust Up-to-date 

She came, she saw, and she sent George Edwardes her 
report. Here are some passages from it : 

" July 26th. Last night I carried out my promise to 
Mr. G. Edwardes and went to the Gaiety Theatre to see 
Faust Up-to-date. It was a depressing performance with 
hardly any real fun or humour in it ; leaving an impression 
(as Mr. Ruskin said of the pantomime of The Forty Thieves) 
of ' an ugly and disturbing dream/ ' 

Here is Mrs. Fawcett 's description of the famous pas de 
quatre : 

" The dresses of the dancers were pretty, but the dances 
were quite the reverse. In one most ungraceful figure, the 
four dancing girls stand close together behind one another 
and then make what I can only attempt to describe as a sort 
of Catherine wheel of legs. It really was rather like fireworks 
without the fire, legs shooting out in every direction like the 
spokes of a. wheel." 

It is a long report, and this is the gentle conclusion : " With 
all my fondness for the theatre, I would never go near a theatre 
again if they all provided entertainments of the type of 
Faust Up-to-date." 

I met Meyer Lutz for the first time at Scarborough. It 
was his custom to leave the Gaiety at the end of the summer 
season in order to conduct the Scarborough Band which 
played on the front. The members of the band wore black 

MY LIFE 197 

coats and black waistcoats, black ties and black top hats, and 
their " uniform " gave them the appearance of musical 

At the end of the season Meyer Lutz and the members of his 
mournfully garbed band put their black toppers in the lockers 
under the seats in the bandstand and left them there till they 
donned them again the following year, the black suits and 
the black hats being, I believe, the property of the town. 

I cannot vouch for the truth of the story, but I was assured 
by a Scarborough Pressman that the hats of some of the black 
band were at least ten years old. 

Dear old Meyer Lutz was a character and in many ways a 
remarkable man. He was a fine musician and during the 
whole time that he was the musical conductor at the Gaiety 
he was also organist and director of music at St. George's 
Cathedral, Southwark. In his very young days Meyer Lutz 
was an infant prodigy a boy pianist. 

Very few people who knew him well as the musical conductor 
of the Gaiety burlesques were aware of his very close connexion, 
or rather association, with the tragic end of the Mad King of 
Bavaria, who drowned himself and his attendant physician in 
the Starnberg Lake. 

Ludwig of Bavaria built himself a palace that was a world 
wonder, dressed himself as Lohengrin and sailed about the 
lake at midnight on the back of a mechanical swan ; Ludwig 
of Bavaria, who had Wagner's operas magnificently produced 
with himself as the sole spectator, after spending millions on 
his enchanted palace, wanted to spend more millions in order 
to " complete " it. 

The Minister President of Bavaria at that time was Baron 
von Lutz. Baron von Lutz informed the King that his country 
was not in a condition to comply with the royal demand. 

Thereupon the King wrote to Baron von Lutz and informed 
him that unless the money was forthcoming within seven days 
the head of Baron von Lutz would be summarily deprived of 
the body to which it belonged. 

Baron von Lutz brought the letter before the Bavarian 
Cabinet, with the result that a commission was appointed and 
the King was declared to be insane and incapable of managing 
his own affairs. 

198 MY LIFE 

The King was later on conveyed to a small castle on the 
lake, and Dr. Gudden was appointed to be his medical 

The mad King only spent one night in his royal prison. On 
the evening of the second day, Whit Monday, 1886, he went 
for a walk with the doctor and several attendants. 

The King talked so rationally that the doctor was put off 
his guard, and at his royal patient's request sent the atten- 
dants back to the castle. 

The King and the doctor walked on. They walked until 
they reached the edge of the lake. No one knows what 
happened there, but some time afterwards when the non- 
return of the King and the doctor to the palace had caused 
alarm a search was made, and the bodies of both were found 
in the lake. 

Some years ago I stood one autumn evening by the little 
lamp that throws a red glow over the spot at which the 
tragedy occurred. The red lamp was placed there as a 
memorial of the tragedy by the mad King's uncle, who was 
appointed regent. 

My companion was a well-informed official who probably 
knew the circumstances as well as anybody, and he told me 
that the theory of the experts who had examined the bodies 
and examined the lake and the shore was that by the edge 
of the water the King had suddenly gripped the physician by 
the throat, intending to strangle him and throw his body into 
the lake, but the doctor fought for his life, and in the struggle 
the King, still gripping the doctor's throat the marks of the 
fingers were still visible when the body was found dragged 
him into the water, forced him under, held him there till he 
was drowned, and then walked on and on and on into the 
deep waters until they closed over his head, and the Mad 
King was at peace at last. 

The Baron von Lutz, who by his refusal to advise the 
Government to grant the King the million he demanded, was 
the indirect cause of the tragedy of the Starnberg Lake, was 
the elder brother of Meyer Lutz, who for nearly a quarter of 
a century was the master of music at the Gaiety and the 
composer of Faust Up-to-date. 

It was with Faust Up-to-date, followed by Carmen 

MY LIFE 199 

Up-to-Data, that I was connected with the Gaiety as a 

As a playgoer I have a hundred happy memories of the 
Temple of the Sacred Lamp. I saw the first performance 
that was ever given in the old Gaiety Theatre, and I was 
invited to appear on the stage in the last performance in the 
Temple that was then doomed to demolition. 

This last performance took place on the night of July 4, 
1903. The special feature was called The Linkman, or Gaiety 
Memories, and many of the old favourites appeared in 
characters from the old successes. 

Gertie Millar was Morgiana in The Forty Thieves, Ethel 
Sydney was Marguerite in Faust Up-to-date, George Grossmith 
was Noirtier in Monte Cristo, Junior, and Don Caesar de Bazan 
in Ruy Bias ; Edmund Payne was Hassarac in The Forty 
Thieves and the Lieutenant in Don Juan, and Lionel Mackinder, 
who, though past the age, nobly gave his life for his country 
somewhere in France, was Ali Baba and Don Jose in Carmen 

But between that memorable night in 1903 and the far-off 
opening night in '68 what visions of joy, what memories of 
domestic drama and radiant romance ! 

I remember that at the Gaiety John Hollingshead, in a 
spirit of mischievous humour, once gave us The Castle Spectre. 

It was at the Gaiety that the company of the Comedie 
Fran$aise made its first appearance in England. 

On Sarah Bernhardt nights the guinea stalls were often sold 
in the " open market " by subscribers for five guineas. That 
was in 1879. 

In 1880 Sarah came again by herself at a salary of five 
hundred and sixty pounds a week. 

Henry Irving was playing in Formosa at Drury Lane when 
he was released by Chatterton to play the part of Chevenix in 
Uncle Dick's Darling. 

Adelaide Neilson was the heroine in this well-remembered 
Byron play, and there was a curious double contretemps. 
She was struck on the head by a piece of scenery, and could 
not appear on the following night. 

That charming actress, Miss Marie Litton, was Miss Neilson' s 
understudy. Hollingshead only heard at twelve o'clock in 



the day that Miss Neilson would not be able to appear that 

He sent up at once to Miss Litton, who was Mrs. Wybrow 
Robertson, only to discover that she had that morning 
presented her husband with a small addition to the family. 

So " Practical John " had to come forward and make an 
apology to the audience, and the part of Mary Belton was 
read by Miss Tremaine. 

When Hollingshead got up a benefit at the Gaiety for John 
Parry, Charles Mathews, who was to have played, was taken 
suddenly unwell, and those two evergreen comedians, Mr. 
Alfred Bishop and Mr. Charles Collette, divided the characters 
between them with great satisfaction to the audience. 

The sensation caused by the Dancing Quakers, Mr. Ryley 
and Miss Barnum, is probably forgotten, and so is the success 
made by Miss Rose Fox in the skipping-rope dance. 

Hollingshead found Rose Fox at a penny gaff in the East 
End and brought her straight away to the Gaiety. 

It was at the Gaiety that Ibsen was first played upon the 
English stage. The play was Quicksands and the adapter 
Mr. William Archer. And the next production was The 
Forty Thieves. 

I have a lively remembrance of Arthur Cecil he shared a 
flat near the Haymarket Theatre with Freddy Clay, and I 
used to go there for wonderful breakfasts in the Dublin 
prawn season playing Tony Lumpkin at the Gaiety. 

I had to see Billy Florence and Mrs. Florence more than 
once in The Almighty Dollar at the Gaiety, because I was 
writing a play for them to take back to America. 

Billy Florence informed me that his greatest ambition was 
to settle in this country and get a consulship somewhere. 
Bret Harte was at that time a consul at Glasgow, and I think 
that put the idea into Florence's head. 

It was Billy Florence who strolled round Covent Garden 
when peaches were not in season here, went in and bought 
and ate six. When he was told they were a guinea each it 
was too late for him to resist the temptation of the rare and 
refreshing fruit. 

But the American invasion of the Gaiety that is, perhaps, 
best remembered to-day was that of Mr. Henry E. Dixey, an 

MY LIFE 201 

American variety actor who brought an entirely American 
company with him to play in Adonis. 

Dixey was the original Boss Knivett in America in my 
Romany Rye in 1882. 

Another cherished Gaiety memory is that of the amateur 
pantomime played on the afternoon of February 13, 1875. 

In the Harlequinade Mr. William Wye, otherwise William 
Yardley, was the Clown, Mr. T. Knox Holmes was the Panta- 
loon, W. S. Gilbert was Harlequin, and Mademoiselle Rosa was 
the Columbine. 

Talking of Mademoiselle Rosa reminds me that she was one 
of the Alhambra company when they went for a merry sea 
trip. They chartered a steamer and the whole company left 
London for a Sunday trip to Boulogne, got caught in a terrible 
storm in " the middle of the ocean," and gave themselves up 
for lost. 

M. Georges Jacobi, the musical director, was on board, and 
he gave me a vivid description of the scene. 

Almost every member of the company was on board, 
including the ballet ladies. All had departed arrayed in their 
finest frippery for the fascinating of fair France, but when the 
great seas washed the decks and swamped the saloons the 
result was shocking. 

The ship never got to Boulogne, but she managed to bring 
the Alhambra company back in safety to the shores of per- 
fidious Albion, and they landed, as one of the company put 
it, looking like a wrung-out lot of drowned tramps. 

But the trade-mark of the Gaiety, if one may use such a 
word in connexion with a Temple of Art, was in the old days 
burlesque, and our fairest memories are perhaps of Kate 
Vaughan and Connie Gilchrist " The Golden Girl " of 
Whistlerian art and Letty Lind and Sylvia Grey, Cissie 
Loftus, Topsy Sinden, and Phyllis Broughton. 

Our joyous memories are of Nellie Farren and Marion Hood 
and Ada Blanche and Florence St. John, and there are happy 
memories of Emily Duncan and Hetty Hamer and Alma 
Stanley. Miss Gertie Millar has a Gaiety all by herself. 

The Gaiety comedians began very early with Toole and 
dear old Lai Brough and finished with Teddy Payne and 
George Grossmith, jun., at the end of a list which included 



Edward Terry and Fred Leslie and Seymour Hicks, Willie 
Edouin and E. W. Royce, J. J. Dallas, David James, Charles 
Danby, and I wonder how many playgoers remember it ? 
Mr. Cyril Maude was once in Gaiety burlesque and played in 

And Mr. John D'Auban, whom I meet every Christmas at 
Drury Lane, lithe and lissom as ever, was one of the accom- 
plished pair of dancers and pantomimists who scored an 
instantaneous success as D'Auban and Warde on the night 
that the lights of the Gaiety first beamed upon the Strand. 

And that was in the 'sixties. 


I HAVE said that it was through the " Dagonet Ballads " that 
I first came in touch with Robert Buchanan, but our collabo- 
ration at the Adelphi commenced many years after. 

Buchanan had made a big success with A Man's Shadow, a 
version of Roger la Honte, which he did for Beerbohm Tree at 
the Haymarket, and the Brothers Gatti suggested that he 
should be my next collaborator at the Adelphi. 

Our first melodrama, The English Rose, was a great success, 
with Leonard Boyne, Evelyn Millard, Lionel Rignold, and 
Katey James in the cast, and J. D. Beveridge, whose delightful 
impersonation of the Knight of Ballyveeny is a dear remem- 
brance of old playgoers. 

Leonard Boyne, always a splendid horseman on and off the 
stage, rode one of his many successful mounts to victory in 
the big scene. 

Buchanan was not quite happy about himself as a melo- 
dramatist. I am not sure that it was not a remark of Robert 
Browning that first made him unhappy at the Adelphi. 

At the Academy dinner Lecky, in responding to the toast 
of literature, made an enthusiastic reference to Buchanan's 
beautiful poem The City of Dream. Browning, when he heard 
Buchanan's name mentioned, turned to his neighbour and in 
an audible voice exclaimed, " Buchanan ! Buchanan ! Is he 
talking about the man who writes plays with Sims at the 
Adelphi ? " 

The usual d d good-natured friends told Buchanan, and it 
was soon afterwards that he began to urge me to let him adopt 
a pseudonym in our collaboration. I did not like the idea, and 
I told him so. Soon after I received the following letter : 

" DEAR SIMS, Thanks for your letter. Now that you 
realize exactly what I mean, and feel that it implies no forget- 




fulness of our friendship, I'm sure you'll help me. I should 
feel so free for stage purposes if I worked under a pseudonym, 
and it wouldn't matter at all whether or not the public knew 
it to be such (as they would) it would keep the two kinds of 
work completely distinct. And after all it is your name, not 
mine, which attracts to the Adelphi, for you are a popular 
writer, and I a d d unpopular one. 

" I should work with ten times the heart if my dramatic 
work were kept altogether apart from my poetical, so far as 
my name is concerned. Unfortunately, I can't afford to be a 
poet only I wish I could, for poetry alone gives me real 
happiness, not for any reward it yields in pence or praise, but 
solely because it was m*y first love and is my last. 

" Nor have I any scorn for the stage. On the contrary, I 
honour and delight in it, and as for you, I've always held 
you to be one of the choicest spirits of the time, far higher in 
thought and power than many of us poets. Dramatic work 
falls justly and finely into your broad sympathy with life for 
life's sake. I, on the other hand, am a dreamer, a whiner 
after the Unknown and Unknowable. I was ' built that way.' 

" You've given me many, many happy days. I love you 
personally, and would do anything in the world to bring you 
happiness and honour. So you mustn't, mustn't misconceive 
me \ Set me down as a fool if you like, but never doubt the 
friendship which makes me subscribe myself, yours always, 


The letter shows plainly enough the condition of mind with 
which Buchanan approached Adelphi melodrama. 

But he wanted money. He had been foolish enough to 
take the Lyric Theatre in order to run a poetic play, The 
Bride of Love, in which his charming and talented sister-in- 
law, Miss Harriett Jay, had scored a distinct success at a 

The poet, who was never a very far-seeing man in business 
matters, thought that a matinee production was good enough 
for a regular run, which, of course, it was not, and his mistake 
saddled him with a heavy burden of debt. 

Directly one of our Adelphi dramas had been produced, a 
first night success scored, and the box-office had begun to 

MY LIFE 205 

talk promisingly, Buchanan was anxious to realize in other 
words, to sell for cash. 

I endeavoured to dissuade him, pointing out that a successful 
melodrama might be a property for twenty or thirty years, 
but he said he could not afford to wait for twenty or thirty 
years for his money, and if I could arrange to buy his share 
for two thousand five hundred down that sum would be most 
useful to him and relieve his mind of considerable anxiety. 

I submitted the proposition to the Messrs. Gatti, and we 
bought the Bard out between us at his own earnest request. 

The same thing happened with The Trumpet Call. The 
moment it had proved a success Buchanan wanted to sell. It 
would not have been wise for the Gattis or myself to allow a 
share of the property to pass into the hands of a stranger, so 
again we bought the poet's share for the ready money of 
which he seemed to be perpetually in desperate need. 

We wrote together The White Rose, in which Mrs. Patrick 
Campbell made such an artistic success as Elizabeth Cromwell, 
one of the gentlest and sweetest performances she has ever 
given to the English stage. 

This was followed by The Lights of Home, with Mrs. 
Campbell as the heroine and Kyrle Bellew as the hero, and 
then came The Black Domino. 

While The Black Domino was running Arthur Pinero he 
was not " Sir " then came to the Adelphi and saw in Mrs. 
Patrick Campbell the ideal Paula for The Second Mrs. 
Tanqueray, a play that George Alexander was about to put in 
rehearsal at the St. James's. 

The happenings which led up to the engagement of Mrs. 
Patrick Campbell for the part of Paula make quite a little 
romance of the stage. Here are the facts of the romance. 

The story of the early adventures of Sir Arthur Pinero's 
world-famous play is interesting. 

After he had written it he sent it to John Hare. What the 
eminent actor and manager said about it was not encouraging. 
It met with no more favourable reception when Beerbohm 
Tree read it. Then Pinero took it to George Alexander. 

The illustrious three must forgive me the omission of the 
" Sir." It was an honour they all deserved, but had not 
then received. 



Alexander was then playing R. C. Carton's Liberty Hall to 
splendid business, and he shook his head. 

By this time Pinero was getting rather tired of taking the 
lady round the houses, so he said to George Alexander, " Put 
it up at a matinee and I won't ask for any fees. I want it 

Alexander agreed, and little paragraphs began to appear 
in the Press about a new Pinero play which was to be put up 
at a matinee. 

Mr. Carton very naturally objected that this was not fair 
to Liberty Hall It gave the idea that the " Hall " would 
soon be "at liberty." 

The manager of the St. James's saw the difficulty and had 
an idea. " Look here," he said to Pinero, " if you don't 
mind waiting till late in the season I'll put the play up for a 

And that is how the wonderful play came to its own at last. 

But before Tanqueray was produced there was considerable 
difficulty in " finding the lady." 

The author's original idea was Miss Winifred Emery. Miss 
Emery was Mrs. Cyril Maude. When the time came to put 
the play in rehearsal Mrs. Maude was not well enough to 

Olga Nethersole was suggested, but she was playing, and 
her manager refused to release her. With Julia Neilson there 
was the same difficulty. 

Then Pinero remembered having seen Mrs. Patrick Campbell 
in the provinces when she was acting with the Ben Greet 
Company, and he knew that she had made a success at the 
Adelphi, and was then playing there in The Black Domino, so 
the distinguished dramatist came to the Adelphi, saw the 
play, saw Mrs. Campbell, and asked the Gattis if they would 
release her, and the Gattis very politely but very firmly 

In the meantime Miss Elizabeth Robins had scored a great 
success in Hedda Gabler, and the part of Paula was soon 
afterwards offered to her and accepted by her. 

But Mrs. Patrick Campbell was very anxious to go to the 
St. James's, a theatre she thought would suit her better than 
the Adelphi. 

MY LIFE 207 

She came to me and asked me if I would use my influence 
with the Gattis and get them to alter their decision, and the 
Gattis, because we had been good friends privately and in 
business for so many years, said that if I personally wished it 
they could not refuse. 

But Elizabeth Robins was already engaged, and was invited 
with the company to the St. James's on a certain afternoon 
to hear Pinero read his play. 

About two hours before the play was to be read Miss 
Robins heard that her friend Stella Campbell was free to play 
the part, and then she did a very noble and a very generous 
thing. She voluntarily resigned the part in which she believed 
that she had one of the finest chances of her career, and she 
resigned it in order to give an opportunity to her friend. 

Robert Buchanan, poet, man of letters and dramatist, was 
one of the most interesting personalities of his generation. 

At one moment he would, in a fit of poetic exaltation, 
imagine himself conversing with the Almighty on Hampstead 
Heath, and the next moment he would be rushing to the 
telephone to ask if such and such a horse had won the big 

I have listened spellbound in the afternoon to some beautiful 
poem he had just written, and have met him at midnight 
disguised as a monk at a Covent Garden ball. 

He was a born gambler, and when he began to make m&ney 
in the theatre he took to the Turf, but he always took to it 
most violently and most recklessly when he was in financial 

He had, with the insanity of genius, taken the Opera 
Comique in order to run a play written by himself and Henry 
Murray, The Society Butterfly, in which Mrs. Langtry was 

When it became a question of closing down or getting the 
money to carry on, Buchanan, with his friend Henry Murray, 
went off to Lingfield races with a pocketful of bank-notes in 
order to back a certain horse which had been privately tipped 
to him as a good thing and certain to start at a long price. 
The name of the horse was Theseus. 

Theseus ran in the fourth race. Some little time before 

208 MY LIFE 

the start Buchanan gave Murray a hundred pounds in bank- 
notes. He was to go to the ring and back Theseus. 

But they remained chatting for a time as they had not 
seen the horses go by for their preliminary canter. They did 
not know that instead of parading as usual before the stands 
and carriages the horses had passed through to the starting- 
post. Murray and Buchanan were still talking when they 
heard a roar of " They're off i " 

Murray ran with all his speed towards the ring, hoping that 
he might be able to get the money on, but he had to fight his 
way through a crowd and through the police, and he just 
reached the ring with the notes grasped in his hand as the 
first horse dashed past the winning-post. 

And the first horse was Theseus. It had started at 20 to i. 

When Murray went back to Buchanan with the uninvested 
bank-notes still crumpled in his hand, the Bard received the 
news with a smile, and said, " Better luck next time. You 
look bowled over, old man. You'll find some whisky in the 

And the money that Theseus would have won them would 
have saved The Society Butterfly from failure and Buchanan 
from bankruptcy. 

Out of doors I rarely saw Robert Buchanan without a white 
waistcoat and never without an umbrella. He wielded his 
umbrella as his Scotch ancestors wielded their battle-axes. 

It was the oddest thing in the world to see him directing a 
rehearsal with that umbrella. He leaned upon it as a support, 
he waved it around, generally unfolded, to indicate positions 
on the stage, he swayed it gently to and fro during the senti- 
mental scenes, and he banged it on the prompter's table to 
emphasize the declamatory passages. 

He was quite a good stage-manager in his own dreamy and 
poetical plays, but at the Adelphi, where we painted real life 
in vivid colours, his ideas did not always harmonize with those 
of the " producer." 

In The English Rose we had real soldiers from Chelsea 
Barracks. The men were under the command of a real 

" Now," said Buchanan to the sergeant, " what you've got 
to say to your men is : ' Enter that church/ " 

MY LIFE 209 

" Can't do it that way/' said the sergeant, and he proceeded 
to give the military command, which the men obeyed and 
entered the church. 

Buchanan had them back. " Speak the line," he said. 
" Say to your men, ' Enter that church.' ' 

" It wouldn't be military, sir," said the sergeant. 

Then the Bard flourished his umbrella and said, " All right, 

But he was not convinced, for that night when we adjourned 
as usual to Rule's, in Maiden Lane, for a few minutes' rest 
and refreshment, he started the argument again, and main- 
tained with many bangs of the umbrella that he was 

But in his home he was the gentlest and most amiable of 
men, though some of us, and we were generally a fairly large 
party at his hospitable supper-board, loved to draw him out 
by contradicting him. 

Those evenings at Merkland in Maresfield Gardens, South 
Hampstead he named his house after the Scotch home of 
the loved companion of his youth, David Gray lasted till far 
into the night, and it was often between three and four in 
the morning before our host bade us adieu. 

The Merkland Sunday afternoons were always interesting 
because interesting people came from near and far to them. 

Rochefort was a frequent visitor. I knew Rochefort as a 
near neighbour he lived at No. 4 Clarence Terrace and I 
used to see his two horses led every morning to the front 
door to be fed by him and his niece with lumps of sugar. 

The horses used to step half-way into the hall, and on one 
occasion one of them, when the sugar supply gave out early 
and Rochefort went for some more, followed him into the 

Rochefort asked me one day to take him to see something 
that was peculiarly English in the way of amusement, and I 
took him to the Moore and Burgess Minstrels. I fancy Ivan 
Caryll and M. Johnson, the London correspondent of the 
Figaro, were with us. The performance left Rochefort in a 
condition of amused amazement. " It's wonderful ! " he said 
to me. " A company of undertakers singing songs about the 
dead, and then the undertakers at each end begin to rattle 


zio MY LIFE 

cross-bones ! I expected every minute to see the undertaker 
in the middle bang a skull." 

fc- Rochefort never learned English. He told me that it would 
spoil his style. And he never put the articles he sent to his 
paper in the post. They were always handed to the conductor 
of the Paris Mail at Charing Cross and in this way they travelled 
by hand until they were met at the Gare du Nord by a special 
messenger from the newspaper office. At least that was 
what Rochefort told me. 

Fierce fighter as he was in his work, there was no more 
modest or less self-assertive man among his friends and guests 
than was Robert Buchanan. 

He was at his best when the day's work was clone and the 
night was well on its way and he sat with a cigarette between 
his lips and John Jameson by his side and smiled and laughed 
and listened. 

He had many beliefs one of them was in the Salvation 
Army as a fighting force for the uplifting of the masses and 
he had one abiding superstition. 

K He imparted his superstition to me during a trip we had 
made to Southend. We were writing a play together. 
Buchanan was a bit run down, and suggested that we should 
take a week-end off together. 

He had lived once near Southend, and his wife lay in the 
little churchyard there. 

One moonlight night as we sat looking across the water he 
told me of a work upon which he had been engaged for many 
years It was finished, but he feared to have it printed. 

" 1 believe," he said, " that when that poem is published 
it will be my last. I shall never do anything great again." 

The poem was eventually published. It was the last great 
work he ever gave to the world. 

One afternoon he said to his sister-in-law, Miss Jay, " I 
should like to have a good spin down Regent Street." 

They were the last words Robert Buchanan ever uttered. 
A few moments afterwards he was stricken down, and from 
that day to the day of his death, eight months later, he was 
as helpless as a little child. 

He was buried at Southend with his wife and his mother. 
After the funeral service we adjourned to a small building in 

MY LIFE 211 

the churchyard, and there the poet's old friend, Mr. T. P. 
O'Connor, delivered a brief and touching address, and carried 
us back to the old days of poverty and struggle when two 
young Scotsmen, poets both and enthusiasts both Robert 
Buchanan and David Gray starved in a garret in Stamford 

Some time ago I went into the little churchyard at Southend 
and stood by my old friend's grave. Over it is a marble 
pedestal, and on the pedestal a bust of the poet. Across the 
bust a spider had spun its web. There were cobwebs in the 
marble eyes. 

It was through a web that the dead genius had looked 
upon the world, but through that web he had seen glorious 
visions. How glorious they were his generation did not 

But in the years to come the laurels denied him in life will 
be laid upon his tomb. 


THERE are theatres to-day in which it is considered artistic 
to conceal the band. 

Sometimes the orchestra is roofed over with artificial 
foliage, and you gaze down from the upper parts of the house 
upon an arrangement which looks like an artfully prepared 
pitfall for the scouts of an invading army. 

This innovation deprives an audience of a long familiar 
sight the back of the musical conductor. 

Many of our best known musical conductors have been 
composers, and the majority of our conductors have been 
originally members of an orchestra. 

The first musical conductor with whom I was theatrically 
associated in business was an am able little German I 
conclude he was a German because his name was Max Schroter. 
He was at the Royalty, and when I wrote, under the name of 
Delacour Daubigny, a one-act musical play for the Vaudeville, 
Max Schroter was my composer. 

Michael Connolly, who wrote and arranged the music for 
The Lights o' London, was a fine chef d'orchestre and a charming 
man. His music talked. It always had the sentiment of the scene. 

Another excellent chef d'orchestre for melodramatic music 
was Henry Sprake, who was for many years at the Adelphi. 
He had been a military bandsman, and his incidental music 
for In the Ranks was a decided asset. 

Everybody knows Jimmy Glover, the eminent Master of 
Music at Drury Lane, who, in every sense of the word, fills 
the conductor's chair at the National Theatre. 

But when Jimmy Glover and I first came together I was 
slim, and he was slimmer. He was a tall, thin young fellow, 
with longish hair, a wasp-like waist, a slight stoop, and a 
pleasant manner, with now and then a boisterous dash of 
Irish exuberance. 


MY LIFE 213 

He composed most of the music for Jack in the Box, a musical 
play written by Clement Scott and myself for Fanny Leslie 
and played at the Strand. We became friends at the merry 
little Strand in the early 'eighties, and we have been friends 
as author and composer and as brother journalists ever 

Jules Riviere, who came back to the Alhambra for The 
Golden Ring, had won renown with the promenade concerts 
and had made fame with Babil and Bijou. It was a costly 
affair, produced at Covent Garden in August 1872, written by 
Dion Boucicault and Planche, and financed by a noble patron 
of the stage. 

Riviere's chorus of " Spring, Spring, Gentle Spring ! " 
sung by boys, was the sensation of the celebrated " Fantastic 
musical drama/' and has lived. Herve and Frederic Clay 
wrote some of the music for the eleven thousand pound 
production, and Helen Barry and Henriette d'Or graced the 
cast, and so did Mrs. Howard Paul and Mrs. Billington, and 
Lai Brough was the principal comedian. 

Babil was played by Joseph Maas, who was making his 
first appearance and getting a salary of twelve pounds a week. 
It was not very long afterwards that he raised his terms to 
fifty pounds a night. 

Miss Annie Sinclair, a dainty light soprano, was Bijou. She 
was also making her first appearance, and her salary, like 
that of Maas, was twelve pounds a week. 

Shortly after the run of Babil and Bijou Annie Sinclair 
undertook a part which was quite an unconventional one for 
a young and pretty actress who had just made a highly 
successful debut. She resigned the Stage for the Church and 
entered a convent. 

I remember Jules Riviere in semi-military array conducting 
an orchestra at Eastbourne which I always understood was 
" supported " by Baron Grant, who afterwards gave Leicester 
Square to the public. 

The story of Leicester Square is a story by itself, and so is 
the story of Baron Grant, whose magnificent " Staircase of 
Fortune " is now the grand staircase at Madame Tussaud's. 

The Square, which had become a boarded-up rubbish 
ground, received its final insult on the morning of October 17, 



1866, when the disgracefully damaged equestrian statue of 
George II was turned into a Guy Fawkes effigy. 

The battered-featured monarch's head was adorned with a 
fool's cap, and the white steed was daubed all over with 
black spots. 

Certain members of the Alhambra staff have always been 
suspected of playing a practical joke which set all London 
laughing. The joke settled the statue and proved the salva- 
tion of the Square. 

Baron Albert Grant, then at the height of his financial 
boom, bought the square, removed the statue of the shattered 
sovereign, substituted that of Shakespeare, and threw the 
space open to the public. 

The famous financier was under a cloud some time after- 
wards, and it was apropos of his questionable commercial 
morality that a well-known epigram was perpetrated : 

Kings can give titles, but they Honour can't ; 
Rank without Honour is a barren grant, 

or words to that effect. I do not know that I have given the 
last line quite accurately, but that was the sense of it. 

Hamilton Clarke was for some time living's conductor at 
the Lyceum. He had a genius for orchestration, but he was 
" peculiar." He arranged a selection from The Merry Duchess 
for the promenade concerts at Covent Garden, and omitted 
the Tigers' Chorus, the musical success of the opera. When 
Clay remonstrated with him, Hamilton Clarke told him that 
he had omitted it because, as a musician, he did not think it 
worthy of Clay's talent. 

When Clarke was at the Lyceum, Irving wanted a few bars 
to bring him down stage. Clarke wrote the music and 
played it. Irving reached the desired spot, but the music 
was still going on. 

"I've finished," said Irving. 

" But my music hasn't," replied Clarke. " You must time 
yourself to it." 

Poor Hamilton Clarke was always a bit " touched." Later 
on the trouble developed seriously, and the conductor's chair 
knew him no more. 

Jules Riviere came back to the Alhambra to be the musical 


MY LIFE 215 

conductor at the time The Golden Ring, by Frederic Clay and 
myself, was produced. 

After poor Clay's seizure I was frequently at the Alhambra 
looking after The Golden Ring, and I saw a good deal of 
Riviere, who had all the charm of the Bohemian Frenchman 
with a touch at times of the old-fashioned grand manner. 

Riviere in his room at the Alhambra told me many interest- 
ing stories of his musical ventures and adventures. He was 
the musical conductor at the Adelphi during the run of 
The Colleen Bawn, and also when Leah was produced there 
and Kate Bateman made one of the most pronounced theatrical 
successes of the time. 

He was at Cremorne when John Baum was the manager, 
and that was where I first made his acquaintance. 

Writing of Baum, I remember that behind one of the big 
glass-fitted stalls of the Alhambra that were run by him there 
was a tall, good-looking young lady who presided over the 
sale of gloves and scent. She became a famous and charming 
actress later on, and was the guest of Alfred Tennyson, the 
Poet Laureate, when he was writing a play for her a play 
which had a memorable first night and a short run. 

It was while Riviere was at Cremorne that the Gardens 
lost their dancing licence, so Riviere increased his band, 
engaged a number of first-class musicians, and produced a 
ballet in the theatre. But the dancing on the stage didn't 
draw like the dancing in the Gardens, and at the end of the 
season Riviere left. 

But while he was there in 1872 the members of his orchestra 
were victims of an extraordinary adventure. 

A French millionaire amateur had written a cantata, 
Le Feu du del, and he wanted to produce it in London. 
Riviere agreed to look after the performance, to supply the 
orchestra, and to conduct it. 

It was produced at a matinee at St. James's Hall, Madame 
Lemmens-Sherrington, Mr. George Perrin, and Signor Foli 
taking the solo parts. 

Riviere brought his band from Cremorne, the instruments 
being conveyed in a covered van. After the performance the 
instruments were put in the van again to be taken back to 

216 MY LIFE 

When he got into the King's Road, Chelsea, the driver 
suddenly discovered that the van was on fire. He had only 
just time to cut the traces and save his horses when the van 
burst into flames. All the instruments of Riviere's Cremorne 
orchestra were destroyed. 

" How the fire originated/' said Riviere, when he was 
telling me the story, " we were never able to discover. It 
was as though The Fire of Heaven in which the instruments 
had taken part had played its part in the van with realistic 

Harking back to Babil and Bijou old playgoers are always 
harking back to it Riviere had a curious experience. 

After " Spring, Gentle Spring " had been published by 
Hawkes and Co., a firm of which Riviere was a member, a 
woman applied one day at a police court for a summons 
against the publishers. She informed the magistrate that she 
was the composer of the song ; that while she was travelling 
between Germany and London the manuscript had been 
stolen from her. 

The magistrate told the lady she had better consult a 
solicitor, and she went away. The report of the application 
appeared in all the daily papers, and Riviere at once published 
an indignant denial of the theft. The clerk of the court had, 
it seems, omitted to take the applicant's address, and so 
Riviere could do nothing to bring her to book. But he 
offered a reward for information which would lead to her 
identification, and eventually she was discovered in a poor 
lodging, and almost destitute. 

