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Eminent women of the drama.

William Winter.
No record of Eminent Women would be complete without some reference to representative actresses. In these the his tory of the stage, especially within the last two hundred years, is abundantly rich. Since the theatre was re-established in England, at the restoration of the monarchy, in 1660, many brilliant women have practised its art and won its laurels. Many bright names, therefore, appear in the catalogue of famous actresses, from the time of Eleanor Gwynn and Mrs. Sanderson to the time of Helen Faucit and Mrs. Lander. Each successive generation has had its favorite theatrical heroines. Mrs. Pritchard, Mrs. Oldfield, Peg Woffiugton, Anne Bracegirdle, Kitty Clive, Miss Farben, Mrs. Siddons, Mrs. Yates, Mrs. Jordan, Eliza O'Neill, Louisa Brunton, Sally Booth, Maria Foote, Mrs. Nisbett, Ellen Tree, Adelaide and Fanny Kemble,--these names, and many more, sparkle with fadeless lustre on that ample and storied page of dramatic history. Nor are they merely names. The triumphs of genius outlast all other triumphs. Kings and warriors may be remembered as shadows; but the fair conquerors of the stage inspire a warmer interest and live in a more vivid remembrance. Painting immortalizes their dead and gone beauty. Tradition preserves the memory of their achievements. Literature cherishes the lustrous record [440] of their lives and deeds. That record, from the days of Gerard Langbaine to the days of Thomas Campbell, Leigh Hunt, William Hazlitt, and Charles Lamb, has instructed and charmed a vast multitude of readers. No story, in truth, can be more impressive or more affecting. Genius, beauty, renown, the pageantry of public careers, the wild tumult of popular applause, lives of stainless integrity and heroic self-sacrifice, and lives of glittering infamy, lawless revel, and lamentable anguish,--such are the elements of a narrative that no sympathetic mind can contemplate without emotion or without improvement. To add one brief page to that story — a leaf from the present time — is the purpose of this sketch. Its group of actresses must, necessarily, be a small one, since its scope is restricted within narrow limits. The artists herein described, however, are typical of different nationalities and different orders of talent. As such — and. not in negligence of the signal ability and reputation of many of their contemporaries — they have been selected for present description.

I. Adelaide Ristori.

To all votaries of the stage, Adelaide Ristori is a familial and an honored name; On the 20th of September, 1866, the great Italian actress made her first professional appearance in America. Since then she has acted in nearly all the important cities in the United States. The way had been smoothed for her coming. Long before she came, portions of her story had been widely circulated in the Press, and her name had become known in almost every household. The record of her life illustrates the development of an original nature and the progress of singular genius. It commences [441] in 1826, when Adelaide Ristori was born, in the obscure Venetian city of Cividale del Friuli, Her parents, Antonio Ristori and Maddelena Pomatelli, his wife, were players, members of a strolling theatrical company, and very poor. The little Adelaide made her first appearance on the stage when she was only two months old, being carried on in a basket, in the representation of a comedy called “The New year's gift.” When four years old, she began to enact juvenile parts, in which, as she was a bright and pretty child, she speedily became a favorite. Her first teacher was her paternal grandmother; and very hard work that teacher had to do,--since the pupil evinced far more partiality for music than for acting, and was not, without great difficulty, diverted from the former to the latter. Perseverance, though, bent the twig, and so gave the desired inclination to the tree. As the child grew, her sphere of employment began to broaden. From juvenile parts she passed to the line of “chambermaids,” in which, at the age of twelve, she was notably proficient. Her labor at this time mainly supported her parents, and her six brothers and sisters — younger than herself. Change of place was, of course, frequent, in this nomadic period of her career. The first fixed dramatic company with which she became connected was that of the King of Sardinia, established at Turin. In this city she found her second teacher, Carlotta Marchioni, a famous actress in her day, and not less generous than eminent. To this artist the young Ristori was indebted for sound teaching and judicious encouragement. At times the eccentric old actress would call her “an imbecile,” and bid her “go and wash dishes.” At other times, when the girl's acting justified approval, she would feign severity and fondly murmur, “I'll have no more to do with you! you act too much as I would have you.” In brief, Marchioni had discovered the germ of genius in this bud of womanhood, and she lovingly and faithfully labored to develop [442] it into the perfect flower. With the Turin company Ristori remained until 1841, when she accepted an engagement in the Ducal company of Parma. The next five years of her life were full of labor, variety, and advancement. Her best successes were won in comedy; but she also attained distinction as an interpreter of the romantic drama. That she was surpassingly beautiful in those days can easily be imagined by all who remember the superb charms of her mature womanhood. But she conquered not less by virtue and genius than by personal beauty. In 1846, Guliano del Grille, son and heir to the wealthy Marchese Capranica, saw Adelaide Ristori, loved her, and won her heart. The parents of the young nobleman, however, sternly forbade him to marry a woman who was not only sprung of humble origin but was an actress. The consequence of this parental opposition was a stolen marriage between these lovers. Not without great difficulty, though, were bride and bridegroom united. Some time after their marriage, which was hastily contracted at a little church near Cesena (Ristori being then on her way from Rome to Florence, to fulfil a professional engagement in the latter city), del Grille had to make his escape from potent and dreaded parental vigilance, disguised as a peasant and mounted on a mule-wagon,--in which trim he passed safely through many perils, and came at last to Florence and to his wife. Finding their opposition vain, the parents presently relented, and a general reconciliation was attained. In the meanwhile the marriage of Ristori and del Grille, originally one of public proclamation,--a valid ceremony in the Romagna, in default of the usual rite,--had been solemnly ratified, at Rome, by Cardinal Pacca. Thus, in honor and eminence, closed the first chapter in the brilliant life of the actress. In deference to the wish of her husband's family, she now retired from the stage. A brief period of domestic repose succeeded. But the genius of Ristori, not yet fully satisfied [443] by expression, fretted in retirement and longed for its wonted field of labor. The fetters were soon broken. Hearing that one of her former managers had been imprisoned for debt, the actress determined to give three performances for his benefit. In pursuance of this resolve, she returned to the stage. Her reappearance was made at Rome, in 1849; and so great was her success that the populace stormed the theatre, and wildly demanded her formal and permanent resumption of her legitimate pursuit. Upon all hands her greatness was acknowledged. Even the noble relatives bent to the spell of this victorious hour. Aristocratic scruples were laid aside; a beneficent genius was left free to pursue its natural course; and, from that day to this, Adelaide Ristori has labored almost constantly in the service of the drama. Nor, in so laboring, has she neglected even the least of the duties of private life. Cherished as a wife, reverenced as a mother, and extolled throughout the civilized world as an actress, she is a living rebuke to the idle and petty theory that woman cannot devote herself to an independent pursuit without sacrificing the sanctities of her home.

