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BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY





Boston Public Library

Do not write in thrs book or mark it with pen or
pencil. Penalties for so doing are imposed by the
Revised Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


This book was issued to the borrower on the date
last stamped below.










































































































B.P.L. FORM NO. 6O9: 9.5.44: 50M.



HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE






SOME MEMORIES
OF HIM AND OF HIS ART

COLLECTED BY
MAX BEERBOHM



4



WITH PHOTOGRAVURE FRONTISPIECE
AND 57 ILLUSTRATIONS

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NEW YORK:
E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY

681, FIFTH AVENUE

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Printed in Great Britain.
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CONTENTS

PAGE

TABLE OF FACTS AND DATES ix

A SONNET. BY IRIS TREE xi

HERBERT AND I. BY MAUD TREE i

MY FATHER. BY VIOLA TREE 171

MEMORIES. BY IRIS TREE 181

FROM A BROTHER'S STANDPOINT. BY MAX BEERBOHM . . 187

A SKETCH. BY EDMUND GOSSE, C.B 203

A TRIBUTE. BY Louis N. PARKER 206

FROM THE STALLS. BY DESMOND MACARTHY . . . 216

HERBERT TREE MY FRIEND. BY C. HADDON CHAMBERS . 227

To THE MEMORY OF A FRIEND. BY GILBERT PARKER . . 236
FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF A PLAYWRIGHT. BY BERNARD

SHAW .......... 240

AN OPEN LETTER TO AN AMERICAN FRIEND. BY W. L.

COURTNEY ......... 253

A SONNET. BY IRIS TREE 267

APPENDIX I. SERMON PREACHED BY THE BISHOP OF BIRMING-
HAM AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE, I2TH JULY, 1917 . 269
APPENDIX II. SPEECHES MADE AT THE UNVEILING OF THE

MEMORIAL TABLET ....... 273

APPENDIX III. "IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA " . . . 278

APPENDIX IV. EXTRACTS FROM HERBERT TREE'S NOTE-BOOKS 310



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



A Portrait of Herbert Tree ..... Frontispiece

Maud Tree in 1882 ...... Facing p. 8

Facsimile of a Letter ........ 14

Herbert Tree (about 1882) Facing p. 20

Herbert Tree (about 1885) ..... ,, 35

Captain Swift ......... 37

Hamlet .......... 37

Heinrich Borgfeldt ........ 37

A Village Priest ......... 43

King John .......... 43

Laroque-Luversan ........ 43

Falstaff .......... 43

Gringoire ........ Facing p. 45

The Duke of Guisebury. ..... ,,45

Fagin ......... ,,45

Paul Demetrius ....... ,, 45

Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone at the Haymarket Theatre ... 49
Caricature by " Spy ' ...... Facing p. 59

The Baccarat Case ........ 61

Playgoers' Club ......... 73

Hamlet and Ophelia ...... Facing p. 74

Hamlet ........ ,,78

Colonel Newcome ........ 83

Narcisse .......... 83

Viola and Felicity ...... Facing p. 89

Miss Dorothea Baird as " Trilby " . ,, 99

Svengali ..........' 101

John-o'-Dreams ......... 101

A Snapshot, 1896 Facing p. no

A Pencil Portrait by the Duchess of Rutland . . ,, 122

Mr. Beerbohm Tree's Supper Party at His Majesty's Theatre 127



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS vii

Maud Tree and her daughters, Viola, Felicity and Iris . Facing p. 132

Viola Tree. From a drawing by J. S. Sargent . . 143

Hamlet ........... 154

Herbert Tree. From a drawing by J. S. Sargent . ,, 178

Julius Beerbohm. From a painting by Zorn . . ,, 192

Svengali ........,, 200

Herbert Tree (about 1887) . . . . . ,, 208

D'Orsay ........... 212

Falstaff ........... 212

Macbeth. ........,, 212

Shylock .......... 212

Richard II. ......... 221

Herbert Tree (about 1889) . . . . . ,, 228

Micawber ........,, 236

The Man Who Was . . . . . . . ,, 236

Zakkuri ........... 236

Isidore Izard . . . . ,, 236

Henry Higgins . .... . 242

Herbert Tree, 1914 ,, 253



NOTE. As it has been impossible to trace the origin of some of
these illustrations, the usual acknowledgments have been unavoidably
omitted in a few cases.



NOTE

FORMAL and elaborate biographies of actors are apt to be not
the most inspiring kind of literature. When Herbert Tree died,
it seemed to those who knew him best that of such a biography
he would not have cared to be the subject. There was, however,
a clear need that one who had so distinguished himself in his
art, and had been in himself so interesting a character and so
unusual a figure, should not go unrecorded. Off the stage, as
on it, he was a man of much variety. He was many-sided,
impressing different people in very different ways. And it
has seemed that perhaps the best, perhaps indeed the only
adequate book about him might be such a book as this is,
comprising the views of some different people who had good
opportunities for observing him.



