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naturally for a dirty bonnet to be removed from a chair than to offer, naturally, a kingdom for a horse. Consider the situation, and think of the fever-heat that a man would be in before saying, naturally, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” Let anyone try this simple test and he will know what I mean. He who can play Richard III. even tolerably would seem a master in any of Ibsen's plays ; but it by no means follows that a proper exponent of Dr. Kroll or Tesman could play Richard III. or Hamlet.
Ibsen's characters are drawn in plain, straight strokes which makes it very easy for actors to personate them, and “dress ” them as it were. If only he were more true to reality and held the mirror up to Nature—as she is, streaked white and black, not all blackthen I should like to act in his plays, for they give actors immense opportunity.
I hear it often said that his plays are so real-natural—true to nature. Very odd this! They have always struck me as being preposterously unreal—untrue to nature. Ibsen makes his characters converse naturally, and that seems their sole source of strength. But enough of Ibsen!
“Autumn days come quickly like the running of a hound upon the moor.” One can scarcely do everything. I prefer presenting to an audience, and living familiarly with, Queen Katherine and Imogen rather than with Dr. Ibsen's foolish women.
To return to the Prince of Wales's Theatre, Mr. Bancroft's arrangement of the Merchant of Venice was the very best I have known for "up to date" requirements of the stage. How I loved playing Portia-I have tried five or six different ways of treating her. Unfortunately, the way I think the best way does not find response with my audiences. An actor has different systems, methods, for, of course, play-acting is scientific—and much more—for there are more things within an actor's soul than science can ever comprehend. One could, if one would, say much to the proving that our lovely art can be measured up by the rule and compass—that this sigh is so many inches, and that laugh so much by so-and-so—but if I could find words I would rather leave that proving to another, and dwell instead upon what else goes towards the making a great actor. The actor whose fibre can respond to delicate touch, and
whose face can show the workings of the mind, I esteem more highly than the man who may possess a powerful voice—though, by the way, this is always a very valuable possession ; for the one with a powerful organ may be a dullard, the other-no! that would be impossible. To stand and walk well, to fence, to intone and speak with rhythm—all these may be taught, and are very necessary, but what cannot be taught goes beyond all this, and the rarer qualities were possessed by the few actors who have filled the niche of famecentury after century-Garrick, Mrs. Siddons, Kean; and now Irving fills it as assuredly as that the world moves round the sun !
At the Prince of Wales's Theatre with Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft, and under their management, I played Portia, Clara Douglas in Money, Mabel Vane in Masks and Faces, and Blanche in Ours. One evening in this last play I nearly killed poor Mrs. Bancroft. I had to go fooling around with a bayonet and in fun had to charge her. Whether she moved to the right instead of, as usual, to the left, or whether I was careless and made a mistake, I don't know, but I charged, and she instantly called out that I had pierced her arm!
Oh dear! I was so frightened. I think she has forgiven me since, but I might have killed her, and then there would have been no Sweethearts, no Jenny Northcut—that most lovely performance, which made me cry whilst I was seeing it, and burst out again, hours afterwards, when I was having my supper at home! just the remembrance of it.
From the Prince of Wales's Theatre I went to the Court-then under the management of Mr. Hare. The House of Darnley-a posthumous play of Lord Lytton—was the first piece I played in. For some reason or another, it did not take any hold upon the public, and Mr. Hare then produced various plays in succession, amongst others, Victims (one of the earliest plays which ridiculed the abuse of the æsthetic craze) and New Men and Old Acies. This was put up as a stop-gap to fill up the time whilst rehearsing another play. It was not a new play, but the public just loved it, and it had a long run to crowded houses.
After this came Olivia, and everyone went Olivia-mad! Mr. Hare produced the play and stage-managed it in an absolutely
perfect manner. The whole thing was a great success, and the best success in it for me was that Mr. Irving heard I acted well in it, and a little later on offered me an engagement when he took the Lyceum Theatre under his own management.
