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Full text of "A Pelican's tale, fifty years of London and elsewhere"

A 
PELICAN'S TALE 

By FRAN K M. B OYD 




\ vi 



A PELICAN'S TALE 




THE AUTHOR 



A 
PELICAN'S TALE 

FIFTY YEARS OF LONDON 
AND ELSEWHERE 

BY 
FRANK M. BOYD 



PHILADELPHIA 
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

LONDON: HERBERT JENKINS, LIMITED 



PRINTED IN ENGLAND 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PACK 

My birth and parentage. A really conscientious objector 
Giving up a fortune for a belief The start of things Sir 
James Simpson, the inventor of chloroform, helps His seal- 
skin coat and waistcoat St. Andrews days A seat of 
learning Golf And baps What the head of Fettes said 
Tom Morris the Grand Old Man of Golf " Young Tom " 
A place full of eminent people Bishop Wordsworth and the 
rook's eggs Shedding my blood in their defence A brief 
chronicle of celebrities Concerning Charles Kingsley 
" When all the world is young " A modest vocalist At 
Pat's Some famous old boys A headmaster who believed 
in leather Sir Douglas Haig's first school St. Andrews 
heroes The medal day on the links Mr. Arthur Balfour as 
Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club A famous play- 
wright A Royal Captain How he forfeited the good opinion 
of the golf caddies. . . . . . . . 1 7 

CHAPTER II 

At school and what I learned Little that was of any use to me 
in after life A knowledge of Shakespeare and how it was 
acquired A Chair of general information badly needed 
What lads of the time read The Boys of England and The Sons 
of Britannia Jack Harkaway and Tom Wildrake Two 
wondrous heroes What Robert Louis Stevenson thought 
My toy theatre A youthful impressario Something of a 
chemist An indifferent fireman The end of my penance 
Settling my future career The Tay Bridge disaster nearly 
puts an end to this In Germany generally and Diisseldorf in 
particular I fancy I am to be a painter No one else does 
so, however Distinguished artists who were fellow-students 
The great day at Cologne How old Kaiser Wilhelm com- 
pleted the cathedral The most recent Kaiser and the ridicu- 
lous figure he cut on the occasion What Moltke and Bis- 
marck thought about him A disagreeable adventure which 
might have had consequences Von Moltke and the Wisdom 
of the Serpent Bismarck drunk, but far from incapable . 32 

CHAPTER III 

Arranging a career A latter-day Dick Whittington I go to 
London to become a civic millionaire Failing the so doing, 

49J3 5 49 



A PELICAN'S TALE 

PAG* 

[ drift into journalism Life at Lloyd's A resident in 
Pimlico The dreadful significance of the name in those days 
The Pimlico vestals Sir Charles Cayzer and Sir John 
Muir -Where Cayzer threatened to send his " Clan " ships 
to His reason for not carrying out his threat A very con- 
scientious interviewer My meeting with John L. Sullivan 
The champion of the world in training for his fight with 
Mitchell How I stood up to " the big fellow " and how I 
most successfully took the knock An article on Lloyd's in 
The Bat which made history at the time Clerical friends in 
high places A kindly bishop An impressive experience 
A guest in company with five bishops How Bishop Thorold 
lost his spectacles at the Athenaeum Who stole them ? A 
dreadful supposition How I became a regular contributor 
to The Bat How its editor, James Davis, fled to France for 
safety's sake How The Hawk came into being in its place . 49 



CHAPTER IV 

Free of the city How I gradually drifted into journalism 
Small hapenings and how they affect one's career I purchase 
The Hawk on behalf of a brewer Augustus Moore as editor 
How the brewer and his partner made ^12,000 out of a 325 
investment How I became " registered proprietor " of the 
paper Also writ-receiver in chief A paper of many libels 
Alec Knowles and his " Wrinkles " A remarkable series 
of articles Why they were not republished in book form 
The staff of The Hawk Some men who got on The 
Whistler-Moore fracas at Drury Lane How they slapped one 
another to the amusement of onlookers, and did little harm 
How Charlie Mitchell, champion boxer of England, told me a 
funny story " not for publication " How it found its way 
into The Hawk by way of Augustus Moore How Mitchell and 
Pony Moore subsequently called at the office to have a heart- 
to-heart talk with us The consternation of the editor on 
hearing of their visit How I decided to leave The Hawk and 
start The Pelican A wise move which proved a highly satisfac- 
tory one in after years ....... 64 



CHAPTER V 

Starting on my own account The creation of The Pelican 
How The Tattler with two t's did not help matters A 
scheme which failed The first money taken Where it dis- 
appeared to How the paper came by its title Serving on 
a jury If likely to be convicted, be careful in the selection 
of your judge ! The finish of The Hawk and the success of 
The Pelican The death of " The Smart Paper for Smart 
People " Wise advice from George R. Sims " Dagonet " 
on the folly of making enemies How The Sporting Times and 
The Pelican nearly became amalgamated " Tale-Pitcher " 
Binstead A real humorist " The Dwarf of Blood " How 
Colonel Newnham-Davis came by his style and title Bessie 



CONTENTS 7 

FAGB 

Bellwood's pantomime The " Dwarf " as a cookery genius 
His famous Guy Fawkes dinner, and those who were 
present at it A born story-teller A very distinguished ad- 
mirer of " Pitcher " How he was mistaken for a German 
spy His singularly apt retort ...... 76 

CHAPTER VI 

Our first big " scoop " The Tranby Croft affair What Ed- 
mund Yates said about it Also what the eminent solicitor 
thought How we cornered the " Baccarat scandal " market 
for a time The author of the articles No harm in men- 
tioning his name now Some Pelican contributors Willie 
Wilde of The Daily Telegraph His marriage to Mrs. Frank 
Leslie, the great American newspaper proprietress His neg- 
lected opportunities of great things A very different man from 
his notorious brother Oscar Oscar Wilde's desire How it 
went unfulfilled His subsequent appearance at the Old 
Bailey His departure therefrom to do " two years' hard " 
Some murder trials The Milsom Fowler affair at the Old 
Bailey How Fowler nearly murdered Milsom in the dock 
A real sensation scene The Tichborne Claimant What he 
said Fleet Street swindlers Bogus advertising agents who 
preyed on new papers I suffer from them And some of 
them suffer from me The simple art of protecting oneself 
Sometimes an easier matter than calling in the police How it 
answered in my case ....... 89 

CHAPTER VII 

The new offices A nest of ladies' journals Distinguished sub- 
editors Our only libel action On trial at the Mansion House 
Mr. Charles Gill, K.C., and Mr. Justice Avory Didcott the 
music-hall agent Father Stanton of St. Albans, Holborn A 
fine priest and a great man An unpaid curate for fifty 
years " Dad's " opinion of great wealth The law of balance 
Money and misfortune The frequency with which they 
go together What Charles Frohman said about it His 
story of the Satrap and the physician The man who had 
no shirt Frohman and Barrie How Frohman died in the 
Lusitania tragedy Barrie and Peter Pan How Peter nearly 
had another name A wonderfully successful play How its 
author believed it would be a financial failure How Barrie 
meant to indemnify Frohman against loss in connection with 
its production ! The play he meant to present Frohman 
with ... . -i<>5 

CHAPTER VIII 

A London first night at the theatre The terror thereof for the 
players An audience of professional play-goers Every 
one a critic Interruptions from the front How some 
actors answered them The mistake of so doing A revue 



8 A PELICAN'S TALE 

MM 

comedian's error How a well-known player in Called Back 
suffered Mr. Lowenfeld's opinion of his audience Sir 
Charles Wyndham and " The Man in the White Hat " The 
elder George Grossmith and the humorist in the gallery 
How Sir Henry Irving lost his temper What Edmund Yates 
said about the happening Bessie Bellwood and the retort 
courteous The Younger George Grossmith's first good part 
How he made it grow Mr. John L. Shine's prophecy con- 
cerning George, which came true The curious mishap at 
the opening of the Shaftesbury The worst of " cheap 
houses " 70,000 for a 16,000 theatre A jump in prices 
The Old Pavilion My friend the Chairman Mr. Arthur 
Roberts and Mr. James Fawn in the heyday of their music- 
hall triumphs How Mr. Roberts forsook the halls for the 
theatres .121 

CHAPTER IX 

The Pelican Club and something about it Who the Pelicans 
were How the club was started Shifter's enterprise The 
coming of Swears A strong committee An era of boxing 
How Swears bought Shifter out What became of half 
of the " monkey " Shifter received for his share A sound 
philosopher What the club was like Its remarkable 
adornments How King Edward visited the place when 
Prince of Wales The result of a broken promise Fatty's 
chair Major Hope-Johnstone's celebrated moustache How 
Lord Esme Gordon bought it The Pelican page-boy who 
sought to better himself The coaching set Jem Selby its 
High Priest The celebrated record drive to Brighton and 
back Those who took part in it The bet won with ten 
minutes to spare How the event was celebrated . .131 

CHAPTER X 

With regard to the future The candidates' Book of the Pelican 
ClubA specially remarkable entry therein The man who 
nearly made himself Empe- of the French His sensa- 
tional finish The courtier \v sought information from the 
bandmaster on behalf of Queen Victoria A dreadful title 
What the good Queen must have thought The Victoria Cross 
The Queen and the Highland officers King Carlos of Portu- 
gal A happy monarch Clement Scott of The Telegraph 
The famous interview which led to his downfall How he 
tried to come back, and did so for a time Success on the 
London stage How it came to some lucky ones Fame at 
a jump Mr. Hayden Coffin's arrival Others who became 
famous in one night Miss Edna May and her first success 
among us Brevity the soul of criticism . . . 145 

CHAPTER XI 

The generosity of the theatrical profession Concerning certain 
great healers and their remarkable kindness Sir Morell Mac- 



CONTENTS 9 

PACK 

kenzie and Kaiser Frederick of Germany Lennox Browne, 
a warm friend of the Stage and a great throat specialist 
What " Ell Bee " said about Sir John Bland Sutton A 
strange coincidence The working of Fate Sir Frederick 
Treves The value of personal appearance to a surgeon 
Sir Alfred Fripp the famous operator, and kindly man 
How some plays succeed and others fail The remarkable 
difference between the opinions of London and the Pro- 
vinces Both good, but different Van Biene and his Broken 
Melody First night audiences and others A threefold scheme 
What Sir Arthur Pinero thought about it Sir Arthur 
Pearson and his wonderful work for the blind The good he 
has done for his fellow-sufferers His remarkable early days 
The start of Pearson's Weekly How he left Tit Bits office to 
accomplish it The series of miracles which occurred How 
Sir William Ingram helped The start of the Daily Express 
The purchase of The Standard .... .160 

CHAPTER XII 

What a well-known player said Her advice to budding actresses 
Lady Orkney at the Gaiety and elsewhere The Sisters 
Gilchrist " The Little Grattans " Mr. Harry Grattan's 
early experiences How luck comes to some And how 
others refuse her advances Colonel North and Nunthorpe's 
City and Suburban victory A long-priced winner Sir 
Joseph Lyons and the start of a great business A lost op- 
portunity The real beginning of the great Lyons' concern 
How a single song made a singer The story of " Far, Far 
Away " Miss Lottie Collins and her " Boom-de-ay " success 
Mr. Arthur Roberts and his zebra bathing suit His philo- 
sophical dresser The smart restaurants of the time Those 
who controlled them The passing of the famous bars 
" Captain Criterion of London " Romano and his presenta- 
tion loving cup His very sudden death Miss Gladys 
Cooper's first supper party Gaiety girls who got on Nellie 
Farren's reason for never quarrelling with a chorus girl 
Very sound advice . . . . . . . i?5 

CHAPTER XIII 

Something about Cecil Rhodes Meeting him in Sir Starr Jame- 
son's flat A wonderful man His remarkable opinion of the 
German Kaiser How Mr. Rhodes signed his photograph 
His long-drawn-out death What he said to Jameson near the 
end An indifferent musician But an appreciative listener 
Some eminent composers at their best How I saved Sir 
Arthur Sullivan's life Sir William Gilbert A " Gentish " 
Person Lewis Carroll Golf stories Music-making in 
strange places How Ivan Caryll thought his fortune was 
made early in life Miss Bessie Bellwood and the retort 
courteous A remarkable cabman A private recital by 
Paderewski to an audience of six Bessie's opinion of Provi- 
dence How Mr. James Buchanan came to London And 



io A PELICAN'S TALE 

PACK 

how Sir Thomas "Dewar followed his lead Fortunes out of 
whisky Spirits which you drink, and spirits which you 
seeThe ghost gat Glamis Castle The story Lord Strath- 
more told The subscription-seeking clergyman and the 
embarrassed spectre How the ghost was effectively laid 
Willing but impecunious Frank Richardson the " Whisker " 
expert My list of suicides A sad and curious coincidence . 190 

CHAPTER XIV 

The bad old days and the present time Stage The Theatre as 
a profession for men and women Not at all a bad one for the 
latter The connection between the Church and the Stage 
The bygone mystery of the actor's calling How and why 
it has disappeared Some curious stage slips " Beetle " 
Kemble's little mistake in Hamlet The libel on Sir Charles 
Wyndham's sobriety Henry Irving as a singer A sub- 
stitute for Sims Reeves Actors and actresses who sing 
and some who shouldn't Miss Marie Lohr's first visit to Sir 
Herbert Tree How Miss Marie Tempest came to forsake 
musical- comedy A matter of trousers An understudy's 
opportunity The tiny turns of Fate which make up history 
Miss Jose Collins at Daly's The clever daughter of a clever 
mother " Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay " and how its singer jumped 
into fame on two continents An incredible success . . 208 

CHAPTER XV 

How history repeats itself In the matter of night clubs and 
other things The Old Lotus Fatty Coleman as secretary 
Evans's The Corinthian Dudley Ward and the Gardenia 
The Alsatians La Goulue in Leicester Square Her rival 
Nini Patte-en-1'air at the Duke of York's A remarkable 
rehearsal Maurice Farkoa's London debut A theatre on 
fire How a panic was averted at Birmingham Arthur 
Roberts to the rescue Oceana the Beautiful Her begin- 
ning and parentage Whimsical Walker and the purchase of 
Jumbo the elephant How Barnum made ^540,000 out of a 
^3000 investment James Bailey's office hours at Olympia 
About Zazel John Strange Winter and Bootle's Baby 
What the Bishop of London said George Augustus Sala 
and his " Journal " " Winter's Weekly " Clement Scott's 
" Free Lance " ........ 222 

CHAPTER XVI 

The Duke of Fife as a bicyclist A friend in need A good 
Scotch name The ill-fated voyage of the P. and O. Delhi 
Wrecked off Cape Spartavento King Edward and the 
champagne How the term " Boy " originated The Bishop 
and the Peer How the Duke scored Turning the tables 
with a vengeance Mr. G. P. Huntley's experience in Petro- 
grad An audience which didn't know its own mind The 



CONTENTS ii 



hangman's letter and his hope What an execution is really 
like Not so thrilling as it is usually painted Sir Augustus 
Harris and his idea of luck The Baddeley cake and its 
cutting, at Drury Lane A remarkable function of former 
days " Hawnsers fer Korrispondinks " The beginning of 
Lord Northcliffe's fame and fortune Mr. Charles Cochran 
and the circus The last Covent Garden circus George 
Batty and King Edward Present-day threatrical salaries 
Their remarkable size What George Edwardes said about 
An Artist's Model Where will theatrical expenses end ? . 237 



CHAPTER XVII 

Journalists of the past and the present Edmund Yates of The 
World How I first met him " A good low-comedy face " 
More than that needed for an actor A great friend and a 
disciple of Dickens Why I did not go on the Stage Mr. 
Labouchere and Truth How I was able to help " Labby " 
The syndicate which wanted to purchase Truth How King 
Edward and " Labby " agreed to differ for a time Cherchez 
la femme ! How George Lewis set things right again 
Briefing a future Lord Chief Justice " A young fellow 
named Isaacs " How the " young fellow " won his case 
Another co-religionist of a very different type Ernest Benzon, 
the Jubilee Plunger The man who got through a great for- 
tune in record time Owners' tips Fred Archer's triple tip 
Matthew Dawson's superstition The laying of the founda- 
tion-stone of Daly's Theatre How Bill Yardley suffered on 
the occasion How Harry Grattan and I wrote a musical 
comedy Our stringent terms An early revue which might 
have been produced at the Alhambra and wasn't . . 252 



CHAPTER XVIII 

What John Hollingshead said about unlucky theatres " Prac- 
tical John " The ill-fortune of the Olympic Concerning 
the Opera Comique and the Old Globe D'Oyly Carte's first 
success The Olympic as a music-hall How Wilson Barrett 
came to Wych Street How he also nearly reached Carey 
Street by so doing ! His subsequent triumph with The Sign of 
the Cross The Kingsway and its numerous other names The 
Court Theatre in former days A big success at little Terry's 
Mr. Charles Hawtrey's triumph with The Private Secretary 
How Sir Herbert Tree appeared as The Rev. Robert Spalding 
How Penley followed him in the part An extraordinary 
success Rare Fred Leslie ! A change from romantic opera 
to Gaiety musical-comedy The Gaiety almost a stock 
company theatre How Mr. Seymour Hicks and Miss Ellaline 
Terriss came to the Gaiety The George Grossmith period 
A very successful management ...... 275 



12 A PELICAN'S TALE 

CHAPTER XIX 

PAG* 

The passing of Sir Herbert Tree A terribly sudden ending to a 
great career The last letter he wrote His remarkably 
successful management A fine character-actor A master 
of make-up How he puzzled his audience when The Rtd 
Lamp was produced Tree's visit to Berlin Max Beerbohm's 
retort Sir George Alexander and the St. James's His earlier 
days at the Lyceum The first venture into management at 
the old Avenue Alexander as an eccentric dancer The 
romantic actor as a robust comedian The murder of William 
Terris What became of his hat ? George Alexander and the 
dramatic author " A matter of moonshine " Oscar Wilde 
and Lady Windermere's Fan Alec's old Scotch nurse and 
what she thought of his profession A very sensitive and 
kindly natured man The secret of his great personal popu- 
larity . . . . . . . . . . 287 

CHAPTER XX 

The Genesis of the Christmas Pelican A rather remarkable 
production The extraordinary list of authors The strongest 
cast not merely in London but in the world Henry Irving, 
Sarah Bernhardt, and Herbert Tree as story-tellers The 
editorial difficulties of dealing with the eminent scribes The 
Maharaja of Cooch Behar A fine sportsman and a very 
" white " native His theatrical supper party, and what 
occurred at it The lightning change of the Maharaja from 
an English gentleman to an Eastern potentate What he said 
to his dependant The extraordinary effect his words produced 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in real life My main object in 
starting The Pelican How I was fortunately able to realise it 
How the war nearly finished us but didn't I decide to 
retire The sale of The Pelican to a syndicate Out of the 
pull and push And very glad and thankful to be so . . 302 

Index 313 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

THE AUTHOR ...... Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

THE VERY REV. A. K. H. BOYD . . . .20 

CHARLES KINGSLEY . . . . . .26 

"OLD TOM" AND "YOUNG TOM" MORRIS . . .36 
NELLIE FARREN ....... 54 

FRED LESLIE ....... 64 

KATE VAUGHAN ....... 80 

FATHER STANTON . . . . . .no 

ERNEST WELLS . . . . . . .136 

QUEEN VICTORIA AND PRINCE ALBERT . . .148 
MR. ARTHUR ROBERTS . . . . . .182 

CECIL RHODES ... . . 192 

"DR. JIM" AND CHARLES BOYD . . . .204 

MR. G. P. HUNTLEY . . . . . .224 

DAN LENO ... . 240 

FRED ARCHER 266 



A PELICAN'S TALE 



A PELICAN'S TALE 



CHAPTER I 

My birth and parentage. A really conscientious objector Giv- 
ing up a fortune for a belief The start of things Sir James 
Simpson, the inventor of chloroform, helps His sealskin 
coat and waistcoat St. Andrews days A seat of learning 
Golf And baps What the head of Fettes said Tom 
Morris the Grand Old Man of Golf " Young Tom " A 
place full of eminent people Bishop Wordsworth and the 
rook's eggs Shedding my blood in their defence A brief 
chronicle of celebrities Concerning Charles Kingsley 
" When all the world is young " A modest vocalist At 
Pat's Some famous old boys A headmaster who believed 
in leather Sir Douglas Haig's first school St. Andrews 
heroes The medal day on the links Mr. Arthur Balfour as 
Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club A famous play- 
wright A Royal Captain How he forfeited the good 
opinion of the golf caddies. 



i 



most of us the term Conscientious 
Objector has no pleasant sound, and 
suggests one who shamefully shirked his 
job, and for the sake of his skin or his 
purse, or both, placed painful, disagreeable, and 
dangerous duties, rightfully his own, upon the 
shoulders of others. 

But there are exceptions to all rules, and when 
one finds a man giving up a considerable fortune 

B I? 



18 A PELICAN'S TALE 

and resigning very brilliant financial and other 
prospects for what he conceives to be his duty, 
one can at least understand his point of view, even 
if one may not entirely sympathise with it. 

In such case was my father, the late Very Rev. 
A. K. H. Boyd, D.D., Minister of the First Charge 
of the Parish of St. Andrews such is the official 
style and title who gave up much in order to 
follow the dictates of his heart, when he forsook 
the English Bar to become, as his great grand- 
father, his grandfather, and his father had been 
before him, a minister of the Kirk of Scotland. 

He was the favourite nephew of Mr. Hutchinson, 
one of the greatest and most prosperous London 
solicitors of his time, and had been as a young man 
practically adopted by this relative. It was 
planned that he was to be Mr. Hutchinson's heir, 
and that he was to go to the English Bar, where, 
owing to the briefs the firm could and would send 
him, a second fortune seemed assured. But after 
becoming a member of the Middle Temple, the 
young man came to the conclusion that he was 
meant for the Church, and greatly to the vener- 
able solicitor's disgust, gave up his brilliant 
prospects and became a clergyman, and by so 
doing was promptly cut out of his uncle's will, 
that legal luminary expressing the opinion that 
if his nephew was mad enough to prefer the Kirk 
of Scotland with no prospects to speak of, to a 
practically assured position at the English Bar, 



A. K. H. B. 19 

he was no fit person to have the control of the 
Hutchinson fortune. And there that part of the 
matter ended. 

Let it be said here once and for all, that my 
father never for one moment regretted the course 
he then took. I mention this merely because one 
has several times read contrary statements made 
by writers who obviously did not know their 
facts. 

A. K. H. B. did well by the Church of his 
Fathers, and the Church did well for him in return, 
for after a time she gave him one of her prize 
livings, for such St. Andrews is, and in due season 
called upon him to serve his year of office as 
Moderator of the General Assembly, which is the 
highest honour in his own calling a minister of 
the Kirk can come to. 

St. Andrews was A. K. H. B.'s fourth living, 
for in addition to having been assistant at St. 
George's, Edinburgh, he had been Minister of 
Newton-on-Ayr ; of Kirkpatrick-Irongray, close 
to Dumfries ; and of St. Bernard's, Edinburgh, 
and it was in " Auld Reekie " on the first day, of 
the second month, of the third year of the Sixties, 
that I made my first appearance on any stage, 
being aided in my arrival by Sir James Simpson, 
an intimate friend of my parents, a great physician, 
and, as everyone knows, the inventor of chloro- 
form, which has done so much to deaden the agony 
of suffering millions. 



20 A PELICAN'S TALE 

One can but dimly imagine through a mist of 
horror, what a surgical operation must have been 
like before the coming of chloroform, when the 
unfortunate patient was dosed with whisky or 
brandy till more or less senseless, was strapped 
down to the operating table, and was then duly 
performed upon. It is not to be wondered at 
that in those days " grand " operations were 
usually fatal. The marvel is that any of them 
ever succeeded. 

Of Sir James Simpson, whom I came to know as 
a child, my chief recollections are, of his very kindly 
face, his long grey hair which fell over the collar 
of the sealskin coat and waistcoat, and which he, 
like Du Marnier 's Svengali, always wore, and of 
an unforgettable fragrance of sherry, which seemed 
to be attached to him, for I was usually taken to 
see him after luncheon, and the great doctor, with 
sound judgment no doubt, believed in doing him- 
self as well as might be at his meals. 

Although I was born in Edinburgh, my earliest 
recollections are of St. Andrews, whither I was 
brought at the mature age of two, and where are 
to be found among many other excellent things, 
the oldest University in Scotland, the most famous 
golf links in the world, and the finest baps in 
creation ; and as such things are but little known 
on this side of the Tweed, let me hasten to explain 
that a bap is a species of breakfast roll of most 
admirable quality, seldom to be encountered out 




Rodger, St. 



THE VERY REV. A. K. H. BOYD, D.I).. LL.D. 



GRAND OLD TOM MORRIS 21 

of Scotland, and assuredly never to be found in 
greater perfection than in the Capital of Golfland, 
though I recall the late Dr. Potts, first and per- 
haps greatest headmaster of Fettes College, men- 
tioning upon the occasion of encountering one of 
these things at St. Andrews, that he had known 
its equal when a boy at Shrewsbury. The state- 
ment seemed to me and my brethren wellnigh in- 
credible, and verging very close upon blasphemy. 

Of St. Andrews children it has been said by no 
less an authority than grand old Tom Morris, 
most famous of golfers, who controlled the links 
for many years, and whose portrait painted by 
Sir George Reid, R.S.A., hangs in a pride of place 
on the wall of the chief room in the Royal and 
Ancient Golf Club, that they are " born with webs 
to their feet and clubs in their hands/' significant 
of the facts that youthful St. Andreans of both 
sexes learn to swim, and to play the Scottish 
national game, very early, and very well ; and, 
like many another St. Andrews youngster, I 
received my earliest lessons in the great game 
from " Old Tom." 

Even at a period when he must have been a 
young man, Tom Morris was always known as 
" Old Tom," no doubt to distinguish him from 
the still greater golfer perhaps the greatest 
player who ever lived " Young Tom Morris," 
champion golfer of the world for several years. 1 

1 It would be a privilege to write here of the two famous players, 
whose names at least are familiar in whatever part of the world the 



22 A PELICAN'S TALE 

St. Andrews was always remarkable alike for 
the number of distinguished literary people who 
dwelt in it permanently, and for those who came 
to see it, and then usually returned to it again 
and again, for the place is full of fascination, and 
Carry le spoke the bare truth when he said of it, 
" Grand place St. Andrews. You have there the 
essence of all the antiquities of Scotland in good 
and clean condition." 

To name the famous people who even in one's 
own recollection were connected with the place, 
would fill more space than can be spared, but one 
thinks of grand looking Principal Tulloch of St. 
Mary's College, of Principal Shairp of St. Salva- 
tor's, of Mrs. Oliphant, of Dean Stanley of West- 
minster, Mr. Froude, Sir John Millais, and of 
Bishop Wordsworth, in whose trees one used to 
bird-nest. In this connection I do not forget how, 
upon an occasion, the fine old Bishop discovered 
me descending from one of his trees, my cap full 
of crow's eggs, and devoid of speech by reason 
of my mouth containing another. " I know," 
said he, with great tact, placing his hand upon 
my shoulder instead of on my head, " that you 
wouldn't steal the rooks' eggs, and I am quite sure 

game is played, but the thing has already been done so well and so 
fully by my old friend the Rev. Dr. W. W. Tulloch in his admirable 
Life of Tom Morris that to try to do so would savour almost of 
impertinence. Old Tom was in every way a celebrity, a great and 
good man. It was my privilege to write the first interview which 
appeared of Tom Morris in the Dundee Advertiser at a time when 
such things were regarded with greater favour than is now the case. 



THE BISHOP'S REBUKE 23 

you only climbed up to look at them. You see 
I am an old man, and it is a great pleasure to me 
to see and hear the crows. If anyone took their 
eggs they might fly away, and I should feel their 
going very much/' 

I had risked my limbs to get those eggs, but I 
risked them again to put them back, when the 
dear old man had gone ; and not only did I 
never again take more of them, but I afterwards 
constituted myself the special guardian of the 
Bishop's rookery, and shed my blood in its defence 
on several notable occasions in combat with 
would-be marauders. 

Bishop Wordsworth was not merely a great 
scholar, but was also a great athlete. He had 
much to do with the institution of the University 
Boat Race, and in the first of tfiese contests he 
himself stroked the Oxford boat, while his brother 
the Bishop of Lincoln pulled stroke for Cambridge, 
and, as no doubt many persons are aware, he was 
at one time Mr. Gladstone's tutor. When the 
pupil became Prime Minister, it seemed likely 
that anything the Church of England had to offer 
might have come his way, more especially as he 
would have been quite equal to it, but for reasons 
which it is not needful to go into here, Wordsworth 
and Gladstone had agreed to differ upon certain 
subjects, and as a result a poor Scottish Bis- 
hopric was the best that came the good Bishop's 
way. 



24 A PELICAN'S TALE 

The Blackwoods of the famous magazine, 
although of course mainly associated with Edin- 
burgh, were also closely connected with St. 
Andrews, and during the last twenty-five years of 
his life, Mr. John Blackwood abode at Strath- 
tyrum, a fine place within a mile of the ancient 
city, while Mr. Chambers, of Chambers' Journal, 
lived on and off in a house on the famous Scores, 
facing the North Sea, and Mrs. Tweedale, the well- 
known novelist, when Miss Violet Chambers, was 
one of the earliest lady golfers to play upon the 
links proper, as opposed to the Ladies' Putting 
Green, up till then considered to afford strenuous 
enough sport for the fairer sex. 

One could go on recalling famous people in- 
numerable who either lived at St. Andrews or 
came periodically to it, like Mrs. Lyn Lynton, 
Dean Liddell, Dr. Liddon of St. Paul's, who seeing 
the grand old ruins of the cathedral, beneath the 
walls of which so many illustrious sons and daugh- 
ters of St. Andrews lie in their last sleep, said, 
" Take my word for it, this church will be rebuilt." 
It may be that one day Liddon's prophecy will 
come true ; but it seems an unlikely thing for 
many reasons, one that it would cost quite half 
a million of money to do it. 

Matthew Arnold came there, Sir Theodore 
Martin, when Lord Rector of the University, 
accompanied by Lady Martin, much more famous 
JLS Helen Faucit, the greatest actress of her day, 



I SING TO CHARLES KINGSLEY 25 

Macready's leading lady, Andrew Lang, and so 
on. To mention them all would be to write down 
the names of many of the most distinguished men 
and women of letters. 

Of the coming of Charles Kingsley to the home 
of my childhood, I have special recollections. 
Everyone liked the author of The Water Babies, 
and he loved children, a love which all his little 
friends most cordially returned. 

In these very youthful days I am told I pos- 
sessed rather a nice singing- voice, but my modesty 
was such, that I could seldom be prevailed upon 
to perform outside my own nursery, and even 
then my best efforts occurred while concealed 
below the table, the centre leg tightly clasped to 
my bosom. 

One evening, after my nursery tea, I was alone 
in my kingdom, my female guardian having left 
me for a time, and, seated under my table, I was 
singing away to myself for all I was worth, my 
song being the famous " When all the World is 
Young/' from The Water Babies. As I sang, a 
corner of the table-cloth was pulled up, and I 
saw a kindly, grave face, looking at me very 
intently. The owner of the face was on his hands 
and knees, and, struck dumb by the apparition, I 
ceased my song with a snap. " Don't stop/' said 
my visitor, " just sing me that last verse over 
again/' and I said I would provided he left me 
under my table and withdrew to a judicious 



26 A PELICAN'S TALE 

distance ; and when I had finished, the kind- 
looking gentleman pulled me out from my fastness, 
put me on his knee, and kissed me. And then I 
saw that he had been crying. Later on in recount- 
ing the happening to my nurse, and seeking for 
information as to my visitor, I was told that he 
was Mr. Kingsley, who had come to stay with 
us for a time. He often called on me in my 
nursery, and won my affection by the stories he told 
me, which he said were good for me, and by the 
sweets he gave me, which he was equally positive 
were bad for me. However, with the sweets and 
the stories we got on very well together, and 
Charles Kingsley was my earliest and best-loved 
hero. Little children are usually uncommonly 
keen judges of character, and if they approve of a 
man or woman, there is as a rule not much the 
matter with either. All children loved dear 
Charles Kingsley. 

St. Andrews was always a famous seat of 
learning, not merely for students as the under- 
graduates are called at the University, but for 
boys as well. At the present time it possesses, in 
St. Leonard's, one of the largest and most famous 
schools for girls in the country. In my day there 
were lots of schools to choose from, for in addition 
to St. Leonard's, at that time a boys' school 
conducted by Dr. Browning, there were the big 
Madras College, Abbey Park, Hodge's, Blunt's, and 
Clifton Bank, the last named being commonly 




Photo. Mason & Co. 

CHARLES KINGSLEY 



SIR DOUGLAS HAIG AT SCHOOL 27 

known as " Pat's " for the reason that its head- 
master was Dr. Paterson, a very tall, stern, 
kindly-hearted Domine of the old school, who 
believed in a somewhat liberal use of the tawse, 
as the leather weapon of chastisement was known. 
Perhaps the cane prevails to-day in Scotland, as 
it did and does in this country, but in my time of 
suffering, tawse were the terror of evil-doers, and, 
as I can personally vouch, were a very sufficient 
reason for acquiring such knowledge as was 
deemed needful. Dr. Paterson was amongst 
those who cordially believed in the virtues of 
leather. 

It was to this school that I was sent in due 
course, a school which, although not a very large 
one, produced some boys who became notable 
men. It was Sir Douglas Haig's first seat of 
learning, and there the Commander-in-Chief of 
the British Forces acquired his primary instruc- 
tions, and perchance wallopings. Of this I am 
unable to speak with authority, for Haig was 
before my time. But another distinguished soldier 
was there with me, although he was my senior in 
age by a short distance, and my superior in ability 
by a very long way. He was General Sir David 
Henderson, K.C.B. and D.S.O. who had so much 
to do with the making of our Air Service, of which 
he was Director-General for several years. As 
everyone knows, Sir David is a very gallant and 
distinguished soldier, and in these days when he 



28 A PELICAN'S TALE 

has become a great man, and can well afford to 
smile at minor matters, I am sure he won't mind 
my recalling the time when he was head-boy at 
Pat's, and was known as " Porri Henderson/' the 
nickname being a diminutive of porridge, of which 
he was either inordinately fond, or held in extreme 
abhorrence I cannot now recall which. 

There were other notable future soldiers among 
the boys of St. Andrews at that period, and among 
them one specially recalls, poor Major " Mauray " 
Meiklejohn of the Gordon Highlanders, who won 
the V.C. so gallantly in the Boer War and lost his 
arm in so doing, and who, it will be remembered, 
met his end by being thrown from a restive horse 
at a review in Hyde Park, a curiously trivial and 
tragic finish to so gallant a career. Then there 
was Captain Ernest Towse, also of the Gordons, 
who likewise gained the greatest distinction a 
soldier or sailor may come by, in Africa, when 
he lost his precious sight. There was Freddy 
Tait, too, of the Black Watch, who gave his life 
for his country in the Boer War, and was one of 
the best amateur golfers who ever lived, as well 
as one of the most amiable of men. 

Never was there a more popular occasion on 
St. Andrews links than when Freddy Tait won 
the gold medal presented by King William IV 
with the fine score of 78, a year which was specially 
memorable in the annals of the Royal and Ancient 
Golf Club, for the reason that Mr. Balfour was 



MEMORIES OF ST. ANDREWS 29 

Captain of the Club, and " struck off " at the start 
of the competition, to the booming of the little 
cannon, which is fired at the beginning and at the 
finish of the Medal Day at St. Andrews. 

Captain Robert Marshall, the well-known play- 
wright, who died in the midst of his success, was 
a Madras boy at that time, and I well remember 
how he gave me the outlines of his first play Shades 
of Night, and asked me to whom he should submit 
it, as he was new to London stage-land at that 
period. I suggested Mr. Forbes Robertson, as Sir 
Johnston then was, and the piece was duly 
accepted and produced by him at the Lyceum 
Theatre. Afterwards in quick succession came 
His Excellency the Governor, A Royal Family, pro- 
duced at the Court, and other plays. Marshall's 
best work was The Second in Command, which it will 
be remembered had a long run at the Haymarket. 
In his plays Marshall usually described circum- 
stances and people he was familiar with, for he 
had seen a deal of service both at home and 
abroad, and had been, among other things, A.D.C. 
to the Governor of Natal. Poor Arthur Playfair 
the well-known actor who died so sadly at Brighton, 
and who was a grandson of Sir Hugh Lyon 
Playfair, a famous Provost of St. Andrews, also 
spent his boyhood in the classic place. 

Harking back to the Medal Day at St. Andrews, 
and to many famous Captains of the Royal and 
Ancient, one recalls the year when the late Prince 



30 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Leopold, as the Duke of Albany was then styled, 
was Captain, and duly struck off on the great 
occasion. Of course all St. Andrews was at the 
Teeing ground to see him do the deed, but the 
shot His Royal Highness made was not a specially 
brilliant one, despite the coaching he had received 
from Tom Morris on the previous day. 

The golf caddies, keen judges of men and 
matters, were there in force ready to estimate 
the merits of the Prince by his stroke, and when 
that occurred and was found to be somewhat 
lacking, one of these candid critics, in a voice which 
I fear our royal visitor must have heard, gave 
vent to the historical opinion, " He may be the 
Queen's son, and the deil himsel 1 , but he canna 
play gough a damn/' 

Golf is played everywhere now, and there are 
links innumerable all round London, and indeed all 
over the country, but thirty-five years ago, when I 
first came as a lad to the Capital, those at Wimble- 
don and Blackheath were the only familiar ones, 
and people generally were curiously ignorant of 
the most rudimentary points connected with the 
game. Thus it was that a very distinguished lady 
to whom I had the honour of being presented, 
during my earliest days in town, expressed special 
interest in my humble self because I had come 
from " the Newmarket of Golf." " Now," said 
she, " you can tell me whether at St. Andrews 
they play with wooden or with iron golfs ? " 



A DIPLOMATIC RETORT 31 

It was too Herculean a task to even attempt to 
enlighten such darkness, and, realizing the abso- 
lute hopelessness of the situation, I merely mur- 
mured : " With both/' which reply appeared to 
give complete satisfaction, and all was well. 



CHAPTER II 

At school and what I learned Little that was of any use to 
me in after life A knowledge of Shakespeare and how it was 
acquired A Chair of general information badly needed 
What lads of the time read The Boys of England and The 
Sons of Britannia Jack Harkaway and Tom Wildrake Two 
wondrous heroes What Robert Louis Stevenson thought 
My toy theatre A youthful impressario Something of a 
chemist An indifferent fireman The end of my penance 
Settling my future career The Tay Bridge disaster nearly 
puts an end to this In Germany generally and Diisseldorf in 
particular I fancy I am to be a painter No one else does so, 
however Distinguished artists who were fellow-students 
The great day at Cologne How old Kaiser Wilhelm com- 
pleted the cathedral-The most recent Kaiser and the ridiculous 
figure he cut on the occasion What Moltke and Bismarck 
thought about him A disagreeable adventure which might 
have had consequences Von Moltke and the Wisdom of the 
Serpent Bismarck drunk, but far from incapable. 

A school I learned the usual things the 
average boy gets into his head during 
the period of his penance, and then 
gets out of it as soon as schooldays 
are over, unless he goes to one of the Universities, 
a thing I did not do. I acquired the regulation 
indifferent knowledge of Latin, Greek, Geometry, 
and the other things which I did not at the time 
believe were likely to be of any subsequent service 
to me, and which I am now absolutely certain 
were of none. Had I devoted the same time and 

32 



THE BARD AS A PUNISHMENT 33 

study to French, Italian, Mental Arithmetic, and 
a dozen other matters of real value, I might have 
derived some benefit. Of course if a lad intends 
to become a doctor, a barrister, a Civil Servant, 
or a clergyman, dead languages are needful 
enough, but I was not destined for any of these 
callings, and much of what I was compelled to 
learn, with great suffering, physical as well as 
mental, proved to be not of the slightest use to 
me in after years. 

One thing I did acquire, and I have alwa}^s 
been glad of it. It was the special joy of our 
Headmaster to inflict punishment on such as 
deserved it by making them learn off so many 
dozen lines of Shakespeare. 

As a result of considerable minor evil-doing, I 
know my Shakespeare fairly well, and am still 
capable, upon provocation, of repeating entire 
scenes from several of the best known plays. 

I do not know that this knowledge is to be 
specially commended. It is true it enables you 
to correct your friends if by chance they are guilty 
of misquotations, but as such corrections are seldom 
received in really friendly spirit, and as it is still 
more seldom possible to induce the doubting mis- 
quoters to back their opinions with coin of the 
realm, there isn't much real advantage about 
this. 

I have always thought that it would be a most 
valuable thing if older boys in their last term at 



34 A PELICAN'S TALE 

school, could be given a number of pointers upon 
general information. For instance, I would have 
them taught the difference between a bull and a 
bear on the Stock Exchange ; the correct amount 
which waiters ought to be tipped at the various 
restaurants, for of course there is an unwritten 
scale of such things ; how one ought to comport 
oneself on coming aboard a man-of-war ; what 
to do when one dines at a regimental mess for the 
first time ; how to play sundry games of cards, 
together with the terms and expressions connected 
therewith ; how to politely fend off the would-be 
borrower ; and the like, all matters which have 
to be subsequently learned in the battle of life, 
and the learning paid for at greater or lesser cost 
of coin and self-respect. 

No doubt the time will arrive when in each school 
there will be at least one master whose special 
duty it will be to give his youthful charges really 
valuable tips upon many matters, and who knows 
but that we may yet come to find chairs endowed 
at the 'Varsities, with professors whose classes 
will be taught the exceedingly valuable matters 
of how to do, and how to avoid being done. It 
may come to pass ; you never can tell. 

I was always an omnivorous reader, and even 
at a very youthful period had accumulated quite 
a large library in a small way. I don't know what 
papers the youth of to-day reads, but in my time 
there were many boys' weekly journals which 



JACK HARKAWAY 35 

found tremendous favour in the sight of the multi- 
tude. Perhaps the most popular of these were 
The Boys of England and its companion paper 
The Young Men of Great Britain, though The Sons 
of Britannia and its allied journal The Young 
Briton ran them closely. 

The tales contained in these journals were 
mainly about highwaymen of the most dashing, 
heroic, and chivalrous sort ; or of sailor heroes 
who experienced the most marvellous and thrilling 
adventures. Also there was usually a school 
story, wherein the boys did pretty well as they 
liked with their masters and everyone else, and 
those of us whose memories go back to The Boys 
of England and The Sons of Britannia will recollect 
the serial stories " Jack Harkaway's Schooldays " 
in the former, and " Tom Wildrake's Schooldays " 
in the latter. 

It has, I know, been stated that Mr. Harcourt 
Burrage was the creator of " Dabber," the wooden 
legged seaman so full of strangely mangled verse, 
but certainly " Tom Wildrake's Schooldays," 
wherein Dabber figured, always purported to be 
work of the editor of the paper, Mr. George 
Emmet t. As a matter of fact Dickens was no 
doubt the inspirer of the character, and those 
familiar with " Our Mutual Friend " and Silas 
Wegg who with his wooden leg was so prone to 
drop into poetry for the benefit of Mr. and Mrs. 
Boffin, Mr. Venus, and others, will have no diffi- 



36 A PELICAN'S TALE 

culty in tracing the family resemblance between 
the two characters. 

" Tom Wildrake's Schooldays " was a remark- 
able story, and according to my recollection ran 
for several years, being followed in due course by 
" Young Tom's Schooldays " which was practi- 
cally the same thing over again. 

As for Jack Harkaway in The Boys of England, 
he was a prodigious fellow, the creation of Mr. 
Bracebridge Hemyng, and lasted for many years 
in various forms. First there was " Jack Hark- 
away 's Schooldays," then his " After Schooldays/' 
" Jack Harkaway at Oxford," " Jack Harka way's 
Adventures Round the World/' and so on ; and 
when Harkaway had done everything, and been 
sent everywhere by his author, " Young Jack 
Harkaway " came into being, and the thing 
started once more. 

I don't suppose any papers ever endeared 
themselves to lads as did The Sons of Britannia 
and The Boys of England, and they must in their 
day have been possessed of huge circulations. 

No less a light than immortal Robert Louis 
Stevenson has left it on record how much the 
latter paper was to him, and for my humble self 
I can truthfully say that on the night preceding 
the weekly arrival of The Boys of England from 
London, I hardly slept. One of my first pilgrim- 
ages when I came to Town as a lad, was to Fleet 
Street, for the express purpose of gazing in awe 




Photo. Rodger, St. Andrews 

"OLD TOM" AND "YOUNG TOM" MORRIS, THE OLD TIME 
CHAMPION GOLFERS 



AN IMPRESARIO 37 

at the dingy office from which this greatest of 
papers was published. It was something of pain 
and surprise to find the building one of lesser 
consequence than Buckingham Palace. 

At the office of The Boys of England were to be 
purchased small toy theatres, and periodically 
there were issued sheets of characters and scenes 
of various plays such as " Alone in the Pirate's 
Lair," " Jack Cade the Rebel of London," and 
others of the same sort. These sheets you coloured 
for yourself, mounted on cardboard, and cut out, 
that is if you were a specially industrious and 
economical student of the drama. 

If your soul abhorred drudgery, and your purse 
ran to it, you bought your characters and scenes 
" Coloured, cut out, and ready for use." 

My theatre was my chiefest and dearest toy, 
and on its boards I produced many a play. 
My most noticeable successes as given before 
audiences composed of my parents, brethren, and 
such of the maid servants as could be induced to 
attend my performances were " Rifle Volunteers " 
and " The Waterman." I favoured these master- 
pieces chiefly by reason of the fact that each of 
them contained few characters, and was a work of 
comparatively easy manipulation. Some of my 
pieces were such stupendous productions, that 
they were never fully completed, and the curtain 
usually had to be lowered about half-way through. 

A play of especially overwhelming proportions 



3 8 A PELICAN'S TALE 

was " The Miller and His Men," the production 
of which necessitated the use of hundreds of card- 
board actors, and of scenes innumerable. 
" Douglas " also ran it close as a dramatic barrier 
not to be lightly overcome by the most skilful 
manipulator and producer. 

There were trap-doors in the little stage, which 
were used with great effect, and at Christmas 
when of course like all well-conducted managers, 
I had to produce my pantomime, red and green 
fires were burnt with great effect. 

Being an early devotee of chemistry, I used to 
make my own red and green fire powders. Some- 
times they burnt brilliantly as intended, at other 
periods they either failed me ignominiously, like 
Zero's bombs in " The Dynamiter/' or exploded 
with considerable violence and detestable odour. 

On more than one occasion my soul for realism 
was rejoiced by the fact of my theatre catching 
fire. As this might have led to considerably 
extended conflagration, the grown-up portion of 
my audience used then to evince an unholy desire 
to extinguish my flames by whatever rough and 
ready means occurred to them. Such, however, 
was no way for a well-conducted theatre manager. 
I had my own little fire engine ; with that and 
nothing else should the flames be fought. Some- 
times I am forced to admit the fire engine proved 
not wholly equal to its task, and the results were 
unsatisfactory. Articles of furniture were burnt 



GOOD-BYE TO SCHOOL 39 

and I myself suffered. This last I did gladly in 
the cause of Art, and on the particular occasion 
when I had to carry my arm in a sling as the result 
of a specially big conflagration, my pride was 
perhaps equalled, but certainly not surpassed, by 
that of, say Mr. Arthur Collins, on the occasion 
of a successfully concluded Boxing Night at 
Drury Lane. 

When my schooldays came to an end, and I 
have never regretted their termination, my parents 
could not determine what they should make of me, 
and I being of a fairly even and philosophic tem- 
perament, did not mind much so long as my lines 
led to London. I wanted to get to the place which 
Deemed like heaven on earth to me, as speedily as 
possible. However, that was not to be just yet. 
The son of some friends of my people was going 
to Germany for a year to learn the Huns' language, 
and generally finish off his education, and it was, 
after much discussion, decided that I should go 
along also. Before departing to the Fatherland, 
something happened which nearly rendered the 
idea of going there or anywhere else futile. I had 
gone over to Edinburgh from St. Andrews to see 
the pantomime, and in those days there was no 
Forth Bridge, the Frith being crossed in a small 
paddle steamer called -the John Sterling. I was to 
have returned on Saturday from Edinburgh, but 
a great storm arose and the boat could not cross 
the Forth. 



40 A PELICAN'S TALE 

On Sunday morning the boat was still unable 
to cross, but on enquiry at Waverley Station in 
the afternoon of that day, I found that a train 
would leave Edinburgh for Granton in the even- 
ing, and that it was hoped a crossing to Burnt- 
island might be effected. 

When we got to Granton the gale was still 
blowing great guns, but a number of the passen- 
gers had to get to Dundee that night in order to 
be in time for their work next morning, and so 
the brave little John Sterling duly set out on her 
distinctly perilous voyage across the Frith. 