Ristori's first efforts in tragedy were made after her reappearance at Rome. It was then, indeed, that she determined to dedicate herself to this branch of her art. A renowned Italian actress, Caroline Internari, advised her to this intent; and experience has shown the wisdom of that advice. Step by step, in the course of nineteen years, Ristori has risen to the first eminence among the tragic actresses of her time. Upon the Italian stage her rank was attained with comparative ease. She played many parts; but the culmination of her national success was marked by her performance of Alfieri's Myrrha, in 1850. It is a terribly painful impersonation, but it is wonderfully strong. Outside of Italy and France, though, it has never been regarded with much enthusiasm — save that of horror; and there seems no especial [444] need of pausing upon it here. From Italy Ristori turned her eyes to France. To conquer Paris would be to conquer Europe; for Paris was the art-capital of the continent. Taking all the risks, therefore, Ristori selected an Italian company and made her way to the renowned metropolis. It was during the season of the first Universal Exposition, on the 22d of May, 1855, that she made her first appearance in Paris. Silvio Pellico's “Francesca da Rimini” --embodying that sweet, sad story which readers of English poetry have learned by heart in the tenderly musical and delicately colored poem of Leigh Hunt — was the opening piece in this important season. Ristori played Francesca. It is a character that reveals her sweetness more than her strength; but her personation of it was a perfect success. Seven nights afterwards she played Myrrha. All Paris was at her feet. “Ristori,” wrote Jules Janin, then the representative dramatic critic “she is tragedy itself; she is comedy; she is the drama.” “Our language is too poor,” said Lamartine, “to express the worth of that woman.” Her first season in Paris extended to the 10th of September. At its close she had given three representations of Francesca, seventeen of Myrrha, twenty-two of Mary Stuart, and seven of Pia da Tolomei; and she had earned half a million francs. More than that — she had conquered the capital. All the intellect and culture of Paris honored the artist; AryScheffer painted her portrait; the Italian residents of Paris gave her a medal; and a diamond bracelet, presented by the Emperor of the French, testified to the imperial homage of “Napoleon III. to Adelaide Ristori.” Her second season in Paris was like the first; nor did less success attend her in the other great cities of Europe. At the subsequent incidents of her European career it is only needful to glance in brief and rapid review. In 1857 she visited Spain; and it is recorded, in illustration of her marvellous personal magnetism, that, [445] on one occasion during this visit, she so wrought upon the feelings of Queen Isabella, as to procure the pardon of a poor soldier, condemned to death for a breach of martial discipline. In 1858 she was in Berlin, and was decorated, by the King of Prussia, with the “Order of merit,” --never before attained by a woman,--in honorable recognition of her acting as Deborah (the “Leah” of the American stage). In 1860 she played a brilliant engagement at St. Petersburg. So far in Italian. Now, however, she was persuaded to achieve renown in French. Her first venture in this language was made at the Odeon, in Paris, in 1861, in the character of Beatrix, in a drama expressly written for her by Legouve. It proved a hit. The piece was played eighty nights in that year, and afterwards, in 1865, was prosperously revived, both in the capital and in the provincial cities of France. At one time Ristori travelled with two distinct dramatic companies, one Italian and the other French. To London she went in 1863. Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth were there accounted her best impersonations; and, as every theatrical community in America can now testify, they are entirely superb and peerless works of art. In 1864 Ristori went to Egypt and gave thirty-seven performances at Alexandria. Still later she played at Constantinople, at Athens, and at Smyrna. In 1865 she visited Holland, by invitation of the University of Utrecht. By this time she had attained all possible professional honors in the old world, and it was only natural that she should turn her eyes across the sea.

Ristori's American career, as already mentioned, began on the 20th of September, 1866,--her appearance being made under the direction of Mr. J. Grau. The event is remembered as one of the most interesting and exciting that have, of late years, marked the history of the stage. The place was the French Theatre, in New York city. The house was densely crowded. Ristori's entrance, in the first act of “Medea,” was [446] awaited with almost breathless suspense, and was greeted with a tumult of joyful enthusiasm. No artist, indeed, could wish for a heartier welcome than American audiences habitually accord to a stranger. Nor, in the case of Ristori, did this spontaneous cordiality abate, as the performance proceeded; for the actress was recalled at the end of each act, and three times at the end of the play. Every heart felt the presence of an extraordinary woman. Her majesty of person and demeanor; her gracious dignity; her powerful and perfectly melodious voice,--the grandest voice that has been heard on the stage in modern times; her stately, Roman head; dark, flashing gray eyes; wonderful mobility of feature; luxuriant freedom and massive grace of gesture; and, above all, the sense that hung about her of exhaustless reserve power,--could not fail, in truth, to thrill the sensitive, sympathetic American temperament. Then, too, her personation of Medea disclosed, as in a comprehensive picture, all the chief faculties and qualities of her genius. After-performances did, of course, make them more fully and definitely known; but this performance seemed to crystallize them all. In the tragedy of “Medea” an irresistible appeal is made to sympathy with both passionate and maternal love,--each of which is seen to be scorned and outraged,

-and also to admiration for a brilliant personality. Medea, a barbaric princess, has not only been deserted by her husband, whom she loves with an intense and wild ardor that is frightful and almost impious, but her children are taken from her, even at the supreme moment of agony when her recreant husband has cast her off in scorn, and announced his design to wed another woman. To be wronged as a wife was a sufficiently miserable disaster. To be wronged as a mother is an overwhelming calamity. The double blow breaks Medea's heart and crazes her brain, that is predisposed to madness. Then, in the poisoning of her rival and the [447] slaughter of her children before the altar of Saturn, the climax of her life is attained simultaneously with the crisis of her anguish. Excepting King Lear,--the most awful and the most pathetic creation in dramatic literature,--Medea is, perhaps, the fullest embodiment known to the stage of pitiable desolation and passionate delirium. Love that bears fruit in wickedness, cruel desertion, long and wretched wanderings, penury, hunger, cold, the gradual wasting of mind and body, gleams of hope extinguished by scornful insult, then fury overleaping love, then a few faint flutterings of natural tenderness, then chaos,--such is the hard and heartbreaking story of Medea. The beginning, classic beauty, innocence, pastoral tranquillity; the end, a broken heart and a shattered brain. Few women have succeeded in playing the part at all. Most actresses who have essayed it have merely swamped themselves in vehemence and noise. Only one personation of it, in our day, can justly be compared with Ristori's, and that is the work of the great German actress, Fanny Janauschek. It is, indeed, no light matter to satisfy the requirements of this part, in even the single requisite of maternal love. Not every actress can personate a mother. Ristori, however, at all points throughout her personation of Medea, showed great genius and great capacities for its expression. In appearance, she was a perfect type of classic beauty. In spirit, she was a perfect type of fiery vitality. Her subtle knowledge of the human heart, her profound pathos, her extraordinary capacity for the utterance of vehement passion, her glowing imagination, her stateliness of intellect, and her thorough culture in dramatic art, all found utterance in. this superb dramatic effort. Thus, at the outset, she conquered American admiration. The victory thus begun by her Medea, was finished by her Ma y Stuart and her Queen Elizabeth. With these three characters her name will forever be identified, in the history of the stage. Her [448] Elizabeth, in particular, was pre-eminently great. Seeing Ristori in that assumption, you saw a woman who was manifestly born to rule; who swayed everything around her with an iron will; who had never even dreamed of doubting he! divine right of monarchy; but who, nevertheless, was the victim of human passions, human weakness, and that sorrow which is Heaven's discipline for all mankind. Pride was never depicted better than in her arrogant scorn of rival genius and aspiration, and in her martial defiance of a dangerous enemy,--Philip II., of Spain. Valor found its most chivalric utterance, when she drew the sword of her father, King Henry VIII. Love — the dangerous gentleness and glittering passion of the tigress — was fully portrayed in her fatal dalliance with the brave Earl of Essex. For the rest: vanity, spite, spleen, malignant cruelty, and hypocrisy -all that composed the imperial weakness of the “virgin queen” --were minutely painted in her atrocious conduct toward the captive Queen of Scots. How massive was the nature of the great monarch you could easily comprehend, in contemplating the splendid art of the actress,--her struggles between duty and passion, her terrific remorse, and her lonely, desolate death. Ristori interpreted many other characters while she was in America; but never one that so captivated the popular heart. Time may impair the recollection of the actress in other parts; but it can never dim in memory her lustrous image of England's grandest queen. Analysis of all her personations is, of course, impossible here; but mention of all may usefully be made. She appeared here, during her first engagement, as Medea, .Mary Stuart, Queen Elizabeth, Phaedra, Judith, Pia de Tolomei, Francesca da Rimini, Adrienne Lecouvreur, Thisbe, Camma, Myrrha, Deborah, Norma, and Lady Macbeth. That engagement, including her tour outside of New York, extended over a period of eight months, in the course of which time she gave [449] one hundred and sixty-eight performances. The last of these occurred at the French Theatre, in New York, on the night of the 17th of May, 1867, when she took a farewell benefit, appearing as Medea. Her first speech in English was made on this occasion, when, at the end of the performance, she came forward, in response to the call of the audience, and spoke the following words:

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the first moment of profound sorrow I have known in this country. To bid adieu to New York, the birthplace of my success,--to say farewell to the United States, that have everywhere received me with open arms,--awakens emotions too deep for any words my poor tongue can utter. My visit to America is the grand event of my life;--grand in its temerity, grander yet in its triumphs. Your enthusiasm, your munificence, your goodness, I shall remember long and gratefully; remember till memory decays and my heart ceases to throb. Adieu!

