Charles Frederick Holder.

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acter, written for dramatic action. The
picturesque, so far as the eye was
concerned, had never been taken into
consideration, and, indeed, it Wfl
reproach against him that he sacrificed
dramatic to pictorial art. But that
peculiar class of people known as
Shakespearean students, who could
quote the great dramatist's lines from
beginning to end, and loved to evolve
an occult meaning out of a misplaced
semicolon or a misspelt word, natur-
ally objected to any new and radically
different treatment of Shakespt
from that they had been accustomed
to. They resented Irving s tine
scenery, artistic costuming, effective
lighting and free and unstinted use of
pictorial accessory. To them it was
flippancy — it was almost desecration.
Irving had thrown tradition to the
winds, and with that <'
critics and students, every tradition
concerning Shakespeare was sacred.
In these later days we have still
the serious individuals who
to the Shakespearean play with
the book, and note every speech cut
out, every line misread, every word
mispronounced, and score them as
vital flaws in the impersonation of the
character. But they are either very
young gentlemen who are just in or
out of college, and are primed with the
scholastic analysis of Shakespeare's



lines, or very old men who have no
conception of the meaning of dramatic
form, and who want Richard III and
Othello to roar and froth at the

At first Irving had much to contend
against in the carping of these critics,
who, it may be said, for generations
had made reputations and crushed am-
bitions. It was not in old days sup-
posed to be given to all intelligent
minds to comprehend William Shakes-
peare. He was so deep as to be occult,
in the estimation of those who learn-
edly argued as to the meaning of
obscure expressions, and devoted their
time to trying to discover hidden
abstruse thoughts in passages that
were perfectly simple. Irving' s start-
ling innovations brought all these
eccentrics out, but they also drew
into the discussion another class of
intelligent people, who had hitherto
been content to listen to the learned
arguments of the oracles. It began to
be discovered that there was nothing
occult about Shakespeare ; that he
was a dramatist of human nature of a
perfectly comprehensible type, and
that while many of the beauties of his
lines might not be effective to all
minds, there was absolutely no mis-
taking his meaning when a proper
reading and representation of his
dramas were given. It remained for
an American to give the coup de grace
to that weird metaphysical stud}- of a
simple, clear and meaningful writer,
and when Ignatius Donnelly evolved
the Cryptogram, the absurdity reached
its climax, and the Shakespearean
controversy was practically laughed
out of existence.

Partly because of the interest stirred
up by Irving' s production of Shakes-
peare, and partly through the pecu-
liarly favorable state of the public
mind at the time, the stage took a
decided bound forward. It became
more than a question of a new actor ;
it was a different movement from that
which rivalry had raised in the
previous century. For the first time
the public began to realize that the

drama was something very different
from what it had been supposed to be,
and actors were more than mummers.
The play became a series of pictures ;
the characters began to take on all the
interest of real people in real places ;
their adventures, which had al-
ways been potent on the imagination,
became more thrilling as they assumed
the appearance of reality. . Behind all
the great acting of the past had been
a background of incongruity. Now
the illusion was produced so vividly,
that the unimaginative and imagina-
tive in the audience felt alike a new
sensation. Scenes were made more
beautiful than ever the imagination
had painted, and every feature of the
romantic, dramatic and picturesque
was heightened to an unexpected
point. . That the class of critics who
had ruled the theater so long should
fight against the new order of things
was to be expected, for the reputation
and success of the actor were passing
into the control of the general public,
whose money was the actor's fortune,
and whose praise was his fame. In
this class may be included some of
the newspaper and magazine critics ;
but the portion referred to par-
ticularly, has no parallel in America,
a class of dilettanti, of club and liter-
ary men, whose verdict had always
been feared.