She was undoubtedly insane, and shortly afterwards was 
placed in a lunatic asylum. 

Riviere's ambition when he came to England was to be 
the Jullien of his day. He had an artistic and successful 
career, and he gave great promenade concerts like Jullien, 
but he escaped the tragedy of the closing scenes of Jullien's 

Jullien left a big reputation behind him in the entertainment 
world when he quitted London in 1858. But he had already 
begun to show sjnnptoms of insanity. 

Just before he went away Jullien came to Riviere and said : 
" My friend, I am at work upon a composition which when 

MY LIFE 217 

published will bear the two greatest names in history." He 
then showed Riviere a paper upon which he had written : 

" The Lord's Prayer. 

Words by 

Jesus Christ, 

Music by 


Soon afterwards the mad musician went to Paris. He 
hired an open fly and drove about the boulevards. Every 
now and then he ordered the driver to pull up. Then he 
stood up in the carriage, informed the crowd that he was the 
great Jullien, took a piccolo from his pocket, and played it. 

Shortly afterwards he cut his throat in a side street turning 
out of the Chaussee d'Antin. 

The tragedy made a great sensation in London. Jullien's 
promenade concerts, masked balls, and musical enterprises 
had been established features of gay, pleasure-loving London 
in the 'fifties, when the motto of the many was : 

The best of all ways 
To lengthen your days 
Is to steal a few hours from night, my boys. 

And the West End was gayest and noisiest after midnight, 
the " gents " in peg-top trousers and wonderful whiskers 
revelled in the streets, bonneted policemen, rang bells and 
wrenched off knockers on their way home from Cremorne, 
Highbury Barn, Jullien's masked balls, or the night houses of 
the Haymarket at " five o'clock in the morning." 

After Jullien's tragic end Chatterton gave Madame Jullien, 
the widow, a place in the Drury Lane box-office, a box-office 
that had one of its most famous personalities in " Jimmy " 
Stride, whose glossy high hat was the delight of a generation. 


Two other clever musicians of French extraction gave us at 
a later period the benefit of their great talents. 

Alfred and Frank Cellier were the sons of a French school- 
master at Hackney Church of England school kept by the 
Rev. I. C. Jackson, M.A. Frank Cellier spent the best years 
of his life in the conductor's chair at the Savoy, and will 
always be associated with the D'Oyly Carte regime and the 
long series of Gilbert and Sullivan triumphs. 

Frank Cellier knew perhaps better than any one except 
Frederic Clay, who was Sullivan's most intimate friend and 
constant companion, where the shoe pinched in the collabora- 
tion, and why at one time the collaborators fell seriously 

One day, soon after Gilbert and Sullivan returned from 
America, Sir Arthur unbosomed his soul to Clay. 

He had the idea that Gilbert delighted to make a butt of 
him. He had borne it patiently in London but in America 
the personal chaff of the Savoy humorist had especially 
when it was indulged in at social functions where they were 
the honoured guests seriously upset the kindly hearted and 
gentle-mannered musician. 

Sullivan told Clay that he did not think he should be able 
to stand it much longer. 

Eventually, to the great grief and surprise of all play- 
going London, the breach which had been rapidly widening 
between the famous Savoyards divided them altogether, and 
Sullivan sought a new librettist and Gilbert a new composer. 

Neither of them ever quite replaced the other, and after a 
time they came together again, but not quite in the old way 
or with the old success. 

Alfred Cellier, like Arthur Sullivan, was a choir-boy^at one 
of the Chapels Royal. When Sullivan conducted the pro- 


MY LIFE 219 

menade concerts for the Gattis at Covent Garden Alfred 
Cellier was his assistant. He had a genial, gentle personality, 
and might have given the music-loving world far more than 
he did had he not suffered from a lack of what to-day we call 
" push and go." 

His first big success was The Sultan of Mocha, played at 
the St. James's in 1876. One number especially, " O dear 
me, I am so sleepy ! " caught the town. 

It was shortly after that that I met him at the club, and he 
told me that he wanted a libretto. Would I let him have a 
copy of " Les Contes Drolatiques." He thought there might 
be a plot for a comic opera in it. 

I heard nothing more for some months, and then he returned 
the book. 

It was ten years after The Sultan of Mocha that he made a 
success which was a record one. With B. C. Stephenson he 
gave us Dorothy at the Gaiety in 1886, and it ran for 968 
consecutive performances, has been revived again and again, 
and is still on the active service list. 

But a good deal of the music had been composed by Cellier 
ten years previously for another opera called Nell Gwynne, 
with a libretto by H. B. Farnie, which was not a great 

It was in Dorothy that Arthur Williams was taken seriously 
to task by B. C. Stephenson, the librettist, who pointed out 
to the popular comedian that his gags were not suitable to a 
" period " opera. 

Williams promised to mend his ways, and soon afterwards 
Stephenson went out of town, and Arthur Williams promptly 
popped in some new gags. 

One evening in a scene with Harriet Coveney he exclaimed, 
" Do you take me for a blooming sewing-machine ? " At 
that moment he looked up and caught the indignant eye of 
B. C. Stephenson in a private box. Instantly, with his 
remarkable fertility of resource, he rushed the offending gag 
back into " period " by adding the word " forsooth." 

Herman Finck, the Master of Music at the Palace, the 
composer who plunged the world In the Shadows, was second 
violin at the Gaiety during the run of Faust Up-to-date. 

For several years I was associated with Mr. Charles Fletcher 

220 MY LIFE 

in writing the annual ballet for the Winter Gardens, Black- 

The Blackpool ballets, as invented, arranged, and produced 
by Mr. John Tiller, are magnificent productions. They are 
ballet, musical comedy, and spectacle rolled into one har- 
monious whole. 

The music for the Blackpool ballets with which I was 
associated was written by Herman Finck, and we generally 
spent the last week of sunny July together at the Wonderland 
by the Waves. 

I have always looked upon myself as the Cockney Columbus 
who discovered Blackpool that is to say, who discovered it 
for the people of the south. The northern counties had poured 
their wealth of men and material into it for many long years 

I discovered it quite by accident. I got into the wrong 
train at Preston and found myself at Blackpool. I strolled 
about, and I found the Winter Gardens, went in, and the first 
person I met was William Holland of the prize moustaches. 

He was the manager of the Gardens at the time, and he 
took me about Blackpool, and, as the result of my trip, I 
wrote an article on the wonders of the Northern Hygeia. 

My good friends of the south coast towns accused me of 
drawing the long bow, but one of the leading south coast 
journals sent a special representative to Blackpool to see if it 
was really true. The journalist who went was accompanied 
by a couple of town councillors, and the mission returned 
with a report that I had really understated the marvels of 

I had stated that during the autumn season five thousand 
artists were employed in Blackpool in entertaining visitors. 
The special mission discovered that the number of artists was 
not five thousand, but eight thousand. 

Herman Finck is one of the eight thousand, but he only 
appears once during the season, and then the audience only 
sees his back. He conducts the last dress rehearsal of the 
new ballet. 

After a week's hard work in Blackpool it was our custom 
to spend an hour on the mountain railway on the South 
Shore, which had become a second Coney Island, visit all the 

MY LIFE 221 

shows, have a real Bank Holiday, and catch the night train 

Jacobi and the Alhambra were at one time synonymous. 
He had to conduct and to write so many ballets a year. 

He was always a friend of mine, and we worked together 
on an opera which never saw the footlights. But it took me 
frequently to his room at the Alhambra, and there he intro- 
duced me to two celebrated Frenchmen. One was General 
Boulanger and the other was M. Goron, the chief of the Paris 
Detective Force. 

Goron was over here in connexion with the Gouffe murder 
by Gabrielle Bompard and Eyraud. The trunk in which the 
body of the murdered process-server had been packed bore 
the name of a maker in the Euston Road. 

I showed M. Goron a little bit of London while he was 
here, and when I crossed the Channel later he returned the 
compliment. He showed me a little bit of Paris. 

Boulanger I had seen in Paris before Jacobi introduced me 
to him at the Alhambra. I saw him first one New Year's 
morning when his brougham was in the courtyard of the 
H6tel du Louvre waiting to take him to pay the usual official 

I noticed that there was a double set of reins, one for the 
coachman and the other a safety set attached to the coach- 
man's seat, and I made up my mind that the brave General 
was a very nervous man. He lived then at the Hotel du 
Louvre, and I had the suite of rooms next to him. 

Boulanger was the pioneer of the war of revenge, the leader 
of the anti-German movement in France. The people who 
shouted " A bas les Prussiens ! " shouted " Vive Boulanger ! " 
But during the time that he was being hailed as the coming 
deliverer of Alsace-Lorraine from the Prussian yoke he was in 
constant contact with a Prussian. 

It was a Prussian who brought him his coffee to his bedroom 
in the Hotel du Louvre in the morning. It was a Prussian 
who waited on him at dinner, and who introduced all his 
visitors to him. 

Heinrich, my waiter, who also waited on the General, was 
a native of Magdeburg, though he passed for a Swiss, and 
many a time did he make me laugh by his amusing remarks 



on the situation " next door,'' next door being the General's 

The last time I saw Boulanger was one evening in Portland 
Place. It was his birthday, and a small crowd of Frenchmen 
from Soho had gathered around the door. 

Boulanger came out on the doorstep, made a little speech, 
and begged them to go away and not make a noise, as it 
might annoy the neighbours. 

Soon afterwards he left London and went abroad, and the 
next news I had of le brav' GMral was that he had committed 
suicide in a Brussels cemetery at the grave of Madame 
Bonnemains, a lady to whom he was devotedly attached. 

Boulanger was War Minister in 1886, and before then and 
after then he was the tool of the Bonapartists and the 
Orleanists, who used him in order to damage the Republic. 

But he was never the man for the job, and he only succeeded 
in damaging himself, badiy at first, and finally beyond repair. 

John Fitzgerald " Fitz " of the sunny 'seventies, who 
followed Frank Musgrave in wielding the baton in the merriest 
days of the merry little Strand was, I fancy, my first com- 
poser. I wrote a song entitled " Old England and our Queen," 
and got a guinea for it. 

Fitzgerald lived in Burton Crescent, and I always remember 
the address because there was a great murder mystery close by. 

In December 1878, an old lady named Samuel, who lived 
at a house in Burton Crescent and kept no servant, took a 
lodger, although she was of independent means. 

The lodger was a musician in an orchestra. He was away 
most of the daytime and did not return until after midnight, 
when a supper was generally laid for him in his sitting-room. 

On December n the musician returned from the theatre 
shortly after midnight, let himself in, went to his room, and 
was astonished to find no supper laid. 

He rang the bell and received no answer. Concluding that 
Mrs. Samuel must have gone out he went downstairs to see if 
he could get anything in the kitchen, and there to his horror 
he discovered the body of Mrs. Samuel lying in a pool of 

He called the police at once, a doctor came and viewed the 
body, and it was found that the old lady had been battered 

MY LIFE 223 

to death with the fragment of a hat-rail on which several of 
the pegs still remained. The pocket of her dress had been 
cut off and a pair of boots was missing, but apparently no 
other property. 

There was a maid who worked about the house in the daytime, 
going home in the evening. This maid had left at four o'clock in 
the afternoon and had then left her mistress alive and well. 

Three workmen had been employed in the house doing 
some repairs, and they had also left during the afternoon and 
Mrs. Samuel had let them out. The probability is that Mrs. 
Samuel was murdered early in the evening, but by whom is a 
mystery to this day. 

I wrote an opera with Walter Slaughter at least I nearly 
finished it and he nearly finished the music, but he was very 
ill at the time, and though he put a brave face on it he was 
often in great pain when he wrote some of his most tuneful 

Walter Slaughter, who made several great financial and 
artistic successes, among them A French Maid at the Vaude- 
ville and Gentleman Joe, written for Arthur Roberts, and 
Orlando Dando, written for Dan Leno, all with Captain Basil 
Hood, was in his early days the pianist at the South London 
Music Hall. 

Connie Gilchrist was at the South London in Poole's time, 
and it was there that John Hollingshead first heard Mr. E. J. 
Dallas and brought him to the Gaiety to become one of its 
most famous comedians. 

Walter Slaughter, when we were working together, generally 
came to see me on Sunday afternoons, when he was well 
enough. He always brought a new number and occasionally 
a wine bottle filled with a wonderful scent which he told me 
he distilled himself. 

He was a great sufferer at the finish and had a variety of 
ailments, but he was good-humoured and smiling almost to 
the end. 

My collaboration with Ivan Caryll was a happy one. There 
was always a joy in life about Caryll that was contagious. He 
assumed the name of Ivan, but I never heard any one call him 
anything but Felix, which is his real first name, and Tilkin 
is his real surname. 

324 MY LIFE 

May Yohe used to call him Felix when we were rehearsing 
Little Christopher Columbus at the Lyric, and he had a pleasant 
way of preventing her saying anything rude to him. Miss 
Yohe was charming in Little Christopher, and a great personal 
success, but she could be rude if she didn't get just what she 

Sir Henry Wood and Mr. Landon Ronald are to-day world- 
famous as conductors. But when Henry Wood was the chef 
d'orchestre at the Trafalgar Theatre and May Yohe was the 
leading lady the opera was Mademoiselle Nitouche the 
leading lady told the chef d'orchestre one day at rehearsal that 
he couldn't conduct for nuts ! 

I wrote Dandy Dick Whittington for May Yohe when she 
had left Horace Sedger, and Messrs. Greet and Engelbach had 
taken the Avenue Theatre, now the Playhouse, for her. And 
the chef d'orchestre for Dandy Dick Whittington was Mr. Landon 

What Miss Yohe told Landon Ronald he couldn't conduct 
for I never heard. But I fancy he had a trying time, and 
bore it with the amiability which is one of his many charming 

It was at the Winter Gardens at Blackpool that I first met 
Clarence C. Corri. He followed another favourite composer, 
Mr. John Crook, the composer of The Lady Slavey, Mr. George 
Dance's great success, in the conductorship of the orchestra 
at the Theatre Royal, Manchester. 

Corri and I wrote The Dandy Fifth for Hardie and 
Von Leer. It is still alive, and the song, " A Little 

British Army goes a Long Way " is still in the band 

" selection." 

I find it hard to resist the temptation of printing the 
following letter which the managers who were giving The 
Dandy Fifth its first production at the Prince of Wales's 
Theatre, Birmingham, received, dated from the Lord Cham- 
berlain's Office, in April 1898 : 

" DEAR SIR, My best congratulations to every one con- 
cerned. It is really quite refreshing to read a comic libretto 
which is amusing, consistent, and witty, without an objec- 
tionable word from start to finish. My friend G. R. Sims has 

MY LIFE 225 

discovered how to please the greatest number and offend 
none. " Yours truly, 

" G. A. REDFORD." 

As I have had this letter in my possession for nearly twenty 
years and this is the first time I have published it, I hope 
I may be forgiven. 

With Sir Arthur Sullivan I only worked once, and then it 
was for about half an hour. 

After poor Freddy Clay's seizure on the second night of the 
new Alhambra spectacular comic opera, The Golden Ring, it 
was decided that certain alterations were advisable in the score. 

Riviere did not care to interfere with Clay's work, and I 
suggested that I should take it to Sir Arthur Sullivan, who 
knew all about it, as Clay had been away with him at Carlsbad 
for the cure, and had been at work on the opera during the 

I took the score to Sullivan, and had a short and rather sad 
little conference, for Sullivan was as deeply distressed at the 
tragedy as I was. 

Sir Arthur gladly undertook to do the necessary work there 
and then, and told me that if Riviere would come and see him 
the next day everything would be ready. 

I saw a great deal of Arthur Sullivan in the winter season 
at Monte Carlo, and on several occasions I lunched with him 
at a charming little villa which he had taken at Roquebrune, 
an environ of the Paradise. 

One moonlight night he had driven over from Roquebrune, 
and when I met him in the rooms he told me that he had seen 
four gendarmes struggling with two armed bandits who had 
just tried to hold up the carriage of an Italian count, who 
was in the habit of driving to the Casino every night with his 
pockets filled with bank-notes. I congratulated the eminent 
composer upon the fact that the bandits had been captured 
before his carriage came along. 

Shortly before midnight I met Sir Arthur on the terrace. 

" Well," he said, " the other bandits might as well have 
had my money. The bandits here have had seven hundred 
of the best out of me this evening. I've lost every note I 
brought with me." 




" Never mind, there are plenty more notes where they 
came from," I replied. 

Sir Arthur must have enjoyed the joke and repeated it, for 
it came to me in my Press cuttings many times afterwards, 
and in a little book called " Anecdotes of Monte Carlo " the 
story is told with one or two additions of which I was not 

Sullivan told me one day when I was at the villa that he 
had had a curious experience. He was doing a good deal of 
work in the daytime and was rather annoyed by some youths 
who in their luncheon hour used to have a little Monte Carlo 
of their own just outside his garden. 

Sullivan said to the man who was working in the garden, 
" Look here, if you can't get rid of these lads, I shall have to 
complain to the mayor." 

Then the gardener raised his hat proudly and said in the 
patois, " Sir, I am the Mayor of Roquebrune." 

With Auguste Van Biene I had pleasant and profitable 
business relations for many years. He toured Carmen Up-to- 
Data and other musical pieces in which I was concerned, and 
I was writing a piece for him to take the place of the famous 
Broken Melody when he died. 

Van Biene came a boy from his home in Holland to the 
city paved with gold, but before long he found that for him 
it was not even paved with silver. 

He had failed to get a living, and he had come to a bare 
garret with his 'cello for his only companion. 

One day he heard a girl singing in the street, and he saw 
the people fling her coppers. He was at the time penniless 
and desperately hungry. 

He went to his garret, took his 'cello, put his pride in his 
pocket, and played in the street, and made seven shillings. 

That day he dined. 

A day or two afterwards he was playing in a side street off 
Regent Street and a gentleman passing by stopped and 

Presently the gentleman said, " What are you playing in 
the street for ? " 

" Because I am hungry," replied the young musician. 

The gentleman took out a card and gave it to the performer. 

MY LIFE 227 

" Come and see me at this address to-morrow," he said, 
and walked away. 

The young musician looked at the card. The name upon 
it was " Michael Costa/' 

The next day Van Biene got his first good engagement in 
London. There were many ups and downs after that, but 
he had started on the road to fame and fortune. 


THE year 1889 was to see me involved in two exciting affairs, 
in both of which I had to defend myself against a false 

I have at various periods of my life had a double. One 
of my earliest doubles was Mr. John Heslop, at one time 
manager of the Opera Comique, where he produced my 
Mother-in-Law, and also manager of the Gaiety Theatre, 
Glasgow. On two occasions Mr. Heslop took first-night calls 
for me when I was unable to be present, and only the company 
knew that the " understudy " was bowing for the author. 

Another double of mine was Mr. Charles Bertram, the 
conjurer, who was frequently stopped in the streets and 
addressed by my name. 

But in 1889 I had a double, not in form and feature, but 
in name, and the double was the cause of the trouble. 

At the beginning of June 1889 I returned from a brief 
holiday in Switzerland to find that in my absence I had been 
assaulted by the Duke of Cambridge, and that the assault 
of the Duke upon " Mr. George Sims, journalist, and a member 
of the staff of a Sunday paper," had been the subject of a 
question in the House of Commons. 

The assault, it seemed, had taken place when the Duke 
was at a review of the Fire Brigade at Whitehall, at which 
the Prince and Princess of Wales were present. 

There had been a rush of the crowd, and in that rush 
Mr. George Sims, the journalist, had been pushed against 
the Duke of Cambridge, and the fiery Duke had seized the 
journalist by the throat and shaken him " like a. rat." 

As I happened at the time of the assault to have been on 
the summit of Pilatus I could not understand how the Duke, 
even if his arm had been longer than that of coincidence, had 
reached so far as from Whitehall to the summit of the mountain 


MY LIFE 229 

where is the tarn in which Pontius Pilate is supposed to have 
drowned himself. 

When I found certain provincial newspapers giving a short 
account of my life and work in connexion with the Commander- 
in-Chief 's attack upon me, I was compelled to write a disclaimer 
to the daily papers. 

Shortly afterwards I found that the following paragraph 
had gone round the American Press : 

G. R. Sims has surpassed all the actors who rescue 
drowning children, and all the actresses who lose invaluable 
diamonds, by working up a tremendous theatrical advertise- 
ment. He has had the Duke of Cambridge arrested for 
assaulting him. There was a crowd at a fire ; Sims, who 
is ill and weak, was pushed up against the Royal Duke, 
who is old but stalwart, and the Duke seized Sims by the 
throat. Our sympathies are with Sims. But then, perhaps 
the Duke recognized Sims as Dagonet of the Referee, who 
is always gibing at him and his umbrella, and clutched 
this opportunity to get even. It is an immense advertise- 
ment for Sims, and ought to pack the Adelphi Theatre as 
long as Sims can put pen to paper, or his name to a melo- 

It was some time before I was able to convince the sympa- 
thetic American Press that the assault had not been committed 
upon me, but upon Mr. George E. Simms, a young journalist 
on the staff of the Sunday Sun. 

In the meantime the affair had assumed sensational propor- 
tions. Mr. Simms had applied for a summons at a police- 
court, and the magistrate had refused to listen to his application. 

Then Mr. Abinger, on behalf of Mr. Simms, went before 
the Lord Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Hawkins for an order 
calling upon Mr. Bridge, a Metropolitan police magistrate, 
to show cause why he should not hear and determine Mr. 
Simms's application, and after a long and legal argument 
the Lord Chief Justice decided that Mr. Bridge had not 
exercised the discretion which he was bound to exercise 
judicially, and therefore the rule must be granted, and 
Mr. Justice Hawkins concurred. 

230 MY LIFE 

Then the American Press, still believing that I was the 
Sims, favoured me with columns of sympathy. One leading 
journal headlined its article, " Royalty Under Arrest ; Queen 
Victoria's cousin, the Commander-in-Chief of the British 
Empire, must answer in a police-court for an assault upon 
George R. Sims, the well-known journalist and dramatic 

Canadian and Australian journals rallied to my banner. 
The Ottawa Evening Journal gave me a two-column leader, in 
the course of which it said : 

" George R. Sims has claims to respect and public gratitude 
beside which those of the Duke of Cambridge dwindle pitifully. 
His sympathies, his industry, and his ability have always 
been at the service of the poor and oppressed. As Dagonet, 
of the Referee, he has kept a warm heart and a ready pen 
for the welfare of his fellow-beings. Apart from this, his 
plays have given delight to hundreds of thousands the world 

And all this beautiful sympathy was unfortunately wasted. 
I was not the Sims. 

A year or two afterwards I was introduced to the Duke at 
one of the Earl's Court exhibitions, and he evidently remem- 
bered the affair, for he smilingly said, " I think you are the 
George Sims I did not assault ? " 

Apropos of this exhibition, here is a true story. The Duke 
was the President of the Honorary Advisory Committee. 
One blazing day in July he decided to attend a committee, 
so he telegraphed to the manager, " Shall be with you at two 
o'clock. Warm all offices." 

The Duke arrived and took the chair. Behind him a large 
fire was blazing away. 

The Duke fidgeted in his chair for a minute or two, then 
he suddenly exclaimed, " What the devil do you want with 
fires on a day like this ? " 

Then the manager produced the telegram. The Duke read 
it and burst into a roar of laughter. 

" It's the fools at the telegraph office," he said. " What 
my secretary wrote in my presence was, ' Warn all 
officers/ " 

On November 30, 1889, there was produced at the Princess's 

MY LIFE 231 

Theatre a drama written by Brandon Thomas, who was 
some years afterwards to give us Charley's immortal 

The drama at the Princess's was called The Gold Craze. 
One of the characters in the play was described as " The 
Baron de Fleurville." He was a foreign adventurer of a 
particularly shady kind. 

The fact that a Baron de Fleurville was to be a character 
in the new play at the Princess's reached the ears of M. le 
Marquis de Leuville, a poet and painter whose fame was 
not on a par with his physical proportions, but who was 
always as eager for publicity as the guests at the boarding- 
house of Mrs. Todgers were always eager for gravy. 

De Leuville was a well-known London character in the 
'eighties. His appearance was something between a fat 
French poet of the Quartier Latin and the overblown middle- 
aged tenor of romantic opera in the 'sixties. 

He had chambers in the Albany and an office in Baker 
Street, where there was a brass plate on the downstairs 
front door which bore his name and that of his " literary 
secretary " ; and he was in constant attendance on a wealthy 
golden-haired widow who had passed la quarantaine. 

Rumour had it that de Leuville's real name was Tom Oliver, 
that he was born in Bath, and that he had been valet to a 
nobleman in France ; but rumour has always been busy with 
noblemen who lead romantic lives and write " the poetry of 
the passions." 

As a matter of fact, his name was Redivivus Oliver, and 
his mother was a clever water-colour artist who married 
again, and his stepfather was a well-to-do solicitor in a country 
town. The story of his being a valet is probably untrue. 

When he was a young man and travelling in Italy he sent 
word to his stepfather that he was captured by brigands in 
Italy, and that a certain sum must be sent for his ransom. 
The money was forthcoming, but it went into Oliver's pockets. 
The brigands were a myth. 

Later on he is said to have married a rich wife. They 
lived together in Paris, and the wife bought a small estate, 
and from that estate Redivivus Oliver assumed the name of 
the Marquis de Leuville, but when he burst upon London as 



poet, painter, and litterateur rumour at once became busy with 
his past. 

The Marquis de Leuville doubtless shrugged his shoulders 
at rumour as an earlier nobleman-poet, Lord Byron, did. 

So he painted and wrote passionate verse and published 
it in volumes illustrated by himself, and sent the volumes 
broadcast to the Press and to his friends, and in each of 
the volumes there was generally a poem addressed to a 
lady who bore the same Christian name as the golden-haired 
widow of wealth. The Marquis was also occasionally in 
the habit of making a more or less public appearance as a 

Some little time before the production of The Gold Craze 
he sent me a volume of his verses entitled " Entre Nous/' 
with a preface in which he dwelt upon his French ancestry 
and the difficulty a member of the old French noblesse found 
in expressing his thoughts in the English tongue. 

"The Albany, W. 

" MY DEAR SIR, Will you allow me to add one more voice 
of admiration about your charmingly dramatic poems ? I 
am going to try to do justice to those which are adapted to 
my particular style of recitation, which perhaps you may 
have indistinctly heard of. I have only ' The Dagonet 
Ballads ' and ' The Ballads of Babylon,' having unfortunately 
mislaid the other one I had containing ' Sir Hugh's (?) Leap,' 
which is more the sort of thing that suits me, for I'm not quite 
up to the pointsmen and miners, and do them badly. 

" So might I ask you to be so very good as to tell your 
different publishers of ' Dagonet ' and ' Babylon.' My private 
secretary will send you some of my words, poor indeed in 
comparison with yours, but they might give you an idea of 
the sort of thing I recite, and you might have something 
adapted to me during the forthcoming season. 

" Yours faithfully, 


Now for The Gold Craze. The Marquis had, it seems, 
received information that not only was the character of the 
de Fleurville intended to be a caricature of himself, but that 

MY LIFE 233 

the actor, Mr. J. H. Barnes, who was going to play the part, 
intended to make up like him. 

The Marquis determined to make a public protest against 
the outrage on a poet and a painter who was one of the old 
nobility of France. 

So he consulted with his friend Captain Hamber, who was 
at that time the editor of a well-known London daily. What 
Captain Hamber advised I cannot say, but the Marquis 
attended the theatre on the night of production and was 
accompanied by three or four men specifically engaged and 
paid by the Marquis to create a disturbance and if possible 
wreck the play. 

The Marquis procured three men named Hill, Cronin, and 
Hadden, and instructed them to go to the Princess's, pay 
for admission, and when Mr. J. H. Barnes in the character 
of de Fleurville appeared on the stage to hoot and hiss and 
make as much disturbance as they could. 

Each of these men had with him a certain number of 
assistants who were to be placed in different parts of the 
house to join in the clamour. 

The result was that something like a riot took place, and 
the management was compelled to eject the disturbers. 
Having ascertained the facts, the management charged the 
Marquis with instigating, inciting, and procuring George 
Hadden, J. Cronin, Edward Hill, and others to create a riot 
at the Royal Princess's Theatre on the night of Saturday, 
November 30. And the Marquis de Leuville duly appeared 
in Marlborough Street Police Court to answer the charge. 

Mr. Geoghegan and Mr. Hutton appeared for the manage- 
ment, and Mr. Gill defended the noble poet and painter and 
reciter, whose artistic dignity had, so he contended, been 
insulted by " handsome Jack " Barnes. 

I had so far only been interested in the case from the 
point of view of the public. But suddenly there came a bolt 
from the blue, and I found that my reputation as a man of 
honour and as a dramatist was seriously involved in the 
prosecution which had arisen out of the first-night riot in the 
house in which I had won my melodramatic spurs with 
The Lights o' London. This is what happened. 

The appearance of the fat, broad-shouldered, double- 

234 MY LIFE 

chinned, Byron-collared, oiled, scented, and bejewelled Marquis 
de Leuville in the police-court charged with inciting his 
myrmidons to create a riot at the Princess's Theatre was quite 
a sensational little event. 

For the Marquis had a Press of his own that is to say, he 
was in the habit of inviting one or two journalists of sorts 
who were connected with periodicals of sorts to social functions 
and garden-parties at the well-known old-world residence of 
the wealthy widow, and also to " literary and artistic " 
functions at a flat in Victoria Street, of which he was ostensibly 
the owner. 

And in these ways he managed to obtain a certain amount 
of publicity for the literary and artistic enterprises of which 
he was from time to time presumed to be guilty. 

I say " presumed," because it has been fairly well established 
look at the composition of his letter to me ! that the 
Marquis could not put two sentences together in decent 

The secret of his literary and poetic output was very simple. 
He kept a poet, and the poet appeared on the brass plate of 
his poetry offices in Baker Street as the " literary secretary." 

The case of the Marquis and the Management was adjourned 
and adjourned again and again, and it was all on a wild 
March morning in 1890, when the Marquis was having another 
matinee at Marlborough Street, that I suddenly found myself 
involved in it. 

The Marquis allowed one of his witnesses, Captain Hamber, 
to go into the witness-box and say that the man Hill, a 
compositor, had been selected as one of the rioters because 
Hill had been introduced to the Marquis " as a very clever 
fellow who wrote all George R. Sims's plays for him." 

This statement, made by a witness on oath a witness who 
was an honoured member of the Fourth Estate, and who in 
his time edited three London daily papers the Standard, 
the short-lived Hour, and the Morning Advertiser was a 
bolt from the blue. 

It caused a flutter in the reporters' box, and among the 
the audience, which was largely composed of members of 
the dramatic profession, the effect was startling. 

Managers looked at one another with a note of interrogation 

MY LIFE 235 

in their eyebrows. They had seen Mr. Hill in the witness-box. 
They had heard that he was a compositor, and he confessed 
he had accepted a small honorarium to attend a first-night 
performance and create a disturbance. 

And this man Hill was the author of all the plays to which 
George R. Sims had put his name ! Verily the ghost was 
walking that day. It had walked into the witness-box and 
revealed itself on oath. 

The statement made in the witness-box by Captain Hamber 
duly appeared in all the reports of the case published in the 
evening papers and the daily papers the next morning. 

The newspapers, I am pleased to say, declined to take the 
claim of Mr. Hill seriously. Some of them, commenting on 
the statement of Captain Hamber, quoted interesting instances 
of men who had falsely pretended to be ghosts, and instanced 
the case of a clergyman named Lignum, who said that he, 
and not George Eliot, was the author of " Adam Bede," and 
actually produced the manuscript of " Adam Bede " in proof 
of his claim a proceeding which compelled George Eliot's 
publishers to produce the manuscript from which " Adam 
Bede " had been actually printed. 

But there was no need for me to produce the manuscript 
of The Lights o London or The Romany Rye. Captain Hamber, 
after the report of his evidence had appeared in the Press, 
wrote the following letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph : 


" SIR, Kindly permit me to say to Mr. Sims, as an old 
playgoer who has cried at his pathos and laughed at his 
humour, that it did not enter my head for a moment to take 
the statement I referred to seriously I simply mentioned it 
as a reductio ad absurdum of some of the evidence tendered 
by the prosecution against the Marquis de Leuville. 
" I am, Sir, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" 10 Serjeant's Inn, E.G." 

How the case against the Marquis terminated I have 
forgotten, but I have an idea that a settlement took place. 



Mr. J. H. Barnes in the course of his evidence, though denying 
that he made up like the Marquis, admitted that he had seen 
a likeness of the Marquis some time before the production 
of the play, and had shown the portrait to Mr. Fox, the 
theatrical wig-maker. 

It is quite common for actors to take a " make-up " from 
some one they see in the flesh or from a photograph, and this 
may be done without the slightest intention of " impersonat- 
ing " the individual whose appearance has suggested the 

There was no doubt about the make-up of the three actors, 
Messrs. W. H. Fisher, W. J. Hill, and Edward Righton, in 
Gilbert and Gilbert a Beckett's Happy Land the play that 
was produced at the Court Theatre on March 3, 1873, and 
prohibited by the Lord Chamberlain on March 7. They were 
photographs cabinet size of three of Her Majesty's Ministers, 
Messrs. William Gladstone, Robert Lowe, and A. S. Ayrton. 
The run of the play with " alterations and omissions," was, 
however, speedily resumed, and when it was taken into the 
provinces by Charles Wyndham I had the youthful imperti- 
nence to write John Bright and another Minister into it. 

The Marquis de Leuville was a pretender himself, and his 
" works " were said to have been written for him by paid 
" ghosts," and I have no doubt he quite believed that the 
man Hill was one of mine. 

The Marquis died some years after the affair, and the 
wealthy widow who had supplied him with the means of posing 
as a patrician and poet did not long survive him. 

What became of Mr. Hill, who wrote all my plays for me, 
I never heard. It is only fair to say that I never inquired. 


THERE were plenty of genuine aristocrats in the old Bohemia, 
and they did not always confine their Bohemianism to the 
stage door or the ring side. 

There was a Duke, a very charming and amiable Duke, 
who in the old days was quite as much at home in journalistic 
Bohemia as he was in theatrical Bohemia. 