On the following day Ristori sailed for Europe; but in the autumn of 1867 she returned to New York, and commenced, on the 18th of September, her second, and Jast, American engagement. This was signalized by the production, on the 7th of October, of a new drama, then acted for the first time, Signor Giacommetti's “Marie Antoinette.” The play is so constructed that it depicts the queen at various chief periods in her career. Its action commences in 1786, and terminates in 1793. Comedy and tragedy blend in it, and exact from the actress the utmost versatility and the deepest emotion. Ristori amply satisfied the demand. By all who saw the personation, her Marie Antoinette will ever be remembered as a stately image of majesty and sorrow. In the drama, as in history, Marie Antoinette is seen to have been subjected to bitter injustice and insult: ruthlessly separated from her husband; [450] harrowed by the knowledge of his death upon the guillotine; torn from her children; plunged into the deeps of agony and despair; and, finally, led forth to die amid the jeers of the brutal, infernal mob of the French revolution. Her experience, indeed, was the epitome of all miseries; but, over all miseries her indomitable constancy remained the victor. Ristori realized this ideal of suffering and fortitude. Her Marie Antoinette was a beautiful, brilliant woman, a loving wife, a fond mother, a proud-spirited queen, a profound sufferer, an exalted conqueror of all the ills of a most wretched fate. In two of the scenes, the pathos of her acting was such as no words can express. One scene, at the end of the fourth act, represented the parting betwixt Louis XVI. and his wife and children. Overcome by his emotions, the king, who knows himself condemned to die, rushes away into his oratory, and closes and fastens the door behind him. The queen and children pursue him: and then it was that Ristori, bursting into a delirium, beat upon the door with both her hands, and cried out upon his name, “Ah! Luigi, una parola -una sola!” and wrung every heart with grief and pity. The other scene represented the wife and children, kneeling in prayer for the husband and father, at that moment on his way to the guillotine. The roll of drums and the wail of the dead-march sounds in their ears, even while they pray, but continually grows fainter and fainter until it dies away in the distance. Ristori's face was a perfect picture of convulsive agony. A stupendous sorrow struggled in it with a vain, despairing effort at resignation. These scenes always produced an extraordinary effect upon the spectators. Historically accurate in every detail, and literally true to nature in every phase of emotion, Ristori's Marie Antoinette lives, indeed, in many memories, as the best of all her impersonations. To have seen this piece of acting is to have apprehended every aspect of the French Revolution,--its horror, [451] its pathos, its hideous details, its retributive justice, and its fill social significance.

Ristori's second American engagement lasted nine months. Her last appearance in New York was made on the 26th of June, 1868, as Queen Elizabeth. The chief new part that she played during her final season was Isabella Suarez, in a five-act drama, of a religious character, entitled “Sor Teresa,” the work of Signor Luigi Camoletti. The entire number of performances given during her second engagement was one hundred and eighty-one, of which fifty-six were given in the island of Cuba. Her prosperity in America was very great. Personally as well as professionally she made the most pleasing impression throughout this country. “Away from the theatre,” wrote one of her most earnest critics and devoted students,--Kate Field,--“she is the most human (and humane), the most simple, the most unaffected, the most sympathetic of women. So strongly is the line drawn between reality and fiction, that, in Ristori's presence, it requires a mental effort to recall her histrionic greatness.” . . . That greatness, however, must forever survive in the history of the stage. Putting aside all differences of critical opinion, one thought is held in common by all who have watched her career and studied her achievements. That thought is, that she possesses a great intellect, a good heart, and a pure nature, and that she has exercised the best possible influence upon the drama. True to herself as well as to her profession, by her personal worth and private virtues she has attained a social station commensurate in eminence with that which her genius and aspiring energy have won for her in the world of art. The woman is as great as the actress; and the best minds and purest lives of our time have proudly and gladly recognized a fellowship with Adelaide Ristori.


II. Euphrosyne Parepa Rosa.

In the autumn of 1866 the musical public of America welcomed to these shores a richly-gifted and very remarkable musical artist,--Euphrosyne Parepa Rosa. At the beginning of her American career she awakened a lively interest. Her talents were seen to be extraordinary, and her temperament was recognized as uncommonly genial. Time has confirmed that first impression, and lively interest has deepened into an affectionate esteem. The story of the artist's life is brief and simple. She was born at Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1839. Her father was a Wallachian nobleman, Baron Georgiades de Boyesku, of Bucharest. Her mother, Miss Seguin, was a sister to the once eminent basso of that name. Their married life lasted but a little while, being terminated by the sudden death of the Baron, whereby his widow, only twenty-one years of age at the time, was left in poverty. To support herself and her infant child, Euphrosyne, the bereaved Baroness shortly afterward adopted the lyric stage as a profession, and presently began the education of her daughter for the same pursuit. This proved a labor of ease as well as of love. In her musical studies the child made rapid progress; and she also acquired, with rare facility, five modern languages,--English, Italian, French, German, and Spanish. At the age of sixteen--in 1855-she made her first public appearance in opera, in the city of Malta. Amina, in “Sonnambula,” --a customary role of operatic debutantes,--was the character she then assumed; and therein she made a marked and promising success. The unusual power and compass of her voice, and the felicitous method of her execution, speedily became themes of praise with European connoisseurs of music. At Naples, Genoa, [453] Rome, Florence, Madrid, aid Lisbon, her first success was repeated and increased. So, for two years, she prospered, on the continent of Europe, receiving the applause of the people, the cordial favor of musical criticism, and the compliments and honorary gifts of nobles and of monarchs. In 1857 she made her debut in London, in the same company with Ronconi, Gardoni, and Tagliafico, in “I Puritani,” and thereafter took a high place in the favor of the British public. Her career in England lasted nine years; in the course of which period she became the wife of a British officer, whose death, however, left her in widowhood, at the end of sixteen months. The autumn of 1866, as has already been stated, found her in the United States. The company with which she came included the well-known cornet player, Levy, and the violinist, Carl Rosa, and was directed by Mr. H. L. Bateman. Her debut here, September 11, was made in concert, in the city of New York; but she has since achieved honors in oratorio and opera, in most of the principal cities of the Republic. In 1867 she became the wife of Carl Rosa, with whom she has happily lived and labored. Her rank in the musical world is high and honorable, and rests upon solid merits. Nature has endowed her with rich and remarkable gifts. Her voice, a pure soprano, is very powerful, is even in the register, and is thoroughly well balanced. Her method is entirely correct; and, in view of the great volume of her voice, her fineness of execution is unusual and surprising. Perfect in the technical part of music, and thoroughly acquainted with the nature and the scope of her own powers, she does every thing well that she undertakes, and she never undertakes a task that she is not fully able to perform. Her intonation and enunciation are faultless. In oratorio and in the concert room she has no equal. On the stage, however, she somewhat lacks. in acting, the intensity of passionate emotion, [454] the soulful expression, which characterize and denote a great lyric artist. If, however, she have not a dramatic genius, she certainly possesses commanding talents. Her operatic performances in this country have evinced the steady growth of decided dramatic faculty. Great vocal powers have seldom found more ample or more touching expression than those of Parepa Rosa, in the first act of “Norma.” To add that one of her very best successes here has been made as Rosina, in “The Barber of Seville,” is to indicate alike the versatility of her talents and the scope and thoroughness of her culture. There is not, at present, on the American stage, a sounder practical musician than Euphrosyne Parepa Rosa. In social intercourse the lady is agreeable and winning, by virtue of her simple kindness and constant, sunny good-humor.

