In the following year, however, there came an offer from the manager of Drury Lane to appear upon its boards. Mary Anderson received it with a pleased surprise. It told that her name had spread beyond her native land, and that thus early had been earned a reputation which commended her as worthy to appear on the stage of a great and famous London theater. But her reply was a refusal. She thought herself hardly finished enough to face such a test of her powers; and the natural ambition of a successful actress to extend the area of her triumph seemed to have found no place in her heart.
SECOND VISIT TO EUROPE.—EXPERIENCES ON THE ENGLISH STAGE.
The interval of five years which elapsed between Mary Anderson’s first and second visits to Europe was busily occupied by starring tours in the States and Canada. Mr. Henry Abbey’s first proposal, in 1883, for an engagement at the Lyceum was met with the same negative which had been given to that of Mr. Augustus Harris. But, happening some time afterward to meet her step-father, Dr. Griffin, in Baltimore, Mr. Abbey again urged his offer, to which a somewhat reluctant consent was at length given. The most ambitious moment of her artist-life seemed to have arrived at last. If she attained success, the crown was set on all the previous triumphs of her art; if failure were the issue, she would return to America discredited, if not disgraced, as an actress. The very crisis of her stage-life had come now in earnest. It found her despondent, almost despairing; at the last moment she was ready to draw back. She had then none of the many friends who afterward welcomed her with heartfelt sincerity whenever the curtain rose on her performance. She saw Irving in “Louis XI.” and “Shylock.” The brilliant powers of the great actor filled her at once with admiration and with dread, when she remembered how soon she too must face the same audiences. She sought to distract herself by making a round of the London theaters, but the most amusing of farces could hardly draw from her a passing smile, or lift for a moment the weight of apprehension which pressed on her heart. The very play in which she was destined first to present herself before a London audience was condemned beforehand. To make a debut as Parthenia was to court certain failure. The