This article presented by (Copyright 2007)



1908, The McClure Company
1907, 1908, The S.S. McClure Company 1907,
1908, Ellen Terry



It is only human to make comparisons between American and English institutions, although they are likely to turn out as odious as the proverb says! The first institution in America that distressed me was the steam heat. It is far more manageable now than it was both in hotels and theaters, because there are more individual heaters. But how I suffered from it at first I cannot describe! I used to feel dreadfully ill, and when we could not turn the heat off at the theater, the plays always went badly. My voice was affected too. At Toledo once, it nearly went altogether. Then the next night, after a good fight for it, we got the theater cool, and the difference that it made to the play was extraordinary. I was in my best form, feeling well and jolly!

No wonder the Americans drink ice-water and wear very thin clothes indoors. Their rooms are hotter than ours ever are, even in the height of the summer--when we have a summer! But no wonder, either, that Americans in England shiver at our cold, draughty rooms. They are brought up in hot-houses.

If I did not like steam heat, I loved the ice which is such a feature at American meals. Everything is served on ice, and the ice-water, however pernicious the European may consider it as a drink, looks charming and cool in the hot rooms.

I liked the traveling; but then we traveled in a very princely fashion. The Lyceum company and baggage occupied eight cars, and Henry's private parlor car was lovely. The only thing that we found was better understood in England, so far as railway traveling is concerned, was privacy. You may have a private car in America, but all the conductors on the train, and there is one to each car, can walk through it. So can any official, baggage man or newsboy who has the mind!

The "parlor car" in America is more luxurious than our first class, but you travel in it (if you have no "private" car) with thirty other people.

"What do you want to be private for?" asked an American, and you don't know how to answer, for you find that with them that privacy means concealment. For this reason, I believe, they don't have hedges or walls round their estates and gardens. "Why should we? We have nothing to hide!"

In the cars, as in the rooms at one's hotel, the "cuspidor" is always with you as a thing of beauty! When I first went to America the "Ladies' Entrance" to the hotel was really necessary, because the ordinary entrance was impassable! Since then very severe laws against spitting in public places have been passed, and there is a great improvement. But the habit, I suppose due to the dryness of the climate, or to the very strong cigars smoked, or to chronic catarrh, or to a feeling of independence--"This is a free country and I can spit if I choose!"--remains sufficiently disgusting to a stranger visiting the country.

The American voice is the one thing in the country that I find unbearable; yet the truly terrible variety only exists in one State, and is not widely distributed. I suppose it is its very assertiveness that makes one forget the very sweet voices that also exist in America. The Southern voice is very low in tone and soothing, like the "darkey" voice. It is as different from Yankee as the Yorkshire burr is from the Cockney accent.

This question of accent is a very funny one. I had not been in America long when a friend said to me:

"We like your voice. You have so little English accent!"

This struck me as rather cool. Surely English should be spoken with an English accent, not with a French, German, or double-dutch one! Then I found that what they meant by an English accent was an English affectation of speech--a drawl with a tendency to "aw" and "ah" everything. They thought that every one in England who did not miss out aspirates where they should be, and put them in where they should not be, talked of "the rivah," "ma brothar," and so on. Their conclusion was, after all, quite as well founded as ours about their accent. The American intonation, with its freedom from violent emphasis, is, I think, rather pretty when the quality of the voice is sweet.

Of course the Americans would have their jokes about Henry's method of speech. Ristori followed us once in New York, and a newspaper man said he was not sure whether she or Mr. Irving was the more difficult for an American to understand.

"He pronounces the English tongue as it is pronounced by no other man, woman or child," wrote the critic, and proceeded to give a phonetically spelled version of Irving's delivery of Shylock's speech of Antonio.

"Wa thane, ett no eperes
Ah! um! yo ned m'clp
Ough! ough! Gaw too thane! Ha! um!
Yo com'n say
Ah! Shilok, um! ouch! we wode hev moanies!"

I wonder if the clever American reporter stopped to think how his delivery of the same speech would look in print! As for the ejaculations, the interjections and grunts with which Henry interlarded the text, they often helped to reveal the meaning of Shakespeare to his audience--a meaning which many a perfect elocutionist has left perfectly obscure. The use of "m'" or "me" for "my" has often been hurled in my face as a reproach, but I never contracted "my" without good reason. I had a line in Olivia which I began by delivering as--

"My sorrows and my shame are my own."

Then I saw that the "mys" sounded ridiculous, and abbreviated the two first ones into "me's."

There were of course people ready to say that the Americans did not like Henry Irving as an actor, and that they only accepted him as a manager--that he triumphed in New York as he had done in London, through his lavish spectacular effects. This is all moonshine. Henry made his first appearance in "The Bells," his second in "Charles I.," his third in "Louis XI." By that time he had conquered, and without the aid of anything at all notable in the mounting of the plays. It was not until we did "The Merchant of Venice" that he gave the Americans anything of a "production."

My first appearance in America in Shakespeare was as Portia, and I could not help feeling pleased by my success. A few weeks later I played Ophelia at Philadelphia. It is in Shakespeare that I have been best liked in America, and I consider that Beatrice was the part about which they were most enthusiastic.

During our first tour we visited in succession New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Detroit, and Toronto. To most of these places we paid return visits.

"To what do you attribute your success, Mr. Irving?"

"To my acting," was the simple reply.

We never had poor houses except in Baltimore and St. Louis. Our journey to Baltimore was made in a blizzard. They were clearing the snow before us all the way from New Jersey, and we took forty-two hours to reach Baltimore! The bells of trains before us and behind us sounded very alarming. We opened in Baltimore on Christmas day. The audience was wretchedly small, but the poor things who were there had left their warm firesides to drive or tramp through the slush of melting snow, and each one who managed to reach the theater was worth a hundred on an ordinary night.

At the hotel I put up holly and mistletoe, and produced from my trunks a real Christmas pudding that my mother had made. We had it for supper, and it was very good.

It never does to repeat an experiment. Next year at Pittsburg my little son Teddy brought me out another pudding from England. For once we were in an uncomfortable hotel, and the Christmas dinner was deplorable. It began with burned hare soup.

"It seems to me," said Henry, "that we aren't going to get anything to eat, but we'll make up for it by drinking!"

He had brought his own wine out with him from England, and the company took him at his word and did make up for it!

"Never mind!" I said, as the soup was followed by worse and worse. "There's my pudding!"

It came on blazing, and looked superb. Henry tasted a mouthful.

"Very odd," he said, "but I think this is a camphor pudding."

He said it so politely, as if he might easily be mistaken!

My maid in England had packed the pudding with my furs! It simply reeked of camphor.

So we had to dine on Henry's wine and L.F. Austin's wit. This dear, brilliant man, now dead, acted for many years as Henry's secretary, and one of his gifts was the happy knack of hitting off people's peculiarities in rhyme. This dreadful Christmas dinner at Pittsburg was enlivened by a collection of such rhymes, which Mr. Austin called a "Lyceum Christmas Play."

Every one roared with laughter until it came to the verse of which he was the victim, when suddenly he found the fun rather labored!

The first verse was spoken by Loveday, who announces that the "Governor" has a new play which is "Wonderful!" a great word of Loveday's.

George Alexander replies:

"But I say, Loveday, have I got a part in it, That I can wear a cloak in and look smart in it? Not that I care a fig for gaudy show, dear boy-- But juveniles must look well, don't you know, dear boy. And shall I lordly hall and tuns of claret own? And may I murmur love in dulcet baritone? Tell me at least, this simple fact of it-- Can I beat Terriss hollow in one act of it?[1] Pooh for Wenman's bass![2] Why should he make a boast of it?"

[Footnote 1: Alexander had just succeeded Terriss as our leading young man.]

[Footnote 2: Wenman had a rolling bass voice of which he was very proud. He was a valuable actor, yet somehow never interesting. Young Norman Forbes-Robertson played Sir Andrew Ague Cheak with us on our second American tour.]

Norman Forbes:

"If he has a voice, I have got the ghost of it! When I pitch it low, you may say how weak it is, When I pitch it high, heavens! what a squeak it is! But I never mind; for what does it signify? See my graceful hands, they're the things that dignify; All the rest is froth, and egotism's dizziness-- Have I not played with Phelps? (To Wenman) I'll teach you all the business!"

T. Mead: (Of whom much has already been written in these pages.)

"What's this about a voice? Surely you forget it, or Wilfully conceal that I have no competitor! I do not know the play, or even what the title is, But safe to make success a charnel-house recital is! So please to bear in mind, if I am not to fail in it, That Hamlet's father's ghost must rob the Lyons Mail in it! No! that's not correct! But you may spare your charity-- A good sepulchral groan's the thing for popularity!"

H. Howe: (The "agricultural" actor, as Henry called him.)

"Boys, take my advice, the stage is not the question, But whether at three score you'll all have my digestion. Why yearn for plays, to pose as Brutuses or Catos in, When you may get a garden to grow the best potatoes in? You see that at my age by Nature's shocks unharmed I am! Tho' if I sneeze but thrice, good heavens, how alarmed I am! But act your parts like men, and tho' you all great sinners are, You're sure to act like men wherever Irving's dinners are!"

J.H. Allen (our prompter):

"Whatever be the play, I must have a hand in it, For won't I teach the supers how to stalk and stand in it? Tho' that blessed Shakespeare never gives a ray to them, I explain the text, and then it's clear as day to them![1] Plain as A B C is a plot historical, When I overhaul allusions allegorical! Shakespeare's not so bad; he'd have more pounds and pence in him, If actors stood aside, and let me show the sense in him!"

[Footnote 1: Once when Allen was rehearsing the supers in the Church Scene in "Much Ado about Nothing," we overheard him show the sense in Shakespeare like this:

"This 'Ero let me tell you is a perfect lady, a nice, innercent young thing, and when the feller she's engaged to calls 'er an 'approved wanton,' you naturally claps yer 'ands to yer swords. A wanton is a kind of--well, you know she ain't what she ought to be!"

Allen would then proceed to read the part of Claudio:

"... not to knit my soul to an approved wanton."

Seven or eight times the supers clapped their "'ands to their swords" without giving Allen satisfaction.

"No, no, no, that's not a bit like it, not a bit! If any of your sisters was 'ere and you 'eard me call 'er a ----, would yer stand gapin' at me as if this was a bloomin' tea party!"]

Louis Austin's little "Lyceum Play" was presented to me with a silver water-jug, a souvenir from the company, and ended up with the following pretty lines spoken by Katie Brown, a clever little girl who played all the small pages' parts at this time:

"Although I'm but a little page,
Who waits for Portia's kind behest,
Mine is the part upon this stage
To tell the plot you have not guessed.

"Dear lady, oft in Belmont's hall,
Whose mistress is so sweet and fair,
Your humble slaves would gladly fall
Upon their knees, and praise you there.

"To offer you this little gift,
Dear Portia, now we crave your leave,
And let it have the grace to lift
Our hearts to yours this Christmas eve.

And so we pray that you may live
Thro' many, many, happy years,
And feel what you so often give--
The joy that is akin to tears!"

How nice of Louis Austin! It quite made up for my mortification over the camphor pudding!

Pittsburg has been called "hell with the lid off," and other insulting names. I have always thought it beautiful, especially at night when its furnaces make it look like a city of flame. The lovely park that the city has made on the heights that surround it is a lesson to Birmingham, Sheffield, and our other black towns. George Alexander said that Pittsburg reminded him of his native town of Sheffield. "Had he said Birmingham, now instead of Sheffield," wrote a Pittsburg newspaper man, "he would have touched our tender spot exactly. As it is, we can be as cheerful as the Chicago man was who boasted that his sweetheart 'came pretty near calling him "honey,"' when in fact she had called him 'Old Beeswax'!"

When I played Ophelia for the first time in Chicago, I played the part better than I had ever played it before, and I don't believe I ever played it so well again. Why, it is almost impossible to say. I had heard a good deal of the crime of Chicago, that the people were a rough, murderous, sand-bagging crew. I ran on to the stage in the mad scene, and never have I felt such sympathy! This frail wraith, this poor demented thing, could hold them in the hollow of her hand.... It was splendid! "How long can I hold them?" I thought: "For ever!" Then I laughed. That was the best Ophelia laugh of my life--my life that is such a perfect kaleidoscope with the people and the places turning round and round.

At the risk of being accused of indiscriminate flattery I must say that I liked all the American cities. Every one of them has a joke at the expense of the others. They talk in New York of a man who lost both his sons--"One died and the other went to live in Philadelphia." Pittsburg is the subject of endless criticism, and Chicago is "the limit." To me, indeed, it seemed "the limit"--of the industry, energy, and enterprise of man. In 1812 this vast city was only a frontier post--Fort Dearborn. In 1871 the town that first rose on these great plains was burned to the ground. The growth of the present Chicago began when I was a grown woman. I have celebrated my jubilee. Chicago will not do that for another fifteen years!

I never visited the stock-yards. Somehow I had no curiosity to see a live pig turned in fifteen minutes into ham, sausages, hair-oil, and the binding for a Bible! I had some dread of being made sad by the spectacle of so much slaughter--of hating the Chicago of the "abattoir" as much as I had loved the Chicago of the Lake with the white buildings of the World's Fair shining on it, the Chicago built on piles in splendid isolation in the middle of the prairie, the Chicago of Marshall Field's beautiful palace of a store, the Chicago of my dear friends, the Chicago of my son's first appearance on the stage! Was it not a Chicago man who wrote of my boy, tending the roses in the stage garden in "Eugene Aram," that he was "a most beautiful lad"!

"His eyes are full of sparkle, his smile is a ripple over his face, and his laugh is as cherry and natural as a bird's song.... This Joey is Miss Ellen Terry's son, and the apple of her eye. On this Wednesday night, January 14, 1885, he spoke his first lines upon the stage. His mother has high hopes of this child's dramatic future. He has the instinct and the soul of art in him. Already the theater is his home. His postures and his playfulness with the gardener, his natural and graceful movement, had been the subject of much drilling, of study and practice. He acquitted himself beautifully and received the wise congratulations of his mother, of Mr. Irving, and of the company."

That is the nicest newspaper notice I have ever read!

At Chicago I made my first speech. The Haverley Theater, at which we first appeared in 1884, was altered and rechristened the "Columbia" in 1885. I was called upon for a speech after the special performance in honor of the occasion, consisting of scenes from "Charles I.," "Louis XI," "The Merchant of Venice," and "The Bells," had come to an end. I think it must be the shortest speech on record:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been asked to christen your beautiful theater. 'Hail Columbia!'"

When we acted in Brooklyn we used to stay in New York and drive over that wonderful bridge every night. There were no trolley cars on it then. I shall never forget how it looked in winter, with the snow and ice on it--a gigantic trellis of dazzling white, as incredible as a dream. The old stone bridges were works of art. This bridge, woven of iron and steel for a length of over 500 yards, and hung high in the air over the water so that great ships can pass beneath it, is the work of science. It looks as if it had been built by some power, not by men at all.

It was during our week at Brooklyn in 1885 that Henry was ill, too ill to act for four nights. Alexander played Benedick, and got through it wonderfully well. Then old Mr. Mead did (did is the word) Shylock. There was no intention behind his words or what he did.

I had such a funny batch of letters on my birthday that year. "Dear, sweet Miss Terry, etc., etc. Will you give me a piano?"!! etc., etc. Another: "Dear Ellen. Come to Jesus. Mary." Another, a lovely letter of thanks from a poor woman in the most ghastly distress, and lastly an offer of a two years' engagement in America. There was a simple coming in for one woman acting at Brooklyn on her birthday!

Brooklyn is as sure a laugh in New York as the mother-in-law in a London music hall. "All cities begin by being lonesome," a comedian explained, "and Brooklyn has never gotten over it."

My only complaint against Brooklyn was that they would not take Fussie in at the hotel there. Fussie, during these early American tours, was still my dog. Later on he became Henry's. He had his affections alienated by a course of chops, tomatoes, strawberries, "ladies' fingers" soaked in champagne, and a beautiful fur rug of his very own presented by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts!

How did I come by Fussie? I went to Newmarket with Rosa Corder, whom Whistler painted. She was one of those plain-beautiful women who are so far more attractive than some of the pretty ones. She had wonderful hair--like a fair, pale veil, a white, waxen face, and a very good figure; and she wore very odd clothes. She had a studio in Southampton Row, and another at Newmarket where she went to paint horses. I went to Cambridge once and drove back with her across the heath to her studio.

"How wonderfully different are the expressions on terriers' faces," I said to her, looking at a painting of hers of a fox-terrier pup. "That's the only sort of dog I should like to have."

"That one belonged to Fred Archer," Rosa Corder said. "I daresay he could get you one like it."

We went out to find Archer. Curiously enough I had known the famous jockey at Harpenden when he was a little boy, and I believe used to come round with vegetables.

"I'll send you a dog, Miss Terry, that won't be any trouble. He's got a very good head, a first-rate tail, stuck in splendidly, but his legs are too long. He'd follow you to America!"

Prophetic words! On one of our departures for America, Fussie was left behind by mistake at Southampton. He could not get across the Atlantic, but he did the next best thing. He found his way back from there to his own theater in the Strand, London!

Fred Archer sent him originally to the stage-door at the Lyceum. The man who brought him out from there to my house in Earl's Court said:

"I'm afraid he gives tongue, Miss. He don't like music, anyway. There was a band at the bottom of your road, and he started hollering."