In December, 1878, I acted once more with Mr. Irving. No . Katherine and Petruchio this time, but Hamlet and Ophelia. It seems a lifetime since that night, the 30th of December, 1878. For one reason, I have helped in about thirty plays since then; the work has been constant, my pleasure in the work unbounded. I seem to have made the acquaintance of and to know quite intimately 'some noble people—Hamlet and Ophelia, Portia, Benedick and Beatrice, Romeo and Juliet, Viola, the Macbeths, Charles I., and Mr. Wills' Henrietta Maria (a pleasanter acquaintance than the real original lady, I am sure !). All this makes me rejoice and wonder how it is that I'm not a superior person ! I have dwelt with such very good company. It has been all sunshine, with a wee cloud here and there to give zest to life; and my lines have been laid in pleasant places. How terrible it must be to have to do the work one abhors !
Mine only comes hard upon me if I am ill. It is the actor's lot that he must have no moods—and even this is not an unmixed evil. It is strange how excitement will carry one through with work. I have come off the stage and found my shoe full of blood from a nail which had entered my heel on the stage, but I had felt no pain whilst on the scene, although I was laid up from it for week afterwards. The fiend neuralgia seizes me at times, and what I say or what I do—how I get on or off the stage, entirely puzzles
I go through the whole thing mechanically, and, of course, act very badly. When I am in a state of collapse from pain I can't care whether I act well or ill ; but there have been evenings when it has been an agony to me to know how ill I have played—that the spirit had moved me not at all, and I have longed to be able to go back on the stage and say, "Oh, do let me do it again, I can do it so much better than that!” In the good old days, the good old actors only acted every other day.
That seems to me an ideal state of things. The present time demands more of us, and so we have to play every night and sometimes as many as eight performances a week, without
including the various benefits at which so many actors work for one another. Oh, if only half were known of the expense, the knowledge, the industry, the patience, the goodwill exercised behind the scenes before that little curtain rolls up every evening at the same hour precisely, people would be astonished, I think. They would rejoice when every success was made, and sympathise with all the failures.
A holiday in view towards the end of a hard-working season is a treat to be looked forward to. I shall, perhaps, never again experience in my life the excitement and exhilaration of my first long sea voyage. It was to America. I am not a very good sailornor a very bad one,—but oh, that voyage—the delight of it! Looking back now I am only surprised I did not either jump overboard, murder the captain, or hang myself to the top of the mainmast, out of sheer excitement and exaltation! Out-of-door life without fatigue acts magically, it brings strength and peace to me. At the present moment I am thinking of my next holiday,
memory is “straying” off to the fresh green fields and dainty hedgerows.
THE NAVAL DEFENCE ACT.
T is proposed in the present paper to review the general policy
of construction for the Navy under the existing Board of Admiralty, and to consider how far the general preparations we are now making are adequate to our needs. The programme of shipbuilding under the Naval Defence Act of 1889 comprised thirty-eight ships to be built in the dockyards, and thirty-two to be built by contract. The former were estimated to cost £ 1 1,500,000, and were to be paid for by moneys annually voted by Parliament. The expenditure on the thirty-two ships to be built by contract was to be defrayed by a fund of £10,000,000, placed at the disposal of the Admiralty by Act of Parliament. No part of this sum is borne on the votes submitted for the approval of the House of Commons in Navy Estimates.
The seventy vessels laid down under the Naval Defence Act include eight first-class battle ships, nine first-class protected cruisers, twenty-nine second-class protected cruisers, four thirdclass protected cruisers, Pandora type, eighteen first-class torpedo gunboats.
Such being the proposals of the Admiralty in 1889, let us see with what measure of success they have been carried out. The official report is contained in Lord George Hamilton's statement explanatory of the Navy Estimates for 1891-92.
The work contemplated by the Naval Defence Act is now sufficiently advanced to enable a reliable forecast to be made both of the date at which it will be completed, as well as of its actual as compared with its estimated cost. The number of ships to be built was seventy, of an estimated displacement of 316,000 tons, and carrying 540 guns, exclusive of machine guns and guns of small calibre. The whole of these vessels with