They were merry little supper-parties at Rule's, in Maiden 
Lane, in those days, and when the gay knights-errant of the 
Press and the lightly tripping idols of the Johnnies from 
theatreland sat around the sumptuous supper-board the 
Duke would shed the light of his paternal smile upon the 

The last time I saw the Duke taking his ease in Bohemia 
he was playing " Shove Ha'penny " with David James. I 
backed David and lost. 

A sporting Marquess, whose pet name among his Bohemian 
friends was " Ducks," was a popular figure at certain Bohemian 
clubs and resorts, and while he had many friends, fair and 
otherwise, in variety circles, he was on excellent terms with 
some of the gayer spirits of Fleet Street. 

I have a joyous memory of him in connexion with a bright 
particular star of the variety firmament who, in her way, was 
as great a character as " Ducks." 

One evening the Marquess had driven the diva as far as her 
residence in the neighbourhood of Bedford Square in a 
hansom. The Marquess tendered the driver his fare, and the 
driver demanded more. 

The cabman got down to carry on the dispute at closer 
quarters, and when he insulted the Marquess, the diva, without 
a moment's hesitation, set about him in the good old-fashioned 

The cabman, his breath taken away, literally and figura- 


238 MY LIFE 

tively, by the sudden onslaught, scrambled on to the box and 
drove off at full speed. 

A personal reminiscence of the Marquess carries me back to 
a famous Ascot week. I was staying in Windsor, and had 
some rooms in the same hotel as " Ducks." 

One evening I was standing in the hall about dinner-time 
when I heard a shout. I looked up and I saw the Marquess 
leaning over the balustrade. In his hands he held a large 
dish. On the dish was a leg of mutton. 

In another moment the dish descended with a crash into 
the hall, almost at the feet of a waiter who had a few minutes 
before taken it up. 

The voice of the Marquess exclaimed, " If you call this 
mutton cooked, I don't ! " 

While the waiter was gathering up the pieces of the dish 
and mopping up the gravy from the floor, he looked up at 
me and said with a beautiful old English smile, " He doesn't 
mean any harm, sir." 

The Marquess was one of the last survivals of a type of 
noble sportsmen that was commoner in the 'fifties and 'sixties, 
when the spirits of an Englishman, animal and otherwise, were 
more in evidence than they are now. 

The fascination of a noble name in connexion with literature 
once cost me considerably more than an umbrella. But this 
was a perfectly legitimate transaction, and it led to my first 
acquaintance with the distinguished lawyer who is now the 
Prime Minister of England. 

A good many years ago Mr. Archibald Grove, who was the 
prospective Liberal candidate for North-West Ham, came to 
me with a brilliant idea. 

He was going to start a penny periodical on the lines of 
Tit-Bits. He had a splendid title, he told me, and it was 
Short Cuts. 

He had secured Lord Randolph Churchill and other well- 
known political aristocrats as contributors. He was prepared 
to put up a certain amount of money. Would I go in 
to the extent of a few hundreds and write for the new 
paper ? 

There was no doubt of the genuineness of the enterprise, 
and with the political, social, and literary backing that it 

MY LIFE 239 

would have there seemed to be a very fair chance for the new 
paper, and I had no hesitation in drawing a cheque. 

The paper came out, and Lord Randolph Churchill wrote 
an article, and so did several other aristocratic and political 
celebrities, but Short Cuts was not one of the short cuts to 

But while it was still alive the prospective member for 
North- West Ham invited me to dine at his house with a few 
friends. I found when I arrived that they were political 
friends, and among them were several lights of the Liberal 

Three of them I did not know it at the time were 
barristers, and one of the barristers was Mr. H. H. Asquith, 

By the time of coffee and cigars the conversation had 
become political, and the prospects of the Liberal Party 
they were not in office then were discussed. 

Greatly daring, but in perfect innocence, I joined in the 

" One thing I do hope," I said, " and that is that when the 
Liberals come into power again they won't have too many 
confounded lawyers in the Cabinet." 

For a moment there was silence, then Mr. Asquith smiled 
and said quietly, " That's pleasant for me ! " 

You see I had quite forgotten that Mr. Asquith was a 
lawyer. I only knew him as the gentleman who then lived 
next door to Robert Buchanan in Maresfield Gardens, Fitz- 
john's Avenue, and whose little boy was always knocking a 
ball over into the bard's garden. 

Whenever Buchanan went into the garden to dream poetry, 
over would come a ball, and young Master Asquith would 
climb on to the wall and say, " Please will you give me my 
ball ? " 

Then the amiable poet would forget his dreams and go 
foraging about to find and return the ball. 

One day Buchanan was writing at the big desk which stood 
against a window looking on to the garden. Suddenly there 
was a smash of broken glass, and through the window came 
a ball that struck the inkstand and sent the contents flowing 
over the poet's manuscript. 

240 MY LIFE 

Before the poet had recovered from the shock the voice of 
the young gentleman next door floated bardwards on the 
breeze, " Please, sir, will you give me my ball ? " 
* # # * * 

The Gold Craze had disappeared from the bills of the 
Princess's long before the Marquis de Leuville had disappeared 
from the bills of Marlborough Street. 

The Baron de Fleurville was giving evidence before the 
magistrate as late as March 1890, but in December 1899 the 
Princess's had produced Master and Man, a drama by Henry 
Pettitt and myself. 

The play was originally written for Mr. Robert Pateman. 
The part of Humpy Logan, a hunchback of revengeful and 
malignant turn of mind, was admirably suited to the powerful 
and intense method of one of the soundest and grippiest 
actors of the good old school. 

The tragedy of his horror when the workmen he had 
betrayed were about to thrust him into a fiery furnace at the 
works had thrilled the provinces for many months when the 
brief run of The Gold Craze left the Princess's at liberty, and 
we brought Master and Man there and had a highly successful 
season with it. 

And what a cast for melodrama it was. In addition to 
Robert Pateman we had Henry Neville to play the hero, 
Bella Pateman the heroine, J. H. Barnes as a burly forgeman, 
and Bassett Roe, and Fanny Brough, E. W. Gardiner, Sydney 
Howard, and Mrs. Huntley. 

I remember Clement Scott in the Daily Telegraph said of 
Robert Pateman's Humpy Logan that no such sudden and 
impulsive force had been seen on the stage since the days of 
George Belmore. It was a Danny Mann accentuated. 

Richard Mansfield, of America, formerly of London and 
originally of Heligoland he was born there saw the oppor- 
tunities of this part, and secured the play for production in 
New York, but that is a story I shall come to presently. 

Robert Pateman, always one of the strongest character 
actors on the English stage, can carry his memory back to the 
old days of the circuits and the stock companies, and even 
so he was telling me quite recently to the days when an 
attendant would step on the stage in the middle of a perform- 

MY LIFE 241 

ance when candles were the only lighting arrangements, 
and snuff the wicks. That, of course, was in the small 
provincial theatres. 

They were the days when the bill was frequently changed 
nightly, and an actor would have a part in a stock play given 
to him when he left the theatre at midnight, would have to 
study it during the day and play it in the evening. 

Robert Pateman, after touring the provinces for some 
years, went to America, and in 1869 made his first appearance 
there. He played with Edwin Booth and Dion Boucicault in 
the stock company at Booth's Theatre for four years. 

In '74 he scored a huge success in San Francisco as Harvey 
Duff in The Shaughraun, and now, in 1916, he is still playing 
the strong and vigorous parts for which he has been famous 
for fifty years. 

Richard Mansfield produced Master and Man in New York 
at Palmer's Theatre, and thereby hangs a tale a Winter's 

The famous critic, William Winter, completed, I believe, 
last spring his eightieth year, and he has been presented with 
an address signed by all the principal dramatists of America 
and England. He is a fine and scholarly critic, who deserves 
all the honour that can be showered upon him in his green old 
age. But he was the severest Winter imaginable as far as 
Master and Man was concerned, in 1890. 

Richard Mansfield made an enormous success in the 
character of Humpy Logan, but America was at that time up 
in arms against English importations. The patriots who 
believed in America for the Americans didn't like to see 
English authors making a Tom Tiddler's ground of the Land 
of Liberty from Mexico to Maine, and the feelings of the 
critics, many of whom were dramatists themselves, were 
undoubtedly embittered by the paragraphs which used to be 
put about by every American manager who leased the acting 
rights of an English play. 

It was not pleasant for American dramatists to read that 
two thousand pounds had been paid as advance royalties on 
one English play and three thousand pounds on account of 
fees for another. There were already signs of a storm when 
I got two thousand pounds advance payment on account of 




the American rights of The Romany Rye, and Messrs. Brooks 
and Rickson revealed the facts to interviewers. 

Even Gilbert and Sullivan did not escape the denunciation 
of American protectionists when The Gondoliers crossed the 
Atlantic in this same year, 1890. 

Paragraphs as to the thousands of dollars that had been 
paid on account of the American rights were put about, and 
so when The Gondoliers did not catch on right away in New 
York several critics described the play as The Gone Dollars. 
And as The Gone Dollars The Gondoliers was popularly known. 

But to return to the amiable and accomplished critic, 
Mr. William Winter. Here is an elegant extract from his 
review of Master and Man : 

It is claptrap, devised to impress a goggle-eyed crowd of 
English bumpkins. It has been produced here in the plain, 
unvarnished, shopkeeping spirit of the corner grocery 
that deplorable spirit which continually blasts the whole- 
some growth of the theatre in this country, which sordidly 
and speciously insists that the great object of the drama 
is always the financial prosperity of managers and never 
the advancement of the dramatic art and the consequent 
improvement of society. As if there were not pork enough 
or pickles enough for shopkeepers to speculate in ! All 
over the United States at this moment, outside of the few 
capitals, the theatrical business is nearly prostrate 
blighted by the incessant bloodsucking of parasitical 
speculation in the drama. 

I do not say that the Winter of New York's discontent at 
what it was customary to call the English invasion of English 
authors was not justified, but American dramatists and 
American managers have certainly had their revenge, and 
an ample revenge, so far as the " shopkeeping speculation " 
is concerned. 

And they have had it on this side of the great ocean with 
which Mr. Oscar Wilde was so greatly disappointed. 


I CAME to the Princess's again in 1896 with The Star of India, 
written in collaboration with my friend Arthur Shirley, an 
expert and busy playwright, several of whose dramas have 
been money makers for over a quarter of a century. 

Before the production of The Star of India certain para- 
graphs appeared in the newspapers concerning it, and one 
enterprising young gentleman who did the theatrical notices 
for a popular daily announced that the play was founded upon 
the tragedy of the mutiny of Manipur, a tragedy in which 
Mr. Frank St. Clair Grimwood, the British political agent, 
had met his death, and in which Mrs. Grimwood, his devoted 
wife, who had succeeded in escaping when the natives besieged 
the Residency, had played an heroic part. 

Shortly after this statement had appeared the Licenser of 
Plays informed me that a letter had been addressed to him 
at the Lord Chamberlain's office imploring him to refuse to 
allow The Star of India to be produced. 

The letter was written by Mrs. Grimwood Grimwood, the 
mother of the gallant young Englishman who had died at his 
post of duty in circumstances which had become a matter of 

" SIR, I have just heard that a new play by Mr. George R. 
Sims and Mr. Arthur Shirley is to be brought out next Saturday 
at the Princess's Theatre, and that it is founded on my 
daughter-in-law's ' Adventures in Manipur and the shocking 
murder of my son, and contains an attack on the Residency. 
I hear the play has not yet been licensed. 

" Could you possibly withhold the license, as it is an outrage 
to all decency that money should be made on the stage out 
of what has been such an awful tragedy in my family only five 
years ago ? " Yours faithfully, 




Had the intention of the authors been such as the mother 
of the gallant young Englishman had been led to believe by 
the enterprising young theatrical paragraphist of the popular 
daily she would have been perfectly justified in her indignant 

Fortunately the play was already in the hands of the 
licenser at the time Mrs. Grimwood's letter was received, and 
he was able in his reply to assure her that although the play 
dealt with the attack on the Residency and certain incidents 
mentioned by Mrs. St. Clair Grimwood, the young widow, in 
her book, " My Three Years in Manipur," there was no 
reference of any kind to the Grimwoods, and the story was 
treated in such a way as to prevent the audience fitting the 
date or the real persons who figured in the tragedy. 

I hastened on receipt of the letter to assure Mrs. Grimwood 
and her friends that both Mr. Shirley and myself had taken 
the greatest care that nothing in the play should jar upon the 
feelings of the Grimwood family, and we offered to submit a 
copy of the play to any one the family might appoint to act in 
their interest. 

However, shortly afterwards the matter was brought to an 
amiable and very satisfactory conclusion. The trouble 
such as it was had arisen entirely from the desire of an 
enterprising young journalist to be first hi giving away the 
plot of a forthcoming play. In the course of his enterprise 
he had given away more plot than the play contained. 

The Star of India was produced at the Princess's on Saturday 
April 26, 1896. 

The cast included Miss Sydney Fairbrother, Miss Hettie 
Chattell, Miss Kate Tyndall, Miss Agnes Hewitt, Mr. Frank 
Wyatt, Mr. Clifton Alderson, Mr. Robert Pateman, and 
Mr. Sydney Howard. 

The producer at the Princess's at that time was Mr. John 
Douglas, and John Douglas was a prolific inventor of stage 
effects. He gave the stage the famous " tank " scene in 
The Dark Secret, and the tank has been introduced into 
hundreds of dramas since. 

George Rignold, when he made his last revival of The 
Lights o' London in Australia, used the tank in the Regent's 
Canal scene, and Harold Armitage plunged into real water 


MY LIFE 245 

to rescue Seth Preene from a damp end to his villainous 

I was at the Princess's again in the autumn of 1897 with 
Arthur Shirley as my collaborator. 

M. Pierre Decourcelle had produced a highly successful 
melodrama, Les Deux Gosses, at the Paris Ambigu, and he 
wrote me saying he thought it would suit London. 

Pierre Decourcelle and I were first acquainted in my early 
Paris days, and we had had many pleasant times together. 
Decourcelle when a boy was sent to school at Brighton, and 
he is one of the few French authors who speak and write very 
good English. 

The late Leon Gandillot, who wrote Ferdinand Le Noceur, 
was another French dramatist who spoke English, but 
not nearly so fluently as Decourcelle. One day Gandillot 
came to see me at Regent's Park and my two little toy poms 
ran into the study while we were talking and began to bark 
at him. 

" Ah ! " exclaimed Gandillot, " the splendid hounds ! " 

Another French dramatist he was an actor, too who 
spoke a little English sometimes was Louis Decori, brother of 
the famous avocat, Maitre Decori. 

Shirley and I adapted a drama of Decori's for Mr. and Mrs. 
Charles Sugden, La Fille du Garde de Chasse. I saw it in 
Paris, and Decori was very anxious that I should put it on 
the English market. While I was in Paris arranging with 
Decori I told him I wanted to see a murder trial, and I should 
like to go behind the scenes at the Morgue and see the cold- 
storage system and the bodies that had been preserved for 
years by the process. 

Decori got me a letter of introduction from his brother to 
the Grefner of the Morgue, and said the murder trial would 
be simple, as he himself was known at the Palais de Justice 
and we should only have to walk in and sit down. 

There was a murder trial in two days' time, so I arranged 
to put in a morning at that and spend the afternoon at the 

The murder trial was interesting. Everybody smoked 
cigarettes in court till the judge entered, then we threw our 
cigarettes down and stamped on them. 



It sounded as if we were applauding the judge. 

A young girl was charged with murdering her baby and 
leaving it in her trunk at her last place, where the body was 
quite accidentally found. 

The judge commenced the proceedings by informing the 
girl exactly how she committed the crime, and told her it was 
idiotic of her to plead not guilty. He also narrated the details 
of her past life in case they might have slipped her memory, 
and he laid the black paint on so thickly that at last the girl, 
who had been sitting between the two soldiers who in France 
are on either side of the accused, jumped up and exclaimed, 
" Oh, Mr. the Judge, you are rubbing it in ! I'm not so bad 
as all that ! " or words to that effect. 

I heard as much of the trial as I wanted to, and then Louis 
Decori and I went to the Morgue. 

Outside he left me. Nothing would induce him to come in 
and see the tragedies that were kept in cold storage in a large 
room known as the Columbarium. 

Decori had written a drama of Apache life in which any 
number of victims were put into a condition for " the ice-box,'* 
but he assured me that if he saw a body in the Morgue it would 
make him seriously ill. So I had four hours behind the scenes 
at the Morgue without the companionship of my French 

Among other experiences I had the iced remains of 
" L'homme coupe* en morceaux " handed to me. 

" The man cut in four " was a Paris sensation and a Paris 
mystery. It was for a long time supposed that it was a 
gruesome Government joke intended to distract the attention 
of Parisians at a time of grave political crisis. 

But to return to Les Deux Gosses. When we had seen the 
play at the Ambigu we agreed to adapt it to the English stage. 
Arthur Shirley told me that Messrs. Hardie, Von Leer, and 
Gordyn, who had made a success in the provinces with On the 
Frontier, were anxious to get a drama to produce in London. 
I thought Les Deux Gosses might be the very thing, and Shirley 
and I turned it into The Two Little Vagabonds. Making it 
" quite English you know " was comparatively easy, as the 
French play was undoubtedly suggested by Dickens's " Oliver 

MY LIFE 247 

Two Little Vagabonds was produced at the Princess's by 
Messrs. Hardie, Von Leer, and Gordyn, on September 23, 1896, 
by arrangement with Mr. Albert Gilmer, who was then the 
manager of my old home in Oxford Street. 

The cast included Miss Geraldine Oliffe, Mena Le Bert, 
Miss Eva Williams, Marie Foley, Walter Howard, Ernest 
Leicester, Listen Lyle, Edward Coleman, Chris Walker, and 
Edmund Gurney. 

Lewis Carroll, the author of " Alice in Wonderland/' wrote 
me a characteristic and enthusiastic letter about the play. 
But he did more than that. He wrote to " the two boys/' 

Dick was delightfully played by Miss Kate Tyndall, but 
Dick was in real life the wife of Mr. Albert Gilmer. 

Miss Sydney Fairbrother, whose pathetic portrayal of Wally 
touched all hearts, had the misfortune early in the run to 
lose her husband, and when, owing to a change in the cast, 
we had to call a rehearsal, it was in widow's weeds that she 
rehearsed the part of the consumptive boy. 

It was shortly after that rehearsal that Miss Fairbrother 
and Miss Tyndall each received from the author of " Alice 
in Wonderland " a children's book with a very pretty in- 
scription in it, and at the same time a delightful letter. 

The author of " Alice in Wonderland " addressed each of 
the two ladies, the widow and the wife, as " My dear child," 
under the impression that they were two clever children 
playing the parts. 

If I remember rightly, both the ladies acknowledged the 
gift and the letter, but were careful not to undeceive the 
kindly author and destroy his delightful illusion. 


EARLY in the 'eighties I wrote a series of special articles 
" Horrible London " for the Daily News, and from that 
time onward to the day of his lamented death Sir John 
Robinson, the editor, was my very good friend. 

John Richard Robinson was of the old school when Fleet 
Street was more a republic of letters than it is now, and the 
motto upon the banner of its Bohemian Brotherhood was 
" Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity." 

Robinson had been one of Douglas Jerrold's young men 
before he edited the Evening Express and then came on to 
the Daily News. 

In the middle 'eighties I had undertaken another series for 
the Daily News, and I was to send in an article now and then 
at my convenience. 

Before the series for which I had contracted was quite 
finished I went for a winter holiday to Algiers. 

I had left as I thought a sufficient number of articles 
behind me to keep the series going in the Daily News until I 
returned to England. 

I had agreed to conclude the series with an article on a 
subject then being very much discussed, viz. the abolition 
of the fees charged to parents by the School Board and 
that article I had not written. 

One evening after our return from a distant excursion that 
had taken four days, Count Armfelt, my travelling companion, 
went to an Arab caf in Algiers. In the Arab cafe goodness 
knows how it got there ! he saw a torn sheet of the Daily 
News, and, glancing at it, he saw my name, and found 
that on the sheet was the last of the articles I had left 
behind me. 

He brought the torn sheet back to the hotel at which we 
were staying and said : " Look, they have used all your 


MY LIFE 249 

articles. What about the last one you promised them, on 
the Free Education question ? " 

I had not had time to grasp the situation before a waiter 
came into the room and brought me a telegram. 

It was from Mr. Henry Lucy he wasn't Sir Henry then 
who was acting as editor of the Daily News in the temporary 
absence of Sir John Robinson, who was on a holiday : 

" Must have article at once, as Parliament is meeting early 
next week/' 

The telegram had been sent to my London address and 
repeated from there. 

It was nearly midnight when I got that wire. I had to 
finish my three columns for the Referee before I went to bed, 
because they would have to be in the post early the following 
morning in order to be delivered in time for the next issue. 

By the time I had finished the three columns of " Mustard 
and Cress " for the Referee it was 3 A.M., and I felt too sleepy 
and tired to do myself anything like justice in an important 
Daily News article. 

But rather than break faith with an editor I determined 
to sacrifice the rest of my African holiday. We boarded the 
mail-boat the next morning, and on board the boat, which 
encountered the Mediterranean at its very worst, I wrote 
" Fee or Free " for the Daily News. Ten minutes after we 
had landed at Marseilles I had registered it to the editor. 
One word about Sir Henry Lucy. 

Tom Hood died in 1874. Soon after his death an article 
upon Tom Hood written|by^Mr.]^Lucy appeared in the 
Gentleman's Magazine. 

Henry Sampson, Hood's successor on Fun, didn't like 
something in the article, and in the pages of Fun made an 
angry reply to Lucy. And I, with the ardour of a young 
journalist just beginning to " taste blood," followed up the 
article with a little thing of my own. 

But not long afterwards I was introduced to Lucy by 
Edmund Yates. " Toby, M.P.," was then writing the brilliant 
Parliamentary articles in the World " Under the Clock." I 
had not been in the society of " Toby, M.P.," five minutes 
before my feelings underwent a complete change, and though 
we rarely meet now the first man I ever attacked in print 

250 MY LIFE 

has been my good friend for over forty years, and is my good 
friend still. 

Count Armfelt, who for many years was my companion in 
my travels about Europe, came to me in a curious way. 

One winter night in the year 1884 I came home from a first- 
night production to find among the letters which had arrived 
by the last post one which aroused my interest : 

" DEAR SIR, I have read a good deal of your work, and 
I think it is quite possible you might be able to find me some 
more pleasant employment than that in which I am at present 
engaged. I am a Finn by birth, I have been a tutor and an 
officer in the Egyptian army. I speak and write fluently 
French, German, Italian, and Arabic Russian, Finnish, and 
Swedish and Spanish fairly well. I have travelled all over 
Europe, a good deal of Asia and Africa. I was with General 
Gordon in the first Khartoum expedition, and I am personally 
known to Emin Bey, Slatin Pasha, and Mr. Henry Stanley. 

" At present I am slaughtering bullocks at Deptford. Can 
you help me to something more suited to my tastes and such 
talents as I may possess ? 

" Yours obediently, 


I wrote to the address given in the letter that night. The 
next day Count Armfelt came to see me. He slaughtered no 
more bullocks. He remained with me until within a short 
time of his death a few years ago. And he was the " Albert 
Edward " who was for so long a familiar figure in my Referee 
columns and in the travel notes of " Dagonet Abroad." 

To Sir John Robinson, who made me a Daily News man 
at the time that such brilliant writers as Henry Lucy, Archibald 
Forbes, Justin McCarthy, Moy Thomas, William Black, and 
Andrew Lang were on the staff, I owe my first meeting with 
Bret Harte, a meeting which was to ripen into an acquaintance 
and later on into a friendship which is one of the cherished 
memories of my life. 

How I met Bret Harte is a story that I cannot omit from 
my reminiscences of the days of long ago. 

Across the Atlantic the ballads for recitation I had written 

MY LIFE 251 

and published had apparently made a better literary impres- 
sion than they had here. At any rate, the popular American 
poets of the period sought me out just to shake hands when 
they came this side. 

I knew Joaquin Miller, the wild-locked, red-shirted, high- 
booted, pistol-belted " Poet of the Sierras/' but that is long 
before " The Dagonet Ballads/' and is another story. 

Colonel John Hay, whose " Pike County Ballads " had first 
started me on the road to dramatic verse, introduced himself. 

One afternoon I was at Paddington Station. I had taken 
my seat on the train for Malvern when a gentleman came up 
to the carriage window smiling. " George R. Sims, I believe ? " 
he said. 

I raised my hat in admission of the soft impeachment. 

" Glad to meet you. I am Colonel John Hay." 

The colonel put out his hand and we shook. He had just 
begun to say something very nice to me about my ballads when 
the train started, and I never saw the creator of " Jim Bludso " 

Will Carleton, of "Over the Hills to the Poor-House," 
" Gone with a Handsomer Man/' and a hundred homely 
ballads that are as popular here as they are in the land that 
gave them birth, came to see me twice during his brief trip 
to London, and said things that made me blush. 

Fortunately he didn't put them in a letter, or I might have 
been tempted to print it. 

But one American poet said things that I feel I must repeat, 
because the poet who said them was Bret Harte. 

Some years ago, in consequence of the enormous success 
of " Living London," a fortnightly-part publication which I 
had edited for them, the House of Cassell started a new penny 
weekly which was called Men and Women, and it was started 
under my editorship. It was an interesting little paper, and 
I had some of the best writers of the day on the Staff, but it 
shared the fate to which all " men and women " are doomed. 
After a brief span of existence it died. 

But while it was alive I contributed to its columns a series 
entitled " Amongst My Autographs," and in one article I told 
the story of a dinner-party given by Sir John Robinson at 
the Reform Club a dinner-party at which I met some old 

252 MY LIFE 

friends William Black, Andrew Lang Stevenson's " dear 
Andrew with the brindled hair " Henry W. Lucy, and a 
new friend, Bret Harte. 

The dinner, I learnt afterwards, was given in order that 
I might meet the author of " The Luck of Roaring Camp.' 1 

In the article in Men and Women I referred to my first 
meeting and told the story of the friendship that followed it. 

A week after the article had appeared the following letter, 
addressed to the editor, reached me : 

" Reform Club, July 25, 1903. 

" SIR, I must complain of an omission from Mr. Sims's 
last chapter of his ' Autographs/ It was, I am compelled to 
say, within his knowledge that Bret Harte in expressing to 
me his desire to meet ' Dagonet/ went on to say : ' I tell you, 
Robinson, that when I first came here I wanted to know 
" Dagonet " more than Tennyson or Browning or Gladstone, 
or anybody/ Now this part of my narrative is suppressed 
in the ' Autographs ' article. To the remark that when they 
did meet Bret Harte was not disappointed, I will only add 
that the insertion of this letter will be regarded by me as 
superseding the apology which is certainly my due. 

" Faithfully yours, 


The nature of the letter, I think, amply justified my reticence 
while telling in a journal of which I was the editor the story 
of my first acquaintance with Bret Harte. 

Bret Harte was of Dutch ancestry. His father, a school- 
master, died when he was a boy, and the family were left 
without means, and the boy was put into a store. When he 
was seventeen he left for California, and took his mother 
with him. 

He tramped to the mines of Sonora, and there became a 
schoolmaster. But journalism soon found him, and he became 
editor of the Eureka Gazette. Then he went to San Francisco, 
worked at case, and became editor of the Golden Era. It 
was when he was editing the Overland Monthly that he wrote 
in it " The Luck of Roaring Camp," and soon afterwards two 
hemispheres rang with his fame. 

MY LIFE 253 

When I met Bret Harte for the first time I told him that 
he was absolutely the reverse of what I had always pictured 

You would never have imagined that he had seen the 
rough side of life on the goldfields. There was nothing about 
him to suggest the Roaring Camp, and the Rev. J. M. Bellew, 
who was the first to introduce his poetry to the public through 
John Camden Hotten, said of him : "He looks as if he dated 
his letters from St. James's Square rather than San Francisco." 

I saw a good deal of Bret Harte when he came to London, 
and when he learnt that I generally spent my Sundays at 
my mother's house in Hamilton Terrace he would sometimes 
call for me in the afternoon he lived in Hamilton Terrace 
at that time himself and we used to stroll together to 

He died in 1902, and I saw him some little time previous 
to his death. 

He came into Verrey's in Regent Street with a friend, and 
I was there. It was a meeting that made me very sad, for 
I knew that in all probability it was a parting. Bret Harte 
was suffering from a painful and incurable malady. It had 
attacked his throat, and it was with difficulty that he spoke. 

I knew that afternoon that the end could not be far off. 
Bret Harte knew it too, and there was something in the last 
grasp of the hand that he gave me that said " Farewell ! " 


IN a year when there is no Derby at Epsom my memory 
travels back over half a century to the Derbys of my youthful 
my very youthful days, when the great Epsom " carnival " 
was an event looked forward to eagerly and wagered upon 
heavily by the racing division and moderately by men old 
and young, for whom a day of racing was a day's outing, and 
the Derby Day a glorified beanfeast with all the fun of the 
fair thrown in. 

For days before the Derby the windows of the West End 
hosiers and outfitters were filled with ties and scarves in the 
racing colours of popular owners. 

I have somewhere stowed away relics of my early racing 
days in ties that were in the colours of Count de Lagrange, Sir 
Joseph Hawley, and Mr. Merry, the yellow and black that 
often carried my silver hopes, the Marquess of Hastings I 
had a cigar-case in his colours and Mr. Cartwright. The 
only British admiral I troubled about in those days was 
Admiral Rous, and the only general who appealed to my 
youthful imagination was General Peel. 

I was quite a little boy when I went to my first race meeting, 
and I saw Polly Peachum win at Worcester in July 1857. 
I never forgot my first win, the horse my father drew in a 
sweep on the course. 

It was my first win because my father gave me sixpence 
out of the sweep money, which I spent in gingerbread at one 
of the booths for which Pitchcroft was famous. 

The parrot that whistles taxis all day long from my front 
window in Regent's Park in this present year, 1916, is named 
Polly Peachum, not after the heroine of The Beggar's Opera, 
but after my first win on a racecourse in 1857. 

The first Derby horse in which I was interested was Carac- 
tacus, which won in 1862 at 40 to i. That was the race in 


MY LIFE 255 

which the starter, Mr. McGeorge, was severely reprimanded 
for starting the horses in advance of the starting-post. 

But I didn't know anything about that. I was still a 

Why we boys were interested in Caractacus was on account 
of the wild stories which were in circulation as to its owner- 
ship. One of the weird stories put about was that it had 
been purchased by a hairdresser out of a hansom cab and 
trained on Clapham Common. 

A story similar in some points was told many years after- 
wards about a horse belonging to my old friend Mr. Quarter- 
maine East. One of the street stories was that it had been 
trained by his gardener in his spare time. 

Quartermaine East was, when I knew him, the proprietor 
of the Queen's Hotel in Aldersgate Street. In the course of 
his career he was Sheriff of London, and he afterwards had 
a large hotel in Portsmouth where I used to have many 
happy chats with him over old days and old times, and listen 
to his wonderful stories of himself and " my friend Lord 

Quartermaine East was one of the supporters of the Tich- 
borne Claimant, and he and Mr. Guilford Onslow believed in 
" Sir Roger " almost if not quite to the last. 

Quartermaine East was very proud of his friendship with 
Lord Rosebery, and had many interesting stories to tell of his 
noble friend. One of them, because of its political value, is 
worth repeating. 

Lord Rosebery, it will be remembered, was Prime Minister 
in 1894, and in that year he won the Derby with Ladas. 
Soon after the victory there was a dinner at the Durdans, 
and Quartermaine East was one of the guests. 

After dinner there was a discussion as to the effect the 
Prime Minister winning the Derby would have upon the 
Nonconformist Conscience. 

Sir Charles Russell and other important persons present 
made various suggestions, and then Quartermaine East weighed 
in with his, which was that Lord Rosebery should erect a 
statue to Oliver Cromwell at Westminster. 

This was done to the great annoyance of the Irish Party, 
w ho were furious, and Quartermaine East held that the 



carrying out of his suggestion largely contributed to the 
downfall of the Rosebery administration. 

But to return to the Derby. The first horse I was really 
interested in from a racing point of view was Gladiateur, who 
won in 1865. That was the French year, and all sorts 
of stories were current about the " practices " of the 

At one time it was seriously contended that Gladiateur 
was a four-year-old when he ran for the Blue Riband of the 
English Turf. 

Before Gladiateur ran in the Leger a popular owner demanded 
an examination of the horse's mouth, but his request was not 
acceded to by the stewards. 

When Count de Lagrange died some years afterwards all 
the old scandals were revived. The Count undoubtedly ran 
horses as a business, and the running of his horses more than 
once led to displays of public disapproval, notably in 1864, 
Blair Athol's year, when Fille de 1'Air, who had been beaten 
hopelessly in the Guineas, won the Oaks. 

It was Hermit, in 1867, that started so many of my young 
friends on racing careers which ended for most of them more 
or less disastrously. Hermit won between two snowstorms, 
and just before starting you could have got 100 to i easily. 

The little group of young sportsmen to which I belonged in 
those days used to meet of an evening in the billiard-room 
at the " Lord Elgin," in Elgin Avenue, or in that of the 
" Warrington," off Maida Vale. Some of them who were a 
little older than I was had backed Hermit at fifties and sixties 
some time before the race. 

Among the incidents of the Hermit win I remember that 
the Duke of Hamilton had laid 180,000 to 6000 against the 
horse. He had the good fortune to have the bet called off 
before the day. 

Over Hermit's race the astute Captain Machell, then starting 
on his racing career, won 80,000. Mr. Chaplin, the owner, 
is reported to have won 141,000 in bets, and the young 
Marquess of Hastings, of tragic memory, lost 103,000. 

The Marquess, whose career on the Turf was as short as it 
was sensational, died of consumption at the age of twenty- 
six, but in his little span of sporting life he managed to make 

MY LIFE 257 

himself one of the most talked about young Corinthians of 
his day. 

He started on the Turf directly he left Oxford, and at once 
became a mark for " the clever division/' To begin with, 
they sold him a horse for 13,500. It was a horse of rank 
for a man of rank, but the rank that the horse descended to 
was the cab rank. 

But presently the Marquess had fifty horses in training. 
He won several big races. Over Lecturer, in the Cesarewitch, 
he won 80,000, but his gains were never equal to his losses, 
and his wild, though frequently generous, extravagances. 

The young Marquess, who was the sensation of his day, is 
still remembered as one of the tragic figures of gay life in the 

I saw WeUs, " the jockey with the whiskers/' ride Blue 
Gown to victory for Sir Joseph Hawley in 1868, and defeat 
the favourite, the Marquess of Hastings's Lady Elizabeth, 
against whom 7 to 4 had been laid. 