So quite apart from the considera-
tion of his relations to the public as
an actor, Henry Irving rose at once to
position of head and champion of the
dramatic profession. Actors before
him had secured fame and popularity,
but with the rise of Henry Irving, the
4 ' patronage ' ' of the profession began
to disappear. Irving commanded
respect, as well as admiration. Per-
haps in his early days Irving may, as
all of his fellows, have sold tickets
for his benefit, and been pleased to get
the patronage of people. It is
not on record that he did, but it
was then a part of the contract. But
he had achieved his ambition, and
with strong friends and the public
behind him, he established the prin-



ciple that acting was an honorable
profession, and raised its devotees
above, rather tha'n set them below the
majority of the other classes of the

Then the advocates of social science
and other learned associations began to
realize that another important factor
had been discovered in sociology, and
both art and literature felt that the
stage had come in to claim decided
relationship with them. Irving was
called upon to discuss the stage and
the drama, and the philosophical
question of dramatic art before their
congresses. Twice, in 1881 and 1891,
he opened the session of the Philo-;
sophical Institution at Edinburgh ;
in 1886 he delivered an address at the
University of Oxford ; and on his
visit to America in 1885, ne lectured
before the Harvard students, and
argued for the stage as a profession
for college men.

Irving's success in London had an
almost immediate effect upon all ac- %
tors. That he was envied is certain ;
that some who had been stars when
he was a utility man felt jealous, is
very likely ; but all conceded that he
had raised his profession, and lost no
opportunity to claim for it a public
and social acknowledgment it had not
known before. He did not claim for
himself, as an actor and interpreter of
Shakespeare, a higher place than men
in other lines. Nothing is more
noticeable in all his speeches than his
application of art to all acting ; and
very rarely does he speak, especially
in discussing the stage, without some
allusion to his friend John L. Toole,
the low comedian, who has for thirty
years or more made England laugh.

It was natural that Irving should
turn his eyes towards America. For
some years he had been constantly be-
fore the London public ; America was
rising rapidly as the greatest " show "
country in the world ; Irving's absence
from London for a season would only
whet the appetite there for more Shak-
spearean or other productions ; there-
fore he determined on a trip across the

water. Then a rival came into the field,
an actor who has made many friends,
but no great fortune in this country.
Wilson Barrett, who had become a

very prominent manager-actor in Lon-
don, aspired to produce Shakspeare and
reach up to at least an equal place with
Irving. He made elaborate pre]
tions to produce 4< Hamlet." He had
archaeologists and artists engaged on
historically accurate pictures of Klsin-
ore, he dug out of history all possible
facts that might be useful, he re ■:
Shakspeare and hit upon the novel
of making Hamlet a boy, he spent a
large amount of money. Bat his
Elsinore and his Danes were too clo
historical accuracy, and the costumes
were not as picturesque nor pretty
as people wanted. His Hamlet and
the production alike made no suc<
and he left the field to Henry Irving

Irving was received in America as
became a distinguished Strati
While there was no hesitation in con-
demning his faults, it was admitted
freely that he had gained his position
in England by merit. He commended
himself to Americans by what they
have found lacking in dramatic mana-
gers among themselves — enter]
He was not only a remarkable central
figure, he was a great artist in stage
management. There was no stinting
of money in producing his art
effects. He appealed to his audit a
by combining in one representation all
the artistic necessities ; and the
Americans will pay for that kind of
thing, no matter who, French . ( '.crin a n ,
English, or American, puts it before
them. It is not my purpose to <
sider at present, Irving's status as an
actor. This sketch deals entirely with
his place before the public, his influ-
ence on the development of the stage,
and the means by which he lias
achieved a standing no other actor
or manager has ever had.

In considering his work, it is ne
sary to allude to Miss Ellen Terry.
When Irving decided on his ambitious
scheme, he engaged the best English-



