how multitudinous its humiliations, how comic its tragedies,
how tragic its comedies, how wearisome and monotonous its
repetition of its stupid history through the ages, with never
the introduction of a new detail ; how hard it has tried, from
the Creation down, to play itself upon its possessor as a boon
and has never proved its case in a single instance !
Take note of some of the details of the piece. Each of
the five acts contains an independent tragedy of its own.
In each act somebody s edifice of hope, or of ambition, or of
happiness, goes down in ruins. Even Appelle? perennial
youth is only a long tragedy, and his life a failure. There
are two martyrdoms in the piece ; and they are curiously
and sarcastically contrasted. In the first act the pagans
persecute "Loe^ the Christian girl, and a pagan mob slaughters
her. In the fourth act those same pagans now very old
and zealous are become Christians, and they persecute the
pagans ; a mob of them slaughters the pagan youth,
NymphaS) who is standing up for the old gods of his fathers.
No remark is made about this picturesque failure of civili
sation ; but there it stands, as an unworded suggestion that
246 ABOUT PLAY-ACTING
civilisation, even when Christianised, was not able wholly to
subdue the natural man in that old day just as in our day
the spectacle of a shipwrecked French crew clubbing women
and children who tried to climb into the lifeboats suggests
that civilisation has not succeeded in entirely obliterating
the natural man even yet. Common sailors! A year ago,
in Paris, at a fire, the aristocracy of the same nation clubbed
girls and women out of the way to save themselves.
Civilisation tested at top and bottom both, you see. And
in still another panic of fright we have this same tough
civilisation saving its honour by condemning an innocent
man to multiform death, and hugging and whitewashing
the guilty one.
In the second act a grand Roman official is not above
trying to blast Appelles reputation by falsely charging him
with misappropriating public moneys. Appelles, who is too
proud to endure even the suspicion of irregularity, strips
himself to naked poverty to square the unfair account, and
his troubles begin : the blight which is to continue and
spread strikes his life ; for the frivolous, pretty creature
whom he has brought from Rome has no taste for poverty
and agrees to elope with a more competent candidate. Her
presence in the house has previously brought down the pride
and broken the heart of Appelles* poor old mother ; and her
life is a failure. Death comes for her, but is willing to
trade her for the Roman girl ; so the bargain is struck with
Appellee and the mother is spared for the present.
No one s life escapes the blight. Timoleus t the gay
satirist of the first two acts, who scoffed at the pious hypo
crisies and money-grubbing ways of the great Roman lords, is
grown old and fat and blear-eyed and racked with disease
in the third, has lost his stately purities, and watered the
acid of his wit. His life has suffered defeat. Unthinkingly
ABOUT PLAY-ACTING 247
he swears by Zeus from ancient habit and then quakes
with fright ; for a fellow-communicant is passing by.
Reproached by a pagan friend of his youth for his apostasy,
he confesses that principle, when unsupported by an assenting
stomach, has to climb down. One must have bread ; and
* the bread is Christian now. Then the poor old wreck,
once so proud of his iron rectitude, hobbles away, coughing
In that same act Appelles gives his sweet young Christian
daughter and her fine young pagan lover his consent and
blessing, and makes them utterly happy for five minutes.
Then the priest and the mob come, to tear them apart and
put the girl in a nunnery ; for marriage between the sects
is forbidden. Appelles 1 wife could dissolve the rule j and she
wants to do it ; but under priestly pressure she wavers ;
then, fearing that in providing happiness for her child she
would be committing a sin dangerous to her own, she goes
over to the opposition, and throws the casting vote for the
nunnery. The blight has fallen upon the young couple,
and their life is a failure.
