There has been a good deal of excitement lately over Mr. Nat Goodwin and his future career Mr. Goodwin's successful work as David Garrick stirred up the dear old classicists who are forever trying to force every young man of promise into classic comedy. Mr. Barron , the talented and eminently just critic on the Inter Ocean , has fallen into a bad habit of discovering genius. He has laid genius up against Mr. Goodwin and declares that he has given the American publio a pledge which he must redeem; that the seal of greatness is upon him and that he must begin to fast and pray and play Shakespeare . Now, why in the name of the sacred nine should Mr. Goodwin play Shakespeare? Just because he is a thoroughly modern spirit, because by personal tastes and sympathy he is peculiarly fitted to represent one of the most amusing, if not one of the most elevating phases of modern American society, why should he be relegated to the shades of classic comedy? Mr. Goodwin has no particular love for Shakespeare and he is honest enough to admit it. His literary tastes are not much above Bell's life. He belongs to the rapid, sporty set of young men who have more vivacity than brains and he is the artistic exponent of his class. This is no discredit to Mr. Goodwin. He is to be respected because he has recognized his limitation and has not essayed Orlando or Bob Acres . In his sphere Mr. Goodwin is an artist. The American public has need for him and love for him. It is true that he can only impersonate one type, but that type happens to be very much in vogue. All his ac ing is strongly colored by his own personality, but he belongs to a clan that is a very real part of American life and that has a strong influence in the moulding of American society, and it has a right to a representative in the great legislature of art. Mr. Goodwin represents it on the stage very much as Mr. Richard Harding Davis does in literature, and he does it just as well. There is no reason why Mr. Goodwin should draw a long face and confine himself to hardtack and congress water to become an indifferent impersonator of classic roles. If only the dear critics would permit a man to be great in his own way and the way nature intended for him. Most of us would be rather sorry to see Mr. Goodwin a better man than he is or even a more serious actor, for it would unfit him for just the class of work that no other man can do so well. He has his sphere, a sphere of human interest, and he fills it well. In art that means success. He is not a perfect workman, and never will be. He jumps from pathos to comedy, where a man of finer grain would glide so subtlely that you could never tell just where the transition took place. But the public does not demand perfect work; it only asks for something that every other actor cannot do. Mr. Goodwin has the rare gift of reaching out to the people and appealing to them, and he can delight you a whole long evening so thoroughly that you almost forget that his art is not of the highest kind, for it is not.
Of course the highest kind of art, whether in comedy or tragedy, is that which has lofty types and conceptions back of it, which is elevated by high artistic sincerity, warmed by a genuine love for all things human, stimulated by some great belief. The highest kind of comedy is at bottom wholly serious it is only comic in its demonstration. Crane's impersonation of Brother John is a pretty good sample of the higher comedy, and it is still fresh in the minds of Lincoln people. Brother John is a perfectly serious man; his life and actions are staid and serious. At heart he is a sentimentalist, but his way of explaining it is comical; what he says in perfect seriousness seems comical to other people. That is what makes the best comedy in real life. The people who are professional jesters, who never have a serious thought, soon pall on us. It is the very serious people who are unconsciously funny, who make drawing room life somewhat less of a burden. It is when our callers have no sense of comedy at all, when they take themselves and the universe in the highest seriousness and never intentionally say a funny thing that we sometimes have to bite our lips o prevent our laughter. It is the same thing in literature. The youthful lover of David Copperfield and Arthur Pendennis, esq. , are only funny because they were so desperately serious. The unniest man we know is a man whose lie is one long, noble self sacrifice to his mother and sister, but who insists upon discussing his "temperament" and "soul' every time we meet him. The highet kind of comedy is that which at the same moment makes us want to cry a little and laugh a great deal. That is the comedy that has heart in it. It always has that little shadow of pathos in the background and we feel it and reverence, even while we laugh. We all remember the way Brother John hugged Bobby and afterward wiped his eyes with a red handkerchief. The genuineness, the warm humanness of that awkward embrace made a good many of us misty about the eyes. That embrace was as far beyond Mr. Goodwin as Hamlet is. We remember the way Brother John went into the ball room and cried, "Put out those lights; stop that music!" It is the occasional assertion of the character and seriousness within that relieves and elevates comedy. Contrast, rightly usd, gives the tone and shading to every artistic creation. It is the laughter and reckless gaiety that makes the first act of "Camille" so horribly pathetic, the seriousness of the poor inventor that makes "The Poor Relation" so funny. [printing error]
[Editorial note: Due to an apparent printing error, there is a gap of an unknown amount of text at this spot.]
