“Wherein does the superiority lie?” wrote another critic in comparing our productions with those which had been seen in America up to 1884. “Not in the amount of money expended, but in the amount of brains;—in the artistic intelligence and careful and earnest pains with which every detail is studied and worked out. Nor is there any reason why Mr. Irving or any other foreigner should have a monopoly of either intelligence or pains. They are common property, and one man’s money can buy them as well as another’s. The defect in the American manager’s policy heretofore has been that he has squandered his money upon high salaries for a few of his actors and costly, because unintelligent, expenditure for mere dazzle and show.”
William Winter soon became a great personal friend of ours, and visited us in England. He was one of the few sad people I met in America. He could have sat upon the ground and told “sad stories of the deaths of kings” with the best. He was very familiar with the poetry of the immediate past—Cowper, Coleridge, Gray, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and the rest. He liked us, so everything we did was right to him. He could not help being guided entirely by his feelings. If he disliked a thing, he had no use for it. Some men can say, “I hate this play, but of its kind it is admirable.” Willie Winter could never take that unemotional point of view. In England he loved going to see graveyards, and knew where every poet was buried.
His children came to stay with me in London. When we were all coming home from the theater one night after “Faust” (the year must have been 1886) I said to little Willie:
“Well, what do you think of the play?”
“Oh my!” said he, “it takes the cake.”
“Takes the cake!” said his little sister scornfully, “it takes the ice-cream!”
“Won’t you give me a kiss?” said Henry to the same young miss one night. “No, I won’t with all that blue stuff on your face.” (He was made up for Mephistopheles.) Then, after a pause, “But why—why don’t you take it!” She was only five years old at the time!
I love the American papers, especially the Sunday ones, although they do weigh nearly half a ton! As for the interviewers, I never cease to marvel at their cleverness. I tell them nothing, and the next day I read their “story” and find that I have said the most brilliant things! The following delightful “skit” on one of these interviews suggested itself to my clever friend Miss Aimee Lowther:—
WHAT CONSTITUTES CHARM
AN ILLUSTRATED INTERVIEW WITH MISS ELLEN TERRY
“Yes, I know that I am very charming,” said Miss Ellen Terry, “a perfectly delightful creature, a Queen of Hearts, a regular witch!” she added thoughtfully, at the same time projecting a pip of the orange she was chewing, with inimitable grace and accurate aim into