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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

McClure's Magazine, Vol 31, No 2, June 1908

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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ELLEN TERRY AS IMOGEN DRAWN BY ALMA-TADEMA FOR MISS TERRY'S JUBILEE IN 1906ELLEN TERRY AS IMOGEN
DRAWN BY ALMA-TADEMA FOR MISS TERRY'S JUBILEE IN 1906
ELLEN TERRY AS PORTIA FROM THE PAINTING BY SIR JOHN MILLAIS, R. A.ELLEN TERRY AS PORTIA
FROM THE PAINTING BY SIR JOHN MILLAIS, R. A.

Our First Appearance Before an American Audience

Henry made his first appearance in America in "The Bells." He was not at his best on the first night, but he could be pretty good even when he was not at his best. I watched him from a box. Nervousness made the company very slow. The audience was a splendid one—discriminating and appreciative. We felt that the Americans wanted to like us. We felt in a few days so extraordinarily at home. The first sensation of entering a foreign city was quickly wiped out.

WILLIAM WINTER— ONE OF THE FIRST CRITICS TO WELCOME IRVING TO THIS COUNTRYWILLIAM WINTER—
ONE OF THE FIRST CRITICS TO WELCOME IRVING TO THIS COUNTRY

On the second night in New York it was my turn. "Command yourself—this is the time to show you can act!" I said to myself as I went on the stage of the Star Theatre, dressed as Henrietta Maria. But I could not command myself. I played badly and cried too much in the last act. But the people liked me, and they liked the play, perhaps because it was historical, and of history the Americans are passionately fond. The audience took many points which had been ignored in London. I had always thought Henry as Charles I. most moving when he made that involuntary effort to kneel to his subject, Moray, but the Lyceum audiences never seemed to notice it. In New York the audience burst out into the most sympathetic, spontaneous applause that I have ever heard in a theatre.

American Clothes

My impression of the way the American women dressed in 1883 was not favourable.

Some of them wore Indian shawls and diamond ear-rings. They dressed too grandly in the street and too dowdily in the theatre. All this has changed. The stores in New York are now the most beautiful in the world, and the women are dressed to perfection. They are as clever at the demi-toilette as the Parisian, and the extreme neatness and smartness of their walking gowns is very refreshing after the floppy, blowsy, trailing dresses, accompanied by the inevitable feather boa, of which English girls, who used to be so tidy and "tailor-made," now seem so fond. The universal white "waist" is so pretty and trim on the American girl. It is one of the distinguishing marks of a land of the free, a land where "class" hardly exists. The girl in the store wears the white waist; so does the rich girl on Fifth Avenue. It costs anything from seventy-five cents to fifty dollars!

London, when I come back from America, always seems at first like an ill-lighted village, strangely tame, peaceful, and backward. Above all, I miss the sunlight of America, and the clear blue skies of an evening.

"Are you glad to get back?" said an English friend.

"Very."

"It's a land of vulgarity, isn't it?"

"Oh, yes, if you mean by that a wonderful land—a land of sunshine and light, of happiness, of faith in the future!" I answered. I saw no misery or poverty there. Everyone looked happy. What hurts me on coming back to England is the hopeless look on so many faces; the dejection and apathy of the people standing about in the streets. Of course there is poverty in New York, but not among the Americans. The Italians, the Russians, the Poles—all the host of immigrants washed in daily across the harbour—these are poor, but you don't see them unless you go Bowery ways and even then you can't help feeling that in their sufferings there is always hope. Vulgarity? I saw little of it. I thought that the people who had amassed large fortunes used their wealth beautifully. When a man is rich enough to build himself a big, new house, he remembers some old house which he once admired, and he has it imitated with all the technical skill and care that can be had in America. This accounts for the odd jumble of styles in Fifth Avenue, along the lake-side in Chicago, in the new avenues in St. Louis and elsewhere. One millionaire's house is modelled on a French château, another on an old Colonial house in Virginia, another on a monastery in Mexico, another is like an Italian palazzo. And their imitations are never weak or pretentious. The architects in America seem to me to be far more able than ours, or else they have a freer hand and more money.

The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens

It is sad to remember that Mr. Stanford White was one of the best of these splendid architects. It was Stanford White with Saint-Gaudens, that great sculptor, whose work dignifies nearly all the great cities in America, who had most to do with the Exhibition buildings of the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. It was odd to see that fair dream city rising out of the lake, so far more beautiful in its fleeting loveliness than the Chicago of the stock-yards and the pit which had provided the money for its beauty. The millionaires did not interfere with the artists at all. They gave their thousands—and stood aside. The result was one of the loveliest things conceivable. Saint-Gaudens and the rest did their work as well as though the buildings were to endure for centuries instead of being burned in a year to save the trouble of pulling down! The World's Fair recalled to me the story of how Michelangelo carved a figure in snow which, says the chronicler Vasari who saw it, "was superb."

Saint-Gaudens gave me a cast of his medallion of Bastien-Lepage, and wrote to a friend of mine: "Bastien had 'le coeur au métier.' So has Miss Terry, and I will place that saying in the frame that is to replace the present unsatisfactory one." He was very fastidious about this frame and took such a lot of trouble to get it right.

It must have been very irritating to Saint-Gaudens when he fell a victim to that extraordinary official Puritanism which sometimes exercises a petty censorship over works of art in America. The medal that he made for the World's Fair was rejected at Washington because it had on it a beautiful little nude figure of a boy—holding an olive branch—emblematical of young America. I think a commonplace wreath and some lettering were substituted.

Saint-Gaudens did the fine bas-relief of Robert Louis Stevenson which was chosen for the monument in St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. He gave my daughter a medallion cast from this, because he knew that she was a great lover of Stevenson. The bas-relief was dedicated to his friend, Joe Evans. I knew Saint-Gaudens first through Joe Evans, an artist who, while he lived, was to me and to my daughter the dearest of all in America. His character was so fine and noble—his nature so perfect. Many were the birthday cards he did for me, original in design, beautiful in execution.

Whatever he did, he put the best of himself into it. I wrote this in my diary the year he died:

"I heard on Saturday that our dear Joe Evans is dangerously ill. Yesterday came the worst news. Joe

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