sides at Wichita, Kas. He is not a particularly good man, he frequently covets his neighbor's property and sometimes appropriates it. His one redeeming feature is that he goes to the theatre. A few nights ago he was hanging around the hotel baggage room and saw some large packages marked "Jane Coombs Co. Theatre." Thinking they might be that actress' diamonds he carried them off. On opening them he discovered that they contained 2,000 bill board portraits of Jane Combs . Any body who has had the doubtful pleasure of beholding Miss Coombs will sympathize with the thief and decide that in this case his punishment was greater than his sin.
If Miss Lillian Russel's talent was as great as her temper Melba and Calve would not be in the ring all all. Hitherto her general disagreeableness has been reserved for her managers and husbands, but now her fellow players are coming in for their share, and she has even succeeded in disturbing the smiling good nature of Jessie Bartlett Davis . Mrs. Davis' new part, Idalia , in "Prince Ananias" has been three times married and divorced. The situation of course suggested Lillian and some mischievous reporter relieved the dullness of his "copy" by saying that she imitated Miss Russell in her costumes and manner. Miss Russell apparently retains childlike faith in newspapers and when she read that one great was her wrath. She cut out the slip and pasted it on a sheet of notepaper, wrote beneath it in a somewhat nervous hand "Thanks, awfully," and sent it to Mrs. Davis. Mrs. Davis was justly angry. She wrote an indignant letter to Miss Russell telling her that whn she descended to imitation she would at least choose a loftier model. That opened up a correspondence between the two fair dames, who are playing at theatres just across the street from each other. If the letters were published they would be spicy reading. Mrs. Davis is a good natured little woman when she is let alone and is heartily sorry for it all now, but Miss Russell continues sulky.
The odious "living picture" craze had run its course in New York and was dying out. People had tired of them as they tire of everything—even wickedness. The evil of the exhibition was gone, for their popularity had died out. About a week ago some very good ladies, lacking someting to do, having neither husbands nor children nor enough literary clubs to employ their time, organized a crusade against "living pictures." They wrote long articles for the newspapers and they made public speeches. Now two weeks ago the "living picture" business was a losing one. People had forgotten that they were entrancingly wicked and only remembered that they were stupid and uninteresting and had quit going to see them. Last week they appeared to crowded houses and are making money. It is a pity. "Living pictures" are indecent and senseless and a grotesque travesty on the paintings they claim to represent. Their influence is evil and is unmodified by any kind of good or any wholesome pleasure. When they were dead it was too bad to revive them. Very often in this world evil is its own doom and carries its own death with it. As Napolean once said the person who made the universe was clever, whoever he was. Who ever made human nature understood his business. There are so many seeming paradoxes in human society that will explain and rectify themselves if the reformer would only give them time. The planets continue to travel in their appointed courses without assistance, and so would human society if reformers would not attempt to hurry nature and to aid providence. For every ill in human life God made a cure, and it would all work out right some day if the reformer will only let it.
Nat Goodwin: American actor Nathaniel Carl Goodwin (1857-1919) was born in Boston; he discovered his ability to mimic as a boy and determined to go on the stage. After several false starts in the early 1870s, he was discovered by Stuart Robson and gave his imitations of serious actors on stage (though he refused to do Edwin Booth). He appeared successfully in several burlesques, such as Rice's Evangeline, and organized his own touring company in 1877. His roles in Henry Guy Carleton's A Gilded Fool (1889) and The Nominee (1890) were among the greatest hits of his long career. He appeared occasionally in classic comedy, such as Sheridan's The Rivals, and in Shakespeare, notably his elaborate productions of The Merchant of Venice (1901) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1904). Late in his career Goodwin played in a few silent films, appearing as Fagin in Oliver Twist (1912) and in four films in 1915-16.