Lady Elizabeth ran in the Oaks of that year, when George 
Fordham, " The Demon," rode Formosa to victory and won 
by ten lengths. Lady Elizabeth was not in the first three. 

Only the other day I read in a London newspaper that 
Wells, the jockey who won the Derby on Blue Gown, had 
been admitted to a workhouse somewhere in Wales. The 
story was, of course, absurd. Wells died on July 17, 1873. 

Old race-goers will remember that Sir Joseph Hawley ran 
three horses in this race, and declared to win with Rosicrucian 
or Green Sleeve, but the public, a good judge this time, would 
not be stalled off Blue Gown, which started at seven to two 
and won by half a length. 

I went to that Derby by road, and I remember at the " Cock " 
at Sutton a poet prophet was giving off his Derby tip to the 
crowd. This was the tip : 

Yet thousands there be who profess to believe 
In an easy-won victory by Sir Joseph's Green Sleeve ; 
But all ye gay gallants from London's big town 
Must shell out your gold on bonnie Blue Gown. 

Blue Gown was sold by Sir Joseph, and died and was buried 
at sea while on the way to America. 




I was present at the Derby of 1869 when Pretender was 
returned as the winner by the judge. My money was on 
Sir Joseph Hawley's Pero Gomez, and when the horse passed 
the post I thought the cash was as good as in my pocket, for 
the people all round me shouted the name of Pero Gomez 
as the winner. 

Pretender's win was a hotly debated question for a long 
time afterwards. Pero Gomez won the Leger, and Pretender 
was not in the first three, and then the discussion as to the 
Derby decision raged for a time more furiously than ever. 

I saw Kingcraft win in 1870, when Macgregor started a 
red-hot favourite and the price was 9 to 4 on. 

There was always an enormous amount of money in those 
days for the " yellow and black," and before the race one 
of the bookmakers said to the Scotch ironmaster, " If your 
horse wins we're broke." 

Macgregor did not win. It did not finish in the first three, 
and the ring paid out cheerfully over the 20 to I Kingcraft, 
which Tom French had ridden to victory for Lord Falmouth, 
but there were many weird rumours as to the cause of 
Macgregor's defeat, and the stories that were told included 
incidents that are favourite devices of the melodramatist 
when he writes a racing drama. 

No suspicion ever rested upon Mr. Merry, whose luck it 
was to own some of the most successful horses on the Turf. 

But to this day the old racing division, when the name of 
Kingcraft is mentioned, will tell you again the strange stories 
of the dark deeds to which the utter failure of Macgregor in 
the Derby of '70 was believed to be due. 

1871 was the Baron's year. Baron Rothschild won the 
Derby that year with Favonius and the Oaks with Hannah. 
The Baron finished up his " year " by winning the Leger 
and the Cesarewitch. 

It was in 1880 that we had another Derby sensation, when 
Fred Archer rode the Duke of Westminster's Bend Or to 
victory, beating Mr. Charles Brewer's Robert the Devil. 

It went round the ring with lightning rapidity that Bend Or 
would be objected to on the ground that he was not Bend Or, 
in other words, the horse that won the race was not the horse 
it was represented to be. 

MY LIFE 259 

Mr. Brewer did at the Newmarket July meeting lodge a 
formal objection, his contention being that Bend Or, the 
winner of the Derby, was Tadcaster, and that the two colts 
had been mistaken when they were sent as yearlings to the 
training stable. 

A groom in the Bend Or stables had said so. 

The Stewards then made a thorough investigation, and 
decided that Bend Or was himself and not, as Lord Dundreary 
used to say, " the other fellah." 

I don't think I have missed many Derbys since Bend Or, 
but I have never followed the fortunes of the favourites with 
the eagerness and enthusiasm that were mine in the olden 
golden days when the Derby was the racing event of the year 
and the great prizes of the modern Turf had not come into 
existence to compete with the classic events. Clubs like 
Sandown and Kempton Park had not then been established 
to change the environment and the conditions of a day's 

I doubt if there are any jockeys now who are such popular 
idols as were the jockeys whose names were familiar in our 
mouths as household words in the 'sixties, the 'seventies, and 
the 'eighties. 

It was in 1879 that George Fordham, who for years had 
been England's foremost horseman, won his first Derby on 
Sir Bevys, the horse starting at the nice price of 20 to i. 
There was more cheering that day for the jockey than for the 

With the coming of the Americans and the " seat on the 
neck," the star of English jockey dom for a time seemed to be 
on the wane. 

The New World was going to make the Old World sit up 
by showing it the superiority of the monkey crouch. 

The jockeys of my early racing days were George Fordham, 
by many considered to be the greatest horseman of his day, 
Johnny Osborne, a churchwarden in his own parish, Tom 
French, the Grimshaws one of them came to an untimely 
end by being thrown out of a trap and breaking his neck 
Wells, Maidment, Challoner, Snowden, Tom Cannon, George 
Barrett and Fred Barrett, F. Webb, Custance and Goater, 
Kenyon, Fred Archer, and later on Sam and Tom Loates, 



Jack Watts, Mornington and Kempton Cannon, and Charley 

Fred Archer in his day was perhaps the greatest public 
favourite who has ever worn a racing jacket. The legend of 
his deeds is a glorious memory of the Turf. 

I wonder if the ghost of Fred Archer still revisits the pale 
glimpses of the moon to ride in phantom trials on Newmarket 
Heath ? 


GOING to the Derby in those days was a prominent feature in 
the programme of the joy of life, and the joy began when you 
started and you kept up the joy till you got home. 

For the young men who went down on their own or with a 
friend the hansom had curtains to keep the dust out, and you 
wore a dust-coat and a white hat with a long veil attached to 
it, and in the band of your hat you stuck wooden dolls. 

The veil was necessary, for the dust of the road was 
blinding. You went armed with a pea-shooter and peas 
and bags of flour, with which you pelted other joy-makers 
as you passed them on the road. And usually on the roof of 
the hansom you carried a hamper of good things, which 
included champagne. 

It was a day of animal spirits, of high jinks, of carnival 
folly, and frequently of free fights. 

The road to the Derby was the joy of descriptive writers, 
and because the Lord of Misrule held sway from morn till 
dewy eve and considerably later the stay-at-homes made it 
part of their programme to line the thoroughfares leading 
into town and watch the return from the Derby. 

To other meetings in the home district we travelled more 
soberly, and if we chose the road our progress was more 
businesslike than boisterous. 

Some of the suburban race-courses of my youth have long 
ceased to exist. They were too near residential property, or 
perhaps it would be fairer to say that residential property 
gradually came too near to them. 

There were steeplechases at Kingsbury and at Hendon, and 
as they were within walking distance of my home these 
steeplechases reckoned me among their faithful patrons. 

The Croydon meeting was popular ; so were Egham and 
West Drayton. All are abolished. But the great Cockney 


262 MY LIFE 

fixture was a summer one, and when " Happy Hampton " 
disappeared from the list of fixtures the gaiety of 'Any and 
'Arriet was temporarily eclipsed. 

In the northern suburbs we got compensation for the local 
loss in the opening of a new race-course at Alexandra Park in 
June 1868. 

I was there on the second day, when the betting ring 
presented patches of broken red brick and builders' waste, and 
I made my first acquaintance with a member of the gang of 
clever rascals known as " The Boys." 

The " Boy " in question was pointed out to me by a friend 
who had driven down with me, and who had already paid 
pretty heavily for his racing experience. Poor chap ! The last 
time I saw my friend he was driving a hansom cab in 

When the young gentleman at Alexandra Park had been 
pointed out to me as " one of the Boys," as it was the first 
time I had heard the expression I was anxious for an explana- 

" The Boys," as every one knows to-day, are racecourse 
sharpers and tricksters, always on the watch for innocents to 
whom they can tell the tale, and they are sometimes clever 
enough to bring off coups at the expense of the astute 
fraternity that lives by laying the odds. 

There was a certain West End bar and lounge in which 
" The Boys " and a number of well-known race-course 
characters congregated regularly, and after the day's racing 
prepared to improve the artificially shining hour by finding 
an innocent who would like a little game of cards. 

" The Boys " who worked this lay were all of superior 
appearance and superior manners, and were able to tell the 
tale with a fair prospect of success. 

I was pretty well acquainted in those days, through my 
connexion with a certain theatre, with a well-known Duke 
and his young brother. 

The Duke's brother fell in one evening at this bar with one 
of the international gang, a card-sharper of superior attain- 
ments who divided his time between London and New York, 
and generally made a considerable sum on the voyage. 

The Duke's brother was taken to a sumptuously furnished 

MY LIFE 263 

flat in the West End, where he met elegant company and 
came away the poorer by three thousand pounds. 

He told the Duke what had happened to him, and the 
Duke blamed him severely for being such a fool. 

" They wouldn't have done me like that," he said, and to 
prove that they would not the Duke went to the bar one 
evening just to show the clever division that although he was 
an hereditary legislator he was more than a match for the 
fraudulent fraternity. 

He met there one of the most brilliant of " The Boys," who 
promptly made his acquaintance, pointed out to him the 
members of the flash division who were present, and took the 
Duke off to his own flat to meet some American sportsmen 
who were over here for a racing campaign. 

When the Duke, at an early hour of the morning, left the 
party of genuine American sportsmen, he left behind his 
lOU's for eleven thousand pounds. And although at the 
finish he was convinced that the gang of professional sharpers 
had played the game on him he paid the money rather than 
have trouble. 

That is a personal memoir because I knew the " Boy " who 
brought off that coup and followed his career on and off the 
Turf for twenty years. 

The swell gang of which he was the captain became so 
daring in their enterprises, and so frequently made this bar 
and lounge the scene of their preliminary operations that the 
police had a conference with the eminently respectable 
proprietors of the establishment, and it was decided to close 
the bar and turn it into a restaurant. And the proprietors 
were very glad to do so and get rid of their highly undesirable 

Among the frequenters of that famous bar there were 
plenty of " characters." There were men young and old who 
had run through their own or other people's fortunes, and it 
was through the horses that most of them had gone to the 
dogs. * 

They haunted the bar, some for old association's sake, and 
others on the look-out for former acquaintances whom they 
could tap for a sovereign or two, or more if they could get it. 
And these men were always the jauntiest patrons of the 



establishment, carrying off with a loud laugh and a swaggering 
gait the tragedy that was gnawing at their heart-strings. 

The loafers of the lounge were pretty sure of a free drink if 
they waited long enough. 

One of them whom I had known in his better days told me 
that though he managed to keep his wardrobe up sufficiently 
to make a decent appearance, he had often to go dinnerless for 
days in succession. 

" I can get a drink easy enough/' he said, " but if I were 
to ask any of the men I know here to stand me a meal they 
would never speak to me again. You can ask for a drink 
anywhere without losing caste, but if you ask for food you 
are a beggar." 

This man, who at one time drove his own four-in-hand, 
eventually solved the difficulty of paying the rent for which 
he was six months in arrears by marrying the landlady. 

After that I missed him from the bar. I met him once in 
Regent Street, and he told me his wife would not let him out 
of an evening alone. She employed him more usefully about 
the house. 

Another well-known " character " was Major . He was 

always hanging about the bar on the look-out for old friends. 

His Sovereign had dispensed with the Major's services in 
peculiar circumstances. 

Some years previously, when he was quartered at Chatham 
with his regiment, he had been on the spree with a number of 
choice spirits. 

In a certain public-house they fell in with a well-known 
local baker, who, in the language of bibulous Bohemia, was 
" blind to the world." 

The baker was put out of the tavern for falling about on 
the floor, and immediately fell on the pavement. 

The Major and his friends saw the chance of a practical 
joke. The Major obtained a wheelbarrow, put the baker into 
it, got some red paint, and painted a broad red streak across 
his throat, and then wheeled the baker back to his shop. 

It was between twelve and one o'clock in the morning, and 
the house was closed, so they rang the bell and called up the 

The wife came down and opened the front door, gave one 

MY LIFE 265 

horrified look at the man whose head was lying over the side 
of the barrow with an apparently gashed throat, uttered a 
piercing shriek, and fell down in a fit. 

The history of that bygone bar would make a striking 
chapter in the story of sporting London during the latter 
portion of the nineteenth century. It was frequented by 
some of the best and some of the worst men about town. 

Noble lords and ignoble loafers, owners and bookmakers, 
poets and prize-fighters, Army officers, barristers, jockeys and 
journalists, authors, actors, artists and musicians, police 
officials and men who had done time, were among the daily 
and nightly clients of the establishment. 

It is gone now, but it has left an abiding memory with those 
of us who knew it in the gay days of old. 


THE element of tragedy has entered many a time and oft into 
the lives of the players who in the mimic scene portray the 
joys and sorrows, the pains and passions of life, as imagined 
by the dramatist. 

In the great scene in Youth, the Drury Lane drama by 
Augustus Harris and Paul Meritt, there lay upon the battle- 
field four actors whose only stage business it was to render 
silent service to their country and to be slain as silently as 
so far as the play was concerned they had lived. 

One night after the curtain had fallen on this scene I went 
behind to see Harris, who was acting in the play, and I got 
on to the stage just as the corpses were getting up. In four 
of the corpses I recognized actors who in their day had been 
leading men at the West End theatres. One of them had 
been the manager of a West End theatre. 

In a pantomime at the National Theatre in Harris's time 
there was a procession of Shakespearean characters, and the 
actor who represented King Lear in that pantomime procession 
had once been the star who played King Lear at the Lane. 

In an Adelphi play of which I was part author the heroine 
was played by an accomplished and charming acresss, a graceful 
and fascinating woman. 

She was a great success in the part. Everybody liked her. 
She played in more than one West End success after that, and 
proved herself as charming in comedy as she had been in 

Then she drifted out. The only news ever sent by her to 
old friends and associates was that she was ill. 

One day the death of this once-famous actress was announced 
and the date of the funeral given in a daily paper. 

The day after that announced for the funeral at the Roman 
Catholic Cemetery at East Finchley, a friend of mine, Mr. J. C. 


MY LIFE 267 

Barnett, went with his wife to see where the stage favourite 
had been laid. They wandered about, and failed to find any 
newly made grave, and were about to come away when 
through a gap in the hedge they saw in what appeared to be 
a ditch a number of beautiful wreaths and crosses. Lifting 
some of the wreaths the visitors discovered some rough boards, 
and on lifting the boards saw at the bottom of a deep pit a 

My friend went at once to see the superintendent of the 
cemetery, Mr. Buckerfield, and Mr. Buckerfield told him 
that the grave was a common one, costing ios., and probably 
within a short time half a dozen coffins would be laid on that 
which contained the remains of the dead actress. 

Swift action was taken. The name on one of the wreaths 
was that of a wealthy lady, the wife of a distinguished surgeon 
in Harley Street. The lady was communicated with ; and 
she saw Mr. Buckerfield at once. The permission of the 
Home Secretary was obtained for the coffin to be removed, 
and now the dead actress rests in a grave near that of Michael 
Gunn, and above it friends have erected a suitable monument. 

This is the story of the grave of the charming woman and 
brilliant actress who was at one time my heroine at the 
Adelphi Olga Brandon. 

Charles Warner, one of the finest melodramatic actors of 
his day and an admirable character comedian, will be best 
remembered perhaps by his marvellous performance of 
Coupeau in Drink. He once played Othello, and it was a 
very fine performance indeed. He was an admirable Tom 
Robinson in It's Never Too Late to Mend, and in romantic 
drama of the robust kind he was unrivalled. 

It was while playing in Michael Strogoff at the Adelphi 
in 1 88 1 that he was in a stage fight accidentally wounded in 
the hand by James Fernandez, and one of his fingers was 
permanently injured. 

Charles Warner was the hero of two Adelphi melodramas 
in which I was concerned In the Ranks and The Last Chance. 

His end also was a tragedy. He committed suicide by 
hanging himself in his room in New York. 

At the termination of The Last Chance Warner left the 
Adelphi, and the Gattis told me that for The Harbour Lights, 

2 68 


the drama I had written for them with Henry Pettitt, they 
had entered into a contract with William Terriss. 

Terriss was the ideal actor for a play in which the hero 
was a young naval officer. 

William Lewin Terriss was a nom de thtdtre had been 
for a short time in the Royal Navy, but left it to take up 
the stage, making his first appearance at the Prince of Wales's 
Theatre, Birmingham, in 1869, when he was just twenty 
years of age. But in 1871, when I met him first it was at 
the Unity Club he was performing at Drury Lane in Halliday's 
drama of Rebecca, and remaining on at the Lane, he played 
Malcolm Graeme in '72 in Halliday's Lady of the Lake. 

In June 1885 Terriss wrote me from the Lyceum, where he 
was then playing : 

" DEAR SIMS, It may possibly interest you to know that 
I have settled for a lengthy engagement with the Gattis, 
commencing with your new autumn drama. If at any time 
you want to see me about the part, I need hardly say I shall 
always be glad to attend your summons. 

" Yours sincerely, 


The Harbour Lights was produced at the Adelphi on 
December 23, 1885, and ran without interruption until June 24, 
1887, the month of Queen Victoria's Jubilee. 

And it was at the Adelphi some years later that the ideal 
hero of Adelphi melodrama was foully murdered as he was 
entering the theatre. 

The circumstances that led up to the murder were, as I 
will show, as remarkable as the manner of its accomplishment 
was villainously melodramatic. 

It was from the Lyceum, where he had been playing with 
Irving and Ellen Terry in Olivia, that William Terriss came 
to us at the Adelphi to achieve, perhaps, the greatest success 
of his career as Lieutenant David Kingsley, R.N. Before he 
achieved fame of any kind on the stage he had had a career 
which was as romantic as that of any hero he personated, and 
he had acted in real life with as many changes of scene as 
we used to give the audience in the palmy days of the Adelphi. 

MY LIFE 269 

William Terriss, before he was five and twenty, had been 
seaman, tea-planter, engineer, actor, sheep-farmer, and horse- 
breeder, and had twice been shipwrecked. He was a middy 
in the Royal Navy and a tea-planter at Chittagong, and after 
being shipwrecked on his way home he became an apprentice 
at some engineering works at Greenwich. 

He remained at the Adelphi after the run of The Harbour 
Lights and played the hero in The Bells of Haslemere and 
The Union Jack, but soon after that he went to America. 

He was in America in 1894, and on New Year's Day he 
sent me a breezy, though somewhat prophetic, letter from 
New York. 

" Hotel Vendome, New York, 

" January i, 1894. 

" GOOD MORNING, GEORGE, How time flies ! Old friends 
and companions dropping off one by one, leaving us older 
and, I trust, better men. But I am sending these few lines 
across the broad Atlantic to wish you in '94 all health and 
continued prosperity. So a drink to ourselves and absent 


That was in 1894. Four days before the coming of Christmas 
1897 Will Terriss had himself been laid to rest, amid the 
heartfelt grief of the old friends and companions who would 
see his handsome face and hear his cheery voice no more. 

It was on December 21 that Terriss was buried at Brompton 
Cemetery, the funeral procession having passed through streets 
crowded with sympathetic spectators, and in those streets 
most of the shops were shuttered and the blinds of the private 
houses were down. 

The death of this popular actor had taken place in circum- 
stances which caused not only widespread horror but aroused 
the deepest sorrow among all classes of the community. 

A few nights previously a man named Richard Archer 
Prince, aged thirty-two, and describing himself as an actor, 
had been arrested red-handed and charged at Bow Street. 

This was the charge : " That he did at about twenty minutes 
past seven P.M. on December i6th kill and slay William Terriss 
with a knife in Maiden Lane/' 



Terriss was stabbed by Archer, " a mysterious-looking 
individual in a black cloak and slouch hat," just as the actor 
was stooping to put the key into the private door leading 
to the stage at the back of the Adelphi in Maiden Lane. 

Terriss staggered into the passage of the theatre and then 
fell, and it was there, with his head supported in the lap 
of the leading lady, Miss Jessie Milward, that he died. 

And while he lay dead behind the scenes a large audience 
had assembled in the theatre waiting for the curtain to rise on 
Secret Service, the drama in which the murdered man should 
have played the hero. 

Prince or Archer that was the name we knew him by at 
the Adelphi, where he had played small parts in the dramas of 
Pettitt and myself was known to many members of the 
profession as " Mad Archer." He was a man who suffered 
from the mania of persecution. While in a small part in 
In the Ranks he complained to me twice that another actor 
was trying to " queer " him. A melancholy, saturnine indi- 
vidual, he made few friends, and became possessed with the 
idea that " everybody was against him." <1% j 

Archer not only imagined that everybody was persecuting 
him, but he himself had a persistent habit of persecuting at 
least with abusive correspondence every one who did not 
at once listen to his demands for employment, or who refused 
to accept a play, Colonel Otto, which he had written, and 
which he sent to various managers. He sent Mr. Fred Terry 
Colonel Otto, and when Mr. Terry didn't return it at once 
Archer bombarded him with abusive post cards. 

Archer, among other delusions, believed that Terriss had 
not only kept him out of an engagement at the Adelphi, but 
had been the means of preventing an appeal to the Royal 
General Theatrical Fund for assistance being granted. 

Archer had a mania for writing letters, and the method in 
his madness was that he generally asked for financial assistance. 

When he was arrested his rooms were searched, and the 
police found not only letters from ladies of title, but letters 
from royal personages and political notorieties acknowledging 
" Mr. Prince's poem." The present King and Queen then 
Duke and Duchess of York had written thanking Prince 
for his congratulations on the birth of an heir, the present 

MY LIFE 271 

Prince of Wales. Princess Henry of Battenberg wrote thanking 
him for his touching lines on the death of her husband, and 
Mr. Gladstone acknowledged the receipt of a highly compli- 
mentary poetical effusion. 

But there was another delusion under which the murderer 
suffered. He had a sister who was rather well known at the 
time. He believed that Terriss and his sister were in league 
and were going about together and planning his ruin. 

The sister had been to the Adelphi once or twice to see an 
actor, but the actor was not William Terriss. 

Prince was tried at the Old Bailey in a ghastly brown fog 
that filled the grim hall of tragedies on January 10, 1898. 
Mr. Charles Mathews and Mr. Horace Avory prosecuted, and 
Mr. Sands was for the defence. On the ascertained facts 
concerning Prince's career and on the medical evidence the 
jury could only find that the murderer of William Terriss was 
insane and not responsible for his action. 

If Richard Archer Prince had been recognized as insane, 
as he should have been years earlier, William Terriss might 
still be with us. 

There is a grim coincidence in the last letter poor Will 
Terriss, the " Breezy Bill " of a hundred happy theatrical 
and Bohemian memories, wrote to me. 

In the late autumn of 1897 some paragraphs appeared in 
the theatrical papers concerning a play which I had just 
completed for a well-known management. Terriss wrote to 
me to know if I could deal with him for the American rights. 

I replied jokingly that I had disposed of the world rights. 

Here is Terriss's characteristic letter : 

" Adelphi Theatre. 

" DEAR GEORGE, Sorry you have sold all rights for this 
world. What price the next world ? " WILL." 

Alas, how little did poor Will Terriss imagine that he would 
have passed to that next world before the play for which he 
wanted " the next world rights " had been produced ? 

In one of the many memorial articles that appeared at the 
time of the tragedy the writer attributed to Sir Henry Irving 
the mot, I have found a rara avis in Terriss/' 

I have always been under the impression that this was a 

272 MY LIFE 

mistake. It was apropos of Terriss's early appearance at 
the Prince of Wales's Theatre under the Bancroft management 
that the mot was first made, and it appeared in the pages 
of Fun. 

The Gipsy Earl, the play that I was writing at the time 
I received the telephone message to tell me that Terriss had 
been murdered, was produced some months later at the 

It was my last play at the old home of melodrama, and in 
connexion with its production I have one or two reminiscences 
which may be of interest to old playgoers. 


The Gipsy Earl was produced at the Adelphi on the night of 
August 31, 1898, with a remarkably fine cast, and Fred Terry 
and Julia Neilson as the hero and heroine. With artists like 
Edmund Maurice, William Devereux, George Hippesley, John 
Glendinning, and Miss Keith Wakeman to sustain the serious 
interest, with Harry Nicholls as 'Lijah Blossom, a village 
policeman, and Athol Forde and Mrs. Henry Leigh in strong 
comedy parts, and with Sydney Fairbrother as the runaway 
boy who fancies himself as " Dashing Dick, the hero of the 
turnpike road," and Maggie Bowman as his timorous little 
sweetheart, the melodrama did not fail to appeal to Adelphi 

I have said that there were incidents connected with the 
production which are interesting reminiscences. 

When we were about to complete the cast I sat one morning 
in the manager's room at the Adelphi to interview the ladies 
and gentlemen who were willing to undertake small parts for 
which the salary would be a few pounds a week. 

And suddenly there came smiling into the room the stage 
idol of my boyhood and the idol of the youth of many thousands 
of playgoers in England, on the Continent, and in America. 

As Lydia Thompson came towards me and held out her 
hand I could not suppress an exclamation of surprise. 

" My dear lady,'* I exclaimed, " what on earth do you 
want here ? You aren't surely anxious to play Adelphi 
heroines ? " 

Lydia Thompson laughed. " If I were it would be no use," 
she said, " because the heroine is fixed up. I know that. 
Julia Neilson is your star this season." 

" Yes that is our good fortune. Have you come to 
congratulate me on it ? " 

" No I've come on business serious business. I hear 

273 s 



there are several small parts not yet filled. Be a nice kind 
man and give me one of them/' 

I don't think I said anything for quite a minute and a half. 
I was trying to realize the situation. Lydia Thompson, the 
bright delightful comedienne, the charming dancer, who had 
in her day captured all Europe and all America ; Lydia 
Thompson whose talent when I was first taken, a boy, to 
the theatre made her the talk of playgoing London had 
come to me forty years afterwards to ask me to give her a 
small part in an Adelphi melodrama. 

It was in the very early 'sixties I am not sure that it 
was not in the late 'fifties that I had given my boy's heart 
to a dainty little lady who played so archly and danced so 
delightfully in Magic Toys, and the charming little lady of 
my youthful adoration was Lydia Thompson. 

Lydia Thompson made her first appearance as a principal 
dancer in 1852. Soon afterwards she made a great success as 
Little Silverhair in Harlequin and the Three Bears at the 
Haymarket. In 1856 she was dancing her way through the 
theatres of Germany. She visited the principal capitals of 
Europe. In one town I think it was Budapest the students 
took the horses from her carriage and drew her in triumph from 
the theatre to her hotel, and on the balcony she made a speech. 

She went to America, and was hailed as the greatest and 
most charming burlesque actress of the day. Torchlight 
processions took place in her honour, and shoeblacks presented 
her with a silver wreath. 

As she sat opposite me that August morning in 1898 my 
memory wandered back to H. J. Byron's Der Freischutz, 
produced at the Prince of Wales's in 1866. And Lydia Thomp- 
son played the principal part because Marie Wilton was 
bidding good-bye to burlesque. 

Lydia Thompson's troupe of Blondes ! I remember the 
sensation they made in America and here, and did not Pauline 
Markham beautiful Pauline Markham tell us afterwards 
how, because he had written an insulting article about the 
Blondes, the fair Lydia had horsewhipped the editor of the 
Chicago Times ? 

And then she came back and gave us Bluebeard, with 
Rachel Sanger and Lai Brough and Willie Edouin. 

MY LIFE 275 

She married John Christian Tilbury, a nephew of Mr. 
Tilbury, of the firm of coachbuilders, Tilbury, Son, and Cooke, 
in the Marylebone Road. 

The Tilburys were the inventors of the Tilbury and the 
Tilbury tugs, and Mr. Tilbury, sen., was the first person to 
introduce rubber tyres. They were exhibited in the 1851 
Exhibition, but Sir Richard Mayne, the head of the police, 
would not sanction the use of them as he said they would 
be a danger to the public. 

John Christian Tilbury, Lydia Thompson's husband, was 
killed at Brentwood while riding a horse, All Fours, in the 
Union Hunt Steeplechase. 

The horse fell at a fence. Tilbury was carried on a gate 
to the farmhouse and Lydia Thompson was sent for, and she 
arrived in time to see him die. 

Afterwards she married Mr. Alexander Henderson, the 
well-known theatrical manager, and in '78 she was playing 
at the Folly Theatre, of which her husband was the proprietor. 

And here in 1898 was the world-famous artist asking me' 
for a small part in an Adelphi drama. 

Alas, there was nothing to suit the fair and evergreen 
Lydia, and I had to tell her so and bid her a smiling 

But a year later she was playing a very fine part indeed. 
She was the honoured recipient of a magnificent and ever- 
to-be-remembered complimentary benefit at the Lyceum. 

What a house it was ! What a programme ! The benefit 
was on Tuesday afternoon. On the Monday night there was 
a throng of women already waiting at the pit doors and the 
gallery doors. 

There was a reception on the stage, which was crowded 
with well-known actors and actresses, and Sir Henry Irving 
stepped to the footlights to recall the time when he and 
Lionel Brough, then unknown to London audiences, had 
supported Lydia Thompson in rollicking burlesque, and Lydia 
Thompson delivered a reply written for her by W. S. Gilbert 
telling of the wonderful changes which had taken place in 
things theatrical " since that dim age when little Silverhair 
tripped on the stage/' and the address ended with " God 
bless you, God bless me, God bless us all ! " and the house 

276 MY LIFE 

rose and cheered itself hoarse and white handkerchiefs waved 

Lydia Thompson sent me an autographed programme of 
that benefit with a charming little letter, and jokingly reminded 
me that I had promised not to forget her when I was casting 
my next play. 

It was while I was still sitting in the manager's room 
at the Adelphi under the influence of the happy memories 
of Lydia Thompson that another famous player of the days 
of my youth had entered. 

The lady who stood smiling before me was Miss Marriott. 
It was a curious and I might say a dramatic coincidence 
that I should, on this sunny August morning in 1898, meet 
both Lydia Thompson and Miss Marriott for the first time in 
circumstances which enabled us to converse. 

It was a dramatic coincidence because both the ladies had 
delighted me in my earliest days as a playgoer and both were 
stage favourites when I was a schoolboy. 

And both had made their first appearance in London in the 
early 'fifties. Lydia Thompson had made her debut in 1852 
at Her Majesty's, and Miss Marriott had appeared for the 
first time in London in 1854 at Drury Lane, playing Bianca in 
the tragedy of Fazio. 

My first memory of Miss Marriott is a cloudy one. She 
played The Angel of Midnight at the Princess's in '62, but 
I remember the play better than the players. 

But they were not the old days of Drury Lane or the 
Princess's that came back to me as Miss Marriott entered the 
little room at the Adelphi where I sat waiting to interview 
the ladies and gentlemen who were anxious to fill the small 
parts in The Gipsy Earl. 

The old days that came back to me were the old days of 
Sadler's Wells. 

And my memory in one swift flight was back again, not in 
the old Phelps's days when I was taken as a child to the Wells, 
but in the later days when I had come to man's estate. 

It was the lady who anticipated the divine Sarah and 
played Hamlet at Sadler's Wells in 1864, not only to the 
satisfaction but the delight of the audience I was one of 
them who in August 1898 came to me because she had 

MY LIFE 277 

heard that some of the small parts in my new Adelphi drama 
were not yet filled ! 

Fortunately there was a small part that I was able to offer 
to the lady who, five and thirty years previously, shone as a 
star where Phelps had for many years shed his dazzling rays 
upon the land, not of promise, but of performance. 

When the engagement had been settled and Miss Marriott 
had bidden me good-bye and taken the part home with her, 
the memories of Sadler's Wells which her coming had aroused 
still remained with me. 

I remembered that that fine old actor, Henry Marston, had 
been one of Phelps's principal players at the Wells. He had 
played with the elder Kean, with Kemble, and with Macready. 
When Phelps " rescued Sadler's Wells from clowns and 
mountebanks " Henry Marston was his right hand. And I 
remember being present at the benefit given at the Lyceum 
to Henry Marston when his notable career had been brought 
to a close by ill-health. He made his first appearance in 
1824, and it was in 1879 tnat many of the best-known actors 
on the English stage appeared at the Lyceum in Much Ado 
About Nothing to do him the honour he had so nobly striven 
to deserve. 

And as my memory wandered back to the theatre of which 
Miss Marriott had at one time been the bright particular star 
and done her best to carry on the Phelps tradition, a tragedy 
leapt to my mind. 

I remembered that in 1863 Charles Fechter, then in his 
glory at the Lyceum, announced that Mr. Phelps and Mr. 
Walter Montgomery had been engaged " and would shortly 
appear." Fechter had engaged Phelps, but preferred to pay 
him to walk about. 

But Fechter in time got tired of paying for nothing, and 
asked Phelps to play the ghost to his Hamlet. Then there 
was trouble, and eventually, on the advice of Charles Dickens, 
who was friendly to both actors, the Phelps engagement was 
cancelled and Fechter was Hamlet all by himself. 

Few remember much of Fechter's Hamlet to-day, but all 
old playgoers remember him in Ruy Bias and Bel Demonio 
and The Duke's Motto. The Duke's motto became a catch 
phrase, and I remember that Charles White, the well-known 

2 7 8 


bookmaker, had as his sign on the racecourse " The Duke's 
Motto ' I Am Here/ " which was a very excellent motto for 
a ready-money bookmaker. 

But the tragedy that leapt to my mind as I sat and chatted 
with the lady who had played Hamlet, and was willing to 
play a part of a few lines at the Adelphi, was that of Walter 
Montgomery, the popular tragedian he also had played 
Hamlet who was engaged by Fechter at the same time as 

The fate of Walter Montgomery is probably one of the 
forgotten tragedies of the stage, and yet when it happened it 
thrilled all playgoing London. 

In the midoUe 'sixties a very pretty and charming French 
actress came to the Princess's Theatre to play Juliet. Stella 
Colas was a young and beautiful Juliet, and that was all, but 
being French and fascinating, her daring Shakespearean 
adventure caused any amount of talk and discussion. 

Stella Colas came back to London the following year and 
appeared as Juliet again, and one of the leading critics of the 
day declared with more pith than politeness that she was 
" obtrusively self-conscious, showy, jerky, artificial as a 
puppet," and that as Juliet she was " still abominable." 

The Entente in those days had not extended to French 
performances of Shakespeare on the Bard's own territory. 

Walter Montgomery was the English Romeo to the French 
Juliet, and it was the tragedy of Walter Montgomery that 
the Marriott memories of Sadler's Wells brought back to me. 

