He wanders up, he wanders down,
A phantom on the scene;
He talks to none, he does his work
With conntenance serene;
Although his purse is never fat,
‘Tis like his figure - lean.
What is there he cannot construct?
An elephant to him
Is but a simple plight, or eke
A dragon fierce and grim,
And golden goblets all begemmed,
That never will grow dim.
He builds a ship, a paradise,
Where angels music speak -
Bright angels with a salary
Of just five bones a week;
And yet, in spite of genius,
His actions are so meek.
Tanks are his special workmanship,
And buzz saws meet his line;
And cottages and other things -
At these he’s very fine;
And he can make a thunder cloud,
And moons that move and shine.
But who applauds this mystic art?
The bass drum wouldn’t nod
At him, while on his daily rounds
The carpenter doth plod;
The manager? He knows him not -
A stranger in the fold.
I wonder if he ever thinks
Who cleverly will make
A little box for him some day,
That will not be a fake
When Life’s last scene on him shall close
And Heaven’s joy awake!
by Monroe H. Rosenfeld
~ The New York Clipper, November 3rd, 1894
William Collier, star of “The Hottentot,” started his stage career at the early age of eleven. He ran away from home in 1879 to land his first job.
Mr. Collier’s father and mother were both of the theatre. His father was Edmund Collier, a well-known tradegian, and his mother was Henrietta Engel, a dancer. He says that he hasn’t a relative in the world that isn’t connected with the theatre, so it was only natural that his earliest ambitions should have been toward a professional career.
When eleven years old, young Collier became restless and ran away from home to join Haverly’s Juvenile “Pinafore” company. His salary was $3.50 a week and board. There were 101 children in the company and they played for fourteen months. Collier says that during that time he had a distraction of being the only one of the children that got a raise in his salary, but that was probably because he helped with baggage.
After the close of this engagement, young Collier was taken home and sent to school until he was fifteen. His father then obtained a position him a position at Daly’s Theatre. His salary began at $7 a week. He stayed with Daly from 1883 to 1888 and was again distinguished during this perioud by getting a raise in salary to $8 a week. At first when he opened his pay envelope and found the extra $1 he thought a mistake had been made, so he decided to keep it in secret. It took several weeks for him to realize that the extra dollar was really a weekly permanent acquisition.
by Walter A. Lowenberg
~ Theatre Magazine, June 1920
Old Roger Dayton musing sat by his sparkling wood-fire’s blaze:
‘Twas Christmas and the player’s heart turned back to the olden days;
Those days when Cushman made choice of him to play the haunted Thane;
And still he hears that vibrant voice bemoaning the crimson stain.
With young Booth, at Winter Garden, he divides loud applause,
While the angry Cassius vainly fumes, and calms Brutus pleads his cause.
Again he is playing Edgar to majestic Forrest’s Lear.
Softly old Roger dropped asleep, with a smile and a rising tear.
He wandered, then, in a joyous realm, with the players of the past;
And blithely he roamed from group to group, in the groves and meadows vast.
He could name them all, and rank them, too: Burbage and Cibber gay,
Betterton, Macklin, Pritchard, and the folk of yesterday,
John Kemble strode in his Cato garb, Roman in all his mien;
And Quin and Garrick sauntered by, with bright Woffington between,
The voice of Kean, as Shylock cried; “A sentence! Come prepare!”
The winsome Jordan, as Rosalind, was the fairest of the fair.
Then he heard the people’s voices blend in a murmur sweet and strong;
Round one stately man all the players flocked, an ardent, eager throng.
The gleam of a cheery welcome illuminated that comely face;
He greeted them all, his comrades dear, with a tender, courtly grace.
By the sturdy, genial Stratford bust old Roger knew well;
All gladly his spirit yielded to the great Enchanter’s spell.
And, best of all in his Christmas dream of that sunny, joyous land -
The Player - poet smiled on him as he grasped him by the hand!
By Edward Tuckerman Mason
~ The Theatre, December 1911