In the fourth act, Longinus, who made such a prosper
ous and enviable start in the first act, is left alone in the
desert, sick, blind, helpless, incredibly old, to die : not a
friend left in the world another ruined life. And in that
act, also, Appellcs 1 worshipped boy, Nymphas^ done to death
by the mob, breathes out his last sigh in his father s arms
one more failure. In the fifth act, Appelles himself dies, and
is glad to do it ; he who so ignorantly rejoiced, only four
acts before, over the splendid present of an earthly immor
tality the very worst failure of the lot !
Now I approach my project. Here is the theatre list
for Saturday, May 7, 1898, cut from the advertising
columns of a New York paper :
PROCTOR S CONTINUOUS
1 UWVJLVU. \J PERFORMANCE.
a3D ST. ,. REFINED VAUDEVILLE.
Vaudeville debut of
CBABLES A. GARDNER CO.;
Arthur and Jenuio Ira on. Piulinettl nd Piquo.Hneh-
ev Dendwrtr. Nichols |MUn.Oof EVMI, oUxwm,
SENSATIONAI. EDISOfc WAB-ORATH.
BALCONIES, 25c. ORCHESTRA, 60c.
ACADEMY OF MTTStC. Kth fit. ft Inriag }X
A STUPUNDOPS SPCCZSS.
Hats. Wed. 4 Sat., 2. Ere. 8:15.
A SAM T. JACK S THEATRE,
? BnOABWAY S9TH BT.
^3bv 2 BIO SHOWS EVKRV DAY, t and &
^Sgr Jennie Yeamans * Frenctt ImportaUoaa,
*> OTflR C CONTINUOtTS
r*tO 1 Ull O FEBFORMANCES.
12:30 to 11 P.M. 8rt2O and SO Cent*.
EDISON S VVONDERBCL WAB-SCOPK.
CANFItLD & CAftLETON. ELLINORE SISTERS,
JOHNNY CARROLL, CURTIS* GORDON.
WEBER & FIELDS 1 . MY! HAT. TO-DAY.
POUSSE CAFE $ H i CON-CURERS.
HISS BESSIE CLAYTON, the Queen of Darcerm,
1 /1THST. THEATRE,nr.6tbeT. Good seats. 5<te
** THOS. E. SHEA In the irreat naval pUy.
THE MAN-O -WAK S MAN.
SILVER SOUVENIRS it Wed. & Sat Matinees.
D 1 1 n II Matinee To-day at 2.
DlJUU To-nijrht at 8:15,
Last Two Performancea of
MY FRIEND FROM INDIA.
NEXT WEEK THE TARRVTOWN WIDOW
8 to 11 P. M. Admission, Me. Children, SBC.
MADISON SQUARE GABDKH.
iiirniniu 8 "> "* "^^ <M * Tcl - " 7js
AnlEK UAr) e vt ^ HAT. WED. & SAT. ^
nillklliwrill Ciatlo Sanare Opera Company.
MON?H] ^^nt 1 * THE BE66AR STUDENT.
ENTIRE HOUSE. 25, SO. 75. Mat. To dav. 25 & M.
NEXT WEE2L FADST <1N ENGLISH)
HURTIOft UADI CM MUSIC Orch.tndB.1.
SSAMON S liMnUtW HALL. Be.Jic.ndMc.
RoRers Bros., Maude Raymond, Joe Welch.
Raymond & Kurlcump. Gardner & Gilmore;otbcrs.
1 VrrilM b Ae. & 23d St. Begins 8:30.
LTutUnl. Daniel Frobmon, Manager.
Kelcev^Shnnon Go. in Clyde Fitch s
THK MOTH AND THE FLAME.
EMPIRE THEATRE. B way acd 40ih St.
TGRAKE|oToR THE MAYOR,
Evenings al 8:. Mata. To day afld Wed. at 2: IS.
8TAB. THE VTHITE SQTJADROJ*. Oal.ISc.
InUodncioe P.obt. Bllllmrd *L*nni BiggW. Bl. c-
Next Week "The Mikado." Oreh 50c
HI VSIDII MUSIC HALL. Mot. Tcujay.