In an ordinary way the crossing should have 
taken three-quarters of an hour. That night it 
took two and a half hours, and at last, after con- 
siderable suffering, we got into harbour at Burnt- 
island, on the Fifeshire side of the Forth, and there 
the Dundee train was waiting. 

I had to get out at a small junction station 
called Leuchars on my way to St. Andrews, the 
train then going to Dundee some twelve miles 
further on. It was well that I did get out there, 
for the train and its passengers never reached 
their destination. They got on to the big bridge 
crossing the Tay, and when in the middle of it, a 
specially strong gale blew the entire middle por- 
tion of the bridge down, and not a soul was saved 
from the terrible Tay Bridge disaster. The 
present Tay Bridge is, in spite of its great length 
and height, a very solid and safe creation with a 



A VAIN AMBITION 41 

double set of rails. The old bridge which collapsed, 
was a much slighter matter and just the width of 
a single line of rails. The wonder is not that it 
fell down when it did, but that it stood up at all 
in the frequent gales sweeping down the Frith of 
Tay, which it had to face. 

Later on behold me on my way to Hunland 
generally, and Diisseldorf on the Rhine in particu- 
lar, partly to learn as far as possible the singu- 
larly brutal and hideous language of the country, 
which seems so wonderfully suited to those who 
speak it,and partly to acquire the polite art of paint- 
ing in oil colours, for which I had shown a certain 
amount of skill as an amateur, with a possible 
view to adopting the calling of the painter as a 
means of livelihood. 

I had won the open prize for drawing at my 
school and was accounted fairly ready with my 
brush, but the difference between the best 
amateur and the worst professional is tremendous, 
and I was by no means even in the best class of 
amateur artists. As a painter with any chance of 
making a living at the game, it was soon very 
clear to myself as well as to everyone else, that I 
had not the ghost of an idea. I was a moderately 
good amateur ; no more than that. 

However, if I wasn't much good as a painter 
myself, some of those who were with me at 
Diisseldorf learning their trade, came to achieve 
considerable things. My old friend Caton Wood- 



42 A PELICAN'S TALE 

ville, the famous military painter, was just leaving 
for Paris, but among other promising students 
were Lockhart Bogle, and Dudley Hardy, whose 
clever work is familiar to everyone in these 
days. 

I dwelt in the house of an eminent professor, 
one of the very few Germans I ever cared for, and 
two other English lads lived there at the same 
time. 

It may interest people who can't quite under- 
stand the Huns' hatred of us to know that even 
in those days, on no single occasion can I recall 
walking in the streets of Diisseldorf without the 
passing school children and tradesmen's boys 
calling out " verdamter Englander," which of 
course signifies " Damned Englishman." These 
boys are the men who fought against us in the 
Big War. They hated us when they were grown- 
up, but they hated us as far as they were capable 
and had been taught to hate us in school and 
out of it when they were children. 

In Diisseldorf we lived the usual life of the art 
students, that is to say there was a certain amount 
of work, a vast deal of beer drinking, a smattering 
of duelling, I myself being exceedingly careful to 
be merely a spectator, a good deal of rough-and- 
tumble fun, and so on. I expect young men are 
pretty much the same all over the world, and 
fairly objectionable to those no longer of their 
own age and ways of thinking. 



THE WAY OF THE HUN 43 

The most memorable day to me in Germany 
was that on which old Kaiser Wilhelm, grandfather 
of the most recent ruler, lowered the final stone, by 
means of a pulley somewhere, on to the roof of 
Cologne Cathedral in the Spring of 1881. 

That was a great occasion, for most of the 
interesting people of Germany managed to crowd 
themselves into the singularly unfragrant city. 

I started the day somewhat unfortunately, for 
I was at the time unable to speak the language, 
and my Professor who accompanied me desiring 
to send a telegram, told me to wait for him at the 
corner of a street near the post office. While I 
was doing so, a wretched child rushed out of a 
doorway and fell over my feet on to his face. The 
child's nose bled ; some idiot called out that I 
had hit the little brute ; a crowd collected and 
I was unable to explain matters at all. Then 
one whom I presumed to be an elder brother of 
the lad, shook his fist in my face and appeared to 
be threatening me with various things, so I hit 
him on the nose, causing that to bleed also, and 
then up came a policeman accompanied by the 
regulation sword, and I was being walked off, I 
presume, to the nearest police station, when my 
Professor happily arrived. I told him my story 
and the Professor, being of some consequence in 
Germany, soon straightened matters out, the 
policeman saluted, I took off my hat, and we 
parted quite pleased with one another. 



44 A PELICAN'S TALE 

I was fortunate enough to get a good place 
from which to watch the big procession to the 
cathedral, and it was very interesting to see the 
old Kaiser, the then Crown Prince Frederick, 
" Unzer Fritz," and behind them, walking in 
most ridiculous fashion, and doing all he could to 
attract attention, the latest Kaiser. 

He was walking near Bismarck and Von Moltke 
and it was interesting to see how these two really 
great men regarded this strutting peacock, and 
then exchanged glances with one another. 

My old companion said as the Arch-Hun passed 
amidst the half-shocked, half-amused glances of 
the onlookers, " It's all very well to smile at him, 
but there will be great trouble for us when that 
young man comes to the throne." One way and 
another there has been a good deal of it, not 
merely for his own countrymen but for the whole 
world as well. 

The most memorable incident to me was quite 
a small one, but it was one where in a flash you 
got a sort of inkling of Bismarck's brutal nature. 

As the big man walked along with great dignity, 
the really outstanding figure of the entire pro- 
cession, he wore his characteristic frown, and it 
was impossible to help noticing the very heavy 
eyebrows. Just as he passed where we were, his 
foot caught on a stone and he stumbled slightly, 
his dignity was upset. In a moment the immense 
frowning eyebrows seemed to come down, not 



BISMARCK AND VON MOLTKE 45 

merely over his eyes, but over his entire face, and 
when they lifted you saw an expression of abso- 
lutely bestial bad temper. You felt that if the 
road sweeper who had neglected to clear away 
that stone had been anywhere handy, his life 
wouldn't have been worth a second's purchase if 
Bismarck could have had the handling of him. 

Moltke, who of course was the real brains of the 
Franco-Prussian War of '70 and '71, who walked 
near Bismarck, was a very curious looking old 
man with a dull red face lined with thousands of 
wrinkles. He was, or certainly looked as if he 
was, a perfectly hairless man, that is he had no 
eyelashes or eyebrows, and the fair hair he wore 
on the top of his withered old bald face was 
his only by right of purchase. He walked along 
looking very much like a singularly observant 
old owl, and if he did not say much, he seemed 
to think a great deal. There was precious little 
which went on for a hundred yards all round 
that very disagreeable old gentleman which he 
did not see ! 

In these days of great moderation in the use of 
alcohol, it is interesting to recall the fact that at 
least one Chancellor of a big European Power has, 
like many a lesser mortal, slept the sleep of the 
inebriated on the Embankment, and though it 
may shock Pro-Germans and others to know it, 
that singularly disagreeable and brutal old gentle- 
man, Bismarck, on at least one occasion, found 



46 A PELICAN'S TALE 

the neighbourhood of Cleopatra's Needle a suit- 
able place whereon to recover himself after certain 
too lengthy potations. 

The story is an old one, is quite familiar to a 
few, and there is no reason why others should not 
read it now. 

Everyone who knows his comparatively modern 
history, is aware that " THE MAN OF BLOOD AND 
IRON " was at times a stupendous toper, could 
put away more liquor than most, and was more- 
over exceedingly proud of his capabilities in this 
regard. Beer in the days which preceded the 
period when the Pilot was Dropped, was a matter 
of considerable moment to him, provided it ap- 
peared in sufficient quantity, and thus it was 
that during one of his visits to Queen Victoria, he 
caused himself to be taken over a well-known 
brewery in Town. 

One of the possessions of this brewery was a 
glass of extraordinary amplitude, which held 
several pints of liquor. It was a great feat to be 
able to drink the contents right off without spill- 
ing a drop, not merely because of the quantity of 
liquid, but also because of the vast height of the 
glass which necessitated the possession of a speci- 
ally long and strong arm. 

Bismarck who had lunched with great heartiness 
prior to going the rounds of the brewery, was 
given various samples of beer to drink, including 
a little measure of a very special brew of ale, of 



' I AM DROONK " 47 

prodigious strength, meant of course to be drunk 
in quite small quantities. 

Towards the end of the big man's visit, the 
famous large glass was exhibited to him, and on 
being told that only twice in the memory of man 
had anyone succeeded in emptying it at one 
draught without spilling a drop, he at once ex- 
pressed a desire to become a third hero, expressly 
stipulating, however, somewhat to the alarm of 
his hosts, that the glass should be filled with the 
specially potent brew above alluded to. 

The Hun Chancellor not only succeeded in 
getting rid of every drop of the liquor in the correct 
fashion, but to the amazement of the beholders, 
one of them the late member of the Cabinet who 
told me the story, requested that the glass might 
again be filled ; when he once more did the 
trick. 

Then the visitors left the brewery to drive back 
to the Palace, but soon after the start Bismarck 
said to his special temporary monitor and guide, 
" I am droonk ! " 

It being plain that he was as stated, it was 
considered desirable that Her Majesty's guest 
should be got back to the Palace as quickly as 
possible, and be put to bed for a time ; but 
Bismarck would have none of this. " Take me to 
the Embankment/' he said, " and let me sit down 
and look at the river for two hours, and all will be 
well." 



48 A PELICAN'S TALE 

And so he was taken to the Embankment, the 
carriage being sent away and the coachman 
ordered to return in a couple of hours, and there 
Bismarck sat on one of the seats with his big soft 
felt hat pulled well over his features, while a 
couple of agonised courtiers kept watch and ward 
on him from the opposite side of the road. 

At the end of two hours the carriage returned, 
the Hun Chancellor wakened from his reverie, 
got in with no assistance whatsoever, and was 
duly driven back to Buckingham Palace, and only 
some half-dozen people have ever been the wiser 
of the occurrence up till now. 



CHAPTER III 

Arranging a career A latter-day Dick Whittington I go to 
London to become a civic millionaire Failing the so doing, 
I drift into journalism Life at Lloyd's A resident in 
Pimlico The dreadful significance of the name in those 
days The Pimlico vestals Sir Charles Cayzer and Sir John 
Muir Where Cayzer threatened to send his " Clan " ships 
to His reason for not carrying out his threat A very 
conscientious interviewer My meeting with John L. Sullivan 
The champion of the world in training for his fight with 
Mitchell How I stood up to " the big fellow " and how I 
most successfully took the knock An article on Lloyd's in 
The Bat which made history at the time Clerical friends in 
high places A kindly bishop An impressive experience 
A guest in company with five bishops How Bishop 
Thorold lost his spectacles at the Athenaeum Who stole 
them ? A dreadful supposition How I became a regular 
contributor to The Bat How its editor, James Davis, fled 
to France for safety's sake How The Hawk came into being 
in its place. 

IT having been decided with regard to my 
future, that it was wholly unlikely I should 
ever succeed in passing any sort of examina- 
tion whatsoever, my good parents thought 
that perhaps the best thing for me would be to 
get into a business office of some sort or other, 
with a view to becoming, after a few years' toil, 
a commercial millionaire, and no doubt in due 
course Lord Mayor of the City of London. 

I deemed it improbable that I should ever be 
D 49 



50 A PELICAN'S TALE 

one or the other of these desirable things, but my 
excellent father, although a very able man at his 
own calling, was hopelessly innocent of all com- 
mercial knowledge, and had a sort of vague idea 
that the Dick Whittington Act was a quite common 
occurrence even in these times. 

For myself I did not much mind what happened 
so long as I got to London, which had always ap- 
peared to me the most desirable place in this 
world wherein to abide, and so it was I was taken 
to see our late local Member of Parliament, Mr. 
Stephen Williamson, a wealthy Liverpool business 
man, with considerable influence in the City of 
London, and his assistance was duly invoked on 
my behalf. 

In a short time word arrived from Mr. William- 
son in London, that he had secured an opening 
for me in the office of one of the best known firms 
of East India Merchants in the City. 

Of the seven deadly years I went through in 
that firm's service, I prefer to write but little. I 
can truthfully say that I cordially detested every 
hour of my office life during that time. The work 
was hard and tedious to a degree. The prospects 
were simply non-existent to a man unrelated to 
one of the several partners, and the salary paid 
me, even at the end of seven years of very hard, 
and, according to the testimonials I received, quite 
satisfactory work, was simply ludicrous, and such 
as I never dreamt of offering even to junior clerks 



PIMLICO DAYS 51 

when I subsequently came to employ such in my 
own office. 

The fact is the assistants of the firm in ques- 
tion were largely drawn from the sons of people 
with whom the firm had business relations, who 
came into our place to learn the ropes, and naturally 
enough didn't care what sort of salaries they were 
paid. Of course there were some elderly regular 
clerks too, but they were content with very little, 
and whether they were content or otherwise didn't 
matter. In my own case it cost my parents a con- 
siderable allowance in order that I might be 
privileged to perform extensive and important 
duties for the firm which was a very Scotch one 
in the worst sense of the term, and gave uncom- 
monly little away. 

Being ignorant of many matters and of none 
more so than the reputation of certain localities 
in London, when I came to Town I took rooms in 
Alderney Street, Pimlico. 

In these days the word Pimlico conveys very 
little. In the early eighties it stood for a good 
deal, and its reputation was such that the name 
was seldom used in polite society, those who abode 
in or near it preferring to say that they dwelt in 
" South Belgravia." 

Briefly, Pimlico, like St. John's Wood, was the 
special province of the hundreds of ladies of the 
" oldest profession/' and it was difficult in those 
days to light upon a house in Alderney Street, 



52 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Winchester Street, Cumberland Street, and the 
rest, which was not to be described as "gay." 
By sheer good fortune my camping ground was 
quite correct, and my landlady a most well con- 
ducted and worthy soul. Nowadays Pimlico is, I 
believe, all it ought to be, and to have been, but 
when I first knew it well it wasn't. Let it go at 
that! 

I shall never forget how in the very early days 
of my life in London, while paying a call on some 
friends of my people, I was asked by my hostess 
whereabouts I was living, and in all innocence 
responded promptly and perhaps rather loudly 
" At Alderney Street, Pimlico/' The drawing- 
room was full of people, all busily talking, but my 
magical address reduced them for several seconds 
to the stoniest of silences. Women blushed 
slightly and looked at their boots, men scowled 
at me, and one sportsman, thinking himself out 
of range of all but myself, made vigorous signs 
expressive of the fact that I had committed a 
very special bloomer. 

Of course I knew at once I had said something 
or other which I ought not to have done, but it 
was only later on, when I had an opportunity of 
consulting one of the sons of the house, that I 
discovered that the name of my abiding locality 
was like that of the Clan MacGregor, a forbidden 
one. 

However, when I came to know Pimlico quite 



A DISPUTE 53 

well, and a good deal concerning its inhabitants, 
I stayed on there. It was not expensive and being 
near Victoria it was very central for nearly every- 
where, and this I may say, that no matter how 
rowdy the fair inhabitants of the quarter may 
have been elsewhere, they behaved with all possible 
propriety in their own streets, and one saw little 
of them excepting late at night, when of course 
one ought to have been in bed, when they re- 
turned from their evening constitutionals about 
the Haymarket and Waterloo Place, in hansoms, 
literally by the hundred. 

It was soon clear to me that office work was 
not the job that my soul hankered after, for its 
deadly monotony was terrible, although there 
were little episodes one recalls which were not 
wholly devoid of humour. There was, for instance, 
the occasion it has become historical when the 
late Sir John Muir, then head of our firm, who 
was a very important person in the East Indian 
Commercial world, as well as Lord Provost of Glas- 
gow, had a somewhat heated argument with another 
personage of consequence, Sir Charles Cayzer, 
chief of the "Clan'" line. Muir was a very tall 
man, while Cayzer the father-in-law, by the way, 
of Lord Jellicoe was quite small in all respects, 
save in that of his enormously large head. 

A dispute had arisen concerning the destination 
of certain of the "Clan " boats, when little Cayzer, 
standing on his tiptoes so that he might the more 



54 A PELICAN'S TALE 

readily reach the ears of the tall Muir, gave vent 
to these memorable words, which are, I am sure, 
still recalled in City shipping circles, " John Muir, 
I will send my ships where I like. I would send 
them to hell if it wasn't that I know you have an 
agent there already ! " 

About this period I had begun to write a bit for 
various papers, hoping that the time might come 
when I should have enough of that sort of work, 
which I liked, to make it good enough to get out 
of the City, which I loathed. As is the case with 
most newcomers to journalism, the way was un- 
commonly hard. I wrote an immense deal for 
journals which, when, and if they paid at all, 
paid very little. I fancy, too, I must in my sim- 
plicity have done as much work for bogus pro- 
prietors who never paid a farthing and never 
meant to, as most writers I have come in contact 
and compared notes with. 

After a time as a free-lance I managed to secure 
one or two regular, if ill-paid, jobs. Thus I wrote 
for two or three years a weekly article of two 
columns, for a provincial paper called the South 
Glasgow Gazette I don't know if it still exists 
to-day for 75. 6d. ; a weekly interview with a 
topical celebrity of three columns for a deceased 
weekly called The Society Times, published in 
Wardour Street, for a like sum, and three columns 
of dramatic notes for another weekly for 55. 

The theatrical article I liked, chiefly because by 




XELLIE FARREX 



THE HURRICANE FIGHTER 55 

its means I gained free admission to the theatres 
and music-halls, and the interviewing business I 
also was keen about, because of the interesting 
people it brought me in contact with. 

And in this connection one of my most interest- 
ing subjects was the late John L. Sullivan, prob- 
ably the greatest "hurricane" fighter who ever 
lived. Sullivan was for many years champion of 
the world, and it was when he came to this 
country, and was in training for his celebrated 
bare-knuckle fight with the late Charles Mitchell 
that I tackled him on a memorable Sunday at 
his training quarters in Windsor. Sullivan was 
doing his training from a hotel therein, the Royal 
Adelaide. Its landlord was the somewhat 
notorious Harry Bull, better known in racing 
circles as Chippy Norton the bookmaker, and my 
visit to Sullivan was paid just five days before he 
met Mitchell in France, to fight for the champion- 
ship of the world, with what are known as the raw 
'uns, which signifies with gloveless fists. 

The big man who was always in those days 
pretty much of a brute, was as most men are when 
in hard training, 'in anything but good temper. 
However, he agreed to see me, and as the Press of 
the world was at that time full of the forthcoming 
combat, the interview looked like being a valuable 
scoop for my paper. 

I duly saw Sullivan, went through part of his 
training with him, asked as many questions as I 



56 A PELICAN'S TALE 

dared and as his trainer would allow, and no doubt 
made myself as much of a nuisance as possible. 

When we got back to the hotel after a hard 
walk, Sullivan arrayed in a vast number of 
sweaters, and he was being rubbed down by his 
small army of camp followers, Chippy Norton 
asked me if there was anything further I wanted 
to know before the hero went to rest for a bit. 

It was then that by evil fortune I sought to 
enquire as to the slight injury to his right arm 
which Sullivan had come by in America, shortly 
before sailing for England. 

He explained briefly and forcibly that he had 
struck his arm against the head of his sparring 
partner. 

If I had been a more experienced and less 
conscientious journalist, I would have let it go at 
that. But I again asked to have the matter more 
clearly explained to me, being desirous of having 
my facts quite accurate. 

"Well, you see, I hit him like that," said 
Sullivan, " and he raised his head like this, and 
my arm got across him so. Now do you under- 
stand ? " And I was ass enough to say I did not. 
" Well/' he said, " put up your hands and I will 
show you." And madness having clearly come 
upon me I did so. 

Of course I know it was a silly thing to have 
done, but at the time it never occurred to me 
that Big John L. Sullivan, in hard training for 



I STAND UP TO SULLIVAN 57 

the championship of the world, would hit a lad 
who obviously knew little or nothing of the game, 
but the moment I raised my hands I became aware 
by the smiles I saw out of the corner of my eye, 
on the faces of those present, and by the gleam 
which came in the big fighter's optics, that I was 
going to get at least one smack. Naturally I was 
not idiot enough to dream of hitting Sullivan, my 
intention being simply to get out of the way of 
the light blow which might be coming, drop my 
hands at once, and say that I now clearly under- 
stood how the mishap had occurred ; moreover, 
there was of course the fact that I should be 
standing up to John L. Sullivan with bare knuckles, 
a thing which up till then no Englishman had 
ever ventured to do. That counted for some- 
thing ! 

But while I was thinking of the matter I got 
my blow right enough, and it was no light one 
either, for I was struck in the centre of the fore- 
head so quickly that I hardly saw the blow 
coming, and so hard that it lifted me right off my 
feet on to a sofa some little way behind, and there 
I sat for a minute or two wondering if an earth- 
quake had happened, or if I had merely been 
struck by lightning. It was not like a blow from 
a human fist at all. It seemed exactly as if a big 
blacksmith had hit me on the forehead with his 
forehammer, and the next thing I recollect was 
Chippy Norton holding a stiff glass of brandy to 



58 A PELICAN'S TALE 

my lips and asking how I felt now. I said I hoped 
I should feel all right in a week or two, and seeing 
that I wasn't making a song of the matter, Sullivan 
shook me warmly by the hand and said : 

" Well, say, anyhow no other Britisher ever 
stood up like that to John L. Sullivan/' 

" Very likely," I said, " and if I hadn't been a 
blanked idiot I wouldn't have done it either." 

Now it is something of a coincidence that a few 
days after the big fight had taken place, I had a 
chat with Mitchell about it, and he was describing 
how one particular round had been fought, and 
to make things clear to me said as Sullivan had 
said before him, " Put up your hands and I will 
show you." But this time I thought not ; and I 
told Mitchell that I had already done this to his 
adversary and that it was to him I owed the 
large bruise on my forehead which was still well 
to the fore. " Well," said Mitchell, " at all events 
you and I are the only people in this country who 
ever stood up to John with the raw 'uns." And 
this is a fact although the duration of my up- 
standing was just about the hundredth part of a 
second. 

It was while I was in the City, and one of the 
representatives of my firm on Lloyd's, the big 
insurance place, at the Royal Exchange, that I 
wrote an article in the deceased Bat which made 
a deal of talk at the time. It was called " A 
Luncheon at Lloyd's," and brought in most of the 



" A LUNCHEON AT LLOYD'S " 59 

best known men in " the room " under thinly 
disguised aliases. I worked in all the little bits of 
gossip and personality that I knew about the 
members, and as a result, when that week's issue 
of The Bat was published, the demand for copies 
in the city generally and on Lloyd's in particular 
was remarkable. The paper went out of print 
that week. Some of the members smiled ; others 
did not, and it might have been disagreeable for 
me if they had known who the author of the amus- 
ing if mischievous article was. I, however, was not 
desirous of acquiring fame and so kept my know- 
ledge to myself, listening with interest to the 
comments of those who figured in the literary 
effort, and to the direful threats of vengeance 
promised the unknown writer if his identity could 
be discovered. Perhaps some of those who can 
recall the occurrence will accept my belated 
apologies now, for as Michael Finsbury in Robert 
Louis Stevenson's Wrong Box says, there is 
" nothing like a little judicious levity," and I 
meant no real harm. 

Among those who were especially kind to me 
during my early days in London none was more 
so than Bishop Thorold of Rochester, an old friend 
of my father, and I was frequently fortunate 
enough to be invited to stay at Selsdon Park near 
Croydon, which was at that time the Palace of 
the See of Rochester. 

In the home of that kindest of men, who was a 



60 A PELICAN'S TALE 

widower, I was privileged to meet many digni- 
taries of the Church, and on one occasion I 
think of it still with awe I stayed there when all 
the other guests, five in number, were Bishops. 
The only man at table not a Bishop was Dr. 
Thorold's Chaplain. Thus I was the only layman 
there, and felt myself in very good and decidedly 
exalted company. It was a memorable experi- 
ence for a young man, and I am not likely to for- 
get it, and the many intensely interesting things 
I heard the Prelates discuss. 

Bishop Thorold of Rochester and anon of Win- 
chester, was one of Gladstone's Bishops, and on 
one occasion he returned to Selsdon after spend- 
ing the day in Town in considerable distress. He 
had lost his spectacles, they were old friends, and 
he felt their going keenly. " I can't think how it 
happened/' said he. " I had them with me when 
I went into the reading-room of the Athenaeum, 
and I only laid them down for a second or two 
while I searched my pockets to find a letter I 
wanted to answer. When I looked for them they 
were gone ! " 

Then the good Bishop was asked who were in 
the room at the time, as well as himself. " That's 
the dreadful part of the story," he said, " for there 
were only present the Bishop of London, the Bishop 
of St. David's, the Archdeacon of Rochester, and 
Mr. Gladstone ! " Who actually, by accident or 
intention, collected the glasses, history does not 



THE BOY AND THE BISHOP 61 

state, but it is a fact that their legal owner never 
cast eyes upon them again. 

It may or may not have been at Selsdon too 
that a rather young footman entered on his duties 
the day that Dr. Claughton, Bishop of St. Albans, 
came to stay there, and it was explained to the 
well meaning but rather stupid lad, that when he 
took up the Bishop's shaving water next morn- 
ing, he was to knock at the bedroom door. The 
Bishop it was believed would say " Who is there ? " 
And the instructions were that the young foot- 
man was to reply " The boy, my lord." 

On the morning, the lad duly knocked at the 
Bishop's door, and the Prelate of St. Albans 
spoke his part according to the book, and called 
out " Who is there ? ' whereupon the over 
anxious footman responded in a voice somewhat 
shaken by nervousness, " The Lord, my boy ! '' 
which, as Bishop Thorold in subsequently retail- 
ing the story said, was " a very alarming state- 
ment ! " 

I have told of my first article in The Bat which 
made a certain amount of talk, chiefly of a venge- 
ful nature, and it appealed so much to the editor, 
the late James Davis, better known perhaps as 
" Owen Hall/' the name under which he wrote 
A Gaiety Girl, The Geisha, An Artist's Model, and 
other triumphant successes produced at Daly's 
Theatre by George Edwardes, that he asked me 
to call and see him, and invited me to write regu- 



62 A PELICAN'S TALE 

larly for his paper, which was a sixpenny weekly 
with a fairly big circulation. 

The Bat was usually amusing, always more or 
less enterprising, and as a rule decidedly clever, 
so I was quite pleased that Davis should have 
thought my work good enough for his columns, 
and I did quite a lot of writing for him. Jimmy 
Davis simply could not keep out of libel actions, 
and one of these resulted in his going to prison, 
the paper being carried on in his absence by the 
late Alec Knowles, who was well known on the 
Evening News, The Sporting Times, and elsewhere, 
over his signature " Sir Affable/' 

One article I sent to The Bat called " Cam- 
bridge Conned " appeared, to my considerable 
surprise, in a new paper resembling The Bat in 
shape and all particulars, other than the title, for 
it was called The Hawk. 

With the copy of the paper came a letter from 
Mr. Augustus Moore informing me that The Bat 
had ceased to be, that The Hawk had taken its 
place under his editorship, and that he hoped I 
would continue to contribute to the paper under 
its new title. Later on I ascertained that Davis, 
being aware an action for criminal libel was about 
to be brought against him, and being of opinion 
that he did not desire to return to Holloway 
Prison, had bolted to Boulogne, and there he 
stayed for several years till the well-known peer 
who had brought the action, forgave him, agreed 



JIMMY DAVIS 63 

to withdraw the summons, and permitted him to 
return to London. 

It was after this that Jimmy, having decided 
his pen was too dangerous a weapon for himself, 
when engaged in newspaper work, turned his 
attention to Musical Comedy writing, with very 
great success indeed. He was a clever fellow and 
a most amusing one as well, and although he was 
a kindly natured man, his writing could be of a 
very bitter sort. Later on he became an occa- 
sional contributor to a journal I edited, but 
though his work was always good, it was also 
usually dangerous, and one had to read every word 
of it very carefully, with the largest of blue 
pencils close at hand. Jimmy Davis came of a 
family of clever writers, for one of his sisters is 
Mrs. Aria, and another was the famous novelist 
who wrote under the name of " Frank Danby," 
whose son Mr. Gilbert Frankau is rapidly follow- 
ing in his distinguished mother's literary foot- 
steps. 



CHAPTER IV 

Free of the city How I gradually drifted into journalism 
Small happenings and how they affect one's career I pur- 
chase The Hawk on behalf of a brewer Augustus Moore as 
editor How the brewer and his partner made 12,000 out 
of a 325 investment How I became " registered proprietor " 
of the paper Also writ-receiver in chief A paper of many 
libels Alec Knowles and his " Wrinkles " A remarkable 
series of articles Why they were not republished in book 
form The staff of The Hawk Some men who got on The 
Whistler-Moore fracas at Drury Lane How they slapped 
one another to the amusement of onlookers, and did little 
harm How Charlie Mitchell, champion boxer of England, 
told me a funny story " not for publication " How it found 
its way into The Hawk by way of Augustus Moore How 
Mitchell and Pony Moore subsequently called at the office to 
have a heart-to-heart talk with us The consternation of the 
editor on hearing of their visit How I decided to leave The 
Hawk and start The Pelican A wise move which proved a 
highly satisfactory one in after years. 



COWARDS the latter end of my seven 
long years in the City, I had come to 
have so many regular journalistic jobs 
that my life had become one of con- 
siderable slavery. So much had to be written 
each week, that after my day's work in the City 
I had to tackle my scribbling, and keep on at it 
till all sorts of hours next morning. Sunday 
instead of being a day of rest had become one of 
additional toil, and one way and another the 

6 4 




FRED LESLIE 



A FIRST NIGHT 65 

game did not seem good enough, so I decided to 
take my courage in both hands and let the City 
take care of itself without further interference 
from me, devoting myself entirely to such writing 
jobs as I had already got, or might further obtain. 

Just about this time, too, Fate sent me a 
regular engagement in a newspaper office, which 
quite decided my course of action. 

It is curious how a very small matter may 
affect one's subsequent career, and it was through 
a casual visit to the Old Globe Theatre one 
evening, to see a new first piece, that I first met 
Mr. W. Morley Pegge. 

Mr. Pegge had at that time but recently 
married Miss Florence Sutherland, a member of 
Mr. Edward Terry's theatrical company, and I 
had had the privilege of meeting her some time 
before. It was she who made me known to her 
husband, and after the theatre, the Pegges invited 
me to supper at their flat in Victoria Street, and 
it was then and there Mr. Pegge explained to me 
that his chief reason for desiring my acquaintance 
was not so much on account of my plain looks or 
pretty ways, as because he wanted to find out 
certain facts about The Hawk, the sixpenny 
weekly paper to which I have already alluded, 
and he believed I could give him the information 
he desired. 

Briefly, Mr. Pegge wanted to become a news- 
paper proprietor, and thought he saw a chance of 



66 A PELICAN'S TALE 

turning several honest pennies in the accomplish- 
ment of his scheme. If there was one thing Mr. 
Morley Pegge understood better than another it 
was the polite art of making a bargain with as 
little trouble to himself as possible. 

Mr. Pegge had been a brewer, and had recently 
had a good deal to do with the conversion of 
J. Nunnerley and Co. of Burton-on-Trent. 

He wanted to know if The Hawk could be pur- 
chased from its then proprietor, Mr. John Gretton, 
a barrister, who later on came to be intimately 
associated with Colonel North, the Nitrate King. 
I knew that Mr. Gretton was most desirous of 
getting rid of his property, which was at that 
time being edited by Alec Knowles, Augustus 
Moore, the previous editor, having had his services 
dispensed with. 

Pegge believed that Moore, a brother, by the 
way, of Mr. George Moore the novelist and dog 
champion, was the right man to run The Hawk 
and invited my opinion as to this. I agreed that 
he was. Would I tackle Gretton, find out what 
he wanted for his property, secure Moore's 
services as editor, become manager, sub-editor, 
and registered proprietor myself, at a certain 
salary ? I would, and I did. 

The first number of The Hawk had been pub- 
lished on February 7th, 1888, and it was in the 
autumn of that year that I began my negotiations 
with Gretton, and after much discussion, for there 



A SUCCESS 67 

were many complications, and sundry libel actions 
pending against the paper, I purchased The Hawk 
on behalf of Pegge for the exceedingly small sum 
of 325, clear proof that its owner was reasonably 
glad to be rid of his property. I had previously 
secured the services of Moore, whom I found 
intensely willing and desirous of returning to 
his old job, and almost painfully full of thanks 
and apparent gratitude to me for helping him to 
do so. 

Various amounts have been stated in print as 
the sum paid for The Hawk on that occasion. The 
above is the correct one, and I ought to know for 
I signed the cheque myself on the National Pro- 
vincial Bank, Lincoln's Inn. Mr. Pegge's remark- 
able financial luck stuck to him in his newspaper 
investment. The paper began to pay almost at 
once, chiefly by reason of the extraordinary boom 
in Prospectus advertisements which occurred 
about this time and lasted for several years after- 
wards, to the great glory and satisfaction of quite 
a number of hitherto struggling journals. Week 
after week The Hawk used to come out with 
eight or ten pages of prospectuses all paid for at full 
scale rates, and Moore, who was in his way an 
undoubtedly clever man, and next to Jimmy 
Davis just the right editor for a newspaper of the 
kind, did his portion of the business very well. 

A series of articles of quite remarkable ability 
and versatility which did a lot for the paper, 



68 A PELICAN'S TALE 

called " Wrinkles, being a series of letters from 
Sir Affable Hawke to his nephew Tommy Hawke 
on starting his career in London/' attracted a lot 
of attention. They were written with real " in- 
side " knowledge, and dealt with all sorts of 
subjects, people, and phases of life, as it was then 
lived in Town. They were very cynical, very 
worldly, full of information of a marvellously 
versatile sort, and were really clever. Moore was 
supposed to have written them all. As a matter 
of fact he wrote three or at the most four, the 
majority of them being written from his own 
information, or " from information received " as 
the police witnesses say, by Alec Knowles, who 
for many years afterwards used to sign his con- 
tributions to various papers " Sir Affable/' 

The " Wrinkles " were so good and so popular 
that in response to numerous suggestions from 
the public, Morley Pegge considered the re- 
publishing of them in book form. On consultation 
with Moore, that gentleman agreed the idea would 
be a good one, provided his name appeared on the 
title page as their author ! Naturally Knowles 
would not hear of this and the scheme fell through. 
Moore certainly had a deal to do with the success 
of The Hawk at one time, but he was not its 
entire source of triumph by a very long way. 

The clever paragraphs at the start of the paper 
were always a strong feature of The Hawk's 
contents. They usually contained real news, 



A GALAXY OF TALENT 69 

were genuinely clever and amusing, except to the 
persons written about, and were sometimes 
libellous. My old friend Mr. James Glover of Drury 
Lane celebrity was one of the most prolific writers 
on The Hawk and was responsible for most of the 
theatrical notes. In those days friend James was 
a tall, rather thin, hatchety faced young man, 
very different in outward seeming from what he is 
to-day. Others who wrote more or less regularly 
for the paper were Francis Gribble the well-known 
author, who had so disagreeable an experience at 
the hands of the Huns in Ruhleben, Justin Huntley 
McCarthy who had not then married Miss Cissie 
Loftus, Clement Scott, the famous dramatic 
critic of the Daily Telegraph, James Runciman 
(John A'Dreams), Bernard Shaw, Charlie Williams 
the War Correspondent, George Moore the novelist, 
A. B. Walkley, at that time dramatic critic of the 
Star, and now employed in similar capacity on 
The Times, Robert Hichens, Frederick Greenwood, 
Henry Murray, brother of the famous Christie, 
Herbert Collinson, and several others. 

That Mr. Pegge did not do badly, financially, 
with The Hawk may be taken from the fact that 
some six months after he had had the paper pur- 
chased for him for 325, he sold half a share of it 
to Mr. Frank Harris at that time editor of The 
Fortnightly Review, for 3,500. Later on Pegge 
and Harris sold their property to a syndicate, in 
which were Clement Scott and George Edwardes 



70 A PELICAN'S TALE 

among others, for 12,000. At least that was the 
sum reported. I fancy it was not all in cash 
however. Still the sellers did uncommonly well 
out of their bargain, for even at that time the 
paper had passed the high- water mark of its 
financial success, and soon after began to decline 
slowly and surely owing to a variety of circum- 
stances. 

It was Whistler the artist who first wrote of 
" The Polite Art of Making Enemies/' and cer- 
tainly Augustus Moore possessed the faculty of so 
doing to an extraordinary degree. He was not a 
particularly unkind man in himself, but his fatal 
faculty of saying cruel and needless things in his 
paper, and of persistently making enemies, stood 
in the way of his success, and when things went 
somewhat awry with him, and when The Hawk 
was secured by a new proprietorate which had no 
use for his services, and when help generally 
would have been very welcome, it was just not 
given. 

As " Registered Proprietor " of The Hawk it 
was my privilege to receive the writs for libel, and 
these were ludicrously frequent of arrival, for 
Moore's recklessness, both of writing and editing, 
led to lots of employment for the " professional 
quarrellers." Of course these libel actions, actu- 
ally mattered very little to me, for on receipt of 
the writs I merely sent them on to George Lewis, 
the solicitor who acted for the paper, and notified 



WHISTLER AT FISTICUFFS 71 

Pegge, who did most of the worrying, and had 
the fun of paying the lawyer's very considerable 
charges. 

Moore and I worked in one room at a couple of 
tables, and though I have no desire to say any- 
thing unkind of a dead man, I cannot help record- 
ing the fact that we had no specially brotherly 
love for one another. I don't know which of us 
was to blame. Perhaps both. 

One of the few things recollected about Moore 
to-day is, no doubt, the diminutive combat which 
took place between him and Whistler, the cele- 
brated artist, in the foyer of Drury Lane Theatre. 
Moore did not knock Whistler down as he stated 
in print, on several subsequent occasions. What 
happened was that after hitting Moore once or 
twice with the small cane he carried, Whistler 
made a specially energetic cut, missed his man, 
tripped over the foot of Charles Brookfield, who 
accompanied him, and fell. 

I was the only person present as an onlooker 
at the start of the proceedings, and saw the entire 
entertainment from beginning to end, and accord- 
ing to a fairly vivid recollection neither man 
looked much of a hero, and there seemed to be a 
good deal of let-me-get-at-him-hold-me-back about 
the pair of them. Whistler was very red and ex- 
cited, Moore was ghastly pale and looked as if lie 
were going to faint. However, the old enemies 
are gone now : peace be to them both. 



72 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Moore, who fancied himself as a boxer, although 
I for one never saw the slightest evidence of his 
ability in this regard, nearly had a chance of 
giving an exhibition of his qualities at The Hawk 
office one day, but discretion proved the better 
part of valour all round, and nothing happened. 

What occurred was this. Meeting the late 
Charles Mitchell, at the time champion boxer of 
England, late one evening, that hero regaled me 
with an account of an escapade which he had taken 
part in. There is no occasion to recount his story 
here. Let it suffice to say that it was a rather 
brutal, but at the same time, amusing story, and 
as he told it to me, Mitchell said, " Remember 
this is in confidence, and not for the paper/' 

In an evil moment I repeated the story to 
Moore the next day, the day, by the way, on which 
The Hawk went to press. I explained that the 
story had been told me in confidence and was not 
for publication, and I understood him to give me 
his word that he quite realised the position of 
matters. 

Considerably to my surprise, when I looked at 
the contents of The Hawk the following morning, 
there was the Mitchell story told at great length, 
and considerably embellished with a number of 
disagreeable comments about the pugilist. 

In those days, Mitchell was a man of somewhat 
hasty temper, and so I foresaw trouble ahead. 
Of course he would believe that I had broken my 



CHARLIE MITCHELL ARRIVES 73 

word, and about this I naturally felt very uncom- 
fortable. 

I became no happier shortly after my arrival 
at The Hawk office, when a clerk appeared and in 
a very agitated manner told me that two gentle- 
men desired to see me, " but/' he added, " if I 
were you, sir, I wouldn't see them. They seem 
very angry. " " Did you ask their names/' I said. 
" Oh yes/' he replied, " they are Mr. Charlie 
Mitchell and Mr. ' Pony ' Moore." 

Now the idea of seeing these two pleasant, but 
at the time irate visitors, without a witness of our 
meeting, pleased me not at all. I did not mind 
anything that might be coming to me if I had 
someone else to look on, and so knowing that 
Moore would probably turn up at about half-past 
twelve, I told the clerk to say I was out, but 
would be back, and glad to receive my visitors at 
one o'clock. 

When Moore arrived, I told him as directly as 
I could, what I thought of his action in failing to 
keep faith with me, but he could not see that he 
had done anything out of the common. " After 
all, what does it matter ? " he said. " It was too 
good a story to miss. Mitchell won't see it, and 
even if he does he won't dare to come here." 
" Won't he ? " said I. " Well, it may interest you 
to know that he has been here already with his 
father-in-law, Pony Moore, and they are coming 
back at one o'clock." " Are they, by Jove," said 



74 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Moore, " then I'm off. I'm not going to stop here 
and have a row with those people. Outside is 
good enough for me. You had better clear too." 

I said I would do nothing of the kind, and that 
now I had made things plain to him, I would stop 
and meet Mitchell and Moore when they came, 
tell them the exact facts of the matter, and take 
my chance of whatever was going to happen. 

I waited on till two o'clock but no one turned 
up. Later on I heard that the festive pair had 
gone to Romano's after their first call, and had 
stayed there for some time, and- no doubt the 
soothing influences of the Roman's very old 
brandy had made them think of better things than 
of returning to lay me out. 

It was several years afterwards before I had a 
chance of explaining matters to Mitchell, and as 
he said it was just as well they had not come 
back, for no matter what he himself might have 
done or left undone, "Pony" would certainly 
have had my gore. I don't know if Moore after- 
wards encountered Mitchell. If he did, he didn't 
brag about it to me, or so far as I know to any- 
one else. 

One way and another there was a deal of liveli- 
ness in being attached to The Hawk ; rather 
more than I cared for, in fact. I did not mind 
making such enemies as I required for myself, 
but I did object to having them made for me at 
the rate of some six or eight a week. 



I PLAN A PAPER 75 

It was also becoming clear to me that there 
was precious little money to be made by writing 
for someone else's paper, and it might be more 
profitable, and certainly more interesting, to 
possess a journal of one's own. Thus I made my 
plans for starting The Pelican, and when I had 
got these all cut and dried I resigned my position 
on The Hawk and cleared out with the liveliest 
satisfaction to myself, and I doubt not to that of 
my editor as well. 



CHAPTER V 

Starting on my own account The creation of The Pelican 
How The Tattler with two t's did not help matters A 
scheme which failed The first money taken Where it dis- 
appeared to How the paper came by its title Serving on a 
jury If likely to be convicted, be careful in the selection of 
your judge ! The finish of The Hawk and the success of The 
Pelican The death of " The Smart Paper for Smart People " 
Wise advice from George R. Sims " Dagonet " on the 
folly of making enemies How The Sporting Times and The 
Pelican nearly became amalgamated " Tale- Pitcher " Bin- 
stead A real humorist " The Dwarf of Blood " How 
Colonel Newnham-Davis came by his style and title Bessie 
Bellwood's pantomime The " Dwarf " as a cookery genius 
His famous Guy Fawkes dinner, and those who were 
present at it A born story-teller A very distinguished 
admirer of " Pitcher " How he was mistaken for a German 
spy His singularly apt retort. 

1 SUPPOSE that almost every journalist, at 
some time or other, desires to own and 
edit a paper, just as every actor wants to 
be a manager, and give himself the sort of 
parts he believes he is best suited to ; and so it 
was not out of the common that I should have 
decided that the way to a sufficiency of " the root 
of all evil," to keep me when the time came when 
I should tire of work, was to create something 
for myself. 

Being a contributor to journals was well enough 
in its way, and I had been reasonably fortunate. 

76 



EARLY STRUGGLES 77 

Sub-editing was all right too, but what I wanted 
was to be Commanding Officer of my own ship, 
and I desired, moreover, to know that at least a 
portion of whatever my work was producing was 
actually going to come my way. 

And so I started The Pelican, and on November 
2nd, 1889, the first number thereof was born at 
84 Fleet Street, with Punch as a next-door neigh- 
bour. 

I started with no preliminary advertisement or 
heralding, principally because I couldn't afford 
the former very costly matter, but, all the same, 
the little paper, apparently, filled the regulation 
" long-felt want/' alluded to by most new periodi- 
cals, for it was a success from its first issue. 

In subsequent years, every now and again, a 
specially eagle-eyed correspondent used to write 
and point out that though he or she had acquired 
a copy of the first number, they were greatly 
puzzled to find it stated thereon that it was 
" No. 115, Vol. 5." The reason was a very simple 
one, and was thuswise. 

In those days it was and perhaps still is a 
matter of difficulty to get a new paper on to the 
bookstalls at its start, for the newsagents said, 
rightly enough, " Wait till the public ask for it, 
and we will take it ; but not till then." 

Wherefore I thought of a plan to get on to the 
stalls, especially the railway bookstalls, right 
away. I purchased for a small sum, a paper 



78 A PELICAN'S TALE 

which was dying, but which possessed the advan- 
tage of a place in the bookstall sun. It was a 
penny paper with an orange coloured cover, like 
the familiar Pelican contents' bills, and it was 
called The Tattler, spelt, you will notice, with two 
t's, unlike friend Clement Shorter's well-known 
weekly. I produced one number of The Tattler, 
and stated in large letters on the wrapper thereof, 
that the title of the paper would be changed to 
The Pelican, the cover would become brown I 
copied this idea from the old Bat and numerous 
other alterations and improvements would be 
made ; and thus I hoped all was going to be well, 
and when W. H. Smith and Son, Willing, and the 
other big wholesale agents, sent in their orders 
the following week for Tattlers, they were given 
Pelicans instead. 

But the scheme was a ghastly failure. The 
newspaper distributing magnates would have 
none of us. They returned their Pelicans and 
said they had not ordered them, and so the money 
spent on the purchase of The Tattler went for 
nothing. That was my first smack in the eye in 
connection with my new venture. I got a good 
many of these one way and another ; as I no 

doubt deserved. 



However, although the newsagents wouldn't 
have us on the morning of our birth, the public 
having got to hear about us, somehow or other, 
and having started to ask at the bookstalls con- 



COUNTERFEIT 79 

cerning our whereabouts, the agents sent in orders 
during the afternoon of the same day, and The 
Pelican duly found itself displayed among the 
other journals on the railway station and other 
bookstalls, and so all was well, honour was satis- 
fied, I and a cousin-partner shook hands with one 
another, and said, " Well, hang it all, at any rate 
we have started/' 

It was a curious omen, and one which I did not 
regard favourably at the time, to find from our 
publisher that the first money actually taken 
over the publishing office counter was a bad two- 
shilling piece. My dear old friend, Arthur Bin- 
stead, famous all the world over as " Pitcher " of 
The Sporting Times, and as the first editor of 
Town Topics would have it that great good luck 
was clearly heralded by the advent of the spurious 
coin. " Pitcher " was one of the most really 
humorous writers I ever knew. He was an actual 
genius in his way, and singularly superstitious, 
although he always believed he wasn't. 

The base coin was duly nailed to the counter as 
a warning to all future would-be evil-doers that 
we had already had some. Sometime after it was 
found to be gone. Someone had stolen it ; and I 
devoutly trust he subsequently got locked up 
for attempting to pass it, as he no doubt tried 
to do. 

And talking of this sort of thing recalls how the 
sentences awarded to criminals so often vary 



8o A PELICAN'S TALE 

mysteriously in degree according to the judge who 
tries the cases. 

Thus, not very long ago, I was a juryman at 
the Central Criminal Court, when a case which 
came before my jury-brethren and myself, was 
that of a hero who had defrauded a considerable 
number of persons of very large sums. We found 
him guilty, and he received a sentence of three 
months' imprisonment from a very lenient judge. 

Later on the same day I again juried, when an 
unfortunate lad was tried for passing a bogus ten 
shilling Money Order. This time Mr. Justice 
Avory, the judge who tried the case, considered 
that justice would not be arrived at with a smaller 
sentence than fifteen months ; and this he duly 
awarded the luckless young fellow, luckless, 
chiefly, according to my way of looking at matters, 
that his case came before the latter, instead of the 
former judge. 

But to return to our mutton. Many people 
have asked why the journal was called The Pelican, 
and the reason was thuswise. The paper pur- 
ported to be one for men-about-Town, and all the 
young men at that time were members of the 
famous Pelican Club, and when we were casting 
about for a suitable name for our new paper it 
was suggested that The Pelican would be a good 
and expressive title. Another name cropped up 
and was thought a good deal of, and so a week 
before the paper was published, we tossed up which 




KATE VAUGHAX 



A SMART PAPER 81 

of the two names it should have, and by reason 
of ha_ a crown, produced for the purpose, by the 
way, by the late Duke of Manchester, then more 
familiar to many as Kim Mandeville, falling tail 
upwards, the paper was duly christened The 
Pelican. 