We were at luncheon when Fussie made his début into the family circle, and I very quickly saw his stomach was his fault. He had a great dislike to "Charles I."; we could never make out why. Perhaps it was because Henry wore armor in one act--and Fussie may have barked his shins against it. Perhaps it was the firing off of the guns; but more probably it was because the play once got him into trouble. As a rule Fussie had the most wonderful sense of the stage, and at rehearsal would skirt the edge of it, but never cross it. But at Brooklyn one night when we were playing "Charles I."--the last act, and that most pathetic part of it where Charles is taking a last farewell of his wife and children--Fussie, perhaps excited by his run over the bridge from New York, suddenly bounded on to the stage! The good children who were playing Princess Mary and Prince Henry didn't even smile; the audience remained solemn, but Henry and I nearly went into hysterics. Fussie knew directly that he had done wrong. He lay down on his stomach, then rolled over on his back, whimpering an apology--while carpenters kept on whistling and calling to him from the wings. The children took him up to the window at the back of the scene, and he stayed there cowering between them until the end of the play.

America seems to have been always fatal to Fussie. Another time when Henry and I were playing in some charity performance in which John Drew and Maude Adams were also acting, he disgraced himself again. Henry having "done his bit" and put on hat and coat to leave the theater, Fussie thought the end of the performance must have come; the stage had no further sanctity for him, and he ran across it to the stage door barking! John Drew and Maude Adams were playing "A Pair of Lunatics." Maude Adams, sitting looking into the fire, did not see Fussie, but was amazed to hear John Drew departing madly from the text:

"Is this a dog I see before me,
His tail towards my hand?
Come, let me clutch thee."

She began to think that he had really gone mad!

When Fussie first came, Charlie was still alive, and I have often gone into Henry's dressing-room and seen the two dogs curled up in both the available chairs, Henry standing while he made up, rather than disturb them!

When Charlie died, Fussie had Henry's idolatry all to himself. I have caught them often sitting quietly opposite each other at Grafton Street, just adoring each other! Occasionally Fussie would thump his tail on the ground to express his pleasure.

Wherever we went in America the hotel people wanted to get rid of the dog. In the paper they had it that Miss Terry asserted that Fussie was a little terrier, while the hotel people regarded him as a pointer, and funny caricatures were drawn of a very big me with a very tiny dog, and a very tiny me with a dog the size of an elephant! Henry often walked straight out of an hotel where an objection was made to Fussie. If he wanted to stay, he had recourse to strategy. At Detroit the manager of the hotel said that dogs were against the rules. Being very tired Henry let Fussie go to the stables for the night, and sent Walter to look after him. The next morning he sent for the manager.

"Yours is a very old-fashioned hotel, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir, very old and ancient."

"Got a good chef? I didn't think much of the supper last night; but still--the beds are comfortable enough--I am afraid you don't like animals?"

"Yes, sir, in their proper place."

"It's a pity," said Henry meditatively, "because you happen to be overrun by rats!"

"Sir, you must have made a mistake. Such a thing couldn't--"

"Well, I couldn't pass another night here without my dog," Henry interrupted. "But there are, I suppose, other hotels?"

"If it will be any comfort to you to have your dog with you, sir, do by all means, but I assure you that he'll catch no rat here."

"I'll be on the safe side," said Henry calmly.

And so it was settled. That very night Fussie supped off, not rats, but terrapin and other delicacies in Henry's private sitting-room.

It was the 1888 tour, the great blizzard year, that Fussie was left behind by mistake at Southampton. He jumped out at the station just before Southampton, where they stop to collect tickets. After this long separation, Henry naturally thought that the dog would go nearly mad with joy when he saw him again. He described to me the meeting in a letter.

"My dear Fussie gave me a terrible shock on Sunday night. When we got in, J----, Hatton, and I dined at the Cafe Royal. I told Walter to bring Fussie there. He did, and Fussie burst into the room while the waiter was cutting some mutton, when, what d'ye think--one bound at me--another instantaneous bound at the mutton, and from the mutton nothing would get him until he'd got his plateful.

"Oh, what a surprise it was indeed! He never now will leave my side, my legs, or my presence, but I cannot but think, alas, of that seductive piece of mutton!"

Poor Fussie! He met his death through the same weakness. It was at Manchester, I think. A carpenter had thrown down his coat with a ham sandwich in the pocket, over an open trap on the stage. Fussie, nosing and nudging after the sandwich, fell through and was killed instantly. When they brought up the dog after the performance, every man took his hat off.... Henry was not told until the end of the play.

He took it so very quietly that I was frightened, and said to his son Laurence who was on that tour:

"Do let's go to his hotel and see how he is."

We drove there and found him sitting eating his supper with the poor dead Fussie, who would never eat supper any more, curled up in his rug on the sofa. Henry was talking to the dog exactly as if it were alive. The next day he took Fussie back in the train with him to London, covered with a coat. He is buried in the dogs' cemetery, Hyde Park.

His death made an enormous difference to Henry. Fussie was his constant companion. When he died, Henry was really alone. He never spoke of what he felt about it, but it was easy to know.

We used to get hints how to get this and that from watching Fussie! His look, his way of walking! He sang, whispered eloquently and low--then barked suddenly and whispered again! Such a lesson in the law of contrasts!

The first time that Henry went to the Lyceum after Fussie's death, every one was anxious and distressed, knowing how he would miss the dog in his dressing-room. Then an odd thing happened. The wardrobe cat, who had never been near the room in Fussie's lifetime, came down and sat on Fussie's cushion! No one knew how the "Governor" would take it. But when Walter was sent out to buy some meat for it, we saw that Henry was not going to resent it! From that night onwards the cat always sat night after night in the same place, and Henry liked its companionship. In 1902, when he left the theater for good, he wrote to me:

"The place is now given up to the rats--all light cut off, and only Barry[1] and a foreman left. Everything of mine I've moved away, including the Cat!"

[Footnote 1: The stage-door keeper.]

I have never been to America yet without going to Niagara. The first time I saw the great falls I thought it all more wonderful than beautiful. I got away by myself from my party, and looked and looked at it, and I listened--and at last it became dreadful and I was frightened at it. I wouldn't go alone again, for I felt queer and wanted to follow the great flow of it. But at twelve o'clock, with the "sun upon the topmost height of the day's journey," most of Nature's sights appear to me to be at their plainest. In the evening, when the shadows grow long and all hard lines are blurred, how soft, how different, everything is! It was noontide, that garish cruel time of day, when I first came in sight of the falls. I'm glad I went again in other lights--but one should live by the side of all this greatness to learn to love it. Only once did I catch Niagara in beauty, with pits of color in its waters, no one color definite--all was wonderment, allurement, fascination. The last time I was there it was wonderful, but not beautiful any more. The merely stupendous, the merely marvelous, have always repelled me. I cannot realize, and become terribly weak and doddering. No terrific scene gives me pleasure. The great cañons give me unrest, just as the long low lines of my Sussex marshland near Winchelsea give me rest.

At Niagara William Terriss slipped and nearly lost his life. At night when he appeared as Bassanio, he shrugged his shoulders, lowered his eyelids, and said to me--

"Nearly gone, dear,"--he would call everybody "dear"--"But Bill's luck! Tempus fugit!"

What tempus had to do with it, I don't quite know!

When we were first in Canada I tobogganed at Rosedale. I should say it was like flying! The start! Amazing! "Farewell to this world," I thought, as I felt my breath go. Then I shut my mouth, opened my eyes, and found myself at the bottom of the hill in a jiffy--"over hill, over dale, through bush, through briar!" I rolled right out of the toboggan when we stopped. A very nice Canadian man was my escort, and he helped me up the hill afterwards. I didn't like that part of the affair quite so much.

Henry Irving would not come, much to my disappointment. He said that quick motion through the air always gave him the ear-ache. He had to give up swimming (his old Cornish Aunt Penberthy told me he delighted in swimming as a boy) just because it gave him most violent pains in the ear.

Philadelphia, as I first knew it, was the most old-world place I saw in America, except perhaps Salem. Its redbrick side-walks, the trees in the streets, the low houses with their white marble cuffs and collars, the pretty design of the place, all give it a character of its own. The people, too, have a character of their own. They dress, or at least did dress, very quietly. This was the only sign of their Quaker origin, except a very fastidious taste--in plays as in other things.

Mrs. Gillespie, the great-grandchild of Benjamin Franklin, was one of my earliest Philadelphia friends--a splendid type of the independent woman, a bit of the martinet, but immensely full of kindness and humor. She had a word to say in all Philadelphian matters. It would be difficult to imagine a greater contrast to Mrs. Gillespie of Philadelphia than Mrs. Fields of Boston, that other great American lady whom to know is a liberal education.

Mrs. Fields reminded me of Lady Tennyson, Mrs. Tom Taylor, and Miss Hogarth (Dickens's sister-in-law) all rolled into one. Her house is full of relics of the past. There is a portrait of Dickens as a young man with long hair. He had a feminine face in those days, for all its strength. Hard by is a sketch of Keats by Severn, with a lock of the poet's hair. Opposite is a head of Thackeray, with a note in his handwriting fastened below. "Good-bye, Mrs. Fields; good-bye, my dear Fields; good-bye to all. I go home."

Thackeray left Boston abruptly because a sudden desire to see his children had assailed him at Christmas time!

As you sit in Mrs. Field's spacious room overlooking the Bay, you realize suddenly that before you ever came into it, Dickens and Thackeray were both here, that this beautiful old lady who so kindly smiles on you has smiled on them and on many other great men of letters long since dead. It is here that they seem most alive. This is the house where the culture of Boston seems no fad to make a joke about, but a rare and delicate reality.

This--and Fen Court, the home of that wonderful woman Mrs. Jack Gardiner, who represents the present worship of beauty in Boston as Mrs. Fields represents its former worship of literary men. Fen Court is a house of enchantment, a palace, and Mrs. Gardiner is like a great princess in it. She has "great possessions" indeed, but her best, to my mind, is her most beautiful voice, even though I remember her garden by moonlight with the fountain playing, her books and her pictures, the Sargent portrait of herself presiding over one of the most splendid of those splendid rooms, where everything great in old art and new art is represented. What a portrait it is! Some one once said of Sargent that "behind the individual he finds the real, and behind the real, a whole social order."

He has painted "Mrs. Jack" in a tight-fitting black dress with no ornament but her world-famed pearl necklace round her waist, and on her shoes rubies like drops of blood. The daring, intellectual face seems to say: "I have possessed everything that is worth possession, through the energy and effort and labor of the country in which I was born."

Mrs. Gardiner represents all the poetry of the millionaire.

Mrs. Gardiner's house filled me with admiration, but if I want rest and peace I just think of the houses of Mrs. James Fields and Oliver Wendell Holmes. He was another personage in Boston life when I first went there. Oh, the visits I inflicted on him--yet he always seemed pleased to see me, the cheery, kind man. It was generally winter when I called on him. At once it was "four feet upon a fender!" Four feet upon a fender was his idea of happiness, he told me, during one of these lengthy visits of mine to his house in Beacon Street.

He came to see us in "Much Ado about Nothing" and, next day sent me some little volumes of his work with a lovely inscription on the front page. I miss him very much when I go to Boston now.

In New York, how much I miss Mrs. Beecher I could never say. The Beechers were the most wonderful pair. What an actor he would have made! He read scenes from Shakespeare to Henry and me at luncheon one day. He sat next to his wife, and they held hands nearly all the while; I thought of that time when the great preacher was tried, and all through the trial his wife showed the world her faith in his innocence by sitting by his side and holding his hand.

He was indeed a great preacher. I have a little faded card in my possession now: "Mrs. Henry W. Beecher." "Will ushers of Plymouth Church please seat the bearer in the Pastor's pew." And in the Pastor's pew I sat, listening to that magnificent bass-viol voice with its persuasive low accent, its torrential scorn! After the sermon I went to the Beechers' home. Mr. Beecher sat with a saucer of uncut gems by him on the table. He ran his hand through them from time to time, held them up to the light, admiring them and speaking of their beauty and color as eloquently as an hour before he had spoken of sin and death and redemption.

He asked me to choose a stone, and I selected an aquamarine, and he had it splendidly mounted for me in Venetian style to wear in "The Merchant of Venice." Once when he was ill, he told me, his wife had some few score of his jewels set up in lead--a kind of small stained-glass window--and hung up opposite his bed. "It did me more good than the doctor's visits," he laughed out!

Mrs. Beecher was very remarkable. She had a way of lowering her head and looking at you with a strange intentness--gravely--kindly and quietly. At her husband she looked a world of love, of faith, of undying devotion. She was fond of me, although I was told she disliked women generally and had been brought up to think all actresses children of Satan. Obedience to the iron rules which had always surrounded her had endowed her with extraordinary self-control. She would not allow herself ever to feel heat or cold, and could stand any pain or discomfort without a word of complaint.

She told me once that when she and her sister were children, a friend had given them some lovely bright blue silk, and as the material was so fine they thought they would have it made up a little more smartly than was usual in their somber religious home. In spite of their father's hatred of gaudy clothes, they ventured on a little "V" at the neck, hardly showing more than the throat; but still, in a household where blue silk itself was a crime, it was a bold venture. They put on the dresses for the first time for five o'clock dinner, stole downstairs with trepidation, rather late, and took their seats as usual one on each side of their father. He was eating soup and never looked up. The little sisters were relieved. He was not going to say anything.

No, he was not going to say anything, but suddenly he took a ladleful of the hot soup and dashed it over the neck of one sister; another ladleful followed quickly on the neck of the other.

"Oh, father, you've burned my neck!"

"Oh, father, you've spoiled my dress!"

"Oh, father, why did you do that?"

"I thought you might be cold," said the severe father significantly--malevolently.

That a woman who had been brought up like this should form a friendship with me naturally caused a good deal of talk. But what did she care! She remained my true friend until her death, and wrote to me constantly when I was in England--such loving, wise letters, full of charity and simple faith. In 1889, after her husband's death, I wrote to her and sent my picture, and she replied:

"My darling Nellie,--

"You cannot know how it soothes my extreme heart-loneliness to receive a token of remembrance, and word of cheer from those I have faithfully loved, and who knew and reverenced my husband.... Ellen Terry is very sweet as Ellaline, but dearer far as my Nellie."

The Daly players were a revelation to me of the pitch of excellence which American acting had reached. My first night at Daly's was a night of enchantment. I wrote to Mr. Daly and said: "You've got a girl in your company who is the most lovely, humorous darling I have ever seen on the stage." It was Ada Rehan! Now of course I didn't "discover" her or any rubbish of that kind; the audience were already mad about her, but I did know her for what she was, even in that brilliant "all-star" company and before she had played in the classics and won enduring fame. The audacious, superb, quaint, Irish creature! Never have I seen such splendid high comedy! Then the charm of her voice--a little like Ethel Barrymore's when Miss Ethel is speaking very nicely--her smiles and dimples, and provocative, inviting coquetterie! Her Rosalind, her Country Wife, her Helena, her performance in "The Railroad of Love"! And above all, her Katherine in "The Taming of the Shrew"! I can only exclaim, not explain! Directly she came on I knew how she was going to do the part. She had such shy, demure fun. She understood, like all great comedians, that you must not pretend to be serious so sincerely that no one in the audience sees through it!

As a woman off the stage Ada Rehan was even more wonderful than as a shrew on. She had a touch of dignity, of nobility, of beauty, rather like Eleonora Duse's. The mouth and the formation of the eye were lovely. Her guiltlessness of make-up off the stage was so attractive! She used to come in to a supper with a lovely shining face which scorned a powder puff. The only thing one missed was the red hair which seemed such a part of her on the stage.

Here is a dear letter from the dear, written in 1890:

"My dear Miss Terry,--

"Of course the first thing I was to do when I reached Paris was to write and thank you for your lovely red feathers. One week is gone. To-day it rains and I am compelled to stay at home, and at last I write. I thought you had forgotten me and my feathers long ago. So imagine my delight when they came at the very end. I liked it so. It seemed as if I lived all the time in your mind: and they came as a good-bye.

"I saw but little of you, but in that little I found no change. That was gratifying to me, for I am over-sensitive, and would never trouble you if you had forgotten me. How I shall prize those feathers--Henry Irving's, presented by Ellen Terry to me for my Rosalind Cap. I shall wear them once and then put them by as treasures. Thank you so much for the pretty words you wrote me about 'As You Like It.' I was hardly fit on that matinée. The great excitement I went through during the London season almost killed me. I am going to try and rest, but I fear my nerves and heart won't let me.

"You must try and read between the lines all I feel. I am sure you can if any one ever did, but I cannot put into words my admiration for you--and that comes from deep down in my heart. Good-bye, with all good wishes for your health and success.

"I remain

"Yours most affectionately,


I wish I could just once have played with Ada Rehan. When Mr. Tree could not persuade Mrs. Kendal to come and play in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" a second time, I hoped that Ada Rehan would come and rollick with me as Mrs. Ford--but it was not to be.

Mr. Daly himself interested me greatly. He was an excellent manager, a man in a million. But he had no artistic sense. The productions of Shakespeare at Daly's were really bad from the pictorial point of view. But what pace and "ensemble" he got from his company!

May Irwin was the low comedian who played the servants' parts in Daly's comedies from the German. I might describe her, except that she was far more genial, as a kind of female Rutland Barrington. On and off the stage her geniality distinguished her like a halo. It is a rare quality on the stage, yet without it the comedian has uphill work. I should say that May Irwin and J.B. Buckstone (the English actor and manager of the Haymarket Theater during the 'sixties) had it equally. Generous May Irwin! Lucky those who have her warm friendship and jolly, kind companionship!