ULTWrlA ADGIE, 2^ t 1ferl SJlV8<
^SlSnJ WAR BUBBLES, 11
5 TH AVE. THEATRE. Broadway and 28th St.
MRS. FISKE EaL S Mat. 8 at2.
ID LOVE ITKD3 TITE WAY
od A BIT OF OLD CHELSE*.
KFITH ^ CONTINUOUS PERFORMANCE,
nklllltf S8c.,SOe., Hoon toll P. M.
BIOGBAPH, CHARU.5 DIOK80N ft CO.. t CO-
H4N3, JOBNSTONE BENNETT, OCOXOBJW. LES
LIE, feKITK AND C4MPEELL. OARDKER ASD
ELY. WEBB AND HASSAJJ.MALL AKO SIAIJEt.
bLOCKSOM AND BCBN3 Alii) OTUEBS.
KNICKEKBOCECR. B-WA? * 36TU.
EVENiUGS AT fr.li *UT. TO-DAV AT 2.11.
SOUSA S THE BRIDE-ELECT
HEW OPER*. lilt MIIIUU UL.WUI
ROSTER & BIAl S ^^ ^:
AOBUC KITCQIE la "AC BALN."
Truly Shg^UCftt Germue Ed^rardy. and otherft-
14 A R 1 M OPERA HOUSE.
n M n L K.nt E. s-ia. Mat. fM*
BKMBT MTIXEK-THE MASTKB.
Neit Week-THE HIGHWAYMAN,
WAAJLACS-S Ergs. 8:15. Mat TcMlay, S.
^li THE BOSTONIANS
Pif^S* CONTINUOUS d CT
AUAUt, PEBFOBMANCE. 85 A.VT.
Ulltoa tnd Pollle Nobles. I on Qreboff. Ctahfflao
ad Holcombe, C. W. LltUefleld: other*.
JEDI6ON WAK-GRAi>H (HEW VTEWS)i
^ ^n,.^ ttoe. : toiiP.^, ^^
Daly s [ * M MlW iS11StfC ta -*
IVfpfflnfft Earl. Jarm-s Powers, Ac.
"A trump cart ; verv bnrht." Heraid, >
Ereuox ot ttBAllo>U ccJoynicaU"-Tra).
Now I arrive at my project, and make my suggestion.
From the look of this lightsome feast, I conclude that what
ABOUT PLAY-ACTING 249
you need is a tonic. Send for * The Master of Palmyra.
You are trying to make yourself believe that life is a
comedy, that its sole business is fun, that there is nothing
serious in it. You are ignoring the skeleton in your closet.
Send for The Master of Palmyra. You are neglecting a
valuable side of your life ; presently it will be atrophied.
You are eating too much mental sugar : you will bring on
Bright s disease of the intellect. You need a tonic ; you
need it very much. Send for The Master of Palmyra.
You will not need to translate it ; its story is as plain as a
procession of pictures.
I have made my suggestion. Now I wish to put an
annex to it. And that is this : It is right and wholesome
to have those light comedies and entertaining shows ; and I
shouldn t wish to see them diminished. But none of us is
always in the comedy spirit ; we have our graver moods ;
they come to us all ; the lightest of us cannot escape them.
These moods have their appetites healthy and legitimate
appetites and there ought to be some way of satisfying
them. It seems to me that New York ought to have one
theatre devoted to tragedy. With her three millions of
population, and seventy outside millions to draw upon, she
can afford it, she can support it. America devotes more
time, labour, money and attention to distributing literary
and musical culture among the general public than does any
other nation, perhaps ; yet here you find her neglecting
what is possibly the most effective of all the breeders and
nurses and disseminators of high literary taste and lofty
emotion the tragic stage. To leave that powerful agency
out is to haul the culture-waggon with a crippled team.
