The Idler, Volume III., Issue XIII., February 1893 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 110 pages of information about The Idler, Volume III., Issue XIII., February 1893.
should think they did,’ he replied; ’I will let you have that last verse if you like.’  I thanked him sarcastically, and at last he withdrew.  I have, however, come across some real talent in this way.  For instance, that admirable actor and entertainer, Eric Lewis, is a protege of mine, and you could not have a better man than he.  Another amusing incident occurred at Southsea.  My secretary was in a shop one day, and he overheard three ladies discussing the respective merits of Corney Grain and myself.  Two of them were for Corney Grain and one was for me.  Finding at last that the odds were too strong for her, she departed with this final shot:  ’Well, never mind, Mr. Corney Grain can’t jump on to a piano,’ referring to my imitation of Minnie Palmer.”

[Illustration:  “A FLASHY YOUNG CAD, IN A VERY LOUD SUIT.”]

Replying to a question I put to him as to his theatrical experiences, Mr. Grossmith told me that it was in the November of 1877 that he received the following letter:—­

“Beefsteak Club,

“King William Street,

“Tuesday Night.

“Dear Mr. Grossmith,—­Are you inclined to go on the stage for a time?  There is a part in the new piece I am doing with Gilbert which I think you would play admirably.  I can’t find a good man for it.  Let me have a line, or come to Albert Mansions to-morrow, after 4; or Thursday, before 2.30.

“Yours sincerely,

“ARTHUR SULLIVAN.”

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

“This was a great moment in my life, although at the time my father, whose good judgment I valued much, was of opinion that I was not very successful as an actor.  Sullivan, however, who had heard me give a musical sketch at a dinner party, was of the contrary opinion, and felt sure that I should suit him.  It appears he and Arthur Cecil were both writing letters at the Beefsteak, when the former said, ’I can’t find a fellow for this opera.’  Cecil said, ‘I wonder if Grossmith—­’ Before he had finished the sentence, Arthur Sullivan said, ‘The very man!’ And so I was engaged.  I am much indebted to these two Arthurs,” continued the bright little man with a laugh.  “I reverence the very name of Arthur.  I remember when Gilbert wanted to engage me for the part of John Wellington Wells, though I saw the part would suit me to perfection, I said to him, ’I should have thought you required a fine man with a fine voice for the part of a magician.’  I can still see Gilbert’s humorous expression as he replied, ‘That is just what we don’t want.’  I played Sir Joseph Porter in ‘Pinafore’ every night for nearly two years.  Long runs don’t affect the nerves of the actors nearly as much as they affect the performance.  Constant repetition begets mechanism, and that is a terrible enemy to contend against.  I make a point of playing my best to a bad house; for it is a monstrous thing to slur through one’s work because the stalls are empty, and thereby punish those who have come for the fault of those who have not.  Still, I repeat it, constant repetition is a dreadful thing.  Fancy playing ‘Pinafore,’ as I did, for 700 nights without missing a single performance!”

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The Idler, Volume III., Issue XIII., February 1893 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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