A New York journalist thus thoroughly sums up the distinguishing merits of this gifted and excellent artist:--

Madam Parepa-Rosa's rare versatility and conspicuous artistic merit were never fairly appraised until she appeared in the United States, although she had sung in English opera in London,and on the Italian stage in the chief cities of the continent. The story of her American tours during the past two or three seasons would form instructive reading for foreigners. It is within bounds to say that, during a year, she has sung before a quarter of a million of people residing in about twenty-five cities scattered over an area of fifteen hundred miles long by seven or eight hundred wide. On her return home this most indefatigable prima donna will be able to testify to the receptions everywhere accorded her, and to the amount of “appreciation” that real vocal worth-finds, even in the young cities of the new west. We have no record of a singer having accomplished the task that Madam Rosa has so far brilliantly fulfilled. At home in every province of her art,--opera, [455] concert, and oratorio; blessed with a voice that even this trying climate cannot impair, and gifted with a musical memory most wonderful,--she permits her manager to announce her at twenty places in a less number of days; and a two years experience of her energetic character has taught the public to know that her engagements, though remotely placed, are sure of being fulfilled. It is not unusual for her to sing, in one week, two or three times at the opera, take the lead * in an oratorio performance two hundred and fifty miles from the Academy, and appear in concert at two or three different places. This is an average instance of her untiring diligence, and the consequence is that, go where and when she will, she is sure to find a couple of thousand persons assembled to do honor to her talents.

III. Ellen Tree (Mrs. Charles Kean).

No one thinks of Ellen Tree without kindness and pleasure. By that name rather than her married name she is remembered by play-goers, and will be celebrated in dramatic annals. She is one of the women who have truly adorned the stage,--a good woman, in every relation of life, and a brilliant actress. For forty-five years she has been a member of the dramatic profession. Her first appearance on the regular stage, after a little amateur practice at a private theatre, was made at Covent Garden, London, in 1823, when she enacted Olivia, in Shakspeare's “Twelfth night.” By the critics of that period the performance was regarded as promising; but that was all; so the young actress went into the provinces, and acted there for the next four years. None of the difficulties that usually attend young theatrical aspirants beset her early career. Two of her sisters were [456] already in the profession,--one, Mrs. Maria Bradshaw, as a singer, at Covent Garden, and the other, Mrs. Quin, as a dancer, at Drury Lane. Their influence, of course, favored their young relative, and an affectionate mother protected, cheered, and encouraged her. In 1827 she was engaged as a member of the Drury Lane company, and in that theatre she made her first conspicuous successes. Her range of characters, even then, was wide. She played Lady Teazle, and she also played Jane Shore,-- thus touching the antipodes of comedy and tragedy. In that same year, and at that same theatre, Charles Kean made his first professional appearance; and it is probable that the acquaintance then and there commenced, which was afterwards to ripen into love and marriage between these two distinguished artists. At that time, and for several subsequent years, theatrical business appears to have been uncertain and unprofitable in London; and, as a matter of prudence no less than enterprise, Ellen Tree varied her metropolitan engagements with various provincial tours, visiting and playing in the principal cities of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Success, in every respect, continually attended her footsteps. She played by turns all the accepted leading parts in the legitimate drama, and her professional reputation was steadily augmented. One of her eminent successes was her personation of Clemanthe, in Talfourd's classic and beautiful tragedy, which was first acted at Covent Garden, May 26th, 1836. With Ion, too, one of the purest and brightest of all the denizens of the world of fancy, her name is identified. In 1836, she visited the United States, and made a starring tour of this country, which lasted three years. Her success here was very great, and she found the warmest favor, not merely with the general multitude of theatre-goers, but with the best educated and most refined classes in American society. Years afterwards, in 1865, when, after a long absence, she reappeared in New [457] York, as Mrs. Charles Kean, it was remarked that many gray haired men and women appeared among her audiences, lured to unfamiliar footlights by the desire to renew their intellectual association with the brilliant stage heroine of younger and brighter days. In 1839 she returned to England, with £10,000 as the fruit of her professional labors in America. Her first English reappearance was made at the Haymarket, where she was welcomed home almost rapturously by the English public. On the 4th of November, 1839, she appeared at Covent garden, then under the management of Madame Vestris (afterwards Mrs. Charles Matthews, and since deceased), as the Countess, in Sheridan Knowles's drama of “Love,” then acted for the first time, but repeated fifty times in the course of that season. In January, 1842, at Dublin, she was married to Charles Kean, with whom for twenty-six years she lived in perfect sympathy and happiness. Three months after their marriage they played a joint engagement, extending over a period of fifty-three nights, at the London Haymarket. “As you like it,” “The Gamester,” and “The lady of Lyons,” may be mentioned as typical of the character of the pieces in which they performed. In August, 1845, they came to the United States, bringing with them Lovell's now well-known drama of “The wife's secret,” written expressly for them, and in which they acted with singular excellence. In this piece, and in Shakspearean plays, Mr.Kean and Mrs. Kean fulfilled a round of engagements in the principal cities of the Republic, with equal fame and profit. In the summer of 1847 they returned to England. Thenceforward, as before, Ellen Tree shared the labors and the fortunes of her husband. She had no separate career, nor did she desire it. In 1848 Mr. Kean was appointed by the Queen of England to be conductor of the Christmas theatrical performances at Windsor Castle, instituted by that sovereign and her lamented consort, the late Prince Albert, [458] with the double design of benefiting the drama and relieving the court of the care and ceremony incident to state visits to the public theatres. This very difficult office Mr. Kean filled for ten years; and, as he was wont to consult his wife on every important matter, it is fair to discern in his signal success some traces of Ellen Tree's prudence, tact, knowledge of human nature, and ripe professional cultivation. At the end of his first season, the queen denoted her appreciation of his services by giving him a diamond ring. In 1850 Mr. Kean became joint lessee of the Princess's Theatre, in London, of which he was left sole lessee and manager in the following year. Here began the most brilliant period of his own and his wife's theatrical career. What Charles Kemble commenced, and Macready continued, Charles Kean triumphantly finished,--the grand and noble work of doing entire justice, in their representation, to Shakspeare's plays. Strangely enough, accuracy on the stage is a modern virtue. hamlet, as played by Garrick, wore the wig and the kneebreeches of Garrick's time. Charles Kemble was the first to make a stand for literal correctness of costume. Macready, who took Covent Garden Theatre for his field of enterprise, in 1837, went further, and made a stand for greater correctness of scenery. But it remained for Charles Kean to do more than had ever before been attempted, by every possible auxiliary of art, skill, learning, labor, and money, to place the plays of Shakspeare on the stage in a thoroughly correct and splendid manner. That work he accomplished; and he is said to have remarked, very late in his life, doubtless in a moment of despondency, that he had wasted the best working years of his career, in endeavoring to sustain the dignity and purity of the British drama. He retired from the management of the Princess's in 1860, having, within his term of nine years, made the most elaborate and brilliant revivals, not alone of Shakspearean, but of divers other dramas. The [459] series commenced in February, 1852, with “The merry wives of Windsor.” This was followed, in due succession, by “King John,” “The Corsican brothers,” “MacBETHeth,” “Sardanapalus,” “Richard III.,” “Faust and Marguerite,” “King Henry VIII.,” “The winter's tale,” “Louis XI.,” “A Midsummer night's dream,” “King Richard II.,” “The tempest,” “King Lear,” “Pizarro,” “The merchant of Venice,” and “Much ado about nothing.” Each of these pieces had a very long run, and in each Mr.Kean and Mrs. Kean played the principal parts. A public dinner was given to Mr. Kean, on his retirement from the direction of the Princess's Theatre. Mr. Gladstone presided; and, on behalf of the committee and subscribers, presented the retiring manager with a silver vase, valued at two thousand guineas. In the speech that he delivered on this interesting occasion, Mr. Kean made the following significant allusion to the cherished partner of his fortunes: “Mind and body require rest, after such active exertions for nine years, during the best period of my life; and it could not be a matter of surprise if I sank under a continuance of the combined duties of actor and manager in a theatre where everything has grown into gigantic proportions. Indeed, I should long since have succumbed, had I not been sustained and seconded by the indomitable energy and devoted affection of my wife. You have only seen her in the fulfilment of her professional pursuits, and are therefore unable to estimate the value of her assistance and counsel. She was ever by my side in the hour of need, ready to revive my drooping spirits, and to stimulate me to fresh exertion.” In July, 1863, Mr.Kean and Mrs. Kean set out from London, with a small, selected company, including their niece, Miss E. Chapman, Mr. J. F. Cathcart, and Mr. G. Everett, to make a professional tour around the world. They went first to Australia; thence to California; thence to the West Indies; and thence to New York. In the latter city [460] they arrived in April, 1865, and made their first appearance there, at the Broadway Theatre, when it, together with the other theatres, was reopened, subsequent to the assassination of President Lincoln. In the opening pieces, “Henry VIII.,” and “The jealous wife,” Mrs. Kean played Queen Catherine and Mrs. Oakley. Majesty of mien, fervor of feeling, remarkable variety of intonation and of facial expression, accuracy of method, and charming vivacity betokened in those personations the gifted and cultured actress. She was seen, however, to be altogether unlike the Ellen Tree of former days, the slight, graceful, elegant, laughing lady, who had blazed upon the stage as the radiant Rosalind, and dazzled every eye with her beauty and her wit.