TABLE OF FACTS AND DATES

HERBERT DRAPER BEERBOHM, better known as Herbert Tree,
was born in London, December iyth, 1853. He was the second
son of Julius Ewald Beerbohm and Constantia Draper. (His
father, who had been born at Memel, in 1811, was of German
and Dutch and Lithuanian extraction, had settled in England
when he was twenty-three, and had become a naturalized
British subject some years before his marriage.)

He was educated first at a school at Frant, in Kent, and
afterwards, with his two brothers, at Schnepfenthal College,
Thuringia, where his father had been educated.

At the age of seventeen or eighteen he " went into the City ''
as a clerk in the office of his father, who was a grain merchant.

Soon afterwards he began to be well known as an amateur
actor ; and in 1878 he went upon the stage professionally, as
Herbert Beerbohm Tree, playing many parts in London and the
provinces.

Among his chief successes in the early 'eighties were his
impersonations of the Rev. Robert Spalding, in The Private
Secretary, and Macari, in Called Back.

On September i6th, 1882, he married Miss Maud Holt. Their
first child, Viola, was born in 1884 ; their second, Felicity, in
1895 ; and their third, Iris, in 1897.

In April, 1887, he became manager of the Comedy Theatre,
where he produced The Red Lamp.

Later in that year he became manager of the Haymarket
Theatre. Among his chief productions here were Captain
Swift (1888), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1889), A Village
Priest (1890), The Dancing Girl (1891), Hamlet (1892), A Woman
of No Importance (1893), A Bunch of Violets (1894), Trilby (1896),
and ^he First Part of Henry IV. (1896).



x TABLE OF FACTS AND DATES

In 1895 he conceived the idea of building Her Majesty's
Theatre, which was completed early in 1897. In April of that
year he opened the theatre with a production of The Seats of the
Mighty. Among his chief subsequent productions were Julius
C&sar (1898), The Musketeers (1898), King John (1899), A Mid-
summer Night's Dream (1900), Herod (1900), Twelfth Night
(1901), The Last of the Dandies (1901), Ulysses (1902), The Eternal
City (1902), Resurrection (1903), Richard II. (1903), The Darling
of the Gods (1903), The Tempest (1904), Much Ado About Nothing
(1905), Nero (1906), Colonel Newcome (1906), The Winter's Tale
(1906), Antony and Cleopatra (1906), Edwin Drood (1907), The
Beloved Vagabond (1908), The Merchant of Venice (1908), Faust
(1908), The School for Scandal (1909), Drake (1912), Othello (1912),
Joseph and his Brethren (1913), Pygmalion (1914), and David
Copper field (1914).

Late in 1915, and again in 1916, he visited America, to fulfil
a contract with a " film " company in Los Angeles. During his
stay in America he travelled much and was very active in war
propaganda.

In the summer of 1917 he was once more in England. On
June 1 6th he had an accident to his knee. This necessitated
an operation, which was successfully performed by Sir Alfred
Fripp. On July 2nd he died quite suddenly, owing to the
formation of a clot of blood on the lungs.

His body was cremated on July 6th, and on July 7th the
ashes were buried in the churchyard of the Parish Church,
Hampstead.

Herbert Tree had received the honour of Knighthood in 1909.

He was author of three books : "An Essay on the Imagina-
tive Faculty " (1893), " Thoughts and Afterthoughts " (1913),
and " Nothing Matters " (1917).



MY FATHER

I CANNOT think that you have gone away :
You loved the earth and life lit up your eyes,
And flickered in your smile that would surmise

Death as a song, a poem, or a play.

You were reborn afresh with every day,
And baffled fortune in some new disguise.
Ah ! can it perish when the body dies,

Such youth, such love, such passion to be gay ?

We shall not see you come to us and leave
A conqueror nor catch on fairy wing
Some slender fancy nor new wonders weave

Upon the loom of your imagining.
The world is wearier, grown dark to grieve
Her child that was a pilgrim and a king.

IRIS TREE.
July ^th, 1917.



HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE



HERBERT AND I

A TRIVIAL, FOND RECORD

CHAPTER I

" My whole heart rises up to bless your name, in pride and thankfulness."

September i6th, 1917.