Nowadays, when a mood comes which only Shakespeare
can set to music, what must we do ? Read Shakespeare our
selves ! Isn t it pitiful ? It is playing an organ solo on a
250 ABOUT PLAY-ACTING
jew s-harp. We can t read. None but the Booths can
Thirty years ago Edwin Booth played * Hamlet a
hundred nights in New York. With three times the
population, how often is * Hamlet played now in a year ?
If Booth were back now in his prime, how often could he
play it in New York ? Some will say twenty-five nights.
I will say three hundred, and say it with confidence. The
tragedians are dead ; but I think that the taste and intelli
gence which made their market are not.
What has come over us English-speaking people ?
During the first half of this century tragedies and great
tragedians were as common with us as farce and comedy ;
and it was the same in England. Now we have not a
tragedian, I believe ; and London, with her fifty shows and
theatres, has but three, I think. It is an astonishing thing,
when you come to consider it. Vienna remains upon the
ancient basis : there has been no change. She sticks to
the former proportions : a number of rollicking comedies,
admirably played, every night ; and also every night at the
Burg Theatre that wonder of the world for grace and beauty
and richness and splendour and costliness a majestic drama
of depth and seriousness, or a standard old tragedy. It is
only within the last dozen years that men have learned to
do miracles on the stage in the way of grand and enchanting
scenic effects ; and it is at such a time as this that we have
reduced our scenery mainly to different breeds of parlours
and varying aspects of furniture and rugs. I think we
must have a Burg in New York, and Burg scenery, and a
great company like the Burg company. Then, with a
tragedy-tonic once or twice a month, we shall enjoy the
comedies all the better. Comedy keeps the heart sweet ;
but we all know that there is wholesome refreshment for
ABOUT PLAY-ACTING 251
both mind and heart in an occasional climb among the
solemn pomps of the intellectual snow-summits built by
Shakespeare and those others. Do I seem to be preaching ?
It is out of my line : I only do it because the rest of the
clergy seem to be on vacation.
252 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
LAST spring I went out to Chicago to see the Fair, and
although I did not see it my trip was not wholly lost there
were compensations. In New York I was introduced to a
Major in the regular army who said he was going to the
Fair, and we agreed to go together. I had to go to Boston
first, but that did not interfere ; he said he would go along
and put in the time. He was a handsome man and built
like a gladiator. But his ways were gentle, and his speech
was soft and persuasive. He was companionable, but
exceedingly reposeful. Yes, and wholly destitute of the
sense of humour. He was full of interest in everything
that went on around him, but his serenity was indestruc
tible ; nothing disturbed him, nothing excited him.
But before the day was done I found that deep down
in him somewhere he had a passion, quiet as he was a
passion for reforming petty public abuses. He stood for
citizenship it was his hobby. His idea was that every
citizen of the republic ought to consider himself an unofficial
policeman, and keep unsalaried watch and ward over the
laws and their execution. He thought that the only
effective way of preserving and protecting public rights was
for each citizen to do his share in preventing or punishing
such infringements of them as came under his personal
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 253
It was a good scheme, but I thought it would keep a
body in trouble all the time ; it seemed to me that one
would be always trying to get offending little officials
discharged, and perhaps getting laughed at for all reward.
But he said no, I had the wrong idea : that there was no
occasion to get anybody discharged ; that in fact you
mustn t get anybody discharged ; that that would itself be a
failure ; no, one must reform the man reform him and
make him useful where he was.
Must one report the offender and then beg his superior
not to discharge him, but reprimand him and keep him ?
No, that is not the idea ; you don t report him at all,
for then you risk his bread and butter. You can act as if
you are going to report him when nothing else will answer.
But that s an extreme case. That is a sort of force, and
force is bad. Diplomacy is the effective thing. Now if a
man has tact if a man will exercise diplomacy
For two minutes we had been standing at a telegraph
wicket, and during all this time the Major had been trying
to get the attention of one of the young operators, but they
were all busy skylarking. The Major spoke now, and
asked one of them to take his telegram. He got for
1 I reckon you can wait a minute, can t you ? And
the skylarking went on.