Goodwin was married five times. In 1877 he married actress Eliza Weatherby; after her death in 1887, he married Nellie Baker Pease (known as the Belle of Buffalo) in 1890; they were divorced in 1896. In 1898 he married Maxine Elliott, known as one of the most beautiful actresses of her day; they were divorced in 1908. A marriage to actress Edna Goodrich lasted from late in 1908 to 1910. He married Margaret Moreland in 1912 and they were divorced in 1918. Goodwin wrote an article in 1912, "Why Four Beautiful Women Married Me."
Images of Nat Goodwin are available at Shakespeare and the Players at Emory University.
as David Garrick: The first production of Thomas W. Robertson's play, David Garrick (1864), had E. A. Sothern in the title role as the eighteenth century actor; other actors playing the part were Lawrence Barrett, E.S. Willard, Robert Downing, Creston Clarke, and Nat Goodwin. The most famous scene in the play comes when Garrick pretends to be drunk in order to disillusion the young Ada Ingot, who has fallen in love with his portrayal of Hamlet.
British actor and manager David Garrick (1717-1779) was brought up in Lichfield, where he was for a time a pupil of Samuel Johnson's. He went to London in 1737, where he continued an interest in the theater while trying to establish a wine business. His first play was produced in 1740, and soon he was acting professionally. In 1741 the natural style of his performance as Richard III created a sensation and he became a friend of most of the notable people of his time. He became manager of the Drury Lane Theatre in 1747, and throughout his career he did much to maintain the works of the Elizabethan and Restoration dramatists in the repertory—though often in altered forms. Garrick was buried in Westminster Abbey, the first actor granted that honor.
classic comedies: Classic comedies included those of Shakespeare, Sheridan, and some of the early nineteenth century playwrights such as Sheridan Knowles; their plots were held to turn more on character and wit than on situations and gags.
Mr. Elwyn Alfred Barron: E. A. (Elwyn Alfred) Barron (1855-1929) became drama critic for the Chicago Inter-Ocean in 1879; he wrote plays such as A Moral Crime (1885), Lady Ashley (1886), When Bess Was Queen and Out of the Storm (both produced in 1894), and a dramatization of Romola (1896). After he retired from the Inter-Ocean in the mid-1890s he lived abroad for a time, and wrote several novels.
the Inter Ocean: The Chicago Republican, a newspaper founded in 1865, was renamed the Chicago Inter Ocean in 1872. It had a wide circulation, not just in Chicago, but its influence declined in the mid 1890s, when it was owned by Charles T. Yerkes, who used it as a political tool.
William Shakespeare: William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born in Stratford-on-Avon, in Warwickshire, England. Documents of the time show his father, John Shakespeare, to have been a well-respected tradesman who held office in the town. His mother, Mary Arden, came from an old land-owning family. He was probably educated at the grammar school in Stratford; at the age of eighteen he married Anne Hathaway, by whom he had three children. Not until eight years later, in 1592, does his name start to appear connected with the London stage. By 1594 he was a part of the Lord Chamberlain's company, which by 1598 had their home at the Globe theater. His plays were successful with both the public and royalty, enabling Shakespeare to buy various properties in London and Stratford. He retired to Stratford about 1613, where he died.
Many anecdotes and legends grew up in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries about Shakespeare's life, whose authenticity cannot be now be proven, but some of which have been widely accepted: that his father was a butcher, that Shakespeare as a youth got into trouble poaching deer, that he held horses at the stage doors when he was trying to break into the London theater, that he was lame, or that he caught the fever of which he died in a drinking bout, for instance.
Some of his fellow actors collected his plays in 1623 in what is now known as the First Folio. The only works Shakespeare himself seems to have published are the early poems Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594), both dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, a young nobleman who may also have been the subject of many of Shakespeare's sonnets, apparently written over the decade from 1593-1603.