THIS is the anniversary of our marriage, and it is more than
two months since Herbert blotted out the world for me by leav-
ing it. I recall the unmemorable, sacred incidents of our wedding-
day. A country vicarage : a warm September sunshine brood-
ing over the garden the hum of bees among the asters and late
sweet-peas the little procession of loving parents, brothers and
sisters, along petal-strewn paths and under flowery arches,
through lych-gate to church porch and then two very young
people kneeling in love and simplicity to thank God for one
another. And I live to thank God upon every remembrance
of you, Herbert, from that day to this.

Yet these many married years have left me with but kaleido-
scopic memories of my dear and great husband. I wish how
fondly I wish ! that I had retained some written records of
such large design as adorned Herbert's vivid life ; but no diary
exists.

There is only my memory, casting flashes here and there on
the glad, good days made momentous by him.

i



2 HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE

Let me try and recollect our first meeting. It was early in
1881, at a fancy dress party the last function in the world to
attract Herbert's presence ; but I believe his coming there was
the result of a conspiracy that he and I should meet. " But you
cannot possibly be the old man who acts in Forget-Me-Not ? "
was my unpremeditated but not untactful greeting to the tall,
pale, youthful creature who was introduced to me as Mr. Beer-
bohm Tree, and who assured me, in a voice whose wistful cadence
haunted the hearer then as now, that he was none other. I can
remember nothing as to our themes of conversation, or how much
we were together, or whether there was held out any chance
that we should ever meet again. I only know that for a long
time I lived upon the hope that a combination of Fate and friends
would one day bring me face to face once more with that gentle,
compelling personality.

Goaded by this aspiration, my footsteps during the early
summer were led over and over again from Queen's College,
when study ended, to a far-off street, where, according to my
childish belief, all actors congregated at the windows and upon
the steps of the Garrick Club. It is a score of years since then,
and I may be permitted to say that in hundreds of passings
and haltings near that historic, histrionic pile, I have only
once caught a glimpse of a notability ; this, an eminent
divine, seated at a table in the window, discussing lunch with
his lawyer.

The Garrick Club how Herbert loved it ! And how proud he
was when he became a member ! And how many thousand
times have I taken him, or called for him, there ! ' I like its
glare," said Disraeli of Brighton. " I like its gloom," said
Herbert of the Garrick.

More with the intention of recalling myself to his memory than
of following his advice should it be vouchsafed, I wrote to him
in May, perhaps asking him if my petty successes on the
amateur stage were an earnest of great things to come, were I
to decide on leaving the Cloister of learning for the Hearth of the
green-room. I watched for his answer day after day, still ever
and anon penetrating to the purlieus of Covent Garden with the
idea of a chance encounter. Vain hopes, both ! No letter came
and no vision. He was all but banished from my category



HERBERT AND I 3

of possible excitements when, towards the end of summer while
I was away on a visit his long-delayed answer reached me.

" MY DEAR Miss HOLT,

' Don't go on the stage unless you feel you must. How
are you ? We shall meet in the autumn.

; Yours sincerely,

" H. B. T."

And in the winter he came to see me. I had rather nice big
rooms over a shop in Orchard Street, and he came more and more
often as the days drew in. " A young man to tea," was rather a
departure ; and Mrs. Newman bless her ! with whom I lived,
used to think it incumbent upon her to preside ; but on the whole
we were left alone, and he used to tell me stories, and to say
poetry to me : "Jim," "In the Mission Garden " and " Aux
Italiens." There was one song (" Rest," by J. S. Payne) that
he loved and used often dreamily to murmur :

" Silence sleeping on a waste of ocean

Sun down westward traileth a red streak
One white sea-bird, poised with scarce a motion,

Challenges the stillness with a shriek,
Challenges the stillness, upward wheeling

Where some rocky peak containeth her rude nest ;
For the shadows o'er the waters they come stealing,

And they whisper to the silence, ' There is Rest.'

" Down where the broad Zambesi river

Glides away into some shadowy lagoon,
Lies the antelope, and hears the leaflets quiver,

Shaken by the sultry breath of noon ;
Hears the sluggish water ripple in its flowing ;

Feels the atmosphere, with fragrance all-opprest ;
Dreams his dreams, and the sweetest is the knowing

That above him, and around hrta, there is Rest.

" Centuries have faded into shadow ;

Earth is fertile with the dust of man's decay ;
Pilgrims all they were to some bright El Dorado,

But they wearied, and they fainted, by the way.
Some were sick with the surfeiture of pleasure ;

Some were bowed beneath a care-encumber'd breast ;
But they all trod in turn Life's stately measure,

And all paused betimes to wonder, ' Is they? R.est ? '

I*



4 HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE

" Look, O man I to the limitless Hereafter,

When thy Sense shall be lifted from its dust,
When thy Anguish shall be melted into Laughter,

When thy Love shall be sever'd from its Lust.
Then thy Spirit shall be sanctified with seeing

The Ultimate dim Thule of the Blest,
And the Passion-haunted fever of thy being

Shall be drifted in a Universe of Rest."