Montgomery, whose real name was Richard Tomlinson, was 
born in America, came over here young, and got a berth at 
Welch, Margetson and Co.'s in the City, but, like one of our 
now famous actor-managers, he deserted the shirt and collar 
trade for the sock and buskin. He drifted from drapery into 
the drama and became in time a recognized Shakespearean 
actor, and his renown as a leading man justified the famous 
Fechter in coupling him with Phelps in his announcement of 
important engagements. 

In July 1871, the year of the Paris Commune, Hollingshead 
brought over a French company from Brussels with a light, 
bright repertoire. It only remained a few weeks, and then, 
on the last day of July, Walter Montgomery, greatly daring, 


MY LIFE 279 

considering the theatre and the time of year, took the Gaiety 
for a legitimate season, and, alas, Shakespeare on this 
occasion spelt not only ruin but suicide. 

Poor Montgomery lost heavily at the Gaiety in his short 
season, and at the end of July Julia Matthews was back at 
the theatre with The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. 

On August 30 Walter Montgomery was married at St. 
George's, Hanover Square, to Miss L. Bigelow, a young 
actress who had made a success on the stage and had played 
Pauline in The Lady of Lyons. 

On September 2 he committed suicide in a house between 
Bond Street and Albemarle Street, where he had rooms on 
the first floor. 

Montgomery and his bride had driven from Waterloo to 
the house in a hansom. Montgomery stepped out of the cab, 
ran up to his bedroom and shot himself, and when his wife, 
who had followed him, got upstairs it was to find her husband 
lying dead by his own hand. 

Charles Albert Fechter I remember that a good many 
people pronounced his name " Feshter " had a German 
father and an English mother. He was one of the most 
popular romantic actors of the 'sixties, and gave a foreign 
touch to the romantic drama which was not without its 

His grace and variety of gesture were something new to 
the English stage, and his methods played havoc with many 
old conventions. He not only looked the hero of romance, 
but behaved as such, and if the matinee girl had been invented 
in those days Fechter would have been her idol. 

I remember him best as Fabien and Louis dei Franchi in 
The Corsican Brothers. I have a melancholy remembrance of 
his Edgar in The Master of Ravenswood, but he is indelibly 
impressed on my memory as Obenreizer in Charles Dickens's 
and Wilkie Collins's No Thoroughfare. 

And these playland pictures from the long ago all came 
back vividly to my mental vision as I sat chatting one August 
morning in 1898 with Miss Marriott, who, like Fechter, 
played Hamlet to me while I sat in the pit in the days of my 

Miss Marriott duly appeared in The Gipsy Earl. 



an old gipsy woman admirably, and delivered a dramatic 
speech a curse with all the distinction and force of the 
fine old school of the 'sixties, when the children of Thespis 
spoke to be heard and did not think it beneath their dignity 
to " act/' 

At the end of the run of The Gipsy Earl my connexion with 
the old Adelphi Theatre closed. It had lasted with intervals 
for nearly seventeen years. 


IT was W. S. Gilbert who was responsible for the phrase 
" Adelphi guests/' 

A well-known actor told me the other day that his daughter 
while playing for a kinema firm heard the producer ring up 
the training school attached to the establishment and say to 
the manager, " Send me down a dozen assorted guests at 

In the 'sixties and well on into the 'seventies the " Adelphi 
guests," whether they were dukes or earls or the newly rich, 
were played by the ordinary supers, and they attended balls 
and receptions in the oddest specimens of evening dress 

It was not until Ludwig Barnay and the Saxe-Meiningen 
Company came to Drury Lane in 1881 that any serious 
attention was paid by stage managers to the conduct and 
demeanour of a crowd. The crowd groaned simultaneously 
and shouted simultaneously, and betrayed not the slightest 
interest in the proceedings except when the cue came to 
groan or shout or cheer. 

Augustus Harris went over to see the Duke of Saxe- 
Meiningen to arrange for the engagement of the company, 
with Herr Barnay at its head. 

As he always liked a travelling companion he took Henry 
Pettitt with him. They made a straight journey without 
stops, and early in the morning after a night in the train 
Harris woke up and gazed sleepily out of the window. He 
saw a broad, swiftly flowing river. He roused Pettitt. 

" That's a fine river," he said. " You were a schoolmaster 
once. What is it ? " 

Pettitt gazed out of the window with sleepy eyes and said, 
" I used to teach writing, not geography," and went off to 
sleep again. And so did Harris. 


282 MY LIFE 

They had had their first view of the Rhine without knowing 

The crowd in the Saxe-Meiningen productions at Drury 
Lane was a revelation to the British stage manager, and soon 
after that the crowd began to receive as much attention at 
rehearsal as the principals. 

The " Adelphi guests " had disappeared when I came to 
the theatre, that is to say, so far as the ordinary super-guests 
were concerned. 

The stage was getting into society, and society was getting 
on to the stage, and there were quite a large number of well- 
bred and well-educated young men and women, eager to 
adopt the dramatic profession, who were willing to gain 
experience by " walking on." 

In the crowd in In the Ranks were players of small parts 
Richard Archer Prince, the murderer of Terriss, was one of 
them the daughter of a famous London writer, the wife of 
a London doctor, the sister of a distinguished naval officer, 
and a young lady who had the right to describe herself as the 
daughter of a hundred earls. 

Charles Harris Gus Harris's brother was a stage manager 
of considerable reputation and in general demand as a pro- 
ducer of spectacular pieces, and he was engaged by the Gattis 
to produce In the Ranks. 

Now Charlie Harris he was known variously as Charliar 
Harris, " The Stage Damager," etc., but nobody ever called 
him Charles was one of the old school of stage directors who 
were given to the use of strong language when anything went 
wrong at rehearsal or the small people were not up to the 
mark, and on occasions he could swear as terribly as, according 
to Uncle Toby, our Armies did in Flanders. 

I remember Charlie Harris on one occasion, while rehearsing 
a burlesque, requesting the ladies of the chorus not to crowd 
together in the scene " like a vital fluidy lot of sardines." 

When he came to the Adelphi to produce In the Ranks the 
new quality of the " Adelphi guests " paralysed his powers of 

He came to me one day after a long and trying rehearsal 
with the crowd, and in a voice broken with emotion he 

MY LIFE 283 

" For Heaven's sake, ask the Gattis to get rid of those 
bally aristocrats and give me something I can swear at or the 
scene won't be worth a d ." 

Charlie Harris, apart from his flow of language, which in 
his day was not looked upon as abnormal, was a very good 
stage manager indeed. 

I remember meeting him just before the production of a 
big show which he was stage managing, and in his picturesque 
way he said to me, " I think I've done it this time ! My big 
scene will take their bally eyeballs out." 

Looking back upon my forty years' connexion with the 
stage I can see no change that has been greater than that in 
the language and demeanour of the stage manager and 
producer to the small part people and the crowd. 

In the old days there were managers who were notorious 
for their insulting remarks at rehearsal. 

There was a manageress who could be very sarcastic at 
times, not only with young beginners, but with the more 
important members of the company. 

One day she was directing a rehearsal while her husband 
sat by her and looked on. 

A young actor who was rather sensitive had recently 
joined the company, and this was his first rehearsal. After 
the manageress had made one or two sarcastic comments 
upon his reading of the part he stepped towards her, bowed 
politely, and said in a voice that the whole company could 
hear, " Madam, if you insult me again I shall pull your 
husband's nose ! " 

To-day rehearsals are conducted with scrupulous courtesy 
to all concerned. 

A bishop and his wife might, for instance, attend the whole 
of the rehearsals of a Drury Lane pantomime, and they 
would not hear from Mr. Arthur Collins or from any of his 
assistants a word addressed to the company that they the 
bishop and his wife might not, when they got home, repeat 
to their children if they had any. 

Under the old regime at the Lane things were not always 
so pleasant. When Charlie Harris was assisting his brother, 
the bluff though generally genial Augustus, they would even 
occasionally exchange language with each other. 



But my memories of the Lane go back long before the Harris 

The first memory of the National Theatre that I have that 
is not a cloudy one is of Phelps as " Manfred." That was in 
1863. I can see the lonely figure on the great stage now, and 
I can hear the tumultuous welcome of the packed house to 
the great tragedian whom Chatterton had invited to return 
to Drury Lane, his " rightful home." 

I am bound to confess that the management did not share 
the enthusiasm of the audience over Manfred, for not long 
after the experiment Mr. F. B. Chatterton made a managerial 
utterance which became classical. He said that " Shakespeare 
spelt ruin and Byron bankruptcy," and Chatterton let E. T. 
Smith have Phelps for Astley's. 

I have a lively recollection of one remarkable winter night 
in 1867. It was January 22. We had a box for the panto- 
mime, and we got to Drury Lane at last in a four-wheel cab 
drawn by three horses, two abreast and one in front, and a 
man walking by the side of the animals to help them up 
when they fell down. January 22, 1867, was long remembered 
in theatrical circles as the night when pedestrians skated or 
slid along the streets because no other means of progression 
was possible. 

The Drury Lane pantomime was famous in the 'sixties as 
it is now. But there was considerably more opposition, as 
half the theatres in London had Christmas pantomimes. 
Those were the days of the famous clown, and the harlequinade 
was still a great feature of Christmas shows. 

They were the days of Harry Boleno and Harry Payne, 
and the Great Little Rowella and the Lauris and the Lupinos. 
In the 'sixties I saw a treble harlequinade with three famous 
clowns in it. 

The harlequinade was a very important part of the panto- 
mime programme in the 'sixties and the 'seventies. The 
question to managers was not in those days " Who is to be 
your principal comedian ? " or " Who is to be your principal 
boy ? " but " Who is to be your clown ? " 

When Puss in Boots was produced at Drury Lane in 1869 
the programme commenced with a performance by " Her 
Majesty's Servants " of a farce entitled My Wife's Out, and 

MY LIFE 285 

the harlequinade consisted of four scenes and a final grand 
transformation scene. 

There were two clowns, two pantaloons, two harlequins, 
and two columbines. The pantomime troupe danced a 
pas de quatre, harlequin and columbine danced a polonaise, 
a bolero, and a hornpipe, and there was a full ballet, The 
Girls of the Period, in the second scene. 

Among the specialities in the fourth scene we had Professor 
Peterson's troupe of performing dogs, Le Petit Rarey and the 
Smallest Horse in the World, and the Albanian Violinists. 

Another scene was the deck of a warship. It was manned 
by three hundred children, and the Infant Drummer, Master 
Vokins, performed on board. 

As a specimen of the sort of scene they gave us in the 
harlequinade in those days, here is the synopsis of what 
happened on the deck of that man-of-war : 

" Morning Preparations for a voyage Inspection by the 
Duke of Edinburgh Rifle drill, cutlass exercise, and the 
march past Leave-taking ' The Girl I Left Behind Me ' 
Weigh anchor ' I'm Afloat, I'm Afloat ' The boatswain's 
song, and hornpipe by sixty able-bodied young British tars 
The enemy in sight The action, and success of the flag that's 
braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze." 

When that scene opened it was close upon midnight, and 
there was the Fairy Home of Industry, the grand transforma- 
tion scene of the harlequinade, yet to come. 

I can remember that harlequinade, and I know that I 
stayed to the very end, and so did the rest of the audience. 

In the old-fashioned harlequinades we had in addition to 
the famous clowns pantomimists like Paul Herring and Fred 
Evans, and the Lauri troupe and the Leclerq troupe, of which 
the head was Charles Leclerq, the father of two of the most 
refined and charming actresses of their day, Carlotta and 
Rose Leclerq. 

And Fawdon Vokes was Harlequin and Jessie Yokes was 
Columbine, and Rosina Vokes was Harlequina. This was 
before the days when the Vokes family came to fame and 
fortune, and Fred Vokes was an excellent entertainment in 
himself, and Victoria and Rosina Vokes were not only brilliant 
comediennes but actresses of the front rank. 

286 MY LIFE 

Old playgoers remember The Belles of the Kitchen and 
Fun in a Fog. And they remember Victoria Yokes as Amy 
Robsart at Drury Lane, and they have many a happy 
memory of Rosina Vokes, the most delightful and dainty of 
comediennes, who became the wife of Mr. Cecil Clay, and 
whose death in America when she was at the height of her 
fame filled the hearts of playgoers on both sides of the Atlantic 
with sorrow. 

The Vokes family were the " Vokes Children " when they 
began their stage career, and they played with Flexmore and 
Phelps and Charles Matthews and Creswick and Barry 
Sullivan before they became famous in Drury Lane pantomime. 

I remember Dion Boucicault's Formosa at Drury Lane in 
'69, with Katherine Rodgers as the soiled heroine, Henry 
Irving as Compton Kerr, the gentlemanly villain, and bright 
and dainty Maggie Brennan as the Earl of Eden. Formosa 
was the wonderful play which saw one of the 'Varsity crews 
sit astride a form to practise for the boat race. And the hero, 
the stroke of one of the crews, was kidnapped and locked up, 
and escaped just in time to leap into his boat and win the 

Andrew Halliday, after making a huge success with The 
Great City, supplied the Lane with historical drama for many 
years. The Lady of the Lake, Kenilworth, and Amy Robsart 
drew the town. 

In 1873 dear old E. L. Blanchard, the Drury Lane ever- 
green, had a second innings. He gave us The Children in the 
Wood at Christmas and in September a " pantomimical 
eccentricity " which he called Nobody in London not a particu- 
larly promising title for a theatre with the holding capacity 
of the Lane. 

In the late 'seventies the Drury Lane management was in 

Mr. F. B. Chatterton had done his best to deserve a better 

But it was all in vain, and on the evening of Saturday, 
December 7, 1878, Chatterton closed his dramatic season. 

On the Monday Herr Bandmann took the theatre for a 
brief spell in order to allow us to see his Hamlet. 

On Boxing Day E. L. Blanchard succeeded Shakespeare 

MY LIFE 287 

and gave us Cinderella, which has always been considered 
one of the most " drawing " subjects for pantomime. 

The famous Yokes family were in it, Julia Warden and 
Miss Hudspeth were the spiteful sisters, Victoria Vokes was 
Cinderella, and Jessie Vokes was the Prince. 

But right in the middle of the run of Cinderella Drury Lane 
closed its doors. There was no treasury. 

I have told the story of the events that led up to the 
disaster, because the Christmas catastrophe is unique in the 
history of the National Theatre. 

It was on February 4, 1879, t na * ^ ne theatre closed suddenly 
while the pantomime was in full swing. 

And that was the end of the management of Mr. F. B. 
Chatterton, for whom Shakespeare had spelt ruin, Byron 
bankruptcy, and Pantomime had put up the shutters. 

And then there arose a very active and enterprising young 
man who had been stage manager with Edgar Bruce while 
I was winning my spurs at the little theatre in Soho. 

This young man sprang into the imminent deadly breach, 
and Augustus Harris became known to the world and through 
the World as Druriolanus. 

It is a legend in Theatreland that Augustus Harris took 
Drury Lane with a capital of 500 at his disposal. 

At any rate, he told me himself that he was not afraid of 
losing his money at the Lane, because he hadn't any to lose. 

Augustus Harris, senior, was one of the most famous stage 
managers in Europe. His son reminded John Ryder of this 
when the old actor somewhat testily protested against the 
idea of young Gus Harris as the manager of Drury Lane. 

" Oh," replied Ryder, " so you think you're a stage manager 
because your father was one ? Well, my father was a pilot, 
but I should be sorry for the ship that I had to bring up 
the Thames." 

Young Augustus was sent to school in Paris, and when he 
left school he had a berth in the house of Erlanger and Co. 
as a foreign correspondent, but when his father died he 
abandoned the desk for the drama. 

He was assistant stage manager for a time with Mapleson 
of the Italian Opera. 

He produced a pantomime at the Crystal Palace for Charles 

288 MY LIFE 

Wyndham, and when I first met him he was playing Harry 
Greenlanes in Pink Dominoes at the Criterion. 

His career at Drury Lane is theatrical history. He had 
his ups and downs, but he had big ideas, high spirits, and 
fertility of resource, and he managed to be the Napoleon of 
Theatreland without having the worry of Waterloo or the 
ennui of Elba. 

I have told the story of Gus Harris when he was at the 
Royalty, and how he used to tell me his dreams of Drury Lane, 
and give off bits of the drama which Pettitt and he and 
Meritt were going to do if he got the lease of the big theatre. 

And Paul Meritt gave me his ideas too. In quite sober 
seriousness he took me into the lobby of the theatre one day, 
where the statues of Kean and Kemble and Garrick and 
Shakespeare are, and he said, " If I go to the Lane I shall be 
a national author, and one day my bust may be here with 
my predecessors." 

Augustus Harris did get his bust put up at Drury Lane 
after his death. 

But it was outside. 

Paul Meritt had his share of success at the Lane, but he 
fell out of the Pettitt-Harris collaboration. 

After he left the Lane he nourished a grievance against 
Harris, and he used to write him four- and six-paged letters 
about twice a week. 

Whenever I went to see Meritt, who lived in Pembroke 
Square, Kensington, he always insisted upon reading these 
letters, of which he took press copies, to me. 

I don't think Gus Harris replied to the bombardment 
after the first three or four. At any rate, one day when I 
called to see Paul I found him triumphant. 

" I read my last letter to Harris to you, didn't I ? " he said. 
" Well, that's a fortnight ago, and he hasn't replied. My 
boy, I've knocked him speechless ! " 

Gus Harris at first played parts in the dramas, and, among 
others, he played Icilius, and was ever afterwards chaffed as 
" The Penny Icilius." It was not vanity that made him act 
for a time. It was his desire to qualify for the Drury Lane 

Augustus Harris was a hearty, genial man with a bluff and 

MY LIFE 289 

boisterous manner, but on occasions he could wrap himself 
in a cloak of dignity. 

Once in the long ago, when Arthur Pinero was just beginning 
to come to the front, there was a theatrical dinner at the 
Star and Garter, Richmond, with a large professional 
attendance and speeches afterwards. 

Pinero made a little speech, and something he said quite 
innocently was taken by Harris to reflect on the policy at 
Drury Lane. When the company filed out after the banquet 
Gus Harris planted himself in the doorway and waited until 
Pinero came along. Then he eyed him up and down in the 
good old melodramatic manner and exclaimed : 

" Mushroom ! " 

Some years afterwards Arthur Pinero had made his mark, 
and a very big mark, as a dramatic author, and he found 
himself at the Green Room Club late one night when Augustus 
Harris was there. 

Several of the members remembered that since the dinner 
the manager and author had not spoken to each other. 

One of them I think it was Henry Hamilton went to 
Gus and said, " Come and speak to Pinero. What's the good 
of nursing an old grievance ? " 

Harris had his cloak on a sort of military cloak which he 
generally wore over evening dress. Presently, after evident 
hesitation, he strode towards Pinero, flung the folds of his 
cloak over his shoulder, looked the now successful author 
up and down, and exclaimed : 

" Shakespeare ! " 

I think Druriolanus imagined that he had both offended 
and atoned monosyllabically, because when he and Pettitt 
were discussing the title for a new play Harris said, " What 
I like best are monosyllabic titles like Humanity." 

During the latter half of the Harris regime Mr. Arthur 
Collins was the great man's right hand, and much of the 
excellent stage-management of the later productions was his, 
for Harris had a good many irons in the fire, and was beginning 
to suffer from the ailments to which he eventually succumbed 
in the prime of life. 

Arthur Collins served an artistic apprenticeship in the 
scene-painting room with Henry Emden, and he had been 


290 MY LIFE 

an actor, playing parts of all sorts in provincial companies 
and others, and he brought to the Lane gifts which were not 
only practical but artistic. 

When Augustus Harris died it was generally recognized that 
Arthur Collins was his legitimate successor. 

But Cecil Raleigh told me that he should like the position, 
and he set seriously to work to try and get it. 

Arthur Collins sat still and said nothing, but he formed a 
company principally among his financial friends, Drury Lane 
became Limited, and Arthur Collins was appointed the 
Managing Director. 

And Arthur Collins has made a Drury Lane record, for he 
has been manager of the National Theatre longer than any 
of his predecessors in the proud position. 


As I near the end of the nineteenth century in my glances 
back over fifty years of Footlight Land I remember that I 
have been a playgoer for close upon sixty years and a writer of 
plays for forty of them. 

And both as playgoer and playwright I am, as I look back, 
impressed by the great changes I have seen not only in the 
form and character of public entertainment, but in the taste 
of the public in the matter of theatrical fare. 

The luxury of woe that the playgoer of the 'sixties loved to 
indulge in ceased to be in demand long before the century 
closed. Women ceased to flock to the theatres to have a 
good cry. It was not convenient to the fair to leave the 
playhouse with tears running down their cheeks and go 
straight to a fashionable restaurant for supper after the 

West-End playgoers were the first to control their emotions 
and check the briny tears that at one time had been permitted 
to flow freely. 

Even in the gallery there were protests against too much 
sobbing in sympathy with the heroine. 

J[ was in the gallery at the Adelphi one night during the 
run of The White Rose, the drama in which Mrs. Patrick 
Campbell made Elizabeth Cromwell so pathetically appealing. 
During one of the pathetic passages a girl in the gallery began 
to sob audibly. 

" Don't be a fool, Lil," said the young man who was sitting 
next to her. " What's the good of crying about a woman 
who's been dead for hundreds of years ! " 

But in the 'sixties we were not ashamed to take our pleasures 
sadly, and we revelled in scenes of deep emotion. 

In those days the house bill of the minor and the trans- 
pontine theatres was a long, flimsy sheet with plenty of big 




black lettering on it. However gingerly you handled those 
bills some of the black came off on you, and so it happened 
that when you wiped away a sympathetic tear with your finger 
you frequently left a black streak down your cheek. 

I once saw the audience turn out of the old " Vic " Queen 
Victoria's Own Theayter, as Arthur Sketchley's Mrs. Brown 
called it after the performance of an old-fashioned drama 
of the weepy-weepy order, and the faces of the crowd were 
a study in black and white. 

And even at the West End theatres, where the programme 
was daintily printed and scented by Rimmel, the taste for 
domestic scenes with the humour and pathos deftly mingled 
was common to all classes of playgoers. 

The domestic note was the dominant note in some of the 
best and most successful plays of the period. The English- 
man's heart was in the Englishman's home, and so was the 

Home life had not become flat life, and the majority of 
Londoners did not lunch and dine at restaurants. The meal 
of the day was the middle-day meal with the middle classes, 
and tea was a family function round a home table. Even 
when the late dinner came into fashion the hour was nearer 
to 6.30 than 8.30, and so the theatre hour was 7 in the 
West and 6.30 in the East, and at most houses there was 
half-price at nine o'clock for the late-comers. 

The programme lasted till midnight and often later, for 
in those days there was no Act of Parliament to limit our 
hours of refreshment. 

In the West End houses there was always a farce, generally 
a screaming farce, for the early-comers, and then probably 
a domestic drama of two or three acts, and after that a 
burlesque or an extravaganza, and frequently the long 
entertainment wound up with another screaming farce. 

I remember that my father and mother went to the Festival 
Performance at Her Majesty's Theatre in January 1858, 
when our Princess Royal was married to Prince Frederick 
William of Prussia. 

My parents brought back the Festival programme, and I 
found it some years ago in going over my mother's papers. 
On that occasion the performance commenced at half-past 

MY LIFE 293 

seven with Shakespeare's tragedy of Macbeth. Phelps was 
Macbeth, and Helen Faucit was Lady Macbeth. The three 
witches were played by Sam Emery the father of Mrs. Cyril 
Maude and Messrs. Ray and Lewis Ball. The second officer 
was played by Mr. Lickfold, who was the father of Charles 

At the end of the play the National Anthem was sung, and 
the conductor of the music was Julius Benedict, and after the 
National Anthem had been sung with the assistance of six 
principal vocalists and Benedict's Vocal Association of three 
hundred voices, there was a farce ! 

The farce was Twice Killed, by John Oxenford, and in that 
Mr. and Mrs. Keeley, Mrs. Leigh Murray, and Pattie Oliver 

Fancy a screaming farce after a Festival Performance of 
Macbeth and the National Anthem ! 

But the farces in those days were classics, and leading 
comedians and comediennes appeared in them and made 
reputations in them. 

Dramatists like Maddison Morton became famous for their 
farces, and it was quite the usual thing for a programme, even 
when it was Shakespearean, to commence with a farce and 
to end with a farce. 

The first farce was never called a curtain-raiser in those 
days. It was an item of the entertainment, and a very 
important item, and the last farce was frequently a good 
forty minutes of fun. 

Some of the best-known actors and actresses of the day 
played in the farces, and many of them were associated in 
the minds of playgoers with the characters they sustained 
in the favourite farces of the time. Who could imagine a 
star actor or actress to-day famous in a farce ? 

The 'sixties and the 'seventies were the golden years of the 
screaming farce. There was a screaming farce before and 
after the historical, romantic, emotional, or domestic drama. 

And although you had a screaming farce before a domestic 
drama or a domestic comedy, the drama or the comedy was 
frequently followed by a burlesque. 

Sometimes you had a comic drama preceded by a two-act 
comedietta and followed by a two-act farcical comedy. 



When John S. Clark was at the Haymarket in the 'seventies 
I remember that the programme commenced with Among 
the Breakers, a two-act comedy by John Brougham, was 
followed by Red Tape, a two-act comic drama by Henry J. 
Byron, and concluded with Fox and Goose, a two-act farcical 
comedy by William Brough. 

Even at Drury Lane, when Mr. and Mrs. Dion Boucicault 
Miss Agnes Robertson were playing Conn and Moya in the 
famous Irish drama, The Shaughraun, a drama in three acts 
and fifteen elaborate scenes, with Will Terriss as Captain 
Molyneux and Shiel Barry as Harvey Duff, and Sylvia Hodson 
and Rose Leclerq, J. B. Howard, David Fisher, and Henry 
Sinclair in the cast, in 1875, the performance commenced 
with a screaming farce, The White Hat, and after The Shaugh- 
raun we had another farce, A Nabob for an Hour, to finish 
up with. 

The domestic dramas of that period are many of them now 
classics of the stage, notably those written by Mr. H. T. 
Craven, an admirable actor of the Robson school as well as 
an expert playwright with a remarkable gift for deftly mingling 
the pathetic and the humorous. But he was a past-master 
in the art of provoking the laughter that is akin to tears. 

He wrote Milky White for Robson. Robson died, and the 
author produced the play at the merry little Strand, and 
himself acted the part he had intended for Robson. I saw 
Milky White at the Strand when it was first produced in '64, 
and I have never forgotten Craven's performance. 

His Chimney Corner was produced in '61, and his Miriam's 
Crime in '63, but they are still quoted as memorable examples 
of the domestic drama that the playgoer of the 'sixties loved. 

And Meg's Diversion ! I saw it at the Royalty in '66 with 
Craven as Jasper and sweet Pattie Oliver as the heroine. It 
was a two-act comedy played in front of Burnand's famous 
burlesque of Black-Eyed Susan. 

Pattie Oliver, who played Susan, had sung " Pretty See-usan, 
don't say No ! " one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five 
times while the run was on. Yet to-day we who remember 
see her quite as distinctly in Meg's Diversion as we do in the 
burlesque, and I have only to close my eyes to see the pathetic 
realization on the stage of the picture Broken Vows even now. 


MY LIFE 295 

The Craven plays were full of humour, but there was always 
the human note in them and the home note, and the characters, 
though often quaint and eccentric, were always real sketches 
of human nature and not burlesque. 

The pathos and humour of English home life were unfailing 
in their appeal to the playgoer in the 'sixties. 

H. J. Byron found relief from burlesque in comic drama of 
the domestic order. 

I remember the Saturday night in January 1875 when 
James and Thorn produced Byron's Our Boys at the Vaudeville, 
and how we sat waiting and expecting the familiar Byron 

But the great appeal of Our Boys to the popular audience 
was the domestic appeal, and its run of four years and a 
quarter at the Vaudeville was due to the domestic note in the 
plot and the homeliness of the characters. 

David James, the immortal " Butterman " with his pound 
of inferior " Dosset " and his ultipomatum, and Tom Thome, 
the Talbot Champneys, were out of the bill again and again, 
but Our Boys ran on to undiminished receipts. 

David James told me that when during the run he and 
Thorne went for a holiday in Spain they arranged to have the 
nightly receipts telegraphed to them. 

The nightly returns remained so high and so steady that 
David James said to his partner one night when they opened 
a telegram in Seville, " Tom, I ought to reduce your salary, 
and you ought to reduce mine. We evidently aren't the draw 
we thought we were." 

" What do you mean ? " exclaimed Tom Thome. 

" Well," said David, throwing the telegram across to him, 
" Our Boys is playing to as much money without us as it was 
with us." 

And it was. 

The Vaudeville was a famous burlesque house, and the 
actors who appeared in comedy, even in classical comedy, used 
to play the principal parts in burlesque in the later part of 
the entertainment. 

I remember when The School for Scandal was played with 
William Farren as Sir Peter, Amy Fawsitt as Lady Teazle, 
Herman Vezin as Sir Oliver, Henry Neville Charles, and John 

296 MY LIFE 

Clayton Joseph, Tom Thorne appeared after it with David 
James and the famous Vaudeville company in Romulus and 
Remus, or The Two Rum'uns, by Robert Reece, with Nellie 
Power, who was then the bright particular star of Vaudeville 

Nellie Power was one of the stage idols of my youth. 

She started her professional career at the old Regent Hall 
in Westminster, and her salary then was five and twenty 
shillings a week. But the song that I remember her best in 
in her music-hall days was " La-di-da ! " 

He wore a penny flower in his coat, 

La-di-da I 
A penny paper collar round his throat, 

La-di-da ! 

In his hand a penny stick, 
In his teeth a penny pick, 
And a penny in his pocket. 

La-di-da ! 

The Pickwick was the cheapest cigar kept in the glass- 
covered boxes divided into compartments which were on 
every tobacconist's counter in those days. The cigars were 
in divisions labelled from sixpence down to a penny, and the 
Pickwick was " the penny smoke." 

All the young men of the day admired Nellie Power, and 
one or two of them wanted to marry her. 

It is noteworthy how many Nellies have been among the 
adored ones, to instance only four Nelly Moore, Nelly 
Bromley, Nelly Farren, and Nellie Power. 

It was of Nelly Moore, a charming young actress who 
played Ada Ingot to Sothern's David Garrick, and who died 
in her sweet and gentle youth, that Harry Leigh wrote : 

I've her photograph from Lacy's ; that delicious little face is 

Smiling on me as I'm sitting (in a draught from yonder door) . 
And often in the nightfalls, when a precious little light falls 
From the wretched tallow candles on my gloomy second floor 
(For I have not got the gaslight in my gloomy second floor), 
Comes an echo, " Nelly Moore ! " 

It is interesting, perhaps, at the present time to remember 

MY LIFE 297 

that Charles Wyndham, who afterwards made a great success 
as David Garrick, played it once in German in Berlin. It 
was very, very long ago. I wonder whether Sir Charles re- 
members it. 

Robert Reece and H. J. Byron supplied most of the bur- 
lesques for the Vaudeville. 

Robert Reece, who was my constant companion in the 
'eighties and up to the time of his death, was a most amiable 
man. He was a scholar, a poet, a musician, and, like Byron, 
an inveterate punster. 

He was the most skilful librettist of his day, and was 
Farnie's right hand. He collaborated with Farnie in Les 
Cloches de Corneville, and had a hand in nearly all the Farnie 
successes, and, in addition, he wrote burlesque for nearly all 
the burlesque houses in London when burlesque was as 
dominant a feature of theatrical entertainment as musical 
comedy is to-day. 

But poor Robert Reece was utterly unbusinesslike, and 
because he was always hard up he made bad bargains and 
sold all his work outright for money down instead of retaining 
an interest in it. 

He was born in Barbados, and he had property there 
which consisted mainly of sugar plantations, but all the 
benefit he should have derived from the sugar-cane was 
destroyed by another sort of cane, a hurricane. 

Whenever I met poor Reece with an extra long face I always 
knew there had been a hurricane in Barbados. 

These troubles with his property brought him into the 
hands of a handsome blue-eyed old gentleman with a white 
moustache, a lovely complexion, light blue eyes, and a tenor 

This old gentleman was supposed to be a solicitor, but as 
a matter of fact he had never been admitted, and he carried 
on his business with a relative who was his partner and who 
was a solicitor. 

This blue-eyed old gentleman, who was quite a Dickensy 
character in many ways, had considerable business connexions 
with theatrical managers and dramatists who occasionally 
required pecuniary assistance to tide them over periods of 
stress. He had in his hands at one time the affairs of 

298 MY LIFE 

H. J. Byron, Wilson Barrett, Robert Buchanan, and Robert 

He managed the properties of some, and to others he made 
advances. Whenever he had made a particularly good 
bargain for himself he always, after bidding his client 
good day, if the interview had taken place in the client's 
home, stood in the doorway of the room and sang " My 
Pretty Jane " or " When Other Lips " to him. 

He once sang " My Pretty Jane " to me as he was bidding 
me good afternoon, and the song nearly cost me a thousand 
pounds. I say nearly, because after he had succeeded in 
inducing me to become security for that amount for a friend 
whose affairs had drifted into his hands, he presented me 
with an old George III silver coffee-pot, and I deduct the 
coffee-pot from the amount. 

I remember meeting the blue-eyed " solicitor " with the 
tenor voice at a pillar-box one day. He was posting a letter 
to H. J. Byron's father, who was the British Consul at Port 
au Prince, and the letter was to tell the old gentleman that 
his son " Harry " was dead. 

" Poor Byron ! " said the blue-eyed warbler. " I managed 
all his affairs for him at the finish, and I was his dearest 
friend." In one sense of the word " dearest " I had no 
reason to doubt that the statement was justified. 

Here is a letter from the late E. C. Engelbach, who was for 
so many years in partnership with William Greet, to which 
an interesting story -is attached : 

" Lyric Theatre, 

" May 5, 1914. 

" MY DEAR SIMS, Many thanks indeed for your kindly 
notice of my old partner's, William Greet, death last week in 
' Mustard and Cress/ It was nice, and like you, to call 
attention to what was jointly done with myself for Wilson 
Barrett in the days gone by. 

" Yours very truly, 


When Wilson Barrett had begun to reclimb the ladder of 
fortune with The Sign of the Cross and wanted to pay his 

MY LIFE 299 

creditors in full, the smiling blue-eyed old gentleman with the 
tenor voice sent in his account, and the total of the account 
amounted to a good many thousand pounds. 

