MARY ANDERSON AS AN ACTRESS.
The author approaches this, his concluding chapter, with some degree of diffidence. Though he has in the foregoing pages essayed something like a portrait of a very distinguished artist, he is not by profession a dramatic critic. He does not belong to that noble band at whose nod the actor is usually supposed to tremble. He is not a “first-nighter,” who, by the light of the midnight oil, dips his mighty pen in the ink which is to seal on to-morrow’s broad-sheet, as he proudly imagines, the professional fate of the artists who are submitted for his censure or his praise. Not that he is by any means an implicit believer in the verdict of the professional critic. An actor who succeeds, should often fail according to the recognized canons of dramatic criticism, and the reverse. That the beautiful harmony of nature and the eternal fitness of things dramatic are not always preserved, is due to that profanum vulgus which sometimes reverses the decisions of those dramatic divinities who sit enthroned, like the twelve Caesars, in the sacred temple of criticism, as the inspired representatives of the press.
Those who have been at the trouble to read the various and conflicting notices of the chief London journals upon Mary Anderson’s performances—for those of the great provincial towns she visited present a singular unanimity in her favor—must have found it difficult, if not impossible, to decide either on her merits as an artist, or on the true place to be assigned to her in the temple of the drama. The veriest misogynist among critics was compelled, in spite of himself, to confess to the charm of her strange beauty. Hers, as all agreed, was the loveliest face and the most graceful figure which had appeared