I fancy he wrote to me while I was away for the Christmas
holidays, but I suppose neither of us was seriously thinking about
the other though, " remembering how I love thy company,"
it is certain that I looked forward with intense excitement to
seeing him again. And he comes once a week, perhaps, and
then more often. He tells me of his work and his ambitions,
while I neglect my Greek to listen to him. (In those days my
grail was a University degree.)

An excuse for his frequent visits was the discussion of a one-
act tragedy, Merely Players, which he thought wonderful, and
whose leading part, Pantaleone, appealed strongly to him. The
story was practically that of Pagliacci, and there was a vague
idea of producing it at a matinee, and of my acting the heroine
in it. I cannot remember that his hopes of it ever came to frui-
tion, even in after-years ; but a great deal of time was spent,
delightfully, over the incomplete and densely-annotated manu-
script.

One evening it must have been the I2th of February, 1882
Herbert asked me to be his wife. We were standing over the
fire, leaning on the mantelpiece, and he took my hand and kept
it while he spoke. I was dismayed and bewildered not in the
least realizing the great and wonderful honour paid me. I
thought of puny things : What would College say ? An actor !
What would my sister say she who until then had ruled my
destiny ? But I cannot have hesitated long, for on Valentine's
Day we walked together the two miles from my home to the
home of Herbert's people, to declare ourselves engaged. It was
magic weather " bare winter suddenly was changed to spring '
and there were daffodils and jonquils all the way. Our hearts
sang ; we were absolutely happy.

Herbert's relations and friends received me with open arms,
and it became a custom for us to lunch at his father's house every



HERBERT AND I 5

Sunday. (His love and veneration for his father were bound-
less.) From there we used often to go to the Routledges', who
lived opposite. Edmund Routledge dallied, in the intervals of
book-publishing, with amateur acting. He and I had already
met and exchanged vows as Benedick and Beatrice at St.
George's Hall. His family wife, sons and beautiful daughters
were already intimate friends. Dear Edmund Routledge,
of kind memory, you cherished the belief that it was you who
brought Herbert and me together ; and I like to think it was
so. At all events, you were a beloved friend to us, and when
you died we mourned you very sorrowfully.

There were two charming little girls babies almost who
used to come to play in the Routledges' big drawing-room. It
was in his romps and games with them that I first saw Herbert's
wonderful love for little children ; his sympathy, his alertness,
his delightful fancies and frolics : all his life he was the light of
childish eyes.

Sunday dinner-parties took place at the houses of various
friends in our honour, and Herbert himself, who lived in rooms
in Maddox Street, gave feasts to celebrate our engagement.
Among those who came some of his closest associates in those
days, I remember were Edwin Godwin, Herman Vezin, Norman
Forbes, Justin Huntly McCarthy, A. K. Moore, Edmund Bell,
Hamilton Synge and George Alexander. Herbert loved my
singing, and I used to go through my repertoire every time there
was a piano " The Creole Love-Song," " Echo," " Crepuscule,"
' Es war ein Traum." When I bewailed my lack of voice he
consoled me : " You act the songs so wonderfully sing that
again ; ' and he would murmur with me the refrain :

"Lean low, speak low.
Oh, Memory, Hope, Love of long ago ! "

One day he brought me my engagement ring. It had a
history. A little tiny boy, when his own mother was alive, he
was playing in the garden of their Kensington home, and he came
upon a bauble deep below the ground. He took it into the house,
to his mother, and said, " That is yours, because you have a
headache." (Herbert cherished the most devoted memory of
his mother ; but she died when her four children were scarcely
out of babyhood.) The stones in the ring turned out to be



6 HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE

diamonds. Had it dropped from the slender hand of some fine
lady in the days when Kensington Palace had its deer-park ?
Herbert's mother bequeathed it to whomsoever he in after years
should marry. So it was re-set and (incidentally) enlarged
and he put it on my " engaged ' finger. Alas ! many years
later, in using on the stage a so-called dramatic gesture with
my left hand, the ring, which I always wore, sprang from my hand,
described an arc in the air, rolled and was never found again.
Will it be unearthed, I wonder, in days to come, from the foun-
dations of the Haymarket Theatre ?