For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigor of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subject all
To envious and calurninating time.

The final sojourn of the Keans in the United States lasted a year. On the 16th of April, 1866, at the Academy of Music, in New York, after having appeared in the chief theatres of the United States and Canada, they took a farewell benefit, playing in “Louis XI.,” and “The jealous wife.” There was a very great multitude present, and the occasion lingers in memory as one of the brightest and saddest in the record of the stage. The fine art of acting never received a more fervent, conscientious, and touching illustration than was afforded in this performance. Mr. Kean played with all the energy and fire of his nature, and, at the close of the representation of “Louis XI.,” made a most affecting farewell speech to the public. Mrs. Kean's part in “Louis XI.” was Martel, the peasant's wife. She was very genial and simple in it; and thus, even in a trifle, revealed the essential [461] charm of her temperament. A sweet, kind, unpretending, helpful, affectionate woman, such Ellen Tree always was; and very naturally, therefore, she has ways borne her rare mental gifts and distinguished worldly honors with native modesty, ease, and grace, winning on all sides affection not less than esteem. At the close of their engagement here, Mr.Kean and Mrs. Kean returned to England, there to commence a series of farewell performances, by way of final retirement from public life. This was abruptly terminated by the sudden and serious illness of Mr. Kean, on the 29th of May, 1867, when, at Liverpool, he was playing “Louis XI.” He never played again. On the 22d of January, 1868, at Bayswater, near London, he died. His grave is in the village of Catherington, in Hampshire, close by that of his mother. Ellen Tree, of course, will act no more. Sorrow saddens the autumn of her brilliant life. From all quarters, though, she is the recipient of the kindest and sincerest sympathy. The Queen of England, herself a widow, has sent a letter of condolence to the widow of the actor. Better than royal courtesy, however, and better than all the consolations of friendship and fortune, is the consciousness of duty well and truly done toward him whom she loves and mourns, and toward all the world. With that consciousness warm at her heart, Ellen Tree can look back upon a well-ordered, an honorable, a distinguished, and a successful life. Her rank as a dramatic artist is with the best representatives of English comedy.


IV. Clara Louisa Kellogg.

America's favorite vocalist, Clara Louisa Kellogg, was born in Sumter, South Carolina, in 1842. She is, however, of New England parentage. Her early years were passed in Connecticut. She was educated at the free schools, and in them she used to sing with her little school-mates; but she does not appear to have attracted attention as a child, by either proficiency in vocal exercises or especial beauty of voice. At one time in her girlhood she sang in a church-choir, in the town of Lyme, where she was thought to possess a pretty voice, but one that could easily be shouted down by more vigorous organs. In 1858 her parents were residents of New York city, her mother being what is called “a healing medium,” --in other words, a clairvoyant doctor. Many visitors were attracted to this lady — who is, indeed, described as a singularly gifted and interesting person — by the fame of her success as a physician. One of these visitors, on conversing with Mrs. Kellogg, learned that her “medium” powers had first been exercised in restoring to health her own daughter, a slender, delicate girl, who, at the moment of this conversation, was singing, behind a curtain that divided the room in twain, to the accompanying jingle of a cracked piano. One confidence succeeding another, Mrs. Kellogg said that her daughter's ambition impelled her toward the operatic stage. Reference was hereupon made, by the visitor, to Miss Eliza Logan, the once distinguished actress,--now in retirement, as Mrs. George Wood. At a later period mother and daughter called on this lady, and consulted her as to the expediency of Miss Kellogg's adopting a professional career. The incident is interesting and significant, as indicative of the troubles that beset, at the outset, every aspirant for the artistic [463] life, and of the courageous energy that is needful to meet and overcome them:--

“My sister,” writes Miss Olive Logan, in one of her lively, off-hand sketches, “spoke in a disinterested manner to this young girl,--told her of all the haps and mishaps of stage life,--spoke, also, of that unnecessary and unjust obloquy which is attached to the name of every actress, and then bade her go back and ponder seriously. She went back with her mother, and both pondered seriously. They pondered on the fact that the young girl must do something for self-sustenance. They pondered on the limited field of employment which is open to women. They pondered on the emoluments and the delights of being a seamstress, or a shopgirl, or or a w worker on a sewing-machine. They pondered on the scope afforded the daughter's genius by these employments; and, pondering, they decided. The young girl went upon the stage. She made a failure,--a dire, desperate, seemingly hopeless failure. But she remembered that many a great genius has failed at first, only to triumph at last. There was a plucky spirit in the girl's heart, and she did not turn to the sewing-machine as a last resort. Retiring again to private life, she began to labor at art as no galley-slave ever labored at the work to which he was sentenced. Her days and her nights were given to the worship of the goddess she loved; and, on her reappearance on the stage, she was tolerably, if not brilliantly, successful. Her great virtue was that she did not consider herself perfect; but day after day, and night after night, she kept up that unceasing toil which has now made her one of the most celebrated women of the age and the only pure-blood prima donna assoluta of whom America can boast.” 1

