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قراءة كتاب McClure's Magazine, Vol 31, No 2, June 1908
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McClure's Magazine, Vol 31, No 2, June 1908
VOL. XXXI JUNE, 1908 No. 2
MY FIRST APPEARANCE IN AMERICA
The first time that there was any talk of my going to America was, I think, in 1874, when I was playing in "The Wandering Heir." Dion Boucicault wanted me to go, and dazzled me with figures, but I expect the cautious Charles Reade influenced me against accepting the engagement.
When I did go, in 1883, I was thirty-five and had an assured position in my profession. It was the first of eight tours, seven of which I went with Henry Irving. The last was in 1907, after his death. I also went to America one summer on a pleasure trip. The tours lasted three months at least, seven months at most. After a rough calculation, I find that I have spent not quite five years of my life in America. Five out of sixty is not a large proportion, yet I often feel that I am half American. This says a good deal for the hospitality of a people who can make a stranger feel so completely at home in their midst. Perhaps it also says something for my adaptableness!
"When we do not speak of things with a partiality full of love, what we say is not worth being repeated." That was the answer of a courteous Frenchman, who was asked for his impressions of a country. In any case it is almost imprudent to give one's impressions of America. The country is so vast and complex that even those who have amassed mountains of impressions soon find that there still are mountains more. I have lived in New York, Boston, and Chicago for a month at a time, and have felt that to know any of these great towns even superficially would take a year. I have become acquainted with this and that class of Americans, but I realize that there are thousands of other classes that remain unknown.
The Unknown Dangers of America
I set out in 1883 from Liverpool on board the "Britannic" with the fixed conviction that I should never, never return. For six weeks before we started the word America had only to be breathed to me, and I burst into floods of tears! I was leaving my children, my bullfinch, my parrot, my "aunt" Boo, whom I never expected to see again alive, just because she said I never would, and I was going to face the unknown dangers of the Atlantic and of a strange, barbarous land. Our farewell performances in London had cheered me up a little—though I wept copiously at every one—by showing us that we should be missed. Henry Irving's position seemed to be confirmed and ratified by all that took place before his departure. The dinners he had to eat, the speeches he had to make and to listen to, were really terrific! One speech at the Rabelais Club had, it was said, the longest peroration on record. It was this kind of thing: "Where is our friend Irving going? He is not going like Nares to face the perils of the far North. He is not going like A—— to face something else. He is not going to China," etc.—and so on. After about the hundredth "he is not going," Lord Houghton, who was one of the guests, grew very impatient and interrupted the orator with: "Of course he isn't! He's going to New York by the Cunard Line. It'll take him about a week!"
New York Before the "Sky-scrapers"
My first voyage was a voyage of enchantment to me. The ship was laden with pig-iron, but