William Greet, who had been in his young manhood an 
officer of Marines and had left the service because he was 
always so terribly sick at sea, was with his partner Mr. 
Engelbach running Barrett and The Sign of the Cross at 
the Lyric Theatre at the time, and Greet and Engelbach, 
sympathizing with Barrett in the worry he was having with 
the settlement of his affairs, undertook to see the whole thing 
through for him and settle accounts with his numerous 

So when Barrett received the account of the singing 
" solicitor " he handed it over to Greet and Engelbach. 
Barrett, in consideration of the advances made to him during 
his period of stress, had assigned to the blue-eyed gentleman 
all the fees for the plays in which he was concerned either as 
part-author or part-proprietor. 

So an offer was made, and a very generous offer, of half 
the amount claimed. 

On this occasion the blue-eyed one did not sing " My 
Pretty Jane/' He stormed and raved, and insisted that he 
would have the whole of the amount. 

Then Messrs. Greet and Engelbach called in the assistance 
of a chartered accountant. The result was that instead of 
Wilson Barrett being in debt many thousands of pounds to 
his old " legal adviser " it was discovered that the boot was 
on the other leg, and the singing " solicitor " had a fairly 
considerable balance in hand which was due to Wilson 

But he was a very charming old gentleman and a very 
amusing companion, and with all his eccentricities expensive 
eccentricities so far as his clients were concerned you could 
not help liking him.% And I never look at my silver coffee-pot 
that represented nearly a thousand pounds to me without 
seeing the face of a handsome blue-eyed old English gentleman 
smiling at me, and hearing a sweet tenor voice address me 
melodiously as|" My^Pretty, Jane." 


As the century hastens to its close in these loose pages 
torn from the book of memory many honoured names that 
have a right to be upon the roll of remembrance come back 
to me. 

Gustavus Vaughan Brooke and Avonia Jones ! How well 
I remember those two names upon a large poster that told 
of a farewell appearance previous to his departure for Australia 
of Gustavus Vaughan Brooke, the favourite tragedian. 

G. V. Brooke was one of the great Shakespearean actors of 
the 'sixties. His Othello was declared by many critics of the 
period to rank next to the Othello of Salvini. 

G. V. Brooke had made money in England, had been to 
Australia, had lost his money there, and now, after another 
successful campaign in England, he was about to return to 

He sailed in January '66 on board the London, bound for 
Australia, and soon afterwards we heard a story that thrilled 
all England. The London had gone down in the Bay of 
Biscay. Some of the passengers had been rescued, but a 
great number had gone down with the ship. 

Some of the rescued passengers told the story of the last 
hours of the life of Gustavus Vaughan Brooke. He was the 
bravest man on board that ship. He worked at the pumps 
till the very last. He inspired those around him with courage, 
even with hope, and the last words he uttered to one who 
stood near him were these, " If you are saved, remember me 
to my old friends in Melbourne." 

Avonia Jones, his wife, did not accompany him upon this 
journey. She died a year later of consumption in New York, 
aged thirty-one. 

I suppose it was the tragedy that imprinted that poster 
indelibly upon my memory, but I can see it now. " Gustavus 


MY LIFE 301 

Vaughan Brooke and Avonia Jones. Their last appearance in 
London previous to Mr. Brooke's departure for Australia." 

His last appearance in London ! Yes. And his last 
appearance on earth was in the London. 

In the days before picture cards came to add colour to 
correspondence the photographs of the dignitaries of the 
Church, famous advocates, society belles, and members of the 
Royal Family adorned the windows of the stationers' shops. 

But between the Rev. Charles Spurgeon and the Bishop of 
London would appear the merry face of a star of opera bouffe, 
and the Rev. Newman Hall and the Archbishop of Canterbury 
would be on the closest terms of intimacy cardboard inti- 
macy with a dashing little pet of the parterre, the sunniness 
of whose smile was in proportion to the scantiness of her 

There was always a grand display of the celebrities of the 
day in the windows of the London Stereoscopic Company, 
which in my early days had a branch in Cheapside. 

Whenever I had to go from Aldersgate Street to the National 
Bank in Old Broad Street, and at one time that was a daily 
journey, I always went by way of Cheapside in order to gaze 
at the display of beauty in the Stereoscopic Company's 

It was in that window that I saw alas, it must be close 
on fifty years ago ! for the first time a little machine which 
was called " The Zoetrope, or Wheel of Life," and that was 
the beginning of the moving pictures which have covered the 
cities of the world with picture palaces and made Mr. Charlie 
Chaplin the best-known Englishman that the twentieth 
century has so far produced, and the Englishman whose 
features are most familiar to all the inhabitants of the inhabited 
surface of the terrestrial globe, except, of course, in those 
places to which as yet the kinema has not penetrated. 

There is one particular photograph I remember in the 
early 'seventies. It was called " A Basket of Mischief," and 
it was the head of pretty Rose Massey peeping out of 

Rose Massey was the Mary Meredith when Lord Dundreary 
was drawing all London to the Haymarket to see Our American 
Cousin in 1867, but she first came into notice when the elder 


Augustus Harris produced Bluebeard at Covent Garden in 
1871, and Rose Massey was a fascinating Fatima. 

But it was when H. J. Montague was the bright particular 
young star at the Globe and the sole lessee and manager that 
Rose Massey became a joy to playgoers. 

She was Queen Oriana in James Albery's famous three-act 
romantic legend Oriana, with music by Frederic Clay. 
Montague was her royal consort, and Carlotta Addison was tne 
ever-to-be-remembered little lame fairy. 

After the success of The Two Roses Albery was always 
making wild excursions into difficult country, and the play- 
goer did not always follow him enthusiastically. Oriana was 
one of his many wanderings off the broad road. In the course 
of his journeys he encountered many dull days and not a few 
stormy nights. 

But to return to Oriana. In the cast there were two 
young ladies who were Queen Oriana's pages, and one of these 
pages became the most photographed young actress of the 
day. Her name was Maude Branscombe. I do not think 
anybody before or since has so generously contributed to the 
photographic exhibitions of the London shop windows as 
Maude Branscombe did in the days before picture post cards. 
Bella Goodall was a burlesque star of the 'seventies, and 
her photograph was very much in evidence in the shop 

The stars of the music-halls had not come to their own in 
those days, and their photographs were few and far between 
in the West End windows. 

But the stars of Italian and English opera shone behind the 
plate-glass occasionally between such lights of the law as 
Serjeant Ballantine, a very much photographed forensic 
favourite, Sir Henry James, Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, 
Douglas Straight, and Montagu Williams. 

Montagu Williams, by the by, had a close connexion with 
the theatre. He had been a touring actor, he married Mrs. 
Keeley's daughter, Louisa, and with F. C. Burnand wrote 
The Isle of St. Tropez, a poison play, for the St. James's in 
1860, but it was not quite so thrilling as The Hidden Hand, 
Tom Taylor's poison drama that drew all London to the 
Olympic in '64. 

MY LIFE 303 

Albani, Adelina Patti, Trebelii, and Christine Nilsson were 
next door window neighbours of Disraeli and Gladstone, 
Barnum, Alfred Tennyson, and Lord Salisbury, and Angelina 
Claude peered saucily over her pince-nez at Mr. Plimsoll. In 
the 'eighties we had Connie Gilchrist, Mimi St. Cyr, and pretty 
Mabel Love. Mrs. John Wood smiled at Dr. Colenso, and 
Letty Lind looked archly at Sir Henry Thompson, the famous 
surgeon. And Kitty Munroe and Clara Graham beamed on 
you, with Huxley, Tyndall, and Darwin as the serious relief. 
And there was always dainty Dorothy Deane, whose beauty 
before she was an actress was made famous by Sir Frederick 
Leighton, P.R.A. 

I can remember the time it was in the 'sixties when the 
features and forms of the belles of burlesque were pictures in 
the corner of pocket-handkerchiefs. 

I have a handkerchief it is very worn and thin now 
adorned with the shapely form and fair features of Pauline 
Markham, one of the loveliest girls the English stage has ever 
known, and I bought that handkerchief in 1868 at a well- 
known hosier's in the Poultry. 

The handkerchief photograph was in evidence, if I remember 
rightly, soon after Pauline Markham had made a success at 
the Queen's Theatre in Long Acre in an extravaganza by 
W. S. Gilbert, La Vivandtire ; or, True to the Corps. 

What a cast it was ! Johnny Toole, Lai Brough, Henrietta 
Hodson, Fanny Addison, and pretty Pauline of the picture 

Charming Henrietta Hodson, as every one knows, became 
Mrs. Henry Labouchere, a delightful hostess and the mother 
of a marchioness. 

Henrietta Hodson's grandfather was the proprietor of the 
old Bower Saloon in Stangate, Lower Marsh, Lambeth. He 
was an Irish actor and vocalist, a clever musician, and the 
composer of " Tell me, Mary, how to woo thee." 

It was at the old " Sour Balloon " that was its pet name 
with its patrons that James Fernandez and the great Robson 
made their first appearance, and in the 'sixties I was more 
than once a Sour Ballooner. 

Pretty Fanny Josephs and how pretty she was ! was 
what the photographic trade would call a " quick seller " in 

304 MY LIFE 

the 'seventies. She began seriously at Sadler's Wells in the 
'sixties and then went straight to the Strand, where she at 
once became one of the most popular belles of burlesque. 

When the Holborn opened with Boucicault's famous Flying 
Scud she played Lord Woodbie, and that was a part in which 
she was long remembered. It was in the Flying Scud that 
George Belmore gave his memorable performance of Nat 

Two years later Fanny Josephs was the manageress of the 
Holborn, and opened with H. T. Craven's Post Boy and a 
burlesque by Burnand. 

She went to the Globe with Harry Montague, and played in 
Byron's Partners for Life, but the happiest memory I have of 
her goes back to the evening in September 1873 when School 
was revived by the Bancrofts at the Prince of Wales's, and 
Fanny Josephs won all our hearts as Bella. 

Old playgoers remember how charming she was in The 
Pink Dominoes. She played the part during the whole of 
the long run. 

Fanny Josephs made a delightful photograph, and there 
was always a big sale for her, especially in her burlesque 

There is another photograph which was a popular exhibit. 
It was a photograph of Mrs. Stirling and her daughter Fanny, 
and the daughter's face was shown in an oval frame by her 
mother's side. I have an idea that the photograph was called 
" Masks and Faces," but I am not sure. I only know that 
it was one of the popular features in the shop windows in 
those far-off days. 

I have many happy memories of that fine old actress 
Mrs. Stirling, who became in private life Lady Gregory, but 
the abiding one is her Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. 

And there is another dear old lady Mrs. Keeley. Mrs, 
Keeley had practically quitted the stage when I was a boy, 
but I saw her on many occasions when she played for cha- 
ritable purposes and benefits, and I knew her in her extreme 
old age. 

When she was well over ninety she sent me her photograph 
signed " Mary Anne Keeley," and with it a charming letter, 
and the letter was so light-hearted and merry it might have 


MY LIFE 305 

been written by a girl of nineteen instead of a woman of 

To-day we have the actor-manager very much to the front 
in theatrical matters, and frequently the features of the 
actor-manager are made familiar to all the world by the 
art of the photographer. But in the old days a good many 
managers, some of them important managers, did not seek 
that form of publicity. 

E. T. Smith was not a photographic celebrity, nor, coming 
to a later day, did the brothers Gatti adorn any other gallery 
than the Royal Adelaide, and there were other managers with 
whose features the shop-window-gazing crowd were never 
made familiar. 

Some theatrical managers are born and some are made, 
and others are neither born nor made they just happen. 

One of the most interesting amateur managers I knew 
personally was the late Mr. W. H. C. Nation. He began to 
take theatres and produce plays which were sprinkled all 
over with songs by himself in the days of my youth, and he 
was taking theatres for the same purpose until quite recently. 
In his time he took for periods Sadler's Wells, Astley's, the 
old Holborn, the Charing Cross, and Terry's. 

The Royalty was his favourite theatre for a time, but his 
last venture was at the Scala. 

The bill of the play during a Nation season was a curiosity. 
The name of the play and the cast occupied a very small 
portion of it. The rest of the bill was taken up with large 
cross-lines giving the names of the " Songs by W. H. C. 
Nation " introduced into the piece, and after each song 
mentioned on the programme the name of W. H. C. Nation 
was printed in large type. 

The Nation productions were not lavish. The scenery was 
simple and the dresses would not have been censored by a 
committee of economy even in wartime. 

It was believed at one time that Mr. Nation was in the 
law and that he allotted so much money to his theatrical 
ventures and then retired to make more at his legitimate 
business. But after his death it was discovered that he was 
an independent gentleman of very considerable wealth. 
There was never much of an audience, but that did not 


306 MY LIFE 

matter. Mr. Nation's happiness consisted in witnessing his 
own plays and listening to his own songs. 

I have seen him sitting in a private box, almost the only 
person in the front of the house, and when one of his own 
songs had been sung he would bang the floor of the box with 
his umbrella and shout " Encore ! Encore ! " 

Mr. Nation, who was educated at Eton and Oxford, was 
an amiable and charming old gentleman, but the desire to 
see his name and his songs starred on the playbill of a West 
End house was his ruling passion. And in the course of his 
long and estimable career he must have paid a pretty 
considerable sum for the privilege. 

The true romance of Mr. W. H. C. Nation's life was only 
discovered some little time after his death. He had acquired 
and furnished in his younger days a mansion in the West 
End for the reception of his bride. But on the eve of the 
wedding day the lady exercised the privilege of her sex and 
changed her mind. The house was never occupied by the 
disconsolate lover. He only occasionally paid it a brief visit 
and left everything untouched. When the house after his 
death had to be sold the romantic incident became known to 
the Press and the love story of Mr. W. H. C. Nation was the 
romantic relief to the stern realities of the Battle of the 

An amateur manager of a very different kind to Mr. W. H. C. 
Nation was the late Mr. H. J. Leslie. 

Leslie was an accountant. He was not only a clever 
accountant but a skilful musician. He began his theatrical 
career when he was called in professionally to straighten 
up matters at the Gaiety when John Hollingshead went out 
and George Edwardes, having found backers, took upon 
himself the sole charge of the Sacred Lamp. 

In September 1886 George Edwardes produced Dorothy. 
Now Dorothy was not, for some reason, a success at the 
Gaiety, and George Edwardes decided to give it up. Mr. Leslie 
believed in the piece, acquired the rights, and in December 
1886 transferred it to the Prince of Wales's, where the comic 
opera caught on at once, became a huge success, and Leslie 
made a very large sum of money. 

Then he went into other speculations which were not so 

MY LIFE 307 

successful, and finally he came to grief over the most extrava- 
gantly expensive pantomime that has ever been produced 
on the English stage. 

Cinderella was written by my confreres, Richard Henry, 
whose full names were and still are Richard Butler and Henry 
Chance Newton. 

Minnie Palmer, of My Sweetheart and Yours Merrily, John 
R. Rogers, fame, was engaged to play Cinderella. 

Minnie Palmer was a pretty little actress and vocalist who 
came from America, tremendously boomed beforehand by 
her husband, an expert in publicity, and in 1883 she played 
Tina in My Sweetheart at the Strand Theatre, and became the 
talk of the town. 

There was another pretty and clever New York actress 
at the time, and the two ladies were supposed to be great 
rivals professionally. 

When Minnie Palmer's forthcoming appearance in London 
was being boomed Harry Jackson, who was an excellent 
low comedian famous for his stage Jews, said to me, " Wait 
till you see Lotta. I'm getting her over for a London season." 

Harry Jackson secured the Opera Comique for Lotta. She 
appeared as Musette. The play was a failure, and there was 
considerable clamour in the house, which was declared after- 
wards to be due to organized opposition. 

Early in January 1884 Lotta changed the bill and appeared in 
a version of The Old Curiosity Shop, specially prepared for her 
by Charles Dickens, junior. In this she played Little Nell 
and the Marchioness, and with Frank Wyatt as Dick Swiveller 
she made an enormous success. 

I have always remembered Lotta's first night at the Opera 
Comique from the fact that there were a number of police 
present, distributed in various parts of the house, ready 
to seize upon the first objector, conscientious or otherwise. 

But to return to Cinderella. The cast was a remarkable 
one. Charles Coborn and John Le Hay were the Sisters ; 
Violet Cameron was engaged for the Prince, but had the 
influenza ; Fawdon Yokes was a Kangaroo, Harry Parker 
was the Baron, and the villain of the plot was represented 
by Shiel Barry. 

There was a Shakespearean procession, there was a dazzling 

3 o8 MY LIFE 

balkoom scene, a marvellous transformation scene, and a 
grand international ballet of insects. 

There were lyrics by Clement Scott and music by Ivan 
Caryll, H. J. Leslie, Bob Martin, and Alfred Cellier, and the 
production was in the hands of Mr. Charles Harris. 

Never had Charlie Harris had such an opportunity of 
presenting a production to playgoers more calculated to 
perform the operation which he realistically described as 
" taking their eyeballs out." 

Her Majesty's Theatre was secured for the production it 
had previously been the scene of a Haverley minstrel entertain- 
ment and of a Hawtrey season, with the ballet of Excelsior 
and Her Majesty's own Cinderella was presented to the British 
public on Boxing Night, 1889. It was the last production 
in the old house before it was taken down and rebuilt by 
Beerbohm Tree. 

Charlie Harris had a habit in conversation of ending his 
sentences with " Follow me ? " 

A few days before the production of Cinderella I met " the 
Stage Damager," as the Sporting Times pleasantly dubbed 
him, in the Haymarket. He was taking a little light refresh- 
ment at Epitaux's, which was then being run by my old 
friend, Mr. G. Pentecost, a director of the Alhambra and a 
grandson of Pierce Egan. 

" So you're going to take their eyeballs out again, Charlie, 
are you ? " I said. And this was the reply, "I'm going to 
do more than that. Follow me ? I'm going to take my 
brother Gus's eyeballs out too. Follow me ? " 

Mr. H. J. Leslie was very largely concerned with the produc- 
tion of Cinderella. All that he had left after several disastrous 
speculations was embarked in the enterprise. 

'89 was the great influenza year, and gave us the phrase 
" the prevailing epidemic." Several of the principals were 
down early with influenza, but Minnie Palmer threw up her 
part and explained to the Press that the reason she did so 
was that she had not received her salary. 

Within a few days the receivers were in the theatre, and in 
a fortnight the curtain fell for the last time, and poor Jack 
Leslie, a generous, kind-hearted man of considerable artistic 
ability, who had listened like W. H. C. Nation to his own 

MY LIFE 309 

songs produced at his own expense he had written the 
music for several of the numbers in Cinderella was a ruined 

He went soon afterwards to New York, and there another 
great misfortune overtook him. He had a serious illness and 
became blind, but recovered his sight and returned to England, 
and not very long afterwards he died. 

The story of H. J. Leslie, accountant, amateur composer, 
theatrical manager, and the most generous of men, is one 
of the tragedies of Theatreland. 

But the whole story cannot be told. It might do justice 
to the memory of the dead, but it would wound the feelings 
of the living. 


IN my youth and young manhood there was a very considerable 
portion of the public who would not enter a theatre. The 
old prejudice against it still survived, and was by no means 
confined to the Nonconformist Conscience. And so there 
was always a plentiful supply of entertainment arranged in 
such a way as to ease the scruples of the conscientious objector. 

The Howard Pauls, at St. Martin's Hall and elsewhere, and 
the German Reeds Mrs. German Reed was Priscilla Horton, 
who had a remarkable and brilliant career on the stage before 
she took to the entertainment business were popular features 
of the London amusement world in the 'sixties and 'seventies. 
First at the Royal Gallery of Illustration, which was after- 
wards the Raleigh Club, then at the Polygraphic Hall, after- 
wards Toole's Theatre, and later at St. George's Hall, under 
the management of Walter Reed and Corney Grain, they gave 
more or less theatrical performances, but they were not given 
in a theatre, and so conscientious objectors in need of 
amusement flocked to them. 

It was this class of entertainment that gave us John Parry 
and Corney Grain, with George Grossmith following in his 
footsteps. Arthur Cecil, Arthur Law, and Fanny Holland 
appeared with the German Reeds in the 'seventies, and sketches 
and entertainments were written for them by dramatists like 
W. S. Gilbert and Frank Burnand. 

It was the building that was everything in those days. 
To enter a theatre to see Arthur Cecil in a Gilbert play would 
have been wicked. To see Arthur Cecil in a Gilbert sketch 
at St. George's Hall was an innocent delight. 

The Christy Minstrels I have vague memories of the 
Matthews Brothers, who were, I think, connected with the 
C.C.C., or Christy's Coloured Comedians became eventually 
the Moore and Burgess Minstrels, and the Moore and Burgess 


MY LIFE 311 

Minstrels were carried on under the auspices of Mr. George 
Washington Moore, professionally known as " Pony " Moore, 
who was a member of the company originally established in 
London in 1857 by Messrs. Raynor and Pierce. 

Moore was an eccentric character, more eccentric off the 
stage perhaps than on it. He had a habit of letting the action 
suit the word, and once when being entertained at the Mansion 
House with other members of the profession he so far remem- 
bered himself as the proprietor of a nigger troupe as to give 
a waiter a black eye, and for this he was summoned to appear 
at a little establishment immediately below the Mansion 

Moore imported a good many comic songs from America, 
but in the Christy Minstrels days the songs were written and 
composed by well-known authors and musicians. Among the 
lyrists were Henry S. Leigh, Frank Stainforth, Alfred Crow- 
quill, Nelson Lee, jun., Howard Paul, and Fred McCabe, 
and Meyer Lutz was the principal composer. 

I got one of my first guineas for writing a song for the 
minstrels soon after they had dropped the Christy and become 
the Moore and Burgess. 

The minstrel entertainments drew crowded houses, and 
were largely patronized by provincials visiting the metropolis, 
for the proud motto of these minstrels was, " We never perform 
out of London." 

Early in 1870 the Mohawk Minstrels established themselves 
at the Agricultural Hall in Merry Islington, and were very 
successful. They called themselves " A new era in Minstrelsy." 

The Moore and Burgesses were not very friendly to the 
Mohawks, and the Mohawks, in one of their announcements, 
said that they " utterly ignored the inflated, highfalutin 
style of advertising affected by some, and were contented to 
mind their own business/' 

I have mentioned that some of the songs of the Christy 
Minstrels were supplied by Frederick McCabe. He was an 
author, an actor, and a composer. He wrote his own enter- 
tainments and composed his own music, and was a one-man 
show. His Begone, Dull Care, or Physio-Photorama of Dramatic 
Illusions, was one of the attractions of London. 

McCabe was a clever ventriloquist. I remember his per- 


formance of two characters at once, male and female, in 
which he was dressed half on one side as a man and half on 
the other side as a woman and spoke alternately in a male 
and female voice. 

Then we had W. S. Woodin with his Carpet Bag and Sketch 
Book, and his Olio of Oddities was able to fill the Egyptian 
Hall " every day at eight, except Saturday, and Saturday 
at three." 

An entertainer who was a good patterer as well as a good 
showman was always sure of big houses in the old days. 
Albert Smith's Mont Blanc was as popular as anything in 
London, and Artemus Ward, the Genial Showman, would 
have made a fortune but for the illness which struck him 
down almost at the commencement of his London experience. 

Mr. J. N. Maskelyne, once with Cooke, and afterwards for 
some years in partnership with Mr. David Devant, was then 
as he is to-day a master entertainer in his special line of 
business, and no one will forget the tremendous success of his 
exposure of the Davenport Brothers' trick and the mysteries 
of so-called Spiritualism. 

The home of Maskelyne, Magic, and Mystery was in those 
days the Egyptian Hall. 

Then we had Dr. Lynn with his That's how it's done. 
Dr. Lynn's was quite a fashionable entertainment. He gave 
his show twice daily in the Egyptian Large Hall, and he 
quoted the testimony of Victor Hugo that " Dr. Lynn's 
seances are perfectly astounding and his mysteries of all 
nations are inexplicable and demand the attention of Science." 

Lynn described himself as " The Wonder- Worker of India, 
China, and Japan," and after exposing the great secrets of 
the age of Egyptian magicians and the startling wonders of 
the modern Spiritualists, he generally wound up with " And 
that's how it's done," which in time became quite a Cockney 
catch phrase. 

Verbeck had a great vogue at one time in conjunction with 
a very charming clairvoyante who was called Mademoiselle 
Marguerite, but he suddenly disappeared from London and 
no one seems to know what became of him. 

Verbeck made his first appearance at Prince's Hall, Picca- 
dilly, in 1885. He was not a master of English, and his 

MY LIFE 313 

assistant and interpreter was named Guibal, a Frenchman who 
took part in the French war of 1870 as a lieutenant of Chas- 
seurs, was taken prisoner but escaped before the investment 
of Paris, went to Ireland and was there engaged as a teacher 
of languages in Dublin. He then came to London and was 
the correspondent of the Paris Gaulois and Le Temps. He 
was a member of the Savage Club and the Press Club. 

It was about 1886 that he joined Verbeck as an interpreter, 
then he travelled the country on his own, and afterwards went 
to Mexico with his clairvoyante, and there he was said to have 
met his death in dramatic circumstances. 

The entertainment of my aimable double, Mr. Charles 
Bertram, who had a charming assistant in Mademoiselle 
Patrice, is within everybody's memory. 


IF the gentleman who said, " Give me the making of a nation's 
ballads and I care not who makes its laws/' had a solid founda- 
tion for his remark, then the history of the music-hall is an 
important part of the history of England. 

But although a ballad originally meant a song with dance 
the words " ballad " and " ballet " have the same deri- 
vation it is probable that the ballads the gentleman referred 
to were more in the nature of those written for recitation. 

For all that the evolution of the music-hall is a contribu- 
tion, and by no means an unimportant contribution, to the 
history of the manners and customs of the English people of 
the nineteenth century. 

When I first began to take an intelligent interest in the ways 
of the world around me there were plenty of pleasure gardens 
dotted around London which provided a programme of enter- 
tainment for the rambling crowd. 

Many of the licensed houses in various parts of the metropolis 
had tea-gardens attached to them, and for the entertainment 
of visitors comic and sentimental singers were engaged. This 
phase of London's popular amusement gave us the expression 
" a tea-garden performance," which still survives. But I 
lived to see many of the tea-garden performers blossom into 
West End favourites, and one or two of them into West End 

Then we had the song and supper saloons, of which Evans's 
was the most classy representative, and Evans's and Paddy 
Green and Charles Sloman and Herr Jonghmans are among 
my memories of the past. 

There you could see many a man of light and leading 
enjoying his ease with conviviality, and listening to a selection 
of madrigals, glees, choruses, and songs, with an intimation 
on the programme that " Gentlemen are respectfully re- 


MY LIFE 315 

quested to encourage the Vocalists by attention, the Cafe* 

part of the Rooms being intended for Conversational Parties." 


The Coal Hole and the Cider Cellars are names of imperish- 
able memory, because they are landmarks in the story of the 
night life of London when night was apparently given up to 
drinking and rowdyism, and a rollicking and full-flavoured 
conviviality that the present generation would consider 

The early music-halls were more or less public-house exten- 
sions, and the amount of drink absorbed during the progress 
of the entertainment was the most important part of the pro- 
gramme from the proprietor's point of view. 

In all parts of the house busy waiters bustled about among 
the audience, and " Any orders, gents ? " was their constant 

There were bars wherever it was possible to place one, and 
these bars were the regular rendezvous of " sports " young 
and old, betting men and members of the flash fraternity. 

Space in some of the larger houses was sacrificed to tables 
for the accommodation of drinkers because there was more 
room for bottles and glasses on the tables than on the narrow 
ledges in front of the seats. 

It was liquor in front of the house and licence on the stage. 
Lion comiques scored some of their greatest successes in the 
impersonation of dissipated " swells " who were always on 
the drunken racket. The red-nosed comedian's favourite 
topic was drink, and the only domestic touch in his songs 
had reference as a rule to the lodger. 

I remember that my old friend and colleague, the late 
Dutton Cook of the World and the Pall Mall, writing as late 
as the early 'eighties, said, " In lieu of the old tea-gardens, 
often harmless enough, and even wholesome, there flourish 
and flash and flare nowadays the gorgeous gin-palaces, wherein 
the visitor must drink deep and often he can stay upon no 
other terms or the malodorous music-halls, with their un- 
seemly dances and gross songs." 

But the father of the modern music-hall, Charles Morton, 
lived to see the Augean stables cleansed, and passed away 
full of years, the honoured head of the Palace Theatre, 


with no promenade, no drinking in the auditorium, and on 
the stage a refined entertainment to which a matine'e girl 
could take her mother or even her spinster aunt in perfect 
confidence to see an entertainment in which no word was heard 
and no action seen to which modesty and refinement could 
take exception. 

But my memories are not all of the evil side of the early 
halls. There are others. 

One of my earliest recollections is of Stead, " The Perfect 
Cure," which was the one song of his life. 

He first appeared in it at Weston's Music Hall. There 
was nothing in the song. It was really idiotic, but it was 
sung to a jumping dance in the style of Jump, Jim Crow, 
and it was the dance, not the song, that caught on. Every- 
body tried to do that dance. You saw it done in the drawing- 
room. You saw it done in the street. The dance captured 
and conquered the town. 
| Stead was the music-hall sensation of the day, but when 
" The Cure " died out, he died out with it. He was never a 
success in anything else. 

I think of the music-halls of my youth and many a phantom 
rises from the grave of the buried years. 

Mackney, the forerunner and prototype of the negro minstrel, 
was singing his songs in the year that I was born, and when I 
was a schoolboy we were all singing his songs. " In the 
Strand " was one of them. 

For the last few weeks I've been a-dodging 
A girl I know that's got a lodging 

In the Strand. 

The first thing that put my heart in aflutter 
Was her Balmoral boot, as she crossed the gutter 

In the Strand. 
I wish I was with Nancy, 

In a second floor for ever more, 
I'd live and die with Nancy 
In the Strand, in the Strand, in the Strand. 

But I saw and chatted with Mackney over old music-hall 
days when I was a middle-aged man. 

MY LIFE 317 

Unsworth, with his topical stump oration and his umbrella 
banged on the table, " Am I right, or any other man ? " 

Harry Clifton and his " moral " songs, " Paddle your own 
Canoe," " PuUing Hard against the Stream," " Work, Boys, 
Work, and be contented," and his rattling comic songs, " The 
Calico Printer's Clerk " and " Polly Perkins of Paddington 

Henri Clark, " The artistic comique," late of Miss Louisa 
Pyne's Company. I remember him at the old South London 
in his " Round the World in Thirty Minutes," and later when 
Mr. and Mrs. Henri Clark toured with their own entertainment 
and The World we live in, written and composed by my old 
friend G. W. Hunt, of " By Jingo " fame. 

G. W. Hunt's son was, as I have previously said, an artist 
in my father's office when I was in the City, and I used to see a 
great deal of the elder Hunt and hear much about Macdermott 
long before I knew the great man personally. 

Macdermott had been an actor at the Grecian, and was a 
great friend of Henry Pettitt, and Henry Pettitt wrote a song 
for him called " The Scamp," which was the foundation of 
Macdermott 's fame, but it was in G. W. Hunt's " We don't 
want to fight, but, by jingo, if we do!" that the lion 
comique roared himself into song celebrity. The song made 
an enormous sensation, and it is worth noting now that it 
was reprinted as a special supplement with the music by the 
Paris Figaro. 

I knew another of the lions, the Great Vance, with his 
" Slap ! Bang ! Here we are again ! " and " I'm a Chickaleery 
bloke with my one, two, three." 

I remember when Mr. Alfred G. Vance went on tour with 
his own company and the following announcement : " Patrons, 
H.R.H. the Prince of Wales and the Aristocracy and Clergy 
of Great Britain and Ireland." 

George Leybourne with his " Captain Cuff," " The Rollicking 
Rams," " Mouse Traps," " Up in a Balloon, Boys ! " and his 
" Champagne Charley " that went all over the world. I saw 
Leybourne he was a mechanic from the Midlands, his real 
name was Saunders drive away from the Canterbury in the 
carriage and four that Bill Holland had presented to him as a 
" moving picture " advertisement. 


And " Jolly " John Nash ! Nash was famous for his 
laughing songs. I remember I wrote two for him and he never 
sang either of them, but he was always a tonic, and on or off 
the stage had an unfailing flow of old-fashioned beefsteaky 

Fred Albert, who used to improvise on the stage, W. B. Fair 
with his " Tommy, make room for your Uncle ! " Fred Coyne, 
Sam Torr, James Fawn, and later Charles Godfrey ! 

Godfrey delighted in the dramatic song. The song he liked 
best himself was " On the Bridge at Midnight." 

Godfrey was another of the music-hall stars who used to 
confide in me. He was fond of driving about the country, 
and so was I, and once we met when we were both driving 
from Birmingham to London. I pulled up at an hotel at 
Stony Stratford of non sequitur fame, and found Godfrey 

I met him in his phaeton almost as frequently as I used to 
meet another music-hall celebrity but he was a manager 
Mr. Sam Adams. I don't think I ever saw Sam Adams off 
the box seat of his phaeton, and for several years I used to 
meet him every afternoon, driving in the Park. 

Artistic Albert Chevalier, still happily delighting us, brought 
a new touch of what might be called " The Royal Gallery of 
Illustration " into the variety hall song. 

Jenny Hill, "The Vital Spark," Bessie Bellwood, Bessie 
Bonehill, Kate Carney, Lottie Collins, Harriet Vernon, Julia 
Mackay, the Sisters Leamar, and the Sisters Levey. The 
names of the fair stars that shine again in memory's sky are 
legion. Only a Prize Cake Competition such as my old friend 
Mr. Frank Boyd is so fond of offering in The Pelican could 
decide which is the memory prize among the fair visions of 
the past. 

The veteran Charles Coborn is still with us, and his " Man 
who broke the Bank at Monte Carlo " and " Two Lovely 
Black Eyes " the song that drew all London to the Trocadero 
are classics. 

In the days before the sketches the choice of varieties was 
limited to singing and dancing, the feats of acrobats and the 
performances of trained animals, and so the songs of the star 
singer were the booms on which the halls relied. 

MY LIFE 319 

These songs when they caught on were sung or hummed or 
whistled by all classes of society, and for this reason. In spite 
of the hostility of the theatres in the ante-sketch days, the 
popular music-hall songs were parodied in every burlesque 
and extravaganza produced by theatrical managers. 

Gilbert, Byron, and Burnand parodied the music-hall songs 
of the day in all their earlier burlesques. 

Mr. C. H. Hibbert has lately given us the story of the 
music-hall, and told us how it has progressed from pot-house 
to palace. I knew it in its pot-house days, and I have lived 
to see the local free-and-easy become the local Empire, and 
Art a welcome guest in the halls that were once given over to 
vulgarity and double meaning. 