Surmounting all obstacles, Miss Kellogg at last made her [464] debut at the Academy of Music. This event took place under Mr. J. Grau's management, in 1860, in “Rigoletto.” The attempt was a failure. In fact, it was only after her third debut that the young vocalist succeeded. Since then her progress has been very rapid to that fame and fortune rightfully due to exalted merit and steadfast energy of character. Very early in her career she had the happiness to attract the attention of a munificent friend of art,--one of those wealthy men, found here and there throughout society, who practically consider that riches are given to them in order that they may promote the general welfare of mankind. That friend was Col. H. G. Stebbins, of New York, who formed so high an estimate of Miss Kellogg's musical gifts, conceived so deep an interest in her singularly delicate, refined, and gentle nature, and foresaw such a bright future for her in art, that he offered to charge himself with the care and cost of her musical education. The offer was accepted by the parents of the singer, and Col. Stebbins faithfully performed his chosen work. In truth, Miss Kellogg was, in a measure, adopted into the family of this sterling gentleman and generous friend, who has been to her a second father. Among the music-teachers then employed for her cultivation were Professor Milet, M. Riznire, and M. Muzio. One of her earliest personations that attracted critical attention and inspired hope for her future, was her Gilda, in “Rigoletto,” which she played at the Academy of Music, in 1861. Her first really great success, though, was made as Margherita, in Gounod's “Faust,” which was first produced in New York, in the season of 1864-65. Personal adaptability to the character was, doubtless, one of the chief sources of this success. Margherita is a pure, delicate, gentle, loving, simple-hearted, and simple-minded maiden; and Miss Kellogg filled this ideal, not less in spirit than in outward seeming. Another of her successes was made as Linda di Chamounix, in May, 1867. [465] Her acting and singing, in the malediction scene, in act second of this opera, are still remembered, with lively emotions of astonishment and admiration, because of their extraordinary vitality, tragic force, and glittering precision of method, in which art concealed every trace of art and wielded the magical wand of nature. In addition to these, Miss Kellogg has made signal successes in “Crispino e la Comare,” “Fra Diavola,” “Il Barbiere di Seviglia,” “I Puritani,” L'etoile du Nord, “La Sonnambula,” “Martha,” “Don Giovanni,” “Lucia di Lammermoor,” and “La Traviata.” Her debut in London was made on the 2d of November, 1867, as Margherita. Few triumphs so genuine and so brilliant as hers have ever been won upon the London stage, and no American musical artist has hitherto attained a reputation at all commensurate with that which Miss Kellogg now enjoys abroad. Her impersonations, indeed, and her delightful vocal powers have in a surprising manner affected both the mind and the heart of the English people. Many pages might easily be filled with thoughtful and ardent praises of the singer, from the soundest critical journals in London. A single quotation from one of these will not here be misplaced, as representative of the tone of European opinion respecting the prima donna of whom the art-public of her native America is so justly proud.

Miss Kellogg,” said the London “Review,” on the Saturday subsequent to her debut,

has for four or five years past enjoyed the highest renown in her own land, reports of which have long reached us here; and now we are able to bear testimony to the truth of the praise which has been bestowed on her by American critics. No ordeal could have been found more severe than a first appearance as Margherita in Gounod's “Faust,” a part in which the London public has seen and heard some eight or more artists,--some [466] excellent, all more or less good. Besides others, Madame Aliolan-Carvalho (the original Margherita in Paris), Mademoiselle Lucca, Mademoiselle Patti, Mademoiselle Titiens, Mademoiselle Artot, and, last of all, Mademoiselle Christine Nilsson, have all been heard here in this part, and have left impressions which render it extremely difficult for any newcomer to succeed in the same character. The great success, therefore, of Miss Kellogg is decisive proof of her merits and accomplishments. Her voice is a soprano of pure and even quality, sufficiently brilliant in its upper portion, and intensely sympathetic in its middle and lower range. She has perfect command over a compass of two octaves,--her execution and intonation evidencing that complete course of student training, the necessary drudgery of which is so frequently shirked by vocal aspirants, and more especially when gifted with naturally fine voices, which are too generally considered by their possessors to be tie chief requisites for success; whereas, in point of fact, the voice is but as an instrument apart from the trained skill and art requisite to wield it. Miss Kellogg is one of those exceptional singers who, blessed with a fine voice, have yet not presumed, on the strength thereof, to neglect those minute and laborious details of vocal exercise which form the requisite training for an executive artist. These qualities are apparent in the certainty and precision with which she intonates distant intervals, the note being at once perfectly reached without that wavering which is sometimes perceptible in singers of great pretensions, whose practice of scales and solfeggi has not been sufficiently diligent. Miss Kellogg's power, too, of sustaining a note with a prolonged diminuendo, finishing with an almost imperceptible pianissimo, unfalteringly in tune, is another proof of thorough training. Then her bravura-singing in florid ornamental passages has that distinctness and completeness of style so seldom realized; while her shake is irreproachable in [467] closeness, evenness, and intonation. Beyond these technical merits, Miss Kellogg possesses a refinement and sensibility of style, and a power of expression, aided by a voice of naturally sympathetic quality, which impart a charm to her performance not to be found in mere mechanical excellence. Moreover, Miss Kellogg is an excellent actress,--with an intelligent and expressive face, a graceful figure, and that propriety of gesture, action, and by-play, which denote that the study of acting, apart from singing, has occupied more of her attention than is usual with vocalists.

These views have the double merit of impartiality and truthfulness. In their estimate of the singer there is no extravagance. Miss Kellogg is gifted with extraordinary powers, by which, and by great and continual labor, she has fairly earned her eminence. Nor can her victory be too highly esteemed. Success such as hers in the great art of musical acting implies a rare union of splendid qualities of person, mind, and character. Exquisite sensibility, keen intuitions, an unerring sense of symmetry, a wide grasp of emotions, reason and imagination, sadness and glee, the power to fill as well as the power to conceive an ideal,--all these must the singer possess, who would interpret the human heart and the immortal soul through the most heavenly medium of utterance that God has vouchsafed to his creatures.