John Drew, the famous son of a famous mother, was another Daly player whom I loved. With what loyalty he supported Ada Rehan! He never played for his own hand but for the good of the piece. His mother, Mrs. John Drew, had the same quiet methods as Mrs. Alfred Wigan. Everything that she did told. I saw Mrs. Drew play Mrs. Malaprop, and it was a lesson to people who overact. Her daughter, Georgie Drew, Ethel Barrymore's mother, was also a charming actress. Maurice Barrymore was a brilliantly clever actor. Little Ethel, as I still call her, though she is a big "star," is carrying on the family traditions. She ought to play Lady Teazle. She may take it from me that she would make a success in it.

Modjeska, who, though she is a Polish actress, lives in America and is associated with the American stage, made a great impression on me. She was exquisite in many parts, but in none finer than in "Adrienne Lecouvreur." Her last act electrified me. I have never seen it better acted, although I have seen all the great ones do it since. Her Marie Stuart, too, was a beautiful and distinguished performance. Her Juliet had lovely moments, but I did not so much care for that, and her broken English interfered with the verse of Shakespeare. Some years ago I met Modjeska and she greeted me so warmly and sweetly, although she was very ill.

During my more recent tours in America Maude Adams is the actress of whom I have seen most, and "to see her is to love her!" In "The Little Minister" and in "Quality Street" I think she is at her best, but above all parts she herself is most adorable. She is just worshiped in America, and has an extraordinary effect--an educational effect upon all American girlhood.

I never saw Mary Anderson act. That seems a strange admission, but during her wonderful reign at the Lyceum Theater, which she rented from Henry Irving, I was in America, and another time when I might have seen her act I was very ill and ordered abroad. I have, however, had the great pleasure of meeting her, and she has done me many little kindnesses. Hearing her praises sung on all sides, and her beauties spoken of everywhere, I was particularly struck by her modest evasion of publicity off the stage. I personally only knew her as a most beautiful woman--as kind as beautiful--constantly working for her religion--always kind, a good daughter, a good wife, a good woman.

She cheered me before I first sailed for America by saying that her people would like me.

"Since seeing you in Portia and Letitia," she wrote, "I am convinced you will take America by storm." Certainly she took England by storm! But she abandoned her triumphs almost as soon as they were gained. They never made her happy, she once told me, and I could understand her better than most since I had had success too, and knew that it did not mean happiness. I have a letter from her, written from St. Raphael soon after her marriage. It is nice to think that she is just as happy now as she was then--that she made no mistake when she left the stage, where she had such a brief and brilliant career.


"Dear Miss Terry,--

"I am saying all kinds of fine things about your beautiful work in my book--which will appear shortly; but I cannot remember the name of the small part you made so attractive in the 'Lyons Mail.' It was the first one I had seen you in, and I wish to write my delightful impressions of it.

"Will you be so very kind as to tell me the name of your character and the two Mr. Irving acted so wonderfully in that play?

"There is a brilliant blue sea before my windows, with purple mountains as a background and silver-topped olives and rich green pines in the middle distance. I wish you could drop down upon us in this golden land for a few days' holiday from your weary work.

"I would like to tell you what a big darling my husband is, and how perfectly happy he makes my life--but there's no use trying.

"The last time we met I promised you a photo--here it is! One of my latest! And won't you send me one of yours in private dress? DO!

"Forgive me for troubling you, and believe me your admirer


Henry and I were so fortunate as to gain the friendship and approval of Dr. Horace Howard Furness, perhaps the finest Shakespearean scholar in America, and editor of the "Variorum Shakespeare," which Henry considered the best of all editions--"the one which counts." It was in Boston, I think, that I disgraced myself at one of Dr. Furness's lectures. He was discussing "As You Like It" and Rosalind, and proving with much elaboration that English in Shakespeare's time was pronounced like a broad country dialect, and that Rosalind spoke Warwickshire! A little girl who was sitting in the row in front of me had lent me her copy of the play a moment before, and now, absorbed in Dr. Furness's argument, I forgot the book wasn't mine and began scrawling controversial notes in it with my very thick and blotty fountain pen.

"Give me back my book! Give me my book!" screamed the little girl. "How dare you write in my book!" She began to cry with rage.

Her mother tried to hush her up: "Don't, darling. Be quiet! It's Miss Ellen Terry."

"I don't care! She's spoilt my nice book!"

I am glad to say that when the little girl understood, she forgave me; and the spoilt book is treasured very much by a tall Boston young lady of eighteen who has replaced the child of seven years ago! Still, it was dreadful of me, and I did feel ashamed at the time.

I saw "As You Like It" acted in New York once with every part (except the man who let down the curtain) played by a woman, and it was extraordinarily well done. The most remarkable bit of acting was by Janauschek, who played Jacques. I have never heard the speech beginning "All the world's a stage" delivered more finely, not even by Phelps, who was fine in the part.

Mary Shaw's Rosalind was good, and the Silvius (who played it, now?) was charming.

Unfortunately that one man, poor creature (no wonder he was nervous!), spoiled the end of the play by failing to ring down the curtain, at which the laughter was immoderate! Janauschek used to do a little sketch from the German called "Come Here!" which I afterwards did in England.

In November, 1901, I wrote in my diary: "Philadelphia.--Supper at Henry's. Jefferson there, sweeter and more interesting than ever--and younger."

Dear Joe Jefferson--actor, painter, courteous gentleman, profound student of Shakespeare! When the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy was raging in America (it really did rage there!) Jefferson wrote the most delicious doggerel about it. He ridiculed, and his ridicule killed the Bacon enthusiasts all the more dead because it was barbed with erudition.

He said that when I first came into the box to see him as "Rip" he thought I did not like him, because I fidgeted and rustled and moved my place, as is my wicked way. "But I'll get her, and I'll hold her," he said to himself. I was held indeed--enthralled.

In manner Jefferson was a little like Norman Forbes-Robertson. Perhaps that was why the two took such a fancy to each other. When Norman was walking with Jefferson one day, some one who met them said:

"Your son?"

"No," said Jefferson, "but I wish he were! The young man has such good manners!"

Our first American tours were in 1883 and 1884; the third in 1887-88, the year of the great blizzard. Henry fetched us at half-past ten in the morning! His hotel was near the theater where we were to play at night. He said the weather was stormy, and we had better make for his hotel while there was time! The German actor Ludwig Barnay was to open in New York that night, but the blizzard affected his nerves to such an extent that he did not appear at all, and returned to Germany directly the weather improved!

Most of the theaters closed for three days, but we remained open, although there was a famine in the town and the streets were impassable. The cold was intense. Henry sent Walter out to buy some violets for Barnay, and when he brought them in to the dressing room--he had only carried them a few yards--they were frozen so hard that they could have been chipped with a hammer!

We rang up on "Faust" three-quarters of an hour late! This was not bad considering all things. Although the house was sold out, there was hardly any audience, and only a harp and two violins in the orchestra. Discipline was so strong in the Lyceum company that every member of it reached the theater by eight o'clock, although some of them had had to walk from Brooklyn Bridge.

The Mayor of New York and his daughter managed to reach their box somehow. Then we thought it was time to begin. Some members of Daly's company, including John Drew, came in, and a few friends. It was the oddest, scantiest audience! But the enthusiasm was terrific!

Five years went by before we visited America again. Five years in a country of rapid changes is a long time, long enough for friends to forget! But they didn't forget. This time we made new friends, too, in the Far West. We went to San Francisco, among other places. We attended part of a performance at the Chinese theater. Oh, those rows of impenetrable faces gazing at the stage with their long, shining, inexpressive eyes! What a look of the everlasting the Chinese have! "We have been before you--we shall be after you," they seem to say.

Just as we were getting interested in the play, the interpreter rose and hurried us out. Something that was not for the ears of women was being said, but we did not know it!

The chief incident of the fifth American tour was our production at Chicago of Laurence Irving's one-act play "Godefroi and Yolande." I regard that little play as an inspiration. By instinct the young author did everything right. The Chicago folk, in spite of the unpleasant theme of the play, recognized the genius of it, and received it splendidly.

In 1901 I was ill, and hated the parts I was playing in America. The Lyceum was not what it had been. Everything was changed.

In 1907--only the other day--I toured in America for the first time on my own account--playing modern plays for the first time. I made new friends and found my old ones still faithful.

But this tour was chiefly momentous to me because at Pittsburg I was married for the third time, and married to an American. My marriage was my own affair, but very few people seemed to think so, and I was overwhelmed with "inquiries," kind and otherwise. Kindness and loyalty won the day. "If any one deserves to be happy, you do," many a friend wrote. Well, I am happy, and while I am happy, I cannot feel old.


Perhaps Henry Irving and I might have gone on with Shakespeare to the end of the chapter if he had not been in such a hurry to produce "Macbeth."

We ought to have done "As You Like It" in 1888, or "The Tempest." Henry thought of both these plays. He was much attracted by the part of Caliban in "The Tempest," but, he said, "the young lovers are everything, and where are we going to find them?" He would have played Touchstone in "As You Like It," not Jacques, because Touchstone is in the vital part of the play.

He might have delayed both "Macbeth" and "Henry VIII." He ought to have added to his list of Shakespearean productions "Julius Caesar," "King John," "As You Like It," "Antony and Cleopatra," "Richard II.," and "Timon of Athens." There were reasons "against," of course. In "Julius Caesar" he wanted to play Brutus. "That's the part for the actor," he said, "because it needs acting. But the actor-manager's part is Antony--Antony scores all along the line. Now when the actor and actor-manager fight in a play, and when there is no part for you in it, I think it's wiser to leave it alone."

Every one knows when the luck first began to turn against Henry Irving. It was in 1896 when he revived "Richard III." On the first night he went home, slipped on the stairs in Grafton Street, broke a bone in his knee, aggravated the hurt by walking on it, and had to close the theater. It was that year, too, that his general health began to fail. For the ten years preceding his death he carried on an indomitable struggle against ill-health. Lungs and heart alike were weak. Only the spirit in that frail body remained as strong as ever. Nothing could bend it, much less break it.

But I have not come to that sad time yet.

"We all know when we do our best," said Henry once. "We are the only people who know." Yet he thought he did better in "Macbeth" than in "Hamlet"!

Was he right after all?

His view of "Macbeth," though attacked and derided and put to shame in many quarters, is as clear to me as the sunlight itself. To me it seems as stupid to quarrel with the conception as to deny the nose on one's face. But the carrying out of the conception was unequal. Henry's imagination was sometimes his worst enemy.

When I think of his "Macbeth," I remember him most distinctly in the last act after the battle when he looked like a great famished wolf, weak with the weakness of a giant exhausted, spent as one whose exertions have been ten times as great as those of commoner men of rougher fiber and coarser strength.

"Of all men else I have avoided thee."

Once more he suggested, as he only could suggest, the power of Fate. Destiny seemed to hang over him, and he knew that there was no hope, no mercy.

The rehearsals for "Macbeth" were very exhausting, but they were splendid to watch. In this play Henry brought his manipulation of crowds to perfection. My acting edition of the play is riddled with rough sketches by him of different groups. Artists to whom I have shown them have been astonished by the spirited impressionism of these sketches. For his "purpose" Henry seems to have been able to do anything, even to drawing, and composing music! Sir Arthur Sullivan's music at first did not quite please him. He walked up and down the stage humming, and showing the composer what he was going to do at certain situations. Sullivan, with wonderful quickness and open-mindedness, caught his meaning at once.

"Much better than mine, Irving--much better--I'll rough it out at once!"

When the orchestra played the new version, based on that humming of Henry's, it was exactly what he wanted!

Knowing what a task I had before me, I began to get anxious and worried about "Lady Mac." Henry wrote me such a nice letter about this:

"To-night, if possible, the last act. I want to get these great multitudinous scenes over and then we can attack our scenes.... Your sensitiveness is so acute that you must suffer sometimes. You are not like anybody else--see things with such lightning quickness and unerring instinct that dull fools like myself grow irritable and impatient sometimes. I feel confused when I'm thinking of one thing, and disturbed by another. That's all. But I do feel very sorry afterwards when I don't seem to heed what I so much value....

"I think things are going well, considering the time we've been at it, but I see so much that is wanting that it seems almost impossible to get through properly. 'To-night commence, Matthias. If you sleep, you are lost!'"[1]

[Footnote 1: A quotation from "The Bells."]

At this time we were able to be of the right use to each other. Henry could never have worked with a very strong woman. I might have deteriorated, in partnership with a weaker man whose ends were less fine, whose motives were less pure. I had the taste and artistic knowledge that his upbringing had not developed in him. For years he did things to please me. Later on I gave up asking him. In "King Lear" Mrs. Nettleship made him a most beautiful cloak, but he insisted on wearing a brilliant purple velvet cloak with spangles all over it which swamped his beautiful make-up and his beautiful acting. Poor Mrs. Nettleship was almost in tears.

"I'll never make you anything again--never!"

One of Mrs. "Nettle's" greatest triumphs was my Lady Macbeth dress, which she carried out from Mrs. Comyns Carr's design. I am glad to think it is immortalized in Sargent's picture. From the first I knew that picture was going to be splendid. In my diary for 1888 I was always writing about it:

"The picture of me is nearly finished, and I think it magnificent. The green and blue of the dress is splendid, and the expression as Lady Macbeth holds the crown over her head is quite wonderful.

"Henschel is sitting to Sargent. His concerts, I hear, can't be carried on another year for want of funds. What a shame!

"Mr. Sargent is painting a head of Henry--very good, but mean about the chin at present.

"Sargent's picture is talked of everywhere and quarreled about as much as my way of playing the part.

"Sargent's 'Lady Macbeth' in the New Gallery is a great success. The picture is the sensation of the year. Of course opinions differ about it, but there are dense crowds round it day after day. There is talk of putting it on exhibition by itself."

Since then it has gone over nearly the whole of Europe, and now is resting for life at the Tate Gallery. Sargent suggested by this picture all that I should have liked to be able to convey in my acting as Lady Macbeth.

My Diary.--"Everybody hates Sargent's head of Henry. Henry also. I like it, but not altogether. I think it perfectly wonderfully painted and like him, only not at his best by any means. There sat Henry and there by his side the picture, and I could scarce tell one from t'other. Henry looked white, with tired eyes, and holes in his cheeks and bored to death! And there was the picture with white face, tired eyes, holes in the cheeks and boredom in every line. Sargent tried to paint his smile and gave it up."

Sargent said to me, I remember, upon Henry Irving's first visit to the studio to see the Macbeth picture of me, "What a Saint!" This to my mind promised well--that Sargent should see that side of Henry so swiftly. So then I never left off asking Henry to sit to Sargent, who wanted to paint him too, and said to me continually, "What a head!"

From my Diary.--"Sargent's picture is almost finished, and it is really splendid. Burne-Jones yesterday suggested two or three alterations about the color which Sargent immediately adopted, but Burne-Jones raves about the picture.

"It ('Macbeth') is a most tremendous success, and the last three days' advance booking has been greater than ever was known, even at the Lyceum. Yes, it is a success, and I am a success, which amazes me, for never did I think I should be let down so easily. Some people hate me in it; some, Henry among them, think it my best part, and the critics differ, and discuss it hotly, which in itself is my best success of all! Those who don't like me in it are those who don't want, and don't like to read it fresh from Shakespeare, and who hold by the 'fiend' reading of the character.... One of the best things ever written on the subject, I think, is the essay of J. Comyns Carr. That is as hotly discussed as the new 'Lady Mac'--all the best people agreeing with it. Oh, dear! It is an exciting time!"

From a letter I wrote to my daughter, who was in Germany at the time:

"I wish you could see my dresses. They are superb, especially the first one: green beetles on it, and such a cloak! The photographs give no idea of it at all, for it is in color that it is so splendid. The dark red hair is fine. The whole thing is Rossetti--rich stained-glass effects, I play some of it well, but, of course, I don't do what I want to do yet. Meanwhile I shall not budge an inch in the reading of it, for that I know is right. Oh, it's fun, but it's precious hard work for I by no means make her a 'gentle, lovable woman' as some of 'em say. That's all pickles. She was nothing of the sort, although she was not a fiend, and did love her husband. I have to what is vulgarly called 'sweat at it,' each night."

The few people who liked my Lady Macbeth, liked it very much. I hope I am not vain to quote this letter from Lady Pollock:

"... Burne-Jones has been with me this afternoon: he was at 'Macbeth' last night, and you filled his whole soul with your beauty and your poetry.... He says you were a great Scandinavian queen; that your presence, your voice, your movement made a marvelously poetic harmony; that your dress was grandly imagined and grandly worn--and that he cannot criticize--he can only remember."

But Burne-Jones by this time had become one of our most ardent admirers, and was prejudiced in my favor because my acting appealed to his eye. Still, the drama is for the eye as well as for the ear and the mind.

Very early I learned that one had best be ambitious merely to please oneself in one's work a little--quietly. I coupled with this the reflection that one "gets nothing for nothing, and damned little for sixpence!"

Here I was in the very noonday of life, fresh from Lady Macbeth and still young enough to play Rosalind, suddenly called upon to play a rather uninteresting mother in "The Dead Heart." However, my son Teddy made his first appearance in it, and had such a big success that I soon forgot that for me the play was rather "small beer."

It had been done before, of course, by Benjamin Webster and George Vining. Henry engaged Bancroft for the Abbé, a part of quite as much importance as his own. It was only a melodrama, but Henry could always invest a melodrama with life, beauty, interest, mystery, by his methods of production.

"I'm full of French Revolution," he wrote to me when he was preparing the play for rehearsal, "and could pass an examination. In our play, at the taking of the Bastile we must have a starving crowd--hungry, eager, cadaverous faces. If that can be well carried out, the effect will be very terrible, and the contrast to the other crowd (the red and fat crowd--the blood-gorged ones who look as if they'd been all drinking wine--red wine, as Dickens says) would be striking.... It's tiresome stuff to read, because it depends so much on situations. I have been touching the book up though, and improved it here and there, I think.