I fear the beginning of The Pelican was also the 
ending of The Hawk, for people found they could 
get pretty much the same sort of news in The 
Pelican for a penny, that they got in The Hawk 
for six times that sum. Anyhow after going down 
hill, more or less unsteadily, for some years, The 
Hawk, which among other things had prophesied 
three months of life for its smaller rival, ceased to 
be and died the death. 

I don't think its end was regretted by many, 
for during its time on earth the paper had managed 
to make quite a remarkable number of enemies, 
who openly rejoiced at its downfall. It called 
itself " A Smart Paper for Smart People/' and 
assuredly it used to make a lot of people smart 
each week. Of course it amused some persons to 
see their best friends attacked or held up to ridi- 
cule, and perhaps the so doing sold a few extra 
copies, but by the following week, the attacks 
were all forgotten except by the persons at- 
tacked. 

They remembered them, naturally, and when 
the chance came of getting a bit of their own 
back, they took it with great promptitude and 



82 A PELICAN'S TALE 

satisfaction, and with at least equally disastrous 
results to the paper. 

Having seen the suicidal folly of making 
enemies, and of having them made for me, during 
my connection with The Hawk, I made up such 
mind as I possessed that the policy of The Pelican 
should be to be fairly smart and spicy hateful 
words, but I know of none better to explain my 
present meaning and at the same time though 
not being too indefinite, to make as few enemies 
as possible, and as many friends as I could. 

Any ass with a paper, or perhaps without one, 
can make enemies ; that I am convinced of, for 
it is simplicity itself to be rude to people, whether 
you are an editor, or the follower of any other 
trade. On the other hand, it is difficult to make 
friends and to keep them, and if there is one thing 
I am more glad of than another, in my over twenty- 
eight years' connection with The Pelican, it is, 
that while I believe I made very few enemies, I 
know I made many kind, loyal, and valuable 
friends, for the paper and for myself. 

I remember well in this connection how my 
good friend, George R. Sims, the world famous 
" Dagonet " of The Referee, early in The Pelican's 
career took me into a corner of the big room of 
the old Eccentric Club one night, and gave me a 
most valuable talking to. 

Said he, among much other kindly and greatly 
valued advice, "Don't make more enemies than 



A COSTLY VENTURE 83 

you can help ; you can easily make them and they 
will never do you any good. Make all the friends 
you can that's the clever thing to do." Well, 
that was the idea I did my humble best to follow 
during the time The Pelican was under my charge, 
and it was a plan which proved reasonably satis- 
factory. 

Twenty-eight years is a longish time in the life 
of a paper like The Pelican, and the fact that I 
kept it going in my possession for that time, is 
the best answer as to whether it was a success or 
not. A paper is a costly thing to produce, and 
you may take it that if it had not been worth 
doing, it would not have been done. Whether the 
success was deserved or not is of course another 
story, and hardly one for me to try to tell. Many 
people were good enough to offer to become my 
partners during the time The Pelican was in my 
hands, and on several occasions I could have been 
relieved of it altogether, on quite satisfactory 
terms, but I liked the work, hard though it was, 
and got a vast deal of interest and amusement 
out of it. 

At one time John Corlett, then proprietor of 
The Sporting Times, had a scheme for my joining 
forces with him, and running the two papers 
under one control, but though John's special 
friend on his staff, Colonel Newnham-Davis, the 
dear old " Dwarf of Blood/' also did what he could 
to push the idea along, I held to the plan that I 



84 A PELICAN'S TALE 

would prefer to hoe my own furrow, which I did, 
till finding I had had enough of the game, and 
desired to take things more easily, and, moreover, 
having achieved the sum of coin of the realm 
which I had set out to secure, I sold the Brown 
Bird to a syndicate headed by Mr. Charles Higham, 
who is now editing the paper in its new form so 
capably and well. 

Few men were better known, in what he used 
to term ' ' Clean shirted Bohemia " than Newnham- 
Davis, and indeed it is only the bare truth to say 
of him that he was one of the most popular all- 
round men in London. He had been a Harrow 
boy, and when he joined the famous Kent regi- 
ment, The Buffs, he saw a deal of service in South 
Africa, China, and India. It was in Simla that he 
became famous as an amateur actor, and when he 
left the Service and came home finally, in '94, he 
became a member of the famous Old Stagers, 
who used to give performances at Canterbury, 
during the Cricket Week. 

While he was in India, Davis used to con- 
tribute periodically to The Sporting Times, and 
when he came home for good, John Corlett 
secured his weekly services, and his signature 
" The Dwarf of Blood " became a regular feature 
in the paper. For " Master " he also edited The 
Man of the World for a time, and was later practi- 
cally editor of The Pink 'Un, which he under- 
stood he was ultimately to control ; but Corlett 



THE DWARF OF BLOOD 85 

somewhat suddenly disposed of the paper, to 
Mr. de Wend Fenton, and the old staff moved off 
and started Town Topics, with " Tale-Pitcher " 
Binstead as editor, and Mr. Kennedy Jones, M.P., 
as proprietor. 

How " The Dwarf of Blood " came by his curious 
signature has been told before, I know, but here is 
how it actually came about, once more. 

After a certain supper party, the revellers ad- 
journed to the house of Miss Bessie Bellwood, at 
that time by far the most popular and famous 
lady music-hall singer in London, and a highly 
remarkable impromptu pantomime was there and 
then produced. The " orchestra " was furnished 
by one of the best-known composers of the day, 
seated at the piano, while certain lights of the 
peerage, the Household Brigade, and Fleet Street, 
collaborated in the libretto. 

Poor Bessie herself became principal boy, and 
pretty Kate Leamar, of the famous " Sisters 
Leamar " was the heroine. The " comedians " 
were mainly men who have achieved eminence in 
other callings, and might feel coy about having 
their artistic endeavours recalled now, so we will 
let them go. 

Newnham-Davis, like the man in A Pantimime 
Rehearsal " Wanted to act/' but the cast seemed 
complete, till Bessie, seldom at a loss for long, 
said, " I know ; you shall be the Dwarf of Blood, 
come out from under the table and groan at the 



86 A PELICAN'S TALE 

right time." And so things were. The name 
stuck to Newnham-Davis, and he was ever after- 
ward " The Dwarf " to his many friends all over 
the world. 

When Romano, proprietor of the famous Strand 
Restaurant, died, Newnham-Davis and Walter 
Pallant, were the two prime movers in the re- 
generation of the place, and in the formation of 
the company which came to own it. Davis was a 
remarkable authority on cookery of all sorts and 
kinds, and his " Dinners and Diners " articles in 
the Pall Mall Gazette attracted a deal of attention 
when they were published. He was also one of 
the founders of Le Touquet as it now is, wrote a 
musical comedy for George Edwardes, called My 
Lady Madcap, and with the proceeds thereof 
built the delightful Chalet Madcap in the Forest 
of Le Touquet, in which I, according to a lengthy 
promise, was his first guest. 

" The Dwarf " used to delight in giving odd 
little dinner parties, and one of them which comes 
back to me vividly, was his famous Guy Fawkes 
dinner in a certain upper chamber at Romano's, 
when Mr. Teddy Bayly was manager of the place, 
previous to Luigi's successful reign. 

In the centre of the table, seated on a barrel of 
gunpowder was a big life-sized guy, while each of 
the guests had his own special guy facing him. 
Thus John Corlett's was a neat Little Pink 'Un 
jockey. Sir Frank Burnand's was a " Punch/' 



A GOOD STORY-TELLER 87 

which paper he was then editing. Bob Martin's 
was a Ballyhooley Irishman. Sir Douglas Straight, 
then editor of the Pall Mall, had an elaborate 
Native in front of him, in commemoration of his 
services in India. The guy of my old school- 
fellow, Captain Robert Marshall, the delightful 
playwright was a " Second in Command/' while 
my good friend George R. Sims was faced with a 
wild-haired Tatcho golliwog, and your servant by 
a cheerful looking " Sunny Jim " reading an exact 
little copy of The Pelican in a brown cover. 

Of Arthur Binstead, who was mainly concerned 
with The Dwarf, and Mr. Horace Lennard, in 
starting Town Topics, one can truthfully say he 
was that very rare mortal, a genuine humorist. 
There was no midnight oil about his literary fun ; 
it was all perfectly natural and spontaneous or 
at least gave you the idea of being so. 

He was one of the best story-tellers I ever knew, 
and I have had the good fortune to know some of 
the most famous of our time ; and he could make 
more out of slight material than any man of my 
experience. It was only when you heard someone 
else try to repeat a story you had heard " Pitcher " 
relate, that you quite realised the genius of the 
original teller. 

His articles and newspaper stories were good ; 
his books, such as A Pink 'Un and A Pelican, 
Gal's Gossip, Mop Fair, Pitcher in Paradise, and 
the rest, even better ; but best of all was to hear 



88 A PELICAN'S TALE 

him tell at first hand, the latest story he had 
come by, or invented, to a few appreciative 
listeners. 

He delighted in telling a good story and telling 
it really well, just as much as his listeners liked 
hearing it. He was in his own particular way a 
great actor, and the slight gestures, the quaint 
expressions of countenance, with which the climax 
of the tale would be reached, are things one re- 
calls with sad pleasure, when one remembers that 
the teller is among those who have " gone on 
ahead/' 

Among the many admirers of "Pitcher's" 
writings none was more sincere than a very dis- 
tinguished scholar, at one time a Professor of 
St. Andrews University, and not long ago a 
certain interfering person in an omnibus, passing 
Kensington Church, and not apparently liking his 
appearance, bent over to the Professor and said, 
" Excuse me, sir, but you look very like a German 
spy ! " 

The one time professor gazed at the speaker 
with interest for a moment, and then replied in 
anything rather than the expected foreign accent, 
" Excuse me, sir, but you look very like a German 
sausage ! " and then the conversation came to a 
very abrupt termination. 



CHAPTER VI 

Our first big " scoop " The Tranby Croft affair What Edmund 
Yates said about it Also what the eminent solicitor thought 
How we cornered the " Baccarat scandal " market for a 
time The author of the articles No harm in mentioning 
his name now Some Pelican contributors Willie" Wilde of 
The Daily Telegraph His marriage to Mrs. Frank Leslie, 
the great American newspaper proprietress His neglected 
opportunities of great things A very different man from 
his notorious brother Oscar Oscar Wilde's desire How 
it went unfulfilled His subsequent appearance at the Old 
Bailey His departure therefrom to do " two years hard " 
Some murder trials The Milsom-Fowler affair at the Old 
Bailey How Fowler nearly murdered Milsom in the dock 
A real sensation scene The Tichborne Claimant What he 
said Fleet Street swindlers Bogus advertising agents who 
preyed on new papers I suffer from them And some of 
them suffer from me The simple art of protecting oneself 
Sometimes an easier matter than calling in the police 
How it answered in my case. 

FOR the benefit of those ignorant of the 
language of Fleet Street, I beg to say 
that a " scoop " is journalese for a piece 
of exclusive information. It is an occa- 
sion when you get ahead of your fellows with 
your news, and naturally in a paper which only 
comes out once a week, the chances of getting in 
front of the morning and evening journals are 
limited. 

However, we managed to bring off quite a 

89 



go A PELICAN'S TALE 

number of " scoops " in the Pelican at various 
times, and one of the earliest of these which called 
attention to the paper, and did its circulation a 
deal of good, was what was known as the Tranby 
Croft baccarat scandal. 

As will no doubt be still remembered, one of 
the house-party at Tranby Croft, the abode of 
the Wilsons, the big shipping people, was accused 
of cheating at baccarat, and as those staying 
there at the time included King Edward, then 
Prince of Wales, and a number of well-known 
people, the matter created a deal of history at the 
time, more especially as it ultimately found its 
way into the Law Courts, and there was a very 
considerable to do, which greatly infuriated that 
pink of propriety, Queen Victoria, who hated 
anything and everything of the kind. 

It will be recalled that it came out in course of 
the evidence in Court, that the entire house-party 
were sworn to secrecy concerning the happening, 
but some of them certainly talked. 

No doubt one man, or woman, told the story 
to his or her chief friend, in confidence, then he 
or she passed it on in the same fashion, and soon 
people were all whispering and nodding their 
heads about the mystery, concerning which few 
of them knew precise details. Then, one fine day 
I am talking of course of the period prior to the 
trial out came The Pelican with the whole story, 
with dates, chapter, and verse, and a considerable 



A SCOOP 91 

sensation was produced. To start with, the paper 
promptly went out of print that week, and a 
second edition had at once to be put in hand. 
Half the editors of the London daily papers sent 
along their special men to see me, in order to 
obtain further pointers, and my good friend 
Edmund Yates of The World, sent a note along 
commanding my presence at once at York Street, 
Covent Garden, where The World office then was. 

When I saw the good Edmund he promptly 
said, " My boy, you have either got hold of a very 
big thing indeed, or you have ruined yourself, and 
spoilt your paper for all time. Sit down and tell 
me all about it." But greatly as I liked Mr. Yates 
this seemed rather too much to expect and I told 
him so. I said that if he had read my issue of the 
current week, he knew all I had to tell so far, but 
that in next week's number I should have more 
to say, and then I resisted, as diplomatically as I 
knew how, the good " Atlas' " best efforts to 
pump me. 

I knew that from a newspaper point of view, I 
had got a plum, and I meant to stick to it, as long 
as possible. And this I did. 

A very eminent solicitor, who was later on 
engaged in the legal proceedings connected with 
the matter, honoured me with a visit, to point 
out that I shouldn't have printed anything of the 
sort I had done, without first having consulted 
him on the matter, and suggested vaguely that if 



92 A PELICAN'S TALE 

I had done so, it might have been considerably to 
my benefit. I sat quietly and listened to what he 
had to say, for he was a much older man than 
myself, but I very steadfastly declined to give 
him the source of my information, although I was 
well aware of the very distinguished personage 
for whom he desired it, and this, too, in spite of 
considerable inducements held out to me to talk. 

As a matter of fact, now that the whole thing 
is over, and the writer of the article, like so many 
of the persons concerned in the affair, is no more, 
there is probably no harm in saying that " The 
Tranby Croft affair " and the succeeding articles 
dealing with it, were written by Jimmy Davis, 
better known to playgoers as " Owen Hall/ 1 and 
he got his information from one of the persons 
actually present at the happening. 

It was interesting to see how the other papers, 
daily as well as weekly, came out with mere 
repetitions of our facts, and had to wait on from 
week to week, in order to give their readers fresh 
" news." The matter was not merely an ordinary 
" scoop " for us, but was one which we kept 
entirely to ourselves for three weeks. We had 
got at the only source of information which could 
be tapped, and we held on to it tightly, so long as 
it was of any use to us. It was, as Edmund Yates 
had said, " a very big thing " for us, and did the 
paper a deal of good, bringing it well into the 
limelight. 



A GOOD-NATURED SOUL 93 

Among those who frequently contributed to 
The Pelican, was that very brilliant writer, when 
he chose to take a little trouble with his work, 
Willie Wilde. He was a brother, it is true, of the 
notorious Oscar, but quite a different sort of per- 
son, in every way, from him. He was a most cheery 
good-natured soul, always hard up, no matter 
how much money he might be earning, but his 
manner was so agreeable, and his conversation so 
witty, that even those who knew he was about to 
borrow from them, were almost always glad to 
see him. 

For several years he was one of the special 
correspondents and leader writers of The Daily 
Telegraph, and his work attracted a lot of notice. 
Then Mrs. Frank Leslie, the celebrated owner of 
Frank Leslie's Weekly, and numerous other 
American papers, and magazines, fell in love with 
him, took him to the United States and married 
him. 

Willie had a great chance of making half a 
dozen fortunes, for owing to his wife's influence 
and his own ability, pretty well anything, journal- 
istically speaking, was open to him, but though 
he could, and did when he chose, work quickly, 
he was not at all keen about working often, or 
indeed at all ; and when he found himself married 
to a lady of great wealth and remarkable business 
capabilities, he appeared to consider that there 
was no need for more than one of the combination 



94 A PELICAN'S TALE 

to hustle ; and that perhaps he had better not be 
the one. 

The union did not turn out successfully, and 
" Wuffalo Will," as his friends called him, it being 
generally agreed that in many ways he bore little 
resemblance to the hardy, robust Buffalo Bill, 
saving in the matter of height and hair, returned 
to this country, but his star had gone down, and 
what ought to have been a very brilliant career 
did not fulfil the earlier hopes it had given. 

Edmund Yates was a great believer in Willie 
Wilde's journalistic abilities, and commissioned 
him to write one of the Christmas numbers of 
The World, in the days when these things were of 
considerable importance, and were a sort of revue 
of the life and people who had made history during 
the previous twelve months. The wonderful 
portrait cartoons by Alfred Brian were always a 
special feature of the Christmas World. 

As I have said, Willie was in all respects quite a 
different sort of person from his brother Oscar, and 
with all his faults, most of which were the effect 
of a far too easy-going and generous nature, he 
was in many ways, a good fellow, as well as an 
exceedingly brilliant man. I speak as one who 
knew him well. 

His brother I knew not at all ; nor did I ever 
wish to know him, even in the days of his greatest 
prosperity and notoriety, when he was sought 
after, and made much of, to what seemed to me, 



THE RETORT COURTEOUS 95 

a sickening extent. I liked neither his appearance, 
his manner, his monstrous conceit, nor his evil 
reputation, and carefully avoided being introduced 
to him. 

On one occasion I was lunching at the Cafe 
Royal in the upstair room, and Oscar Wilde, 
encircled by a crowd of his young men admirers, 
was feeding at a table a little way off, holding a 
sort of court for the apparent benefit of everyone 
else in the restaurant. One of his young men 
came over to my table, and without any sort of 
preliminary remark said, " Oscar desires that you 
be presented to him." " Does he," I replied, 
" then you can tell your friend that he may go to 
the devil so far as I am concerned, for I have not 
the smallest desire to be presented to him." The 
young man he is older to-day and a deal more 
sensible gasped with apparent horror. " Would 
you have me tell him that ? " he cried. " Yes, I 
would," I said, " and you can, if you like, add 
that I am a friend of Charles Brookfield, and of 
'Q.'" "Philistine!" retorted the poet's mes- 
senger, and departed, presumably to make his 
report, while I paid my bill and cleared out. 

" Q " was of course, the late Lord Queensberry, 
who with Brookfield was then rapidly collecting 
the evidence which led to the downfall of the 
"Apostle of the Beautiful" at the Old Bailey, 
where not long after I saw Wilde, sentenced with 
his friend Taylor, to two years hard labour. 



96 A PELICAN'S TALE 

The trial made a tremendous sensation at the 
time, not only in this country, but literally all 
over the world. However, it is an old and nasty 
story now, and better left alone, though the 
verbal duel in Court, between Wilde and Sir 
Edward Carson is not yet forgotten, and one still 
recalls the brilliancy of many of Wilde's answers, 
the way he scored off Counsel, and the curious 
bull terrier like way in which the Irish barrister, 
with his remarkable brogue, held on to his victim, 
and never let go, till he brought him down very 
low indeed. 

Talking of the Old Bailey recalls other famous 
trials one has seen and listened to there, most of 
them, even the murder ones, being deadly dull 
affairs, till just at the end when sentence was 
pronounced. 

One of the most interesting and sensational 
that I recall, was the Muswell Hill murder case, 
when two ruffians named Milsom and Fowler, 
were tried before Lord Brampton, or Sir Henry 
Hawkins as he was then. This trial was full of 
grim details, the showing of blood-stained ex- 
hibits, weapons, and the like, and Hawkins was 
in great form throughout. It was generally known 
that Milsom had tried to turn Queen's Evidence, 
and on the last day of the trial, the two culprits 
sat in the big dock, with a burly police officer 
between them, as well as the usual gaoler behind, 
at the top of the steps leading down to the cells. 



THE MUSWELL HILL MURDERS 97 

When the jury went out to consider their verdict, 
the judge left the Bench, but the prisoners were 
not taken out of court, for it was clear to every- 
one that there could only be a verdict of guilty 
and that it would be arrived at with very little 
delay. 

I was watching the two men very carefully, and 
was seated at the side of the court quite close to 
the dock, and I saw Milsom lean over towards 
Fowler and say with a sort of sickly grin, " Not a 
chance, ' Bunny/ " In the next second, Fowler, 
who was an immensely big, powerful fellow, had 
t leapt at Milsom, dashing the intervening police- 
man aside, and had got him by the throat. They 
crashed against one end of the dock, which was 
adorned with a number of panes of glass, and 
these were promptly smashed to smithereens. 
Then they swayed across to the other side, smash- 
ing all the glass there as well. In a couple of 
seconds the dock was full of uniformed and plain- 
clothes policemen, but Fowler was so powerful 
that he knocked them about like ninepins, and as 
nearly as no matter succeeded in his object of 
strangling Milsom. 

Everybody in Court yelled, barristers stood on 
their seats, Miss Minnie Palmer, the famous 
American actress, who was seated immediately in 
front of me, gave forth screams of wondrous size 
to proceed from so small a lady. All the other 
women in Court joined in, and for a few minutes 

G 



98 A PELICAN'S TALE 

there was as lively an imitation of a bear garden 
gone mad, as you could wish to see. 

Later on, when the two men were sentenced, 
they were, brought in heavily handcuffed, and 
were kept carefully apart by a considerable body 
of police. In due course, when they were executed, 
it was generally supposed there would be another 
scene, but though they were hanged together on 
the same scaffold, nothing out of the way occurred, 
the authorities keeping them well apart, by 
placing a third victim to the supreme penalty, 
between them, with the result that at the right 
moment they were all three swung into eternity 
together, in what I am told was a most satisfactory 
and workmanlike manner. 

As I came away from the Court, after seeing 
Fowler and Milsom sentenced, I did so by the 
private staircase, thanks to my friend, the Under- 
Sheriff of the time, and coming down encountered 
a poor frail looking woman, crouched on the 
stairs apparently in the greatest distress. I tried 
to comfort her as well as I could, and told her to 
endeavour to cheer up, whatever her trouble was. 
" How can I cheer up/' she said, " I am Mrs. 
Milsom." There was no answer to that ; and so I 
just came away as quietly as possible. 

One of the most famous trials of the world was 
that of the Tichborne Claimant. Arthur Orton 
is merely a name in these days, but there was a 
time when the whole of Great Britain was divided 



THE TICHBORNE CASE 99 

into two great camps, those who believed that he 
was Sir Roger Tichborne as he claimed to be, and 
those who regarded him as an impudent humbug 
engaged in the biggest bluff on record. 

It seems incredible that an ignorant, aitchless 
butcher from Wagga-Wagga, should have induced 
many people to believe that he was the missing 
baronet, and even secured the sympathy and 
credence of old Lady Tichborne that he was her 
son, but he certainly did it, and so confident were 
many that the monstrously obese fellow was the 
actual man he purported to be, that they produced 
money in large quantities in order that he might 
be enabled to contest his claim. 

It was as " THE CLAIMANT " that Arthur Orton 
was generally known in this country, though he 
stuck hard and fast to the story that he was Sir 
Roger Tichborne, even after he had completed 
the long term of penal servitude which the law of 
the land awarded to him for his endeavours. 

After his return to freedom, there were some 
not many it is true who continued to believe 
that the ex-butcher, whom the rigours of Portland 
had reduced to normal proportions, was an ill- 
used martyr, scandalously kept out of his rights, 
and these confiding folk backed their opinion 
with coin of the realm, an action which it seems to 
me must always denote very solid belief. 

After a time even these credulous persons began 
to tail off, and dark days fell upon the Claimant, 



ioo A PELICAN'S TALE 

who was driven to various expedients in order to 
raise the wind, and among others to the joyful 
acceptance of the offer of an engagement to appear 
at the old Royal Music-hall, now the Holborn 
Empire, to exhibit himself for the benefit of the 
curious, and to make a brief statement of his woes. 

The manager of the place at that time was the 
late Tom Carlton, and knowing that I was ever 
interested in meeting people who had done any- 
thing out of the common, even if it were only 
" time " in sufficient quantity to take them out 
of the ordinary, he, Carlton, one day turned up at 
the office of my paper about luncheon-time, 
accompanied by a pleasant, quiet, sad-faced old 
gentleman, whom he introduced to me as " The 
Claimant of whom you have no doubt heard/' 

Having done so from the days of early child- 
hood, since the period when Tichborne candy 
" crack the rock where'er you will, you'll find Sir 
Roger in it still " was one of my favourite 
delicacies, I was naturally interested in meeting 
so distinguished a celebrity face to face, and being 
about to adjourn for my midday meal, I invited 
my visitors to accompany me. 

Having heard all manner of persons, learned 
and foolish, legal and otherwise, discuss and 
quarrel over the innocence or wickedness of the 
Claimant's cause for many previous years, it was 
very interesting to hear the worthy man pour 
forth details of his very lengthy trials there were 



" ARE YOU SIR ROGER ? " 101 

two of them and of his infinitely longer term of 
penal servitude, at first hand. 

It took many great legal minds to decide whether 
Orton was himself or Tichborne, but on this occa- 
sion the answer to the conundrum was made plain 
in a flash, when after the Claimant had given vent 
to a number of what seemed to me singularly 
committing statements in the course of one of his 
lengthy and humorous stories, as to how he had 
" bested " the eminent Counsel arrayed against 
him, Carlton turned to him and said, " Look here, 
Claimant, are you or are you not Sir Roger ? ' 
and I still recollect the Claimant's whimsical smile 
as he replied, " Well, Tommy ; you know how 
things are. What's the good of trying to kid 
you ? " 

It was more the tone in which they were spoken, 
than the actual words themselves, which served to 
make the thing perfectly clear to me, if indeed I 
had previously had any doubts about the matter. 

There used to be, and perhaps there still is in 
Fleet Street, a gang of swindling, alleged adver- 
tising agents and canvassers, who made new 
papers their special prey, and on whose managers 
they unloaded advertisement orders of the most 
non-reliable sort, demanding, frequently with 
threats, prompt payment of considerable commis- 
sion usually 20 per cent. 

As a rule a new paper finds great difficulty in 
securing the needful advertising support, without 



102 A 'PELICAN'S TALE 

which it cannot exist, unless its proprietor is a 
philanthropist and a very wealthy one too. And 
so it is that the managements of such organs are 
usually rather too willing to believe that all 
advertisement orders brought to them are genuine, 
and worth coin of the realm later on, when they 
have been executed. 

Every new journal is a mark for these harpies, 
and at the time The Pelican was born, there hap- 
pened to have been rather a dearth of Fleet 
Street sucklings, for some time previously. Where- 
fore the entire gang of these robbers surged up 
our somewhat steep stairs at 84 Fleet Street, 
intent upon securing as much of our not too 
ample money as they could force out of us. 

I was caught with one or two of those bogus 
orders at the beginning, and duly paid the re- 
quired commissions, but after that I grew more 
cautious, and as a result the Fleet Street sharps 
became more wary and skilful in their tactics. 
Some of them, however, didn't condescend to the 
use of camouflage to any great extent, but relying 
on size and a bullying manner, would practically 
demand my money or my paper's life ! 

I was not keen about parting with either, and 
the climax came one day when an enormously 
large, red-faced, red-haired, rather drunken and 
very quarrelsome pirate, came up to our lair and 
demanded five pounds for orders which he said 
he might bring in at some indefinite future period. 



A PRECIOUS GANG 103 

Looking through my window on to Fleet Street, 
I noticed several members of the gang waiting 
about to see whether I was likely to stand this 
latest and most dastardly attack. I felt the time 
had come for action, and so I temporised and 
talked to my bully while I slowly got him, with 
his very extensive back to the top of our very 
steep stairs. Then I let him have all I knew with 
my left and right on his chest, which had the effect 
of over-balancing him, and down he went right 
into Fleet Street, very much like a pole-axed ox. 

When he had picked himself up and found that 
only bruises had apparently resulted, he pro- 
claimed aloud the various ways in which he in- 
tended to kill me, and started to come upstairs 
again to execute his design. I pointed out as 
briefly as possible, and in as direct a language as I 
knew how, that I stood on the top step, that by 
the time he had got three-quarter way up, his 
head would be on a level with my foot, that my 
boots were thick, and that I proposed to use them 
to the best of my ability. After a remarkable 
flow of blasphemy from him and his companions, 
who now took a hand in the game, and sundry 
dark threats of what they would do when they 
got me outside, the deputation withdrew and I 
was left alone. Nor did the gang ever afterwards 
interfere with me in any way. 

Ours was, in a variety of ways, a distinctly 
strenuous life, at the start of the paper, and 



104 A PELICAN'S TALE 

threats of various sorts were not infrequent ; but 
as I had even then heard and have since found out 
for myself, threatened men live fairly long. 

Of course I might have given my bogus adver- 
tisement friends in charge, but I should have had 
to devote a good deal of time to the matter, and 
should in the end have not merely failed to re- 
cover my money, but have had to spend more, 
and so my somewhat primitive methods seemed 
good enough. They answered all right, anyhow. 



CHAPTER VII 

The new offices A nest of ladies' journals Distinguished sub- 
editors Our only libel action On trial at the Mansion 
House Mr. Charles Gill, K.C., and Mr. Justice Avory Did- 
cott the music-hall agent Father Stanton of St. Albans, 
Holborn A fine priest and a great man An unpaid curate 
for fifty years " Dad's " opinion of great wealth The law 
of balance Money and misfortune The frequency with 
which they go together What Charles Frohman said about it 
His story of the Satrap and the physician The man who 
had no shirt Frohman and Barrie How Frohman died in 
the Lusitania tragedy Barrie and Peter Pan How Peter 
nearly had another name A wonderfully successful play 
How its author believed it would be a financial failure How 
Barrie meant to indemnify Frohman against loss in connection 
with its production ! The play he meant to present Froh- 
man with. 

IN course of time it became necessary to seek 
out larger offices than those wherein The 
Pelican had been born, and after a good 
deal of searching, suitable premises were 
found at 10 and n Fetter Lane, which is a 
largish building, almost opposite the Record 
Office. Here we found ourselves in a veritable 
nest of Ladies' Papers, for the building housed 
among others, Hearth and Home, Myra's Journal, 
and Woman. I fancy Mrs. Talbot-Coke was chief 
proprietor of these journals, and her son-in-law, 

a charming fellow named Langton-Bailey, 

105 



io6 A PELICAN'S TALE 

managed things for her. Hearth and Home had 
quite a number of men who got on as its sub- 
editors at various times. Among them being, 
Robert Hichens, one of the products of David 
Anderson's School of Journalism, in Chancery 
Lane, and Arnold Bennett who later on became 
editor of Woman. 

In one respect at least I believe I scored some- 
thing of a record during my twenty-eight years 
of The Pelican, and it was in the matter of libel 
actions, for during that fairly lengthy period, we 
had only one case of the sort brought against us, 
and that one the Lord Mayor, before whom it was 
tried, in dismissing the action said, that in his 
opinion it never ought to have been brought. 

When you take into consideration that The 
Pelican was a paper which devoted a good deal of 
its space to personalities, and, moreover, that it 
usually spoke its mind very clearly, I think the 
fact that we escaped being pulled into Court 
more often than only once, at least proved our 
luck, if nothing else. Perhaps the bad two- 
shilling piece, taken so early in the paper's career, 
had something to do with this. 

Our only libel action was brought by a man 
who called himself Hugh Jay Didcott, and who was 
at the time quite a personage in the theatrical and 
music-hall world. He had by far the largest thea- 
trical business agency of its kind, and was, in the 
opinion of many, a man of great consequence. 



A POLICE COURT CASE 107 

The trouble came about through the publica- 
tion of a story called " A Very Odde Volume/' 
and in it there figured a music-hall agent who was 
called " Mr. York Road," in which locality, by 
the way, most of the agents at that time had their 
offices. Didcott said that "York Road" was 
meant for him ; but he was quite wrong in his 
belief. The man who wrote the story had never 
seen or heard, at the time, of Didcott, who was, 
among other things, the father of that clever 
little actress, Miss Maudi Darrell, who died all too 
young, soon after her marriage to the very wealthy 
Mr. Ian Bullough, who subsequently married 
Miss Lily Elsie. 

Now it is a fact that no matter how hard you 
try to do so, you will find it impossible to write a 
story of any sort or kind, which won't fit some- 
body or other in the world ; for everything con- 
ceivable has been done to, or by someone, and 
when Didcott said that " York Road " was meant 
for him, I saw to my very considerable con- 
sternation, that there were many marked points 
of resemblance between the real man and 
imaginary one. 

In spite of my denial that " Mr. York Road " 
was meant for him, Didcott hailed me before the 
Lord Mayor at the Mansion House Police Court 
on a charge of criminal libel. This meant of 
course that if the Lord Mayor had sent the case 
for trial, I should have had to defend myself at 



io8 A PELICAN'S TALE 

the Old Bailey, and if I had lost, I should have 
been sent to prison. 

The late Mr. Stead gave utterance to the 
opinion that it was requisite as well as neces- 
sary, for the complete journalist to have been 
in prison at least once, as he himself had been. 
But I venture to think otherwise. I can imagine 
lots of funnier things than doing time. 

The case was duly heard before Sir Stuart 
Knill, the Lord Mayor ; Mr. Charles Gill, in- 
structed by Sir Charles Russell, defended me, and 
Mr. Horace Avory, now a judge of the High 
Court, appeared to prosecute. 

The results of the case might have been most 
serious to me, but fortunately Didcott was a man 
with a highly remarkable past, and under a very 
terrible cross-examination at the hands of Mr. 
Gill, it was made clear that his character had not 
been damaged, and that, to quote Counsel, " he 
had no character to clear, and it would be 
absolutely impossible for him to do so, if he 
tried." 

In the end the Lord Mayor dismissed the case, 
and everyone was quite pleased, except, of course, 
Didcott. To defend " an action which never 
should have been brought " cost me 250. How- 
ever, we got this back again in advertisement, 
for every paper in the Kingdom, from The Times 
downwards, alluded to the affair, in most cases 
at considerable length. This was the only action 



FATHER STANTON 109 

for libel The Pelican had while under my control. 
There were threats of one or two others but they 
came to nothing. 

Some little time after the Didcott action I was 
at the Eccentric Club one evening, when Sir 
Simeon Stuart, who was at that time City Marshal, 
came in, with a kindly faced old gentleman, to 
whom he presented me. My name, if he caught 
it, conveyed nothing to my new friend, but my 
countenance apparently did, for after looking at 
me fixedly he said " I fancy we have met before, 
but I can't think where. I seem to know your 
face quite well." I hastened to assure him that 
his was equally familiar to me, and that I was 
not soon likely to forget it, for I had regarded it 
with much more than ordinary interest for an 
entire day at the Mansion House Police Court. 
He was, of course, Sir Stuart Knill, the Lord 
Mayor, whom I afterwards came to know in- 
timately. 

A near neighbour of ours in Fetter Lane, and a 
very dear friend, was the famous Father Stanton, 
of St. Albans Church, Holborn, and his somewhat 
sudden and unexpected death, left a real blank in 
the hearts of the many who knew and loved him. 
We were all aware that Father Stanton dear 
old " Dad " as he was generally known to his 
flock had been very ill, but it was hoped that 
he was well over his trouble and that he would 
soon be coming back to us. " I am to get quite 



no A PELICAN'S TALE 

well, so they say/ 7 he wrote to me, shortly before 
the end came, " but the process is necessarily 
slow at 73." Still we hoped he was to be with us 
again " after Easter " and the news of his death 
came as a shock and very real grief to people all 
over London and the country. The Daily Tele- 
graph spoke of him as " one of the most widely 
known and best loved Anglican clergymen in 
London/' He was all that at least. The paper 
also said " London lost one of the best and 
noblest, one of the vitalising Christian forces she 
could ill afford to spare/' 

The break up of one of the most remarkable 
brotherhoods of clergy which ever existed in this 
country, came when the " old gang " of famous 
St. Albans, Holborn, ceased to be after the going 
of Father Suckling, the Vicar. The little band of 
brothers which dwelt together in such perfect 
unity, for so many years, in the Clergy House 
adjoining St. Albans Church, consisted, in addi- 
tion to the Vicar, of Father Russell, Father Hogg, 
Father Pearkes, and the famous Father Stanton, 
who might, of course, have had pretty well any 
sort of preferment he desired, but who was con- 
tent to remain for more than fifty years, an un- 
paid curate of the famous and beautiful church, 
which has meant so much to so many. 

In addition to being a wonderful preacher, a 
great parish priest, and one of the saintliest men 
who ever lived, Father Stanton possessed the 




Photo. A. H. y->i 

FATHER STAXTOX, THE FAMOUS PRIEST OF ST. ALBAX ? S, HOT.BORX 



1 THE DAD " in 

keenest sense of humour. He was a positive 
mine of good stories, and none could tell them 
better than he. He was also a thorough man-of- 
the-world, in the best sense, and was seldom sur- 
prised at anything, though at times some of his 
remarkable parishioners tried him fairly highly. 

On one occasion he had been working very 
hard since the early hours, till four in the after- 
noon, when he decided that a little rest would be 
no bad thing, wherefore he told the servant who 
answered the bell of the Clergy House, that he 
couldn't, and wouldn't, see anyone else that day. 

Soon afterwards a robust fellow of the coster- 
monger class might have been seen tugging at 
the bell of the Stanton abode. 

" Is the Dad in ? " he asked the maid who 
answered his summons. Stanton was always " the 
Dad " to his flock. 

" Yes, he's in, but he's tired ; he's lying down, 
and he can't see anyone," was the reply. 

" Blime, that's a nice thing, I don't think, for 
a bloke to 'ear wot's come to see him spiritool. 
Look 'ere, I got to see him. You tell him it's Jim 
Jones, and the matter is important and spiritool." 
And so the maiden sped upstairs to Father 
Stanton's chambers, wakened the fine old gentle- 
man up, and gave him the message. 

" All right," said the Dad. " If it's as he says, 
I must see him," and so getting into his cassock, 
he made his way downstairs. 



A PELICAN'S TALE 

" Jim Jones " turned out to be an absolute 
stranger. From his appearance, he was one who 
probably had had a difference of opinion with the 
police the previous evening, and had, as likely as 
not, just been discharged from the nearest police 
court. 

" Father/' he said, " I called to see you, and its 
a spiritool matter ; leastways/' he added, noting 
the good Stanton's very shrewd and somewhat 
sceptical gaze, " it ain't so much spiritool as you 
might think ; but that don't signify. What it 
comes to is this. Father, have you got a pair of 
trousers ? " 

" Yes/' replied the Father, committing himself, 
as you will note, as little as possible. 

" 'Ave you now ; well, where are they ? " 

" I have got them on," was the reply, " and 
you can't have them, but you can have this bob, 
and now out you go for I am very tired," and 
then the pair laughed heartily at one another, 
while the Father gently assisted his visitor to the 
door. 

" Blime, Dad, but you are 'ot stuff not 'arf " 
was the Coster's comment as he took his depar- 
ture. 

It was my privilege and it is one of the very 
few things I am proud of to have been a fairly 
intimate friend of Father Stanton, and although 
he did not regard with any special consequence 
what most people wrote or said about him, he 



A FRANK OPINION 113 

was at times disposed to attach importance to 
what his flock thought of him as a priest. 

One of his most constant followers was an aged 
and somewhat disreputable person, a vendor of 
shell-fish, and whose chief virtue was the regu- 
larity of his attendance at church on Sunday. 

" Do you know, Dad/' he said one day as he 
leant on the arm of his barrow, and gave Father 
Stanton the benefit of his views upon sundry 
matters, " you St. Albans Clergy are an un- 
common rummy lot oh very rummy and no 
mistake/' 

" How do you mean exactly ? " asked the good 
Father. 

" Well," said the other, " there's Father Russell, 
for a start. I would call 4m broad ; a bit broad, 
ain't 'e ? Then there's Father 'Ogg ; well, 'e's 
'igh, oh yus, Vs 'igh, there's no doubt about that. 
Father Suckling 'e's the Vicar. Well, let 'im 
parse ; and Father Pearkes is all right too. 'E's 
the kids' pal and the old women's." 

" Yes," said Stanton, waiting for further en- 
lightened criticism, " and how about me ; you 
haven't mentioned me, you know ? " 

" Oh, you," replied the vendor of doubtful 
shell-fish, " you well I hardly know what to say 
about you. Blowed if I don't believe as you ain't 
no church at all ! ' With which crushing retort 
he left his somewhat astonished hearer to pursue 
his calling, and the fact that I was the next 



H4 A PELICAN'S TALE 

person that dear Stanton met, accounts for the 
repetition of the tale here. 

Father Stanton was delighted with his critic 
ajnd perhaps just a bit mystified. 

" What do you think he really meant/' he 
asked between his smiles, and I was wholly un- 
able to say. 

Father Stanton was a very manly man, as they 
all were, and no doubt still are, at St. Albans, a 
thing which accounts for the fact that it is one of 
the few churches in London, or elsewhere, where 
the men of the congregation outnumber the women. 
He was loved by all who knew him and in his own 
parish, where he was wellnigh worshipped, you 
could often see him dodging about the streets, 
coming out of one poor dwelling, and disappear- 
ing into another, a tall striking figure in his 
cassock, usually partially covered by an aged 
grey overcoat " disgracefully shabby, isn't it, 
but it's so comfortable " and his biretta stuck 
so far on the back of his head that you wondered 
how it remained on. 

He was a great preacher, as well as a great 
parish priest ; and he was a great actor. He had 
real dramatic genius, which was much helped by 
his striking appearance, and he had one of the 
most beautiful I use the word advisedly 
smiles I ever remember to have seen. 

You recall how beautiful Henry Irving's smile 
was ? Well, Father Stanton's was just like that. 



FATHER STANTON ON RICHES 115 

With his great gifts, he could no doubt have had 
all sorts of preferment if he had wanted it, but he 
desired nothing other than to remain on for 
over fifty years, an unpaid curate of St. Albans. 
He was always at the call of the sorrowful. If 
anyone was in trouble, there was always " Dad " 
to turn to. Others might fail, but he at least was 
sure. " Oh, he was good, if e'er a good man lived." 
How the quotation fits ! 

Father Stanton used to say that if there was 
one thing he could understand less than another, 
it was the desire of most people to be very rich, 
and many persons a deal more worldly in their 
ideas than the good priest must share the feeling 
he had about money in too great quantity, if 
from no other reason than the very broad, but 
none the less clear one, that the possession of 
superabundant wealth almost always seems to 
carry considerable unhappiness along with it. 

There really would seem to be a law of balance 
in this, as in many other matters, and if inordinate 
wealth comes to man or woman, it is quite remark- 
able how tragedy of greater or lesser degree 
appears to accompany it. Moderate riches, com- 
fortable circumstances, and freedom from anxiety 
seem good. More than that does not. 

You have merely to recall the cases of most of 
the very wealthy men of present, or recent times, 
to see that this is so. Take Mr. Rockfeller, the 
wealthiest man in the world. How many of his 



n6 A PELICAN'S TALE 

millions could you or I gladly have if we could 
induce hair to grow on his billiard-ball-like head ? 
The late Mr. Pierpont Morgan, too, with his enor- 
mous fortune ; how much of it would he have 
exchanged, think you, for a new nose, instead of 
the bulbous affair he was condemned to ? Then 
there was Baron Hirsch, the intimate friend of 
King Edward, possessed of unlimited wealth, who 
had no digestion to speak of, and who lived day 
after day upon chopped-up, partly-cooked meat, 
and hot water ! 

Think, too, of Mr. Alfred Beit, as kindly a man 
as could be, and several times over a millionaire. 
For years before he died he was a bundle of 
nerves, hardly able to sleep, having to be fed like 
a child, and leaving his huge fortune while still 
quite young. And Sir Julius Wernher, too; 
think of his troubles, and of the terrible illness 
which killed him. Recall the tragic ending of 
Barney Barnato, who took his own life at sea ; 
that of poor Woolfie Joel, who had his so ruthlessly 
taken from him, when he looked to be one of the 
most fortunate, as he certainly was one of the 
wealthiest, young men in the world. And so on. 

One could readily enough go ahead adding to 
the sad list, but surely these instances tend far 
enough to prove that there is some mysterious 
law of balance ; of compensation. 

For my humble self, I think that if ever I came 
to be very rich a thing which I have not the 



A NOVEL PRESCRIPTION 117 

smallest chance nor the slightest desire to be I 
should put my hands up to guard my head, and 
look all round for the blow which I certainly 
believe would fall. 

The late Charles Frohman, most important of 
American theatrical managers, who made several 
fortunes for himself, and many for other people, 
knew the value of too much money rather better 
than most. 

Talking of its possession he said, " I don't work 
for money, the hardest workers never work for 
money. When did money bring content ? You 
know the story of the Satrap and the Persian 
physician ? A certain young and profligate 
Satrap, exhausted alike in body and mind, sent 
for a famous Persian physician, and when the 
man arrived he said, ' I have squandered my 
youth in riotous living, my frame is enfeebled like 
an old man's, and my mind is divided by remorse 
and horror. Can you help me ? ' The Persian 
physician looking gravely at the pale Satrap 
answered, ' You have but one hope. Go forth 
and find, if there be such, a perfectly contented 
man. Persuade this man to exchange shirts with 
you and you will straightway be strong and happy 
again/ The Satrap set out upon his search. He 
travelled many months in vain, and at last he 
heard of a cobbler who was said to be absolutely 
contented. The Satrap came at last to the 
cobbler's door. The house was but a hovel, and 



n8 A PELICAN'S TALE 

on a board before it the cobbler lay asleep. 
Awakening him, the Satrap asked if it were true 
that he was quite content with life, and the 
cobbler, with a laugh, declared that he was. 
Then said the Satrap, ' I have a boon to ask at 
your hands. It is that you will exchange shirts 
with me. For thus a wise physician has said, I 
shall become wise and contented also/ 

" But the cobbler shook his head. ' Most 
cheerfully would I grant your request young man/ 

he began, ' but ' ' Nay, nay, deny me not/ 

the Satrap cried, ' I will pay you any sum you care 
to name/ ' I seek not your gold/ said the cobbler, 

' but but ' ' But what ? ' cried the Satrap. 

' The truth is/ replied the cobbler, ' I have no 
shirt ! ' " 

It was Charles Frohman who, standing on the 
tilted deck of the ill-fated Lusitania, sunk by the 
murderous German pirates in the early days of 
the Great War, said, looking at the sea wherein 
he knew he was to be drowned, " Why fear death ? 
It is the most beautiful adventure of life." 

We of this country owe Charles Frohman much, 
and among many other things, let it never be for- 
gotten, that it was he who gave us Sir James 
Barrie's Peter Pan, the Boy who never grew up. 

It may interest playgoers to know that Barrie's 
first title for the famous play was The Great 
White Feather, which Frohman liked well enough. 
Later on when the author decided that it would 



PETER PAN 119 

be an improvement to call the play after its 
leading character, Frohman again cordially agreed. 

He has left it on record how interesting the 
very beginning of Peter Pan was. Barrie had 
agreed to write a play for the American manager 
for production in London, and met him at dinner 
one night at the Garrick Club. Barrie seemed 
fretful and uneasy, and on his host asking him 
what was the matter, he told him. Said Barrie, 
" I have to deliver you a play. I have written it, 
but I am certain it will not be a commercial 
success. Still it is a dream-child of mine, and I 
am so anxious to see it on the stage, that I have 
written another play, which I will give you, and 
which will compensate you for any loss you may 
make on the first one. 

Now the play which Barrie was so doubtful 
about was Peter Pan, which, as everyone knows, 
has made several fortunes, and the other play 
which was to indemnify Frohman from loss upon 
Peter's production, was Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire, 
which had quite a brief run, and out of which 
very little, if any, fortune was made ! 

In America, the famous actress Miss Maude 
Adams created the part of Peter. In London, 
when the play was first produced at the Duke of 
York's theatre, on the 27th December, 1904, the 
first Peter was Miss Nina Boucicault, youngest 
daughter of Dion Boucicault, the one time famous 
Irish actor. Other Peters since then have been 



120 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Miss Cissie Loftus, Miss Pauline Chase, Miss Fay 
Compton, and Miss Madge Titheradge, each of 
whom has been good in the part, but none of 
whom ever gave it quite the wistfulness and 
" fairyness " with which its original player en- 
dowed it. 



CHAPTER VIII 

A London first night at the theatre The terror thereof for the 
players An audience of professional play-goers Every one 
a critic Interruptions from the front How some actors 
answered them The mistake of so doing A revue comedian's 
error How a well-known player in Called Back suffered 
Mr. Lowenfeld's opinion of his audience Sir Charles Wynd- 
ham and " The Man in the White Hat " The elder George 
Grossmith and the humorist in the gallery How Sir Henry 
Irving lost his temper What Edmund Yates said about the 
happening Bessie Bellwood and the retort courteous The 
Younger George Grossmith's first good part How he made 
it grow Mr. John L. Shine's prophecy concerning George, 
which came true The curious mishap at the opening of the 
Shaftesbury The worst of "cheap houses" 70,000 for 
a 16,000 theatre A jump in prices The Old Pavilion My 
friend the Chairman Mr. Arthur Roberts and Mr. James 
Fawn in the heyday of their music-hall triumphs How Mr. 
Roberts forsook the halls for the theatres. 