Hardly a red nose now remains on the music-hall stage, the 
lodger has gone to fight for his country, and the bibulous 
bounder who delighted to call himself a rollicking ram has 
become an anachronism. He has been wiped out of existence 
by the Board of Control. 


WHEN Charles I addressed the crowd from the scaffold he 
called himself the Martyr of the People. He maintained that 
because he represented law and order he had been doomed to 

In the London that I remember, a London that I knew by 
day and knew by night, the police were the martyrs of the 
people, or rather of a portion of the people, and with very 
few sections of the people in the mid- Victorian days were the 
police so popular as they are to-day. 

The rough element of London was at its roughest in the 
'sixties and the early 'seventies, and the London crowd that 
assembled on the slightest provocation was invariably hostile 
to the man in blue. 

To assault and maltreat a policeman was the hooligan's 
joy. To bonnet a policeman was one of the favourite forms 
of amusement of the " swells " who turned night into day in 
certain quarters of the West End. 

The general public was far more resentful of police inter- 
ference than it is now. The appearance of a policeman at a 
place of public resort was as a red rag to a bull. 

I remember the London police with their high hats, their 
swallow-tailed coats, and their rattles, and I remember the 
first appearance of the helmet, suggested, if I remember 
rightly, by the Prince Consort. 

In the days of my youth the entire police force of England 
and Wales was less by several thousands of men than the 
Metropolitan Police Force of to-day. The small number of 
policemen in London was quite inadequate to its needs. As 
late as the year 1869 there were only fifteen detectives in the 
Metropolitan Police Force, and it was not until 1884 that the 
police were supplied with whistles. 

It is not to be wondered at in these circumstances that 


MY LIFE 321 

during the 'sixties and 'seventies crime had increased to a 
very considerable extent, and apprehensions for crime had 
similarly diminished. 

In the rough quarters and the criminal areas the wise 
policeman wise from the personal point of view avoided 
whenever possible a physical encounter with members of the 
criminal mob. 

There were alleys and back-ways down which the police 
never ventured except in twos and threes. 

Until the coming of the electric light the main thorough- 
fares after the shops were closed were after nightfall little 
better than black patches, and they were the haunts of evil 
characters, male and female, who plied their trade almost 
with impunity. 

The burglar flourished and his deeds were as daring as 
those of the old highwayman, and at one time the garrotter 
was the terror of wayfarers. To be garrotted was about as 
ordinary an event in the life of a Londoner as it was to have 
the influenza. 

Respectable middle-aged and elderly men who spent the 
evening out and had to return late to their suburban homes 
frequently carried a life-preserver. The life-preserver was 
as much in evidence in certain shop windows as the anti-gas 
mask was a year ago. 

The burglars and the footpads of the 'sixties were generally 
armed, but the revolver was not then the favourite weapon of 
criminal violence. 

With the criminal areas of the 'seventies and 'eighties I 
had a close acquaintance, rendered necessary by my journa- 
listic duties, and I had the doubtful honour of the personal 
acquaintance, not only of many notorious malefactors, but 
of the captains of hooligan gangs. I was on nodding terms 
with many of the inhabitants of the most larcenously-inclined 
districts of the metropolis, and permitted to see them occa- 
sionally in their home life. 

It was an interesting experience, though not an exhilarating 
one. It had no evil effect upon me, and only one consequence 
that I regret. There are a number of habitual criminals who 
occasionally relieve the monotony of their imprisonment by 
writing me long letters from the convict gaol in which they 


322 MY LIFE 

happen to find themselves. I have at times been rather 
uneasy in my mind as to the view the governors of His Majesty's 
prisons may take of the matter. 

I am not dealing here with the upper crust of criminal 
society. The high mob does not dwell with the low mob 
in the poverty areas and the black patches. The great 
captains of modern crime have their luxurious flats in the 
West End, their country houses, their motor-cars, and their 
" establishments." 

I knew one who had his own yacht, and it was on that 
yacht that he conveyed the stolen Duchess of Devonshire 
to America. 

The people whose acquaintance I made in the criminal 
areas were the criminals born on criminal soil and reared from 
criminal stock, and their homes were of the poorest and 
wretchedest description. 

The only criminal homes in which I have seen signs of 
prosperity are the homes of the receivers. In many of these 
there are not only signs of well-to-do -ness, but even of 

I have said that my long acquaintance with the criminal 
class was not to my disadvantage. In one way it was to my 
good. It brought me into close touch with the police and 
with the heads of police in every district in London. 

It was because of the knowledge I possessed that some years 
ago Mr. John M. Le Sage asked me on behalf of the editor 
of the Daily Telegraph, the then Hon. Harry Lawson, to 
investigate the charges which had been brought against the 
London police in connexion with the notorious D'Angeley 

The arrest of Madame D'Angeley in Regent Street on one 
memorable night in 1909 led to an anti-police agitation which 
spread into the Press, took the town by storm, was the subject 
of heated discussion in the House of Commons, and eventually 
led to a Royal Commission. 

It was in connexion with this investigation that for many 
weeks I walked about London in every direction through the 
long night and often far into the dawn, and was able to publish 
facts with regard to the infamous White Slave traffic that 
was being carried on by foreigners principally Germans 

MY LIFE 323 

in almost every quarter of London. And they were facts 
which completely exonerated the police from the charges 
brought against them by people utterly ignorant of the gigantic 
and far-reaching conspiracy of vice with which the police 
had to deal. 

The results of the commission I undertook at the instance 
of the Daily Telegraph are republished in two volumes," London 
by Night " and " Watches of the Night," and my reminiscences 
of that interesting journalistic experience may be left where 
students of the seamy side of London life may find them if 
they wish to. 

The journalistic campaigns of which I am proudest are 
those I have been permitted to undertake on behalf of the 
children and the youth of the vast and mighty city in which 
I was born. 

In my investigations into the conditions of child life in the 
poverty areas and the perils to youth in the black patches 
and the criminal areas I always received the generous assistance 
of my friends the officers and officials of the Metropolitan 
Police. How keenly interested in the welfare of the people, 
of whose lives they see so much, many of the police from the 
superintendent to the ordinary constable are, only the 
civilians who have been privileged to work side by side with 
them can form any idea. 

Only once in forty years have the friendly relations between 
myself and the guardians of law and order been interrupted, 
and that was when I took up and fought out in the Daily 
Mail the case of the unfortunate Adolf Beck, the case to 
which we owe the Court of Criminal Appeal. For a little 
time, but only for a little time, Scotland Yard ceased to smile 
upon me. Certain statements that I made were regarded as 
reflecting upon the Yard methods. 

But when I had proved my case beyond the shadow of 
doubt the hatchet was buried, the pipe of peace was smoked, 
and we once more " spoke as we passed by." 

When I was writing " The Cry of the Children " I received 
the greatest assistance from the police, who were as keenly 
interested as I was in a campaign that had for its object 
the safeguarding of infant life. I have been writing on 
this subject for over thirty years, and I have lived to 

324 MY LIFE 

see it recognized as one of the most vital questions of the 

To-morrow will be the day of the child. To-day is the day 
of the young man. But long ago far-seeing men saw the 
urgent necessity from every point of view, moral, physical, 
and patriotic, of teaching the lads of London to make better 
use of the strength and vigour of youth. 

In every district of London where hooliganism was flourish- 
ing I have seen the wonderful work accomplished by clergymen 
and philanthropists who believed in muscular Christianity. 

The Board School and the Council School had helped to 
keep the wretched little " London Arabs " off the streets, but 
the decay of apprenticeship left thousands of lads when they 
had passed the school age with nothing before them but 
" blind alley " occupations. 

There were small armies of lads in certain London districts 
who after nightfall were the terror of peaceful citicens. Some 
of them formed themselves into organized gangs and relieved 
the high spirits and energy of youth by acts of more or less 
criminal violence. Some of these gangs of boy bandits carried 
sandbags as weapons of attack on unfortunate passers-by, 
and the captains of some of the" gangs carried revolvers. 

It was the Rev. Claude Eliot, of Hoxton, who first brought 
me into touch with the movement for the establishment of 
miniature rifle ranges in connexion with well-managed and 
well-regulated boys' clubs, and I was able to watch the 
marvellous change which this patriotic priest of God wrought 
among the roughest elements in one of the roughest districts 
of London. 

It was a movement with which the late Prince Francis of 
Teck had the deepest sympathy. Claude Eliot was stricken 
down in the midst of his noble work, and some time afterwards 
I received the following letter from Prince Francis : 

" DEAR MR. SIMS, I am having my annual display of the 
New North Road Club for Lads, or rather the Claude Eliot 
Memorial Club for Lads, on Thursday, 23rd. If you have 
nothing better to do, would you do me the pleasure of dining 
at 7.30 at the Marlborough Club and I will drive you down ? 
Claude Hay is coming too, and that, coupled with the fact 

MY LIFE 325 

that I have just read your kind article in the Referee, emboldens 
me to ask you, as I know how deep is the interest that you 
take in all these institutions. " Yours sincerely, 


Queen Mary's brother continued his interest in the Lads' 
Rifle Club movement until he, too, alas, was removed in 
the full tide of his young, busy, and patriotically useful life. 

It was in connexion with another phase of a journalist's 
life in London that I received the following interesting letter 
from the Rev. Father Adderley : 

" DEAR SIR, Thank you very much for so kindly sending 
me the books. It brings back to my mind the early days 
of East End work when I was in Bethnal Green twenty years 
ago. I wish if you ever have time you would call at S. Francis 
House, 39 Albany Street, close by you. It is a house for 
working lads kept by some Sisters with whom I am connected. 
They would so like to see you, and your poems were so 
inspiring. Hoping very much to see you when you are in 
Birmingham, " I am, yours very truly, 


The late William Stead was always my good friend, though 
we differed on many matters, and he was a frequent corre- 
spondent when I was engaged on any question in which he 
himself was interested. 

From the many letters I received from him I select the 
following, but I may add that I did not put a strain upon 
my native modesty by appearing on the platform at the 
Queen's Hall and orating side by side with John Burns and 
Bernard Shaw. 

" DEAR MR. SIMS, As you address probably the largest 
congregation of any living man every Sunday, I make bold 
to ask you whether you could be induced to come and say a 
word at our conference at the Queen's Hall, for which I enclose 

326 MY LIFE 

you circular and ticket. Mr. Bernard Shaw is to be one of 
the speakers, Mr. Burns and others. 

" I am, yours sincerely, 

" W. T. STEAD." 

I have quoted these letters as they bear upon incidents in 
my life which are among my pleasantest reminiscences the 
campaigns and crusades for the national well-being in which 
in a modest way I have been privileged to play my part as a 


As I linger for a brief space in the glamour of the old days 
of Fleet Street I am saddened by the thought of how few of 
my early contemporaries remain. 

That Fleet Street veteran, Mr. Thomas Catling, is still 
happily with us, hale and hearty, and he was one of my 
early guides, philosophers, and friends. 

At the celebration of Tom Catling's fifty years in Fleet 
Street a banquet was given in his honour by his brother 
Pressmen, and the late Lord Burnham, who presided, made 
a delightfully interesting speech, in which he referred to the 
many changes the half-century had seen in the newspaper 

The newspaper when I first became a Pressman had not 
discovered the modern art of " window dressing." Such 
headlines as were used were simple and unilluminative, and 
there were no cross-lines. 

The daily paper always had three or four closely printed 
leading articles, and a mass of solidly set matter. The 
happenings which to-day are set out with all the pomp and 
circumstance of display were inserted in a solid lump with a 
plain one-line heading. 

In order to know the result of a law case or a police case 
you had to read right through to the end of the report. 
The " picturesque intro." when it first made its appearance 
in the Daily Telegraph was a startling novelty, and when 
George Sala and Godfrey Turner and the " young lions " 
began to write in a lighter vein than the public had been 
accustomed to, the new Press language was called " Daily 

? There was little or no advertising of a new paper in those 
days, so newspapers of some sorts and weekly periodicals of 
other sorts came out and went in again in shoals. It was 


328 MY LIFE 

nothing for a paper then to have an existence of a few months 
and even of a few weeks. 

This was especially the case with humorous and satirical 
periodicals, which were always being started to take " Mr. 
Punch's " number down. There was very little capital behind 
them, but they generally had a clever and enthusiastic staff 
of acknowledged humorists. The periodical of this class was 
in those days more of a Bohemian toss-up than a commercial 

Some of these journals, though they were not long-lived, 
made their mark in newspaperland, and are still quoted. The 
Tomahawk, with the scathing cartoons of Matt Morgan, has 
never been forgotten. The daring of the Tomahawk caused 
its downfall. Nothing was sacred to it not even the Throne. 

James Mortimer's Figaro, and Stephen Fiske's Hornet, the 
Bat, the Hawk, and the Dwarf ; Byron's Comic News, Sawyer's 
Funny Folks, Zangwill and Ariel, Charles Ross and Judy, all 
are Fleet Street memories. 

My old friend and colleague, Mr. Horace Lennard, shares 
my memories of those days, and recently gave a list of the 
vapoury ventures with which Fleet Street was flooded in 
the free-and-easy days of newspaperdom. 

*I have known a paper started on 50 and " worked " by 
three men. One printed it, and the other two wrote it. I 
don't think there was even that amount of capital behind 
a humorous periodical that I contributed to in the 'seventies. 
It was called Punch's Baby, and the title was significant, for 
it never grew up. It added itself to the infantile mortality 
returns at the age of three weeks. I remember that I called 
the column that I started in it " Almonds and Raisins." 

The daily newspaper of that period made up for its lack 
of variety by devoting an enormous amount of its space to 
reports of the Parliamentary debates, and the Parliamentary 
debates of those days were worthy of it. 

The House of Commons was a house of orators. Gladstone 
and Disraeli and John Bright never took part in a debate 
but all the world was eager to read what they had said, and 
no one would miss a line of it. Lord Salisbury was " a great 
master of gibes and flouts and sneers," but his flouting and 
his sneering always made good newspaper copy. 

MY LIFE 329 

I can remember when no professing Jew was permitted to 
take his place in the august assembly, and I can recall the 
excitement when Baron Lionel Rothschild, after being returned 
again and again and each time rejected by the House, was by 
the joint operation of an Act of Parliament and a resolution 
of the House of Commons permitted to take his seat and 
record his vote. 

And then the time came when Charles Bradlaugh was 
returned to Parliament and ejected from the House because 
he was a Freethinker, and ejected with a sufficient amount of 
personal violence to damage the honourable gentleman's 
clothing considerably. But the junior member for North- 
ampton triumphed in the end like Baron Rothschild, and now 
at St. Stephen's men of the Ancient Faith may sit side by 
side with men of no faith at all. 

Even in the long Parliamentary debates in the old-fashioned 
newspaper that I remember there was nothing to guide your 

I remember a young American lady saying to me one day 
in the long ago, " I can't stand your newspapers ! You have 
to read them right through before you know what they're 
about. Now in America we just pick up a newspaper, we 
look at the headlines, and we needn't read the rest if we don't 
want to." 

Since those days the English Press has been Americanized, 
and in some respects not all to its great advantage. No 
London newspaper to-day disdains the revealing headline. 

The paragraph in the 'sixties and 'seventies was not much 
indulged in. In the ordinary mid-Victorian newspaper the 
idea of the editor seemed to be to pack as much black print 
into his space as his space would hold. 

When in 1877 the Referee was started and I wrote my entire 
contribution in a series of paragraphs with stars between 
them, I was seriously told by a well-known journalist that that 
sort of thing would never do. It didn't fill the space or give 
the public enough for their money. 

But I am writing those paragraphs still. 


With the close of the nineteenth century I may bring these 
reminiscences of London life to an end. With all that has 

330 MY LIFE 

happened in the twentieth century the younger generation 
is as familiar as the older generation. 

There are young men now in Fleet Street who in the years 
to come will tell the story of London life in the first half of the 
twentieth century. But they will have to deal with phases 
of London life that are largely shorn of the distinctive 
features that made the strength of their appeal to the old 

With the passing of the old tavern life a great change has 
come over Fleet Street. The comradeship of the teacup 
and cigarette is not as the comradeship of the tankard and 
the pipe. 

The old highway of Bohemia is no longer the gay haunt of 
cultured vagabondage. 

In the bars of Fleet Street and the Strand you may search 
in vain for the merry little coterie every member of which had 
made or was making a name in journalism, in literature, in art, 
or in the drama. 

In what tavern, coffee-room, or dining-saloon in Fleet 
Street will you see gathered together o' nights in their accus- 
tomed " boxes," with substantial English fare in front of 
them, journalists, dramatists, and artists of high renown ? 
Where will you find a " song and supper room " with a dozen 
men famous as artists, as writers, as advocates, as scientists, 
eating their chops, smoking their pipes, drinking their hot 
grog at midnight, and listening to an entertainment in which 
no woman takes part, held in a popular establishment through 
the portals of which no petticoat is allowed to pass ? 

These were the days of the giants, and the giants did not 
mind stooping to take their pleasure in Bohemia. They 
gathered gaily around the flowing bowl, and often went home 
in a growler at three or four o'clock in the morning from the 
sing-song or the supper-rooms or the Bohemian club. And the 
cabby who knew his business was quite prepared to get 
off the box and see his distinguished fare safely up the steps 
if there were any to the front door. 

The early and the mid- Victorian days were the days of 
Thackeray, of Dickens, of Tennyson, of Browning, of Landseer 
and Millais, of Watts of the pre-Raphaelites, Holman Hunt, 
Burne-Jones and Rossetti of Huxley and Tyndall, of Darwin 

MY LIFE 331 

and Ruskin, and of a great and noble army of men, many of 
whom to-day are spoken of as " giants." 

I do not Heaven forbid ! suggest that all these gentlemen 
took the joy of life from the Rabelaisian point of view, but 
many of them loved the feast of friendship and sounded the 
note joyously in their work. 

That was a phase of life in London in the 'sixties and 
'seventies. The East End crowded the flaring gin-palaces, 
and the West End in less ostentatious establishments, and, with 
liquor of a better quality, drank copiously without fear and 
without reproach. 

In the middle-class home of suburban respectability the 
nightcap was a matter of course. At ten o'clock the maid 
would enter with a tray on which were decanters of brandy 
and Irish whisky Scotch had not then come into fashion 
and of gin, or more frequently Hollands, and on the tray 
were sugar and lemon and a great silver-lidded jug of hot 
water. Cold spirits and aerated waters were a later sacrifice 
to the growing temperance of the age. 

It was an age of good cheer, heavy eating, and heavy 
drinking, of high animal spirits and of rowdy revelry. 

But it was an age that the innocent gaiety and pleasant 
freedom of our twentieth-century Sunday would have filled 
with horror. For children to play a game of ball in the back 
garden was a desecration of the Sabbath which would have 
caused the neighbours to ostracize the family. 

Sunday golf, Sunday tennis, Sunday cricket ! If the 
immediate ancestors of those of us who play these games on 
Sunday to-day could hear of our proceedings they would turn 
in their graves. 

The first Sunday Concert ever held was given at the Royal 
Albert Hall in 1871, and was followed by a long and bitter 
contest with the Lord's Day Observance Society. 

The Sabbatarian tradition survived in the spirit long after 
it had been destroyed in the letter. I remember when my 
friend Robert Newman first started the Sunday concerts at 
the Queen's Hall. The programme consisted of performances 
on the grand organ and a few vocal items, mostly of a sacred 
character, and on the programme you were " particularly 
requested not to applaud." 

332 MY LIFE 

I strongly urged Mr. Newman to remove the prohibition, 
which seemed to be Pharisaical. After swallowing the camel 
of a Sunday concert, why gape at the gnat of signifying the 
pleasure it had given you ? Mr. Newman agreed with me, 
and the prohibition was withdrawn. From that day the 
audience rapidly increased, and the Sunday afternoon concerts 
at the Queen's Hall became one of the Sunday delights of 

The National Sunday League, with which I had the honour 
of being for many years associated, had done yeoman service 
for the cause long before the Queen's Hall and the Albert Hall 
gave Sunday afternoon entertainments. 

At the time that the League, of which Mr. Henry Mills 
was the secretary and the backbone, was fighting for a 
free Sunday, the great Sunday attraction to Londoners 
was the Hall of Science, where we went to hear lectures, 
sometimes of a startling character, by Charles Bradlaugh, 
Annie Besant, and Dr. Aveling. 

But the Sunday League fought steadfastly and gallantly, 
and it is largely due to the efforts of the League that the prin- 
cipal museums are now open to the public on the only day 
that a very considerable portion have the leisure to visit them. 
And now we have Sunday concerts given in every part of 
London, and we have Sunday picture shows, and, though they 
are still more or less private performances, Sunday plays. 
But I can remember a time when there was absolutely nothing 
in London open to the public but the public. 

That is a phase of London life which the journalist who 
chronicles his experiences of the first half of the twentieth 
century will not have to deal with, for it is a phase that 
London will never see again. 


MID- VICTORIAN journalism was like mid- Victorian furniture, 
solid and heavy. When it indulged in sentiment the sentiment 
was like the sentimental song of the period, simple. 

The passionate note of our modern songs was a rarity. We 
loved " The Old Arm chair " and the idyllic home was " In 
my Cottage near a Wood/' and we implored the woodman to 
spare the tree that had sheltered us in our childhood. 

" Truth in Absence " was the lover's creed, " Ever of Thee " 
he was fondly dreaming, and the young man at the piano 
sang to his lady love, " Thou art my own, my guiding star." 
If he were separated from the fair one the burden of his lay 
was " Her bright smile haunts me still." Our dearest memory 
was that " We wandered by the sea-beat shore, and gathered 
shells in days of yore." And we were always asking Ben Bolt 
if he remembered sweet Alice. 

The simple story songs of " Claribel " were in every drawing- 
room, and if we went into the garden on a summer night we 
gazed aloft and sang to the " Beautiful Star." We peered 
into the canary's cage and warbled " Sing, Birdie, sing." 
Every maid of London sang " Maid of Athens," and sometimes 
the gentle maiden turned from the canary and looked out 
at the passing regiment and murmured coyly, " The Captain 
with his whiskers took a sly glance at me." 

Our novels were moral and generally plain, straightforward 
stories of true love that ended happily until Ouida came with 
Mars on the war-path of passion and Venus in various dis- 
guises, now in the drawing-room, now in the camp, and now 
among the roses of Provence. But Ouida was something of a 
shock in the middle-class homes that subscribed to the circulat- 
ing libraries. 

Poor Louise de la Ramee ! I knew her in the days of her 


334 MY LIFE 

pride and prosperity, and I had a pathetic little letter from an 
old friend who saw her in the last days, when she lay in pain 
and poverty, forgotten by the world that had once been at 
her feet. 

There was plenty of strong dramatic situation, and plenty 
of clever character-drawing too, in the novels that were of 
such absorbing interest to us in the 'seventies. A great public 
waited eagerly for all the earlier novels of the long series that 
commenced with " Lady Audley's Secret " and ended only 
the other day when Miss Braddon laid aside for ever the pen 
that she had plied so pleasantly and so profitably for half a 

I remember the distress in my boyhood's home when the 
periodical Robin Goodfdlow, in which " Lady Audley's Secret " 
appeared, suddenly ceased publication before we had dis- 
covered what Lady Audley's secret was. 

Then came Zola, and Zolaism spread, and the young 
writers of the world rushed into realism in all languages. But 
Zolaism was too strong for the English palate at first, and 
when one of the famous Vizetelly brothers published an 
English edition of one of the novels he was prosecuted and 
imprisoned. That was in the days before the decadents 
had flooded the land with the poisonous fruits of their 

There was much that was gross and vicious in the old days, 
but it was not daintily arrayed. The scarlet woman did not 
wear a halo out of doors and work slippers for curates at 
home. The vice and virtue of mid-Victorian days were 
marked in plain figures. The literature of Holywell Street 
had not overflowed into Bond Street. Virtue went smiling in 
the sunshine and vice flaunted in the gas-light, and they did 
not dress so very much alike that it was with difficulty you 
could tell one from the other. 

The degenerates had not established a literature and drama 
of their own. Apollo did not sing his swan-song in a convict 

But the changes that came in the later years of the century 
were not all for the worse. Women and children were emanci- 
pated from the thraldom that they had borne for centuries, a 

MY LIFE 335 

thraldom which was looked upon as part of the constitution 
of the country. 

The young woman of to-day, though she smokes cigarettes 
and talks slang, is far healthier in body and brain than were 
her sisters in the 'sixties. She has enlarged her outlook and 
her feet. She does not weep at your frown or have hysterics 
if you smile at another of her sex. She is useful not only in 
the home but out of it. 

Even if she be a bachelor girl, she is better able to take care 
of herself than she was in the old days of the sheltered life, 
because she is allowed to know something of the world before 
she leaves the shelter of the parental wing. And in the great 
tragedy through which our country is passing the young 
woman has shown herself a valuable asset entirely apart 
from the kitchen and cradle aspect of the feminine ques- 

And the child has ceased to be regarded as a chattel. Its 
right to have at least the opportunity of a healthy and happy 
life has been recognized even by the law. The fight for the 
recognition of the rights of childhood was a long and fierce 
one. But the battle has been won, and the safeguarding of 
the future of England's children is to-day recognized by all 
classes of the community as a national duty, not only from 
the human, but from the patriotic point of view. 

When my friend Mrs. E. M. Burgwin, until lately the 
Superintendent of Special Schools, first aroused my personal 
interest in the welfare of the children, she was the head 
mistress at the Orange Street School in the Mint. 

In those days thousands of little children were sent to school 
in a starving condition. The State said that they must be 
educated, and if they did not attend the parents would be 
summoned and fined. But the State troubled itself only 
about the brain of the child, and gave no thought to its body. 

To-day there is no child in the land who need go foodless 
to school and return foodless to a foodless home. 

And the little children and the babies are no longer to be 
found in the crowded public-house all day long and far into 
the night. But in the old times I have seen scores of children, 
babies in arms, and little ones of the tenderest years, crushed 

336 MY LIFE 

in among the crowd in the gin-palace and the beer-house at 
midnight. And I have seen babies in arms being fed with 
beer, and little girls of four sipping the gin from their mothers' 

That, thank God, is a phase of London life which has 
disappeared for ever ! 


IN the dawn of the new century, so far as these rambling 
memories of the happy bygone years are concerned, I part 
with my readers. Many of my older readers may remember 
much that I have forgotten or that I have omitted to chronicle. 
To deal with even all the theatrical happenings of sixty years 
in the space at my disposal would have made my chronicle 
of old days a dictionary of dates rather than a story of the 

If I have not touched life at all points in these memories 
of the last half of the nineteenth century I have touched it at 
all those points which appeal to me personally. I have con- 
fined myself to those points for the reason that these are the 
personal reminiscences of one who during those fifty years 
has been mainly occupied with the newspaper and the theatre. 

And now, amid the strain and stress of the fierce and 
furious conflict in which all that we hold dearest is at stake, 
with our cities darkened in gloom unknown since the days of 
the swinging lamps, the lanterns, and the torches, with our 
newspapers shrinking gradually to the small sheets of centuries 
ago, with all the young manhood of the nation called to arms, 
and with women in the hour of their country's need performing 
tasks of which their late Victorian mothers never dreamt and 
from which their mid-Victorian grandmothers would have 
shrunk in hysterical dismay, the London of my youth seems 
to be divided from the London of to-day not by fifty years 
but by a whole century. 

I wander Fleet Street by night, and it brings back no 
joyous memories of the 'seventies and the 'eighties. I strain 
my eyes in the darkness and wait expectantly for the passing 
shades of Dr. Johnson and Boswell and the Fleet Streeters of 
their day. 

337 Y 

338 MY LIFE 

I find myself at night in the Strand and Leicester Square 
and Shaftesbury Avenue, where Theatreland has spread from 
its old boundaries, and I see in front of the Temples of Thespis 
only a ghostly blue light that suggests the entrance to a police 
station. There were no blazing electric lights in Theatreland 
fifty years ago, but the gas flared gaily above the portals of 
the playhouse, and a long line of opal-shaded lights made gay 
the passages that led you to the fairyland of make-believe. 

The darkness of Theatreland to-day carries my memory 
back to one bygone light of the night and to one light alone. 
And that is the wretched sandwichman with a lighted candle 
under a cardboard hat who perambulated the streets about 
Leicester Square as an advertisement for the dreadful old 
" Judge and Jury " show whose ways were darkness. 

Thirty years ago I remember a Regent Street that was as 
dark at night as Piccadilly Circus is now. But even before the 
coming of the arc lamp some of us had started " A League of 
Light/' and asked the shopkeepers to keep their shops 
unshuttered and their lights going to make a brighter London 
by night, and many of the West End shopkeepers gladly fell 
in with the suggestion, as it enabled them to advertise their 
wares to the passing thousands who only came West after 

But in all the years that I remember the taverns and the 
gin-palaces and the bars and the saloons were aflare. And as 
the cry of the Londoner became that of the dying Goethe 
" Light, more light ! " so did the lamps of the liquor trade 
become larger and the beaming of Electra's rays more blinding. 

In the days of my youth the public-house was a beacon- 
light in the loneliest thoroughfare and on the darkest night. 
In the days of my more than maturity if I look for a public- 
house as a landmark during my night rambles I have to strike 
a match to see it, and when I see it it is closed " by legislature's 
harsh decree," although there may be yet two hours to 

But I recall a time when there were plenty of bars and 
drinking saloons that were open till three or four o'clock in 
the morning, and some of the most notorious as the resort of 
evildoers and criminal roughs stood in the very shadow of the 
Houses of the Lawgivers. 

MY LIFE 339 

And in the Houses of the Lawgivers, if there was no preach- 
ing of class hatred there was scant show of sympathy with the 
classes that were unrepresented. In the days of my youth 
there was far more pity expressed for the savage and the far-off 
heathen than for the downtrodden and the poor of our own 

The man who dreamed of social reform and put his dream 
into words was a dangerous demagogue, and the prison was 
his proper place. And to prison I saw many a man sent for 
preaching that which to-day would be his passport to 

Those were the shadows that lay upon the London of the 
long ago. It was a drabber London, a smaller London, a 
more disorderly London, a less healthy London than the 
London that we have now. 

But it was the London that I loved, the London hallowed 
by a hundred happy memories. 

It is in a London lying under the stress and strain of 
Britain's war for her existence, in a London that at night is a 
city shrouded in the gloom of the grave, a London sheltering 
herself in that gloom from the hurtling bombs of death from 
the skies above, a London restrained in its liberties and its 
liquor as it has never been since it became a European capital, 
that these memories of the old days of peace and joy, of 
buoyant good humour and rollicking fun, of festivity by day 
and revelry by night, of old-time plays and old-time players, 
of dead and gone dancing gardens " with a thousand extra 
lights," of Halls of Harmony and Haunts of Discord, have 
been written day by day and mainly from memory. 

Writing of the pleasures of the past, my thoughts have 
been taken for a time from the pain of the present. 

If these rambling recollections of sixty years of a Londoner's 
life have rendered a similar service to my readers, they have 
at least been written to some good and useful purpose. 

And so with a grateful heart for the golden days that were 
and a heart full of faith in the golden days to be, I cease to 
look back and fix my gaze fearlessly on the future. 