"A letter this morning from the illustrious Blank offering me his prompt book to look at.... I think I shall borrow the treasure. Why not? Of course he will say that he has produced the play and all that sort of thing; but what does that matter, if one can only get one hint out of it?

"The longer we live, the more we see that if we only do our own work thoroughly well, we can be independent of everything else or anything that may be said....

"I see in Landry a great deal of Manette--that same vacant gaze into years gone by when he crouched in his dungeon nursing his wrongs....

"I shall send you another book soon to put any of your alterations and additions in. I've added a lot of little things with a few lines for you--very good, I think, though I say it as shouldn't--I know you'll laugh! They are perhaps not startling original, but better than the original, anyhow! Here they are--last act!

"'Ah, Robert, pity me. By the recollections of our youth, I implore you to save my boy!' (Now for 'em!)

"'If my voice recalls a tone that ever fell sweetly upon your ear, have pity on me! If the past is not a blank, if you once loved, have pity on me!' (Bravo!)

"Now I call that very good, and if the 'If and the 'pitys' don't bring down the house, well it's a pity! I pity the pittites!

"... I've just been copying out my part in an account book--a little more handy to put in one's pocket. It's really very short, but difficult to act, though, and so is yours. I like this 'piling up' sort of acting, and I am sure you will, when you play the part. It's restful. 'The Bells' is that sort of thing."

The crafty old Henry! All this was to put me in conceit with my part!

Many people at this time put me in conceit with my son, including dear Burne-Jones with his splendid gift of impulsive enthusiasm.


"Most Dear Lady,--

"I thought all went wonderfully last night, and no sign could I see of hitch or difficulty; and as for your boy, he looked a lovely little gentleman--and in his cups was perfect, not overdoing by the least touch a part always perilously easy to overdo. I too had the impertinence to be a bit nervous for you about him, but not when he appeared--so altogether I was quite happy.

"... Irving was very noble--I thought I had never seen his face so beautified before--no, that isn't the word, and to hunt for the right one would be so like judicious criticism that I won't. Exalted and splendid it was--and you were you--YOU--and so all was well. I rather wanted more shouting and distant roar in the Bastille Scene--since the walls fell, like Jericho, by noise. A good dreadful growl always going on would have helped, I thought--and that was the only point where I missed anything.

"And I was very glad you got your boy back again and that Mr. Irving was ready to have his head cut off for you; so it had what I call a good ending, and I am in bright spirits to-day, and ever

"Your real friend,


"I would come and growl gladly."

There were terrible strikes all over England when we were playing "The Dead Heart." I could not help sympathizing with the strikers ... yet reading all about the French Revolution as I did then, I can't understand how the French nation can be proud of it when one remembers how they butchered their own great men, the leaders of the movement--Camille Desmoulins, Danton, Robespierre and the others. My man is Camille Desmoulins. I just love him.

Plays adapted from novels are generally unsatisfactory. A whole story cannot be conveyed in three hours, and every reader of the story looks for something not in the play. Wills took from "The Vicar of Wakefield" an episode and did it right well, but there was no episode in "The Bride of Lammermoor" for Merivale to take. He tried to traverse the whole ground, and failed. But he gave me some lovely things to do in Lucy Ashton. I had to lose my poor wits, as in Ophelia, in the last act, and with hardly a word to say I was able to make an effect. The love scene at the well I did nicely too.

Seymour Lucas designed splendid dresses for this play. My "Ravenswood" riding dress set a fashion in ladies' coats for quite a long time. Mine was copied by Mr. Lucas from a leather coat of Lord Mohun's. He is said to have had it on when he was killed. At any rate there was a large stab in the back of the coat, and a blood-stain.

This was my first speculation in play-buying! I saw it acted, and thought I could do something with it. Henry would not buy it, so I did! He let me do it first in front of a revival of "The Corsican Brothers" in 1891. It was a great success, although my son and I did not know a word on the first night and had our parts written out and pinned all over the furniture on the stage! Dear old Mr. Howe wrote to me that Teddy's performance was "more than creditable; it was exceedingly good and full of character, and with your own charming performance the piece was a great success." Since 1891 I must have played "Nance Oldfield" hundreds of times, but I never had an Alexander Oldworthy so good as my own son, although such talented young actors as Martin Harvey, Laurence Irving and, more recently, Harcourt Williams have all played it with me.

Henry's pride as Cardinal Wolsey seemed to eat him. How wonderful he looked (though not fat and self-indulgent like the pictures of the real Wolsey) in his flame-colored robes! He had the silk dyed specially by the dyers to the Cardinal's College in Rome. Seymour Lucas designed the clothes. It was a magnificent production, but not very interesting to me. I played Katherine much better ten years later at Stratford-on-Avon at the Shakespeare Memorial Festival. I was stronger then, and more reposeful. This letter from Burne-Jones about "Henry VIII." is a delightful tribute to Henry Irving's treatment of the play:

"My Dear Lady,--

"We went last night to the play (at my theater) to see Henry VIII.--Margaret and Mackail and I. It was delicious to go out again and see mankind, after such evil days. How kind they were to me no words can say--I went in at a private door and then into a cosy box and back the same way, swiftly, and am marvelously the better for the adventure. No YOU, alas!

"I have written to Mr. Irving just to thank him for his great kindness in making the path of pleasure so easy, for I go tremblingly at present. But I could not say to him what I thought of the Cardinal--a sort of shame keeps one from saying to an artist what one thinks of his work--but to you I can say how nobly he warmed up the story of the old religion to my exacting mind in that impersonation. I shall think always of dying monarchy in his Charles--and always of dying hierarchy in his Wolsey. How Protestant and dull all grew when that noble type had gone!

"I can't go to church till red cardinals come back (and may they be of exactly that red) nor to Court till trumpets and banners come back--nor to evening parties till the dances are like that dance. What a lovely young Queen has been found. But there was no YOU.... Perhaps it was as well. I couldn't have you slighted even in a play, and put aside. When I go back to see you, as I soon will, it will be easier. Mr. Irving let me know you would not act, and proposed that I should go later on--wasn't that like him? So I sat with my children and was right happy; and, as usual, the streets looked dirty, and all the people muddy and black as we came away. Please not to answer this stuff.

"Ever yours affectionately,


"--I wish that Cardinal could have been made Pope, and sat with his foot on the Earl of Surrey's neck. Also I wish to be a Cardinal; but then I sometimes want to be a pirate. We can't have all we want.

"Your boy was very kind--I thought the race of young men who are polite and attentive to old fading ones had passed away with antique pageants--but it isn't so."

When the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire gave the famous fancy dress ball at Devonshire House, Henry attended it in the robes which had appealed so strongly to Burne-Jones's imaginative eye. I was told by one who was present at this ball that as the Cardinal swept up the staircase, his long train held magnificently over his arm, a sudden wave of reality seemed to sweep upstairs with him, and reduce to the prettiest make-believe all the aristocratic masquerade that surrounded him.

I renewed my acquaintance with "Henry VIII." in 1902, when I played Queen Katherine for Mr. Benson during the Shakespeare Memorial performances in April. I was pretty miserable at the time--the Lyceum reign was dying, and taking an unconscionably long time about it, which made the position all the more difficult. Henry Irving was reviving "Faust"--a wise step, as it had been his biggest "money-maker"--and it was impossible that I could play Margaret. There are some young parts that the actress can still play when she is no longer young: Beatrice, Portia, and many others come to mind. But I think that when the character is that of a young girl the betrayal of whose innocence is the main theme of the play, no amount of skill on the part of the actress can make up for the loss of youth.

Suggestions were thrown out to me (not by Henry Irving, but by others concerned) that although I was too old for Margaret, I might play Martha! Well! well! I didn't quite see that. So I redeemed a promise given in jest at the Lyceum to Frank Benson twenty years earlier, and went off to Stratford-upon-Avon to play in Henry VIII.

Mr. Benson was wonderful to work with. "I am proud to think," he wrote me just before our few rehearsals began, "that I have trained my folk (as I was taught by my elders and betters at the Lyceum) to be pretty quick at adapting themselves to anything that may be required of them, so that you need not be uneasy as to their not fitting in with your business."

"My folk," as Mr. Benson called them, were excellent, especially Surrey (Harcourt Williams), Norfolk (Matheson Lang), Caperius (Fitzgerald), and Griffith (Nicholson). "Harcourt Williams," I wrote in my diary on the day of the dress-rehearsal, "will be heard of very shortly. He played Edgar in 'Lear' much better than Terriss, although not so good an actor yet."

I played Katherine on Shakespeare's Birthday--such a lovely day, bright and sunny and warm. The performance went finely--and I made a little speech afterwards which was quite a success. I was presented publicly on the stage with the Certificate of Governorship of the Memorial Theater.

During these pleasant days at Stratford, I went about in between the performances of "Henry VIII."--which was, I think, given three times a week for three weeks--seeing the lovely country and lovely friends who live there. A visit to Broadway and to beautiful Madame de Navarro (Mary Anderson) was particularly delightful. To see her looking so handsome, robust and fresh--so happy in her beautiful home, gave me the keenest pleasure. I also went to Stanways--the Elchos' home--a fascinating place. Lady Elcho showed me all over it, and she was not the least lovely thing in it.

In Stratford I was rebuked by the permanent inhabitants for being kind to a little boy in professionally ragged clothing who made me, as he has made hundreds of others, listen to a long, made-up history of Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare, the Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar and other things--the most hopeless mix! The inhabitants assured me that the boy was a little rascal, who begged and extorted money from visitors by worrying them with his recitation until they paid him to leave them alone.

Long before I knew that the child was such a reprobate I had given him a pass to the gallery and a Temple Shakespeare! I derived such pleasure from his version of the "Mercy" speech from "The Merchant of Venice" that I still think he was ill-paid!

"The quality of mercy is not strange
It droppeth as the gentle rain from 'Eaven
Upon the place beneath; it is twicet bless.
It blesseth in that gives and in that takes
It is in the mightiest--in the mightiest    It becomes the throned monuk better than its crownd.

It's an appribute to God inself
It is in the thorny 'earts of kings
But not in the fit and dread of kings."

I asked the boy what he meant to be when he was a man. He answered with decision: "A reciterer."

I also asked him what he liked best in the play ("Henry VIII.").

"When the blind went up and down and you smiled," he replied--surely a naïve compliment to my way of "taking a call"! Further pressed, he volunteered: "When you lay on the bed and died to please the angels."


I had exactly ten years more with Henry Irving after "Henry VIII." During that time we did "King Lear," "Becket," "King Arthur," "Cymbeline," "Madame Sans-Gêne," "Peter the Great" and "The Medicine Man." I feel too near to these productions to write about them. The first night of "Cymbeline" I felt almost dead. Nothing seemed right. "Everything is so slow, so slow," I wrote in my diary. "I don't feel a bit inspired, only dull and hide-bound." Yet Imogen was, I think, the only inspired performance of these later years. On the first night of "Sans-Gêne" I acted courageously and fairly well. Every one seemed to be delighted. The old Duke of Cambridge patted, or rather thumped, me on the shoulder and said kindly: "Ah, my dear, you can act!" Henry quite effaced me in his wonderful sketch of Napoleon. "It seems to me some nights," I wrote in my diary at the time, "as if I were watching Napoleon trying to imitate H.I., and I find myself immensely interested and amused in the watchings."

"The Medicine Man" was, in my opinion, our only quite unworthy production.

From my Diary.--"Poor Taber has such an awful part in the play, and mine is even worse. It is short enough, yet I feel I can't cut too much of it.... The gem of the whole play is my hair! Not waved at all, and very filmy and pale. Henry, I admit, is splendid; but oh, it is all such rubbish!... If 'Manfred' and a few such plays are to succeed this, I simply must do something else."

But I did not! I stayed on, as every one knows, when the Lyceum as a personal enterprise of Henry's was no more--when the farcical Lyceum Syndicate took over the theater. I played a wretched part in "Robespierre," and refused £12,000 to go to America with Henry in "Dante."

In these days Henry was a changed man. He became more republican and less despotic as a producer. He left things to other people. As an actor he worked as faithfully as ever. Henley's stoical lines might have been written of him as he was in these last days:

"Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods there be
For my unconquerable soul.

"In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud:
Beneath the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed."

Henry Irving did not treat me badly. I hope I did not treat him badly. He revived "Faust" and produced "Dante." I would have liked to stay with him to the end of the chapter, but there was nothing for me to act in either of these plays. But we never quarreled. Our long partnership dissolved naturally. It was all very sad, but it could not be helped.

It has always been a reproach against Henry Irving in some mouths that he neglected the modern English playwright; and of course the reproach included me to a certain extent. I was glad, then, to show that I could act in the new plays when Mr. Barrie wrote "Alice-sit-by-the-Fire" for me, and after some years' delay I was able to play in Mr. Bernard Shaw's "Captain Brassbound's Conversion." Of course I could not have played in "little" plays of this school at the Lyceum with Henry Irving, even if I had wanted to! They are essentially plays for small theaters.

In Mr. Shaw's "A Man of Destiny" there were two good parts, and Henry, at my request, considered it, although it was always difficult to fit a one-act play into the Lyceum bill. For reasons of his own Henry never produced Mr. Shaw's play and there was a good deal of fuss made about it at the time (1897). But ten years ago Mr. Shaw was not so well known as he is now, and the so-called "rejection" was probably of use to him as an advertisement!

"A Man of Destiny" has been produced since, but without any great success. I wonder if Henry and I could have done more with it?

At this time Mr. Shaw and I frequently corresponded. It began by my writing to ask him, as musical critic of the Saturday Review, to tell me frankly what he thought of the chances of a composer-singer friend of mine. He answered "characteristically," and we developed a perfect fury for writing to each other! Sometimes the letters were on business, sometimes they were not, but always his were entertaining, and mine were, I suppose, "good copy," as he drew the character of Lady Cecily Waynflete in "Brassbound" entirely from my letters. He never met me until after the play was written. In 1902 he sent me this ultimatum:

"April 3, 1902.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw's compliments to Miss Ellen Terry.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw has been approached by Mrs. Langtry with a view to the immediate and splendid production of 'Captain Brassbound's Conversion.'

"Mr. Bernard Shaw, with the last flash of a trampled-out love, has repulsed Mrs. Langtry with a petulance bordering on brutality.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw has been actuated in this ungentlemanly and unbusinesslike course by an angry desire to seize Miss Ellen Terry by the hair and make her play Lady Cicely.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw would be glad to know whether Miss Ellen Terry wishes to play Martha at the Lyceum instead.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw will go to the length of keeping a minor part open for Sir Henry Irving when 'Faust' fails, if Miss Ellen Terry desires it.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw lives in daily fear of Mrs. Langtry's recovering sufficiently from her natural resentment of his ill manners to reopen the subject.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw begs Miss Ellen Terry to answer this letter.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw is looking for a new cottage or house in the country, and wants advice on the subject.

"Mr. Bernard Shaw craves for the sight of Miss Ellen Terry's once familiar handwriting."

The first time he came to my house I was not present, but a young American lady who had long adored him from the other side of the Atlantic took my place as hostess (I was at the theater as usual); and I took great pains to have everything looking nice! I spent a long time putting out my best blue china, and ordered a splendid dinner, quite forgetting the honored guest generally dined off a Plasmon biscuit and a bean!

Mr. Shaw read "Arms and the Man" to my young American friend (Miss Satty Fairchild) without even going into the dining-room where the blue china was spread out to delight his eye. My daughter Edy was present at the reading, and appeared so much absorbed in some embroidery, and paid the reader so few compliments about his play, that he expressed the opinion that she behaved as if she had been married to him for twenty years!

The first time I ever saw Mr. Shaw in the flesh--I hope he will pardon me such an anti-vegetarian expression--was when he took his call after the first production of "Captain Brassbound's Conversion" by the Stage Society. He was quite unlike what I had imagined from his letters.

When at last I was able to play in "Captain Brassbound's Conversion," I found Bernard Shaw wonderfully patient at rehearsal. I look upon him as a good, kind, gentle creature whose "brain-storms" are just due to the Irishman's love of a fight; they never spring from malice or anger. It doesn't answer to take Bernard Shaw seriously. He is not a man of convictions. That is one of the charms of his plays--to me at least. One never knows how the cat is really jumping. But it jumps. Bernard Shaw is alive, with nine lives, like that cat!

On Whit Monday, 1902, I received a telegram from Mr. Tree saying that he was coming down to Winchelsea to see me on "an important matter of business." I was at the time suffering from considerable depression about the future.

The Stratford-on-Avon visit had inspired me with the feeling that there was life in the old 'un yet and had distracted my mind from the strangeness of no longer being at the Lyceum permanently with Henry Irving. But there seemed to be nothing ahead, except two matinées a week with him at the Lyceum, to be followed by a provincial tour in which I was only to play twice a week, as Henry's chief attraction was to be "Faust." This sort of "dowager" engagement did not tempt me. Besides, I hated the idea of drawing a large salary and doing next to no work.

So when Mr. Tree proposed that I should play Mrs. Page (Mrs. Kendal being Mrs. Ford) in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at His Majesty's, it was only natural that I should accept the offer joyfully. I telegraphed to Henry Irving, asking him if he had any objection to my playing at His Majesty's. He answered: "Quite willing if proposed arrangements about matinées are adhered to."