V. Kate Bateman (Mrs. George Crowe).

In the career of Kate Bateman — who, at the age of twenty-six years, shares the distinction of the most popular actresses of her time — is seen a conspicuous illustration of the force that is exercised in public life by purity of character [468] and integrity of purpose. She possesses uncommon talents and sterling accomplishments, and these she has employed with a noble energy and singleness of purpose, and in a pure, sweet, womanly spirit, that could not fail, and have not failed, to win unbounded appreciation and sympathy. The most important period in her professional life comprises the last eight years. Within that time she has won both fame and fortune. Her experience of the stage, however, dates back to childhood; and much of her more mature facility is of course to be attributed to early professional training. She was born at Baltimore, Maryland, on the 7th of October, 1842, being the second child of H. L. Bate. man and Frances Bateman,--the former well and widely known as a theatrical manager, and the latter reputed as an actress and a dramatic author. Shortly after the birth of Kate, her father, then in mercantile business, returned to the stage, playing, in the domestic drama, such parts as Martin Heywood in “The rent day,” and Walter in “The Babes in the wood.” On the 14th of December, 1847, at one of the theatres in Louisville, Kentucky, the latter piece having been cast, and the children who usually played the juvenile parts in it being unable to appear, the Bateman children, Kate and Ellen,--one five years old and the other three,--made their first appearance on any stage. Their debut was an accident, but their success was signal. They were very pretty and interesting little girls, and their brightness and cleverness won all the more appreciation because of their extreme youth. Then, too, parental sympathy was touched by the spectacle of father and children playing upon the stage together, in such relations as are sustained by Walter and the Babes. In brief, all the favorable influences combined to make a career and open a brilliant future for these children. Season after season they starred the country under their father's management. New parts were [469] found for them from time to time. Kate used to be especially fine as Richard the Third, which she was first cast in at the suggestion of Moses Kimball, in the old days of the Boston Museum, which institution he originated. Her best part, though, was Henriette de Vigny, in “The young couple.” In 1850 the Bateman Children were taken to England, where, in all the great cities of the British Isles, they found even more favor than they had found at home. In August, 1852, they returned to America, and in 1856 they retired from the stage. Ellen was subsequently married and is now Mrs. Claude Greppo. Kate remained in retirement and studied acting. At length, in 1860, she reappeared on the stage, in the character of Evangeline, in a drama, by her mother, based on Longfellow's poem. The performance, though very pretty and pleasing, did not, however, make a deep impression upon the public mind. It was seen in many American cities, during the season of 1860-61, but was nowhere greeted with much enthusiasm. In fact, since the chief quality of the character of Evangeline is silent fortitude, its delineation affords but little scope for the vivid display of dramatic powers. The most that was possible for the actress was to look like a saintly sufferer and to be picturesque in tableaux. Two years afterwards Miss Bateman again appeared in New York-at the Winter Garden, in April, 1862--as Julia, in “The Hunchback,” and this time she made a prodigious popular sensation. Following up this success with a great deal of characteristic energy, she appeared as Lady Gay Spanker, in “London assurance;” Lady Teazle, in “The school for Scandal;” Juliana, in “The honeymoon;” Juliet; Bianca, inFazio;” Geraldine, in her mother's tragedy of that name,--originally written for Matilda Heron,--and Rosa Gregorio, in a new drama, written for her, by Mr. T. B. DeWalden. Later in the same year, in August, at the same theatre, she played an [470] other engagement, which was signalized by the presentation of her Lady Macbeth. Her best successes this year were made in Julia, Bianca, Lady Gay, and Geraldine. In all her personations, however, the chief charm was the innate purity of womanhood that shone through them. Very often her art was defective. In some parts (Juliet and Lady Macbeth, for instance) she seemed utterly at sea. But no person of sensibility could witness her acting without being conscious of contact with an earnest, delicate, womanly nature, that was as refreshing to the mind, jaded by the all too prevalent artifice of the stage, as is the cool, delicious fragrance of trees and flowers and grass, after a light shower in a spring day. And not only did her nature charm by its ingenuous sweetness and win by its purity: a certain fiery force of intellect was perceptible in it, now and then,--shown in the fourth act of “The Hunchback,” and in certain scenes of “Geraldine,” that vitalized a style of acting which might otherwise have sometimes seemed insipid. This fiery force, combined with an acute perception of simple pathos, was afterwards to find more abundant scope and more vivid expression. In December, 1862, Miss Bateman made her first appearance as Leah,--a character with which her name is now identified; and herein these qualities of her nature were displayed with ample breadth. Few single passages in modern acting are more touching than is her simple, natural, tender scene with Rudolph's child, in the last act of “Leah ;” and few kindred efforts have electrified the multitude so much as has her delivery of Leah's curse, in the churchyard scene in that drama. These, however, are facts of such common knowledge, that it were needless to dwell upon them. It should be mentioned, though, that the play of “Leah” is an American adaptation of the German drama of “Deborah,” by Dr. Mosenthal, made by Mr. Augustin Daly. Miss Bateman's first appearance as Leah was made in [471] Boston; but subsequently, for nearly a year, she starred the country in that character, and everywhere attained new popularity. Her first representation of it in New York was given at Niblo's Garden, in January, 1863. Mr. J. W. Wallack, Jr., and Mr. Edwin Adams appeared in the cast, as Nathan, the apostate Jew, and Rudolph, the lover. In the autumn of that year, Miss Bateman, accompanied by her father as manager, proceeded to London, where “Leah” was produced in October, having just been revised and revamped by Mr. John Oxenford, dramatic critic of the London Times. That the performance was a success may readily be seen in the remarkable fact that it was repeated for two hundred and eleven nights in succession, before crowded houses, and greeted with every possible manifestation of public and critical approval. Writers were not wanting, indeed, to point out, truthfully and frankly, the defects of Miss Bateman's acting; yet its force, and its winning charm of fresh, young, gentle personality were none the less recognized.

In the last three months of 1864 Miss Bateman fulfilled prosperous and brilliant engagements in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Dublin, and Glasgow. The theatres overflowed nightly, and the star of the young actress rose still higher in the skies of fame. Returning to London in the spring of 1865, she reappeared as Leah, and also played Julia, Bianca, Pauline, and Geraldine, concluding her engagement, at the Adelphi, in July of that year. When autumn came, she made another tour of the principal British provincial cities, in all of which she played, with abundant success, a round of her favorite characters. On her next return to London, she received a complimentary benefit, at Her Majesty's Theatre (since destroyed by fire), given to signalize her farewell to England. The occasion is recorded as one of the most delightful of its kind in recent stage life. Miss Bateman played Juliet. Shortly afterwards she sailed [472] for New York, arriving there on the 12th of January, 1866. On the 15th of January, at Niblo's Garden, she reappeared as Leah; and here she acted, for the next six weeks, before crowded audiences. She then proceeded to Boston, where she found her popularity unabated. Thence returning, she reappeared at Niblo's; but was forced, by sudden and severe illness, to relinquish her engagement, and to remain for several months in retirement.

In October, 1866, Miss Bateman became the wife of Dr. George Crowe, an English gentleman, son of Eyre Evans Crowe, author of a “History of France,” and other works, and for several years editor of the London “Daily news.” During the year following her marriage, she did not appear in public life; but, at length, having been entirely restored to health, she accepted an engagement, offered by an English manager, and, on the 7th of October, 1867, she reappeared in Liverpool, as Leah, creating a still greater popular excitement than before,--which also attended her professional progress, at Brighton, Manchester, Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham, Dublin, and Edinburgh. She is now in retirement, at her husband's residence, near the city of Bristol, England; but she will return to the stage in October, 1868, and commence the season at the London Haymarket Theatre, where she is engaged for a period of three months.

Her present is full of success, and her future is full of promise. Young, beautiful, distinguished,--a happy wife, an affectionate and cherished daughter, a simple-minded woman,--she moves forward, beneath a sunny summer sky, on a pathway that is strewn with roes. Such women honor the stage by their presence upon it; and their personal assertion of the dignity of the dramatic art is more eloquent and more practically effective than words can possibly be.