The Major said yes, he was not in a hurry. Then he
wrote another telegram :
* President Western Union Tel, Co. :
Come and dine with me this evening. I can tell you
how business is conducted in one of your branches.
Presently the young fellow who had spoken so pertly a
little before reached out and took the telegram, and when
254 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
he read it he lost colour and began to apologise and explain.
He said he would lose his place if this deadly telegram was
sent, and he might never get another. If he could be let
off this time he would give no cause of complaint again.
The compromise was accepted.
As we walked away, the Major said :
Now, you see, that was diplomacy and you see how
it worked. It wouldn t do any good to bluster, the way
people are always doing. That boy can always give you as
good as you send, and you ll come out defeated and ashamed
of yourself pretty nearly always. But you see he stands no
chance against diplomacy. Gentle words and diplomacy
those are the tools to work with.
Yes, I see : but everybody wouldn t have had your
opportunity. It isn t everybody that is on those familiar
terms with the President of the Western Union.
* Oh, you misunderstand. I don t know the President
I only use him diplomatically. It is for his good and for
the public good. There s no harm in it.
I said with hesitation and diffidence :
1 But is it ever right or noble to tell a lie ?
He took no note of the delicate self-righteousness or
the question, but answered with undisturbed gravity and
1 Yes, sometimes. Lies told to injure a person and lies
told to profit yourself are not justifiable, but lies told to help
another person, and lies told in the public interest oh, well,
that is quite another matter. Anybody knows that. But
never mind about the methods : you see the result. That
youth is going to be useful now, and well-behaved. He
had a good face. He was worth saving. Why, he was
worth saving on his mother s account if not his own. Of
course, he has a mother sisters, too. Damn these people
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 255
who are always forgetting that ! Do you know, I ve never
fought a duel in my life never once and yet have been
challenged, like other people. I could always see the other
man s unoffending women folks or his little children stand-
ing between him and me. They hadn t done anything I
couldn t break their hearts, you know.
He corrected a good many little abuses in the course
of the day, and always without friction always with
a fine and dainty diplomacy which left no sting behind ;
and he got such happiness and such contentment out of
these performances that I was obliged to envy him his trade
and perhaps would have adopted it if I could have
managed the necessary deflections from fact as confidently
with my mouth as I believe I could with a pen, behind the
shelter of print, after a little practice.
Away late that night we were coming up-town in a
horse-car when three boisterous roughs got aboard, and
O O /
began to fling hilarious obscenities and profanities right and
left among the timid passengers, some of whom were women
and children. Nobody resisted or retorted ; the conductor
tried soothing words and moral suasion, but the roughs only
called him names and laughed at him. Very soon I saw
that the Major realised that this was a matter which was in
his line ; evidently he was turning over his stock of diplomacy
in his mind and getting ready. I felt that the first diplo
matic remark he made in this place would bring down a
landslide of ridicule upon him, and maybe something worse ;
but before I could whisper to him and check him he had
begun, and it was too late. He said, in a level and dis
passionate tone :
Conductor, you must put these swine out. I will help
I was not looking for that. In a flash the three roughs
256 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
plunged at him. But none ot them arrived. He delivered
three such blows as one could not expect to encounter out
side the prize-ring, and neither of the men had life enough
left in him to get up from where he fell. The Major
dragged them out and threw them off the car, and we got
under way again.
I was astonished : astonished to see a lamb act so ;
astonished at the strength displayed, and the clean and com
prehensive result ; astonished at the brisk and business-like
style of the whole thing. The situation had a humorous
side to it, considering how much I had been hearing about
mild persuasion and gentle diplomacy all day from this pile-
driver, and I would have liked to call his attention to that
feature and do some sarcasms about it ; but when I looked
at him I saw that it would be of no use his placid and
contented face had no ray of humour in it ; he would not
have understood. When we left the car, I said :
That was a good stroke of diplomacy three good
strokes of diplomacy, in fact.