Herbert was acting in The Colonel at this time (the spring
of 1882), and he used to come and see me on his way to the
theatre. Once or twice Florence Theleur, who was engaged to
George Alexander, came to see me. I hope she will not mind
my saying that it was of her that I experienced my first pang of
jealousy ! Herbert brought me a little song which he had heard
sung by Miss St. John (an artist for whom he had an immense and
abiding admiration). The words were : " Oh ! my love, she is
a kitten, and my heart a ball of string." I tried very hard to do
justice to the refrain and music. He decided, rather sadly, that
they did not suit me. " Florence (Alexander) could sing that,"
he said, unconsciously delivering a terrible blow. I remember
another, a similar blow, that he dealt me. He arrived radiant,
with a parcel : " It is Myra Holme's birthday' (Myra Holme
was the heroine in The Colonel and married Arthur Pinero),
' and I have got her a scarf from Liberty's. Isn't it lovely ? '
' Too lovely," I answered, with ill-concealed acerbity ; and he
added insult to injury by using my writing-paper, which had a
large M upon it, to wreathe " Dear Myra " round my initial.
Darling Herbert, you hadn't the slightest idea how cross I was
for that one afternoon, or you would have been unhappy. There
never was so gentle and tender a heart : thoughtless sometimes,
but the moment you realized another's pain or difficulty, " con-
sideration like an angel came."

So the early spring passed, and we were glad as birds. My few
relations, who knew nothing of the theatre world, were only
mildly sympathetic over my engagement. Herbert went to
lunch with my eldest brother, Willie, to talk things over ; and a
dreadful verdict was pronounced " How can Maud marry him ?



HERBERT AND I 7

His shirt-cuffs were frayed ! ' I might have replied, " Fielding's
were inked." My sister Emmie, a divine woman, whose judg-
ment and approbation were of real moment to me, wrote from
Italy to say she only wanted my happiness ; but had I, she
asked, considered what might be the torment and the fret of
marrying an actor, who must necessarily belong to the Public
and not to the Home ? Emmie did not realize that Herbert
was destined to lift her little sister out of the small things of
life into the great world of Art that he made his own his own
and, because I belonged to him, ours.

In May, Herbert had lodgings at Hampstead Heath, which he
shared with George Alexander. Florence, " Alec's ' fiancee,
tells me that she and I used to arrange with each other when
we should go to their cottage in Heath Street, a modest dwelling
now no longer to be found. I know I went there early one
Sunday morning in spring that day, May 6th, when England
had heard of the Phoenix Park murders. I found Herbert in the
little garden of his lodgings, reading The Observer ; and I
remember his wild indignation and horrified eloquence, and his
firing me to feel that the whole world was disgraced for ever
and ever.

Soon after this there came the little rift that all but made
our music mute. Some kind and dear friends of mine, to whom
I owed great gratitude from childhood, who knew little of the
world, and nothing of a world such as Herbert's, came between
us with the usual arguments " Wait until you know one
another " " Try a long sea- voyage ' " Time will show." I was
weak and easily influenced, and I thought it my duty to break
off our engagement. " And the letter that brought me back
my ring," caused Herbert the deepest resentment and sorrow.
I need not dwell upon my own despair. We bore our separation
for a week or two : he with fierce impatience and a raging and
never-conquered resentment against my intervening friends
(" a little less than kin and less than kind," he called them)
which used to reach me in the bitter blots and savage dashes
of many a beseeching note. If I revelled a little in my misery
and gloried in his grief, it must be forgiven to one unused to
adoration and unaccustomed to power. I soon capitulated.



8 HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE

Early one Sunday morning in June, or at the end of May, a letter
arrived from Hampstead by hansom, and my answer was to get
into the cab and go to him. Oh ! the divine morning the butter-
cups, the sunshine, the May ! (This is more than thirty years
ago, when as yet there were Hampstead fields ablaze with butter-
cups.) Everything was happy after that : my work at Queen's
College his at the theatre and daily meetings of incomparable
and unimpaired delight.

In July there came a sudden summons for me and my sister
Harrie to go to Aix-les-Bains, where my eldest sister lay seriously
ill. That ended our wonderful summer, which I can only
remember as a sea of gold Herbert and I wading through it
hand-in-hand. Sadly we said good-bye to each other and to
those sweet days. But our separation did not last long. One
morning in Aix, instead of the post bringing me a letter from him,
a little scrawled note reached me I know it by heart : " Am here.
Have already bathed in Sulphur. When can I see you ? H."

Gladness and astonishment were drowned in dismay, for all
my life I had been in awe of my brilliant sister, and I dreaded her
disapproval of my " young man ' who had followed me to
France. I hate to remember my dear Herbert's disappointment
that I met his eager greeting with coldness and scolding
words. His love was bounteous, and his soul sincere he could
not understand my complex questionings. In the afternoon I



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