VI. Helen Faucit (Mrs. Theodore Martin).

For thirty years Helen Faucit has been a favorite actress on the English stage. For thirty years she has amused and instructed the British public, winning with ease, and wearing with grace, the golden crown of success. In both of the chief branches of dramatic art, as a tragic and as a comic actress, she has attained lofty eminence; nor has she been less esteemed as a woman than admired as an artist. It seems proper, therefore, to select her as the representative English actress of her time. The portraits of Helen Faucit --portraits that, of course, were made long ago — represent a tall, elegant figure; a frank, sweet, expressive, good face; large dark-brown eyes, full of eager intelligence; and a stately head, finely poised upon a swan-like neck, and crowned with luxuriant dark hair that falls in abundant curls on her snowy, sloping shoulders. Such, doubtless, was the fair girl who charmed an earlier generation of the lovers of art, in the brighter days of the British drama. Helen Faucit comes of a theatrical family. Her father and mother, and her three brothers and two sisters, were all members of the dramatic profession. Her early education for the stage was superintended by Mr. Percival Farren, of the Haymarket Theatre. Her first public appearance was made at a theatre in Richmond, near London, in the autumn of 1833, in the character of Juliet. The announcement of her debut ran thus: “A young lady — her first appearance on any stage.” The public received her kindly, and she seems to have played very well. But no novice can adequately personate Shakspeare's Juliet. The character taxes the art of a thoroughly trained actress: and, in general, it is much more truthfully interpreted by women of fifty, who have passed years upon the [474] stage, than by the freshest beauties of eighteen or twenty-five. Helen Faucit's first appearance in London was made on the 5th of January, 1836, at Covent Garden Theatre, as Julia, in the well-known “Hunchback.” One extremely interesting incident marked the occasion, showing that imperial firmness of mind, under the most trying circumstances, is not incompatible with the utmost gentleness of womanly temperament. There was a very large audience present in the theatre; and being brought, for the first time, to the test of such tremendous physical magnetism, the nervous power of the young actress faltered, and she succumbed to the icy spell of stage-fright. Her performance, as a matter of course, came very near to being a dead failure. At length, as the second act was drawing heavily to a close, she caught sight, in the orchestra, of the white head and tear-dimmed eyes of her oldest and dearest friend,--a venerable gentleman, whose paternal love and fostering care had cheered and encouraged all her young ambitions. “That white head,” she afterwards remarked, “seemed to fill the theatre.” Fired by the thought of this friend's past confidence in her talents, and present anguish in prospect of her failure, the actress made a great effort, suddenly recalled her will to its sovereign seat, and so turned the current of her fortune from defeat to victory. Her voice rose loud and clear, and .all the fervor of her spirit came into play. As a matter of course, her audience quickly recognized the change, and felt the spell of genuine talent; and their hearty plaudits ratified her success. That success has known “no retiring ebb,” but has steadily increased into such eminence as is only won and kept by commanding talents and unsullied integrity. Helen Faucit's next appearance was made as the heroine of “Venice preserved.” After that she played Mrs. Haller, and acted the chief part in Joanna Baillie's new drama of “Separation,” which had, however, only a short life. But her chief success that season [475] was Clemanthe, in Talfourd's “Ion,” --(of which Ellen Tree was the original). For her benefit, on the 20th of June, 1836, she played Mrs. Beverley, in the “Gamester,” and very deeply touched the hearts of her audience, by her affecting picture of the poor wife's anguish and devotion. Even thus early she seems to have excelled in characters requiring for their portrayal deep feeling and exquisite tenderness. In the following season, she personated the chief female part in

Bulwer Lytton's drama of “The Duchess de la Valliere,” --a piece of French extraction, then produced for the first time.

It failed, though, and it is never heard of now. On the 18th of April, 1837, Helen Faucit made a hit as Portia. Mr. Macready took the lease of Covent Garden Theatre in that year, and made haste at once to engage her in his dramatic company. It will be seen that, from the outset, she faithfully and strenuously worked in the stock companies, which was the secret of her sure progress. Macready kept Covent Garden two years; and, in the course of that time, Helen Faucit played many important parts. Bulwer Lytton's “Lady of Lyons” was, for the first time, acted, during this term of management,--early in 1838,--and Helen Faucit was the original Pauline, to the Claude Melnotte of Macready. On the 10th of October, 1839, the tragedian abandoned Covent Garden, and accepted an engagement, under Mr. Webster at the Haymarket, Helen Faucit and Mrs. Warner being elected to second him in a round of his chief performances. On the 26th of October, 1841, when Macready again assumed the reins of management, in taking the lease of Drury Lane, Helen Faucit was again engaged as leading lady: and certainly it is no slight testimony to the ability and culture of the actress, that she was thus thrice chosen, to fill a position of the first importance, by an actor so exacting, so coldly intellectual, and so hard to please, as the famous tragedian is well known to have been. Many new pieces were tried, [476] under the new administration of Drury Lane, and in most of them Helen Faucit had to study — and, as the stage-phrase is, “create” --new parts. “Plighted Troth,” “The blot in the Scutcheon,” “Gysippus,” and “The Patrician's daughter,” may be mentioned among the new dramas, that then, for the first time, saw the light. In all of these Helen Faucit appeared, and she also sustained leading parts in Macready's Shakspearean and other revivals; thus participating in the honors of one of the most brilliant periods of enterprise that are recorded in the history of the British drama. She was the original Julie, in Bulwer Lytton's “Richelieu,” and the original Josephine, in Byron's “Werner.” When Macready finally abandoned management, Helen Faucit betook herself to the “star” system, and went into the provinces. Engagements were numerously offered, and successes were numerously achieved. This portion of her career need not detain minute attention. The actress who has once become a popular favorite, has but to fulfil, under the starring system, the usual routine of travelling from city to city, and playing at theatre after theatre, with various business, it is true, but generally with prosperous results, and almost always with increase of fame. For some years past, Helen Faucit has played irregularly, only accepting engagements here and there, under entirely agreeable and advantageous circumstances. She is the wife of Theodore Martin, whose-repute in literature, as an able, versatile, and brilliant writer, assuredly needs no bush, and whose rank in the world of English letters is sufficiently indicated by the fact that the Queen of England has selected him to write the Life of the deceased Prince Consort. She has never visited the United States; nor, as she is now upwards of fifty years of age, is it likely that she ever will come to this country, on a professional expedition. American knowledge of her acting, therefore, must depend on the study of English stage records and English [477] criticism. Those authorities bear ample testimony to the brilliancy of her past career and the sterling worth of her talents and character. Adverse opinion has contented itself with calling her “MacREADYeady in white muslin.” It is not unnatural that her temperament and her style of acting should have been influenced by the strong individuality of that remarkable actor. Few players who have yielded to the enchantment of Macready's art have ever been able entirely to discard his mannerisms in their own playing. Helen Faucit's native merits, however, are such as far outweigh her borrowed defects. A recent critic, Mrs. S. C. Hall, describes her, as follows, in words that clearly depict a true artist and gifted woman:--

She bears home to the imagination one great harmonious impression of whatever character she is impersonating; but when we look back and analyze that impression, we feel what a wealth of subtle details has gone towards producing it, with what exquisite graduations it has been worked up to its crowning climax. . . . All she says and does seems to grow out of the situation as if it were seen and heard for the first time .... With the ever-wakeful conscientiousness of a real artist, Helen Faucit is continually striving after a higher completeness in all she does. Her characters seem to be to her living things, ever fresh, ever full of interest, and on which her imagination is ever at work. They must mingle with her life, even as the thick-coming fancies of the poet mingle with his. As, therefore, her rare womanly nature deepens and expands, so do they take a richer tone and become interfused with a more accomplished grace. . . I have often, in former days, seen her, by her intense power of shaping imagination, make characters harmonious which were mere tissues of shreds and patches, and personages “moving-natural, and full of life,” which, as the author drew them, [478] were hollow phantasms. Conspicuously has she done so with the “Lady of Lyons.” I saw her when this play was first produced, and memory is sufficiently strong to compare the actress of that time with the actress of to-day. She can be compared with none other than herself; for no actress, since Helen Faucit made the character so essentially her own, has approached her in its delineation. It was then acting of rare grace, and truth, and power; it is now all that, but much more. Time, and study, and refined judgment have enabled her to perfect that which was admirable in its earliest conception. I recall the sensation that moved a crowded house after the curtain fell on the first representation of the “Lady of Lyons.” There was a rumor that it was the production of Lytton Bulwer,--a rumor only, which, so carefully was the secret kept, some of his most intimate friends emphatically denied. The play, it is needless to say, made an immediate success. It has retained its place as one of the stock pieces of the stage ever since. There is now, indeed, no Claude Melnotte to be compared with Macready, although he was by no means young when he performed that youthful part; nor has any one ever approached him in it. But Helen Faucit is far nearer the ideal Pauline now than she was in those days; and it is easy to imagine the delight of Lord Lytton in witnessing that which it is not too much to say surpasses, in refined grace and intellectual power, the part as he created it.

Her Pauline is in truth a perfect performance. It has that charm which comes only from the inspiration of genius; for at the root of all art lies the passion, which, as the great French actor Baron said, sees farther than art. But it is also the perfection of art where art is never, even for a moment, seen; the result of careful and continuous study, but with the ease and force of nature in every word, look, and motion. So is the character worked out from the beginning to the end.

1 P. F. Nioholson's “Town and country.”

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