If I had been able to look into the future, I should have been less rebellious at the termination of my first marriage. Was I so rebellious, after all? I am afraid I showed about as much rebellion as a sheep. But I was miserable, indignant, unable to understand that there could be any justice in what had happened. In a little more than two years I returned to the stage. I was practically driven back by those who meant to be kind—Tom Taylor, my father and mother, and others. They looked ahead and saw clearly it was for my good.
It was a good thing, but at the time I hated it. And I hated going back to live at home. Mother furnished a room for me, and I thought the furniture hideous. Poor mother!
For years Beethoven always reminded me of mending stockings, because I used to struggle with the large holes in my brothers’ stockings upstairs in that ugly room, while downstairs Kate played the “Moonlight Sonata.” I caught up the stitches in time to the notes! This was the period when, though every one was kind, I hated my life, hated every one and everything in the world more than at any time before or since.
ROSSETTI, BERNHARDT, IRVING
Most people know that Tom Taylor was one of the leading playwrights of the ’sixties as well as the dramatic critic of The Times, editor of Punch, and a distinguished Civil Servant, but to us he was more than this—he was an institution! I simply cannot remember when I did not know him. It is the Tom Taylors of the world who give children on the stage their splendid education. We never had any education in the strict sense of the word, yet, through the Taylors and others, we were educated. Their house in Lavender Sweep was lovely. I can hardly bear to go near that part of London now, it is so horribly changed. Where are its green fields and its chestnut-trees? We were always welcome at the Taylors’, and every Sunday we heard music and met interesting people—Charles Reade among them. Mrs. Taylor had rather a hard outside—she was like Mrs. Charles Kean in that respect—and I was often frightened out of my life by her; yet I adored her. She was in reality the most tender-hearted, sympathetic woman, and what an admirable musician! She composed nearly all the music for her husband’s plays. Every Sunday there was music at Lavender Sweep—quartet playing with Madame Schumann at the piano.
Tom Taylor was one of the most benign and gentle of men, a good and a loyal friend. At first he was more interested in my sister Kate’s career than in mine, as was only natural; for, up to the time of my first marriage, Kate had a present, I only a future. Before we went to Bristol and played with the stock company, she had made her name. At the St. James’s Theater, in 1862, she was playing a small part in a version of Sardou’s “Nos Intimes,” known then as “Friends and Foes,” and in a later day and in another version as “Peril.”