One instance of Mary Anderson’s kind and womanly sympathy to some of the poorest of London’s waifs and strays should not be unrecorded here. It was represented to her at Christmas time that funds were needed for a dinner to a number of poor boys in Seven Dials. She willingly found them, and a good old-fashioned English dinner was given, at her expense, in the Board School Room to some three hundred hungry little fellows, who crowded through the snow of the wintry New Year’s Day to its hospitable roof. Though she is not of our faith, Mary Anderson was true to the precepts of that Christian Charity which, at such seasons, knows no distinction of creed; and of all the kind acts which she has done quietly and unostentatiously since she came among us, this is one which commends her perhaps most of all to our affection and regard.
THE VERDICT OF THE CRITICS.
“Quot homines, tot sententiae.”
It may, perhaps, be interesting to record here some of the criticisms which have appeared in several of the leading London and provincial journals on Mary Anderson’s performances, and especially on her debut at the Lyceum. Such notices are forgotten almost as soon as read, and except for some biographical purpose like the present, lie buried in the files of a newspaper office. It is usual to intersperse them with the text; but for the purpose of more convenient reference they have been included in a separate chapter.
Standard, 3d September, 1883.
“The opening of the Lyceum on Saturday evening, was signalized by the assembly of a crowded and fashionable audience to witness the first appearance in this country of Miss Mary Anderson as Parthenia in Maria Lovell’s four-act play of ‘Ingomar.’ Though young in years, Miss Anderson is evidently a practiced actress. She knows the business of the stage perfectly, is learned in the art of making points, and, what is more, knows how to bide her opportunity. The wise discretion which imposes restraint upon the performer was somewhat too rigidly observed in the earlier scenes on Saturday night, the consequence being that in one of the most impressive passages of the not very inspired dialogue, the little distance between the sublime and the ridiculous was bridged by a voice from the gallery, which, adopting a tone, ejaculated ’A little louder, Mary.’ A less experienced artist might well have been taken aback by this sudden infraction of dramatic proprieties. Miss Anderson, however, did not loose her nerve, but simply took the hint in good part and acted upon it. There is very little reason to dwell at any length upon the piece. Miss Anderson will, doubtless, take a speedy opportunity of appearing in some other work in which her capacity as an actress can be better gauged than in Maria Lovell’s bit of tawdry sentiment. A real power of delineating passion was exhibited in the scene where Parthenia repulses the advances of her too venturesome admirer, and in this direction, to our minds, the best efforts of the lady tend. All we can do at present is to chronicle Miss Anderson’s complete success, the recalls being so numerous as to defy particularization.”