speaking actress to be his coadjutor.
Some critics consider Ellen Terry as
remarkable an actress as Sarah Bern-
hardt, and unquestionably she has
been a most important factor in
Irving's success. Nowhere has she
failed to win the highest praise, and
she probably claims justly half of the
triumph that has come to him. She
has won all her audiences, and fre-
quently it has been said that without
her Irving would not have found
America so easy to conquer. It was a
stroke of the same genius that led him
to success, the engagement and reten-
tion through his prosperous career of
the distinguished and winning artist.
He himself has never failed to ac-
knowledge Miss Terry in his speech-
es before the curtain, in such a way as
to show his recognition of her value.
Although no man has ever been s<>
advertised, by paragraphs, articles hi
the newspapers and magazines, as well
as through the usual channels, it can-
not be claimed that he has been made
by advertisement. Irving's position is
his advertisement. He is one of those
men about whom the public likes to
read, and the newspapers and maga-
zines will print and pay for articles
about him, for which meaner mortals
would pay them handsomely, if they
would accept the proposition. His
position he has earned fairly, by haul
work, by constant devotion tooneaim,
and by living up to his pretensions.
The honor and credit that have been
given to him are deserved; he had to win
them before they were granted to him.
And there is honor in doing what he
has done. If it were for nothing but
having dignified a discredited profes-
sion, having opened up a new career
for educated men and women, and
showed them they can hold it without
derogation of social position, which he
has done in England, and helped to do
in America, he has done the world a
service. He has commanded for the
stage a respect and admiration of
which any one may take the benefit,
and those who have ability, the profit.
The value of this morally, is consider-

able. As for the modern drama, it has
been made a charge against him that
he has done little to* help its develop-
ment, that he has given no encourage-
ment to the contemporary writers. It
is unjust to blame him. If the plays
that have been imported from England
to America are any guide to the best
abilities of English dramatists, it is
most excellent judgment of Irving to
rely on the older writers. Surely no-
thing Mr. Pinero has written could
call for the powers of an actor like
Irving, or warrant the enormous risk
of such productions as the Lyceum is
accustomed to. Irving has produced
" Recket," Tennyson's poetic drama.
This is a concession to the best taste
of literary people, but nobody has
claimed that Tennyson is a dramatic
poet, however beautiful as poems his
plays may be. There can be no de-
velopment of modern Shakespeares
through the production by Irving of
the mild coined y dramas of Sydney
r.rundv, or the melodramas of Sims
and Pettit. At present there seems to
be no attempt in England to write

grand dramatic works, and it is hard to
see where Irving could get the modern
material, even it" he were anxious to
develop the modern drama.

To sum up Henry Irving, he is
one of the foremost figures in the
world of art to-day. He is not only
an actor and an artist, he engages and
utilizes actors and artists. There are
many painters about whose merits
friends and enemies quarrel. There
are many actors of greater or less
merit. There are artists of all kinds.
Henry Irving is not a painter, yet in
every production he has made, he has
shown the acute artistic perceptions
of the painter. Such successes as he
achieves are not made by a variety of
leading mental faculties, but by one
directing power having others at its
command. Henry Irving has doubtless
the best of artists with whom he can
consult, but no man can harmonize
painters, designers, costumers and all
the numerous artistic factors neces-
sary for a theatrical production of the



kind given at the Lyceum, unless
he be himself an artist.

Whatever rank history may give
him as an actor, and it is hardly likely
he will outrank some of his great pre-
decessors, he is a man of unquestioned
dramatic talent and original concep-
tion. He is not a man of petty points;
whatever he does that is new is bold,
decisive and significant of a strong
intellectual reasoning power. While
opinions may diifer as to the value of
his acting of Shakespeare, out of even-
play he has produced he has brought
a wealth of detail that in some cases
has been a revelation. In truth, he
has educated theatrical managers and
the public, and developed the art of
play-producing so wonderfully as
to have made his career the be-
ginning of a new era. He has
shown a value in the drama far be-
yond what it has been credited with,
he has elevated it, or at least presented
to the public its elevated character.
He has perhaps saved it from degrada-
tion, for the Lyceum Theater in Lon-
don has been a standing protest against
the prurient school that has obtained

some slight hold there. Rut there 18 HO
calculating what hold it might have
obtained in face of the punv modern
play, that has been all that England
lias had to pit against it. of a modern
kind. In fact, it is not unlikely that
Shakespeare would have died out in

London, for the threadbare represents

tions the great dramatist receives in

the other parts of England, could n<

keep him alive in a metropolis ; and.
after Irving, who is there to play the
great roh
Even as a London manager, Henn

Irving has had a notable effect

on America. Those elaborate pi

entations, art, taste, and a Bb
dignified central figure, make a stand
ard by which ours may be measured,

and the natural result of a high stand

ard anywhere is to improve others.