IT has always seemed to me that one of the 
most terrifying and nerve-racking ordeals 
possible for a human being to go through, 
must be to appear in the first presentation 
of a play at a big London theatre. The audience is 
on such an occasion always an exceedingly keen 
and critical one, made up in great part of people 
who from choice or necessity, as in the case of the 
large body of newspaper dramatic critics, seldom 
go to the theatre at any other time. Every lad 
in the gallery is a more than ordinarily critical 

121 



122 A PELICAN'S TALE 

play-goer on such an evening, and the knowledge 
that the audience is thus constituted, can afford 
little comfort to any actor or actress who suffers 
at all from nerves and what player worthy of 
the name does not ? 

Under such a strain it must be a difficult thing 
for an actor to avoid doing or saying something 
which he or she would not dream of, in less 
strenuous circumstances. 

All the same, no matter how dull and unappre- 
ciative an audience may be, or how inclined to 
guy the show or the players in it, it has ever 
seemed to me the worst of bad business for an 
actor on the stage to make allusion to the fact, as 
one has seen and heard done on several notable 
occasions. 

For close on thirty-five years I was a profes- 
sional dramatic critic, and attended all London 
first-night shows at the theatre, and during that 
time saw several instances of players losing their 
heads and saying what they thought of their 
" kind friends in front/' The results of so doing 
were invariably more or less disastrous. 

Not long ago in course of the performance of 
the revue at a well-known theatre one of the 
leading performers finding sundry of his quips 
missing fire expressed his opinion with regard to 
the mental capacity of the audience to another 
member of the company, in terms quite loud 
enough to be heard in the fourth row of the stalls. 



AN ACTOR'S INDISCRETION 123 

Now this sort of thing was decidedly unwise, 
and was, moreover, exceedingly unfair to the 
management of the theatre which was paying the 
performer in question his salary. It has been 
said that it is ever an unwise thing to quarrel 
either with the Press or the Police, and I can't 
help believing that it is at least equally inex- 
pedient to say things about, or to an audience, 
which has paid its money wisely, or otherwisely, 
on purpose to be entertained. 

One has known the addressing of an audience 
from the stage attended with very serious results 
to the players, and sometimes managers who 
spoke. In this connection no doubt some of my 
readers will recall the historical occasion at the 
Prince of Wales' Theatre during the playing of 
Called Back, when a very well-known actor there 
is no need to mention his name now exasperated 
by the interruptions of a portion of the audience, 
stepped down to the footlights and told them 
very clearly and precisely what he thought about 
their intelligence. I am not prepared to say that 
his estimate was other than a perfectly correct 
one ; all the same its expression was unwise, and 
for a long time after that actor could not, or at 
any rate did not play in London, but had to remain 
in Australia till the Pit and Gods forgave him, or 
forgot the occurrence. 

There was also the memorable occasion when 
Mr. Hans or Heinrich Lowenfeld, owner of the 



124 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Apollo Theatre, talked a bit to one of his first- 
night audiences when the curtain fell on a scene 
of considerable turbulence, and a portion of those 
present headed by Mr. Carl Hentschel, at that 
time President of the Playgoers Club, responded 
with much spirit and asperity. 

Sir Charles Wyndham's address to the cele- 
brated " Man in the White Hat " at a Criterion 
first night is also still remembered, and George 
Grossmith the elder, kindliest and best-natured 
of men, and father of the present " G. G.," was 
rash enough once to be lured into an argument 
with certain interrupting souls in the gallery of 
the old Globe Theatre on the occasion of the 
production of The Gay Pretenders. The piece was 
hanging fire a bit, and the humorists on high 
sought to enliven matters by suggesting sundry 
lines. " You're very funny up there/' said the 
justly exasperated but very rash Mr. Grossmith. 
" More than you are down there," came the in- 
stant retort ; and then the audience smiled 
loudly. 

Even sweet-natured Sir Henry Irving forgot 
himself somewhat on the night A Winter's Tale 
was produced at the Lyceum. The audience was 
unfriendly and turbulent, and at the finish, 
goaded to a pitch beyond control, Sir Henry said 
things to the house which I know he greatly re- 
gretted, for he told me so himself the following 
day, what time we journeyed together to spend 



BESSIE BELLWOOD'S RETORT 125 

Sunday at Edmund Yates's pretty place, Thames 
Lawn at Mar low. I remember, too, how the kindly 
sage of The World chided his old friend consider- 
ably upon his minor indiscretion, and how the 
great actor and splendid fellow took his talking-to 
very much like a chastened schoolboy, and replied 
in all humility, " Yes I know, my dear Edmund, I 
was a fool a damned fool ; but we can't 
always be wise, can we eh ? ' 

On the other hand one has known an inter- 
rupter scored off neatly and satisfactorily from 
the music-hall stage, where the artistes were not 
so tied down to convention as they were at the 
theatre. As, for instance, there was the case of 
that somewhat rough edged, but none the less 
very genuine comedienne Bessie Bellwood, who 
found herself rudely interrupted One night at the 
old Pavilion music-hall by an idiot who per- 
sisted in throwing pennies on to the stage while 
she was singing. 

Bessie stood the wag for a time, while the 
audience tittered, and then feeling that the 
period had arrived to put things right for herself, 
she stopped dead in the middle of her song, and 
marking the money-thrower, she remarked quite 
pleasantly and naturally, " Don't chuck your 
pennies away, young man ; you may come to 
want them badly one day. I know ; I've been 
hard up myself." 

She had the House with her at once, and the 



126 A PELICAN'S TALE 

crushed humorist faded away into the night, as 
inconspicuously as he could. 

And, by the way, talking of the elder Grossmith 
recalls the fact that my old and always young 
friend George Grossmith numbers the Shaftesbury 
among the several theatres which he and his 
partner, Mr. Edward Laurillard, control, and it is 
particularly interesting that he should be there 
as one of its lessees and managers, for it was at 
the Shaftesbury that he made his first success, 
when he appeared there as Lord Percy Pimpleton 
in Morocco Bound, one of the earliest of the 
musical comedies, which was the joint work of 
Mr. Adrian Ross, Mr. Arthur Branscombe, and 
Dr. Osmond Carr. The part was quite a small 
one at the start, but the actor managed to add 
little bits to it night after night, so that in the end 
it became one of the best in the piece. 

In this connection, one recalls a trifling argu- 
ment which occurred one evening between " G. G. 
Junior/' as he then was, and Mr. John L. Shine 
who played Spoofah Bey in the piece, and I 
recollect George saying, " Although I play fool 
parts I am not a fool altogether, and I mean to 
get on/' "Oh, yes," replied Shine. " no doubt 
you'll get on. You'll come to own the theatre in 
time if you go on as you are doing." And now 
George has come to own it ! 

Still harping on the Shaftesbury, recalls the fact 
that the theatre was built by Mr. John Lancaster 



A " CHEAP " THEATRE 127 

of Manchester, and at the time he erected it he 
was considered to be doing a very risky thing in 
moving so far from the Strand, which was at that 
time the centre of Theatre-land, to Shaftesbury 
Avenue, then being created out of a network of 
slums. 

Mr. Lancaster built the theatre primarily for 
his wife Miss Wallis, at that time well known as a 
Shakespearean actress, and she duly opened the 
house with a performance of As You Like It, or 
rather she attempted to do so, for on the first 
night, the heavy fire-proof curtain failed to act for 
some reason or other, and went on strike, with the 
result that the audience had to be dismissed ; a 
dismal start truly for a new playhouse. 

I remember the late Mr. Matthew Brodie the 
well-known actor, who was in the cast, saying to 
me later on the same evening, " That's the worst 
of those cheap theatres/ 1 " What do you call 
cheap ? " said I. " John Lancaster paid exactly 
and precisely 16,000 for the house, he told me so 
himself/' said " Matt/' as everyone who knew 
him used to call the excellent Scotch player. Mr. 
Joseph Benson of Liverpool, the most recent 
purchaser of the house, was supposed to have got 
a very good bargain when he bought it not long 
ago for 70,000, and no doubt the Shaftesbury is 
well worth that sum, but the difference between 
16,000 and 70,000 is a considerable one, and 
recalls the often quoted opinion of Sir Squire 



128 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Bancroft that, "The man who owns the bricks 
and mortar seldom loses/' 

Some little way back I alluded to the old 
Pavilion which stood on the ground occupied by 
the present very handsome theatre. It was a 
great place in its day, but of course it was a very 
different house from the present fine one, and the 
old idea of the " Singing Shanty behind the 
Public House " was still retained a good deal, for 
not only was there a chairman at his table on an 
elevated seat with his back to the stage, to say 
" Gentlemen, give your orders while the waiters 
are in the room " ; but the audience instead of 
sitting as we now of course do facing the stage, 
did so on crimson velvet lounges at marble topped 
tables set sideways to it, so that the performance 
was only seen with considerable difficulty, the 
entertainment contained in the glasses in front of 
us being generally regarded certainly by the 
management at least as the more important 
attraction. 

For myself I own up to a lingering fondness for 
the bygone days of the Pavilion, when each 
performer, as he or she came on, had a word or 
two of somewhat full-blown chaff with Mr. Harry 
Cavendish, the chairman, who, ivory mallet in 
hand, seated on his raised throne, announced the 
" turns/' led the choruses and the applause, 
stated that Mr. Fred Albert, or Mr. Charles 
Godfrey, or The Great Macdermott would appear 



MR. ARTHUR ROBERTS 129 

again, smoked steadily throughout the evening, 
and drank with amazing cordiality everything 
that was offered to him. 

And you may take it from me that the chair- 
man had lots to drink and to smoke offered him, 
for it was recognised as a very privileged thing to 
sit at his table and pay for drinks for himself and 
his friends, and there was, I can assure you, keen 
competition for a seat at the great table, ridiculous 
as this may seem in these days. 

At the period I write of, the chief attractions 
at the Pavilion were Mr. Arthur Roberts, and Mr. 
James Fawn, who at that time worked a good deal 
in double harness. For the half -hour or three- 
quarters of an hour which their combined shows 
occupied, the place would fill up to suffocation. 
Mr. Fawn usually sang his two or three songs first, 
then followed Mr. Roberts, also as a soloist, but 
they invariably ended up by singing a topical 
duet, and my word ! some of those duets were 
topical, and tropical. One of the most amusing 
of them was, if I recollect aright, " Tidings of 
comfort and joy," a ditty which would, if it 
were sung to-day, doubtless make a present-time 
Pavilion audience sit up and marvel considerably. 

Of Arthur Roberts' innumerable successes, 
which set the town ringing, " If I Were Only Long 
Enough " and " Lend Me a Cab-Fare, Duckie " 
recur with great vividness. This last was, I think, 
the ditty which led to his temporary retirement 



130 A PELICAN'S TALE 

from the music-hall stage, and to his appearance 
at the Avenue Theatre in La Vie, and as will be 
remembered, he remained on at the Avenue to 
score many subsequent successes in The Old 
Guard, Nadgy, Lancelot the Lovely, and other 
cheerful pieces of the sort. Of course he had 
repeatedly appeared at Drury Lane and elsewhere 
in pantomime before this, but his Avenue engage- 
ment was, I fancy, his first regular one at the 
theatres. 

Mr. Roberts had an extraordinary personal 
following, and he well deserved to possess it, for 
at his best he was a remarkably amusing man 
and never for two evenings quite alike. People 
used not to say " Let us go to the Avenue and see 
The Old Guard," or whatever the piece was, which 
was being given at the house on the Embankment 
at the time, but " Let us go and see Arthur 
Roberts/' He was pretty well the beginning, 
middle, and end of every show he appeared in, 
and at that time he had his particular field almost 
entirely to himself. With us just now, there are 
three or four comedians who are equally good, and 
more or less equally sought after, for Mr. Harry 
Tate, and the three Georges, Graves, Robey, and 
Huntley, each have their respective f ollowings who 
swear by them. But in his day Arthur Roberts 
stood alone. He was in a class by himself. It 
was a case of Eclipse first, and the rest nowhere 
or at least a very long way behind. 



CHAPTER IX 

The Pelican Club and something about it Who the Pelicans 
were How the club was started Shifter's enterprise The 
coming of Swears A strong committee An era of boxing 
How Swears bought Shifter out What became of half of the 
" monkey " Shifter received for his share A sound philosopher 
What the club was like Its remarkable adornments 
How King Edward visited the place when Prince of Wales 
The result of a broken promise Fatty's chair Major Hope- 
Johnstone's celebrated moustache How Lord Esme Gordon 
bought it The Pelican page-boy who sought to better him- 
self The coaching set Jem Selby its High Priest The 
celebrated record drive to Brighton and back Those who 
took part in it The bet won with ten minutes to spare How 
the event was celebrated. 

IN these days people often ask what the 
Pelican Club was exactly ; what its objects 
were ; who were its members ; how it 
came into being at all ; and how it had 
ultimately to put up its shutters. And to such 
as take an interest in the genesis of a place which 
certainly made history in its time, I propose with 
their permission to recount a few facts. 

To begin with, the Pelican Club was not really 
the Pelican at all at its start, which statement 
may sound somewhat Irish, but is none the less 
true, for it was as The Star at 21 Denman Street, 
just off Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus, 
that Mr. W. F. Goldberg, much more familiar as 

131 



132 A PELICAN'S TALE 

" Shifter " of the Sporting Times, on Wednesday, 
igth January, 1887, began his venture. 

Prior to that, certain sons of the morning, and 
other lights of leading, possessed of a rooted anti- 
pathy to going to bed on the same day on which 
they had arisen, had been wont to foregather at 
the Adelphi Club in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, 
a place better known as "The Spoof eries," and 
this having served its purpose so far as they were 
concerned, and become a little bit tedious to 
many of them, it occurred to certain souls that 
something a bit better and more comfortable 
would in all probability be popular. Hence it 
was that in due season The Star came into being. 
Shifter was sole proprietor at first, but in a very 
brief space of time it became quite painfully clear 
to him that the meagre amount of capital at his 
disposal was quite inadequate for the carrying on 
of a club even for a brief period. Wherefore he 
sought about for a partner, and found him in 
Mr. Ernest Wells. The style and title of the club 
became The Pelican, and with a strong committee 
for a venture of the kind, the place restarted with 
greatly increased vigour, for even in those days 
what Mr. Wells did not understand about running 
a club was hardly worth any one's while attempt- 
ing to teach him. 

I said the committee was a strong one, and as 
its make-up gives a good indication of the sort of 
men the members were, and therefore saves a 



A GREAT FAVOURITE 133 

deal of not specially useful description, I may as 
well give the list of them here. There was the 
Marquis of Oueensberry " Q " to his friends, 
Lord " Kim " Mandeville, afterwards Duke of 
Manchester, and father of the present Duke, Lord 
" Johnny " Churston, Lord " Ned " de Clifford, 
Sir John Astley, " The Mate " to all who knew 
him, " Archie " Drummond, at that time a Captain 
in the Grenadiers, The Hon. Dan, and the Hon. 
Clem. Finch, younger brothers of Lord " Joey ' J 
Aylesford, John Corlett " Master " of The Pink 
'Un, David James the well-known actor, ever to 
be remembered for his Butterman in Our Boys, 
Walter Dickson, good fellow and good whip, 
familiar to many as " Dicky the Driver/' Charlie 
Harris, younger brother of Augustus of Drury 
Lane, George Edwardes of the Gaiety, Bob Martin 
or " Ballyhooley " as he was more familiarly 
termed, Edward Solomon composer of Billee 
Taylor, and much else, and Arthur Roberts then 
at the very tip-top of his popularity. 

With such a committee to guide the affairs of 
the club, and with a list of members which in- 
cluded all the bright young men about town at 
the time, most of the younger portion of the 
House of Lords, pretty well the entire list of 
officers of the Household Brigade, all the best 
known and cheeriest artists, actors, authors, and 
sportsmen, it may be readily supposed that 
the days and nights at the Pelican Club were 



134 A PELICAN'S TALE 

exceedingly merry and bright. And they 
were ! 

In those days there was a good deal more liquor 
going than latterly, an extraordinary amount of 
hospitality, and what no doubt tended to liven 
things up a lot, was the fact that just about then 
quite a remarkable lot of young men had come 
into fortunes, and were as full as they well could 
be of a desire to get rid of them as speedily as 
possible. The belief actually held good among 
many, that it was a deal better to give than to 
receive, and such as had not got much " root of 
all evil " of their own to let slip, were at least 
replete with sympathy for their more prosperous 
fellows who had ; and so things went along 
cheerily, for most of us were young, and very fit, 
and the World was a rosy place generally. 

Boxing shows were of the attractions offered to 
the Pelican members, and the chief of these used 
to occur on Sunday nights, although later on, the 
big night of the week became that of Saturday. 
A special committee looked after these shows, 
and on it were Lord Lonsdale, the Marquis of 
Queensberry, Sir John Astley, Colonel G. M. Fox, 
Mr. B. J. Angle, Mr. George Vize, and others, 
while the Boxing Manager was Mr. John Fleming, 
who when he ceased to be connected with the 
Pelican, had a good deal to do with starting the 
National Sporting Club in Covent Garden. At 
the Pelican, although sundry fairly big and costly 



THE PELICAN CLUB 135 

glove-fights were brought off, boxing was never 
regarded with the seriousness with which it is 
treated at the National Sporting, where it is of 
course the be-all and the end-all of the Club's 
existence. At the Pelican it was quite a side-show, 
and many of the members never took the trouble 
to look at the matches. 

Poor " Shifter/' who was a most humorous 
writer and in many ways an excellent companion 
to cheer things up a lot, was somehow not a success 
as a partner in a business concern, and after all 
that is what the Pelican Club was, or was intended 
to be by Mr. Wells, who soon came to the con- 
clusion that Willie Goldberg and he would get on 
much better together if the connection between 
them was entirely one of friendship, and so he 
suggested to his partner that he should allow him- 
self to be bought out. Nothing would please 
Shifter better he said, but how much was 
" Swears/' as Mr. Wells was and is known, dis- 
posed to pay ? 

Shifter's first idea was, I believe, that they 
should toss whether Swears paid him a thousand 
pounds or nothing for his share, but " Your Old 
Proprietor " thought otherwise, and after a deal 
of discussion it was decided to submit the matter 
to arbitration, " Ballyhooley " Martin and John 
Corlett agreeing to decide the question on con- 
dition that one or other of the parties they were 
not particular which should stand luncheon at 



136 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Romano's. In the end the arbitrators after about 
a couple of minutes' consideration came to the 
conclusion that if Swears paid Shifter 500 ready, 
he would be acting very generously. 

The " monkey " was duly handed over in notes, 
and Shifter's lady housekeeper hearing of the 
matter suggested that it would be wise if she 
retained half the money for safety's sake. " For," 
said she, " it won't do for you to go round 
the town with all that money in your pocket, 
Willie." 

It was just as well that Shifter kept 250 of his 
coin, for when he got home in the early hours of 
next morning, he found a note on his dressing- 
room table. It was to the usual effect, that the 
lady had decided to leave him for ever, and 
that she had gone. The 250 had gone too, 
but Shifter was far too good a philosopher to 
bother much about either the money or the 
damsel. " She might have taken more," he said, 
" and you know she might not have gone herself. 
There are compensations in everything if you 
only know where to look for them." And so 
there are. 

After a time of considerable success and con- 
tinuous growth, it became evident to Swears that 
unless the walls of the Denman Street premises 
could be reconstructed of indiarubber, it would 
be needful to find a new and greatly enlarged 
home for his members. This took a vast deal of 



A REMARKABLE PARROT 137 

doing, but ultimately in Gerrard Street he erected 
the extensive building which is now the well- 
known telephone exchange. 

The new Pelican premises were large and hand- 
some. The chief room as you entered was adorned 
with a long handsome bar which extended just 
about the entire length thereof. In this room we 
lunched, dined, and supped at little tables sur- 
rounded by a nice collection of inspiring pictures, 
cases containing stuffed pelicans performing a 
variety of weird antics and things, while on a 
special table under a glass case, reposed a large 
pair of rather grubby looking boots. They were 
those which Jem Smith, then champion boxer of 
England, had worn in his match with either Green- 
field or Jake Kilrain. An extraordinary parrot 
occupied a pride of place at one end of the bar, 
and talked on occasion in a manner in which even 
at this lapse of time I blush to recall. Among the 
other club pets were the three bulldogs " Jem 
Smith," "Dumb Jack/' and "Sister Mary." 
They were each of them valuable animals, and 
used to win no end of medals and cups and things, 
to the great satisfaction of the members. Up- 
stairs above the main room, was the theatre 
where the extraordinarily good smoking concerts 
used to take place, concerts with lists of per- 
formers of literally world-wide celebrity, whose 
combined charges, if they had been singing and 
playing for regular money, instead of merely to 



138 A PELICAN'S TALE 

amuse themselves and their friends, would have 
amounted to untold gold. 

Higher up still were the bedrooms of certain 
heroes who were so attached to the club that they 
couldn't leave it either by night or day, and so 
made it their permanent abode. The redoubtable 
" Hughie " Drummond was of the number. 

It was down below the restaurant, or chief 
room, that the holy of holies existed, for there 
the gymnasium was, and the boxing-shows took 
place, and some celebrated history-making com- 
bats occurred there, being watched by audiences 
consisting of many of the best-known men in the 
country men either celebrated at the time, or 
who have since achieved celebrity in pretty well 
every walk of life you can think of. 

There is no harm in telling here, and at this 
time, that King Edward was our guest on at 
least one occasion when he was Prince of Wales, 
and when he left said that he had thoroughly 
enjoyed his visit. He would have come oftener 
no doubt, but fear of shocking the " Unco guid " 
kept him away. And in this connection, on the 
night he was to be present those of us who were 
journalists there were only some five or six 
journalistic members were asked to give our 
words of honour that we would not allude to the 
visit in our papers. All the Englishmen kept 
their promises. I am sorry to say, however, that 
the London correspondent of a great New York 



FATTY'S CHAIR 139 

journal failed to keep his, with the result that the 
paper in question came out with a sensational 
front-page article, with great scare headlines, and 
the wretched thing was copied over here and was 
made no end of a fuss of by the long-faced section 
of the Press, to the great annoyance of the Prince, 
and at least to the equal anger and disgust of his 
Pelican hosts who were sick with shame that one 
of their number should thus so lamentably have 
failed to play the game. Of course the member 
who had thus betrayed his trust ceased to be of 
the fold soon after. But the evil had been done 
by that time and the Prince regretted that it 
would not be possible for him to come again. 

A conspicuous piece of furniture which could 
not fail to catch your eye in the main room of the 
club as you entered, was a chair of enormous 
proportions. It was of a size quite capable of 
seating three ordinary men, and on a silver plate 
attached to the back of it was inscribed the legend 
" Fatty's chair," indicating that it was the 
special property of Mr. Stephen Coleman, a sports- 
man of quite extraordinary girth, known very 
well, not merely in the club, but all over London 
at that time, as " Fatty Coleman." 

Another of the club ornaments which I must 
say I never failed to look at without a certain 
measure of sorrow, was a case lined with purple 
velvet and silver, which contained the long white 
ends of a waxed moustache and imperial, which 



140 A PELICAN'S TALE 

had originally graced the upper lip and chin of 
fine old Major Bob Hope- Johnst one, who in his 
earlier days had covered himself with glory, if 
not with wealth, in the service of her late Majesty 
Queen Victoria. 

" The Major " as he was always called and 
celebrated in song do you remember " That's 
what's a matter with the Major/' written, I fancy, 
by " Pot " Stephens and composed by Teddy 
Solomon ? was an old man when I knew him, 
but even then he was a grand looking sportsman, 
well over six feet high, with fine shoulders, and 
deep chest. 

He distinguished himself greatly in China, and 
was in fact the first man to enter Pekin, and was 
also at the ever-memorable Relief of Lucknow. 

He met with a curious accident while coaching 
which might well have ended the careers of a dozen 
younger men, for in driving under the railway 
bridge at Brondesbury his head came in contact 
with it, and the top of his skull was literally lifted 
off. Of course he ought to have died several times 
over ; but he just didn't. Nor did he peg out on 
the occasion when a gang of Haymarket ruffians 
set upon him with broken tumblers in their hands, 
and with the jagged edges of the glass inflicted 
terrible injuries on his head and face, though not 
before at least two of his assailants had gone 
down with injuries from the effects of which, it is 
satisfactory to know, they never recovered. 



A CHEAP MOUSTACHE 141 

He was descended in the direct line from the 
Johnstones of Annandale, the Head of the house 
on one hand, and Sir Frederick Johnstone on the 
other, each claiming the Marquisate, but the 
House of Lords did not grant the claim to either. 

The poor old chap was at times very impe- 
cunious, and on one occasion was so hard-up, 
that he sold his famous moustache and imperial 
to Lord Esme Gordon for five pounds, it being 
part of the bargain that Esme should cut them off 
himself. This was duly done, and " The Major " 
was so horrified at his altered appearance, that he 
said, " Good heavens, Esme, make it a tenner and 
you can have my head as well ! JJ 

I suppose it was all funny enough, and the 
happening certainly created a deal of hilarity, but 
for my single self I could not help feeling un- 
commonly sorry and a good deal ashamed. It 
did not seem right that this fine old soldier should 
have been made a fool of in the way he was. 
However, as "The Major" didn't seem to mind 
much himself, I suppose it was nobody else's 
business. 

Like many of the members, some of the servants 
of the club were remarkable characters, and 
numerous amusing stories were told of them. 
Most of them were old soldiers, and some of them 
were remarkably useful with their fists and very 
competent to keep undesirable intruders outside, 
and on nights when there was a boxing show of 



142 A PELICAN'S TALE 

special interest, there were always a lot of people 
who wanted to come in, whom we wanted par- 
ticularly to keep out. 

And talking of the servants in connection with 
boxing, one recalls the small Pelican page-boy 
who, seeking to better himself, sought service at 
the Athenaeum, which as everybody knows is prob- 
ably the most serious and solemn club in town. 
The steward thereof put the lad through his paces 
and asked him a number of questions, which he 
answered in so satisfactory a manner, that a job 
was promptly offered to him then and there. 

But that was too one-sided an arrangement for 
the Pelican boy. He wanted to know things also, 
and duly asked, like Miss Rosa Dartle, for informa- 
tion, and learning to his great amazement and 
disgust that there was no boxing at the Athenaeum 
on Sunday nights, promptly declined the situation, 
and returned to the Pelican, confiding to the head- 
waiter there that he had decided to remain in 
Gerrard Street as "At the Athenaeum they were 
no class ! >: I told the story to the late Bishop of 
Winchester some time later, and he, a member of 
the Athenaeum, was greatly impressed by it. 

At one time a number of the Pelicans took quite 
seriously to coaching, and either possessed them- 
selves of four-in-hands, or acquired shares in 
coaches, driving them so many days a month and 
paying very stiffly for so doing. These were the 
days when the head-quarters of the coaching 



A FAMOUS COACHMAN 143 

brigade were the White Horse Cellars in Picca- 
dilly, where Hatchett's now is, and one of the 
most memorable happenings in connection with 
that remarkable period was when someone I 
forget who exactly during the Ascot meeting 
layed a thousand to five hundred pounds that a 
coach could not be driven from London to 
Brighton and back in eight hours. 

Jem Selby, a professional coachman of the time, 
a considerable public character, and a sort of high 
priest of the Pelican coaching-set, was duly 
backed to do the deed, and on a memorable 
morning, July I3th, 1888, to be precise, he 
started off from the White Horse Cellars at 10 
o'clock in the morning having as passengers 
" Dicky the Driver " Dickson, " Hullo there ! " 
Carlton Blyth, Mr. McAdam, " Partner " Beckett, 
Bob Cosier, and " Swish " Broadwood. 

In spite of bearing such a crew, the coach duly 
reached the Old Ship Hotel, Brighton, at four 
minutes to two o'clock, amidst the cheers of a 
vast crowd of sportsmen, many of whom had 
come down by train on purpose to witness the 
arrival. 

There was no delay at Brighton, the coach 
being turned round at once, and the return journey 
begun. Thanks in great measure to the admirable 
manner in which the traffic was kept out of the 
way in London, the White Horse Cellars were 
duly reached with just ten minutes to spare, the 



144 A PELICAN'S TALE 

there-and-back journey having been thus accom- 
plished in seven hours and fifty minutes, which 
still remains and is likely to continue to do so 
the coaching record for the drive. 

Half London was in Piccadilly to see Selby 
pull up, and when he did so there was a deal of 
enthusiasm and high spirits. Later on at the club, 
there were lots of spirits and enthusiasm as well, 
and the proper celebration of the event lasted 
well into the next day. 

Some time later there was talk about Carlton 
Blyth, whose Piebald team used to be a familiar 
spectacle, attempting to lower Selby's record, but 
although there was lots of talk and considerable 
lowering of many things in connection therewith, 
the record remained where it had been placed, 
and I fancy it is likely to stay there for a long 
time to come, for in these days of motoring, 
coaching is as dead as Marley, or a door nail 
than which, as Dickens has proved to us, nothing 
can be deader. 



CHAPTER X 

With regard to the future The candidates' Book of the Pelican 
Club A specially remarkable entry therein The man who 
nearly made himself Emperor of the French His sensational 
finish The courtier who sought information from the band- 
master on behalf of Queen Victoria A dreadful title What 
the good Queen must have thought The Victoria Cross 
The Queen and the Highland officers King Carlos of Portugal 
A happy monarch Clement Scott of The Telegraph The 
famous interview which led to his downfall. How he tried to 
come back, and did so for a time. Success on the London 
stage How it came to some lucky ones Fame at a jump 
Mr. Hayden Coffin's arrival Others who became famous in 
one night Miss Edna May and her first success among us 
Brevity the soul of criticism. 

IT is an old saying, and of course a perfectly 
true one, unlike so many of the ancient 
saws, that there is only one thing we can 
be perfectly certain of with regard to our 
future. How little any of us can see ahead or 
even immediately in front of us, if it comes to 
that ! How many of those who were generally 
looked upon as duffers in their and our early days, 
subsequently acquired merit, like Kim's Lama, 
and in some cases achieved really great things ; 
how many, too, who started brilliantly, and looked 
to have the world before them, came to nothing 
at all or something worse than that. 

If you could see the Candidates Book of the 

K I 45 



146 A PELICAN'S TALE 

old Pelican Club, and I believe it is still in exist- 
ence, you would find among many interesting 
entries, one which exactly goes to prove what I 
have written. It is that of a candidate whose 
name is hardly remembered now, but who was in 
his day quite as famous as say, Beecham's pills, 
or Pears' soap, for he was set forth as Ernest 
Boulanger, General, proposed by Hugh Rayner, 
better known in those days as " the bone twister," 
and seconded by Hugh F. Drummond, and the 
really interesting thing to my mind is, that undeJ 
the heading " Profession or Occupation " appear 
the words which, ridiculous as they now are, 
seemed at that time quite likely to stand for 
truth, " Imperator in futuro." 

Of course Boulanger was only a flash in the 
pan of French history, but he was a very big 
flash. Paris had lost her head about him, and had 
made him a sort of tin-god on at least ten wheels. 
For a few years he was the most talked of and 
written about man in the world. Then he was 
found out. His collapse came ; he was down and 
out ; and disappeared for all time after his very 
theatrical suicide on the grave of one of his many 
sweethearts in Paris. 

If he could have seen a little way ahead I 
fancy, too, that fine old gentleman, Sir Henry 
Ponsonby, would not have been placed in the 
singularly unfortunate position he once was, 
through absolutely no fault of his own. 



AN EMBARRASSING QUESTION 147 

He was in attendance on good Queen Victoria 
one day at Windsor, and Her Majesty had strolled 
out on the terrace to listen to the very admirable 
and spirited music then being played by one of 
the Guards' bands. One tune in particular 
caught the Queen's attention and secured her 
special regard, and she sent a messenger to the 
bandmaster perhaps he was Dan Godfrey, per- 
haps he wasn't saying she would like the piece 
to be played over again. And the thing was 
done. 

Ever mindful of little courtesies the Queen 
then asked Sir Henry to express her satisfaction 
to the bandmaster and to enquire the title of the 
melody, which had so won her approval. 

I do not know what Sir Henry told the Queen 
on returning from his little errand, but it must 
have been distinctly difficult for even the most 
diplomatic courtier to explain to the First Lady 
of the land, as well as a Queen of some severity 
about many matters, that the air was that of a 
very popular music-hall song of the period, bear- 
ing the classic title " Come Where the Booze is 
Cheaper." 

Writing of her who was known as " the dear 
Queen " reminds me of the Victoria Cross, a more 
familiar, though none the less distinguished emblem 
in these days than it used to be in the time of the 
Good Queen after whom it was named, and the 
last man to receive the grand award " FOR 



148 A PELICAN'S TALE 

VALOUR/' at the hands of the venerable ruler, 
was my old friend Major Mauray Meiklejohn of 
the Gordon Highlanders, who came by his honour 
so heroically in the Boer War, and by his end so 
tragically in Hyde Park, during a Review, when 
his horse bolted with him and threw him over the 
railings. 

Meiklejohn had lost an arm in action and was 
naturally badly handicapped on a very restive 
horse. 

Queen Victoria had become very old and fail- 
ing, and her sight was feeble ; and so when 
Meiklejohn was summoned to receive his decora- 
tion at her hands, a brass curtain hook was sewn 
to the breast of his tunic, so that the Queen might 
fasten the cross on with as little difficulty as 
possible. 

From what the hero told me, the occasion must 
have been a very painful one, for when he was 
ushered into the room where Her Majesty was 
waiting to receive him, seated in an invalid chair, 
the poor old lady was greatly overcome and 
broke down badly, moaning away more to herself 
than to anyone else, " Poor, poor boy ; he's lost 
his arm ; he's lost his arm, oh, the poor, poor 
boy." 

Finally the Cross was placed in the venerable 
Queen's shaking fingers, and these were guided 
to the curtain hook, which after several painful 
failures was ultimately encircled, and as Meikle- 



\\ 




0(0. .1 fay 'a II 

QUEEN VICTORIA AND PRINCE ALBERT 
IN THE EARLY SIXTIES 



QUEEN VICTORIA INDISPOSED 149 

John said, it was all so sad and pathetic, that he 
came uncommonly near to crying himself. 

It is pleasant to think of the good Queen 
Victoria under less sombre circumstances when all 
the world was younger, and when she could, and 
did laugh as heartily as any of her subjects ; for 
she had a very keen sense of humour, and if any- 
thing was really amusing, none could appreciate 
it more generously than she. 

When the King or the Queen is in residence at 
Balmoral Castle, the Guard is always provided by 
a Highland Regiment, and on one occasion the 
two subalterns in charge of that furnished by the 
Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, were con- 
nections of my own, though unrelated to one 
another. Both are dead ; one of them, a Brigadier, 
paid the great price in the recent war. 

As usual Queen Victoria, who was always par- 
ticularly kind to her Highland Guard, commanded 
the two lads to dine with her at the Castle, and 
naturally they were somewhat overcome and 
nervous about meeting their Sovereign for the 
first time, and as a result I have no doubt took a 
peg or two of the wine of their country to brace 
themselves up for what was something of an ordeal. 

When they arrived at the Castle they were told 
that unhappily the Queen had acquired a slight 
headache and could not dine with them, but would 
receive them after dinner, which intelligence was, 
I doubt not, a relief to the two youthful warriors. 



150 A PELICAN'S TALE 

And so under the care of an equerry, they fed and 
did themselves very well indeed, thanks in great 
measure to the very persistent fashion in which 
the butler who attended on them saw that their 
champagne glasses were never allowed to feel 
lonely or empty. 

When some time after dinner it was announced 
to the soldiers that the Queen would now receive 
them, it began to be borne in upon them that 
perhaps they had taken just a trifle too much 
courage on board ; however, there was nothing for 
it but to pull themselves together as well as 
possible, and pray for luck, strength, and guidance. 

After being conducted along apparently inter- 
minable passages, possessed of singularly highly 
polished and slippery floors, a door was thrown 
open and they were ushered into a large room, the 
floor of which was of so highly polished a nature 
that it resembled a looking-glass. On a rug, near 
the fireplace, stood the great little lady, the 
Queen of Great Britain, much redder of face and 
much bluer of eye than they had conceived 
possible, waiting to receive them. 

In front of her was a lesser rug, upon which it 
was clearly indicated those about to be presented 
to her were to stand. But the problem was, how 
the lengthy surface of extremely polished floor 
was to be overcome, before that haven of apparent 
stability could be reached. The taller of the 
twain strode forward as boldly and steadily as 



THE QUEEN'S ENJOYMENT 151 

might be, closely followed by the other. Then a 
tragic thing happened. He who led the way, 
seemed just past his difficulties, and in the act of 
placing his foot on the rug, when that treacherous 
thing slid across the polished floor, with the result 
that the kilted hero went down with a terrific 
thud on his back, with his legs whirling wildly in 
the air. His companion stooping to rescue him, 
was pulled down also, and there the pair were on 
the glassy floor, for some seconds which felt like 
hours, fighting their way on to their feet with 
indifferent success, crimson with shame and horror 
at the happening, while the good Queen gave 
vent to peal upon peal of laughter at the catas- 
trophe, and those assembled about her joined in 
also, prior to helping the Highlanders to a more 
upright position. 

Next day one of my relatives encountering a 
distinguished member of the Royal Household, 
besought him almost with tears in his eyes to say 
what he and his companion could do by way of 
apology to the Queen. 

But that wise old gentleman retorted that 
everything was all right ; that the Queen had 
been greatly impressed as well as entertained by 
their visit ; and that Her Majesty had stated 
that, from what she had seen, she was of opinion 
that the old gist had just as fine men for its 
officers, as it had in earlier days, when the father 
of the contrite hero commanded the regiment. 



152 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Writing of royalty reminds me of the last time 
I saw King Carlos of Portugal alive, not many 
months before he and his elder son were so foully 
done to death in the streets of Lisbon. 

It was in the huge circus of the place, about the 
size of our Albert Hall, and the very indifferent 
performance took place partly in the arena and 
partly on the stage at one side of the building 
immediately opposite the Royal Box, wherein sat 
the jolly looking King Carlos so full of smiles and 
hilarious spirits that it was obvious he had dined 
wisely, well, and in considerable quantity. 

The programme was a poor one and suggested 
that of a fourth-rate music-hall, but the big 
audience stood it, and the plump cheery looking 
King was obviously quite delighted, and applauded 
some of the items so heartily that he looked as if 
he might readily enough over-balance himself 
and fall out of his box. 

Towards the end of the programme before the 
finish was quite reached, I and my companion, 
the excellent skipper of the ship in which I had 
arrived, and was to sail to Las Palmas next day, 
left the circus, and in a side street we saw the 
King's carriage, drawn by four mules, waiting for 
him. Just then the monarch came out of what 
was evidently a private entrance, walking arm-in- 
arm with a gentleman who seemed to have a deal 
of trouble in supporting his rather plump and 
heavy sovereign. 



KING CARLOS OF PORTUGAL 153 

If the King was in good spirits inside, he was in 
still better out, for as he came along he literally 
shouted with laughter, and appeared to be 
tremendously amused at something which had 
happened. Of course we took our hats off as he 
passed us, and King Carlos who was very English 
in his ideas and tastes, and keen about English 
people, waved his disengaged hand, which held a 
large cigar, to us in the most friendly fashion. 
He looked as if he was really pleased to see us, 
and quite conveyed the impression that very 
little would have made him ask us to come along 
to the Palace and have a drink with him. 

When he reached the door of his carriage 
which was small there was considerable difficulty 
in packing the plump and cheery monarch into it, 
but the attendant courtier and a footman ulti- 
mately succeeded in doing what was required, and 
the last we saw of King Carlos was his still waving 
hand, from the carriage window, with the tightly 
clasped cigar in it. Surely never did man seem 
happier, or freer from care of every sort and 
kind. 

When I next saw the King some months later, 
being again in Lisbon, the Revolution had taken 
place, and he was in his coffin in the Cathedral of 
St. Vicente. The upper portion of the coffin was 
of glass, and as you gazed at the fully dressed 
King, with his carefully brushed hair, and curled 
moustache, and pleasant expression of completely 



154 A PELICAN'S TALE 

peaceful repose, it was difficult to believe that he 
was other than asleep. 

I don't know if the dramatic critics of the 
newspapers keep their jobs for a long time in these 
days, but during the thirty-odd years I was a 
member of the band they usually held on to 
them until they died, or till the papers they 
represented predeceased them. 

Some of those who were experienced critics, 
when I was a youngster at the game, are still to 
the fore as if they were as enthusiastic about the 
Play as ever, and no doubt they are. Mr. William 
Archer, now of the Star , must be one of the senior 
working dramatic critics. He was for many 
years theatrical representative of The World when 
Edmund Yates ruled. I fancy, too, he was at one 
time, critic of the London Figaro, when the late 
James Mortimer was its editor, and I believe he 
was also critic of Life before Mr. J. T. Grein began 
dramatic criticism in its pages. 

Although the late Mr. Nesbit was critic of The 
Times, Clement Scott of The Daily Telegraph, 
was the big man in the dramatic critical world, 
no doubt in considerable measure because the 
Telegraph dealt more fully with theatrical matters 
in those days than its competitors, and Scott's 
name was more familiar to the public than those 
of his fellow-scribes. His position was quite a 
remarkable one in its day ; while other critics 
were given a stall, Clement, usually accompanied 



A COURAGEOUS CRITIC 155 

by his wife, surveyed things from a box, being 
the only critic thus honoured. People used to 
read his notices after a dramatic production not 
so much to see what The Telegraph had said, but 
what Clement Scott thought about it. 

Poor Scott's Waterloo arrived when the re- 
markable and still memorable interview in Great 
Thoughts made its appearance, wherein he said 
sundry very indiscreet things about the Stage and 
its womenfolk. The fact that a deal of what he 
stated was true, and a familiar thing to every 
man or woman about Town did not matter ; the 
sword fell, and Scott got it, where according to 
the familiar legend the chicken got the axe. 
There was no end of a to-do about the interview, 
and Scott was suspended from The Telegraph. 
Poor fellow, he took the whole thing very much 
to heart, and said and wrote a good deal that was 
silly concerning it. An apology was demanded, 
and this for a long time Clement declined to give. 
I have a letter before me as I write wherein he 
stated most definitely that he would see the entire 
theatrical profession in Kingdom Come or else- 
where before he would apologise. One's opinion 
of his determination altered somewhat when he 
returned to his job on The Telegraph the following 
week, and apologised therein to a very consider- 
able extent. 

Most of the dramatic critics of my time have 
" gone on ahead/' and one thinks of Moy Thomas, 



156 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Godfrey Turner father of Mr. Leopold Godfrey 
Turner Jope Slade, John Latey, Charles Carson, 
Cecil Howard, Joe Knight, Willie Wilde, Byron 
Webber, Jimmy Davis, " Pot " Stephens, George 
Spencer Edwardes, Newnham Davis, and Cecil 
Raleigh. Mr. Alfred Watson, for so many years 
critic of The Standard, is happily still to the fore, 
like Mr. Boyle Lawrence, Mr. Jevons, Mr. Ben 
Findon, Mr. Grein, Mr. William Mackay, Mr. 
Austin Brereton, Mr. Seaman, Mr. Edward 
Michael, and Mr. Chance Newton of The Referee, 
who were all members of the old gang. 

As a rule success of any consequence on the 
London Stage comes only after considerable 
climbing, and very gradually, but one has known 
several outstanding instances of actors and 
actresses who jumped into quite front-rank fame 
the first time they were seen or heard in Town ; 
a notable instance of this sort of thing being the 
manner in which Mr. Hay den Coffin of " Queen of 
My Heart " fame arrived, when The Lady of the 
Locket was produced at the Empire, sometime 
before it became a Variety Theatre. 

Mr. Coffin had previously appeared in Poca- 
hontas, but it was in the first-named piece that he 
was really heard, was seen, and certainly con- 
quered London most successfully ; and in the 
criticisms on the piece which appeared in the 
papers next day, the success he had scored the 
previous night was made secure indeed, for his 



CHARLES DANBY'S SUCCESS 157 

praises were sung to a very remarkable extent, 
and soon the whole town was talking of the new 
singer who had been discovered, and was coming 
to hear him accordingly. 

A success of another sort, just as big in its way, 
and just as sudden, was that made by the late 
Charles Danby, who was for so long at the Gaiety, 
when he first appeared in London at the Old 
Strand Theatre, where the Strand Tube Station 
now is, in a revival of The Sultan of Mocha, 
wherein he played the principal comedy-part, 
that of Captain Sneak. 

On the first night the actor came on, as they say 
in the theatres, " without a hand." No one knew 
him. He was an absolutely unfamiliar quantity 
to London playgoers, but after he had been on 
the stage for a couple of minutes, it was quite 
clear that a new comedian, well worth discovering, 
had come to London. Danby's success that night 
was wonderful ; and next day the Press notices 
of the piece were all written round him. The 
critics to a man, declaring that so rare a bird as a 
really new and funny comedian, must take up his 
abode permanently with us in Town, and as many 
will remember he did so, for that most astute 
annexor of talent, George Edwardes, promptly 
secured him for the old Gaiety, and there he stayed 
for many a long year. 

That very droll comedienne, Miss Louie Freear, 
who had such a vogue in London for some years, 



158 A PELICAN'S TALE 

had done much good work in the country before 
she made her remarkable success as the odd little 
maid-of-all-work in The Gay Parisienne at the 
Duke of York's Theatre, a success which later on 
led to her going to His Majesty's Theatre to play 
Puck in Sir Herbert Tree's great revival of A 
Midsummer Might's Dream. 

Miss Edna May's triumph on true first night 
The Belle of New York was played at the Shaf tes- 
bury, will be recalled, too, as another instance of 
how playgoers' favour may be secured at one jump, 
if the jump be of the right sort. Miss May was 
quite unknown in London when she made her 
first entry as the demure Salvation Army lassie. 
London knew all about her next day, and straight- 
way took her to its capacious heart and kept her 
there till she retired from the stage soon after her 
marriage. 

That brevity is the soul of wit is of course a 
familiar thing, and one believed in I doubt not, 
by all except " space writers " on the Press. 
Criticism, too, as a general rule probably loses 
nothing of its value by being a trifle abrupt at 
times. 

There is in this London of ours a very well- 
known stage manager and producer of musical 
plays who need not be too closely identified here, 
but who has been concerned in the production of 
many great successes. 

On one occasion he was invited to attend the 



A CUTTING RETORT 159 

" reading " of a certain musical-comedy which 
was subsequently produced, with rather dire 
results to those who financed its appearance. 

The reading duly took place at the Never- 
Mind- Which Theatre, and all those immediately 
interested in the production were present. He who 
held the book, did his reading to the best of his 
ability, and the popular actress who was to play 
the chief part in the piece explained the situations 
and gave suggestions from time to time. 

At the end of the first act the polite Stage- 
Manager-Listener maintained the complete silence 
which had overwhelmed him shortly after the 
start of the reading, and when the end was finally 
reached, there was still no word, and everyone 
looked towards him and waited for his verdict. 

He said nothing, however, and merely continued 
to gaze into space in a sort of stunned and amazed 
condition. 

" Well, Mr. " said the reader, feeling that 

an expression of opinion of some sort was needful, 
" what do you think of the piece ? " 

And then the polite stage manager, suddenly 
coming to himself with a jerk, arose and spake the 
only syllables he gave utterance to all the time. 
" You ought to be in a Home ! " he said, as he 
walked out of the theatre without another word. 



CHAPTER XI 

The generosity of the theatrical profession Concerning certain 
great healers and their remarkable kindness Sir Morell 
Mackenzie and Kaiser Frederick of Germany Lennox 
Browne, a warm friend of the Stage and a great throat special- 
istWhat " Ell Bee " said about Sir John Bland Sutton A 
strange coincidence The working of Fate Sir Frederick 
Treves The value of personal appearance to a surgeon 
Sir Alfred Fripp the famous operator, and kindly man How 
some plays succeed and others fail The remarkable differ- 
ence between the opinions of London and the Provinces 
Both good, but different Van Biene and his Broken Melody 
First night audiences and others A threefold scheme 
What Sir Arthur Pinero thought about it Sir Arthur Pearson 
and his wonderful work for the blind The good he has done 
for his fellow - sufferers His remarkable early days The 
start of Pearson's Weekly How he left Tit Bits office to 
accomplish it The series of miracles which occurred How 
Sir William Ingram helped The start of The Daily Express 
The purchase of The Standard. 

PROBABLY the members of no single 
profession have been, and are, less back- 
ward in coming forward to do good 
turns when such were, or are, desired 
and deserved, than those connected with the 
Theatre. And if actors and actresses have re- 
peatedly proved themselves the most kindly- 
hearted and generous of people, if they have done 
much for others, as they unquestionably have, 
they have had a good deal done for them in return, 
notably by members of the great healing craft. 

160 



A POPULAR SPECIALIST 161 

No doubt the wealthier actors and actresses 
who call upon the services of great physicians and 
surgeons, have to pay for them, as they certainly 
ought to, but one knows of many services rendered 
by the most eminent medical men to humble 
members of the Stage, without the smallest fee or 
reward, other than very grateful thanks. 