I have thought it worth while to give the facts about this engagement, because so many people seemed at the time, and afterwards, to think that I had treated Henry Irving badly by going to play in another theater, and that theater one where a certain rivalry with the Lyceum as regards Shakespearean productions had grown up. There was absolutely no foundation for the rumors that my "desertion" caused further estrangement between Henry Irving and me.

"Heaven give you many, many merry days and nights," he telegraphed to me on the first night; and after that first night (the jolliest that I ever saw), he wrote delighting in my success.

It was a success--there was no doubt about it! Some people accused the Merry Wives of rollicking and "mafficking" overmuch--but these were the people who forgot that we were acting in a farce, and that farce is farce, even when Shakespeare is the author.

All the summer I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It was all such good fun--Mrs. Kendal was so clever and delightful to play with, Mr. Tree so indefatigable in discovering new funny "business."

After the dress-rehearsal I wrote in my diary: "Edy has real genius for dresses for the stage." My dress for Mrs. Page was such a real thing--it helped me enormously--and I was never more grateful for my daughter's gift than when I played Mrs. Page.

It was an admirable all-round cast--almost a "star" cast: Oscar Asche as Ford, poor Henry Kemble (since dead) as Dr. Caius, Courtice Pounds as Sir Hugh Evans, and Mrs. Tree as sweet Anne Page all rowed in the boat with precisely the right swing. There were no "passengers" in the cast. The audience at first used to seem rather amazed! This thwacking rough-and-tumble, Rabelaisian horse-play--Shakespeare! Impossible! But as the evening went on we used to capture even the most civilized, and force them to return to a simple Elizabethan frame of mind.

In my later career I think I have had no success like this! Letters rained on me--yes, even love-letters, as if, to quote Mrs. Page, I were still in "the holiday-time of my beauty." As I would always rather make an audience laugh than see them weep, it may be guessed how much I enjoyed the hearty laughter at His Majesty's during the run of the madcap absurdity of "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

All the time I was at His Majesty's I continued to play in matinées of "Charles I." and "The Merchant of Venice" at the Lyceum with Henry Irving. We went on negotiating, too, about the possibility of my appearing in "Dante," which Sardou had written specially for Irving, and on which he was relying for his next tour in America.

On the 19th of July, 1902, I acted at the Lyceum for the very last time, although I did not know it then. These last Lyceum days were very sad. The reception given by Henry to the Indian Princes, who were in England for the Coronation, was the last flash of the splendid hospitality which had for so many years been one of the glories of the theater.

During my provincial tour with Henry Irving in the autumn of this year I thought long and anxiously over the proposition that I should play in "Dante." I heard the play read, and saw no possible part for me in it. I refused a large sum of money to go to America with Henry Irving because I could not consent to play a part even worse than the one that I had played in "Robespierre." As things turned out, although "Dante" did fairly well at Drury Lane, the Americans would have none of it and Henry had to fall back upon his répertoire.

Having made the decision against "Dante," I began to wonder what I should do. My partnership with Henry Irving was definitely broken, most inevitably and naturally "dissolved." There were many roads open to me. I chose one which was, from a financial point of view, madness.

Instead of going to America, and earning £12,000, I decided to take a theater with my son, and produce plays in conjunction with him.

I had several plays in view--an English translation of a French play about the patient Griselda, and a comedy by Miss Clo Graves among them. Finally, I settled upon Ibsen's "Vikings."

We read it aloud on Christmas Day, and it seemed tremendous. Not in my most wildly optimistic moments did I think Hiordis, the chief female character--a primitive, fighting, free, open-air person--suited to me, but I saw a way of playing her more brilliantly and less weightily than the text suggested, and anyhow I was not thinking so much of the play for me as for my son. He had just produced Mr. Laurence Houseman's Biblical play "Bethlehem" in the hall of the Imperial Institute, and every one had spoken highly of the beauty of his work. He had previously applied the same principles to the mounting of operas by Handel and Purcell.

It had been a great grief to me when I lost my son as an actor. I have never known any one with so much natural gift for the stage. Unconsciously he did everything right--I mean all the technical things over which some of us have to labor for years. The first part that he played at the Lyceum, Arthur St. Valery in "The Dead Heart," was good, and he went on steadily improving. The last part that he played at the Lyceum--Edward IV. in "Richard III."--was, maternal prejudice quite apart, a most remarkable performance.

His record for 1891, when he was still a mere boy, was: Claudio (in "Much Ado about Nothing"), Mercutio, Modus, Charles Surface, Alexander Oldworthy, Moses (in "Olivia"), Lorenzo, Malcolm, Beauchamp; Meynard, and the Second Grave-Digger!

Later on he played Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo on a small provincial tour. His future as an actor seemed assured, but it wasn't! One day when he was with William Nicholson, the clever artist and one of the Beggarstaff Brothers of poster fame, he began chipping at a woodblock in imitation of Nicholson, and produced in a few hours an admirable wood-cut of Walt Whitman, then and always his particular hero. From that moment he had the "black and white" fever badly. Acting for a time seemed hardly to interest him at all. When his interest in the theater revived, it was not as an actor but as a stage director that he wanted to work.

What more natural than that his mother should give him the chance of exploiting his ideas in London? Ideas he had in plenty--"unpractical" ideas people called them; but what else should ideas be?

At the Imperial Theater, where I spent my financially unfortunate season in April 1903, I gave my son a free hand. I hope it will be remembered, when I am spoken of by the youngest critics after my death as a "Victorian" actress, lacking in enterprise, an actress belonging to the "old school," that I produced a spectacular play of Ibsen's in a manner which possibly anticipated the scenic ideas of the future by a century, of which at any rate the orthodox theater managers of the present age would not have dreamed.

Naturally I am not inclined to criticize my son's methods. I think there is a great deal to be said for the views that he has expressed in his pamphlet on "The Art of the Theater," and when I worked with him I found him far from unpractical. It was the modern theater which was unpractical when he was in it! It was wrongly designed, wrongly built. We had to disembowel the Imperial behind scenes before he could even start, and then the great height of the proscenium made his lighting lose all its value. He always considered the pictorial side of the scene before its dramatic significance, arguing that this significance lay in the picture and in movement--the drama having originated not with the poet but with the dancer.

When his idea of dramatic significance clashed with Ibsen's, strange things would happen.

Mr. Bernard Shaw, though impressed by my son's work and the beauty that he brought on to the stage of the Imperial, wrote to me that the symbolism of the first act according to Ibsen should be Dawn, youth rising with the morning sun, reconciliation, rich gifts, brightness, lightness, pleasant feelings, peace. On to this sunlit scene stalks Hiordis, a figure of gloom, revenge, of feud eternal, of relentless hatred and uncompromising unforgetfulness of wrong. At the Imperial, said Mr. Shaw, the curtain rose on profound gloom. When you could see anything you saw eld and severity--old men with white hair impersonating the gallant young sons of Ornulf--everywhere murky cliffs and shadowy spears, melancholy--darkness!

Into this symbolic night enter, in a blaze of limelight, a fair figure robed in complete fluffy white fur, a gay and bright Hiordis with a timid manner and hesitating utterance.

The last items in the topsy-turviness of my son's practical significance were entirely my fault! Mr. Shaw was again moved to compliments when I revived "Much Ado about Nothing" under my son's direction at the Imperial. "The dance was delightful, but I would suggest the substitution of trained dancers for untrained athletes," he wrote.

I singed my wings a good deal in the Imperial limelight, which, although our audience complained of the darkness on the stage, was the most serious drain on my purse. But a few provincial tours did something towards restoring some of the money that I had lost in management.

On one of these tours I produced "The Good Hope," a play by the Dutch dramatist, Heijermans, dealing with life in a fishing village. Done into simple and vigorous English by Christopher St. John, the play proved a great success in the provinces. This was almost as new a departure for me as my season at the Imperial. The play was essentially modern in construction and development--full of action, but the action of incident rather than the action of stage situation. It had no "star" parts, but every part was good, and the gloom of the story was made bearable by the beauty of the atmosphere--of the sea, which played a bigger part in it than any of the visible characters.

For the first time I played an old woman, a very homely old peasant woman too. It was not a big part, but it was interesting, and in the last act I had a little scene in which I was able to make the same kind of effect that I had made years before in the last act of "Ravenswood"--an effect of quiet and stillness.

I flattered myself that I was able to assume a certain roughness and solidity of the peasantry in "The Good Hope," but although I stumbled about heavily in large sabots, I was told by the critics that I walked like a fairy and was far too graceful for a Dutch fisherwoman! It is a case of "Give a dog a bad name and hang him"--the bad name in my case being "a womanly woman"! What this means I scarcely apprehend, but I fancy it is intended to signify (in an actress) something sweet, pretty, soft, appealing, gentle and underdone. Is it possible that I convey that impression when I try to assume the character of a washerwoman or a fisherwoman? If so I am a very bad actress!

My last Shakespearean part was Hermione in "A Winter's Tale." By some strange coincidence it fell to me to play it exactly fifty years after I had played the little boy Mamilius in the same play. I sometimes think that Fate is the best of stage managers! Hermione is a gravely beautiful part--well-balanced, difficult to act, but certain in its appeal. If only it were possible to put on the play in a simple way and arrange the scenes to knit up the raveled interest, I should hope to play Hermione again.


When I had celebrated my stage jubilee in 1906, I suddenly began to feel exuberantly young again. It was very inappropriate, but I could not help it.

The recognition of my fifty years of stage life by the public and by my profession was quite unexpected. Henry Irving had said to me not long before his death in 1905 that he believed that they (the theatrical profession) "intended to celebrate our jubilee." (If he had lived he would have completed his fifty years on the stage in the autumn of 1906.) He said that there would be a monster performance at Drury Lane, and that already the profession were discussing what form it was to take.

After his death, I thought no more of the matter. Indeed I did not want to think about it, for any recognition of my jubilee which did not include his, seemed to me very unnecessary.

Of course I was pleased that others thought it necessary. I enjoyed all the celebrations. Even the speeches that I had to make did not spoil my enjoyment. But all the time I knew perfectly well that the great show of honor and "friending" was not for me alone. Never for one instant did I forget this, nor that the light of the great man by whose side I had worked for a quarter of a century was still shining on me from his grave.

The difficulty was to thank people as they deserved. Stammering speeches could not do it, but I hope that they all understood. "I were but little happy, if I could say how much."

Kindness on kindness's head accumulated! There was The Tribune testimonial. I can never forget that London's youngest newspaper first conceived the idea of celebrating my Stage Jubilee.[1]

[Footnote 1: I am sorry to say that since I wrote this The Tribune, after a gallant fight for life, has gone to join the company of the courageous enterprises which have failed.]

The matinée given in my honor at Drury Lane by the theatrical profession was a wonderful sight. The two things about it which touched me most deeply were my reception by the crowd who were waiting to get into the gallery when I visited them at two in the morning, and the presence of Eleonora Duse, who came all the way from Florence just to honor me. She told me afterwards that she would have come from South Africa or from Heaven, had she been there! I appreciated very much too, the kindness of Signor Caruso in singing for me. I did not know him at all, and the gift of his service was essentially the impersonal desire of an artist to honor another artist.

I was often asked during these jubilee days, "how I felt about it all," and I never could answer sensibly. The strange thing is that I don't know even now what was in my heart. Perhaps it was one of my chief joys that I had not to say good-bye at any of the celebrations. I could still speak to my profession as a fellow-comrade on the active list, and to the public as one still in their service.

One of those little things almost too good to be true happened at the close of the Drury Lane matinée. A four-wheeler was hailed for me by the stage-door keeper, and my daughter and I drove off to Lady Bancroft's in Berkeley Square to leave some flowers. Outside the house, the cabman told my daughter that in old days he had often driven Charles Kean from the Princess's Theater, and that sometimes the little Miss Terrys were put inside the cab too and given a lift! My daughter thought it such an extraordinary coincidence that the old man should have come to the stage-door of Drury Lane by a mere chance on my jubilee day that she took his address, and I was to send him a photograph and remuneration. But I promptly lost the address, and was never able to trace the old man.


I have now nearly finished the history of my fifty years upon the stage.

A good deal has been left out through want of skill in selection. Some things have been included which perhaps it would have been wiser to omit.

I have tried my best to tell "all things faithfully," and it is possible that I have given offense where offense was not dreamed of; that some people will think that I should not have said this, while others, approving of "this," will be quite certain that I ought not to have said "that."

"One said it thundered ... another that an angel spake."

It's the point of view, for I have "set down naught in malice."

During my struggles with my refractory, fragmentary, and unsatisfactory memories, I have realized that life itself is a point of view: is, to put it more clearly, imagination.

So if any one said to me at this point in my story: "And is this, then, what you call your life?" I should not resent the question one little bit.

"We have heard," continues my imaginary and disappointed interlocutor, "a great deal about your life in the theater. You have told us of plays and parts and rehearsals, of actors good and bad, of critics and of playwrights, of success and failure, but after all, your whole life has not been lived in the theater. Have you nothing to tell us about your different homes, your family life, your social diversions, your friends and acquaintances? During your life there have been great changes in manners and customs; political parties have altered; a great Queen has died; your country has been engaged in two or three serious wars. Did all these things make no impression on you? Can you tell us nothing of your life in the world?"

And I have to answer that I have lived very little in the world. After all, the life of an actress belongs to the theater as the life of a soldier belongs to the army, the life of a politician to the State, and the life of a woman of fashion to society.

Certainly I have had many friends outside the theater, but I have had very little time to see them.

I have had many homes, but I have had very little time to live in them!

When I am not acting, the best part of my time is taken up by the most humdrum occupations. Dealing with my correspondence, even with the help of a secretary, is no insignificant work. The letters, chiefly consisting of requests for my autograph, or appeals to my charity, have to be answered. I have often been advised to ignore them--surely a course that would be both bad policy and bad taste on the part of a servant of the public. It would be unkind, too, to those ignorant of my busy life and the calls upon my time.

Still, I sometimes wish that the cost of a postage stamp were a sovereign at least!

* * * * *

In 1887, the year of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, I find that I wrote in my diary:--"I am not yet forty, but am pretty well worn out."

It is twenty years since then, and I am still not worn out. Wonderful!


It is commonly known, I think, that Henry Irving's health first began to fail in 1896.

He went home to Grafton Street after the first night of the revival of "Richard III." and slipped on the stairs, injuring his knee. With characteristic fortitude, he struggled to his feet unassisted and walked to his room. This made the consequences of the accident far more serious, and he was not able to act for weeks.

It was a bad year at the Lyceum.

In 1898 when we were on tour he caught a chill. Inflammation of the lungs, bronchitis, pneumonia followed. His heart was affected. He was never really well again.

When I think of his work during the next seven years, I could weep! Never was there a more admirable, extraordinary worker; never was any one more splendid-couraged and patient.

The seriousness of his illness in 1898 was never really known. He nearly died.

"I am still fearfully anxious about H.," I wrote to my daughter at the time. "It will be a long time at the best before he gains strength.... But now I do hope for the best. I'm fairly well so far. All he wants is for me to keep my health, not my head. He knows I'm doing that! Last night I did three acts of 'Sans-Gêne' and 'Nance Oldfield' thrown in! That is a bit too much--awful work--and I can't risk it again."

"A telegram just come: 'Steadily improving....' You should have seen Norman[1] as Shylock! It was not a bare 'get-through.' It was--the first night--an admirable performance, as well as a plucky one.... H. is more seriously ill than anyone dreams.... His look! Like the last act of Louis XI."

[Footnote 1: Mr. Norman Forbes-Robertson.]

In 1902, on the last provincial tour that we ever went together, he was ill again, but he did not give in. One night when his cough was rending him, and he could hardly stand up from weakness, he acted so brilliantly and strongly that it was easy to believe in the triumph of mind over matter--in Christian Science, in fact!

Strange to say, a newspaper man noticed the splendid power of his performance that night and wrote of it with uncommon discernment--a provincial critic, by the way.

In London at the time they were always urging Henry Irving to produce new plays by new playwrights. But in the face of the failure of most of the new work, and of his departing strength, and of the extraordinary support given him in the old plays (during this 1902 tour we took £4,000 at Glasgow in one week!), Henry took the wiser course in doing nothing but the old plays to the end of the chapter.

I realized how near, not only the end of the chapter but the end of the book was, when he was taken ill at Wolverhampton in the spring of 1905.

We had not acted together for more than two years then, and times were changed indeed.

I went down to Wolverhampton when the news of his illness reached London. I arrived late and went to an hotel. It was not a good hotel, nor could I find a very good florist when I got up early the next day and went out with the intention of buying Henry some flowers. I wanted some bright-colored ones for him--he had always liked bright flowers--and this florist dealt chiefly in white flowers--funeral flowers.

At last I found some daffodils--my favorite flower. I bought a bunch, and the kind florist, whose heart was in the right place if his flowers were not, found me a nice simple glass to put it in. I knew the sort of vase that I should find at Henry's hotel.

I remembered, on my way to the doctor's--for I had decided to see the doctor first--that in 1892 when my dear mother died, and I did not act for a few nights, when I came back I found my room at the Lyceum filled with daffodils. "To make it look like sunshine," Henry said.

The doctor talked to me quite frankly.

"His heart is dangerously weak," he said.

"Have you told him?" I asked.

"I had to, because the heart being in that condition he must be careful."

"Did he understand really?"

"Oh, yes. He said he quite understood."

Yet a few minutes later when I saw Henry, and begged him to remember what the doctor had said about his heart, he exclaimed: "Fiddle! It's not my heart at all! It's my breath!" (Oh the ignorance of great men about themselves!)

"I also told him," the Wolverhampton doctor went on, "that he must not work so hard in future."

I said: "He will, though,--and he's stronger than any one."

Then I went round to the hotel.