Shakespeare's authorship of the plays ascribed to him began to be seriously questioned only in the late eighteenth century, largely on the ground that he was too humbly born and poorly educated to be capable of writing such great works. The most serious alternatives—and the question was warmly debated in the nineteenth century—put forth were Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and the Earl of Oxford.
the sacred nine: In Greek mythology the nine Muses were the daughters of Zeus and the titan Mnemosyne (memory); each one protected and inspired a certain area of art, literature, and science. Calliope was the muse of epic poetry, Erato the muse of love poetry, and Polyhymnia the muse of sacred poetry. Euterpe was the muse of music while Terpsichore was the muse of dance. Melpomene was the muse of tragedy, Thalia of comedy. Urania was the muse of astronomy.
Bell's life: Bell's Life in London, and Sporting Chronicle was a famous British weekly, published from 1822 to 1886, when it was bought out by Sporting Life. The paper covered angling, card games, and chess as well. Charles Dickens and Robert Surtees had been among its contributors.
Richard Harding Davis: American novelist Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916) was a son of novelist Rebecca Harding Davis. His first career was as a journalist, a career he pursued, especially as a colorful war correspondent in Cuba, South Africa, and Europe, even after his novels and stories had made him famous. Gallagher (1891), stories of a newsboy-detective, first made his reputation in fiction, followed by the Van Bibber stories. Later popular works include Exiles (1894), Princess Aline (1895), Soldiers of Fortune (1897), Ranson's Folly (1902), and The Bar Sinister (1903). Davis, who looked the part of the handsome, dashing hero, was often considered the American equivalent of Rudyard Kipling.
Many of Davis's stories were made into movies, beginning in 1910. His Gallagher stories were made into a series of TV movies by Disney in the early 1960s.
William H. Crane: William H. Crane (1845-1928) was one of the best known comic actors of his day. He partnered with Stuart Robson from 1877-1889, then took off on an independent career. Popular as he was in the 1890s, his greatest success was yet to come, in the title role in David Harum (1900), a role he recreated in the silent film (1915). He appeared in other silent films, notably as Buster Keaton's father in Keaton's first starring role, The Saphead (1920).
Humorist George Ade, classing Crane with such actors as Joseph Jefferson, said, "William H. Crane is another veteran of the stage who holds the regard of the public. It knows him as the kind of man we should like to invite up to our house to meet the 'folks'" (Century, December 1910). Critic Lewis C. Strang, who also compared Crane with Jefferson, said "He is a character comedian, whose one character is himself. His is a whole-souled, frank, and genial personality . . . that suggest shrewdness and generosity, keen good sense, and tender-hearted chivalry. . . . His command of pathos is not so sure" (Famous American Actors of the Day in America  149, 151). Crane wrote a volume of reminiscences, Footprints and Echoes (1927).
Image in the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
"Brother John": Brother John (1892), by Martha Morton (1865-1925), opened in New York in March 1893. William H.Crane created the role of the down-to-earth Yankee hat manufacturer who rescues his brother and sisters from the entanglements created by their desire to live the fashionable life. Cather described the plot in detail in her April 1, 1894 column.
Lincoln: Lincoln, Nebraska, was founded in 1867 as the capital of the new state of Nebraska, displacing the territorial capital of Omaha, about fifty miles northeast. As the capital and county seat, home of the state university and other colleges and educational institutions, as well as a state penitentiary and insane asylum, the city grew rapidly, especially in the 1880s. It was the second largest city in the state, though population declined in the hard economic climate of the 1890s, to about 30,000 people; it rebounded later in the decade.
Cather lived in Lincoln from 1890 to 1895, and visited it often thereafter until the early 1930s.
David Copperfield: Charles Dickens' autobiographical novel, David Copperfield (serialized 1849-50), tells of the struggles of a young boy. After the death of his mother, he escapes from his villainous stepfather, Edward Murdstone. After the death of his child-wife, Dora, David realizes his love for Agnes Wickfield and finds happiness and success as a writer. The novel contains some of Dickens' most notable characters, including the humorous Barkis, Mr. Dick, and Mr. Micawber, the pathetic Little Emily, and the villainous Steerforth and Uriah Heep.