That Irving is to be credited person
ally with his success, is proved bv the
fact that here, in America, where
there is a public ten times more inter
ested in the theaters, we have been
unable to establish a theater like the
Lyceum in London, for want of the
man to take the place he holds.




THERE is, in the quarry yard of
the Nevada State Prison, located
two miles east of Carson City,
Nevada, a system of prehistoric foot-
prints of both man and beast, which
has baffled the scientists of both
America and Europe for the past fif-
teen years. We speak more especially
of the prints supposed to have been
made by a human being, who was of
gigantic proportions and immense

The first evidence of animal life was
found during the wardenship term of
the late C. C. Batterman, who at that
time was engaged in getting out rock
to construct a shoe-shop for the utili-
zation of convict labor, considerable
of which was on hand at that period.
In this work a granite bowlder was
found, in the sandstone- of the quarry.
It was used as a date plate in the
face of the building.

One day in blasting rock, the pris-
oners came upon the remains of an
enormous mastodon elephant, lying on
its right side. The tusks were in a
fair state of preservation and were
taken out almost intact, and varnished
so as to further preserve them from
the action of the air.

Time told marvelously upon the fos-'
sils, and they now amount to almost
nothing, having fallen away in thin
flakes of lime and completely lost
their shapes.

Warden Batterman paid no particu-
lar attention to this discovery, prob-
ably considering it the only fossil
there, and in consequence very little
thought was given the matter.

Mr. Batterman was succeeded by
Major Garrard, who took more interest
in the fossils without history, than his
predecessor, and he at once went to
work to preserve all the specimens
and data obtainable on the subject.

He was not satisfied with the opin-
ions which he himself might form
from time to time, but in conjunction
with Mr. Hanks, ex-Sheriff of Storey
County, he determined to investigate
the matter as far as the advanced
sciences would permit.

Under his administration, a great
portion of the sand stone had been
quarried away for public buildings
in various parts of the State, and
the wonderful tracks became visi-
ble and increased in numbers.
They were seemingly made by
some gigantic man, walking on the
shore of what must have been a lake
or an arm of the sea, covering what
is now known as Eagle, Carson and
Jacks Valley, with an outlet running
through Dayton into Churchill County.
to the lower Sink of the Carson

The prison is situated at the base of
a low hill, sloping to the plain on all
sides except to the south, where it
abuts against a ridge of much older
rocks. The hill consists of regular
strata, nearly level to the eye, but
really dipping about three degrees to
the west, and it is evidently a rem-
nant left by erosion of a much more
extensive deposit. It has been cut
into on the northern side down to the
level of the plain, so as to form an
almost level quadrangle of about 150
yards square, surrounded on three
sides by vertical cliffs from ten to forty
feet high, on which the level strata
are well exposed.

11 The strata exposed in this quarry,''
says Prof. Le Conte, "consists of
heavy-bedded grayish and creamy
sand stone, separated by thin layers
of shale. The sand stone in many
places, especially in the eastern cliff,
is strongly affected with cross lamina-
tion, indicating deposit by rapid, shift-




Plate i— Fig. i, Hole in Sandstone Rock, once filled with Root of Sage Brush, taken thirty feet from -
Pig. 2, Decomposed Sagebrush Root winding round Clam Shell. Fig. 3, Petrified Root on Piece ol
Fig. 4, Hole made by Slimy Snail, found thirty feet below surface ; rings running around center represent
stages of moisture. I he clams were all taken out of clay and sandstone Strata.


nig, overloaded currents — in other
words, river flood deposits. We have
here, therefore, probably the mouth
of an ancient stream. The stone has
been removed down to an even shale
stratum, or rather to two shale strata,
about two feet apart, which form the
floor of the prison yard. These shale
strata are the track-layers. The upper
track-layer forms the floor of the
upper or eastern part of the yard, then
there is a drop of about two feet to
the lower track-layer which forms the
floor of the rest of the yard. The
whole area thus cleared, is literally
covered with tracks of many speci-
mens of birds and mammals."