I found him sitting up in bed, drinking his coffee.

He looked like some beautiful gray tree that I have seen in Savannah. His old dressing-gown hung about his frail yet majestic figure like some mysterious gray drapery.

We were both very much moved, and said little.

"I'm glad you've come. Two Queens have been kind to me this morning. Queen Alexandra telegraphed to say how sorry she was I was ill, and now you--"

He showed me the Queen's gracious message.

I told him he looked thin and ill, but rested.

"Rested! I should think so. I have plenty of time to rest. They tell me I shall be here eight weeks. Of course I sha'n't, but still--It was that rug in front of the door. I tripped over it. A commercial traveler picked me up--a kind fellow, but d--n him, he wouldn't leave me afterwards--wanted to talk to me all night."

I remembered his having said this, when I was told by his servant, Walter Collinson, that on the night of his death at Bradford, he stumbled over the rug when he walked into the hotel corridor.

We fell to talking about work. He said he hoped that I had a good manager ... agreed very heartily with me about Frohman, saying he was always so fair--more than fair.

"What a wonderful life you've had, haven't you?" I exclaimed, thinking of it all in a flash.

"Oh, yes," he said quietly ... "a wonderful life--of work."

"And there's nothing better, after all, is there?"


"What have you got out of it all.... You and I are 'getting on,' as they say. Do you ever think, as I do sometimes, what you have got out of life?"

"What have I got out of it?" said Henry, stroking his chin and smiling slightly. "Let me see.... Well, a good cigar, a good glass of wine--good friends." Here he kissed my hand with courtesy. Always he was so courteous; always his actions, like this little one of kissing my hand, were so beautifully timed. They came just before the spoken words, and gave them peculiar value.

"That's not a bad summing-up of it all," I said. "And the end.... How would you like that to come?"

"How would I like that to come?" He repeated my question lightly yet meditatively too. Then he was silent for some thirty seconds before he snapped his fingers--the action again before the words.

"Like that!"

I thought of the definition of inspiration--"A calculation rapidly made." Perhaps he had never thought of the manner of his death before. Now he had an inspiration as to how it would come.

We were silent a long time, I thinking how like some splendid Doge of Venice he looked, sitting up in bed, his beautiful mobile hand stroking his chin.

I agreed, when I could speak, that to be snuffed out like a candle would save a lot of trouble.

After Henry Irving's sudden death in October of the same year, some of his friends protested against the statement that it was the kind of death that he desired--that they knew, on the contrary, that he thought sudden death inexpressibly sad.

I can only say what he told me.

I stayed with him about three hours at Wolverhampton. Before I left I went back to see the doctor again--a very nice man by the way, and clever.

He told me that Henry ought never to play "The Bells" again, even if he acted again, which he said ought not to be.

It was clever of the doctor to see what a terrible emotional strain "The Bells" put upon Henry--how he never could play the part of Matthias with ease as he could Louis XI., for example.

Every time he heard the sound of the bells, the throbbing of his heart must have nearly killed him. He used always to turn quite white--there was no trick about it. It was imagination acting physically on the body.

His death as Matthias--the death of a strong, robust man--was different from all his other stage deaths. He did really almost die--he imagined death with such horrible intensity. His eyes would disappear upwards, his face grow gray, his limbs cold.

No wonder, then, that the first time that the Wolverhampton doctor's warning was disregarded, and Henry played "The Bells" at Bradford, his heart could not stand the strain. Within twenty-four hours of his last death as Matthias, he was dead.

What a heroic thing was that last performance of Becket which came between! I am told by those who were in the company at the time that he was obviously suffering and dazed, this last night of life. But he went through it all as usual. The courteous little speech to the audience, the signing of a worrying boy's drawing at the stage-door--all that he had done for years, he did faithfully for the last time.

Yes, I know it seems sad to the ordinary mind that he should have died in the entrance to an hotel in a country-town with no friend, no relation near him. Only his faithful and devoted servant Walter Collinson (whom, as was not his usual custom, he had asked to drive back to the hotel with him that night) was there. Do I not feel the tragedy of the beautiful body, for so many years the house of a thousand souls, being laid out in death by hands faithful and devoted enough, but not the hands of his kindred either in blood or in sympathy!

I do feel it, yet I know it was more appropriate to such a man than the deathbed where friends and relations weep.

Henry Irving belonged to England, not to a family. England showed that she knew it when she buried him in Westminster Abbey.

Years before I had discussed, half in joke, the possibility of this honor. I remember his saying to me with great simplicity, when I asked him what he expected of the public after his death: "I should like them to do their duty by me. And they will--they will!"

There was not a touch of arrogance in this, just as I hope there was no touch of heartlessness in me because my chief thought during the funeral in Westminster Abbey was: "How Henry would have liked it!" The right note was struck, as I think was not the case at Tennyson's funeral thirteen years earlier.

"Tennyson is buried to-day in Westminster Abbey," I wrote in my diary, October 12, 1892. "His majestic life and death spoke of him better than the service.... The music was poor and dull and weak, while he was strong. The triumphant should have been the sentiment expressed.... Faces one knew everywhere. Lord Salisbury looked fine. His massive head and sad eyes were remarkable. No face there, however, looked anything by the side of Henry's.... He looked very pale and slim and wonderful!"

How terribly I missed that face at Henry's own funeral! I kept on expecting to see it, for indeed it seemed to me that he was directing the whole most moving and impressive ceremony. I could almost hear him saying, "Get on! get on!" in the parts of the service that dragged. When the sun--such a splendid, tawny sun--burst across the solemn misty gray of the Abbey, at the very moment when the coffin, under its superb pall of laurel leaves,[1] was carried up the choir, I felt that it was an effect which he would have loved.

[Footnote 1: Every lover of beauty and every lover of Henry Irving must have breathed a silent thanksgiving that day to the friends who had that inspiration and made the pall with their own hands.]

I can understand any one who was present at Henry Irving's funeral thinking that this was his best memorial, and that any attempt to honor him afterwards would be superfluous and inadequate.

Yet when some further memorial was discussed, it was not always easy to sympathize with those who said: "We got him buried in Westminster Abbey. What more do you want?"

After all it was Henry Irving's commanding genius, and his devotion of it to high objects, his personal influence on the English people, which secured him burial among England's great dead. The petition for the burial presented to the Dean and Chapter, and signed, on the initiative of Henry Irving's leading fellow-actors, by representative personages of influence, succeeded only because of Henry's unique position.

"We worked very hard to get it done," I heard said--more than once. And I often longed to answer: "Yes, and all honor to your efforts, but you worked for it between Henry's death and his funeral. He worked for it all his life!"

I have always desired some other memorial to Henry Irving than his honored grave, not so much for his sake as for the sake of those who loved him and would gladly welcome the opportunity of some great test of their devotion.

Henry Irving's profession decided last year, after much belated discussion, to put up a statue to him in the streets of London. I believe that it is to take the form of a portrait statue in academic robes. A statue can never at any time be a very happy memorial to an actor, who does not do his work in his own person, but through his imagination of many different persons. If statue it had to be, the work should have had a symbolic character. My dear friend Alfred Gilbert, one of the most gifted sculptors of this or any age, expressed a similar opinion to the committee of the memorial, and later on wrote to me as follows:

"I should never have attempted the representation of Irving as a mummer, nor literally as Irving disguised as this one or that one, but as Irving--the artistic exponent of other great artists' conceptions--Irving, the greatest illustrator of the greatest men's creations--he himself being a creator.

"I had no idea of making use of Irving's facial and physical peculiarities as a means to perpetuate his life's work. The spirit of this work was worship of an ideal, and it was no fault of his that his strong personality dominated the honest conviction of his critics. These judged Irving as the man masquerading, not as the Artist interpreting, for the single reason that they were themselves overcome by the magic personality of a man above their comprehension.

"I am convinced that Irving, when playing the rôle of whatever character he undertook to represent, lived in that character, and not as the actor playing the part for the applause of those in front--Charles I. was a masterpiece of conception as to the representation of a great gentleman. His Cardinal Wolsey was the most perfect presentation of greatness, of self-abnegation, and of power to suffer I can realize.... Jingle and Matthias were in Comedy and Tragedy combined, masterpieces of histrionic art. I could write volumes upon Irving as an actor, but to write of him as a man, and as a very great Artist, I should require more time than is still allotted to me of man's brief span of life and far, far more power than that which was given to those who wrote of him in a hurry during his lifetime.... Do you wonder, then, that I should rather elect to regard Irving in the abstract, when called upon to suggest a fitting monument, than to promise a faithful portrait?... Let us be grateful, however, that a great artist is to be commemorated at all, side by side with the effigies of great Butchers of mankind, and ephemeral statesmen, the instigators of useless bloodshed...."


Alfred Gilbert was one of Henry's sincere admirers in the old Lyceum days, and now if you want to hear any one talk of those days brilliantly, delightfully, and whimsically, if you want to live first nights and Beefsteak Room suppers over again--if you want to have Henry Irving at the Garrick Club recreated before your eyes, it is only Alfred Gilbert who can do it for you!

He lives now in Bruges, that beautiful dead city of canals and Hans Memlings, and when I was there a few years ago I saw him. I shall never forget his welcome! I let him know of my arrival, and within a few hours he sent a carriage to my hotel to bring me to his house. The seats of the fiacre were hidden by flowers! He had not long been in his house, and there were packing-cases still lying about in the spacious, desolate rooms looking into an old walled garden. But on the wall of the room in which we dined was a sketch by Raffaele, and the dinner, chiefly cooked by Mr. Gilbert himself,--the Savoy at its best!

Some people regret that he has "buried" himself in Bruges, and that England has practically lost her best sculptor. I think that he will do some of the finest work of his life there, and meanwhile England should be proud of Alfred Gilbert.

In a city which can boast of some of the ugliest and weakest statues in the world, he has, in the fountain erected to the memory of the good Lord Shaftesbury in Piccadilly Circus, created a thing of beauty which will be a joy to future generations of Londoners.

The other day Mr. Frampton, one of the leaders of the younger school of English sculptors, said of the Gilbert fountain that it could hold its own with the finest work of the same kind done by the masters of the past. "They tell me," he said, "that it is inappropriate to its surroundings. It is. That's the fault of the surroundings. In a more enlightened age than this, Piccadilly Circus will be destroyed and rebuilt merely as a setting for Gilbert's jewel."

"The name of Gilbert is honored in this house," went on Mr. Frampton. We were at the time looking at Henry Irving's death-mask which Mr. Frampton had taken, and a replica of which he had just given me. I thought of Henry's living face, alive with raffish humor and mischief, presiding at a supper in the Beefsteak Room--and of Alfred Gilbert's Beethoven-like head with its splendid lion-like mane of tawny hair. Those days were dead indeed.

Now it seems to me that I did not appreciate them half enough--that I did not observe enough. Yet players should observe, if only for their work's sake. The trouble is that only certain types of men and women--the expressive types which are useful to us--appeal to our observation.

I remember one supper very well at which Bastien-Lepage was present, and "Miss Sarah" too. The artist was lost in admiration of Henry's face, and expressed a strong desire to paint him. The Bastien-Lepage portrait originated that evening, and is certainly a Beefsteak Room portrait, although Henry gave two sittings for it afterwards at Grafton Street. At the supper itself Bastien-Lepage drew on a half-sheet of paper for me two little sketches, one of Sarah Bernhardt and the other of Henry, which are among my most precious relics.

My portrait as Lady Macbeth by Sargent used to hang in the alcove in the Beefsteak Room when it was not away at some exhibition, and the artist and I have often supped under it--to me no infliction, for I have always loved the picture, and think it is far more like me than any other. Mr. Sargent first of all thought that he would paint me at the moment when Lady Macbeth comes out of the castle to welcome Duncan. He liked the swirl of the dress, and the torches and the women bowing down on either side. He used to make me walk up and down his studio until I nearly dropped in my heavy dress, saying suddenly as I got the swirl:--"That's it, that's it!" and rushing off to his canvas to throw on some paint in his wonderful inimitable fashion!

But he had to give up that idea of the Lady Macbeth picture all the same. I was the gainer, for he gave me the unfinished sketch, and it is certainly very beautiful.

By this sketch hangs a tale of Mr. Sargent's great-heartedness. When the details of my jubilee performance at Drury Lane were being arranged, the Committee decided to ask certain distinguished artists to contribute to the programme. They were all delighted about it, and such busy men as Sir Laurence Alma-Tadema, Mr. Abbey, Mr. Byam Shaw, Mr. Walter Crane, Mr. Bernard Partridge, Mr. James Pryde, Mr. Orpen, and Mr. William Nicholson all gave some of their work to me. Mr. Sargent was asked if he would allow the first Lady Macbeth study to be reproduced. He found that it would not reproduce well, so in the height of the season and of his work with fashionable sitters, he did an entirely new painting of the same subject, which would reproduce! This act of kind friendship I could never forget even if the picture were not in front of me at this minute to remind me of it. "You must think of me as one of the people bowing down to you in the picture," he wrote to me when he sent the new version for the programme. Nothing during my jubilee celebrations touched me more than this wonderful kindness of Mr. Sargent's.

Burne-Jones would have done something for my jubilee programme too, I think, had he lived. He was one of my kindest friends, and his letters--he was a heaven-born letter-writer--were like no one else's; full of charm and humor and feeling. Once when I was starting for a long tour in America he sent me a picture with this particularly charming letter:

"THE GRANGE, "July 14, 1897.

"My dear Miss Terry,--

"I never have the courage to throw you a huge bouquet as I should like to--so in default I send you a little sign of my homage and admiration. I made it purposely for you, which is its only excellence, and thought nothing but gold good enough to paint with for you--and now it's done, I am woefully disappointed. It looks such a poor wretch of a thing, and there is no time to make another before you go, so look mercifully upon it--it did mean so well--as you would upon a foolish friend, not holding it up to the light, but putting it in a corner and never showing it.

"As to what it is about, I think it's a little scene in Heaven (I am always pretending to know so much about that place!), a sort of patrol going to look to the battlements, some such thought as in Marlowe's lovely line: 'Now walk the angels on the walls of Heaven.' But I wanted it to be so different, and my old eyes cannot help me to finish it as I want--so forgive it and accept it with all its accompanying crowd of good wishes to you. They were always in my mind as I did it.

"And come back soon from that America and stay here, and never go away again. Indeed I do wish you boundless happiness, and for our sake, such a length of life that you might shudder if I were to say how long.

"Ever your poor artist,


"If it is so faint that you can scarcely see it, let that stand for modest humility and shyness--as I had only dared to whisper."

Another time, when I had sent him a trifle for some charity, he wrote:

"Dear Lady,--

"This morning came the delightful crinkly paper that always means you! If anybody else ever used it, I think I should assault them! I certainly wouldn't read their letter or answer it.

"And I know the check will be very useful. If I thought much about those wretched homes, or saw them often, I should do no more work, I know. There is but one thing to do--to help with a little money if you can manage it, and then try hard to forget. Yes, I am certain that I should never paint again if I saw much of those hopeless lives that have no remedy. I know of such a dear lad about my Phil's age who has felt this so sharply that he has given his happy, lucky, petted life to give himself wholly to share their squalor and unlovely lives--doing all he can, of evenings when his work is over, to amuse such as have the heart to be amused, reading to them and telling them about histories and what not--anything he knows that can entertain them. And this he has daily done for about a year, and if he carries it on for his life time he shall have such a nimbus that he will look top-heavy with it.

"No, you would always have been lovely and made some beauty about you if you had been born there--but I should have got drunk and beaten my family and been altogether horrible! When everything goes just as I like, and painting prospers a bit, and the air is warm and friends well and everything perfectly comfortable, I can just manage to behave decently, and a spoilt fool I am--that's the truth. But wherever you were, some garden would grow.

"Yes, I know Winchelsea and Rye and Lynn and Hythe--all bonny places, and Hythe has a church it may be proud of. Under the sea is another Winchelsea, a poor drowned city--about a mile out at sea, I think, always marked in old maps as 'Winchelsea Dround.' If ever the sea goes back on that changing coast there may be great fun when the spires and towers come up again. It's a pretty land to drive in.

"I am growing downright stupid--I can't work at all, nor think of anything. Will my wits ever come back to me?

"And when are you coming back--when will the Lyceum be in its rightful hands again? I refuse to go there till you come back...."

* * * * *

"Dear Lady,--

"I have finished four pictures: come and tell me if they will do. I have worked so long at them that I know nothing about them, but I want you to see them--and like them if you can.

"All Saturday and Sunday and Monday they are visible. Come any time you can that suits you best--only come.

"I do hope you will like them. If you don't you must really pretend to, else I shall be heartbroken. And if I knew what time you would come and which day, I would get Margaret here.

"I have had them about four years--long before I knew you, and now they are done and I can hardly believe it. But tell me pretty pacifying lies and say you like them, even if you find them rubbish.

"Your devoted and affectionate


I went the next day to see the pictures with Edy. It was the "Briar Rose" series. They were beautiful. The lovely Lady Granby (now Duchess of Rutland) was there--reminding me, as always, of the reflection of something in water on a misty day. When she was Miss Violet Lindsay she did a drawing of me as Portia in the doctor's robes, which is I think very like me, as well as having all the charming qualities of her well-known pencil portraits.

The artists all loved the Lyceum, not only the old school, but the young ones, who could have been excused for thinking that Henry Irving and I were a couple of old fogeys! William Nicholson and James Pryde, who began by working together as "The Beggarstaff Brothers," and in this period did a poster of Henry for "Don Quixote" and another for "Becket," were as enthusiastic about the Lyceum as Burne-Jones had been. Mr. Pryde has done an admirable portrait of me as Nance Oldfield, and his "Irving as Dubosc" shows the most extraordinary insight.