Arthur Pendennis, esq.: Arthur Pendennis is the hero of William Thackeray's novel, The History of Pendennis (1849-50), which draws on many of the experiences of Thackeray's own youth—his life of "gentlemanly idleness" at university, studying for the law at the Inns of Court, and in London journalism. Pendennis falls in love with several unsuitable women—an actress, a maidservant, and a wealthy woman of fashion, but in the end he realizes his love for his adoptive sister Laura.
Bobby: In Martha Morton's play, Brother John (1892), Bobby Hackett is the young brother of the wealthy hat manufacturer, John Hackett. When John sees his formerly temperate little brother Bobby drunk after a fashionable party, he decides to stay and make his family see the error of their ways in aspiring to enter "society."
Hamlet: Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (written 1599-1601), a five act tragedy, is widely considered the greatest play in English. It was apparently based on a 12th century history, or on a preceding play on the same subject, possibly by Thomas Kyd. The play deals with murder, revenge, madness, and man's will. It contains some of the most famous lines in English, especially Hamlet's soliloquy, "To be or not to be" as well as such famous scenes as Ophelia's mad scene, and Hamlet with Yorkick's skull.
Camille: The English play Camille is based on the play La Dame aux camélias (1852), based on the novel (1848) by Alexandre Dumas the younger (1824-1895). In the play, Armand Duval, a poor young man of a good family, falls in love with a famous courtesan, Camille (named Marguerite Gautier in the original). Skeptical of his love at first, she comes to return it and the two retire to an idyllic life in the country. However, Armand's father comes to her and begs her to set Armand free for the sake of his reputation and for the marriage chances of Armand's young sister. Camille pretends to be tired of Armand and returns to Paris and her old life. She is, however, dying of tuberculosis, and the two are reunited before her death. The role of Camille was also a favorite of Sarah Bernhardt and many other tragic actresses.
Verdi's opera La Traviata (1853) is based on the story of Camille, and the play has been made into films as well, notably one starring Greta Garbo (1936).
"The Poor Relation": Sol Smith Russell made one of his big hits as Noah Vale in A Poor Relation (1889) by Edward E. Kidder. The complicated plot concerns an invention stolen from Vale, who has fainted from hunger. A jealous stepmother attempts to pin the theft on her stepdaughter, with the help of the real thief, a junior partner in her husband's firm.
A silent film was made of the play in 1915.
Poster image can be found at The Library of Congress.
Wichita, Kas.: The city of Wichita, Kansas, was founded as a trading post in 1864, at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers, and named for the nearby Native American tribe, the Wichitas. It became important as a stop for cattle drives on the Chisolm Trail from Texas, and, when the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad reached it in 1872, as a cattle-shipping point; its nickname became "Cowtown" and the city gained a reputation as a wild town for many years.
covets his neighbor's property: In the Bible, Exodus 20: 17, the tenth commandment says "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's."
Jane Coombs: American actress Jane Coombs (b.1842) was for a time a student of popular actress Clara Fisher; Coombs made her New York debut in 1855, although the time of her greatest success probably came after she played Lady Gay Spanker in London Assurance in New York in 1858. She toured extensively, making her London debut in 1862. After she married F.A. Brown in 1864, she retired for a short time, then resumed touring with her own company—the 1860s and 1870s were the time of her greatest success, but she was still touring with her company in 1900. T. Allston Brown, in his History of the New York Stage (1903) said she was a "handsome blonde, with wonderful eyes and excellent elocution."
Lillian Russell: Lillian Russell, born Helen Louise Leonard (1861-1922) in Clinton, IA, was educated in Chicago, and then in New York, where her mother took her to study in hopes of an opera career. Her first appearance on the New York stage was in the chorus of a production of Pinafore in 1879; Tony Pastor, owner of one of the best variety theaters in New York, gave her the new name, Lillian Russell, and billed her as "The English Ballad Singer." Her blonde beauty, lovely singing voice, and fashionable figure quickly made her a star, one of the highest paid in America. She starred at the Casino Theatre from 1888 to 1891, when she headed her own company at the Garden Theatre. In 1899 she joined the Weber and Fields company, staying with them until 1904. Her voice had suffered over the years, so she toured in comedy from 1906-1908.