In a profession where the voice is the chiefest 
asset, throats and all pertaining to them are 
matters of great importance, and the extraordinary 
kindness of the most eminent throat specialist of 
his day, Sir Morell Mackenzie, to members of the 
theatrical calling, is still remembered with very 
grateful feeling. 

Mackenzie, who, it will be remembered, was 
specially sent to Germany to operate on the 
throat of the Emperor Frederick, father of the 
latest Kaiser, was a good head and shoulders 
above any other throat doctor of his time. Every 
moment of his day could have been occupied over 
and over again by people willing to pay vast fees 
for his services, and yet he never failed to make 
time, somehow or other, to attend to any suffering 
actor or actress, and he never took one farthing 
from them for all he did. He was keenly interested 
in the Stage, and used to be a very regular first 
nighter, while his son, Harry Morell, became an 
actor for a time, prior to entering upon manage- 
ment in company with Mr. Frederick Mouillot. 
At one time Morell and Mouillot were very big 

L 



162 A PELICAN'S TALE 

people in the theatrical world, controlling several 
theatres, as well as some fifteen or seventeen 
touring companies. 

When Sir Morell Mackenzie died, the Theatre's 
great throat friend became Lennox Browne, and 
in spite of the numerous calls on his services by 
suffering humanity, he also found time to take 
the throats of actors and actresses under his 
charge, and saving in certain exceptional cases 
his sole reward was the gratitude of the innumer- 
able men and women whom he cured, in many 
cases, by important operations. 

Lennox Browne was a very wealthy man, for 
his practice was an extensive one, and his fees from 
those who could afford to pay them were con- 
siderable, but his kindness to poorer members of 
the Theatrical Profession, in whose calling he was 
always keenly interested, was remarkable, and I 
could readily tell of many cases wherein his 
generosity was by no means confined to the free 
giving of his skill. He was a generous and kindly 
man, and " the Profession/' as it used to love to 
call itself, lost a very good friend when the sage 
of Mansfield Street died. 

On a certain first night at Drury Lane, many 
years ago, I sat next to Lennox Browne, who 
during the performance regaled me with a most 
vivid and gory account of a specially dreadful 
operation which he had seen performed that day 
by a young surgeon, whose work was then begin- 



SIR FREDERICK TREVES 163 

ning to attract attention. As he became en- 
thusiastic in his dreadfully realistic account of 
the happening, " Ell Bee " talked quite loudly, to 
the immense indignation of those who sat near 
us, and finally, as my hair was beginning to stand 
on end with horror at what I was hearing, I be- 
sought him to stop, unless he wanted to make me 
physically ill. " All right/ 7 he said, " I was for- 
getting, but just let me tell you this, that if ever 
you want to be cut up in little pieces, and then 
stuck together again as good as new, you get this 
new fellow Bland-Sutton to do it, for as an 
operator he is a marvel." 

Years afterwards, I told my good friend, Sir 
John Bland-Sutton, the famous surgeon, the story, 
and he was interested. It is something of a co- 
incidence, surely, that it should have fallen to Sir 
John to have to tell poor Lennox Browne of the 
fatal nature of his illness. 

Personal appearance is always an important 
matter to anyone, and of what infinite value must 
a good cheery presence and manner be to a doctor 
or surgeon ? How absolutely like the real thing 
Sir Frederick Treves must have seemed to his 
patients when he came to operate on them, and 
how confident they must have felt in his abilities 
to do all that was possible. 

Another eminent surgeon, whose physical pres- 
ence and manner must be among his most valuable 
assets, is Sir Alfred Fripp. If the time ever came 



164 A PELICAN'S TALE 

when one had to have one's head taken off, or 
anything of the kind, surely the big, kindly, strong, 
cheery, wonder-worker of Portland Place is pre- 
cisely the person one would desire to do the deed. 
I leave great skill and absolute knowledge of his 
own terrible game out of the matter, and refer 
only to the hearty hopeful manner, so sure that 
there is nothing very much the matter, and so 
certain that even if there is, it can, and will, all 
be set right, which works such wonders with the 
patients of Sir Alfred, big alike to look at and 
in reputation, whose appearance and " out-of- 
doors " air always seemed to me to suggest an 
especially clever-looking admiral of the younger 
sort. 

Like so many other really distinguished members 
of his own and other callings, notably that of the 
Bar, Sir Alfred Fripp is a very regular first nighter 
at the Theatre, and few plays of any consequence 
are produced in Town, without his cheery pres- 
ence in the stalls. 

It takes all sorts to make a world, we know, 
and it is just as well, in the interests of morality 
and other matters, that we don't all think alike 
about everything. But as poor Bertram, the re- 
markable conjuror was wont to remark, " Isn't 
it wonderful " how tastes differ in the matter of 
plays ? Any playgoer, possessed of even limited 
experience, can readily enough recall pieces which 
failed to achieve success when produced in London, 



THE BROKEN MELODY 165 

but which did exceedingly well in the country, 
and in America, and vice versa. 

Take, for instance, the case of A Little Bit of 
Fluff which was so great a success in London, 
which was equally triumphant in the country, 
and which failed lamentably in America. 

The piece was produced in New York, with a 
considerable amount of booming, as was only 
natural after its London triumphs, and yet it 
lasted exactly, and precisely, for one week no 
more and no less while some of the American 
dramatic critics appeared to marvel that it had 
even existed as long as that ! 

Then there was The Boomerang, produced by 
so successful a manager, and so keen and experi- 
enced a judge of what ought to suit the London 
public, as Sir Alfred Butt, who thought so much 
of the piece when he saw it during the second year 
of its run in New York. But the London public 
would not have it ; stayed away from the theatre 
where it was being given in vast numbers, and as 
a result, the piece shortly afterwards ceased to be. 

A still more remarkable instance of how the 
theatrical fare of some folks is the absolute poison 
of others, was the famous case of The Broken 
Melody, produced by Mr. Van Biene, the eminent 
'celloist, at the Prince of Wales' Theatre. 

The piece was not a success on its first night ; 
was a good deal hit about by the critics ; and its 
London career was of the briefest. 



166 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Undismayed by this Mr. Van Biene took his 
play and his 'cello on tour, and played both for 
many years in the country to remarkable business, 
so that The Broken Melody came to rival East 
Lynne in provincial favour. 

Then Van Biene thought the time was ripe to 
show the piece to London once more, now that it 
had been acclaimed by thousands of playgoers, 
and had become an undoubted financial success. 
So he reproduced it at the Old Princess* at Oxford 
Street, Wilson Barrett's former home, and as no 
doubt many will recollect the result of so doing, 
was disastrous, and the play's failure quite re- 
markable. 

Then Van Biene took his property back to the 
country, where it was once more received with 
open arms, and a fresh fortune was added to 
those already made by it. All of which is very 
curious, and goes to show how greatly the taste 
of playgoers varies in different places. 

For my humble self I have always thought that 
a dramatic author ought to write three versions 
of his play. The first for the opening night in 
London, when the audience is for the greater part 
a professional one/which goes to the theatre on 
no other occasions than first nights, and when even 
every boy in the gallery is a keen critic. The 
second version would be for subsequent London 
performances, when the audiences are composed 
of ordinary playgoers, who only occasionally 



THE THREE- VERSION PLAY 167 

visit the theatre ; and the third for the country, 
which as a rule regards things differently from 
London, and while no doubt provincial audiences 
are just as keen, as just, and as critical as London 
ones, it is a fact that they like plays and players 
whom Londoners do not seem to take to, and vice 
versa. 

I remember suggesting the three-version play 
idea to so experienced a dramatist as Sir Arthur 
Pinero, and he quite agreed that there might be a 
good deal of sound sense in what at first sight 
seemed rather like the reasoning of the Mad 
Hatter of " Alice in Wonderland." 

Another sound judge of many matters, who 
approved of my three editions' idea, when I put 
it before him, was my old friend Sir Arthur 
Pearson, whose magnificent work on behalf of his 
fellow-sufferers from blindness is known to every- 
one. If he had never done anything other than 
the founding of his grand institution for blinded 
soldiers at St. Dunstan's in Regent's Park, where 
our maimed heroes are comforted, nursed back to 
health and spirits, taught trades suitable to their 
handicapped conditions, and re-started in life, 
Sir Arthur Pearson's name would deserve to rank 
very highly in the hearts of his fellow-countrymen 
and women. 

But he has done more than that, for the admir- 
able Fresh Air Fund for the poorest children, 
which has brought untold happiness into the lives 



168 A PELICAN'S TALE 

of thousands of the most poverty-stricken little 
ones in the land, was his creation, and he had 
much to do with the spreading of Tariff Reform, 
Mr. Chamberlain's last and greatest scheme, for 
the benefit of his fellow-countrymen. 

It was Mr. Chamberlain who described Sir 
Arthur as " the greatest hustler I have ever 
known/' and the title was well deserved, for he 
was ever the keenest and most enthusiastic of 
workers at any duty or task he took in hand. 
Indeed, as is generally known, Pearson lost his 
precious eyesight in great measure through work- 
ing far too hard. 

And talking of Mr. Chamberlain who, till his 
fatal illness fell upon him, was one of the most 
remarkably youthful looking men, for his years, 
of our time, and who always managed to seem so 
fit and well, on the only occasion I was privileged 
to meet him at a small luncheon party of three at 
the National Club in Whitehall Gardens, I ven- 
tured to ask him how he contrived in his tre- 
mendously busy life always to look so wonderfully 
in the pink, and I shall ever remember his re- 
markable answer, as he regarded me fixedly 
through the ever-present eyeglass, "By drinking 
a great deal of port, and taking no exercise." 

I don't know if the great man really did favour 
that excellent, if very gouty wine, to any special 
extent, but I do know that the taking of no 
exercise at all to speak of, was a fact. 



AN AUDACIOUS PROPOSAL 169 

Sir Arthur Pearson's later life we all know, of 
course, but his earlier days were just as notable in 
their way. 

He was a son of an Essex clergyman, had just 
left Winchester, and was casting about for some- 
thing to do, when he read the particulars of a 
competition which was about to be started in the 
weekly paper Tit Bits. He entered for this com- 
petition, the first prize for which was a clerkship 
in the office of Sir George Newnes, proprietor of 
the paper, at a salary of 150 a year, and out of 
many thousands of contestants, he won it. That 
was an extraordinary feat in itself. 

After he had served in Tit Bits office with 
success for some time, the manager of the place 
was taken ill, and young Pearson, walking into 
Sir George Newnes' room suggested that he 
should be given the position. Newnes, who was 
at times a man of somewhat hasty temper, 
nearly had a fit at what seemed to him the 
audacity of the idea, but on Pearson hastening to 
add that he merely desired to prove he was worthy 
of the post, and that until he did so to Sir George's 
satisfaction he would expect no increase of 
salary, he was graciously allowed to take over the 
immensely extended duties. 

He carried these out with the greatest success 
for four years, and at the end of that time once 
more bearded the lion in his den, and in very 
brief and spirited fashion, suggested that he 



170 A PELICAN'S TALE 

should now be made Sir George's partner ! At 
this Newnes, I have been told, really very nearly 
did collapse, and would not hear of the matter. 
"If you cannot see your way to make me a 
partner/' said Pearson, " I shall have to start 
a paper of my own in competition with Tit 
Bits." 

" Have you any idea," said Newnes, " what 
capital you would require to do anything of the 
kind ? " " Yes," retorted Pearson, " with care 
and economy it can be done with 10,000." 

" And have you got 10,000 shillings ? " asked 
the TitBits chief. " No, I haven't/' was the answer, 
" but I am going out now to get it," and with that 
he left the office. 

It was then that a series of veritable miracles 
happened one after another. 

When he left Southampton Street, Pearson was 
quite undecided whom he should favour by per- 
mitting him to find 10,000 for his future venture. 
He knew of Sir William Ingram, by name at least ; 
knew that he was chief proprietor of The Illus- 
trated London News and other papers, and re- 
called the fact, that, like himself, Sir William was 
an old Winchester boy. 

And so he entered the office of the oldest of the 
illustrated newspapers and asked to see Sir 
William. 

Now even in those days, Sir William Ingram 
did not come to his office, by any means every 



A GREAT HUSTLER 171 

day, and on such days as he attended there were 
naturally many important engagements to be 
kept, and many equally important callers by 
appointment for him to see. Without an ap- 
pointment, it was naturallyimpossible to see the 
chief. 

" You have an appointment of course/' said 
the clerk to whom Pearson had spoken. " What 
name ? " " Pearson/' was the reply. The clerk, 
who evidently did not hear quite distinctly, 
looked down his list of appointments, and read 
the name of one Leeson, who had an appointment, 
said, " All right/' and showed Pearson into the 
presence. 

You may be quite sure that Mr. Chamberlain's 
" greatest hustler " lost little time in telling his 
story, and trotting out his project as rapidly as 
possible, giving the greatly astonished baronet no 
time to interrupt him, until the climax of the 
tale was reached, wherein it was suggested to 
him, that he would be doing himself no end of a 
good turn if he would agree to find 10,000 for 
the paper Pearson proposed to start ! 

Sir William was never a pale man ; indeed, 
you would probably have described him as one 
possessed of ruddy colour, but on the occasion in 
question, I am given to understand he turned 
positively purple. 

" Let me understand things," said he at last. 
" Do I take it that you, a perfect stranger to me, 



172 A PELICAN'S TALE 

believe that I will find 10,000 for a scheme 
which seems to be quite devoid of the elements 
of success or is all this a very ill-timed joke ? ' 
Pearson answered him that the proposition was 
an immensely serious one. " Then all 1 can say 
is," said Sir William, " that I absolutely decline 
to have anything to do with it," and the dis- 
comfited Pearson, picking up his hat, prepared to 
leave the room. 

Then the third of the miracles happened. As 
he arose from his chair, Providence, or some 
other agency, prompted him to say something 
about this being rather a rough way to treat an 
old Winchester boy. 

" What was that you said about Winchester ? ' 
said Sir William, always keen about anything 
and anyone connected with his old school. " Were 
you there ? In whose house were you ? Sit down 
for a minute." 

Pearson sat down ; and remained down for 
about two hours. At the end of that time Sir 
William Ingram had agreed to find the money to 
start Pearson's Weekly, and Sir George Newnes' 
late manager returned to Southampton Street, 
to pick up his greatcoat, incidentally to tell his 
former chief that his new partner was one of the 
best-known newspaper proprietors in England, 
and you may readily imagine that the Tit Bits 
magnate was anything but pleased to hear the 
tidings. 



SUCCESSES 173 

Pearson's Weekly was a success from its start, 
and Sir William Ingram, it is satisfactory to know, 
did very well indeed out of his investment. After- 
wards came Pearson's Magazine, and many subse- 
quently weekly papers, also in time Sir Arthur 
started the Daily Express, and likewise acquired 
The Standard, which latter purchase, however, he 
no doubt regretted. His unfortunate eye trouble 
put an end to his daily newspaper work, but he 
still remains chairman of the big newspaper- 
owning company which bears his name. 

It is curious and rather interesting to recall 
here how some men who have succeeded abun- 
dantly in various walks of life got their starts, 
and as an instance of how a very small circum- 
stance attended the beginning of the career of a 
very well-known novelist of the present day, let 
me tell the following : 

When my old friend John Latey succeeded 
Mr. Clement Shorter as editor of The Sketch, that 
gentleman having moved on to Great New Street 
to start The Sphere and later on The Tatler, he 
found himself in want of an assistant, and believing 
that I knew a good deal about the man he had 
in his mind for the job, he called upon me one 
day to ask me about him. 

The man in question, though a very good jour- 
nalist in many ways, was quite unsuited for the 
sort of work which I knew Latey would require of 
him, so I told my good friend exactly what I 



174 A PELICAN'S TALE 

thought, and gave my reasons for the opinion I 
had formed. 

Latey quite agreed with me that his first idea 
was not a good one, and said he was very glad he 
had had a chance of discussing the matter. " I 
think/' said he, " I will now settle with a very 
nice and likely young fellow named Bell whom I 
have seen. He is an Oxford man, and like your- 
self the son of a clergyman. He has not had 
very much journalistic experience so far, but he 
gives me the impression that he will be all right/' 

" The young fellow named Bell/' was duly 
engaged and became assistant editor of The 
Sketch, and proved so very much all right that 
when John Latey died, he became editor in chief 
of the paper, later on dramatic critic of the Daily 
Mail, and a famous novelist also, for he is the 
well-known author and playwright who under the 
name of Keble Howard has written so much that 
is interesting and charming. 

Of course Keble Howard would have got on no 
matter how he had started, but if it had not been 
for the little conversation which Latey and I 
had, he would not, in all human probability, have 
succeeded in precisely the same way ; all of which 
goes to prove that very small matters push the 
accomplishment of our destinies one way or the 
other. 



CHAPTER XII 

What a well-known player said Her advice to budding actresses 
Lady Orkney at the Gaiety and elsewhere The Sisters 
Gilchrist " The Little Grattans "Mr. Harry Grattan's early 
experiences How luck comes to some And how others 
refuse her advances Colonel North and Nunthorpe's City 
and Suburban victory A long-priced winner Sir Joseph 
Lyons and the start of a great business A lost opportunity 
The real beginning of the great Lyons concern How a single 
song made a singer The story of " Far, Far Away " Miss 
Lottie Collins and her " Boom-de-ay " success Mr. Arthur 
Roberts and his zebra bathing suit His philosophical dresser 
The smart restaurants of the time Those who controlled 
them The passing of the famous bars " Captain Criterion 
of London " Romano and his presentation loving cup His 
very sudden death Miss Gladys Cooper's first supper party 
Gaiety girls who got on Nellie Farren's reason for never 
quarrelling with a chorus girl Very sound advice. 

A TT ERY well-known actress who achieved 
great artistic as well as financial suc- 
cess, and who came from compara- 
tively humble beginnings, has left it 
upon record, that she who would succeed upon the 
stage should shun the chorus. To become a 
member of the chorus is, according to the lady, 
to stop there, in nine cases out of ten, and her 
advice to beginners is, that some sort of part, 
however small, in some sort of company, however 
humble, should be tried for. 

It is admitted of course that there are instances 

175 



176 A PELICAN'S TALE 

many of them wherein actresses who began 
their careers in the chorus came to greatness in 
the theatrical world, became leading ladies and 
even actress-manageresses, but as a rule, our 
authority says to those who seek her advice, 
" Shun the chorus." 

She may be right ; certainly her experience 
entitles her to respect, but well, there are lots of 
" buts " about the matter. And, by the way, let 
me here correct an error which has frequently 
found its way into print. It has been recorded of 
Lady Orkney, familiar to old time Gaiety patrons 
as Miss Connie Gilchrist, that she began her 
career in the chorus ; but this is incorrect, for 
she and her sister Marie used to dance at the 
music-halls as " The Sisters Gilchrist," prior to 
joining the Gaiety Company. 

Miss Connie Gilchrist's best dance was one per- 
formed with a skipping rope, that in which her 
sister Marie excelled being a species of Russian 
measure, performed in red Morocco top boots, and 
it was because of the success of her skipping rope 
dance that Miss Connie was engaged to appear in 
a children's pantomime at the Adelphi, by Mr. 
Chatterton. In this pantomime by the way, two 
of the leading parts were played by " The Little 
Grattans," the said little ones being Miss Emilie 
and Mr. Harry Grattan, now so well known 
as the author of very successful revues and 
musical comedies. 



POPULAR FAVOURITES 177 

The triumph of the Gilchrist skipping rope 
measure led in turn to its exponent being secured 
by John Hollingshead for the old Gaiety. 

For a good many years Miss Gilchrist was one 
of the most admired, talked about, photographed, 
and paragraphed young women in London, as well 
as one of the chief attractions at the theatre 
wherein she appeared. In The Sporting Times 
and other journals, which devoted a deal of 
space to her sayings and doings, she was usually 
alluded to as " The Child/' and a drawing of 
her formed part of the adornment of the front 
page of the brown paper cover of The Bat 1 each 
week. 

And, by the way, mention of " The Little 
Grattans " recalls the fact that, although he is 
still a comparatively young man, Mr. Harry 
Grattan and his sister played the young Princes 
in Richard III, with Barry Sullivan, who although 
never at quite the top of the tree in London, was 
a tremendous favourite in the country, greater 
indeed in many towns than Henry Irving. 

Mr. Grattan was for several years the under- 
study of Mr. Arthur Roberts at the old Avenue, 
and it was to a considerable extent, by the clever 
performances he gave in " The Gasper's " parts, 

1 A paper owned and edited by Mr. James Davis, much better 
known later on as " Owen Hall," author of A Gaiety Girl, The 
Geisha, An Artist's Model, and other very successful productions at 
Daly's Theatre, during the George Edwardes' period of manage- 
ment. 

M 



178 A PELICAN'S TALE 

that he attracted special attention, got his chance, 
and took it. 

And just as some people are fortunate enough 
to seize the opportunities which come to all of us 
and are generally missed with both hands, so 
do many of us absolutely push Fortune away, 
when she is trying to do us a good turn. 

It seems a longish way back to the City and 
Surburban of 1890, but about a fortnight before 
the race, the one and only " Swears " told me he 
knew that Nunthorpe was going to win. I had 
even then suffered so severely from backing the 
" certainties " given me by various good friends, 
that I was somewhat sceptical, for I knew that 
the horse was Colonel North's, that his price was 
twenty-five to one, and that North's other repre- 
sentative in the race was L'Abesse de Jouarre who 
stood at something quite short three or four to 
one, I fancy, and seemed likely to start at level 
money on the day of the race. 

Moreover, North's commissioner had one day 
pulled " Swears " into a corner of the Pelican 
Club, and had, by way of doing him a turn, told 
him that L'Abesse was unquestionably the right 
pea for the event. In proof of this he showed 
" Swears " his betting book. By some mischance 
or other, he showed the eagle-eyed one a wrong 
page, for it was covered over with entries of bets 
about Nunthorpe, which seemed to make it 
reasonably clear that this was actually the horse 



LYONS AND THE TROC. 179 

he hoped to win with. " Swears " with great 
good sense backed Nunthorpe for a large sum, 
and it will be recollected that his starting price 
was twenty-five to one. 

Although " Swears " passed on the good news 
to me in the kindliest way possible, I with hideous 
Scottish caution fearing that " Your Old Pro- 
prietor's " eyesight might have been playing 
tricks with him, only had a couple of sovereigns 
on, so that fifty pounds was all I made out of what 
was really the chance of a lifetime. 

On another occasion I had a singular oppor- 
tunity of doing myself some good, but being ever 
a poor gambler, with but small opinion of my own 
luck, I let the chance slip. 

I was standing one day by the big bay window 
of the old Eccentric Club looking down on to 
Shaftesbury Avenue, when the late Sir Joseph 
Lyons came up to me and, pointing across the 
street, to the site of the very unfortunate Tro- 
cadero Music-hall, in the control of which so 
many people had lost fortunes, said, " You go 
about a good deal and know most of the rest- 
aurants in Town. What do you say to one just 
there ? " 

Now, I want you to recollect, before you con- 
demn my reply, that Shaftesbury Avenue was 
then comparatively a new thoroughfare, that the 
old Troc. had been a positive dump-hole for con- 
siderable sums of money, and that Joe Lyons 



i8o A PELICAN'S TALE 

himself was not specially flourishing at the time, 
having just had a somewhat disastrous season at 
Olympia, with the big Constantinople show, which 
came after the very successful Venice in London ; 
so I said, " Well, Joe, unless you are going to have 
some extraordinarily novel features about the 
place, I can't see that it will stand a chance. 
There is the East Room at the Criterion for smart 
people, there are Monico's and half a dozen other 
places close by for the lesser mortals. The whole 
neighbourhood is catered for/' 

" Then/' said he, " you don't fancy the idea 
and you wouldn't care to be in it "; and I said I 
did not, and wouldn't. 

Now, as all the world knows, the Trocadero 
Restaurant was duly built, was started in a blaze 
of triumph, and has continued its remarkable 
success ever since, and out of that start came all 
the other innumerable Lyons' enterprises, each 
of which seems to have been more successful than 
that which went before it. And I had the chance 
of being in on the ground floor and would not 
take it ! Years afterwards I was glad to buy 
shares in the Company, paying a very stiff price 
for them, and dear old Joe, who was one of the 
kindliest and most amusing of men, as well as one 
of the shrewdest I ever knew, never tired of chaff- 
ing me about my mistake. 

Another case of lost opportunity was that of 
the seller of the song " Far, Far Away," with 



A FAMOUS SONG 181 

which the late Slade Murray drew all London to 
the old Pavilion and elsewhere when he happened 
to be singing it, and which, when published, was 
sold by the tens of thousands of copies, all over 
the world. 

Murray told me that he gave exactly one guinea 
for the song, which became worth thousands to 
him, in increased salaries and publishing rights. 
His acquisition of it came about this way. He 
was one day sitting in the Bodega in Chancery 
Lane, with the late Pat Feeney, the famous Irish 
songster of the time. 

To Feeney there entered one, who producing a 
song from his pocket, besought the Hibernian 
vocalist to purchase it. Feeney did not want a 
new song at the time and said so, handing it over 
to Murray, who just glanced at it, pushed it into 
his greatcoat pocket, and gave the guinea asked 
for it, more out of good nature than for any other 
reason. 

He did not look at the song again for some 
weeks ; in fact he forgot all about it, till one day, 
coming upon it by chance, he tried it over, thought 
the melody so taking, that although he did not 
fancy the words to any great extent, it seemed 
good enough to try at one of the halls wherein he 
was appearing at that time. 

Well, he did try it at the old Trocadero, and it 
was so great a success that Slade Murray, who, at 
that time, was merely a fairly good second-rate 



182 A PELICAN'S TALE 

singer, became, for a period at least, the most 
popular comic vocalist in London. 

After the success of " Far Far Away " was worn 
threadbare, Slade Murray went back in the 
betting as an attraction, and try as he would, he 
never could find another song to take its place, 
just as Miss Lottie Collins, mother of Miss Jose 
Collins of Daly's, who made so extraordinary a 
triumph with " Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay," that she 
had to sing it at the Gaiety as well as at about 
half a dozen music-halls a night, never found a 
legitimate successor to it. 

It is said that few men are heroes to their own 
valets, and I fear few dressers hold the actors and 
actresses they help into and out of their things, in 
any very special regard. The fact is they get to 
know them too well, and we all know what too 
much " familiararity " as the shorter and stouter 
of these erstwhile philosophers of the music-hall, 
" The Two Macs " was wont to term it, will do. 

Some years back, there was a happy time, when 
Arthur Roberts, the late " Mons " Marius, husband 
of that delightful singer, Miss Florence St. John, 
and my lowly self, used to take our early morning 
swim at Hobden's Bath, which was next to the 
Grand Hotel at Brighton, and one day Arthur 
invested in a remarkable bathing costume of 
black and white stripes. 

The effect was quite excellent, and very well 
" The Gasper " looked in it, but by some evil 







MR. ARTHUR ROBERTS 



THE DRESSER SPEAKS 183 

chance or other, the dye came off on his lily white 
skin, with the result that, in an undraped con- 
dition, he looked like an American convict clad 
in garments of superlatively excellent fit. 

One evening, during the playing of Joan of 
Arc, then being given at the local and immediate 
Theatre Royal, I looked in at his dressing-room. 
The excellent comedian in those days, though 
generally a most amiable fellow, used at times to 
lose his temper with his celebrated dresser Frank 
if he was a trifle slow with one of his quick changes 
of costume. When I called, Roberts was on the 
stage, so Frank regaled me with light and sparkling 
conversation. 

" How is Mr. Roberts to-night ? " I asked, 
being painfully aware that there had been a some- 
what large and lengthy luncheon party earlier in 
the day. " How is he/' retorted the dresser ; 
" how is he ? You may well ask. Oh, Mr. Boyd, 
he's like this. He has the temper of a rhinoceros 
to-night, and as for his body well that's like a 
ruddy zebra ! " 

Some little way back, I referred to the East 
Room of the Criterion, which, at one time, was 
quite the smartest feeding place in town, sharing 
favour in this regard with the Caf6 Royal, and the 
Bristol in Cork Street, just opposite the office of 
the very well-known money-lender, Sam Lewis. 

There was no Savoy, then, of course, no Cecil, 
Ritz, or Carlton, and the Berkeley as we know it 



184 A PELICAN'S TALE 

to-day did not exist. Verrey's, the Burlington, 
Epitaux, and the Solferino were popular, but in 
those days, Romano's was quite a small place, 
and more of a man's restaurant than anything 
else, though the female lights of the theatrical 
and music-hall worlds, were sometimes to be seen 
there. 

The East Room was always controlled by famous 
restaurateurs, and though Mr. Paul Cremieu 
Javal usually known as " Peter " at one time 
secretary to Mr. Felix Spiers, one of the founders 
of Spiers and Pond, and anon managing-director 
of that firm, was understood to have had a deal 
to do with the creation of the place, Mella, later 
on of the "Star and Garter" at Richmond, was 
its first manager. 

After him came Bertini, who certainly had a 
deal to do with making the East Room fashionable, 
and when he left to become the first manager of 
the Hotel Cecil, he was succeeded by Oddenino, 
who in turn after being at the Criterion, and ful- 
filling one or two engagements in Town and on 
the Continent, became manager of the Cafe Royal, 
prior to opening his own restaurant a little lower 
down in Regent Street. 

When Oddenino left the Cafe Royal, Judah, 
who had followed Bertini at the Cecil, became 
manager of the famous Nicol Restaurant, and has 
remained there ever since. The very palmy days 
of the East Room were at the time when the 



BARS 185 

Langham and the Grand were considered the 
most modern and smartest of hotels. Luigi, so 
long manager of Romano's, and anon maitre 
d'hotel of Ciro's, has since his coming to the 
Criterion won back much of its erstwhile popu- 
larity. 

One of the most paying portions of the Criterion 
and of its sister Spiers and Pond Restaurant, the 
Gaiety, was the vast bar, at which about twenty 
barmaids, specially selected young women of 
great physical attractiveness, were kept busily 
employed each day, till the place closed half an 
hour after midnight. Off the main bar room at 
the Criterion, was the American Bar, which 
achieved quite a deal of undesirable notoriety by 
reason of the " Boys " or " lads of the village " 
who used to assemble there, and find the place a 
very happy hunting ground. 

During the time the American Bar was at the 
height of its fame or otherwise the " Great Mac- 
dermott " sang a song at the old Pavilion called 
" Captain Criterion of London/' which made a 
considerable stir at the time, and led to an in- 
junction of the ditty, which in those days there is 
no harm in telling was the work of Cecil Raleigh, 
at that time secretary of the Pelican Club, and 
later on the author of many very successful autumn 
dramas at Drury Lane. 

Big bars, like those of the Criterion, the St. 
James', and the Gaiety, have been dead and gone 



i86 A PELICAN'S TALE 

for some years past, while Romano's bar, Darm- 
statter's and the other places, famous in the 
ultra-alcoholic days, are things of the past. 

The old Gaiety bar of course went when the 
old Gaiety Theatre ceased to be, while the New 
Gaiety Restaurant was not successful, and is now 
the abiding place of the Marconi Cable Company. 
The old Romano's, which was quite a tiny place, 
was burnt down, and then Romano, who was a 
very remarkable and amusing character, rebuilt the 
place very much as you see it to-day. 

When the newly erected restaurant was com- 
plete, and after it had been going for some little 
time, a number of the representatives and partners 
of the great champagne houses gave " The 
Roman " a dinner of very fine and large dimen- 
sions, and presented him with a handsome silver 
loving cup. 

Although Romano had lived for many years in 
this country, he never contrived to speak English 
in other than his own remarkable fashion. On 
the night of the banquet in his honour, seeing me 
among the guests, he clutched me by the arm and 
said, " Boyd Esquire, donta leave por ole Roman. 
You sitta nex me. You prompt when I maka da 
speech of tanks." And I did as I was asked. 

"The Roman's" health was duly proposed at 
the end of the terribly long banquet, by one of 
the partners of a very famous champagne firm 
who came there specially to do the deed. He said 



DINNERS AND DINERS 187 

in course of his remarks, " We don't know how 
old Romano is, but we hope that hell live till he's 
twice as old to drink out of this loving cup which 
I will now ask him to accept/' And poor old 
Romano, who was by this time, very much over- 
come by emotion and things, lurched heavily 
against me, and gurgled " Boyd Esquire, if por 
ole Roman 'e live to be that age 'e be 'under-and- 
twenty-sixa." 

That night after the place was closed Romano, 
feeling the heat, went for a walk in the Strand 
without his greatcoat. He caught a chill, and in 
less than a week he was dead. 

It was after his death that Walter Pallant, 
George Edwardes of the Gaiety, Mr. W. Purefoy, 
the well-known race-horse owner, Colonel Newn- 
ham Davis " The Dwarf of Blood "of The 
Sporting Times and anon of Town Topics, formed 
a company to run the place under the style and 
title of Romano's Limited, and in their control 
the restaurant grew steadily in favour, and greatly 
improved in standing. 

Romano's was always in close touch with the 
Gaiety, and the place was ever at its brightest and 
best at supper time after a Gaiety first night, 
when the management usually arranged for a 
special licence, and there was dancing and lots of 
harmless fun until the small hours. 

For instance, after the first night of The Girls 
of Gottenburg, a big supper party was given by 



i88 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Newnham Davis and someone else whose name I 
can't recall, which was attended by many of the 
charming ladies, who had delighted us on the 
stage earlier in the evening. 

Among them was a very pretty and very young 
lady who was probably about sixteen or so. I am 
not sure if " her golden hair was hanging down her 
back " like the damsel in the song Mr. Seymour 
Hicks used to sing ; but anyhow if it was up, it 
had only just been put up. She was Miss Gladys 
Cooper, at that time the bonniest of the Gaiety 
flappers, and she was attending her first supper 
party. 

Since those days, Miss Cooper has gone ahead 
and done great things, and like all the young 
ladies who got a chance at more serious work than 
came their way at Daly's and the Gaiety, she took 
every advantage of the opportunities which came 
to her at the Royalty and elsewhere, and made 
very good indeed. Now, as everyone knows, she 
is an actress-manageress, in partnership with Mr. 
Frank Curzon, at the Playhouse, and is one of 
the best and most popular actresses of her own 
line in Town. 

It is interesting, too, to note that the other out- 
standing young actress-manageress, Miss Marie 
Lohr, was also at one time of the George Edwardes 
fold, and appeared in an unimportant part in The 
Little Michus at Daly's, from which house so many 
other well-known actresses came, to name only 



NELLIE FARREN 189 

Miss Ethel Irving, and Miss Marie Tempest among 
the number. 

Some of those who did big things after leaving 
the Gaiety and Daly's, began at one or other of 
those houses in the chorus, and all credit to them 
for getting on as they have done. In this con- 
nection one recalls the words of Miss Nellie Farren, 
an exceedingly shrewd woman as well as the best 
burlesque boy of her time or perhaps of any 
other time " I never quarrel with a chorus girl," 
she said, " she may be a manageress next week, 
you know." And the thing is true enough. It 
has happened. 



CHAPTER XIII 

Something about Cecil Rhodes Meeting him in Sir Starr Jame- 
son's flat A wonderful man His remarkable opinion of the 
German Kaiser How Mr. Rhodes signed his photograph 
His long-drawn-out death What he said to Jameson near 
the end An indifferent musician But an appreciative 
listener Some eminent composers at their best How I 
saved Sir Arthur Sullivan's life Sir William Gilbert A 
" Gentish " Person Lewis Carroll Golf stories Music-mak- 
ing in strange places How Ivan Caryll thought his fortune was 
made early in life Miss Bessie Bellwood and the retort 
courteous A remarkable cabman A private recital by 
Paderewski to an audience of six Bessie's opinion of Provi- 
dence How Mr. James Buchanan came to London And 
how Sir Thomas Dewar followed his lead Fortunes out of 
whisky Spirits which you drink, and spirits which you see 
The ghost at Glamis Castle The story Lord Strathmore 
told The subscription-seeking clergyman and the embar- 
rassed spectre- How the ghost was effectively laid Willing 
but impecunious Frank Richardson the " Whisker " expert 
My list of suicides A sad and curious coincidence. 

ONE of the biggest men in every way, I 
ever met, was Cecil Rhodes, and al- 
though a brother of mine was a close 
friend of the great South African, and 
for some years his political secretary, I only had 
the good fortune to see him once, and that was in 
Sir Starr Jameson's flat in Down Street, Picca- 
dilly, where he lived when in London, with Sir 
John Willoughby and my brother Charles as his 

immediate neighbours. 

190 



CECIL RHODES 191 

Like almost everyone else I regarded Mr. Rhodes 
as a very great man indeed, wellnigh super- 
human in point of fact, but it was an expression 
of opinion which he gave vent to on the occasion 
I saw him, which made me wonder, if after all 
even the greatest of mortals could not make 
mistakes. Rhodes had been staying with the 
Kaiser in Berlin, and the Chief of the Huns had 
made a great fuss of him. An important person 
who was in the room at the time I allude to, said 
to him, in course of conversation, " Now tell me, 
Rhodes, is the Kaiser simply an egotistical ass, 
or a really big man ? " and I remember well, how 
the South African turned his curious light blue 
eyes on the questioner, and becoming grave and 
serious as he did so, said in a very deliberate way, 
with a distinct pause between each word, " A 
very great man indeed ! ' 

I was only a listener, of course, but in my heart 
I did not agree with Mr. Rhodes even then. 
Certainly he would have revised his opinion of 
the " All Highest/' had he been alive to-day. 

On that occasion a memorable one to me I 
had a photograph of Mr. Rhodes with me, his 
favourite picture, the familiar full-face bust por- 
trait, and I ventured to ask him to sign it for me. 

" Why on earth do you want me to do that ? ' 
he asked, with real surprise, and I told him that it 
would make the portrait of special value. " Do 
you know/' he said, as he scribbled his name 



192 A PELICAN'S TALE 

across the photograph, " I don't think I ever 
signed my photograph before I don't think I 
was ever even asked to do so." 

In that case my treasured portrait must be the 
more valuable to-day, for of course he will sign 
no more of them now. 

Some years afterwards, when Rhodes had gone 
to his last rest, in the wonderful Matoppos, 
Jameson, who was his closest friend, told me 
several things about his end, one of which there 
is no harm in repeating now. 

The great man was dying for quite a long time, 
but he had much to tell Jameson of the work he 
desired to be carried on, and time was all too 
limited. One day, very near the end, when he 
was giving the future Prime Minister of South 
Africa numerous pointers, which he in turn was 
writing down, Rhodes, who was, as a rule, as 
devoid of sentiment as any man could well be, 
suddenly stopped, gave a sort of sob, and said, 
"I suppose you know, Jameson, what you have 
always been to me." 

The reply was characteristic of Jameson. Time 
was short, there was much still to be told, and 
anything like a breakdown would have been 
fatal. Bringing his fist down hard upon a table 
Jameson cried, " Full stop, Rhodes ! ' Jl and the 
dying man bowed his head, and said, " I beg your 
pardon/' and straightway continued his business- 
like directions. 







s 

CECIL RHODES, THE GREAT EMPIRE BUILDER 



ALFRED CELLIER 193 

Jameson was one of the gentlest, kindest, and 
best hearted men that ever lived. He was devoted 
in every way to Rhodes, but he knew his man and 
the right way to treat him in the circumstances, 
and he did it. 

Although I am not much of a musician, being 
at best something like a twelfth or twentieth rate 
performer on the violin, I have always been 
devotedly attached to music, and I have had the 
good fortune to number several well-known com- 
posers of the lighter sort, among my friends. 

Poor Alfred Cellier, composer of Dorothy and 
much else, was one of them, and in connection 
with him and his playing, I have always regretted 
my inability to write musical shorthand, if there 
be such a thing, for he composed so many charming 
pieces of all sorts, while I formed an appreciative 
and insatiable audience of one, and as these were 
not committed to paper, they were lost for all time. 

Alfred used to be in his best composing mood 
about three in the morning at the old Pelican 
Club, and then I would lure him to the piano, and 
get him to play whatever came into his head, and 
according to my recollection some uncommonly 
fine things were created on those occasions, all 
unfortunately lost, simply because there was no 
one present to jot them down. 

Sir Arthur Sullivan I did not know, but I fancy 
I saved his life on one occasion, some little time 
before his all too early death. We travelled one 



194 A PELICAN'S TALE 

day from Richmond to Waterloo in the same 
railway carriage, and at Vauxhall his manservant 
came to the door, as had evidently been arranged, 
and said " This is Vauxhall, Sir Arthur." " Oh, 
is it," replied the composer, " then I ought to get 
out here." But just then the train started ; the 
servant bolted back to his own compartment, 
while Sullivan, gathering up some papers and a 
rug, and apparently quite regardless of the fact 
that the train was now moving rapidly, began to 
open the door. 

" You can't get out now," I said, and caught 
him by the arm, closing the door which he had 
managed to open. He appeared to be somewhat 
dazed for a second or two, and then sat down in 
his seat very pale and agitated. " I suppose it is 
just as well I did not try to jump out," he said, 
" I might have been killed." And so he certainly 
would have been. " I expect you have saved my 
life," he added. " May I ask your name ? " I 
told him who I was, and he said, " My name is 
Sullivan." I replied that of course his name, 
fame, and appearance were all very well known 
to me, and we parted amicably at Waterloo. 

It was the only time I ever met the composer 
whose work has given such real pleasure to 
millions of people in all parts of the world. 

Sullivan naturally reminds one of Gilbert just 
as whisky does of soda, although I would not 
have any one pursue the simile too far. 



A " GENTISH " PERSON 195 

It is the fortune, good or evil, of many famous 
persons to be very much misunderstood by the 
big Public, and I fancy that seldom was a man 
more generally given credit for a personality quite 
other than his own, than was the case with Sir 
W. H. Gilbert, ever to be remembered for his 
matchless series of Savoy Comic Operas, in 
collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan. 

Till one actually came to know the man, one 
shared the opinion held by so many, that he was 
a gruff, disagreeable person ; but nothing could 
be less true of the really great humorist. 

He had rather a severe appearance it is true, 
and like many other clever people, he had precious 
little use for fools of either sex, but he was at heart 
as kindly and lovable a man as you could wish 
to meet. 

I recall many matters of interest which he was 
good enough to tell me at various times, some of 
them things I should like, if I dared, to reproduce 
here, and it was always very fascinating if you 
could induce him to do so to hear him talk of 
old times and of famous people. 

Dickens he had known well. He considered 
him " a great genius, of course ; everyone must 
admit that/' Asked what sort of man the great 
novelist was to look at and talk to, I mind me 
well how Sir William thought for a little, and 
then said : "He was if you understand me a 
' gentish ' person." 



196 A PELICANS TALE 

One quite understood at least what Gilbert 
meant, just as one could readily imagine the effect 
which such an expression of opinion would have 
had on Edmund Yates, ever the most constant 
disciple that even Dickens possessed. 

Sir William's readiness of reply, especially to 
silly questions asked by boring people, is em- 
phasised in the many stories told of him. Accord- 
ing to some of these the eminent humorist was 
not especially polite at times, but it is of course 
to be remembered that in all probability many of 
these tales are not true, for every one knows how 
stories of various sorts and kinds tend to become 
attached to celebrated people. 

The following may or may not be historical, 
but in any case it is a typical Gilbert story of the 
more moderate sort. 

During a visit to America Sir William, who had 
not at that time received his title, was one evening 
at a dinner party, and later on in the drawing-room 
he met, among many others, an excellent lady 
who, after the regulation rhapsody concerning his 
work in connection with Sullivan, proceeded to 
discuss other well-known composers at very 
tedious length. 

Said she, among much else, " Do you know, Mr. 
Gilbert, I admire the music of Bach so much ; 
yes, I cannot tell you how much I admire Bach ; 
is he still composing ? " 

The answer was remarkable and very Gilbertian. 



ALICE IN WONDERLAND 197 

" No, Madam, not so far as I know. Indeed I 
should say he is now decomposing ! " 

I wonder if children still read Alice's Adventures 
in Wonderland; I hope they do, for that and its 
sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice 
Found There, published two years later, are as 
every one knows or used to know two of the 
most delightful books ever written for children of 
all ages, and I am glad that I still possess my 
copies of the first editions published in 1870 and 
1872 respectively. 

As all playgoers are aware the two books of 
" Lewis Carroll/' who was a clergyman, the Rev 
C. L. Dodgson, were dramatised by Saville Clarke 
with music by Walter Slaughter, but everyone 
probably does not know that at first it was Mr. 
Dodgson's idea to make a play of the stories him- 
self, and to this end he approached Sir Arthur 
Sullivan about doing the music. 

Nothing, however, came of the matter, for 
Sullivan was too busy at the time to deal with 
" Alice/' and Mr. Dodgson found that there was 
all the difference in the world between writing a 
story and making a stage version of it. Finally, 
if Saville Clarke had not come along, and after a 
vast deal of talk induced the somewhat crotchety 
old gentleman to listen to reason, the stage 
version of Alice in Wonderland produced at the 
Prince's Theatre now the Prince of Wales' in 
'83 by Edgar Bruce, with Miss Phoebe Carlo in 



198 A PELICAN'S TALE 

the title part, would in all probability have never 
been given. 

Talking of one composer recalls another, and 
although of course Paul Rubens would have been 
the last man in the world to permit the faintest 
suggestion that he was anywhere in the same 
street with Sir Arthur Sullivan, the poor young 
fellow who died so pitifully early, composed some 
very pretty and clever music. 

Before his last illness took too severe a hold 
upon him, Rubens told me that one of the happiest 
things which had befallen him, was when he fell a 
victim to the charms of golf, and although he was 
never much of a player, he was for a time at least 
very keen about the game, and took special pride 
in the fact that he had lured George Edwardes 
under its spell. 

The eminent theatrical manager became quite 
a golf enthusiast for a period, during which it was 
one of his special joys that he was able to beat 
Rubens. One day on meeting Paul, I asked him 
how his golf was progressing, and he replied, " Oh 
splendidly. I am improving every day/' 

Knowing how indifferent a player George 
Edwardes was, but also recollecting that he had 
vanquished my companion, I said, " Well, hang it 
all, Paul, you can't be very good yet, for George 
Edwardes tells me that he beat you the other 
day." 

" Did George tell you that ? " he said. " Well, 



A GOLFING STORY 199 

now ril tell you something. Each time we got 
on to the Green I asked George how many strokes 
he had played, and each time he replied, ' I'm not 
quite sure, but / know I've got two for the hole ! ' 
Do you wonder that I lost ? " 

Here is another little golfing story, the hero of 
which is a well-known actor who need not be too 
closely identified. With all due deference to him, 
he is no great performer on the links of the club 
he is a member of, nor does he, as a matter of fact, 
play very often. One day, however, he was play- 
ing, and as usual playing very indifferently, al- 
though he did not appear to be at all aware of the 
fact. The caddy who was carrying his clubs was 
a new lad at least new to him possessed of many 
freckles and a face wholly devoid of expression. 

Noticing that the caddy never once smiled nor 
sneered at his employer's bad strokes, the player 
after a time began to take quite a fancy to him. 
At the end of the round he said, in the hope 
doubtless of some sort of compliment, " I have 
been so busy lately that I am quite out of prac- 
tice. That is why I am in such poor form to-day." 
The caddy gazed at him incredulously for a second 
or two, and then replied, " Gordelpus ! then you 
'ave played golf before ! ): 

And talking of this hero reminds me of an inci- 
dent which occurred to his wife, who is, like her 
husband, a person of considerable standing on the 
Stage. 



200 A PELICAN'S TALE 

There is a certain vendor of birds and beasts of 
various sorts and kinds, whose familiar premises 
are situated not very far from Charing Cross. To 
him there came one day the eminent actress who 
desired to acquire a parrot, and naturally enough 
the bird fancier had precisely the one and only 
bird calculated to suit her, which had only been 
sold him half an hour previously by a gentleman 
of seafaring aspect, who looked considerably the 
worse for wear. 

The lady liked the parrot ; the seller approved 
of the price he had induced her to pay for it ; the 
parrot did not care one way or the other, and so 
everyone was pleased. 

The sequel happened two days later, when the 
lady drove up in a taxi and, entering the miniature 
menagerie, demanded that the proprietor should 
immediately be brought before her, and when he 
appeared she said, " Do you know that parrot 
which I bought from you the other day uses the 
most dreadful language. What am I to do about 
it? " "Ah, Mum," retorted the bird seller, "I 
should have warned you, but I thought you would 
have known. You see these birds will pick up 
anything. You'll have to be very careful what 
you say before that parrot ! ' Feeling herself 
Utterly defeated, the lady took her departure 
without another word. 

During the time my old friend Howard Talbot 
was composing the music of The Arcadians, one 



CARYLL'S START 201 

of his most successful pieces, he and I went on a 
little voyage to the Canaries, and on ship board, 
and in various places such as Black Horse Square, 
Lisbon, where King Carlos was so foully murdered ; 
outside the English club at Teneriffe ; and seated 
on the roadside at Oratava, ideas came to the 
good Talbot and were duly preserved on the 
backs of envelopes while I sat still and watched 
in admiration. 