"I have really tried to draw his personality" he wrote to me thanking me for having said I liked the picture (it was done after Henry's death).... "Irving's eyes in Dubosc always made my hair stand on end, and I paid great attention to the fact that one couldn't exactly say whether they were shut or open. Very terrifying...."

Mr. Rothenstein, to whom I once sat for a lithograph, was another of the young artists who came a good deal to the Lyceum. I am afraid that I must be a very difficult "subject," yet I sit easily enough, and don't mind being looked at--an objection which makes some sitters constrained and awkward before the painter. Poor Mr. Rothenstein was much worried over his lithograph, yet "it was all right on the night," as actors say.

"Dear Miss Terry,--

"My nights have been sleepless--my drawing sitting gibbering on my chest. I knew how fearfully I should stumble--that is why I wanted to do more drawings earlier. I have been working on the thing this morning, and I believe I improved it slightly. What I want now is a cloak--the simplest you have (perhaps the green one?), which I think would be better than the less simple and worrying lace fallalas in the drawing. I can put it on the lay figure and sketch it into the horror over the old lines. I think the darker stuff will make the face blonde--more delicate. Please understand how nervously excited I have been over the wretched drawing, how short it falls of any suggestion of that personality of which I cannot speak to you--which I should some day like to give a shadow of....

"You were altogether charming and delightful and sympathetic. Perhaps if you had looked like a bear and behaved like a harpy, who knows what I might not have done!

"... You shall have a sight of a proof at the end of the week, if you have any address out of town. Meanwhile I will do my best to improve the stone.

"Always yours, dear Miss Terry,


My dear friend Graham Robertson painted two portraits of me, and I was Mortimer Menpes' first subject in England.

Sir Laurence Alma-Tadema did the designs for the scenery and dresses in "Cymbeline," and incidentally designed for Imogen one of the loveliest dresses that I ever wore. It was made by Mrs. Nettleship. So were the dresses that Burne-Jones designed for me to wear in "King Arthur."

Many of my most effective dresses have been what I may call "freaks." The splendid dress that I wore in the Trial Scene in "Henry VIII." is one example of what I mean. Mr. Seymour Lucas designed it, and there was great difficulty in finding a material rich enough and somber enough at the same time. No one was so clever on such quests as Mrs. Comyns Carr. She was never to be misled by the appearance of the stuff in the hand, nor impressed by its price by the yard, if she did not think it would look right on the stage. As Katherine she wanted me to wear steely silver and bronzy gold, but all the brocades had such insignificant designs. If they had a silver design on them it looked under the lights like a scratch in white cotton! At last Mrs. Carr found a black satin which on the right side was timorously and feebly patterned with a meandering rose and thistle. On the wrong side of it was a sheet of silver--just the right steely silver because it was the wrong side! Mrs. Carr then started on another quest for gold that should be as right as that silver. She found it at last in some gold-lace antimacassars at Whiteley's! From these base materials she and Mrs. Nettleship constructed a magnificent queenly dress. Its only fault was that it was heavy.

But the weight that I can carry on the stage has often amazed me. I remember that for "King Arthur" Mrs. Nettleship made me a splendid cloak embroidered all over with a pattern in jewels. At the dress-rehearsal when I made my entrance the cloak swept magnificently and I daresay looked fine, but I knew at once that I should never be able to act in it. I called out to Mrs. Nettleship and Alice Carr, who were in the stalls, and implored them to lighten it of some of the jewels.

"Oh, do keep it as it is," they answered, "it looks splendid."

"I can't breathe in it, much less act in it. Please send some one up to cut off a few stones."

I went on with my part, and then, during a wait, two of Mrs. Nettleship's assistants came on to the stage and snipped off a jewel here and there. When they had filled a basket, I began to feel better!

But when they tried to lift that basket, their united efforts could not move it!

On one occasion I wore a dress made in eight hours! During the first week of the run of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at His Majesty's, there was a fire in my dressing-room--an odd fire which was never accounted for. In the morning they found the dress that I had worn as Mrs. Page burnt to a cinder. A messenger from His Majesty's went to tell my daughter, who had made the ill-fated dress:

"Miss Terry will, I suppose, have to wear one of our dresses to-night. Perhaps you could make her a new one by the end of the week."

"Oh, that will be all right," said Edy, bluffing, "I'll make her a dress by to-night." She has since told me that she did not really think she could make it in time!

She had at this time a workshop in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. All hands were called into the service, and half an hour after the message came from the theater the new dress was started. That was at 10.30. Before 7 p.m. the new dress was in my dressing-room at His Majesty's Theater.

And best of all, it was a great improvement on the dress that had been burned! It stood the wear and tear of the first run of "Merry Wives" and of all the revivals, and is still as fresh as paint!

That very successful dress cost no time. Another very successful dress--the white one that I wore in the Court Scene in "A Winter's Tale," cost no money. My daughter made it out of material of which a sovereign must have covered the cost.

My daughter says to know what not to do is the secret of making stage dresses. It is not a question of time or of money, but of omission.

One of the best "audiences" that actor or actress could wish for was Mr. Gladstone. He used often to come and see the play at the Lyceum from a little seat in the O.P. entrance, and he nearly always arrived five minutes before the curtain went up. One night I thought he would catch cold--it was a bitter night--and I lent him my white scarf!

He could always give his whole great mind to the matter in hand. This made him one of the most comfortable people to talk to that I have ever met. In everything he was thorough, and I don't think he could have been late for anything.

I contrasted his punctuality, when he came to see "King Lear," with the unpunctuality of Lord Randolph Churchill, who came to see the play the very next night with a party of men friends and arrived when the first act was over.

Lord Randolph was, all the same, a great admirer of Henry Irving. He confessed to him once that he had never read a play of Shakespeare's in his life, but that after seeing Henry act he thought it was time to begin! A very few days later he pulverized us with his complete and masterly knowledge of at least half a dozen of the plays. He was a perfect person to meet at a dinner or supper--brilliantly entertaining, and queerly simple. He struck one as being able to master any subject that interested him, and once a Shakespeare performance at the Lyceum had fired his interest, there was nothing about that play, or about past performances of it, which he did not know! His beautiful wife (now Mrs. George Cornwallis West) wore a dress at supper one evening which gave me the idea for the Lady Macbeth dress, afterwards painted by Sargent. The bodice of Lady Randolph's gown was trimmed all over with green beetles' wings. I told Mrs. Comyns Carr about it, and she remembered it when she designed my Lady Macbeth dress and saw to its making by clever Mrs. Nettleship.

Lady Randolph Churchill by sheer force of beauty of face and expressiveness would, I venture to prophesy, have been successful on the stage if fate had ever led her to it.


The present Princess of Wales, when she was Princess May of Teck, used often to come to the Lyceum with her mother, Princess Mary, and to supper in the Beefsteak Room. In 1891 she chose to come as her birthday treat, which was very flattering to us.

A record of those Beefsteak Room suppers would be a pleasant thing to possess. I have such a bad memory--I see faces round the table--the face of Liszt among them--and when I try to think when it was, or how it was, the faces vanish as people might out of a room when, after having watched them through a dim window-pane, one determines to open the door--and go in.

Lady Dorothy Nevill, that distinguished lady of the old school--what a picture of a woman!--was always a fine theater-goer. Her face always cheered me if I saw it in the theater, and she was one of the most clever and amusing of the Beefsteak Room guests. As a hostess, sitting in her round chair, with her hair dressed to become her, irrespective of any period, leading this, that and the other of her guests to speak upon their particular subjects, she was simply the ideal.

Singers were often among Henry Irving's guests in the Beefsteak Room--Patti, Melba, Calvé, Albani, Sims Reeves, Tamagno, Victor Maurel, and many others.

Calvé! The New York newspapers wrote "Salve Calvé!" and I would echo them. She is the best singer-actress that I know. They tell me that Grisi and Mario were fine dramatically. When I saw them, they were on the point of retiring, and I was a child. I remember that Madame Grisi was very stout, but Mario certainly acted well. Trebelli was a noble actress; Maria Gay is splendid, and oh! Miss Mary Garden! Never shall I forget her acting in "Griselidis." Yet for all the talent of these singers whom I have named, and among whom I should surely have placed the incomparable Maurel, whose Iago was superb, I think that the arts of singing and acting can seldom be happily married. They quarrel all the while! A few operas seem to have been written with a knowledge of the difficulty of the conventions which intervene to prevent the expression of dramatic emotion; and these operas are contrived with amazing cleverness so that the acting shall have free play. Verdi in "Othello," and Bizet in "Carmen" came nearest solving the problem.

To go back to Calvé. She has always seemed to me a darling, as well as a great artist. She was entirely generous and charming to me when we were living for some weeks together in the same New York hotel. One wonderful Sunday evening I remember dining with her, and she sang and sang for me, as if she could never grow tired. One thing she said she had never sung so well before, and she laughed in her delicious rapturous way and sang it all over again.

Her enthusiasm for acting, music, and her fellow-artists was magnificent. Oh, what a lovable creature! Such soft dark eyes and entreating ways, such a beautiful mixture of nobility and "câlinerie"! She would laugh and cry all in a moment like a child. That year in New York she was raved about, but all the excitement and enthusiasm that she created only seemed to please and amuse her. She was not in the least spoiled by the fuss.

I once watched Patti sing from behind scenes at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. My impression from that point of view was that she was actually a bird! She could not help singing! Her head, flattened on top, her nose tilted downwards like a lovely little beak, her throat swelling and swelling as it poured out that extraordinary volume of sound, all made me think that she must have been a nightingale before she was transmigrated into a human being! Near, I was amazed by the loudness of her song. I imagine that Tetrazzini, whom I have not yet heard, must have this bird-like quality.

The dear kind-hearted Melba has always been a good friend of mine. The first time I met her was in New York at a supper party, and she had a bad cold, and therefore a frightful speaking voice for the moment! I shall never forget the shock that it gave me. Thank goodness I very soon afterwards heard her again when she hadn't a cold!

"All's well that ends well." It ended very well. She spoke as exquisitely as she sang. She was one of the first to offer her services for my jubilee performance at Drury Lane, but unfortunately she was ill when the day came, and could not sing. She had her dresses in "Faust" copied from mine by Mrs. Nettleship, and I came across a note from her the other day thanking me for having introduced her to a dressmaker who was "an angel." Another note sent round to me during a performance of "King Arthur" in Boston I shall always prize.

"You are sublime, adorable ce soir.... I wish I were a millionaire--I would throw all my millions at your feet. If there is another procession, tell the stage manager to see those imps of Satan don't chew gum. It looks awful.



I think that time it was the solemn procession of mourners following the dead body of Elaine who were chewing gum; but we always had to be prepared for it among our American "supers," whether they were angels or devils or courtiers!

In "Faust" we "carried" about six leading witches for the Brocken Scene, and recruited the forty others from local talent in the different towns that we visited. Their general direction was to throw up their arms and look fierce at certain music cues. One night I noticed a girl going through the most terrible contortions with her jaw, and thought I must say something.

"That's right, dear. Very good, but don't exaggerate."

"How?" was all the answer that I got in the choicest nasal twang, and the girl continued to make faces as before.

I was contemplating a second attempt, when Templeton, the limelight man, who had heard me speak to her, touched me gently on the shoulder.

"Beg pardon, miss, she don't mean it. She's only chewing gum!"

One of my earliest friends among literary folk was Mr. Charles Dodgson--or Lewis Carroll--or "Alice in Wonderland." Ah, that conveys something to you! I can't remember when I didn't know him. I think he must have seen Kate act as a child, and having given her "Alice"--he always gave his young friends "Alice" at once by way of establishing pleasant relations--he made a progress as the years went on through the whole family. Finally he gave "Alice" to my children.

He was a splendid theater-goer, and took the keenest interest in all the Lyceum productions, frequently writing to me to point out slips in the dramatist's logic which only he would ever have noticed! He did not even spare Shakespeare. I think he wrote these letters for fun, as some people make puzzles, anagrams, or Limericks!

"Now I'm going to put before you a 'Hero-ic' puzzle of mine, but please remember I do not ask for your solution of it, as you will persist in believing, if I ask your help in a Shakespeare difficulty, that I am only jesting! However, if you won't attack it yourself, perhaps you would ask Mr. Irving some day how he explains it?

"My difficulty is this:--Why in the world did not Hero (or at any rate Beatrice on her behalf) prove an 'alibi' in answer to the charge? It seems certain that she did not sleep in her room that night; for how could Margaret venture to open the window and talk from it, with her mistress asleep in the room? It would be sure to wake her. Besides Borachio says, after promising that Margaret shall speak with him out of Hero's chamber window, 'I will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be absent.' (How he could possibly manage any such thing is another difficulty, but I pass over that.) Well then, granting that Hero slept in some other room that night, why didn't she say so? When Claudio asks her: 'What man was he talked with yesternight out at your window betwixt twelve and one?' why doesn't she reply: 'I talked with no man at that hour, my lord. Nor was I in my chamber yesternight, but in another, far from it, remote.' And this she could, of course, prove by the evidence of the housemaids, who must have known that she had occupied another room that night.

"But even if Hero might be supposed to be so distracted as not to remember where she had slept the night before, or even whether she had slept anywhere, surely Beatrice has her wits about her! And when an arrangement was made, by which she was to lose, for one night, her twelve-months' bedfellow, is it conceivable that she didn't know where Hero passed the night? Why didn't she reply:

"But good my lord sweet Hero slept not there: She had another chamber for the nonce. 'Twas sure some counterfeit that did present Her person at the window, aped her voice, Her mien, her manners, and hath thus deceived My good Lord Pedro and this company?'

"With all these excellent materials for proving an 'alibi' it is incomprehensible that no one should think of it. If only there had been a barrister present, to cross-examine Beatrice!

"'Now, ma'am, attend to me, please, and speak up so that the jury can hear you. Where did you sleep last night? Where did Hero sleep? Will you swear that she slept in her own room? Will you swear that you do not know where she slept?' I feel inclined to quote old Mr. Weller and to say to Beatrice at the end of the play (only I'm afraid it isn't etiquette to speak across the footlights):

"'Oh, Samivel, Samivel, vy vornt there a halibi?'"

Mr. Dodgson's kindness to children was wonderful. He really loved them and put himself out for them. The children he knew who wanted to go on the stage were those who came under my observation, and nothing could have been more touching than his ceaseless industry on their behalf.

"I want to thank you," he wrote to me in 1894 from Oxford, "as heartily as words can do it for your true kindness in letting me bring D. behind the scenes to you. You will know without my telling you what an intense pleasure you thereby gave to a warm-hearted girl, and what love (which I fancy you value more than mere admiration) you have won from her. Her wild longing to try the stage will not, I think, bear the cold light of day when once she has tried it, and has realized what a lot of hard work and weary waiting and 'hope deferred' it involves. She doesn't, so far as I know, absolutely need, as N. does, to earn money for her own support. But I fancy she will find life rather a pinch, unless she can manage to do something in the way of earning money. So I don't like to advise her strongly against it, as I would with any one who had no such need.

"Also thank you, thank you with all my heart, for all your great kindness to N. She does write so brightly and gratefully about all you do for her and say to her."

"N." has since achieved great success on the music-halls and in pantomime. "D." is a leading lady!

This letter to my sister Floss is characteristic of his "Wonderland" style when writing to children:

"Ch. Ch., January, 1874.

"My dear Florence,--

"Ever since that heartless piece of conduct of yours (I allude to the affair of the Moon and the blue silk gown) I have regarded you with a gloomy interest, rather than with any of the affection of former years--so that the above epithet 'dear' must be taken as conventional only, or perhaps may be more fitly taken in the sense in which we talk of a 'dear' bargain, meaning to imply how much it has cost us; and who shall say how many sleepless nights it has cost me to endeavor to unravel (a most appropriate verb) that 'blue silk gown'?

"Will you please explain to Tom about that photograph of the family group which I promised him? Its history is an instructive one, as illustrating my habits of care and deliberation. In 1867 the picture was promised him, and an entry made in my book. In 1869, or thereabouts, I mounted the picture on a large card, and packed it in brown paper. In 1870, or 1871, or thereabouts, I took it with me to Guilford, that it might be handy to take with me when I went up to town. Since then I have taken it two or three times to London, and on each occasion (having forgotten to deliver it to him) I brought it back again. This was because I had no convenient place in London to leave it in. But now I have found such a place. Mr. Dubourg has kindly taken charge of it--so that it is now much nearer to its future owner than it has been for seven years. I quite hope, in the course of another year or two, to be able to remember to bring it to your house: or perhaps Mr. Dubourg may be calling even sooner than that and take it with him. You will wonder why I ask you to tell him instead of writing myself. The obvious reason is that you will be able, from sympathy, to put my delay in the most favorable light--to make him see that, as hasty puddings are not the best of puddings so hasty judgments are not the best of judgments, and that he ought to be content to wait even another seven years for his picture, and to sit 'like patience on a monument, smiling at grief.' This quotation, by the way, is altogether a misprint. Let me explain it to you. The passage originally stood, 'They sit like patients on the Monument, smiling at Greenwich.' In the next edition 'Greenwich' was printed short, 'Green'h,' and so got gradually altered into 'grief.' The allusion of course is to the celebrated Dr. Jenner, who used to send all his patients to sit on the top of the Monument (near London Bridge) to inhale fresh air, promising them that, when they were well enough, they should go to 'Greenwich Fair.' So of course they always looked out towards Greenwich, and sat smiling to think of the treat in store for them. A play was written on the subject of their inhaling the fresh air, and was for some time attributed to him (Shakespeare), but it is certainly not in his style. It was called 'The Wandering Air,' and was lately revived at the Queen's Theater. The custom of sitting on the Monument was given up when Dr. Jenner went mad, and insisted on it that the air was worse up there and that the lower you went the more airy it became. Hence he always called those little yards, below the pavement, outside the kitchen windows, 'the kitchen airier,' a name that is still in use.