Russell was famous for the number of her husbands and for her long liason with "Diamond Jim" Brady. Her first husband was the Pinafore company's orchestra leader, Harry Graham. Her second husband, composer Edward Solomon, was arrested for bigamy in 1886, after two years of marriage. She married her third husband, John Chatterton, known as Giovanni Perugini, in 1894; they were divorced in 1898. Russell retired from the stage after marrying her fourth husband, Alexander Moore, owner of the Pittsburgh Leader. She wrote columns and articles on love and beauty for women, and advocated woman suffrage.
Lillian Russell epitomized the stage beauty of the 1890s. A movie was made of her life in 1940, starring Alice Faye, with Henry Fonda as her fourth husband. Her character also appears in various other movies about the theatrical life of the time.
Image available at New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
Madame Melba: Nellie Melba (1861-1931) was born Helen Porter Mitchell in Melbourne, Australia. Though she was trained as a pianist and organist, she did not begin to study singing until she attended Presbyterian Ladies' College in Melbourne, where tenor Pietro Cecchi encouraged her to make singing her profession. She married Charles Armstrong in 1882; they were divorced in 1900. In 1886 she went to London and became a student of famed vocal teacher Mathilde Marchesi. She made her operatic debut in 1887 and from 1888 to her retirement in 1926 she was affiliated with London's Covent Garden Opera house. She quickly became an international star, making many world tours, and singing occasionally with the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1893 until 1910. Foods such as peach Melba and Melba toast were named for her. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1918.
Emma Calve: Singer Emma Calvé, born Rosa Emma Calvet (1858-1942), was born in France and brought up in Spain. She studied under influential voice teacher Mathilde Marchesi, and made her debut in Brussels in 1882. She sang in Paris before making her London debut in 1892, where she sang Carmen; she became the greatest Carmen of her time. Calvé was also famous in the role of Santuzza in Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana (1890). She retired in 1925 to teach. Her autobiography is I Have Sung Under Every Sky (1937).
Jessie Bartlett Davis: Jessie Fremont Bartlett (1860-1905) married manager William J. Davis in 1880 and was best known under her married name. She was born in Illinois; her father, a farmer, was musical and recognized her talent early. She went to Chicago to study music, singing in a church choir to support herself. Her stage debut was as Buttercup in a Chicago production of Pinafore. In the 1880s she toured with the William T. Carleton Opera Company in the west, with Theodore Thomas's National Opera Company, and the Boston Ideal Opera Company. A contralto, she sang supporting roles with Adelina Patti in New York in grand opera, but she was best known for light opera. About 1889 she became the leading contralto with the Bostonian Opera Company, with whom she sang until the late 1890s. She became famous singing "Oh, Promise Me" in De Kovens' Robin Hood (1891); she recorded the song for Victor Records in 1898.
Cather met Davis in Pittsburgh in 1896; though she admired Davis's infectious spirits, she aroused Davis' ire by referring to her age and weight (Pittsburgh Leader, 5 January 1897; Lincoln Courier, 4 December 1897).
Idalia: Idalia is the heroine of Victor Herbert's operetta, Prince Ananias (1894). She is the leading lady of a troupe of strolling players; having married and divorced three titled men, her manager has made her vow not to marry a title for five years—an obstacle to her love for the poet, Louis, who is pretending to be Prince Ananias.
Idalia is also the name of heroine of an Ouida novel of the same name.
"Prince Ananias": Victor Herbert's first-produced operetta, Prince Ananias, with libretto by Francis Neilson, was presented by The Bostonians troupe in New York in 1894. The operetta was retained in their repertoire for several years and 300 performances. The plot concerns an outlaw, a vagabond poet who pretends to be Prince Ananias, and a troupe of strolling players, including Idalia, the leading lady; they are brought to perform before the king, who has lost the ability to smile.
Images available at New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
"living pictures": Living pictures were representations of paintings made by costumed (or often semi-draped) persons who had to pose in perfect stillness until the curtain fell. Representations of figures from classical mythology, or such figures as Lady Godiva, contributed to the bad reputation living pictures began to have as they became increasingly popular in the mid to late 1890s.