Although he was born at Liege in Belgium my 
good friend Ivan Caryll is by parentage a Pole 
and was christened Felix Tilkins. And one day 
when we were motoring from Boulogne to Paris, 
we stopped at Abbeville for luncheon and walked 
round to the Town Hall looking at it with special 
interest, for it was there that Felix when little 
more than a lad had been engaged in the Town 
Orchestra, as one of the second violins. His 
salary then was a very small one, but on getting 
the job he wrote home to his mother like a dutiful 
son, to point out that his fortune was now made. 
As he himself said, if anyone at that time had 
told him that in comparatively few years he would 
be motoring past the place in his own car, a highly 
successful composer and a wealthy man, how 
utterly impossible the prophecy would have ap- 
peared. 

Ivan Caryll, who is a pattern of kindly good- 
nature, is among many other things a very excel- 
lent story-teller, and unlike most tellers of tales 



202 A PELICAN'S TALE 

does not mind when they are somewhat against 
himself, resembling in this regard the celebrated 
Bessie Bellwood, always the cheeriest of person- 
alities, as well as one of the very brightest orna- 
ments of the music-hall stage in her day, and I 
well recollect one little story she related to " Tale- 
Pitcher " Binstead, then of the Sporting Times, 
and myself, in her carriage on our way back from 
the funeral of a mutual friend. 

One morning as Bessie came out of Dane's Inn, 
then in the Strand, to get into her hansom, she 
remarked to the driver thereof, a famous character 
named Billy King, who drove the late Duke of 
Manchester, Lord Aylesbury, and other lights of 
leading of the period, " Well, Billy, it's quite a 
warm morning." To which that hero, appar- 
ently peevish at having been kept waiting in the 
sunshine for a couple of hours, retorted, " Yes, it 
is ; and it would be a blanked sight warmer if 
there were many more like you about." All of 
which was very homely and pleasant, and nobody 
minded at all, for Billy was a very privileged 
person. 

And still harping upon musicians recalls an 
interesting hour or two I spent at the old Eccentric 
Club in Shaftesbury Avenue, in the early hours 
of one memorable morning. 

It was, I fancy, about half-past one or two, that 
I entered the Club and was going up the photo- 
graph-lined stairs, with a very musical companion, 



PRESIDENT PADEREWSKI 203 

when we heard some one playing the piano in the 
big room. " By Jove ! " cried my friend, " that 
man plays well he plays beautifully quite like 
Paderewski," and then we opened the swing door 
leading into the room, where the piano was, and 
we saw that the player actually was Paderewski 
himself. The great pianist was good enough to 
play to a little audience of half a dozen for quite a 
long time, and, moreover, to improvise several 
things which came into his head, which made me 
regret more than ever that musical shorthand, if 
there be such a thing, and I were not on terms of 
intimacy. 

" God is good to the Irish and not bad to the 
Scotch/' was a frequent sentiment of Miss Bell- 
wood, and one thinks of at least a couple of one's 
countrymen who have fared uncommonly well in 
London, at the hands of Providence, from small 
beginnings. 

A good many years ago it occurred to a certain 
tall red-haired man who hailed from Glasgow, 
that there was no reason at all why Londoners 
should not be taught that whisky-and-soda was 
just as good a drink as the then much more 
familiar " B. and S." 

Scotch whisky of a drinkable sort was then a 
comparatively rare thing in England, and one 
still recalls the dreadful brass-cleaning concoctions 
which masqueraded under the style and title 
thereof. 



204 A PELICAN'S TALE 

The tall sportsman from across the Border who 
thought thusly, was Mr. James Buchanan, and 
his business head-quarters were a couple of small 
offices in Bucklersbury, from whence came the 
" House of Commons Blend. " Of the arrival of 
" Black and White " and other things, and the 
subsequent migration to the palatial premises at 
Black Swan Distillery, Holborn, and the acquire- 
ment of colossal wealth, most people are aware. 

Later than Mr. Buchanan there came another 
Scot who hailed from the fair city of Perth, and 
when he arrived in London and sought to engage 
small offices in Craig's Court, near Charing Cross, 
the landlord knew so little of him that he de- 
manded and received his diminutive rent in 
advance. 

The new-comer was likewise a vendor of " The 
Curse of Scotland/' and though his name was un- 
familiar to Londoners in those days, it is well 
known now, for he was Sir Thomas Dewar. 

A few years back the " brither Scots" com- 
bined their businesses, with a capital for the 
joint companies, of five million pounds, which 
sum is surely calculated to make present day tee- 
totalers and anti-almost everything people, sit up 
and take very considerable notice. 

Mr. Buchanan is, or was, a prominent figure on 
the Turf and quite a famous owner. Sir Thomas 
Dewar, on the other hand, favours dogs more than 
horses, and is keen about big game shooting. 




THE RIGHT HOX. L. S. JAMESON, C.B., AND MR. CHARLES BOYD, C.M.G. 
HIS ONE TIME POLITICAL SECRETARY 



THE GHOST AT GLAMIS 205 

Whisky is no doubt a good thing in moderation, 
but as is generally known too much of the " barley 
bree " is calculated to induce the seeing of spirits 
more or less materialistic, according to the quan- 
tity or quality of the potations indulged in. 

Spirits of the ghostly sort naturally suggest one 
of the most famous and remarkable ghosts in 
existence or out of it whichever you like ; 
the famous or at least greatly-written-about 
ghost of Glamis Castle, which is said to haunt a 
certain secret room. 

Whether there is or is not a ghost at Glamis, I 
am not in a position to say, nor do I know of my 
own knowledge whether Lord Strathmore or his 
family attach serious consequence to the mys- 
terious visitor, but I do remember hearing a very 
well-known Scottish cleric tell of an occasion 
when he was staying at Glamis, and one morning 
at breakfast the subject of the celebrated secret 
room cropped up in conversation. Lord Strath- 
more, who certainly did not appear to regard the 
matter as one of special consequence, told the 
following little story of an eminent church dig- 
nitary who had stayed at the Castle some years 
previously. 

He was, it seemed, a fine example of the clerical 
beggar, and was always collecting money for 
church building and other good works of the 
kind. One night during his stay, he had just put 
out the light and got into bed, when suddenly 



206 A PELICAN'S TALE 

the ghost appeared. It was from its apparel, he 
said, undoubtedly a Strathmore of some centuries 
back. 

With great presence of mind the clergyman 
took the first word. Addressing the ghost he 
stated that he was most anxious to raise a certain 
sum of money for a new church which he proposed 
to erect ; that he had a bad cold and could not 
well get out of bed ; but that his collecting book 
lay on the dressing-table within easy reach of the 
ghost, and that he would be extremely obliged if 
his visitor would favour him with a contribution. 

The ghost said nothing at all in reply, but 
clearly betrayed the embarrassment he felt. 
Being a gentleman he was obviously most desirous 
of complying with the clergyman's request, but 
being likewise a ghost, he had no pockets about 
him and no money. After a painful pause, realising 
that the position was one of extreme delicacy and 
difficulty for him, the ghost shamefacedly faded 
away, and has never come back any more ! 

Coincidences are usually remarkable and often 
very uncanny, and one of the most curious of 
these within my recollection was that with which 
poor Frank Richardson, the well-known novelist 
and humorous writer, who made a sort of trade- 
mark of " Whiskers/' was connected. 

Richardson's dislike for whiskers was no doubt 
more or less genuine, but it was also not a bad 
idea from a business point of view, and gave him 



THIRTY-SEVEN 207 

an identity, which was naturally valuable to him, 
as an author with books to sell. 

If you ever mentioned his name, someone 
would sure to say, " Oh, you mean that fellow 
who is always writing about whiskers," and it 
was in connection with whiskers that poor Frank 
built most of his literary fame, and a considerable 
deal of financial fortune. 

Every now and again it used to occur to the 
somewhat erratic genius in his chambers at 
Albemarle Street, that he had nothing better to 
do at the moment than come along to 10 and n 
Fetter Lane and look me up. Usually he arrived 
at luncheon time, and then we fed together. 

On the last occasion that he called at The 
Pelican office, he found me sorting some papers, 
one of which fell out of the bundle on to the floor. 
Richardson picked it up and looked at the list of 
the names and dates inscribed upon it. " What 
is this ? " he asked. "It is the list of suicides I 
have known/' I said ; " if you read the names you 
will find you are acquainted with quite a number 
of them." "Good Lord," he said, "what a 
dreadful idea. Why, there are thirty-six of them. 
I wonder who the thirty-seventh will be." 

He was the thirty-seventh. 



CHAPTER XIV 

The bad old days and the present time Stage The Theatre as a 
profession for men and women Not at all a bad one for the 
latter The connection between the Church and the Stage 
The bygone mystery of the actor's calling How and why it 
has disappeared Some curious stage slips " Beetle " Kem- 
ble's little mistake in Hamlet The libel on Sir Charles Wynd- 
ham's sobriety Henry Irving as a singer A substitute for 
Sims Reeves Actors and actresses who sing and some who 
shouldn't Miss Marie Lohr's first visit to Sir Herbert Tree 
How Miss Marie Tempest came to forsake musical comedy A 
matter of trousers An understudy's opportunity The tiny 
turns of Fate which make up history Miss Jose Collins at 
Daly's The clever daughter of a clever mother " Ta-ra-ra- 
boom-de-ay " and how its singer jumped into fame in two 
continents An incredible success. 



i 



evil old Puritanical times are happily 
gone from us, when everything and 
everybody connected with the Stage 
was considered bad generally, and the 
women thereof everything that was vile in par- 
ticular. But still, as we all know, every now and 
again there crops up some narrow-minded idiot, 
who delights in having his or her fling at the poor 
old Drama which, by the way, is, as a matter of 
fact, singularly robust to-day and saying every- 
thing that is disagreeable about Stageland and 
the dwellers within its gates. 

Whenever the times are dull, the happenings 

208 



CHORUS LADIES 209 

comparatively few, and the papers find it difficult 
to fill their columns with interesting matter, we 
are treated to long dissertations on the undesir- 
ability of the Stage as a profession for girls. " Why 
do women continue to crowd the Stage ? " cries 
one correspondent, writing to a big daily paper 
not long ago, and the answer is quite obvious. 

People do things because they are " good 
enough," and the Stage as a profession is not only 
good enough, but by far the most highly paid 
work open to the average young woman com- 
pelled to, or desirous of, earning her own living, if 
she be possessed of the right qualifications. Of 
course specially paid war-time jobs are to be 
excepted, and I am writing of normal periods. If 
a girl be fairly good-looking and well figured, and 
if she possesses a moderately good voice, she can 
without any great difficulty obtain an engage- 
ment at any of the musical comedy or revue 
theatres, at two pounds, or two pounds five shil- 
lings a week, and I should like to know in what 
other profession a girl can earn over a hundred 
pounds a year as a start, without much study, 
and with no investment of capital, by doing 
about two hours work a night, and a little more 
on matinee days ? 

If a girl becomes a governess or a Government 
clerk let me repeat I am not of course alluding 
to emergency war workers she must be excep- 
tionally clever, and for the latter employment 



210 A PELICAN'S TALE 

must pass a somewhat severe examination. Also 
in neither case will her remuneration be anything 
like a hundred a year to start with. If she becomes 
a typist, she will in return for the probable ex- 
penditure of about twenty pounds on her machine, 
the cost of keeping it in order, of learning difficult 
shorthand, and equally difficult typing, and for 
working from eight to ten hours a day, get any- 
thing from fifteen to thirty shillings a week. 

I am not writing of things I do not know, 
believe me. Shortly before the war, I advertised 
for a woman typist, and the number of well- 
educated, clever, and ladylike girls who offered 
their services, at ridiculous salaries, made one's 
heart sore, when one saw how terribly keen the 
competition was. 

So long as musical comedies and revues are 
produced, so long will there be a demand for the 
services of attractive young women with decent 
voices, and the possessors of these special advan- 
tages will naturally enough take an uncommonly 
easy way of earning a wage amidst bright and 
interesting surroundings, considerably more cheer- 
ful than those which they would encounter in 
hard and frequently dreary office drudgery. 

Added to all this, there are the numerous 
opportunities a girl on the Stage has of making a 
marriage of such a kind as she could not hope to 
do among the friends of her parents. She is seen 
by many more eligible young men than she prob- 



THE STAGE AS A PROFESSION 211 

ably would be at home, and her chances of matri- 
mony are consequently greater. One knows of 
heaps and heaps of happy and successful marriages 
which chorus girls have made, and in writing thus, 
I am not thinking of exceptional cases where 
thinking-part young ladies have become peeresses. 
As for the dangers of Stage life, and all that 
foolery, there are no more than exist in any big 
shop, or business, where men and women are 
employed together, and, in the majority of cases, 
probably far fewer. 

And as for the Stage as a profession for men, it 
is in my humble opinion like Journalism, or Art, 
or Music, an excellent one for a man who really 
cares for it, and has enough money to live on, 
whether he has engagements or not. If he has 
the means of existence, what time he is out of 
collar, so that it is not of vital consequence to him 
whether he gets engagements or not, it will 
assuredly happen, in accordance with the curious 
natural law which seems to prevail in all busi- 
nesses and professions, that he will get the en- 
gagements right enough. As in other matters, 
so on the Stage " To him that hath shall be 
given." 

Of course the great prizes of Stageland fall into 
the hands of the very few, but they are of so 
exceedingly handsome a nature that they are well 
worth striving after if one's abilities and fancies 
turn towards the boards as a career. Possibly 



212 A PELICAN'S TALE 

there are better paid professions than that of 
acting. Assuredly there are many worse. 

In these days, the Church, or at least that 
portion of it which counts, has quite ceased to 
regard the Stage as what Mile. Gaby Deslys calls 
11 shokeeng," and as a matter of fact, there is 
considerable connection, by birth at least, be- 
tween the two callings. To name only a few of 
the well-known people who are connected with 
the Church, I may mention Mr. Matheson Lang, 
who is the son of the Rev. Gavin Lang of the 
Church of Scotland and a cousin of the Archbishop 
of York, also Miss Violet and Miss Irene Vanbrugh, 
daughters of the late Rev. Prebendary Barnes of 
Exeter. Mr. Lestocq, at one time a well-known 
player and latterly more familiar as Mr. Charles 
Frohman's representative in this country, is also 
a son of the Church ; so too is Mr. St. John 
Denton, while Mrs. Langtry or Lady de Bathe, is 
a daughter of the late Dean of Jersey. 

Mr. Basil Gill is a son of the Rev. John Gill of 
Cambridge, and Mr. Charles Hawtrey one of the 
sons of the late Rev. John Hawtrey, an Eton 
master, while Mr. Eade Montefiore, well known in 
connection with theatrical management, is a son of 
the Rev. Thomas Montefiore, Rector of Chiddock, 
and Rural Dean. There are many other instances 
one could readily name, but these will do to show 
that the connection between the Church and the 
Stage is a reasonably extensive one. 



THE ACTOR'S CALLING 213 

And still harping upon Stage matters, a well- 
known player recently remarked with a good deal 
of truth, that the romance of Stage life has become, 
in great part, like the presence of snakes in 
Ireland ; that in point of fact it does not exist 
nowadays. 

Stage life in these times differs but little from 
most other sorts of life and work. It is practical, 
business-like, somewhat hard, decidedly matter- 
of-fact, and eminently unromantic. 

The old time mystery surrounding the actors' 
calling has been dissipated by the very intimate 
photographer, the interviewer, the Press-agent, 
and the players themselves. The open candour 
of the latter in disclosing the secrets of their 
profession, of making known the intimate details 
of such matters as their make up, of giving the 
public particulars of their domestic lives, their 
tastes, their habits, their likes and dislikes, have 
been responsible for tearing away the veil which, 
in earlier days, formed an impenetrable barrier 
between the auditorium and the other side of the 
footlights. 

Formerly, stage life was an irregular, haphazard, 
go-as-you-please sort of thing. The stage manager 
did not rule with a rod of iron as he does now ; 
the details of productions were often careless and 
left to chance, and the classic saying, " It will be 
all right at night," which for obvious reasons is 
heard but rarely nowadays, was of everyday or 



214 A PELICAN'S TALE 

every night occurrence, when actors, disclaiming 
any great amount of careful study for less arduous 
pursuits, trusted to luck to pull them through. 

When all is mechanically precise, when actors 
are letter perfect, when stage hands abjure strong 
waters and nothing is left to accident or fortune, 
few opportunities occur for those amusing acci- 
dents and blunders which used to happen. A 
play nowadays may run for a year without any- 
thing untoward occurring to mar the even current 
of its progress. From a business point of view 
this is of course excellent, but the freedom from 
mishaps makes the work of the dramatic historian 
hard, for he has few good stories to tell, and 
hardly any amusing blunders to record. 

In the alleged palmy days, actors often played 
eight or nine new parts a week, and this circum- 
stance alone afforded ample opportunities for 
mistakes. And there were also the ignorance, 
stupidity, and indolence of the stage manager, 
which were fruitful of blunders. 

Charles Matthews, the father of Sir Charles 
Matthews, Director of Public Prosecutions, has 
left it on record that on one occasion, when play- 
ing in The Critic, the actor who had rehearsed the 
part of Lord Burleigh in the morning was by 
reason, it is supposed, of the too great hospitality 
of friends, unable to appear at night. " Send on 
anybody," said the stage manager, indifferent as 
to the consequences of his remarkable command, 



MISQUOTATIONS 215 

and only anxious that the play should willy-nilly 
proceed. The " anybody " was found, dressed 
for the part, and the book thrust into his hand. 
He read the stage directions " Enter Lord 
Burleigh, bows to Dangle, shakes his head, and 
exit." 

" Anybody " did enter, bowed to Dangle, and 
proceeded to shake Dangle's head, no doubt to 
the great delight of the audience, if to the horror 
of the player ; and then made his exit. 

Even the great Kean was not free from the 
commission of blunders, for it is related that, 
owing to nervousness or other causes, he once 
transposed the lines in Hamlet : 

" Who tweaks me by the nose, plucks off my beard 

And blows it in my face." 
to 

" Who tweaks me by the beard, plucks off my nose 
And blows it in my face." 

Once while playing at the Adelphi, in The 
Harbour Lights, Mr. William Terriss, for long the 
stock hero at that playhouse, and the father of 
Miss Ellaline Terriss, had to speak the " tag " 
which ran : 

" Straight before us, like two stars of hope 
We see the harbour lights," 

but by evil chance, one evening he rendered the 

line : 

" Straight before us, like two bars of soap, 
We see the harbour lights." 



216 A PELICAN'S TALE 

which remarkable expression of vision consider- 
ably dashed Miss Jessie Millward the heroine 
to whom the line was addressed. 

There was the case, too, of Mr. Kemble's cele- 
brated lapse in Hamlet, while playing Polonius to 
Sir Herbert Tree's Dane, which came about thus. 

During a wait Charles Brookfield, always clever 
and mischievous, wandered into Kemble's dress- 
ing-room, and said, " Don't you think, Beetle, 
that in your big speech the line 

" Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar " 
would be much more impressive, if you gave it 
" Be thou familiar, but by no means bawdy." 

" Good Lord, Charles," said Kemble, what a 
dreadful thing to suggest. " Fancy daring to 
alter a word of Shakespeare. And hang it all, 
now that you have put it into my head, it is a 
thousand to one that I'll go on the stage and say 
it." And sure enough poor " Beetle " did do so, 
with his fine booming voice, to the immense 
amazement of those who heard it. Tree used to 
laugh about the mishap afterwards ; but he was 
thunderstruck at the time. 

Few actors had greater control over themselves 
on the Stage than Sir Charles Wyndham, but 
even he was considerably " dried up " on at least 
one occasion, when he was playing David Garrick 
at the Criterion. 



IRVING AS A SINGER 217 

In this it will be recollected that in order to dis- 
gust the love-stricken Ada Ingot, Garrick pretends 
to be intoxicated, and old Simon Ingot, the father, 
orders him out of the room, saying, " You are 
drunk, Mr. Garrick ; leave this house at once." 

I fancy, on the occasion I refer to, Mr. Farren 
was playing Ada's father. Anyhow, the old 
Ingot of the occasion, whoever he was, consider- 
ably electrified the hero of the piece as well as the 
audience by exclaiming, " You are drunk, Mr. 
Wyndham ; leave this house at once ! " 

The difficulties which players find themselves 
in at times, are by no means all of their own 
causing, for there have been occasions when it has 
been necessary for some reason or other, for an 
actor to jump into a breach created by some 
breakdown or other mishap, which he was but 
little constituted by nature to fill. 

We all remember the great actor, Sir Henry 
Irving, of course, and most of us no doubt saw 
him in all his most famous parts, but few of his 
admirers, I venture to think, ever imagined him 
as a singer of sentimental ballads ; yet the thing 
duly occurred and in this manner. 

Irving was appearing in that remarkable old 
play Rob Roy at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh. It 
was of course in his young days, and he was play- 
ing the part of Captain Thornton, when Sims 
Reeves, who was the tenor-lover, Francis 
Osbaldiston, was seized with one of his periodical 



2i8 A PELICAN'S TALE 

" indispositions " which became so maddeningly 
frequent during his later and more celebrated life, 
and sent along the usual medical certificate to 
show that he was unfitted to appear that night. 

The Edinburgh manager, old Mr. Wyndham, 
father of Mr. Fred Wyndham of the famous 
theatrical firm, Howard and Wyndham, suddenly 
swooped down on Irving and said, " Look sharp ! 
The curtain is just going up, and you must take 
Sims Reeves place/' Irving, very much aghast, 
replied, " What, with all the songs ? " " Yes, all 
of them/' retorted the manager. " And I sang 
them, too/' Irving used to say, " yes ; My Love is 
like a red, red rose ; Though I leave thee now in 
sorrow ; Everything ! " 

It is indeed wonderful to think of grand old Sir 
Henry as a soloist wonderful indeed, if you ever 
heard him sing. At Edmund Yates' house at 
Marlow, I once sat next to him, what time a 
number of us joined in a certain chorus, and the 
great actor's discords, and strange sounds therein, 
were, as I well remember, very dreadful and 
terrifying to listen to. Henry Irving had a re- 
markable speaking voice, a beautiful smile, was a 
very great actor, a fine kindly splendid fellow in 
every way, but though I yield to none in the 
affectionate regard and admiration I always had 
for one of the most lovable men I ever had the 
good fortune to know, I cannot bring myself to 
describe him as other than the very worst singer I 



A TREE STORY 219 

ever listened to ; and I have heard some fairly 
bad ones in my time. 

Talking of singing in connection with acting, 
recalls the fact that quite a number of male and 
female ornaments of the Stage, who are supposed 
to be singers, are certainly no great shakes at the 
game, and in fact, though you would find it diffi- 
cult to get them to agree with you, act a very 
great deal better than they warble. On the other 
hand there are many actors and actresses who 
usually play " straight " parts in these days, and 
who also possess fine voices ; I do not of course 
refer to comediennes like Miss Marie Tempest, or 
to actors like Mr. Hayden Coffin, who were first 
of all favourites with the public on account of 
their singing, before they took to appearing in 
non-musical pieces, but to players like Miss Marie 
Lohr, and Miss Gladys Cooper, to name only a 
couple of instances, each of whom is the possessor 
of a very pretty voice. 

Both these ladies have now achieved great 
things on the stage, and are manageresses. Indeed, 
it will be remembered that Miss Lohr was, for a 
time, leading lady at His Majesty's with Sir 
Herbert Tree, and it is curious to recall that some 
years before she came to be the principal female 
attraction at the theatre, she called on Sir Herbert 
in the hope of being engaged for a small part, and 
he couldn't or wouldn't see her. 

I asked Tree one day, if the story were true, 



220 A PELICAN'S TALE 

and he said it quite well might have been, for from 
twenty to thirty would-be players at the theatre, 
called to see him each day, and if he had inter- 
viewed every one of them individually he would 
have had no time to attend to any other of his 
innumerable duties in the conduct of the big place. 

How Miss Tempest came to forsake musical 
plays for " straight " comedies, was more or less 
a matter of trousers and Chinese trousers at 
that. 

It was when George Edwardes produced Edward 
Morton's musical play, San Toy, at Daly's Theatre, 
wherein Miss Tempest had during a portion of the 
evening to array herself as a Chinese boy in close 
fitting trow-trows, which reached to her ankles. 
The lady thought the length of these garments 
unbecoming, and converted them into very brief 
affairs, such as are usually worn by the pantomime 
hero Aladdin, and in these she appeared on the 
first night, and very neat she looked, according to 
my recollection. But the good George took it 
into his head that their brevity spoilt the char- 
acter of the dress, and he insisted on the fair 
wearer increasing the length of her pants. This 
Miss Tempest declined to do, and the final result 
of the somewhat heated debate thereon, was that 
the lady left Daly's, being succeeded by a clever 
girl who, up till then, had never had a real chance, 
Miss Florence Collingbourne, who scored so highly 
in the part that she played it during the close 



MISS TEMPEST RESIGNS 221 

upon two years' run of the piece, and looked as if 
she were going to achieve even greater things in 
subsequent productions. Then, unfortunately for 
the Lyric Stage, Miss Collingbourne forsook the 
boards for matrimony, and I believe has never 
since played professionally in a theatre. 

Thus it was that Miss Tempest ceased to adorn 
Daly's with her sweet -voiced presence, forsook 
musical comedy for all time, and devoted herself 
to comedy without music, with such success that 
soon afterwards she became an actress-manageress, 
and is to-day one of the best known comediennes 
either on the English or American Stages, for she 
is equally popular and at home in either country. 

It is just out of little turns of Fate like this 
that history is made, and if Miss Tempest and 
Mr. Edwardes had seen eye to eye with regard to 
the length of the lady's breeks, perchance she 
might still be leading lady at Daly's, albeit she 
could not be a more attractive one than Miss Jos 
Collins who now holds the position. 

Miss Collins is the now famous daughter of an 
old-time famous mother, for the latter lady was 
Miss Lottie Collins, a music-hall singer of great 
celebrity in her day, whose singularly idiotic song 
" Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay " with its very energetic 
high kicking dance, set all England, and at least 
half of America, wellnigh crazy for a time, and 
led her to fame, and no doubt to fortune as well. 



CHAPTER XV 

How history repeats itself In the matter of night clubs and 
other things The Old Lotus Fatty Coleman as secretary 
Evans's The Corinthian Dudley Ward and the Gardenia 
The Alsatians La Goulue in Leicester Square Her rival 
Nini Patte-en-1'air at the Duke of York's A remarkable 
rehearsal Maurice Farkoa's London debut A theatre on 
fire How a panic was averted at Birmingham Arthur 
Roberts to the rescue Oceana the Beautiful Her beginning 
and parentage Whimsical Walker and the purchase of 
Jumbo the elephant How Barnum made 540,000 out of a 
3000 investment James Bailey's office hours at Olympia 
About Zazel John Strange Winter and Bootle's Baby 
What the Bishop of London said George Augustus Sala and 
his " Journal " " Winter's Weekly " Clement Scott's 
" Free Lance." 

IT is curious how every ten or twelve years 
history goes on repeating itself in at least 
two ways. The recurrence of roller skating, 
which lives periodically, with a great boom 
while it lasts, and the re-birth of the Night Clubs, 
or Supper Clubs, as they prefer to call them- 
selves. 

Of the more recent of these institutions, such as 
Murray's, The Four Hundred, Mr. Payne's Lotus, 
and Giro's, it is not necessary to speak ; some of 
them ceased to be after very brief careers, some 
are still going on. In any case the circumstance 
of their being is such comparatively recent 

222 



THE OLD LOTUS 223 

history, that there is no need to do more than 
merely allude to them now. 

One of the earliest and best known of the sup- 
ping and dancing clubs was the old Lotus. I call 
it old, to distinguish it from the more modern 
place of that name, started by Mr. " Papa " 
Payne, which did not last very long. 

The old Lotus, which was going very strong 
and well in 1881-2, was at the head of Regent 
Street, and was financed by various well-known 
men-about-Town of that time, although John 
Hollingshead, who then owned and managed the 
old Gaiety Theatre, was the nominal proprietor, 
and Fatty Coleman was Secretary. Later on 
John gave up the Club about the time the late 
Lord Lonsdale died, and Fatty blossomed forth 
as proprietor as well as Secretary. 

I was not a member of the Lotus myself, and 
was only once in it as a visitor, at the tail end of 
its existence, but an old-time member of it tells 
me that it was quite the cheeriest and j oiliest 
cock and hen club that ever was. The men were 
all absolutely of the right sort, all the best and 
brightest fellows about Town at that time ; as 
for the ladies whom God bless they were 
almost all theatrical. Many dear little souls who 
had no connection with the Stage tried very hard 
to enter, but the Lotus was not a Club that any- 
one could get into by a very long way, and few 
outsiders appeared there more than once. 



224 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Many of the charming lady visitors and members 
are married several of them took the precaution 
to do so into the Peerage and I daresay that 
some of them will smile with kindly recollection 
when they read these lines, and think of the good 
fellows who kept things lively in the days referred 
to, like " Mollycatush " Lonsdale, Joey Ayles- 
ford, his brothers Clem and Dan Finch, fine old 
Bob Hope-Johnstone, Hughie Drummond, and 
the rest. " Molly " was succeeded by his brother 
Hugh, the present Earl, and his widow died not 
long since as the Marchioness of Ripon. 

Then there was Harry Tyrwhitt, with his in- 
evitable gardenia, the most intimate friend of 
King Edward, at that time, of course, Prince of 
Wales ; Billy Gerard, Esme and Douglas " Brigs " 
Gordon, Rupert Carrington, John Delacour, Chris. 
Sykes, the old Duke of Beaufort, Algy Bastard, 
Charlie Cunningham, and ever so many more. 

The nearest approach to the old Lotus was 
probably The Corinthian at its start. I say at its 
start, advisedly, for later on, when the un- 
desirables began to make their way in, the place 
degenerated sadly, but at the beginning, when 
John Hollingshead was proprietor, and Dick 
Simpson secretary, the Corinthian which was in 
York Street, St. James's Square, was a very 
pleasant place indeed, where what poor Newnham 
Davis used to call " clean-shirted Bohemia " 
used to assemble to sup and dance. 




Photo. 



Kacon, Pliiladelpln 



MR. O. P. HUNTI.EY 



THE CULT OF THE BANJO 225 

There were other dancing clubs, too, where things 
were a deal more free and easy, such as The 
Gardenia, next to the Alhambra in . icester 
Square, which was originally started by the Bohee 
Brothers, a couple of very large, coloured gentle- 
men who played the banjo with great skill and 
incredible energy, and who first found their way 
to this country from America, when Haverley's 
Minstrels came over here to Her Majesty's Theatre, 
and anon to Drury Lane. 

For a time a portion of Society, with a capital 
" S " took up the playing of the banjo quite 
keenly, and one of the Bohees attempted to teach 
King Edward how to perform on the instrument, 
with only moderate success. 

The Bohees soon sold The Gardenia to Mr. 
Dudley Ward, father of the Member for Southamp- 
ton, and during his control of the place, The 
Gardenia was a very merry, if somewhat rowdy 
spot. Mr. Ward induced that remarkable light of 
the old Moulin Rouge in Paris, La Goulue, to come 
over with some of her company, and show us how 
eccentric quadrilles should be danced. They 
were eccentric right enough ; though not more so 
than those measures performed some years later 
at the Duke of York's Theatre, by the Nini 
Patte-en-1'air Company. 

Things began to tail off at The Gardenia, for 
people can't keep on sitting up all night for ever ; 
and Mr. Dudley Ward, with infinite wisdom, sold 



226 A PELICAN'S TALE 

his club as a going concern, to a very pleasant 
Australian, Mr. " Shut-eye " Miles, who I fear 
made no fortune out of his deal. Ultimately the 
place met the fate of many of its fellow institu- 
tions and was closed by the police. 

Then there was the Percy Supper Club, off 
Tottenham Court Road, run by a Mr. Dolaro, who 
was understood to have been the husband of the 
one-time very popular favourite Selina Dolaro ; 
also The Alsatians in Oxford Street, a very big 
place, which Mr. Harding Moore, a brother of 
Lady Wyndham, controlled, after he had made a 
considerable fortune out of his lesser venture, 
The Waterloo, at the foot of Waterloo Place. 
There were also The Palm, The Nell Gwynne in 
Long Acre, The Arlington, The White Beer Club 
a very dreadful place close to the stage door of 
the Alhambra, and earlier and rowdier than any 
of them, The Austro-Hungarian in Greek Street, 
Soho. 

Perhaps the first of the really smart supper 
clubs was The New, afterwards rechristened 
Evans's, in Covent Garden, where The National 
Sporting Club now is. It had a chequered career, 
and faded away into nothingness ultimately. But 
it was smart enough at its start, when King 
Edward, then Prince of Wales, gave it his support, 
and Colonel Wellesley was secretary, just before 
he married Miss Kate Vaughan of the old Gaiety, 
and when most of the Marlborough House set and 



THE MOULIN ROUGE 227 

those who wanted to be considered of it, used to 
sup and dance there o' nights till even later than 
" four and five in the morning " as the old song 
has it. 

A little way back I alluded to the appearance 
of La Goulue, the dancer of eccentric quadrilles, 
whom no doubt many of those who read these 
lines saw in old days at the Moulin Rouge, when 
she was at the height of her success ; for every 
Britisher who visited Paris went to the Red Mill 
at least once, and no doubt such will also recall 
Rayon d'Or, Nini Patte-en-1'air, La Fromage, 
Eglantine, and the rest of the very active ladies, 
the chief quality of whose dances was the singu- 
larly free exposure of garments not as a rule 
publicly exhibited. 

As a matter of fact these good ladies were very 
ordinary dancers ; they could high-kick fairly 
well, and could do the splits, but they could do 
neither the least bit like the numerous troupes of 
Tiller girls, who have been so popular in Paris, 
London, and in the country for many a day and 
night. 

It was during the run of Go Bang ! the musical 
comedy by Dr. Osmond Carr and Mr. Adrian Ross, 
which followed Morocco Bound, that Nini Patte- 
en-l'air and her three companions came to the 
Duke of York's and appeared therein. 

Mr. Herbert Pearson, who was then running 
the show, had gone over to Paris, with his stage 



228 A PELICAN'S TALE 

manager, Mr. Frank Parker, with the avowed 
intention of bringing La Goulue back with them. 
But the lady had then, I believe, married, and 
reasons of a domestic nature prevented any special 
measure of activity, and so it was that her rival 
Nini Patte-en-rair came instead. 

It was on the evening the Patte-en-rair Troupe 
made their first appearance at the Duke of York's 
that a couple of male duettists, who subsequently 
became very famous, were seen and heard in 
London for the first time. They sang French 
duets, wore black satin knee breeches, pink dress 
coats and were called Fisher and Farkoa, the 
latter afterwards becoming the very well-known 
Mr. Maurice Farkoa, who appeared in so many of 
George Edwardes' successes. 

I shall ever recall the morning on which the 
Nini Patte-en-rair Troupe turned up at the Duke 
of York's for rehearsal. The Go Bang ! Company 
including Miss Letty Lind, Miss Agnes Hewitt, 
Miss Jessie Bond, John L. Shine, Charles Danby, 
George Grossmith, Arthur Playfair, Harry Grattan 
and Fred Storey, were all in front, or at the side, 
to see how the French ladies were going to shape. 
There was a difficulty at the start however. The 
ladies' practice skirts had not arrived. " Did 
that matter ? " asked the dark-eyed Nini, " for 
herself and her girls not at all." And they straight- 
way began to rehearse in their everyday attire. 

I say began, because soon after they had 



FIRE 229 

started, and when the conductor of the orchestra 
had turned as crimson as a turkey cock in a 
violent sunset, and when the members thereof 
had gradually become so interested in the show 
that they left off playing one after the other, till 
the hero who controlled the triangle was left 
mildly tapping away by himself, Mr. Frank 
Parker, who was not, according to my recollection, 
too readily shocked, considered it well, greatly to 
the indignation of Madame Nini, to stop the re- 
hearsal, till such time as adequate dancing attire 
should arrive. As Mr. Parker justly observed on 
the occasion, " we had seen all that was neces- 
sary." 

And talking of somewhat sultry shows, have you 
ever been in a theatre when the cry of " Fire " has 
arisen ? It is not at all a funny experience, and it 
has occurred to me on two occasions, once in the 
Stadt Theatre in Diisseldorf , and another time at 
the Prince of Wales' Theatre, Birmingham. In 
each case the same things happened. Something 
went wrong, sparks fell on the stage, some idiot 
called out " fire/' the audience rushed for the 
doors, someone fell down, dozens of others tripped 
on the top, and the entrances became crowded up. 
In neither affair was the fire of any special con- 
sequence, but in the crush many people were in- 
jured. 

In the case of the Birmingham happening, it 
was when Joan of Arc was being played by the 



230 A PELICAN'S TALE 

London Company, which had previously been ap- 
pearing in the piece at the Old Opera Comique in 
Town, the said company, by the way, including 
Arthur Roberts, Marius, Danby, Agnes Hewitt, 
Marion Hood, and Ada Blanche, who had tempor- 
arily taken Alma Stanley's part as Talbot, Earl of 
Shrewsbury. 

In the middle of one of the scenes, down fell a 
bit of the sky border, blazing away for all it was 
worth. It came down on the stage with a thump, 
and sparks flew from it on all sides, some of them 
landing on a chorus girl's wig, which promptly 
burst into flames. Screams from the chorus 
ladies ; cries of " Fire " from the audience ; 
everyone on his or her feet, making for the doors ; 
curtain rapidly lowered ; and as Mr. R. G. 
Knowles used to sing " There is a picture for you ! " 

I was seated in the front row of the stalls, well 
away from the nearest exit, which promptly be- 
came jammed, owing to a woman tripping over 
her dress, and dozens of others piling on top, and 
I did not like the look of things at all, till one of 
the company, whom I knew, put his head round 
the corner of the proscenium, and called out to 
me, " It's all right, don't move." So I sat tight. 

Then Arthur Roberts, Miss Agnes Hewitt, and 
some of the others came in front of the curtain, 
the band struck up a tune, and the actors per- 
formed a sort of spoof quadrille. The audience 
stopped to watch them, and then realising that 



THE BEAUTIFUL OCEANA 231 

there couldn't be much the matter, came back to 
their seats, and after a brief delay things pro- 
ceeded. No great harm was done beyond some 
legs and arms being broken in the crush, but for a 
few minutes it did look as if there was going to be 
real trouble, and by the readiness of Mr. Roberts 
and his companions, a very tragic happening was 
beyond doubt averted. 

Among the many specially beautiful Stage 
ladies who were to be seen about this time, was 
one who achieved quite a considerable measure of 
celebrity in Paris, as well as in London, who called 
herself Oceana, and who used to disport herself 
upon the slack wire with lots of skill and grace. 
There was a deal of contradictory talk as to her 
identity, and one heard all sorts of fantastic 
tales as to her birth and parentage. But there 
was really nothing mysterious about the matter, 
which may as well be set forth here once and 
for all. 

Some years ago, an old circus performer, named 
Ethardo, died, who though unfamiliar to most of 
us, was well known in the sixties as a contem- 
porary of Leotard, the flying trapeze performer, 
and Blondin, the famous tight-rope walker. 
Ethardo was chiefly famous as what is termed a 
spiral ascensionist, and he was, among other 
things, the stepfather and teacher of Oceana. 

As a child, " Dolly/' as she was known to her 
friends, was a clever performer on the slack wire, 



232 A PELICAN'S TALE 

and as a juggler, and later on when she grew up, 
and became uncommonly good to look at, her 
fame all over the Continent, and over here, was 
considerable. As her beauty increased her stage 
talent seemed to diminish, but her charms of 
face and figure made up for any failing thereof. 
She was greatly admired by many good judges of 
beauty, and the late Shah of Persia was under- 
stood to think very highly indeed of her looks 
and abilities, whilst several of the exceedingly 
handsome jewels which she used to wear during 
her show, were tokens of his appreciation of both. 

And talking of the circus and its performers, 
recalls one of the very best of the old circus 
clowns and he is not so old either Whimsical 
Walker, who has been for so many Christmasses 
at Drury Lane in pantomime, that he is justly 
looked upon as the legitimate successor to the 
famous Harry Payne. 

Walker has played all over the world, and has 
been attached to pretty well every circus of stand- 
ing in this country, and the Continent. It was 
while he was with Barnum in America, that the 
great showman sent him to London, to purchase 
Jumbo, the famous elephant from the Zoological 
Society ; and the newspaper booming which 
occurred in connection with the sale of the great 
animal was remarkable. For several weeks the 
papers were full of articles protesting against 
allowing Jumbo to leave Regent's Park. Hundreds 



THE JUMBO BOOM 233 

of letters were written by children, and others 
pointing out that life would be no longer worth 
living if Jumbo left us ; and so on and so forth. 
Indeed there was talk of a national subscription 
to purchase the animal from the Zoo people, and 
keep him here. 

But in the end when the boom had been worked 
for all it was worth and that was a lot Walker 
completed the purchase of Jumbo for 3000, and 
duly took the elephant to New York, where his 
entire cost and something over was got back on 
the first day he was shown ; and Mr. James Bailey, 
who afterwards became Barnum's partner, told 
me that from first to last, Jumbo earned for the 
firm, just about 540,000, so that he proved a 
very fair investment. 

Bailey was a remarkable man, as many will 
recollect, who met him when " The Greatest Show 
on Earth " was over here at Olympia. In many 
ways he was as unlike the typical showman as it 
is possible to imagine, and more closely ap- 
proached one's idea of a dissenting Minister. He 
was an extraordinarily energetic man, even when 
he was in London and no longer young, and while 
he always made a point of being in bed by ten 
o'clock, he was at work in his office long before 
most business men think of getting up. 

On an occasion I wanted to discuss a matter of 
business with him, and asked him to give me an 
appointment for the purpose of so doing. I knew 



234 A PELICAN'S TALE 

how busy a man he was, and so I said, " Name 
your own time, and I'll be there." " How would 
six o'clock to-morrow suit you/' he asked. " Well," 
I said, " six is rather an awkward time ; you see 
I shall be leaving my office then, after my day's 
work, and will be tired." " Oh," he replied, " I 
mean six in the morning." I pointed out to him, 
however, that this would hardly do, as I couldn't 
sit up as late as that, and so we arranged matters 
by agreeing to lunch together instead. 

George Starr, who was Bailey's right-hand man, 
when he was over here, subsequently became 
manager of the Crystal Palace, and comparatively 
few people are aware that the quiet middle-aged 
lady, his wife, who used to be about with him a 
good deal, was the once famous Zazel, who used 
to be fired from a cannon at the Old Aquarium, 
Westminster, by Farini. 

The performance was burlesqued at the Old 
Gaiety by Edward Terry and Nellie Farren, and 
when the latter got into the dummy cannon, one 
recalls the curious jerky voice of Terry saying, 
" Are you in ; are you far in ; are you Nellie 
Far-in ? " 

Mrs. Arthur Stannard, who was known to a 
considerable portion of the world by her pen 
name of John Strange Winter, author of Bootle's 
Baby and many other novels, chiefly of a military 
sort, told me that the first time she saw Zazel 
placed in her cannon to be fired from it, what 



THE BISHOP'S ALARM 235 

time the band stopped playing, and Farini de- 
manded " absolute silence " from the audience, 
she was so overcome that she gave a loud scream, 
which very nearly upset the calculations of " the 
human cannon ball " and led to disaster. 

Bootless Baby was dramatised when it was at 
the height of its success as a novel, and Miss Minnie 
Terry, a niece of the great Ellen, made her first 
appearance in the play, as Mignon, the " Baby " 
of the story. Miss Edith Woodworth, who subse- 
quently became Mrs. Charles Kettlewell, produced 
the piece at the Old Globe Theatre, and in the cast 
were, among others, Mr. Edmund Maurice, and 
the three Charles, Collette, Sugden, and Garthorne, 
the last named a brother of Mr. Kendal. Miss 
Minnie Terry is now the wife of Mr. Edmund 
Gwenn, the very versatile actor. 

A story used to be told wherein it was narrated 
that Mrs. Stannard upon an occasion, seeking to 
introduce herself to the late Bishop of London, 
said, " My lord, I am John Strange Winter/' and 
seeing the good prelate gaze upon her, with a 
puzzled expression, she added, " You know 
Bootless Baby." Then the Bishop fled. 

Anon, meeting his hostess, the Bishop took her 

on one side and said, " Do you know, Lady 

that you are entertaining a lunatic. She came up 
to me a little time ago, and first of all stated 
that she was a man and then that she was a 
child ! " 



236 A PELICAN'S TALE 

I remember asking Mrs. Stannard, who was the 
most amiable and kindly of women, as to the 
veracity of the legend. " It was a good enough 
story/' she said, " good enough to have been true ; 
but as a matter of fact, it wasn't/ 1 

Just as George Augustus Sala, on leaving The 
Daily Telegraph, started a paper of his own, and 
called it Sala's Journal, Mrs. Stannard thought 
that she, too, would like to possess a paper, and 
so she started Winter's Weekly, which lived for 
some time, and then faded away. 

Clement Scott, the famous dramatic critic of 
The Telegraph, " tired of being edited to death/' 
as he said, thought that he too would like to have 
a paper of his own, and launched the Freelance, 
which did not last very long. Scott knew all about 
the literary side of running a weekly, but the 
business portion with the innumerable cares and 
worries, even in the case of a small paper, were 
too much for him. After his death, his widow 
carried the Freelance on for a time, but it gradually 
failed, and ultimately was not. 



CHAPTER XVI 

The Duke of Fife as a bicyclist A friend in need A good Scotch 
name The ill-fated voyage of the P. and O. Delhi Wrecked 
off Cape Spartavento King Edward and the champagne 
How the term " Boy " originated The Bishop and the Peer 
How the Duke scored Turning the tables with a vengeance 
Mr. G. P. Huntley's experience in Petrograd An audience 
which didn't know its own mind The hangman's letter and 
his hope What an execution is really like Not so thrilling 
as it is usually painted Sir Augustus Harris and his idea of 
luck The Baddeley cake and its cutting, at Drury Lane 
A remarkable function of former days " Hawnsers fer 
Korrispondinks " The beginning of Lord Northcliffe's fame 
and fortune Mr. Charles Cochran and the circus The last 
Covent Garden circus George Batty and King Edward 
Present-day theatrical salaries Their remarkable size What 
George Edwardes said about An Artist's Model Where will 
theatrical expenses end ? 

IT is curious how Fate sometimes brings you 
in contact with distinguished people, and 
here is just one instance of the sort of thing 
I mean. One day while walking on the 
road from Rottingdean to Brighton, I came upon 
a singularly inexpert cyclist who, as we neared 
each other, came off his machine and hit the road 
with considerable vigour. I helped him to his 
feet, and hoped he wasn't much hurt, and he, a 
most cheery soul with reddish grey hair and 
moustache said, " Devil a bit, I'm all right, but 
I'm afraid my bike isn't. Do you understand 

237 



238 A PELICAN'S TALE 

these things at all ? " I told him that I had been 
a bicyclist since the days of the wooden bone- 
shaker, and was soon able to put right the little 
that was wrong with his wheel. After that I 
gave him some lessons in the polite art of mount- 
ing and getting off, in other fashion than head- 
first, which appeared to be his favourite method. 

We chatted about various matters and found 
we had some mutual friends including his medical 
adviser, Sir Maurice Abbot-Anderson, who had 
not at that time been knighted, and who is, by 
the way, the elder brother of Mr. Allan Aynes- 
worth, the well-known actor. 

When we parted my cycling pupil thanked me 
very warmly for the little I had done for him, and 
said, " Who am I indebted to for all this kind- 
ness ? " and I replied that my name was Boyd. 
" Ah/' he said, " a good Scotch name, like my 
own which is Duff/' And I answered that I was 
well aware of the fact, and that he took his title 
from the East coast county I hailed from, for he 
was the late Duke of Fife. He was good enough 
to hope that we might meet again some time, but 
we never did. 

Later on an old friend called at my office in 
Fetter Lane, just off Fleet Street, to say good-bye. 
He was on his way back to China, to resume his 
duties as manager of a great bank, and he told me 
he was to sail in a couple of days' time in the 
P. and O. Delhi. I envied him his voyage, being 



THE ORIGIN OF "THE BOY ' 239 

very keen about the sea, and the ships which sail 
on it, but he thought the journey would be a 
tedious one, for the passengers, a list of whom he 
had seen, did not appear to be a very interesting 
lot, although he added that the Duke and Duchess 
of Fife were among them. " It will be a very un- 
eventful trip, I fear/' he said. 

Well, as everyone knows, that last voyage of 
the Delhi was anything you like but that, for she 
found bad weather immediately on leaving the 
Thames, and took it with her all the way to Cape 
Spartavento, off which she was wrecked ; and it 
was owing to the exposure he went through on 
that occasion, that the poor Duke, already a very 
ill man, met his death. 

Some weeks afterwards I passed quite close to 
the Delhi as she lay on the beach not far from 
Tangier with her back broken. I was in the old 
R.M.S. Atrato, which under its rechristened name 
was sunk early in the big war by the Huns, a like 
fate befalling the Aguilla, which was the last ship 
I had previously been on board. 