"All this information you are most welcome to use, the next time you are in want of something to talk about. You may say you learned it from 'a distinguished etymologist,' which is perfectly true, since any one who knows me by sight can easily distinguish me from all other etymologists.

"What parts are you and Polly now playing?

"Believe me to be (conventionally)

"Yours affectionately,


No two men could be more unlike than Mr. Dodgson and Mr. J.M. Barrie, yet there are more points of resemblance than "because there's a 'b' in both!"

If "Alice in Wonderland" is the children's classic of the library, and one perhaps even more loved by the grown up children than by the others, "Peter Pan" is the children's stage classic, and here again elderly children are the most devoted admirers. I am a very old child, nearly old enough to be a "beautiful great-grandmother" (a part that I have entreated Mr. Barrie to write for me), and I go and see "Peter" year after year and love him more each time. There is one advantage in being a grown-up child--you are not afraid of the pirates or the crocodile.

I first became an ardent lover of Mr. Barrie through "Sentimental Tommy," and I simply had to write and tell him how hugely I had enjoyed it. In reply I had a letter from Tommy himself!

"Dear Miss Ellen Terry,--

"I just wonder at you. I noticed that Mr. Barrie the author (so-called) and his masterful wife had a letter they wanted to conceal from me, so I got hold of it, and it turned out to be from you, and not a line to me in it! If you like the book, it is me you like, not him, and it is to me you should send your love, not to him. Corp thinks, however, that you did not like to make the first overtures, and if that is the explanation, I beg herewith to send you my warm love (don't mention this to Elspeth) and to say that I wish you would come and have a game with us in the Den (don't let on to Grizel that I invited you). The first moment I saw you, I said to myself, 'This is the kind I like,' and while the people round about me were only thinking of your acting, I was wondering which would be the best way of making you my willing slave, and I beg to say that I believe I have 'found a way,' for most happily the very ones I want most to lord it over, are the ones who are least able to resist me.

"We should have ripping fun. You would be Jean MacGregor, captive in the Queen's Bower, but I would climb up at the peril of my neck to rescue you, and you would faint in my strong arms, and wouldn't Grizel get a turn when she came upon you and me whispering sweet nothings in the Lovers' Walk? I think it advisible to say in writing that I would only mean them as nothings (because Grizel is really my one), but so long as they were sweet, what does that matter (at the time); and besides, you could love me genuinely, and I would carelessly kiss your burning tears away.

"Corp is a bit fidgety about it, because he says I have two to love me already, but I feel confident that I can manage more than two.

"Trusting to see you at the Cuttle Well on Saturday when the eight o'clock bell is ringing,

"I am

"Your indulgent Commander,


"P.S.--Can you bring some of the Lyceum armor with you, and two hard-boiled eggs?"

Henry Irving once thought of producing Mr. Barrie's play "The Professor's Love Story." He was delighted with the first act, but when he had read the rest he did not think the play would do for the Lyceum. It was the same with many plays which were proposed for us. The ideas sounded all right, but as a rule the treatment was too thin, and the play, even if good, on too small a scale for the theater.

One of our playwrights of whom I always expected a great play was Mrs. Craigie (John Oliver Hobbes). A little one-act play of hers, "Journeys End in Lovers' Meeting"--in which I first acted with Johnston Forbes-Robertson and Terriss at a special matinée in 1894--brought about a friendship between us which lasted until her death. Of her it could indeed be said with poignant truth, "She should have died hereafter." Her powers had not nearly reached their limit.

Pearl Craigie had a man's intellect--a woman's wit and apprehension. "Bright," as the Americans say, she always managed to be even in the dullest company, and she knew how to be silent at times, to give the "other fellow" a chance. Her executive ability was extraordinary. Wonderfully tolerant, she could at the same time not easily forgive any meanness or injustice that seemed to her deliberate. Hers was a splendid spirit.

I shall always bless that little play of hers which first brought me near to so fine a creature. I rather think that I never met any one who gave out so much as she did. To me, at least, she gave, gave all the time. I hope she was not exhausted after our long "confabs." I was most certainly refreshed and replenished.

The first performance of "Journeys End in Lovers' Meeting" she watched from a private box with the Princess of Wales (our present Queen) and Henry Irving. She came round afterwards just burning with enthusiasm and praising me for work which was really not good. She spoiled one for other women.

Her best play was, I think, "The Ambassador," in which Violet Vanbrugh (now Mrs. Bourchier) played a pathetic part very beautifully, and made a great advance in her profession.

There was some idea of Pearl Craigie writing a play for Henry Irving and me, but it never came to anything. There was a play of hers on the same subject as "The School for Saints," and another about Guizot.

"February 11, 1898.

"My very dear Nell,--

"I have an idea for a real four-act comedy (in these matters nothing daunts me!) founded on a charming little episode in the private lives of Princess Lieven (the famous Russian ambassadress) and the celebrated Guizot, the French Prime Minister and historian. I should have to veil the identity slightly, and also make the story a husband and wife story--it would be more amusing this way. It is comedy from beginning to end. Sir Henry would make a splendid Guizot, and you the ideal Madame de Lieven. Do let me talk it over with you. 'The School for Saints' was, as it were, a born biography. But the Lieven-Guizot idea is a play.

"Yours ever affectionately,


In another letter she writes:

"I am changing all my views about so-called 'literary' dialogue. It means pedantry. The great thing is to be lively."

"A first night at the Lyceum" was an institution. I don't think that it has its parallel nowadays. It was not, however, to the verdict of all the brilliant friends who came to see us on the first night that Henry Irving attached importance. I remember some one saying to him after the first night of "Ravenswood": "I don't fancy that your hopes will be quite fulfilled about the play. I heard one or two on Saturday night--"

"Ah yes," said Henry very carelessly and gently, "but you see there were so many friends there that night who didn't pay--friends. One must not expect too much from friends! The paying public will, I think, decide favorably."

Henry never cared much for society, as the saying is--but as host in the Beefsteak Room he thoroughly enjoyed himself, and every one who came to his suppers seemed happy! Every conceivable type of person used to be present--and there, if one had the mind[1] one could study the world in little.

[Footnote 1: "Wordsworth says he could write like Shakespeare if he had the mind. Obviously it is only the mind that is lacking."--Charles Lamb's Letters.]

One of the liveliest guests was Sir Francis Burnand--who entirely contradicted the theory that professional comedians are always the most gloomy of men in company.

A Sunday evening with the Burnand family at their home in The Bottoms was a treat Henry Irving and I often looked forward to--a particularly restful, lively evening. I think a big family--a "party" in itself--is the only "party" I like. Some of the younger Burnands have greatly distinguished themselves, and they are all perfect dears, so unaffected, kind, and genial.

Sir Francis never jealously guarded his fun for Punch. He was always generous with it. Once when my son had an exhibition of his pictures, I asked Mr. Burnand, as he was then, to go and see it or send some one on Mr. Punch's staff. He answered characteristically!


"My dear Ellen Terry,--

"Delighted to see your hand--'wish your face were with it' (Shakespeare).

"Remember me (Shakespeare again--'Hamlet') to our Sir Henry. May you both live long and prosper!


He opens his show
A day I can't go.
Any Friday
Is never my day.

But I'll see his pictures
(Praise and no strictures)
'Ere this day week;
Yet I can't speak
Of them in print
(I might give a hint)
Till each on its shelf
I've seen for myself.
I've no one to send.
Now I must end.
None I can trust,
So go I must.
Yours most trulee
V'la F.C.B.

All well here,
All send love.
Likewise misses
Lots of kisses.
From all in this 'ere shanty
To you who don't play in Dante!

What a pity!


What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it, dull to the contemporary who reads it, invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it!

Whatever interest the few diaries of mine that I have preserved may have for future psychologists and historians, they are for my present purpose almost worthless. Yet because things written at the time are considered by some people to be more reliable than those written years afterwards when memory calls in imagination to her help, I have hunted up a few passages from my diaries between 1887 and 1901; and now I give them in the raw for what they are worth--in my opinion nothing!

July 1887.--E.B.-J. (Sir Edward Burne-Jones) sent me a picture he has painted for me--a troop of little angels.

August 2.--(We were in Scotland.) Visited the "Blasted Heath." Behold a flourishing potato field! Smooth softness everywhere. We must blast our own heath when we do Macbeth!

November 29.---(We were in America.) Matinée "Faust"--Beecher Memorial. The whole affair was the strangest failure. H.I. himself took heaps of tickets, but the house was half empty.

The following Saturday.--Matinée "Faust." House crammed. Why couldn't they have come when it was to honor Beecher?

January 1890.--In answer to some one who has said that Henry had all his plays written for him, he pointed out that of twenty-eight Lyceum productions only three were written "for" him--"Charles I.," "Eugene Aram," and "Vanderdecken."

February 27.--(My birthday.) Henry gave me a most exquisite wreath for the head. It is made of green stones and diamonds and is like a myrtle wreath. I never saw anything so simple and grand. It's lovely.

(During this year our readings of "Macbeth" took place.)

April.--Visit to Trentham after the reading at Hanley. Next day to hotel at Bradford, where there were beetles in the beds!

I see that Bulwer, speaking of Macready's Macbeth, says that Macbeth was a "trembler when opposed by his conscience, a warrior when defied by his foes."

August.--(At Winchelsea.) We drove to Cliffe End. Henry got the old pony along at a spanking rate, but I had to seize the reins now and again to save us from sudden death.

August 14.--Drove to Tenterden. Saw Clowe's Marionettes.

(Henry saw one of their play-bills in a shop window, but found that the performances only took place in the evening. He found out the proprietor and asked him what were the takings on a good night. The man said £5, I think. Henry asked him if he would give him a special show for that sum. He was delighted. Henry and I and my daughter Edy and Fussie sat in solemn state in the empty tent and watched the show, which was most ingenious and clever. Clowe's Marionettes are still "on the road," but ever since that "command" performance of Henry's at Tenterden their bill has had two extra lines:


September.--"Method," (in last act of "Ravenswood"), "to keep very still, and feel it all quietly and deeply." George Meredith, speaking of Romance, says: "The young who avoid that region, escape the title of Fool at the cost of a Celestial Crown." Good!

December.--Mr. Gladstone behind the scenes. He likes the last act very much.

January 14, 1892.--Prince Eddie died. Cardinal Manning died.

January 18.--(Just after successful production of "Henry VIII.") H.I. is hard at work, studying "Lear." This is what only a great man would do at such a moment in the hottest blush of success. No "swelled head"--only fervent endeavor to do better work. The fools hardly conceive what he is.

February 8.--Morell Mackenzie died.

March 1.--Mother died. Amazing courage in my father and sisters. She looked so lovely when she was dead.

March 7.--Went back to work.

October 6.--Tennyson died.

October 26.--A fine day. To call on the young Duchess of S----. What a sweet and beautiful young girl she is! I said I would write and ask Mrs. Stirling to give her lessons, but feared she could not as she was ill.

November.--Heard from Mrs. Stirling: "I am too ill and weak to see any one in the way of lessons. I am just alive--in pain and distress always, but always anxious for news from the Lyceum. 'Lear' will be a great success, I am sure. I was Cordelia with Macready."

November 10.--First night of "Lear." Such a foggy day! H. was just marvelous, but indistinct from nervousness. T. spoke out, but who cared! Haviland was very good. My Ted splendid in the little bit he had to do as Oswald. I was rather good to-night. It is a wee part, but fine.

December 7.--Poor Fred Leslie is dead. Typhoid. A thunderbolt to us all. Poor, bright, charming Fred Leslie!

December 31.--This has been a dark year. Mother died. Illness rife in the family. My son engaged--but that may turn out well if the young couple will not be too hasty. H.I. not well. Business by no means up to the proper point. A death in the Royal Family. Depression--depression!

March 9, 1897.--Eunice (Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher) is dead. Poor darling! She was a great friend to me.

April 10.--First night of "Sans-Gêne." A wonderful first-night audience. I acted courageously and fairly well. Extraordinary success.

April 14.--Princess Louise (Lorne) came to see the play and told me she was delighted. Little Elspeth Campbell was with her, looking lovely. I did not play well--was depressed and clumsy.

May 13.--It's all off about "The Man of Destiny" play with H.I. and G.B.S.

May 15.--To "Princess and Butterfly" with Audrey and Aimée. Miss Fay Davis better than ever.

May 17.---Nutcombe Gould has lost his voice, and Ted was called upon at a moment's notice to play Hamlet at the Olympic to-night.

June 20.--Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's for the Queen's Jubilee. Went with Edy and Henry. Not at all adequate to the occasion was the ceremony. The Te Deum rather good, the sermon sensible, but the whole uninspired, unimpassioned and dull. The Prince and Princess looked splendid.

June 22.--To Lady Glenesk's, Piccadilly. Wonderfullest sight I ever saw. All was perfect, but the little Queen herself more dignified than the whole procession put together! Sarah B. was in her place at the Glenesks' at six in the morning. Bancroft made a Knight. Mrs. Alma-Tadema's "at home." Paderewski played. What a divinely beautiful face!

July 14.--The Women's Jubilee Dinner at the Grafton Galleries. Too ill to go. My guests were H.I., Burne-Jones, Max Beerbohm, W. Nicholson, Jimmy Pryde, Will Rothenstein, Graham Robertson, Richard Hardig Davis, Laurence Irving, Ted and Edy.

December 11.--(In Manchester.) Poor old Fussie dropped down a trap 30 feet and died in a second.

December 16.--Willie Terriss was murdered this evening. Newspapers sent me a wire for "expressions of sympathy"!!

January 22, 1901.--(Tenterden.) Nine o'clock evening and the bell is tolling for our dearest Queen--Victoria, who died this evening just before seven o'clock--a grand, wise, good woman. A week ago she was driving out regularly. The courage of it!

January 23.--To Rye (from Winchelsea). The King proclaimed in the Market Place. The ceremony only took about five minutes. Very dull and undignified until the National Anthem, which upset us all.

January 26.--London last night when I arrived might have been Winchelsea when the sun goes down on all our wrath and arguments. No one in the streets ... empty buses crawling along. Black boards up at every shop window. All the gas half-mast high as well as the flags. I never saw such a mournful city, but why should they turn the gas down? Thrift, thrift, Horatio!

February 2.--The Queen's Funeral. From a balcony in S. James's I saw the most wonderful sight I have ever seen. The silence was extraordinary.... The tiny coffin on the gun-carriage drawn by the cream-colored ponies was the most pathetic, impressive object in all that great procession. All the grandest carriages were out for the occasion. The King and the German Emperor rode side by side.... The young Duke of Coburg, the Duchess of Albany's son, like Sir Galahad. I slept at Bridgewater House, but on my way to St. James's from there my clothes were torn and I was half squeezed to death. One man called out to me: "Ah, now you know what it feels like at the pit door, Miss Terry."

April 15.--Lyceum. "Coriolanus" produced. Went home directly after the play was over. I didn't seem to know a word of my part yesterday at the dress-rehearsal, but to-night I was as firm as if I had played it a hundred times.

April 16.--The critics who wrote their notices at the dress-rehearsal, and complained of my playing pranks with the text, were a little previous. Oh, how bad it makes one feel to find that they all think my Volumnia "sweet," and I thought I was fierce, contemptuous, overbearing. Worse, I felt as if I must be appearing like a cabman rating his Drury Lane wife!

April 20.--Beginning to play Volumnia a little better.

June 25.--Revival of "Charles I." The play went marvelously. I played first and last acts well. H. was magnificent. Ted saw play yesterday and says I don't "do Mrs. Siddons well." I know what he means. The last act too declamatory.

June 26.--Changed the "Mrs. Siddons" scene, and like it much better. Simpler--more nature--more feeling.

July 16.--Horrible suicide of Edith and Ida Yeoland. The poor girls were out of an engagement. Unequal to the fight for life.

July 20.--Last day of Lyceum season--"Coriolanus."

(On that night, I remember, H.I. for the first time played Coriolanus beautifully. He discarded the disfiguring beard of the warrior that he had worn during the "run" earlier in the season--and now that one could see his face, all was well. When people speak of the evils of long runs, I should like to answer with a list of their advantages. An actor, even an actor of Henry Irving's caliber, hardly begins to play an immense part like Coriolanus for what it is worth until he has been doing it for fifty nights.)

November 16.--"New York. Saw delightful Maude Adams in 'Quality Street'--charming play. She is most clever and attractive. Unusual above everything. Queer, sweet, entirely delightful."

From these extracts, I hope it will be seen that by burning most of my diaries I did not inflict an unbearable loss upon present readers, or posterity!

I am afraid that I think as little of the future as I do of the past. The present for me!

If my impressions of my friends are scanty, let me say in my defense that actors and actresses necessarily see many people, but know very few.

If there has been more in this book about my life in the theater than about my life outside it, the proportion is inevitable and natural. The maxim is well-worn that art is long and life is short, and there is no art, I think, which is longer than mine! At least, it always seems to me that no life can be long enough to meet its requirements.

If I have not revealed myself to you, or succeeded in giving a faithful picture of an actor's life, perhaps I have shown what years of practice and labor are needed for the attainment of a permanent position on the stage. To quote Mrs. Nancy Oldfield:--

"Art needs all that we can bring to her, I assure you."