ABRAHAMS, Morris, 76 
Adams, Sam, 318 
Adderley, Rev. James, 325 
Addison, Fanny, 303 
Adelaide Gallery, 76, 161 
Adelphi Theatre, 76, 90-92, 132, 

161-164, 206, 208-209, 212, 215, 

266-270, 272-280, 291 
Agricultural Hall, Islington, 83, 


Albert, Fred, 318 
Albery, James, 302 
Alboni, Marietta, 147 
Alderson, Clifton, 244 
Alexander, Sir George, 205-206 
Alhambra Theatre, 98, 141, 156, 

158-160, 213-215, 221 
Allen, Tom, 175 
Anderson, T., 172, 175 
Angle, B. J., 172, 175 
Aquarium, Royal, 108-109 
Archer, Fred, 258 

William, 134, 200 
Armfelt, Count, 248, 250 
Ashby-Sterry, J., 26, 55 
Ashley, Henry, 156 
Ashton, Jack, 171 
Asquith, H. H. 239-240 
Astley, Sir John, 82-83 
Astley's Amphitheatre, 3, 141, 177- 

178, 284 
Avenue Theatre (later, Playhouse), 

Ayrton, A. S., 236 

BALFOUR, Jabez, 145 
Ballantine, Serjeant, 26, 143-144 

Walter, 26, 155 
Balzac, 27, 120-125 
Bancroft, Lady (formerly Marie 
Wilton), 50, 92-93. 274, 304 

Sir, Squire, 92-93, 160, 304 

Bandmann, Herr, 44, 286 
Barker, Richard, 51, 164 
Barnard, Fred, 18-19, 136 
Barnato, Barney, 109 
Barnay, Ludwig, 281 
Barnes, J. H. 233, 236, 240 
Barnett, J. C., 266-267 
Baroda, Gaekwar of, 143-144 
Barrett, George, 42, 129, 183-184 

Wilson, 63-64, 75-76, 78, 112- 
114, 117, 126, 128-131, 165, 
183-184, 298-299 

Mrs. Wilson, 113 
Barrie, Sir J. M., 118 
Barry, Helen, 76, 213 

Shiel, 294, 307 
Bateman, " Papa," 14 

Isabel, 163 

Kate, 91 
Battenberg, Princess Henry of, 


Baum, John, 215 
Beau champ, John, 163 
Beck, Adolf, 119, 323 
Bedford, Paul, 2, 91 
Belasco, F., 187 
Bell, Captain Leonard, 176 
Bellew, J. M., 120, 167, 189, 253 

Kyrle, 186-187, 2O 5 
Bellwood, Bessie, 318 
Belmore, George, 240, 304 
Benedict, Sir Julius, 293 
Benson, participator in Kerr and 

Benson frauds, 56 
Beresford, Lord William, 27, 30 
Bernhardt, Sarah, 151-152, 199 
Bertram, Charles, 228, 313 
Beveridge, J. D., 164, 203 
Bierce, Ambrose, 26, 43, 120-122, 


Bigelow, L., 279 
Billington, Mrs., 91, 213 




Birmingham, Prince of Wales's 

Theatre, 224-225, 268 
Bishop, Alfred, 200 
Black, William, 250 
Blackpool Winter Gardens, 220 
Blanchard, E. L., 50, 58, 286-287 
Blanche, Ada, 201 
Blind, Karl, 53, 55 

Mathilde, 53 
Blondin, 108 
Bonehill, Bessie, 318 
Bonn, 26-30 

Bonnemains, Madame, 222 
Boosey, John, 17, 19 

William, 17, 19 
Booth, Edwin, 77, 177, 241 
Boucicault, Dion, 91, 130, 241, 286, 

294, 304 

Boulanger, General, 221-222 
Bower Saloon, 90, 303 
Bowman, Maggie, 273 
Boyne, Leonard, 131, 165, 203 
Braddon, Miss, 31, 334 
Bradlaugh, Charles, 329, 332 
Brandon, Olga, 267 
Branscombe, Maude, 302 
Bravo, Florence, 140 
Brennan, Maggie, 286 
Brewer, Charles, 258-259 
Bright, John, 3, 236, 328 
Britannia Theatre, Hoxton, 50 
Broadmoor Asylum, 67 
Bromley, Nellie, 296 
Brooke, G. V., 300-301 
Brough, Fanny, 240 

Lionel, 189, 201, 213, 274-275, 


William, 294 
Brougham, John, 178, 294 

Lord, 3 

Brought on, Phyllis, 201 
Brown, Hablot, K., 70 
Brown-Potter, Mrs., 185190 
Browning, Robert, 203 
Bruce, Edgar, 73-75, 287 
Brunton, William, 58 
Buchanan, Robert, 165, 181-182, 

203-211, 239-240 
Buckerfield, Mr., 267 
Buckstone, John Baldwin, 3. 93 
Bunhill Fields, 6-7 
Bunyan, John, 7 
Burgwin, Mrs. E. M., 135, 335 
Bumand, Sir F. C., 68-70, 92, 130, 
294> 3io 

Burnham, Lord, 327 
Burns, John, 135, 325-326 
Burton Crescent Murder, 222-223 
Butler, Richard, 172, 307 

Samuel, 53 

Byron, H. J., 39, 7. 73. 92-93, 130. 
274, 294-295, 297 

CAMBRIDGE, Duke of, 228-230 
Cameron, Violet, 154-155, 195, 307 
Campbell, E. T., 172 

Mrs. Patrick, 138, 166, 205- 

207, 291 

Carleton, Will, 251 
Carney, Kate, 318 
Carr, Comyns, 168 
Carrington, Lord, 167 
Carroll, Lewis, 247 
Carte, D'Oyly, 160 
Carton, Claude, 74 

R. C., 206 
Caryll, Ivan, 19, 157, 209, 223-224, 


Catling, Tom, 42, 327 
Cavendish, Ada, 92 
Cecil, Arthur, 157, 200, 310 
Celeste, Madame, 3, 91 
Cellier, Alfred, 218-219, 308 

Frank, 218 
Chambers, J. G., 172 
Chaplin, Charlie, 301 

Mr. Henry (later, Viscount), 


Chapman, Blanche, 188 
Chappell, Arthur, 151-152 
Chat, 43 

Chattell, Hettie, 244 
Chatterton, F. B., 130, 199, 217, 

Chatto, Andrew, 42, 120, 122-125, 


Chevalier, Albert, 318 
Chicago Times, 274 
Churchill, Lord Randolph, 238-239 
"Claribel," 333 
Clark, Henri, 317 
Clarke, Hamilton, 214 

John S., 92, 294 

Savile, 42, 58, 88 
Claude, Angelina, 73, 303 
Clay, Cecil, 160, 286 

Frederick, 155-156, 159-160, 
195, 200, 213, 225 

Lila, 84-89 
Clay ton, | John, 296 



Clifton, Harry, 317 
Cobbe, Frances Power, 53 
Coborn, Charles, 307, 318 
Cody, Colonel, 169 
Cohen, Arthur, 135 
Colas, Stella, 278 
Coleman, Edward, 247 

Fatty, 1 08 

Collette, Charles, 200 
Collins, Arthur, 283, 289-290 

Lottie, 318 

Mortimer, 58, 168 
Colosseum, Regent's Park, 99 
Colvin, Sidney, 55 
Compton, Henry, 93 
Connolly, Michael, 212 
Conquest, George, 53~54. i7 
Con way, Moncure D., 55 
Cook, Dutton, 168, 315 
Cooke, Aynsley, 115-116 
Cooper, Frank, 114 
Coote, Charles, 129 
Corbet, James, 169-170 
Corri, Clarence C., 224 
Costa, Michael, 226-227 
Court Theatre, Sloane Square, 113, 


Courtneidge, Robert, 154 
Coveney, Harriet, 114, 219 
Covent Garden Theatre, 213-214, 


Cox, Serjeant, 143 
Coyne, Fred, 318 
Craven, H. T., 294-295, 304 
Cremorne, 39-40, 141, 215 
Crichton, Haldane, 114 
Criterion Restaurant, 101 

Theatre, 118 
Crook, John, 224 
Croydon Theatre, 140 
Crystal Palace, 99, 108 

DACRE, Arthur, 190-193 
Daily Mail, 323 

News, 248, 250 

Telegraph, 322-323, 327^ 
Dallas, E. J., 223 

J. J., 202 
Dalziel, Brothers, 66, 71-72 

Gilbert, 18, 136 
Danby, Charles, 202 
Dance, George, 224 
D'Angeley, Madame, 322 
Danvers, Ramsay, 118 
Dark Blue, 54-56 

D'Auban, John, 202 

Daubigny, Delacour (= George R. 

Sims), 212 

Davenport Brothers, 312 
Davis, Charley, 175 
Deane, Dorothy, 303 
Decori, Louis, 245-246 
Decourcelle, Pierre, 245 
De Groof, the flying man, 40 
De"jazet, Mme., 151 
Devant, David, 312 
Devereux, William, 273 
Devonshire, Duke of 21, 23 
Dewar, 92 

Dickens, Charles, 99, 122, 178, 180, 

Charles, junr., 307 
Diehl, Louis, 81, 83-85, 87 
Dietz, Ella, 53 
Dilke, Ashton, 72, 87 

Sir Charles, 1 36 
Disraeli, Benjamin, 3, 328 
Dixey, Henry E., 200-201 
Dobbs, Hannah, 139 
Dobson, Austin, 26 
Donato, 105 
Donelly, Ned, 174-175 
Doone, Neville, 129 
Dor6, Gustave, 122, 124 
Douglas, J. H., 172 

John, 244 
Dove, Owen, 118 
Dowsett, Punch, 173 
Drury Lane Theatre, 12, 74-75, 

141, 157, 217, 281, 294 
Druscovitch, Inspector, 56 
Duleep Singh, Maharajah, 158 
Dumas, Alexandre, 178, 180 
Du Maurier, George, 70 
Duncan, Emily, 201 

EAST, Quartermaine, 255' 
Eastbourne, 20-23 
Eastlake, Miss, 117, 129 
Edouin, Willie, 202, 274 
Edwardes, George, 194-195, 306 
Edwards, George Spencer, 42, 139 
Egyptian Hall, 312 
Eldred, Joseph, 51, 112 
Eliot, Rev. Claude, 324 

George, 235 
Ellison, Isabel, 157 
Emden, Henry, 289 
Emery, Sam, 293 

Winifred, 165, 206 


Emmet, 91 
Empire Theatre, 100 
Engelbach, E. C., 298-299 
Escott, T. H. S., 168 
Eugenie, Empress, 6, 94 
Euston Square Murder, 139 
Evans, Fred, 285 
Evening News, I, 41 
Exeter, Theatre Royal, 129 

FAIRBROTHER, 83^1167,244,247,273 

Faithfull, Emily, 53 

Falconer, Edmund, 91 

Family Herald, 88 

Faraday, Michael, 18, 20 

Farini, 108 

Farnie, H. B., 42, 73, 154, 219 

Farren, Nellie, 51, 201, 296 

William, 295 
Faucit, Helen (later, Lady Martin), 

Fawcett, Mrs. Millicent Garrett, 


Fawn, James, 318 
Fawsitt, Amy, 295 
Fechter, Charles, 2, 90, 130, 277- 


Fenwick-Miller, Mrs., 53 
Fernandez, James, 76, 90, 165, 

.267, 303 

Finck, Herman, 219-220 
Finette, Mile, 159 
Fisher, David, 294 

W. H., 236 
Fiske, Stephen, 328 
Fitzgerald, John, 222 
Fleet Street, 3, 57-59, 96, 327-331 
Fletcher, Charles, 219-220 
Florence, Billy, 200 
Foley, Marie, 247 
Foli, Signor, 215 
Forbes, Archibald, 60, 168, 250 
Forde, Athol, 273 
Fordham, George, 259 
Foster, Tommy, 161 
Fox, Rose, 200 
Fowler, Emily, 51, 93 

Joe, 173-174 
Francis, E. J., 173 
Franks, Charles, 174 
French, Messrs. Samuel, 89 
Freund, John, 54-55 
Frost-Smith, R., 172 
Fun, 14-15, 26, 65-72, 120, 249, 



GAIETY Theatre, 51, 194-202, 219, 

279, 306 

Gandillot, Leon, 245 
Garden, E. W., 163 
Gardiner, E. W., 240 
Garibaldi, 10-11 
Garland, G. J., 172 
Garrick Theatre, Whitechapel, 

Gatti, Messrs., 76, 132, 161-162, 

164, 203, 205-207 
Gautier, Theophile, 180 
Giddens, George, 118 
Gilbert, Sir John, 70 

Sir W. S., 26, 51, 55, 66, 69-70, 
73, 156, 201, 218, 242, 275, 
281, 303, 310 
Gilchrist, Connie, 201, 223 
GiU, C. F., 145 
Gilmer, Albert, 247 
Gladstone, W. E., 3, 236, 271, 328 
Glendinning, John, 273 
Glenny, Charles, 165 
Globe Theatre, Wych St., 155, 


Glover, James, 212-213 
Glyn, Miss, 3 
Godfrey, Charles, 318 
Goldschmidt, Otto, 147 

Walter, C., 149 

Gooch, Walter, 76-80, 130, 132 
Goodall, Bella, 302 
Goode, Chesterfield. 174 

Jim, 71, 172 
Goodwin, Nat, 114 
Goron, M., 221 
Gough, James, 188 
Graham, Clara, 303 
Grain, Corney, 310 
Grant, Baron, 213-214 
Gray, David, 209, 211 
Grecian Theatre, 107 
Green, Plantagenet, 97 
Greet, William, 298-299 
Gregory, F., 156 
Greville, Eva, 196 
Griffiths, Brothers, 149 
Grimwood, Mr. and Mrs. St. Clair, 


Grisi, Giulia, 151 
Grossmith, George, senr., 47, 310 

George, junr., 199, 201 

Weedon, 157 

Grove, Archibald, 238-239 
Grundy, Sydney, 63-64, 165-168 



Gurney, Edmund, 247 
Gye, Frederick, 52 

HACKER, The Misses, 139 
Halfpenny Journal, 31 
Hall, Marshall, 145 
Halliday, Andrew, 286 
Hamber, Captain, 233-235 
Hamer, Hetty, 201 
Hamilton, Duke of, 28, 256 

Henry, 289 

Hanwell College, 23-26 
Harcourt, Sir William Vernon, 


Hare, Sir John, 205 
Harris, Sir Augustus, 74-75, 96, 

157, 281-290, 302 
Charles, 282-283, 308 
Harte, Bret, 120, 200, 250-253 
Hastings, Marquess of, 2, 254, 

Hawkins, Sir Henry, 144, 229 

Tommy, 173-174 
Hawley, Sir Joseph, 254, 257 
Hawtrey, Charles, 157 
Hay, Claude, 324 

John, 120, 185, 251 
Haymarket, 2, 39 

Theatre, 93~94> 274, 294, 301 
Heenan, J. C., 2, 170, 176 
Hemming, Alfred, 75, 111-113, 


Henderson, Alexander, 275 
Herbert, Miss, 92 

William, 163 

Her Majesty's Theatre, 308 
Herman, Henry, 126-128 
Herring, Paul, 285 
Herv6, F. R., 213 
Heslop, John, 228 
Hewitt, Agnes, 244 
Hibbert, C. H., 319 
Hicks, Seymour, 202 
Hill, Caroline, 157 

Jenny, 112, 318 

W. J., 118, 236 
Hindlip, Lord, 7 
Hippesley, George, 273 
Hodges, Frederick, 139 
Hodson, Henrietta (later, Mrs. 
Henry Labouchere), 46, 92, 

155. 303 
Sylvia, 294 
Holland, Fanny, 310 

William, 103-104, 220, 317 

Hollingshead, John, 51, 159, 194, 

199-200, 223, 278-279, 306 
Holmes, T. Knox, 201 
Holt, Thomas Lyttelton, 43 
Honey, George, 42, 93 

Tom, 37 
Hood, Basil, 223 

Marion, 159, 201 

Thomas, 2, 122 

Thomas, junr., 58, 66, 68-69, 

1 20, 122, 249 
Hope Family, 6-7 
Hopley, Thomas, 22-23 
Hoskins, actor at Sadler's Wells, 

13-14. 15 
Hotten, John Camden, 120-122, 

178-179, 253 
Howard, J. B., 294 
Sydney, 240, 244 
Walter, 247 
Howes, Billy, 83 
Hudspeth, Miss, 287 
Hughes, Thomas, 55 
Hugo, Victor, 312 
Hunt, G. W., 35, 317 
Huntley, Mrs., 240 

IBSEN, Henrik, 200 
Ide, professional pedestrian, 83 
Imperial Music Hall, 100 
Irving, Sir Henry, 1415, 47-49, 
93, 130, 199, 214, 271, 275, 286 
Islington, 11-13 

JACK the Ripper Murders, 141-142 
Jackson, Harry, 76-78, 307 
Jacobi, Georges, 159-160, 201, 221 
James, David, 42, 93, 202, 237, 295 

Kate, 203 

ay, Harriet, 204, 210 
ecks, Clara, 163 
efferson, Joseph, 91 
enn, Joe, 173 
errold, Douglas, 248 

Tom, 58 

Johnson, M., 209 
Johnson's Folly, 149-150 
Jones, Avonia, 300-301 
Edward, 127 
H. A., 127, 162 
Maria, 195 
Wilton, in 

Josephs, Fanny, 92, 303-304 
Jousiffe, Charles, 182-183 
Sidney, 182-183 



Joyce, Walter, 42 
Judic, Mme., 152 
Jullien, 216-217 

" KANGAROO," 97-98 

Kean, Charles, 2, 130 

Keeley, Mrs., 3, 189, 293, 304-305 

Keene, Alec, 171 

Charles, 70 
Kendal, Mrs. (formerly Madge 

Robertson), 51, 188-189 
Kenealy, Dr., 144 
Kennington, 9-10 
Kerr, Fred, 156 

Orpheus C., 177, 179 
Kettner's Restaurant, 74 
Kilrain, Jake, 171 
King, Tom, 171 
Kingsford, Dr. Anna, 53-54 
Kingsley, Henry, 55 
Knifton, 174 
Knight, Joseph, 133 

LAGRANGE, Count de, 2, 254, 256 
Lang, Andrew, 55, 250 
Langham, Nat, 171 
Langtry, Mrs. (later, Lady de 

Bathe), 63, 207 
Law, Arthur, 310 
Lawler, Kate, 114 
Leamar, Sisters, 318 
Le Bert, Mena, 247 
Lecky, W. E., 203 
Leclercq, Carlotta, 90, 166 
Charles, 285 
Rose, 285, 294 
Lee, Richard, 77-78 
Leeds, Grand Theatre, 75-76, 112- 


Leeds Mercury, in 

Lefroy Murder, 139-140 

Le Hay, John, 307 

Leicester, Ernest, 247 

Leigh, H. S., 26, 42, 55, 58, 296 

Mrs. Henry, 163, 273 
Leland, Charles, 26 
Lemmens-Sherrington, Madame, 


Lennard, Horace, 328 
Leno, Dan, 116-117, 223 
Le Sage, J. M., 322 
Leslie, Fanny, 78, 213 
U Fred, 202 

H. J., 306, 308-309 
Leuville, Marquis de, 231-236 

Levey, Sisters, 318 
Levy, Florence, 196 
Lewis, Amelia, 54-55 

Sir George, 133, 140 

Leopold, 46-48 

Lillian, 188 

Leybourne, George, 317 
Light, Rev. C. R., 183 
Lind, Jenny, 3, 147-149 

Letty, 201, 303 
Lingard, Alice, 166 
Linton, Mrs. Lynn, 168 
Liverpool, Prince of Wales Theatre, 


Lockwood, Sir Frank, 144 

Loftus, Cissie, 201 

London : 

betting houses, 2, 36 ?7 
eating establishments, 95-97, 


fairs, 103 

night life, 2, 38-41, 97-98, 
100-102, 106-107, 314-316 

police, 320-322 

sharpers, 262-265 

slums, 134-138 

street cries, 3-4 

street shows, 105-106 
London Figaro, 94 
Lonnen, E. J., 195 
Loseby, Connie, 51 
Lotta, 307 

Love, Mabel, 196, 303 
Lowe, Robert, 236 
Lucy, Sir Henry. 168, 249 
Ludwig of Bavaria, 197-198 
Lutz, Baron von. 197-198 

Meyer, 196-198, 311 
Lyceum Theatre, 14, 46-49, 141, 


Lyle, Listen, 247 
Lynn, Dr., 312 
Lyric Theatre, 88, 204, 224 
Lytton, Marie, 108, 199-200 

MAAS, Joseph, 213 
McCabe, Frederick, 311-312 
Macaulay, 7 
Macdermott, G. H., 317 
Macdonald, George, 55 
Mace, Jem, 170 
Machell, Captain, 256 
McKay, Joseph, 58, 166 

Julia, 318 

Wallis, 58 



McKay, William, 58 

McKinder, Lionel, 199 

Mackney, 316 

McClean, Joe, 52 

Maclean, Roderick, 67-70 

Macnaghten, Sir Melville, 175 

MacNeill, Archie, 171 

Madden, Mike, 171 

Maddick, George, 42 

Maitland, Lydia, 92 

Majendie, Colonel Vivian, 175-176 

Majilton, Charles, 118 

Mai vein, 146-150 

Manchester, Theatre Royal, 224 

Mansell, Brothers, 155 

Mansfield, Richard, 240-241 

Manuel, E., 76 

Marguerite, Mademoiselle, 312 

Mario, Signer, 3, 150-151 

Sisters, 112 

Marius, " Mons," 73, 154 
Markham, Pauline, 274, 303 
Marlborough, Duchess of, 68 
Marriott, Frederick, 43-44 

Miss, 276-277 
Marston, Henry, 277 
Martin, Bob, 196 
Maskelyne, J. N., 312 
Massey, Rose, 301-302 
Mathews, Charles, 3, 200 

Sir Charles, 144, 271 
Matthews, Frank, 93 

Julia, 279 
Maude, Cyril, 202 
Maurice, Edmund, 273 
May, Phil, 112-113 
Maybrick, Michael, 149 
May hew, Henry, 33 
Mellon, Mrs. Alfred, 118 
Men and Women, 251-252 
Menken, Adah Isaacs, 42, 122, 


Meritt, Paul, 74, 96, 107-108, 288 
Merivale, Herman, 62-64 
Merrick, Leonard, 113 
Metropolitan Music Hall, 76 
Middlesex Music Hall, 155 
Millar, Gertie, 199, 201 
Millard, Evelyn, 203 
Miller, Joaquin, 55, 251 
Mills, Henry, 332 

lilly-Christine, 105 
Milward, Jessie, 165, 270 
Mitchell, Charley, 171, 174 
Modjeska, Madame, 113, 117 

Mohawk Minstrels, 311 
Monico, Cafe, 161 
Montgomery, Walter, 278-279 
Montague, H. J., 93, 302, 304 
Montijo, Count Jose de, 6 
Moon, Nellie, 104 
Moore, Augustus, 195 

Charles, 175 

NeUie, 296 
Moore and Burgess Minstrels, 99, 

209-210, 310-311 
Morgan, Anna, 188 

Matt, 69, 328 

Wilford, 42 
Morley, Samuel, 137 
Morning A dvertiser, 77 
Mortimer, James, 94, 328 
Morton, Charles, 315-316 

Maddison, 293 
Moss, Arthur B., 135-136 
Munroe, Kitty, 156, 303 
Murray, David Christie, 127 

Grenville, 167-168 

Henry, 207-208 

Mr. and Mrs. Leigh, 93, 293 
Musgrave, Frank, 222 


Napper, Ted, 172-173 

Nash, Jolly John, 318 

Nation, W. H. C., 305-306 

Neil, Mrs. Lang, 313 

Neilson, Adelaide, 132-134, 199- 


Julia, 206, 273 
Nethersole, Olga, 165, 206 
Neville, Henry, 94, 240, 295 
New Brighton, 116-117 
Newgate, 3 

Newman, Robert, 331-332 
Newry, Lord, 94 
Newton, H. Chance, 307 
Nicholls, Harry, 273 
Nilsson, Christine, 150 
North, Colonel, 109-110 
North London Railway Murder 

X 43 

Woolwich Gardens, 103-104 
Nottingham, Theatre Royal, 118 
Nutt, " Commodore," 105 

OAKLEY, Banner, 145 
O'Connor, T. P., 211 
Oddenino, Cavaliere, 37 
Odell, E. J., 72 



Offenbach, Jacques, 151, 154 

" Old Tear 'em " (John Arthur 

Roebuck), 3 
Oliffe, Geraldine, 247 
Oh'ver, Patty, 92, 293-294 
Olympic Theatre, 72 
One and All, 88 
Opera Comique Theatre, 88, 156, 

207, 228, 307 
Or, Henriette d', 213 
Orridge, Miss, 83 
O'Shea, John Augustus, 58 
Ouida, 333-334 
Oxenford, John, 59, 293 
Oxford Music Hall, 99-100, 154-155 

PALACE Theatre, 315-316 
Palmer, Minnie, 307-308 
Palmerston, Lord, 3, 171 
Park Theatre, Camden Town, 129 
Parker, Admiral, 7 

Harry, 307 
Parry, John, 200, 310 

Serjeant, 143 
Pateman, Bella, 240 

Robert, 240-241, 244 
Patti, Adelina, 3 
Paul, Mrs. Howard, 213, 310 
Pavilion Theatre, Whitechapel, 76 
Payne, Edmund, 199, 201 

George, 2 

Pearcey, Mrs., 145-146 
Peckham, 7 
Peel, General, 2, 254 
Penge Murder, 140-141 
Penley, W. S., 74 
Penny Sunday Times, 43 
Perrin, George, 215 
Pettitt, Henry, 74, 96-97, 107, 

161-163, 165, 184, 194, 281 
Phelps, Samuel, 2, 12-13, 2 77 293 
Philharmonic Theatre, 154 
Phillips, Watts, 78 
Piccadilly Annual, 122 
Pictorial World, 18, 136 
Pinero, Sir Arthur, 205-206, 289 
Pollock, Sir Frederick, 55 
Pond, Christopher, 96 
Power, Nellie, 296 
Price, Lillian, 196 
Prince, R. A., 269-271 
Prince of Wales's Theatre : 

Coventry Street, 306 

Tottenham Court Road, 50, 
93-94* 2 72. 274, 304 

Princess's Theatre, 49, 76-79, 117, 
128-131, 161-162, 230-231, 240, 

Prowse, " Jeff," 57 

Punch, 70 

Punch's Baby, 328 

RACHEL, Madame, 145 

Raleigh, Cecil, 49-50, 157, 290 

Read, James Canham, 146 

Reade, Charles, 49, 141, 180 

Redford, G. A., 224-225 

Reece, Robert, 296-298 

Reed, Mr. and Mrs. German, 310 

Rees, Micky, 71, 172 

Reeves, Sims, 152-153 

Referee, 53, 56, 133, 147-149, 172- 

173. 325, 329 
Richards, proprietor of Garrick 

Theatre, Whitechapel, 52 
Riel, Madame, 56 

Mademoiselle, 55 
Righton, Edward, 236 
Rignold, George, 244 

Lionel, 118, 166 
Riviere, Jules, 160, 213, 215-216, 


Roberts, Arthur, 155, 223 
Robertson, Tom, 50, 70, 93, 130 

Wybrow, 108 
Robina, Fanny, 196 
Robins, Elizabeth, 165, 206-207 
Robinson, Sir J. R., 248-252 
Robson, 91, 294, 303 
Rochefort, Henri, 209 
Rodgers, Katherine, 286 
Roe, Bassett, 240 
Rogers, Jimmy, 92 
Ronald, Landon, 224 
Rorke, Mary, 163 
Rosa, Mademoiselle, 201 
Rose, Edward, 74 
Rosebery, Lord, 255-256 
Roselle, Amy, 190-193 

Percy, 190 

Rosherville Gardens, 103 
Ross, Charles, 328 
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 55, 182 
Rothschild, Baron Lionel de, 329 
Rous, Admiral, 2, 254 
Rousby, Mrs., 46 
Routledge, Messrs., 182 
Royalty Theatre, 73, 92, 114, 156, 

212, 294, 305 
Royce, E. W., 190-191, 202 



Ruskin, John, 55, 125, 196 
Russell, Sir Charles (later, Lord 

Russell of Killowen), 255 
Lord John (later, Earl Rus- 
sell), 3 
Ryder, John, 163-164, 287 

SADLER'S Wells Theatre, 12-13, *5 

71, 172, 174, 276-277 
St. George's Hall, 310 
St. James's Hall, 215 

Theatre, 55, 206-207, 219, 


St. John, Florence, 154-155, 195 
Sala, G. A., 26, 43-44, 50, 60-62, 

68-69, 123, 327 
Salisbury, Marquess of, 136-137, 


Sampson, Henry, 15, 65-66, 71-72, 
82-83, 109-110, 121, 133, 172, 

Sandemanians, 17-20 
San Francisco News Letter, 43-44 
Sanger, Rachel, 274 
Santley, Kate, 156 
Saunders, Charlotte, 92 
Savoy Theatre, 218 
Sayers, Tom, 2, 170, 173 
Schneider, Hortense, 151 
Schroter, Max, 212 
Scott, Clement, 70, 76, 78, 133, 

213, 240, 308 
Scudamore, Frank, 33 
Sedgwick, Amy, 93 
Selby, Mrs. Charles, 92 
Shaw, George Bernard, 88, 325-326 
Sheehan, John, 42 
Shine, John L., 114, 166 
Shirley, Arthur, 243-245 
Shoosmith, The Misses, 20-23 
Short Cuts, 238-239 
Siddons, Mrs. Scott, 77 
Simms, George E., 229 

William Gilmore, 186 
Sims Family, 6-8, 17 
Sims, George R. : 

birth of, 5 

parentage and ancestry, 5-8 

childhood, 9-19 

schooldays, 20-26 

at Bonn, 26-30 

enters his father's office, 31 

journalistic beginnings, 44-56 

his first play, Crutch and 
Toothpick, 72-74 

Sims, George R. (contd.) : 

The Lights o' London, 75-83, 

126-131, I33-I35 165, 
A Dress Rehearsal, 84-89 
his first novel, " Rogues and 

Vagabonds," 88 
appointed editor of One 6- 

All, 88 
Romany Rye, 113, 129, 131, 

161, 201 

The Member for Slocum, 114 

the-Wood, 115 
Mother-in-Law, 115, 117 
Flats, 118 
The Gay City, 118 
The Halfway House, 118 
translates " Les Contes Dro- 

latiques," 122-125 
In the Ranks, 97, 129, 163 

164, 267, 270, 282-283 
articles on " How the Poor 

Live," 135-138 ; on " Lon- 
don by Night," 323 
Blue-Eyed Susan, 155 
The Merry Duchess, 156, 164 
The Golden Ring, 159, 215, 

The Last Chance, 164165, 

The Harbour Lights, 165, 267- 


The Golden Ladder, 165 
The Silver Falls, 165 
The English Rose, 165, 203, 

The Trumpet Call, 138, 165, 


The Glass of Fashion, 166-167 
" Dagonet Ballads," 44, 181- 

189, 232, 250 

The Wife's Ordeal, 189-193 
Faust Up-to-date, 194-196, 

198, 219 

Carmen Up-to-Data, 199, 226 
The White Rose, 205, 291 
The Lights of Home, 205 
The Black Domino, 205 
Jack in the Box, 213 
Little Christopher Columbus, 

Dandy Dick Whittington> 224 
The Dandy Fifth, 224 
Master and Man, 240-242 
The Star of India, 243-244 



Sims, George R. (contd.) : 

Two Little Vagabonds, 245- 

The Gipsy Earl, 272-273, 276- 

277, 279-280 
his contributions to Fun, 14- 

15. 26, 65-71, 272 
to the Pictorial World, 

to the Weekly Dispatch, 

36, 44-45, 67, 72 
to the Evening News, i, 

to the San Francisco 

News Letter, 43-44 
to the Dark Blue, 54-56 
to Woman, 55 
to the Referee, 147-149, 

249-250, 298, 324, 3 
to the Daily News, 

to Men and Women, 251- 

to the Daily Telegraph, 


to the Daily Mail, 323 
Sinclair, Annie, 213 

Henry, 294 
Sinden, Topsy, 201 
Sketchley, Arthur, 26, 69 
Slaughter, Walter, 223 
Sleigh, Serjeant, 143 
Smith, Albert, 99, 312 
Bruce, 164 
E. T., 141, 284, 305 
Sir Henry, 176 
Jem, 171 

Soldene, Emily, 154 
Solomon, Teddy, 194-195 
Sothern, E. H., 93 
Sousa, 153 
Sou tar, Robert, 51 
South London Music Hall, 223 
Southwark, Lord, 135 
Spiers, Felix, 96 
Sporting Life, 83 
Sprake, Henry, 212 
Standing, Herbert, 118 
Stanley, Alma, 201 
Stead, " The Perfect Cure," 316 

William, 325-326 
Stephens, H. Pottinger, 194 

Mrs., 129 

Stephenson, B. C., 74, 219 
Stevenson, John Dinmore, 8-10 

Sterling, Antoinette, 149 
Stirling, Mrs., 3, 304 
Stockholm, 118-119 
Stone, George, 195 
Straight, Sir Douglas, 143 
Strand Theatre, 156, 222, 294, 


Strange, Frederick, 157-158 
Stride, Jimmy, 217 
Sugden, Mr. and Mrs. Charles, 245 
Sullivan, Sir Arthur, 74, 160, 195, 

218-219, 225-226, 242 
J. L., 171-172 
Surrey Theatre, 104 
Sutherland, Duke of, 139 
Swanborough, Arthur, 42, 73 
Edward, 42 
Mrs., 73 

Sweden, Crown Prince of, 119 
Swift, Owen, 171 
Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 42, 

45. 55. 178, 1 80, 185-186 
Sydney, Ethel, 199 

TAYLOR, J. G., 159 

Tom, 46, 55, 94 

Teck, Prince Francis of, 324-325 
Tempest, Marie, 127 
Terriss, Ellaline, 157 

William, 165, 268-272, 294 
Terry, Edward, 202 

EUen, 268 

Fred, 270, 273 

Kate, 94 

Thackeray, W. M., 103, 122 
Th6rese, Mme., 152 
Thomas, Brandon, 231 

Moy, 250 

Thompson, Lydia, 273-277 
Thomson, John, 42-45, 65, 72, 

121-122, 178-180 
Thorne, Tom, 42, 93, 295 
Thumb, Tom, 105 
Tichborne Case, 144, 255 
Tilbury, John Christian, 275 
Tiller, John, 220 
Tinsley, William, 42 
Tit-Bits, 1 68, 238 
Tomkin, Gilbert, 175 
Tomlins, Frederick Guest, 49 
Toole, J. L., 91, 201, 303 
Tree, Sir Herbert, 52-53, 166, 203, 

205, 308 

Turner, Godfrey, 327 
Tyndall, Kate, 244, 247 


3S 1 

UNITY Club, 41-46 
Unsworth, 317 

VAN BIENE, Auguste, 226-227 
Vance, A. G., 317 
Vaudeville Theatre, 223, 295 
Vaughan, Harry, 83 

Kate, 201 

Venne, Lottie, 74, 166 
Verbeck, 312-313 
Vernon, Harriet, 318 
Verrey's Restaurant, 253 
Vezin, Herman, 295 
Victoria, Queen, 68, 139 

Theatre, 292 
Vining, George, 130 
Vizetelly Brothers, 334 
Vokes Family, 285-287, 307 
Vokins, Master, 285 

WAINWRIGHT, Henry, 142-143 

Wakefield, R., 172 

Wakeman, Keith, 273 

Wales, Prince of (later, Edward 

VII), 71, 136 
Walker, Chris, 247 
Waller, Lewis, 78 

Mrs. Lewis, 78 
Walton, George, 115 
Ward, Artemus, 312 
Warner. Charles, in, 161, 164- 

165, 267-268, 293 
Warren, Minnie, 105 
Weathersby, Eliza, 114 
Webster, Augusta, 53 

Ben, 2, 90 
Weekly Dispatch, 42-43, 45, 67, 72, 

1 80 

Welcome Guest, 31, 88 
Weldon, Georgina, 181 
Wellington, Duke of, 3, 11-12 
Wells, Ernest, 157, 175 
Weston, E. P., 83 

White, Charles, 277-278 
Whitmarsh, Dr., 145 
Widdicombe, 91 
Wigan, Alfred, 51, 93 

Mrs. Alfred, 93 
Wild, William, 158 
Wilde, Oscar, 242 
Willard, E. S., 129 
Williams, Arthur, 114, 219 

Eva, 247 

Montagu, 143, 302 
Willmore, Jenny, 92 
Wilmot, Maud, 196 
Wills, W. G., 58 
Wilson, Farlow, 43-44 
Winchilsea, Earl of, 168 
Winslow, Dr. Forbes, 141 
Winter, William, 241-242 
Wood, Sir Henry, 224 
Woodin, W. S., 312 
Woolgar, Miss (later, Mrs. Alfred 

Mellon), 3, 90 
Worcester, 5 
World, 1 68, 249 
Wright, 2 

Wyatt, Frank, 244, 307 
Wylam, Edward, 70 
Wyndham, Sir Charles, 52, 73, 75, 
1 1 8, 236, 288, 297 

YARDLEY, Charles, 7-8 

Tom, 7 

William, 8, 52, 194, 201 
Yates, Edmund, 55, 133-134, 166- 

168, 185, 249 
Yohe, May, 157, 224 
Yorkshire Post, in 
Young, Charles, 93 

ZANGWILL, Israel, 328 
Zazel, 1 08 
Zerffi, Dr., 53 
Zola, Emile, 134, 334 





Sims, George Robert 
5^52 My life