Here, too, is another little matter connected 
with the Duke's great friend, and father-in-law, 
King Edward, which may be new to some. Al- 
though champagne is comparatively seldom 
drunk by many, excepting on occasions of very 
special hilarity, it is drunk at times, and one still 
hears it alluded to as " the Boy " in obvious 
ignorance as to the origin of the style and title. 



240 A PELICAN'S TALE 

This is how champagne came to be called 
" Boy/' At a certain shooting party whereat was 
good King Edward, the day was warm, and a lad 
followed the guns, wheeling a barrow-load of 
champagne packed in ice. Thus, when any of 
the sportsmen felt like a drink and they often 
did, for the day was muggy they called " Boy ! ' 
to the following lad, and the frequency with 
which this occurred, led to the adoption of the 
term. 

Those who had been shooting with the Prince 
of Wales, as King Edward then was, used the ex- 
pression and told their friends how the designation 
had come into being, and those who had not been 
of the Royal party, but wished they had, used 
the term also. Thus it found its way into the 
papers and soon everybody was doing it. Where- 
fore you will observe the futility of the " the " as 
a prefix to plain " Boy/' The matter is of course 
a small one, but for goodness sake let us be accu- 
rate even if the heavens fall ! 

Bishops as a rule are very wise men. If they 
were otherwise they would in all human prob- 
ability not have become Bishops. And yet one 
has known an occasion wherein a Prince of the 
Church came off second best in an encounter with 
a Peer who is not supposed to be possessed of any 
remarkable mental qualities. 

The Bishop visited the Peer at the time a 
good deal more youthful in many ways than he is 



rx 
Ui 




DAN I.ENO, THE KING'S JESTER 



London Stereoscopic 



THE BISHOP DISCOMFITED 241 

now with a view to reproving him gently, anent 
sundry matters which had been fairly public 
property for some little time previously. The 
Prelate, who is among other things a quite up-to- 
date man, called on the Peer, and speaking, as he 
said, " as one man of the world talking to another/' 
suggested among other things, that if his present 
amorous pursuit must be followed, he at least 
should arrange matters more quietly. 

The Peer, who was and is 1 not altogether a 
fool, saw his chance and took it promptly. Hold- 
ing up his hands in horror he exclaimed, " Good 
heavens ! Have I heard you aright ? Do you, a 
Bishop, tell me to do as I am doing* in secret ? 
If you had told me that I was ' warring terribly 
against the soul/ as my relatives say, I should 
have respected you. If you/' he continued, 
" had said I was going to the devil, I should have 
bowed my head. As it is I am disgusted with 
your low moral tone, and must ask you to leave 
rny house ! " And the Bishop, who is not as a 
rule at a loss for words, went out greatly surprised 
and discomfited. Many people who heard the 
story at the time it occurred smiled quite loudly, 
including quite a number of the Bishop's brethren. 

The affairs of Russia have been much mixed up 
with our own of recent times and the differences of 
opinion upon endless matters in the one-time 
kingdom of the Tsar are so far-reaching and re- 
markable, that many of us have become impressed 
Q 



242 A PELICAN'S TALE 

with the belief that Russians, like so many of the 
Irish, don't exactly know what they do want. In 
this connection one recalls a little story of my 
good friend the eminent comedian, Mr. G. P. 
Huntley, who once visited Russia professionally. 
Upon one occasion he was appearing in Petrograd, 
and it was made plain to him that somehow or 
other he was not pleasing his audiences so much 
as he would have liked to have done. In short, 
they didn't seem to think a great deal of him. 

One of the electrical engineers at the theatre of 
the Russian capital, by way of cheering him up as 
much as possible in these depressing circumstances, 
made matters quite clear thus : " You see," he 
said, " these Russian people here are an ignorant 
lot of devils. They don't know what they do 
want. And," he added, " even if you had been 
good they wouldn't have liked you ! " 

Gruesome relics usually find ready purchasers 
and fetch considerable prices, but evidently the 
market for the autographs of hangmen is a limited 
one. The signatures of Calcraft, Berry, and 
Billington " neatly framed in carved ebony 
frames " offered for sale some little time back, 
only fetched seventeen shillings, a paltry sum 
truly when one reflects that the autographs of 
mere poets have secured infinitely higher figures. 

In my younger days I was, among other things, 
a conscientious collector of autographs, and with 
a view to adding to my collection. I wrote to Mar- 



THE HANGMAN'S JOKE 243 

wood, who was at that time public hangman in 
succession to Calcraft. He replied with the 
following letter : 

" I send my name with pleasure. Praise God 
he is good to all. I hope I may meet you one day, 
not professionally. 

Your obedient servant, 

WILLIAM MARWOOD. 

Crown Officer." 

Talking of executioners naturally suggests their 
grim calling, and the only execution house I have 
seen is that at Maidstone Prison, and it is a regular 
stone building, and not a shed as such places 
usually are, and stands by itself in the pretty 
garden-like grounds of the prison, some little way 
from the building wherein are situated the two 
condemned cells, so that a murderer going to his 
end, has a walk in the open air of about forty 
yards. The building itself resembles a fairly 
large coach-house. At the side the prisoner 
enters, there are large double doors and the scaffold 
is on a level with the road, so that there are no 
stairs for the condemned man to go up. He just 
steps in through the door, and he is on the plat- 
form before he knows it. 

On the opposite side to which the prisoner has 
entered, is a similar large pair of doors. Like all 
the doors of the building they are kept carefully 
locked, and when an execution is taking place, 



244 A PELICAN'S TALE 

these are only opened as to their upper halves, 
and about twenty yards beyond, the Press repre- 
sentatives, who are seeing the job carried out, 
stand. From their position they don't see a 
great deal. 

The procession from the condemned cell to the 
gallows moves quickly, for the chief actor is 
usually in a decided hurry to get his portion of 
the business over. The chaplain leads the way 
repeating the Burial Service, and the condemned 
man comes close behind, then follow the execu- 
tioner and his assistant, the senior warder, one or 
two other officers, and finally the Governor. 

The murderer walks on to the platform, puts his 
feet as directed on some white chalk marks made 
for his guidance by the executioner, the cap is 
pulled over his eyes, a lever at the side like that 
in a railway signal-box is pulled, and all is over. 
The newspaper men have only seen the upper 
half of the man's body as he stands in position, 
and a second later there is nothing visible but a 
swinging and jerking rope. 

The condemned man, when the lever is pulled, 
falls down into a whitewashed brick chamber, to 
which access is gained by a small flight of stairs. 
The whole business is over very quickly, and apart 
from the jumpiness of the entire idea, there is 
really very little to see in a present-day execution, 
performed as it is at Maidstone, and no doubt 
elsewhere. Still it is not a pleasant spectacle and, 



GUS 245 

as it usually occurs at eight in the morning, does 
not tend to make one regard one's breakfast with 
as friendly an eye as customary. 

After receiving my letter from Marwood with 
his delicately suggested hope that we might not 
meet professionally, I was haunted by the belief 
that by some chance or other, by some unforeseen 
turn of Fate, we might come to meet in the manner 
indicated. It was therefore with a certain relief 
that in due course I read in the papers that he was 
no more. 

The late Sir Augustus Harris of Drury Lane 
who was an exceedingly superstitious man, for 
some reason or other regarded the hangman's 
letter as an emblem of good luck, and as I did not 
attach any special consequence to it in that way, 
I duly presented it to him, to his great satisfaction. 
I don't know whether it had anything to do with 
his Drury Lane successes or not. Perhaps it had ; 
you never can tell. 

Among the many things Augustus Harris did 
during his tenure of the Lane, was the elaborating 
of the ceremony of cutting the Baddeley cake on 
Twelfth Night on the stage, after the performance 
of the pantomime had finished. Poor " Gus, J) who 
always did things of the kind, very handsomely, 
used to invite all the interesting people in London 
on these occasions. The guests were wont to 
assemble in the auditorium of the big theatre, 
and at the correct time the curtain went up dis- 



246 A PELICAN'S TALE 

closing one of the big scenes of the pantomime, 
the foreground filled with long supper tables. On 
a place of honour the cake reposed, and then 
" Gus " used to step down to the footlights and 
bid us welcome. Usually he called upon Mr. 
James Fernandez to cut the cake, and then he 
summoned us on to the stage, and up we came by 
means of steps, set at either corner thereof. 

Then we supped and danced to the music of 
one of the Guards' bands, and had a good time 
till it was getting on for the period at which next 
morning's show was due to start. I always won- 
dered how the pantomime company got through 
that performance. They were certainly giants in 
those days ! 

Latterly Harris found that his list of guests was 
increasing to so inordinate an extent, that he 
dropped the function altogether, and Mr. Arthur 
Collins who succeeded him in the control of " The 
National Theatre/' as "Gus" loved to call Drury 
Lane, wisely contents himself with just carrying 
out the requirements of the Baddeley Bequest. 

If there is one thing more remarkable than 
another it is out of what a small beginning a great 
fortune may arise. Some thirty years ago I was 
one afternoon walking down Ludgate Hill, when 
a peculiarly cut-throat looking ruffian, pushing 
an odd looking little paper before my eyes, what 
time he made a clumsy and unsuccessful dive for 
my watch, said in hoarse tones, " 'Ere y'are 



LORD NORTHCLIFFE'S SUCCESS 247 

gov'nor, fust number er the noo piper ' Hawnsers 
fer Korrispondinks.' J 

I did not particularly desire the addition to the 
week's literature, but I bought the paper, and 
being further enlightened by my friend that he 
was " storving," likewise that he had only come 
out of " jug " the previous day, I took him to an 
adjacent hostelry, and there filled him as full as 
he could hold, of bread and cheese and beer, what 
time he gave me the material out of which I 
subsequently built a highly successful " Prison 
Experiences " article, which later on adorned the 
pages of a paper of great circulation, and resulted 
in the receipt of three guineas by your servant. 

" Hawnsers fer Korrispondinks " was the first 
number of Answers, then called Answers to Corre- 
spondents, and certainly no paper could have 
looked less like proving a success than Answers 
did in its earliest stages. Yet out of that unlikely 
beginning has grown the biggest newspaper and 
publishing business the world has ever seen. 

The editor and chief proprietor of Answers 
was my very good friend, Lord Northcliffe, then 
Mr. Alfred Harmsworth, and there is no need to 
tell here of the wonders he and those with him 
have created in newspaper-land and elsewhere. 
How many journals in London and the country 
the Associated Newspapers' Limited, and the other 
Harmsworth Companies own and control, in addi- 
tion to The Times, The Daily Mail, and The 



248 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Evening News, I do not profess to know, but it is 
interesting to reflect that they all grew out of 
" Hawnsers fer Korrispondinks," while of course 
the great fortune owned by the Harmsworth 
family, as well as the peerages of the two elder 
brothers, Alfred and Harold, so deservedly be- 
stowed upon them, owe a good deal one way and 
another to that curious and unlikely beginning. 
Lord Rothermere I only once met *at luncheon in 
his brother's house, but Lord Northcliffe I have had 
the good fortune to know well for many years, 
and I can vouch for the fact that with enough to 
turn the heads of a dozen or a hundred ordinary 
people, no man was ever less spoilt by stupendous 
success than the one-time Alfred Harmsworth, 
who remains to-day, to his earlier friends, the same 
kindly natured, big-hearted fellow he always was, 
and no doubt always will be. 

One day Mr. Charles Cochran, the famous 
theatrical manager, says that he will accomplish 
his pet design and give London a circus, with all 
the ancient glories thereof revived, and a number 
of new ones added. 

The last circus we had in London was that 
which Mr. Cochran gave us at Olympia, some years 
back, when Mr. Charles Sugden, the well-known 
actor, became for the time, the nattiest of ring- 
masters possible. With the exception of the 
Hippodrome at its start, when it possessed an 
arena, Wolff's Circus at Hengler's, now the Palla- 



KING EDWARD AT THE CIRCUS 249 

dium, and the Barnum and Bailey Show at 
Olympia, we have not had a big old-time circus 
in Central London since the Covent Garden ven- 
ture, which was run by a syndicate, under the 
management of Bill Holland, of the wonderful 
moustache. 

It was at the Covent Garden Circus, that Cinque- 
valli, the remarkable juggler, first caught the atten- 
tion of London, and among the other notable 
people in the company whom " the Peoples' 
Caterer " collected, were George Batty, the jockey- 
act rider, Hernandez, and the beautiful Oceana. 

Batty 's appearance in his jockey-act was always 
very popular, and one night when King Edward 
visited the circus, Batty sought to pay him a 
delicate compliment by appearing in the Royal 
racing colours. A costumier and his assistants 
were instantly set to work to make a jacket and 
cap of the Royal colours with all possible speed, 
and Batty's performance was put back in the 
programme so as to give the tailors all the time 
possible. Then a tragic thing happened. Just as 
the garments were completed and Batty was ready 
to enter the arena, the Prince, as he then was, re- 
membering that he had to go on somewhere or 
other, left the box with the members of his suite. 

I always think it was a great pity someone 
could not have explained the circumstances to the 
Royal visitor. He was usually so considerate and 
good-natured that I am sure he would have con- 



250 A PELICAN'S TALE 

tinued his stay for a few minutes, if he had only 
known how much trouble poor Batty had taken 
to please him. 

A circus is usually a fairly costly thing to run, 
in London at least, for of course the performers 
have to be people at the head of their profession, 
and the salaries they command for their frequently 
very dangerous performances are large. Circus 
performers are not tied to any country by reason 
of language. The whole world is open to them, 
and if you talk to any circus artist of experience, 
you will invariably find that he or she has travelled 
to the most unlikely places. But even if circus 
expenses are very large, they cannot well be more 
so than the running of the big and gorgeous 
revues at several of our largest and best known 
theatres, for in many cases the salaries paid are 
prodigious and ridiculous. Not so long ago a 
revue which was then playing to 1500 a week 
was taken off because it did not pay to keep it 
on ! Ridiculous you will say, no doubt ; and so 
it is, but it is the truth. What do you say to the 
salaries of the leading man and leading lady 
including their matinee performances, coming to 
just 1000 a week together. That's another fact. 

How much can there be left for the salaries of 
all the other principals of a large company, for 
the big chorus, the orchestra, stage hands, staff 
in front of the house, lighting, advertising, rent, 
and the thousand and one other charges ? 



ENORMOUS SALARIES 251 

I well recall how George Edwardes told me 
during the run of An Artist's Model at Daly's, 
that though his production looked to be doing 
well, he was actually losing money. " How can 
it be otherwise/' he said. " I've got to make 
1400 each week before I can touch a penny for 
myself." 

In those days expenses of 1400 a week were, 
as you see, considered enormous, and wellnigh 
suicidal, by so skilled and experienced a manager 
as George Edwardes, but as anyone with any sort 
of knowledge of the matter is well aware, such 
figures would not be considered at all out of the 
way at the present time. 

Salaries are enormous and preposterous, and 
equally of course there is bound to be a big slump 
in them when the revue craze dies the death, and 
the keen competition for the services of certain 
comedians comes to an end. On the other hand 
of course the labourer is worthy of his hire, and if 
an actor can command the salary of an Arch- 
bishop and a Lord Chief Justice rolled into one, 
it would be folly of him to refuse to accept it, and 
no doubt managers who pay these salaries don't 
do so for any other reason than that they con- 
sider it worth their while. If they did not you 
may be quite sure they wouldn't pay them, for 
theatrical managers, such of them as I know at 
any rate, are not as a rule fond of giving them- 
selves or anything else away to any great extent. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Journalists of the past and the present Edmund Yates of The 
World How I first met him " A good low-comedy face " 
More than that needed for an actor A great friend and a 
disciple of Dickens Why I did not go on the Stage Mr. 
Labouchere and Truth How I was able to help " Labby " 
The syndicate which wanted to purchase Truth How King 
Edward and " Labby " agreed to differ for a time Cherchez 
la femme ! How George Lewis set things right again 
Briefing a future Lord Chief Justice " A young fellow named 
Isaacs " How the " young fellow " won his case Another 
co-religionist of a very different type Ernest Benzon, the 
Jubilee Plunger The man who got through a great fortune 
in record time Owners' tips Fred Archer's triple tip 
Matthew Dawson's superstition The laying of the founda- 
tion-stone of Daly's Theatre How Bill Yardley suffered on 
the occasion How Harry Grattan and I wrote a musical 
comedy Our stringent terms An early revue which might 
have been produced at the Alhambra and wasn't. 

IN these days, when so many newspaper 
articles are signed, and when one reads 
so much about writers, the reading public 
knows a good deal more than it used to 
about the personalities of those who help to form 
its opinions. In earlier days there was rather 
more anonymity than now prevails, but among 
the very well-known editors, whom everyone 
knew more or less about, were Edmund Yates 
of The World and Henry Labouchere of Truth. 
I shall ever have a kindly feeling for the former 

252 



I SECURE A BISHOP 253 

journal, for it was in it that the first article I ever 
had accepted by a London paper, appeared. 
I was a youngster, who had not long arrived in 
London, and the series of " Celebrities at Home " 
which appeared each week in The World was its 
leading feature ; and thus it was flying at high 
game for a beginner to turn his 'prentice hand 
to one of them. 

I knew one celebrity very well, Dr. Thorold, at 
that time Bishop of Rochester, who afterwards 
succeeded to the See of Winchester, and I ventured 
to write to Mr. Yates, an old friend of my father, 
though a stranger to me, and suggest the 
Bishop as a likely subject for his famous series. 
He replied briefly that I could " have a try if I 
liked/' So I had my try, scored a goal, and in 
due course got, to my considerable surprise, five 
guineas for my article. I received a good deal less 
than that, let me say, for many subsequent 
articles in other journals. 

It is just conceivable that the fact of Bishop 
Thorold being the brother-in-law of Mr. 
Labouchere of Truth, had something to do with 
my article being accepted, for the good " Atlas " 
did not as a rule attach great consequence to 
clerical subjects. Edmund Yates had many 
friends and many enemies, and as (< Dagonet " 
once truthfully wrote of him " he was one of the 
most loyal likers and the best haters/' 

Later on I came to know the World's first and 



254 A PELICAN'S TALE 

greatest chief very well indeed ; and certainly 
never had young man kinder friend than he was 
to me. My first meeting with him was curious. 
I was at the time, and, no doubt, am so still, one 
of the worst possible amateur actors in the world, 
but was then greatly smitten with the idea of 
adopting the Stage as a profession. I knew that 
Mr. Yates was a power in the theatrical world, 
and so I induced one who knew him well, to write 
to him on my behalf, and ascertain if he could 
and would help my ambitions. 

Mr. Yates wrote to me very kindly, in the 
pleasant violet ink which he, like most of the 
other of " Dickens* young men/' always used, 
telling me to come and see him on the following 
Sunday at Thames Lawn, Great Marlow, where 
he was then living ; and I went. 

I was, in those days, a very shy youth, and my 
terror was abject when on reaching the house 
I found I had to walk through a garden in which 
were seated a number of famous people who, from 
their photographs, I had no difficulty in recog- 
nising, as Miss Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, Toole, 
Frank Burnand, then editor of Punch, Sir Squire 
Bancroft, and sundry others. However, taking 
my courage in both hands, I pushed the garden 
gate open, and walked towards the house, the 
observed or so I imagined of all Mr. Yates's 
guests. 

I particularly noticed among those who were 



A LOW-COMEDY FACE 255 

sitting on the lawn, a very big, handsome, pleasant 
faced man, who was in the middle of telling what 
seemed to be an amusing story, to several people 
who were near him, and as at the moment Miss 
Terry dealt him a playful blow on the arm, calling 
out as she did so, " Nonsense, Edmund, nonsense," 
I gathered that here was my host. 

The big man suddenly became aware of my 
awkward presence, and came over to me saying, 

" You are ? ' and I replied that I was my 

humble self. Then came the kindliest of welcomes. 

" And so," said Mr. Yates, " you want to go on 
the Stage ? " Then, turning me round, he placed 
both his hands on my shoulders, gazed at me 
intently and spoke the words which I shall never 
forget " You know you are not a bit like your 
father but you've a damned good low-comedy 
face ! " 

After that the ice was quite broken and I was 
as happy as possible, for all the eminent people 
to whom I was presented were most kind, and the 
day was, for me, a very memorable one. 

Mr. Yates was always a good friend, and a 
wise adviser to me. As everyone knows, he was 
a keen disciple of Charles Dickens, whom he justly 
regarded as a sort of god, and the fact that I knew 
most of the great novelist's works very intimately, 
and was able to stand a fairly stiff cross-examina- 
tion about them, did me no harm with him. 

Mr. Yates would no doubt have helped me on to 



256 A PELICAN'S TALE 

the boards, for his influence was great, but just 
about then there came the unfortunate paragraph 
in The World which led to the famous criminal 
libel action, and to his incarceration in Holloway 
Prison as a first-class misdemeanant for four 
months. How the paragraph in question came to 
be written by a contributor ; how in the hurry 
of business it found its way into The World after 
Mr. Yates having read it in proof, had decided 
on its excision ; and much else is old history. As 
a matter of fact, Mr. Yates only remained in 
Holloway for seven weeks, for his health broke 
down, and his release was ordered. 

Sometime later, a great banquet was given at 
the Criterion, to welcome Mr. Yates on his return 
to freedom, and to congratulate him on his 
restoration to health. Lord Brabourne presided, 
and the two hundred guests included a number 
of the most influential men in England. 

All this put a finish to my half-hearted ideas 
of the Stage as a career, which was unquestion- 
ably a very good thing for me, for though I have, 
in my considerable experience as a dramatic 
critic, seen a number of bad actors, I make bold 
to say, that I never beheld one who by any 
stretch of imagination could have been as wicked 
a performer as I am thoroughly convinced I should 
have been. 

Mr. Labouchere I had not the good fortune 
to know at all intimately. Indeed only on one 



LABBY 257 

or two occasions had I even a moderately lengthy 
talk with the chief of Truth, and the first of those 
was, to me at least, an interesting one. This is 
how it came about. 

Mr. Horace Voules, who was for so long manager 
of Truth, and who was, in a variety of ways, Mr. 
Labouchere's very intimate right-hand man, one 
day wrote to me, that " Labby " would like to see 
me on a matter if I would call upon him at a 
certain time which he named, and so I went. 

I found Mr. Labouchere exceedingly pleasant, 
and not at all the sort of man I had been led to 
expect. He came to cues very quickly, and 
started promptly by saying " So-and-so is a 
damned scoundrel and I am going to tell him he 
is. I believe you can set me right on one or two 
small matters about him, and I'll be glad if you 
will do so/' As I agreed with Mr. Labouchere in 
his estimate of the hero in question, I gave him 
the information he wanted with ready satisfaction. 

" But knowing all this," said " Labby," " why 
didn't you use it yourself it's useful stuff." 
" Because," I said, " although it is all true enough, 
he is a wealthy man ; my paper is still young and 
making its way, and I can't afford a big libel 
action, which would certainly be started if I 
wrote anything of the kind. Even if I won the 
action, you know a good deal better than I do 
what it would cost me. That's my reason." 
" And a devilish good reason, too," said the sage 



258 A PELICAN'S TALE 

of Carteret Street. " Well, I'll tackle him ; and 
if he goes for me, he'll have George Lewis and 
Charles Russell against him as well." 

Later on the person in question was " tackled " 
to a very considerable extent by Mr. Labouchere, 
and an action for libel followed, wherein his legal 
luminaries were as he said they would be, Mr. 
George Lewis and Sir Charles Russell as they then 
were, and the result was that as usual, in most 
actions of the kind brought against him, Mr. 
Labouchere won hands down, for he, and Lewis, 
and Russell, were an uncommonly tough trio 
for anyone to run up against. 

I mind me well at the time of our meeting, as 
I was leaving, Mr. Labouchere said in his curious 

drawling way, " Oh, by the way, you know 

well, don't you ? '' mentioning a certain distin- 
guished Churchman, who was a relative of his own, 
and I told him that the Prelate in question was 
a great friend of my father, and that he had been 
very kind to me. 

" He is a curious creature," was the comment ; 
then he added, with one of his whimsical smiles, 
" I wonder what he thinks of me," and, casting 
prudence to the winds, I absolutely could not 
help saying what I knew to be the case, and 
quoting the title of a very popular song with 
which the " Great Macdermott " was at the time 
delighting audiences at the old Pavilion, " Not 
much ! " I fancy I expected him to be angry 



THE CHARM OF "TRUTH ' 259 

with me, but he wasn't at all. He merely laughed, 
and seemed quite to approve of my rather cheeky 
retort. 

On another occasion, I met him when I was com- 
missioned to see, if it were possible, to purchase 
Truth on behalf of a small syndicate, possessed of 
considerable wealth and influence ; but at that 
time " Labby " was not inclined to sell, except 
at such a figure, and under such conditions, as 
made negotiations impossible. 

One thinks of him as one saw him then and on 
another occasion, exquisitely neat, soft-voiced, 
and soft-mannered, his fine eyes sparkling with 
mischief, as he reached a hand to the silver gilt 
or was it gold ? net filled with cigarettes which 
hung from the wall of his delightful study in 
Westminster. The house is turned into offices 
now, I fancy. His room was that which you see 
from Old Palace Yard, rising on the turf of the 
Abbey. He said, and I daresay truly, that he 
could hear the organ faintly booming as he wrote. 
The juxtaposition delighted his peculiar humour, 
like his relationship to good Bishop Thorold of 
Winchester. 

" Labby " was a friend of King Edward at 
one time an intimate friend but for a period 
they were anything but amicably inclined towards 
one another, although in after years, the King 
sent Sir George Lewis to see him, and by his 
ministrations, peace once more reigned. 



260 A PELICAN'S TALE 

The cause of the quarrel was mainly on account 
of a lady, a well-known Society beauty in her 
day, who took to the Stage, and in whose career 
King Edward showed a considerable amount of 
interest. The lady, as many will recollect, went 
to play in America, and Mrs. Labouchere, who 
had been a very material help, by reason of her 
own previous stage experience, as Miss Henrietta 
Hodson, went with her. 

Then came a rift within the lute between the 
two dames ; there was a quarrel, the prime cause 
of which need not be recalled here ; and Mrs. 
Labouchere returned to England. " Labby " 
naturally took his wife's side of the matter ; 
King Edward was very loyal to his fair friend, and 
thus he and " Labby " agreed to differ and did 
differ very considerably for a time. They were 
friends, however, for a good many years before 
King Edward's death. 

Talking of George Lewis and Sir Charles Russell, 
who, as everyone remembers, became Lord Chief 
Justice of England, I recall with interest the only 
time another Lord Chief appeared on my behalf. 

A friend of mine came to me one day with a 
pitiable tale concerning a certain small action 
with which he was threatened, and sought my 
advice. I told him to go and see Mr. Lewis, as 
he then was, and said I would be responsible for 
all costs in the matter. I believed the defence to 
be a very simple and straightforward one, and so 



A YOUNG FELLOW NAMED ISAACS 261 

it proved to be, for on the day of the action, I 
went round from my office in Fetter Lane, to the 
adjacent Law Courts, to hear the matter tried, 
and in the passage outside the court, the lawyer's 
clerk told me that Mr. Lewis considered he had 
a perfectly good defence to the matter in hand, 
and that he had briefed " a young fellow named 
Isaacs " to do the needful talking. " It will only 
be a matter of five guineas for him/' he added. 
Mr. Lewis had a high opinion of the " young 
fellow named Isaacs/' the clerk said, and he per- 
sonally had no doubt whatsoever that he would 
do the trick both promptly and well. 

And so he did ; for when the case was called 
the " young fellow " in question went for the 
opposition in most excellent fashion, and won his 
case easily. " The young fellow named Isaacs " 
some years later became famous as Sir Rufus 
Isaacs, and anon as Lord Reading, Lord Chief 
Justice of England. 

As everyone of course knows, Lord Reading 
comes of a very ancient and honourable race, and 
thinking of one Hebrew who has made so much 
of his life, and accomplished such great things, one 
turns to another of the same faith, who made a 
sad mess of his wonderful and golden chances. 

Ernest Benzon is only a name in these times, 
but in his brief day " the Jubilee Plunger " was 
one of the most written of and talked about men 
in the world. He came into an immense fortune 



262 A PELICAN'S TALE 

and managed to gallop through it, in what must 
be record time. His " Waterloo " was achieved 
much more by means of cards than by betting 
on horse races, and although the gambling instinct 
was born in him to an extraordinary extent, it is 
a very sure thing that the crowd he got amongst 
had a deal to do with his ruin. 

At first he was a flat, pure and simple. Later 
on he became what is known as a " fly flat/' 
which is merely another variety of the genus 
" mug." In the days of his prosperity and 
notoriety he was a very tall thin young man, who 
wore inordinately high collars, dressed conspicu- 
ously, and revelled in the sensation he created 
as he went about. It was music in his ears to 
hear people say to one another as he passed them, 
" That's The Jubilee ! " He thoroughly liked the 
notoriety as he told me himself, and didn't mind 
paying uncommonly dearly for it. And yet 
" The Jubilee " wasn't altogether an ass. He 
could talk quite cleverly upon a variety of sub- 
jects when he got among men, as he occasionally 
did, who didn't care for cards, and who believed 
there were more fascinating pursuits than losing 
money to sharps, amateur as well as professional. 

One night he, another, and myself were supping 
at the old Gardenia Club, somewhat late, and 
suddenly " The Jubilee," who had been rather 
subdued, said, "I'm going to tell you something 
which will surprise a lot of people. I'm broke ! " 



THE JUBILEE PLUNGER 263 

Of course we thought he was joking, and the 
third man who was present and who is now a 
distinguished General, said, " Humbug, Jubilee, 
you're kidding." " Devil a bit," he replied, 
" you'll read all about it in the evening papers 
to-morrow. All I ask you is that neither of you 
will say a word about it to a soul, till you do/' 
And of course we promised. 

The account of his smash made no end of a sensa- 
tion when the papers came out with the news the 
following evening, and was the subject of conversa- 
tion all over the country. 

Gambling to any extent, for some reason or 
other, never had the smallest fascination for me, 
and Benzon always struck me as a human 
curiosity. I could not help saying to him, " How 
on earth did you come to lose all your money ? 
You had an immense fortune. If you won, you 
were already so well off that doing so couldn't 
make a scrap of difference to you ; while by losing 
as you have done, you have wrecked yourself in 
every way." 

His answer was curious. He said, " I quite see 
the force of what you say, and perhaps you will 
hardly believe me, when I tell you that if I had 
another fortune I'd do it all over again." And no 
doubt he would have done it too, for gambling, 
as he did it, was nothing more nor less than a 
particular form of insanity. He was normal 
enough on most other matters, but when it came to 



264 A PELICAN'S TALE 

any sort of game of chance, or betting, the man 
was nothing other than a lunatic. When I told 
him as much he only laughed. " No doubt 
you're right," he said. " I expect we are all mad 
about something or other." 

The Jubilee juggins was nobody's enemy but 
his own, and did nobody any harm but himself. 
He had few enemies, and when you come to think 
things over, it is a very open matter whether a 
spendthrift who distributes his money as quickly 
as possible with both hands, doesn't do more good 
to his fellow-men than the careful soul who saves 
his portion all his life, and then leaves it to his 
successor who may be just as discreet. Extrava- 
gance is, no doubt, a bad thing for the extrava- 
gant person it may do a deal of good to those 
who merely come in contact with it. 

Talking of contact, in connection with the 
" Jubilee " recalls an occasion when Benzon just 
escaped being somewhat badly hurt, and that 
was in the very earliest stages of the building which 
became Daly's Theatre. 

When the foundation-stone of this playhouse 
was well and truly laid one fine morning a good 
many years ago, Miss Ada Rehan, who was 
Augustine Daly's leading lady, duly smashed a 
bottle of champagne on the stone for luck, and 
in so doing very nearly brought disaster upon me. 
As it was, I was merely considerably sprinkled 
with the wine, but Bill Yardley, the famous 



AN ILL OMEN 265 

University cricketer and dramatic critic he was 
" Bill of the Play " of The Sporting Times of that 
period suffered a good deal more than I did. 
Just as Miss Rehan hurled her bottle against the 
stone, I turned my head to speak to Benzon, who 
was immediately behind me, and in that moment 
a large fragment of broken bottle whizzed past me 
so closely that I felt the wind it created. Cecil 
Raleigh had a tiny portion of the extreme point 
of his nose removed by it, and poor Bill Yardley, 
who was just behind, received the piece of glass 
right on his forehead over his eye, with the result 
that he was badly cut and bled like a stuck pig 
for some time afterwards. Miss Rehan was greatly 
upset by the happening, and some of those present 
regarded it as a very unfortunate omen for Daly. 
As many will recollect Daly's subsequent season 
was not very fortunate, and in due course he let 
the theatre to George Edwardes, to whom it 
proved a veritable gold mine. 

My earlier reference to Benzon has recalled to 
my mind several racing incidents and anecdotes. 
The actual value or otherwise of tips, and in this 
regard I vividly recall one of the Hurst Park 
Meetings of a few years ago, when I lunched with 
Mr. Joseph Davis who has been so long connected 
with the famous Hampton Court Race Course. 
Knowing that of necessity Mr. Davis must be 
familiar with all there was to know about the big 
race of the day, I felt a bit reluctant about asking 



266 A PELICAN'S TALE 

him for the probable winner of it. It seemed so 
like asking for, and then betting on, a certainty. 
However, Mr. Davis was an old friend and so I 
mustered up courage to do what was necessary, 
for it is a plain fact that if you don't get much by 
asking for it, you get nothing at all by refraining 
from doing so. 

It is, as everyone knows, not considered the right 
thing to bother owners about their horses' chances 
at a meeting, but the late George Edwardes, Mr. 
W. B. Purefoy, and Mr. Sol Joel, were old 
friends, and so I thought I might venture to invite 
their opinions as to the likelihood of their various 
candidates doing what was expected of them in 
their various races that afternoon. 

Any one who knows anything at all about 
racing will allow, that I could not have sought 
advice from four more distinguished " Heads " 
than these gentlemen, and as each of them was 
a pal, and as my infinitesimal investments could 
not possibly have affected the market, you may 
take it that I got very straight and well meant 
advice. 

And now here is what actually happened. In 
no single case did one of these four horses win. 
In no single case was one placed. So much for the 
owner' side on that day at least ! 

However, against this, let me say that at one 
Brighton meeting I met Fred Archer, the greatest 
jockey who ever lived, at a dinner party. 




S/ierbo) nc, Xeicmaniet 
FRED ARCHER, THE KING OF JOCKEYS 



FRED ARCHER'S TIP 267 

Archer had of course been riding that day, and 
was going to ride next day as well, wherefore the 
abstemious " Tinman's " share of that admirable 
banquet, consisted exactly and precisely of two 
spoonsful of clear soup, and one small piece of 
toast, after which he was allowed by our hostess 
to smoke a big cigar while the rest of us did our- 
selves very well indeed. 

I was quite a lad at the time, and had lost a 
good deal more than I ought to have done over 
the first day's racing, and told Archer as much 
in course of conversation. 

It has often been said of Archer that he never 
or hardly ever gave tips of any sort or kind. 
All I can say to this is that on the occasion 
referred to, he was good enough to tell me quietly 
of three races, each of which, bar accidents, he 
would in all probability win on the morrow. 

I duly backed those three mounts of his ; each 
of them won ; and I got back what I had lost, 
and made a comfortable bit as well. And so after 
all there may be something in tips sometimes. 

But of course you must first catch your Archer ! 

Talking of Archer recalls the fact that it was 
common history at one time he might have 
married a certain Duchess, a good lady who was 
in her day a famous owner of race-horses, and 
who certainly had a considerable admiration for 
" THE TINMAN." The story went that the 
famous jockey only declined the matrimonial 



268 A PELICAN'S TALE 

proposition made to him, on ascertaining that 
the union would not give him the brevet rank of 
a Duke! He was a wealthy man, and but for 
heavy betting losses during the last two or three 
years of his life, might have died either a million- 
aire, or something very closely approaching one. 

Like most other jockeys Archer began his career 
at the very bottom of the ladder, tended the 
copper fire, and bore a hand at the meanest 
drudgery in connection with stable work, and 
my late friend, Edward Spencer Mott, familiar 
for many years on the sporting press under his 
signature of " Nathaniel Gubbins," who knew 
Archer well, thus described his first introduction 
to him. Mott was out at exercise one morning 
with Matthew Dawson, the famous trainer of 
so many Derby winners. " There/' he said in 
course of conversation, " is a boy who ought to 
get on. His father rode the winner of a Grand 
National, and the son is not only a stranger to 
fear, but has the hands and seat of a Chiffney. 
Come here, boy," and a slim youth with prominent 
buck teeth, seated on a big raw-boned bay, fell out 
of the " string," and approached his master with 
a respectful touch of his cap. 

" Take your horse over that fence/' was the 
order given. Over went the horse, and on the 
command to " Come back over it," the action 
was repeated. That boy was Frederick Archer, 
who was apprenticed to Mr. Dawson at the age 



A SUPERSTITIOUS TRAINER 269 

of eleven at a salary of seven guineas at the first 
year, rising to thirteen guineas for the fourth and 
fifth years. 

It is curious to think of Archer, the brilliant 
genius who controlled so many destinies, accepting 
a wage of seven guineas with a yearly rig-out of a 
hat, coat, and waistcoat ! At the zenith of his 
career there could not have been a keener man at 
making money hence his nickname. 

Of Archer's tragic end there is no need to tell 
here, for everyone knows how he committed 
suicide while temporarily insane, and there can 
be no question but that his last illness was caused 
in great measure by the terribly severe means he 
took to keep weight down. 

Reference to Matthew Dawson, most famous of 
trainers, recalls the fact that he was like most 
racing men peculiarly superstitious. I do not 
know if " Auld Mat/' who originally hailed from 
Gullane in Scotland, was ultra-particular about 
walking under ladders, or spilling salt, and things 
of the kind, but I do know that he was peculiarly 
sensitive about certain other matters, and would 
have promptly abandoned any undertaking which 
he had set out to accomplish, if a hare had run 
across his path. 

One morning after he had left his training 
quarters for the nearest station, with two or three 
horses engaged next day at the Epsom Spring 
Meeting, a solitary magpie that bird of ill-omen 



270 A PELICAN'S TALE 

put in an appearance directly in the path of the 
" string." 

" Mat " waited for a second or two, before 
calling to his head lad. "D'ye see anither ane, 
Geordie ? " and, as politicians so often say, the 
reply was " in the negative." 

" Yer sure there was jist ane ? ' 

" Only one, sir/' was the answer." 

" Tak them hame then," said the trainer. 
"We'll no travel the day." And they did 
not, but returned to Compton, coming back 
twenty-four hours later, when no magpie was to 
be seen. 

And it is to be recorded that on that very day, 
Cannobie, one of the " string," won the Great 
Metropolitan Handicap at Epsom from twelve 
opponents. 

What would have happened if the horse had 
been taken to Epsom on the previous day in spite 
of the encounter with the magpie, is not for me 
to say. 

During the time I edited a more or less theatrical 
paper, I was often asked why I did not write a 
play, as if the doing of such a thing was as easy 
of accomplishment as tumbling off a roof. No 
doubt, owing to my position, I might have 
managed to get any play I had written, at least 
looked at, but there, in all probability, the matter 
would have ended, and I should have had my work 
for nothing, which is always a highly unsatis- 



PLAYWRITTNG 271 

factory thing to one possessed of at least some sort 
of market, to which he may drive his pigs. More- 
over, to write a successful play, seems to me just 
about as difficult a thing to do as to ascend from 
Ludgate Circus to the top of St. Paul's on a tight 
rope. 

The only experience I ever had of play-writing 
was when a certain syndicate, some years ago, 
suggested to my old friend, Mr. Harry Grattan, 
and myself, that they had lots of money, a theatre 
which would shortly be at their disposal, and an 
actress in whose abilities and attractiveness a 
portion of the syndicate professed confidence and 
admiration. 

For some reason or other, this collective body 
of dramatic enthusiasts opined that Mr. Grattan, 
who had not then begun to write his famous 
revues, and my humble self were the right and 
only people in their opinion, capable of building a 
musical-comedy suitable to their requirements. 

Mr. Grattan was good enough to leave the 
business arrangements to me, and I, being no 
gambler, and essentially as well as literally Scotch, 
somewhat paralysed the syndicate by declining 
to work except on the conditions that for our 
scenario, if accepted, we should receive a certain 
sum down ; a further sum upon the acceptance 
of the first act ; more when the second act was 
finished and approved of ; and after production 
certain other fees. 



272 A PELICAN'S TALE 

You see I thought it was about a thousand to 
one against the piece being produced, whether 
the syndicate liked it or not, and considered that 
something on account was at any rate infinitely 
better than a push in the eye with a blunt stick. 

The Syndicate which certainly had little reason 
to consider it had much of worldly wisdom to 
learn, and which, by the way, included a couple 
of money-lenders and a solicitor, expressed the 
opinion that our suggestions were most irregular 
and quite ridiculous ; we retorted that we hadn't 
come to them but they to us, and that if they 
desired to become possessed of our sparkling 
masterpiece, these and none other were our terms. 
And the syndicate stood them, greatly to our 
surprise ! 

Perhaps it would be more correct to say they 
partly stood them, for they liked the scenario 
when it was read to them, and considerably 
startled us by paying for it. The first act was 
approved of, and duly settled for, and when the 
second was read, they liked that also, and asked 
us to leave it with them " for further considera- 
tion " ; but the requisite and agreed upon coin 
of the realm not being forthcoming, we carted our 
act off again, and after a month's delay, and much 
spirited correspondence, the syndicate discovered 
that after all perhaps it wasn't quite so wealthy 
as it had believed itself to be, and quietly wound 
itself up. 



AN ESSAY IN DRAMA 273 

So the great work was never produced, and 
probably never will be ; not that this matters to 
any special extent, for I fancy we got all it was 
worth. The chief moral to be deduced from this 
seems to me, that if you are ever writing plays, 
or doing anything else for a syndicate, have your 
money as far ahead as possible, or the syndicate 
may perchance have you. 

Everyone knows that Mr. Grattan is to-day one 
of the most successful revue authors we possess, 
and in the first of his efforts in this way, at a time 
when revues were comparatively unknown quanti- 
ties in this country, I had the privilege of col- 
laborating with him. 

In this case we got as far as our scenario, and 
that I placed before my good friend, Mr. Alfred 
Moul, who was at that time managing-director 
of the Alhambra. He gave the matter of producing 
our work at the big Leicester Square House his 
serious consideration. In the end, however, 
nothing came of the deal, for Mr. Moul and his 
fellow-directors formed the opinion that though 
our ideas seemed good enough, the times were not 
then ripe for introducing revues to the London 
public with reasonable prospects of successful 
returns. Indeed, the majority of the Board who 
sat in judgment on our scheme were of opinion 
that revue would not pay at all in London gener- 
ally, and at the Alhambra in particular. As 
events proved not very long afterwards, the Board 



274 A PELICAN'S TALE 

was wrong. Revues became, and are still very 
popular, and Mr. Grattan has, since he started 
writing them, proved himself to be a past master 
at the game. Our piece might have been all 
right. You never caniell ! 



CHAPTER XVIII 

What John Hollingshead said about unlucky theatres " Prac- 
tical John " The ill-fortune of the Olympic Concerning the 
Opera Comique and the Old Globe D'Oyly Carte's first suc- 
cess The Olympic as a music-hall How Wilson Barrett came 
to Wych Street How he also nearly reached Carey Street 
by so doing ! His subsequent triumph with The Sign of the 
Cross The Kingsway and its numerous other names The 
Court Theatre in former days A big success at little Terry's 
Mr. Charles Hawtrey's triumph with The Private Secretary 
How Sir Herbert Tree appeared as The Rev. Robert Spalding 
How Penley followed him in the part An extraordinary 
success Rare Fred Leslie ! A change from romantic opera 
to Gaiety musical-comedy The Gaiety almost a stock com- 
pany theatre How Mr. Seymour Hicks and Miss Ellaline 
Terriss came to the Gaiety The George Grossmith period 
A very successful management, 

HE was no less a light of theatrical 
management than John Hollingshead, 
predecessor of George Edwardes at 
the old Gaiety Theatre, which stood 
where the present offices of the Morning Post 
now are, who could never be brought to believe 
that there was such a thing in this world as an 
unlucky theatre. 

" Practical John " as he used to be called, though 
he was in many ways the most unpractical as well 
as the kindliest of men, held the belief that " if 
the Public wanted to see any particular play they 
would go through a drain to do so." 

275 



276 A PELICAN'S TALE 

No doubt there is a measure of truth in this, 
but no one will think otherwise than that a piece 
will have much more likelihood of blossoming 
into a success if produced at a popular well 
situated theatre, than if it sees light for the first 
time in one out of favour ; and it is certainly 
curious how unfortunate some theatres were 
and are. 

There was no greater instance of this than that 
of the old Olympic, though neither the Globe nor 
the Opera Comique, its near neighbours, were 
much luckier, despite the fact that at the former 
Mr. Charles Hawtrey made at least one fortune 
with The Private Secretary, and that at the latter 
Mr. George Edwardes did well with the burlesque 
Joan-of-Arc, and prior to that D'Oyly Carte 
began his wonderful managerial career there. 
These were, however, outstanding exceptions in a 
considerable tale of financial un-success. 

The Olympic was a veritable fortune swallower. 
When Mr. Henry Neville had his season there, 
backed by a former Lord Londesborough, 
grandfather of the present peer, considerable 
money was dropped, and many who came after 
lost large sums. Mrs. Conover spent most of what 
she possessed in this house, and Miss Agnes 
Hewitt, despite the production of The Pointsman, 
the best thing Mr. Cecil Raleigh and Mr. Claude 
Carton collaborated in, and with a company 
which included Mr. Willard, Miss Maud Milton, 



WILSON BARRETT'S SUCCESS 277 

and many other fine actors, lost a fortune, after 
the critics had proclaimed the piece one of the 
strongest dramas ever written, and had foretold 
the change of luck now assured to the theatre. 

The Olympic was, after sundry other managers 
had burnt their fingers with it, turned into a 
music-hall, when General Playfair, father of Mr. 
Arthur Playfair, was one of the directors, but 
despite the fact that strong bills were offered, the 
Public stayed away in enormous numbers, and 
the idea came to an end. Then, having partly re- 
built and re-decorated the house, Mr. Wilson 
Barrett, at that time one of the most popular 
actors in London with a great personal following, 
came to the Olympic and produced there the 
identical plays which had crowded the old Prin- 
cess's Theatre in Oxford Street. 

The net result of these revivals was that he lost 
many thousands of pounds, and left the place 
wellnigh ruined, till fortune again came to him 
when he wrote and produced The Sign of the 
Cross at the Lyric. If he had presented that 
marvellously successful piece at the Olympic, I 
for one believe it would have proved a failure. 
Fortunately he did not do so. 

Another theatre which for a considerable time 
failed to achieve the luck it deserved is the 
Kingsway. Of course I know that Fanny's First 
Play and sundry other productions had longish 
runs, and that Miss Lena Ashwell produced some 



278 A PELICAN'S TALE 

good plays which lasted fairly well during her 
management of the theatre, but it is, I believe, a 
familiar thing to most people who know anything 
at all of theatreland, that Miss Ashwell made no 
fortune out of the place, despite the plucky fight 
she made for success there. 

The famous Mr. W. S. Penley lost a deal of the 
fortune he had made out of Charley's Aunt when 
he purchased the theatre, re-built it in part, and 
called it Penley's, and certainly Mrs. Churchill- 
Jodrell failed to set the Thames on fire during her 
tenancy of the place when Colonel Sargeant 
managed for her, and when the theatre was known 
as The Jodrell. 

In its earlier days the place had been known as 
the Novelty and was controlled at one time by 
the first Mrs. Horace Sedger, who was Miss Nellie 
Harris, sister of Augustus of Drury Lane. Miss 
Harris, who had the advantage of her brother's 
assistance, produced a very amusing farce by 
Mr. T. G. Warren called Nita's First followed 
by the burlesque Lallah Rook, in which Kate 
Vaughan and a strong company appeared, but 
the success of the double bill was not a great 
one, and the Harris management came to an 
end. 

This is all for the greater part somewhat 
ancient history of course, still it does seem to 
point to the fact that some theatres do appear to 
be heavily handicapped somehow or other, though 



" THE PRIVATE SECRETARY ' 279 

the ill luck which comes to them may not always 
have been there. 

The Court, for example, is an instance of this. 
Of late years it has not been specially fortunate, 
and yet at one time, during the period that Sir 
Arthur Pinero was coming into his kingdom as an 
author, and when the company included Mrs. 
John Wood, Arthur Cecil, John Clayton, Miss 
Norreys, Harry Eversfield, and the rest, the 
Court was, perhaps, the most popular theatre in 
London ; so too was Terry's during the run of 
Sir Arthur Pinero's Sweet Lavender, but the luck 
did not stick, and the place, after a lengthy 
period as a Cinema show, is again to be a theatre 
proper. 

Talking of Penley recalls the extraordinary 
success he scored as the Rev. Robert Spalding in 
The Private Secretary, of which part, by the way, 
one has several times seen it stated that Sir 
Herbert Tree was the creator. 