We find here the tracks of horses,
deer, lions, wolves, birds, elephants,
and what many suppose to be the
footprints of human beings. Warden
McCollough has been as anxious to
get into the cliff and explore further
as a practical scientist would be, and
without interfering with other work
Vol. IV-39

in progress, has done everything in

his power to discover new tracks, and
at the same time keep the old ones in
a state of preservation.

As a result of this quarrying, stone
has been removed from an area of
about two acres, and to a depth vary-
ing from ten to thirty-five feet, show-
ing the hill to be composed of la;
of sand stone, alternating with seams
of clay. As above stated, Warden
Garrard and ex Sheriff Hanks went to
work with a purpose in view, and
opened correspondence with the Cur-
ator of the California Geological
Museum, C. D. Gibbs.

Prof. Harkiie^ says <>f this cor-
respondence: "At one of the n
ings of the Academy, Mr. Gibbs I
the correspondence, which so tmpres
the members that it was determined at
once to visit the locality. The forma-
tion, to which allusion has been made,
is called by Clarence King, in his
Geological Survey of the fortieth par-



allel, the 'Lower Quartenary.' Re-
ferring to this region, he says, ' It is
composed of sandstones and clays,
worn down from the adjacent high
mountains and deposited in the water
and on the shores of a lake, many
hundred miles in area, that at one
time extended along the eastern base
of the Sierras, and to central Nevada,
and having an elevation of 4388 feet
above the sea level.' Pyramid, Win-

the sandaled foot of man. There are
six series of the tracks of man, each
being represented by a number of
footprints in regular order, and each
showing plainly the imprint of a san-
dal. Besides this, in one of the series
the form of the sandal differs markedly
from the others. The first of these
series is to be seen emerging from
the eastern side of the yard, where the
cliff is fifteen feet in height above

Plate 2— Figs.

8 4 5 7

and 3, supposed Human Footprint- ; istodon Footprint lid 5, Bird Tracks.


nemucca and Walker Lakes, and the
sinks of the Carson and Humboldt
are now the lower points of this pre-
historic lake, which spread its waters
in the pliocene age, and which Mr.
King has called Lake Lahontan.

"It also gives evidence of having
been at one time the shore of some
lake or pond, local and isolated, as its
level was above that of Lake Lahon-
tan. Presumabl}' we stand upon the
shore of this ancient lake, and as we
look about us we see the footprints of
a variety of animals, among which we
recognize those of the mammoth, the
deer, the wolf, of many birds, and
most imoortant of all, the imprints of

the tracks. This series consists of
three of the sandaled footprints, eleven
of the elephant and two of the birds.
These tracks were evidently made in
a layer of sediment, perhaps two
inches in depth, for below this layer
is compact sandstone. In each in-
stance the mud had been raised by the
pressure of the foot into a ridge which
entirely surrounded it. Each of these
imprints furnishes evidence, as wd
believe, that the feet of the one mak-
ing the tracks were protected by san-
dals. In no single impression do we
find conclusive evidence of this fact,
but when we study them as a whole,
we find that which is wanting



one is furnished by others which fol-

" In nearly all, the toe portion is
well shown, it being as smooth as the
work of a mason for
the distance of two or
three inches. In its
outline the impres-
sion follows clearly
the shape of a human
foot. From the great
toe outward there is
a really graceful
curve, which draws
in toward the heel,
while from the great
toe inward, the line
is drawn toward the
instep, and thence in
an outward curve to
the heel. In one
series this curve is
deeper, showing a
slightly different
form of sandal. The
average length of the
stride is two feet,
three inches. The
distance between the
feet, or the straddle,
is eighteen inches, as
measured from the
center of the sandal
of one foot to the
center of the corres-
ponding one.

" These mammoth
foot-prints were of an
average depth of five
inches, and had been
made in a layer of
sediment which is
now so firmly consol-
idated as to retain a
tolerably distinct ex-
ternal outline of the
foot of the animal,
but owing to the
irregular formation
of the calcareous de- '
posit referred to, no distinct imprint
of the bottom of the foot can be traced.
In the prison yard besides the above
described tracks, those of birds are


Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 79 of 120)