That ? That wasn t diplomacy. You are quite in
the wrong. Diplomacy is a wholly different thing. One
cannot apply it to that sort, they would not understand it.
No, that was not diplomacy ; it was force.
Now that you mention it, I yes, I think perhaps you
4 Right ? Of course I am right. It was just force.
( I think, myself, it had the outside aspect of it. Do
you often have to reform people in that way ?
Far from it. It hardly ever happens. Not oftener
than once in half a year, at the outside.
Those men will get well r
* Get well ? Why, certainly they will. They are not
in any danger. I know how to hit and where to hit. You
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 257
noticed that I did not hit them under the jaw. That would
have killed them.
I believed that. I remarked rather wittily, as I thought
that he had been a lamb all day, but now had all of a
sudden developed into a ram battering-ram ; but with
dulcet frankness and simplicity he said no, a battering-ram
was quite a different thing, and not in use now. This was
maddening, and I came near bursting out and saying he had
no more appreciation of wit than a jackass in fact, I had it
right on my tongue, but did not say it, knowing there was
no hurry and I could say it just as well some other time
over the telephone.
We started to Boston the next afternoon. The smoking
compartment in the parlour-car was full, and he went into
the regular smoker. Across the aisle in the front seat sat a
meek, farmer-looking old man with a sickly pallor in his
face, and he was holding the door open with his foot to get
the air. Presently a big brakeman came rushing through,
and when he got to the door he stopped, gave the farmer
an ugly scowl, then wrenched the door to with such energy
as to almost snatch the old man s boot off. Then on
he plunged about his business. Several passengers laughed,
and the old gentleman looked pathetically shamed and
After a little the conductor passed along, and the Major
stopped him and asked him a question in his habitually
courteous way :
* Conductor, where does one report the misconduct of a
brakeman ? Does one report to you ?
You can report him at New Haven if you want to.
What has he been doing ?
The Major told the story. The conductor seemed
258 TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER
amused. He said, with just a touch of sarcasm in his bland
* As I understand you, the brakeman didn t say any
1 No, he didn t say anything.
But he scowled, you say ?
* And snatched the door loose in a rough way ?
That s the whole business, is it r
* Yes, that is the whole of it.
The conductor smiled pleasantly, and said :
Well, if you want to report him, all right, but I don t
quite make out what it s going to amount to. You ll say
as I understand you that the brakeman insulted this old
gentleman. They ll ask you what he said. You ll say he
didn t say anything at all. I reckon they ll say, How are you
going to make out an insult when you acknowledge your
self that he didn t say a word ?
There was a murmur of applause at the conductor s
compact reasoning, and it gave him pleasure you could see
it in his face. But the Major was not disturbed. He said :
There now you have touched upon a crying defect in
the complaint system. The railway officials as the public
think and as you also seem to think are not aware that
there are any insults except spoken ones. So nobody goes
to headquarters and reports insults of manner, insults of
gesture, look, and so forth ; and yet these are sometimes
harder to bear than any words. They are bitter hard to
bear because there is nothing tangible to take hold of ; and
the insulter can always say, if called before the railway
officials, that he never dreamed of intending any offence.
It seems to me that the officials ought to specially and
TRAVELLING WITH A REFORMER 259
urgently request the public to report unwordcd affronts and
The conductor laughed, and said :
Well, that would be trimming it pretty fine, sure !
* But not too fine, I think. I will report this matter
at New Haven, and I have an idea that I ll be thanked for
The conductor s face lost something of its complacency ;
in fact, it settled to a quite sober cast as the owner of it
moved away. I said :
You are not really going to bother with that trifle, are
It isn t a trifle. Such things ought always to be
reported. It is a public duty and no citizen has a right to
shirk it. But I sha n t have to report this case.
* It won t be necessary. Diplomacy will do the busi