It is true that Tree immediately preceded 
Penley in the part, but the actual first player of 
the remarkable clergyman who did not like 
London, was a matter-of-fact Mr. Arthur Helmore 
when Mr. Charles Hawtrey's adaptation of Von 
Moser's farcical comedy was produced at the old 
theatre at Cambridge, then the property of 
Mr. W. B. Redfern. 

Mr. Hawtrey's famous play had quite a remark- 
able history, for after its trial trip at Cambridge 



280 A PELICAN'S TALE 

he sought in vain for a time someone to take it off 
his hands and run it in London. It was offered 
to a friend of mine who witnessed its production 
at Cambridge, for five hundred pounds, but the 
offer was emphatically declined. Thus are the 
chances of fortunes lost. 

In the end, the piece was put on in London at 
the Prince's now Prince of Wales's Theatre 
by Mr. Edgar Bruce with Tree as Spalding, Bill 
Hill as old Cattermole, and Miss Vane Feather- 
stone and Miss Maude Millett as the two young 
ladies of the piece. Mr. Hawtrey did not play in 
it himself at that time. 

The play was not kindly treated by the 
dramatic critics, and in spite of Tree's great 
success as the Curate, the paying Public insisted 
in failing to arrive in sufficient force to make it 
worth while to go on. And so the run came to an 
end. 

Then Mr. Hawtrey did a very bold thing. He 
believed in his play, and showed the valour of his 
opinion by taking it to the old Globe Theatre, at 
that time a somewhat luckless house in New- 
castle Street just off the Strand, and putting it 
on with himself as Douglas Cattermole, but with- 
out Tree, the one man who had really done well 
in it. In Tree's place, he secured W. S. Penley, 
who at that time was much less familiar as a 
comedian than as a singer of minor parts in comic 
opera, and who had just been appearing as Derek 



AN EXTRAORDINARY SUCCESS 281 

von Hans in Rip Van Winkle at the Comedy, 
where Fred Leslie and Miss Violet Cameron had 
scored such triumphs. 

When his friends heard that Mr. Hawtrey had 
taken the Globe for The Private Secretary and 
had engaged Penley for the part on which the 
entire show depended, they thought and said that 
he must have taken leave of his senses. But as 
every one knows he had done nothing of the kind. 

At first it looked as if his pluck was going to 
avail him nothing, and houses were small ; then 
things changed slowly but surely, business began 
to pick up, and the piece settled into one of the 
greatest financial successes ever known in stage- 
land, for it ran for close upon three years and 
made a big fortune for Mr. Hawtrey, a consider- 
able portion of which he soon after lost when 
he took Her Majesty's Theatre, and produced 
amongst other things the tremendously costly 
three-hour long ballet Excelsior. 

I mentioned that Penley came in a single 
spring from singing a minor part in Rip Van 
Winkle to be one of the most famous and popular 
actors in London, and in like fashion Fred Leslie 
was another instance of an actor coming out of 
romantic opera to become a comedian pure and 
simple as he did when he went to the old Gaiety, 
where he stayed so long under George Edwardes' 
management, dividing honours in many pro- 
ductions with Nellie Farren. 



282 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Somehow the Gaiety has always been the 
nearest approach to a Stock Company of any 
theatre in town, the same set of players staying 
there for years, and appearing in each production 
as it came along. 

In John Hollingshead's time " The Merry 
Family " were the chief mainstays of the place 
and included the famous quartette Edward Terry, 
Nellie Farren, Kate Vaughan, and Edward Royce. 
Terry was of course the principal comedian of the 
burlesques then in favour, Nellie Farren the 
principal boy, Kate Vaughan the principal girl 
and chief dancer and she could dance dividing 
honours in this respect with Mr. Royce who was 
in those days a dancer of quite remarkable grace 
and agility. Other well-known Gaiety comedians 
of that time were Tom Squire, very tall and thin, 
Johnny Dallas, rather short and fat, Frank Wyatt, 
a very agile dancer in his day, Willie Elton also 
excessively nimble, and E. J. Henley, a brother of 
the famous William Ernest Henley, the poet and 
one time editor of The National Observer, which in 
earlier days was known as The Scott's Observer. 
Then there was Miss Phyllis Broughton and Miss 
Connie Gilchrist or Lady Orkney as she is now, 
and many more. 

When John Hollingshead took George Edwardes 
into partnership at the old Gaiety, things were 
more or less in a transient state. Burlesque of the 
old sort was becoming very frayed at the edges, 



FRED LESLIE 283 

the Public was showing a desire for something 
different, and the first musical production the 
twain were concerned with, was The Vicar of 
Wide-Awake-Field, a more or less modern bur- 
lesque of the big Lyceum production wherein Sir 
Henry Irving made so great an impression by his 
charming old Vicar, and Miss Ellen Terry was the 
erring daughter led astray by the very dashing 
Squire Thornhill of William Terriss. In the 
Gaiety version of the piece, Mr. Arthur Roberts, 
who had but recently forsaken the music-halls 
for the theatres, played the title part, and his 
song " The Very Wicked Vicar " will no doubt 
still be remembered with special joy by many. 

It was when Hollingshead dropped out, and 
George Edwardes got the Gaiety into his own 
hands, that he cast about for a new comedian 
suited to the musical comedies he then and there 
began to produce, and with that wonderful fore- 
sight of his for seeing possibilities not apparent 
to most people, he lighted on handsome, sweet- 
voiced Fred Leslie, who was in the midst of his 
remarkable success as Rip at the Comedy. 

The engagement at first sight did not seem at 
all a suitable one, for the differences between a 
Gaiety show and romantic opera were wide apart 
indeed, and no one was less sure of its likelihood 
of success than Fred himself, who told me that it 
was only the very generous terms offered him 
which tempted him to make the plunge. However, 



284 A PELICAN'S TALE 

George Edwardes then and there gave one of the 
many proofs of his extraordinary judgment. He 
was quite certain that Leslie would be a great 
success at the Gaiety, and, as every one remembers, 
Edwardes was thoroughly justified in this opinion, 
and there Fred stayed, with occasional breaks 
caused by visits to America and the Provinces, 
till his all too early death. 

During his absence E. J. Lonnen, who had played 
seconds to him, came into his own on several 
occasions, notably in Miss Esmerelda. 

Leslie's successor as principal Gaiety comedian, 
was also a surprise to the general public but not 
entirely to my humble self, for one day the good 
George Edwardes, in whose office I happened to 
be, told me he was in great doubt as to whom he 
should engage to follow Leslie, and asked me a 
number of questions concerning " that young 
fellow Hicks " who was then playing at the Court 
Theatre in a revue called Under the Clock, the 
joint work of himself and Charles Brookfield. I 
had sung the praises of my old-young friend 
Seymour at considerable length in print, and I 
proceeded to enlarge upon his qualities then. 
" He's just the man for you/' I said. " He is 
young, very bright, and nice looking. He can 
sing, and dance a bit, is as clever as paint, and 
with a little more experience will do big things." 

Well, one result of our conversation was that an 
emissary on whose judgment George Edwardes 



SEYMOUR HICKS 285 

could entirely depend, was sent along to the Court 
to observe how Mr. Hicks shaped that evening, 
and the report he brought back was so favourable 
that George himself went to see him the following 
night, and as a result Mr. Hicks and his charming 
wife Miss Ellaline Terriss were engaged to go to 
the Gaiety for a considerable period, and there they 
stayed for many moons, playing the principal 
parts in a number of highly successful musical 
comedies, of most of which Seymour was the author. 
It was trying the young actor uncommonly 
highly to ask him to follow so great a favourite 
at the Gaiety as Fred Leslie, and to do so, more- 
over, in one of his most successful creations, that 
of Jonathan Wild in Little Jack Sheppard, but, as 
all who were present on the memorable Gaiety 
first night will recollect, Seymour came through 
the trial with flying colours, and never afterwards 
looked backward. He was heavily handicapped, 
too, for he had suffered from terrible neuralgia for 
some days before making his Gaiety debut, and 
on the very afternoon of the performance, was in 
such agony that he boldly faced a dentist and 
had several teeth pulled out. I came upon him 
in the Strand shortly after his time of trouble, and 
certainly no one could have looked less like a 
Gaiety principal comedian than he did then. He 
told me afterwards that he spent the hours 
between that time and going to the theatre 
praying at the Oratory for strength to get through 



286 A PELICAN'S TALE 

his ordeal that night. Obviously his prayers were 
answered, for his success was considerable. 

After what I may call the Hick's regime at the 
Gaiety, and when he departed to go into manage- 
ment on his own account, came the George 
Grossmith period, which lasted for a long time 
and during which " G. G. " played the principal 
parts in many productions, several of which he 
wrote, and ultimately when George Edwardes 
died, Grossmith and his partner, Mr. Edward 
Laurillard, took over the control of the Gaiety 
till such time as they moved on elsewhere. 

The extraordinary success of the Grossmith- 
Laurillard combination is a thing familiar to all 
concerned in any way with theatreland. Mr. 
Laurillard was of course no new comer into 
management, for he had been concerned with 
quite a number of productions at various theatres, 
and was, moreover, with his late partner Mr. 
Horace Sedger, one of the first to recognise the 
potentialities of the Cinema theatre, and to take 
very full advantage of them. I fancy he has now 
parted with all the picture palaces he was con- 
nected with, except the New Gallery Kinema in 
Regent Street, with which he still retains his very 
successful associations. 



CHAPTER XIX 

The passing of Sir Herbert Tree A terribly sudden ending to a 
great career The last letter he wrote His remarkably 
successful management A fine character-actor A master of 
make-up How he puzzled his audience when The Red Lamp 
was produced Tree's visit to Berlin Max Beerbohm's retort 
Sir George Alexander and the St. James's His earlier days 
at the Lyceum The first venture into management at the 
old Avenue Alexander as an eccentric dancer The romantic 
actor as a robust comedian The murder of William Terris 
What became of his hat ? George Alexander and the dramatic 
author " A matter of moonshine " Oscar Wilde and Lady 
Windermere's Fan Alec's old Scotch nurse and what she 
thought of his profession A very sensitive and kindly 
natured man The secret of his great personal popularity. 

ON the morning of the third day of July, 
1917, all the papers announced the 
death of the famous actor-manager 
Sir Herbert Tree, to the great sorrow 
of the play-going world, and to the intense sur- 
prise of those who knew the nature of the com- 
paratively minor trouble he had been suffering 
from, as well as the admirable cure he had been 
making at one of the nursing homes of the famous 
surgeon Sir Alfred Fripp, who had performed an 
operation upon him with apparently complete 
success. 

On reaching my office that morning, the first 
of many envelopes to be opened was one whereon 

287 



288 A PELICAN'S TALE 

the address was typed, and the mark of date and 
time of posting stood out clearly, " 3.15 p.m., 
2 July, '17." It contained a letter from the dead 
actor-manager, a very dear and kind friend of 
many years standing. " I send you my greetings 
from a sick-bed and I would very much like to 

see you, for I want to learn all about poor 

(mentioning the name of a mutual friend who 
was very ill at the time). I am really quite 
ignorant about it all and you may imagine how 
anxious I am to know. How about 4.30 to- 
morrow ; could you come then ? Do so if you 
can. I'll try to keep myself free and we can have 
a long talk. I trust all is going well with you. 
Yours as ever, Herbert B. Tree." 

It was curious to read a letter from a man 
asking one to come and see him that day, and then 
to think of what seemed at the time almost an 
incredible thing, that Herbert Tree had gone from 
us for ever. 

The letter must have been one of the last 
perhaps the very last he ever wrote, and it must 
have been posted very shortly before his terribly 
sudden going. 

The operation had been a complete success. 
He had stood it excellently well, looked to be 
making a perfect recovery, and Sir Alfred Fripp 
was more than ordinarily pleased with his patient's 
condition, fine pluck, and high spirits, for Tree 
was one of his most intimate friends. 



SIR HERBERT TREE'S DEATH 289 

There was every reason to suppose, that all was 
going as well as possible, not only from the 
ordinary person's point of view, but also from that 
of the surgeon. I have seen his chart ; it was all 
it should have been. Everything was regular, 
there was no fever, no temperature. A little rest ; 
a few days of quiet in bed, and it seemed that 
everything would be right again, and that he 
would be back on the stage of His Majesty's 
Theatre. 

And then the utterly unexpected happened. The 
ten thousand to one chance against success, came 
off. A tiny clot of blood floating about, went the 
wrong way, and the end came immediately. 

It was on the afternoon of the second of July 
and Sir Alfred Fripp had looked in to see his 
patient, who was as cheerful and full of whimsical 
fun as usual. As he left him there was every 
outward sign that all was well. Tree had had a 
number of visitors to see him, some of whom had 
smoked, and when the last of these had gone 
about five o'clock, the nurse who was attending 
him said, " Don't you think, Sir Herbert, I had 
better open the window a little more to let the 
smoke out ? " And the answer was, " Yes, please, 
do so." 

While the nurse turned to the window and in 
the few seconds occupied in lowering it, the hand 
of the Grim Reaper fell and Herbert Tree took his 
last call. 



2QO A PELICAN'S TALE 

His loss to the British Stage was of course a 
very great one indeed. He was the outstanding 
man on the Boards. The only man who was 
doing really big work, and he stood for all that 
was best in theatreland. When Sir Henry 
Irving died, it seemed that no one could ever 
come to fill his place. Perhaps no one ever will 
completely do so, but Tree certainly came as 
close to it as possible, and at the time he died he 
held a position on the English Stage which was 
quite by itself. He controlled the chief theatre 
in London. His productions had been of the first 
order. He had been knighted by his Sovereign 
amidst the complete approval of his fellow- 
players, and of the Public generally, and he had 
done much to keep Shakespeare alive on our 
stage. Added to all this he was a man of remark- 
able ability in many directions other than acting, 
and was one of the most popular and lovable of 
men. 

Opinions may, and do differ about him as a 
player, but there never were two sides as to 
splendour of his productions, and of his earnest- 
ness and sincerity of purpose. My own opinion 
is one which I ventured to express to him, that he 
was a great character-actor but not a leading-man. 

You have only to think of his Macari in Called 
Back ; Svengali in Trilby ; Sir Woodbine Grafton 
in Peril ; Spalding in The Private Secretary ; 
Baron Hartfeld in Jim the Penman ; and of his 



A FINE ACTOR 291 

wonderful Demetrius in The Red Lamp, the piece 
with which he opened his first managerial cam- 
paign at the Comedy Theatre in 1887, to follow 
my meaning. 

His skill in make-up was wonderful, and some- 
times on first-nights of new plays wherein he was 
appearing, you did not recognise Tree till he 
spoke. This was notably so when The Red Lamp 
was produced. He was on the stage for quite a 
long time before the audience was aware that the 
fat, ponderous, stooping old Russian diplomatist, 
with the heavy eyebrows and white hair, was the 
actor-manager they had come to wish good luck 
to, in his new home, and it was only when he 
spoke that he got his " reception." 

The success of The Red Lamp was so great 
financially as well as artistically, that Tree was 
able to secure the Haymarket, where he stayed 
until he took possession in April, 1897, of the re- 
built Her Majesty's Theatre, which in due course 
became His Majesty's. 

The larger stage of the new play-house gave 
him the chance he had wanted of big productions 
such as his various Shakesperian revivals, Rip 
Van Winkle, Ulysses, The Darling of the Gods, 
Faust, and The Last of the Dandies, to name only 
a few of the big spectacular shows with which 
his name will always be connected. 

Although he was born in London, spent almost 
all his life there, and was essentially English in 



292 A PELICAN'S TALE 

every possible idea and way, Tree never quite 
got rid of the suggestion of foreign accent in- 
herited no doubt from his father, Mr. Julius Beer- 
bohm, who originally hailed from Hun-Land ; 
and, talking of that country, it will no doubt be 
recalled that Tree and his company in 1907 
visited Berlin and were made much of by the Arch- 
Hun and his subjects. 

Although it is chiefly as a very admirable cari- 
caturist that Mr. Max Beerbohm is known to the 
public, most of us are doubtless aware that he is 
the half-brother of the late Sir Herbert Tree. 
But before he began to draw to any great extent, 
he had written three slim volumes which made a 
lot of people smile, and a number of others very 
angry indeed. 

Mr. Beerbohm's first book, written when he 
was very young, was called The Works of Max 
Beerbohm, and this was shortly afterwards 
followed by More, which is a cryptic enough title 
in all conscience. 

But at a still more tender period, Mr. Beer- 
bohm was wont to be somewhat mystic in his 
expressions, as witness the following told me by 
Tree. 

On one occasion, in celebration of his tenth 
birthday, it seems that Max took a little too much 
sherbet or something of the kind, at the family 
celebration of the anniversary, whereupon Tree 
addressing him with sorrow in his voice said, 



SIR GEORGE ALEXANDER 293 

" Max, it is bad to be tipsy at ten." To this the 
youthful Mr. Beerbohm responded in the never- 
to-be-forgotten words : " How can one be tipsy, 
when we are conscious that they are not ? ' And 
as the good Tree said, " No one could answer that 
conundrum ? ' 

In the year following Tree's death, Stage-Land 
had another severe loss, when Sir George Alexander 
died after a long lingering illness, and although 
there were never two men less alike than Tree and 
Alexander, there were certain points of resem- 
blance in their work and methods. 

In each case the actor was his own manager, 
which meant of course that he could put on what 
plays he chose, and cast himself for such parts as 
he liked. Each had a fine theatre with a distinct 
following of its own, for if at His Majesty's audi 
ences were larger as a rule than at the St. James's, 
which George Alexander took over in January, 
1891, and held till he died twenty-seven years 
later, there was a very regular following, largely 
attracted by the personality of the actor-manager, 
and as Alexander himself said he claimed to have 
established the St. James's as the Premier Comedy 
Theatre in England. 

Certainly the theatre was always a specially 
popular one with the gentler sex, and it was a 
strange night at the King Street House when the 
women in the audience did not at least treble the 
men present. 



294 A PELICAN'S TALE 

It was when he was a member of the famous 
Irving company at the Lyceum, that George 
Alexander first attracted attention, and what a 
wonderful company that was to be sure, for in 
addition to " The Chief " and the leading lady, 
Miss Ellen Terry, there were such famous players 
as William Terriss, Forbes Robertson, Winifred 
Emery, George Alexander, and Mrs. Stirling to 
name only a few of them. 

Although he had been a member of the Lyceum 
fold for some time previously, and had accom- 
panied Henry Irving to America, it was not till 
the great Lyceum production of Faust that 
Alexander got his first outstanding chance. In 
this he played Valentine, H. B. Con way, one of 
the handsomest of actors then on the stage, and 
the husband of the well-known actress Miss Kate 
Phillips, being specially imported to the company 
to play the title part. 

This engagement was not a success. Con way 
was an excellent actor of certain parts, but Faust 
was assuredly not one of these, and after tackling 
it for a week or so he became ill, and resigned, his 
place being taken by Alexander, who made a big 
hit in the part, and later on the Gattis at the 
Adelphi at that time the home of melodrama- 
seeking for a likely hero to follow in Terriss 's 
footsteps, secured him as their leading man in 
London Day by Day in 1889. 

By the way, the mention of poor Tenlss's nani* 



" DOCTOR BILL " 295 

recalls rather a curious thing. It will be recol- 
lected that the actor was foully murdered by a 
lunatic as he was entering the Adelphi Theatre, 
at which he was leading man at the time. Imme- 
diately after the stabbing, Terriss was carried in 
at the stage-door, and some one who stood by 
said, " Where is his hat ? " Search was made for 
it at once, and although the terrible deed had only 
been committed a few seconds before, the hat was 
gone, nor was it ever recovered. Who took it, I 
wonder ? 

It was while playing at the Adelphi that 
hearing the old Avenue Theatre, on the site 
of which the Playhouse now stands, was going 
a-begging, Alexander took the house, producing 
there a wildly farcical-comedy called Doctor Bill, 
in which he intended to create the part of Dr. 
William Brown and introduce the famous " Kan- 
garoo Dance " with Miss Edith Ken ward, but as 
he was not free to do so, Mr. Fred Terry was 
called in to keep the part warm till Alexander 
was ready to take it over, which he did shortly 
after. 

The new manager ought to have made a good 
deal more money than he did with his first venture, 
but without recalling too closely certain happen- 
ings at that time, it may be said that a lot 
of the coin which ought to have reached him 
failed to do so. However, that's an old story now. 
Anyhow later on in the same year, Alexander 



296 A PELICAN'S TALE 

gave up the Avenue, and took over the St. James's, 
where he opened with Sunlight and Shadow. 

Of the many successful plays which the new 
manager produced at the St. James's it is un- 
necessary to tell, but here is an account of a play 
which he did not produce, and concerning which 
he told me himself. 

A certain fairly well-known dramatic author 
came to see him one day at the St. James's, and 
suggested that life would present a more glowing 
aspect to him than it then did, if " Alec " would 
lend him a hundred pounds. Having been as 
repeatedly tapped as many better and worse men 
had been before him, and being very familiar with 
the sound financial advice of Polonius, the actor- 
manager responded that much as he would like to 
oblige the author, he had so many calls on him 
and so on, and so forth. But he added, " Will 
fifty pounds be of any use to you ? ' " Yes, I 
believe it will," retorted the other. " So-and-so 
has a play of mine and may accept it at any 
moment. I can easily pay you back in a month's 
time." 

" Well," said Alexander, " I'll tell you what 
I'll do. I'll let you have fifty pounds but not 
as a loan. You are a clever fellow ; write me a 
play for the St. James's, and I'll give you fifty 
pounds now in advance of fees of five per cent on 
the gross, whenever the play is acted. Sit down 
and draw up an agreement between us now." 



ALEXANDER ANECDOTES 297 

" Right you are/' said the author, and proceeded 
to do the deed. " By the way/' he said, looking 
up, " what shall we call the play ? I must fill in 
a title you know/' " Oh well/' replied Alec, 
" call it ' All Moonshine/ " And the thing was 
done. Exit the author with fifty pounds in his 
pocket. A week later he reappeared, and said, " I 
have paragraphed the fact that you have com- 
missioned me to write you a play. Are you 
particularly keen on keeping the American rights 
or can I deal with them ? " " Well," said Alex- 
ander, " the English rights are good enough for 
me. I'll present you with the American ones/' 

" Now that's really very good of you," said the 
author, " for the fact is that Frohman, hearing 
you had commissioned me to write a play for the 
St. James's, has offered me a hundred pounds in 
advance of the American rights." " That's capi- 
tal," said Alexander, " good ; you take it." 

The sequel to the story is, that the play was 
never written ; that the author pocketed one 
hundred and fifty pounds ; and that he un- 
fortunately shortly afterwards died ! 

Here too is another yarn of Alec's concerning a 
play which was produced with great success alike 
to its author and to its producer. 

One day Oscar Wilde, at that time in the height 
of his fame as a celebrity, or notoriety, whichever 
you like, gave Alexander a play in blank verse to 
read which appealed to the manager immensely. 



298 A PELICAN'S TALE 

However, he thought it too expensive a production 
to embark upon in the earlier days of his mana- 
gerial career, so he returned it, at the same time 
asking Wilde to write him a modern play, offering 
him one hundred pounds in advance of fees. 

Wilde took the money, and for some months 
after Alexander heard nothing more of him or his 
play. One day, however, came a letter from the 
author asking the manager to name a time when 
he would hear the play read, and as Alexander 
himself said, " I shall never forget the delight I 
experienced in hearing him read Lady Winder- 
mere's Fan, for that was the play he brought 



me." 



" Do you like it ? " he asked at the end of the 
reading. " Like it," I said, " like is not the 
word. It is simply wonderful." " Well," said 
Wilde, " I am rather pushed just now, and want 
some money : what will you give f or it ? " " 111 
give a thousand pounds with pleasure," said 
Alexander. " A thousand pounds ! " exclaimed 
Wilde, " you don't surely mean that. Do you 
mean a thousand pounds in ready money ? " 
"Yes, certainly," said Alexander, "I'll give you 
a cheque for it right away." " Well," said Wilde, 
" I'd like the money, but if you believe in the 
piece as much as that, I don't think I'll sell it to 
you right out no, the more I think of it, the less 
I want to sell I'll take a percentage." And he 
did ; of course taking a good many thousand 



A GOOD BUSINESS MAN 299 

pounds in fees, instead of the single thousand he 
nearly accepted. 

Although Wilde was wise in his generation in 
believing in Alexander's judgment, all who knew 
the actor-manager did not hold it in so high an 
opinion. For instance, there was his old Scotch 
nurse, who, like so many others of her kind, re- 
garded the calling of the actor as everything that 
was vile and unholy. Alexander told me that 
most of his Scotch relatives were opposed to his 
Stage career more or less mildly, but the anti- 
pathy of the old nurse in question was remark- 
able. She quite believed that her erstwhile 
charge was on the high road to destruction. 

One day after he had begun to make headway 
in his career, and was indeed at the Lyceum, 
Alexander saw his old friend and expressed the 
hope that she had overcome her prejudices. 

" Indeed I have not, Mister George/' she said. 
11 I conseeder it is an awfu way to get a leeving, 
but I do hear that you have made a heap of 
money at it, and I hope that you will soon retire 
so that you may have time to repent and get 
your peace made wee yer Maker/' 

Unlike most actors, or even actor-managers, 
Alexander was a most methodical man of great 
business ability, and many of those who only 
knew him slightly believed him to be possessed 
of a very matter-of-fact, unemotional person- 
ality. Beneath this exterior, however, there was 



300 A PELICAN'S TALE 

a singularly sensitive and easily-wounded nature, 
and of that I had proof one evening at the St. 
James's. 

I had received a note during the day from his 
secretary enclosing a couple of tickets for the 
piece he was then appearing in, saying that Mr. 
Alexander, as he then was, particularly wanted to 
see me on a matter of business if I could call on 
him at the end of the first act. 

I did not know Alexander personally at the 
time, though I afterwards came to know and like 
him well, and I had not the smallest idea what he 
could want with me. 

However, I went to the St. James's, and at the 
end of the act was taken to his dressing-room, or 
rather to one adjoining it. 

In a few minutes he walked in, just as he had 
been on the stage, the make-up of course looking 
curious close at hand. 

He came towards me as I thought very stagily, 
and in a singular emotional voice said at once 
with no preliminary, "You don't know me, 
do you ? " I replied that I had not had the 
pleasure of meeting him till then. 

II Well," said he, " you've nothing against me ?" 
"Nothing," said I. "Why do you ask? " Where- 
upon he pulled out a couple of clippings from a 
paper sent him by a Press-cutting Association 
marked " From the Pelican." " I don't mind 
fair criticism," he said, " but I do mind spiteful 



A SPORTSMAN 301 

personal attacks like these. Surely, man, you 
can't defend that sort of thing ? " 

" No I can't/' I said, as I glanced at the 
objectionable paragraphs in question, " but I had 
better tell you at once that your Press-cutting 
people have made a mistake, and that these are 
not from my paper." 

There was a slight pause, and then " Good 
Lord ! " he said, " have I made a mistake and 
done you an injustice ? I don't know how to 
express my regret. What can I do ?" 

" You can shake hands, give me a drink, and 
promise to write a little yarn for my Christmas 
number," I replied. All of which things he did ; 
and from that time on, George Alexander was a 
good kind friend to me for whom I had ever the 
warmest regard. 

I merely mention this little matter to show 
that he was by no means the unemotional, in- 
different, wooden man, so many people believed 
him to be off the stage. On the contrary, he was 
an ultra-sensitive kindly natured fellow, desiring 
nothing better than to live on good terms with all 
he came in contact with, and his kindly, generous, 
gentle nature endeared him to very many. 



CHAPTER XX 

The Genesis of the Christmas Pelican A rather remarkable pro- 
duction The extraordinary list of authors The strongest 
cast not merely in London but in the world Henry Irving, 
Sarah Bernhardt, and Herbert Tree as story-tellers The 
editorial difficulties of dealing with the eminent scribes The 
Maharaja of Cooch Behar A fine sportsman and a very 
" white " native His theatrical supper party, and what 
occurred at it The lightning change of the Maharaja from an 
English gentleman to an Eastern potentate What he said to 
his dependant The extraordinary effect his words produced 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in real life My main object in 
starting The Pelican How I was fortunately able to realise 
it How the war nearly finished us but didn't I decide to 
retire The sale of The Pelican to a syndicate Out of the 
pull and push And very glad and thankful to be so. 

FOR one reason at least the Christmas 
number of The Pelican was rather a 
remarkable production, and that was on 
account of the extraordinary list of 
authors who were good enough to allow themselves 
to be lured into contributing to its pages each 
year. 

As perhaps some of those who read these lines 
are aware, the Christmas Pelican always con- 
sisted of short stories told by the most prominent 
and distinguished actors and actresses, and al- 
though upon one or two occasions certain cele- 
brities who were not immediately connected with 

302 



A LABOUR OF HERCULES 303 

the Stage, were included in the list of authors, the 
general rule was that the players were the things. 

It was a pleasant and certainly very popular 
idea to get those who were largely written about 
in the course of the year in the columns of the 
paper to furnish the contents of the Christmas 
Number, and whether the plan was an entirely 
novel one, or merely a repetition of one that had 
been used before, no other journal, to my know- 
ledge, during the eight-and-twenty years I con- 
ducted The Pelican did anything of the kind. 

It was not an easy job to induce the large num- 
ber of very distinguished men and women, each 
very busily engaged in his or her own calling, to 
turn authors even once a year, and if I had not 
had the advantage of knowing most of my eminent 
contributors intimately, I fear I should have 
never brought the thing off. 

The chief difficulty was not to get the theatrical 
narrators to promise me contributions, for actors 
and actresses are always so good-natured that 
they made no difficulty about that ; it was the 
really remarkable trouble which invariably oc- 
curred in inducing the distinguished scribes to 
actually weigh in with their works which annually 
greyed my locks to a very considerable extent. 
However, by some means or other, we always 
managed to get all the contributions in at the 
last moment, just as the master-printer was 
beginning to rend his hair, cast dust upon his 



304 A PELICAN'S TALE 

breast, and make oath before Heaven that the 
Annual could not by any human possibility be 
printed by the contract time. The great fact is 
that it was always done, and we were never a day 
late in publication. 

When you consider how vast a proportion of 
the Public pays its good money every night to see 
and hear the popular stage favourites, it was only 
natural that a large number of them should have 
willingly paid their sixpences to come into more 
or less personal touch with some thirty-five to 
forty leading stars of the theatrical firmament, 
by way of their usually amusing personal experi- 
ences narrated in our paper, accompanied by their 
latest and most attractive portraits. 

The list of my Christmas authors included, 
almost without exception, the leading actors and 
actresses who charmed us between the years 1889 
and 1917, in the Christmas of which latter year 
the last Annual produced under my control ap- 
peared. 

Among the many distinguished people who have 
" gone on ahead " who told their Christmas 
stories for us, were Sir Henry Irving, Sir Herbert 
Tree, and Sir George Alexander on many occa- 
sions, Mr. Wilson Barrett, Sir Augustus Harris of 
Drury Lane, Miss Florence St. John, Mr. Lewis 
Waller, Mr. Fred Leslie, Miss Nellie Farren, Miss 
Kate Vaughan, Mr. John Hollingshead of the old 
Gaiety, Mr. Arthur Williams, Mr. Edmund Payne, 



LITERARY LIGHTS 305 

Mr. George Edwardes, Mr. Teddy Lonnen, Mr. 
Charles Danby, Mr. Dan Leno, and Mr. Barney^ 
Barnato of South African fame, who had a certain 
amount to do with stage-life prior to becoming a 
several-times-over millionaire. 

Madame Sarah Bernhardt was kind enough on 
three occasions to contribute to our columns, and 
her sprightly country-women Mile. Delysia and 
Mile. Gaby des Lys, like M. Morton, were members 
of our Christmas staff on more than one occasion. 

Among the many sweet singers whom I induced 
to turn authors were Miss Violet Cameron, Miss^ 
Ruth Vincent, Miss Constance Drever, Miss Isabel 
Jay, Miss Marie Tempest, Miss Lily Elsie, and 
Signor Caruso^ While the managers, in addition 
to those already named, included among others 
my good friends Mr. Frank Curzon, Mr. George 
Dance, Mr. Cyril Maude, Sir Alfred Butt, Mr. 
Arthur Collins, Mr. Dennis Eadie, Mr. Matheson 
Lang, Mr. Frederick Harrison, Mr. Robert Court- 
neidge, Mr. Vedrenne, Mr. Tom B. Davis, Mr. 
Robert Evett, Mr. Charles Cochran, and Mr. 
Gerald du Maurier. 

Our dancing contributors included at various 
times Mile. Genee, Mile. Lydia Kyasht, Miss Lettie 
Lind, Miss Sylvia Grey, Miss Florence Levey, Miss 
Olive May, Miss Ivy Shilling, and Miss Katie Sey- 
mour ; while among the more serious players may 
be mentioned Mrs. Langtry, Mrs. Brown Potter, 
Miss Ethel Irving, Mr. Weedon Grossmith, Miss 



306 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Agnes Hewitt, Miss Violet Vanbrugh, Miss Gladys ' 
Cooper, Miss Irene Vanbrugh, Mr. Arthur Bouchier, 
Miss Iris Hoey, Mr. Charles Hawtrey, Mr. Eille 
Norwood, Mr. Sydney Valentine, and Mr. H. B. 
Irving. 

We were always strong in our musical comedy 
contributors, and one recalls Mr. George Graves, 
Mr. George Robey, Mr. G. P. Huntley, Miss Ethel 
Levey, Mr. Arthur Roberts, Miss Ada Reeve, Mr. 
Huntley Wright, Miss Shirley Kellog, Mr. George 
Grossmith, Miss Gertie Millar, Mr. W. H. Berry, 
Miss Ellaline Terris, Mr. Seymour Hicks, Miss 
Phyllis Dare, Mr. Arthur Playfair/ Miss Jose 
Collins, Mr. Wilkie Bard, Miss Violet Loraine, 
Miss Florence Smithson, Mr. Joseph Coyne, Miss 
Dorothy Ward, and Miss Edna 1 May among many 
others. 

Mr. Harry Grattan, as clever with his pencil as 
with his pen, always drew his story, and did so 
very well, while the one and only Swears usually 
sent us something funny also. 

I mention these names not by any means all 
the famous ones to give those who never saw 
the Christmas Pelican an idea of how remarkable 
our lists of authors always were, and it will be 
readily believed that from the nature of its con- 
tents, the Annual was always a very big success 
financially and otherwise. 

As I have said, there used to be a good deal of 
trouble in digging the stories out of most of my 



A FINE INDIAN RAJAH 307 

gifted authors, though there were exceptions, and 
none was more prompt in sending in, nor more 
precise in writing exactly the number of lines he 
said he would, than Sir George Alexander. On 
the other hand, none was more difficult to land, 
than the annual contribution of my dear friend 
Herbert Tree, who after pointing out that he was 
specially busy and could only manage something 
short of say eighteen or twenty lines, usually 
sent some thirty or forty pages, and, if you know 
anything at all of the polite art of condensing, 
you will see how maddening a thing it must have 
been, to cut a story of forty pages to something 
like a hundred lines, keep in the plot, and the 
sense, and simultaneously retain the friendship of 
the author as well ! 

A contribution which would no doubt have 
been inertesting if it had appeared, was that 
promised me by the late Maharaja of Cooch Behar, 
who was, as many of my readers will recall, a dis- 
tinguished soldier, a great sportsman, and one of 
the " whitest " and most English natives of India 
who ever lived. Cooch Behar was thoroughly 
British in all his ideas and conversation, and when 
you heard him talk as he did without a trace of 
native accent, it was always something of a shock 
when you looked suddenly at him to find that he 
was not really a white man, so far as his skin was 
concerned. 

Only on one occasion did I ever know Cooch 



308 A PELICAN'S TALE 

Behar do or say anything out of the common 
which specially recalled his native birth, and no 
doubt some who read these lines will remember 
the occurrence to which I now refer. 

The Maharaja, who was very keen about what 
the late Maurice Farkoa used to sing of as " Gay 
Bohemiah," and the theatrical portion of it in 
particular, gave a big supper party in a private 
room at what was then the New Lyric Club, and 
many of the brightest men and prettiest women 
in London were among his guests. 

It was during this supper party that one of his 
equerries, or secretaries, or someone of the sort, 
took rather more champagne than was good for 
him, and like Bottom the Weaver had an exposi- 
tion of sleep come upon him. 

The young Indian was seated opposite me, and 
I fear I took considerable joy, in a quiet way, in 
seeing his head slowly subside on his plate. 

Cooch Behar, seated at the end of the table, was 
talking to one of the fairest and most photo- 
graphed of our musical-comedy actresses, and was 
telling her a story which made her smile con- 
siderably, when all of a sudden, his eye fell on his 
unhappy retainer. 

In a moment the dark complexioned English- 
man became a Native. Springing to his feet, he 
extended his hand towards the overcome one, and 
glaring at him, in truly horrific manner, said 
something to him, quite quietly in Hindustani. 



A QUICK CHANGE 309 

What his words were, I am not aware, but I do 
know that they produced a most marvellous 
effect on the man addressed, for he crouched down 
on the floor, put his hands over his head, as though 
to ward off a blow, mumbled words, doubtless of 
deep contrition, certainly expressive of the 
greatest terror, and then fled from the room. Of 
course there was a general pause for a second or 
two in the hilarity of the occasion, and this was 
broken by the fair one saying, " Tell us what you 
said to him." " Oh, nothing much/' replied the 
Maharaja, as he sat down again, with a smile, 
and was promptly once more an ordinary English 
gentleman, "just something that he will re- 
member ! " 

The changes from the Englishman to the Native, 
and then back from the Native to the calm, 
smiling, somewhat dark-complexioned English- 
man, were extraordinarily sudden and dramatic, 
and recalled nothing so much as Richard Mans- 
field's quick changes in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 

When I founded The Pelican in 1889, I did so 
with one main object in view, which was that as 
soon as I had saved a certain sum, which I fixed 
upon as sufficient for needs and comfort, I would 
gracefully retire, and if possible sell the paper. 
I had no idea of toiling on till I was an old man, 
possessed of neither the inclination nor the ability 
to enjoy life in my own way, and as my ideas 
were quite modest, and I had not the smallest 



3io A PELICAN'S TALE 

desire to be very rich, even if I had had the 
chance of becoming so, the time came along when 
I was fortunately able to do as I had intended. 

I meant to get out at the end of 1914, but then 
the Great War arrived, and believing there would 
be no chance then of finding a purchaser for the 
paper, I resolved that I would hold on till that 
was over. But Fate was against this, for the 
terrible business became a much larger and more 
overwhelming matter than had seemed at all 
probable at the start. 

Gradually all my people in the office, one after 
another, went to the Front to do their duty, till 
of the staff who were with me at the beginning of 
the war, not one single man remained. Even the 
good lad who had been my office boy went to 
France like the rest, and one would not have had 
things otherwise, for of course the only thing 
which really mattered was the winning of the war, 
and breaking up the Huns who caused it. 

It is a difficult thing to replace people who have 
been with you for many years, and who under- 
stand your business from start to finish, but with 
new-comers I carried on as well as I could. Then 
in due course these were taken, and so on and on. 
The cost of distributing the journal rose to a vast 
extent. Wages of all sorts, even when one could 
get the right people to earn them, did the same ; 
while the difficulties of obtaining paper became a 
sort of mad joke. Then my chief partner in the 



' THE PELICAN ' 311 

concern, my cousin, General H. B. Kirk, died at 
the Front. 

Up till then The Pelican had never lost financially 
at all. On the other hand, profits had gone and 
did not look like returning until peace came along, 
and as the prime idea of the paper was that of 
any other business, to make money for its pro- 
prietors, we decided to fold up our tents and 
suspend publication until the war troubles were 
over. And just then, when I was kicking myself 
for not accepting one of several offers I had had 
to purchase the paper some little time before the 
war started, a bit of great good fortune came along 
in the representative of a syndicate, who made us 
an offer to take over the business on fair terms, 
and these under all the circumstances we gladly 
accepted ; and thus at the end of 1917, after the 
Christmas Number had been produced, we handed 
over the whole thing, lock, stock and barrel to 
the new proprietors, very glad indeed to have 
got out of matters so comfortably and well, and 
to be relieved of all further responsibilities, for, 
believe me, there is a great deal of responsibility 
and worry in running even a small paper such as 
ours was, although there were certainly lots of 
fun and interest to be got out of it as well. 

I had no cause to regret starting The Pelican 
and keeping it going for over twenty-eight years, 
and I had little in handing it over to others after 
that time. Of course one had a certain amount 



312 A PELICAN'S TALE 

of sentiment about the matter, but twenty-eight 
years is a long time, and I felt I was acting wisely 
in taking advantage of the opportunity offered 
me. 

The paper had been a good and useful friend to 
me and others, but there comes a time to most 
men and women when they feel they want to be 
relieved of business anxieties, and to take things 
a good deal more easily than they have hitherto 
been doing, and such was the case with me. I 
had had enough of the pull-and-push of Fleet 
Street, and though I had had lots of good fortune 
in it, for which I trust I am properly thankful, as 
well as a deal of interest and amusement, I was 
quite glad to kiss my hand to " the street of adven- 
ture/' and as Miss Letty Lind used to sing in 
The Geisha, " Bid it a polite good-day/' 



INDEX 



Albany, the Duke of, 30 
Alexander, Sir George, 293 
Archer, Fred, 267 
Aria, Mrs., 63 
Arnold, Matthew, 24 
Avory, Mr. Justice, 80 

Bailey, Mr. James A., 233 
Barrie, Sir James, 119 
Beerbohm, Mr. Max, 293 
Beit, Mr. Alfred, 116 
Bellwood, Miss Bessie, 85, 125 
Benzon, Mr. Ernest, 261 
Binstead, Mr. Arthur, 79, 87 
Bismarck, Prince, 44, 46 
Blackwood, Mr. John, 24 
Bland-Sutton, Sir John, 163 
Boyd, the Very Rev. A. K. H., 

18,19 

Brookfield, Mr. Charles, 71, 95 
Browne, Mr. Lennox, 162 
Buchanan, Mr. James, 204 
Burnand, Sir Frank, 86 
Butt, Sir Alfred, 165 

Carlton Blyth, Mr., 144 
Carson, Sir Edward, 96 
Caryll, Mr. Ivan, 201 
Cayzer, Sir Charles, 53 
Cellier, Mr. Alfred, 193 
Chambers' Journal, 24 
Chambers, Miss Violet, 24 
Chamberlain, Mr. Joseph, 168 
Claughton, Bishop, 61 
Cochran, Mr. Charles, 248 
Coffin, Mr. C. Hayden, 155 
Collins, Mr. Arthur, 39 
Collins, Miss Jose', 221 
Coleman, "Fatty," 139 
Corlett, Mr. John, 83 
Cooch Behar, the Maharaja, 307 
Cooper, Miss Gladys, 188 



Danby, Frank, 63 
Darrell, Miss Maudi, 107 
Davis, James, 61 
Davis, Colonel Newnham, 83 
Dewar, Sir Thomas, 304 
Dickens, Charles, 35 
Didcott, H. J., 106 
Drummond, Hughie, 138 
Dudley- Ward, Mr., 225 

Edwardes, Mr. George, 61, 198 
Elsie, Miss Lily, 107 
Emmett, Mr. George, 35 

Faucit, Miss Helen, 24 
Fawn, Mr. James, 129 
Fenton, Mr. de Wend, 85 
Fife, the Duke of, 238 
Frankau, Mr. Gilbert, 63 
Fripp, Sir Alfred, 163, 288 
Frohman, Mr. Charles, 117 
Froude, Mr. J. A., 22 

Gilbert, Sir W. S., 195 
Gilchrist, Miss Connie, 176 
Gill, Mr. Charles, K.C., 108 
Gladstone, the Right Hon. W. 

E., 23, 60 

Glover, Mr. James M., 69 
Gordon, Lord Esme', 141 
Grattan, Mr. Harry, 176, 271 
Gretton, Mr. John, 66 
' Greenwood, Mr. Frederick, 69 



Gribble, Mr. Francis, 69 
Grossmith, Mr. George, 126 



' Haig, Sir Douglas, 27 
j Hall, Mr. Owen, 61 
I Hardy, Mr. Dudley, 42 
Harkaway, Jack, 35, 36 
Harris, Sir Augustus, 245 
Harris, Mr. Frank, 69 

313 



314 



A PELICAN'S TALE 



Hawkins, Sir Henry, 96 
Hawtrey, Mr. Charles, 280 
Henderson, Sir David, 27 
Hichens, Mr. Robert, 69 
Hicks, Mr. Seymour, 284 
Higham, Mr. Charles, M.P., 84 
Hollingshead, Mr. John, 224 
Hope-Johnstone, Major, 140 
Howard, Mr. Keble, 174 

Irving, Sir Henry, 124 

Jameson, Sir L. S, 193 
Joel, Mr. Sol B., 266 
Joel, Mr. WoolfB., 116 
Jones, Mr. Kennedy, M.P., 85 

Kemble, Mr. "Beetle," 216 
Kingsley, Charles, 25, 26 
King Edward, 90 
King Carlos of Portugal, 152 
Knill, Sir Stuart, 109 
Knowles, Mr. Alec, 62 

Labouchere, Mr. Henry, 257 
Lang, Mr. Andrew, 25 
Leamar, Miss Kate, 85 
Leopold, Prince, 30 
Lennard, Mr. Horace, 87 
Leslie, Mrs. Frank, 93 
Lewis, Sir George, 70 
Liddon, Dr., 24 
Lincoln, the Bishop of, 23 
Loftus, Miss Cissie, 69 
Lohr, Miss Marie, 219 
London, the Bishop of, 60 
Lyddell, Dean, 24 
Lyons, Sir Joseph, 179 
Lyn Lynton, Mrs., 24 

Manchester, Duke of, 81 
Martin, Sir Theodore, 24 
Marshall, Captain Robert, 29 
Matthews, Sir Charles, 214 
May, Miss Edna, 158 
McCarthy, Mr. Justin Huntley, 

69 

Meiklejohn, Major M., 28, 148 
Millais, Sir John, 22 
Mitchell, Mr. Charles, 55, 58, 72 
Moltke, Von, 44 
Moore, Mr. Augustus, 62 
Moore, Mr. George, 66 



Moore, Mr. " Pony,' 7 73 
Morris, Tom, 21, 30 
Muir, Sir John, 53 

Norton, " Chippy," 55 
North, Colonel, 178 
Northcliffe, Lord, 247 

Oliphant, Mrs., 22 

Paderewski, M., 203 
Pallant, Mr. Walter, 86, 187 
Palmer, Miss Minnie, 97 
Paterson, Dr., 27 
Pearson, Sir Arthur, 167 
Pegge, Mr. W. M., 65 
" Pitcher,' 1 79 
Playfair, Sir Hugh, 29 
Playfair, Mr. Arthur, 29 
Punch, 77 
Purefoy, Mr. W. B., 187 

Queensberry, Lord, 95 

Rayner, Colonel Hugh, 146 
Reading, Lord, 261 
Richardson, Mr. Frank, 206 
Roberts. Mr. Arthur, 129, 183 
Robertson, Sir J. Forbes- 29 
Rochester, Archdeacon of, 60 
Romano, Alphonse, 86, 186 
Rubens, Mr. Paul, 198 
Runciman, James, 69 
Russell, Sir Charles, 108 

St. Albans, Bishop of, 61 
St. David's, Bishop of, 60 
Scott, Mr. Clement, 69, 154, 236 
Selby, Mr. Jem, 143 
"Shifter," 132 
Simpson, Sir James, 20 
Sims, Mr. George R., 82, 87 
Shairp, Principal, 22 
Shaw, Mr. Bernard, 69 
Shorter, Mr. Clement, 78, 173 
Stannard, Mrs. Arthur, 234 
Stanton, Father, 109 
Stevenson, R. L., 36 
Straight, Sir Douglas, 87 
Strath more, Lord, 205 
Stuart, Sir Simeon, 109 
Sullivan, John L., 55, 57 
Sullivan, Sir Arthur, 193 



INDEX 



315 



Tait, Captain Freddy, 28 

Talbot, Mr. Howard, 201 

Tay Bridge Disaster, 40 

Tempest, Miss Marie, 220 

Thorold, Bishop, 59 

Towse, V.C., Captain Ernest, 28 

Tulloch, Principal, 22 

Tulloch, Rev. W. W., 22 

Tweedale, Mrs., 24 

The Tichbourne claimant, 99, 101 

Tree, Sir Herbert, 287 

Walkley, Mr. A. B., 69 



Wells, Mr. E. A., 132, 135 
Wernher, Sir Julius, 116 
Whistler, J. M., 70 
Wildrake, Tom, 35 
Wilde, Willie, 93 
Wilde, Oscar, 93, 95 
Williamson, Stephen, 50 
Woodville, Mr. Caton, 41 
Wordsworth, Bishop, 22, 23 
Wyndham, Sir Charles, 124, 217 

Yates, Edmund, 91, 253 






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